A date at the Cemetery

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Every week I have an artist’s date.


I spend time by myself and with myself, my thoughts and my core.

This beautiful ritual has become an integral and essential part of my week, and I look forward to the quiet and calm. The venue changes each date, but the one thing remains constant—it’s just me; no one else, no technology. Sometimes I sit at the lake, watching the fish and turtles glide their way through the water effortlessly. Sometimes I sit on the beach and listen to the waves crash relentlessly against the rocks. Sometimes I wander through flower fields of color. And sometimes I walk aimlessly though forests of trees as if entering a magical green tunnel where only the birds know my secrets.

Today, I sat at the cemetery. A place many of us fear.

Yes, the movies have created this eerie image where scary things happen and nothing feels safe. Yet under the glorious blue sky and stunning sunlight, today this place is still, peaceful and soothing. And I sit here and think: one day, whatever path we choose, whatever we make of ourselves, whatever life we choose to live, we will reach this place. I am filled with a sense of certain inevitability. And I feel inspired. By the lives that lived before me and the legacy they have left for me.

A cemetery is a powerful place. With all its lifelessness, it is mighty and compels me to think about my choices. Do I live well? Do I love fully? Do I serve greatly? Do I make a contribution? Do I live my passions? Do I look after myself? Do I make a difference?

A cemetery is a powerful place. Millions of memories flood my heart and mind as I sit here. I remember life lessons, experiences, moments I wish I could relive for real, and gratitude for the people who have contributed to my world and left an indelible mark on my heart. We never forget. The pain may dull somewhat, but we never forget, and missing someone is a deep cause to make them proud, do them justice and make every moment we have count.

A cemetery is a powerful place. Suddenly everything has new perspective: our problems, our challenges, our mistakes, our dreams, our values, our priorities. Sitting here, I am digesting over and over again that all we take with us are our deeds and who we have become, what potential we have realized and the value of our service to those we love. A cemetery is authoritative in its unassuming way of humbling us, and yet empowering in its wake-up call for us to appreciate what we have here and now and all the abundant opportunities and pleasures life offers.

This may be a very strange place to have a date. A place of finality. Yet coming here as a visitor just passing through for now is the most incredible and overwhelming way to be reminded and feel in awe of life, of eternal  faith, and the precious miracle of being alive, having a purpose and a mission to complete in this world.

Do we really fear death—or do we fear not truly living?

We Can’t Give What We Don’t Have

Sunny autumn park
We all have so many roles in this wonderful production we call life. Parts include the lines of: spouse, sibling, child, parent, friend, professional, manager, employee, customer, client – sometimes as main solo acts, sometimes all simultaneously.
Quite a remarkably significant undertaking we assume every minute of every day. And although the performances are dynamic, the actor remains, and what fills our being is vital for each brilliant scene.
One key X-factor to successfully juggle all these roles lies in a fundamentally timeless principle: You cannot give what you do not have.
(And therefore, I can only give what I have in me to give. And there is plenty – if we nourish it).
With this thought in mind, the sometimes overwhelming feelings of guilt when saying “no” to something or someone, the selfishness we critically experience when we seemingly put our own needs and wants first before those around us and the insufficiency we are compelled to endure when we are torn between the two, are triumphantly replaced with logic, reason and scientific evidence: I have to give to myself in order to continue to give to others. I can’t possibly give what I don’t have.
Because, it makes sense. And for us to continue to give more of the same – at some level, it has to make sense to do so. And we remind ourselves that we too are worthy of receiving.
When I am full, be it of energy, creativity, positivity, abundance, inspiration, motivation and love – there is far more available from within me – to spread to those I am fortunate enough to touch and engage.
However…. When I feel demotivated, weak, depleted, negative, fearful and lacking, there is far less, of anything accessible, for me to share with those I am blessed to serve and love.
Whether we are concerned with our relationships, health, career, finances, contribution, service – and memorizing the unwritten script that we can’t give what we don’t have, it becomes an obligation to ourselves and our audience to ensure that we look after ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And the best part – not because we are arrogant, egotistical, apathetic and want to showcase at center stage, but because when we are giving to ourselves feeling strong and complete in our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls – we give ourselves the unique ability to do more with ourselves, be more of ourselves and give more of ourselves in every level. And only in this way, can we deeply and truly enrich our own lives through every passionate role we play, where enthralled audiences throughout our daily world are too captured, entertained and engaged- all the more richer.
How can you treat yourself today so you can be more, do more and give more?

7 Ways My Kids Remind Me to Live Fully

Sometimes our children can be our greatest teachers.
Here are seven ways my kids remind me to live more fully:
1. To run around barefoot – because that’s simply how it is.
I love how the second they walk through the door, their shoes are flung off their little feet. They are carefree, they feel, their senses are acute and accurate. They love freedom, and the thought of being confined by something is unthinkable. Yes – off come the shoes! And their spirits are wild. My kids teach me to wake up, be free and let loose.
2. To see wonders in the tiniest things – because they are just that full of wonder.
I love how the awe and amazement of watching an army of ants march across the garden wall from one end of the sand to the fruit tree is a highlight. The attraction to miracles in animals, nature, even little bugs and insects that do not seem appealing in anyway, they find beyond fascinating and a super thrill to show-off to their friends and each other. My kids teach me to appreciate the flowers, the raindrops, the wind, things that we can so easily take for granted.
3. To say it as it is – because that is what they see, and honesty is their world.
I love how my kids speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If they are angry, they let me know. If they are happy, they show it. If they are excited, we all feel it. If they are scared, they share their fear. They get straight to the point and somehow manage to change every complaint into a request because all they know is what they want. They know what works for them and what makes them feel good. They know what they enjoy, who they love to play with and what they won’t tolerate. Their boundaries are so clear. My kids teach me to live my truth. My kids teach me to keep it real.
4. To try, and try again – because they really want something so badly, they are willing to persevere.
I love how they are not intimidated by something strange, curious and challenging. They will invest so much time and energy trying to climb a difficult tree, open a locked box and work out how to manipulate, discover and reveal something hidden. Children have mastered certain elements of persistence and determination; its remarkable to conceive how such little beings can be so big in their ideas. My kids teach me that anything is possible. My kids teach me to never give up.
5. To be on the move – because why go through life in slow motion when you can bounce?
I love how my kids don’t just walk. Or stay put where they are. They run, cartwheel, skip and dance wherever they go. Even climbing into bed at night would seem like a circus act of dexterity and advanced acrobatics to many traditional adults. Because they have energy – endless energy. My kids teach me to love my body, to move and to do everything with passion and zest.
6. To have fun – because worrying about something that hasn’t yet happened makes no sense to them, their time concept is here and now.
I love how they live so entirely in the moment. Nothing is 50 percent. If they are painting, they are painting with every part of their little bodies. If they are performing, they are singing from the depths of their hearts and souls. If they are splashing in the water, they are splashing even with their eyes. They function at 100 percent fun. Right here, right now. My kids teach me to be present. What was, was, and what will be, has not yet happened. So all we have is now.
7. To love – because that’s what we do, and that’s what we are.
I love waking up to the biggest and most beautiful hugs and kisses from my children, and the best part of my day is tucking them in at night. Their hugs speak what their little hearts and minds don’t yet know how to communicate, and their unconditional affection is the strongest bond I have ever experienced. It is unbreakable. My kids teach me what truly matters at the start and end of every day. They teach me priority, values and purpose.
As parents we are blessed to learn from the smartest teachers.
Thank you my precious children for reminding me.

Are your goals SMART?

bcf39e88-5731-43bb-9d4b-e5b3b2b1fdf2Any change or progress must start with a first step.
And the direction of motion is crucial for success. As Brain Tracy so beautifully says, “Our goals allow us to control the direction of change in our favor.”
Throughout our lives, we plan, we schedule, we create the ever-popular “to-do-lists” and we use systems and tables to help us, and rightly so, to make sense of everything we wish to accomplish.
But how do we select our goals initially, and what makes them so effective? What makes these goals fundamental to our guaranteed achievements?
Making sure each and every goal that we choose to set for ourselves in business and in life is as essential as to how much effort we are willing to invest to make it happen and as to how badly we truly want it to materialize.
We learn so much about SMART goals in life coaching and self-development, so here is a simple breakdown for you to add to your toolbox for building your personal best life and enabling your absolute best to shine:
Pick your first goal:
S – Is my goal specific? Am I trying to aim for something based on some random vague generality or do I know exactly what I want. Getting so clear about what we want to show up in our life is in direct proportion to the extent that it show up in our life. If I am not specific and explicit about my wants, dreams and intentions-my steps towards this uncertain space are gloomy and obscure. We want clarity, focus and precision.
M – Can I measure my progress and success? When your performance can be measured and recorded numerically, it is far easier to keep track of a consecutive outcome. For example, weight loss, income.
But what about goals that involve inner-work, self-acceptance, fulfillment, improved relationships – things we want to do better, however we can’t attach a numerical value to its attainment?
Knowing what something looks like, feels like, thinks like, behaves like once it is already there is the ultimate measurement for deep change. It is as if we ask ourselves: who will I be once I have met that goal? What will I gain by meeting this goal? How will my life be different once this goal is met? How will be life be better once this goal is met? What will I do, be and have, that I don’t right now?
We need to allocate equal attention to our “being” needs in the same way that our actions meet our “doing” requirements.
A – Is my goal attainable? Now check again, is it really? Double-check yourself, as only you can do this self-assessment by asking two questions:
1. Is this goal realistic?  I do not want to let myself down.
2. And even more so, is this truly as high as I can aim or could I possibly challenge myself even further? Really?
R – Is my goal in every way, shape and form related to my vision? Is this something that will truly bring me closer to my ideal future. Is there a harmony here between what I am about to do and what I wish for my ultimate existence? Does this make sense. This is the primary reason why we should always work on our vision before we set our goals, even if it feels uncomfortable to look so far down the road, so we can then use that as a yardstick to ensure our goals are and remain relevant, significant and effective markers that will help us create and materialize our ultimate plan.
T – is my goal timed? Have I set a reasonable deadline? Without writing things down and making sure we stick to the plan, we lose one of our most precious and valuable resources that we can never regenerate- our time. Let’s do our utmost to make sure that all our goals are timed so that we can keep moving forward, without regret and at our own steady and disciplined pace.
What are you waiting for?
Sit down and dream. Create and feel passionate about your own personal vision, hold it tight, lock it and set some SMART goals and then write them down.
Thinking them is not enough. For our “goals once in writing are merely our dreams with deadlines”.
Be SMART and make all your dreams come true.

Us Humans Have These 7 Superpowers

Good news!
We have a few superpowers that no one can take away from us.
That’s right!
And just when we thought we had to live much of our precious time in “survival” mode, anxious about the competition, safe-guarding our rights and resources, and breathing on edge each day with the notion that for us to win in this lifetime, the people around us have to lose because there’s simply just not enough to go around.
1. We have the power to make choices in every single situation.
This is an incredible gift, often called “free-choice.” In every decision, circumstance and opportunity presented, you have the choice of how to interpret it, what to feel as a result, and inevitably how to act and behave accordingly.
2. We have the power to seek and find good – even in the bad. 
This strength of character is what makes the optimist rise and remain in a realm of possibility where there are always alternatives and where challenges, difficulties and even “failure” are just part of growth. This power enables new lessons to be learned,  new paths to follow, and deep changes to take effect.
3. We have the power to lead by example and become a role model to others just by behaving with integrity. 
How amazing to realize that our children, our friends, our partners, our clients — anyone we interact with can become inspired in some small way by our actions and deeds — no matter how natural and unassuming they may seem. The values we convey by our daily habits and behaviors give us incredible leadership potential and we owe this much to those we love and to those we want to see win.
4. We have the power to do the very best we can with all that you have. 
No one can take away your ability to give 100%. This power is commonly referred to as “will-power” and unfortunately, the unwritten contracts we have with ourselves are usually the first ones we break. We think twice before letting someone else down but move on quite comfortably from letting ourselves down. We deserve to give ourselves 100% and invest 100% of what we have into the things that matter most in our lives.
5.  We have the power to treat others with compassion, dignity and love. 
The way we speak, the way we advise, the way we parent, educate, manage, love, and work can all be handled with care and thought. We have the power to give the benefit of the doubt if we want to. People will always remember how we make them feel and we have an unbelievable amount of influence in all of our interpersonal relationships.
6.  We have the power to do 1% more today than we did yesterday. 
With clear goals, we have the power to do more and be more today than we were the day before. No one said change is easy and no one ever claimed that real transformation happens overnight. Small disciplines over time, as little as 1%, lead to lasting and deep improvements which ultimately get us closer to where we want to be.
7. We have the power to focus our time, energy and resources on the things in our life that bring us health, happiness,  joy, and fulfillment. 
We all battle with the guilt that “giving to myself and following my dreams and ambitions is selfish.” The universe wants us to be ourselves, and the world will benefit far greatly once we are aligned with our passions and feel whole, healthy, and strong. It’s a win-win for everyone when we live with purpose, direction and meaning.
Superheroes don’t merely exist in movies, cartoons and comic books. We each have tremendous natural superpowers that are always available to us should we wish to use them to do so much good in this lifetime.

5 Steps to your Built-in GPS for Life

What a glorious day for a road trip!
Thanks to GPS, travelling has never been easier and adventures have never been more successful because we know where we are headed and we are confident that an effective tool will not let us down in guidance and direction.
But what about in the unpredictable and incredible journey called “life”- what are we using to ensure we get to where we want to go?
What are we relying on for support when there are unforeseen roadblocks ahead or we take a wrong turn?
What prevents and protects us from tempting shortcuts, from missing a right turn because we are distracted and what ultimately keeps us on track?
We each have a natural GPS inside us made up of 5 fundamental elements:
1. Now – This is where I am now. My starting point of reference. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge and if we want to move forward – we need to be honest about where we are now and what changes, improvements, refinements and growth we’d like to make happen.
2. Vision – This is our “destination.” This is where we want our life to be and this is how we see our ideal future. It is the core and creation of a meaningful, purposeful life that is guided by a clear plan. If we don’t have one, we have to get one. Every activity and investment we make with our time, resources, talents and abilities is done with our vision in mind. It is what motivates and inspires us to do more and be more. Without purpose we become a “wandering generality.” When we have a vision, our behavior, thoughts and feelings are proactive and do not depend solely on circumstances. When we practice being the person of our dreams, we inevitably become that and inevitably successfully manage our life.
3. Passion – This is what we cannot live without. For our life to be great, and by great I mean full of vitality, energy, drive and fire, we need to do what we love. We need to fill our time and schedules with people, places and things that we absolutely love. Having an accessible list of “passion chargers” that refuel our batteries when we feel tired, depleted, negative and uninspired will ignite that source within that keeps us moving forward. Our passion is our fuel. Without it, we stay stuck. With it, we get to enjoy every minute and have fun on the move.
4. Values – Our values are the things that are most important to us. Because our values are dynamic, they may change depending on where we are going, why we are going there, where we are leaving from and who we are traveling with. Our values are the signs along the way that remind us that we are certainly going the right way. When we live each day with integrity and are true to ourselves,  aligned with what truly matters to us, we are reassured by our values that we are headed in the right direction.
5. Goals – These are the essential pit-stops we take along the way. To think of an entire journey can be massively overwhelming. If we break up the lengthy drive into shorter distances, we can enjoy each segment as we reach each mini-destination. A life without goals that are specific, measureable, attainable, related to our vision and timed will ultimately lead to disappointment. Goals that are SMART, will ensure that our journey is feasible and practical and will lead to satisfaction, productivity and successes.
Life works like nature. And the same way we can’t rush a flower to grow or a tide to wane, we can’t rush the accomplishable arrival of our vision destination. Timing is everything. Things happen that we don’t always plan or expect along the way.
With a responsible and faithful GPS within ourselves (Our vision, passions, values, and goals) we will not only arrive at our destination at the right time feeling sensational, but we will cherish the journey too, and most of the time, that in itself is one of the very best parts!
Travel safe!

A Mother’s Day Tribute

One of the many life theories I have studied over the past few years is by a man Bill Levacy when I was mastering my personal passion test. His wisdom encapsulates the essence of what is required to create anything you want in your life.
In short, with just 3 simple steps, we can create the experiences we desire:
Intention – Consciously setting our intention about what we choose to create in our life
Attention – Focusing and directing our time, talents, gifts, energies and resources to these that we wish to create in our life
No tension – Living and being open and present to the moment, releasing what is not in our control, by being concerned with getting clear about the what’s in our life as opposed to the how’s.
Having children is a perfect way to reaffirm this mantra.
Intention – We choose to be a certain kind of parent. we choose the values we wish to instill and share with our children. we choose the lifestyle we wish to offer them. We choose the role models we wish to be for them and we choose the stories we wish to tell them. Setting the intention of what: what do I want to give, teach, share, explore, learn, achieve, provide, inspire and develop for my children.
Attention – With every fiber of parental being, our time, talents, energies and resources – we devote to their health, growth, happiness and wellbeing. We give them what we feel is best for them to be able to thrive and self-actualize.
No tension – We then let go. We hope and pray that all our investments of mind, body and soul will pay off and that we will hopefully be blessed and privileged to raise competent, courageous, fulfilled, successful, independent, giving, caring, kind, sensitive, compassionate and offspring who are above all else  –  happy. Millions of parents from around the world want just this..
And as much as we play an essential role through our intentions and attentions in our parenting, it’s not entirely up to us. Yes, we can set our intentions as parents and yes, we can focus everything we could possibly be, do and have on our children and their best interests. We do our very best we can with what we have. And that is huge. And then we let them be.
This piece is to honor the millions of wonderful devoted mothers who boldly and lovingly make the momentous decision every minute of every day to “forever to have their heart go walking around outside their body”.

5 Ways to Attract Goodness

If we look for good, we will find good. If we look for bad, we will find bad. What we choose to focus our attention on grows stronger in our lives. Always.
Have you ever thought about how true this concept is when buying a car, starting a weight-loss program, or getting pregnant? Suddenly you happen to notice every car on the road, every new diet trend on the market, and every other pregnant woman or stroller walking down the street. That’s because what we choose to see, we will always find. Even without really actively seeking it – and so how much more so when do.
If we choose to focus our energies and resources on the things that are not working for us, our problems, our weaknesses, our mistakes – then that is certainly what we will find and what we will start to see more of in our lives. But when we choose to accentuate our strengths, abilities, possibilities and our successes, then these positives expand and we begin to have many more wins show up in our lives. Always.
So if we always find what we are looking for, then how can we direct our eyes to seek out good in this lifetime?
1. Make a Gratitude List. Write down everything you are grateful for in your life. Keep this list visible, updated and detailed.
2.  Create an accessible list of “chargers.” These include things, places, people that inspire, ignite, motivate and elevate you. Make sure to integrate these into your personal schedule in the same way you account for your professional timetable.
3. Record the events in your life that you are most proud of. Ask yourself what values are present in those situations. Use those values as key elements in your daily activities as a priority guide of what truly matters to your happiness, self-worth and fulfillment.
4.  During a challenge, ask yourself: what lesson could I potentially learn about myself and others from this experience that will grow me, change me for the better and strengthen me
5. Draw courage from your natural “superpower” of free-choice to actively choose to take meaning, positivity and good from everything that do.
Imagine all the beauty, miracles and wonders we could potentially miss out on if we don’t choose to find what is so often right in front of our very eyes.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Be of Service, Have Faith & Don’t Give Up!

A friend asked me the other day how is it possible that some people seem so in control, together, organized, inspired and above all else, happy?
Does life ever get to you? You somehow make living look so easy, what is your secret?
After much thought and processing, this was my reply to her powerful question.
I don’t think there is a mysterious secret to living a life of inspiration, gratitude, focus and happiness. I think that we have the magnificent ability and superpower to choose to live this way and we are lucky enough to reaffirm this decision every single day.
Yes, life throws us unexpected turns and twists all the time.
Yes, our plans somehow seem to make other plans of their own without our input and intervention. And yes, some of our outcomes aren’t always the most desirable and many hopeful expectations are left unmet.
Yes, life can get to us. If we let it.
Every morning, life gives us as much as it gets us.
And we are blessed with a second chance.
To be free to take responsibility for our actions and the consequences of all the incredible opportunities we are brave enough to take – before life gets to us. Being ahead simply means we prefer to receive everything life has to offer in the best way possible. Because we have so much to be thankful for and so much to be happy about.  And so much to look forward to. And we can all choose to see life this way.
Yes, life can so quickly get to us with the sadness, frustration, disappointment, fear, hatred, intolerance, vulnerabilities, disease, terror, hunger, poverty and extreme difficulties. But we can choose to take action and do something meaningful. We can choose to serve. We can choose to make a contribution. We can choose to be significant.
Is it easy? No way!
It takes hard work. It takes persistence and commitment to live a life that that’s filled faith that everything will always work itself out.
You get the life you have always dreamed of. You get the achievements you have always aimed for. You get the love you have always fantasized about, you get the career you have always driven towards and you get life the way you want it. You get life the way you ask for it. The key is this: Be of service, don’t give up, and have faith!

All We Have Is This Moment

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So many of us at some point in time appear stuck in romances that aren’t working, in jobs that feel meaningless, in bodies we occasionally despise, or in debt we feel helpless to resolve.
And we stay there. We don’t move. We don’t change. We stay still – but the clock still ticks.
Yes – much of our lives are spent waiting for the facts to change and for the right conditions to miraculously show up.
We don’t change because it is safe to stay where we are. We don’t change because we are scared to fail, and to succeed.
And we don’t change now because we think we will always have time, or find more time. And so we will only do so when we are forced to and no longer feel we have a choice.
Time is the one thing we cannot regenerate, even with advances in technology and science – we can’t stop the clock and go backwards.
And that’s why every second counts. And we can never get back a moment that was lost or an opportunity that was missed. Never.
All we have is now. And right now, in this moment, we can step up and play big.
We owe it to ourselves and the universe to create the moments we wish to experience. We owe it to ourselves and the universe to live the changes we want to see and make in our lives. Because this is our chance and if we waste this precious resource, we may not have another chance. We are alive now. Let’s take full advantage!
If we spend our life waiting for better, for more, for less, then all we will gain at the end of the day are hours lost and our current status quo.
Time is a funny thing. We spend so much of it living off the successes of our past accomplishments and memories or the hopes and dreams of what is yet to come in out futures.
And while we live then and there, we play so small here and now. Isn’t it ironic.
We have absolutely no control over how much of it we are blessed with, but we have absolute control over what we are going to do with it, while we have it.
Together, let’s decide to play big here and now.
  • To do what we love with everything we’ve got
  • To spend time with those we love and be present to every magical moment together
  • To honor our passions and talents and bring out our absolute best
  • To make a difference and leave a legacy by our service and contributions
  • To celebrate our life with gratitude, optimism and faith
  • To rejoice in our health and look after our bodies, minds and souls
Let’s make every second count.
Let’s use our time wisely – guard it, treasure it, live it well, with no regret.