Friday, December 30, 2016

Be ready for whatever comes

You still have a couple days of the old year to think about what you want to let go so you can enter 2017 as unencumbered as possible without old ideas, old grudges and old baggage. What would lighten your load? What things feel like a ball-and-chain that you no longer wish to drag around?

OK, here's your chance to shed all that so you can soar like the proverbial butterfly into a brand new year. If you do that, you'll be so much more ready for the adventure of new possibilities and opportunities. Who knows what lies ahead?

There's a second part to this. The first part is the letting go. The next part is to stay awake and aware so you notice the opportunities that show up in your life. It's so easy to be all tied in knots about old stuff and not even see what's on the path in front of us. We might be too busy looking in the rear-view mirror or looking straight down at the ground and not seeing what shows up on the horizon.

Let 2017 be a year of embracing opportunity and adventure. Happy New Year to you!

P.S. Remember, beginning next week, I will post blogs only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. I invite you to tell me what topic ideas you'd like to see. Make your suggestions at:

Thursday, December 29, 2016

'Stay afraid; do it anyway'

So two days ago, Carrie Fisher, who played the iconic Princess Leia in Star Wars, died. She is well known for that role but may be less known as a mental-health advocate. Here's what she said about people with mental illness who might be afraid to pursue the dreams they have: "Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What's important is the action. You don't have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow." 

That isn't just good advice for people with mental illness. It's good for all of us to heed. It's pretty much like the familiar saying, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Don't wait for the confidence to appear. Move to action.

As you look ahead to 2017 and wonder what's on the horizon for you, you may be feeling some fear and apprehension. That's OK. Feel it. And then proceed into the new year ready to embrace all the opportunities that come your way. Ready or not, here you come!

P.S. Remember that next week, I begin my new blog-posting schedule of three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). If you have topic ideas, I'd love to hear them at:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

People of compassion and goodwill

If we just listen to the news, we might get the idea that the world is filled with evil and nasty people. News stories seem to focus on crime, murder, death and disaster—not that those things aren't part of the news. But really, do those stories have to be the only news we get?

So when I saw a video news story on Facebook yesterday showing a man filling a cart in a department store with all manner of gifts—and with multiples of many of the items, I was intrigued. What was he going to do with all those items—and with the rolls and rolls of gift wrap in his cart? The story continued with the man at home apportioning out all that he had bought, making several piles, and then gift wrapping those piles into several packages. He then loaded up laundry baskets and went out on the city streets dropping off a gift-wrapped package to each of several individuals who were on the sidewalks asking for handouts. I can only imagine the joy he brought with his compassion and goodwill.

As I watched the entire video news story unfold, I was in tears. I was just blown away by the kindness and generosity of this one individual—a sort of modern-day St. Nicholas.

It was a reminder to me that the world is full of compassionate, caring and good people. Just because most news broadcasts tell stories of those few people who set out to do harm, we should not be fooled into thinking that most people are wicked and uncaring. It simply isn't so. Look for some good news today. You'll find it—even if it isn't as predominant as bad news!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Goodbye, hello!

How are you feeling about another year coming to a close? And about ushering a brand new one? Now is a good time in which to reflect on what both the "goodbye" and the "hello" mean to you.

I recently read that, in addition to any personal trauma we may have experienced in a given year, we must add to that the collective trauma of bad news we've all absorbed throughout a year—the mass killings, terrorist attacks, deaths of beloved public figures, political fights, wars and rumors of war, etc. When we do that, we'll come closer to knowing the depth of any psychic blows we've sustained. And then we can decide what to do about them. At least we won't be in denial about what we're feeling.

It's also extremely important that we do everything we can to find things that keep us hopeful. Let's call forth our better angels. Let's carry the light for ourselves and each other—for the country and the globe—in ways both large and small. We aren't helpless. We don't have to swing in the wind or dangle helplessly over the canyon. Take charge of what we can—our attitudes and our behavior. Then perhaps we'll be more ready to transition into the new year.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Awareness is a gift

Last week one day when I ran into a store to pick up some last-minute Christmas dinner items, a mother and a young girl were pushing a cart in which sat what must have been the younger sister, perhaps 2 years old. The little one was happily singing songs non-stop. Some were Christmas songs such as "Jingle Bells" and others were children's ditties such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Several other shoppers just kept pushing their carts and rushing on their way. I don't fault them for that as I'm sure most people had long to-do lists once they got home.

However, for me, this was one of those times to stop and pay attention. I just wanted to soak up the delightful experience—a little girl so happy that she just sat in her mother's cart and sang one song after another. I was just enchanted. It definitely put a smile on my face and a spring in my step as I listened. After just a minute or so of just watching and listening, I continued around the store. And I could still hear her as I wandered through the various aisles gathering supplies. Even now when I think of it, it brings a smile; and a feeling of delight washes over me. It was all about awareness and attention.

How often I've just hurried on my way and missed moments such as this. I want to stop and pay attention more often. How about you?

P.S. Remember that beginning in January 2017 I will be posting three blogs each week rather than five (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). If you have ideas for topics you wish to see covered in these blogs, I would love to hear them at:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holidays: Some glad, some sad

If Christmas is your holiday, I want to wish you a joyful and peaceful one this weekend. And if you celebrate Hanukkah, you'll begin this weekend; and I wish you a Happy Hanukkah. If it's simply a time of gift-giving and time with family and friends, enjoy.

Perhaps you celebrate none of those things—or perhaps, like so many, you don't feel like celebrating anything at all this year. It may be a blue and sad time for you. If that is the case, I wish for you people to whom you can turn for compassion, love and understanding. There are many reasons for people not feeling the joy others feel at this holiday season. Perhaps it's been a rugged year for you. Or you may have lost a beloved friend, family member or pet recently. It might even be the anniversary of a death or a job loss or some other painful memory. Or you may be facing a challenging health issue or difficult diagnosis. Please, above all, do not beat yourself up for not feeling in a holiday mood.

Whatever it is you're feeling right now, be with the truth of that feeling. Let it be what it is. And do what you need to do for yourself. Be gentle with yourself. It's a good time for self-compassion.

If you wish to talk about this, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary coaching and listening session. This is not the time to suffer alone or in silence—if that's where you are right now.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sleep's trickle-down effect

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you're sleep-deprived these days. Did you know that nearly one-third of all Americans are? And now that the holidays are nearly upon us, even more people are suffering from lack of sleep. The to-do list is simply much longer than any normal day will allow.

What to do? Well, for one thing—try to be much more realistic about that to-do list. Does everything really need to be done? Does it need to be done now? Can it wait? Or can it go off the list altogether? Can someone else do it?

Then, too, be realistic about your daily schedule and be sure you get to bed earlier. Be disciplined and religious in your sleep habits, knowing that when you aren't and when you are severely sleep-deprived, your health suffers. You can't work at an optimal level. You aren't able to think and function as well. You open yourself up to illness. And everything that might ever cause you stress will increase exponentially. It simply isn't worth it.

Engage in good self-care. Start with a good night's sleep. That will make it easier to make good food choices and other decisions as well. You'll be kinder to others, and that will be returned to you. There are just so many good reasons to get sufficient sleep. And very few good reasons to deprive yourself!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Viewing stress in a new way

Yesterday we talked about the part stress plays in our lives, underscoring that we need a certain amount of stress to be revved up enough to perform and function optimally. We also discussed some of the ways we can de-stress when we are overloaded with stress. Too much stress isn't healthy.

In addition to finding ways to calm ourselves down when our stress is out of control or is chronic, we can learn to change our perception of things. We can challenge ourselves to see things differently so something we used to dread doesn't seem quite so threatening anymore.

Each of us has things that signal "danger" to us. Perhaps for you it's meeting people you don't know. Or it might be speaking up in a large group. Whatever it is, see whether there's a way to reframe the experience so it's less frightening—and eventually, perhaps not frightening at all. When you are able to change your perception and your thinking, you will be able to change the feeling that accompanies the experience. If entering a room of strangers seems frightening, try walking into that room with the idea that you might find just one person with whom you can converse—perhaps one new friend you haven't yet met! Search the faces to find the most inviting and least threatening one. That may seem less intimidating than thinking of an entire roomful of strangers. You might even walk over to that person and introduce yourself or ask a question.

If you are able to reframe some of your stress and build a toolkit for responding once stress overwhelms, you will help your body stay healthier. It's so worth it.

P.S. As I said yesterday, beginning in January 2017, I will post blogs three days a week rather than five. I'm happy to hear your topic ideas at

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Plan to de-stress

Did you know that stress can be good? Typically, when we think of stress, we think of its negative effects. Stress is that heightened sense of alert when the body prepares for whatever is happening or coming. Without any stress at all, we'd be comatose. We wouldn't have the energy to make it through any tasks, much less through an entire day.

Perhaps you can recall times when you were to give a speech, make a presentation at work or perform in a recital. Your hands got sweaty, and you felt butterflies in your stomach—perhaps even a headache too. That's stress. And that's OK. Such signals help keep us on our toes and tell us that something important is about to happen. Unless we totally freak out at such things, that type of stress doesn't harm us, although it's still smart to find ways to calm yourself. 

However, what wears us down and can even cause health problems and damage to our immune systems is too much stress, acute stress or chronic stress. And that's such an individual thing. What pushes you over the edge may not do the same for me—and vice versa. So it's good to know your own limits and also to know your stress triggers. What's really good, too, is to know what works for you to de-stress. What calms you? Meditation? Prayer? A walk? Exercise? Quiet music? Journaling?

Just be sure you have a plan for de-stressing—a tool kit, as it were. It's not good for your body (or for your relationships or anything else either) to let your stress stay at an acute or chronic level.

P.S. This is just a heads-up for you about something that will reduce my stress level. Beginning in January 2017, I will be posting blogs three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) rather than five days a week. If you have topics you would like to see addressed, I would love to hear from you at

Monday, December 19, 2016

Asking forgiveness is freeing

Forgiveness is such a powerful part of relationships. It's fraught with a lot of misunderstandings, however. The end result may not actually be forgiveness. At least not always. But if you apologize and are genuinely sorry, you have done your part. You have taken accountability for your words or actions. And you have set yourself free from the chains that hold you when you know you've wronged someone. Whether the other person forgives you or not is almost beside the point. Truly, it's gift when it happens. However, the important part is to do your part of the forgiveness dance. That is the only part for which you and I are responsible.

It's important when we do apologize to search our hearts and be sure we're authentic and genuine about it. Sometimes it's important to allow a bit of time to pass after our words or actions so we can process what we've done and apologize from a place of authenticity. We're not always ready to do that immediately after we've said or done something to hurt another. We might still be a bit self-righteous about what we've said or done. Or we might be angry at whatever preceded it. Take time to search your heart and be sure you're ready to apologize.

Let's remember, too, that forgiving ourselves is an important part of the equation. For we aren't truly free if we're laboring under a load of guilt either. There are so many parts to this forgiveness dance, aren't there? It's not as simple as it appears. But it's always worth doing.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Shine like a star

I just saw an optimism quote that really struck me because these days seem so dark all around. Where I live, it gets dark so much earlier in the afternoon now and doesn't get light till later in the morning hours. Add to that all the fear and anxiety that seems to fill the news, both domestic and global.

Here's the quote: "When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars." Well, it definitely seems dark these days. So let's look for stars. Better yet, let's each shine like stars and bring all the light we can into this fearful, anxious world of ours.

What can you do today to shine like a star? What can I do? I'm sure we can find things every day that will bring starlight into the lives of those near and far. Kindness. Compassion. Love. Bring it on!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Let the crabbiness roll off

Have you ever let someone else's bad day rub off on you? Has their unhappiness wormed its way into your heart?

Yes, it can happen, can't it? Whether it's someone you love and perhaps even share a home with or it's a coworker or someone in a retail establishment, if we aren't aware and awake, we can be taken down a rabbit hole just like that.

If someone sprays their anger or bad day all over, don't let it soak into you. You do not need to carry their negative energy around.

As Melody Beattie writes in her daily meditation book Journey to the Heart, "If someone splashes your windshield with mud while you're driving down the road, what do you do? You wash it off and go on your way. ... Crabby thoughts and crabby emotions can be like mud. If someone splashes you, wash off your windshield, send them a blessing, and go on down the road."

What a great image! Yes, wash it off, bless them and go on your way. Let the crabbiness roll right off. You have a choice. Choose to stay happy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Light up the world with love

I recently read a post on Facebook about a woman who's a writer. She'd done a column on how despondent she's been since the election—a sentiment shared by many people, from what I hear.

At any rate, since writing that column, this woman has been verbally attacked in the newspaper and on Facebook. She's been called fat, ugly and many other things and has been urged by several to commit suicide! What is going on here?

What I see is way, way too many people being driven by fear, anxiety, anger and hatred. And what that tells me is that each one of us who want to live in a different America than a fear- and hate-based one needs to step up and bring light, love and peace into the world. Every one of us has personal power and the ability to make personal choices about our behavior. First it begins with our attitudes and then from those flow our actions and behaviors.

Let's bring all the light we can into this dark world that seems so filled with fear and hatred lately. Let's show love. Let's carry peace in our hearts and reflect it outward in ripples that go and go. This isn't Pollyanna speaking. We really can carry the light out into the world. I firmly believe that. It starts with small acts of love. Smile at someone. Help them carry their groceries. Befriend someone. Pay for the car behind you in a drive-through eatery. Listen as though your life depended on it—because someone else's life may. 

Love really does trump hate!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Seek silence

While we talk a lot about peace at this time of year, we may not necessarily get a lot of it in our lives. It can be a noisy time of year! Advertisements are blaring at us from all directions, touting the newest toys and gadgets for our gift-giving lists. Holiday tunes blare from every street corner and in every store. There is no peace.

And most likely, our schedules are jammed with events and our own to-do lists. Sometimes, doesn't it make you want to run away or hide?

So here's a thought: Seek out some quiet, some silence, in the midst of all the hustle, bustle and noise. As author and public speaker Deepak Chopra says: "Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence."

Ah, yes, there is no substitute. So let's stop—and pay attention. Try a few moments of silence. You'll reduce your stress and increase your joy.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Goals & perspective

As we approach the end to another year, it's natural to begin thinking of what the new year will bring. What goals will you set? What new directions might be coming for you? Or will you stay the course? Where are you headed? What will that mean for who you are?

While goals are important, who we are becoming is even more important. How have we grown and changed in this past year? Have we become more of who we were meant to be? Are we increasingly comfortable in our own skin? Do we like—or even love—that person we're becoming?

I'm reminded of a quote from Henry David Thoreau: "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."

Are your goals success oriented? Or are they about who and what you're becoming? This is a good time to take stock—and be ready to walk into the new year with a healthy attitude and an appreciation for who and what you are.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A time for gentleness

December can be such a mixed bag, can't it? For many people, it's a time of anticipation and joy as they prepare for holidays with family and friends. For others, it's a time of incredible sadness and loneliness. Some will have lost their jobs this month. Still others have just lost loved ones to death—or have received difficult medical diagnoses. For those who suffered such losses years ago at this time, it's often a reminder of that time. There are so many reasons that this season is difficult for some.

So it's good to be gentle with one another—and with ourselves as well. Don't take it personally if someone doesn't return your hearty greetings or doesn't respond to you in the way you anticipated. You and I don't know what someone else is carrying around inside. This is always true, of course. But somehow at this time of year, emotions are a little more raw. If you're in pain, it seems as though all the rest of the world is excited and joyful. And if you're the one who's sad, please don't beat up on yourself. Just feel the sadness and let others hold you and care for you.

So let's all reach for more gentleness and compassion this season. It will go a long way.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Savor today!

A good friend of mine just learned this week that she'd lost a long-term friend to suicide. Such grief and pain. And I just found out yesterday that a long-term friend of mine has been placed in hospice care. I'm deeply saddened by this news, too.

These things are another reminder about how life can change on a dime. On a dime! We have this moment, right now—that's all we know for sure that we have. Things can change so quickly.

And that's our cue to enjoy this moment. Savor what's here right now. Live in gratitude for what we have this moment. Let's not live in the past. Let's not spend the current moment longing for the future. Look around you right now. For what are you grateful? What do you see and feel right now? Soak it up. Give thanks for it.

Let's not let yesterday or tomorrow steal today. This isn't mean to depress us. It's simply a reminder to savor today.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Widen the circles

I sense a good deal of discouragement these days as the country experiences moves toward isolationism, discrimination and bigotry. I am trying mightily to resist discouragement, tempting as it is.

Our task is to keep bringing the light, showing compassion, showing up, standing up and speaking up. Albert Einstein's words are relevant here:

"A human being is a part of the whole called by us 'the universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Yes, let's widen our circles of understanding and compassion. Let's keep reaching out—even to those who are most difficult to reach. I want us to keep encouraging each other and start a ripple effect that reaches ever further and further.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Open mind—open heart

"Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe," says inspirational writer Mark Nepo.

That is so true. Good things can come in several different packages. So can bad things. It behooves us, then, to stop making judgments about everything. "This is good." "This is bad." "This is right." "This is wrong."

Things aren't often quite so clear cut. We simply need to remain open to possibilities. Important lessons can come to us from situations we consider negative or harmful. And they can come from some of life's most beautiful and precious experiences.

What might happen if we could drop our judgments and simply keep open minds and open hearts? How much more might we see and learn?

Monday, December 5, 2016

In charge or in control?

Larry Eisenberg, 96-year-old science fiction writer, said, "For peace of mind, we need to resign as general manager of the universe."

That made me laugh when I first read it. However, it contains more truth than poetry! We don't honestly think that we are the general manager of the universe. But sometimes don't we act as though we are? We think we have far more control than we really do have. We worry about things as though we really are in control. And yet, when it comes right down to it, we control precious little.

That said, we do have charge of some things in our lives. We make choices about whether we struggle against change or whether we accept it and move along with it. We make choices about our attitudes toward others and toward life in general. We make choices about our actions, whether to spray our anger and fears out onto others or whether to deal with them in a calm, less hurtful manner. So many choices. We are in charge of those and other choices.

It's good to know the difference between being in charge of things in our life and being in control. And it's good to know the boundaries of what's ours to manage and what's not.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Love is stronger

Is it my imagination or are more people operating on a shorter fuse these days than is typical for this time of year? Quite often, we see people in December trying harder to be kind and thoughtful, to start with themselves in bringing about peace on earth. Often we're happier because we're focused on doing things to bring joy to others—buying them gifts, giving to our favorite charities, baking for shut-ins, etc. We're living from a place of generosity and gratitude. But this year?

Lately I'm hearing about a lot of public displays of rage and anger—people going off on one another in restaurants, stores, at ballgames and in other public places. It's sad. It's hurtful. It doesn't speak well of us as citizens of what many call the greatest country on earth. Can we make that claim anyway?

As always, if we point a finger at others for this less-than-kind behavior, we remember that we have four fingers pointing back at ourselves. All we can do is begin at home. We can remember that love is stronger than hate. We can remember that the only person whose behavior we can change is moi. The song lyrics come to mind, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

I want to step up my game today. How about you?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bringing the light

I hear a good deal of pain and frustration from people these days about their workplaces. It seems most everyone is doing more than one job (and not getting compensated for the added work) as companies downsize but don't cut back on the work load. The workers who are left have to pick up the slack.

More and more employees simply have their heads down and just keep pushing through, attempting to "do it all," knowing if they complain, they will be told how lucky they are to have a job and that they need to just suck it up. And that's true. They are fortunate to have a job. But they don't feel so fortunate when they can't keep up with the work load and when the environment has grown so toxic and unfriendly. It reminds me of the cartoon I saw years ago where the boss was beating an employee. The caption read: "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

We can do better than this. I don't know what the answers are, but I do know we can do better. And I do know that this is not the type of motivation that causes people to do their creative and best work. I wonder whether we could actually begin a national conversation about this? I know, I know, there are so many things about which we need national conversations! But we do have to begin somewhere.

For now, perhaps we each simply need to do our part to add more light and love to the world since there seems to exist plenty of darkness and toxicity. Perhaps compassion for each other would be a good place to begin. What do you think?