Blog + Writing

I have written for Huffington Post, Beliefnet.com, tinybuddha.com and more. I want to write for Real Simple, Flow, AirBnB Magazine and maybe you. The writing on this blog is to give you a peek into my philosophy, my real life and how I write. Explore and, I hope, be inspired to have me write for you. You can see of my published work on Contently - Click here.

 

Meditation IRL

Why meditate? Seriously. I've been thinking about this a lot although I've covered some of my why, but I thought I could get down to business with you on how it helps in real life.

This isn't about reaching Nirvana or Enlightenment. That's cool if you think there is some "end", but in my world meditation is about real life situations and not some blissful state. In fact, I think about nirvana as the everyday state that we are in when we are mindful. What? Yes. Every time you listen to your spouse without thinking about something else or what you are going to say back; that is nirvana. And that is the place I want to be. I just want to be where my feet are; present.

If we are going to talk about meditation in real life here are the top ways that it actually helps. Not bogus, it might help, help, but real help.

  • To not be an asshole when I drive: This means not letting traffic bother me. Not getting stressed out if I'm late. Not worrying that the person in front of me is going 30 in a 50mph zone. Knowing that I'll get there safe.
  • To be kinder to customer service reps: I was known, and I'm not proud, of not taking any shit from customer service people. I get what I want to get no matter how clear (read mean) that I needed to be. Pity the poor person on the line at Verizon or American Airlines. Now, I work to be as kind and helpful in the situation as possible. My meditation practice helps me cultivate a patience and the ability to know what is the kind thing to say and the cruel thing. I still get what I want, usually, but I don't crush the poor person who happened to get my call.
  • To let go quicker: Stuff happens. There's a great zen story about two monks on the road and they come across a total prima donna who can't cross a creek without being carried. She is mean and rude to them, but one of the monk picks her up and helps her cross. The two monks trot ahead, but one of them is fuming. He asks the monk who picked up the lady why did you carry her when she was so awful to us? And the monk responds, "why haven't you put her down. I did when we crossed the river." This is what I mean about letting stuff go quicker. If I hold onto it I'm not hurting anyone else except myself. Meditation helps with this a lot.
  • To have compassion when I really don't understand why people do what they do: This was a big one after the 2016 US election. Why, oh why do people do what they do? Instead of trying to analyze or, worse, degrade them for their choices, I'm working to have compassion. People choose to do things for a variety of reasons and there aren't right ways... just your way and my way... and that is fine. Compassion is found over and over while meditating because I have to be kind to myself for drifting off into never never land and reminding myself to come back to the breath.
  • To forgive quickly and absolutely: I have held onto stuff. When people are mean to me I can have a hard time understanding and I often take it very personally. I'm learning that if I forgive or even just practice forgiving them in meditation I can start to actually forgive them. It just makes my life less heavy.

Those are a few reasons for meditation that work in my real life. See. It's not about sitting like some zen monk on a cushion in silence. It's about practicing with crappy things that come up in  our own minds and learning to work with it. Sitting quietly, lovingkindness meditation and all the stuff that happens in real life is mediation practice. It's all practice.

Are You A Leader Even Online?

Leadership online? What does that even look like anymore? Honestly, given our current political maelstrom, I’m not sure, but I have some ideas of how I think small business owners, nonprofit professionals, and people interested in showing value to the world might behave online.

Situation: A Bad Online Review

Now, you can review anything online - books, vacuums, ice cream, stores, and entire towns – you name it. If a person can experience a product, place or event in some way they can review it. Those online reviews can be killers for a small business, author, chef, musician, maker – just anyone who puts them out there. It’s hard to hear someone’s negative opinion on something that you put out in the world. I get it. I really do.

Do not, no matter what, respond immediately online with a defense. If you are at ALL angry at the review don’t respond for at least 24 hours. Seriously. It won’t matter. It won’t make it go away. It won’t change the bad review. Instead, call a trusted advisor, a friend, and your mom and talk about what happened and how you could have done better, how the review doesn’t match what happened, or how it’s complete crap. Tell someone who cares about what you put into the world and talk it through.

After 24 hours you can respond. You can only respond, though, with kindness. Tell them that you are sorry that their experience wasn’t what they were expecting and that; if possible, you would like to connect in person to go over the issue. If you can’t do that just tell them you appreciate their feedback and that you will work to incorporate their viewpoint into your work. Be nice.

Why are you being nice? Why are you pulling out ALL of your professionalism? Because everyone in the world can see what you write online and if you are rude, condescending, mean or defensive you just look like a jerk. Your leadership cred goes down the drain. Who’s looking? Potential investors, customers and potential customers, your family, your community, your peers, media outlets and every other person who can type your business into their phone.

Situation: Facebook – Seriously, anything on Facebook

Your personal profile isn’t private unless you have locked everything down. If you go on rants about people in your community, your work, your customers, or anything else that is in relation to your business you are jeopardizing your business.

If you comment on a media outlets thread about how stupid X, Y and Z is everyone that follows you can see it. Not only that it comes up first. They see you with the snarky mean comment.

If you can’t reel in your mouth/fingers on Facebook you need to get off for a while. Real leadership doesn’t comment crappy things on posts. They don’t rain on other people’s parades. Real leaders know that people do/believe/write stupid stuff all of the time and it isn’t their job to give their opinion 24/7.

If your job isn’t comedy please think long and hard before you comment on every given thing.

8 Steps To Being a Leader Online

  1. Understand your brand. If you are living your brand in the ultimate sense you will be able to share your message through every post you make either on your own pages and platforms or when you are responding and commenting.
  2. Say less. Spend your time doing real work instead of trolling the internet. You don’t need to respond or push out a message constantly. Consistently, yes, but not every moment.
  3. Step away. Most likely your work doesn’t just happen online. Get involved deeply in the work you actually have to do and you won’t get so caught up with the online drama.
  4. Don’t stir stuff up. Don’t post things just to get the biggest reaction. You will look like a shit stirrer, not a leader, if you are going for the biggest bang online that gets the most emotional posts. Instead, share meaningful messages and posts that reflect the work you care deepest about.
  5. Take 10 and 24. Take ten breaths before responding to something that makes you frustrated and 24 hours when you are really pissed off. It will help you think about the bigger picture instead of just jamming your anger out.
  6. Control the conversation. If you are posting and the conversation online goes in a direction that you aren’t loving you have a couple of choices – you can say thank you for all the feedback and let them know you are no longer responding to comments on that thread or you can just delete the whole thing if it started with you. It’s seriously ok to just wipe it out.
  7. Don’t respond. If people are ranting and chiming in there is no obligation for you to respond. Instead you can call someone directly, message them through the app, email them – however you can connect to talk directly about the problem. You don’t have to respond online because life and business are nuanced and many times a real conversation is going to be better. It takes a leader to pick up the phone. 
  8. Unfollow and unfriend. If someone is just driving you mad just unfollow or unfriend them. Who cares? Life is too short to see posts that distract you from the important work you need to be doing.

Situation: You have a terrible, no good, experience with a vendor/client/staff member

Social media is NOT the place to deal with a problem you are having with someone in real life. Sure, it is vogue to Tweet an airline that they are doing a crummy job and your luggage is lost. I get it. You think that’s what the cool kids are doing. Maybe they are, but leaders don’t handle their business in the open air.

Leaders understand the process for dealing with stuff that happens. Because, guess what, stuff happens every single day. If you are going to rant and complain onine about every bad experience that you have people are going to become wary of doing business with you.

In the last week I have seen several people hate on their insurance provider, social media manager, a beverage vendor and a print supplier. Not one of them found resolution through their online rants. Sure, people came out and gave their war stories, too, but that didn’t solve the problem. In fact, it didn’t help the situation at all. Each one had to go through the protocol of the company that they were working with to get some kind of resolution.  If they hadn’t ranted online they could also have shown that they can keep their cool. Instead, they all looked like hot heads.

Need more?

Leadership is developed. And online leadership is constantly a work in progress, but when we put the effort to share our strengths online and not get dragged through the virtual mud we are all better off. I speak about leadership on and offline and work with groups to develop better strategies. Email me if that's something of interest to you.

Get The Book: You Are a Badass at Making Money

Normally, I wouldn't tell you to go get a book until I have finished reading it. I certainly wouldn't tell you to go get it when I've just gotten to Chapter 2, but this book is different. Very different. Different in a good way.

First, a disclaimer. I'm not a woo person. I don't believe in a higher power. I don't believe in the traditional ideas of "the law of attraction". No healing energy, mystical stuff happening over here. That said. I'm willing to let go of all of that just to see what happens. This goes against my very grain, but I'm doing it because, why not. Seriously. Nothing bad will happen if I try out new weird woo concepts.

Money. It's a hard topic to talk about. In fact, you aren't supposed to. Which is ridiculous because how are you supposed to LEARN about it if no one is TALKING about it. I grew up in a don't talk about it family with a lot of beliefs about rich people being bad. Seriously. My parents gave their lives to teaching and being a librarian - low paying jobs that better society. Anyone who did differently was obviously a greedy scumbag. I'm just telling you so you know where it came from. With that upbringing there was no surprise that they never talked about money options, how to make money, save money, invest money, deal with money - just silence.

So. Come to today and the You Are a Badass at Making Money book's Chapter 2 where Jen Sincero wants you to get in touch with your money beliefs. I'm shocked at the cray cray things I believe about money. I'm making myself work through two of my beliefs every morning and the weirdest thing is happening. I feel lighter, less anxious, less sleepy - just good. I want to get up at 5AM and slog through my crazy money beliefs and slay them like they are dragons. This from someone who really didn't even want to talk about money.

So, It's only Chapter 2, but go get the book. If you, like me, need to get to the heart of your money issues this might help. Heck, it can't hurt.

I'm chronicling my reading of the book on Instagram and let's just say that it gets real.


Links are Affiliate links to Amazon.com. I'd appreciate the purchase, but if you have a local book store go there first.

Happiness Hack: Grok Your Own Thing
Photo Credit: @brigittetohm

Photo Credit: @brigittetohm

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.

How Do I Pursue My Own Happiness?

Meditation: I do 15 – 20 minutes of some kind of 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 monthly email letter to my subscribers 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. It makes me happy to take risks – even small incremental ones.

Having Goals: 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 do my whole 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.

Book Clubs Are Magic
If you haven't read Sarah Murphy's book The Possessions get thee to Amazon now.

If you haven't read Sarah Murphy's book The Possessions get thee to Amazon now.

I'm in the best book club in the world. (I know you probably are, too, but mine is super awesome.) They are smart, sassy (I kind of hate that word), vibrant (hate that word more) women who give zero fucks about anything when we are together. Life is for today and they are going to dive into a book and love and hate it simultaneously and then defend their position loudly and with no worries that they have said too much.

Back Story: My friend Diane’s husband had passed away suddenly six months earlier. I was the sucky friend that never came by to say anything because what do you say (don’t be me). At the six month point, I went to her and asked what she wanted and she told me a book club. I said I could do that. I gathered awesome women who she didn’t really know, they didn’t really know each other, but I knew were magical. We met at her office that first night (over a year ago now) and discussed our love/hate of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (sorry Liz). I knew right then that they would be something special.

Why am I telling you this? Because you need a book club too. These can be your people and goodness knows we need to find our people. Here are a few tips on how to get started and how to keep it going.

  • Don't obsess about who comes. Those that fit will stick around and those that don't won't. It's ok.
  • Don't make it overly large. Ours is 13 people (a perfect witches coven) and we can fit in most people's living rooms.
  • Meet once a month.
  • Pick 2 - 3 books at a time. We just let the first people to blurt out their idea for a book be the book. We read the Amazon descriptions out loud and go for it. We don't over analyze the choices. It isn't really about the book, people. We pick for the next couple of months because of travel and schedules. People like to read ahead.
  • Read the books. It really does help if people have read the book.
  • Have a Facebook group for your club. Let people chat. Make an event for your meeting so it shows up on their phones. 
  • Use the group for MORE than just book club. Ask if anyone wants to meet up to see an art show, go kayaking, go for a walk, see a play, walk your dogs - whatever. These are your people and you will learn more about them in all the different configurations that show up at these other unofficial meet ups. Say yes to more of these than you would say no to.

Making friends as an adult is really hard. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't. You have to create opportunities to make magic happen. Questions? Comment below and let's get to the nitty gritty of what book clubs are, aren't can do, can't or how yours is better than mine (I'm totally up for that challenge).

Why Do I Meditate?
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Often when I speak at an event or facilitate a group on branding, marketing or leadership development I talk briefly about meditation and I always have people who want to learn. I will, then, either do a quick session after I speak to those interested or schedule to come back to the group. I’m always happy to help people learn this tool that I have found so beneficial. What I get asked MOST often though is WHY do I meditate? What do I get out of it? Does it WORK? Let’s dive into my why:

Why Do I Meditate?

Not to be an Asshole: Literally. I meditate so I am less of an asshole. My first impulse, because I’m scrappy and the last child in my family bullied by older siblings, is to punch out with biting words or thoughts. I’m a jerk. I HATE this about myself and after years of therapy and countless self help books on how not to be so mean I realized that I could just calm that the fuck down. Seriously. I can chill out and if the thought arises I can just NOT SAY IT, but that takes the work of a jedi master and I needed a tool.

Hence, meditation. It gives me the second pause to not say the thing that will crush my opponent. Seriously, no one needs to live on a battlefield every damn day. Snarky isn’t funny and it isn’t cool. It usually is at the expense of someone else and I don’t want to hurt other people.

Destress the Hell Out: Life is stressful. Seriously stressful. In this month alone I have had a banking fiasco (digging out now), found out my daughter might have gestational diabetes – goodbye Lucky Charms, and they found a change in my left breast and I have to have more tests. Seriously. It’s only the 19th of January and life just keeps happening.

Mediation helps me breath past some of that and stay aware, but not panicked. I can sit with more anxiety and just let it pass then I ever have been able to do before. Life doesn’t stop coming at you when you start meditating, but your response can be a little less frantic and your clarity of thinking improves.

Be A Nicer Human: Ok, so we covered that I want to be less of an asshole, but I also want to be a better human. I want to say nicer things. Meditation, in real life, allows me to speak with more love and kindness because I am more aware of my words. Stuff isn’t just flying out of my mouth like a rapid fire crazy person.

Pre-meditation I would just say whatever. Now, although I am still clear and speak my mind I am choosing my words more carefully to consider the other person. We are all on this damn planet together and I don’t want to cause harm to any other person -we all have enough of our own shit going on that we don’t need to pile it on with each other. So words matter and if meditation can help me slow them from spewing out of my mouth carelessly that is a huge win.

Who Do You Want to Be When I Grow Up: I know that if I want to be a Ghandi or Martin Luther King type person (don’t worry, I know I am far far off) I have to do the things that create that foundation and, for me, that is meditation. The ongoing practice of sitting quietly with myself and not freaking out over what my silly mind brings up even for just 15 minutes brings a sense of strength and calm to my life.

I want to be that person who stands with competence, baddassery, and kindness in the midst of raging storms and meditation makes that even a little bit more possible. It’s a practice, like yoga or tae kwon do, you don’t master it in one sitting it takes time. Time spent practicing this is better then running around shopping needlessly, gossiping, panicking or running around like a chicken in the yard. I can’t BE like MLK unless I PRACTICE being like MLK every single day.

In short, I want to disrupt my natural tendencies to judge, react and panic. I want to bring calm and fluidity to my life with grace. The only way I have found that works for me is to meditate everyday. It isn’t a big thing. I’m not perfect… but I don’t expect to be. It’s a practice and every moment I’m off the cushion and life is shredding us up I get to practice over and over.

Ask me your meditation questions and I’m happy to answer. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years and have some really practical tips for busy working mom’s, stressed out partners, doing it anywhere, finding a practice that works… whatever you want to know I will answer. Until then, you can also friend me on Insight Timer and I’ll cheer your practice on.

Affirmations & Sweet Life Hacks

I’m doing something super crazy. I’m jumping feet first into the world of You are a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero and all the wild woo it encourages. Why? Because I’m bombarded on the daily with negativity in the news, in the grocery line, online and I need to keep my life jamming on the happiness track for my sanity and my success. Yes, there are real problems and I am lending my voice, my hand and my dollars to make a difference, but I need to also raise my vibration. Dude. I just said raise my vibration. Welcome to my wild ride of tapping into the life force.

The Sweet Life Hack

My house is old. Really old. It was built before electricity. Because of that we don’t have enough outlets and they aren’t in the right places. A few weeks ago I was listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier and she was talking about Missing Puzzle Pieces in life. These are simple things that could make your life easier with a simple change. I realized I had a HUGE one I needed a longer iPhone charger cord and I needed more than one in the house. I was running to plug my iPhone in our bedroom and couldn’t hear the phone ring in my office (small old house that weirdly has very thick walls).

I read several reviews recently of Amazon’s Basics line and they were really favorable. So.. I bought two cords and my life is sweet. I can have my phone next to the bed at night and I have a cord in the living room and in my office to charge it during the day. What is your missing puzzle piece? What could make your life better?

Badass Affirmations

I’ve known about affirmations since the 80’s when I read Louise Hay’s Heal Your Life. I chalked it up to some serious hippy hooey then, but now I’m adding them back. I tend to obsess about the crazy things I see online about cutting PBS, NPR and kids lunches and I can’t think straight anymore. So, I am going to combat all of that crazy coming out of DC with some serious affirmation training.

I’m going to fill my head with the good because the bad isn’t going to win over here!

What the heck is an affirmation you are asking? You know. Positive things you tell yourself that counteract the negative self talk or venom coming out of your racist uncle’s Facebook feed. You just repeat them, post them around your house and learn to suck them in as the ninja to negativity.

Go. Go get the book.