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Are You Living Your Own Life?

We named our business What Truly Matters: Redefining Success, so you can imagine, we have given this topic a lot of attention. We find that while many people are successful, just as many successful people still feel unfulfilled.  How could that be?

When we begin working with a client one of the first areas of inquiry is “what truly matters to you”? We are often met with a level of stunned silence, a far off look that holds deep yearning, or immediate tears.

Many express that they just don’t know anymore, for some, they don’t dare express their deepest desires for fear of facing disappointment.

Fulfillment in life is related to how well you are living in alignment with what’s truly important to you  – not to someone else, or to someone’s else’s vision for your life!

Do your decisions emerge from the essence of who you are—not from who you think you should be?

Take this quiz to see how well you are living a life that is of your own making:

TRUE  |  FALSE I have spent time thinking about what’s important to me, and I can articulate those things.
TRUE  |  FALSE While I outside forces such as my parents, teachers, and society have influenced me , I have not simply adopted their values and beliefs. My own values and beliefs come from deep inside.
TRUE  |  FALSE I am not easily swayed by others’ opinions. I know my own mind.
TRUE  |  FALSE In order to remain open and flexible, I am willing to re-examine my opinions and beliefs to determine whether something is still true for me. I am interested in other points of view.
TRUE  |  FALSE My spouse/partner is a good match for me. We share in a way that pleases me and have an ideal amount of separate space. We don’t have to agree on everything.
TRUE  |  FALSE I chose my occupation, or choose to remain in it, because it most closely utilizes my skills, strengths and passions.
TRUE  |  FALSE I also choose my friends. I don’t go along with a friendship that doesn’t feel right just because that person pursued me.
TRUE  |  FALSE Any spirituality I practice feeds my soul.
TRUE  |  FALSE I have aspirations. I spend time thinking about them and taking action toward those that are most important to me.
TRUE  |  FALSE Anyone looking at my life from the outside would see what I value.
TRUE  |  FALSE On the rare occasion when I let someone break a boundary or persuade me to do something I don’t want to do, as soon as I’m aware of it, I take steps to stop and correct the situation.

If you answered false more often than true, we invite you to clarify what is truly important to you and then find ways to bring your life into greater alignment with those values. You can begin living the life you truly desire!

Now, ready to begin?

Please don’t hesitate to email if you’d like support in redefining your success — info@whattrulymatters.com

Love and blessings,

Cultivating Curiosity as a Business Practice

questionsCuriosity has been given a bad rap. Perhaps we grew up hearing that asking a question was rude or conveyed ignorance, or that we’d get into trouble if we were like Curious George. We might even have been warned that, “Curiosity killed the cat!”

The truth is that curiosity is one of the most vital and life-affirming qualities you can bring to your life and your relationships. I have a friend that is a master in the area of curiosity, I feel enriched when I am with her, I actually gain a deeper understanding of myself that is invited by her curiosity.

Stop blaming others

It is so easy to blame others when things go wrong. Consider being curious about your experience rather than critical. For example, instead of beating yourself up, or blaming someone else, for not reaching sales goals—again—try asking yourself what is going on for you that you keep performing below your expectations? With an attitude of, “How fascinating that I’ve created this!” you are much more likely to help yourself find new solutions to attaining your goals. Implementing the solutions can infuse your business with new energy and enthusiasm.

Opening to possibility

Helen Keller said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all!” When you cultivate an attitude of curiosity, doors open and adventures begin; questions lead to new possibilities. For example, asking yourself, “What do I want to learn now and where might that lead me?” can set you on a journey of exciting exploration that moves you forward. Often we hear information through a filter of, “I already know this!” that shuts off the possibility of discovering something new that could rock your world. What if you were to listen with an ear that allowed you to hear something new or gave you a new idea of how to apply it?

Assuming

How often we assume we know what someone else is thinking or experiencing. What if we came from a place of not knowing and offered others an invitation to speak? According to Sharon Ellison, creator of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, “A non-defensive question is innocently curious, reflecting the purity of the child who asks how a flower grows or what makes an airplane fly.” We invite others to share their true experience when we ask questions without hidden agendas and to clarify understanding. So many relationship issues could be resolved by bringing curiosity to your daily communications.

How to Practice Cultivating Curiosity

Here are some ways to cultivate a more curious life:

 

Questions: Practice asking questions with openness and neutrality. Practice with strangers in stores and with people close to you. It can be as simple as, “What does that mean to you?” Or, “What are your thoughts about___?” Stop thinking you know all the answers…be open to being surprised!

 

 

Inquiries: An inquiry is an open-ended question designed to broaden your perspective. For example: “What would make life a daring adventure for me?” “Where in my life do I assume I already know?”

 

 

 

Assumptions: These impact how we treat strangers as well as loved ones. Challenge your assumptions by asking, “What if that’s not true?” “What is truer here than my initial response is allowing me to see?” What other choices might you make then?

 

 

If you truly want to expand your excitement, joy and fulfillment in business, sprinkle liberal doses of curiosity and watch your life become the fabulous adventure it can be!

Here’s to curiosity!

Love and blessings,

The Power Of Unplugging

The problem with our harried, living on adrenaline, multitasking overloaded culture is that running without stopping strips our lives from meaning.  I’m talking about 50 or 60-hour workweeks, eating lunch at your desk or ‘car dining,’ working late into the night and over weekends, being a slave to your to-do list…

Do you feel like you are running like crazy but never getting anywhere (like the Queen of hearts in Alice in Wonderland)?

Paradoxically, if you unplug regularly you actually get more done!  That’s because regular rest renews your energy and motivation; it reconnects you to your joy, to your communities, and heals your soul.

Sadly, in the relentlessness busyness of modern life, we have a culture that promotes that doing anything is better than doing nothing!  Overriding our natural rhythms enables us to get more done as does the lure of multitasking that teaches us how to never fully engage or fully disengage from anything!  It’s the reason why so many of us experience sleep disorders – we’ve lost the art of being delightfully inactive!

Do you prioritize time for rest?

I’m not talking about sacking out in front of the television; television is hardly restful these days!

No; TV is designed to stimulate you; to make you feel badly about yourself so that you will want to buy or consume something that will make you feel better! Taking a retreat on a regular basis from the demands of your life, whether it’s a 2-hour retreat or an afternoon retreat, will require some planning and education of other key players in your life. Some years ago when Aimée started taking Sunday as her retreat day, she carefully explained her lack of availability for invitations, phone calls and emails on that day of the week.  It didn’t go well…  she was greeted with shock and horror that she wouldn’t be available 24/7.  Invitations came with the request: “Perhaps you could make an exception for this?”  Emailed arrived with a header, “I know you don’t work on Sundays but perhaps you could find time for me?”  She ended up disconnecting the phone and unplugging the computer.

What rejuvenates you?

Planning time for rest is essential and writing in those times into your calendar is a must – but remembering what juices you, what fills you and what recharges your batteries is important too.  Spending time in nature is especially renewing for me, as is napping, meditating, dancing, beach time, dinner or a movie with friends, or walking Bijou, my little dog.  In rest periods, I’ve been asking myself, “What do you need?”  And, I ask it again periodically throughout the day.  Sometimes, I need sleep more than anything.  Sometimes, I needed to simply be in the peace and quiet, the stillness.  Other times, I feel more adventurous or curious, or experience the joy of reading a book cover to cover.

Do you need to be alone?

It’s your choice.  If you can disconnect around other people for a period of time then it’s not necessary to be alone.  Provided they understand the new rules.  You might like to light a candle as a reminder that you are resting for this period of time.  Perhaps later, you would enjoy coming together in a family meal.  Or, to enjoy your partner’s undivided attention as you share your insights.

What are the costs of a life without rest?

Who suffers the most?  The children, who can never get your attention? “Mom!  Mom!”  “I’m on the phone!”  “You’re always on the phone!” Is it your spouse?  Or is it your friends and community?  Or is it you?  Demanding too much out of a day and pushing your body to its limits is like waging war on your soul.

If we only stop when all the work is done, we will never stop.

The 24/7 pace of technology allows us to be seduced by artificial urgency that prevents us from listening to our own deepest truth. When we don’t take the time to really rest, we lose our way.  We “don’t have time” to listen to our inner wisdom.  We “forget” who and what is most important in a well-lived life.  When we are exhausted, we can be surrounded by people all day long and still feel disconnected and lonely.  The frenzy of activity diminishes our capacity for inner peace.

We hope that you will take the time to savour life.

Love and blessings,

Why Adults Need to Play

If it feels like you have less leisure time and fewer unstructured “play” hours in your life, you’re not alone. Play seems to be the first thing to go when our lives get busy. I hear more and more people exclaim, “Play!  Are you kidding, where will I find time for play?”

The truth is our high tech life with its accelerated pace has fostered a culture that seems to be always working, always rushed, and always connected. With cell phones interrupting the theater, laptop computers at the beach, internet connections at every other café, and home offices that beckon us all hours of the night and day, it’s hard to separate “play” from “work.” Yet to maintain balance in our lives, and for our ultimate wellbeing, play is important. Play is supposed to be joyful rather than a task, allowing the experience to unfold, sounds good doesn’t it!

The highest level of play has a component of openness and spontaneity to it, like setting out on an adventure.  Lenore Terr, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need to Play, argues that play is crucial at every stage of life.

In play, we discover pleasure, cultivate feelings of accomplishment, and acquire a sense of belonging. When we play, we learn and mature and find an outlet for stress.

“Play is a lost key,” Terr writes. “It unlocks the door to ourselves.”

I am excited to be taking a few days to visit family in Seattle next week, my great-nephew’s one-year birthday. A time to getaway and connect with family and longtime friends, and to play with this precious little boy. As it gets closer and my business demands have increased, I began to feel some stress creeping in. You know how it goes: I found myself working extra hours over the weekend to get a solid foundation for the week; the question began bouncing around in my head, “How am I going to get everything in place before I leave?” This is not the energy or experience I want to create from in my personal life or business; it indicated time for a state change. I got up from my desk and took my dog for a walk. The gentle breeze, sunshine and movement were all I needed. I found flowers to rekindle my sense of awe, playful sounds of children at the park, laughter coming from the house I passed by, I immediately felt back on track. Outlined in chalk directly in front of me on the sidewalk was hopscotch, with two little girls standing nearby. I smiled at them and jumped right in, I was taken back to my younger days when hopscotch was essential play in everyday.

When we are completely involved in play, our cares and worries disappear. Sailing, playing a game of tennis, or being thoroughly engrossed in a good novel, we feel pleasurably alive and light-hearted. There is nothing like play that allows us to be present in the moment, and refresh the path for the day. Bring in play when you feel stuck in a project or overwhelmed with a task, it will reignite your creativity.

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to play in your life (and who doesn’t?), try these suggestions:

  • Turn-off. Turn off the television, computer, beeper and cell phone for at least two hours a day.
  • Let your mind wander. Recall what you used to enjoy doing or what you always wanted to do before we became so technology-oriented.
  • Think physical. Go for a walk, ride your bike, break out the croquet set from the basement, go for a swim or a run.
  • Pretend. Pretend you don’t have any cares or worries. Pretend you have all the time in the world to laugh and play and enjoy. Pretend there is no moment other than this.

Play is essential to a happy life and thriving business.

Any time you have the choice of whether to work “just one more hour” or give yourself over to play, consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” How about adding play to your day?  Say yes, right now!

Love and blessings,

Too Loose, Too Tight or Just Right?

As I write this, the cold weather has given way to spring. If you are in Northern California, you have been experiencing temperatures into the 80’s. I feel my body begin to relax and unwind with the warmth of the day and the beauty of the flowers beginning to bloom.

Cold or heat affects the body creating expansion and contraction that are also part of everyday life. It can be as simple as coming up against a food you don’t like or a challenging client that creates a contraction, or being greeted by a smile, a breakthrough for a client or a lovely complement that expands your energy.

Understanding energy has long been an interest and passion of mine; I have come at the topic from many angles over the years. In May of 2014, I felt blessed to be introduced to Shambhala Meditation. I admit for years I have danced around the practice of meditation. I thought it was probably a good thing; I just thought I couldn’t do it. I was never able to still my mind long enough to even remember to follow my breath.

Why would I embark on something that was causing more tension than I already had? Through Shambhala I quickly learned (thank goodness it was quick) that I did not need to silence my mind, only be with what was there and let it be, and meet it all with gentleness. Now this I could do!

In a very short time I saw the benefits showing up in every area of my life, especially in business. As I sat in meditation and my mind brought up every distraction possible, I learned to stay with it. When I was entering data into QuickBooks and my mind told me all the wonderful things I could be doing instead, I learned to stay. I noticed I was getting much more accomplished in less time and feeling really good about what I was producing. Although I had read more books than I can count about time management, now I realized it really isn’t about managing time, it’s about managing the choices that I make. I began to choose to stay with whatever I was doing to completion, before moving on to the next task.

In meditation we are told to notice if we are too loose or too tight. If I am too loose, my posture slumps and shoulders roll forward allowing the head to fall. This loose posture drains energy and makes me tired quickly. If I am too tight, my entire body begins to hurt, and I do mean everything, neck, shoulders, knees, back etc., my breathing becomes labored and every moment feels like an eternity.

I noticed this same concept was present when I was watching a friend knit. If the yarn is held to loosely the loops would be too large, held too tight and the pattern was lost. In order for the piece to turn out she had to find the middle ground, not too loose or too tight.

For the past couple of months I have been too tight with my business activities. Another way to say that is that I was too serious, attempting to figure out the next step. Of course I needed to do what truly mattered and yet even that needs to be held at the middle ground, not too loose or too tight. I started having more fun, laughing more, and focusing on having enhanced systems that allow me to easily track projects.

Aimée and I had lunch outdoors at a lovely restaurant last week during our business day. We accomplished everything we intended and yet I felt like I was on vacation. By the end of our workday I was energized rather than tired.

Without focusing on it, a new business client showed up that is perfect. I have my systems in place to easily take on this new workload without creating overwhelm. With all the diverse aspects of business I have learned not to be too loose or too tight, just right!

Take some time to reflect on where you are too loose or too tight with your business. Are you so focused on one outcome or timeline that you have closed off the energy that is attempting to get through and move you forward?

I would love to hear what resonated with you from this article, let’s begin a dialogue. Email me at info@whattrulymatters.com

Being Perfectly Incomplete

Have you ever experienced having the lyrics of a song stuck in your head?

For days now, I have been walking around with a song playing over and over. Finally, I paid close attention to what was being said and realized how appropriate it was!

This is from the song Masterpiece by Jessie J:

“I still fall on my face sometimes, and I can’t color inside the lines, cause; I’m perfectly incomplete I’m still working on my masterpiece”

How often do we relax into being perfectly incomplete? I believe the opposite is more often true; many are in hot pursuit of perfection in their life and business.

Most of you pursue perfection to some degree — doing the best job you can, setting goals and working hard to reach them, and maintaining high standards. But, perfectionism isn’t about any of this. Perfectionism is a long, maddening drive down a never-ending road for flawlessness; it provides no rest stops for mis-takes, personal limitations, or for changing your mind.

Perfectionism can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, and self-doubt; it can cripple self-esteem, stifle creativity, and put a stumbling block in the way of intimate friendships and love relationships.

Everybody has some “built-in” perfectionism, especially in our achievement-oriented, competitive culture.

In my experience focusing on being perfect kept me uptight, unhappy and unable to celebrate my accomplishments big or small. Over the years I have learned to celebrate not being perfect, what a relief!

Complete this questionnaire to discover how much of a perfectionist you are. (You may notice that some behaviors are very present while others you engaged in more in the past.)

YES | NO I never do anything halfway; it’s all or nothing for me.
YES | NO I believe there’s a certain way to do things and they should always be done that way.
YES | NO I often procrastinate on starting projects. I seldom meet deadlines. Or if I do, I kill myself meeting them.
YES | NO I don’t like to admit not knowing how to do something or to being a beginner. If I can’t do something well, I won’t do it.
YES | NO People say I expect too much of myself, or of them.
YES | NO I don’t think work should be too much fun or pleasurable.
YES | NO Even when I accomplish something, I can feel let down or empty.
YES | NO I criticize myself, and others, often.
YES | NO I like to be in control; if I can’t be in control then I won’t participate.
YES | NO No matter how much I have done, there’s always the weight of more I could do.
YES | NO I don’t delegate often and when I do, I always double-check to make sure the job is done right.

There is a difference between excellence and perfection. Striving to be really good is excellence; trying to be flawless is perfectionism. I invite you to begin celebrating all the places that you are perfectly incomplete, remember, you will always be working on your Masterpiece.

If you’re concerned about your perfectionist behavior, don’t hesitate to call! We can support you. Email info@whattrulymatters.com we want to hear from YOU.

Happily and perfectly incomplete,

What’s Love Got To Do With Business?

February has arrived and, as always, right in the middle is Valentine’s Day. For some a very exciting day and for others the very thought of it lowers your energy; how can you enjoy Valentine’s Day if you are not part of a “couple?”

Does one day show whether you are loved or not? Isn’t it an entire day, week, year or even a lifetime that shows how much you are loved?

Now you may already be asking yourself, “What does love have to do with business? I am reading this article for inspiration not to reflect on my love relationship.” Stay with me, it is all connected.

Valentine’s Day gives you an opportunity to reflect on your beliefs and personal power. Do you give your happiness away if your present life does not mirror what a dream Valentine’s Day would be? Does this say that something is missing or wrong with you.

Many years ago I was experiencing the perfect Valentine’s Day with my husband, dining at the best restaurant in Sun Valley, Idaho…flowers already at the table and a beautiful sparkling bracelet presented with flair.

If you had been watching from across the room I would have been viewed as a very happy treasured woman. As dessert was served he leaned across the table and said. “I just want you to know that I am interested in another woman” … so much for the fairy tale Valentine’s Day.

To say that night sent me on a journey is an understatement; it did open up my questioning on how much love I was willing to give myself. We can only receive as much love as we carry, and it did not look like I was doing a very good job!

The love you have for yourself deeply influences all aspects of your life and your business, especially your business. Everything is energy, right? You can create the most beautiful perfect marketing piece or program, but if it was created in the energy of overwhelm and pushing and not infused with love your results will be less than desired.

Recent studies have shown that the happiness factor boosts your performance by 50% and raises productivity. If you lack self-love it goes hand in hand that your happiness factor will be lower and you will lose the benefits that I just described. You are ahead of the game if you really love the work you do. You are the influencing force in your business whether you work alone, manage a small team or have a very large organization; you must love yourself first and bring in a positive influencing energy with you each day.

Shawn Anchor, author of Happiness Advantage, says:

“It turns out our brains are hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or neutral, but when they are positive

Studies have also shown that the most loyal employees stay with a company because they feel cared about as a person; this can be more important to them than money!

How much love do you bring to your business? Be honest here; rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, where do you rank?

If your score is not as high as you would like, the following suggestions will move you in the right direction.

  • Choose one thing to do that feels absolutely indulgent.  Now put it on your calendar and make it happen; the love begins with you.
  • Make a list of all the positive qualities you personally bring to your business, nothing is too small. Put the list out where you look at it daily; appreciate yourself.
  • Seize every opportunity where you can share kindness and appreciation, remember people need to feel you care about them personally.
  • Make a gratitude list, what are you grateful for in your business, life, and the present journey. Gratitude brings more wonderful things your way, as what you focus on expands.

Aimée and I love to surprise and delight each other, especially during our birthday month. Yes, I did say month! We leave little treasures for the other to find, tie balloons in the bathroom, a gift card for a favorite coffee shop, and do errands.

Make it a practice to do things that surprise and delight you, your friends, and especially your employees/coworkers.

Yes, bringing love into the workplace is worth it on every level. Which step will you implement?

Email info@whattrulymatters.com we want to hear from YOU.

With love and appreciation,

Being With What Is…

I have always enjoyed the end of the year as much as the beginning of the New Year. During the last few weeks I find myself reflecting on the closing year; where did it exceed my expectations, what were the surprises (both good and challenging) along the way?  I enjoy making a huge mess as I purge my files, clean and organize my workspace, bringing in new energy. I set intentions for the coming year, playing with a new definition of success, which is in alignment with the person I have become.

This year was no exception, I had a plan, I held it loosely, and yet it was a plan. And then, life happened, on December 11th I came down with what felt like a cold/flu that took hold fully. It hit on every level physical, mental, emotional and spiritual; I am still compromised almost a month later. During the first few days I just rested and took care of myself, hunkered down in my bed with a good book (provided by my bestie) enjoying the complete down time. As the days wore on it was very clear I would have to let go of any plans I may have had and just surrender to the process.

Along the way I learned a few things:

  • Be patient with what is happening, everything has its own timeline
  • Use the short spurts of energy available and when it is gone, rest
  • Let go of your back story that is predicting gloom and doom, allowing your mind to run amuck does not accomplish anything
  • Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness
  • Expect to become stronger each day

So what about the New Year? The best way to have a good year is by living life on a daily basis, letting the good days accumulate one by one. And it doesn’t have to be New Year’s to resolve to have a good year; start anytime, everyday is a new opportunity.

  1. Take time, slow down. Be present in your life and mindful of the present.
  2. Care for your body, eat well, exercise, and treat yourself to loving, nurturing self-care.
  3. Spend quality time with family and friends; communicate, and keep in touch. Say I love you. Tell people you appreciate them and why.  Be specific.
  4. Take time throughout the day for renewal. Take a walk, read a poem or a good book, listen to music (really listen); bring beauty into your life. On a monthly basis, take a whole day for yourself — play, treat yourself to something you want to do; retreat from your daily life. Mark these special days on your calendar (in colored ink) so you’ll be certain to take them.
  5. Commit to a project you really want to do or to learning something new or attaining something you want. Commitment is the first step. Then set achievable goals and work toward them on a daily basis.
  6. Give yourself to a cause, volunteer at a nonprofit organization, a community group or church, or lend a hand to an individual or family who could use your help.
  7. Practice your spirituality in whatever form you express it, on a daily basis.
  8. Laugh every day.
  9. Take time to dream.

Your life and business will continually give you the opportunity to grow and expand. You can meet those opportunities willingly and with curiosity or kicking and screaming, it is your choice.

What will you choose this year? Write down one thing you will commit to do within the next 24 hours!! I invite you to share your journey with us at info@whattrulymatters.com

Be Well,

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 2015; 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 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 house, 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 2014 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,

Everything is a Gift

November has arrived. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, launching the holiday season. I have always enjoyed this time of year, I love the fall, the special meals, and coming together to share with loved ones all that we are grateful for. I love the topic of gratitude, and yet so much has been said about it already.

Yes, we’re thankful for our health, our safety, and our loved ones. But, what do we take for granted? What moves us? What would fill our hearts daily if we would just notice it? What if the very thing we are grateful comes out of deep grief or sorrow?

What if you were to see everything in life as a gift? After all it is us who label everything good or bad, and yet if you believe, like us, that everything happens for a reason, emanating from your soul’s desire to experience everything, to learn and to grow.

As you read the suggestions below take note of what moves you.

  1. The senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste—daily miracles each of them; just ask someone that is deaf or blind what they think of the senses

  2. Nature. The exquisite array of bounty at a farmers market to the delicate unfurling of a fern, nature’s exuberance and tenderness is something to behold. The changing leaves can take your breath away, while a walk in the redwoods will soothe your soul.

  3. Opportunity. Our steady companion, opportunity, is always ready to take us down a path yet unknown. When we step willingly into the unknown the space opens for miracles (Hint: We have to say “Yes!” to opportunity)

  4. Beauty. What do your eyes feast on? What splendor makes your soul rejoice? It is all around us every day. How often do you stop to drink it in? How often do you take the time to create it in your own space?

  5. The ability to learn. There is no age limit on learning—period. When we stop learning, we stop living. Develop your curiosity to stay connected with the learning that presents itself every day.

  6. Young children. They model for us innocence, faith, resilience, playfulness and unconditional love. To uplift your spirits, go sit near a playground and let the joy surround you.

  7. Music. What inspires you and lifts your mood? Rock & Roll, African drumming, violin concertos, gospel? Or. the sound of the birds outside your window?

  8. The ability to give. Every act of love benefits the giver as much as the receiver. If you are ever feeling poor, give to someone else and see the immediate shift that happens. A few years ago I presented a homeless woman with a new tent, the memory of that day continues to humble me and bring tears immediately to my eyes. I experienced a woman filled with gratitude for all the gifts she receives in a day, whether it was a quarter, a dollar or a tent; she said she was a blessed woman. It was more than receiving a tent; it was her way of being. I was the receiver of the gift that day.

  9. Color. Sunsets, fine art, vibrant colored vegetables, blue eyes. Can you imagine a world without color? 4.5% of the world is colorblind, millions of people do not have the gift of seeing the full range of color that most of us take for granted…

  10. Change. It’s unavoidable – the only constant. Change can be unsettling or challenging. But the mystery of it and what lies beyond it can keep us young at heart.

I mentioned that deep grief and sorrow is something to be grateful for, just the thought may be a stretch for you. In the past two years I have lost numerous loved ones, many too young. The grief was intense and at times still is. I wake up with a longing to have one more conversation, one more sharing of love. And, out of this experience, I have developed a deep compassion and ability to meet others in their grief – for that I am grateful. I also cherish every relationship more fully; we do not know how long anyone will be with us.

  1. Compassion. It’s the ability to feel everything fully and allowing it to affect you; the highs and lows, the joys and the sorrows. To meet another person exactly where they are without editing or changing a thing, being a witness to the life of another is a true gift!

  2. Pets. Dogs, cats, birds, they all bring tremendous joy. A pet brings unconditional love without limit day after day.

A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being:

      • Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and relationships.

      • Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people.

      • Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid, deny, blame themselves or others, or cope through substance use if there is a problem.

      • Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.

I invite you to build the practice to gratitude into every day, and share what you discover.

Love and Blessings,

 

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