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Typing one-handed is challenging.  Hope to be back on track soon.

illustration: Neil Squire Society

DonnaIt’s important to know what you want from the holidays!  That may seem obvious, however I see so many people who are continually disappointed by the holidays because they have fantasy expectations of what they will be like…ones that are never met.

If instead, they would only take a few moments to know exactly what they wanted….dinners with friends, a spiritual connection, less work….then they could focus on their priorities and make them happen.

  As an example, I normally love to cook for a crowd, so the holidays mean lots of family and friends around my table…and me in the kitchen at the center of it all.  It also means lots of cleaning…the part I don’t love. ;-)  This year, I’ve been traveling and working a lot, so the thought of all that cleaning made having them all over less appealing.  I recognized that what I really wanted was to just be with them and enjoy us all being together.  So this year…we’re headed into NYC to watch the Thanksgiving parade live and have dinner at a restaurant where we can all just relax and enjoy each other.

And for December, I’ll define my own priorities in terms of:

  • Business: do I ramp it down and take some additional time off for the month, or ramp up in time for January?
  • Personal: do I entertain, say yes to all invitations or be more selective, diet or throw caution to the winds, bake or buy, and more…
  • Physical surroundings:  do I decorate inside and out, avoid malls, travel or stay home?
  • Financial:  how much do I want to spend on gifts, entertaining and dining out?  Are there free or inexpensive options to entertainment (and in my neck of the woods there actually are wonderful concerts and decorated communities to enjoy); how much charitable giving of my money or time do I want to give?

It’s also important this time of year (every time of year actually) to make sure your boundaries are in place.  I know that I’m asked to bake or donate items for charities, pick from the giving tree, give time, money and food to so many worthy causes.  And I’d love to do it all, but I can’t…and neither can you.  So know in advance what you will give to causes, and what you will say to your network when they ask you to support their cause, or attend their $100 a person charity dinner, or pick something up for a friend, shop for a family member, or any requests that are more than you want to do.   For the rest, a polite “no, but thank you for asking” should suffice.

You want to give out of joy, not out of obligation!  I usually donate food and time to a local food bank or neighborhood kitchen.  I have my two favorite organizations that have holiday events, and if they fit into my schedule I go, otherwise I send a donation.  And beyond that I know exactly what “spare time” and money I have left for spur of the moment giving.

Give Thanks!  It’s actually been show that being grateful can enhance emotional well-being, and lead to better mental, physical and spiritual health.  You can consider a gratitude journal or an online site like http://www.gratitudelog.com.

And finally, slow down — take time to breathe, smell the pine cones and burning logs, sing songs, and savor good food.  Laugh with your friends, hug your loved ones, and set the intention for a season filled with peace, joy and health.

I wish you all of that and more.

Ho’oponopono

I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  I love you.  Thank you.  These are the four sentiments voiced in the Ho’oponopono song.

Ho’oponopono means to make right.  Essentially, it means to make it right with the ancestors, or to make right with the people with whom you have relationships.  It is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.  It is said to bring a sense of immediate peace. 

angry peopleWhy are we so angry?

In the past week we’ve watched as our politicians, sports stars and entertainers have behaved in disrespectful and angry ways.

And these are just the public displays of rudeness.  Have you noticed that people don’t respond to invitations anymore?  Don’t call back or respond to emails?  Feel it’s perfectly acceptable to “say what’s on their mind,” regardless of what it is? Be ignored in stores and even in doctor’s offices?

Several weeks ago I had to have a nerve test done in my arm.  I arrived several minutes early for my appointment and approached the desk.  The receptionist was busy chatting with two of the nurses.  Even when she finally noticed my presence, she didn’t acknowledge me in any way…not even a nod.  I timed it, it took seven minutes for her to finally recognize my presence.

To make matters worse, as he was conducting my nerve test, the doctor both took and made cell phone calls?

It seems that anger and rudeness has become an acceptable form of human expression. Civility, respect, courtesy, compassion, empathy, all seem gone from the U.S. society.  We see it in politics (whatever happened to responsible disagreement?) and political campaigns, in road rage, at  school board meetings, in doctor’s offices.  Sadly, everywhere.

And in most of these cases, there’s little or no apology or regret.  If there’s any at all, it’s merely lip service, and often with back-tracking (“I’m sorry people were upset, but I stand behind my position.”)  What’s going on?

Is this merely the next incarnation of the decline of civility?

It used to be that people went to great extremes to be civil…they actually wrote thank you notes. Returned phone calls.  Responded to invitations.  Chatted politely, at least in public.  Then we went through a recent phase were it was almost politically correct to create a scandal, apologize publicly, have to resign, then write a book about it.  [There's even a new television show based on this premise...The Good Wife.] Now they go straight from scandal and pat apology to writing the book…no need to resign.

When did socially acceptable public behavior become a dinosaur?  Was it the gossip magazines that made celebrities out of the scandalous…an extreme example of no publicity being bad publicity?  Is it a backlash to the decades of Political Correctness?

I’m not sure of the reasons we have descended to such bad behavior, I only know that it’s reached a crescendo pitch.  But maybe that’s a good thing…maybe we needed to hit bottom before we can begin to return to being respectful and civil again.

Much will be said today in remembrance of 9/11.  This powerful documentary of the search for one falling man brings home once again the very personal tragedy this continues to be. 

Money & You plus my friend Cherie Clark (who wrote a 600 page dissertation on Bucky for her PhD) have motivated me to learn more about Buckminster Fuller and his ideas.  In my “travels” I came across this delightful and entertaining piece that explains his principles in a easy to digest manner.  Enjoy!

Money & You and all personal development programs are obviously about change.  In coaching, we say that for a client to be able to change, they must first be aware.  Aware of their patterns, aware of their blocks, aware of their goals, vision and destination.

For some people, the desire to change, learn and grow is innate.  There’s an ever-present desire to improve.  For others, that desire doesn’t come until there’s enough pain or a big enough reason that creates a NEED to change…right…now.

The next step is to take stock of where you are right now.  If you want to become financially abundant, the first thing you need to know is what your current financial status is.  If you want to want to lose weight, you need to know what your current eating habits are…how many calories you typically eat in a day.  You get the idea.

Once you understand your starting point, it’s time to pick a destination, some milestones along the way, and chart a route.   Let’s say you want to be earning $100,000 a year, and your current income is $50,000.  Your milestones might be 60K and 75K.  Your route is the financial model you’ll use to get there.  What are your revenue streams?  What might you add?  What can you do to increase your income?  This is the time to not censor yourself and think creatively.

Now do your homework.  Decide what you need….what kind of support, funding, partners, resources, training, services?  This step is important regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight, change a habit, learn a language or make more money.

Finally, it’s time to take action.  Start with little steps.  Don’t get stuck in the trap of endless preparation. Stop trying to change. That won’t move you forward.  Take action, and then take another, and another.    As Jedi Master Yoda said, “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.'”

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