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One of my mantras for 2014 is to start making changes that will help me improve my life a little at a time. Making changes can be scary, and certainly not always easy, but when you feel stuck in a rut or bored with how your life is going, they can be the key to helping you move forward past those roadblocks.

So many of us are afraid of change and we resist making any adjustments in our lives that might take us out of our comfort zone. Just today my daughter and I were looking around my house at what we could do to improve it. It’s a small house and there’s not a lot of wiggle room to rearrange furniture, so our options for drastic change are pretty limited. Suddenly my daughter dragged a chair across the floor and reached up to take my white lace curtains down off the windows. At first I was horrified; I loved those beautiful curtains and thought they went just perfectly with my wood blinds! “I’m sure they were just perfect and the height of sophistication back in the 90’s when you put them up mom,” my daughter said confidently. After she had removed all three, I looked around my living and dining rooms and was shocked by how much more light was flooding in through the windows. It looked like a whole new living space! As pretty and delicate as those curtains are, my daughter was right, they’re outdated and had just become dust collectors blocking the already precious few rays of winter northwest light.

It was such a simple change to make to my home, it took about two minutes but it made a world of difference. Just seeing how much more modern my home has the potential to look was inspiring and even though I enjoyed those curtains for 15 years, their time had come. I’m going to give them to Goodwill and hopefully another family will enjoy them in their home. I encourage you to take a good look around your home and see what you can change or remove to freshen things up a bit. Really take stock of everything you have laying around your home and evaluate whether you still enjoy looking at it, or whether you look at it every day without even noticing it’s beauty anymore.

For awhile now I’ve been toying with the idea of switching my bedroom and home office. I’ve been at a stalemate about making any headway though, fearful of so many aspects of this daunting task. I’m terrified of how much time it will take, how much it will cost, and how many important tasks it will get in the way of. Fear, fear, and more fear is giving so much energy to something I’ve mostly created in my mind. These things are but obstacles and obstacles can always be tackled.

It will be a huge job and require painting, changing my phone lines, and losing a closet, but after seeing and feeling what a difference a simple curtain removal made to my home, I feel more inspired than ever to make the change! So in the name of fresh starts and 2014 mottos holding true, I invite you to ask yourself what you’re fearful of and what are you holding on to that you’d like to change? Maybe it’s a bedroom makeover, moving to a new house, or changing the way you’re spending your time or money. Whatever it is, start with a small change and see how it makes you feel. You may be surprised how such a small change can influence and affect various areas of your life.

 

12 Tips for Making Changes

1. Get it out of your head that you need to do it all – even one small change can bring about incredible inspiration.

2. Be curious about what a change might be like. What will it look like? How will it change the environment as a whole? How will you feel about it once it is done? If you do not embrace the change immediately, be willing to try it on for a few days and see how it grows on you.

3. Get help – making changes will be so much easier when you have someone working with you.

4. If you’re going to change something in your home, go sit in that room and calm your mind by doing a short meditation to bring yourself to the present. Then contemplate how you might recreate the space.

5. Have an open mind to how things might look and feel in a new space.

6. Remove what no longer serves you. If you look around at the things in your life and find that they do not bring you a sense of joy or serenity then consider passing it along to someone else to enjoy.

7. Look for many small things that you can change to improve your home or work space. Do one of these a day or every other day. In time you will have made a lot of changes.

8. Be creative in how you rearrange your space. Try several different options before you settle on any one way.

9. Take time to absorb and enjoy the changes you have made. You may find it surprising that this will help you get inspired to do even more.

10. Make changes regularly. Becoming habitual in life limits us from all the wonderful new possibilities that might come into our lives.

2014 - shutterstock_148747460

Here it is, the end of 2013. As I reflect back on this year, I can hardly believe how fast it flew by! I know time goes fast and yet I am still shocked that this year is coming to it’s end. This only leaves me thinking about all the many things I still want to do and accomplish in my life.

At the end of each year I like to take inventory of how my year went. I started 2013 with a commitment to becoming my best self and truly living what I teach. My online program, Becoming Your Best, teaches people exactly how to achieve health in eight crucial areas: physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, environmental, financial, social and spiritual health. This year, Becoming Your Best was rebranded into Your Freedom Experience. I chose this new name because when we can be in balance in these eight areas, we experience a unique sense of freedom to be comfortable in our own skin no matter where we are, who we are with or what we are doing in life. This is what I call ultimate freedom, because we have come to know, like and trust ourselves. We are comfortable, happy and life comes easier when we reach our optimal health and well-being.

At the beginning of 2013, I decided to challenge myself to walk my talk and let me tell you, this has been no easy feat! At the beginning of January, I was jazzed up about my plan, I even gave up alcohol and all medications, which I am proud to say lasted all year and actually become easy to go without! When I felt stuck or exhausted in my commitment to become my best, I pushed myself to exercise and move my body, even when I really didn’t want to and the couch was calling my name!

There are just so many important things we need to do to be healthy in mind, body and spirit, it can become overwhelming. To make the process easier, I layered on a new practice to my self-care routine each week. By the time I reached week 12, I found it was really challenging to maintain all these new practices. At the end of week 12 I was burnt out, and found it incredibly taxing to find the time to fit all these things in. I realized that taking care of yourself is a full time job! Then you add family time, your actual job, socializing, taking care of your home, errands, and hobbies into the equation and it’s no wonder our lives are hectic and stressful.

By May, I decided it was too exhausting to do it all on my own, I needed a support system. I found a coach to help me stay on track, stay motivated, help me choose what should come next, help me simplify my life, to be my cheerleader, to give me a push when I needed it, and to prioritize my commitments.

Once I started working with my coach, I realized how crazy I had been to try and do all of this without one. It’s like having a teacher; would you have ever done your homework on time and to your best ability in school if you didn’t have anyone to hand it in to or review it? For the first 20-something years of our lives we had someone to report to, to turn results into, and who expected the best from us. Plus, don’t you remember that feeling of joy and relief when you saw that wonderful grade after a particularly difficult assignment? My coach really helped me stay on track and hold true to my commitment to myself. As I welcome 2014 with an open mind, I will continue to work on myself and my life to bring it into better balance, this time with a support system already in place!

I invite you to carve out some special “ME” time to reflect on the questions below. Take time to journal, create art or make a vision board that reflects what is truly important for you. After all, time is whizzing by very quickly and to feel our best, we don’t need to waste time feeling guilty or wishing we had accomplished something that is truly important for us. While spending time with yourself, think about who can help you achieve your goals and dreams in 2014.

Here are 12 questions that can help you take inventory of 2013 and prepare what is important for you in 2014:

1. What stands out the most for you over the past 12 months that you are proud of?
2. What was your greatest learning experience about yourself, your life, your work, etc.?
3. What would you like to do more of?
4. What would you like to do less of?
5. What is one thing that took you by surprise and really gave you a sense of real excitement?
6. What were your greatest health and/or mental health challenges?
7. What are you grateful for?
8. What is the one most obvious and important thing for you to change in your life?
9. What do you want to accomplish in 2014?
10. What do you need to release that no longer serves you and is holding you back so that you will be able to accomplish your goal(s) in 2014?
11. What is one simple shift that you can make to become your best self and start on your own freedom experience?
12. What are some healthy ways that you can allow yourself to both receive and give back more?

photoIt must have been the middle of the night when I was awoken by the patter of rain on my tent. I jumped up and unzipped the door to quickly gather up all our stuff strewn around the campsite haphazardly. I was stumbling around in the dark throwing bits and pieces into bags and into my tent, hoping that the rain wouldn’t start coming down harder. Satisfied that I had gotten the most important things under shelter, I zipped myself back in under the covers, checked the time (3 AM- yikes!) and tried to fall back asleep. I had just barely fallen back into a light slumber when I heard a frantic rustling, this time made by my daughter who had gotten up to move stuff in from the rain that had started up again. I sat up and told her I had already moved everything in and I was having a hard time going back to sleep after the night’s rain charades.

As she headed back to her tent she said, “listen to the quiet.” In the still of the night in the forest by the lake there was only silence and the peacefulness that comes with this kind of natural noiselessness. It was precisely this stillness that enveloped me into a deep and restful sleep.

Reflecting on the idea of listening to the quiet, I realized that we now live in a world full of noise and commotion. Where I live in Portland, I awake each morning to the sound of helicopters zooming around to broadcast traffic conditions to the early morning commuters. Every morning they disturb what could have been an extra hour or two of precious sleep for me. If it’s not helicopters it’s noisy neighbors, barking dogs, and oh yes, my favorite neighbor’s truck without a muffler that he goes to work in at 3 AM.

I often wonder if most people have become immune to the barrage of sounds in our noise-filled world. We are constantly surrounded by air and road traffic, sirens and horns, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, dogs barking, technology, and unruly neighbors. These manmade noises tend to completely overpower the noises made by mother nature. I know that these noises are part of the tradeoffs that come with living in a city, but it got me thinking that perhaps many people haven’t even experienced true and pure quiet. It’s a shame really, because sounds are one of our most important senses and experiencing isolated sounds can be incredibly healing.

Sound is used extensively in scientific research, in integrative medicine practices, and has been a pain management tool for thousands of years. Sound has the power to transform energy patterns, show measurable effects in the physical body and help to create a deeper connection between the mind, body and spirit. Certain sounds (including silence) can be used to help treat and prevent depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and diseases.

Since I rediscovered just how incredible noiselessness can be on my camping trip, I’ve tried to make time to experience the sound of the quiet and stillness that nature provides us more often. Incorporating time of complete peacefulness can be very healing. If you cannot get away into nature, away from motors, people and technology, then meditating can help instill some stillness in your mind. You may be surprised at how invigorated and alive you feel after just a few hours enveloped in the silence of nature.

 

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1. Tune out distractions that can cause chaos and drama in your head.

2. Meditate or sit and focus only on your breathing each day (preferably at the same time). This will train your mind to slow down and quiet the busyness and mind chatter.

3. Turn your television off except when you are actually watching it.

4. Listen to relaxing music as an isolated event. Sit or lay down and allow yourself to hear the different instruments or voices individually.

5. Make a fire, observe the flames and let them mesmerize you into a state of relaxation.

6. Light a candle or several candles and stare into the flame(s), letting yourself be absorbed in their flickering dances.

7. Clean up your clutter. Looking around and seeing a serene environment can cut the noise in your mind.

8. Chant or listen to chants – even though you are creating noise, these types of sounds can help you to quiet your mind and can be healing.

9. Put on soft relaxing music in your home. While there is not a best type of music to soothe your mind, body and spirit, there are some genres that are more healing, like classical, harp, instrumental and nature sounds.

10. Put up a poster in your workspace of a nature scene that is soothing for your nerves.

11. Learn to welcome silence, especially if it makes you uncomfortable. With silence can come the most unexpected inspirations.

12. Live in the present moment. It is much more pleasant and quieter for your mind, body and spirit.

shutterstock_112916848A Secret to Great Health

Last week a client came in and told me about a radio show she had just been listening to on her drive over. The show was talking all about some miracle product that could cure diabetes, heart disease, depression, insomnia, anxiety and a whole slew of other ailments. She said, “Whatever it is, I’ll buy it! I don’t care what it costs, I’m buying it.” Can you guess what it is?

Yes, there is a magic secret to great health. What would you do to get your hands on this secret cure? What would you be willing to pay?

Well if you’d do anything and you’re willing to pay an extreme amount of money, you’re in luck, because this miracle cure is easily accessible to everyone!

That’s right… the magic secret is…

EXERCISE!

Seriously, exercise is amazing. When my clients come to me and are unhappy, unmotivated, and depressed, one of the first things I ask them is, “Are you exercising?” The majority of them aren’t. Every single one of my clients who exercises on a regular basis is much happier and much more successful in life than my clients who don’t. Exercise is directly related to your mental health. When you exercise, you feel better about yourself and your life. I know how easy it is to be lazy or make excuses about not exercising, we’ve all done it. If you do choose to take a break from it, it’s best not to let yourself go without it for longer than two weeks at the very most.

So what will make us feel happier, healthier, and sexier?

So what will make us feel happier, healthier, and sexier? You guessed it, the miracle cure, exercise.

Exercise will:
• Increase self-confidence
• Improve mood
• Lower stress
• Help with motivation
• Decrease procrastination
• Decrease sugar cravings
• Regulate appetite and help with losing weight or maintaining weight
• Improve sleep
• Overcome diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety

Walking and stretching is probably the easiest way for most people to get exercise. As humans we are meant to walk but with the sheer amount of machinery and technology in our everyday lives, we have become lazy to this basic need. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can add years to your life and make you feel so much better. Stretching can help keep you limber, stand taller and feel fitter. Walking and stretching don’t need to cost you a lot of time or money either. A good pair of shoes for walking and a mat or sheet to lay on for stretching is about all you will need. So no more excuses, right?

I recently purchased a monthly class pass for Barre classes, which is an exercise program that combines ballet, pilates and yoga. I did a lot of ballet when I was younger and I’ve done a lot of yoga as an adult, so this particular combination was appealing to me. I decided that I wanted to get my money’s worth for the month and I’ve been going three times a week. Oh how I ached after the first few times, but as the weeks went by I noticed how much stronger I was while going up stairs, jogging when I was in a hurry, and how easy lifting heavy boxes had become. I also noticed that my belly was firmer because there’s so much core work involved in Barre. Because of all these little changes in my efforts to become more fit, I feel more confident in a subtle way and I definitely like it.

Tips for Successful Exercise

1. Just Move More! – while you are talking on the phone, thinking about your plans, or anytime you are sitting and could be moving. Even walking back and forth in a short space is moving your body.

2. Set a goal you want to work towards. This could be a walkathon for a cause, a bike trip, or a beach vacation. Training for this event will be a great motivator.

3. Find a time when you are most likely to make yourself exercise. First thing in the morning, lunch break, after work, or in the evenings?

4. Create a buddy plan and meet up with a friend to exercise. Encourage each other and maybe even come up with a friendly competition, like whoever logs the most exercise time gets a small award each month.

5. Stretch in your chair while working: lift your legs like you’re marching in place, lift your hands high over your head and then bend your elbows and pull them down toward your waist, bend from side to side stretching your lateral chest muscles, slowly turn your head side to side and front to back.

6. Stand at your computer and do glute squeezes and pelvic floor exercises. You can also do these while you are standing and chopping vegetables for dinner.

7. Take a movement break frequently during the day. Try a bioenergetic exercise and stand with your feet hip width apart, then bend your knees bringing your center of gravity to your belly button area. Let your arms and hands just swing loosely at your sides. Make sure your body weight is evenly distributed from the ball of your foot through your heels. Lift your toes off the floor to make sure it is, then lower your toes back down. While you are in this position bounce and swing your arms gently or walk around the room. This is a great way to get out of your head and into your body.

8. Before getting out of bed each morning: roll to one side and stretch long from toes to fingertips raised high over head and hold for 30 seconds and then roll to the other side and repeat. Then roll onto your back and lift your legs up to the ceiling, alternate flexing your ankles and point your toes several times. Lower your legs and take a nice long deep breath in and out slowly, repeat as many times as you have time for.

9. Take a work break and go for a quick walk around the block or climb some stairs.

10. Use your dog as your exercise pal and get out and walk.

11. Use a pedometer to measure your steps. Challenge yourself to add steps each day.

12. Decide on an exercise plan that includes stretching, strength training and cardio. Mix it up and try new methods.

13. Track your activity  - use an app (like See Me Get Fit or My Fitness Pal) or just good old fashioned paper.

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Last month my newsletter talked about the daunting reality of living to work and pay bills and not having enough time for what is really important. My way of dealing with this concept is to enjoy what I do and live in the present moment. I am fortunate to love my work, but I know so many people who don’t and for them work can be a burden.

I got a response from one of my clients with whom I worked with for several years. He is now 73 years old and has retired in Mexico. He has had a rich and rewarding life and I always enjoyed his stories and his point of view. He was quite independent from a young age and being bright and worked as a successful engineer all around the United States and overseas. Every so often he comes through Portland and I am honored to be a part of his tour stop.

With his permission I share his thoughts with you…

Tamara, I read your writing on everyday life and the comment of your daughter “…is this all there is?”  (Peggy Lee 1969) song lyrics can be found on the internet and perhaps are apropos. You offered something like a person will work for a living throughout life unless he comes into enough money to preclude that necessity. Speaking from experience, I offer my thoughts: As human animals, we must have basic necessities and the where with all to acquire them.  But as humans we need fulfillment.  That fulfillment can be anything from doing great things to merely enjoying life and all the wondrous things that can be experienced. Coming into wealth will not change a person.  If a person has not found the fun and  beauty of life and of this world while in a working model, he or she  will not find them after all monetary cares go away, the toys are purchased, and trips taken. I meet and talk with quite a few well off retirees here in La Paz. For a while, they are happy with the freedom from daily schedule, monetary worries,  and work issues and basically do nothing (sail, beach comb, shop the Mexican markets, etc.). But after a while many say “…Is this all there is?”

During my working career from ages 15 to 70, I was fortunate to enjoy my work and recreation. Managing construction of major projects around the world was challenging and rewarding. I lived in places people dream of vacationing in. For recreation, the outdoors and all the crazy other stuff I did were complimentary to my profession.

Somewhere I fell into the idea that a person can do one of four things while living through experiences. Be rueful, accept, enjoy, or be ecstatic about whatever is going on. The first is not an option and a waste of time. For me the lowest is mere acceptance. I do my best to at least enjoy. And that is not automatic, I need to help myself by looking at things differently and of course going toward things I know I will enjoy. Ecstasy is not every day and is the icing, perhaps a life’s reward of sorts.

You and Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements) showed me much of that. However, somehow I also picked it up way back when I was a youngster, probably from my parents and family.

I get the blahs even now. To get out of them, I become present for a time and then restart myself. I then make an effort to see enjoyment in what is going on or make the effort to do something that will be more elevating. And as you suggested, I pray for happiness. Very important.

As someone older than original sin who has quite frankly done it all, my recommendation to someone with the “…Is this all there Is?” syndrome is to start by getting present and then becoming aware of and taking  advantage of all the things that can lead to enjoyment in the many ordinary work days of one’s life.

A green heron just landed on a palm frond by my lanai and he is looking for fish in the swimming pool. I could tie that in with what I wrote from the heron’s viewpoint and of course, mine. I hope he does not try to improve his fishing by moving to the rigging on my boat and pooping on the deck. Ha!

Peace and Happiness,

Gary”

10 Tips for Living in the Moment

1. When you notice you are not in the present bring yourself back to the here and now. You will need to remind yourself to do this a lot, especially in the beginning. I still need to do this a lot myself. I promise you that the more frequently you bring yourself back, the longer you stay in the present each time.

2. Breathing is key to most everything so breathe deeply and often. Being focused on breathing deeply will help you stay more present.

3. Create a visual image of bringing your thoughts back to the present. I imagine I am lassoing my thoughts and I have several fun ways of seeing myself doing this. Use your imagination and make it memorable.

4. Practice focusing 100% on your daily tasks using your senses to really make them come alive in a new way. Notice colors, shapes, sizes, sounds, fragrances, tastes and textures. Even what we think of being mundane can be quite stimulating when observed with full attention.

5. If you’re really struggling to focus on the present, sit down and write down your thoughts. Even if you’re not much of a writer, recording your thoughts will help you focus on what’s going on for you in that moment.

sunsetTHE LIFE CYCLE

Last week as my daughter was rushing out the door, having just inhaled her breakfast and jammed all her bits and pieces into her backpack, she stopped mid coffee chug and turned to me and said, “Is this all there is to life? Going to work so I can pay my rent and bills, never having time to do the things I actually want to do? What’s the point?”

She asks a great question. She’s just entered the working world and she’s already feeling like it’s just one continuous cycle of struggling to make money so you can pay for things that allow you to go to work to make this money. It’s a point of view that so many people have; get up early every morning, rush through coffee and a quick breakfast, sit in rush hour traffic, work for eight to 10 hours, go home and collapse on the couch because you’re so tired from your busy day, wake up and repeat for the next four days, and the next forty-something years.

ALL LIFE IS WORK

It’s daunting to view your life as a big money making cycle like this. If you’re in the middle class, there’s a good chance that you go to work every day because you have to pay for your housing, car, loans, insurance, utilities, and healthy food (which can be costly, but necessary). You have to pay for these things because you need to sustain an environment that allows you to get to and from work every day. You probably use your weekends to catch up on things you can’t get to during the week like going grocery shopping, going to the bank, cleaning your house, and doing some yard work. If you’re lucky, you might have a little bit of time to see your friends or family. It’s easy to get burnt out and feel fed up with this work-centered lifestyle. Unfortunately, all life is work though. Even getting ready for fun or relaxing times takes work. In my experience, preparing to leave for vacations have been some of the most stressful times in life! We have to accept that unless we strike gold or win the lottery, our lives will probably always consist of a significant amount of work. Since we devote a good chunk of our lives to working, we might as well do work that we really love or enjoy. We can learn to perceive our work in a more positive way, even if you’re not in a job that you love. We can either bitch and moan about our schedule or we can learn to take it all in our stride.

IT’S ALL ABOUT MINDSET

We have to adjust our mindset and learn to make work and chores pleasant tasks. They might not be the most fun part of life, but they’re the most necessary, and sitting at your desk or job miserably watching the clock every day is not going to make it any less painful. The same goes for exercising and grocery shopping, these are the things you have more power over and can choose to make more fun for yourself. Get a grocery shopping buddy or join a really fun dance workout class like Zumba.

If you have a job you love or are passionate about, your work-centered life will just seem like the flow of your life. If you truly hate your job or are in a work situation that is unhealthy, start creating a plan today that will allow you to get out of that environment. Sit down and brainstorm how you can get yourself into a position where you can go to work and stay at work with a positive outlook every day. Maybe that means you’ll ask your boss if you can work four 10-hour days and have a day off for yourself. Maybe that means you’ll start looking for another job, or you’ll make a small change in your daily lifestyle that will allow you to save more money so you can take a much-needed vacation. For example, what about that afternoon coffee you spend $4 a day, five days a week on so you can power through until 5 o’clock? If you put that $20 away every week, you’d have $1040 saved in a year, which you could put towards something really fun, like a vacation or a fabulous shopping spree. Even if you don’t spend $20 a week on coffee, you can still put that money away into a special account for your spending pleasure later.

Summer is finally here and it’s time to make time for all the things you’ve been wanting to do. Add that to your to-do list, and make it a priority. Follow through by creating a plan of action and starting with a small step. The sooner you start making changes, the sooner you’ll have a more fulfilling life. Creating balance between work and play is what sustains us and drives us to get up every day and be a real person. Life is filled with things, activities and people that we are meant to enjoy, and only you have the power to find your own personal balance between working hard and playing hard.

12 Tips for your Livelihood

1. Determine what your attitude is towards your work, work environment and your life. What attitude adjustment might be helpful?
2. Write down the list of reasons you feel unhappy or exhausted at your job.
3. Think about whether you’re following your passions, or whether you let them fall by the wayside in the name of making money. Come up with a way to incorporate your passions back into your life, regardless of whether or not they’ll make you any money.
4. If you had just one extra hour per week, how would you spend it? Think about how you can make this activity your priority in life.
5. Write down summer 2013 goals or a “bucket list” and post them in a place where you will see them every day as a constant reminder.
6. Schedule time for a weekly goal check-in. Have you made an effort to reach your goal or had some setbacks? Evaluate what you can do differently every week to reach your goal on time.
7. Track your spending habits on non-necessities for one week. At the end of the week, evaluate how much you could save if you cut just one thing out.
8. Start packing healthy lunches instead of buying lunch at work everyday (this is financially and physically much healthier!) Prepare to be amazed at how much you save.
9. Make exercise and healthy eating habits a financial priority. Lack of these two necessities is often the reason why people are so exhausted every day.
10. Create a spending plan for your money. You’ll need to know exactly how much money you are spending and on what every month so you can create short and long-term financial goals for yourself.
11. Before walking in to work every morning, take a few deep breaths and put yourself into a positive mindset.
12. Learn to stay in the present moment as much as possible. It makes life more pleasant.

shutterstock_119270362_resized Writing newsletters is something I think I need to be perfect at. Because of this desire for perfection I get caught up, pulled back, and held down in my own muck and mire of wanting to shine. I often wonder why I suffer from this perfection complex when I get wonderful feedback from unexpected people saying how much they love my newsletters and appreciate what I share. But, like millions of others, I am plagued with the perfection complex and the positive feedback never seems to be quite enough to cure that.

I know where my need to be perfect comes from and although I have done my family of origin work, my issue of needing to get things just right and to always do things perfectly still lingers with me. At times this can be helpful as it pushes me to do a better job when perfection is a priority, but more often that not, having to be perfect blocks my creative flow and hinders me from sharing information with you that might be beneficial.

Perfection can stop us from getting started on things because we think that what we want to accomplish needs to be a perfect end result, before we’ve even begun the first step! We spin ourselves out of control, avoid our project like the plague, get paralyzed, and then stop pursuing whatever is was that was so important because we convince ourselves that if it’s not perfect, it’s not worth it. Then we become stressed, anxious and maybe even depressed because we are stagnant in our work. Not moving towards what we want produces a constriction that leads to mental paralysis and overwhelming procrastination.

What if there were another way? What if things didn’t need to be perfect? What if the idea of “perfect” didn’t haunt you when your creative juices get flowing? What if you could get your mindset to believe that doing anything towards your getting your project started or finished would be better than doing nothing at all? And, what if you could imagine that perfection doesn’t really exist?

Well, perfection does not exist. Period. How can it? Who would have the ultimate say that something is perfect? Perfection is a figment of all of our imaginations, and it is different in each of our minds. It is a curious thing when you consider it, because how can so many of us be caught up in the concept of perfection when there really is no such thing? It’s easy. I believe that our hard-wired instinct to always remain safe creates our fear. If we don’t do or avoid something that may take us out of our comfort zone, we can remain safe and avoid the risk of imperfection. But we are dynamic people and our true potential is waiting for us through the wall of fear. Once we decide to dive into something head first with no perfection expectations, we can surprise even ourselves with talent.

The problem with staying safe is that we have limited or slow personal growth. We are afraid of being imperfect, but most of all we are afraid of others thinking of us as imperfect. Living life to the fullest requires us to risk imperfection. If you decide to take the first step and push past those fears of “perfection” and stop procrastinating on that project you know you could nail if you could just get started, life will reward you beautifully.

Take a moment and picture what your life could be like if you weren’t held up by your need to be perfect. How might you be living your life to the fullest? Just imagine all that you could do and be…

I know this newsletter isn’t perfect, and that’s okay. I’m proud of it because I felt focused and positive when I was writing it, I’m happy to have shared my concept of perfection with you, and I enjoyed pushing past my mental block to create something that I hope will help you in some way, whether it’s big or small.

Cheers to never being perfect and to always being proud!

 

20 Tips for Overcoming Perfection

1. Take a deep breath and bring yourself to the present moment.
2. Take as many breaths as you need until you can really get to the present moment (you aren’t going to get anywhere being outside yourself)!
3. Bring to mind what you want to do, create, or achieve and simply start by writing it down.
4. Start a vision board for your project, or create a virtual one on Pinterest.
5. Use all your senses to create in your mind and body what it is like to be doing this thing, e.g. see yourself and get a sense of yourself actually doing it; what do you hear? Notice if there are any associated smells or tastes.
6. What resources do you need? Make time to gather them.
7. Block out uninterrupted time to start your project.
8. Block out additional time to finish your project.
9. Do your BEST on the project and have FUN.
10. Start small. For example, do you love to draw but think you’re a bad artist? Set aside time to draw just for yourself.
11. Start on a small project that’s just for you. This will help you start projects that involve work, other people or have more riding on them.
12. When evaluating your work, start with the positive aspects, then comment on what could be improved upon.
13. Look for what is right, what is working, and what is good about your project.
14. Practice acceptance and non-judgment.
15. Make adjustments and corrections as you go.
16. Keep breathing and stay in the present moment.
17. Stay focused on your creation (not on perfection)!
18. Take breaks if you start to feel frustrated or don’t feel as if you’re progressing. Make sure you go back to finish.
19. Compliment yourself on what you have achieved.
20. Celebrate your projects and tell others about what you’ve achieved. Be proud of your work, it will show.

 

Family This post is part of the Tara Mohr Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign. I’d like to invite you to write your own Grandmother Power post, or share other posts you find inspiring! Cheers to all the Grandmothers out there!

I want to share a story about the woman who raised me, inspired me, and who I would like to send my love and gratitude to: My Grandmother, Dorothy Guess.

When I was in 7th grade, I took a trip to Canada with my grandparents. It was just the three of us driving up I-5 in their Oldsmobile 98; Grandpa driving, Grandma his ever faithful co-pilot, and me in the back, usually fast asleep from the lull of the motor. We pulled over to camp one night, and the smell of a crackling fire burnt the air as Grandma took out her comb and pulled me close to brush out my hair. I didn’t have ordinary hair (nor do I now); it was thick and constantly matted as the knots grew more tangled by the day. My mother would usually just brush the top, avoiding the areas underneath that really needed help, and wash my hair knots and all. But Grandma found the mass at the nape of my neck and set to it; she pulled and pulled and my head seared with red hot pain. I sat there with tears threatening my eyes until I couldn’t take the pain any longer, I grabbed the comb from her hands and I ran. When I realized what a bold thing I had done, I slowly walked back to our camp like a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs. “I’m sorry Grandma, it just hurts so bad,” I said sheepishly. Instead of getting angry as I had predicted, my grandmother turned to me, put her little arms around my waist and said “That’s okay honey, when we get home I’ll take you straight to the beauty parlor.” And she did.

The stylist combed and shampooed and conditioned and combed some more before she finally turned to my grandmother and said, “This thing is not coming out, if you want it out, I’m going to have to cut it out.” My grandmother cocked her head at me and said, “Your call honey, what do you think?” I didn’t even hesitate, “Yes please, whatever you have to do.” For as long as I could remember, my hair had been long and matted, with a knot sitting invasively at the nape of my neck. Every day, my mother would pull it back so tight it hurt to even nod, and she somehow always managed to avoid dealing with the knot. When I came home, pleased as punch with my new short haircut, my mother saw me and her eyes burned with fury. If looks could kill, the look on her face was the mother of all killers. She was furious at both of us. This was the moment when I realized my grandmother had saved my life, but in reality, she had come to my rescue many times before, and would many times after.

When I was five months old, my mother was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown (that’s what they called a major depressive disorder back in the 1950’s). Weaned immediately from my mother’s breast, my grandmother came to take care of me, my brother, and my sister for several months until my mother was well enough to take over, and we formed a special bond that would last until she passed away at the ripe old age of 103.5 years. She rescued me many times from my mother, who always was angry, by coming to visit and asking who wanted to come home with her and my Grandpa for a few days. I never hesitated to jump at the chance to escape and in time, none of my siblings even tried to get their share of equal time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Grandma was my role model on many levels. She was absolutely beautiful and remained so until her last years when she could no longer care for herself. She dressed smartly and was always put together with jewelry and matching clothing. She wouldn’t have been caught dead lounging around in sweatpants. (I wish I could say the same for myself!) Her beauty wasn’t lost on men either. She met my grandfather when they were in high school in Livermore, California. When my grandmother moved to San Francisco after high school to train as a nurse at Children’s Hospital, my Grandpa followed her and went to work for the Bell telephone company. He was determined to marry her (and I secretly think she was set on him from the start), but my Grandma used to taunt him by going on double dates with him, only she would bring another guy and would set him up with one of her classmates! In time, my grandfather’s patience and devotion paid off, and he married the love of his life. She said she had dated enough ‘fish from the sea,’ as she so fondly referred to the abundance of available men that she could get to take her out for a free dinner. Grandma really knew what she was doing!

Grandpa adored Grandma and never was this more evident than when grandma got tuberculosis (TB) when she was 26 years old. At the time, the treatment for TB was to enter a sanitarium and stay flat on your back for 24 hours a day with a lot of fresh air for two years. Not only could my grandparents not afford such a treatment center, but my grandfather refused to leave my grandmother, despite the doctor warning him that he might catch it as well. Instead, he built a room with open windows in their little San Francisco flat where my grandmother stayed laying on her back for two years. My grandfather went to work every day and came home to sleep beside her every night. My mother, then only two years old, was sent to live with a woman down the street. For those treacherous two years, she wasn’t able to come close to her mother, not for a hug, not for a kiss, not for anything. I can’t help but believe that my grandmother’s tuberculosis had a great deal of bearing on my mother’s depression and dysfunction later in life.

What I’m most grateful to my Grandmother for is that she made me feel safe. Even though she never talked about anything emotional, she was sensitive to my feelings and was always nurturing and supportive. When I grew up and moved away from home we wrote letters to each other regularly. I wish I had kept those letters just to hear her words and see her lovely handwriting.
I owe so much to my grandmother; she sewed most of my clothes until she taught me how to sew for myself. She never taught me by instruction, I learned from watching her. If it had not been for her I would have been out of fashion when I entered Junior High, (the worst thing that can happen to a 12-year-old girl!). My grandma also taught me how to cook. Like sewing, she never encouraged me to cook with her though. I think she was so fast at it that I would have slowed her down. Did I mention she was efficient? Never have I seen anyone get everything cooked at once, on the plates, and the pots and pans cleaned up before sitting down to eat the amazing meals. After many years of watching her fly around the kitchen, I’d like to think I have absorbed some her ability. Later in life when my former husband and I went to visit my grandparents at their self-made and highly successful mobile home park, I’d sneak to the kitchen to watch my grandmother cook. I’d find my husband in there with her, working side by side, flirting away. Yes, flirting! My grandmother in her 80’s and my husband in his late 20’s, leaning into each other, laughing, joking, exchanging playful banter, and just having fun. It was precious to watch them together, forming a bond that would remain unbroken, even after our divorce.

My Grandmother accepted me for everything I was and loved me unconditionally. She was there for me through big life choices and supported me in all my endeavors. When the love of my life didn’t come back to marry me I wanted to go to him in London. I told Grandma I was so in love with him and really wanted to be with him. Surprisingly, she said, “You go get him honey. You have to go after what you know you want in life.”

A few years ago I went to a psychic to see what might be ahead for me in life. Grandma showed up with Grandpa standing behind her, supporting her as he always had. She let me know she had been watching over me since she passed on and was so proud of me, what I had been doing, and how I had turned out in life. Whenever I feel discouraged about my life I think about my Grandma and remind myself that this wonderful, inspirational and spirited woman who helped me to become the woman I am today, is proud of me, wherever her spirit may be now. She still lives on in my heart and sometimes she comes to visit me in the form of birds or mice. Just knowing grandma is still around, and is still supporting me as she always did, has brought me such a sense of peace. Whether it was a much-needed haircut, or a weekend of sleeping on her porch, Grandma always knew what I needed and for that I am eternally grateful to her.

 

d7cb46562b16710740b5e2cce181ce5dDo you ever feel as if the need to control is dominating your life? Trying to control your life probably isn’t working for you, just like it didn’t work for me. Relinquish your control and take back your life, because trying to control everything just doesn’t work..

We all want exactly what we want. However, we often don’t get what we think we want. In fact, a lot of the time we get exactly what we think we don’t want. Sound convoluted? Well, perhaps it is sometimes. So what can we take away from this confusing cycle of desire vs. acquire? We can learn to ask the universe for what we think we want and then learn to be flexible and adapt to whatever comes back to us. Often the universe sends us exactly what we need.

This past month has been a whirlwind filled with travel and the hectic moving of my office. Every weekend has been jam-packed with endless things and tasks that I needed to accomplish. I kept reminding myself to just stay focused and in the present moment as much as possible, which helped me stay on task and get the job done (most of them anyway). Needless to say, not everything went smoothly or as planned, because let’s face it, life rarely goes as we plan. Practicing patience and tolerance was the key to being able to let go of what I could not control and embracing the way things turned out.

I used to be a control freak and it wasn’t pretty, for myself or for others. Just ask my former husband. When I was a child I loved to have all my things neat and tidy in my bedroom. I shared a very small room with my older sister for several years. We had an unusual kind of closet that separated in half, quite fortunately. Her side was chock-full with stuff so disorganized that when she opened the door, things would come pouring out onto the floor. As far as I could tell, there was no sense of organization in the slightest. In stark contrast to my sister’s, my side of the closet was neat as a pin. I knew exactly where everything was and each object had it’s proper place. Now, years later, my sister and I are just the opposite. Although still somewhat organized, my closet is definitely not arranged in the Feng Shui style I so obsessively followed as a child.

As I got older I used cleaning as a way to feel in control.  When I was in college, I would have to scrub the house clean and put everything in it’s proper place before I could sit down and study. I loved to look around my home and see the orderliness and the serenity that came with it. My need to control my surroundings often distracted me from what I really needed to do though, STUDY! When your desire to control, whatever it may be, gets in the way of your life, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate what’s truly important.

I still love it when my house is clean and tidy because everything feels so much more harmonious, but I have learned that life is not always so neat and tidy, nor should it be. Everything is not always as it should be or how we’d like it to be, and the sooner we accept that, the better our lives will be. I used to fight this with all my being because I wanted everything to be the “right” way, in it’s right place at the right time. Somewhere along my journey, after great losses, I learned that life just is what it is. There is no “right” way that life should be. We have and then we don’t have. We win and then we lose. We choose something we want and then we get something completely different. Now I scrub my house and put everything in it’s proper place out of a healthy desire to live in a peaceful and organized environment.

I spend much of my day talking with people about how and why they are fighting life. When we fight what comes to us or how life is for us, we are creating a stress response in our body, otherwise known as the Fight or Flight Response. Chronic stress is what causes us the many health problems that have become ubiquitous in our culture. Headaches, stomachaches, indigestion, ulcers, back pain, cancer, skin problems, early aging and so many other stress-induced health issues stem from the struggles we create in our minds. Yes, the fight against life all starts in the mind, but it can also be stopped by the mind.

Our perception and outlook can make all the difference to our general health and well-being. What if we learned to just accept what comes to us and stop the fight and anger that can come when we don’t get what we thought we wanted? This doesn’t mean that we give up going after what we want. It means being receptive to life and working with what we get, because everything happens for a reason.

When I moved offices, I moved from a spacious 220 square feet to a mere 120 square feet. When I first started the search for a new office, I never dreamed of downsizing. I didn’t want to consider anything that was further from my home, smaller than what I had, or darker than what I was used to. I knew what I wanted, and thought I knew exactly what I needed. Needless to say, office spaces with my exact specifications were few and far between. When my new office came up, I was so hesitant; it had great light, it was in the perfect location, but the size was less than ideal. I almost passed it up because I was fully convinced that I NEEDED more space. Turns out, that office came up for a reason, because with the right furniture, organization, and open mind, I’m happier with it than I ever thought I could be. I got rid of things I forgot I had, cleared the clutter, and made room for the important things that really make my practice run smoothly.

What are three things that would be helpful for you to let go of, do less of, or stop altogether? Open your mind to possibilities that right now may seem impossible. Often the greatest life changes come from embracing the inconceivable and creating something you are truly proud of. I am very proud of myself for having created a warm and welcoming new office space with 100 less square feet than I had become accustomed to. In fact, my office move has inspired me to de-clutter and reorganize my house with a quality over quantity mindset that I’ve wanted for years.

 

15 TIPS FOR STOPPING THE FIGHT IN LIFE

  • Be conscious about how and why you are fighting things in your life
  • Embrace what you get, try not to dwell on what you don’t get
  • Work with what you have
  • See the benefit and positive aspects in everything you receive
  • Learn to accept that you get what you need and not always what you want
  • Be creative in reorganizing your thoughts, spaces or life choices
  • Get to the present moment and stay there. The fighting in your mind is about dwelling on the past or future. Right now is always perfect because it just is.
  • Breathe deeply and frequently
  • Be mindful of how you do things
  • Allow yourself to be curious about what comes to you and use everything to your advantage
  • Learn to see your life in a new way. Try viewing it from the eyes of a stranger, it may offer you an incredible new perspective
  • Detect your ability to be flexible and adaptable
  • Use stress releasing techniques daily or more frequently as needed
  • Find out how resilient you can be
  • Discover the energy and power you have to heal your life

shutterstock_79666759A New Year – A New You – An Invitation

I know I’m a little late, but it’s still January, so cheers to a Happy New Year! We are now a few weeks into 2013 and the buzz of the holidays is coming to an end. I like to think of each new year as a chance at a fresh start and a time to begin anew. With a little effort, we can kick those bad habits back to 2012 and introduce ourselves to 2013 with new and exciting ways to make our lives better. How would you like to be different or what would you like to do differently in 2013?

STEP 1: BAN RESOLUTIONS

I always want aspects of my life to be better, but making New Year’s resolutions feels like a chore and reminds me of all the things I should be doing differently. When I hear “I should do this, I shouldn’t do that,” the word “should” immediately makes me want to rebel, be lazy and not follow through, or worse yet, beat myself up for not following through. This process didn’t feel very healthy to me and I never had much success, so I stopped making New Year’s resolutions some years ago.

The dictionary defines a resolution as “an act or process to be resolved, a problem to be solved, analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.” Oh boy, this doesn’t sound like a fresh start to a new year, it sounds like another issue to be resolved at some point in my already busy life! So my solution is simple, I no longer make New Year’s resolutions, instead I set New Year’s intentions.

STEP 2: SET YOUR INTENTIONS

You can choose an intention for just about anything. Perhaps you’d like to improve your focus and concentration this year. You can simply start by clearing your environment and your mind of the things that are blocking your focus, which might take a few goals, and weeks, in itself. Let your intentions be your guide in life, like a lighthouse that helps you find your way in the dark. Your New Year’s intentions will help you make decisions and choices in life. When making a decision, ask yourself what will help you move forward in fulfilling your intention and consider which of your choices could take you a step backwards away from your intention.

For myself, I have set an intention to be my best self and achieve magnetic health in my mind, body and my spirit this year. As you may already know, I have been teaching and developing my course, Becoming Your Best, for many years, and it is now finally available online. This is a huge step for me, and I’m very excited about where it will go in 2013. There are so many layers to becoming our best selves and this year, I intend to take it more seriously than ever before. The choices I will make on a daily basis will be driven by my intention. Every action or decision will either take me closer to achieving my intention or will take me further away from it.

STEP 3: SHIFT YOUR MINDSET

Achieving our greatest intentions doesn’t have to be hard, or even a challenge. All it takes is a simple mindset shift. Focus your energy on your intention and only do things that will help you to reach it. Instead of trying to make lots of changes all at once, layer them week by week by setting weekly goals for yourself. Doing this will help keep your intentions attainable and realistic. Some people need a longer adjustment to a new way of doing things, which is perfectly normal. If your intention is to get into the best shape of your life, you wouldn’t start by going to the gym and working yourself hard every day, especially if you hadn’t been exercising regularly because you’d probably be hurt or exhausted after a week of this. Rather, you’d build up your strength week by week, starting at an easy pace and gradually increasing your endurance so that you could persevere long-term.

There are 52 weeks in a year no matter when you start counting your year for changes. If these first few of weeks haven’t gone exactly as you’d planned, don’t beat yourself up. Perhaps your intention is to sleep better and have more energy. Create a new plan of action that involves weekly goals that won’t overwhelm you. For example, if you set an intention to sleep better, you may not be sleeping a solid eight hours every night by February, but any improvement in your sleeping patterns means you are closer to reaching your intention. 52 solid changes will surely yield a new and better you, and now is the perfect time to start as 2013 has just begun. Please join me on this journey to discover your best self; surrounding yourself with support is the best tool you can have in achieving your goals. You can start by liking my Becoming Your Best Facebook page, where you can start discussions, ask questions and get coaching tips from me. This can by your first step in reaching your 2013 intentions. I’ll see you there!

 

10 Tips for Making Solid Changes This Year

1. Determine what it is that you truly want in 2013.
2. Set one or more intentions that you can work towards all year.
3. Write down your intention somewhere that you can see it multiple times a day, so it’s always in the forefront and back of your mind.
4. Write down how your life will be better when you achieve your intention.
5. Start simple. Set yourself up for success by setting very attainable goals until you feel more comfortable challenging yourself.
6. Break your goals down into simple and do-able steps. Set realistic and achievable goals that will lead you closer to your intention.
7. Reward yourself for every weekly goal achieved. When you’re being rewarded for success frequently, you will be more motivated to persevere through the next goal (and the next…)
8. Focus on what you will be gaining in the long run instead of what you’re missing out on when you say no to things that will take you away from your intention (like that delicious chocolate cake).
9. Be present. We tend to do things we may regret later when we are unconscious about our choices or make them in reaction mode.
10. Tell your friends and family about your intention so that they can help keep you on track and offer support along the way.

 

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