What if You Refused to Find Faults?

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As I ended the song on the piano, my father burst into applause.

“Hooray! That was beautiful.”

It wasn’t.

Has anyone ever complimented you and you didn’t feel like you deserved it?

My stumbling song was far from perfect. There were accidental accidentals, labored pacing, and way too much heavy pedal blurring the tones together.

Uhhhhhhhh… it was a truly mediocre performance.

And yet there was my dad with a sensational smile on his face.

Ridiculous. So ridiculous. I used to think he was SO ridiculous.

How could he love what I had done when I hated it? Why was he clapping for all those missed notes?

Ridiculous.

In 18 years, I never remember hearing a word of criticism come from my father’s lips. Now that he’s gone, all I remember is him constantly thinking that I was the best thing he’d ever set eyes on. And it was the best feeling in the whole world.

What if you refused to find fault in someone?

Now that I’m a grown up, hundreds of people have criticized the way I look and act and do my job. Performance reviews, unsolicited advice, random comments on the street, so many people who are willing to chime in on my life.

Throughout school, I have also been trained to be a sharp critic. At work, I am surrounded by experts at criticism. I am beginning to think that maybe we are the ridiculous ones.

LOVERSGONNALOVEWhy?

Because the most helpful people in my life have always been the lovers.

Think about it. Do critics inspire you? Who inspires you?

I bet it’s a lover. Lovers are going to love. Lovers are going to find the best in you.

What if you refuse to find fault in others? 

Oh, boo, I know this is making some of you uncomfortable. I am not great at suspending judgement either. You want to teach. You want to guide. You criticize because you want to be HELPFUL.

BUT GUESS WHAT???

People are running their faults through their heads every day like vampire computer programs draining their energy and joy. People are criticizing themselves to the point where they are terrified to engage with other people. People really don’t need criticism.

PEOPLE NEED LOVE. BE A LOVER. LOVE.

Imagine it!

What if you looked at people and saw them as perfect? What if you listened to adults in your life like they were little children sitting at the piano, struggling, searching for notes, trying so hard to please you?

What if, no matter what someone offered you, you were grateful? Because they shared it with you? Because they offered you a bit of their heart?

Beautiful reader: What if you refuse to find fault this week? What if, this week, you try to love others, no matter what? What if you believe that people are doing the best they can? And… What if, this week, you refuse to find fault in yourself? Could you find only the good? 

I’m talking about unconditional love. Love without condition.

If you have experienced it, you know how wonderful it feels. If you have a dog, you get it.

But hey, gorgeous human, it’s never too late to be a human lover. It’s never too late to be a human who loves humans.

Hey, boo, I’m challenging you this week: Refuse to find a single fault in anyone. See how it feels. 

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It’s OK to Not Be OK

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If you woke up today sad or angry or worried, that’s ok.

It’s all ok.

Whatever you feel, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day is ok.

You are ok.

Gorgeous reader out there: I’m telling you that it’s ok to not be ok.

It’s all ok.

You are angry. That’s ok.

Sometimes, I fight my anger. I’m angry and I want to be compassionate. I want to be loving. I feel sad and guilty because I’m angry.

UUUUGGGGGGGGhhhh. Can you relate to this ridiculousness?

Fighting your feelings is like punching yourself in the face. It’s like taking a knife and stabbing your hand. That’s what it’s like to try and reject how you feel. You get beat up. You bleed.

There is no need for that. Make peace with yourself. How? FEEL HOW YOU FEEL.

You feel like crap. Feel crappy. Allow it. Let it be ok. Notice how it doesn’t last forever. It comes and it will go.

eye-211610_960_720You don’t see pictures of people feeling crappy on Facebook, but we all do. I sometimes cry in my Subaru on the way home from teaching. I cry on my purple yoga mat in savasana. I scream into the phone. I stare at trees and listen to doves coo and do not want anyone around me because I’m trying to calm down.

Do you feel sorry for me? Ashamed for me? Or have you been there too?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. If you’re human, you’ve been there.

It’s ok to not be ok.

You are where you are and you feel what you feel.

No feeling is permanent.

You will get back to ok again. You will take a journey. There will be lessons learned.

Gorgeous, emotional, beautiful reader: We have emotions like the moon has phases. We have good days and bad days like the sun rises and sets. We experience all feelings like leaves change colors. We journey from sad to happy. Frustration to joy. Anger to love.

Hey boo, sometimes you’re ok and sometimes you’re not ok.

Wherever you are, you are beautiful. Whatever you feel, it won’t last forever. Whatever is going on, it’s totally ok.

If you feel stuck in not ok, it’s ok to get help. It’s ok to call a friend or a hotline. It’s ok to do what you need to do to feel better.

It’s all ok.

It’s ok to not be ok.

Loving you out there. Even if you’re not ok.

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Peace of Mind is Here and Now

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There’s a desire that I have the most. It’s the desire for peace of mind.

Do you want it too?

Guess what? It is always available.

Peace of mind is here and now.

In my public speaking class, students often fritter and shake their legs with questions and concerns about the speeches they will give the next week. I ask them, “Are you giving the speech right now?”

They look at me blink blink blink. Of course not. Their speeches are happening next week.

“So why are you stressed right now? What’s going on right now?”

We stop and stare at each other.

Stop.

Stare.

What is here? What is now?

steinmann-60007_960_720We take inventory together: You’re sitting in an orange chair. Your legs are resting on the seat. You are breathing. You have a body. It carried you through the door. Look at the mountains through the window. Name five other things about the room.

What is here? What is happening right now?

Sometimes, I walk my dog Blue and tears come to my eyes. I catch a wave of sadness. I try to surf it. I notice it’s there. I wonder why I’m sad.

Sure enough, I’ve time traveled. I’m in my head making up terrible stories. I’ve made a mistake. Someone is unkind to me in the future. Someone didn’t love me in the past.

I am not here. I am not now. I coax myself back:

Where are you, boo? You are not happy there. It’s ok. Come back.

What is here? What is happening right now?

My Australian Shepherd is smiling, a tangle of blue merle fur. There’s a white and black cat hiding in the neighbor’s yard that she has not seen. A group of big blushy pink peonies. The sssssssshhhhh sound of a quaking aspen tree. A pair of yellow chairs. A trill from a laughing little girl speeding down the sidewalk on a metal scooter.

I am ok here.

I am ok now.

In the gorgeously ordinary details surrounding me, there it is: Peace of mind.

Beautiful, monkey-minded, human reader: Would you like peace of mind? Take a moment: You are ok here. You are ok now. Take a deep breath and some loving notice. List the gorgeously ordinary little details of your life.

Hey boo, guess what? The past is over. The future is unknown. If you time travel and feel great, please enjoy the journey. If you time travel and feel terrible, please come back. Keep coming back. You might have to come back dozens or hundreds of times a day.

Peace of mind is always available.

Peace of mind is here and now.

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Don’t Believe Me? Just Watch

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During my recent long run, I was feeling a little tired and then Mark Ronson started singing Uptown Funk and I caught the lyric he was throwing out to me: Cause Uptown Funk is going to give it to you – It’s Saturday night and we in the spot – Don’t believe me? Just watch.

Yeaaaaaahhhh, Mark.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

Just watch.

People are always watching.

Who is watching you?

I just finished an executive seminar where I taught my students that research shows that the #1 influence on organizational climate is the behavior of leaders.

Behavior.

What you do.

Yes, you.

No, it’s not just a fancy speech you give. Not just the words you say.

golden-eagle-627943_960_720People are watching WHAT YOU DO.

One of my beautiful friends always wants to help people. Like me, he loves learning and wants to share ideas with his friends. His friends have been resisting him.

Do people resist your advice? Are you ever like, “Why don’t you listen to me??”

Yeah, you get it. In fact, when my friend told me that his friends don’t listen to him, I laughed and laughed. Because guess what? I get paid hundreds of dollars an hour to consult and yet people often don’t want to hear what I have to say either.

HA HA HA HA HA! Come on, that’s really funny.

You know what? It doesn’t matter! The struggle ends today, everyone! Never again will you have to tell people what to do. You never ever ever EVER have to give anyone advice.

You want someone to believe you?

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Put on an awesome show.

Let them watch.

Want people to believe in themselves? Believe in yourself. Let them watch.

Want people to go after their dreams? Go after yours. Let them watch.

Want people to feel good? You feel good. Let them watch.

Want people to trust you when they’re struggling? Show your struggles. Open your heart. Let them watch.

You want people to live a healthy life? Be healthy. Be strong. Let them watch.

Gorgeous, beautiful, caring reader: Do you really want to help people in your life? Practice not giving unsolicited advice (it’s a practice: it took me years to learn this and I still mess up!) Instead, do this:

Put on an awesome show.

Get out of other people’s business and get really good at yours. Lead by example. Chase your own dreams. Manage your own mind and attitude. Take care of your own health and body. Then, see who is drawn to you. Allow the others to orbit out of your life.

Who cares if everyone doesn’t listen? Your people will. I freaking love my people (yes, that’s you).

It’s Saturday night. You’re in the spot. Oh bae, I can’t wait to see your show.

Be the very best version of you. Let us watch.

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Murder Your Old Story

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A group of crows is called a murder. My friend Matt reminded me of that recently. I love a good murder. My favorite songs are often about murder (ooh, here’s a great one). And then, as I was reading tarot cards recently, I pulled the death card.

The DEATH card is a scary card to pull from a tarot deck. Ooooh, it’s ominous.

Death. Murder. Endings.

Luckily, my tarot teacher Cherella taught me that the death card is full of symbolism. Look at the number on top: Lucky 13. The white rose means purity and purification. In the distance on the right, the sun is shining brightly through two white pillars. The sun “dies” and is reborn each day.

Often, the death card does not literally mean death.

It means death to your old story.

In a wonderful sequence of events, I then listened to a School of Greatness podcast with Kyle Cease. He asked this powerful question: What is trying to emerge in you? It gave me goosebumps. What is trying to emerge?

marigold-1503876_960_720Something wants to be born. But, before it can, we must make room.

We must let go of our old stories.

Death to your old story. Birth the new.

I’ve had students come into my office and tell me old stories. Gorgeous men who are scared to ask women on dates. Women with 4.0 GPAs who say they are doomed to a life of misery. All kinds of people who are not smart enough. Not beautiful enough. Not good enough at public speaking or school in general.

It makes me murderous. I’m itching to kill their old stories. Too bad I can’t do it for them.

Hey, boo: Only you can make room. Only you can let it in. Only you can make the change.

Rebirth. Emergence. New beginnings.

Something wants to emerge in you. Something wants to grow. If you’re experiencing pain lately, you may be shackled to a shameful old identity.

Kill it.

Death to your old story! Birth the new.

My old story is that I am an ugly, weak, awkward spaz. I’m not strong enough. Not fast enough. Not good enough.

knife-2162020_960_720Great news! I’ve stabbed the crap out of that story with sharp knives. I have done my best to kill it. Sometimes, it makes some last ditch attempts to get me, like that creepy villain in Diehard who never seems to die, but I’m on to it.

Death to my old story. Birth the new.

Death to your old story. Birth the new.

Gorgeous, super smart, storytelling reader: Want to make a transformation? Want to put down the heavy things in your life? Want to create powerful movement toward what you desire?

Start telling a new story. Make it a really good one. One that excites you.

Here’s mine: I’m a powerful feminine force for change. I educate leaders through my words and example. I do difficult things and gain insight in the process. My weaknesses become teaching plans. My struggles become offerings. I’m not on the planet to be pretty. I’m here to connect to people and love them and make them laugh as much as possible.

Hello, new story. I love you.

Hey, boo: What’s emerging in you?

You are so beautiful out there in cyberspace. Time to transform, lucky 13. Make room. Let it in. Shake the shame. Get murderous.

Death to your old story. May it rest in peace.

Birth the new.

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5 Mantras to Soothe Anxiety

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Heyyyyy sexy summer reader! What’s up? As a teacher, summer is my jam. Responsibilities go down, and free time goes up. Sometimes I do great things with my time, like relax and exercise and hang out with friends. Other times, I do unpleasant things like worry.

Do you worry too? That’s ok. Worries are just thoughts in our heads. Just sentences floating around. Just stories we make up that are usually untrue.

Every day, I meditate for 15-20 minutes. I try to let the sentences float away. I try to quiet the stories. I try to calm and clear my mind.

Then, something wonderful happens (not always! some days are chatter chatter chatter!!!): A beautiful word or sentence pops into my head.

In this post, I’m going to share a few of those beautiful sentences, and a few that I found from amazing teachers that I admire. They are my go-to mantras. Mantras are repeated words or phrases that help you reach a meditative state.

lord-buddha-2164384_960_720Mantras help you chill out.

Mantras ease your mind.

Mantras are incredible tools for feeling calm.

Here are 5 of my all-time favorites:

  1. It’s OK. You’re OK.

One of my brightest students from last semester said, “You know, it sounds silly, but I think the best thing I learned in your class was to tell myself it’s ok. Whenever I start to feel stressed, I just say, ‘It’s OK. It’s all OK. I’m OK.’ I want to thank you for that.”

Lots of students tell me this. I love teaching it. Because you know what? All your thoughts and feelings are OK. All of them. You are OK. It’s OK. Ahhh.

  1. I can get 20% more relaxed.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how I was in corpse pose in yoga and my teacher Scott asked if we could get 20% more relaxed, and I could. Even lying there with nothing to do, I could get 20% more chill. You can always chill out more. You can always unclench something. You can always soften a muscle. Get 20% more relaxed. Try it right now. You can get 20% more relaxed as you read this, right? Knew it. Ahhh.

  1. Be like water flowing.

waterfall-335985_960_720In Martha Beck’s book The Joy Diet, she tells a story of how her karate teacher told her, “If size and strength are against you, the only way to win is to be like water flowing.” Water can go over, around, through, under, and find a way. It is the ultimate in strength and flexibility.

Recently, I was waiting in line in security at the Orlando airport. There were so many people, they were all in a rush, and many of them were scowling and clenching. I repeated to myself, “Be like water flowing,” and soon I was breathing more deeply and noticing interesting things around me and flowing right through the line. Ahhh.

  1. Ride the wave.

ocean-2178482_960_720Little worries are one thing, and yet most people who are not medicated also have big swings of emotions. I’m going to refer you back to #1 and tell you that’s all OK. All of it. It’s all OK. When that happens, you can try to get 20% more relaxed and be like water flowing.

When I was a kid growing up on beaches in New Jersey, I took early morning water safety classes. We learned not to fight water. We discovered that big surf will exhaust you. Instead, you can ride out waves and currents. You allow them. You go with them. You accept them as part of tide cycles that go in and out. You know they don’t last forever (ahem… PMS). Be like water flowing. Ride the wave. Ahhh.

  1. You’re just like me.

buddha-1790620_960_720Finally, you may want to tell me that people drive you crazy. Actually, it’s your reaction to them that causes you worry. Mark Coleman, author of Make Peace With Your Mind, suggests a popular empathy practice called the “Just Like Me” practice. In an interview with Psychology Today, he says, “If someone is acting out negatively, I can say, “Just like me, I can also go unconscious, I have my biases. Just like me, I get reactive.” So we’re not neutralizing or equalizing or saying we’re the same, but we’re not as different as we think we are.”

This works for me all the time. I often say, “I’m like that too. I have done that. I have been that person. I have acted out like that too. That’s just like me.” No one is a terrible person. People are all just like me.

This works both ways. When you see some sexy summery person, and you think, “Ooh, they look great,” you can add… Just Like Me. Just. Like. Me. Ahhh.

Ahhh! Are you feeling better? Better and better and better?

Gorgeous, smart, ambitious, sunkissed, sometimes anxious reader: It’s OK. It’s all OK. You are OK. Your feelings and thoughts will come and go. You can get 20% more relaxed about it all. You can be like water flowing. When a wave comes, you can ride it out. It’s OK. Waves are natural. They don’t last forever.

Hey boo, I hope you have the happiest of summers. If you can, meditate for 15-20 minutes a day. See what awesomeness comes into your clear mind.

Then, make your own mantra. It will be the best.

Just like you.

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Kiss Your Biceps

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Yeeaaaah, the whole “hug yourself” thing can feel really silly to me. In yoga, when instructors cue me to hug myself, I have an eyeroll moment:

Seriously? Hug myself? Here we go again. Then, I’ll have to act like a happy baby. Ugggghh…

So, I almost spit out my water when the book I was reading suggested that I kiss myself.

Kiss myself.

Sure.

And then I laughed out loud. Alone. Sitting there in bed reading.

Kiss yourself.

IMG_4986The suggestion was so irritating. Why do I read such weird shit?

My irritation also reminded me that, when you really resist something, you may want to try it. So, I kissed myself. My right bicep. Quickly. Then, I laughed out loud. Then, I kissed my left bicep. And then, I kissed them both again because… well…

It felt good. Funny. Uplifting.

It also triggered a cascade of thoughts about my arms:

They lift the pot of coffee in the morning.

They type emails and stories on my computer that I hope someone will read.

They reach out to my students, trying to connect to the people I’m teaching.

They hold me up in yoga, they tremble and get stronger.

They chop onions and peppers in the same size so they cook evenly.

They wrap around my family and friends as my heart breaks open.

They wave goodbye.

They rest at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel as I drive away from people I love with tears in my eyes.

They rise above my head on the dancefloor, reaching for freedom.

They’re so strong.

They’re beautiful.

They are part of a beautiful whole.

They like to be kissed.

Beautiful reader with those beautiful arms of yours: Look at you. In so many muscle memories that you have made unconscious, your body is there supporting you and helping you and ready to be of service every day. Not just those sexy arms, but also your sexy head, neck, shoulders, torso, hips, legs, feet, toes. So much goodness.

Wow. As Ed Sheeran says, “I’m in love with the shape of you.”

Hey boo, those are some gorgeous biceps. Give them a kiss.

Seriously, bro. Stop with the eyeroll. Be a happy baby.

Mmmmmmmmmmmwah.

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