Are you ready to show up and take action?

People often ask me about coaching — what it's really about and how it differs from therapy.

The short answer is that therapy is about looking at and focusing on the past, while coaching is all about creating a better future.

What challenges are you facing that you want to get past? What do you want to create — what big ambition or dream do you yearn to realize? What's blocking you, keeping you stuck? Are you tired of living with those barriers and feeling ready to work to change entrenched patterns and habits?

The good news is that a coach can help you see past limitations, give you powerful tools, and support you to make big change and realize your biggest ambitions. But you have to be ready to show up and do the work. You need to be open, honest and willing to be vulnerable. You need to face issues that may be unconfortable. You need to be ready to be challenged and to courageously make changes.

When you work with a committed and capable coach you won't have to do it alone. You'll have help and support along the way. But you need to show up and take action.

Are you ready?

Tame your hectic life

So many of us live frantically. Our fast-paced culture celebrates non-stop activity, and the demands of family, work, getting exercise, socializing, and more often overwhelms us.

What to do? How to find peace, a little quiet, some relief from the demands that exhaust us?

Start with the simple practice of considering your calendar and determining not to overfill it. When you consciously decide to keep some open blocks — what I like to call "white space" — on your calendar, you make considered choices about what to say "yes" to, and what to defer or skip.

Having been a designer, I know the power and beauty of white space. When a page (either printed or online) is crammed with text and images, it's overwhelming for the reader. By designing in white space, the reader has visual relief, and can take in the content without effort. And, it looks beautiful when there is white space on a page.

When you build white space into your calendar, you are creating space in your life. You can choose to use that time to slow down, take a break, do something good for yourself, or get creative in a way that makes you happy. That white space also gives you time to respond to unexpected opportunities or challenges. And, you will have time for a little surprise to show up in your day. All of these are wonderful things to allow for.

As you look ahead and start commiting to meetings, deadlines, appointments and activities, be mindful of leaving blocks of white space open. Appreciate the beauty of a schedule that is not crowded with commitments. And, then experience the difference it makes.

Try it for a few weeks and see what happens. I predict you will see how a small bit of breathing room can have a big impact on your wellbeing.

End-of-year thinking

Here we are at the end of October — already a month into the final quarter of the year. For many of us, looking ahead to Halloween, the election, Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in late December, it feels as though this year is wrapping up. It's easy to look ahead and think about taking significant action in our work and lives at the start of the new year.

But we can also consider the 67 days left this year as a big chunk of time — it's over 18% of the year! Why write off so much precious time for making progress with the initiatives you set out for yourself to make headway on in 2016?

Consider what's important to you and how you can use every day with intention. Each day offers the opportunity to take a new step toward what you want to bring into your life. It may be realted to your work, the way you spend time with your family, creating healthier ways of living, getting involved in community-centered activites, healing and enriching a relationship, or anything else that's important to you.

When you live with intention and make the most of every precious day, you live big.

How to deal with a set-back

Life is full of ups and downs. We think we can control so much in our lives, and sometimes we can. But, there are times that reality hands us unforeseen challenges. And when that happens, the question is, how do we respond?

Set-backs can show up in many forms. For me in the last 3 weeks, I’ve experienced a bit of a health set-back that took me by surprise. But you may be facing unexpected challenges that range from a problem at work, to an unexpected issue with a child or parent, to a life interruption caused by mother nature, to a late snag in a big project, to a stalled negotiation, or any number of other scenarios.

When something like this happens, how do you respond? Do you feel panic? Become a bundle of nerves? Worry excessively? Here are 3 ways to think about and work through a challenge you face.

1. Get all of the information you can. This may mean doing your homework, arranging to get the medical care you need, doing research, considering all of your options, advocating for yourself, and reaching out for help and support. I suggest talking through all of this with someone you trust to listen well and help you find answers — those that are external, and those you need to dig for in yourself.

2. Look at all points of view. This is something we rarely do. We think things through in our heads and come to a point of view, without turning the question around, without considering the way others see the issue, or without asking to find out how someone else would approach a similar challenge. What we think at a given moment is not necessarily the whole truth, or the only way forward. From what angle are you looking at the problem? Where are you focused? What might you be missing if you don't consider many points of view? How can you look at a wider view of the situation? Get curious and bravely look at all the angles and possibilities.

3. Be patient, courageous, persevere and keep things in perspective. It is normal to feel fear, anxiety, impatience and distress when things go awry. And, it’s easy to lose the true perspective of the impact of the set-back. It takes trust and patience — with yourself and others — as well as determination and courage, to slow down, attain the information you need, and consider many points of view. By patiently doing that, rather than reacting and rushing forward impulsively, you are more able to find a clear and positive path. You are able to persevere and to do what needs to be done — even when none of this was in your plans.

And, when you find yourself pulling through the challenge — both along the way and when you are on the other side of it — be sure to acknowledge what you accomplished. Savor and celebrate your patience, trust and successes. Don’t rush into whatever is next without appreciating and acknowledging your efforts.

These are basic ways you can coach yourself when life unexpectedly throws obstacles in your path. You may have other ideas about how to find and build resilience. Let me know what you think about it and what has worked for you.

What I’m learning from my body

I had surgery in late July. While not “serious”, this was a much bigger deal than anything I’d experienced before (the procedure entailed four hours of general anesthesia). Happily, I spent only one night in the hospital. I am enormously grateful for the excellent care I received and that everything went well. I am now past the half-way mark of the predicted six weeks of recovery, and I am happy that the healing process has been going smoothly.

As I reflect on my day-to-day experiences in these weeks I find that I am in awe of the physical body and how it heals when you give it rest and respect. I had intentionally wrapped up lots of work beforehand so that I could focus on healing, and that has proved to be a great decision — and one that has eliminated stress from my life. That said, I am learning a lot about myself and things about the mind and body that I took for granted before this episode.

Like many of us in the modern world, my work is based largely in my head. I think, I plan, I write, I coach in deep conversations — most of the time while sitting at a desk. When I walk or do yoga (something I am really missing now!) and when I paint in the studio or sculpt, I am engaged physically. And, I used to think that those were the times that required most of my energy. After all, when you are sitting, well, you are sitting!

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last few weeks. The walks I have taken (as prescribed by my doctors) have been a breeze compared to the fatigue I have experienced doing the little work I have put in in my office. Whether I am taking care of small administrative matters that cannot wait, or coaching the few clients I have continued to see during my “medical leave”, it’s the mental work that has taken a toll on my energy. The focus, concentration, attention and careful listening in a conversation are much more tiring than going up and down stairs or walking outside for 30 or 40 minutes.

I realize that I must honor and respect the energy I have — and use it wisely. I must expend my energy with awareness. I have to acknowledge and plan for the impact that doing “head-based” work will have on my well-being. I have to have balance and ample rest.

And, I realize that even when my energy levels are back to normal in the fall, I will have an opportunity to keep this awareness about my energy in my mind. I will be able to honor the hard work of mental focus, and appreciate the gifts that physical activity offer me. I will aim for balance, knowing that the opportunity to use the body more brings great rewards. I want to have physical strength and the pleasures of using my body, even as I love the intellectual parts of my life. And, I predict that creativity will flourish with these conditions in place.

As the summer winds down, and we move out of a “vacation” mindset and gear up for more intense work, school, and social activities, I hope you will think about and honor your energy. When you use your energy with awareness, you can truly create a rich and balanced life, one day at a time. Many of us are so excited about our big ambitions that we overload ourselves and struggle. Realizing that we can actually do more by slowing down, focusing on our priorities, and bringing awareness to the way we expend our energy can be a game-changer.

How do you find ways to balance the mental and physical, to honor and respect your energy and to seeing the rewards of this approach to living?

I received a lovely small coloring book as a gift and discovered that this is a special way to be creative that I had not appreciated before. Watching the pages come alive with color has been a delight.

I received a lovely small coloring book as a gift and discovered that this is a special way to be creative that I had not appreciated before. Watching the pages come alive with color has been a delight.

What if? Why not?

In meeting with a client recently, we talked about what we do when we get stuck, or come to a fork in the road in terms of which ideas to develop. My client said that making two post-it notes, one that says, “What if?” and one that says, “Why not?” have served to inspire great thinking.

So, I started testing it. I’ve found that I love what happens when I have these prompts in front of me — and use them.

I have found that the questions work in a number of ways. “What if?” can stimulate lots of creative possibilities, which is exciting. And, the question can be turned into a challenge for myself — what if I tried something that feels intimidating, or what if I dared to dream bigger? And, “What if?” can make me test the possibilities of things that are not going so well, and consider how I can respond when that’s the case.

“Why not?” is a good way to test my ideas to see if they may be off base, or could be stronger. The question helps me consider the possible downside of an action or approach. It's also a wonderful way to encourage myself — as in, “Why not give it a try?” (And, if I feel resistance, I can explore the root of that response.)

And, right now these questions are helping me focus on a personal matter. I have a date with a surgeon in a couple of weeks and I’ve been trying to get a great deal of work done before then. At the same time, I realize that this is an enormously important time for me to slow down and take care of myself. So, the questions are helping me think about the big picture implications of my decisions in terms of my health.

“What if” I don't make the time to get extra exercise, in order to be as strong and fit as I can be before the surgery? And, “What if” something on my to-do list doesn’t get done and has to wait until I’m able to attend to it in August?

“Why not” decide to simply let myself take it slow for now, so that I will be well rested going into the procedure? “Why not” give myself permision to use the 4 to 6 weeks of recovery for rest, reading, writing and reflection? “Why not” trust that everything will unfold as it’s meant to, and that I will resume my work with more insight, energy, creativity and enthusiasm after this small piece of time? And, the biggest question: “Why not” put myself first when it’s so important?

As many of my readers have heard me espouse, the issue of self-love is enormously important. It is key to opening yourself creatively, and a foundation for living big. Self-care is always essential. Putting ourselves and our wellbeing high on our to-do lists may feel hard to do when we are busy with work, family and friends, volunteer commitments or personal projects. But taking good care of yourself needs to be a priority — even if your don't have a health matter on your mind.

Try using the two questions, “What if?” and “Why not?”. I have found them to be important and useful conversation starters with myself, and I hope that these two simple questions will help you, as well.

The magic of making precious time for yourself

Life certainly gets busy! There are many days when it feels challenging just to make a little time for a calm short lunch break (one where you actually taste and digest healthy food!). On days like that, the idea of taking a short walk to enjoy the glories of spring feels impossible.

Pink blossoms started popping on the tree outside my window today!

Pink blossoms started popping on the tree outside my window today!

What I have learned is that those beautiful days, when the pink blossoms are first popping out, are too good to miss. Even when my to-do list is crammed, I know I will be happier — and will do my work with more attention and enjoyment — if I take that break and get outside to breath fresh air, move my limbs, and appreciaote the magic of nature.

How can you feed your heart today with beauty, movement, and a break from the hurry in your life?

Enhance self-love but treating yourself to small ”goodness“ breaks. You‘ll naturally bring more creativity into your life. Your health will benefit. And, everyone around you (family members and co-workers) will love the energy you share.

Try it. I‘d love to hear how it works for you.

Even when life is busy, make time for yourself!

Now that June is here and spring is in full flush, life gets busier than ever for most of us. The invitations and events can be overwhelming, from graduations to end-of-school-year gatherings and other social events, weddings and organizational program offerings, to Father’s Day and family birthdays (at least this is a big birthday season for our family). And, many of us are busy making summer plans — or anticipating the summer plans we've already put on the calendar. It can sometimes feel like the season will rush past and fall will be here in the blink of an eye.

The antidote to all of that busy-ness is to slow down, to savor every day, to create time for yourself. Make time to breathe. Take time to be quiet. Plan time to walk in nature, sip tea quietly with a friend, get enough sleep, read a beautiful book. Use more of your time to BE, rather than DO so much.

One of the beautiful ways to slow down and make YOU a priority is to create. And that can mean a host of things you might not even think of when you consider the idea of “creating”. Here are some ideas:

  • Try carrying a small notebook with you, so you can pull it out and jot down ideas as they pop into your head. Try adding a doodle to embellish your thoughts.
  • Snap photos on your phone when you take the time to notice small wonders around you — things you typically rush by without noticing.
  • Buy an exotic new fruit or vegetable when you come across something unfamiliar at the market, and try fun ways to incorporate it into your next meal.
  • Intentionally take a turn to get lost on your way back from a meeting or outing, and see what you discover.
  • Play — in any way you can think of, whether with a child, or a friend, or by yourself.
  • Of course, you can write a quick poem about a feeling you have, you can strum a guitar, make a sketch, sing, or dance to music you love.

Any and all creative acts liberate your right brain, providing inspiration, more “aha” moments, new insights, and more quiet inside. I expect you will discover that it’s wonderful to slow down and start creating in small ways.

I wish you a season filled with an abundance of joy with friends and family, as well as quiet, creative time for yourself. I would love to hear about the highlights of your season.

How gratitude super-powers life

We can cultivate states of mind that open us to creativity and enhance our happiness and well-being. That open our heart in beautiful ways. That plug us in to the glories of the world around us.

Focusing on love is one such state of mind. Being at peace, and consciously spreading peace is magnificent. Focusing on the moment we're in — without dwelling on the past or fast-forwarding to the future — calms and centers us. Being joyous keeps us from suffering anxiety and worry when there's no real danger in our midst.

These are all important and powerful forces that we can be mindful of, and that we can make a reality in our day-to-day lives if we focus on them. They let our spirit soar. They set the stage for goodness of all kinds.

I created a little pad of Gratitude sheets that I keep on my desk. It's a great prompt for me to make a list every day.

I created a little pad of Gratitude sheets that I keep on my desk. It's a great prompt for me to make a list every day.

And, there's something else we can add, that not only amplifies all of that wonderfulness, it accelerates the benefits of those states of being. Gratitude is the extra ingredient that can make life enormously rich and rewarding.

Gratitude tunes us in to small moments of wonder and loveliness — the things that typically go unnoticed as we go through our days. When we take a few minutes each day to jot down 5 things, 10 things, even 12 things for which we're grateful, we are alert to our lives in a new way. And we can rejoice in all there is to feel grateful for. 

When we practice gratitude we are slowing down — slowing down to notice things we can appreciate, and slowing down to note them. We can write that we're grateful for the restored health of someone we love, for the momentary kindness of a stranger, for having a safe place to live, for the inspiration found in a newspaper article, for an insight we gleaned in a conversation, for the taste of something delicious, for the fun of laughing with a friend, for a discovery made on an outing, for the budding of trees and blooming of flowers, for courageously trying something new, for the sweetness of watching a young child at play.

There are endless things for which we can feel gratitude. When we observe those things, and note them as we start our day, before switching off the light at night, or any time and place in between, we are enriching our hearts and connecting to all the sweetness in life. 

In addition to better emotional wellbeing, we have greater vitality when we are grateful. Gratitude enhances our relationships — we are in a kinder state of mind and more empathetic. Science shows that grateful people feel better physically, having fewer aches and pains and sleeping better, and there's even evidence that they have stronger immune systems. We feel better about ourselves and experience less doubt. And, we are more emotionally resilient when the inevitable challenges come up in our lives. 

All of these benefits make life so much sweeter. We can feel so much more open and ready to make the most of our lives. We can be courageous and live creatively in every moment. We can put fear aside and be bold. Gratitude helps us to truly live big.


Time for renewal in the desert

How wonderful it was to be able to spend a few glorious days in the mountains outside of Tucson. Having visited Miraval 11 years ago, I was inspired to be there again. In our few days we spent time in quiet contemplation, we walked and we wrote. We learned from great teachers, did yoga, meditated and treated our bodies to massage. We met lovely people and ate food that was healthy, fresh and delectable. We found a haven from the usual pace of our busy life at home, and appreciated the wonderful respite. 

I am still reflecting on much that I learned and I’ve shared new insights and knowledge with people at my Creative Drop-in this week and with my coaching clients. I’m happy to post some photos I shot as I walked. I hope you find them to be a visual "holiday" and an inspiration to savor precious moments that you experience in your day.

Being thoughtful about what we choose

It’s been a while since I have added to my blog. Ideas have been abundant. And, time has not been an issue — there is always time, the same 24 hours in every day, guaranteed. The bottom line is that I chose to do other things, even as my heart yearned to focus its attention on my coaching practice and all the ideas that I want to share.

Why would I choose to do what is contrary to the pull in my heart? Why do so many of us do that and feel the same frustrations?

I have been working on understanding this issue for a long time. Even as I have come to understand it much more clearly, I have not found it easy to change my old patterns.

I have always been interested in and excited about many things. Unlike some people, who only want to go deep into their work or an interest that consumes their attention, I have always been fascinated by and attracted to learn about a wide array of topics. And, in our media-saturated world, it’s become easier than ever to hear about and get involved with interesting activities. It’s easy to watch a new TED talk that someone recommended. Or pick up a new book discussed on NPR. Or get involved with a political race that aligns with my values. Or support a cause championed by someone I care about. Indulging in all of these seemingly small magnets for my attention adds up to an enormous amount of time and diffused focus.

As well, there’s another challenge I have faced for ages — saying “yes” to many requests that are not aligned to the work I want and need to be doing. This is an entrenched habit. It’s been tough for me even to slow down and consider the true scope of requests before making a commitment to take them on. I love helping people who need my skills and seek my participation in projects I believe in. And, I’ve become known as someone who has almost always said “yes”. So, there are lots of requests to be fielded.

Recently, two such projects expanded beyond the scope that I had (loosely) envisioned. And, although I did not want to work on them concurrently, I did not insist on some relevant pacing that would have enabled me do them sequentially. These projects are terrific, meaningful, and have been rewarding, but they have taken a big a toll on me. Sometimes it takes such a moment to see the light.

I have now set new boundaries. I’ve made and announced new decisions. I am being absolutely clear — to myself and to others — that I am no longer accepting projects that take me away from my core work.

And, I am limiting the amount of distraction I am letting into my life on a daily basis. I am slowing down to get more done, with clarity and focus. It feels absolutely terrific.

While my two big projects are not yet wrapped up, I can see the finish line for both. I will be proud and happy when they are complete. And I feel joy to be saying goodbye to doing any more work that does not align with the purpose that matters most to me.

My shoulders feel lighter, as does my heart!

If these issues resonate for you, and you’d like to share your experiences, ways of responding, or questions, I’d be glad to hear from you.

Mother’s Day and Creativity

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s easy to get caught up in the commercial dimensions of the holiday. Flowers, gifts and meals in a restaurant are what it seems to be all about for many people.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that my children and husband make it a special day for me. It’s wonderful to be appreciated by the people closest to me and have them express their love for me. And, it makes me happy to let my mother know that she’s such a special person in my life.

But I’m also thinking about what it is to be a mother — in fact a parent, as my thoughts are not gender-related — and all that entails. (Whether you have biologic children, adopted children, or dote on beloved nieces and nephews, the things I’m thinking about are either actually the same, or metaphorically the same.) And, as someone focused on all aspects of creativity, and helping people to access their creative core and bring creative flow into their lives, I’m thinking about how the stages in the parenting process relate to creativity.

First there’s pregnancy, when a new life is being nurtured. This time includes self-care for the mother, for her well being and so that her nutrition supports the development of a healthy baby. Then there’s labor and giving birth, followed by the love and care of the baby — and guiding that baby through childhood all the way to adulthood. It’s a long road and rarely does anyone travel it without some rough patches along the way.

The birth and nurturing of creativity

With creativity, the conditions need to be right for fertilization — for the germ of an idea to start to develop. The “egg” holds all the possibilities for new a creative expression and those possibilities start in the right brain. That‘s where ideation and intuition operate — and when you allow yourself to be reflective and relaxed those inspiring ideas will come easily.

When inspiration appears it needs to be sparked and connected to a force that fertilizes it. That’s the big moment where you not only become aware of the idea, but actually decide to take steps to put it into action. Otherwise, the creative impulse will fade away and all of its promise will be lost.

You need to nurture creativity, much like in pregnancy. It needs to be given time, good nutrition and attention. Your idea needs continued focus. Maybe you decided to keep a journal. You’ll need to get the journal, think about when you’ll write in it, and if it’s something you’ll keep with you or will leave on your bedside table. Or, maybe you have an idea for a new initiative at work. It will need to be fleshed out and you may realize you’ll need other people’s efforts, too.

Next there’s birth. Labor and delivery can be intense, but that’s the time that this new creative “baby“ will have matured enough to enter the world and need “pushing“ to get out. There’s no turning back now, as you get the idea into action.

And then continued care, feeding and guidance are needed — to get real traction and realization of the possibilities you birthed. Sometimes things will go smoothly, and at other times there will be struggles. Much as we get through toddler tantrums and adolescent challenges, we need to persevere when things are challenging.

But, unlike when we rear a child, not only do we want to see our creative impulses develop and flourish, we want to continually repeat the cycle and continue to create abundantly. We want to create in many ways, to have creativity touch every aspect of our lives. It may well take some time. It often begins by focusing on nurturing one particular way of creating and doing it on a regular basis. Eventually, when creativity is flowing smoothly, it becomes second nature and it’s quite marvelous.

Grown children, mature creativity

I am blessed to have two truly wonderful children, and to now have the joy of seeing the fruits of my parental labor (shared with my fantastic husband). My sons are 19 and 29 and I am extraordinarily proud of the good-hearted, generous, special people they are. I love seeing them share their gifts and hearts in so many amazing ways.

I am similarly delighted to reflect on the ways that sustained creativity — my own, and that of many people with whom I have been privileged to work — can mature in magnificent ways.

I wish you a lovely Mother’s Day, and hope you will be inspired to “mother” your creativity every day.

Remembering, one year later

It is one year to the day since the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. After enjoying several lovely spring days, much like that day was last year, today it is stormy and bleak. It feels like nature is responding to our collective grief and pain.

The radio has been filling the airwaves with stories about the terrible events on this day last year and the amazing bravery and heroism of countless people. We’re hearing stories about the victims and about those who did so much to help, in small and enormous ways.

I sit here with a sad heart but am grateful for the tenderness of this day, too. The people of this city have supported each other and loved each other. To me, love is what has made the difference. It has been stronger than fear or anger. It has brought us together and made us better.

Last year I wrote in the aftermath of Marathon bombings. I said that President Obama’s message to choose love had become a sort of mantra for me, and a way to focus my thoughts for positive energy. 

I continue to believe in the power of love. Let’s all spread wishes for love and peace to prevail, here in Boston and everywhere.

 

Injecting small doses of creativity into a busy life

We’re all busy — whether we work full time in a company, work independently as a freelancer or consultant, if we manage a family, or are looking for work opportunities. Add to that an array of non-work commitments — to community, to political or social causes, to taking care of your health, and more — and it’s easy to feel like there’s not a free moment in the day.

When we look around and see so many people living that way, too, we start to think it’s normal and right. You may think, “Why can’t I do it all and not feel stretched to the breaking point?” Or, you may be aware that it’s too much, yet realize you’re habituated to the intense pace of life and being overcommitted.

All of this busy-ness leaves you starved. Starved of time for thought and reflection. Starved of time to care for your body and soul. Starved of time for fun and refueling. Starved for adequate sleep. Starved for time with people who matter. We’ve all read a lot about stress and the damage it causes. The question is what to do to decrease stress and “feed” yourself so you correct for the malnourishment.

I’m happy to tell you that injecting very small does of creativity into your busy life can have a terrific impact. You may be surprised to hear about some ways this can work.

Take a 2- to 5-minute break once or twice a day. Use that snippet of time to look at the sky. Or, stop and people-watch on a bench. Or, close your eyes, relax your muscles (from the top of your head, to all of your face, down to your shoulders and through your entire body) and then take several long, slow breaths. Exhale slowly and fully. Taking any of these breaks will shift your brain waves from Beta (active alert thinking) to Alpha — when you’re still awake and lucid, but are much more relaxed.

When you get your brain into an Alpha state, using my suggestions or many others you can come up with, your right brain can take over from the left brain (which is used to doing, planning, thinking in linear ways, and being in charge). The right brain can and will access and use some left-brain ideas, but it will do so in new and more innovative ways. And, it's the Alpha stage that brings up new ideas while you shower, or walk the dog — great ideas that seem to spring from nowhere.

Surprise yourself. This is another way to get your right brain activated, and can also be done during short breaks. On your ride back from a meeting, take a turn into a neighborhood you don’t know and see what the houses, shops and gardens look like before you return to your route. At mid-day, head in a different direction than usual and see if there’s a new restaurant/lunch truck/market that offers new options for lunch. Cultivate curiosity and see where it leads you as you stop to run an errand or make plans for your weekend.

Inject play into your life. Get down on the floor with kids and immerse yourself in their play for a few minutes — rather than being an observer — and remember what that feels like. Find ways to be silly. Try putting a basket of small colorful toys on the conference room table and enjoy them before the start of a meeting. Hang something delightful on your bulletin board that brings a smile to you face. Play also changes your brain waves. It lets creativity happen naturally.

The more often you take these breaks and make these shifts, the more you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed and better all around when you get back to your scheduled activities. You’ll see that even these small efforts, when they become routine for you, will lead to having more creative, fresh thoughts that will brighten your life. And, you'll observe that, paradoxically, slowing down and reaping renewed energy and creative thinking will make you more productive. That's a real bouns!

You may even find yourself consciously building some “white space” into your schedule as you plan future appointments and tasks. Try it! See how building small spaces into your life will reap big rewards.

Can we just slow down?

snowy.jpg

What is all the to-do about at this time of year? Why do we get so frantic? Maybe it’s easy for me to question since I do not celebrate Christmas — and Hanukkah (a much more minor holiday) came so early this year. Still, the social calendar is crowded, gifts need to be purchased or made for many people in our lives, there's often some traveling coming up (to be with family or take a vacation), and I cannot think of anyone who is not frazzled.

I believe that slowing down is always important. It provides space to breath, to feel, to let ideas emerge, to experience life more fully. And never is it more important to do all of that than now. In the midst of this cold and hectic season, make time for yourself. Sit and sip some wonderful tea. Step away from your desk and look out the window (there's gentle snow falling outside of mine at the moment). Send a quick note to someone you care about to tell them you're thinking of them. Create a quick 4-line poem about what you're feeling right now.

Taking a few minutes for yourself will change your whole day. Do it every day and magic happens.

Wishing you joy and relaxation, now and always.

Reflections and Gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, everyone I speak to seams to be hurrying to fit a week’s worth of work into three days. People are cooking and have lots more cooking to do. Many are facing car and air travel that will surely be stressful. Hanukkah shopping and preparation is another challenge for many of us, as that holiday starts so very early this year, overlapping with Thanksgiving. In all of the rushing it’s easy to lose sight of the meaning and importance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Can we all just push the pause button and refect for a few minutes? Can we give ourselves a short and meaningful break from the hustle and bustle? Try this — I promise it will take one minute and give you lots in return.

Close your eyes, relax your shoulders and lower jaw and slowly draw in a deep, full breath. Then, slowly exhale. Make it a long and complete exhale. Repeat. Open your eyes and smile.

That’s it. A moment for yourself. A gift. A snippet of time to refresh your body and your mind.

And, if you can spare another three to five minutes, make a list of at least 12 things for which you are grateful. Beyond the things that come quickly to mind, see what you find in your heart. Maybe you’ll want to make a new list every day this week and see what comes up for you. You can use these simple practices often to bring light into your life. That's what happens when you take a little time to care for yourself and focus on the truly important things that bring you joy.

As I reflect on the past year and all that fills me with deep gratitude, I wish you a joyous holiday, safe travels, love and abundant creativity.