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Finding Time to be Silent
by On February 11, 2013

I find so much goodness in simply being silent.  Here is a quick video i shot on the beach watching the sun rise.

Video Link

One of my favorite quotes is “The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” Paulo Coelho

Finding some time to be silent each day is about as simple as it gets and the results ARE extraordinary.

Here are some fun benefits you can look forward to by simply being silent each day:

A. More Creativity – Many pieces of research are showing how different types of mindfulness and meditation practices are clearly linked to improved creativity and better problem solving skills. I know anecdotally, that this is true for me.

B. Health Benefits – I’m the first to point out that maintaining optimal health does NOT have one magic cure-all. The majority of the western, alternative and homeopathic physicians are certainly in agreement that heightened stress comes with health challenges. Taking some quiet time to relax and ‘do nothing’ has tremendous ability to lower stress. This might take a little time and practice. Occasionally someone tells me “every time that I sit in silence for 5 minutes, all I think about is all the things I’m not getting done right now and I become more stressed than I was before!” Zoiks huh? If you are in that situation – you might REALLY benefit from getting good at getting still once and a while, and it might take some practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

C. Better Communication Skills – A consistent practice of being silent will not only make you a better listener … but it will also sharpen your ability to speak clearly. By getting good a remaining silent (and make no mistake this is a skill) you will have more control and focus over where you mind travels. This is a critical part of being able to ‘think on your feet’ and will help you to organize your thoughts into succinct points which are readily understood.

Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” That is certainly the case with this. Set an intention to find some time this week to do nothing and notice all the goodness that bring to you.

be free!


Beating Holiday Stress
by On December 18, 2012

It is possible to survive the holiday frenzy without feeling frantic — if you know how. Here are top tips from some of the nation’s leading stress experts.

By Vicki Haddock/WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD

The holidays really are the best of times and the worst of times. Our tidings of comfort and joy can so easily be devoured by the insatiable stress to do it all, be it all, and buy it all.

And that stress is nothing to ho, ho, ho about, either. It increases your risk of illness and even death. One study, published in the Oct. 12, 1999, issue of the journal Circulation, suggested holiday stress and overindulgence help explain the soaring rate of fatal heart attacks in December and January.

Yet it is possible to survive the holiday frenzy without feeling frantic — if you know how. Here are top tips from some of the nation’s leading stress experts:

Stress Master: Psychologist Alice Domar, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, and author of the book Self-Nurture.

Strategy: Cut yourself some slack!

Tip 1. Shop so you don’t drop. Domar’s ritual is to take a personal day off work in the middle of the first week of December. “I hit the mall as soon as the doors open, carrying nothing but an empty backpack and my credit cards,” she says. “The crowds haven’t yet descended, the salespeople are still helpful, and there’s plenty of stuff on the shelves. When I’ve bought too much to carry, I go back to the car, drop it off, and go back in again. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish.” If she finds something she really likes — say a hurricane lamp at Crate and Barrel — she’ll buy an assortment in different colors and give one to each of several people on her list. “My sister-in-law, my friend, and my co-worker never talk to each other,” she says. “They’ll never know.” And of course, catalogs and Internet retailers make it possible to shop without leaving the comforts of home.

Tip 2. Treat yourself. All that hustling and bustling can drain you. Domar suggests that for every 10 presents you buy for others, you select a little indulgence for yourself. “I might go with a little Godiva truffle or a Dave Barry calendar — nothing expensive, just a little pick-me-up.” She also recommends regular exercise and making time for a movie date with your partner, a soak in a hot tub, or a solitary evening of soothing music.

Tip 3. Skip the Nutcracker. Or if that is simply too much heresy, go ahead and take in the ballet but forgo the big menorah lighting, or the Santa parade, or the holiday ice show. The point is, don’t drag yourself or your family from event to event. Think quality, not quantity. Domar recommends allowing each child to pick two events as must-dos. “The Nutcracker will be around next year, I promise,” she says.

Tip 4. Stretch the season. If December is a hotbed of socializing, the weeks that follow tend to be a wasteland. That’s why Domar proposes people schedule their holiday bashes for mid-January (her own office party is set for Jan. 14.) By then, guests actually welcome the idea of a party, and you’ll have the luxury of time to put it together. And just because the last Scotch pine needle has been vacuumed out of the carpet doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a holiday theme. Domar suggests asking guests to bring a fruitcake and wear the tackiest present they received.


Stress Master: Nutritional biochemist Judith Wurtman, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of the book Managing Your Mind & Mood Through Food.

Strategy: Eat to stave off tension as well as hunger.

“Imagine explaining your angst over failing to create a Martha Stewart table to a really empathetic giraffe.”

Tip 1. Carbo-charge your body. It’s 4 p.m. on Dec. 23, and you’re stuck in an interminable line at the post office. It’s time for a snack, but not just any snack. Wurtman says the secret is choosing carbohydrates with low or no fat — maybe a handful of pretzels or, if you crave something sweet, a few Tootsie Rolls or jellybeans. “At least 30 grams’ worth — look at package labels to get amounts,” Wurtman advises. Her research over several years shows such carbohydrates boost the powerful brain chemical serotonin, which helps the body feel calmer. Curiously, one snack to avoid at such times is fruit: fructose is the only carbohydrate that appears not to stimulate serotonin.

Tip 2. Eat mini-meals. When you eat stress-reducing foods, the effects last only about two to three hours. If you’re up against chronic holiday stress, try eating several small meals or snacks throughout the day instead of a couple of big ones. Just be careful to keep your total intake of calories about the same.

Tip 3. Zero in on stress points and fix them. The holidays often generate a vicious cycle: Stress causes people to eat more and richer foods, which causes them to gain weight, which makes them feel even more stressed. “It’s better to prevent or deflect the stress than deal with it,” says Wurtman. For example, say you’re a working mom who comes home at 6 p.m. to begin your second job, and you eat because you feel overwhelmed. Instead, plan ahead. Give your family written instructions on what to do to help you, and give yourself 10 guilt-free minutes of time-out to relax.


Stress Master: Robert Sapolsky, professor of biological sciences and neurology at Stanford University and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Disease and Coping.

Strategy: Put whatever’s stressing you in perspective. Chances are your stress level isn’t high because you’re running for your life from an attacking lion. So just imagine explaining your angst over failing to create a Martha Stewart table to a really empathetic giraffe. If your holiday woes would sound like utter nonsense to the giraffe, you’re describing stressors of your own making and you can conquer them.

Tip 1. Ratchet down stress by lowering expectations. Remember, those Norman Rockwell families are strictly two-dimensional — don’t expect them to bear much resemblance to your own family gatherings. “For people living at the other end of the country, this is often one of the few or only times of the year to see some people of great significance,” Sapolsky observes. The result: “this stressful pressure to cram all this emotion and bonding and intimacy into a very hectic few days.” Expect some irritations and imperfections, then relax and have a good time in spite of them.

Tip 2. Don’t go it alone. While the notion of holiday stress conjures up visions of jam-packed mall parking lots and tense dinners with the in-laws, many people suffer stress because they face the holidays by themselves. Sapolsky advises getting proactive by connecting with family, friends, even others who face similar isolation.

Tip 3. Remember the reason for the season. Some people find the holiday season stressful because it seems robbed of its authentic meaning. Instead they are awash in a culture conspiring to crassly cash in on something that once had great personal significance. The antidote, says Sapolsky: “Take the time and effort to reaffirm what this season really means to you, whether it is about family, community, religion. Go help someone in need, to help yourself reaffirm what it is all about.”


Stress Master: Eric Brown, spokesman for the Center for a New American Dream, a Maryland-based, nonprofit organization urging Americans to shift their consumption to improve quality of life and the environment.

Strategy: Learn how to have more fun with less stuff! (A 1998 poll commissioned by the center and conducted by EDK Associates of New York found that 44% of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford at holiday time, and only 28% report the holidays leave them feeling “joyful.”)

Tip 1. Give the gifts money can’t buy.
By getting creative, you can avoid the stresses of traffic, crowded department stores — and that lingering dissatisfaction that you spend a small fortune on generic gifts. Four out of five people say they would prefer a photo album filled with childhood memories to a store-bought gift. “My 65-year-old mother has all the stuff she needs, so I gave a donation in her honor to the county food bank,” says Brown. “People increasingly are finding new ways to think outside the box — to give gifts that show the relationship between the giver and the recipient.” Other ideas: Adopt a koala bear in a child’s name at the local zoo. Create an audio or video of a family elder reminiscing for their children and grandchildren. Illustrate and write a homemade story featuring your child as the main character. Make coupons redeemable for backrubs or homemade brownies. Or write to celebrities, asking for an autograph dedicated to the recipient.

Tip 2. Lick overspending. It takes an average of four months for a credit card user to pay off stress-inducing holiday bills, according to a 1999 report by the American Bankers Association. Instead try this: Decide how much you can afford to spend for each person on your list, then put that amount in cash in an envelope with that person’s name on it. When the envelope is empty, you’re done – no exceptions. Or freeze your credit cards in a jug of water, or mail them to a friend until the holidays are history. “The more you can inject a sense of humor and make it a game, the easier it’ll be to live within your means,” Brown says.

Tip 3. Follow your holiday bliss. “My wife and daughter and I actually prefer to just go away,” Brown says. “We rent a cabin for Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the day after. It forces us leave all the distractions behind and just enjoy being together. We get in touch with what the holidays are all about.”

Take it Off the Mat: Graceful Transitions
by On September 18, 2012

September 12, 2012

I have been practicing yoga for 14 years now. There are many concepts and experiences of my practice that I take off the yoga mat and into the real world. For those of you familiar with yoga, you might know what I am talking about…..don’t judge, listen to your body, don’t compare yourself with others, keep your eye on one focus….there are so many valuable correlations between the practice of yoga and the practice of life. In order to have a fluid, graceful practice….you must transition from one pose to the next.

Are we not so busy in life that we are constantly looking at the past, or working towards the future, that we don’t focus on the transition? I am sure you might be saying, “here goes the be present talk again.” Not at all.

How do you transition in life Gracefully?

Have you found yourself recently or presently in a state of transition? This could look like many things. For example, you might be in the transition of becoming a parent, moving to a new place, transitioning out of the work force, changing jobs, getting promoted, (insert your own here)…. This transition could be easy or difficult, good or bad, who knows? Typically, change is tough for most people, even if it is leading to a positive end state. So how can you make your transition as graceful as possible? There are many answers to this, (without getting into a book here) I will tell you what makes transitioning every yoga pose easier…strength…sheer Strength. Ahhh…let’s take this off the yoga mat and into real life.

How do you stay strong through your transitions in life?

Keeping yourself mentally strong, physically strong, spiritually strong, and staying strong and true to your personal core values. These will all help you get through any transition. In order for these aspects to be strong, they need to be practiced on a regular basis.

How are you doing in these areas of your life? If you cannot lift a 5 pound weight, I promise that the 50 pound rock that might land on your foot will be difficult to move. Get my point? Keeping yourself strong in all aspects of your life will ebb and flow, we are not perfect and we might get flabby in an area or two sometimes. But we CAN evaluate these areas and make an effort to get stronger, so that when that transition comes, we can handle it gracefully.

So….how are you doing in these areas? Take a moment and evaluate yourself on a scale of 1-10: (1 being you can’t lift a pound/10 being you might be on steroids)

Keeping yourself mentally strong on a regular basis? (Reading, listening to educational/positive material, keeping current on your product or industry)

Keeping yourself physically strong? (Working out, eating healthy, getting outside)

Keeping yourself spiritually strong? (Praying, meditating, service to others, practicing yoga – or whatever this looks like for YOU)

Keeping true to your core values? (Doing the right thing, keeping true to who you are and your beliefs, keeping your priorities straight)

We all must fall sometimes, or lose our balance…we often do this in yoga. The fall will never hurt as bad if….we are strong enough to catch ourselves.

I challenge you…Do one thing every day this week to improve your strength in one area of your life. We would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing!!!

by On September 13, 2012

This brochure was shared at  by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

TO RELAX. Throughout the day, take “mini-breaks”. Sit down and get comfortable. Slowly take in a deep breath; hold it; and then exhale very slowly. At the same time, let your shoulder muscles droop, smile, and say something positive like, “I am r-e-l-a-x-e-d.” Be sure to get sufficient rest at night.

PRACTICE ACCEPTANCE. Many people get distressed over things they won’t let themselves accept. Often, these are things that can’t be changed, for example someone else’s feelings or beliefs. If something unjust bothers you, that is different. If you act in a responsible way, the chances are you will manage that stress effectively.

TALK RATIONALLY TO YOURSELF. Ask yourself what real impact the stressful situation will have on you in a day or in a week, and see if you can let the negative thoughts go. Think through whether the situation is your problem or the other person’s. If it is yours, approach it calmly and firmly. If it is the other person’s, there is not much you can do about it. Rather than condemning yourself with hindsight thinking like, “I should have…,” think about what you can learn from the error and plan for the future. Watch out for perfectionism — set realistic and attainable goals. Remember: everyone makes errors. Be careful of procrastination — practice breaking tasks into smaller units to make it manageable, and practice prioritizing to get things done.

GET ORGANIZED. Develop a realistic schedule of daily activities that includes time for work, sleep, relationships, and recreation. Use a daily “thing to do ” list. Improve your physical surroundings by cleaning your house and straightening up your office. Use your time and energy efficiently.

EXERCISE. Physical activity has always provided relief from stress. In the past, daily work was largely physical. Now that physical exertion is no longer a requirement for earning a living, we don’t get rid of stress so easily. It accumulates very quickly. We need to develop a regular exercise program to reduce the effects of stress before it becomes distress. Try aerobics, walking, jogging, dancing, or swimming.

REDUCE TIME URGENCY. If you frequently check your watch or worry about what you do with your time, learn to take things a bit slower. Allow plenty of time to get things done. Plan your schedule ahead of time. Recognize that you can only do so much in a given period. Practice the notion of “pace, not race”.

DISARM YOURSELF. Every situation in life does not require you to be competitive. Adjust your approach to an event according to its demands. You don’t have to raise your voice in a simple discussion. Playing tennis with a friend does not have to be an Olympic trial. Leave behind you your “weapons” of shouting, having the last word, putting someone else down, and blaming.

QUIET TIME. Balance your family, social, and work demands with special private times. Hobbies are good antidotes for daily pressures. Unwind by taking a quiet stroll, soaking in a hot bath, watching a sunset, or listening to calming music.

WATCH YOUR HABITS. Eat sensibly — a balanced diet will provide all the necessary energy you will need during the day. Avoid nonprescription drugs and avoid alcohol use — you need to be mentally and physically alert to deal with stress. Be mindful of the effects of excessive caffeine and sugar on nervousness. Put out the cigarettes — they restrict blood circulation and affect the stress response.

TALK TO FRIENDS. Friends can be good medicine. Daily doses of conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of deep feelings and thoughts can reduce stress quite nicely.


Many people don’t realize it, but stress is a very natural and important part of life. Without stress there would be no life at all! We need stress (eustress), but not too much stress for too long (distress). Eustress helps keep us alert, motivates us to face challenges, and drives us to solve problems. These low levels of stress are manageable and can be thought of as necessary and normal stimulation.

Distress, on the other hand , results when our bodies over-react to events. It leads to what has been called a “fight or flight” reaction. Such reactions may have been useful in times long ago when our ancestors were frequently faced with life or death matters. Nowadays, such occurrences are not usual. Yet, we react to many daily situations as if they were life or death matters. Our bodies don’t really know the difference between a saber-tooth tiger attacking and an employer correcting our work. How we perceive and interpret the events of life dictates how our bodies react. If we think something is very scary or worrisome, our bodies react accordingly.

When we view something as manageable, though, our body doesn’t go haywire; it remains alert but not alarmed. The activation of our sympathetic nervous system (a very important part of our general nervous system) mobilizes us for quick action. The more we sense danger (social or physical), the more our body reacts. Have you ever been unexpectedly called upon to give an “off-the-cuff” talk and found that your heart pounded so loudly and your mouth was so dry that you thought you just couldn’t do it? That’s over-reaction.

Problems can occur when the sympathetic nervous system is unnecessarily over activated frequently. If we react too strongly or let the small over-reactions (the daily hassles) pile up, we may run into physical as well as psychological problems. Gastrointestinal problems (examples: diarrhea or nausea), depression, severe headaches, or relapse can come about from acute distress. Insomnia, heart disease, and distress habits (examples: drinking, overeating, smoking, and using drugs) can result from the accumulation of small distresses.


What we all need is to learn to approach matters in more realistic and reasonable ways. Strong reactions are better reserved for serious situations. Manageable reactions are better for the everyday issues that we typically have to face.


Below are situations that cause stress in some people and distress in others. Imagine yourself in each one right now. How are you reacting?

Driving your car in rush hour

Getting a last minute work assignment

Misplacing something in the house

Having something break while you’re using it

Dealing with incompetence at work

Planning your budget

Being blamed for something

Waiting in a long line at the grocery store



7 Tips for Improving Your Memory as You Age
by On September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012 by Staff Writer

Where are your keys? Did you shut the garage door? What’s that guy’s name again? Everyone has some memory lapses, but as you age, it seems like they get more frequent and take longer to snap out of. While there’s no way to keep your brain (or your body, for that matter) young forever, you can keep your brain as sharp as possible by using some of these tricks. It may not be a steel trap exactly, but your memory will definitely be better.

Take care of your body:


Not only will you look and feel a lot better if you exercise regularly, but your brain will feel the effects too. Exercising increases the blood flow to your brain, particularly in the area that controls memory, and may even help the formation of new brain cells. Even people who aren’t fit can start to reap the benefits in a few months or less. Just another reason to dust off your old tennis shoes and hit the gym!




Eat smart:


Of course you have to maintain a healthy diet to get the nutrients your body needs and keep your weight down, but you should also consider your brain’s health when meals or snack times roll around. Many foods can protect your brain and improve how it functions. Try incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet by eating more salmon, tuna, walnuts, and eggs. Also try some antioxidants, like blueberries, broccoli, and carrots. Remembering to eat your vegetables won’t be so hard with your improved memory.




Take supplements:


It can be hard to eat everything you’re supposed to on a regular basis, so if you find your pantry lacking in the good foods you just read about, you can add a memory-boosting supplement to your daily routine. Fish oil supplements contain the Omega-3 fatty acids you can get from food, Vitamin E can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, and Asian ginseng may benefit memory. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about adding these to your diet.




Eliminate stress:


Studies have shown that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can make your memory foggy. The good news is that you typically have to be stressed out for several days in a row for the effect to be significant, and your memory should bounce back after you’ve de-stressed for a week. You may not be able to get rid of every stressful situation in your life, but eating smart, cutting out unnecessary commitments, and even learning to meditate can help reduce your stress significantly. Remember to give yourself some time to unwind or you could be hurting your chances for success.



Get organized:


This tip applies to all areas of your life, from your home to your schedule. While organization doesn’t improve brain function directly, it can help you cope with memory lapses and give you fewer things to commit to pure memory. An organized home or office will keep you from losing things and let you rely on logic if you don’t remember putting something away. Making lists and writing down plans will help you stay on track in your daily activities without wasting time or forgetting something important.




Use all your senses:


When you’re learning something new or even just trying to record in your mind where you parked, try engaging as many senses as possible. You form stronger memories when you use more senses. Look around, take a deep breath, and listen to the ambient sounds. Touch something or have a taste if it’s appropriate. Taking a moment to use more than one sense will help you recall this memory more easily as you will have involved more areas of your brain.






Keeping your memory sharp doesn’t have to mean sitting in a quiet room studying, reading, and doing crossword puzzles as you age. In fact, people with active social lives tend to have delayed memory loss. Engaging in society by interacting with friends, family, or civic organizations can offset the risk of mental decline, especially in those who have had less formal education. So join that bingo club or start volunteering to make your community better. You could be improving yourself at the same time.


gratitude in the everyday
by On September 5, 2012

Posted August 30th, 2012 at 2:44 pm by Karen from Chookooloonks

My friend Jyl Pattee wrote a post today about gratitude being the key to a happy life — and I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve mentioned before that I think that gratitude is imperative to finding joy in your life, and for getting through the hard times.  But to be honest, it can be difficult, even for me, to find something new to be grateful for every day.  Can you imagine? Think of the pressure of having to create something new every single day of your life to be thankful for? I’m tired just thinking about it.

Instead, I admit it: I’m often thankful of the same things over, and over, and over again.  This week, my daughter has returned to school, which means that our lives have returned to the normal routine that flows in our house pretty much every single day for 9 months.  And I have to say, as boring as this sounds, I’m very grateful for routine. I’m grateful for the comfort and sense of stability it provides.  My life might be mundane to most, but it’s my life, and my family, and we’ve worked hard to create the little rituals that bring us peace every day.  For example, I’m grateful for:

  • my morning cup of tea (sweetened over-enthusiastically with honey)
  • turning on my twinkle lights in my office weekday mornings — signifying it’s time to get to work
  • reading the classics to Alex when she gets home from school (this is actually assigned homework from her teacher!)
  • journaling with Alex
  • witnessing Alex’s growing habit of reading in bed to herself before lights-out every night
  • and Friday night movie night

You see, I’m of the opinion that mundane habits like this — this little rituals that we create for ourselves — are what make for a happy life.  And I hope that this helps my daughter have grateful memories of her childhood, despite how un-extraordinary all of these little events are.

How about you — what is it about your everyday that you’re grateful for?



50 Shades of Relapse
by On August 15, 2012

scaly. She needed think and condition. I and

drug stores in canada

it is tell! Very will losing is lisinopril over the counter that scrub Cream non-tingle just.

me. If you are already judging me or this blog for it – stop

I was traveling this past weekend (airports and airplanes have always been a big trigger for me), as I was sitting in the airport I had a RAGING urge to drink (when I say drink, I don’t mean sip on a mimosa). It felt like an entity stronger than me. It was the most intense experience I have had during sobriety. And it scared the hell out of me. I was going straight down the rabbit hole. Believing all those thoughts that alcoholics/addicts believe:

  1. I am sure I can have just one or two and stop
  2. Maybe that’s exactly what I need – a good binger to remind me why I don’t drink anymore!
  3. I will just drink in the air, it’s almost like a different realm, so it doesn’t really count (now if that isn’t some delusional reasoning)
  4. I have too much Will these days to let my life get out of control again
  5. Just this one time – no one will ever know
  6. I am about to go on a 5 month spiritual hiatus! I can just drink till then! Surely I will quit in India

Being fortunate enough to be upgraded to first class, I knew this was going to be a tempting 2 hour flight with free drinks. I started scanning the boarding area for any hint of a military service employee to give my seat to. No luck. At this point, I had decided. I can’t do it, I don’t even care-.. I am just going to drink.

After being seated, before departure, I started frantically calling everyone I knew for support. After not being able to reach my non-alcoholic support system, I reached out for my friend who has a severe drinking problem……just knowing that she admires me for something she has not yet beat, and asked her to pray for me. I was crying at this point. The man sitting next to me; surely thought I was NUTS and I was doubting my own sanity at this time. I knew I was closer to binging than ever- so I handed a written note to the flight attendant with tears in my eyes, “please don’t serve me a drink, even if I ask.” I felt so weak and embarrassed at that point.

So why am I writing this very private information to thousands of people?

Because it’s REAL and I am HUMAN.

What would the world be like if everyone reached out for help when they were having destructive habits, behaviors, or temptations? Imagine…

“I have been dangerously close to sleeping with another woman/man outside of my marriage, I need to figure this out.”

“I have been having true feelings of taking my own life, please help me.”

“I have been breaking down and hitting my children, what can I do about my anger?”

Eckhart Tolle (an author that has truly had a major impact on me), speaks of the pain body. I am a huge believer in the pain body. In my opinion, it is real, and it was taking hold of me at 32,000 feet. I felt out of control, weak, doomed, as if I had failed…..and then I remembered…I have tools for this! So I pulled out all the stops.

I prayed, I journaled, I sat with the emotional pain and observed (I did not resist it), I listened to music, listened to my heart, I felt the support of my seat around me…..and prayed some more. When I landed, I went straight to a yoga class and hung out with my soul soothing best friend.

I am sharing this raw experience with you simply because if God can use me to help ANYONE in this world to experience less pain, than I have, that will be enough for me. Here are some suggestions when you feel yourself spinning out of control…

-Stop and notice your thoughts….but don’t necessarily believe them. “I am doomed to fail,” does not have to be a true statement

-Be real with what you can and cannot deal with. If you love to gamble, stay away from Sin City. If you have a problem with infidelity- don’t go to the bars alone.

-It is OK to be weak sometimes (this one is tough for me) I feel many look to me to be strong, but we are all human and being vulnerable, especially with a voice – results in a disempowered pain body. When weak, just make sure you have tools to help during those times. WHEN WEAK, ASK FOR HELP.

– Remember that there will be consequences for your decisions. It is tough to think about when temptation takes hold…..but remember there always is.

– GET TOOLS to cope (I or anyone at Freedom Personal Development can help with this)

I would not know the light if I didn’t know the darkness. I sure wouldn’t have the strength and beauty in my life today if I didn’t fully experience the emptiness and darkness of my life when alcohol destroyed my soul and potential.

Every pain is an opportunity for growth. So as I shed tears at 32,000 feet while writing this, I found a sincere gratitude for the next present of recognized beauty within my personal growth.

I have since identified and eliminated situations and thought patterns that contributed to my wearing thin will in the previous weeks. Thank you God for the strength, I have no doubt that I was receiving a hand from a higher power.

Why Your Morning Routine Can Make or Break Your Career
by On July 23, 2012

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Think of your home as your base camp of operations from which you attack the day. Are you adequately arming yourself for the skirmishes you’ll face before sundown? Is your mind sharp and focused, ready to solve problems, prove your worth, and advance your career over the next hill? Whether we realize it or not, all of us have a morning routine. Most of us craft this routine around maximizing sleep: wake up as late as possible to still make it in on time, get ready quick, eat fast, and go. But we’re here to tell you why your work life will prosper when you treat your morning with the respect it deserves.


The book on radical leadership you’ve been meaning to read. The online course you’ve been meaning to start. The blogs with the great work advice (ahem) you’ve been meaning to catch up on. All of these are activities that would be so good for you as a person and an employee, and you’re so going to undertake them when you have time. But haven’t you heard, it’s the people who make time who have it? The most successful people recognize that as the day goes on, the number of time-suckers vying for your attention only multiplies. Morning is the best time to do these projects, when you’ve got the fresh willpower and the promise of a new dawn.



By definition, being proactive means acting ahead of time to plan or strategize for an expected difficulty. If you don’t make a habit of doing this in the morning, you run the risk of dealing with problems reactively and on-the-fly, without the benefit of a solution in mind. The metaphor for this approach is “putting out fires,” which implies some stuff is going to get burned while you’re trying to find the extinguisher. CEO Steve Murphy recommends simply writing out your thoughts for the day on a yellow pad each morning.


Your stress levels are highest in the morning. If your routine consists of waking up rushed, throwing your things together, grabbing coffee and a toaster pastry, and launching out the door, you’ve perfectly prepared yourself to be harried by the time you get to work and need to focus. By mid-afternoon the adrenaline has worn off, and you’re drained. Creating a morning routine that is slow-paced gives your stress level time to come down while you make and enjoy a healthy breakfast (see below), read, pray or meditate, see your kids off to school, and generally prepare for the day. To give yourself more morning time, get chores like making your lunch or ironing what you’re going to wear out of the way the night before.


Obviously anything that makes you physically healthier helps you in all areas of life, and work is no exception. But exercising after work at the end of the day involves the danger of interfering with sleep: the evidence indicates a tough workout within two hours of bedtime can hurt your ability to fall asleep. Research also suggests people who exercise in the morning are better at making a habit of it. They also get a mood boost that last for hours, even after a 20-minute workout, according to studies.




Again, being in good health has no downside for your career. And though some of those old phrases we’ve all heard are bunk, this one is absolutely true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy morning meal improves your concentration and mental performance, both great benefits for work life. If your career involves employing muscles below the neck, there’s good news for you as well, as you increase endurance and strength with the right breakfast foods. In the “breaking your career” category, we have to put drinking coffee. Sorry, but java can lead to higher stress levels, cause anxiety, raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and interfere with sleep. All the more reason to give yourself time to wake up naturally in the morning.


As we mentioned, morning can be the time you do those things you’ve intended to do for a while. While some of them may be minor odds and ends, some of them may involve major goals you want to achieve in your life, like writing a novel or becoming bilingual. Yes, you can work on these on the weekends if you’re dedicated, but even if you do there are still five days out of the week where you could be making progress on your long-term plans. A solid morning routine lets you step back from thoughts of the immediate future and really consider where your career is headed and what you need to do today to continue moving in the right direction.



If you’re counting on coming up with a brilliant business idea or money-saving practice to get you promoted, you could be hurting your chances by the way you start the day. The best elements for fostering creativity take place, you guessed it, in the morning. A recent study published in scientific journal Thinking and Reasoning showed that in the time after rising when you’re half-awake and unfocused, you often make connections between things that you probably would not make when you’re fully awake. Rushing through this time limits your chances of inspiration striking. Another study in Psychological Science found that “cognitive flexibility” is highest when our mood is positive, as it is when we take our time getting ready and are not stressed.


Once you start cutting into your sleep time in the morning to get up earlier, you’ll have to go to bed earlier to keep from feeling groggy during the day. The beauty here is that many researchers believe each hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth two hours after 12 a.m., meaning you get all those health benefits in twice the proportion when you get to bed earlier, notably your ability to learn and remember, an improvement in your mood, and a healthy immune system so you don’t have to take as much sick time.

Think You Can't Take A Vacation? The Sound Business Reasons You Really Should
by On June 26, 2012

By Patty Azzarello | 06-26-2012 | 9:00 AM

We know–you’re totally, utterly indispensable to your business. Right? Think again: Here are 10 reasons work is better off without you for a while. Now skeedaddle.


Now that it’s summer, it’s a good time to remind yourself that you should go on a vacation–and not feel guilty about it.


Here are 10 reasons why the business is better off without you for awhile:


1. Going on a vacation shows you are competent. It is proof that you are good at your job because you can manage and plan enough to free up some time in your schedule–and not leave a festering mess in your absence. Not being able to take a vacation for years shows that you and your team are so out of control that you can’t even be gone for a week.


2. No one is impressed if you don’t. Bragging that you have not had a vacation in years or that you have maxed out on vacation days is not scoring points with anyone. If you think your company or your team see it as a super-keen work-ethic, and admires you for it–they don’t.


3. Your team is motivated. When you show by example that you support and allow people to have a life, they will be more motivated to contribute. As long as you don’t send them email every day while you are “on vacation”! Set the expectation you will be generally out of touch. If you can’t stand to let go entirely, arrange 1-2 scheduled check-in points, but don’t just go somewhere else and keep working.


4. Your team gets more productive. When you go away, you give your team a break from doing and worrying about all the things you throw in their way when they are trying to get their work done. After about 2 weeks, they will miss you and need you again, but in the mean time, their productivity will actually go up.


5. Being unavailable helps people develop. Being unreachable for periods of time is actually a very effective technique for developing people. It forces them to step up. If they think they can reach you at all times, they will never bother to think bigger, learn, and take risks–they’ll just ask you. Just be careful not to un-do everything they did in your absence just because it was different than the way you would have done it.


6. You will be more productive. If you step away from the day to day chaos and give your back-of-mind processes a chance to chew on things while you are in a good (or at least different) mood, you’ll think new thoughts. You will solve problems you might not solve if you stay fully engaged at all times.


7. You will prioritize better. Stepping away helps make it clear that some of the things that you thought were vitally important before your vacation don’t actually need to get done after all. When you step away, the difference becomes more clear. The most strategic things re-assert themselves and all the clutter drops several notches in volume.


8. You let other people be “important.” If you refuse to leave ever, you are sending the message that you are the only important person. Giving others the chance to be in charge, make decisions, speak on your behalf and solve problems sends the message that you have confidence in your team. This builds your credibility with your team, your peers, and your management more than pretending that the business can’t live without you for a moment. (Which doesn’t really build your credibility at all.)


9. Your company benefits. Your company prefers people who enjoy their life because they have more positive energy for their work. They are more effective and more productive. People who have interests outside of work also deal with pressures and disappointments in the workplace with more resilience and confidence.


10. You need a break, whether you know it or not!


Finally, if something comes up in your business that you really can’t avoid handling personally, and you need to cancel your vacation, reschedule another one while you are canceling. This will minimize resentment and disappointment, give you something to look forward to–and ensure you don’t get too full of your self-importance, and go too long without a vacation.

8 Steps To Knock Out An Impossible Punch List
by On June 21, 2012

By Kaihan Krippendorff | 06-21-2012 | 10:00 AM

This article is written by a member of our expert contributor community.

First, take a deep breath. Good? Now read on for advice on “constructive urgency.”

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”–Thomas Edison

Our impact on the world depends on our ability manage urgency. Right now, I’m not doing so well. On my flight racing over to Honduras, my mind is wandering: What should I do first? Write a blog post? Prep for next week’s workshop? Watch a movie? I’m in a state of paralysis, which John Kotter, the Harvard Business School guru of change leadership calls “false urgency,” and I like to call “destructive urgency.” There are three types of urgency:

1. Complacency: You make no effort because you think things are fine.

2. Destructive urgency: You are stressed, worried, know things must change but you don’t know what to do, so you waste your time looking busy but achieving little.

3. Constructive urgency: You feel an energizing sense of purpose and direction, what Kotter calls “real urgency,” that “is not something that wears you down…real urgency produces success, which gives energy back.”

To win whatever game we are playing, we must push people past complacency, steer clear of destructive urgency, and land in the constructive urgency zone.

So how do you create constructive urgency? This week I read articles and books, and interviewed experts and compiled this eight-step summary.

Step 1: Orient

Glen Manchester, by all accounts, was doing wonders with Thunderhead, the customer engagement technology company he launched in 2001, growing at 40% annually and being ranked as one of the world’s most innovative tech firms. He had revenue approaching $70 million, over 200 employees, hundreds of marquis clients, and yet he realized he was in trouble. Thunderhead was flying into a storm.

“I saw we had so much innovation potential that our clients were not buying [because] we were selling to the wrong people,” said Manchester.

The future buyers of client engagement solutions should be chief marketing officers, not IT departments, and if Thunderhead didn’t adjust now, another competitor would soon. He and his team sat down and played out the scenario until they realized their strategy had to change.

Only when you realize that change is necessary, is the possibility for change born.

Step 2: Paint a new future

So Manchester and his team proposed the question: “What if we extract IT (technology) out of the equation…if [customer engagement] solutions were not built for CIOs and call centers,” but rather for the marketing department? They realized this paradigm changed everything that required you to attack in “a clean sheet way.”

Step 3: Create meaning

Logic doesn’t move people, emotion does. To build commitment to your new future you need to have it mean something to your team. Thunderhead did this by connecting with its core aspiration to be a global player, not a once-ran.

Step 4: Find the strategic concept

Plans fall apart quickly once the battle begins. So in fast-paced change efforts, simple, easily communicated strategies work best. Manchester came up with a brilliant one. “We were going to acquire ourselves,” he said, and disrupt the company before someone else does. Thunderhead would create an alternative persona,, buy the old Thunderhead brand, and execute a bold transformation program.

Step 5: Put up blinders

Your success will inevitably trigger naysayers., for example, is creating a new product category that “no one is really talking about [yet]; no one is saying this is where things are going.” How do you immunize yourself from such disbelievers? You reframe the doubters. “If it’s feeling easy, it’s wrong,” Manchester told me. This is like elite athletes who work with, even seek out, the pain as sign they are improving.

Step 6: Remove the drag

You will get distracted by bureaucracy. There are always forms to fill out, procedures to learn, paperwork to slow you down. Remove the drag and focus on the actions that really matter. When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was once told by a manger they couldn’t connect servers because their new building had not yet been wired, Ellison supposedly hammered a hole in the drywall, pulled through a loose cable, and told the manager he was now wired. Cut down the drag to pick up speed.

Step 7: Produce results

Successful change efforts produce results early. For example, the South Beach Diet took the U.S. by storm five years ago not because of its breakthrough science but because it was simple to follow and produced noticeable results in two weeks.

Step 8: Create perceived motion

Talking to successful entrepreneurs like Manchester usually feels like being on a bullet train. Things are moving quickly and if you don’t grab on you will be left behind. Humans are designed to notice motion, not static movement. So create a sense of velocity for your investors, employees, and customers. Don’t just talk about what you are doing until you succinctly describe how the world is changing (e.g., “technology is getting simpler, consumers are driving adoption, China and India are emerging … and that is why this opportunity is available now for the first time”).

Putting it to work

Have you reached discontent? If not, find it, talk about it, get your team a (little) depressed. But jump to step 2 quickly, before you lead your team to destructive discontent.

Does your new vision make you anxious or complacent? If so, redesign it. I personally see some parts of my vision completely excite me, others less so. So I’ll revisit those.

Is realizing your vision important? Does it link to your values? If not, ask “why is this important to me and to the world?” I, for example, am building an online tool based on my process and sometimes forget why: to help everyone make smarter decisions every day. Reconnect to your purpose.

What strategic metaphor captures your plan? For me, it’s to build the “Bloomberg” for change makers. If you don’t have one, create one.

What will you do to block doubters from sapping your enthusiasm? What works for me is a group of mentors I can call, who think big, and can inspire me.

What are you wasting time on? Stop doing that. For example, I spend too much time setting up conference calls. I’m going to start picking up the phone instead.

What immediate results are you playing for? For me, it’s to launch “proof of concept”…which we will get to you next week!

What preamble will create a sense of acceleration for your idea? If it does not feel like a bullet train, rewrite it. I tend to start with theory. That doesn’t work. Instead I will launch into my “accelerator” preamble every time I speak to a new client or investor.