Allowing Life To Grow Organically

slow down

Surrendering allows us to let life unfold naturally. It is not giving up. It is easing up. Motivating ourselves to move through the day while allowing some room for give and take. For the surprises.

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Slowing down, allowing creative ideas to bake a while, not forcing the outcome. There is a freedom in that. Letting it go and watching it grow. Trusting that all truth will reveal itself and that creativity takes time.

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Trusting the process, paying attention to the details so I don’t get overwhelmed by the bigger picture. That makes sense. That feels right.

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Monday morning. Being comfortable with the unknown. Butterflies in my stomach. Agitated, Anxious, Aroused. Feeling the anticipation without fear. Like the first day of school.

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Fully owning this moment. Being present to it all. Giving up the resistance to change is liberating while fully approving of what is happening in my life right now, forces beyond my control take over, transforming my life.

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I  just feel grateful. Appreciating both the good and seemingly “bad”.

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The remedy? I remain focused on the details of the day.

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Painting: Swans Reflecting Elephants by Salvador Dali

Going from Anxious Type A to a More Self-Healing Nature

I’m not sure when I adapted such a stressed out, hard-charging approach to life, but I did and it sucked and I am over it. I don’t regret much, but I do feel as if my fretful, grinding approach to work and life has exhausted me with very little more to show for it.

All that grind, all that toil, leading to very little added reward.

What a waste of energy.

Sure I feel successful, but I have over exerted my energy and worried my way to fatigue. The added busy motion, flying headlong into my days, pressing to get things done quickly, hasn’t adding anything of value to my life.

I could have had so much more fun enjoying the process.

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So now I am on a mission to change the habits that have led me to feeling exhausted and sometimes even sick.

Make it Simple, But Significant

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Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style,” says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health.”

Good Riddance to the Strain, Struggle & Strife

Eliminating the Need to Over Exert my Energy

My plan is to transform my Type A personality to a self-healing nature that is more curious, secure, constructive, responsive, and conscientious. These traits translate to enthusiasm for life, emotional balance, and strong social relationships. Read more about how your personality traits effect your life here.

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Barring any states of emergency that require immediate action, I ban all short and unreasonable deadlines. No more guarantees, pressure to promise results or setting up impossible goals.

I will only take on projects that I am exited to tackle and that I will enjoy completing.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t creatively challenge myself.

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If there is anything I regret, it is having spent so many of my years moving through my days, huffing, puffing, red-faced to get the maximum out of every day.

I could have done it without the pain.

Rushing ruins the whole thing.

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I want to move with more grace and elegance. I believe that with a calmer approach, much of my day can be effortless, enjoyable and effective.

How?

  • I will stop when I begin to feel stressed.
  • Take more time to think.
  • Look for ideas, not immediate answers.
  • Make obstacles work in my favor.
  • I won’t take the pleasure out of doing a great job because I am rushing through it.

More ways to eliminate the stress from your life.

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JR x Blu

In 2007, JR collaborates with Italian artist Blu on a mural installation in Berlin.

 

Additional Credits

 

Artist Nick Cave

 

Dodging Raindrops, Brilliant Podcasts and Rising Above A Toxic Workplace

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Two words, good posture.

Stop. Did you just do what I think you did? Did you just sit up a little straighter?

Next time you walk into the elevator or a big meeting, think about what your posture says about you as you pass through those doors. Then try these exercises for better posture.

It’s early morning, pouring rain, headed to the office in Soho (70 minutes, stuck in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, followed by a soaking 30 minute walk). Rain coming in sideways. I feel like –

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Wellness in the Workplace

Now, while big corporate decides whether there’s enough ROI (return on investment) around creating a “corporate wellness” program at your office (read: you healthier in their work camp), organizations are adding things like energy-absorbing flooring and enhanced air and water filtration. That’s all well and good but you must take matters of health into your own hands and back to your cozy cubby.

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Movement + Meditation = My Medication

When there is no time to work out in the morning I walk the five miles to and from work.

Walking at various speeds with intervals of stairs help me stay energized throughout the day and less guilty about not getting to the gym. Except when it rains really hard. Then I’m just like, what was I thinking?

That’s why I have invested in some serious commuter gear – I have provisions -umbrellas, rain coats, knapsacks, rain boots, you name it.

Love these rain boots and my  jacket below from Uniqlo

sperrySperry Top-Sider Women’s Pelican III Rainboot

UnknownTotes Signature SuperDome Auto Open/Close Umbrella, Black, One Size

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Learning on the Go

Podcasts I listen to at the gym and on my warrior walk to work.

  1. The Unmistakable Creative – brilliant interviews with super creative people.
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show – the #1 business podcast on iTunes right now
  3. School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – because he just wants to get better and better and so do I.

Or sometimes I simply walk and meditate. Huh? How do you do that? Well, you breathe and walk and just be aware of the fact that you are breathing and walking. Unless you are like me and want to Instagram every little stupid thing. Then you might want the guidance of a walking meditation app.

Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind.

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Workouts During the Work Day

Not as powerful as sweating it out for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, moving throughout the day gently keeps my body and head in check. Evidently, according to this Forbes contributor, there is something to this fidgeting.

Here’s what I am trying to do every day at work.

  • 10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk on Forbes.com here
  • A full glass of water (8oz) every two hours.
  • A healthy lunch – salad with protein.
  • Two 100 calorie snacks. Almonds or apples. (buy in bulk at Costco).
  • Always take the stairs and go outside every few hours.
  • 1 minute of breathing meditation at my desk on the hour.
  • A moment or two to laugh. Best of Jimmy (Fallon) here
  • Network – spend a little time connecting with others.

waterbottlemarkedwithtimeAre you shy? Want to make friends but feel a bit socially awkward?

Listen to this brilliant Tim Ferriss episode How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time.

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Rules of a Renegade

beginningThe more I learn and think about how I want to design my life, the more I believe it is important to write my own rules, have my own set of commandments, my own guiding principles for success.

This list here includes some of the most important ways in which I wish to serve the world. I am sure it will grow and change as I progress. Does anything ring true with you? Anything you recommend to add?

  1. If I don’t feel it, I won’t do it.
  2. Set (very) clear expectations with everyone.
  3. Build my life on truth and all will be okay.
  4. Don’t be a slave to striving.
  5. Grit, what it takes to persevere, is a combination of gratitude, optimism, self-control, social intelligence, enthusiasm and curiosity.
  6. Pros do what they have to do. I choose to go pro.
  7. Don’t act on auto pilot.
  8. Seek to discover new solutions to sticky, old problems.
  9. Slow down a bit. Give myself some more time to complete things in an improved way.
  10. Say know. Know what I must do to make the day just 1% better, each day.
  11. Don’t try to control what others are doing.
  12. Beware of getting caught up in group think – the delusion of the masses.

Read Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

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7 Mindful Habits for Growth

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Learning is an investment in yourself. I am obsessed with learning and discovering new ways to amplify my growth and expansion. Every day I commit some time to listen, watch or read something to expand my mind. For a list of what I am currently reading, etc., click here.

My learning ritual forces me out of my comfort zone, helping me climb to a new more expansive view of reality while I continue to discover  true daily disciplines and mindful habits to incorporate into my practice. Remembering this, here is what is resonating with me right now . . .

  1. My purpose is to create extraordinary value and serve others as profoundly as I can.
  2. Frustration is my friend. Like a true friend, frustration has an important message to help me grow. I curiously listen to my frustration so I can learn.
  3. Rejection is just feedback. Understanding this, I am able to review this feedback and correct my mistakes and move forward.
  4. I  keep a beginner’s mind. I remember that my growth is a never ending process of improvement and transformation.
  5. Life will pay me exactly what I ask for it and it is okay to ask for more.
  6. My life, relationships and investments in myself and others must be managed and cared for daily. I remain grateful for all that I have right now.
  7. I commit to giving more than I expect to receive. Always.

How about you? I would love for you to share what is resonating with you.

 

Too Small to Fail

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.”

Today’s thoughts inspired by a seriously smart book:  Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

Mini HabitsI travel to Manhattan for work each day (some people call it commuting). I intentionally take my travel to New York City each day and I view it as a big adventure. The big apple, right here in my own back yard, a playground that I get to rediscover over and over again. The dreaded 90-minute “commute” has become a part of a mindful and magical journey. Well, sometimes not that “magical”, but you get what you put into it, okay?

467a65572f527359c3eb3172dbb9b0b7Lately I’m very sad about the growing number of homeless men and women I see while I am walking downtown to my office from midtown to Soho. Counting 5, 6, 7 people per block, I thank God I haven’t become numb to this sorrowful situation.

A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

I became angrier and angrier at DiBlasio, at the system, at the crumbling world economy. I thought about creating a video and filming what others may not see. Heroin addicts, veterans, the mentally disabled lying down on the sidewalk with cardboard as their mattress and torn blankets as their cover. But other than devoting time to volunteering at a homeless shelter, what can I do?

Well a dear friend had a wonderful idea that helped me the other day. Bring them lunch. Pack extra lunches to hand out to those who are hungry as I walk to work.

Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

And so I did. I started with one sandwich yesterday. I am thankful to say that it was well received and I made a real connection with someone.  A older woman who thanked me. A soulful moment of compassion in a very crazy city.

Starting Small

This act of giving is not a new idea, but for months I was so concerned about the huge homeless problem I didn’t know where to begin. I got caught up in the amount of time, effort and energy it would take to do something, anything. Whenever we are trying to solve a problem that is bothering us this greatly we sometimes tend to get caught up in the enormity of it.

Perhaps you want to lose weight, hit the gym, save money, develop a new skill, invest in the market. My recommendation to you, is to start small, with mini-habits, that when practiced daily and consistently really do work.

Think about it, your goals may be too lofty and setting you up for failure. Yes it’s okay to dream big, but if you are having trouble failing, take this tip and advice from the author of Mini-Habits.

Some ideas . . .

Big Goal: Travel the world by the time your 30.

Small Habit: Begin by saving $10.00 a day by making lunch. Research the economical benefits of a round the world ticket. Read:  Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

51da8C8qg-L“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.” Quote from Vagabonding.

Big Goal: Lose 25 lbs by your 25th birthday.

Small Habit: Start with 1 less teaspoon of sugar in your coffee each day. Start with a 10 minute walk around the block.

Big Goal: Learn how to code your own website.

Small Habit: Start with a 5 minute session of a  class each day on Lynda.com, or Udemy.com

Big Goal: 100 pushups a day by halloween.

Small Habit: Do one push up right now. Maybe two tomorrow. Grow slow. Grow slow and steady.

Big Goal: Write the book.

Small Habit: Write one true sentence a day. (a wonderful piece of advice from Ernest Hemingway.)

Break it down. Do it daily. Be consistent.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the author’s Mini-Habit Ideas Mini Habits

 

 

 

 

Your Standing Ovation

Mick Jagger Oakland 1969
Mick Jagger Oakland 1969

We have all had this anxious moment. The split-second before you post. You re-read your writing, watch your video for the 50th time, re-work a paint stroke or study your sketch and ask yourself- – Is this authentic enough?  Does it stand out in a sea of sameness? Is it “unique” enough for the world to appreciate?

Michael Port, Author of Steal the Show, said it brilliantly in an interview the other day.

You don’t have to be different to make a difference.

Must Read
Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life

Madeline Johnson's Top Book Picks
An inspiring read “Steal the Show” has great work and life performance advice.

In my mind, way too much cred has been given to creating “authentic” and original work in a “unique” way.  This thought can really stifle your creativity.  Worrying about the “authenticity” of your work will only blur your vision and mission. Instead, strive to create a higher caliber of work each day. Your best work. You see, the distinction is that you are already different from everyone else. You don’t need to focus on your authenticity, you are already unique, just as you are. Yes, you do stand out in a crowd, even if you do absolutely nothing.

It also really helps if what you are creating what truly inspires you. If you are bored doing it, then chances are someone else will be bored reading or watching it.

Driven to Perfection

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to tip toe to my grave safely. I want to take risks, chances, I want to soar through this life.

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So I will let my fear be the fuel. The reality is, we all are afraid.

One of my favorite morning rituals is to listen to Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes. They are short, sweet, little bits of wisdom that can fuel your day. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

In one of my favorite mini-classes, he mentions taking a deep breathe when fear freezes you. Thinking back on my daily meditation practice, everything I have been learning and last night’s Vinyasa Flow Yoga class I find it funny and ironic, that the simple act of breathing has become such a “thing” in my new found intentional life.  Who knew something so mindful and simple could help so much.

Listen to Brian’s 10 minute video  for more tips on how to move through your fears. “How to Conquer Your Fear in 30 Seconds.

Are You Destined for Greatness?

violin-newHave you ever wondered what make some people wildly successful, others just middle of the road mediocre and  some just, well really bad at what they do?

Are the super successful achievers bestowed  some special divine gift? Some inborn or innate ability? Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Have you ever wondered what category you fit in?  Are you destined for greatness?  I could be wrong, but I imagine that any of us putting ourselves out there want to achieve some level of success, giving our greatest performances.

The Reality and Great “Secret” of Success

I was so lit up yesterday by an interview that I heard on the Unmistakable Creative podcast with Geoff Colvin who wrote a few books on the topic. His questions began with  . . . What makes Tiger Woods great? What made  Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.

Well, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.

Read the entire Fortune article here and it turns out that Colvin was inspired by a study about daily demanding deliberate violinist practice  that pushed them just a bit each day. Just a bit. You can read the original study on deliberate practice here.

The take away for me (and I would love your opinion). You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful. Great performances are available to all of us with daily deliberate practice.

Two books on my list to read this month –

Geoff Colvin  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will

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The Secret to a Super Successful Day

the-coolest-hotel-in-every-state-and-dcThis human being is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness,

Comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house and
empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Poem by Rumi

A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings

On the other hand . . .

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“The sweetness of adventures is in unpredictability. Life is a great thing, it’s new meetings, feelings, changes. I do not fear anything, and everything interests me. I could travel, be friends, visit as a guest. What more could I wish for? The fact that we could sit, watch, speak and normally cross the street – that is already happiness! One should value, what one has.”
Marat Safin

The Miracle of Mindfulness and Mono-Tasking

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thich-nhat-hanh-colour“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

Adventure travel isn’t always about riding big waves, biking through forests and ascending new heights — sometimes it’s about wandering inside, to explore the realm of our inner worlds. I’m stoked to be going to Town Hall NYC  to hear one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh

This week in the US, 75 monks and nuns from Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic order launched a cross-country “Miracle of Mindfulness” tour. #miracleofmindfulness Visit http://www.tnhtour.org/ for the tour schedule.

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Mono-tasking – the opposite of multi-tasking, when we are really engaged in what we are doing, that one thing right now. The unobstructed mind.

This practice helps us to become more and more awake to our presence. To wake up to recognize what is really taking place right now.

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Interested in learning more about Buddhism and Thay? The 14 Mindfulness Trainings from the Order of Interbeings.

Read

The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide by the World’s Most Revered Master