A Simple Autumn

When this autumn season really got going I expressed my concerns that the leaves weren’t looking their usual brilliant self. It turns out that the leaves never really did their usual brilliant show. Yes, there were a few very nice trees, and it was very clear that autumn arrived and proceeded with a leaf change as usual, but not with the usual colors that autumns shines with as one last hurrah from Mother Nature before winter rolls through.

As I was driving around today I got to thinking about this lackluster autumn and what it can say about our lives and success. I think it’s a good reminder that we don’t have to live “wow” lives. That every moment doesn’t have to be worthy of sharing on social media, every thing we do doesn’t have to be this huge success, we don’t have to have storybook relationships and marriages, it’s OK if we’re not huge celebrities, don’t constantly go viral, get out some frozen pizzas instead of doing a fancy home cooked meal occasionally, or give a good effort and move on rather than working on perfection.

Maybe the story of the leaves this year is the reminder you need that while there are moments in life that really stand out, much of life is just putting one foot in front of the other, doing what we have to do to keep up with our responsibilities and relationships.  Or maybe it’s an indication that you’re trying too hard in your life and you need to take a step back and let life shine again.  Maybe this is the year that you truly do make the holiday season one of peace, relaxation and love with family and friends.   What does this subtle autumn season teach you?

Life Lessons from Dogs

I’m a dog person. I love all creatures, and make a point of supporting and help share about organizations that work for and with any type of animal, especially the endangered kind, but without question dogs top my list. I don’t know if you watch much TV but there are quite a few companies that use animals in their commercials, including quite a few that use dogs. Subaru is at the top of that list as well as Chewy and Petco. I also read an article this week sharing about a pro football team that has adopted a dog for emotional support. You may wonder why pro football players need an emotional support dog, but what it says to me is that everyone and anyone can benefit from having a dog, for emotional support or otherwise.

Yes, there are benefits to having other animals too like cows that provide milk or chickens that lay eggs, and other animals like bunnies and cats can be used as emotional support animals, as well as make good pets. But dogs are most like humans even though they’re fully animal, which helps us identify and connect with them easier than we do other animals, and there are quite a few dog breeds that are larger in size which makes them great as mobility support dogs and seeing eye dogs, enabling them to do things for us that cats, chickens, cows and bunnies just can’t do.

The idea or concept that I want to share about today though goes back to the belief that anyone can benefit from a dog and everyone should have a dog (except those who are deathly allergic of course). But a dog is about more than having an amazing bundle of snuggles in your life that looks like a dog, it’s about what else the dog brings to the table. Dogs are loyal, loving, protective, caring, sensitive, non-judgmental, forgiving and attentive. I don’t know many humans who fit that whole list, and most only fit one or two of those qualities. We talk about the (human) role models we have, whether they’re emergency service workers, made up superheros, or family members, and those are great people to learn from. But there’s obviously a lot we can learn from man’s best friend that despite having a relationship with them for hundreds if not thousands of years.

In many ways I’m humbled by the fact that a creature that has less intelligence than humans are said to, is often better able to navigate the world and relationships than we “wise” humans do. In talking with a friend this past week who lost their father in law, they commented how the best support they got was from their dog. So this week I encourage you to take a lesson from our canine friends and try a little harder to listen, love and care about the people that we share this world with.

Hope and Brilliance

So I’m a bit concerned today and maybe you share my concern. What am I concerned about? The leaves that are changing colors for autumn seem to be missing their brilliance. I see some colors out there, but there’s almost a brown tinge to everything. The yellow leaves are more like weak chicken noodle soup and less like a yellow jacket. The red leaves are like reddish-brown clay rather than a hot red pepper. And the orange leaves just look brown.

I’m not exactly up on the science of how leaves transform and what gives them their brilliant color, but it almost feels like someone took the thrill out of autumn. It’s just not the same to have the warm beverage and be out picking apples and taking a drive in the countryside if the leaves aren’t brilliant colors. It doesn’t seem like the usual last hurrah for the year that nature has before it transitions to the sleep of winter.

Admittedly it is quite early in the season and there are still tons of green trees out there, so anything is possible and I haven’t given up hope. But I’m not in love with autumn to begin with and not having the usual leaf display makes it that much harder to face. As I’ve been feeling a bit depressed by the leaves over the past few days, it’s got me thinking about our lives and our world. We’ve come so far and yet it seems like sometimes we’re not making any progress. Yes, there’s always something that we could be working on, but it’s more than that: it sometimes seems like we’re falling behind or taking steps backwards instead of moving forward. I don’t know about you but not only is that frustrating to me, it’s discouraging too.

I can’t do anything about the leaves, but I can do something about my life and try to do something about the world I live in, in fact we all can. Individually we can commit to a schedule, get organized, hire help, reduce our distractions, reduce our commitments, donate stuff, and make choices that feel good and are good for the world we share. As a community we can share a good word on social media, support local businesses, sign petitions, support charities, vote and be considerate of those we share this planet with. It won’t happen instantly, but if we’re committed to making positive steps forward every day and to having more victories than losses, together we can keep our lives and the world moving forward and not let it slide back. Will you shine a little more brilliantly today?

Ready to Run

One of the questions you hear most frequently from police officers is “why did you run”? Sometimes there’s an understandable reason like they killed someone or stole a ton of money and don’t want to get the really long jail sentence they’re looking at. But more often than not it’s inconsequential, nonexistent, or certainly not worth the extra charges they get for running. When you hear the stories you have to shake your head, especially after you hear again and again that they would have maybe gotten a little ticket had they just pulled over and behaved.

The truth is that running rarely pays. Yet we seem to pick running as a default in many areas of our lives, not just when faced with police. We run from hard situations at work, from relationships that need work, family situations that frustrate us, and homes that need some TLC just to name a few. Yes, sometimes running is the right answer and we should run as fast as we can, for example in abusive relationships, but often we choose to run rather than put in the time and effort to fix things. And there’s nothing wrong with needing a fresh start, but it’s not a good reason for running.

Of course the best advice is to not do anything that will get you into a situation that would inspire you to run like committing a crime or letting any situation in your life get so bad you just want to throw in the towel. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed, and that’s OK. But when we’re starting to feel overwhelmed it’s time to ask for help, to stand up and accept the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into, to stop putting off dealing with the situation, to start taking actions however small to conquer the situation rather than running from it. I encourage you to choose courage today and face your life and the people in it and choose to build a better future.

A Journey of Self Discovery

Today I’m thinking about what it means to be yourself. I talk on occasion about the importance of caring for yourself and not making so many sacrifices you don’t take the time to care for yourself, and I often talk about the importance of each of us being our own person and unique. But I don’t take a lot of time to dive into the insecurities and the struggles that almost all of us face.

Some of us only take one journey of self discovery in our lives, and that’s because it takes that much time and life to work through just that one path. Others of us take one journey of self discovery and we discover early on who we are and the rest of our life is filled with learning, but being confident in who we are. Many of us however take many journeys throughout our lives, each path being a new experience or opportunity that may have little or no bearing on a previous one, our path is ultimately just to explore.

It can be frustrating, even scary, to get to a point in your life and realize that the journey has completely changed or the path you were on has abruptly ended. Which is why it’s so important to be willing to love yourself no matter what, to work on forgiving yourself in many situations, to be at least understanding that change happens (often), and have a support system you can tap into (even if it’s a virtual one or a therapist/counselor).

If you are going through a particularly challenging portion of your current self discovery journey, I would encourage you to make time on a daily basis for both action and reflection.  Keep yourself moving in the direction that the path is leading, and take time to consider the lessons you’re learning and make sure that you’re going in a direction that’s healthy for you and those in your life.

One final thought for today: try to trust yourself. You won’t always get your gut feelings right, you won’t always make the right decisions, you won’t always allow the right people into your life, but if you trust yourself, your abilities, your passion, your smarts and your heart you’ll get there more often than not.

Living with Bravery and Strength

One of the things that presents the greatest challenge in many people’s lives is to be themselves. It can be easy to fall in with what everyone else is doing, but one of the greatest callings, opportunities and challenges is to be yourself and be the person that only you can be. One of the challenges to that is that we’re not born fully formed, we grow, learn, develop and become throughout our lives. It’s a big process that we have to keep learning from and working on, including learning from our mistakes and the experiences of others. Added to this is that we may change from who we are during one period in our lives, and that’s OK because it’s not likely that we’ll be the exact same person at 18 as we are at 80.

What should keep us sane and positive during the journey of discovering who we are is the confidence we have in ourselves. If you believe in yourself and your ability to successfully work through the changes and challenges in your life you’ll be just fine working through whatever comes your way. It’s not about knowing how to handle everything, but rather believing in your ability to do so, including being able to tap into the people and resources who can support you in whatever ways you need to get it done.

Do you believe in yourself? In your ability to handle what life brings your way? In your ability to navigate and make good decisions that empower you and are wins for everyone involved or affected by them? If you don’t have confidence in who you are, if you don’t like who you are, if you don’t feel strong in your abilities, it’s a great time to step up and do some soul searching. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re feeling a little lost or that life has shaken your confidence in yourself recently, working with a life coach or confidence coach can help you conquer those hurdles and get back to living and thriving.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A. A. Milne

Celebrating Second Chances

You know, it’s a lot easier if we get things right the first time. But the fact is few of us are close enough to perfect to not have to go back and proofread our work or do a second interview or ask follow up questions or try another marketing campaign or have to practice before we become good at something. And sometimes we never truly get it right and just get it a little more right with each attempt, and that’s as good as it gets, like with parenting and many of the other ever-changing aspects of our lives.

I get it, we’re in such a rush and there’s so much on our plates that it would be easier if everything worked out the first time, but it often doesn’t. Today I was reminded that sometimes second chances are awesome. Sometimes that redo is something much more productive and successful than the first try could have ever been. Sometimes you learn and grow more from the second (or third) chance or try than you do from the first. Sometimes you meet someone or make a connection that would have never been made if you didn’t have to do a redo. Maybe the redo isn’t so bad after all.

What if the second chance, the opportunity to redo something, the second round was actually a good thing? What if instead of giving firsts all the power we instead started to value the seconds? What if instead of hating the time it took to go through additional rounds, instead we cherished the relationships it helped build, the opportunity to make things better, and the things it taught us? What if instead of trying to be perfect on the first try, we just let our brilliance loose for the first round and then took care of the details in following rounds? How would your life be better and different if you stopped trying for perfection on the first try?

Living Today

The new year has arrived and we’re almost a week in! I love that we have life divided into days, months, years and lifetimes. It helps us to process better and plan both short-term and long-term goals which give us small and large victories throughout our lives.  Each one is filled with a different set of opportunities for us to live and love and build relationships and be successful.

I don’t always go with a year theme, but lots of people do. I’ve seen lots of different words this year including spaciousness, time, intention, substance, experience, purpose, promise, change and clarity. This year I’ll be doing something different and not doing monthly themes for every month as I’ve done in the past, but instead going with a yearly theme. This year’s theme is going to be ‘today.’

Why ‘today’? Not because of how fast-paced our world is, but rather because I want us to take a step back and live in today, accomplish things today, appreciate today, learn from today and enjoy today. Yes, we’ll still talk about goals, planning, the future, and the bigger picture, but I want to focus on appreciating, enjoying and acting on each day.

As we’re constantly reminded of in the news each day is a gift. What you do in that day may make or break your future. It can overcome what you’ve done in the past. You can end the day satisfied with what you got done that day or feeling like it was all a waste. It may be one of your last days, will you look back and know you lived it well?

What will you do with today?

The Legacy You’re Creating

The new year is here!   Are you looking forward to the year ahead?  This year I’ve got some great topics planned to support you, your significant other and your family.  Today I thought we’d start the year off by talking about the topic of legacy.

We each leave a legacy when we leave this world and the legacy we create leaves an impact on those who personally knew us as well as everyone else directly or indirectly who are influenced by the choices we made, which comes down to basically everyone.  Each day the choices we make add to or take away from that legacy.  Our choices influence the choices others make too, especially when it comes to those we’re in relationship with or are considered to be our family.  Tina Turner said:

“My legacy is that I stayed on course… from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”  

Will you choose to make this the year that you stand up for yourself, your partner, your kids or other family members and finish what you’ve started?  Or will you let another year go by without making the decisions that need to be made and taking the actions that are needed to free you from the baggage holding you back?  I encourage you to choose to start and finish this year stronger than you ever have before.

The Choice of Your Steps

Each week, each day, we make thousands of choices in our lives. Our life is like one of those “choose your own adventure” books in which the choice you make determines what happens next. One thing may not ruin the ending, or bring us closer to success, but each choice we make does have an impact on our lives. If you make a really wrong choice you’ll end up on countless evening news stations as the talk of the day (or those crazy afternoon shows if you really mess up). But if you make a really good choice you’ll find doors opening for you and relationship possibilities you never thought could happen.

Victories in the truest sense are only accomplished when all parties win. This means we have to learn how to work together rather than fight, and do our best not to hurt others , and work hard to not hurt others to the point that they would seek justice. It only ends up setting all of our victories back further.

Why? Because as Mahatma Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” If you’re so focused on getting justice for how you perceive you were wronged you’ll only bring to pass what Gandhi predicts: the whole world will end up in turmoil trying to get their wrongs played out on those that hurt them. This isn’t how we accomplish victories though. A punishment will never truly right a wrong, but it’s what we think is our best option for serving justice, and has been for centuries.

With every choice, action, or lack thereof making an impact on your future you would think more of us would do the right thing more often. It can get frustrating that we don’t see the progress, but one day we’ll realize exactly how far we’ve come and how many pages we’ve turned and we’ll either be thrilled or mad. If you were to turn the page and find that tomorrow morning your story ended, how would you feel? Choose to make this a week that gets you even a little closer to your goals.