Spotting the Hidden Gems.

Spotting the Hidden Gems.

Life is full of buried treasures. Chances are, you’re sitting on some right now.

Sometimes we have an experience that we don’t understand, but if we look deeply, or wait long enough, a reason for that experience will usually reveal itself. All the events in our lives lead to other events, and all that we have manifested in this present moment is the result of past events and experiences. We cannot easily tease apart the many threads that have been woven together to create our current reality.

Experiences that don’t make sense, as well as any that we regret, are just as responsible for the good things in our lives as the experiences we do understand or label as “good.”This is especially important to remember at times when we feel directionless or unsure of what to do. It is often at times like these that we take a job or move to a place without really knowing if it’s the right thing to do. We may ultimately end up leaving the job or the place, but often during that time we will have met someone who becomes an important friend, or we may have an experience that changes us in a profound way.

When all the pieces of our life don’t quite make sense, we can remember that there may be some hidden gem of a reason that we are where we are having the experiences we are having. It’s fun to look back on past experiences with an eye to uncovering those gems—the dreadful temporary job in a bland office building that introduced you to the love of your life; the roommate you couldn’t tolerate who gave you a book that changed your life; the time spent living in a city you didn’t like that led you into a deeper relationship with yourself.

Remembering these past experiences can restore our faith in the present. Life is full of buried treasures. Chances are, you’re sitting on some right now.  

Text from Madisyn Taylor
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How well are you managing your Energy?

How well are you managing your Energy?

It’s not how many hours you put in that determines how productive you are, it’s how much energy you’re able to invest during the hours you work. Master this one simple concept, and you’ll not only be more effective, you’ll also be much happier. The challenge is not to get better at managing your time, which is finite, but rather about managing your energy, which you can systematically increase and regularly renew. As human beings, we need four very different sources of energy to operate at our best: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. None is sufficient by itself, and they all influence one another. Too often, we take our energy for granted. We assume that if there’s more demand, our capacity to meet it will just naturally expand. But if you often find yourself feeling tired or overwhelmed or stressed out, you know that’s not true. The fact is that if we’re not intentionally finding ways to increase and renew our energy, we’re depleting ourselves. If we’re not getting stronger, we’re getting weaker.

At the physical level—the foundation—too many of us treat our bodies as if our health is our birthright. We work too long and too continuously, which takes a toll even if your job is sedentary. And we rest and sleep and work out too little. A new study released several weeks suggested that people who work more than 10 hours a day have a 60 percent higher chance of a heart attack. A different recent study found that people who get up and move frequently during the day have more protection against a range of illnesses. Overwhelming evidence suggests that nearly all of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep to be fully rested and able to function cognitively at our best. Yet the average American gets less than six and a half hours, and that number continues to diminish. At the emotional level, all our urgent busyness fuels a state of heightened impatience, anxiety and frustration. In physiological terms, it’s called the fight-or-flight response, which serves us well when the threat is life or death. The problem, in fight-or-flight, is that our brains don’t operate as well. We become more reactive and far less capable of thinking logically, imaginatively and long term. Worse yet, the adrenalin-induced rush we get from elevated stress hormones can literally be addictive. At the mental level, the primary form of overload we’re all fighting is information. Technology makes it possible to be connected all the time, but also difficult to ever disconnect. Many of us cope by trying to multitask. We end up splitting our attention between multiple activities, and almost never full engaging in any of them. By practicing fractured focus, we progressively lose the ability to absorb our attention in one thing at a time. Ironically, we’re also less productive when we try to multitask. The researcher David Meyer has shown that when we switch attention midtask to take on another, the time required to finish the first one increases by an average of 25 percent. At the spiritual level, we undervalue the fuel we derive from deeply held values and a clear sense of purpose. When something really matters to us, it becomes a powerful source of energy and direction. Rather than responding reactively to every new demand, purpose serves as a road map for setting our priorities. The good news, we’ve discovered in our work at The Energy Project, is that small, intentional changes can make a very big difference in our lives.

Just for starters, consider these four strategies, one for each of the four energy dimensions: Physical It makes sense that the bigger the demands in our lives, the greater the need for renewal. We do just the opposite. Start taking a break at least every 90 minutes. You can get a lot of renewal by completely disengaging from work even for very short periods of time. Emotional Start paying attention to how you’re feeling, moment to moment. How you feel profoundly influences how you perform. When you notice yourself moving into negative emotions, apply this principle: Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t. Instead, smile, take a deep breath and wait to act until you’re capable of thinking clearly. Mental Stop trying to multitask. You can’t, efficiently or effectively. Instead, work as much as possible in short, uninterrupted sprints. Focus intensely for no more than 90 minutes, and then take a break. At a minimum, do the most important thing first every day, for at least 60 minutes. Spiritual It’s very easy, under pressure, to do whatever will solve the problem in the moment, without regard for the long-term consequences. Instead, ask yourself this simple question when you have a difficult decision to make: “What’s the right thing to do here?” The more intentionally you make decisions, the better they’ll be. Take just one behavior from the Energy Audit that you’re not currently doing but know you should, and start doing it at a specific time every day for a week. You’ll notice a difference in your life. Is there an area of your life you feel more challenged than others when it comes to personal energy? What are your struggles?

Excerpts from Tony Schwartz

Everyday Alchemy.

Everyday Alchemy.

It seems that everywhere we look, we are being sold a myth of fear, separation, and scarcity. The media continually reminds us that we are pitted against one another. In truth, however, we are one community, and all is well. There is enough, and we are enough.

When we bring the practice of collaboration and reciprocity into conscious view a kind of alchemy occurs. To make this magic happen, we need to shift our worldview from the “you-OR-me” world of scarcity and competition to the “you-AND-me” world of collaboration.

In a you-OR-me world, reciprocity and collaboration don’t fit. However, a you-AND-me world is full of collaboration and reciprocity! In that world, our resources are not only enough; they are infinite.

Through a myriad of examples from Mother Nature, we can see that different species of plants and animals already know how to coexist; each providing something essential to balance the environment resulting in an ecosystem that supports the whole of life. As in Nature, so too in our communities, especially now.

This global crisis has inspired many new forms of collaboration because we have had to become even more resourceful as we strive to support each other, our children, our families, and our businesses in these challenging times.

It’s so important that we “see no stranger” despite endeavors to drive wedges between us and to convince us otherwise.

Virtually every day of my life I witness the power of collaboration that bridges these so-called divides that the media continues to try to convince us of.

Truly,  in our every breath we embody reciprocity.

Reciprocity is like the breath we breathe in—no more than what we need, and we breathe out exactly the amount that must be released.

Remember, in reciprocity, there is nourishment and joy. I am here for you, and you are here for me.

Based on text by Lynne Twist

My Inner Warrior.

My Inner Warrior.

When we recognize our warrior self, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness.

The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion -- all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. 

We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.

Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. 

The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action. 

Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior's willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. 

Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life's challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.   
Taking Time For Myself.

Taking Time For Myself.

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. 

Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul's needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people's requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. 

The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life. 
Being Present Instead Of Seeming Busy.

Being Present Instead Of Seeming Busy.

Do you remember when the standard answer to ‘how are you doing?’ was “So crazy busy!”  Seldom did anyone follow up with, ‘So, what exactly is keeping you busy?’  Back in 2019 simply saying you were busy was enough.  It sent off a signal that you were in demand and doing well. Because free-time was, well, free (i.e. unpaid), no one wanted it. In fact, the less free time you said you had, the more successful you appeared.

But then the pandemic hit, and something shifted, at least for those lucky enough to have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home.  Almost overnight, being seen to be busy was no longer the measure of success it once was.  And, far from being worthless, unpaid free time for ourselves and those we care about became seen by many as more precious than status or money. 

The true value of free time

A recent Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% were considering quitting or changing professions this year. Overwhelmingly they say they’re looking for more flexibility. Most want a hybrid model of working, where they split their time between an office and a remote location. 68% of workers believe this balance is the “ideal” workplace model.

Something about the pandemic made people realize that every unnecessary virtual meeting was eating away from the time they could otherwise have been spending doing something they actually enjoyed.  Purely virtual interaction shone a spotlight on under-performers who try their hardest to project the illusion they are incredibly busy.  

Of course, the same was true before the days of working from home, it’s just that when you’re at the office, you can’t slip away for two hours to practice the guitar or tend to your garden. With our office in the living room, however, it becomes much clearer that all this busyness is making us less productive, and is keeping us away from people and projects we’d like to spend time with.

Being busy wasn’t always the badge of honor it came to be. Even in the USA, with its strong work ethic, only 100 years ago having a lot of leisure time conferred status. In his 1899 book The Theory of the Leisure Class, the American economist Thorstein Veblen concluded the richer you were, the less work you’d have to do and the best way to signal your status was by boasting how much free time you had. 

In my experience, the more in-demand someone is, the less they feel the need to project how busy they are. Highly successful people frequently give the impression that they have all the time in the world. Likewise, artists, entrepreneurs, or tech wizards may choose to fill every waking second in the pursuit of their dreams, but they won’t brag about how busy they are.  In fact, they often pretend to have more ‘play time’ than they do.  

Instead of seeming busy, why not make it clear that you are present, readyand available?

People who love what they do understand that advertising how busy they are will ikely deter people from giving them more responsibilities or including them in new projects.

Only this week, a friend asked me if I was busy. I knew what they meant, of course.  They meant is your life full and fruitful.  But that word, busy, triggered me.  You see, I value NOT being busy. I value having enough time for everything and everyone that’s important to me.  So, instead of pretending to be busy, I told my friend I was trying my hardest to make sure I am never too busy.

And, there is a secret to being productive but not busy. 

It may seem very obvious, but just say NO.  Decline attendance at meetings where your presence is not essential. Turn down assignments that could better be executed by others. Politely refuse invitations that don’t serve you. Refer clients who are not your ideal client to other professionals. I do this all the time and it leaves me the space I need to properly serve the projects and the clients who were made for me. 

Likewise, your inbox is mostly full of other people’s ‘to-do’ lists. Some requests you may feel compelled to answer. Delete the rest.

4,000 Weeks

The average human life span in the developed world is 83.5 years or 1000 months. We each get the possibility of 1000 months, or 4,000 weeks, at birth and count down from there. On our deathbed, one of the most common regrets is “I wish I’d spent less time at work and more time with the people I loved.”

I can think of no better metric for success than being present and available. When someone tells me they have all the time they want for their heart’s deepest desires, I know they have attained a level of awareness and personal success which frantically busy people cannot even dream of.

Text by Remy Blumenfeld

Declaring My Intentions.

Declaring My Intentions.

When you’re feeling stuck in life and are ready for change, take time to declare to the Universe that you’re ready.

There comes a point in most of our lives when we feel ready to experience a change we’ve had trouble carrying out. Maybe we’ve been stuck in a home, a relationship, job, or a town that hasn’t felt right for a long time, but we’ve been unable to shift our circumstances in the direction we want to go. At times like this, it can help to declare to the universe that we are ready for a change. Think of it as informing a helpful friend that you need her assistance to move to the next level in your life. If the time is right, the universe will respond with opportunities and offers designed to help you create the change you wish to see.

You can begin the process of making your declaration by getting clear within yourself about what exactly you want to change. Whenever we ask anyone for help, they can assist us that much better if we are specific. The universe also appreciates our clarity and has an easier time answering a direct communication than a vague yearning. When you are clear on what you want, write your declaration on a piece of paper and place it on your altar, if you have one. If you don’t, you can also place it under your pillow or in a box on your nightstand. Set aside a period of time every day to be silent with your wishes for change, repeating your declaration like a mantra. This lets the universe know that you are ready to change and will be receptive to its efforts.

Feel free to continue to refine and redefine your declaration, and remember to be open to the many different ways in which the change you seek might come to be. Remember also to be active in your own efforts, taking opportunities that come your way, watching for signs, and always taking responsibility for your intentions.

When things don’t happen quickly, be open: it might take time to free up energy that has been blocked and possibly serving a purpose beyond what we can understand.

When you continue your conversation with the universe, declaring yourself clearly and openly, you cannot help but experience the magic of changing and being changed.

Declaring Our Intentions.

Declaring Our Intentions.

If you’re feeling stuck in life and are ready for change, take time to declare to the Universe that you’re ready.

There comes a point in most of our lives when we feel ready to experience a change we’ve had trouble carrying out. Maybe we’ve been stuck in a home, a relationship, job, or a town that hasn’t felt right for a long time, but we’ve been unable to shift our circumstances in the direction we want to go. At times like this, it can help to declare to the universe that we are ready for a change.

Think of it as informing a helpful friend that you need her assistance to move to the next level in your life. If the time is right, the universe will respond with opportunities and offers designed to help you create the change you wish to see.

You can begin the process of making your declaration by getting clear within yourself about what exactly you want to change. Whenever we ask anyone for help, they can assist us that much better if we are specific. The universe also appreciates our clarity and has an easier time answering a direct communication than a vague yearning.

When you are clear on what you want, write your declaration on a piece of paper and place it on your altar, if you have one. If you don’t, you can also place it under your pillow or in a box on your nightstand. Set aside a period of time every day to be silent with your wishes for change, repeating your declaration like a mantra. This lets the universe know that you are ready to change and will be receptive to its efforts.

Feel free to continue to refine and redefine your declaration, and remember to be open to the many different ways in which the change you seek might come to be. Remember also to be active in your own efforts, taking opportunities that come your way, watching for signs, and always taking responsibility for your intentions.

If you continue your conversation with the universe, declaring yourself clearly and openly, you cannot help but experience the magic of changing and being changed. 
Slowing Down.

Slowing Down.

Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.  

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships.
Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive. 
Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace.

The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. 

Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.

Text by Madisyn Taylor

Writing Your Story.

Writing Your Story.

We all have a story to tell, whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.

Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story.

Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings.

No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.

Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.

As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences.

More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard.