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Make a Difference

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Ben White

By Mary Boutieller

We can challenge ourselves to reach out even when it’s uncomfortable.

The autumn season is upon us and cooler weather brushes up against the still warm days. For me, the last couple of weeks have been quiet ones as I continue to contemplate all that is going on in our world.

When we sit with discomfort, when we move toward instead of away from unease, it gives us a chance to dig down through the multiple layers of our lives. When we linger in the muck of uncertainty and allow it to marinate for just a little while, we start to sense that there may be more to it than meets the eye.

The idea of neither attaching to nor pushing away, but instead observing, is deeply rooted in yoga teachings, yet sometimes hard to practice in our daily lives. It is certainly easier to “push away”, yet we all know when something isn’t settled, isn’t resolved. It’s like a pesky gnat that just won’t go away. We may put it aside, knowing that we aren’t getting anywhere, and that’s okay. Sometimes our growth needs space to come fully to the surface.

Yet when we revisit these challenges, we might pry open the cracks in our deep-set minds to see if there is any wiggle room. Are our thoughts about the world holding up to scrutiny? Is there another way? Of course, there is no quick answer. There is no black or white, right or wrong, my way or the highway…not if we are to live in the world with others.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” As tempting as it is to bury our heads in the sand and wait until it’s all over, it’s never really completely over as long as we are alive. The layers go deeper. There will be events that have us questioning the purpose or sanity of it all. Observing, feeling, waiting, keeping perspective—all of these tools help me remember that maybe I don’t have all the information—maybe there is more out there for me to understand.

When things seem out of sort, I often look for inspiration from those wiser than me. Author Maria Popova said, “And so: when some cataclysm in the slipstream capsizes the raft, shatters it, leaves us gasping amid the flotsam, ejected from the familiar flow of time—do we sink or sing?”

Recently, I read a beautiful story about a man named Shawn Dromgoole who reached out on social media to share that he had become afraid to walk in his own neighborhood. As he shared how he felt, neighbors near and far came out and walked with him—a show of solidarity and community that exhibits the best in us. The story is here: https://tanksgoodnews.com/2020/06/19/neighbors-black-man-walk/

This story is about a community who chose to sing instead of sink. It’s about a person who sat with his pain long enough and decided to reach out. It’s about how we can respond as people, as a community, as humanity, when we decide that the big picture is more important that the little one, and it’s a reminder that my small-minded grievances must be tempered by what is truly possible.

Terry Tempest Williams said, “I have inherited a belief in community, the promise that a gathering of the spirit can both create and change culture.”

We have the ability to make a difference—each in our own way. We can challenge ourselves to reach out even when it’s uncomfortable. We can get involved, have respectful conversations, find compassion and empathy in all things, and understand that maybe we just don’t quite see the bigger picture.

Open eyes, open heart, open mind, open door. It is possible!

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.

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Elect Your SELF for a Change

By Terez Hartmann

Don’t place yourself in a cage and give someone else the key; choose to live a life of freedom.

Election Dystopia

There’s a good chance that if you live in the United States, by the time you read this article, the results of the 2020 election have since been revealed. And even if you are from another one of the great nations that populate our planet, there’s a good chance you have also had a ringside seat to the battle for the American presidency.

This year’s election season has been utterly surreal; it’s like a political “Tiger King” miniseries filled with so many unimaginable twists and turns that one can hardly believe this was not a work of fiction. Yet because there is SO much at stake, many people have taken every moment and every second to heart, waiting with baited breath to see whether or not “we the people” will be able to get back to “business as usual” or choose to take a step onward, upward and forward.

So when this “Good Vibe” girl started dipping into profound sadness, utter rage, and, as a result, making herself physically sick over the political and sociological events in the past few months, I knew it was time to break the spell.

Remembering…

Without meaning to, I realized that I had started to buy in to the idea that someone or something else has control over me: over my thoughts, words, actions, and how I choose to live my life, which defies EVERYTHING I know to be true in my heart. So it’s no surprise that my body, mind and spirit were doing all they could to let me know that I was focusing in a way that was truly detrimental to my well-being.

Didn’t I remember that EVERY human being (including ME) has their own Point of Attraction, and will therefore suffer or thrive based on what THEY think, feel, attract and believe?

Haven’t I seen, time and time again, that even in the WORST of mass-consciousness, global circumstance, there are always people who somehow continue to thrive physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually, no matter what the “powers that be” or the rest of the world may do?

Even when I personally have stumbled into some of the deepest, darkest recesses of dissonance, haven’t I always found a way back into the light?

Yes, it IS normal and natural for human beings with a heart and soul to react negatively to shocking words, deeds and events, and to want to do ALL we can to create change, to make our world a better place, and to do our part to choose leadership that reflects the highest ideals……But to give up your own personal power to then make “THEM”—leaders, outcomes, and circumstances—akin to a “God” that can make or break you (or an entire nation), is also akin to placing yourself in a cage and giving someone else the key.

And I don’t know about you, but I adamantly choose to live a life of FREEDOM.

Unity, Diversity and Possibility

In any political game, there is a team that “wins” and a team that “loses.” One group always rejoices that “good” has won the day, while another may feel that all hope is lost. EVERY individual or associated group feels that their way is “right” and “just,” no matter what it may look like to those on the other side of the fence.

The population of the world will not now—or ever—agree on everything. We are far too diverse in our desires and intentions to ever come to utter same-ness. While I very much believe that we are all “one human family,” I also very much understand that unity will also always coexist with variety, so it is no wonder that the more we try to get “everyone” to think, believe, behave and vote the same way, the greater dissonance we experience both personally and globally.

What if the events and upheaval of 2020—and everything we have lived so far—have escalated to help us decide, once and for all, to take back our OWN personal power and stop giving it to someone or something else?

What if instead of holding a government accountable for your personal experience and quality of life, you, me, and others continued to focus, speak and ACT in ways that move us onward, upward and forward into possibility—to PERSONALLY create a better world in the present tense, and for our children’s children?

What if regardless of the circumstances of the moment, we each opted to exercise our ability to change what we CAN, rather than stay stuck in a loop of ranting and railing against what we can’t change?

What if YOU elected to make a new choice, make a new decision, and take a step in THIS moment to make a positive change in your OWN life NOW?

And, what if we reached a point of critical mass of people taking responsibility for their own life experience that government could take its rightful place as nothing more than a tool with the potential to be helpful, and no longer the end-all-be all that determines a nation’s destiny?

The Bottom Line: Elect Your SELF for a Change

Large-scale changes may still be a long time coming, friends, but what if you, me and more people remembered that you DO have the power to change YOUR experience NOW? No matter who wins the day or holds the baton of the moment, here’s to exercising true “Power to the People” by electing your SELF—for a change.

“When I see the eagle rising in the sky
 I remember I was meant to fly…”
~from “Remembering” ©(p)TTRH

Terez “Firewoman” Hartmann,“Your catalyst for all things Fab-YOU-lous,” is the author of Allowing Your Success!, a proud contributing author of Transform Your Life! book one and two, a professional Keynote Speaker/Workshop Facilitator, Singer-Songwriter/Recording Artist, “Allowing Adventures!” & “Savor Vacation” Facilitator, and true Renaissance Woman, and Visionary. She keeps her fire lit by embracing and promoting a lifestyle of “Allowing,” and by using creative expression to elevate and ignite the human spirit, a passion that she shares with her husband, soul-mate and creative partner of over 15 years, John Victor Hartmann. Together they share “Allowing TRUE LOVE” workshops and experiences designed to help others attract, allow, and maintain extraordinary relationships, and create custom jingles and voice-overs in their studio, THE Creativity Express. Visit: http://www.TerezFirewoman.com

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Finding Joy

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Aditya Saxena

By Arielle Giordano

Five healthy ways to release stress and anxiety during the holiday season.

Are you experiencing tension, anxiety and stress now with the holiday season upon us? Stress is a normal part of life. It warns you that you are encountering problematic situations, and it is designed to motivate you to act to feel better. Without stress, you would take risks without regard for the consequences and make life decisions without critical thinking. That said: In small amounts, stress can be a good thing. But when that stress starts to become unreasonable—when it starts to make you feel sick, anxious, unhappy or fatigued—it can become a serious problem and the cause of long-term anxiety and physical problems.

Are you willing to let go of your stress and anxiety? If you say yes, then I have five healthy and easy strategies to help you on your journey to a more joyful life:

1. Move more, stress less! Your body wants to move, and your health depends on it!Dance, exercise and stretching movements are viable ways to release everyday anxiety and stress. Human beings have a natural impulse to dance and move. Physical activity and movement such as stretching, dance and exercise play a key role in stress reduction by burning away stress hormones and releasing chemicals that improve your mood. Dance takes you out of your mind and into your body.

2. Be okay and open. Both anxiety and stress are often related to problems coping in life. Life happens regardless of what we think and feel. Being okay that a stressful event is happening brings you to a place within to relax. Thoughts and feelings are only thoughts and feelings. Being okay takes you into your heart and deeper into your being. Become open to finding the small door within your heart that will open the door of new possibilities. Relaxing in your body and resting in your heart takes you deep and releases feelings of tension, tightness and hardness.

3. Foster creativity. Throughout history, the arts tell the human story. Creative expression and art can guide you to release stress during the holiday season by calming the nervous system. Nonverbal expression can help you move away from your thoughts and feelings and into a new perspective. YOU can renew and regenerate with dance, movement, music, visual arts, clay, baking, acting, writing, cooking, building, inventing and gardening. Sing your song, dance your dance, paint your paintings and bake your cakes. Creativity can transform pain and assist in the healing of traumatic events by giving a voice and expression to difficult life experiences. The creative process opens the way for unconscious messages to take shape and have form.

3. Seek love and joy and let magic happen. Is the glass half empty or half full? It’s all in your perspective. Focus on the positive things in life and spend time looking for miracles. They are all around us if we pay attention.

4. Love quiet time. Find time to be alone and quiet by yourself. Honor your human being. When we are always doing, we do not have time to stop and smell the roses. Make a conscious choice not to use doing as a distraction to keep anxiety in check. Be willing to sit and listen to your inner wisdom.

5. Enjoy nature. The world around us is magical when we tune into the patterns of creation. Spending time in nature is a wonderful way to connect with a deeper part of who we are. We are not just an observer of the natural world—we are a part of it. When we find wisdom at this level, everyday stress and concerns can melt into the larger tapestry of life.

May your holiday season be bright, beautiful and full of joy.

Transformational Life Coach Award-Winning Author & Speaker, Professional Dancer. Arielle’s Award-Winning book for Best Self-Help Award: Dancing With Your Story From The Inside is available on http://www.Amazon.com. Her professional career includes the Lead Faculty Area Chairperson and Professor for the College of Humanities, History and the Arts at the University of Phoenix. She is a published co-author of Transform Your Life Books 1 & 2 and author for Tampa Bay Wellness, Conscious Shift & Transformation magazine. She has published her 4th book, an Instructor’s Manual for Barlow Abnormal Psychology 4th ed. and authored Psychology, A Journey 3rd.ed. Study Guide published by Nelson Education, Toronto, ON. She has also studied philosophy at the College of Integrated Philosophy with John DeRuiter for twenty years. Arielle has been a featured guest on radio and television, in newspapers, and the media across the US and Canada. She is a certified Essentrics Stretch and Dance Instructor. Arielle offers coaching sessions, classes and workshops and a free 30-minute Consultation. Websites: http://www.dancingfromtheinsideout.com,
http://www.ariellegiordano.com. Email: agbeautifuldance@gmail.com

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Cut Through the Red Tape

By Kamladevi Sharma

Eight tips for satisfaction in a bureaucratic work environment.

Red-tape environments, or bureaucratic environments, are still prominent in many businesses and governments all over the world today. Coined in 1864 by Max Weber, the model can be undoubtedly relied upon for its administrative benefits of:
• structured duties and responsibilities that prevent overlap,
• standard rules and procedures for consistent employee behaviors,
• systems and processes for transparency and accountability and,
• improved performance for employees who specialize in their jobs.

This model of a clear hierarchy is ideal if you want to ensure the ease and flow of your business, and to achieve its overall goals and objectives. However, it can also be argued that the robotic nature of the bureaucratic model can impinge on your sense of self in the process.

Unfortunately, the red-tape and paperwork can be overwhelming to deal with, the time for decisions to be taken for unpredictable outcomes can be frustrating, and you can easily feel as if you do not belong to where you are with the level of impersonality present. Certainly, your mental, emotional and even physical well-being feels the brunt of a bureaucratic environment if you are unable to manage yourself effectively.

Nonetheless, the bureaucratic model is what it is and, looking at it realistically, it will not change based on your negative emotional responses if you feel victimized by it. So what are the options available to you if you’re “growing” in a red-tape environment? How can you feel satisfied while still experiencing a high level of bureaucracy in your daily life?

Satisfaction Via a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck’s teachings on a growth mindset over the years has had significant impact on people’s ability to revive from setbacks in all aspects of their life. The belief that failure is temporary and people’s intelligence can improve with consistent learning has taken an upswing at many universities and now sets the stage for success at achieving one’s life goals. Applying the unique teachings of this level of mindset to enhance an employee’s growth in a bureaucratic model can be challenging; however, it is definitely worth the effort for the mental, emotional and physical well-being that can be achieved. As an employee, you can create and amplify the momentum for this in the following ways:

  1. Remember your “why.” Why are you doing what you are doing? Why have you applied for your specific job, and what do you intend to achieve from it?

Often, especially in the initial stages of your career, you may apply for a job for the experience and money it brings to your life. However, your intention on the job will change as you grow and encounter different experiences. If you’re not conscious enough to declutter often and become aware of the birth of a new desire, you will feel disconnected from the job and experience overwhelm easily. In these moments, it is important to remember your “why” and, as it changes, affirm a new “why.” Choosing mantras that are in alignment with your “why” and repeating them daily can benefit you as well. For example, “I am surrounded by the essence of peace to get my work done peacefully. I am productive and successful now moving forward.”

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? What do you feel confident about? What do you shy away from?

In knowing your strengths, you know which traits to use and when to use them. This helps to capitalize on opportunities of growth presented to you—whether it be a promotion or a chance to be seen and heard on the job. In knowing your weaknesses, you know what you fear and what you need to get comfortable with, to then turn into your strength. Fears limit your growth on and off the job. It’s advisable to face them head on, to overcome them and stand in your personal power of well-being because you are as fearless and authentic as you desire to be.

  1. Get real about your work and measure it against your self-worth and vision. How do you value your time and energy? What do you prefer to spend your time and energy on?

Know this before accepting your job for “what it is.” If your job in a red-tape environment will aid you in achieving a long-term goal, sign your own psychological contract for satisfaction as “it is what it is for my greater good.” This acceptance is important in feeling balanced and at ease within. It commits your subconscious mind to seeking satisfaction in other ways, rather than relying on a job that is not structured to fulfill you at that level. So, be realistic about where you are right now in your life. Strike an agreement with yourself to serve your purpose on the job for as long as it aids your other goals or it plays a role in your overall life’s direction based on your vision.

  1. Coach yourself every day. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing on your job. Your mental health is your responsibility. Preparing your mind every day for what you have to do on the job is your responsibility. Nurture the belief that your work is contributing to a bigger cause. When you value your work, the system experiences the value of it. Satisfaction comes from the thought of that, at least for the time you choose to remain on the job. Remember, you are your own coach in a red-tape environment so take ownership of it. Speak positive things to yourself daily and immerse yourself in the positive feelings of these words.
  2. Meditate to recognize the lessons. People will say and do the most unexpected things at the most unexpected times in your work life. Experiencing this as the beauty of life. Instead of reacting to the system and its people, meditate with a different focus. Ask the question, “What can this person or situation teach me in this moment?” This way you take on a problem-solving approach and maintain your inner peace. You mind then looks for solutions, and this level of proactiveness will help you to develop compassion and empathy towards those you are dealing with. The result then will be mirrored back to you.
  3. Communicate clearly your likes and dislikes on and off the job. Not knowing your likes and dislikes is a weakness in itself. It leads you to reacting to triggers rather than stopping the momentum from being created from the onset. Reflect on your day at night and call out the things you liked and disliked. How can you get more of your likes into a day? How can you use your dislikes to create a better version of yourself? How can you use it to help someone around you? Communicate this to those who can be affected by changes in your words and actions— to get them in alignment with your desires. It helps to keep the flow going, obtain respect for your decisions, and improve your relationships with those close to you.
  4. Make time for fun and play. The system is serious as it is. You don’t need to be the system. It serves its purpose and so do you. Be mindful, have fun, listen to music, take walks and do stretches, play games, do deep breathing, sing along with the birds and listen to the ocean, immerse yourself in ease whenever you can, as much as you can, on the job. Put a bubble of light around you and go forth to accomplish your day’s work. Keep the mind detached from the people and situations around you, and attached to what makes you feel in flow and at ease. This helps to keep the mind and body relaxed even if the red-tape becomes more dominant in your experience.
  5. Accept feedback with the intention to keep learning and growing. Whether you like it or not, both positive and negative feedback serves a purpose in your life. Attracting it brings an awareness about yourself that you otherwise did not know. Get comfortable with feedback—good or perceived bad. It’ll help you to know what you need to work on, as someone sees it through their lenses. It’ll also help you to improve your communication skills and get clear on who you truly want to be, as compared to what others perceive you to be.

A red-tape environment is rich with experiences. It is a wonderful place to grow in. The perfect triggers are there to awaken you to learn about the intensity of your emotions, your desires, your creative potential, and your ability to problem-solve. It brings clarity to your self-concept and fosters your stability and job security. You can get misguided easily by the frustration and lack of fast pace at which things flow, and then you become a victim of the system and limit yourself to its limitations. Superseding these mindset limitations and being your authentic self keeps the opportunities for progress and growth open. You are adding value in some form or fashion and, you can derive satisfaction from it. It’s your mindset that really challenges you in the system. So, challenge yourself to deal with it. That way, no other challenge can challenge you beyond your power.

Kamladevi Sharma is a professional life coach and business consultant who specializes in mindset and personal development strategy. She teaches entrepreneurs and people in management how to balance their personal and professional lives and thrive for more fulfilment, success, ease and flow. Over 4,000 people have benefitted from her training globally, and she has helped over 250 businesses to kickstart a momentum for success in Guyana and around the world. She lives in Guyana, South America and is passionate about sustaining generations via growth mindset coaching. Kamladevi’s coaching expertise has been featured in the Guyana Times Sunday Magazine, the Carib HR Forum and several podcasts on various platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts and RadioPublic. You can find her at https://www.revive.coach.

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Increase Your Power with Hypnosis

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Vino Li

By Rena Greenberg

Hypnosis can help you to move from being stuck in a rut to a place where you can reach your full potential.

Napoleon once said, “Imagination rules the world.” Hypnosis is based on our unique ability to imagine and concentrate. When we develop and use this amazing power of our minds to imagine—and thereby create our own reality—so called “bad” habits can be broken and new “positive” habits can be formed.

Consciously and intellectually, we may believe we want to be a nonsmoker or we want to be thin. Yet, in order to change deep-seated patterns and beliefs about ourselves, such as having a need to reach for that cigarette, soda or bag of chips, it’s necessary to bypass the conscious mind and go directly to the root of all behavior—the subconscious mind.

The conscious mind is the logical, analytical, critical part of our mind—the part that rationalizes away all our good intentions. During hypnosis, the conscious mind is lulled into a passive state and the subconscious mind is free to accept, uncritically, the beneficial suggestions given to you by a practitioner—or even yourself—and then act on them to bring you the benefits you are seeking.

The subconscious mind controls functions and actions, and what many people don’t realize is that imagination is stronger than conscious willpower. If a person decides to lose weight, but at the same time is unwittingly imagining how deprived she is and how good that brownie would taste and feel, the imagination will always win. And then, of course, a sense of failure, self-hate and guilt takes over and starts the cycle of more failure.

However, by becoming deeply relaxed (essentially, hypnosis is a pleasant, wonderful state of deep relaxation), blocking out all external stimuli and concentrating on the  suggestions, it is easy to alter negative patterns of behavior by imagining ourselves being, looking, feeling and sounding the way we want to be.

Hypnosis enhances personal power. It restores your control over your own life by implanting suggestions into the subconscious mind to help you do what you consciously and intellectually want to do. It can help you to move from being stuck in a rut to a place where you can reach your full potential.

Try This Exercise

You might be surprised at how strong your imagination really is. I’d like you to try a simple exercise. Sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly and easily. Close your eyes. Imagine that you are sitting at a table with a plate in front of you. An orange is on the plate.

Look at the skin and the color of the orange. Pick it up and cut it into segments. Watch the juice flow from it. See the seeds, white membrane and pulp. Pick up a segment and bring it toward your nose. Smell it. Now slowly begin to eat the slice of orange. If you are like most people who try this exercise, you will begin to salivate even before you have “eaten” the orange.

Surprised? The power of hypnosis and the amazing capacity of your own mind may hold many more delightful surprises for you. Hypnosis is an amazing tool to make positive changes easily and effortlessly.

Every experience with hypnosis is unique depending on how comfortable you are in the situation, your motivation and your ability to relax and concentrate at that particular time. Why not try it? It can change your life! Today’s the day to increase your personal power!

Rena Greenberg, a Hay House author, can be reached at http://www.EasyWillpower.com. Her weight loss and gastric bypass hypnosis success has been featured in 150-plus news stories including USA Today, Woman’s World, The Doctor’s, CNN, Good Morning America and Nightline. PBS stations nationally aired Rena’s show, “Easy Willpower,” in August 2015. Her wellness program is sponsored in 75 hospitals and 100-plus corporations. She conducts hypnotherapy sessions with people all over the world on Skype.

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THE HARD TRUTH

By Natalie Rivera

… no one will tell you about reaching your potential and living your dreams.

No more butterflies and rainbows and singing Kumbaya.”

My deepest fear is to be overflowing with the manifestations of my dreams and feel unfulfilled.

To be surrounded by people I value and feel alone.

To have a life full of activity and feel empty.

To have a life that is unrecognizable but still see the same sad eyes staring back at me in the mirror. 

I have a tendency toward worrying, catastrophic thinking, self-judgment, attachment anxiety, self-sacrifice, resentment, and compassion blindness. But, I also have absurdly big dreams and high expectations for my life. I am my biggest obstacle.

Despite this, I’ve created a highly successful lifestyle business doing what I love. I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend and business partner. We’ve been through hell and back together, and our curses have turned out to be blessings. I have had to wrestle my demons. In fact, I still am.

I tell you this so that I can tell you the truth: my success isn’t about what I have created with my business or that I live at the beach and make my own schedule. My success is about what I’ve done to develop as a person along the way.

It’s time for someone to tell you the truth. It might as well be me.

Going for your dreams is really f-ing hard.

Living authentically, releasing the need for approval, and disappointing others to be true to yourself is really f-ing hard.

Making decisions that leave behind everything you know, including the tightly held beliefs of who you thought you were, is really f-ing hard.

Making decisions to accept the unacceptable, stick with it through the impossible, and continue to believe that your dreams are possible is really f-ing hard.

No one tells this truth. This truth doesn’t sell books or courses or seminar tickets.

No one wants to hear that the only path to their liberation is through the deep, dark, messy internal torture chamber they’ve been spending their entire life trying to avoid, repress, and pretend doesn’t exist.

They tell you to hang your affirmations in the mirror and remind yourself who you want to believe you can be. They don’t tell you that beyond the post-it-note you would have to gaze honestly into the eyes staring back at you terrified at what the mirror of truth will reflect.

They tell you that the secret to happiness is making money, having freedom of time, traveling the world, writing your book, typing away on your laptop while sitting on an idyllic beach.

They don’t tell you that no amount of money will change how you feel about yourself. No amount of time will give you the feeling of freedom you’re looking for.

And, that image of working on a laptop at the beach is an illusion – not because you can’t achieve it but because it is an empty concept. I once had that image on my vision board. I can speak from experience that the glare of the laptop while sitting by the beach makes it impossible to see anything. Sitting in a beach chair or on the sand using a laptop gives you a terrible kink in your neck. The truth is that if you can get 15 minutes of glory trying to pull this fantasy off, you’re lucky. I made it 10 minutes.

That’s the thing; the dreams we’re sold are like false idols. The money, the freedom, the lifestyle—none of it will save us from ourselves.

No one wants to talk about what it really looks like to develop as a person, overcome obstacles, and live your truth.

But I can no longer just teach ideas that may inspire or motivate temporarily. I can no longer provide tools and process that will help people better their lives and get results when I know that those external results will NOT get them what they truly want – freedom, fulfillment, a deep feeling of worthiness.

I know it’s time to share the hard truth of what it’s like in the trenches of a dysfunctional human mind doing its best to live life to the fullest.

No more sugar coating the B.S., like a cat turd in a candy shell.

No more butterflies and rainbows and singing Kumbaya.

Here is what it really takes to reach your potential and live your dreams:

  1. Self-awareness: Sitting in silence and solitude and becoming highly-tuned to what is going on inside of your mind and heart.
  2. Stoicism: Witnessing situations and your automatic reactions and then directing your thoughts to steer your emotional reaction.
  3. Self-honesty: Committing to never denying how you really feel about something ever, ever again. Then, feel it, deal with it, and heal it.
  4. Unconditional happiness: Learning how to create the emotional states you want regardless of circumstances. Swallowing the pill that you CAN be happy right this very moment and you do NOT need any of those circumstances you demand to change first.
  5. Empowerment: Determining what you can and can’t do about a situation and then doing everything within your power and accepting everything that is not. (Consult the Serenity Prayer.)
  6. Purpose: Aligning your goals, decisions and actions in service of utilizing your gifts, talents, and passions for the purpose of a mission greater than yourself.
  7. Growth mindset: Believing that your intelligence, abilities and traits are NOT fixed and that you can learn and grow in any area. (Don’t believe this? Start here.)
  8. Deliberateness: Being deliberate with your time by setting goals and making plans. Check in daily and set intentions. Don’t get distracted with other people’s nonsense. Get familiar with your avoidance mechanisms and STOP THEM.
  9. Dream: Deciding what you really want, not what you “should” want or what is practical. Stop suffocating your dreams, stop living others’ rules, and allow yourself to dream.
  10. Tenacity: Believing that everything is figureoutable. Stick-to-itiveness in the face of obstacles and resistance, which are a given.
  11. Banish B.S.: Reflecting on and dissecting your belief systems (b.s.). Identifying where you inherited your mind viruses. Question their validity. Get other people out of your head. Stop “shoulding” on yourself.
  12. Detox: Removing toxic people from your life. Be VERY careful who you get involved with in a way that keeps you tied to them. If it is too late and you’re already stuck with an energy vampire the rest of these become even more important.
  13. Playfulness: Finding humor and play and fun in everyday life. Avoiding taking yourself or life seriously.
  14. Virtues: Living by your deeply held core virtues, values and principles. First, know them. Then, make every decision based on them.
  15. Letting go: Releasing what no longer serves you, whether it’s people, places, jobs, businesses or beliefs. Rewrite your story and let go of old identities and roles that aren’t who you really are.
  16. Decisions: Making hard choices. Making fast decisions. Never leaving it to chance, allowing someone else to decide for you, or making no decision and so missing your chance.
  17. Self-care: Putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. Take extreme care of your body and mind. You can do everything else on this list and this one thing can derail you.
  18. Discomfort: Embracing uncertainty, disappointment, rejection, failure and guilt. Accept the discomfort and do it anyway.
  19. Non-attachment: Being willing to pivot and adjust course. Don’t hold on to notions HOW your dreams and goals should unfold.
  20. Optimism: Committing to always seeking to see the good. Orienting toward possibilities and hope and away from pessimism and limited thinking.
  21. Sensemaking: Learning to discern truth and reality. Don’t get sucked into false realities, drama, conspiracies, doubt, or the lure of advertisements and propaganda.
  22. Education: Continuing to learn and grow, indefinitely.
  23. Assessment: Checking in with your progress toward your goals. Do this routinely. Amend plans when needed, but never attempt at giving up on your dreams. You can’t. They’ll eat you alive.
  24. Spirituality: Seeking a higher-order perspective of life. Develop faith in something bigger than yourself.

As Anthony Robbins says, there is a difference between the science of success and the art of fulfillment.

“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.”

I can’t give anyone the steps to creating their dreams or finding fulfillment.

The one thing I can do is share the truth of what I find about what it really takes to stay on my path.   Never stop dreaming beyond the horizon of what appears possible for you from where you stand today.  Never stop growing into the person you’re meant to become along the path to your dream.

Natalie Rivera is a firestarter, speaker and entrepreneur. She is passionate about empowering others to GET REAL and live authentically. After a decade of living a life that wasn’t hers and developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Natalie let go of everything and completely transformed. Through her journey to healing she rediscovered her true self and greater purpose—to inspire others to transform their lives. Natalie “retired” from the rat race at 24, put herself through school as a freelance designer, created a non-profit teen center, and later created Transformation Services, Inc., which offers motivational speaking, curriculum development, life coaching, event management, and publishing. She is also the Publisher of Transformation Magazine. Visit http://www.transformationacademy.com.

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The Worst of Times?

By Jo Mooy

The coronavirus pandemic presents a chance to slow down and determine what’s really important in our lives.

Despair and sadness and anger hang like a pall over everything. It’s fed by the national election cycle, conspiracy theories that have gone mainstream, misinformation on voting, record heat waves, and riots in the cities. All of this contributes to feelings of hopelessness. Even worse, there’s no prediction nor consensus on if or when the coronavirus will be under control—a fact also contributing to much of the anxiety. Is it any wonder mental health practitioners report there’s been a 33 percent increase in depression, or that drug and alcohol use is at epidemic levels?

Humans are social animals. We require frequent social interaction. This virus has left us sitting in our homes alone and out of contact with family or friends. We’re not biologically built for seclusion. It affects our physiology and numbs the brain. Our behavior and moods become argumentative. Back in 1972, French scientist Michael Siffre showed this when he shut himself in a Texas cave for more than six months. His research ranks as one of the longest self-isolation experiments in history. He documented the effects on his mind over the 205 days.

His sleep-wake cycle lengthened and how he measured time became distorted. He wrote that he could “barely string thoughts together” after a couple months. By the fifth month he was so desperate for company he tried to befriend a mouse.

Some can adapt to isolation. They learn a new language, write a blog, or take up a new hobby. Others are silently fraying at the seams in confinement. In the days before the pandemic, when things were “normal,” the closing of a favorite restaurant might cause disappointment among friends who frequent it. But after months of solitude the closing of that same restaurant triggers endless bouts of weeping that’s way out of proportion to the closing. It’s not that the restaurant closed. It’s more the effect of continued losses that mount up and distort the fabric of what used to be normal.

With all that as a backdrop, does the current psychic angst indicate that 2020 “Is The Worse of Times?”

Judging by all the drama expressed on social media it would appear so. But in truth, it’s not the worst of times! The 2020 pandemic isolation being experienced is nothing like Michael Siffre endured in his remote cave. By the standards of the rest of the world, Americans are dealing with coronavirus in relative physical comfort. Most of us are isolated with many modern conveniences intact, like air conditioning, wifi, smartphones, fresh food and water, soft beds, and a roof overhead. The big crisis in America is one of individual rights (not wearing a mask) or behaving for the collective good (wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.) It’s brought out the worst behavior imaginable, resulting in beatings, spitting and killings. That behavior demonstrates the worst of times!

I researched how other major catastrophes affected people and countries to determine if the 2020 pandemic qualifies as the worst of times. The historical reports of pandemics like the Black Death of 1347 and the Spanish Flu of 1918 paint much grimmer portraits. When the Black Death raced across Europe it was swift and deadly. Rich or poor, young or old, ladies, knights, merchants and servants all died within half a day to four days of infection. Citizens picked up a few belongings and fled to the country, leaving family members to die alone in empty houses. City streets were filled with bodies. Quarantines and closed borders did keep some remote cities safe. But within three years, the Plague had claimed the lives of 100 to 200 million people—70 percent of Europe’s population died.

The Spanish Flu of 1918 came on the heels of World War 1 and brought the world to a halt. 500 million people (33 percent of the world’s population) became infected with this virus. The skin turned blue, the lungs filled up, and death occurred within hours of infection. 50 million died from this flu, more than all the military and civilian deaths in World War 1. The same issues about wearing masks, political divisiveness, and ignoring the medical findings were as pervasive during the Spanish Flu as they are today with covid.

Measured by deaths alone those two pandemics were much worse than this one. In our “entitled cocoons” we have the luxury of complaining about wearing masks, social distancing and whether a favorite bar is open or not. We can get in our cars and drive somewhere for a change of scenery without worrying about being bombed or shot, like people were in World War 1. Our biggest obstacle in a grocery store is following the painted arrows on the floor indicating what aisle to walk up. Meanwhile, in both World Wars people went hungry, looking for scraps of food anywhere they could it, while trying to avoid Nazi soldiers and death squads. That research sobered me.

Yes, many are dealing with depression, isolation and loneliness. And yes, families do get torn apart by the death of a loved one. The loss of jobs and businesses is staggering in our globally interconnected marketplace. But this pandemic pales in comparison to what others endured. In the 21st century, we have extraordinary tools to help us cope—like the internet, reaching out on social media, and educational and fitness activities to keep us busy while in isolation.

This pandemic presents a chance to slow down and determine what’s really important in our lives. Is the job you hold satisfying your creativity? Or is it just a placeholder? That “thing” you wanted to do or be when you were 25 still beckons. Each person has this miraculous moment in history to reinvent themselves or revision the things that will make them happy. The rules have changed. With so many industries and jobs disappearing, the slate is clean and wide open to write a new start. It takes work, and real reflection. More, it takes will and passionate determination. Many are already proving it’s possible. And, during this pandemic, there’s plenty of time to reflect, research and make it happen. It may ultimately be known as the BEST of times.

Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to http://www.starsoundings.com or email jomooy@gmail.com.

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Family

By Gregg Sanderson

One thing everybody knows is
Family ain’t a bed of roses.
When we all would get together, don’t ‘cha know
When we differ in many ways
Criticism’s trumping praise
And harmony’s a tricky row to hoe.

Witness the dysfunction
At the holiday luncheon.
When family assembles from afar
All have their own delight
And they know their way is right
No matter how opposed their viewpoints are.

Grandma’s cooking up a storm
At the stove at night and morn
She knows a woman’s place is in the kitchen.
Mama says it’s overrated
Gender roles are so outdated
Grandma just says “daughter, quit yer bitchin’”

Sister Susie won’t eat meat.
She calls watercress a treat.
She’s a militant crusading vegetarian.
Grandpa Henry sprinkles sugar
On his bloody rare hambuger
That’s how he became octogenarian.

Uncle Arty is a smarty
Joined the Democratic Party
And loudly he puts down the SUV
That belongs to cousin Joe
Who thinks that Arty is a shmoe.
So naturally he joined the GOP.

Brother Georgie is athletic
And he thinks it’s just pathetic
That younger brother Ritchie is a nerd.
While Georgie gets the praise
Little Ritchie gets straight “A”s
And each one thinks the other is absurd.

Cousin Willie is successful
But his life is over-stressful
With his business always calling him away.
Yet the most disturbing call
Wasn’t business-like at all
It was just son Bob, announcing he was gay.

Then there’s uncle Jack
Who somehow came out black
While all the rest of us are lily white.
We couldn’t ask his mama
Who was down in Alabama
But I’ll bet that southern belle got quite a fright.

Some folks have to criticize
They think they’re very wise
And that they’re on their way to self-esteem.
When judgment is their lot
Sometimes that’s all they’ve got.
A happy life for them is just a dream.

Little Lucy is a looker
And she became a hooker.
We all have different ways to get life’s lesson.
Putting righteousness aside
And letting love instead abide
We each can be ourselves without suppressin’ All that yucky “stuff” we wish’ll
Go away is superficial
While the love inside is aching to express.
Beneath everybody’s game
We’re really just the same.
All we want is love and happiness.

We all are sisters and we’re brothers
There aren’t any others
To induct into the brotherhood of man.
So when somebody’s opinions
Make you call out all your minions
Try loving your fellow human if you can.

So now I say to you
It’s all in point of view
Perhaps we just might clear away the fog
By thinking when we see
A dog that has a flea
That maybe it’s the flea that has a dog.

Gregg Sanderson is author of Spirit With A Smile, The World According To BOB. He is a licensed practitioner in the Centers for Spiritual Living, and a Certified Trainer for Infinite Possibilities. His earlier books were, What Ever Happened To Happily Ever After? and Split Happens—Easing The Pain Of Divorce. His latest project is the New Thought Global Network, where subscribers can enjoy the best in New Thought presentations from anywhere at any time. You can see it at http://www.newthoughtglobal.org.

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From the Inside Out

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Annie Sprat

By Rev. Marla Sanderson

“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”—Attributed to Hermes Trismegistus

This morning I did some laundry, and somehow every t-shirt, sweater and pair of shorts got turned inside out. I mean every one! There it was—the subject of my article.

From an early age, we learn that money, better toys and lots of friends will make us happy, so naturally we judge our lives and ourselves based on our “stuff.” Until we find a deeper experience of life, we spend a lot of time searching for and acquiring “stuff” that we think will make us happy.

That said, many popular spiritual paths promise another way to get what you want, and emphasize manifestation and demonstration techniques to help you get it. This is fine—I’m all for it, as far as it goes.

It makes sense that a spiritual journey will enrich you in all sorts of ways. In an abundant universe, propelled by an Infinitely Creative Source, what could be spiritual about impoverishment? No, you are capable and worthy of boundless richness.

When you examine the wisdom found in the opening quotation, or in popular phrases like “what goes around comes around,” you’ll find a deeper meaning than just getting more “stuff.”

The outer world has often been compared to your reflection in a mirror. What you see around you is external evidence of your inner being—of what you think and believe. If you are positive, you see the world positively. If you are kind, you see opportunities to be kind. If you are fearful, you see things to fear.

Wherever you go, on Earth or beyond, you take your consciousness with you. When you leave this body (and you will!), you leave all that “stuff” behind. Then where will you be? Floating on a cloud? Taking harp lessons? Lost in space?

Consider this: Are you ahead of the game if you apply your spirituality toward a better earthly life or if you apply your earthly life toward a deeper experience of your spirituality?

Hang on now—this may seem like a bit of a sharp turn. (This is what I love about New Thought.)

In the world of Spirit, you are always whole, complete and perfect.

Even when your body is scarred and scraped from experience, gets old and gray, and finally turns to dust, your Spirit is still indisputably alive, and One with the Divine. You can’t get away from that.

When you make a mistake or screw up royally, It doesn’t judge you. It doesn’t get Its feelings hurt. You are wholly loved and blessed by the Source of all, and there is nothing you can do to harm that relationship. It expects nothing of you, so It doesn’t know disappointment.

It is Love. It is peace. It is abundance and creativity. It pours Itself through you as joy in expression. It freely gives through you, and all the good in the world is reflected back TO you according to your Oneness with It.

That is the inward journey. You discover your perfection as you realize your connection.

When the conditions in your world seem scary or harsh, release them and allow that connection and Its perfection to fill the empty spaces. If you have a question, ask within.

Release, release, release. Constantly let go of the importance you place on the outer and allow the inner Spirit to fill you with the infinite richness of life that’s only possible as an expression of the Divine.

The really weird thing is that then, everything else is added.

And now I still have to fold my laundry.

Rev. Marla Sanderson is a skilled spiritual counselor, speaker, teacher and workshop leader. She has studied and practiced the Science of Happiness and Science of Mind for over 40 years. Her website, The New Thought Global Network, showcases ideas from many New Thought disciplines. She is ordained in the Centers for Spiritual Living. (Religious Science). Contact her at 727-475-8991, or revmarla@newthoughtglobal.org or visit http://www.newthoughtglobal.org.

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