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Wabi-sabi, or how to enjoy a high school graduation

Monday was a major milestone in my family’s life. My son Julian graduated from high school. Like most parents, I felt a variety of emotions, ranging from relief that I’d never again ask “Did you do your homework?” to pride when he unexpectedly received an award for excellence in art.

For reasons that I’ve yet to resolve, I feel anxiety leading up to these events. Will I be able to see the stage clearly? (I usually sit behind the tall guy.) Will I be able to hear everything? (I usually sit next to the person who forgot to turn off her phone.)

Therefore, I arrived very early to get a position at the front of the line of parents waiting to get in, so that I’d have my pick of seats. Instead of assuaging my anxiety, my early arrival just gave me more time to fret over whether I was standing in the correct place or if the group that came in after me would finagle their way in front of me. All the while I agonized: should I sit to the right of the auditorium or the left? Should I sit near the front or in the middle? I asked no fewer than three ushers about the layout of the theatre and even brought up the seat layout on my phone.

I know in these moments that a sense of scarcity is gnawing away in my insides, making unrealistic demands to both figure it all out and do it perfectly. This is impossible. Standing there with my family, who did their best to reassure me, I adapted my own stand for abundance– “there is plenty for everyone, including me”– to state “there are plenty of chairs for everyone, including me.” I was where I was in the line, and I would get the seats I got. When I felt the anxiety rising up, I repeated that to myself until it subsided.

And, as it turned out, there were plenty of chairs for everyone, for not only me but my entire family. Because we were close to the front of the line, in fact, we had our pick. With some relief, I settled in to listen to the event. That relief, however, did not last long. I did sit next to the woman who forgot to turn off her phone – which she answered and then had a whole conversation on through the valedictorian speech.

Historically, I would have spent the entire time distracted by her and a thousand other things that were going on around me. Instead I remembered a conversation I had with my sister earlier that weekend. We spoke of the Japanese concept, “wabi-sabi”, which can be translated as “the acceptance of transience and imperfection.” I had a choice. I could resent every ringing phone and side conversation, tell myself that I should have sat in the aisle seat so I could take photos, and barely hear what was going on, or I could accept that the experience was sure to be imperfect and focus on the parts I wanted to hear. It took some rigor, for sure, but it worked. I was able to block out most distractions and be present to the joy of my son’s graduation.

I’ve got four more years before my daughter Isabel will be graduating high school, giving me time to practice embracing “wabi-sabi” and be a chill Mom. There are certainly ample opportunities in life to do so.

Want to get your ideal seat at a graduation? Get good at asking! When people ask me how to create their ideal futures, I always tell them: the most important thing you can do to begin your transformational journey to abundance is to ask for what you want.

To learn how to harness the power of asking, download my free guide “The Power of Asking”

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Money Talks – Get in on the Conversation

A hot topic these days is why the “1%” have accumulated so much wealth.  Perhaps you’ve seen the viral video demonstrating, with impressive graphics and mind-boggling statistics, the chasm between the nation’s wealthiest and the bottom 20 percent.

So how did 1% do so well?  Is it because they greedily and purposely hoard wealth to keep it away from the rest of us?  Are people poor because they are lazy or financially irresponsible, especially when on public assistance?  Does the government unfairly favor the rich and big business?

Here’s my question:  who cares?

How much money they have has nothing to do with how much money you have.  There is an unlimited amount of money available to all of us, and the key is not figuring out why they have more than you do, but rather why you don’t have as much as you want.

Here are some common ideas about money that keep us from creating as much as we want:

#1 –Money is a “thing” or a fixed entity

Money is energy.  Dollar bills and coins are merely symbols of the life energy we exchange and use as a result of the service we provide to the universe and to each other.  Thinking of money as an object restricts our ability to create it freely.  By learning to acknowledge it as energy, you will have unlimited access to it.

#2 –There is a limited supply; if wealthy people have too much, it takes away from my supply.

Back to reason #1.  There can be no limit because money is not a fixed entity.  There is an unlimited supply.  How much someone else has does not affect how much you have now, or will have in the future.  Ever!

People from the poorest and most difficult backgrounds — Steve Jobs and J.K Rowling are two — have found great fiscal success.   The top 1% didn’t stop them.

#3 –Money is directly related to personal worth.

People have the mistaken notion that you have to “deserve” money.  Wealthy people, the argument goes, shouldn’t have so much, because no one “deserves” that kind of money. Who came up with this idea of “deserving” anyway?  To say “all that I deserve” puts a limit on it.  How do you know if you deserve it? Who decides if you deserve it?

Money is neutral.  It doesn’t care if you deserve it or not.  You have as much money as you have created up until now. End of story.

#4 – It is more noble to be poor than rich, and rich people are selfish.

Stories often portray the rich as unfeeling and stingy, and the poor as benevolent and generous.  While true that the working class gives more to charity proportionate to their income than wealthy people, it’s not true that all rich people are selfish. If you fear being pegged as stingy, you might be less inclined to have financial abundance.

#5 – You have to have money to make money. 

Since money is energy, it can be created from nothing.  Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Just ask someone for money,   someone that you know will give it to you. You ask, they give, and you have it.  There!  Created from nothing!

#6 – Money is good – wait, no, it’s bad..

We’re told “Money makes the world go round” yet “money is the root of all evil.”  “Money can’t buy happiness”, but we’re convinced that we’d be happier if we had more of it.  No wonder money seems so perplexing.  We’ve received mixed messages about money that are confusing and incorrect!

#7 – We are not skilled at receiving money. 

Actually, we’re usually not skilled at receiving in general, but money in particular presents challenges for people.  It stems back to reason #3 (we don’t think we deserve it) and reason #4 (if we accept it we’re not good people.)

I have a personal policy – whenever anyone ever offers me money, I take it.  I want the universe to know that I am open to receiving money at any time.  So, I always say yes!

It’s all about perspective

The makers of the video I mentioned above despair at the chasm between the top 1% and the bottom 20%. However, if we took the bottom 20% of the US demographic and compared just that portion to the demographics of most “developing” nations, it would likely fall in, if not the top 1% then at least the top 10 or 20% of a graph of all those nations.

Think of it this way.  First, put yourself somewhere on this scale:

Affluent
Prosperous
Managing
Struggling
Impoverished
Destitute

Most “middle class” people put themselves somewhere around “managing” or “struggling”. Now, think about the photo of that child that UNICEF sends out when soliciting donations – the one that hasn’t eaten for a month and has a distended stomach and two parents with AIDS. Compare yourself and your situation to that child, and place yourself on the scale. Compared to that child, you’re affluent.

Back to my original point.  How much the 1% has, while certainly unbalanced, is irrelevant to how much money I have the OPPORTUNITY to create.  For that, we’re all on equal footing.

Money inspires endless intrigue and debate.  We spend countless hours trying to figure out how to make more money, and then how to keep the money we have or make it grow – and too often we feel we have failed.

The irony is that all of us can tap into an unlimited amount of money. Does that sound crazy, unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky? The reasons money feels out of reach  are not what you think.

Come to my next live Brownies and Breakthroughs event “Money Talks – Get in on the Conversation” on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM to dispel old myths and gain a new perspective about money that will enable you to generate the wealth you want, starting today!


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Go for the bronze

Last weekend, I felt completely humiliated at church.

On that Sunday, we were planning a special service honoring women. However, during choir rehearsal, we had too many pieces to run through, and I never got to rehearse my solo, “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, intended to be the culminating moment.

I know that rehearsal makes all the difference, but there simply wasn’t time, and I sure wasn’t going to back out. I approached the microphone with great trepidation. Long story short, it fell flat.  Literally, flat.

I sat down next to my husband, red-faced.  He said something to me and I stared blankly at him.  All I could reply was, “I’m not listening to you right now; I’m too humiliated.” After years of singing at church, both in the choir and as a soloist, I felt I had gone from respected musician to complete failure.

After the service, my singing partner Jeanne came over. I explained that we hadn’t rehearsed. She gave me a hug and then said, “There is something to be said for the person who puts ego and fears aside and says, ‘I’ll do my best.’ That in and of itself is a success.”

It took me a couple days to get over the sting of the experience, but it got me thinking: What is success, really?

We are conditioned by our culture to define “success” as big wins and major accomplishments. Because of that, we are averse to taking risks, especially when we’re not confident. But is success only when you get a standing ovation after a gold medal performance?  Maybe success can be going on stage and singing your heart out, even if you go off tune. Maybe success is doing your best with the resources you have.  Maybe success is having an experience that you wouldn’t have had otherwise had you not taken that risk.

I applaud Olympic snowboarders Shaun White, Red Gerard, and Chloe Kim for their spectacular gold medals. And I’m inspired by Pita Toufatofua, the Tongan taekwondo-turned-cross-country-skier who only got to ski on real snow for the first time 90 days ago.  His big accomplishment?  Not coming in dead last.

Sometimes we go all out and shine. Sometimes we don’t try hard and do well. And sometimes success is just showing up.

#redefinesuccess

I invite you to join me at my next live “Bagels and Breakthroughs” networking and coaching event on Feb. 28, 2018 from 8:30 – 10:30 AM, where the topic will be “Success: Yours for the Making!”  During this event we will:

  • Explore and challenge traditional ideas about “success”
  • Gain greater understanding of our barriers to success
  • Network with and get support from fellow entrepreneurs and professionals

For more information and to register, click here.


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I just assumed I would be 40 and divorced

Happy Anniversary to me!  That’s right, I’ve been married to my husband Jon for 21 years as of last week.  That’s a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself, but given my family history, it’s even more astonishing.

My parents divorced when I was just 10 years old.  Not only that, but every other adult female in my mother’s family was divorced.  I grew up surrounded by women who were “done wrong” in some way or another by a man.

I had no role models for relationship.  My mother outright told me, “You can’t trust men.”  (Actually, she said “You can’t trust SHORT men.”  My dad is about 5’6”.)

When I imagined what my life would be like when I was in my 40s, I literally pictured myself as a divorced single mom.  I simply didn’t know how to maintain a long term, loving relationship.  Therefore, I didn’t think it was even possible.  The framework I lived in was “you can’t trust men” and I brought that idea with me to every relationship.  No surprises that the men I attracted were, you guessed it, untrustworthy.

Then in my late 20s I participated in an exercise during a workshop that explored trust.  We did a mingle where we went up other participants and said either “I trust you”, “I don’t trust you”, or “I don’t know if I trust you.”  After the exercise the trainer asked us a series of questions.  One of them was, “How many of you said “I don’t trust you” to all the men?”  My hand shot up in the air.  I must have attracted his attention with my enthusiasm because he looked right at me and said, “Is that true?  You can’t trust all men?”

That was the moment when I realized that as long as I believed that men were not trustworthy like it was the “truth” I was destined for a failed marriage.  Challenging that belief and then eventually shifting it to “Men are trustworthy and available to me” paved the way for me to create a relationship with Jon.

That was just the tip of the iceberg in understanding just how many beliefs I had that were limiting me in my life.  In my business, ideas such as “The only way to succeed is to work day and night” and “You have to know someone to get a break” and “Being successful requires discipline and I’m not disciplined” created hidden barriers that all but stopped me.  Only by challenging each one was I able to create a successful business (which by the way, I started with my husband the year we were married!)

Sometimes our beliefs become so hardened and “real” to us that it is difficult to see it any other way.  If you become aware of a belief that is limiting you, you can begin to shift it by asking the simple question “Is this true?” Most times you’ll be able to see that the answer is no.  If you’re not sure of the answer or it still feels true to you, look around for evidence that defies your belief.  By seeking it out, you’ll loosen the hold that the belief has on you.  In my case, I looked for couples that were happy in their marriage and had been together a long time.  Once I started looking, I found a lot more of them than I expected.

I know that people usually don’t pay much attention to anniversaries unless they’re a “big” one, but I celebrate each year that I’m married as a miracle.  Shout out to my husband Jon for being on the journey with me and being that trustworthy man who showed up at the right time.

 

Don’t miss what might be your last opportunity to attend the Abundance Breakthrough Course on Sept. 22 – 24 in NYC. We’ll uncover and bust up those limiting beliefs you have about what it takes to create the life of your dreams – and make it happen now! See link for details. 


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When bad things happen to good entrepreneurs

I left my laptop on a NYC subway. Yep, I was taking my daughter to a dance camp in Brooklyn and I left the computer bag on the D train.

The crazy part was that I didn’t even notice until a full hour later, after I had gotten her settled in to camp. As I was leaving I realized my bag wasn’t on my shoulder.  I was convinced I had left it somewhere at the dance studio, but a thorough search proved otherwise.

I cried the whole way home on the subway. Continue reading


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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Part 1 of a 2-part series.  Click here for part 2.

Around the beginning of the year people feel a renewed commitment towards their goals because it feels like a fresh start. We are encouraged to let go of the old and embrace the new by making New Year’s resolutions.  This is why if you’re a regular at a gym you know that there is never any equipment available from January 1 through mid-February – everyone is working on their new commitment to get healthy.  However, by the end of February the gym is back to normal, with the regulars making the rounds.

Studies show that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually accomplish them, despite swearing up and down that this is the year that they will stick with it. What goes wrong? Here are some reasons why resolutions so often fail. Continue reading


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Are you solving problems you don’t have?

Did you know that a major obstacle keeping people from achieving their goals is that they spend their mental energy on solving problems they don’t even have?  I call this “The Governor of Kentucky syndrome”, as illustrated by a personal story I heard from Marilyn Graman, a Psychotherapist, Workshop Creator and Leader, Author, Interfaith Minister, and Shaman Practitioner in New York City:

Two women ate lunch together in a small Kentucky town after not having seen each other for some time. Continue reading