Monday, March 19, 2018

My Neighbor Is An Award-Winning Poet

Caught you with that title, didn't I?

Well, it's true.  She's also a teenager.

You know, I feel bad for teenagers right now. What kind of life are we handing over to them? Anxiety, stress, discord, our environment in a mess. If I were a teenager right now, I'd be mighty mad at the adults. And I know just about every generation says this, but we're doing a rotten job as a society of showing them how marvelous life can actually be. I know that you, like me, do it individually, and truth be told, that's probably the best way. Right now, it feels like the only way.

So when my neighbor, Manar Alberakati, placed 2nd in the Teen Division of the 13th Annual Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest, I gladly took a Sunday afternoon to attend the awards ceremony.

You know what that event gave to me? Pleasure. Sheer pleasure. Have you had pleasure in your life lately? It was sheer pleasure to hear these poets - one was 7 years old! - read their words and express their deepest feelings. One poet, the 2nd place winner in the Children's Division (I believe she was 13) had written a powerful poem, entitled "This Is Where The Soldiers Fight". She nervously stood next to the podium as the emcee read her poem. Her words were terrifyingly honest and mature; I can understand why she didn't want to read them in public.

And how about the family of Charlotte Miller Simon, who financially sponsor this competition? One could argue that with their money, they could feed people...well, they DO feed people. They feed people's souls, all in memory of a woman who I never met, but who obviously loved words.

That Sunday afternoon was simple, charming and so pleasurable. Here were people, expressing their individuality through their creativity. It's a simple act, an act that is available to each human on this planet, an act that can take courage, persistence and the willingness to listen to your own soul.

Here's Manar's poem:

by Manar Albarakati
I want to leave my mark on the world
Trace my footsteps in the sand
That no wind would dare to blow away

I want to rip apart the ocean
To walk across its deepest floors
Just to show myself that I can

I want to rise up beyond the towering hills and mountains
And out-glow the sun in the background
To shine on the lands beyond me

I want to whisper my dreams to the wind
So it can sweep my voice wherever it goes
And inspire the people it meets

I want to reach my arms out
And write my name on the stars, billions of miles away
So no matter how far you are, you'll always remember me

I want to rearrange the clouds
Into the shape of my thumbprints
So Mars and Pluto can see through to my existence

And I want to spin the Earth on the tip of my finger
Because no matter how big this planet is,
it's just a pinpoint in the universe

And one day this universe will be proud that I'm its child.

Thanks, Manar!

My award-winning neighbor, Manar Alberakati and me.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Photo Friday Number 9

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. 

Photo: Storm King Wavefield by Maya Lin, Storm King Art Center, Orange County, NY

Monday, March 12, 2018

When In Doubt, Create

I have 21 minutes before my first appointment of the day. An inane list of tasks flutters through my head. Some are of value, some are ridiculously unnecessary (are you really going to watch all of The Sopranos? Do you really need to download it now?). The fluttering in my brain leads to a tension in my shoulders. I can feel myself hunching over to push against the day.

There's also that grabbing in my solar plexus. Drat - I thought I had eradicated that grab; at the very least I thought I had found a successful way to manage it. Fooled myself again, didn't I?

The higher me, the saner me, the calmer me ignores all of these messages, pulls out my gorgeous sand timer (thank you, Jackie), a journal and a snazzy pen. I write. I write the above. I settle. I begin to feel grounded. I notice the tension that starts in my right hand and leads all the way up to my right shoulder, a protection for my fingers as they weaken. My brain stops fluttering, my shoulders unhunch, my solar plexus expands. I expand to the world, to the day, to my life.

Life will unfold; some I can manage, some I cannot. As the timeless prayer states, give me the wisdom to know the difference.

Wisdom. I want that. Don't you? Wisdom feels so deep, so eternal, so noble.

Noble. There's a concept that has been lost. Much maligned when used as in the word nobility. But to be noble. That's different.

These are the words I will give to my fluttering brain today. Wisdom. Noble. These are the words I will ponder today. These are the words I will attempt to live today.

When in doubt, create.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Photo Friday Number 8

Inline image 1

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

Photo: The Monastery of St. Ivan of Rila, Bulgaria

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guiding Star Check In: Frustration

How ya doing, all of you with your fancy Guiding Star plans? Let me tell you how I've been doing.

Six weeks in, I was feeling the air slowly seeping out of my so-called Life with its so-called plan. I could also feel a dangerously high level of frustration mounting. That's no good for me. When I get frustrated, I listen to those crusty old voices in my head, I let bad habits replace good ones, and it's all downhill from there.  So on Wednesday evening, when it felt like my beautiful existence was about to fall apart, I told myself I was tired, which was true. I told myself a good night's rest was the best move I could make, and I went to bed.

It worked. I woke up feeling good, but...within hours, the frustration had returned. Every task was taking forever, extra tasks were appearing, my singing felt like it was disintegrating not improving, flights were delayed, plans were up in the air, the people I wanted to hear from weren't responding. You know what I mean?

These are the moments when I feel like a fraud. When everything I tell you on this blog feels like fake news. When I'm scared silly that the dog is going to come over, pull the curtain away and expose me to the world as the loser that I am.

So, one more time, I took my own advice.  I took a breath and figured out which task really needed to be done and then I did it. I started with a brief walk to the post office. Walking and saying hello to other people almost always makes me feel better, as it did today. I'm not alone.

I kept working on my voice. I set a timer for 15 minutes and focused on nothing but vocal exercises - the tough ones, the ones I don't like to do, but the ones that I know make a difference. That was not easy.

I breathed deeply and realized there was absolutely nothing I could do about a flight being delayed. However, I recognized that I could call the restaurant where I had dinner reservations (with the friend on the flight) and notify them of the situation. So I did that.

I walked to the other room and did a couple of Warrior Poses. I realized there was also nothing I could do about people responding to messages. I let go of that.

I had lunch.

I taught a voice lesson.

The flight was still delayed, so I decided to return to my singing. Guess what? The problems of the previous days and that morning had been solved. My evil plan of consistent practice had worked!

We all get frustrated, we all fall down. The difference is figuring out how to turn the frustration into motivation; how to get back up.  As Philadelphia's new hero, Nick Foles, said:

"I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that's just been the message. Simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling? Embrace it. Because you're growing."

Yes, I have used that quote recently on this blog. How can I not?

Embrace it and grow.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Photo Friday Number 7

I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that's just been the message. Simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling? Embrace it. Because you're growing.

Photo: Hiram M. Chittenden Ballard Locks, Seattle, Washington

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Du's Response

Today's moment of joy.
Turkish kids eating ice cream and laughing.

My post about Du brought more attention to Creatavita than just about any post (except for Channeling Roy). Thank you for the reads, Creataviters. I'm always trying to figure out what I have to say that might spark a creative moment for you.

I shared the post with Du and she graciously wrote her own response, which you'll find below. For you native English speakers, a friendly reminder that Du is writing in her second language. But before we get to that, one diversion.

The original post sparked an interesting conversation with one Loyal Creataviter (hereafter known as LC) about the relationship between artists and their audience. Because LC's work involves administering young artists from around the world, her viewpoint was quite different from mine. LC's initial gut reaction was to advise caution. Communicating with me privately, she expressed some concerns about overzealous audience members crossing a line, a situation she has seen frequently.

In the end, LC and I came to the agreement that while sometimes these relationships develop blurred boundaries and misinterpretations, there is room for many types of relationships. We also agreed that the relationship that Du and I have developed is as it looks - a relationship built out of a common love for musical theatre, admiration of each other's humanity, and a moment of serendipity. One cannot plan to stand out of a superfluity of fake nuns in a shopping mall on the other side of the planet. That last sentence will make sense when you read Du's response.

What really matters, and the reason I have deliberated over this post for so long, is that I have deeply-held convictions that I believe need to be said out loud. They are, I believe, incredibly important in our modern society and I fear we are in danger of losing them.

I see too many people who have every material thing they need feeling hopeless. I see too many people who live in safe, secure environments trembling with fear - fear of the unknown, fear that has been created in their minds, either by themselves or by external forces. Meeting Du, the ensuing discussion with LC and then sitting with all of this has made me realize how important these convictions are to me. They are:

I still believe in the goodness of humanity.
I still believe in the importance of recognizing and respecting cultural differences.
I still believe in the power of art to transform lives.
I still believe in taking chances and reaching out to the unknown.

I honestly don't know how much the rest of you care about this topic, so I won't say more here. I didn't hear from anyone except LC, and believe me, I spent many moments wondering if there were others who felt this way. If you do care, post a comment (preferably here on the blog) and let's continue the discussion.

And with that, I turn this post over to my friend from Shanghai, Du:

I'm so honored that we can build up friendship.

I was 13 years old when I first saw musicals, my teacher showed us Les Miserables. And since then I love musicals.

I think watching musicals is my greatest pleasure. It's the only thing I want to do during my break time, and I can relate myself through watching musicals. Most of my friends may not understand this happiness. (Most people at my age don't like musicals very much.)

And I think our influence on each other is mutual. In Shanghai, after the show, I went to Grand Gateway 66 to join the activity. (Heidi here: Du is referring to one of the many "Nuns on the Run" press events that the Sister Act Ensemble Nuns have done on this tour. Photos below.) I started to pay close attention to you at the activity. Then I saw the show again on Sep. 16. Although you are a member of the nun, still attracts my eyeballs. So that in the whole show, I kept looking at you as soon as you appear.

Me at Nuns on the Run, Shanghai Version.

This is not Du. This is another woman I encountered during the same press event.
The Chinese LOVE to take photos.

At the end of the day, I thought about giving you some presents, wondering if it would surprise you (I believe I was surprised you and you are so sweet!). So on the last day of the show, I was so glad that I found you in the crowd and gave you presents.

Then the show was over in Shanghai, you arrived to Hangzhou, Xiamen and Japan. But I still want to see you again. Then I came to Seoul. For the first time in my life I flew from Shanghai to Korea. (In fact, after the end of Shanghai, I have thought of going to Hangzhou to see you, but due to the curriculum, I have to give up). Then I was planning to go to Seoul at that time. Prepare for everything and surprise you (before going to the Seoul, I was wondering you remember me or not)

Before I go to Seoul I have watched your FB, saw that you like yarn very much, I also know someone has already sent you yarn, (Heidi again: indeed, I received a lovely box of yarn from my dresser in Guangzhou. That gift was the first time, but not the last, that I would be the recipient of the generosity of the Chinese culture.) so I want to send you some different colors. (The Loquat cough syrup is so heavy that I cannot be able to bring over).

Du's Gifts

About being shy, actually because my poor English (as you can see), and seeing you are particularly excited and tense. Hope you can understand what I am saying.

I'm so happy to see you again, I hope to see you next time, not only this show, I'm loking forward to see your deduction of other characters. If you have the next performance please let me know, I will try my best to visit the place you are going to perform someday, just want to see you again on live stage. (I can always find you where you are in the show)

Finally hope you can take good care of yourself. To see you happy and healthy on the stage is the biggest wish of me. (I know that you was performance as Mary Laz in the show last week, so happy for you!!)

Heidi here for a final time - Thank you, Du, for your comments and your friendship. Thank you, LC for YOUR comments and YOUR friendship. Thank you, Creataviters, for reading and creating. Let's do what we can to make the world a better place today.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Photo Friday Number 6

Listen - are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

Photo: World's End State Park, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, USA

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 Week #4: Touchstones


Sister Act closed in Seoul last Sunday evening. By mid-day Monday, I began the trek back to Bryn Mawr, arriving in time for lunch with Beloved on Tuesday. What's next? I don't know for sure, but I do know it will be fantastically creative.

Stars. Everywhere I go. Stars.

Let's talk about your Touchstones this week.  These little phrases can be incredibly potent. I had no idea how potent, until I spent last year with one of my personal Touchstones - Listen. If you've forgotten how powerful my experience with Listen was, you can read the post I wrote here.

These are my 2018 Touchstones:

- Listen

- Persisting brings joy

- Release your grasp

- Join the Universe's vibration

Last year, I had three Touchstones; this year, four. I've never had more than three Touchstones before, but while I was crafting my Guiding Star, these four felt very powerful. They wouldn't leave me alone. So I brought them all along into 2018. Also, I am repeating two from 2017. Both led me to incredible insights about myself and I think they have more to show me. I'm not leaving that joy behind!

How do I work with my Touchstones? I aim to ponder them daily. Just think about them, how they might work in my life. I don't allow this to be difficult; I do it while I'm doing daily tasks, or walking, or commuting. I've been struggling with my social media consumption, so I'm considering thinking of a Touchstone before I head to Facebook. I think this might make me more aware of how I use social media as a distraction, as well as bring some more useful attitudes into my thoughts. I'll let you know if it works.

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Okay, 2 final things to tell you.

#1 - I'm leaving you alone with your Guiding Star Plans for a month. No worries, I'll still be blogging about other creative needs and desires.

#2 - The clock is ticking down on the super-duper discount!  One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 4, 2018 (Click here to schedule a session).

No more palaces for me. At least for now.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 Week #3: Stay Focused, My Friends

One year ago, the Week #3 post focused on my involvement (along with 20 members of my extended family) in the Million Women March. Here we are 365 days later, still organizing, speaking up, resisting. Some days I feel like there hasn't been enough change. You too?

Those are the days I have to remind myself to

Stay focused

Instead of just getting frustrated (with where I am in life, with the state of our country, with my own perceived sense of lack), I now acknowledge the frustration and then I take a new path - I open up my Guiding Star plan. Yes I do. Because I know I will find answers there; I will find the next step I need to take and how I need to take it; and most importantly, I will find the motivation to stay focused. That's why I love Guiding Star so much. In those moments when I am disappointed, unmotivated or lack self confidence, my Guiding Star plan rarely lets me down. Almost always, I find the answer there.

Believe it or not, just like me, you designed your Guiding Star plan for this exact moment.  Now's the time to open that plan up, spend a few minutes with it.  Need to adjust a Touchstone?  Go ahead.  Need to adapt a goal?  Do it. Then choose one aspect of your Guiding Star plan to focus on this week. It can be highlighting one Touchstone, or spending 10 minutes on a Goal, or reminding yourself every morning of your Hat. Doesn't matter. Make it simple so you can be proud of your accomplishment.

Most importantly, stay focused, my friends.

Last year's March. I like being reminded of the energy we all
felt that day.

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Friday, January 19, 2018

Photo Friday Number 5

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Photo: Street sweeper, Muslim Quarter, Xi'an, China 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 Week #2: Stand Up For You

I woke up this morning and the first thought I had was:

Embrace magnificent abundance and navigate gracefully.

On Monday, I sent an email to a dialects coach.

Small actions, right? You bet. Both are a part of my 2018 Guiding Star plan. Embrace etc. etc. is my Slogan this year and improving my abilities with dialects is one of my Goals.

One thing I have learned from following a life plan is that most of the work happens in small steps, so I ask you:

What did you do to work with your Guiding Star plan this week?

And here's what I want you to do with the answer to that question - tell another human. Just one. Your Buddy is the preferred human, but the barista at your favorite coffee shop will also work. Or you can comment on this post, right here on Creatavita. I know the comments section is currently rather obscure and I intend to resolve that, but for now, we're all going to have to live with it.

You know why this is your task, right? You know that speaking your answer out loud or in a public forum (even an elite forum like the Comments section of Creatavita :)), you are making yourself accountable, and that accountability is HUGE.

When we tell others about our goals and plans, we're more inclined to do the work. We're also more inclined to respect the work ourselves, which in the end leads to self-respect. Self-respect gets us somewhere. Self-respect tells us to put down the device and start writing, start practicing, start painting. Self-respect tells us we are meant to do this creative work and we must take the necessary steps to see that work be fulfilled. Self-respect tells us, "stand up for you".

If you're one of the fortunate ones and are blessed with extra time and/or energy, here are other simple tasks you can try this week:

- Take 15 minutes to read your plan. 

- Still feeling odd when contemplating your Slogan?  Stay persistant. Give your self some time.

- How about working on one Goal this week?

- Writing down what's working and what isn't might help. It's worth a try.

- If you are someone's Buddy, this week is a good time to check in.  Encourage some action, even a small step.  We don't need to solve global poverty this week, but if we spend 15 minutes on it, we will get somewhere.

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Your Younger Self

A fun creative exercise is writing a letter to your younger self.

Here's an excellent example, courtesy of former NBA basketball player, Quentin Richardson. Notice I didn't call him a former star.

Letter to My Younger Self

Stop rolling your eyes. Read it!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Guiding Star Week #1: How We Doin'?

I love this time of year. I love the possibilities that fill my soul with hope as well as the fresh energy surrounding me, as I talk to others about their dreams, their goals, their intentions for 2018.  If you're giving Guiding Star a try, you really know what I'm talking about.

Let's turn to our Guiding Star plans. As I promised, I'm not going to get you started and then turn you out into your cold, cruel lives all alone.  I'll be checking in frequently for the first 2 months, standing next to you and, hopefully, providing insight and motivation.

You've got one simple task this week.  If you did Guiding Star last year, it's the same simple task. You ready?

Spend 15 minutes with your plan.

That's it.  Take 15 minutes to read and ponder your plan.

Some questions to fire your pondering.

- Any events this past week that felt different because of your plan?

- How's it going as you incorporate the Slogan and Touchstones into your life?

I know. Me too. It's a challenge. When I first incorporated these phrases into my life, it felt downright hokey.  But I kept doing the work, mainly because my Buddy was so insistent at the changes she had experienced.  Sometimes, it still feels hokey to me.  Not as much as it used to.  Plus, I've had some mind-blowing experiences where I felt the slogan or touchstones working, like this and this.  That was enough to convince me to work through the hokey times.

By the way, I am recycling my 2017 Slogan, which is:

Embrace magnificent abundance and navigate gracefully.

I know you might not believe me, but I have trouble accepting the abundance of my life. Even after twelve months with this Slogan. So I'm keeping it and seeing where it guides me in 2018.

Back to questions to ponder this week:

- Any events coming in the next week which could use a different mental approach?  Can Guiding Star help?

- Can you begin working on one goal?  

Even working on a task for 10 minutes will feel good.  Taking one step is better than none.

Bonus: If you want to spend more time with your plan this week, take the time to write a brief "report".  Did you start on a goal?  Did you notice an attitude change?  Did you get frustrated?  Having these reports (which we'll all be doing on a monthly basis) to look back on as the year progresses are fantastic. You'll see progress when you thought nothing was happening, which will make your motivation zoom.

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Sunrise on Mt. Sinai

Friday, January 5, 2018

Photo Friday Number 4

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Photo: Sri Senpaga Vinagayar Temple, Singapore

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 #7: The Plan

Here we are.  The final Guiding Star exercise.  All the contemplating, pondering, grumbling (yeah, I hear you), and questioning is over.  Today you compile your plan. I've created a Google Document to assist this final exercise, which you are welcome to modify. You have to use this template, you really do. Having your plan in writing will keep you inspired and motivated all year. Below you'll find some final guidance.

Okay, let's get going.

Materials: For this exercise, I suggest you head to your computer.  For ease of sharing, my Buddy and I use Google Docs.  Your Buddy will be seeing this document at least once a month.

Time:  At this point in the process, you'll likely be able to complete your master plan in 30 minutes. I would be surprised if you need more than 60 minutes.

Guiding Star Plan
This link should lead you to a template for your plan. You should be able to copy  and paste the document into your favorite program.  As I said above, feel free to modify.  

- Fill out the areas with the delightful material you've created through the exercises.  Explanations for each section follow:

Over the year, your Slogan will become the most important part of your Guiding Star.  We’ll put it at the top of the plan.

These are the deep messages you uncovered in Exercise #3: Can You Hear Me Now?  Find the 3 that fill you with the most passionate energy.  Write them here.

From your list of Hats, choose one to be your Focus for the year.  Believe it or not, I find it best to choose one that has been ignored.  You'll know which one it is; it's usually crying out to you. Go ahead.  Pick the ridiculous one.  The life you are meant to live is underneath that one.

Here we are!  The fun discoveries from yesterday's exercise.  Remember we are looking for a blend of professional and personal, necessary and desired.  The minimum is 5; the maximum is 10.  Be realistic.  Keep them simple.  You’ll feel so good if you achieve a goal, even if it feels ridiculously simple.

- When your plan is complete, share it with your buddy. Ask them to review it one last time. Listen to their feedback and make any changes you both agree are needed.

- Now, pay attention.  This next step is simple, yet crucial. Pick a monthly date when you will write your report and share it with your buddy. Write it in your calendar, on your to-do list, set a reminder on your phone, do whatever you need to do to honor that date.  Example:

I am starting my Guiding Star plan on Sunday, Jan. 8.  I have put a note on my to-do list on Wednesday, Feb. 8 (and every following 8th day of the month for the rest of the year) reminding me to write my monthly plan and share it with my Buddy.

- Now, pay attention again. This next step is also simple and also crucial. You need to cultivate a new habit, that of visiting your Slogan and Touchstones daily.  How are you going to do that?  Will you memorize them and ponder them when you wake up?  Will you write them on a card and carry it with you?  Will you send yourself an electronic reminder?

- Finally, pay attention one last time.  You guessed it - another simple, yet crucial step.  For the first 2 months of your Guiding Star plan, I urge, no, I exhort you to review your plan weekly.  All you must do is look at it and reflect on how you are incorporating your plan into your life.  That's all.  FYI, I like to do this on Sunday evening.  It is usually a quiet time in my life.

You made it! Your 2018 Guiding Star plan is complete! Now the fun begins! Don't worry, I'm not leaving you alone. I'll be guiding you along, particularly in the first three months.

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).

Monday, January 1, 2018

Guiding Star 2018 #6: Goals

Today's exercise is my favorite.  Today we find the specific goals you want to focus on for the next 12 months.  If you're like me, this is where you'll find your personal motivation for the next year of your life. This is where you'll do the actual work.  This is where you'll see results.

At this point, I'm going to turn this post over to my Buddy/Coach, Jean McDonald.  Jean wrote the ideal post about Goals.  Read on!

My Year of Joy
I am a goal person. I have been setting (and achieving) 8-10 goals per year for the past 16 years. Last year, as I was looking over the last few years of goals, I saw that I almost always achieved the goals that were work-related, and I almost never allowed myself to follow through on the one or two goals I had that were just for me, for fun.

Ridiculous! I was turning 50 in February, and I decided to celebrate the entire year (my wonderful husband’s idea), and set only goals that sounded fun. I wrote my goals in 20 minutes (unheard of), and quickly sent them off to my awesome coach, Heidi Hayes, before I could change my mind. She responded immediately with a strong “Yes!!”

I threw myself into attaining my goals. My major focus was “Fun Seeker,” (Heidi here - That's what we're calling your Hat) and just looking at that phrase gave me a thrill. I took a short retreat, went on a canoe trip with my family, took a jewelry making class and tried Zumba. My husband agreed to a vacation at the Grand Canyon for our family – to celebrate my 50th year on the planet. Talk about Joy! Yes! This was my best year yet!

Then I stumbled. There were a few goals that included other people. I hesitated to ask them, they have busy lives too, right? Well, I was determined to achieve these goals, so I reached out and asked for help. Guess what happened? The people in my life were happy to help! In fact, I realized that the only way that some of my joy goals could happen was if my friends and family stepped in to help. Asking for help has never been easy for me, but what a big payoff. We were doing fun stuff, so my relationships were benefitting from my goals. I met my sister for a bike ride, I took an extreme hike with Heidi, I took my family to see a show. More Joy!

Now, as I look back at my year, I remember the moments of joy – big and small – and I realize that I have learned a few things. Perhaps this list will help you find more joy:

1. Allow yourself to set goals that sound fun and exciting to you.
2. Enlist the help of your family and friends. They will be happy to help!
3. Let the chores go more. They will always be there, and if you wait for them to be done, you will never have time for joy.
4. Look for small moments of joy. They abound!

And now, Joyful Reader. What will you do for yourself for the next year? Just for fun.

I’m wishing you abundant joy, the kind that bubbles up inside you and lifts you up.


With Jean's fantastic story and tips in mind, let's get to work.

Goals Exercise
Materials: For this exercise, you will need something to write on or in.  A journal, a computer, or scratch paper - doesn't matter.  The results of today's exercise will be seen by your Buddy.

Time: Start with 15 minutes, but you're definitely going to want more time.  Spread it out over a few days.  Work as you can and stay as joyful and engaged as you can.  If this becomes heavy, change your approach.  Look for the fun first.

- Light a candle or find some delightful music to play.  Or both!
- It can be helpful to set a timer to a shorter period of time.  This will keep your brain focused on this single task.
- List anything you would like to accomplish in the next 12 months.  Anything.  Don't edit. Aim for a minimum of 5 goals. If the timer goes off and you're not finished, you can keep going, but I would suggest no more than 60 minutes.

Choose active, positive words.  Setting time limits within the goal is extremely helpful.  Example:

Tonya wants to lose weight.  She starts with the goal of lose 10 pounds.  She has failed at this goal for years, but knows it is important. She rephrases the goal as attend one exercise class every week for three months. The specificity of this goal (one class per week for three months) feels doable to Tonya. It's also realistic - even though Tonya works fulltime and cares for her father on the weekends, she already has an exercise class she enjoys in her schedule.  In addition, maintaining a specific commitment for a realistic amount of time (three months) will help Tonya create a habit.  Finally, unlike the abstract lose 10 pounds of the original goal, Tonya has more control over achieving this goal. That feels good to Tonya.  No, wait - that feels exciting to Tonya!

- Assign each goal A, B or C.  A is for priority goals, B is for important goals and C is for goals that could wait.
- Review your rankings.  Have you included a mix of personal and career goals?  Are you excited by all of the goals?  Have you used specific, active and positive language?
- Choose 10 goals that will be your 2018 goals.  If 10 feels overwhelming, choose fewer.
- Ask your Buddy to review your goals, specifically looking for realistic, positive and enjoyable goals.

Well friends, tomorrow is the final day of creating your Guiding Star plan.  Look at the fresh approach you have crafted for the next 12 months in one brief week.  This is exciting!

Always remember:
Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? Starting January 4, 2018, one-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour. This offer expires on February 1, 2018. (Click here to schedule a session).