Wednesday, December 01, 2004


The seasonal change between last month and this one has been dramatic. Yes, I know it's not yet officially winter. But there has been snow on the ground for days and I just spent 2 hours moving snow off the drive. So my season of winter has begun. I enjoy December. It's my month to do little. Oh, I coach a little, move some snow, and get just a few things done around the house. But about the time Thanksgiving rolls around, things seem to slow down for me. I walk every day, read a lot, and spend some time thinking about where I'm going fishing next year. That's about it.

Awareness is powerful. The more we are aware and connected with our surroundings and ourselves, the more insights come our way. But too often we think we need to do something with those insights, subjecting ourselves to lots of stimulation and activities.

There's a big difference between doing more and simply allowing ourselves to be aware of more. When I choose to be more aware and then feel I must do something about or with my insights, I become over-stimulated and distracted. When I choose to be more aware without any attachment to what I might do with or about that awareness, I'm more peaceful and feel more connected.

So how do you become more aware without attachment? How do you increase your awareness without increasing the activity that awareness often spawns?

There is nothing to do, really. Start by increasing your awareness in nature. There's little you can do with nature so it's easier to take a hands-off approach. If you become more aware of the birds in your yard, don't add buying a bird feeder to your to-do list. Just enjoy those birds in their natural environment. If your awareness leads you to enjoy a particular tree in your yard that you've never really “seen” before, it does not mean you need to landscape your yard to call attention to that tree. If your awareness leads to an insight about yourself that you like or dislike, don't run to the bookstore to buy all the self-help books you can find on the topic in order to overcome a perceived weakness or hone a perceived strength.

Awareness itself is the gift. What you do with it does not matter. Once you've experienced the awareness about yourself or another or something in nature, trust that that awareness is not going away. That's the very cool thing about awareness. You can't take it back. But if you try to act on everything, you are likely to take on too much which will lead to wanting to shut down your awareness.

So let go of trying to label or judge that which you have become aware of as good or bad, something to be improved on, something to be changed, something that needs to be leveraged, etc. It's none of these. It just is.

The awareness itself will lead to changes. But these changes will come to you rather than you having to “make” the changes or do something. The Universe is conspiring every moment of every day to bring you what you desire. Let the Universe do the doing. You, my friend, just need to be. Be, that is, in a way that is fully awake.

“Awareness needs space in order to be experienced.” ~Thomas Leonard

Monday, November 22, 2004

This Side of Rite

At the beginning of this holiday season so full of ritual, I do love to remind you to pause, take a breath, and notice those holiday rituals that have long fallen into routine. Perhaps it's time to shake things up a little bit.

I live in the chilly north, so it's about the end of soft-water fishing for me. I've got some routines ahead like cleaning out the tackle boxes and boat, oiling my reels and repairing my net. These tasks are usually done without much thought. However, this year I'm going to address them with ritual. I'm going to pause to enjoy each lure and remember the times it brought in a fish. When I take the old line off my reels I will remember the times that same line went screaming out with the tug of a big fish. I'm betting the Universe will notice my little ritual and I’ll be catching bigger and more fish next year.

This Side of Rite

“To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never, in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common, this is to be my symphony.” ~William Henry Channing

Routines are the customary and commonplace tasks, chores, or duties that we do regularly. They are pretty habitual and unimaginative.

However, when we question a routine, when we pause ever so briefly to reflect, we can actually ritualize the routine and bring it to a higher level of productivity and meaning for ourselves and others. This pause is what many are no longer capable of as we hone our skills of multi-tasking. Ritual brings stillness to our actions.

A route or routine is firmly bound to the ground. If you drive the same road every day, eventually you stop noticing the same landmarks. In ritual, you are moving outside of yourself and calling in the divine. The ritual is the rest stop that allows you to appreciate the routine.

In Ethology, the study of animal behavior in natural environments, ritualization means the alteration of a behavior pattern, as by a change in intensity in a way that increases its effectiveness as a signal to other members of the species. Imagine ritualizing your actions and therefore, increasing the effectiveness of the way you communicate your intentions to others.

Just this week I watched a colleague who wanted his team to find meaning behind the actions he was asking of them. He wanted them to consciously receive his request and consciously act. But he was a busy person and so his request was terse as he tried to mandate ritual. But ritual comes from within and no matter how much you ask someone to do their tasks with reverence, you'll fail unless you are willing to pause and demonstrate.

My friend David sails a lot. Now I know little about sailing but I know that there are many things he has to do to prepare his boat before he sets sail. There are things to do with the rigging, the sails, the ropes, etc. David says that he has done this preparation so many times he could do it blindfolded, in routine. But each time he prepares to sail, he brings ritual to his preparations. He takes time to be conscious about each task. He takes the time to remember some of his great sailing experiences. He takes time to communicate his passion for the art of sailing. Why does David do this? I imagine it helps him feel connected with everything related to sailing. I can certainly imagine that those who sail with him notice. And David's ritual is a way to effectively communicate not only his love of sailing but the reverence he requires of those who crew his boat.

As young children we absolutely understood the value of a ritual. When playing with a friend, we asked that he or she sit down and be with us. We described what it was we wanted to play and how we wanted to do that. Sometimes we even assigned roles to our play. Childhood friends take notice, they hear the signals. Kids are innately in touch with the divine. They realize they are little priests and priestesses, as we all are. So be a grownup if you must. But be a grownup who knows the secrets children know.

“If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Real Strength

What make us strong? And how do we develop our strength?

Some say that strength comes through adversity. That a good kick in the teeth will strengthen us. Others suggest that strength comes from tenacity and persistence. That perhaps if we win too easily, we don't develop strength. That if we go through tasks and events without surrender, if we tolerate and cope with the hardships, we become strong. But when we cope or tolerate, we've basically resigned ourselves to living with the problem. Coping and tolerating, while they can be managed with some degree of success, are often less than peaceful.

So I’d like to introduce tenderness and kindness, those qualities that come from our heart rather than our head. Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness but developers of strength and resolution. And more importantly, whether the strength you desire is mental or physical, real strength is the strength you develop through the kindness and tenderness you give to yourself.

One of the synonyms in my dictionary for strength is courage, “a state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.” The word courage has its root in the Latin word Cor, which means, “heart.” So I'm suggesting that real strength or courage comes from the heart.

There are many ways you can become more kind to yourself. Here are five of my favorites. Start with the one that interests you the most.

1. Stop complaining. What we focus on tends to repeat. If you're complaining instead of expressing appreciation, you'll likely get more of what you are complaining about.

2. Remove yourself from situations and people that cause you problems. The exhaustion you experience after time with these people or in these situations will sap you of your strength.

3. Let others know how they can please you. Most folks can't read your mind. Speak up. You'll be surprised how often people can accommodate you when they understand. And if they can't, often they are willing to negotiate and tell you want they can, instead, do for you.

4. Go fishing! Well, that's my personal favorite. But you get the idea. Take time for yourself. Do something you love just because.

5. Let your heart lead! Check in with it often.

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as true strength.” St. Francois de Sales

Thursday, August 26, 2004

And The Livin' Is Easy

I've just returned from one of my favorite activities and places. That would be fishing in Northern Ontario. Now, up there, the livin’ really was easy. A typical day looked something like this:

4:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Coffee, fish, coffee, fish, coffee, clean fish, coffee, breakfast, coffee, nap.

3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.: Beer, fish, beer, fish, beer, clean fish, beer, dinner, beer, campfire, beer, nap.

We experienced two great light phenomenon almost every night. One was the foxfire littering the ground around the cabin. Foxfire is a luminescent glow emitted by rotting wood. In the evenings the ground around the cabin glowed a faint green. And if we looked up, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) baptized the night sky with pulsing light.

In both cases, foxfire and the Northern Lights, the glow is caused by tiny invisible particles. Microscopic fungi that help decay rotting wood cause foxfire. The Northern Lights are invisible electrically charged particles, accelerated along the invisible magnetic field lines in the upper atmosphere, where they collide with invisible gas atoms, causing the atoms to give off light. All powered by what is called the invisible “solar wind.”

Isn't it amazing that things so infinitesimal can create such BIG deals!?

Anyway, it's August and I'm well into the heart of Livin’ Easy. So here's an article I wrote two years ago. I thought it was worth repeating.

August is the last big bash before school starts. And while I no longer return to school in September, this month still stirs contrary and wild notions in me. A need to rebel before it's too late. Discipline will begin all too soon.

Discipline, the thing we often initiate when we want to get more done, can, in fact, hinder progress. Letting go of discipline is a statement of faith in you. So as summer closes, try the month of August without discipline. Just trust yourself. It's only a month. It's okay. You can always go back. Here are some ideas. Pick two or three and go for it!

The Top Ten Ways to Live August

1. Get Selfish.
Get your needs met as quickly as possible so you have more time, energy and inclination to “be there” for the important people in your life. Over-discipline your own life and there's no room for the requests of others. If you don't have that room when someone you care about makes a request, you'll either say “yes” with resentment or “no” with guilt.

2. Quit Being Patient.
If you can't have something you want, merely move on to something else you want. Eventually timing will work for you and you can have all you want. But disciplined patience is a waste of your time.

3. Be Extraordinary Curious.
Curiosity is at the heart of everything I learn and know. When I try to be disciplined, I become less curious.

4. Quit Developing and Start Evolving.
Discipline can help you “develop” yourself but it does not work well if you want to “evolve.” Self-development may make you a better person (good) but personal evolution will make you more of who you are (great!).

5. Hang Out with “Bad” People.
Discipline tends to keep us in the company of like-minded people. Rigid discipline will keep me away from those who are most apt to push all my buttons and that's where I learn the most about myself.

6. Stop Tolerating.
Tolerations are the things we live with that remind us that our life is not quite right. They can be as small as the cabinet door that does not shut easily to as big as the actions of a person you live or work with. Think of tolerations as the things you carry around each day in your daypack. The cabinet toleration can weigh as little as an ounce. The relationship toleration may weigh as much as 10 pounds. But each toleration increases your load and slows you down. Discipline often encourages you to put up with the tolerations.

7. Integrate Everything.
Do you want to enjoy your work as much as your play? It's possible. But if you rigidly hold on to discipline as something that makes you strong, you are then also holding on to the idea that suffering is necessary. Perhaps you believe in “paying your dues” because you grew up with the notion that only hard work is rewarded and suffering in is required. That may have worked for our parents and grandparents, bless them. But more and more, we are making a great living doing exactly what we love.

8. Embrace Simplicity.
Let's say you've got five goals you want to attain in the next year. If you're disciplined, you've probably broken each of those five goals down into at least five strategies. That's 25 strategies. And each strategy has at least five daily action steps. How are you going to handle 125 action steps a day? The disciplined person will have daily action charts pasted all over the house and office. And, they're less apt to recognize when a goal has changed because they've invested so much in it. Now what's simple about that?

9. Follow the Path of Least Resistance.
Discipline creates resistance. But what we want today will change quickly because more options are opening up every day. If we don't reach our goals quickly, we'll be living a life of resistance and friction rather than celebrations and moving on.

10. Go for the Surprise!
Discipline does not hold much surprise. Get over yourself and allow the surprises to crop up daily. And when you do get surprised, allow it to be a mystery. Don't try to figure it out!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Enough Is Enough

It has been a short path from June's “It Is What It Is,” to this one in July, “Enough is Enough.” Many of you sent me some very playful spins on June's theme. Like, “It ain’t what it ain’t,” “It will be what it will be,” “It can be what it can be,” etc. And one of my favorites was “Enough is Enough.”

Too often, we say, “enough is enough,” to express our impatience and exasperation at something. As a child, you may have heard this from your parents. Maybe you've even said it to your own children. As in, “Enough is enough! I've heard that from you too often.”

But “enough” can mean to be satisfied and feel sufficient. In the book, The Soul of Money, Lynn Twist says that what we choose to appreciate appreciates. That we must look at what's working and where we have sufficiency rather than at what is not working and where we are lacking or experiencing scarcity. When we focus on where we have enough, we have the ability to contribute in those areas. And through contribution, we begin to appreciate even more. And if what we appreciate appreciates, then we've strengthened our feeling of enough.

In the condition of scarcity, when enough is not enough no matter how much we have, we hoard and measure our stockpile. We become competitive. When we feel money or anything else we desire (love, for instance) is scarce, we never have enough no matter how much more we accumulate.

When we feel sufficiency, when enough truly is enough, we collaborate with others because what we desire moves in and out of our life naturally. There is enough for us; there is enough for everyone. We have the ability and freedom to nurture others and ourselves. When we appreciate the enough-ness in our lives, our enough-ness appreciates.

"Appreciation is the beating heart of sufficiency." ~Lynn Twist

Monday, June 07, 2004

It Is What It Is

I'm just back from one of my frequent Northern Ontario fishing trips. The weather this May was much more overcast and rainy than last May. Cold too. It just was. And I accepted whatever the day brought. I was not in control. Whew! Wildlife was abundant. The common sightings were the usual loads of loons, beaver and Canadian geese. And this year I was rewarded with the not so common, one black bear, one bull moose and a wolf. Most nights I was lulled to sleep by the whippoorwills. Oh, yeah, and the fishing, as always, was grand!

Days were simple. I’d wake, tend to breakfast and some good strong coffee, beeline for a lake I had not yet fished, fish like it was a job, and amble back to camp in the evening for a little dinner, campfire and reading. The next day I’d get up and do it all over again. Mother Nature and I collaborated on the change in my routine. I fished a different lake each day. She determined whether I put on long underwear or a tee shirt, sunglasses or my rain gear, bug netting or not.

Prior to my trip, I’d been talking with contractors about getting some work done around the house. When I decided to get involved in these projects, I began looking at my home and surroundings with a more critical eye. I’d see one thing that needed work and then I’d begin noticing the things connected to it that needed work too. I was making myself a little anxious and crazy.

Just before I left, a cement contractor came to give me a bid on some work in the garage and basement. I was in quite a state by the time he arrived. He could have easily sold me a huge repair job. But as we walked around the house, through the garage and down into the basement, he kept saying, “Well, yes, we can fix that, but it's not a structural problem. It's cosmetic. It is what it is."

I found that simple statement so freeing that I have come to adopt it as a personal tag line. When I look at things in my life that are less than perfect, I first assess whether or not I have a structural problem. Is the repair necessary for my safety or well being? If not, I sit with “it is what it is” long enough to relax. “It is what it is” brings me the same peace I felt while on my fishing get-away when I’d wake and watch another day unfold without much direction from me.

Often, we have things we hold on to too tightly. And that white-knuckle grip does not necessarily serve us. We have become attached to how these things define us. Sometimes it's things, like our home and car. Sometimes it's other people, our relationships. And sometimes it's a role we play at work or in our personal life. The process of letting go, becoming less, in order to become more of who we are requires a little bit of “it is what it is” faith.

Fresh from my fishing vacation and with my new mantra, I had a delightful Saturday playing with a couple of my friends. We all came to the day with “stuff,” things big and small that were plaguing us. We simply let go and wandered the Northern Michigan trails and two-tracks, talking and leaving bits and pieces of our expectations in our dusty trail. We trusted that we would not lose ourselves in the process. That there is a core to us that is undeniably stable and strong no matter where we live, work or who we associate with. It is what it is, and we just let it be. Oh, and stopping for ice cream helped! Thanks, Jean and Corey.

"You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by." ~J. M. Barrie

"A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

"A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition." ~William Arthur Ward

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Hunting For The Elusive

May is the beginning of the annual spring hunt for the tasty yet elusive morel mushroom. And when I find it I'm rewarded first by the thrill of the find. Then, when I get home, I'm rewarded again when I relish one of the first tastes of spring.

Morels are mischievous. I can spot one 30 feet away, keeping my eye on it the entire time I'm moving towards it. And then, about the time I'm bending over to pick it, it disappears. I circle around the spot where I last saw it three or four times and then I walk away. When I turn back, there it is again. Once I sat down on a log to eat lunch. I swear I never moved from that log. I just sat, eating and enjoying the woods, and I must have been there at least 20 minutes. When I stood up to continue my hunt, there was one of those morel mushroom devils right between my feet.

It's wonderful to collect a bag full of morels. It's fun to count them and compare this year's harvest with last year's. But coming home with a large quantity of morels is just the product. It's really the process I enjoy so much. We think of our life as our accomplishments or products. But life is a process, not a product.

Chasing something elusive inside us is not all that different than hunting the morel. Sometimes we feel torn, out of sorts or puzzled and we seek the source of our confusion. We must go on the hunt and enjoy the process.

One of my favorite methods comes from Julia Cameron's book, The Right to Write. Cameron says to sit down with paper and pencil. Focus on what you find elusive. Ask and write down your question. Then before you analyze the question, just write the answer that comes to you. Don't sift through the answer. Just write. This answer will likely lead you to another question. Write that question and then let the answer that follows flow from you to the paper. Continue the process for about 30 minutes or until you feel done.

This is often enough to get to the delectable morsel you're seeking. Turn your back on the product, the outcome, and pay attention to enjoying the process, the hunt, and the elusive will present itself. It always does. Oh, and don't forget to reward yourself!

"Ideas are elusive, slippery things. Best to keep a pad of paper and a pencil at your bedside, so you can stab them during the night before they get away." ~Earl Nightingale

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~Albert Einstein

Monday, April 05, 2004

Lessons From The Creek

Everything is in flow here in Northern Michigan. Buckets of water have flowed off the snow-covered roof. That water, along with the melting snow banks is finding its way down the hills to my driveway. I no longer walk to the mailbox, I wade. The maple sap is flowing too. Drive by a good stand of sugar maples and you'll see them all connected with plastic tubing, ultimately leading to the sugar house where the steam is rising. And the creek in my backyard is bursting over its banks.

In the 14 years I've live on the creek, it has taught me many lessons. One of the most important is the nature of flow.

Flow is not always the shortest path. When the creek encounters resistance, like a rock, a downed tree or the dam the beavers are building just down stream from me, it does not go through that block. The creek is not concerned with keeping the path short. It goes around, over or underneath the resistance as a way to stay in flow. Yes, over time, it wears down the resistance, but that's not its primary concern. So like the creek, when we take the path of least resistance, we too flow.

The creek is always moving toward lower elevations, downhill, rather than fighting the uphill battle. Now going downhill does not have a particularly positive ring to it. But image how wonderful it could be to reach your every destination without effort.

We've all experienced flow in our lives. Athletes call it being in “the zone.” Those that meditate talk about being in the gap, the space, between thoughts. As my friend, Dave Patrick of Healthy Enterprise says, “We all know when we are in flow. Everything is effortless. We're on purpose and we have total alignment between our vision and values. And we're taking right action to move forward, focused on the now. I think we're in agreement that if feels pretty darn good!”

Whether we are standing in a creek or we are experiencing flow internally, it does feel pretty darn good. And we are better able to take direction based on “hints.” The more we are not flowing, ticked off, disappointed or frustrated, the more we tend to grab for reason and logic. Reason and logic might save us in an emergency, but they never move us. These “hints” I call intuition. And when I'm in flow, I hear the hints.

Is your vision something you mentally design and, if done right, leads to flow? Perhaps. But it might take more than a few tries to get it right. I like to believe that vision is something that comes to you when you are in flow? My suggestion—go stand in a creek!

"Everything flows; nothing remains." ~Heraclitus

What's not flowing in your life? Money? A relationship? A major transition? If you've not taken me up on my complimentary coaching session offer, maybe now is the time. That's a “hint,” my friends. Take it!

Monday, March 08, 2004

Small Wonder

We're getting our first feel of spring. It's only the first of March here in Northern Michigan so we're defining “spring weather” as the occasional 40+ degrees at midday. That's enough. Long underwear is no long a daily routine. I'm not even bothering to put my coat on to run to the mailbox. One of the purely delightful things I find about this time of year is that the same temperatures we had back in November felt so much colder. Now, in March, 40 degrees is a heat wave! The other thing I love about this time of year is there is still way too much snow on the ground for me to feel the pressures of yard work, window washing and the usual spring chores. So it's spring without the work. Now when I take a breath of fresh air, I can smell it too. All this fills me with wonder.

~To think or speculate curiously
~To be filled with admiration, amazement or awe; marvel
~A cause of surprise, astonishment or admiration
~A feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, sometimes tinged with admiration.

So what is it about wonder that is so remarkable and valuable? I think when you are experiencing wonder, several things happen.
1. You are more receptive and open
2. You are more likely to see and feel the possibilities
3. Wonder jumpstarts your creativity
4. And in a state of wonder, you are very, very attractive

There are many places and things that awaken that feeling of wonder in everyone who has the chance to experience them. But we can't go to the Grand Canyon, Egypt's Pyramids, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef, or Victoria Falls every day. So how do you add a little wonder to each day? Well, what amazes you when you take the time to really notice it? Just like my elation at smelling the air for the first time in three months, there are little wonders in our daily lives. An intentional and focused noticing of these small wonders can make the difference between a ho-hum day and one that is full of creativity, amusement and possibilities.  

It's noticing that is key. Many of these small wonders are things we see every single day. We don't experience the wonder however until we take the time to notice. It does not take long. Pick anything common in your environment that calls to you. Then focus your gaze and thoughts on that one thing for just a few short minutes. It's a new way of noticing your child, a friend, the spring flowers, the winter icicles, a bird at the feeder, a deer, a lake, the fog, the rain, the sunshine, a patch of grass, or even your pet. Just take two or three minutes to remain focused enough to experience the wonder in one simple thing. Then get on with your day. Do that 10 times a day and you've spent only 20 to 30 minutes each day calming yourself, shifting your attitude, and becoming more receptive, attractive and creative. Notice how much more alive you feel. Imagine, 30 minutes each day in awe. Now that it itself is a small wonder with big rewards.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Three Independent Observations

I don't take the simple daily events for granted. Especially if they are related to nature in some way. There's GOLD in every moment.

I'm wandering again. I tried for awhile to pull these three observations together and make them one strong, meaningful article. No can do. They're definitely "stand alones." May one or more inspire you.

Jersey in the Window We've got snow! The driveway, is getting smaller as the snow banks invade it from both sides. The roof is holding a good two feet of snow and I'm getting a little moved off each day. It's alarming to look out the windows over the kitchen sink and see one of the dogs staring back at me.

But it has not been all work. The dogs have insisted we walk and so the artist, Mother Nature, inspires me daily. It's amazing what she can do with a little snow piled on some upturned tree roots, a snow-covered creek with just a hint of flow, and some sunshine filtering through the hemlock and cedar with just enough wind to send sparkling diamonds scattering off the tree branches. Wow. Do we need any more than that to sustain us?

A Snowy Creek
Sunny Snow

"If you are missing out on the natural joy and wisdom of life, it is because you have been taught to ignore it." ~Michael J. Cohen, Reconnecting With Nature

Last Saturday I went ice fishing. This year's exceptional snowfall has created a warm blanket on top of the lake. The result is about 8 to 12 inches of slush on top of the more solid lake ice. It's unnerving to step on to the lake when conditions are like this. Intellectually, I know as I plunge through the top layer of slush that my foot will ultimately stop on solid ice and I will not find myself submerged in the lake. But with each step, my body was startled into reacting by bending my knees, crouching low and spreading my arms out full in order to save myself. Coming back off the lake after dark magnified the sensation.

So right now you're saying “Then why does she do that!?” I do it not to trust myself, have faith in something outside of me, or any of the other more pure reasons. No, the uncertain feelings I put my body through were just a way to get my juices flowing. It's the middle of winter, you know. I needed a way to break up the seasonal blahs and create just enough of a dangerous illusion to shift me into feeling very much alive again.

"The most exotic destination of all is the one to be found within your own adventurous spirit." ~Jeff Salz, The Way of Adventure

A few days ago I was having a virtual conversation with a few folks about the Law of Attraction. The question was asked, do you think it's better to share your intentions and desires with others as a way to get them out there, make them more solid, and use others to help you move forward? Or is it better, as Wayne Dyer suggests in his book Manifest Your Destiny, to keep your intentions private?

I agree with Dyer. Partly because it's difficult for others, especially those who love you, to hold your intention purely.

But the main reason I do not share my intentions is because my intentions change at the speed of light. One of the reasons the Law of Attraction works so well for me is because I allow myself to revise my intentions on the fly. Today's intention often becomes bigger and better in a short period of time. Sharing my original intention would slow me down. Ultimately, I want to be moving at the pace where I manifest something and then realize that was my intention rather than creating an intention and then waiting for it to happen.

One exception. I meet regularly with 3 other coaches who don't give a hoot about what I say I intend. Nor do I care about their stated intentions. The result is a safe place to say it out loud and then let it or something better happen. Find a coach or person who can do that for you and things will happen fast! Those closest to us or those who take our intentions too seriously often care too much and muddy the playing field.

Thanks Tom, Anna  and Karen!

So for February:
1. Get yourself in nature, now!
2. Do something that gets the juices flowing.
3. And share your intentions with those who care only about the conversation it generates.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Monkey Business

Happy New Year! One of my missions is to help you all drop your New Year's Resolutions. So this month I'm revising and repeating my New Year's Theme article. It's the Chinese Year of the Monkey, after all. The year of Cleverness, Deception, Travel, Risk and Novelty! Nothing to "resolve" this year, my friends. Time for a little Monkey Business!

It's easy to make resolutions in the excitement of the New Year and the guilty awareness that you ate your way through the holidays. Sure, last year's resolution didn't make it past the middle of January, but hey, this year's going to be different, right?

So what is your New Year's resolution? Lose weight? Make more money? Spend less? More time with your family? Relax more? These are old favorites. “Old,” because they reoccur every year. We pull them down off the shelf we stuck them on last February, dust them off, and vow commitment this year. Ugh!

Here's the problem with resolutions. They don't make us FEEL good! We struggle because the resolution isn't right for us in the first place. It is full of inner conflicts that we don't see. Most New Year's resolutions try to “fix” something. We focus on what is missing or wrong, making the resolution a weak commitment.

But what if you approached your resolution playfully? It's the Year of the Monkey after all. Ask yourself, “What do I REALLY want?” There's a theme there. If you have resolved to lose weight, perhaps your theme is “Let's Give Them Something to Talk About.” It's not all about weight, is it? If your resolution is to make more money, maybe your theme is “What a Wonderful World” so you can feel abundance through gratitude first and then get creative about making money. And what about more time with your family? Perhaps a theme of “Getting to Know You” is more to the point. By the way, song titles are great themes. When you need a boost, just plug in the CD and dance!

A theme is meant to honor something. It focuses not on the completion but the doing. It's adventurous.

Maria turned 50 in November, 2002. In December she wanted to talk about reviving her old “resolution” to relax more. Maria has high standards at work and puts in 110% daily. But she knew something was missing when her friends stopped calling. “We just knew you'd be too busy” was the feedback. Maria had created a “busy-woman” reputation.

The only evidence Maria could give me that her old resolution, relax more, might work this year was that she had turned 50. “Not enough!” I said. I pointed out that resolving to relax more would just induce stress. We started playing with a theme.

A week later Maria called excited. Her theme was “Farming for Fun at Fifty.” Farming because she wanted to get to the root of things once and for all. Fun because she realized the old resolution of “relaxing” was merely a medication for a symptom. Fun was the cure. And, well, Fifty to honor the one thing Maria felt would make the difference in 2003.

Maria spent most of 2003 creatively immersed in her theme. She took a three-day weekend and hiked fifty miles. Another weekend produced a fifty-mile bike ride. She bought a box of crayons and created, framed and hung a picture of every fun thing she did. She read 50 novels by the end of the year. Maria has racked up one lunch a week away from work. “Getting to the root of things” also meant that Maria wanted to take a look at what was important to her. At the beginning of the year she donated 50 hours of her time, in one-hour increments, to her local Humane Society.

And here's the unexpected reward. Maria is due for a hefty bonus this year. When I asked about this, Maria said she was not so harried and more approachable at work. That made a huge difference in the way she was perceived. Coworkers are collaborating with her. And, Maria's doctor just informed her she has lost 21 ½ pounds. She's no longer using food for relaxation. Losing weight and the bonus were not her goals. They're just the little surprises that come from honoring her theme.

Maria and I are starting to talk about her 2004 theme. One of the interesting outcomes of this year's theme is that she's recognizing how creative she can be and wants to explore that more. Perfect for the Monkey year, don't you think?

Your Turn:
A Theme is Big. But don't lump a bunch of resolutions together, listing everything you've ever wanted to change. Just take one old resolution and keep asking yourself, “What do I REALLY want?” until you have something that expands you rather than making you a monitor of your behavior.

Word it Carefully. Resolutions are about willpower and tend to be expressed in bland terms. Themes are about experimenting and creativity and are expressed in a way that gets to the heart of what energizes you.

Embrace the Unknown. Trust that your theme will inspire. You don't have to create a list of everything you want to do on January 1. Just play with your theme and watch what happens as 2004 unfolds.

“I'm working all day and
I'm working all night
To be good-looking,
healthy, and wise.
And adored, contented, brave and well-read.
And a marvelous hostess,
fantastic in bed.
And bilingual, athletic,
Won't someone please stop me?” ~Judith Viorst

“May all your troubles during the coming year be as short as your New Year's resolutions.” ~Anonymous

“’Discipline.’ What a thankless word that is—and how beside the point.” ~Julia Cameron