This “blue carrot” flower was always one of my mom’s favorites, and I never really understood why. I mean, it’s pretty, but… Every time I see one, I think of her. This summer, as I was walking, I spotted one and decided to stop take a picture of it. As I was thinking of my mom today, on the anniversary of her passing, I was compelled to look at that picture. It was as if she was here with me…I get it now. Although all of the little white flowers within the flower are equally beautiful, there is the one tiny blue/purple flower in the middle that dares to stand out and be different from all the rest, and that’s the one we see first. It doesn’t try to be like the others and “blend in”, and by being individual, displaying its own color proudly, it makes the entire flower more beautiful. My mom was like that.

As I sat looking at the picture, I recalled an “event” that occurred when I was in elementary school. I was in a play and the audience was filled with the parents and family members of my classmates. Moments before the show was ending, I noticed my mom running in one of the side doors. When she saw me notice her she seemed to stand taller, smile, and wave with excitement; as if she didn’t realize that she was still in her surgical scrubs, looking disheveled and arriving late…again.

After the show, as I was approaching my mom, I remember noticing another mom talking to her. This mom was tall, thin, looked picture perfect as always, and had been sitting in the front row when the curtains opened. I remember seeing her with her arm on my mom’s shoulder as if consoling her, it made me slow down and listen with trepidation. I heard her say something to the effect of, “oh poor Betty, you must feel so badly about arriving so late and missing the whole show.  It must be so hard on you and your kids with you working so much and missing out…they’re growing so fast…etc…”  I remember not knowing whether to jump on her band wagon or kick her in the shins. Before I could do either, my mom was already responding; again with one of her whole face smiles and twinkling eyes shining up from her petite 5’2” frame.  She looked the other mom directly in the eyes, took her hand from her shoulder, held it in her own and said something that I remember as, “Yes, it is hard not being able to be everywhere for everyone all the time, but I continue to do the best I can every day and then try again tomorrow.”  She went on to add something like, “I am so fortunate that my husband was able to video the program tonight so that we can all go home and watch it together, and the baby I was operating on, she is recovering with her parents now too, but thank you for your concern, I do appreciate it.”  (She definitely had a little spice with her sugar.)

Without another breath my mom turned, saw me, and came in for the hug. Wow! I distinctly remember that feeling of not knowing what to think or say. Now, when I think back, I realize that my mom was the perfect example of someone who got her self-worth from within.  She knew her purpose was to discover her own unique gifts and do her best to share them with as many as possible to the best of her ability every day, and that’s what she did.  Of course she wished she could do more, but she didn’t get down on herself for not being able to, she simply used it as her motivation to get up and try again the next day.

As a teenager, I recall times when this same quality of my mom’s drove me nuts. I couldn’t stand that she seemed to not care how mad or upset I or anyone else was at her.  How she would show up with cat hair all over her, in surgical scrubs, or smell of the horse barn, and not seem the least bit embarrassed. It wasn’t that she didn’t ever take the time to get dressed up and go out etc… it was just never about trying to impress anyone else (except maybe my dad from time to time). As I have gotten older and had the opportunity meet more individuals that seem to possess this same “something”, a quality that makes all shape and sizes so attractive that they seem to almost glow, it occurred to me that “it” is their self-confidence; the unshakeable appreciation of their own self-worth. The common denominator is their awareness, total acceptance and love of who they are and all that they can be/do.

My mom always told me that, for as long as she could remember, she knew she was going to be a surgeon, even though there were no women surgeons when she was growing up in the 1930’s. My mom never seemed to believe that anyone outside of her had the ability to know what she could or couldn’t do, only opinions that she could choose to take into consideration or not.  She was the only one who lived in her body with her mind and her soul, she seemed to know  that her job was to try her best at whatever she was doing and that, as long as she did, the rest was not in her control.  I would ask her how she wasn’t afraid of this or that and she would respond, “It’s not that I’m not afraid, I just don’t let that stop me.” It was as if the fear made it exciting for her. I would ask how she could not be bothered by things other people said or did, and she would respond with something like, “Honey, you can’t let what others say and do dictate how you feel or act.  You never know where they are coming from, what kind of day they are having, who they may be mad at, etc…”  She helped me understand: that people do and say different things for a million different reasons and our job is simply to listen to what we feel, inside, and do what is right for us.  And even though we can’t control others, and we have no idea what’s motivating their words or actions, we can control how we react, and that’s all we have to do. Such an amazing, and yet such a simple, concept.

My mom played hard, worked hard, loved hard, and had a smile that lit up a room. She was constantly squeezing all that she could out of life. I don’t remember ever hearing about anyone that ever met her that didn’t love her, or at least respect her. Days before her funeral I heard a story that still makes me smile and really sums up her essence. The gist of it was, when she was told that a patient was referred to her and told that she was “the best pediatric surgeon on the East coast”, her immediate response was, “I wonder who my competition is on the West Coast?” That’s pure confidence.

I miss my mom, but I feel as though I continue to learn from her every day. I like to think that a part of her lives on in me as I pursue my passion as a life coach. She is my role model as I strive to help others achieve a greater sense of self-worth and/or confidence; to realize their innate abilities to generate happiness by knowing who they are, doing their best to be their best, and not letting that fulfillment be dependent on or swayed by the opinions or judgement of others.  Each time I am able to do this I feel as though I have fulfilled my purpose and honored my mom at the same time. Through me, she can continue to help others live a fuller life.
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As I drove home, through a quaint older neighborhood with fully mature trees hovering their branches overhead, the fallen leaves all seemed to scurry across the road in front of me.  They were jumping, skipping, and a few even doing a little flip of excitement now and then.  Some left, some right, some straight ahead, but mostly in a big group all appearing to be heading the same general direction.  It looked like the front of an elementary school at the end of a long day when all the children come running out of the building, yelling with enthusiasm just because they can.  It made me smile, and it made me think…

Just days earlier I had expressed my sadness about seeing all the beautiful leaves beginning to fall from the same trees.  But what if those leaves have been waiting for this moment since spring?  Maybe they’ve been blowing in the wind restricted by the trees hold on them.  Are they now free?  Free to run on the ground, to play with the leaves from the trees across the street, to explore the neighborhood they have been staring at from above all summer?  I don’t know, but how fun to watch them play and imagine their joy, as if they knew something I didn’t.

All these years I’ve assumed that it was sad when it was their time to fall and “die”.  I’d never even entertained this other perspective.  I wonder why? Was it just what I had been told? I grew up somehow just ‘knowing’ that it was sad when things died; but these leaves didn’t look the least bit sad.  They looked as if they were just beginning a new chapter of their lives; it was just going to take on a different form. This wasn’t an “ending” as I had perceived it, this was a new beginning. It wasn’t death after all, it was just change.

I will never look at leaves in a tree or on the ground the same way again. Whether they are just budding, bright green, turning colors, about to be set free or nourishing the earth, I’ll be reminded, this is the cycle of life and each moment is meant to be enjoyed for what it is, not what we think it should be, or what someone told us it was.

Maybe all of life is merely what we perceive it to be at any given moment along the journey… which would imply that, if we are not happy about a  situation, we can at least try to look at it from a different perspective. Isn’t it at least worth a try? What if it’s just your beliefs or thoughts about the situation vs. the situation itself?

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” –unknown

 Enjoy the beautiful leaves!

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I believe that our destiny is to be our best selves. To realize our innate strengths, gifts, passions and values and then use them to make a difference in the world, to help out or contribute in some way, big or small.  I believe that our destiny is in us when we are born and that free will helps determine how the journey will go.  One mistake so many of us make is to turn that free will over to others, often those with the best of intentions, but they can only make the best decisions for their selves, not yours. Many times, when we dutifully follow the “shoulds” of others, despite the feelings in our gut, or voice in our head, telling us otherwise, we live with the loss later, often in the form of regret and resentment.

For some reason we repeatedly listen to other people’s inner voices yet we tend to silence or discredit our own. Why would someone else’s inner voice know more about what’s right for you than your own?  Who else has lived your entire life, experienced everything you have experienced and perceived it the very same way?  Who else has heard all of your thoughts? Who else do you know that has always, and will always, be with you every night when you go to sleep and every morning when you wake up, for your entire life?  And yet, that is who’s voice we tend to ignore or discredit.  Why? There is no good reason, I think it’s just habit. Habits are comfortable, after all, we are neurologically wired for survival and our brains know “doing ‘this” has kept me alive this long so….continuing to do it is safe”, and safe is comfortable (but there is no growth in the comfort zone…)

When we were younger we needed to rely on the voices of others for survival.  Somewhere along the way this was no longer necessary yet it’s what we’ve been conditioned to do. I’m not suggesting that seeking and/or receiving guidance is in any way shape or form bad, I’m a huge fan of learning from others experiences. I just believe that, once you’ve gathered whatever information you think you need, your own inner voice should be the ultimate decision maker for what’s right for you. Use the voices of others as guidance, not orders.

We spend years learning, or being conditioned in some way, to listen to others; our parents, teachers, mentors, authority figures, bosses etc… When are we taught how to be in touch with, listen to, or even hear, our own “voice”? Why does that concept even sound strange? Is it the idea that we need to be told or taught to hear our own inner voice? But we are told/taught to listen to others….

It seems logical to treat a 2 year old differently from a 12 or 42 year old. They are in different stages of life and, therefore, should live by different standards. So why, when it’s us, do we allow ourselves to be ruled by our same old standards? Why do we continue to listen to the “rules” that were put into our heads when we were children? We aren’t 12 anymore yet so many of us still do things because “that’s the way I was taught”, or brought up.  Did you ever stop to think about how old you were when you learned a particular rule or standard that you have continued to live by? Is it possible it was applicable to your life then but really isn’t any more? Do you continue because you believe it’s right for you, or is it just a habit?

If it’s habit, is it a good one? Is it still beneficial or even applicable to the new realities of your life? If not, than how do you break it? For me, the first step was stopping long enough to question my thoughts and my actions; to just become aware of the fact that they really don’t make sense for me any more. Once I started doing that, the rest just sort of happened, and continues to happen… What about you? What “shoulds” do you still follow for no other reason than because you always have? Do they still work for you? Did they ever? Why do you continue? If you could do something different, what would you do? What’s stopping you? Who’s “job” is it to make up the rules for you these days? Who lives with the consequences? If you could rewrite the rules for your life today, knowing all that you know about your current self, what would they be? Think about that, that’s your first step…enjoy the journey, after all…it’s YOUR LIFE, what is YOUR inner voice telling you? 

p.s. If you’ve decided to stick with the “status quo” for whatever reason(s), before throwing in the towel completely, ask yourself: “How will I feel 5 years from now if I don’t make any changes today?” What are you putting off or not doing? Imagine your dream life two years from now? Are you on your way there? If not, what’s one thing you can do to get closer? Maybe it’s just making a plan? Remember…small steps forward vs. big steps nowhere wins every time.

 

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Most people have heard the phrase, “Life is all about the journey”, at least once in their lives, but what does it mean?  Does it mean that the journey is more important than the destination? Or is it your journey that somehow defines how you feel when you reach your destination? If you’re happy with your current destination yet not feeling fulfilled, is it possible it has nothing to do with where you are and everything to do with how you got there? Could you be in the right spot with the wrong feelings?

I think so…. I believe that feeling a lack of gratification in your current life can have little to do with the situation/destination itself.  I think it is highly possible that your current set of circumstances is what you want and you may feel unfulfilled because of something you missed on your way there.

Do we mourn passed over or missed possibilities/opportunities as much as we celebrate achievements?

I think so… I think that we regret the things we didn’t try, do or say, much more and for much longer than the things we undertake, regardless of the outcome, i.e. success or failure.

For example, I imagine that very few mountain climbers would have the same satisfaction when reaching the top if they were dropped off by a helicopter. It’s the climb, each and every grueling and glorious step and misstep they take getting there, that they appreciate when they reach the peak. I would guess that shortly after those who were dropped off got a chance to enjoy the view, they would begin to regret missing out on the climb and the adventures along the way. I think they would continue wishing they had at least tried to climb long after the climbers had finished celebrating and moved on to conquer a new mountain. I would even bet that, in time-if not right away, the climbers who only made it half way would have a greater sense of fulfillment than those who took the helicopter ride and left filled with empty “what if’s?”.

If two marathon runners were in the same event, but one of them accepted a motorcycle ride for the middle 15 miles, what are the chances that they will feel the same as they cross the finish line, or even the years after? It’s not the destination, it’s how you get there. A true sense of fulfillment comes from the accomplishment of getting somewhere, knowing you are capable of achieving something, being intimately aware of what that means, and living through the lessons along the way.  It has much less to do with simply being at a particular place or having certain titles/roles or things.

I think many of us end up skipping or racing past certain struggles/lessons on our journeys in order to reach a new destination more quickly, or simply to stop the pain or discomfort of a current one. We sometimes want to keep moving “ahead”, rushing past any “yucky” or boring times, when maybe that’s exactly where we need to be.  Getting through, as opposed to past, those times is where I believe we develop the skills, strength and insight that we eventually need to be best prepared for what the future has in store for us, and to be able to fully appreciate and receive fulfillment from our next  goal or destination.

So, what if you have already raced ahead to achieve your “goals”, feel relatively certain that your current circumstances are what you want, but still feel unfulfilled? Is it realistic to “redo the journey” and yet keep your current situation? Probably not, but…as long as we are alive, we’re still on our journey and, I believe, all of the lessons that we may have missed along the way will be presented to us again. The question then is, will you be ready or willing to recognize and accept them when they do?

I have learned that we can go back and gain awareness of lessons we may have missed without having to relive the stories. This helps us recognize them when they show up again. For example, if you were to take time to think back on your life and ask yourself; Where did I opt for the helicopter route? What was my motivation? What was I avoiding? How did that work out? When did I choose the climb? How did that feel? Was there an alternate perspective I could have moved forward with? Etc… Many times just asking yourself these sorts of questions will trigger many others.  It’s the answers that come from within that can restore you and help you begin to live a more fulfilling life today while preparing you for tomorrow.

We can’t change the past, only our thoughts about it and what we get from them. So think about your journey so far, look for the lessons, find some positive that came out of each one, and then think about the ones you may have avoided and what you got out of that. What doors opened when others closed? How can you apply those lessons and/or that awareness to your life today? Perhaps just noticing the steps on your way to your goal, instead of rushing to the end, would be a great start.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe our current situation is necessarily right or wrong regardless of how we got there; the top of the mountain is still the top of the mountain and the finish line is still the finish line, but…what about how we feel while we’re there? You’re still on your journey with nothing stopping you from finding out. You don’t have to go backwards and climb any past mountains, or rerun any missed marathons. There are an abundance of mountains and marathons awaiting as you move forward in life, and you can start right where you are with your new awareness and ability to appreciate each individual step.

P.S. Why does modern society continue to spend so much time and energy making things faster and easier? Has it made people happier? Do people seem more fulfilled today than before all of these “advancements”? It seems as though we, as a generation, are in danger of missing the journey. Personally, I’d rather be happy struggling half way up a mountain than comfortably miserable at the top, but maybe that’s just me, what do you think?

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What’s your WHY?  Your burning desire? Your MISSION?  What is your underlying motivation for getting out of bed each day?  Is it to go through the motions one more time?

Purpose:  I believe we all have the same purpose, to live up to our highest/best self and carry out our personal mission, which is to share our unique gifts with others, and I don’t think it matters if you share them with one or many.

My mission: Help people reignite/turn up their pilot light without fear of explosion or extinguishing it. To help you understand your WHY and not be afraid to turn it on so that how you spend your time and who you spend it with is in alignment with that Why, regardless of if others “get it” or not.  To understand it so well that it infuses everything you do.

This is your life, it’s not a dress rehearsal, HAVE FUN!

  1. Stop hiding who you really are; Get focused, get clear on your dreams – no more imposture syndrome, i.e. faking it
  2. Start being selfish – it’s your life
  3. Be creative – stop following others rules/shoulds
  4. Start scaring yourself, leave the comfort zone and explore the edges
  5. Use your wisdom – stop taking life so seriously – it’s not always life or death
  6. Start getting rid of stuff that’s weighing you down, holding you back… ie. Memories…
  7. Take action- stop being “so busy” and DO Something you love
  8. START NOW! – Don’t wait for permission – your life matters too much!!
  9. Instead of asking “Why?” ask yourself, “Why Not?”

Some may feel it’s selfish to take the time to discover your “why” and strive to achieve it, however, what I know is that; it makes you a happier person, you are more fun and pleasant to be around, you’re not filled with resentments or regret, you have more energy, you become more capable and productive and it comes more easily to you.

Take control of your life, your priorities, what is meaningful and important to you.  Give yourself permission to choose YOU, you deserve it. Stop living on auto pilot and start living, bumps, wrong turns and all.

Sometimes, when I think about life, I envision flowing water…If you always take the path of least resistance, the auto-pilot route, that looks like water coming out of a factory built faucet. But…if you leave your comfort zone and overcome obstacles, take paths less traveled or carve new ones, make wrong turns and figure out how to get back on track, even take a leap of faith… now that looks like an incredibly beautiful, flowing stream, winding through the woods, filled with water falls, calm deep pools, bends and turns, shallow pockets, rushing currents and so much more… How do you want to see your life flowing? What is Your Why?