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Archive for April, 2011

Today is all about you.

It’s amazing how diverse and awesome we all are in our own ways. Too bad we often don’t acknowledge these things.

I want you to think of five things that you are great at. Make it specific and about what makes you unique! I bet we will surprise each other. Don’t forget to have a huge smile while your typing!

These are the best parts of you!

Here are my five:

1. I really enjoy and am quite good at dog training. I actually considered a career in this at the suggestion of others. Instead I trained…err taught children. Now I work with adults with life coaching.

2. I kick butt with my baked goods; especially banana bread. It makes me infinitely happy when people enjoy what I’ve baked.

3. I don’t share it often but I really love romantic literature like Keats, Wordsworth. I enjoy reading and talking about it all. I have been looking for a book club to join that studies this.

4. I scrapbook and was quite good at it. I even taught classes and had parties for people, created special books for others, made framable pages. I had to put it aside for a while but am starting to find time again. It makes me happy to be creative in this way.

5. I have a dry, slightly twisted sense of humor. I love plays on words, puns and such. I have a hard time turning it off when I meet people who just don’t get it.

So there you go. 5 things that help make me uniquely me.

Leave your 5 below too!

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Ever heard the expression ‘blessed with unanswered prayers’?  Or been told that ‘sometimes the universe has other plans?’

Basically what these expressions are talking about is learning to accept that what you think you want isn’t what you really need.

I look back on my life so far and I can see over and over times when what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I really needed.  I can also see the times when I hesitated, was blocked over and over and yet I still pushed on towards something only to realize that it was all a big mistake.  A great example is that despite all my experiences beforehand I still went ahead and applied for a business degree in college.  Why? I listened to what others thought was best for me, I saw the opportunities that waited there and really convinced myself it was what I wanted.  About half way through first year I had to admit it was not for me.  My marks were fine but it wasn’t what my spirit needed.  I was bored and uninterested. I switched my undergrad and later became a teacher. Fair enough, I take that as a great experience and life lessons.

It’s hard to understand our own thinking sometimes but I do  believe that if one is able to take time and really look at what we want, we may find it isn’t in fact at all what we need. This is one of the reasons I am such a big advocate of living by a set of values.  If a choice or opportunity doesn’t fit within your core values, you can recognize it much quicker and avoid wasted time and energy.

What’s really tough is when society puts pressure on us to belive a certain set of values is the ‘right’ one. 

A perfect example comes right from my book when I talk about how living by your values can help your stress levels and decision-making.  Basically a gentleman I coached decided not to take a promotion at work that would include a great deal of  travelling.  His values were in conflict with this.  He valued his family life far and above his career.  Now trust me..this was NOT an easy task for him (which is why he wanted coaching around it).  Many of his colleagues and friends couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to make more money and move up the corporate ladder.  He came close to caving into this pressure because he knew his family and friends cared about what was best for him.  In the end however, with his wife’s support, he did turn down this promotion and in his words “a weight was lifted’. 

Have you had a time when what you thought you wanted wasn’t really what you needed? I’d love to hear about it.

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The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 thanks to Sen. Gaylord Nelson.   I really think that Earth Day is fast becoming one of my favourite annual celebrations.  Perhaps its the fact that it also comes in spring and I often get to my little garden? I really enjoyed the lead up to it while I was teaching.  So many really FUN, hands on learning opportunities.  It was often an eye opener for parents as well. Many had no idea the real point of it or that there are so many ways to celebrate with their family. 

I thought I’d share some of the things that I do, have done with my family, in my classroom, tips and random stuff that can help you make this Earth Day special.  Please visit my page and add your voice to the poll there about Earth Day. 

  • grab your family and head out for a nature walk.  You can do this anywhere, look for buds, ladybugs, robins, new growth etc.
  • go for a bike ride (if you are a grown up and haven’t done this for a while I bet you’ve forgotten how fun it can be)
  • plant a garden and talk about why plants help us live better. You can use your backyard but you don’t need one.  Herbs often do wonderfully indoors and provide fresh garnish!
  • challenge your family to find five new ways to reduce/reuse/recycle everyday for a week leading up to Earth Day and share what they came up with at dinner time or bed time.
  • track on a graph what you throw away. 
  • join a local group to help clean up a park, school yard or other outdoor area.
  • make an effort to call and reduce your junk mail
  • switch to paying bills online to save paper and the energy to deliver. In some cases it might even save you a buck or two!
  • consider what you can do to switch to reusable containers for your lunches.  We’ve come up with sour cream containers (perfect for cookies and fruit).  This can save you money over time as well.
  • try to buy in bulk when you can. It reduces your cost and the amount of packaging needed so less to throw away.  One class I had created an experiment and we measured the bulk of individual cookies wrapped vs a bag of cookies.  It’s quite a bit of difference and over time would be huge.
  • consider a rain barrel for the garden
  • can you compost?
  • check your car’s tires.  Properly inflated tires save gas (and your money!)
  • adjust the thermostat just a little, open a window instead of using air conditioning, put on a sweater rather than cranking the heat up.
  • make it a habit to turn off the water when brushing your teeth
  • wash clothes in cold water and hang them to dry when you can
  • make the change to reusable bags. I actually love this because they are SO much easier to carry and hold a good deal more.
  • have a home energy audit done
  • shop at a local farmers market
  • change even just one of your fruits and veggies to an organic one.  Start with those that have skins you either eat or are very thin (like strawberries and apples)

There are SO many more tips out there. Easy things that end up making our lives better, save us money and are not hard at all to do.  I’d love to hear you add your tips and idea!

Here are some facts that might surprise you.

  • The energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle can power a computer for 25 minutes. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.
  • 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the oceans each year
  • For every 2000 pounds of paper (1 ton) recycled we save 7000 gallons of water from being contaminated with chemicals.
  • recycled paper uses 64% less energy to make and add to that every ton of paper we recycle saves 17 trees
  • it take 90% less energy to recycle aluminum cans
  • Use a reusable water bottle. Plastic bottles can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and are a major source of pollution. A single reusable bottle can save you thousands a year in bottled water costs.
  • Within 24 hours, some plants can remove up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air
  • Never underestimate the importance of recycling: if every newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year. Unfortunately only 27% of all American newspapers are recycled
  • More than 20,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day, using 133 square miles of tinfoil. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it

Get creative and use Earth Day as a catalyst to start treating the Earth with more love and care each and every day.  Don’t forget to share your ideas and visit me to participate in the poll!

Oh one last tip for some fun.  Have a listen to this song for Earth Day! 

Kids just love it and it’s so uplifting!

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Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up.”~ Andy Law

Why do we have a tendency towards resisting change?  Sometimes we resist quite adamantly where we fight it tooth and nail; sometimes with just that whisper of “should I?” in our heads before we jump in with both feet.

There are lots of reasons that are specific perhaps to the case at hand but there is one that is much more universal.  The fact is, in order to change to something new you often have to let go of something old.  We have no guarantee that the new thing will work out how we hope either.  We only have so much time, energy and room in our lives and we sometimes have to risk.  Think about these examples;

  • in order to create a healthy lifestyle you have to let go of your eating habits that are familiar but unhealthy. Not always easy to do!
  • you know you are in a relationship that isn’t working but to find one that will, you must let go of the person you are with now.
  • the place that you live doesn’t really suit you and you want a change. Letting go of what is familiar and you do like is tough to do. 
  • the job you have bores you, has little opportunity to advance but yet, it does have some security that you won’t be let go and it’s so familiar you can do it in you sleep.  It can be challenging to consider start over in a new job? 

Perhaps it is our societal understanding of what it means to be wrong or mess up.  Right from a very young age we are taught we are either right or wrong.  It is seldom we find some place where we look at this as learning, experience and an opportunity.  Often we resist change and tell ourselves that it is because we will regret it later.  In truth I think we regret doing nothing and taking no risks far more than we ever could regret trying and failing.

Understanding the ‘why’ of the change we are contemplating can move us forward. How we choose to react to our imminent change is what will help us deal with it.  Staying stagnant only keeps us stuck in the same spot.  We don’t grow as a person.  I truly do not believe we were put here on this Earth to sit still in our learning and growth.  Embrace change, embrace the feelings that come with it and explore what might be. 

“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.” ~ Robert E. Quinn

I recall the day I realized that I was the CEO of ME!  The boss, the one in charge.  I get to decide, I get to drive the boat!  The same goes for you.  YOU must be the one to take leadership in your own life.  Sure in some ways, today it might be easier to do nothing different and to take no risks.  Today.  Life is not about just today though.  Every new day is a chance to expand on who you are. 

 

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”~Sydney J. Harris

 

 

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Life balance. Heard of it? I’m going to go ahead and guess a resounding YES.

What is it? Ask this question and a good number of people will fumble for an answer. The reason is it isn’t terribly defined and isn’t the same for everyone.

Life is all about the balancing act. One that never does end by the way. Someone is always throwing in an extra pin, got to keep spinning those plates or the road gets bumpy.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no right way, no perfect path and no one person who gets it all right.

That being said I do have some thoughts that might help you figure out your own balancing act.

  1. Life is holistic. Meaning one part will affect all the other parts and all the other parts affect each one part. Crazy right? The take away is that even if you can’t fix everything today, beginning somewhere will make everything a little bit better.
  2. You chose how you react to situations. So chose already. Sure you didn’t get the promotion at work and you can choose to stew about it, poisoning your work environment OR you can choose to view it differently. Perhaps you might think about all the time you’ll be able to spend at home rather than at work because that new position required much more from you. Perhaps you can view it as an opportunity to ask your boss what you can do to make yourself more viable. Perhaps this is the wake up call that its time to look at other career paths in different companies. The point is you can choose..so choose wisely.
  3. Surround yourself with good people. Too often we let people who tear us down into our lives and then we go ahead and let them stay! Find supportive, nurturing people and then emulate them. We are what we live after all.
  4. Ask. That’s right. Ask for what you need. Ask for help when you need it. However, don’t forget to ask what you can do for someone else. It goes both ways.
  5. Laugh and share the love. Feel the joy in life. Love with an open heart. For some reason our society really likes to focus on always harping about what’s wrong. Why not focus on what’s right? One of my mottos is ‘life is short, eat dessert first” Make it a priority to tell and show the people you care for that you care.
  6. Feel all the emotions that life has to offer you. Be mindful and chose to experience them fully. Even the not so great feeling like grief and sadness teach us the lessons we need to learn and create growth we are looking for. As humans we tend to avoid discomfort, but it is here that we often find our ability to bloom.
  7. You must learn to stand in your own truth. Know who you are, where you are and where you are going and be openly honest about it all.

Please add to this list of tips and truths. What have you discovered about life balance?

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Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have.
 Napoleon Hill
  
I’m a big fan of Napoleon Hill.  This is one of my favourite statements given by the gentleman.  What does it really mean? It it actually more complex than it seems on the surface I think..and yet so simple at the same time.
 
A lot of what I do with clients is help them begin the process of change.  They know they want something to be ‘different’.  Once we find a direction often I get the ‘reasons why’ they can’t or will have trouble moving towards their goals

As a coach I get this.  It’s a conditioned mindset most of us have from time to time.  It can come from simple fear of change, worry about reactions from others and even real honest to goodness concerns about how on Earth we are going to get from here to there!  Some goals are pretty lofty and can seem overwhelming. 
 
This is where I love to use the quote above to begin a discussion.  It’s can be a fairly lively discussion especially in a group setting.  My coaching goal in doing this is to facilitate a shift from the ‘I can’t because” thinking to a “what CAN I do” sort of thinking.  The part Mr. Hill says about using whatever tools you have right now is super important! I could of course simply TELL my clients this basic idea but in all truth it isn’t effective to do so.  Far more effective is to when people discover this for themselves and start to consider the possibilities.
 
 Take for instance a client in one of my group sessions who wanted to travel, but felt stuck due to money issues.  Fair enough right? I mean plane tickets, hotels etc are pretty darn expensive.  During our discussion about the above quote and what it really means she suddenly stopped and said “you know, I could start an account to save up to go somewhere”.  Great idea. We wrote that down and continued our talk. At another point she was furiously scribbling something down in her notebook.  After our group session I asked how she was feeling. With a big smile she read off her notes with 4-5 new steps actually COULD do today to move her towards her goal of seeing the world.  I loved one about joining a meet-up group of experienced travellers to learn better ways to travel!  Brilliant and really outside the money only box.
 
So, are you feeling blocked on your road?  
 
What would happen if you sat back on just considered what is possible for you to do today to take a step to where you want to be?

 

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In this second installment of Fabulous Finds Friday I have some pretty neat stuff to share with you. If you used one of these sites,services or product please share your experience. As always feel free to submit your own fabulous finds!

1. www.Hootsuite.com

Now if you and I have been around each other for any real length of time I’ve probably mentioned how much I love this service. Since discovering Hootsuite I have saved myself a ton of time. Hootsuite lets you share to many of your social sites (twitter, facebook, linkedin) all at the same time. Great time saver right there! What I really have begun to utilize it the schedule function. Life gets busy! It’s hard to post your blog or tweet or whatever sometimes and when you know that you are going to be in a workshop all day or travelling or whatever you can schedule these in advance! The best part is you get a lot of use for FREE. There are paid upgrades but the free level is still a lot of bang for no bucks.

2. Tipnut

This site is a recent discovery of mine. It’s all those crafty tips and tricks that people have gathered over the years gathered in one place. I actually found it when trying to find a way to salvage a bag of brown sugar that got all dry and hard (so expensive!) and this site provided me with a whole bunch of ways. Very clean, easy to read and well-organized. I actually find myself browsing the site’s craft and household tips a lot just because it’s so interesting. The author is just one person but she also takes tips from readers. Well worth a peek!

3. www.Download.com

If you haven’t already discovered www.download.com you will want to. I love it for the reviews alone. Couple that with the fact that the software you get from here (both free and paid) are as safe as you can get on the net and you’ve got a very handy site. I have used this site for everything from upgrading my security and spyware to finding a free video converter. New releases and older versions of software (which is great if you have very old laptop like mine that can’t run much of the newer stuff) for both Mac’s and PC’s.

4. QR Code Generator

We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about these codes. I love them! They are so easy to generate as well and this code generator is super simple. Type in your info, click generate and boom; you have a QR code! Save it as a picture (.jpg is easiest in my opinion) and you can insert it all over the place just as you would any other picture. How easy is that?

5. Free E-Books

This one is interesting. A friend of mine, who knows I am an avid reader, turned me onto this. Basically you register and you can read as many e-books as you like online FREE! There are limits to what you can actually download for free, although you can upgrade to the VIP Membership for unlimited downloads. The books available seem quite varied and there are lots to choose from. I myself am looking forward to exploring this site a lot more.

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