On A Verge

6046440678_d0b67a6518_m“We fear our intuitions because we fear the transformational power within our revelations.” ~ Carolyn Myss

It is documented that dogs have the ability to accurately sense five things: earthquakes, storms, illness, seizures and labor in pregnant women. Having read this I wonder whether dogs know they have these perceiving qualities?

Have you ever sensed you were/are on the verge of something big; something radically different or new? How did that sense make you feel? Invigorated, excited, hesitant, perhaps fearful? I pose these questions as I know I am on the verge of significant life changes. I sense this because I trust my intuition – that inner voice that just knows. This isn’t precognition, clairvoyance, psychic ability or impulse. It’s simply knowing that even in uncertainty, there is vision associated with a new direction and imminent change.

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Some people live for these moments. Others dread them. And there may be an indifferent lot as well. I’m one of the former. When my intuition strongly signals something, I know it’s right and the underlying choices often become strangely easy. It feels healthy; it feels good; it doesn’t feel like I’m forcing anything, there’s not a lot of conflict.

Of all the reasons for people to consider using their gut instincts to make big decisions, this may be the best: It frequently leads to choices and outcomes that are fulfilling; decisions that can improve the quality and trajectory of one’s life.

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If/when you feel you are on the verge of something life changing or perhaps less significant, here are three considerations that may help:

  1. Honor your intuition. Honoring your true self takes great courage. It may not be easy in the short-term to act on what you sense, but what price do you pay by not listening to it? Trust that nothing is revealed to you intuitively if it is not in your highest interest, even if that means making tough choices in your life. However intuition serves you, it is always in service of your well-being.
  2. Value time alone. As you travel the path of intuition, and leave behind aspects of yourself and life that no longer fit, you will need time to be with yourself to help stay grounded in your transition and transformation. Time alone will help to integrate new learning and provide guidance along your way. It will also support you to become comfortable without dependencies on other’s approval.
  3. Take in only what is nourishing. We frequently ignore our inner voice that is continuously providing guidance. We fear what it has to say. Listening to it might strengthen the courage for confrontation or challenge, or leave us with a sense of guilt for not doing so. It’s your voice! You have the ability to listen objectively and absorb what it’s saying compassionately.

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Peace and Joy

When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.” ~ George Harrison

Shopping today, I finally acknowledged the background music which was, predictably, Christmas themed. I know it has been playing for weeks yet I simply heard it as premature holiday noise, given my elsewhere focus. I’m unsure what triggered my ‘tuning in’ today but it was an anticipated and welcome shift.

One of my favorite vocalist groups is Pentatonix. Their medleys are amazingly creative and soothing. And since I’m now, officially, in the seasonal spirit, I am sharing one of their holiday harmonies. Their words and thoughts of cherishing, candles glowing, the joy of family, and love that the holiday season brings, are special to many of us. I hope you appreciate the piece.

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We’re heading into a bustling time of year; a time when peace can (and does) reign in our hearts and minds. While a bit early, yet with heartfelt warmth, I want to wish each of you a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanzaa or whatever you choose to celebrate. May your time with family and friends be filled with overflowing joy.

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Trust

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“Every disease is a physician.” ~ Irish Proverb

Have you ever experienced an unanticipated, three-day whirlwind in a hospital’s Trauma Unit followed by seemingly endless tests and diagnostic procedures? For yourself? When you visit a doctor or hospital, it’s likely with a sense of trust and hope. You’re at your most vulnerable, but you trust the doctor and you know s/he wants to do the best for you.

Unfortunately, the relationship isn’t always so straightforward for the doctor. Of course s/he wants the best for you, that’s why they joined the profession. But increasingly, physicians are being pulled by powerful forces that affect their decisions and the way you will be treated.

For we who want to visit a doctor or hospital in good faith, we also need to acknowledge there’s a ‘dark heart’ to medicine – created by the pharmaceutical industry which see doctors as little more than the deliverer of its expensive and sometimes dangerous drugs. And often, it is this dark heart that bring trust into question.

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The push by drug companies to make even bigger profits has dire consequences, one that Professor Ian Roberts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine describes as “industry slaughter.” Every year an estimated 100,000 Americans and 30,000 Britons die from an adverse reaction to a drug prescribed by their doctor and those are only the deaths that are identified as being the result of a drug.

Having been discharged and prescribed two new drugs, I researched a bit more. In a 2010 Gallup Health and Healthcare survey, 85% of Americans over 65 are confident in their doctor’s advice. 67% of those between 50 and 65 are confident, as are 65% of people under 50. This surprised me so I dug further.

Americans’ trust in the medical profession has plummeted in recent years, and lags well behind public attitudes towards doctors in many other countries, according to Professor Robert Blendon in a 2012 study at the Harvard School of Public Health. Per the survey of people in 29 countries, the U.S. ranked 24th in public trust of doctors.

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What’s driving trust levels down is that physicians in the U.S., as groups and leaders, are not seen as broad public advocates for health and health care issues, stated Blendon. “In the U.S., they’re seen more as a group concerned with their own professional problem and economic issues.”

I suspect there are endless studies that support or dispute these conflicting views. A few years ago I attended a full-day workshop led by renown trust expert Dennis Reina. One of several takeaways was a definition of interpersonal trust: An expectation about future behavior of another person and an accompanying feeling of calmness, confidence and security.

This leaves me wondering, who are the pawns in our healthcare system? The doctors or the patients?

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Most of us value trust. We want to trust others. And in many cases, we do. If trust is a matter that you question (not simply with health care), you can consider looking inward to your own integrity and believability with these three practices:

  1. Show people you care about them. When people know you care about their interests as much as your own, they will trust you. If they know you are out for yourself, their internal alarm sounds and they will say to themselves, “watch out for that person.”
  2. Say “I don’t know.” Admit that you don’t know and say it upfront and direct. You’ll get a lot of credibility for that.
  3. Recognize the need for risk. The extension of trust always involves an element of risk. There is no guarantee that the other person is deserving of your trust, but once the trust has proven well-founded, it can create even greater levels of trust.

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How You View You

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“Your whole life is a message. Every act is an act of self-definition. Everything you think, say and do sends a message about you.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Most of us, I believe, have at least one or two facets of ourselves that we spend considerable time nurturing. They’re often challenging efforts in conjunction with personal growth and development. The other day someone asked what one thing matters most to me? And I couldn’t immediately answer the question. My first reaction was to cite one of my key values but something deep inside said, “you’re warm but it’s not that.” I sought time and promised I’d soon get back to her with an answer.

I’m glad I didn’t rush simply for the sake of proffering an answer. When I later created space to reflect on the question, my mind was all over the map. I began to write:

  • being happy
  • life purpose certainty
  • knowledge
  • fulfilling relationships
  • smiling
  • compassion for others
  • love
  • accepting defeat
  • family
  • to keep breathing
  • learning
  • being passionate
  • mindfulness
  • time
  • being empathetic
  • health
  • life itself
  • curiosity
  • and much more

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It was when contemplating the ‘much more’ that I discovered what matters most to me: A positive self-view. For me, having a positive self-view (others might see this as self-regard or self-concept) means accepting myself for who I am and what I believe in. It means having the courage necessary to make my own decisions and to live life the way that’s right for me.

Absent a positive self-view we tend to compare ourselves to others, feel insecure about ourselves and are too sensitive to the opinions of others (though I admit to being a highly sensitive person). We also make choices based on other people’s expectations rather than what truly feels right for us.

I’ve lived much of my life with a diminished self-view. Sure I’ve been cocky and confident but there were plenty of times when I was concerned about other people’s judgment. Like many people, I’ve come a long way but I’m still working on learning to love myself, unconditionally. And, for me, this is challenging work. :)

If a strong(er) positive self-view matters to you, here are three considerations:

  1. Accept imperfections. Perfection is a lofty intention yet you need not start or end there. You’ve heard it before but make doing your best is an admirable goal. Focus on what you have achieved/accomplished and how you can draw on same going forward. Bypass what wasn’t done or ought to have been done differently. And laugh at yourself instead of criticizing.
  2. Be optimistic. Always believe in yourself. Being an optimist doesn’t mean always seeing the brighter side of life. It means to view your surroundings whereby you can maximize your gifts and strengths and minimize your hesitations and weaknesses.
  3. Forgive and forget. Your past can control you if you don’t control it. If you can, forgive past wrongs and move on. If you have a hard time forgiving or forgetting, consider talking through your emotions with a good friend or counselor, but try not to dwell. Allow freedom and new choices to frame your future.

And here’s my invitation: When you view you, what one thing matters most?

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Finding Your Way

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“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~ Anaïs Nin

First and foremost, Ron Chapman is a full-time, all-time student of life. This allows him to approach any discipline, principle or practice in a search for valuable ideas to incorporate into his life. It also presents continual challenge, an opportunity to shatter old perspectives and ideas which no longer serve well.

An integral part of the role of the student is to seek. And for this Ron has become an adventurer and wanderlust. Who knows what places, events or circumstances may hold for any one of us. Yet we must commit ourselves to such experiences.

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From a developmental point of view, Ron values a notion described by the American philosopher Ken Wilber as “transcend and include.” Essentially, this is to incorporate everything new in a way that allows you to elevate your practice in the world, no matter what form it may take.

More important is the need to use knowledge and experience for the benefit of others…to find a way to make a contribution that is larger and provides greater value.

                    Ron Chapman

Ron Chapman

As this week’s guest on the Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, Ron discussed life transitions, what he’s learned from working through his, the concept of ‘metanoia,’ his work in the areas of healing and forgiveness and, the fact that – as boomers – vital years are not waning but beginning.

Ron talked about stepping out of comfort zones and “leaning into” / getting comfortable with discomfort as well as convincing ourselves that doing so can be in our best interests, as well as how this action can better prepare us to create breakthroughs and turn our lives into new directions. We get a sense of how Ron’s work and experience is transformational.

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The show’s podcast and Ron’s contact information is linked here.

Asking More Questions

14367876694_13f49979ab_m“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I was blessed recently to share five days with one of my sisters and a nephew. She drove from Connecticut to Colorado Springs where she picked-up her son at school and then continued on to New Mexico for the Thanksgiving holiday. She would have flown but her son asked if she would mind driving his car to school for his use. Being the mother she is, she didn’t hesitate. :)

We spent time on three different days hiking in glorious Indian Summer weather, coupled with plenty of intriguing conversations. During one hike along the Sandia Crest (10,600 ft. elevation) trails I got to thinking, out loud, about why many adults spend less time being curious (we were discussing lichen). After all, curiosity is a key value of highly creative and innovative people.

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Curiosity fuels the acquisition of new information. Our brain takes in data and sorts, categorizes, relates, leverages and combines what is already present to create novel connections. And novel neural connections are the source of all that is new. So curiosity is an important learning tool.

Developing a new habit of asking more questions than you do at this point in your life is essential to energize your curiosity. Questioning is a cognitive pattern that can be habituated in our brain. Curiosity is questioning and by training your brain to question more, you become more curious. Why is it then, that children do this frequently and adults do so less?

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We have challenges at work, at home, and in the world that require creative solutions. It’s quite possible that those solutions will emerge from novel connections that we create in our minds. Consider asking yourself: What might be all of the things that I could do to enhance curiosity in myself and those around me? And you don’t even need to be at 10,600 feet altitudes to reflect on this.

If you are interested in exploring newness, here are three ways in which to feed your curiosity:

  1. Post a reminder on your bathroom mirror: “What am I curious about today?” or “What am I interested in learning about today?”
  2. When you hear someone say “It can’t be”, ask, “Why not?” Researcher Andy Aleinikov likes to say “Why not” every not.
  3. Pick up a publication that you wouldn’t typically read. Make yourself read at least one article or abstract that does not look interesting. Seriously. It’ll only take ten minutes and you might discover a new curiosity.

Or you can simply hang out on hiking trails with inquisitive minds. :)

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Today It Was About Me

5588872236_fcf0856f51_m“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” ~ Maya Angelou

It wasn’t something I planned. It wasn’t scheduled. It simply presented and I invited it in. I took a mental break today. Within the sanctuary of my own home and property, I reacquainted with myself. It was an interesting combination of being self-centered and being self-aware.

Sure I had activities and deliverables that could have captured my attention. There may have even been a more prudent use of the day. But my heart spoke. And I always heed my heart.

I read. I napped. I played and exercised with Logan and Bailey. I soaked in the jacuzzi. I listened to some favorite music. I prepped a delicious dinner. I didn’t think too much. And surprisingly, it wasn’t a total waste of those cumulative moments.

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I’m still smiling about all of it. :)

There’s a real danger in allowing ourselves to be entirely consumed by the next urgent task. If we never hit pause, we lose something important: space in which to think creatively, learn, consider problems and opportunities from a different perspective and perhaps, even dip our toes into unchartered waters.

This wasn't me. :)

This wasn’t me.

If the prospect of being at home wherever you find yourself is warming, here are three thoughts that might coax you into pausing more frequently:

  1. Sans intent. When you’re rushing to a solution or deadline, your mind will jump to the most familiar path. Yet when you allow yourself to look out the window for a few minutes and ponder, your brain will amaze you with new possibilities. It is this sort of unconscious creativity that leads to different perspectives. Think about how thoughts come to you when driving or in the shower. If you do create space in which to experience unobstructed thinking, be sure you do so with no specific intentions.
  2. Know when you need this. This doesn’t apply to dealing with inaction or procrastination. But If you know you are ready to stop, let go, and breathe, then a pause may well be in order.
  3. Simplify. When you have social commitments, shopping to complete and/or a home to keep up, focusing on yourself can be challenging. Be okay with saying “no” (even to yourself). Try not to over-schedule. And learn simple ways to take care of yourself. Being occasionally selfish is not a “bad” thing.

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Becoming Better Communicators

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“Communication works for those who work at it.” ~ John Powell

Jana Barnhill was elected Toastmasters International President at the 77th annual International Convention held August 2008, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She was only the fourth woman to serve as the top officer of the organization.

Recognized for her speaking skills, Jana placed 3rd in the World Championship of Public Speaking in 1993 and 2nd in 1996. In 1997, she became only the fifth woman in the organization to earn the coveted Accredited Speaker designation.

Jana Barnhill

Jana Barnhill

Professionally, Jana is a speaker/trainer for L.I.V.E. Speakers, Inc., a company she owns with her husband. She conducts seminars throughout the United States on management topics; including communication and leadership, team building, managing change and personality traits. She delivers keynotes and also serves as a speech writer and coach to other professionals.

Jana is no novice to staring trials in the face, while continuing to keep a smile on hers. Jana is a small plane crash survivor, suffers from a neurological disorder and her husband is battling ALS. She loves spending time with friends, theater, shopping, Christmas, movies, travel, anything fast, Disneyland (she has gone at least once, sometimes three times a year since 1991), entertaining and…shopping!

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As my guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, Jana shared how she never really sought a global leadership role; how community, culture, and connection are integral to the Toastmasters experience; how boomers can offer their wisdom and experience to help members of younger generations and; how listening is such a critical element of effective communication.

She shared two personal stories about being inspired and how mentoring builds confidence. She acknowledged that “people are her oxygen” and how they help to sustain her energy and positive attitude. Jana advocates for no matter where one is in their life, there are always opportunities to work on your communication skills.

Interested in learning more about Toastmasters, listen to the show podcast or visit http://www.toastmasters.org

Proportion

1193640557_d9fa8902e2_m“You are wholly complete and your success in life will be in direct proportion to your ability to accept this truth about you.” ~ Dr. Robert Anthony

When I think of proportion, finding the right mix is what comes to mind. Concepts of balance, unity, measurement, harmony or relative size might come to mind for you as well. Proportion can be simply defined as the proper relation between two things.

Proportion is abundant in its everyday presence. It applies to and we find it in/with:

  • investment allocations
  • food servings
  • sleep or lack of
  • sun exposure
  • use of time
  • relationships
  • spending/saving
  • Barbie dolls
  • scare resource use
  • home decorating
  • determining where to live
  • social media use
  • architecture
  • exercising
  • “work-life”
  • giving/tithing

6828186220_23d97e16c5_mThere will always be a mix that is appropriate for you and according to where you are in life. The challenge with proportions is how to consciously manage them. For example, how do you act at an all-you-can-eat buffet? Do you skimp on vital sleep at the expense of your health? Is you exercise regimen excessive… or too infrequent? Do you use water judiciously?

How often do you think about the various mixes in your life? Is there too much or too little of some things?

108139247_81df889079_mIf you’re open to reflecting on proportion, here are three steps you can consider taking:

  1. Focus on your mind and body. Start in small ways and find what level of healthy habits work well for you. Pursue being fit. Take a 20 minute walk. The same goes for your mind. A fresh mind is a fresh spirit. Read two out–of-the-ordinary articles each week. Listen to a podcast once a week. Spoken and written words enliven and harmonize our minds. Be rich in thoughts.
  2. Eliminate things that frustrate you. (This aligns with my recent post on being inconvenienced.) If getting home late on Fridays kills social events and puts a strain on important relationships, leave work a little early or limit your travel on Fridays. There can be endless sources of frustration in your life which yield disproportionate reactions. Simply take time to identify and manage them.
  3. Be intentional about time and proportion. Think of each year as 365 days of equal value, and then set out to get full value from each one no matter what you are doing.

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What to Give

5824862885_0e7c2dd835_m“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt

As a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I fondly recall my Dad taking us to the REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) store in downtown Seattle. With its warped wooden plank floors, it was located on the upper levels of an old warehouse. A co-op for all things outdoors (and more), it remains my favorite place in which to lose myself and spend considerable moolah.

My siblings and I were introduced to hiking, backpacking and camping at early ages. And we loved it! Now living in the desert Southwest, I pine for the pines, the mountain trails, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and nature’s majestic tranquility — well, unless one is white water rafting.

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So where did I find myself today? At a local REI outlet. I was browsing for Christmas gift ideas because I rarely give a gift unless it jazz’s me first. I left the store empty-handed, returning to my car. And it was in that parking lot that I had an insight: I am a giver. I always have been. Of myself and the material/tangible. I enjoy benevolence and I know many have appreciated being on the receiving side of gifting.

But I’m done with what has, for decades, been tradition; unless there is a pressing/genuine need for something perceptible. This year my Christmas gifts are going to be different. I’ve got some ideas but I am committed to identifying creative alternatives. At my cost, my objective is to invite family and friends to be part of creating joy and significance for people who may have little or receive nothing. Something substantive yet beautiful in its simplicity.

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This is where you can help and in doing so, share ideas for we of like mind. I would love to read/learn what you have heard about or done in this vein. I’m inviting your input. I’ve already had someone suggest gifting through Heifer International, an established, reputable organization that empowers sustainability efforts around the world with/for poor people in developing countries.

If you’re inclined to think ‘outside of the box,’ please do. I am encouraging all suggestions. In advance, thank you for taking a few moments to enlighten me with your thoughts. I’m navigating a new path and I’m excited for how this will be a win-win for, perhaps, you too. :)

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