Archive for November, 2010

30 nov

Heart’s Destiny

MotiRonitWhen Oprah Winfrey Show producer Hilary Jane Robe searched for couples for the show’s “Greatest Love Stories” she discovered a story about Dr. Moti and Ronit Peleg in a New Jersey newspaper.

Not only are the Pelegs destiny-driven soul mates with an incredible love story, but they’re also humanitarians whose Ego to Heart workshops emphasize heartfelt listening and communication between other couples.

It started when a 17-year-old boy became smitten with a magazine cover of the newly crowned Miss Israel of 1964 — Ronit Rinat.

Moti said, “There was some kind of spirited glow in her.” He stressed her eyes beckoned to him, and he kept that photo, feeling they would someday marry.

Meanwhile, Ronit married a physician from the United States at age 19, and had three children.

“I went to college and opened an international store in Beverly Hills,” she said. But Ronit said her husband was neither a communicator nor spiritual.

“We went to a workshop for couples called “Flesh & Spirit” and it was just what I was seeking: to be listened to without judgment, to be spoken to from the heart and, most of all, to listen to my own heart before I spoke.”

She studied for five years under Dr. Jack Zimmerman and Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless, certified in the couples’ intimacy practice. She brought this counseling method back to Israel in 2002 and became the founder of “Council” in Israel.

“Council” helps one openly explore, offer heartfelt expression and learn to listen attentively. It is said to be the gateway to intercultural understanding and the non-violent exploration of conflict.

After her husband’s death, Ronit was empowered to continue with a full life.

“I have trained, mentored, spread the practice all over the country (Israel),” she said, “it is recognized as a way to reduce violence in schools, empower women, men, and children — to build community and connect through dialogue between Arabs and Jews.”

Simultaneously, Moti came to the States in 1970. He received his psychology degree from Queens College, got married and had two children.

“Sadly, my wife and I didn’t have communication skills,” he said. “We struggled with fears and insecurities that eventually drew us apart and caused us to divorce.”

Peleg completed his Doctorate at Yeshiva University, and has been a psychotherapist and psychologist for more than three decades, specializing in traumatic stress associated with pain and relationship issues.

However, his desire to meet the girl with the eyes that seemed to signal him remained constant. So in 2004, a friend called Ronit to say he had someone who wished to meet her.

At first, Ronit thought it was a joke, but realized this man’s voice seemed truthful. Moti communicated with Ronit via phone calls, e-mails, love letters and songs.

“The lyrics and songs talked to my soul,” Ronit said. She flew to New York and visited Moti.

For the first three hours of their visit, Ronit asked Moti to join her in “Council.”

Ronit said, “We shared deep stories from our past, our childhood fears and dreams.” After two years, they were married. The “destined” couple combined their counseling methods to form “Ego to Heart”.

The workshops enable people to listen to the “voice of the relationship,” thus eliminating the ego of “me,” transforming it to “we”, which diminishes the power of ego that reduces a heart’s connection,” according to the Pelegs.

“The results of respect, humility and compassion, allowing a person to be seen as perfect in their imperfections, without judgment … empowers each one of us and the relationship,” Ronit added.

They provided workshops in New Hope, but realized the location did not have the karma and warmth they sought. Once more, destiny called the Pelegs to the Hudson Valley, where Moti’s son, a construction engineer, came upon a place in Esopus.

The 10,000-square-foot mansion with heart carvings throughout the structure overlooking the Hudson River was called “Heart’s Ease” and served as a labor school for newly arrived immigrants. By working with the Esopus Historical Society, the Pelegs’ research revealed that one of America’s greatest humanitarians, Eleanor Roosevelt served on the board of the labor school.

Architectural heart-shaped appointments, the name “Heart’s Ease” and the grand humanitarian connection? This certainly seems like destiny. And if historical renovations and construction go as intended, by August 2011, the couple’s destiny will be fulfilled.

For more information on Dr. Moti and Ronit Peleg, Ego to Heart workshops, the Oprah Show video and their upcoming book, “Destined Encounter,” go to www.ego2heart.org or visit their blog at motiandronit.wordpress.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Moti & Ronit Peleg on November 30th, 2010 in New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

28 nov

How to Have a Great Thanksgiving

MikeRobbinsNewWith Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been thinking about my own love/hate relationship to this great holiday. It can be a wonderful celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and family connection. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving also tends to be about feeling obligated to spend time with the people we’re “supposed” to, eating too much food and feeling guilty about it, and pretending to be grateful when we’re actually annoyed and stressed out.

What if we could make this Thanksgiving less stressful, more fun, and actually be able to enjoy ourselves, appreciate our family and friends (even the ones who drive us nuts), and focus on what we’re grateful for in a genuine way?

Here are some important tips you can use to make this year’s Thanksgiving one you truly enjoy and remember (in a good way):

1) Be you – Instead of trying to be who you think you “should” be with your family, friends, in-laws, or guests – just relax and be yourself! So often we put undue pressure on ourselves to be a certain way, impress people (even those we know well), or do or say the things we think others want us to. When we let go of trying to please everyone and we’re able to be true to ourselves, we create a genuine sense of freedom and peace. This also means that we think about what would be fun for us and our immediate family to do for Thanksgiving and communicate this to everyone else (in-laws, extended family, etc.), even if it may upset or disappoint some of the people involved.

2) Look for the good – Make a commitment to focus on the things you like and appreciate about your friends and family members, instead of obsessing about the things that annoy or upset you about them. We almost always find what we look for in others and in situations. When we let go of past resentments, we’re able to see people with new eyes. As the saying goes, “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Whatever we choose to do on Thanksgiving and whomever we choose to spend our holiday with, if we make a conscious decision to enjoy ourselves and to look for the good stuff in an authentic way, we dramatically increase our chances of having a positive and pleasurable experience.

3) Make it fun and easy – Do whatever you can for yourself and those around you to make the planning, food preparation, clean up, and the whole Thanksgiving experience as easy, fun, and stress-free as possible. This means we keep it light, share the responsibilities, ask others for help, and do the things that we enjoy doing – instead of burdening ourselves and feeling like a victim about it all. Too often we spend and waste our time and energy being uptight, doing things we don’t truly want to do, feeling resentful towards others, and creating a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration. Thanksgiving can be lots of fun, if we’re willing to go with the flow and make it easy on ourselves and for others.

4) Express your appreciation for others – One of best things we can do for other people (on Thanksgiving or at any time) is to let them know what we appreciate about them in a genuine way. Acknowledging others is a true “win-win,” as we always get to keep what we give away to others when we appreciate them (i.e. the good feelings are shared by us and those we acknowledge). There are many ways we can appreciate people on Thanksgiving:

- Write “I’m thankful for you” cards and give them out on Thanksgiving (or mail them beforehand)

- Pick someone at the dinner table to acknowledge, and then ask them to “pay it forward” and appreciate someone else in the group – go around until everyone has been appreciated

- Pull people aside on Thanksgiving (or give them a call) and let them know what you appreciate about them specifically and genuinely

5) Count your blessings – Remember that in the midst of all the commotion, stress, and activity of the holiday season, Thanksgiving really is a time for us to reflect on what we’re grateful for – in life, about others, and especially about ourselves. Take some time on Thanksgiving to focus on what you’re grateful for, the many blessings in your life, and the things you appreciate about yourself. A great way for us to remember and to celebrate the many blessings in our life, especially on Thanksgiving, is to take some time during our meal and allow each person at the table to talk about what they’re grateful for in a genuine, specific, and personal way.

This year, especially given all that has been going on in the world, the economy, and our personal lives, let’s challenge ourselves to make Thanksgiving more than just something we get through or even simply a nice holiday; let’s have it be a time of reflection, connection, and a celebration of the great fullness of life.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on November 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

24 nov

The 3 Ways We (Accidentally) Help Our Kids Fail

JayForteI know we don’t mean to help our kids fail; sometimes we just do too much for them – we don’t make them do their work. Maybe we love them too much and want their lives to be easy. But too much of the wrong kind of help doesn’t prepare them define who they are, identify their talents, find their best place in the world and own their lives. I am a father of three daughters. I have learned some things that I feel have prepared them to step up and stand out in their lives – to own their lives. And I thought it was worth sharing.

My personal perspective is that the greatest gift we receive in life is the ability to invent our lives – we can create each day in the way we choose. And what we need to help us invent extraordinary lives – extraordinary according to our terms – we already have. We are born with unique talents and strengths (gifts) that exhibit themselves through our abilities and passions. We are great at some things, not others. We love some things and not others. Each of us is unique. Each of us is different. Learning about this difference is the key to inventing our most amazing lives, and helping our kids invent theirs.

For example, I am good at and love details, precision, social research and writing. My kids are not at all like this. They are more social, more scientific and are more take-charge. They would hate my job. And though I may feel that my job would be good fit for them and would give the resources to be successful in life, they don’t feel this. They must get up each morning and be thrilled by life. Following in my footsteps is not be the best choice for any or all of them. They need to choose for themselves those things that play to their particular talents, interests and passions. This is how they become successful. This is not what many parents do.

As a greatness coach and a parent, here are the most significant three ways I see that we (accidentally) help our kids to fail:

1. We do not help them know themselves – what they are good at and what they are passionate about. So many of today’s kids are very self-unaware; they have little sense of who they are, what their talents are and what they are passionate about. They go through life on autopilot – being directed by parents and friends – doing very little of their own thinking.

It is our role as parents to help them learn how to identify their talents, interests and passions. Many times our talents are so closely connected to how we think that we have a difficult time identifying them. This is a great opportunity for parents to share what they see in their kids and dialog about it. Catching a kid doing something great, and commenting on it, helps him notice his behaviors. And as much as we learn about what we do well, we also learn about what we don’t do well – also critical information. We aren’t good at everything but we each are good at some things. Learn to identify those things and we help our children learn to play to their strengths.

2. We don’t show them enough of their world, and talk to them about their options, so they can choose wisely in work and life. Critical to their success in life is first to know themselves, then to know their world. Their greatest success and happiness will be in finding places in their world that allow them to use what they are great – to have their greatest impact. For that, they must know their world to be able to choose wisely.

Connecting to what our kids are seeing and hearing is critical – particularly in today’s intellectual age. Kids see so much more than their Boomer parents saw at their age. And this information needs conversation – to help them become aware of what appeals to them and what does not. Family vacations, reading together, reviewing websites together, learning projects and being active in the community are ways to show kids what things are available – how large the world is. The more kids start to show interest in areas, the more they should be encouraged to investigate careers and work in those areas.

3. We define happiness for them by telling them who they should be, what they should do for work and how they should live. Many parents believe they know better so they choose their kid’s life directions. I remember telling my father as he told me what my profession was to be, that for me to be successful, happy and own my life, the choice about who I am, what I do and how I live, must be mine. Parents take away life accountability when they dictate the steps of life. The more we encourage our kids to know themselves and to know their world, the better decisions they will make about their lives. This allow us to be the guide from the side in their lives – available for counsel but always relinquishing the decision to the life owner. This is critical to help create the next generation of responsible, happy and personally successful people.

Each of us receives the gift of inventing one life – our own. It is entirely our choice how large or small we invent that life. In my coaching, I regularly see that parents want to ensure their children have happy and successful lives, so they take over and dictate life’s decisions. This generally creates the opposite response – instead of helping our kids feel successful and love their lives, they become unhappy and disappointed, feeling like they are living someone else’s life.

Our greatest role is to prepare our kids to take the baton and run their lives. We help them run successfully when we guide them to discover their unique greatness, understand their world, then find their best fit. There is a great place for each of us in life. Find that place and we love our lives. And loving life is what we want most for our kids.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, and greatness coach. He is the author of The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition. His coaching and programs inspire executives, employees, parents and students to discover and play to their greatness, to live and work with passion, power and purpose. More information at www.TheGreatnessZone.com and www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on November 24th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

22 nov

Deepening Intimacy through the Power of Authentic Listening

MotiRonitby Moti Peleg

Authentic listening is a divine art. It is the art of listening with presence that goes beyond what our ears hear and what we say in response. It is listening with our hearts.

The professional literature on couples relationships points out at the lack of communication, specifically the lack of authentic listening as one of the major causes for breakdowns in relationships. Becoming an authentic listener requires self awareness and willingness to expand our comfort zone. It requires a day-by-day lifelong practice.

THE DEFINING TRAITS OF AUTHENTIC LISTENING

1) Listening with compassion from the heart and talking from the heart.

2) Listening without judgment.

3) Remaining in the moment without trying to steer what we hear.

4) Listening spontaneously without mentally forming response.

5) Listening with honesty-if you are unable to fully listen because of fatigue or not feeling well, let the expresser know gently.

6) Listening to what is not being said, what is behind the words behind the story. It enables the heart connectedness that would ultimately lead to a divine closeness.

THE IMPORTANCE OF AUTHENTIC LISTENING IN RELATIONSHIPS

The art of authentic listening is vital to a fulfilling intimate relationship.
Being listened to, is the response from another person that we value and that makes our interaction with that person very special and meaningful.

When being listened to, we feel being recognized, validated and understood which results in a reassuring sense of being and an openness to intimate closeness.

While authentic listening reinforces our intimate connectedness with our mate, it also fortifies our sense of self by enabling us to listen to ourselves in the presence of our receptive listener. We than further clarify and better discover what we truly feel as individuals.

When we are not listened to authentically and what we express to our mate is brushed off and not taken seriously, we close up because it is a relationship we count the most for understanding…

To listen authentically is to genuinely open ourselves to pay attention fully to our partner, take an optimum interest in what he/she say and show caring even if we might disagree. In authentic listening we step out of ourselves to give ultimate space to the expresser. In those moments, we suspend our desire and set aside our needs. When the expressing partner is being fully listened to, the dynamic created opens up the doorway to increasing intimacy. As Dr. Michel Nichols in his book; the Lost Art of Listening, puts it; “without being listened to, we are shut up in the solitude of our heart.”

LISTENING AUTHENTICALLY TO THE VOICE OF THE RELATIONSHIP

In every relationship there are individual voices of the partners and the voice of the relationship itself, which is an invisible entity that exists as a third presence. The voice of the relationship can be described as an elder who shades a suiting light from a place of a higher authority, bringing a more authentic and objective perspective to the union. Jack Zimmerman and Jaquelyn McCandless in their book, Flesh And Spirit, The Mystery of Intimate Relationship, describe the voice as an entity in the relationship that exists as a third consciousness and presents the union beyond the limitations of the individual personalities and self indulgence. It serves as a neutral witness with a pure perspective that opens up spontaneous heartfelt communication between couples. The entity, helps heal and strengthen the relationship by giving voice to what the relationship needs beyond the ego needs. According to Zimmerman and McCandless the voice of the relationship has a life of its own, helping partners to become increasingly aware of their infinite capacity to love, beyond ordinary secular connectedness. By speaking authentically and listening intuitively to the voice of the relationship the relationship deepens and heals.

EGO TO HEART AND AUTHENTIC LISTENING

“Ego to heart” the couple’s workshop of which we conduct globally is literally a heartfelt communication practice introduced to couples during a weekend workshop. It centers on helping couples to transform their relationship through authentic listening as they make a shift from ego centered communication to a heartfelt way of listening and relating. Couples who practice authentic listening learn to step aside of themselves and become consciously present, able to increasingly connect to their higher potential and reach oneness.

The power of authentic listening thus is in the heart of the Ego to Heart practice, capable of turning a relationship that is combative and stale into a passionate and an increasingly deeper union.

For more information on Dr. Moti and Ronit Peleg, Ego to Heart workshops, their Oprah Show appearance and their upcoming book, “Destined Encounter,” go to www.ego2heart.org.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Moti & Ronit Peleg on November 22nd, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

19 nov

Step Out of Your Box

MikeRobbinsNewOne of our greatest sources of authentic power in life comes from our willingness and ability to act – especially in the face of obstacles and fear. To be truly successful and fulfilled, we must challenge ourselves to take bold and courageous actions and to go for what we want. Legendary author Ray Bradbury said, “First you jump off the cliff and then you build your wings on the way down.”

In the summer of 1998 I was in the midst of a major life transition. I’d blown out my pitching arm a little over a year earlier and had gotten released by the Kansas City Royals that March. I was home in Oakland, CA collecting workers comp insurance (and not working), recovering from simultaneous elbow and shoulder surgery that I’d had at the start of that summer, reeling from what was sure to be the end of my dream of becoming a Major League baseball player (even after my arm rehab was completed), and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Throughout that spring and summer, I read numerous self help books that inspired me – both by what I learned from them personally and also by the idea of being able to write books like that and help people myself. I would wander into bookstores and find myself drawn to the personal development section – both to look for new books for me to read and also because I had a deep yearning to be involved in that world myself.

Given my age at the time, twenty-four, my lack of experience, and the fact that I had no idea how one would even begin a career as a self-help author and motivational speaker, I felt discouraged, scared, and confused. Being an author and a speaker one day seemed like a pipe-dream. And, in the weeks and months ahead I knew I’d need to make some important decisions about what to do and what specific steps to take as I ventured out into the “real world” for the very first time.

On July 11th, 1998 I had a conversation on the phone with my Uncle Steve that as I look back on it now, was a pivotal moment in the course of my life and my work. That day on the phone, I shared with him some of my deepest fears, dreams, confusion, and desires for my life and my future. I told him that I thought I wanted to be an author and speaker who could help and inspire people, but that I didn’t know how to do that, where to start, or what I could do in my life right away that would lead me in that direction.

Steve challenged me and said, “For you to do this Mike, you’re going to have to ’step out’ and be bold in your life. It’s not a one-time thing; it’s a day-by-day process. The question to ask yourself today and every day is, ‘What am I willing to do today to step out in life’?”

This question that Steve asked me, while simple to understand, challenged me to my core – both inspiring me and scaring me at the same time. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question at the time, but thought about it quite a bit.

I got a job that fall working for a dot-com, but my dream of writing, speaking, leading workshops, and coaching people stayed with me. Over those next few years, Steve would send me notes and post cards from time to time with just the words “Step Out” on them. It became a mantra for me.

Even though I knew the job I had selling internet advertising was not my “calling,” I chose to be grateful for what I was learning and the money I was making. At the same time I began to look outside of my current job for places where I could “step out” towards my deeper passion and dream of helping people. I did this in as many ways as I could – taking workshops, volunteering, reaching out to established authors, speakers, and coaches, talking to people about my goals and dreams, reading books, and much more.

When I got laid off from my dot-com in the middle of 2000 – Steve’s question reverberated within me deeply. I knew that the bold thing for me to do at that point, even though I still didn’t have a clue about how to go about it, was to “step out” of my “box,” take a huge leap, and do what I could to become a speaker, coach, and author.

It wasn’t easy and there were many times I wanted to quit – but I kept challenging myself to be bold and to go for it, even when I didn’t think I could. It took me six months from the time I got laid off to launch my speaking and coaching business, another two or three years before I was able to establish myself in any significant way, and seven years before I published my first book.

Stepping out of our own “box” is essential to living an authentic and fulfilled life. We often don’t think we’re “ready,” we may not know exactly what we’re supposed to do, and we almost never have a guarantee that things will work out.

Will we get scared? Of course. Will we fail? Most likely, especially at first. As the cliche says, “no risk, no reward.” When we’re willing to put ourselves at risk and go for what we truly want in a bold way, amazing things can happen.

Stepping out of our box in life doesn’t always involve something big like changing careers, moving to a new place, starting a business, ending a relationship, or traveling around the world (although it could). It simply means we’re willing to do, say, or act in a way that is new, different, and/or vulnerable. When we choose to push past our perceived limits and go for it in life – we always grow and learn, regardless of the outcome.

As you do this, make sure to get support, have compassion, and be gentle with yourself in the process. While it can be scary and often counter-intuitive – we’re here to grow, expand, and evolve and one of the most important things we can do in this regard to is to step out of our box in a conscious and bold way!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on November 19th, 2010 in New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

16 nov

Coming Out of Survival No. 10: Restless Soul

WaniManleyThis Restless Soul sought out a journey for peace, but instead found Truth.

This Restless Soul finds itself on some distant path, seemingly way off course from whence it started.

This Restless Soul is now on its way home.

Where this Restless Soul is, it doesn’t quite know how to be, for this Restless is ever so evolving into something that cannot be defined nor contained.

And so this Restless Soul yearns and reaches for the familiar, but the familiar is too far to reach.

This Restless Soul is at best like fish out of water as it is detached and withdrawn from everything, everyone and all that it once was; yet if feels everything and everyone like its own skin because it now knows it is everyone and it is everything.

This Restless Soul craves stillness, itself; yet the world craves its attention.

This Restless Soul longs to just be all that it is, but all that it is seems to be a journey, a pathway of all that it is and all that it is everything.

This Restless Soul sees that it is not in this world, this world is inside it; and yet this Restless Soul doesn’t quite know how to be in this world.

This Restless Soul feels confusion, disoriented even; yet radically clear as this Restless Soul is engulfed in the flames of Truth.

This Restless Soul is crazy for freedom yet fears all that freedom endures.

This Restless Soul is detached from the world; yet so connected to the world because it now knows it is the world. It created the world.

This Restless Soul now has a new set of eyes and with these eyes sees the illusions of the world. It sees the world as a movie it created, and as this Restless Soul observes its creation with awe, it is in bewilderment as it sees itself in all of the actors. Oh, but wait, this Restless Soul realizes it IS all the actors.

This Restless Soul, once asleep, is now awake, awakened by Truth.

Wani Iris Manly

“Restless Soul” is dedicated to my dear friend Maggie Mesa who continously encourages me to write during my most precarious times when I am the most uninspired and unmotivated to write. My friend, I thank you.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Wani Manly on November 16th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

14 nov

The Greatest Holiday Gift

JayForteAh, the holiday season. And we are already bombarded with a Sunday paper that tips the scales with gift ads. TV and radio ads remind us of the best gifts to give, who not to forget and how to make the holidays special. Buy, buy, buy.

I don’t know about you but this can do a great job of interfering with the kind of holiday I want to have if I let it. I don’t want a holiday of stuff – I want a holiday of experiences and stories. I want a holiday of emotions and connection. I want the memories.

As kids, it wasn’t just the gifts that made us feel so terrific about the holidays, it was the memories of feeling important, cared for, loved and special. I remember very few of the gifts I received over so many past holidays. What I do remember instead is singing carols, having neighbors over, decorating the house and eating treats that only showed up at the holidays. When I think of these, I am immediately brought back to sitting by the Christmas tree. I can smell the evergreen. I can see the lights and tinsel. I can smell the cakes baking and can hear the laughing from the other rooms as neighbors come by. I am immediately transported to happy times. It was the event. It was the feeling. It wasn’t the stuff.

So here are some of my ideas of holiday gifts that move away from the stuff and go for the memories:

Hosting a party with friends where we celebrate our time together.

Having brunch with my kids where we can talk about life, their dreams of starting families and loving the moments we spend together.

Sending and receiving cards that say, though we haven’t spoken in a while, you are still in my thoughts.

Playing music that is festive and celebratory, inspiring a feeling of peace and calm.

Walking with friends, or as a family, through towns and streets decorated with things that are bright, happy and festive.

Telling stories around the table with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, about what life was like, how each celebrated the holidays, and what made life great.

Stopping for a hot chocolate on a cold night, because we haven’t done it in a while and nothing beats the smell of hot chocolate – with whipped cream or marshmallow.

Taking an extra day off from work to be at home (not out shopping) and playing games, working on family projects or inventing a new recipe together.

Making a video where each person in the family, or each friend, records a memory of the holidays, then shares the message with the rest of the world on YouTube.

Committing the time to learn how to discuss and communicate about the things that are important to each member of the family – to help them discover their talents, strengths and passions and build a life they love.

Buying recycling bins and having everyone in the household learn how to recycle everything that can be recycled – a gift to the planet.

Being invited to, and sharing in, another person’s holiday traditions with an open mind and an appreciation for its importance to that person.

Selecting something that the receiver adores, and the giver does not add to his debt.

Holidays are terrific. They make us stop the routine and come together to celebrate. And giving seems very much a part of the holiday. But we don’t have to give until we’re broke. We also know that things never truly bring happiness, memories do.

A good friend of mine has a small artificial Christmas tree that he leaves up and lit all year. Each month, he, his wife and his son, exchange small gifts. As he told me, it is not about the gifts. It is about a small Christmas tree that stays lit all year in their house to remind them that every day is to be celebrated. Brilliant.

So as the holiday approaches, may you find new ways to celebrate. May the gifts you give and receive be personal, focused on feelings and create memories. Wishing you amazing holidays that you fondly remember forever.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, life and workplace coach. He is the author of the books, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to help them live fired up! More information at www.TheGreatnessZone.com and www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on November 14th, 2010 in Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

14 nov

How to Move Through Your Fear

MikeRobbins96Fear is something that we all experience, especially on our journey toward deeper authenticity, fulfillment, and success in life. Being who we really are, expressing ourselves boldly, and going for what we want in life can cause a great deal of fear in us.

I get scared all the time – especially when I’m taking risks, doing new things, and putting myself out there. When I was younger I thought there was something really wrong with me because I would get so nervous – in sports, in school, in social settings, and more. I now understand that everyone else experiences their own version of the same basic fears I have (being judged, making mistakes, looking bad, failing, disappointing others, and more). It’s just part of being human.

Many of us run away or hide from our fears because they seem scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. We also erroneously think we “shouldn’t” have them or we’re somehow “wrong” for feeling scared. However, most things that mean a lot to us in life don’t show up without any fear at all. And as we strive to live with authenticity, it’s inevitable that we’ll get scared along the way.

The question isn’t whether or not we experience fear in our lives (because we all do and always will for as long as we live); the more important question for each of us to ask and answer is, how can I move through my fears in an honest way so they don’t stop me from being who I really am and going for what I truly want in life?

How to move through your fear in a positive way:

1) Admit it – Acknowledge your fear, tell the truth about it, and be real. When we feel scared and are willing to admit it with a sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, it can often take the edge off and give us a little breathing room to begin with.

2) Own it – Take responsibility for your fear and own it as yours, not anyone else’s. We often have a tendency to blame others for doing or saying things that “scare” us. However, when we remember that no one else can “make” us scared – only we have that power – we take back the responsibility and the power of the fear and remember that it exists within us, so we are the only ones who can change it.

3) Feel it – Allow yourself to feel your fear, not just think about it or talk about it (something I often catch myself doing). Feel it in your body and allow yourself to go into the emotion of it, even if it is scary or uncomfortable. Like any emotion, when we feel our fear deeply and passionately, it has a way of dissipating.

4) Express it – Let it out. Speak, write, emote, move your body, yell, or do whatever you feel is necessary for you to do to express your fear. Similar to feeling any emotion with intensity, when we express emotions with intensity and passion, they move right through us. When we repress our emotions, they get stuck and can become debilitating and dangerous.

5) Let it go – This one is often easier said than done – for me and many people I work with. Letting go of our fear becomes much easier when we honestly admit, own, feel, and express it. Letting go of our fear is a conscious and deliberate choice, not a reactionary form of denial. Once you’ve allowed yourself the time to work through your fear, you can declare “I’m choosing to let go of my fear and use its energy in a positive way.”

6) Visualize the positive outcomes you desire – Think about, speak out loud, write down, or even close your eyes and visualize how you want things to be and, more important, how you want to feel. If your fear is focused on something specific like your work, a relationship, money, etc. – visualize it being how you want it to be and allow yourself to feel how to ultimately want to feel.

7) Take action – Be willing to take bold and courageous actions, even if you’re still feeling nervous. Your legs may shake, your voice might quiver, but that doesn”t have to stop you from saying what’s on your mind, taking a risk, making a request, trying something new, or being bold in a small or big way. Doing this is what builds confidence and allow us to move through our fear.

Fear can and does stop us in life – from being ourselves, speaking our truth, and going for what we really want. But, when we remember with compassion that there’s nothing wrong with us for getting scared and when we’re willing to lean into our fears with vulnerability and boldness – we can literally transform them into something that catapults our growth and fulfillment in life.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on November 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

02 nov

Coming Out of Survival 9: A Call To Purpose

WaniManley

A Call To Purpose

My car recently broke down for the second time in less than two weeks just days after I just had it repaired. I was a few blocks away from home exiting the expressway and the car died right as I exited the exit ramp directly in front of a house where a man in his early forties stood. I asked for his help and he reluctantly walked over to my car. I explained to him that I lived just a few blocks away, pointed to my building in near view, and asked could he please help me push my car the short distance. Again, he reluctantly agreed and started to push my car while I had the gear in neutral. As he pushed, I began to have contractions in my chest, energetic indications of worry of the cost for yet another repair adding to the myriad of major expense recently hitting me. As the car was being pushed, I remembered the words from my Guru just heard two days prior, which were to see everything and anything experienced in life as a blessing. As insane as this may sound to some, if not to all, I immediately expressed gratitude and thanked the Universe for my car breaking down yet again for the second time in less than two weeks just four days after repairing it and without having any money to fix what I concluded to be an expensive job. This time it appeared to be a problem with the motor; well at least, that was the story being told in my head.

The man continued to push the car by himself as I steered and kept the car in neutral. We were only a few blocks away from my house with too short of a distance to call AAA, but too far for the man to push the car all by himself. No one bothered to help us until my helper’s friend, a mechanic, drove up and in his truck, and looked to examine the car. He then tries to start the car and the car would not go past an initial jolt. Both men then started to push the car and the mechanic motioned that they were getting back into his truck and push my car with his truck. He proceeded to push my car with his truck and my car went gliding down the street in neutral, but stopped its glide a few feet away from my place. The two men then took off and I was left in the middle of the street with the dead car right in the middle of a busy intersection where many drivers deemed the four-way stop signs optional and at their leisure.

I got out of the car and started waving to passing motorists for help, and all of the drivers were all so kind to literally drive around and me and my car in periled condition. Not only did anyone not stop, but no one even slowed down. I was in disbelief. Anger and frustration began to arise inside of me. I could just hear in my head the voice of my Guru from a recent Retreat impressing upon us to see past form and instead see the Divine in everyone, as well as to see everything in life as the work of the Divine. Although I heard his voice, inside I was pissed as all hell and my humanness came out; I asked the proverbial question, “why is this happening to me,” and also, the follow-up of “why now,” in such precarious times as I’ve been undergoing such turbulent times with what seems to be no end near in sight. So since no one would help me, I took matters into the only willing hands, which were mine, I got out and started to push my car myself, at least out of the busy intersection. As I pushed, to add insult to injury torrential rain ofcourse started to downpour on me making the old adage “when it rains it pours” much more than just some cliché.

As I pushed, my life started to flash before me: everything I had done and not yet done, my businesses, the choices I had taken, the decisions I had made, the conventional path I had taken, my career in law, the victories, the defeats, my accomplishments, the incessant determination to succeed, the money problems, and the hardening struggles, and it all came down to this: me alone pushing car in the middle of the street. My mind then started to race into stories and conclusions of how expensive this repair would be, and coupled with all of the endless major expenses that were hitting me at this time, and how I now need this to happen like I need a hole in my head. My thoughts then directed me to an estimated $30,000 I was owed by clients and how receiving any tiny bit of that money owed would be treasured right now. Somehow, intuitively, I knew that I would not be seeing any bit of that money, atleast not any time soon. Anger filled the core of my very being, my eyes began to well up, and my mind went into inner dialogue of how this was so unfair as this was money I am rightfully owed for services I had provided to clients, that this was not money that I had stolen from anyone or money that I was begging for. It belonged to me. This was money I had earned and was owed! Tears filled my eyes and I started to sob. As I cried, my tears were a heart-wrenching quiet plea to God of when would this lifetime and generational struggle ever come to an end. I cried not only for my own struggles, but for the struggle of my father as there was so much that I wanted to give to him, my family, my ancestors, my best friends and all those whom I knew and did not know, yet I stood in their shoes. My pain was our pain.

In the midst of all of this, my heart’s voice quietly spoke to me and reminded me of a story I had just recently heard my Guru relate of when he was on his path and had lost quite a bit of money equivalent to his savings to a trusted friend whom had betrayed him. Reminded of his words and teachings, I started to pray and send love and light to all those that owed me money, and for special blessings to be bestowed upon them. Without clinging to any outcome to be paid, I prayed with as much purity of the heart I had in that moment. I also set an intention to the Universe to be used to serve their highest good. I was also reminded of the words of a close friend whom had recently stated to me that although it may not appear so, my life was being cleared up in ways that I could never imagine and I was on the right path. He went further to say to me that the path that I had decided to take with my life is the path to the end of all suffering so stay the course. I then prayed to God and asked for help, as I’ve come to learn that God’s love is unconditional but its help is not; in other words, you have to call on it.

By this time, I had managed to push my car out of the busy intersection and looked up and saw an elderly man waving towards my attention indicating to me help was on its way. The elderly man, kind and gentle with a prosthetic leg came to my rescue with his mini-van and carefully pushed my car with such intimate care as if my car was a tiny little infant child, including taking out a crisp white shirt of his to place between the two cars. He did not want to scratch my beautiful car as he put it. Extremely touched and with all my heart, I told him, “No worries, Papi.” I opened my trunk and pulled out my orange Yoga mat to serve as a soft cushion between the two vehicles. Together, we were able to get my car to a safe resting space at my building stopping occasionally to pick up the fallen Yoga mat. I thanked the kind elderly man and gave him all of the cash I had in my wallet including the two singles I had found in a Home Depot parking lot earlier that day.

I went upstairs to my apartment and went into meditation asking for the blessing in all of the adversity and precarious times I was having at the moment and through intention, asked for the lesson(s) to be revealed to me. I did not receive any insight during the meditation. With a heavy heart filled with fear, worry, frustration, exhaustion, doubt, including self-doubt and the spiritual path, and a readiness to give-up, I fell asleep. The next morning I was awakened by a mass choir of angelic voices chanting my name and singing to me that all is well and all would be well, followed by the showing of pages of a book in print and then followed by the Universal sound of Om. As I’ve been on the spiritual path for a year, I have heard the Universal sound of Om before; however, but the hearing of angelic voices singing was a first occurrence for me.

Later that day, insight of the blessing and lessons to be learned begin to unfold and I realized that the darkest hours I had found myself in the midst of over the last few months with mounting obstacles was a direct call to purpose from the Universe, a call which I had not yet fully answered but had heard for quite some time now but ignored it. I realized also that like my Guru, my money karma was being cleared out and what was also happening where money was concerned was a direct response to the strongest intentions I had previously set to have my money karma not just be released, but annihilated. I also realized I had to be in a total acceptance of everything happening and resist nothing, and this was the true meaning and essence of the state of allowance. But without question, inherent in the insight was the strong forceful push for me to get out of my comfort zone, completely let go of the known, the familiar and to step entirely into the unknown. The writing is on the wall; that is, I must surrender all fear, do away with self-concern, and put all of me, my energy, time and resources into truly living out my purpose and the time is now.

In all of this, I realize one must truly learn to view the events that you perceive as obstacles as perfect opportunities to test your resolve and find your purpose and that one’s entire life existence is set up this way. One must treat everything from your car breaking down to illness, to loss of a job, a failed relationship and all else in between, as an opportunity and a calling for one to turn away from one’s familiar comfort zone, the world of the mundane, and step into the vast openness of the unknown, the totality of possibilities, and move towards one’s call to purpose.

Wani Manly

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Posted by Wani Manly on November 2nd, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments