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Doing Hard Things

Peace – Let It Begin with Me

Peace Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. As hymns go this is one of my favorites. (Morning has broken is another, if you care.) This time of year the idea of peace is thrown around on Christmas cards, sung by school kids and voiced by politicians of all stripes. You might even be bandying it around. Which is great, but do your actions match your words? Let’s talk about the places in our real world that we could bring peace. Grab your coffee and let’s go.

This is all part of a series to kick the hell out of 2016. #SuckIt2016

Another Blasted Meeting

It’s the end of the year, but the meetings haven’t ended. You have work meetings, holiday brunches that feel mandatory and not about the season, programs you have to attend, end of the year awards and all the things that make work, volunteering and communities hum. I’m not anti meeting, but sometimes I have trouble bringing my best self to them.

The Situation: I’m crabby because I’m cold, I haven’t done one lick of holiday shopping and I am rushing from one thing to another. I enter the meeting perturbed, arms crossed and a scowl or I’m unfocused and fiddling with my phone. (I know you are nodding along because this is you, too. I see you at these meetings!) This crabby ass mood of mine infects the whole proceeding and everyone in the room. Ahhhh! I just made the meeting worse.

The Solution: Take a few moments before I enter the room to gather myself together. Sometimes, on the way to a meeting a shut off the radio in my car and I literally practice saying hello in a happy way. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. If I’m not able to make that time I can rush to the ladies room and take a few breaths and remember that being kind matters more than my mood.

The Blasted Comments

I stupidly have found myself either the victim of comments online recently or have read comments and been appalled at the lack of kindness in the online space. Folks just say any hateful thing they want, get buoyed up by a few other angry trolls, and forget that we are all people working hard. Valid criticism is one thing but there is a forum to deal with that and it’s called email and the f-ing phone. The passive aggressive behavior validated by online comments is staggering to me. Clearly we are allowing violent words to be allowed because we don’t yet know how to handle ourselves online.

The Situation: You see someone post something VERY stupid on Facebook. They are the dumbest, their information is wrong, you are right about what is really going on and they obviously need your intervention. (Right. I’m the ONLY one who has thought that on any given day.)

The Solution: No. Just no. You do not need to comment on every single thing posted online. Here are three guidelines to go by if you want to post a comment online. 1) Can I say it with kindness? 2) Will it make the world a more peaceful place if I share my opinion? 3) Will my comment create suffering or pain for the person who posted the original post?

Let me be clear. No one is going to change their mind based on your Facebook post. No one. And no one is going to change their mind based on your comment. That is the facts of life. You are either building a bridge or burning one. You get to decide. If you really want peace can you hold your ever loving tongue?

Sharing Fear

I am seeing a lot of my friends share the scariest stuff online and talking about it in person. You would think that we were going to hell in a hand basket tomorrow. Fear is extremely catching – think of it like a virus. A virus that most people can’t combat and just fall further and further into.

The Situation: You see an article that has your worst fears about the environment, human suffering or any other thing that you personally freak out about on the daily. It confirms your fear and you MUST SHARE IT.

The Solution: DON’T SHARE IT. Seriously. Don’t. Just let it sit for a few hours or even, if you can handle it, for a day. Honestly, don’t share it. Sharing scary shit doesn’t help anyone.

Here is the litmus test – is it something that is REALLY happening (share it) or is it MAYBE happening (don’t share it). Easy, peasy.

You don’t need to spread the virus of fear. It doesn’t help you, your friends or family or anyone else. They will probably see it themselves and you can let it go.

Peace

Peace isn’t a thing that is just going to happen. Peace is something we all have to work towards. We have to cultivate it in ourselves, spread it in the world and amplify it when we see it. This is why we are here. Fear is the easy stuff. Anger, too. Peace, though, has this amazing power to bring people together, create safety and allow for hope to arise. I know this isn’t something you want just at the holidays and we can all work to be better at this year round.

Happiness – Grok Your Own Thing

Happiness What is happiness? I believe it is liking where you are right now in this moment. I also think it’s something that you cultivate, how you interact in the world, and figuring out what makes it all click for yourself. I am a big lover of the fact that the Founding Fathers of our great nation decided that the Pursuit of Happiness is one of our rights. They were a bunch of pretty happy guys doing exactly what they wanted to do. They knew that they could have that here, in this new place, and that everyone should be so lucky to go find it. Granted, it took them a while to think that women, children, African Americans and Native Americans were worth of it… but I give them kudos for trying.

This is all a part of a month long project to write a post to kick out 2016.

How Do I Pursue My Own Happiness?

Meditation: I am in a cycle (post 2016 election) where I am doing a lovingkindness mediation every morning. 15 – 20 minutes of a guided meditation. It helps to start my day with the idea that I have the capacity to be happy, healthy, live without fear and be at ease in the world and that you do too. It’s a small thing, but it helps.

Simplicity: Our house, mostly because my husband would prefer to live in a Zen Monastery is getting more and more free of clutter. I recently removed our couch and replaced it with two funky armchairs that are cozy enough that Franklin the Wonder Dog has abandoned the bed I made for him. I am quick to donate just about anything that I don’t use regularly and am keeping clutter to a minimum. It helps my peace of mind to have less stuff around and stuff doesn’t make me happy – it never has. I like quality things, things with personal meaning and empty spaces – that makes me happy.

Focusing: Really pairing down my life and business to what matters makes me happy. I am starting to really drive myself and my message around the idea that our own personal and professional development – what we value and how we act – is the trademark of our brand. Getting to that solid focus helps me feel calmer, more relaxed an ultimately happy. I’ve started, again, sending out a weekly email to drive that home. We are what we focus on and that helps drive my happy.

Saying Yes Even When I Don’t Know What the Hell I’m Doing: This last year I have said yes to doing Facebook Live videos every week without knowing anything about doing them. I put myself out there as an artist twice – once donating a piece to an auction that got purchased (squee!) and another in a collaboration youth/art project. I said yes to an overnight hike even when I didn’t have the right shoes, gear or any experience walking over a mile. I started a book club because a friend wanted one and the group has turned out to be amazing. I started an email list with a direct action to be more civically involved that has grown from 1 – 145 people in three weeks. I just put myself out there and decided, even if I failed in front of everyone, I would have fun trying, and I have. It makes me happy to take risks – even small incremental ones.

Having Goals: I didn’t do everything I set out to do, 7 out of 9 (not bad!), but looking at my goals everyday helped me feel accomplished. And just like everyone else that does something I like getting to the finish line and giving myself a serious high five. I’ll be doing more goal planning the first week in January because, frankly, it works.

Being Mindfully Kind: I practice kindfulness. It’s mindfulness in action. I am not always a happy camper. In fact, I grind pretty judgmental, but I know that when I gather myself into a kinder mode I am happier. I practice this in every post I write, every email, every phone call, every interaction, every damned thing. It isn’t easy and I miss the mark more than I like, but when I hit that spot of true engagement where I listened to the person, was compassionate and had composure and clarity I feel like I won a million bucks. Happy happy camper.

The Key to Your Happiness

The key for all of us is finding out, for ourselves, what actually makes us happy. Not what your mom thinks, your boss, your best friend.. but you. You have to grok your own special sauce of happy to be actually happy. And in my world, it’s whatever works. I’m not here to judge you (and I promise I’m working on that). You do you and find your happy place.

Renew – Renew Our Hearts on the Daily

Renew I feel, more than ever, that we need to renew our spirit, our humanity, our vision of the future and our faith in ourselves and each other. We seem broken. It isn’t just the election in the US or Brexit or any of the news from around the world – it is what is behind those moves. We seem to be reacting out in fear, distrust, and hatred for the other or unknown – them. We are bigger than this, people. We have the capacity to hold fear to the side as we step out in faith and love. That is what makes humans so beautiful and amazing. We can do this through a renewal of kindness.

This is part of a series where I am shoving 2016 out the door with all of the holiday spirit I can muster. #SuckIt2016

Today I posted a video about Lady Gaga on Facebook giving out gifts at a homeless shelter for LGBTQ teens in New York. The comments ranged from: it would be great if she didn’t have to film it or why do they have such fancy phones.

Sigh.

I get it. I do. It seems weird to have someone with no home have a better phone than you. It seems selfish to film your acts of charity. Ok. But who cares? We have no idea how much that phone is needed by that teen to connect to the world (fun fact – folks throughout Africa have more phones than we do). It wouldn’t have mattered if Lady Gaga filmed it herself – someone would have captured the moment because that is what we do now.

Another big sigh.

Renew Experiment One

Do it. Seriously. Do kind things. Smile even when you are grumpy. Pick a tag off the angel tree and buy a kid a gift. Pay for the car behind you at Starbucks. Whatever. Commit to doing one small thing everyday that is a little kinder. It will open your minds and hearts to the kindness around out.

At first you might feel a little fake doing these things, but after a while it will become who you are. It is so easy to criticize, complain, compare and calculate. I’m right there with you. My judging little mind likes to do all of those things. The PROBLEM with this (and it is a problem) is that you start to see the whole wide world as awful.

I don’t know about you, but when real shit hits the fan I want to be ready for it. Using my energy judging all the small stuff will make me tired and too exhausted to work when I’m really needed to combat the horrific. We have to renew our hearts on the daily.

Take the next week and MAKE YOURSELF do something kind every day. Film it or don’t. Just do it. You can report back or message me on Facebook if you found even the slightest change after the week.

Renew Experiment Two

Delete. Delete. Delete.

I spend half my time deleting things that I have typed online. Seriously. They don’t need to be said. I type it and then I delete it. No one needs my opinion about any blessed thing. No one needs me to point out their problem. No one needs my two cents.

Spend the next week NOT commenting the snarky comment. Not pointing out the facts. Not sharing the fear based article. Just choose the thumbs up or tap the heart. If you HAVE to share your opinion – delete it before posting. Seriously. One week to drop the judge and the critic.

Send me a note if this worked for you. Did it soften your heart at all? It may take longer than a week, but you have time – you can keep it going!

Renew

We, as Americans, do our level best to avoid being cruel to one another; we’re led out of a diverse nation to come together and learn how to live with one another in a way that elevates everyone and our way of life. We’ve tried mightily to renew and imagine – imagine anew what it means to be free, what it means to be fair.” Mark Tanako the first openly gay person of Asian decent Congressman in America.

Mark is right. We need to imagine anew what it means to be free and fair. Free of fear. Honestly, living in a constant state of fear is a drain on your mind and body. You can’t think right because the part of the brain that is activated in fear is the one that makes you run or fight – like when you see a bear. (It is not safe to run or fight a bear, btw.) You can’t live in fear 24/7 and you have to work to renew your spirit to give that fear up.

The world, despite the news, is better for humans right now then at any other time in history. I know that seems crazy given what you read about how “they” are ruining it (all of us have a they…). It isn’t ruined – it might need your support and your action – but it isn’t ruined. You can help best if you are working from a grounded, kind place. Are you ready to renew yourself? I know I am.

 

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