"When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree." ~ Vietnamese Proverb
Questions to Ponder:
'Tis the season of gratitude as many Americans prepare for this week's Thanksgiving holiday. It's common for us to state what we are thankful for in terms of things we have: family, friends, health, food and housing. Less common is the consideration and gratitude for the workers out there who bring us the very things we're grateful for. They are the ones that built our homes, drove the trucks with the produce we eat, planted the gardens and picked the fruit for our pies.They are the ones who protect us and keep our families safe no matter what day of the year it is, and they ring you up at the register when you purchase all the fixings for Thursday's dinner.
Have you thanked them?
Consider where you buy the food for Thursday's feast. See if you can make an effort to support local growers, ethically raised meat/poultry, and give an extra long smile to the cashiers that are working extra long hours so that we may enjoy our feasts. Think of the entire cycle that everything on your table required and offer up a great big "thanks" to all of the workers in that cycle.
We need each other. Let's appreciate that! Happy Thanksgiving!
"It's so ironic - When you finally achieve recognition, you hide behind dark glasses." ~ Madhuri Dixit
Questions to Ponder:
When you have achieved something of great value, do you take the time to really celebrate the achievement, or do you find yourself explaining away the success as "Lucky," or "Not really a big deal," or "Yeah, but..."?
I recognized that in myself this weekend. I was a part of a group that was playing a game over the last month for points, and the top 10 were able to deliver their 90-second message on stage to the 50+ people in the room. I hardly played the game; I earned some points and felt proud of what I HAD accomplished, but also had that inner gremlin that said "you could have done better." Well, I ended up scoring in the TOP 10! In fact, I was #4! And while the initial feeling was "Wow, I did that!" the gremlins quickly moved in. "You don't deserve it. People played the game harder than you did; you just got lucky with the way the points were earned..."
I realized I had done this many times before. When I won Teacher of the Year, I told myself the contest was rigged. I won twice and told myself that both times. When I achieved my Master's degree in Education, I told myself that others worked much harder and sacrificed a lot more time and money to achieve theirs. What I had achieved was "no big deal."
Ugh. Please stop doing this. I commit to you that I will stop doing this and I want you to commit to yourself that YOU will stop doing this, too. We were raised not to brag, and yet we lost the message along the way that it's okay to feel pride and to celebrate our success.
What are the top 5 accomplishments you are most proud of to date? Write them down in a list. For each one, ask yourself how you celebrated. Jot down each celebration you had. Now ask yourself: could you celebrate even more? Did you explain away your accomplishment in some way that made it "no big deal"? Reclaim the accomplishment as a BFD! (Big FREAKIN' deal) I want you to do a fist pump in the air, or a happy dance or whatever you need to do to get your energy high enough to say "I did that! Hell yeah!"
One thing I know for sure is if we don't receive our accomplishments in a celebratory way, they don't seem to come around as often as if we receive them the same way we'd receive a newborn baby. Pure bliss, pure pride and commitment to growing in the light of our new accomplishment.
"To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves."~Federico García Lorca
Questions to Ponder:
I am deeply committed to helping my clients say YES to their burning desires. It is an absolute joy to watch these women step into a greater version of themselves so that they can achieve their goals and desires. I have also had some conversations with other women who are afraid to speak up about what they really want. They are not yet ready to state their desires aloud and actually take the steps to go for them because they don't believe in their own power as a creator.
So my question for you is: What desire is lying dormant in your heart? You may know what you want deep down, but you may be brushing it off as something that will "never happen" or you focus so much on your unhappiness in one area of your life that you can't allow the desire to be born. What desire is lying dormant in your heart?
The unhappiness you feel is supposed to be a mere symptom of something seeking to emerge, something better than what you have now. We're not meant to focus on the unhappiness part, and wonder why we don't have something better in life. We're supposed to name the desire and confidently move towards it. The desires of your heart are part of your destiny. By not saying yes to them, you are denying your ultimate destiny. This week's Action Step is to name the desire and ask yourself: "What's one thing I CAN do to move closer to this desire actually becoming my reality?"
"The past is a great place and I don't want to erase it or to regret it, but I don't want to be its prisoner either." ~Mick Jagger
Questions to Ponder:
I'm certain we've all done and said things that we later regret. It's a part of the curriculum we call "life." The question is: Are you still holding onto the story? And I don't just mean the story of when you regret what you did and said. I also mean the story that you repeat about when someone else did or said something regrettable. How long do you need to hold yourself or that other person "prisoner" for the mistake? What do you get from either scenario? You get to keep putting yourself down in shame, or you get to have an illusion of control over the other person. How does this serve you?
The first thing I want you to do is to realize that it's true: We ALL do and say things we regret later. It's a part of the growth process. It's not meant to hold us down; it's meant to be a learning experience so that we don't make the mistake again. Second, if you are reading this asking yourself "Is she speaking directly to me?" then the answer is YES, YOU!
To move forward, make amends with yourself. Start by acknowledging that you are an amazing person in this wold. Your unique value is a gift and no one has the right to make you feel otherwise. Yes, someone screwed up. Yes, it could be you. Regret is a sign that you know the action/words were wrong. Apologies feel good; admitting you made a mistake, and acknowledging the hurt your mistake caused.With apologies comes forgiveness.The only forgiveness you can control is your own. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Acknowledge. Learn. Apologize. Forgive. Move on and continue to be amazing. It's OK to make mistakes. It's not OK to remain a prisoner of them. It doesn't serve anyone.
"When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it's welcome." ~Kristin Armstrong
Questions to Ponder:
Fall is upon us...'tis the season for elections and falling leaves. Snow has already fallen in Colorado and the rain has finally shown up in California. For me, the changing of the seasons is a reminder that time keeps on moving, whether I notice it or not. Do you ever find yourself saying, "how is it almost November already??" It's a great time to reflect on the goals you set for 2014-- you have two months left; how have you fared so far? Are you on track? Are you proud? Did you make some desirable changes? What goal can you set to finish off the year strong? What "promised change" would you like to commit to?
Review your 2014 goals and if you haven't achieved some of them yet, get really honest with yourself as to why not. What got in the way? Was it avoidable? Then, commit to one "promised change" to finish off this year. What can fall way from your life? What can you remain open to? What steps do you need to take to be successful with this promised change?
I'm giving you a week so you have plenty of time! Remember, time keeps on moving whether you notice it or not. The only thing you can control is how you use the time you're given.
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." ~James Matthew Barrie
Questions to Ponder:
I was speaking to a colleague the other day and she was sharing how much she appreciated a mutual friend of ours. She was going on and on about how much his presence meant to her a few weekends ago and how much he helped her as she was experiencing some intense emotions. As I listened, I made a mental note to tell him about this lovely compliment. And then I thought how much more powerful it would be if it came from her. She promised she'd email him her thoughts and appreciation.
It got me thinking about this: When was the last time you wrote a love letter to a friend? I'm not talking about a romantic letter, I'm referring to the kind of note that you send to a friend telling him/her all of the wonderful qualities that you admire. Or you write to a new acquaintance with whom you shared a meaningful conversation, telling him how much you appreciated his thoughts on the matter. When we let people know how they have positively impacted our lives, we spread our light and love beyond ourselves. Who wouldn't want to receive a letter like that?
To whom could you write this letter of appreciation and love? Consider taking it a step further and picking out a card that is "perfect" for this person. A $5 card + the time you spend writing the note= a priceless gift for the receiver. Trust me, give it a try-- the feeling you will get from writing it is so valuable, too! It's a win-win. Let me know if you do it and how it made you feel!
"Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped." ~ Calvin Coolidge
Questions to Ponder:
Would you like more money? For some of you, the mere mention of "more money" will stir emotion in you. You'll either agree with what I'm about to say, or you won't. I'm going to say it anyway. Having money can make things better. Notice I used the word "can." We all have choices. And we all have money. We witness our country making decisions based on profit in homeland defense, national healthcare and our higher education. We see big banks and corporations get away with scheme after scheme, unscathed, and we see innocent people spending years in jail because they couldn't afford a good defense attorney. In a world like that, you may hate money and what it does to people. Here's where I'd love to help change your thinking around desiring more money:
The world needs more good people to make good money to do good things in this world.
Your values aren't going to change if you earn more money. In fact, you'd probably take better care of yourself. You'd buy more wholesome food, you might join an athletic club, you may take a nice relaxing vacation. You could 'vote' more with your dollars. You could choose to support a small business instead of shopping at Target or Walmart. You could buy gifts on Etsy.com and support someone's love of arts and crafts. You could donate more towards causes that are near and dear to your heart. All of these things make you feel good, and you spread that good feeling out into the world.
So I'll ask you again: Would you like more money?
The key to attracting more money to yourself is to act as if you already have it. Vote with your dollars right now. Choose to support a local business today. Treat yourself to something that makes you feel good. Donate some of your money to an organization that feeds your spirit. Express gratitude for what you do have, and don't hold onto it so tight that you miss out on enjoying it. Use it. More will come.
"We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking." ~Santosh Kalwar
Questions to Ponder:
What comes to your mind when you hear the word "addiction?" Drugs and alcohol? Nicotine? Sex? Food? Did you think about the thoughts that you have that could be an addiction? Some people are addicted to their rage and anger. Others are addicted to their sadness. The stories people repeatedly tell themselves is also an addiction. Have you tried to let go of a physical addiction, only to tell yourself that you can't do it? That's a sign of an addiction underneath the physical one. It's an addiction to believing that you don't have the free will to make changes to your life.
This past weekend I had to practice changing my thinking, and the powerful outcome I experienced is something I want all of you to experience. A few weeks ago I worked with a coach around a story I had been repeating to myself for years. This story became the lens from which I viewed my life. My coach helped me uncover this story and helped me see that I was literally addicted to telling it over and over. I told it to myself, and I told it to anyone who would listen. Because of this story, I was holding myself back from living life to the fullest and he challenged me by asking if I was willing to let go of the dis-empowering story and replace it with something more empowered. Of course I wanted to release this baggage and I really committed to it. This weekend, I was put to the test. I could repeat the story, get back into my sad state, and find plenty of listeners who would hold the space for me. Or I could face this addiction one last time and show myself that I have the ultimate power over my thoughts. I chose the latter choice. I removed myself from the triggering situation, got myself centered on who I wanted to be and made the decision to not let that story overpower me any longer.
This is the freedom I want for you. Freedom from the addictions that are holding you back. You know what they are. I challenge you to name them, and to make the decision to overcome them.
This was such a powerful experience for me that I created an opportunity for any of you that may need some help with this. Stay tuned...I'll be emailing you later this week about it.
"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine." ~John C. Maxwell
Questions to Ponder:
Does the way you start and/or end your day tell the story of your goals? Do you have an intention of a daily routine, but some days you find yourself too busy to stick to it? Are you tracking your progress (or lack of progress) on a daily basis?
I invite you to participate in an experiment with yourself. Determine which daily/weekly activities you would like to consistently do (you may already be doing some of them, which is great!) Create a chart which lists the days of the week and the activities you've selected. Simply make a check-mark next to each activity you do each day of the week. At the end of the week, tally your results. How did you do? What do you notice you are committed to? What do you notice that you don't have/make time for? Why might that be?
Tracking your progress (not just your results) is how we achieve something. If we notice early on that we are not doing certain intentions we've set for ourselves, we can redirect and get back on track more quickly.
"The only thing that's keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself." ~ Tony Robbins
Questions to Ponder:
If you could BE the best version of you, what would he/she look like? What habits, behaviors, routines, self-talk, self-care and fun would be apparent in your life? Write down this vision of the best version of you.
Now that you've identified how your life would look if you were being the best version of you, ask yourself why you're not doing that right now. There's always a story we are consciously or subconsciously telling ourselves that keeps us held back. The first step is to become aware of the "story." Really take some time this week to journal about the beliefs that are holding you back. Once you identify those, find a more empowering way to stand in the life experiences that have shaped who you are today. Those are your stories. You get to "narrate" them any way you want.
As a general example: Being grateful for an experience (because now you know how much that hurts and you have learned a lesson...) is so much better than feeling ashamed of yourself for having had that experience. How can you re-write your painful stories?
"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations."
~Charles R. Swindoll
Questions to Ponder:
Have you ever planned something with so much detail... so much organizational structure was set in place that the event could practically run itself? And then the plan ended up "failing" and there was nothing you could do about it? It's like packing for the trip of a lifetime, and the airline loses your bags...
A dear friend of mine was leading me and another gal on a backpacking trip. For me, it's been about 10 years since I last backpacked, so I knew what to expect, I was just nervous about the physical strength the trip would require. The other gal had never backpacked before and my friend was giving her the opportunity to experience it for her first time. Well, we get to the trail head and my friend goes to put the camping permit on her pack...only to realize she had left it at home.
Initially, my friend wanted to panic. But the three of us were able to find humor in the situation, look over all the "extra" stuff we had and determined we were going to do the trip anyway. The tent was cozy with the three of us in it, we stretched our warm clothes and socks so that everyone had "enough" and my friend borrowed my extra day pack as her pack. She modeled her leadership with such ease and grace, never once complaining about anything.
Would you have done it anyway?
The next time you're faced with an "impossible" situation, ask yourself if you can do it anyway. My friend had realized that maybe it was the Universe's way of saying: You're bringing these two women out of their comfort zones; you need to be out of your comfort zone, too. Asking yourself, "What is the message here?" and "Can I do it anyway?" would surely give you greater satisfaction than just giving up, defeated...right!?
"Animals are not only beholders of great beauty, but they are also beholders of ancient wisdom." ~Molly Friedenfeld
Questions to Ponder: Do you become awestruck when you interact with (or simply spot) a wild animal? Have you ever thought about the messages the animals may be giving us? Even more common animals such as squirrels can have a message for us. To be honest, this is a new concept to me. It was first brought up to me when I had to replace the alternator in my car due to a squirrel's tail shorting it. (Yuck, right?!) My friend had suggested I read about the squirrel totem. Here's what it said: "Time to look inward and see what is out of balance...have you forgotten to play?" It was when I was selling my home and moving to California. I was under so much stress and pressure that yes, I had truly forgotten to play.
The other day I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco and I noticed traffic was stopped on the other side. As I looked closer I caught a glimpse of quite a sight! (See pics above.) It was a surreal moment in the middle of rush hour traffic where all three lanes of vehicles were going at the deer's pace, allowing plenty of room for them to lead the way. One of them stopped right in front of my car. She crossed in front of my car and stared right at me. I was a little nervous, and I'm assuming she was, too! After a moment, she was on her way with her friend.
I looked up what a deer signified as a spirit animal: "It combines both soft, gentle qualities with strength and determination. A deer may show up as a spirit guide to encourage one to trust your instinct."
As I said, this is a fairly new concept to me, but I love mysticism and I know that you don't see two deer on the Golden Gate Bridge every day. So whether or not that was a message for me, I'm going to take it. Why not?
Can you think of an animal that crossed your path under unlikely circumstances, whether it was under the hood of your car or right in front of it? Or you took a walk and noticed the bluest bird you have ever seen? Or you spotted a whale showing off in the ocean? Just for fun, take a look at what message that animal might be bringing to you. Why not? Here's one site that could help: http://www.spiritanimal.info/
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." ~ Sir Winston Churchill
Questions to Ponder: Do you remember in school when you were supposed to write a "rough draft" first, and then turn in a more refined version as the final paper? Did you skip the refinement part? Did you notice your results reflected your effort? This is similar to life and work today. Sometimes we have to be willing to consider that our efforts up until now have served as a "rough draft" and we actually need to take the time to refine our efforts to get the results we want. Do this enthusiastically and you'll never focus on the failure again. It becomes a lesson and you move forward with renewed conviction that you're on the right path.
What can you re-do? What are you willing to toss away and try again? What are you willing to review again to refine it even more? Pick the most obvious choice for you, and even if it's a huge undertaking, be willing to say "yes" to making it even better. That one extra step in effort could bring you the results you've been waiting for! Wouldn't that be worth it?
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." ~ Anais Nin
Questions to Ponder: Do you have friends that differ greatly from each other? Thank goodness for that, right? You may have certain friends who enjoy getting together for active play, others who stir up great intellectual conversations, while others enjoy going to dinner and a movie with you. Think about the friends you are spending the most time with. Can you see why you enjoy each particular one, and can you appreciate that about him/her?
Have you ever wished that you could wrap up the goodness of each archetype and create one "best friend" instead? When I was a child, I thought that if I didn't have a "BFF," I wasn't going to survive. It wasn't until my 30's did I realize that I needed to be my own "best friend forever." Our friends are meant to be in part "like us" and in part "not like us" so that they may awaken new possibilities within ourselves.
Call forth the image of some of your greatest friends throughout your life. If there is any distress in the relationship, let that feeling go, even if just for a moment, and give thanks for the gifts, experiences, and parts of ourselves that became "born" due to our friends.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." ~James Joyce
Questions to Ponder: Do you hate it when you make a mistake? Do you get annoyed when others make mistakes? I know I've been guilty of both of those at points in my life. In fact, I'm a recovering perfectionist. I'm learning that "done" is better than "perfect" and that mistakes teach me key lessons along the way. But when I make a mistake, I'll sometimes feel dumb, or embarrassed, or incompetent. What takes the sting out for me is that at least I know I'm moving forward. If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough.
Think of the last time you really--REALLY messed up. How did you feel? What did you learn? Write down the learning you gleaned and give thanks for mistake you made. You're growing. Be proud of that.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie
Questions to Ponder: Have you seen the trend on Facebook lately called "The Gratitude Experience?" You may have noticed one or more of your friends posting three things for which he/she is grateful seven days in a row. Each day, the person will tag a friend or two to participate the following day, if they choose to.
I was tagged by a friend and today is Day 6 for me. What I noticed is because it was "public," I (admittedly) stuck with my commitment to expressing daily gratitude better than I would have had it been my personal gratitude journal. There's something powerful behind announcing to loved ones your intentions. It keeps you accountable and therefore you stick with your commitments more.
Are you willing to be "tagged?" If so, hop onto Facebook and start your Gratitude Experience, Day 1. What are you grateful for each day? If you don't like the public option, feel free to email me each day for the next 7 days! Find your gratitude and express it daily in whatever way works for you.
"Even though you may want to move forward in life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hold onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?" ~Mary Morrissey
Questions to Ponder: When it comes to forgiveness, many of us hold onto the stories of the pain someone caused us. When we were treated especially horribly, our family and friends agree with us how awful the situation is. So we keep repeating the story (and we actually feel empowered by sharing it with everyone) but by doing that, we are agreeing to stay in a victim consciousness.
What story do you need to let go of so you can step out of victim consciousness and into possibility consciousness? You'll move from asking the question, "How can I?" to the question, "Why can't I?"
Pick a story that you keep repeating. Make the decision today that you will stop repeating it. Ask a friend to be your accountability partner. You could practice forgiveness of the situation by repeating,"Thank you for-giving-me that experience because now I see how strong I am and how much more capable I am than I realized before." Then release the story and whatever you were holding yourself back from before, make a conscious effort to take one step in a different direction, the direction of possibility.
"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that inside them was superior to circumstance." ~Bruce Barton
Questions to Ponder: What circumstance in your life feels like it has a strangle-hold on you right now? It's easy to look at the circumstances in your life right now and think, "It's happening to me." But in reality, circumstances are neutral. They just "are." The root word's meaning, "circum," just means that it is what is around us. Our circumstances are simply the experiences that surround where we are standing. They are malleable to our thoughts. So how can you change your circumstances? Change the way you are thinking about them. Know that you are bigger than any circumstance you're facing.
Redefine the circumstances that are frustrating you right now. Notice what you're noticing. Become part of solution, beginning with expressing gratitude for where you are right now. Hold your vision and be open to receiving the solution. Know that you are bigger than any circumstance you're facing.
"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it." ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Questions to Ponder: What if you looked at what isn't going well right now and accepted that it's just the season of "winter" for that area in your life? How would your thoughts be different if you KNEW that once again, those branches would bloom? Notice right now if your thoughts are feelings of despair, with no hope for growth, or feelings of hope and expectation because you know things will work out.
Write out the thoughts of despair so that you can turn them into thoughts of expectation, because whatever seems to be in "winter" right now will surely bloom for spring. Hang tight and expect the best!
"That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don't expect to get anything back, don't expect recognition for your efforts, don't expect your genius to be discovered, or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are." ~Paulo Coelho
Questions to Ponder: Are there things, people and/or habits that no longer fit into your life? Are you waiting for some sort of recognition before you walk away? Are you willing to let that expectation go, and just walk away?
Make the decision to walk away from that which no longer serves you. By doing so, you are opening up space for something new to come into your life-- a better fit for the YOU you are becoming, not the YOU that you were.
Step Forward with Katie
Step Forward with Katie Collins — business coach for heart-centered coaches and holistic practitioners
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