Welcome to Write Your Vision!

Deep down, most people have dreams - they may be forgotten, unspoken, or unrealized - but they are there. I want to help you remember and believe in them again...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Things that Touch Your Heart

When thinking about the future, the past often comes along for the ride.  Today I got a rare gift - a great friend I've missed for years came back into my life thanks to the Internet.  It was one of those moments when life stops for a heartbeat and joy floods your world.

It made me truly realize once again how incredibly important the people we love are.  For me, I want the blessings of my past to be a part of my vision for the future.  It is those people who have seen us at our worst and love us anyway that remind me of the power of friendship.  How great is it that we all have those people in our lives at one time or another?  What a gift!

As I've mentioned before, I write things down... and yes, I have written for years that I wanted to find and reconnect with this person again.  So I get to cross off another one from my life list. 

You get a real confirmation when the things you write down come to pass.

So be encouraged! 

What's all this mean?  The first note would be to remember to include the things and the people that touch your heart in your Vision.  After all, it is the people who make it all worthwhile in the end. 

The second would be once you have the people you love in your life - either for the first time or coming back again - don't let them go!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Remember to Have Fun Along the Way!

Today is an actual SNOW day in Virginia Beach, which is miraculous to say the least.  It is still coming down and already about 6"!  And it's the good snow...

As I walked around, I saw people out with their kids, dogs, out just having FUN - snowball fights, snow angels, or twirling.  What a beautiful thing!  Everyone smiling at one another.  You could see the utter joy in everyone's faces.

Imagine if we could approach most days with that childlike enthusiasm?  Happiness.  Joy.  Wonder. 

Beyond that, neighbors were helping neighbors.  Salting one another's walkway.  Teens playing but taking time to scrape off neighbor's cars... simple acts of kindness.  Volunteering to work together and inevitably play together.

Despite the cold, my heart was warm.  Smiling.  This is how it should be.  This is who we should be.  We're at our best as individuals, communities, and even as a country when we work and play together - common purpose.

When are you at your best?  We know there is a physiological reaction when we give... you just feel good. 

As you consider your Vision - what you want in or for your future - think about what creates that childlike enthusiasm in you? and then make sure you incorporate those things too.  In this life journey, it's important to remember to have fun along the way!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Dream of Forgiveness

More than simply writing a tangible goal like losing weight or a dream like working for yourself, living in Colorado, or making $1M: while these are all essential - you can have other hopes for yourself as well.  These shouldn't be diminished simply because they are something else.  What do I mean?  I'll give you an example:

One of my hopes was to reconcile past mistakes and really seek forgiveness from people I may have hurt whether it was 20-30 years ago or last week.  For me, I want to do my best to now live an authentic life focusing forward.  That said, one thing I've learned most definitely as a student of history is that we really are doomed to repeat the past if we don't learn from it.  So okay, what to do?  Hmmm...What can I learn from my past?

Well, I have been a believer in writing things down for some time, right?  So at the time, I thought I'll just start listing all the things I've done and people I think I hurt?  Then I thought, well that could literally take months!  (SIDEBAR:  Catholic Guilt 101 - it's instilled at baptism, I'm afraid - we think things are our fault even when they're not - LOL).  The thoughts continue: what about people or things I don't remember right now?!  Can you feel the panic starting to rise?  Should I contact them individually? call, write?  (Crescendo coming) AAAACCCKKK!!  (headache ensues)...

I started getting caught up in trying to figure it all out myself.  I'm supposed to be specific right?  Write things down!???

WELL, this was exhausting, not to mention stressful!

Instead, I simply decided to write down my goal for reconciliation and/or forgiveness from anyone where it was needed and then left it to God and the universe to work out the details.  That little journal entry was written more than 10 years ago a month before my 30th birthday.

Now here's the cool part --

Today I realized that THAT prayer, that hope, that goal has been coming true for years.  Slowly but surely people have re-entered my life in odd and sometimes crazy ways:
  • Running into a college friend in Home Depot
  • Taking a stroll in Myrtle Beach then walking face to face into...
  • Waiting for an oil change at Jiffy Lube and looking up to find...
  • Getting on the tram at Epcot Center in Florida and sitting next to...
...and countless other encounters that I didn't initiate but that resulted in a reunion of sorts that ended with a smile and 9 times out of 10:  FORGIVENESS.

In many cases, the person didn't even remember whatever I thought I did; but in some, I truly needed to apologize and make amends.  In either case, I was given an opportunity to make it right.  Beyond that, I've also had people who have hurt me come back into my life - thankfully I was also given the chance to forgive.  Same result - peace and a smile.

I wanted to remove any potential barriers to the dreams and vision I have for my own life.  For me that meant seeking and giving forgiveness.

Now, I'm not going back on my recommendation to Be Specific with your Vision.  No, I'm saying be thoughtful of other areas as well which may not need the same level of specificity but are no less important...

My point here is to encourage you not to limit your Vision for your life to things or achievements per se but to Think through all areas of your life and find out for yourself what happiness, peace, and joy mean for you and consider these other possibilities.  Then WRITE that down too!  Believe it will come to pass; and Act accordingly when the opportunity presents itself.  Seize the Moment! You'll be so glad you did.

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Funny thing about Change...

Have you ever prayed and prayed and thought and wished and hoped for something and then been utterly freaked out when your world starts to change?

That's happened to me more times than I can count.

I do all the things I say:  I think (endlessly), write (perpetually), speak it / believe it... and do my level best to act accordingly in support of my vision for myself.  I try not to speak negatives because I believe words are very powerful.  I work hard to practice all this material.

But inevitably, I still -- despite having seen it all work before -- get unsettled when circumstances in my life start to change.  Though I'm not an avid Simpson's fan, this behavior deserves a "D'oh!" accompanied by the proverbial head slap.

You know, of course, if you are actively seeking to MOVE FORWARD - to actually do so requires changing the present.  So why then am I surprised when it does?  Now granted, I do pick up on these subtle or sometimes wall falling/flattening cues eventually; but I'm still not attuned enough to figure it out while it's happening yet!  And that does tend to make me shake my head...

So that others won't suffer the same Change Angst, here's a few clues:
  • IF there's an area of your life that is somewhat controlled or content - expect disruption!
  • Expect the last thing to actually occur...
  • When the avalanche sweeps you up - yes, avalanche - pretend you're on a sled.
The funny thing about change is - that it's COMING!  So DON'T be surprised when it does - especially if you've finally taken the time to determine your dreams.

When your circumstances DO change (and they will), that's a SURE FIRE sign that your Vision is in motion.  You've created the necessary disturbance in the spiritual realm's MoJo and now you've unlocked the door and swung it open blowing in a new breeze.

So EMBRACE it -- whatever IT is -- because no matter how much it may hurt or scare you, whatever the new circumstance is -- it's your sign that you're definitely on the right track even if you can't see the road!

Time to absorb...

Hi guys -
I got some feedback from a few folks asking me to post every other day to give everyone a chance to catch up and absorb... this made me laugh because it never occurred to me to do that.

So - I'll give it a go and post every other day for a while.

Thanks for the feedback!
:) angela

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Flawed Thinking: The Island Theory

I know so many people who are so talented, so intelligent, so blessed... and who are so unhappy or angry, so lost, and so lonely - even when they are in relationships or have good jobs, great kids, a beautiful home or any number of attributes socially considered successful.  I recognize this because I was there myself.  If we're honest, we all have been at one time or another.

Yep - I didn't know what I had, couldn't see the damage I was inflicting on my own life and mind, and focused only on tomorrow.  My favorite phrase was "as soon as..."

I thought I had all the time in the world to "get there..."  It never dawned on me that "THERE" was already present with me.  I forgot what it was like to be in The or Any Moment.  I really didn't even know how to be happy and got exceptionally annoyed with anyone who was chipper or dared to suggest I learn how to be happy again... who were they to tell ME anything?  They didn't know my circumstances, couldn't possibly understand my stress or pain, and could never tell me HOW exactly to BE happy.

As if happy was a state of being rather than a momentary feeling... hmph.

What happened?  Why did I feel that way?

As a child and later as a young woman, I was taught two things among many about how to "be successful" which I was told would make me HAPPY:  1) don't depend on anyone; 2) perfection is attainable if you try hard enough.

How?  You could make straight A's; hit a homerun if you concentrated; score the winning basket if you took the shot yourself...  while these are seemingly individual achievements, the first requires good teachers and the opportunity to learn, the latter two are team sports.  Hmmm...

Those two premises are fundamentally flawed because both invalidate the joy of the journey and deceive you into thinking you can be an Island - A Tower of Strength - mistaking independence with being alone while setting perfection as the only acceptable goal, leaving you feeling disappointed no matter how much you attain or obtain in life.

The Island Theory lulls you into believing you can do it all , all by yourself; don't need help; and really shouldn't even ask for it because that would be weak... when in reality true strength is exemplified in vulnerability, humility, and selflessness - all of which can only be experienced with others.

So in your journey toward your Vision, your Dream, Yourself - consider your thoughts and the words you speak.  Are they positive - encouraging you or inspiring others and allowing you to embrace the beautiful journey? or are they negative - holding you back from BEING, let alone Being Happy or Loved; feeling grounded or connected - keeping you on your own island?

Think it through, write down the thoughts you have and the words you speak.  Then determine for yourself if they are helping or hindering you from achieving your state of Being that embraces happiness and empowers you to reach your dream.

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Hope for HAITI Now - please give...

The images are heartbreaking.  The need almost unbearable.  The overwhelming sense of loss make you want to close your eyes, change the channel, or walk away...

And then - you hear a story of a child pulled from the rubble after 8 days or a grandmother found singing - their HOPE is astounding, inspiring and humbling.

Our eyes well up and that lump in your throat invokes a need to connect, to give, to DO something.

For now, we can pray.  We can give - even if it's just a dollar today.  And we can remember - choosing not to shut out the pain but to embrace it with the children and people of Haiti together.

"kenbe fem, Haiti"  (hold/stand firm Haiti) - We are with you.

Justin Timberlake singing Hallelujah

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Setbacks, part 2

What's the difference between setbacks and a different, better path?  And how do you know the difference?

These were good questions!

For each person, it's unique and for each person it's a choice... or more likely a series of choices.  There's a funny little thing known affectionately as "Free Will" that can wreak absolute havoc with a dream / vision and ultimately your destiny.  Sometimes, we're ignorant of the impact of our choices and I've come to believe that in and for those moments we are given a second and sometimes even a third or fourth chance.

When setbacks happen - and these can be anything from ongoing disappointments or difficult circumstances to real barriers - you have the option to choose.  Your Will can actually determine if not influence that choice. 

But this is AGAIN, why it is so very important to WRITE YOUR VISION... so in those moments when setbacks do happen - you don't end up questioning your dream.  You can question the circumstances; question what you're meant to learn from the difficulty you're facing; question the fairness, etc... but if you've gone through the process and Thought about it, taken the time to Write it and Believe in it's reality for you -- then setbacks become nothing more than bumps in the road that you overcome.  They won't derail you.

If you are unsure about your vision or goal or dream, then and only then should those setbacks or obstacles be looked at as something else.  In those circumstances, then there might be more to the story...

But again, the setback is a learning experience.  It's something to be embraced as an opportunity even when it's painful or breaks your heart... because sometimes when we're broken, something unexpected and maybe even more beautiful can be born.

The key here is to have spent the time THINKING then WRITING first to get down to what's at the heart of the vision for you.  When you've done that --- and yes, it takes work --- then your heart will tell you whether or not the setbacks you are facing are an obstacle to be overcome OR a course correction.

As I've mentioned before - your vision or dream is the one thing you just can't escape.  No matter how many times you try to walk/run away from it; or in this case, no matter how many setbacks you may face - you keep coming back to it or it won't let you go.  It remains - even if it's just tickling the back of your mind.

That's when you just KNOW.  Deep down, when you get real with yourself - you know where you belong / with whom you belong / or simply what you are meant to do or be.

So take the time.  Allow yourself to ThinkWrite your vision... and allow that to infuse and encourage your soul to Believe.  Then, Act accordingly -- course correction or challenge -- either way, you'll be better for it all and one step closer to getting your dreams! 
Be courageous!

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Setbacks, part 1

Setbacks are an inevitable part of life.

As difficult as it is to believe when you're going through them, we all really DO learn from them... They're the things that build character, right?

So what do we all say when we try to make sense of bad news? and what is bad news? It's usually when something that you didn't want to happen, happens anyway despite your best efforts to prevent it. And in those moments, you gotta love all the clichés:

• There's more fish in the Sea
• Everything happens for a Reason
• It's business, not personal
and of course: When God shuts a door, He opens a window!!

But is there any truth in those words or are we really just trying to make ourselves feel better? I used to think it was just the latter, but here's another cliché for you that I never dreamed I'd hear myself repeat: The older I've gotten, the wiser I've gotten and I realized that it all really is how you look at it.

Yep - there I said it.

All the books and all the lectures and all the sermons, self help books, and even those Guidebooks on everything from becoming a millionaire to losing weight or learning how to sail all do their best to convey this simple truth: Attitude really is everything.

When catastrophic things happen, it's human to ask "Why?" But the reality is that most of the time, the WHY only leads to negative feelings - guilt, regret, anger or worst. The key here is not to dwell on the Why but to Focus on the What Now?

And in that moment - every one of us always has at least two choices:

   1. Absorb it, learn from it what you can and move forward.
   2. Give up, walk away and move on to something or someone else.

The real question is - What will you do?

Now all of us choose Option 2 from time to time. We get frustrated, question ourselves, question God, the universe, our leaders, our partners, our parents, kids, coworkers or friends. If you're currently in Option 2 land -- don't worry. You actually don't have to stay there! The fantastic thing about Being Human is that you can actually change your mind this very second.

If you're in a space where this is you: there's a couple tiny things that can get in your way from reversing course and moving forward: Stubbornness. Pride. and Fear. Yes, our dark side theme rears its ugly head yet again. Here too we can all find comfort. Cliché alert: Misery does love company, right?

Thing is - what does that really serve? Does it help you at all? nope. Does it help your circumstances? probably not. Does it bring you any closer to your dream?  No, most likely the opposite will be true and it will push what you want further away.  So then does it make you feel any better? well, it might for a time -- for those of us with anger issues, I highly recommend boxing! (even if it's on your Wii)... darts are popular too!

In the end though, don't we all want to just be happy? Wayyyyy deep down there somewhere - the answer is "yea." So what's the message here?

Setbacks are inevitable... learn to bounce back faster by allowing yourself to recognize what you may need to learn and then focus forward. Figure out what will get you back on your Path to your Vision / Dream and put your energy into that.

(... and if that doesn't work for you, I HIGHLY recommend doing some volunteer work! The fastest way to see how blessed you really are is to spend some time with others less fortunate than you).

And one final thought:

Sometimes, the universe just needs to know you're serious about your dream or vision!  So remember, without the setbacks - it's easy to lose sight of how precious your dreams or your loves are if they were easily gotten. You're less likely to forget that truth if you had to truly work through some difficult times to find or reclaim your perfect world.

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vision: Part 4 - ACT

Finally now, you're feeling pretty good... you've thought about what you want, written it down (at least on a post-it note), and having looked at it for a few days are starting to smile sheepishly to yourself because there's some miniscule part of your mind and heart that is beginning to believe - just a little.

Now what?

Now it's time to put all that together into action.  You have to start somewhere so begin by SPEAKING your Vision -- that's it.  Say it out loud.  Talk about it as though it had already manifested in your reality, as if it's already REAL.  What do I mean?  Let me give you a small example:

One of my many visions for myself is to be an acoustic guitar master like Sheryl Crow, Emily Saliers, or Taylor Swift... while I realize I have years of practice ahead of me, I begin my day with where I am now, keeping in mind where I want to be.  So I say things like:  "I can easily play bar chords, my fingers remember where to go - stretching and aligning on the strings - learning the frets, strings, and positions.  I can strum and pick flawlessly - my right hand memorizes the melodies and patterns."  Then I'll also throw in encouraging things like "Lord, help me!" and finally, I put a timeframe on it like "...in 18 months" rather than falling back on the old "...in this lifetime, please?!"

When friends ask how it's going, I'll say "Difficult but do-able!  I'm learning to master another element each day, moving toward my dream!"

But how about something a little touchier?

What if you are praying and planning for a husband or a wife? a child? or a home?  What would you say?  How would you 'act?'

If it were any of the above, I'd respond the same way:

For me, I pray so I would start my day like this:  "Lord, thank you for my spouse/child today.  Keep him/her safe and healthy, show them something beautiful today that brings them closer to you and to me.  Remind them of me today and that I'm still here, waiting - hoping - believing in our reunion.  Tell them I love them and am doing all I can to prepare for the day when we are together..."

I would go on to ask that any barriers be removed and I'd see those barriers come down in my mind -- whether it was financial (e.g. home) or physical... some hurt to be healed; distance to be closed; or other circumstance to be resolved.  I'd further add that (in case) anything I'd done had hindered this or damaged this vision, that those actions be healed or restored.

And I would speak those words - that prayer - out loud to the world, the universe, and God putting forth that positive energy and Will into motion.  Every Day.  And then during the day whenever the dream/vision would come to my mind, I'd speak it again.

Saying it.
Believing it.
Speaking my truth...

This may be uncomfortable at first - unfamiliar.  We're typically not used to being specific... not used to being that bold.  And certainly - your friends and family will probably think you're nuts (at first)!  BUT there's a funny thing about enthusiasm and faith... it's contagious.

So the ACTION starts here - again with your words - remember, if you can't at least SAY it - how can you possibly live it?

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you, Dr. King...

He had a Vision for a better future for us all.  You have to believe in your dreams -

Dream Speech

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vision: Part 3 - BELIEVE

This is my favorite topic.

Belief / Believing / Faith... it's my favorite precisely because it's the one that more often than not trips us all up.  I do love a challenge though.  I know what you're thinking -- okay, Ange -- I get the Thinking part, can roll with you on the Writing but don't ask me to "simply B E L I E V E" in something for the sake of believing in it.

What if I'm wrong?  What if the thing I believe in is NOT the best thing for me at all?  Shouldn't God or the universe have the opportunity to correct me along the way?  If I'm all "I BELIEVE this will happen!" then what happens to me when it doesn't???

Good question(s).  What WILL happen to you exactly?

That's the thing about dreams or a vision... It is the job of Uncertainty, Fear, and Doubt to do whatever is necessary to destroy the dream and cloud the vision.  If you can't physically or tangibly SEE it - how can your vision be or ever become REAL?

Can you physically see Fear itself?  (not the expression of fear - but Fear itself)?  How about Doubt or Uncertainty?

We can see the impact of them, the expression of them but no tangible trace of them.  You cannot physically touch Fear or Doubt... anymore than you can physically touch Love --- but it's there.

Belief is an expression of faith, hope and love.  The polar opposites of the negatives I just described... and it requires a risk.  A dare.  An almost reckless abandonment of the tangible, solid, provable facts --- but something you undeniably know in your heart of hearts is the RIGHT thing.

So what will happen to you?  What if........

Here's the thing:

There is a difference between basic wants or desires and your dreams / your vision or purpose for your life.  The latter are the things that bring you the most joy, the most peace, and true happiness.  When you choose to walk toward those things, somewhere deep inside, you KNOW... and it's those moments of clarity that enable you to B E L I E V E --

Believe in the possibility -
Believe in the hint of the reality -
Believe in your choices -
Believe in your dreams.

You also know when you walk away from them.  You KNOW.  You make the choice to give it up, to change course, to try something else... something easier maybe, something you CAN live without if you have to.  Problem is - the dream never really goes away.  No matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it; no matter how many times you walk away from it... it comes back.  In reality, it never really left.  That's also how you KNOW and can distinguish between a human desire and your Vision.

So back to answering all those nagging, negative questions:

IF you've taken the time to think -- to truly listen to yourself, your heart, your mind, your soul -- and you've gotten down to what's really at the heart of who YOU are and what you want/need to fulfill you...

IF you've taken that reality and written it down  -- committed what was in your heart to paper making it tangible, concrete...

Then you are closer to KNOWING your own truth -- and by that what I mean is what really MEANS SOMETHING to you, what makes you tick, what brings you joy, what gives you a sense of YOU -- uniquely YOU...

That glimpse will fuel your belief in your Vision.

And that Belief will sustain you no matter how many times you may be hurt or disappointed by the mortals who fail you or the circumstances that may derail you.  It will bring you back to center when you stray off course; and it will be the thing that tickles your remembrance when you try to shelve that dream for something else.

You must believe in you and in your dream/vision for it to come true.  If you won't allow yourself to do that then no one and nothing else can fulfill it for you.  YOU have the POWER to BELIEVE if you do nothing else!

Dare to allow yourself to just B E L I E V E............

     THINK.       WRITE.       BELIEVE.       ACT.

Vision: Part 2 - WRITE

Well, the title of this blog is "WRITE" your vision... so I think you get this is a given if not a MUST.

But why?  What's the big deal with writing it down?  I mean if you've figured out what you want to do or have some sort of vision, you're good, right?  Uh huh.

You're so completely absolutely utterly focused that NOTHING could ever distract you from your goal.  You never get lost in the detail of your life where days go by without you doing one thing each day to move you closer to your goal...?  You're a rock.  A fortress of solitary vision and discipline.  A mental master, eh grasshopp'r?

Okay, well then I'm the "ye" in the "oh ye of little faith" phrase - sorry!  So roll with me here anyway:

There was this great myth going around that humans only use 10% of their brains - while I'm sure I could make the case given some of the folks I've seen on both reality TV and Jerry Sprenger - conventional wisdom says we use 100 percent.  The human brain has interconnected regions called 'visual cortices' which all receive inputs from our eyes (same rules apply when reading Braille).  These all work together to decipher the inputs (like height or direction, dimensions) precisely to tell us "what we see."

Because our brains work to 'decipher' what we see, it can be fooled.  If you've ever been sitting in a boring lecture or meeting and find yourself rapidly opening and closing one eye at a time to make the water glass on the table move, you know what I mean...  Our brain is unbelievably complex with neurons and synapses firing all the time and this allows us to interpret and to multi-task.  All this activity creates a case study of CHANGE that is ongoing from birth to death with no nap time.

Having a CONSTANT then like something written offers us a consistent input.  One that can be repeated.  One that doesn't change.

Our minds need to be reminded...

This is why we make lists, have notes, send emails - you name it.  Things that are written tend to stick with us more... why?  We can go back and reread them.  Written things are constant.  By having your dream or your vision written down, you offer yourself the opportunity to remind your mind of its worth. 

Write Your Vision!

   THINK.        WRITE.        BELIEVE.        ACT.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Vision: Part 1 - THINK

I'm sure by now you've figured out the ongoing theme here is write it down but there's more to 'it' than just 'it.'  The 'it' we're talking about is "Vision."

Think about that word for a minute and some of the stream of consciousness words that come to mind when you say it.  Here's a few of mine:
  • envision
  • see
  • sight
  • future
  • belief
  • destiny
  • plan
  • mission
  • gift
  • soon
Most of these things refer to something other than the "now."  Does that mean we shouldn't live in the moment and experience life one day at a time?  No way!!  For someone tonight, this moment is all they have or will ever have again.  Someone else won't wake up tomorrow... BUT someone else will have their dream come true - whatever that dream may be.

During times when the fragility of life is so obvious is usually when people start to reflect.  You hug your kids for a few extra seconds; call your parents just to say hi; kiss your partner a little deeper and maybe even smile at your coworker who was driving you crazy an hour ago.  At the end of the day you counted your blessings.  These actions however, required THOUGHT first.  You thought about what was important and when you did, you got out of your own mind, out of your own way and prioritized.

Vision requires thought.

When you take just a few minutes and allow yourself to reflect on your own life, what do you see?  What do you feel?  If you are utterly happy with every aspect of your being, then cheers to you!  AND please send me a note because I'd LOVE to meet you!  No one I know now (myself included) can say that!! 

So what do you think would make you happy?  What is your vision for you?

If you don't know yet, that's okay.  Start there.

Several years ago I literally wrote that on a piece of paper:  I don't know what I want right now.  Then within a few seconds, I crossed that out and wrote:  I think I want to teach.  Then I crossed out the words "I think" leaving me with "I want to teach."  I stared at that sentence for a while, laughed and said literally out loud:  "Teach WHAT?"  And from there, I started jotting down whatever popped in my head.  After only about five minutes, I had deciphered my own heart's desire and made myself a long list of "Teach What's."

It was that simple.  And that was the beginning of my vision. 

So start where you are. 
Just give yourself a few minutes to THINK... and then see what happens!

Utilizing your brain in this way can trigger unexpected side effects!  So be prepared!  It may result in a deluge of positive and negative thoughts.  That's okay too, you can filter later!!!! 

Disclosure: I filtered out that my immediate next thought after staring at the words 'I want to teach' was "...not a chance! teachers get no respect and don't make squat!'  Amazingly though, I kept processing and arrived at "Teach WHAT?" so don't let the negative narrow your flow OR your options!

   THINK.      WRITE.         BELIEVE.        ACT.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


"and what you do for the least of these..."
                                Matthew 25:40

Please give.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Taking Risks

There's something about love that transforms everything and everyone it touches.  The depth of feeling, the sincerity, the passion, the insanity, the intensity... and the dream.  The moment we encounter love - real, seemingly unconditional love - we crave more of it.  It is the one universal that is healing, binding, energizing, and so much more.  The magic that is love is fundamental to our very existence.

Whether it is the instant, overwhelming love at first sight when you first stare into your newborn's eyes or glimpse the woman who'll be your wife... or the knowing smile from a lifetime together, those are the moments we live for.  The moments that are frozen in our mind's eye - our soul.

And it is for this very precious reason that love can also make us crazy...

We can all recognize it.  We root for the hero in the movie, the underdog sports team, the couple in the romantic comedy.  Save the dog from the flood waters!  Rescue the child from the well!  Spend time with the elderly in the home!  For all these also, our hearts cry out with love. 

We recognize it.
We want it.
We dare to hope for it.
Some of us even find it... and almost all of us are afraid to lose it wherever or however it exists in our lives.

Despite all this, very few of us are willing to risk everything for it.

Why is that?  Why do we let the fear overwhelm the faith?

Think about some of the great love stories or the depictions of a great love:
  • Gandhi's love of peace
  • Mother Teresa's love of the poor
  • Boston's adoration for their Red Sox
  • Rocky's love for Adrienne - Yo!
How about a few of my favorite romantic movies?  Did you see The NotebookSerendipity? How about The Blind Side

While we were all rooting for Allie to leave Lon and return to Noah and the beautiful house with the art room and great deck - how many of us would have broken up with Mr. Wealthy Perfect Pilot, loved by the parents, and who is in love with you to go back to the person who pushed your buttons, was unpredictable, equally as stubborn... but...who knew you better than anyone and who you just can't be without?  Hmmm.

Would you really leave Halley at the altar after you think you witnessed Sara with someone else?

And would you really turn the car around to save a 6+ ft. hulking teenager from walking in the rain?

The answer is that most would have stayed with Lon for the stability, settled for Halley, and probably kept driving if we even noticed the teen at all.

The difference here is that in these stories - fictitious or not - these people had to TAKE A RISK.  And more often than not, they had to take SEVERAL risks before they got their happy ending. 

For most, the fear of the potential hurt and rejection outweigh the happy ending.  Those same negative thoughts (the Dark side) come crashing through our minds destroying all positives:  hope, faith, and even love.

But here again, there's a cure for the love risk - in whatever its form:

If you've taken the time to write down exactly what you want in your mate, for example - the little details about mutual beliefs, children, talents or hobbies or even squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube, or playing an instrument... you're more likely to recognize him or her when you meet them.  It will also give you the opportunity to consider that person before you even meet! 

What if you started your day as if that partner was already with you?  Maybe say a prayer for their safety or wish them a good day. 

Same holds true for whatever your desired love may be -- a child, a pet, a home, a reconciliation with a loved one.

Write down the future you want so that when you do come face to face with it, you'll be more likely to take the risk!

The Waterfall Effect

Imagine for a second that you've taken the first tentative steps and that you have written down that first dream or desire.  Did you dare list the one you've refused to even speak for fear that by putting it out there it somehow won't come true?  You know the one I mean - your deepest, most secret, heartfelt desire.  #1 or 2 on your heart's list...  The one thing you're terrified to even hope for because the rejection of it would be crushing?

No, didn't write out that one, huh?  I didn't think so...

But why is that?  How is it that we've become so accustomed to the negativity that we 'expect the worst' but 'hope for the best?'

I believe it's because of the Waterfall Effect.

The Waterfall Effect is something I affectionately call the cascading avalanche of negative things that erupt to overwhelm and overcome you (usually within minutes or hours) after you do something positive to make your dreams a reality.  It could be as subtle as a negative thought that repeats itself over and over again in your mind like:
  • "Why should I take the time to write that down or speak it, it's not gonna happen anyway so what's the point?"
  • "I should probably be spending time with my kids or spouse; or taking out the trash; or doing the laundry - something useful - rather than selfishly focusing on me."
  • "I don't have time to think, let alone write..." (my personal favorite)
Or it could be actual negative events or circumstances that completely distract you from the positive steps you were just taking.
  • You finally spend the money to join the gym and your car breaks down, kids cell phone bill is suddenly $1000 dollars instead of $100, and your mom can't pay for her prescription drugs this month.
  • You give to a charity and the water heater breaks, dog has to go to the vet for swallowing foam from a squeaky toy, and layoffs are announced at work.
  • You write down your dream - start to believe it and act on it - and.............. whamo(You fill in the blank of what goes wrong).
How many times in the past have you seen this happen? 

For me, the waterfall effect is as predictable as sunrise.  And for some reason, despite its frequency, I'm still initially surprised every time by either the sheer volume of negative things or their severity.  The good news is that once I started recognizing the pattern, I was able to see it differently.  Though it still takes me a day or two to bounce back, I do bounce back quicker now.

Because we've all seen the waterfall effect in action, we get cautious.  Some get pessimistic.  Some fearful.  Some angry... but in general, whether we realize it or not, we start allowing the negative because we don't actively resist it.

And it's that subtle wearing down that is the dream killer.

It's for this very reason that it is critical to write down your dreams and to say out loud what they are every day.  By doing this, you're feeding your soul and reminding your mind to refocus on the goal not the circumstance.

Your written words can withstand even the worst waterfalls.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Being Specific, part 2

Thanks everyone for the feedback and the emails!  We're off to a great start together!

A friend asked me what exactly I meant by "be specific" because my definition and practice may be very different than someone else's...

So, how 'specific' is specific?

I mean down to the smallest detail.  I think of it like being the architect of my own life.  Would I randomly place electrical sockets in my home that I was designing?  Doubtful.  Would I leave it up to chance that there should be a closet in each bedroom?  Probably not.

If I had the freedom and the opportunity to design my own home - I'd outline everything from the 12"x8" doggie door with flap and steel latch to the Mohave marble #12 from Lowe's for my kitchen tile and backsplash to the choice of 100% Aromatic Eastern Redcedar for my closet that would have to minimally be 8'x12'x12' with the clothes racks on the left and the shoe, belt, and handbag racks on the right holding 30 pairs of dress shoes; 30 sets of boots; another 20 sets of outdoor shoes...

...and the list goes on but you get my drift.

Here again, the point is to WRITE IT DOWN.  There's a couple of really great things that happen when you actually do this:
  1. You have to THINK about it to write it.
  2. You can EDIT it!!
And by edit, I mean add to it.  Little by little adding in more and more detail until you have a fully designed, architectural draft that almost anyone can understand just by looking at it.

The cool thing here also is that when your prayers/wants/dreams are finally answered and you really do get exactly what you asked for - there won't be any confusion about where it came from or how.  It can't be random chance or luck when it's THAT detailed.

As for me today - my singularly focused goal is to learn precisely how to play a B chord on my guitar; bringing my fingers (particularly my index and ring fingers) on my left hand into submission so I may seamless transition between C#, B, and E to flawlessly play "Let Me Go" by 3 Doors Down, acoustic style within the next two weeks...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Speaking the Positive - Specifically

When the chips are down, people generally start looking around for answers.  Today there's reality TV, endless talk shows for people to bare their souls in tabloid style public confessionals; miles of self help books, discussion boards, and talking heads who try to tell us all the truth according to them.  Most days it all makes me laugh, some days I shake my head at how complicated we make everything, and still other days I rail at the television from my couch as if the commentators can hear me.

Occassionally though there's a whisper through the noise that catches my attention or makes me pause for just a minute.  I started noticing this happening more and more in the past year.

It seems folks really are getting back to basics - remembering the good things in life aren't actually things at all.  There's positive messages being tossed around now about Service to others; finding Joy; and slowing down long enough to just breathe.  And that's all GREAT.........

...but what's beyond that?

We hear words or phrases like "Just Do It" or "Visualize what you want."  I think that's sound advice but I get tripped up in the details - "Just Do what exactly?" or "what am I supposed to visualize?"  While I think all those basics are fine and useful, that's never been enough for me and it's never really helped me get from point A to point B in and of itself.  So then I started thinking about what actually DOES help me (when I do it) and I remembered where I learned that just 'speaking the positive' wasn't enough...

     When I was in college my Junior year, I was obsessed with living in this one house on campus.  All I kept repeating to myself and God and whoever would listen over and over again was that I just wanted to be in Rose Terrace.  I didn't care about any other detail except that one.  It was my hope and my goal.  I thought about it, visualized it, hoped for it, prayed for it, spoke about it.  I felt I did my part and now it was up to God and the universe to act.
     Well - I did get into Rose Terrace.  I got my wish!

The room I was assigned was a converted closet.  It was too small for even a twin sized bed, I instead had a glorified shelf with a mattress on it that I had to use a ladder to reach.  No closet for my clothes because the ROOM WAS a closet.  The fit was so tight I could just fit a desk but had to sit upright in my chair, no leaning back or slouching... and yes, over the course of the year, my posture did improve.
    Could I have gotten mad?  Should I?  Did I?  Nope.  Because I got EXACTLY what I asked for - who would I have gotten mad at?  That would have been pointless anyway, right?  All I could do was laugh and vow to never make the same mistake again...

The moral of the story?  my lesson learned??   BE SPECIFIC.

Time and again throughout my life, I've seen this principle in action.  It's not enough to be positive.  It's not enough to dream.  Sometimes, it's not even enough to act.  You have to KNOW what you want and do your best to be as specific as possible about it.

And that, my friends, requires us all to THINK about what we want.

In effect, that's one of the reasons why I'm writing this - to put the word out there and then to challenge everyone to take it for a test drive and see if it works for you?

So, where do we start?

I hear so many friends, family, and colleagues either speaking in generalities or saying what they "don't" want.  How many times have you or someone you know said something like this:
  • "I just want to meet someone who'll treat me really well."
  • "I want to lose weight."
  • "I want to be a millionaire."
  • "I don't want to work so hard or so much."
  • You ask, "what do you want to eat?" The reply, "I don't want sushi."
Whether it's something simple like choosing a meal or something on a grander scale like a life partner, career, or a place to raise your kids:  to truly get what you want, you have to know what you want, right?  Indecision is a choice so by choosing not to decide, we give away our power. 

Now, for some mundane tasks that might be fine; but for the things that matter, how do you speak about them?  What words do you use?  Are those words positive and affirming?  Are you specific?

Think about it.  Allow yourself a few moments to reflect...

If you're thinking negatively, you're probably speaking negatively.  So turn it around.  Rather than saying "No Fear," try saying "I want to live courageously."

If you're speaking in generalities, challenge yourself to be more specific AND to be positive: "I will lose 15 lbs by my birthday" for example.

Now write down that one specific, positive thought; and once you do, say it out loud and see how it makes you feel.

Dare to imagine the possibilities.

As for me, my goal here is to take my own advice.  Each day, I'm going to:
  1. Think about one thing I want for my life - SPECIFICALLY.
  2. Write it down and speak it.
  3. Believe it so I can act on it.
... and then see where we end up.