Monday, November 29, 2010

My Full Plate

I like to carry a full plate. Most days I think it to be the most fun way to travel. I like diversity. I like having a variety to choose from. It's one of the reasons I chose to create this part of my life to include multiple revenue streams. I never get bored.

It wasn't always like that for me. I used to stop when my plate got too full. There were only two ways I knew how to make room for more. One was to remove something, the other to become paralyzed, look at the crowded plate and spend more energy wondering how I would handle it all instead of doing anything about it. One day a friend remarked that when my plate got too full, I should think about getting a bigger one.

I liked that idea and whenever I find myself angsting about all I've piled on I remember that comment.

Thursday  I looked at my Thanksgiving dinner plate filled with a little bit of everything, turkey with gravy, sausage stuffing with chestnuts and pine nuts, roasted potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, and spanokopita (hey, I am a Greek American).

I was full after just a few mouthfuls. Had I piled too much on? I wasn't sure, so I took small bites and tried to savor each one. And I remembered that this was just the beginning. This was the official start to the holiday season. No matter how big a plate I reach for, it's going to get full and quickly.

So what do you do when you are in the habit of carrying around a pretty big plate to start with? How do you fit in the December side dishes, the holiday cocktails, tree trimmings and cookie baking. The shopping, the gift wrapping,

Is this one of those times that no matter how big that plate is, not everything is going to fit? And if it's not, how do you decide what should stay and what should go? Or do you just wear the clothes that are a bit more comfortable and give yourself a daily quota of cocktails and cookies?

I finished every bit of my turkey dinner. I even had an extra dollop of stuffing and spanokopita and finished that off with a dessert that officially marked the end of my two and a half weeks worth of birthday celebrations.

When I started I didn't think I would finish half of it.
I wonder if that is how I will feel on January 1.

What do you do when your plate gets too full?
Do you reach for a bigger one or wait until you get through the one in your hand?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Abundance Challenge

I've been working on creating more abundance in my life. That can be a little challenging in today's world. The media wants me to stay fixed on lack. They can't seem to help themselves from feeding off the fear factor that there just isn't enough to go around anymore.

Our 24/7 information cycle likes to focus on what is missing. Gratitude seems to be absent from their equation. Too many of us get caught up in the spin. I try not to.

You see I believe in Universal law which simply stated is if you want more, whatever more looks like, money, love, relationship, home, a new pair of shoes, you have start from a place of gratitude for what you have now, however small and paltry it might look in someone else's light.

This is not easy. Even for one who practices it as I. Just last week when I sent out my first ever newsletter, I noticed myself mired in the four people who chose to unsubscribe. For a few minutes I sunk into that place of lack, forgetting about the dozens who sent me personal notes of congratulations, not to mention the rest who did not unsubscribe. I caught myself. I let myself be really grateful. I focused not just on saying the words aloud but on feeling it.  And just like that I had more than four new subscribers to replace the others. No kidding!

We forget to be thankful. Especially when life poses those really difficult tests. We forget to express gratitude to ourselves, to others, to whatever power we  might choose to believe in that is greater than us. We often lip sync the words and forget that true gratitude is more than words. It is a feeling.

This isn't easy. It takes work.
But it is the kind of work that can be fun if you let it.

I challenge you this holiday to make a list of what you are grateful for. It doesn't have to be pages long. A short list of ten will do.

I further challenge you to share that list with whomever you are fortunate enough to spend the holiday with. And if by chance you are spending a quiet day at home by yourself with a turkey sandwich and a good book, pick up the phone and call someone. Share that list. See how it feels. Let me know what happens.

In gratitude, for you, my readers and for living in a world where I can have a blog on which I can write and publish whatever I so choose, without fear!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DWTS: Live Or Staged?

Tonight is the finale of Dancing With The Stars.  This used to be appointment television for me. But as you know DWTS and I parted ways at the beginning of the season over a difference in the definition of what being a star means.

Of course even without having once turned on the show all Fall,  I would have to be living under a rock not to know that somehow Bristol Palin has managed to get herself into the final three.  Bristol Palin's weekly scores  are apparently more significant and warrant more media attention than the Start Treaty.

As a seasoned viewer I can tell you that she is  hardly  the first not so great dancer that should have been voted off weeks earlier but managed to survive longer than she should.  She has one of those fan bases that is more dedicated to the interactive voter aspect than your average viewer. But usually by this, the season finale what you are left with are truly the best dancers.

Not so this time. Two really good dancers and Bristol. Or so I am told by the press and  the few people I know who still watch the show.

The Palins and their fan posse will tell you it is all fair and honest and there is no truth to the questionable methods being tauted by the coalition of conservatives rallying to see her win. That people can relate to "poor Bristol" because she is like them, that this is harder for her than it is for the other contestants because she has never been on a stage before, that she is an unwed teenage mother just trying to put food on the table for her child.

To which my answer is  that is  why you are supposed to be a real "star" to participate, so  being the center of attention is not foreign or uncomfortable for you.

I for one do not relate to Bristol or her family. I was too terrified at her age to have unprotected sex for fear of getting pregnant and the repercussion from my father, not to mention moose hunting is not, has never been or is likely to make it to my bucket list. And my mom never reneged on a commitment to a job halfway through. Overall I find their "authenticity" feigned and staged in much the way a dance is choreographed.

As for the economics, has anyone seen the money her mother is raking in since quitting her job as Governor of Alaska?

But I digress.

The bigger question, is it possible that she might win tonight?

I think it is.

And if it happens what message are we sending out there? Are we telling teenagers that it is OK if you get pregnant because you too might turn your life around and get a contract for a reality show? Have we completely denigrated the word "star"?  Or has what was once a fun reality show filled with entertainment become yet another political platform for Bristol's "stage" mother?

What do you think?

Friday, November 19, 2010


This past weekend I spent on the beach in Miami in the midst of  a community I  discovered seven and a half years ago. I was pretty resistant to this group when I first stumbled upon them. They were a bit too happy for me, a bit too positive, a bit too believing in the idea they could create anything they wanted.  But I had one of my hunches that I best not dismiss this too quickly. That Regena Thomashauer and her School of Womanly Arts were on to something. So I signed up for one course which led to another and then another and watched as my life changed.

It was there that I first had the courage to say out loud that what I wanted to be doing more than anything else was to write. It was there I started to believe I might actually be good at it.  It was there I began to see a picture not yet in focus of a life that looked different than the one I was living at the time. It was there that I found a community that supported me in whatever I chose to do. And it was there that I learned the foundation that stopped me from getting all crazy and doom and gloomy when I got my pink slip two years ago.

Until I met Regena I did not really understand community.  Yes, I was raised in a large, supportive and loving family, but believing in yourself and going for your dreams and what made you most happy was not part of the culture or the times. Yes, I had many wonderful friends and colleagues that became my friends. But my core believed  that whatever I wanted to achieve in life would be about what I did. I could do it alone. I did not need any help. I had limitations.

I had no idea how wrong I was.

This past weekend amidst pink sunsets and palm trees I was reminded of what I only first started to learn when Regena got her hands on me. That everything happens faster when community supports you. That doubt gets erased when the faces you look into believe in you when you don't. That transparency and authenticity are more scary but a much fulfilling way to live. That dreams do come true if you give them the space and the support they need to manifest and surround yourself in the energy that allows them to breathe.


Regena's curriculum is not for everyone. She is outrageous and courageous and will push you to the edge of your envelope if you dare. I am forever in gratitude that I took and continue to take that challenge.

This weekend I soaked in not only the sun, but the warmth of community. I remembered how essential it is to a life well lived. I remembered that it is critical to not just believe in yourself but to surround yourself with others who remind you of your strengths and who believe in you too. And most of all I was reminded that this thing we call life is a practice and if you want to get good at living a pleasurable one, as Regena would say no matter what falls in your path, you need to keep your community around you. They are the ones who help to light the way and to remind you when your practice needs practice.

Do you have a community that supports you and lifts you or do you have one that holds you back?
Do you believe you can do it all yourself or do you reach out for support?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today I launched my newsletter!
Two years ago I launched my blog!
?? years ago I was born!
Happy Birthday to us all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Investing In You

I always tell people that one of the first steps they can make in committing to change in their life is to hire a coach. A monetary investment is a statement that you are serious about shaking things up.

Now that might sound a bit self-serving coming from someone who is a coach. But I do walk the walk on this one. Since the first time I entered a therapist office in 1982 when I wanted to summon the courage to leave teaching I have hired numerous coaches, worked with intuitive healers and partaken in more than one group seminar. Sometimes the reasons were clear and other times the reasons were to get clear. While the investment at first might have appeared less tangible than others, I have found if done right, to have a much longer shelf life.

What I continue to be perplexed by are the people who balk at such an investment. They’ll hire a tennis coach to improve their game, they’ll invest in the stock market or real estate, think nothing of spending $2000 on a piece of jewelry or art, not to mention $300 on a pair of Manolos, but consider investing money in someone to coach them through a tough patch, to start a new business, to reinvent their career or to improve their communication skills to be a frivolous expenditure.

The only investment they see worthwhile is in something concrete with a quick return that  they can hold in their hands or at least be able to show it off to friends at a dinner party.

Ask them to invest in the part of them that most can’t see, their psyche, their soul, their spirit, their power or their dreams and they’ll tell you they cannot afford it or they can do it themselves.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a do it yourselfer but I’ve always enlisted support whether it was to paint the bedroom or launch a new career. But mostly it’s because I believe we were not meant to walk this path alone.

I believe that real change requires a good assist. That a good coach will guide, give you the tools you need, get you thinking, cheer you on through the ups and downs, hold the space for that which you want to transform and offer the tough love when needed.

I would not have left teaching without professional support, I would not have been successful in the corporate world, I would not have written a book nor would I have embarked on yet a third career as a writer and coach, without the help and guidance of those I hired along the way.

A good coach will help you to find your best you. A good coach will help you to see what you might be avoiding. A good coach will help you strategize your next promotion, take the seed of an idea for a new business to fruition, or take the scary out of how to start that blog you keep saying you are going to write.  

A good coach believes in you enough to invest her time.
The question is do you believe in you enough to invest?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vote for Claire Cook

I wrote off my love affair with Dancing with the Stars at the beginning of this season. Their definition of star and mine no longer jived. It was all just too much for me to bear and so I deleted the DVR setting for Monday and Tuesday evenings and found other things to occupy my time.

But there just might be a way for the show to win me back. A petition is underway that started through Media Bistro and GalleyCat to include an author in the next season's lineup. Yes, Author.  In my book an author is a celebrity. Especially one with several publications to her credit, one of which has been made into a major motion picture.

If we can call Bristol Palin and The Situation "stars" why has not  one successful author ever  been given a chance to win the Mirror Ball trophy? Why are we not celebrating good writers who entertain us with words and story as "stars"?  If Dancing with the Stars is redefining "star" and "celebrity" why are authors not included in the mix?

With that I invite you to visit the Facebook petition and cast your vote for my friend, reinventor and author Claire Cook.  Claire has written seven books, her most famous, Must Love Dogs made it to the silver screen. She is totally up for this ride. All we have to do is convince  those casting folks over at ABC and Dancing with the Stars!

Give her a thumbs up and encourage your friends to do the same !

Monday, November 8, 2010

Can You Hear Me And Are You Listening?

In Jon Stewart's closing remarks at the Rally to Restore Sanity he said "If we amplify everything we hear nothing."  But what if we hear and don't actually listen?

When we listen we get the meaning of what is trying to be conveyed within the context of which it is being spoken. Hearing is often cherry picking words or phrases and repeating them back in a way to convey the meaning  we want them to have, not necessarily what the person saying them meant. For example the snippet of a sentence that is served back up as promotional teaser to get us to read more, watch more, or click through to the next link.

I've always been a good listener.  They used to give grades for it in Elementary School. I always got an outstanding. But even with the highest grade you could get I didn't understand. I never heard I was good at something. I heard the negative side, that I was too quiet and didn't raise my hand enough.

But that's what I mean about listening versus hearing.

Listening is a skill that includes comprehension and understanding. Hearing often reflects our own issues. Sometimes it is a process in which we look for the parts we want to hear and ignore the rest. Hearing sometimes is nothing more than a garble of words strung into sentences that if someone asked us to repeat back would be met by a blank stare.

I didn't know back in third grade that being a good listener would make me money. In my first sales job I was told that if I asked the right questions and listened to the answers the client would give me all the information I needed to close a deal. It sounded too simple to be true.

I wasn't going to close a lot of business by going in and starting to talk without knowing what the client needed and how that could match up to my radio station. But if I listened carefully, took notes and applied some strategic thinking I would have the perfect pitch and close a lot of business. Yes, it was really that easy.

It doesn't seem a lot of  people take the time to ask the questions and listen for the answers anymore.   Most seem to be talking too much. Call it a casuality of the "over amplifying" 24/7 world, but there is too much focus on getting your pitch out fast and furious so you can be heard above the crowd whether or not anyone is interested in hearing it. There just isn't enough real listening going on.

But there is a lot of hearing what we want to. And a lot more of twisting the parts we do catch to suit our purposes or worse yet, create unintended meaning.

The number one concern voters had at the polls last week was the economy, yet the new majority in Congress seems most focused on repealing Health Care. Are they listening or hearing?

At the Rally to Restore Sanity over 200,000 people turned out from all over the country because they are tired of the yelling and name calling and lack of focus on the real issues that the media spins out of proportion.  The majority of that media heard the rally to be nothing more than a comedy show. The only one who seemed to really be listening was Arianna Huffington.  The rest chose not to listen or perhaps only to hear what they wanted to. I'm guessing it's because they really like enraging and inciting and don't want to hear that most of us want them to stop.

Sometimes we don't really listen because we don't want to acknowledge the truth. Say you start dating someone who tells you loudly and clearly they are not interested in an exclusive relationship. You say you are OK with that. But when you cause a big scene the night you run into them on a date with someone else they are going to ask you if you heard them. You did, but you weren't  listening.

In such a noisy world slowing down long enough to really listen, for yourself and not the way someone else might suggest you comprehend things becomes more important than ever before. It will make all the difference in what your life looks like. Because if you do make the time and you listen and not just hear words, you'll get all the answers you need to create whatever you want for yourself and the world.  Sometimes the voice speaking is the one right inside of you. But you have to be quiet first before you can hear it. And once you hear it you have to listen.

Do you take the time to listen?
Do you think there is a difference between hearing and listening?
What are you hearing today?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Half Full Glass

I choose to view the world through the eyes of a glass half full.  Many would  argue with me and say it is half empty, that I am not being realistic and need to get a grip on things.

I understand that. For a great deal of my life I chose to view things from their angle. I looked at what was missing instead of what I had. I viewed the path ahead with fear instead of anticipation. It got me nowhere, except too often feeling sorry for myself, a few creases in my forehead and a not so happy look on my face.

I thought I lacked the control to do anything about it. But I was wrong.

The first thing I could do was choose to look at things differently. I could choose to see the glass as half full with more flowing into it or I could choose to see it as half empty and draining quickly.

It's all in the perspective. It's all a choice.

When I see the glass half empty, fear sets in.  I try and hold on to what I have before it slips away to nothing. The fear does not propel me forward as some like to believe. It paralyzes. Whatever I manage to do to get that glass full seems counterproductive. All I can see is the lack. I throw the reigns of the power to do something about it to someone else.

But when I choose half full I start from a place of gratitude for what I have already. I have a clear head. I feel the abundance of what is already in front of me. I don't stop wanting more.  But I feel powerful in that there are steps I can do to fill that glass to the brim. I am full of energy to do the work.

There will be a lot of glass half empty stories today or half full depending on which side of the fence your views sit.  There will be many who will argue and debate what the "truth" of the contents are.

I say it is nothing more than perspective. You may not think you have a choice in how you want to see things, but you do.  And if you choose half full, it doesn't mean you just get to look at the glass and smile and think it's going to stay like that. It takes work. And you have to be willing to do it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Whatever your day looks like, 
whatever you are doing,
make sure you Vote! 

If you need reasons why, read my blog again or check out Seth Godin's.  If you are a woman and were thinking about staying home check out Style Substance and Soul for a refresher course on what women endured to earn the right or check out Gloria Feldt's take on why voting is a way for women to use their power and be heard.

And if you want a history lesson on Democracy told by a group of celebrity Greeks that will not only make you laugh, but make you vote and then check this out!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Road Trip to Sanity

I don't remember the last time I attended a rally much less held a picket sign in my hand. What I know for sure is that it was in a different century somewhere in the late sixties or early seventies when demonstrating for or against something was considered part of growing up.

But I did Saturday. My friend Gayle and I took a road trip that started Friday morning and headed down to DC to join the Rally to Restore Sanity. Yes, I, not Oprah, and my friend Gayle, not hers, packed up my car with  a few snacks, no GPS and no camera crew and made our way through the Lincoln Tunnel for parts South.

I lived in DC for three and a half years when Clinton was in office. I spent a lot of that time lost, trying to figure out the crazy radial system of streets designed by Pierre L'Enfant, constantly worried I would wind up in the wrong neighborhood. So to make me feel at home again, we missed our turn, wound up in one of those questionable neighborhoods and spent forty five minutes navigating our way to the hotel with the help of my cellphone and Alexander, the hotel's concierge manager.

But I digress. Yes, the first thing we did when we finally got on the right Maryland Avenue was head to the lobby bar. Over cocktails was the first time we realized we had managed to get ourselves here but had forgotten to organize signs. What we didn't know then was that two women from San Francisco would ask us to take their picture with their signs in front of the hotel Saturday morning. We also didn't know they just happened to have extras they did not want to go to waste. All we needed was some rulers and particle board to staple them to from the CVS across the street, the help of Robert, the hotel manager and we were on our way.

There is something about attending a rally when you are standing amidst 200,000 plus people that are joined because you agree on at least one thing that is immensely gratifying. Watching or in my case trying to avoid the 24/7 news cycle filled with snapshots of rage and anger and fear mongers, I sometimes think that maybe I'm the only one that isn't riddled with fear. That I am the only one who understands that taking an economy back from the brink of disaster just two years ago is not going to be easy or quick. That I'm the only one who wonders what happened to debate, to agreeing to disagree, to being polite and to compromising on solutions.

Saturday was evidence there are others just like me.

The sea of people who surrounded us was not what the research or the pundits would describe as Jon Stewart's audience. They were a mixture of  younger and older, men and women, from a multitude of races. They were in wheelchairs and with canes. They didn't regard hope  and change as bad words. They want honest discourse. They want to get things done. They were not as some might try to convince us just a bunch of  left leaning liberals. As one ordinary white guy in a baseball cap who I could not  distinguish from a disillusioned Democrat or a reasonable Republican's  sign said "I may not agree with you President Obama, but I don't think you're Hitler."  They were interested in change but as another sign held by one of those women they tell us are not going to vote on Tuesday suggested, not in taking "the country back, but in moving it forward." They were not there for a leisurely stroll on the mall on a beautiful October afternoon, although that was a nice touch. They were there to make a statement.

Yes, there were some to just happened to be visiting our nation's capital and stumbled on this event. Like the pretty young Asian woman who stopped us, no microphone in hand, no sign of Candid Camera lurking in the background. She pointed to my sign and asked what that meant, sanity?

Gayle and I knew we were never going to be able to really see this with so many people in front of us, but that was OK. We were here not to see something, but to be a part of something. To make a statement that all this rage and anger and hatred being fueled and incited by a few must stop.

We found a spot close to the stage, even if it was behind it. Gayle spotted a tent with a TV feed that we could stand next to for our soundtrack. The sun was shining, the Capitol was behind us and  Cat Stevens was singing Peace Train and yes, I felt like seventeen again.

I live my life believing that out of something bad can come good. Sometimes that is not so easy to see. But Saturday was an example. Out of all this rage and anger being spewed, the fear mongering, the lying, the lack of politeness and civil discourse a wonderful event was created and a powerful statetment was made.

We who were there are the 80% that the cameras never make it to because we are not loud enough, or rude enough or lie enough to stay something stupid enough to make a headline. We love this country as much as anyone despite reports that want to convince you otherwise. Even Saturday, when I had my speech all prepared I never saw a reporter interviewing anyone. I was in fact wondering where they all were.

No one knows for sure what lasting effect if any the Rally to Restore Sanity will have. The 24/7 news cycle doesn't want it to have any. They were right back to doomsday predictions as soon as the Rally ended, dismissing the crowd as nothing more a left leaning group with nothing else to do on a fall Saturday afternoon and deciding this in some way would have a negative effect on Jon Stewart. I beg to differ but then what do I know? I was there.