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Are You A Good Listener?

In a world moving at warp speed, we have lost many of the finer aspects of communication. Many of us grew up in families in which getting a word in edge wise was an Olympic sport. We didn’t even realize that there was another way of communicating other than everyone speaking at once or talking over whatever was being shared. Good communication is a two-way street: speaking and listening.

Photo Credit: Lea Dubedout

Listening doesn’t mean just not speaking. To be an effective listener requires certain behaviors and attitudes. Listening is an action word. Listening is also an act of generosity. Being a good listener is a gift we can give to other people.

Letting someone know he or she has really been heard is one of the finest things we can do for each other.

In our monthly event Developing Alliances: Professional Gathering for Extraordinary Women, we have two activities designed for communication, which includes sharing something, business or personal, and being received by the person actively listening.

Often ladies are moved to tears by the experience of being fully received, acknowledged, without being interrupted.

Find out how good a listener you are by answering the following questions:

  1. Listening means paying attention. When I listen to someone, I focus my attention on the speaker. I look directly at him or her, and concentrate on hearing what he or she is saying.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  2. Listening means accepting what the other person says. When I listen to someone, I withhold judgment and accept what he or she is saying “as is.” I acknowledge what the person is saying without labeling it right or wrong, good or bad, true or false.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  3. Listening means being interested in what the other person says. When I listen to someone, I invite the speaker to give his or her opinion, say what’s on his or her mind, or say how he or she feels about the topic or issue.
            

    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  4. Listening means confirming and clarifying what I believe I heard. When I listen to someone, I ask specific questions such as “What I heard you say is … is that right?”
    or “I think I understand what you said, but will you elaborate on …?” or “When you say …, do you mean…?

    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  5. Listening means being empathetic. When I listen to someone and I begin to feel defensive or impatient or angry, I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and appreciate what he or she might be going through.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  6. Listening means letting go of control. When I listen to someone, I don’t jump right in with a solution, or try to fix things, or have to say the “right” thing.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  7. Listening means not judging the speaker. When I listen to someone, I do not get distracted by the delivery, I allow others to find their way through their communication.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  8. Listening means withholding any rebuttal until the speaker is finished. When I listen to someone, I listen to the entire message before I begin to share my feedback. Then, I wait a beat or two before I begin speaking to make sure I’ve let the speaker finish, and I am centered in my response.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  9. Listening means paying attention to the whole message. When I listen to someone, I take in their non-verbal messages, too — facial expressions, gestures, eyes, tone of voice, and posture because I understand these can contradict or confirm the words that are used.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

     

  10. Listening means being present. Sometimes I’m unable to give my full attention to someone. When this is the case, I let the person know by saying something like, “I would like to give you my full attention and now’s not a good time for me to talk about this, can we discuss it later?” then agree to a specific time to have the discussion.
    ALWAYS ______ MOST OF THE TIME _____ SOMETIMES _____ NEVER _____

 

After you have scored each area total your responses.

  • If you scored highest in most of the time or always, congratulate yourself. Make a note of the areas where you could be even more effective
  • If you scored highest in sometimes or never there is much room for improvement.

Remember, just because we’re born with ears, doesn’t mean we start off life as good listeners. Becoming a good listener is a skill we learn, and like other skills, it takes practice to get better.

Inspired Action Step: Choose one area that you will focus on to ensure that you a good listener. Celebrate your success and choose the next area of focus until you are very satisfied with your score.

I’d love to hear from you, if you’d be willing to share at info@whattrulymatters.com

Love and blessings,

My Defining Moment

From time to time, I’ve found myself sharing a profound experience I had many years ago, but this is the very first time I’ve ever written about it.  That said, let me set the scene for you: I was in my late 20’s, newly divorced, still living in England and working in a bank.  I remember looking at some of the other female employees who had worked there forever and wondering if that would be my fate.  Already, I had spent 11 years of my life in those same four walls, and living in the same town that I had grown up in.

Obviously, my soul was communicating to me that it was time for a change and so it was unsurprising that within a very few short months, I had resigned my job and said, “yes!” to a new opportunity that seemingly came out of the blue.  Some months prior, I had begun a formal meditation practice and attended a follow-up course of instruction.  At the end of this course, we were presented with a chance to interview for a work-study position in France and Switzerland.  The agreement was that for every 3 days worked, I would earn one day of my teacher training.  Jobs were assigned as needed and could be changed on a moment’s notice.  It sounded like the exact antithesis of my life as it was and was extremely appealing.

I had begun dating again after my failed marriage and my boyfriend was also on the meditation course with me.  He was clear that he also wanted to sign up but was adamant that we needed to make our decisions independent of each other, as we were early in our relationship.  I agreed to this, understanding that what he was saying was, “Don’t count on me to be there for you.”

My first assignment was in Courchevel, a ski resort on the French/Swiss border.  I was to be second cook for a group of 30 women who were on a vegetarian diet of soups and salads.  “I can do this,” I thought, as I was already vegetarian and had packed some of my most favorite cookbooks in case I was assigned to a kitchen.  On my breaks, I sat on a mountainside, thoroughly enjoying the beautiful change of scene and my own willingness to change up my life.  My delight, however, was short-lived.  Just two weeks later, the word came down that we were moving location and everyone was to pack our belongings and board a bus heading to Vittel, a town in the Vosges, Northern France that was known for its healing water.

On the bus, one of the coordinators came to sit with me to discuss my next assignment.  “We want you to be the chef of the Nouvel Hotel, serving 300 teacher trainees.  You are responsible for the hiring of servers, food preps, and other cooks, as well as managing our vendors.  You will design all the menus and staff schedules.  Oh yes, and we need to know now if you will do it?”

I remember my heart pounding with fear, my stomach lurching, and thinking, “Well, I’m either going to sink or swim – and I’m not going to sink!”

When I arrived at the Hotel Nouvel, I found that my boyfriend had accepted the job of hotel manager but quite honestly, we were both so busy that we hardly got to see each other.  There was a manual of dreary-looking recipes and a set of deep dish serving containers that looked like troughs!  Hardly appetizing to eat food out of, I thought.  I kept looking.  I found a set of oval stainless steel platters and talked to my servers.  I explained that we would garnish every platter and serve each meal as if it were a banquet.  I knew that it would mean more work for them but would allow them much more pride in the work.  They agreed.  Then, I poured over the cookbooks I had brought from home – could the ingredients be multiplied and still retain the integrity of the dish?  I decided it was worth a shot.

My kitchen was quickly dubbed, “Aimée’s Love Kitchen.”  Not only did everyone want to eat at the Nouvel Hotel, everyone on the work-study program wanted to work in my kitchen!

What an amazing 10 months of my life!  Highlights includes making fresh pineapple juice, cooking 300 artichokes in a 5-foot long steamer, cooking corn fritters in a copper paella pan that was over 2-foot wide, defrosting turkeys the night before Thanksgiving and serving them for breakfast the morning afterwards, eating frog’s legs with my head of the maids and her husband the grounds keeper, and couscous with my Moroccan pot washer and his family.  Oh yes, and did I mention I met my next husband?  Yes, he so wanted into my kitchen that he pretended he could cook – he produced an incredibly beautifully decorated rice pilaf in just 15 minutes for his interview – only to be busted when I tasted it and of course the rice was uncooked!!!  He still got the job!  I’ll never forget the look on my boyfriend’s face when I told him that I was leaving him – priceless!

When, I realized that I was now ready for my own Teacher Training course, I reflected on what this experience had taught me.  I realized that, if I could do this – I could do anything!  

The next years of my life gave me pause to remember this defining moment.  I told myself that if I could be the Director of Service Quality for Citibank, I could be a Service Director in any industry, without knowing that industry.  True!  I became Director of Corporate Service Quality for Charles Schwab without knowing a thing about the brokerage industry.  Did I succeed?   I won the Presidential Breakthrough Achievement Award.

Then, I was invited by a former peer to join her as a senior consultant in an International training company.  I told her that I knew nothing about training and undaunted, she replied, “You’re a natural.  I can teach you anything you need to know.”  Little did either of us know that our mandate was about to be changed and we spent our first year in the company learning how to design multi-media training courses.  “Why,” I kept asking?  I soon found out.  My first job as an entrepreneur, four years later, was to be a partner in a multi-media training company!

A defining moment is a point at which the essential nature or character of a person is revealed or identified.  I found out what I’m made of – and I like it!

All of us have these defining moments that fuel us in our professional and personal life and support us marshalling our courage to leap into unknown territory, as needed.  They allow us to trust in our process and to take appropriate risks in business but also in matters of the heart.

I’d love to hear about your defining moments, if you’d be willing to share at info@whattrulymatters.com

Love and blessings,

Inviting Laughter Back Into Our Lives

Yesterday, I listened in while two grandmothers discussed the joy of being with the grandkids. They were watching the kids with delight, noticing that each new experience was met with curiosity and wonder and laughter. “Yes,” they said, “Chasing a 2-year-old for any length of time can be exhausting, and yet, the joy of being present in each moment watching them grow and change is worth all of it!”

As children, we laugh hundreds of times each day, delighted by the newness of living. The grandmother’s conversation reminded me how much I want to “live” happy. When we reach adulthood, however, we tend to not allow ourselves to let go in a good belly laugh; life can become too serious which makes every situation more difficult.

This afternoon, I made a call to a phone company to set up new internet and phone service in our office. We have had service through the landlord in the past who is now retiring and sold the building.

I am being proactive to get everything set up prior to their final day so I do not have any surprises, and am very pleased with myself. I went into the process grounded-centered and calm, this is not my first go around with setting up phone service; I know better than to attempt a service call when I am stressed or tired. I started out with a pleasant woman, Renee, “How lovely,” I think, “That is my middle name! This is going to go well.” After 30 minutes, not too long really, she says hold for a moment while I complete the final step, and then I heard the dreaded dial tone. I am still calm, after all, she had asked for my number in case we were disconnected, so I waited. I even danced a bit in the living room keeping “my happy” up! After 10 minutes, it was clear I was not getting a call and time to re-enter the queue, deep breath I can do this.

The next person comes on line I explained the situation in full and that I did not get a call back. Drum roll please: he says, “If we have high call volume, we don’t call you back since there are others that are waiting and we go there first.” It took every ounce of my kindness not to vent on this person and let him know how ridiculous that sounded, knowing he could not do anything about it anyway, although he did offer to connect me to the complaint department which I declined, I was not getting lost in the shuffle again.

The order had been set up improperly, at least he could retrieve it, so off to person number three. I kept reminding myself that what I wanted was phone and internet service and I was going to succeed. Jason, number three, was able to take me from start to finish and complete the task in a reasonable amount of time although 75-minutes had passed since I began.

I wasn’t feeling light and buoyant at this point, in fact, just the opposite. Three different people gave me three different prices, phone numbers and install dates – yikes, not a confidence building scenario!

I needed to feel lighter again and brought laughter in.  Inviting laughter back into our lives is simply a matter of making the conscious decision to laugh. Though most of us are incited to laugh only when exposed to humor, or the unexpected, each of us is capable of laughing at will. A laugh that comes from the belly carries with it the same positive effects whether prompted by a funny joke or consciously willed into existence. When our laughter comes from the core of our being, it permeates every cell in our physical selves, beginning in the center and radiating outward. I stood in my living room and reflected on the experience, especially the, “We don’t call you back comment,” and chose to laugh my way out of the tension that had built up in my body.

An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs, and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content. When we laugh heartily at life’s ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts. Anger, stress, guilt, and sadness no longer wield any influence over us, and we are empowered to make light of what we originally experienced. Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love and light in, changing our perspective, and enabling us to fix our attention on what is positive in our lives.

It is easy to laugh when we feel good, but it is when the world appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives. Then, our laughter resonates through our hearts, filling the empty spaces with pure, unadulterated joy. We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no sorrow or perceived problem is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn happiness. When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul, nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile.

I invite you to choose laughter to upgrade your energy at any moment. When you are happier you make a positive impact no matter what you are doing. What the world needs now is more laughter and lightness of being and it begins with you.

Love and blessings,

It’s Time to Play a Bigger Game!

We are all being called to play a bigger game these days by not being a part of the problem by merging with it energetically but by being a part of the solution.

We’re moving from co-dependence or independence, to interdependence, and that requires an expansion in our thinking and actions, beyond just ourselves and our own lives.

The world has been made up of takers and givers. Interdependence is about reciprocity: in other words, it’s about giving back.

We’re all playing for bigger stakes this lifetime.  Self-absorption, separation, focusing on our own agendas has gotten us into this mess on Earth.  It’s so interesting how when we play for bigger stakes, our own needs get covered.

When you are up against a problem in your own life, you often cannot see beyond your life experience. It becomes the center of your universe and can, at times, be all consuming. The longer the focus remains on the problem the more all-encompassing it becomes; many withdraw at this point. Is there a way out? Yes, the solution is woven into the problem although it is easy to miss unless you step back to get a new perspective.

The antidote is to open and give rather than withdraw and contract. If you are in fear of not having enough money give to someone that has less, volunteer for an organization that you have an affinity with, clean out the clothes that you no longer wear, or fit into, and pass them on. The key here is to look beyond your own life and expand your view. What happens every time and I mean every time is that you open to the flow of the universe. You begin to embrace that there is more than enough time, money, health, joy and love for everyone and by sharing you bring more of what you want to yourself.

If you are reading this ezine, you made a commitment to the Universe this lifetime to be an “Anchor for the Light.”  As each of us keeps this commitment, by staying grounded and centered and connected to joy, even in the midst of chaos, we inspire others to raise their frequency, too.  As we go through this shift on Earth, raising frequency is the way we can safely steer through.  As more of us raise our frequency, more of our brothers and sisters around us will also be safe. We’re in this together and we are stronger together!

Does this sound like a tall order? It does until you embrace that you are part of the Oneness and it is impossible to be alone, everything that you need to succeed in this life is already provided. The more love and goodwill there is, the quicker the change will come. But it all starts in you. Therefore, the sooner you realize it; the sooner changes will take place all around you, and so go out into the world. I invite you to choose to play a bigger game, extend yourself every day, the rewards will also be bigger than you imagined.

Love and blessings,

Are We There Yet?

Many of us began 2017 with high aspirations.  We recognized that the world was rapidly changing and we became even more aware of the role we came to play and the contribution we came to make.  What remained on our own healing agenda snapped into focus as the reflections of others relentlessly mirrored our own stuff!   Refusing to play the blame game for one more minute, we faced the opportunity to heal our inner game so that we could more effectively show up for the outer game: a time of global destabilization.

Now that March is already here, many of us find ourselves reflecting on how quickly the days, weeks and months are passing. It is very easy to identify the places that we do not meet our own high objectives; in fact, the list can build quickly, providing the evidence that there is much more work to do.

I have heard many people stating, “Are you kidding – I still haven’t learned this yet?”  Or, “At my age, I thought I would have this all figured out by now!” Or, “What do I need to do to get to the end…will I ever cross the finish line?” Or, “I know I should let go of my fear/anger/upset/fill-in-the-blank, but I just can’t stand what is happening!”

Many years ago, at a very pivotal time in my life, one of my lowest points, I was asked to vision where I wanted to be in 10 years. I took the task deeply to heart and envisioned every detail, even though many felt far out of reach. Holding on to that vision as I was restructuring my life was extremely helpful. At the time, I felt that if I could achieve this vision, I would have the life I dreamed of, while living blissfully happily ever after; I would finally be complete. Many aspects of that vision did not materialize, yet now, I have a deep feeling of gratitude for that. You see, I had planned my life much smaller than the one I was meant to be living. From my vantage point of digging out from a dark hole, the initial vision appeared to be fabulous. As the growth continued, however, I was open to much more of the magic and miracles available in life.

I now celebrate that I will always be a work in progress. Each lesson learned or success reached provides a new view and opportunity. Each day is filled with wonder and curiosity to see what will be revealed. I know that the heartaches and tears come with the territory of living a human experience; I welcome the challenges and the joys with open arms.  Even though we are in the midst of world chaos, it is exactly where we are meant to be – the truth is always the result!  More people are waking up at this time than ever before, more are raising their voices and more and recognizing that everything is changing.  As much as we want to resist what is happening or to already be in a higher dimension of reality, all of the growth is in “the now.”

What you really want is to simply be with every experience fully to learn, stretch and grow – isn’t it? Begin asking yourself, “How can I reach my full potential today and how can I serve others?”  By embracing the process of evolution, you will be able to drop the judgment that continues to reinforce that you are still not yet good enough.

There is no place to get to other than exactly where you are now, step into that place fully. I invite you answer the following questions at the end of your day:

  • What am I most grateful for?
  • What is one success experienced today?
  • Did I give and receive love today?
  • Did I express my gifts in the world?
  • Did I use my voice to make a difference?

By giving positive acknowledgment to where you are currently, the universe supports you in expanding even further.

Love and blessings,

Are You Taking Good Care of Yourself?

With our relentlessly busy lives, and all the chaos happening all around us, taking care of ourselves is more important than ever—yet it’s often the last thing on our minds.

We tell ourselves that we have to meet that deadline, must use break time to run errands, should accomplish all the items on our list before more get added to it. In addition, with the political clime, you may be all fired up, finding yourself at the effect of a constant barrage of feelings, worried sick – or all of the above.

It seems to be a common theme, the challenge of taking time for yourself because when we find ourselves over-scheduled and over-stressed, sadly, the first thing to go is our self-care. We all know the negative impact on our lives and health that stress can have—so, let’s find some balance.

Take this self-quiz to see how well you are taking care of yourself:

  1. When I’m upset and/or feeling hopeless, I talk about the situation with a like-minded friend, family member or healer. And, if I need help, I ask for it. True | False

  2. I let go of the way things used to be. I accept the way things are. True | False

  3. Every day I do something physical even if it’s just a walk around the block or a 15-minute workout.
    True | False

  4. I eat healthfully and take the time to enjoy my meals. I set aside work, driving and other activities while I eat. True | False

  5. I think positively. I view problems as opportunities and obstacles as challenges. True | False

  6. I can say no when I need or want to. True | False

  7. I remember to breathe deeply and often. True | False

  8. If I’m experiencing physical symptoms I know my body is attempting to get my attention, I go to the appropriate health care professional. I don’t panic about the symptoms, and I don’t deny them either. True | False

  9. I can be happy with “good enough.” I don’t demand perfection in everything that I do. True | False

  10. I recognize the value of working in different gears. Some tasks require less effort. That saves energy for those times when I need to have a higher level of focus. True | False

  11. I get enough sleep and relaxation daily. True | False

  12. I value my personal relationships and give them the time and energy they need and deserve to thrive. True | False

  13. I choose healthy ways to relieve stress. I don’t rely on crutches such as drinking, television and overeating. True | False

  14. I recognize the importance of breaks during the day, as well as mini and extended vacations.
    True | False

  15. I listen to and respect my feelings. True | False

If you answered false to several of these, you may want to take an honest look at the impact your choices may be having.

Choose an inspired action step from 1-2 areas that will allow you to begin making changes now; you deserve the very best for yourself!

2017 – The Road Ahead: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Often as we begin a New Year, the thought of making resolutions comes to mind. I ask you to take a brief moment to reflect on how often you were successful in fulfilling those resolutions? Do that right now. I know I rarely made the changes that I desired by creating a resolution/goal list. By taking time to reflect in a different way you are setting yourself up for a different result.

You are a new person today, in many ways unrecognizable to the person that began the journey last year. When it comes to work and business, it can be tempting to do what’s always been done, as anything else requires that you move out of your comfort zone which can be challenging, even though you may not be getting the results that you desire most. I know that there is something calling to be shared through you, that your contribution must be expressed or you will suffer; I believe that wholeheartedly. But priming the pump to have a better year always involves some form of adjustment to free up the time, money and energy to tackle new opportunities.

How do you decide what changes are the most important ones to make?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What personal and business tolerations interfered with personal and work progress?

What we tolerate can waste a lot of time and energy. Is your chair supporting your body properly, are you working on an outdated computer, is your office environment too dark, loud or cold? Do your systems support you in finding what you need easily? Is there a rug you trip on over and over? Are you working with clients you love or do you have someone that feels draining to you? Tolerations are a good indication of issues in need of resolution.

  • Were last year’s intentions reached? Why or why not?

Setting new intentions without having evaluated the previous year’s intentions can result in a cycle of substandard results. Often the reason intentions were not realized is due to lack of clarity, or ‘the why’ behind the intention was not big enough. You may have set an intention to grow your list, which doesn’t say much or make you want to fly out of bed in the morning. Make your intention juicy, I want to grow my list by x numbers of subscribers in order to provide: _______for my clients, and I will benefit by: ________. The ‘why’ behind the intention ranks as high as the intention itself.

  • What fiscally responsible intention (making more money, collaborating, creating new products/services, improved marketing strategy, etc.) will also be fun?

All work and no play makes everything harder and in the end, it takes much longer. Collaboration is a win-win and just what many are craving right now in life and business. It is not a going-it-alone lifetime – it is a give and receive lifetime. Notice those people that you are drawn to and set up a date to get together, in-person if possible, inspired actions often come from this type of meeting.

  1. What do you need to change to have a better year?
  • Choose Passion Over Profit.Connect to your bigger purpose in life, work and business and the rewards will flow much more effortlessly. Passionate people attract success. Pay attention to what brings you joy. Recently during our planning retreat, Aimée and I rated everything in our business based on our “joy” factor; what do we love to do most. I surprised myself in acknowledging how much I love the event planning aspect of our business even though it takes a lot of time and energy. Of course, there are more mundane tasks that don’t bring as much joy and yet are necessary. If you are not able to outsource them find something about the task that makes it worthwhile and focus on that.
  • Continued Inspired Learning.

    Learning new techniques and skills to support your business can be a never-ending journey and one that can bring you tremendous satisfaction. The key is to choose wisely where you place your precious time and resources. Be conscious of the hype that can pull you in and create high levels of tension, this is an area to check in with your intuition to guide you.
  • Celebrate Success. This is an area that is life changing. Even if you are by nature a very positive person, as humans, it is common to notice what did not get accomplished before noticing all that was completed. Acknowledging and rewarding success keeps everyone motivated. The success of the day may be that you worked on a project that is important and yet not really uplifting, bookkeeping comes to mind. Mark those mini-milestones with celebration and recognition, do a happy dance daily!
  • What are your Blind Spots? Every driver has blind spots. That’s what rear-view mirrors are for. Blind spots in the work and business environment can be harder to identify. How does a person avert disaster in a work environment without the benefit of mirrors? A blind spot is not a flaw; it is only something you are not aware of. In this case, you may need a coach or trusted advisor or colleague to point out a potential blind spot. Getting an objective outsider’s opinion can help you see what is going well or not.

Moving into the New Year doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. Having a clear sense of what’s ahead can circumvent frustration and create a successful year. I used to put pressure on myself to have it all figured out by January 1st, as I was sure every other successful professional had. Now I relax into my process and timing. The end of the previous year is not the best time for me to deeply reflect with the demands of the holidays and often lower levels of energy before my year end break. Pushing to make something happen has never worked in the past and I know it won’t work now. Throughout the month of January that clarity arrives making the journey step-by-step and one awareness at a time.

We are blessed to be living in amazing and very challenging times. If you are reading this article I am confident that you are one of the people that has been called to make a big difference at this time in the world. There is no more time to wait, today is the day to begin, right this very moment.

Holding you in the highest light of love and blessings,

The Perfect Time for a Self-Check-In

Ancient Romans named the month of January for Janus, their god of gates, doors and beginnings. Always pictured with two faces — one looking toward the future, the other back at the past — Janus is a fitting symbol for the turning of a new year.

We are only days away from 2017; it is no longer looming out in the very distant future, it is here now.

Wherever you are focusing your attention will make a big difference in your life, the question is: will it be to create more of the results that you want or more of what you do not? Remember to keep choosing what you want more of!

As we step through the doorway from one year to the next, it’s natural to do as Janus does: look back and ahead. But this year, instead of just reflecting on the past year or making New Year’s resolutions, consider using this last part of the year to take stock of your life – after all, isn’t that what you really crave, a better life?  Yes, it is appropriate to stay in the present and live one-day at a time, and yet I know you do not really only want one great day; you want a great life, right?

In our family, we have a saying, “it’s not how you start, it is how you finish.”  It began as a reference to sports, and yet, it applies fully to life and business. So, let’s look at how you can finish 2016 in the best way possible.

Who are you? What do you believe? What do you really need?

When we discover who we really are, we stop living on autopilot and start to live with intention, focus and purpose. Our choices become clearer. We begin to make active choices in our life, instead of making excuses or passively living with the status quo.

Here are a few questions to get you started. Have a journal or some way to record your thoughts. (TIP: Writing by hand keeps you in touch with your breath and your heart.)

  1. What is aching to be expressed?
  2. What unique gifts, talents and skills do you bring to the world? How are you using them (or not)?
  3. Who do you need to forgive? How about yourself?
  4. What beliefs are holding you back or getting in your way?
  5. What can you let go of in your life?
  6. What makes you happy?
  7. What is your body telling you? When someone yells at you, does your stomach tie up in knots? Do your shoulders stiffen when you’ve been too focused on fulfilling others’ needs and ignoring your own? Notice the messages your body is giving you. You may be able to deny for a while that you are impacted, but, the body never lies!
  8. Check in with your heart. The heart is the home of what is most alive in us. What does your heart have to say about your work or about how you spend your days? Does it need more play time? What, according to your heart, truly matters?
  9. Listen to your intuition, your “gut.” Your intuition speaks volumes, but often gets ignored. What is this voice saying now?

A few reminders as you do your check-in:

  • Do consider the vital information that other “parts” of yourself are giving you. When you use only your head, your experience of yourself and the world is more limited.
  • Don’t forget to notice what you already have that is working. Acknowledge and give thanks for the gifts and the beauty and the miracles that are in your life right now. Write them down, you may be surprised when you really notice how much is actually working.
  • Be sure to tell the truth. After all, if you can’t be honest with yourself, then who can you tell the truth to? Encouraging those unlived parts of you to emerge can provide an exhilarating sense of discovery and optimism for the New Year and beyond!
  • At this time of year, many have the tendency to take on too much and overwhelm or terrorize themselves, but it is not helpful or even necessary. Choose the areas where you can be your best self, this is the greatest gift you can give anyone. Love yourself into the changes and expansion you desire… ah, now doesn’t that feel better?

We welcome you to share your thoughts, insights and experiences by sending an email to info@whattrulymatters.com

Love and blessings,

Want Peace This Holiday Season? — Look Within

The fall has arrived with all of its color and majesty.

There is a calling to go within and be ready for the upcoming months, enjoying shorter days while creating a space to hibernate in. We feel the need for longer periods of quiet and peacefulness and yet, life, business and, of course, the upcoming holidays often require a different level of energy output on a daily basis. The actual experience of peace can be fleeting at best.

Currently we can look at the outside world and find it in a state of seeming chaos or disorder. The desire to transform the situation from one of turmoil into one of peace is there; yet, we are often disappointed in our best attempts to do so, as our own anger or frustration gets added to the mix.

One reason for this is that we cannot bring to the world what we do not have to offer. Peace starts in our own minds and hearts, not outside of ourselves, and until its roots are firmly entrenched in our own selves, we cannot manifest it externally. The good news is that once we have found it within, we can share it with our family, our community, and the whole wide world.

For most of us, the first step is looking within and honestly evaluating the state of our own relationship to peacefulness. If we haven’t created a track record of finding a peaceful place in the midst of challenges, don’t expect to find it easily during the family gatherings over the holidays.

The good news is that people who manifest peace internally are not different from us; they have chattering thoughts and troubled emotions like we all do. The difference is that they do not give their energy fully to those thoughts and feelings allowing them to simply rise and fall like the waves of the ocean without disturbing the deeper waters of energy.  We begin to see our thoughts and feelings as tiny objects on the surface that pose no threat to the deep interior stillness that is the source of peacefulness.

You may have already noticed that friends, family and colleagues show up regularly as who they are; how could it be any different? Expecting them to be anything but themselves is a set up for disappointment. You can still bring peace to any situation by practicing the art of choosing peace within.

Holding you in peace.

Your Creative Life Truly Matters

We are all creative people, brilliant actually. Ideas come to us in many forms every day. Some are appropriate to act on right away while others are meant to be captured and implemented at a later time. Others were only here for a moment to entice and amuse before the idea gently floats away.

Once the time comes to begin working with the ideas and we begin stretching into new territory, there can be an experience of resistance or anxiety. Anxiety is a feature of the human condition. It is a much larger feature than most people realize. A great deal of what we do in life, we do in order to reduce our experience of anxiety or to avoid anxiety altogether. If something is about to make us anxious, we deny that it is happening, make ourselves sick so that we can concentrate on our sickness, find any distraction so as to have something else to focus on, and so on. We are very innovative creatures.

We are also very wonderful creatures who have it in us to create. “Creativity” is the word we use for our desire to make use of our inner resources, our imagination and blend together our thoughts and our feelings into beautiful things.

It is the way that we manifest our potential, make use of our intelligence, and embrace what we love. When we create, we feel whole, useful. Unfortunately, often we also feel anxious as we create or contemplate creating. We get anxious because we fear we may fail, because we fear we may disappoint ourselves or because the work can be extremely hard. We want to create, because that is a wonderful thing, but we also don’t want to create, so as to spare ourselves all this anxiety. Many years ago, I had a strong desire to offer teleclasses. I knew the material I wanted to present, and was actually very well organized. My anxiety reared its ugly head around learning the software; I was stopped in my tracks for 1 ½ years because of it. I know it sounds crazy and yet that is how intimidated I was! Once I began, I was amazed at how easy it was to master the technology in a very short time and now love offering Teleclasses.

In order to create and to deal with all the anxiety that comes with creating, you must acknowledge and accept that anxiety can be part of the process. There is no reason for you not to create if all that is standing in the way is your quite human, very ordinary experience of anxiety. By investigating your thoughts that are creating the anxiety, the energy can open up to move you forward. A simple, yet profound, tool that can change the direction of your thoughts is to the say the words, “cancel, cancel,” and immediately replace your anxious thoughts with a positive thought. Use this technique as many times as necessary, and be aware, you may be doing this more often than you expected.

Pick your next creative project or return to your current creative project with a new willingness. Remember to breathe deeply, speak positively to yourself, and affirm that your creative life truly matters to you. If some anxiety remains, create anyway!

You are a unique and magnificent individual with creative talents that only you possess. If you are holding back due to anxiety, perfectionism or any other limiting condition, we all miss out on what you came here to share.

I invite you to choose one area of focus to allow your creativity to flow. If you desire assistance to begin creating with ease, email info@whattrulymatters.com and we will connect with you.

Love and Blessings…

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