Archives for the month of: August, 2011

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. ~ FDR

Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain. ~ Mark Twain

It used to be that scary movies only came out around Halloween, and there were just a handful at that.  Nowadays they seem to be released throughout the year in waves and are more creepy, disturbing and bloody than ever.

Besides the usual monster mashes and alien invasions, there are the stories that prey on our defenselessness to natural disasters, biological vulnerabilities and other such forces beyond our control. And then there are the films and shows that simply glamorize and cool-ify violence and revenge, and types of people who are clearly negative, like serial killers, drug dealers, vampires, ghosts and witches to name a few.  That last group scares me the most, as they are slowly but surely desensitizing us to characters with qualities we should not want to be chummy or fall in love with.  But I digress…

When it comes to our ‘real’ lives, there are all sorts of metaphoric and literal things that go bump in the night, but the biggest one and root cause of all the others is the fear of the unknown. Whether wondering what that noise in the basement is, what havoc a major hurricane, earthquake or terrorist attack will wreak, to being unsure of where your next meal, paycheck or retirement income will come from, or what happens when you have to speak in front of a crowd or after you take your last breath…. all the possibilities that can run rampant in your head boils down to one outcome: not knowing what the outcome is.

Most humans, especially Americans, and particularly New Yorkers, like to control everything. And because we are constantly active and living in this 21st century distraction-filled and overstimulated world, the paradox and irony of the antidote to the fear of the unknown is for many the biggest fear of all: knowing ourselves.

The best way to deal with any fear and anxiety (no, not grabbing for a xanax) is by being in the present deal and with what is right now, not what was or what could be.  And to be in the present you have to be with yourself.

By being in touch and comfortable with who you are and what you know and are capable of, you can take control of your life in a healthy way and come to trust in the process of a Universe that is always conspiring for your good. At the same time you must be vigilant and discerning as to what might be posing an actual threat or leading you astray.  The goal is to balance that faith and trust with information, knowledge and understanding by being practical, realistic and prepared without becoming or succumbing to an alarmist, getting caught up in others fears or letting your imagination run wild – because it’s almost never as bad as we think it will be.

There is a school of thought that says the opposite of love is fear, which makes sense since the way to overcome fear is with courage, a word whose Latin root means ‘heart’, the muscle we use to express – you got it: love. So whatever it is you are currently afraid of, Put a Little Love in Your Heart and notice the fear starts to melt away.

Feeling like the Lion in the Land of Oz?  Give me a buzz and I’ll show you what fears are real and imagined, and help you develop the courage to move forward on your own personal yellow brick road. I promise you’ll be stronger, braver and wiser for having made the leap of faith to a new normal where you will wonder ‘what was I so afraid of in the first place’? 

This Friday, August 26th is Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the women’s vote and which the liberation movement of the 70’s declared an official holiday to recognize the full human rights of women in every area of life.

Many women who were too young or not yet born before that time take much of how we exist and the choices we have for granted, not realizing the struggles so many before us endured to get this far.   We’ve come a long way here in America, and more recently around the globe, thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of thousands of feminists and human rights activists.  But we’re not there yet.

Although we’ve made legal advances on the books, there is still a lot to be accomplished culturally, which is a more insidious, challenging fight. Ironically, this Friday August 26th there is a movie called Colombiana coming out – the premise and their marketing of it is quite deceiving with its gorgeous star and tagline “Revenge is Beautiful.” It’s the most current and blatant in a series of a trend in films and tv shows written and directed by men glorifying extreme male behavior by casting the protaginist as an attractive woman.

These are not feminine roles although they are cast with women, which gives us a false sense of progress.

This past weekend a celebrity wedding took place with much ado made about it although I’m not sure why.  Famous for being famous, flaunting their extravagance while most are struggling to make ends meet, and treating each other disrespectfully, these alluring beautiful women earn their money by selling a voyeuristic view to their lives and are quick to add fuel to the fantasy fairytale notion of weddings without showing, at least to the world, any true understanding about the real meaning of marriage.

In NYC, lately everywhere you look women are wearing shoes that they can barely walk in; the heels, platforms and wedges keep getting higher and higher. Along with bra-burning this was one of the things women’s libbers protested against.  I do love a good shoe (although I am six feet tall and would look slightly scary in four inch platforms) and am as fond of fashion as the next gal, but not being able to walk is pushing it a bit too far and literally defines the saying being a ‘slave to fashion’.

So yes, women are getting ahead in many ways, but when you put them in shoes that are meant for a different kind of street walking, they can barely move.

Men are not the enemy and women are certainly not perfect. But we have to be careful when we see women being used as masks to the negative ways men operate or exaggerated versions of the way men would like us to be and think we have advanced.  And there are more women in leaderships positions than ever, but it doesn’t mean anything if they are just behaving with a male agenda and perspective.  We need a balanced, positive dose of the best of both worlds.

Know you should be liberated but not quite feelin’ free?  Whether male or female, give me a buzz and I’ll show you where you may be getting duped or taken advantage of by “the man” and how you can make the most of your masculine and feminine sides by asserting yourself with grace and compassion.

In 2009, Southern Australia experienced some of the worst bushfires in over 20 years.  But the climate and landscape make them a regular occurrence, and many flora and fauna have adapted over time to use these periodic blazes to fertilize its soil, spread their seed and regenerate more quickly. New species that can thrive in such conditions have been introduced and folks in many places have even used controlled forest fires to remove underbrush and clear land for other constructive uses.

So with all the heartache and devastation that accompanies such incidents, it’s important to remember that there is a positive and negative aspect to everything; even disasters can ultimately be productive and have a silver lining.  One thing is for sure: you cannot ignore a fire. 

Sometimes we get to the place where destruction is required for something to be addressed/corrected/acknowledged and/or given the opportunity for that which is new and improved to exist.  The riots in London, the stock market and debt ceiling madness, the crises in Syria and Somalia, extreme weather and other ‘fires’ both here and around the world are ablaze, calling us to pay attention to them in one way or another. It’s up to us to know what needs to hosed down, and what needs to simply burn baby burn.

In many ancient cultures, it is said the immortal mythical phoenix dies many deaths by bursting into flames only to return once again, rising from its own ashes for all eternity.  As you look upon the landscape of your own life, what needs to be consumed and let go of in its current form in order to be reborn anew more magnificently?

Can’t quite see through the smoke or feel the heat? Give me a buzz and I’ll show you which fires need to be put out, which need to be stoked and where one might need to be consciously lit under your butt so that something better can sprout up in its place and you can move forward in any area of your life.  I’ll either be that spark to Light Your Fire or help you with Burning Down the House…

When things aren’t quite going your way, it’s easy to fall into the grass is always greener syndrome. But as the saying goes, before you judge a man (or covet his life), walk a mile in his shoes.

You don’t have to turn back the clock , eat a magical fortune cookie, ride in a souped up DeLorean or relieve yourself in an enchanted fountain to discover your life and relationships are exactly as they should be, or get the kick in the butt to make them better.

The fact is our lives are the sum total of all the choices we’ve ever made up until this point – a combination unique unto ourselves, which means we have created the situation that on some level we’ve wanted or needed in order to learn and grow on this journey called life.

So whatever your state of affairs, take full responsibility for it. The good news is that if you don’t like it,  because you got yourself into it, you totally have the power to get out of it!

A lot of my clients right now are at the point of no return –  where there’s no turning back or delaying the inevitable any longer.  They’ve gotten to a place where the only thing to do is to go through – there is no way round, there is no way back – they need to make a change or take action in a certain direction because at this point there really is no other alternative, whether because of forced external realities or an internal malaise and dissatisfaction that they can no longer withstand.

Why changes haven’t been made up to now is a more complicated and varied topic for another time; often it’s a stronger sense of obligation to others and what they would want or would make them happy that prevents us from moving forward to the beat of our own drum. But contrary to Hollywood plots, we are the ones who have to live in our bodies, so it’s up to us to do what needs to be done. It’s time to go big or go home.

Not fully convinced you don’t have to go all topsy turvy or time-travelly to get it right? Give me a buzz and I’ll be the freaky fictional device that helps you wake up and smell the coffee. You’ll understand and appreciate where you’re at and what changes you can make in order to learn and experience whatever you need to be the best you can be, Right Here, Right Now.

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure ~ Peter Marshall

In case you haven’t noticed, my Personal Growth Gab eblasts which for well over a year have been arriving in your inbox every Tuesday without fail have been a bit erratic as of late.  I have been juggling several balls and doing the best I can, in the time I have, with the resources at my disposal, and frankly for the most part have been kickin’ some butt managing it all.

Sometimes life gets to be too much all at the same time, and something’s gotta give.  Although I currently get no direct monetary compensation for sending these things out, the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve gotten from so many provides a level of satisfaction, joy and sense of obligation for me to consistently give you some food for thought, inspiration and perhaps a chuckle to start your week.

The good news is that these times are always temporary, and the world certainly will not end if I don’t get my blast to you on a Tuesday, or even skip a week without letting you know….but I promise it won’t become a habit!

When I was in Tunisia during Ramadan a few years ago, our guide could not eat or drink the entire day he was educating us about the history and architecture of his country and taking care of all our needs. When I expressed my concern for him working under such conditions, he replied in the calmest, most zen way only a person who is fasting while working 10-12 hours a day in the heat could say “There are no problems, only opportunities.” 

Between the extreme summer temperatures, the public pressure felt from the debt ceiling and other world problems looming, the many decisions and twists of fate that have been thrown my way all while trying to throw a celebration of the last ten years of my life was an exercise in self-worth, focus and discipline. Let’s just say a few of my carbon atoms have definitely transformed into diamonds, or at least crystallized!

I’ve chosen a journey that includes many challenging situations, having to prove myself, my tenacity, putting everything I preach into practice, be able to turn on a dime, process things quickly and ask for help.  I’ve been getting quite the workout that’s for sure and have felt like a ninja warrior most recently, but am so grateful, as I am stronger and better for having gone through it all.

Feeling a little Under Pressure yourself?  Give me a buzz and I can show you how to get through the fire and become a lean, mean, diamond-making machine.  We’ll figure out what the heck and why and what the benefit of all that was – knowing that everything happens in time and on time to keep you going and growing in the direction of becoming the mighty oak that you are!

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