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Archive for May, 2009

My Top 5 Book List

May 19th, 2009

I am a voracious reader. Comes with the territory when your motBooks by Faeryan.her is an English teacher and an annual family tradition is swapping reading lists. (And yes, we try to impress each other with our lists!).

Books influence me. They stick with me. And I re-read good ones over and over again until the spines break and pages start to fall out. My family will tell you that when I am engrossed in a book, Armageddon could be happening all around me and I would be oblivious to it. That’s how much I put into reading!

I am often asked for reading suggestions or about what books inflenced me the most. So I thought I would share my list of the books that have fundamentally shaped the person I am today:

1) The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Doesn’t matter whether you think you are creative or not. We all have a creative spark and Julia (whom I’ve met in person) does an amazing job at helping everyone uncover their unique creativity. I’ve had to replace this book twice because I wore my copies out.

2) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Don’t let the short length of this book mislead you on it’s power. It is a masterfully crafted parable about finding one’s Personal Legend, facing adversity, having the universe conspire on your behalf and the power of perseverance. I even have the CD version and Jeremy Irons reads the beautiful language to me when I need extra TLC for my dreams.

3) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
The only novel I know of where entrepreneurs are the heroes. I know it’s long. But I’ve read it at least ten times and the whole thing is practically one big underline because the writing is so powerful.

4) Tie: Finding Your Own North Star & Steering By Starlight by
Martha Beck.
At one time in my life, I was a self-help book junkie. I owned a ton of them. Read them all. And they all left me lacking (well except for The Artist’s Way). UNTIL I read Finding Your Own North Star. This book lead to my meeting and working with Martha Beck (she writes a column for Oprah magazine) and eventually being personally trained by her as a coach. 

Her follow up, Steering By Starlight is just as powerful – if not more so. These are the first books I recommend to clients who are struggling to discover what they want and who they want to be.

So, there you have it. The five books I return to over and over again. When I feel unclear or a little shaky or just need to get myself regrounded, the words contained in these books always deliver the boost I need.

What books would you add?

Original art uploaded on November 5, 2006
by Faeryan

Creating Magic & Mojo Part V

May 14th, 2009

We’ve covered a lot of ground during the Creating Magic & Mojo series (you’ll be relieved to know that this is the final post of the series)!

As a quick review, we’ve covered: we’ve covered 1) taking responsibility 2) not taking responsibility 3) mastering the art of apologizing and 4) showing up for your life.

The final piece I want to leave you with is what I like to think of as the icing on the cake – super-delicious and makes plain cake something extraordinary!

Ready?

Leave Your Corner of the World Better Than the Way You Found It
__________
When I was a teenager, I thought (as most teenagers do) that the world existed mainly for my enjoyment and pleasure. Being a teenager in the 80′s only fostered that ego-centric attitude. Fortunately for me and those who must live with me, I’ve discovered that doing my part to make this world we live in a better place is much more gratifying than demanding that the world make me happy. Sadly, I know lots of grown-ups who have yet to make this discovery.

The lesson I would like to share with you is that taking this particular personal responsibility can be far more gratifying than anything you could demand of the world. One of my clients thinks this idea has the potential to induce guilt. Please know that that is not my point at all. It’s not about feeling obligated – it’s about feeling joyful.

I’d like to illustrate this lesson with a true story that happened to a dear friend of mine.

She was at the checkout counter of a large grocery store. Her purchases exceeded her cash by about $1.75. She had no checkbook and no credit card. And she was in a hurry. As she began to verbally panic about which item to leave behind, a voice behind her said. “How much do you need?” She turned to face a woman whom she swears looked just like a bag lady.

“$1.75,” my friend replied.

“Here,” and the bag lady handed the clerk $1.75.

Now my friend really began to panic. “How can I find you to pay you back?” “Where do you live?” “What is your address – I’ll mail it to you.”

The bag lady surveyed my friend with something akin to pity. “Don’t you know nothin’, lady?” she said. “Just do it for somebody else.”

Well, aside from stopping my friend dead in her tracks, these words put her on a mission for a year and a half. Every single time she was in a checkout line, she got all excited hoping that someone ahead of her would come up short and she could repay her debt.

Finally, her opportunity came and she excitedly and joyfully stepped up to the cashier to pay the way of a complete (and rather confused) stranger. As my friend said to me “It wasn’t the money I was paying back – it was the life lesson I was given that I was so grateful for – just do something nice for someone else.”

Accepting that challenge and that responsibility will give you, as it gave my friend, the daily joy of anticipation. What can I do today? What small effort can I make that will make someone else’s day?

As is true with all parts of Creating Magic & Mojo, this lesson is paradoxical. Though you are the one giving, you will be the one who receives so much more. Don’t believe me? Try these exercises over the next week:

1. Think of five small things you can do for someone else. You don’t have to do them – just think of them.

2. Spend one whole day looking for an opportunity to be helpful to someone else.

3. Look around your community. Is there something you think “someone should do something about”? Could you do it?
BONUS POINTS: Do something nice for someone but don’t let them find out you did it or do something really nice and just don’t tell anybody. If you are discovered, it doesn’t count.

Well Don!

Creating Magic & Mojo Part IV

May 8th, 2009

So, if you’ve followed along in my Magic & Mojo series, we’ve covered 1) taking responsibility 2) not taking responsibility and 3) mastering the art of apologizing.

My next critical ingredient for creating Magic and Mojo in your life is actually showing up for the game. Read on to see what I mean. :-)

Show Up for Your Life

I get increasingly perplexed by people who refuse to show up for their own lives. Oh, they go through the motions – have a job, relationships, hobbies maybe. But they only bring a small portion of themselves to the table. Then they wonder why life gives them so very little.

Our job and our responsibility to ourselves is to show up fully and consciously for our lives. Autopilot is the easier choice for sure, but that’s what we’ll get handed back – auto-life. Is that what you want?

What does showing up look like? It is bringing your full self – your talents, your weaknesses, your triumphs, your fears – everything that makes you you – to your daily life. No preoccupations, no distractions, no pretending to be someone else.

It’s saying “I’m really scared about saying this to you, but I also really want to say it, so here it is.” Instead of keeping it stuffed inside. So often we give the world an abbreviated, safer version of ourselves and it short-changes everyone.

One of the challenges of showing up is that it requires us to know who we are, what we like, how we feel. This kind of self-knowledge takes time and an intense curiosity about ourselves. I heard a great quote the other day that speaks to this very thing: “You have to know how you feel before you can know what you want.”

Let me ask you this question: when is the last time someone said, “How are you?” and you replied “Fine” with a smile when that simply wasn’t how you felt at all. Now, let me be clear – I am not advocating that you hoist all of your emotional and physical ailments onto the poor inquirer. I am suggesting that the next time you are asked “How are you?” you actually check-in with yourself and find out. Then reply specifically, “I feel great!” or “I’m actually feeling a little nervous/sad/ecstatic” – whatever word best describes how you are feeling.

This lesson is all about accepting responsibility for engaging in the life you are living. I can promise you this: the more richly and deeply you show up, the richer and deeper your life will feel.

Exercises:

1. If you were to show up exactly as you feel at this moment, what would you look like?

2. Choose someone safe and when they ask “How are you?” answer them as accurately (and briefly!) as you can.

Only two exercises, but they pack a powerful punch. Good luck!

Excuse me. I am not raising a sheep.

May 5th, 2009

I have been chewing on this post for over a week – which is probably best. If I’d written it earlier, I would have spewed all over the page. Hopefully, today, with a little distance, I will be much more grown up about the matter.

My six year old son, affectionately known as The Young Turk on Twitter, has his own way of viewing the world. And he has a very strong personality (I have no idea where he gets it). He describes the pictures he sees in the clouds, he expresses his opinions, he asks for what he wants. And when his emotions get the better of him – he expresses those too.

As I often say – “He is is own self.”

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is it tiring? Of course. Does he push me beyond my limits? Absolutely. Do I wish he were different? Never.

The grown-ups who “get” him see that he is a leader waiting for his troops to form. One teacher told me that his powers of observation far exceed his age. Another asked me to keep encouraging his story-telling abilities (at six he tells stories with a beginning, a middle and an end).

I don’t share this to brag. These are the UNcommon grownups in his world. The rare ones who take the time to actually “see” him.

See full size imageMore often, the grownups are always asking him to “behave like the other children”, forcing him to comply with rules they never explain, or overlooking his gifts and only seeing the fire his big personality draws.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am well aware that there must be rules and order with a group of six year olds – and we haves house rules here to keep things somewhat predictable and safe for all involved.

But as a friend of mine often asks “Which is more important, enforcing the rule or loving the child?”

I am ashamed to admit that there was a time when I erred on the side of trying to force him to be someone he isn’t. Believe me, when other adults start the lectures on my parenting, I am just insecure enough about my abilities in that arena to totally cave-in.

And I regret it.

I regret trying to shrink his personality. I regret not seeing that arbitrary rules ARE unfair. I regret overlooking him for the sake of fitting in.

Not any more.

I’ve finally blown a gasket. I can’t stop other people from telling me how to raise my child. (Why do people think they are free to offer up that kind of unsolicited commentary?) But I can absolutely change my response. Wanna hear it?

“Excuse me. I’m not raising a sheep.”

Waddaya think?!