Category Archives: Intention

What Matters Most in Life (When a Fire Alarm and a Typo Became a Messenger)

How do we identify what’s truly important in life? (And why does it matter?)

There are always the quick answers, such as: happiness, family, and health, but these are somewhat theoretically cliché and intangible, however true. It’s getting to the more tangible answers that eludes many of us until we are faced with crisis and/or tragedy.

Last week I went through two unexpected situations which resulted in my having a direct and very clear understanding of what’s important in life (for me, anyway), and I found that there was an underlying message I needed to hear.

When I sat down to write this week’s InspireBytes™ I took note of what the Universe was trying to tell me through these experiences, which turned out to be this:

  1. Know your Self and your core, let the rest fall away.
  2. Slow down, prioritize, and make time for what matters most.

Let these be your guide.

But first, let me tell you what happened.

Early in the week we had a fire alarm in the house. For those of you who have been following along in my life, you know that my father had a stroke almost 10 years ago and is disabled as a result. A fire alarm is no small thing when you are able-bodied, but when you’re disabled, it can create a sense of helplessness and panic. A few years ago I wrote about the fire alarm that went off in my apartment building, and how it clarified for me what mattered most in my life. This was the same, except that now, instead of one animal there were four, and instead of one person there were three, one of whom was incapacitated and wholly dependent on others.

Why the fire alarm went off we don’t know, because there was no fire. No smoke, no flames, no emergency. But in the few moments between the alarm and the assessment, everything became very clear. What you take with you in a crisis or emergency is a cheat sheet to what matters most in your life. For me, it was anything that was breathing (people, animals), followed by a means of escape and shelter (car keys), and communication (cell phone).

The second situation, however, was a bit different:

Later in the week I received my mammogram results. It’s an annual event that, no matter how much I rationalize it, always generates some level of concern during the waiting period. Sadly, I think we all know someone who was “perfectly healthy” who received a life-changing result after their annual exam. It’s this knowledge that creates the background soundtrack of concern or worry until the results are in.

A few years ago, I had a mini-scare that turned out to be just that (thankfully), and have a dear friend who went through that episode with me. I am aware, therefore, that the concern while waiting for results extends beyond the borders of my mind to people who care about me. Once I had the results in hand, which showed no sign of cancer, I felt relief and wanted to share that relief with my friend. In my haste to share the good news of my results, I typed too fast and had a typo.

My typo basically told my friend that the exam had detected cancer. Of course, having been emotionally blindsided, my friend called immediately. I didn’t understand why until the error was pointed out.

I felt truly awful, and though I chuckled for a moment (to relieve the strain of the heartache I had caused someone dear to me), it wasn’t funny. My friend was given an unnecessary blow, and it was all because I rushed.

In that moment, without hesitation, I realized what was most important to me: Life. Health. Friendship. Connection. And … slowing down.

The last year has been such a whirlwind with publishing my first book that I have developed a bit of a habit of either being overly rushed and pressured or somewhat detached and slow – probably to compensate for the stressful times. In fact, much of the last 10-15 years have been the same, for myriad reasons.

So, that was the message I was receiving loud and clear from the Universe: Slow down, focus on what matters, nurture that.

The week before, I had polled my friends about which blog they would prefer to read next, since I had two inside me competing to come out. The first was on Competitive Spirituality (which won), and the second was something I’m working on about Self-Promotion, which is still being finished because something felt off. I now realize what that was for me:

Trying to reconcile the rushed and detached states to arrive at balance; maintaining a sense of Self and presence while still engaging in marketing.

For me, Self-Promotion is about being who you are, not who you think you should be, and trusting in that. But in this noisy world of social media and 24/7 internet, cable and satellite channels, it becomes a gladiator-style arena of “fight to the death.” In this case, it’s the death of your voice, your brand, your presence – your Self. And it’s a shame, really, because there are amazing people out there, doing amazing things, whose voices are being drowned out by those who are louder, bolder, or have more money to put their faces everywhere.

And yet, it’s not. It’s not a shame, because it pushes and requires people like me to hold fast to who we are, the work we do, trusting that it is more than enough, that we are more than enough, and to nurture that. And if we do, if we hold true to our Self, and what matters most, I believe that at the end of our lives, we will reflect with gratitude and smile.

So, in the end, a fire alarm and a typo made me realize that what matters most to me is being true to myself, to who I am. It means being more deliberate and intentional in my relationships, my health, and my presence – especially with my Self. This connection is what drives me to keep working, creating, and helping others to re-connect to what matters most to them, to who they are. Too often we have lost touch with that knowing, but hopefully it doesn’t take a crisis to remind us.

Hopefully, we can get back to that by simply slowing down, making time, and re-focusing on that which makes us smile in gratitude and joy.

7 Lessons for Living (or what I learned on my book tour)

I just finished my last public event of Book Tour 2015 on Sunday night. We had a wonderful evening, with really thoughtful questions from attendees and a courageous volunteer. It was a great experience, and I’m now going to take some time off until the end of the year so I can rest, restore, and write. (Don’t worry, I’ve pre-loaded my blogs, so that you don’t miss a week of inspiration.) 🙂

Over the past seven weeks, I have learned a lot about marketing, events, and engagement. I actually think these lessons apply to life in general, not just book tours and public speaking, so I thought I’d share some of what I learned along the way.

1. Follow Your Heart. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true. This is a simple piece of advice that I have heard over and over again that seems to be difficult to employ. Here’s what happened when I did: I found peace. Peace, for me, is comprised of calm, joy, and confidence. Following my heart meant that I wasn’t attached to specific outcomes, and I was allowing myself to be guided by what I knew to be true in my heart, rather than what I was told to expect or desire. It’s a way of moving through life more intentionally, letting go of the “shoulda-coulda-woulda” dialogue that keeps us stuck.

2. Live Deliberately, not by Default. This was not something “new” that I learned on tour, but was reinforced for me repeatedly. It is something I have learned, practice, and teach my clients. Living deliberately requires strength and vulnerability. It’s the difference between choosing to show up or just being somewhere. It would be easy to dismiss it as an attitude, but it’s more than that, it’s an action. It’s active choice. During my tour, when I chose to deliberately show up as all of who I am, from my heart, everything seemed to work and flow better. When I chose to simply be responsive to life around me I felt stifled, which created opportunities for the Doubt-Monkeys to come frolic in my mind.

3. Doubt-Monkeys are My Friends. This was new for me, and may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Doubt is a natural component of being human, especially when you’re choosing to be more visible. Interestingly, I have learned that doubt can be a great motivator to go deeper. I used to feel despair when the Doubt-Monkeys showed up, as if I would never get to a place of zero-doubt, which would be an indicator of authentic alignment. It’s simply not the case. I’ve come to learn that when the Doubt-Monkeys come knocking, they’re actually bringing a hand-delivered invitation to stand taller and recommit to my purpose. The Doubt-Monkeys will only run rampant, if I see them as uninvited guests. When I look for the messages they’re offering (which show up as triggers), I am able to embrace their arrival and learn something I needed, which often leads to their swift departure.

4. Investigate All Assumptions. We all know the pithy phrase, right? To “assume” makes an “ass” of “u” and “me.” Well, it works both ways when you assume. Assumptions need to be verified. Whether or not I assume anything, positive or negative, it needs to be checked out. If I assumed someone was doing something for me, I ran the risk of being let down. Conversely, if I assume that nothing is being done then I am taking on too much (by believing “I have to do it all”), and subsequently overwhelming my system. The bottom line here is: ask. I know we sometimes fear asking questions, but it costs nothing to ask, and there is so much to be gained.

5. Expectations Create Obstacles. This is, again, something I think we all know, but don’t necessarily have at the forefront in practice. It goes along with assumptions. Expectations create assumptions, and thereby create obstacles. Expectations need to be vetted. They need to be explored, understood and then communicated. If not, they can become giant hurdles in your path that either make you overextend yourself or actually have to turn around and repeat your steps in a different way. U-turns and obstacles are the result of unexpressed expectations, both of which can lead to compromised health, time, or purpose.

6. Make Room for Your Favorite Things. Since I was traveling for an extended period, I chose to pack some items that would aid me in my down time. That means I had a mini coloring book and markers, my favorite teas, my greens drink powder, a couple books, and my favorite music. These are the items that I reach for when I need to decompress, restore, and reconnect to myself. They fuel my body, spirit, and mind and have become trusted tools in my toolbox, so I made room for them in my luggage and my days. Making room is about honoring your Self and choosing to be a priority in your own life.

7. Joy Is Important. This was perhaps the most important reminder along the way. It’s important to have fun, to instill your practice with joy. Whether you are a teacher, a lawyer, or a janitor, no matter what you do for a living, it’s important to infuse it with some joy. It will go a long way to creating a healthier environment in which to spend your 8-10 hours/day, and it will help those around you do the same. Even if you have a serious job, such as being a trauma surgeon or EMT, it’s important to layer elements into your life and work that make your heart smile. Joy is important.

Of course, there’s always more to be learned and remembered, and this was certainly not the entire list from my tour, but I like the number 7. It feels good, balanced. Even if you choose to focus on only one of the items on the list, your life will change for the better. In fact, that’s often what I recommend: choose one thing, focus on it and allow yourself to witness the changes it creates. Then, once it feels good, choose another.

That might be lesson #8, though I think it’s the basis of all lessons, really: Choice. Choice is possibly the most powerful tool in your toolbox. It empowers and emboldens us to live more fully, with more meaning and more joy… and what can be better than that?

On Forgiveness

“Lucy…you have some ‘splaining to do!”  Who doesn’t remember that famous line from “I Love Lucy” – it’s a classic!

Well, friends, borrowing from Ricky, I have to say that I have some forgivin’ to do. Or I did. I felt stuck in some ways, and wasn’t sure why. I move forward deliberately in life, and I continually make progress – but recently I noticed recurrent thoughts playing out in the background of my soundtrack, like another story line. I’d be driving, and suddenly think of something that caused feelings of resentment or regret and the needle would get stuck on the record playing the same song over and over again – never loud enough to just turn it off, but just softly enough to raise my awareness to something that was stuck. On repeat. Annoying me. Time to take a look!

What I found was that I was harboring negative emotions toward others (ok, and myself) because of some past actions and events. These were things that no longer played an active role in my life, things I had moved on from, and things I no longer considered on a conscious level. But there they were, like white noise, stirring up old emotions I thought I had dealt with. Nope. Time to forgive.

So, here’s the thing…forgiveness is about us. Ourselves. Not the other person. It’s a simple truth: Forgiveness is a gift one gives to oneself. I know this. But then I wondered – Does forgiveness need to be face to face? Or, is it possible that the energy of forgiveness itself is enough to release us from the shackles that bind us to resentment, anger, hurt, and frustration? I believe it is. Here’s why:

Forgiveness is an offering. Therefore, it can be shared with another anonymously and be equally as effective. Its power lies not in whether it’s accepted by someone else, whether that person embraces or validates the forgiveness. Its power lies in the act itself. The decision to release ourselves from the imprisonment of the limiting negative emotions is powerful. To acknowledge the hurt and suffering we experienced as a result of something typically outside our control is powerful. It’s not about denying the event or transgression, rather it’s making a statement that what happened no longer fits our lives and then choosing to step out of it like an old and tired piece of clothing that has dropped to the floor.

Forgiveness, then, is a solitary act that does not require reciprocity, validation or acceptance by another to be effective. It asks only that our intentions be clear and our heart be true.

So, back to my own forgiveness. What did I do? I wrote letters. I wrote letters to each person or group that was holding me back because they had hurt me in some way, and I forgave. From my heart I forgave them and embraced myself. Did I send the letters? No. I folded them up and plan to burn them on the next full moon, releasing all of their energy. I did keep one, though. The one to myself. Because after writing the others, I realized I needed to forgive myself the most for choosing to hold on to the negative emotions (and giving them space in my brain and heart) when they weren’t serving my greater good. That letter is in my God box where it can contribute energetically to my ongoing growth in love and compassion. Cool.

Manifesting…Powerful Tool? Or Gimmick?

There has been so much information shared about the power of manifestation in recent years that I thought I would toss my two cents into the ring. To begin with there is ‘The Secret’ – made popular by Oprah Winfrey, but there is also ‘Ask and it is Given’ by Esther and Jerry Hicks. These are the two mainstream works that come to mind when I think of manifestation – and there is a difference between them. While ‘The Secret’ focuses on the process by which you manifest things (mostly material things) into your life, ‘Ask and it is Given’ divides its focuses between the process and the allowing for the manifestation to occur. For that reason, I agree more with the latter. But, it’s still not enough. Why?

Because it all depends on your intention, actually. If the intention behind your manifesting is that of desperation and desire, there is an urgency in your thought process that carries with it a hint of self-defeating prophecy. It carries the energy of ‘lack.’ As a result, the Universe feels the ‘lack’ in your request and provides you with it. It’s like when someone says, “It’s just my luck.” Yes, it is – because you asked for it. Manifestation, in my opinion, is 50% asking, 50% allowing and 100% intention and purity of thought. Yes, I know that adds up to 200% – but bear with me.

The 100% I suggest simply implies that behind the asking and the allowing, you need to have purity of thought and intention. If you ask for something, but believe somewhere inside that it’s not yours to have, you’re not worthy, or it won’t happen – then there’s no point in asking. Likewise, if you ask for something with purity of intention, but in allowing it to come to fruition you sit in a place of skepticism and doubt – it won’t happen. That’s why, although it seems so easy, we have been somewhat misguided. Manifestation actually begins with modification: the modification of our thought patterns and belief systems.

So, my suggestion is to start small. Work with the idea of manifesting by choosing things in your life that you know (truly know) are possible and plausible. And allow the Universe to comply. Without the doubt, skepticism and negative beliefs, you will begin to see the power of this incredible tool. Then, gradually, as you believe, you will be able to manifest more and more into your life.

As a side note, tomorrow (Monday, August 9th) is a New Moon. It’s an opportunity for cleansing and creating. New beginnings are possible. Perhaps it’s time for a new belief system? Such as “I am worthy of all beauty, abundance and prosperity the Universe has to offer.” (And the Universe is limitless!)

Whatever you choose to do, the bottom line is: Intention Matters. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. It matters much more now than ever before as we enter into a new age. That also means that it’s more powerful than ever before. So, make the choice to live life from a place of love and compassion, from a place of selflessness and understanding, and from a place of abundance in all things; and the Universe will comply.

In Love and Light,