Archives for the month of: November, 2016

Although I am not Cuban, I have had two personal experiences with Fidel Castro, so his passing has brought up lots of memories…

The first one is very Forrest Gump-like and a bit insane; you’ll have to buy me a drink and hear that story in person 😉

The second is when I went to the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, right before 9/11. One of my motivations for embarking on this crazy solo trip was that the closing ceremony was supposed to feature a keynote by Nelson Mandela.

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(Today’s PGG was originally published on my personal Facebook page on November 26, 2016)

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When author and self-help/relationship guru Iyanla Vanzant was asked what her prayer is, she answered that she had three. The first one is “Help!” The second is “Help Now!” And the third is: “Thank you.”

Especially during stressful times, it’s good to keep that superpower (as I described it to my ninth-graders in Life Class) in your back pocket to use throughout the day and cultivate and attitude of gratitude as part of your overall MO.  Many studies and notable folks have promoted the benefits and magic that the energy of gratitude unleashes; whether writing a daily list, speaking it to others in your life, or silently acknowledging everything you are thankful for as they arise in and around you, gratitude opens your heart and is the best way to celebrate your life, stay grounded and reduce your stress no matter what.

Yes, we all know that Oprah keeps a gratitude journal, but even tough guy media mogul and bison king Ted Turner, in some of his darkest hours in the midst of a huge corporate mess and painful divorce, said that’s what kept him going. Every night before he went to sleep he would think about everything in life he was grateful for, and that helped get him through to another day.

Of course it’s easy to be grateful when things are going your way, got lucky or you prayers were answered, but what about in the midst of a difficult situation or for the things we take for granted and hardly even notice anymore? It’s not always easy when you’re in the moment, but just try breaking out some appreciation when dealing with serious challenges and/or their aftermath (i.e. taking care of a sick/aging parent, being laid off from your job, breaking up with a longtime partner, facing a debilitating illness or physical disaster), and focus on whatever good the situation is allowing you to experience right then and there. Remember to think about other hard times you’ve gone through in the past – in hindsight you were always glad they happened, right?

There are so many ways and moments that we can use gratitude, not the least of which is in our everyday interactions – whether with friends, family, foe or stranger, the common courtesies of “please” and “thank you” go a long way and are indeed deposits in the gratitude account. And the little things and everyday surroundings we take for granted are not to be overlooked; this truly is the stuff of life: “Thank you for the roof over my head, my functioning brain, my ability to dance and listen to music, all the work I’ve done on myself to get to this point. The fresh air, sunshine and easy access to the ocean as well as to the mountains; the rain that makes the leaves green and the air that those leaves create so I can breathe; for the good friends and people who support me and make me laugh…” you get the idea.

It’s even become automatic now that when I sit down to eat a meal, I briefly pause to silently give thanks for the fact that I have food before me and appreciate the nourishment it provides, the miracle of Nature, the variety of options available to me; for all the hard work it took to get it here; the people at the farmer’s market and grocery store; the fact that I had the money buy it and my ability to cook, see, smell, taste and digest it; for the pleasure it gives me. It takes only a few seconds to encompass that recognition and all of those thoughts into one acknowledging feeling, because when you really think about it, it truly is a blessing. (P.S. I LOVE food.)

And, as a professional coach, I am beyond grateful to all my clients, who trust me with your time, energy, journey and dollars, and allow me the opportunity to do something I truly love that helps you grow and heal your lives, which in turn has helped me to grow and heal mine.  And for my PGG readers who allow me to express myself in a creative way that you find beneficial and entertaining:  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

It’s true that ” What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” so if you can’t quite see the silver lining in the clouds around you, give me a buzz and I’ll help you taste the rainbow of your life.

Wishing you and your family peace and abundance this Thanksgiving holiday and beyond!

(Today’s PGG was originally published on July 8, 2014)

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

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One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others .~ Nelson Mandela

Revolution is the evolution of humans into a higher humanity. ~ Grace Lee Boggs

Those of you who know me or have been reading PGG for a while are aware that my passion and mission in life has always been to contribute to world peace, mostly through my work best expressed in my mantra that personal transformation is the key to social transformation.

So it should come as no surprise that I profoundly relate to and revere the lives of these two nonagenarians, Nelson Mandela who died last week at age 95, and the 98-year-old* activist and author Grace Lee Boggs. They literally embody this philosophy in every cell of their beings; they have demonstrated it externally with their activism and sacrifice for racial equality and social justice, and internally by the wisdom they have gained and generously share from nearly a century of experience, observation, and, most importantly, reflection.

Both started out as “radicals”, and were branded as terrorists with the requisite FBI/CIA files (Mandela was even on the US terrorism watch list until 2008!) because they initially saw the only way to overthrow the entrenched power structure was by employing the more literal and sometimes violent tactics of revolution through organized movements and a spirit of rebellion. But through trial and error, incarceration, and maturity, they eventually evolved; they gave themselves permission to change their minds, learn and grow in light of new information, experimentation and once again, reflection – ultimately coming to the conclusion that in order to change the world, they would have to change themselves.

They came to understand that indeed humanity is made up of humans and that humans were going to have to deal with other humans in order to get anything done. So we’d better be the best we can be as individuals and try to get along and get past our differences and disagreements, because the reality is that we must co-exist harmoniously – whether in a racially divided African country, a rundown bankrupt American city, or in your very own household.

We are living in extraordinary times, and it is no accident that you are who you are at this moment in history.

What does your humanity mean to you?  As our world continues to go through turbulent changes and upheavals, it will be up to us individually and collectively to do our part to “tear down” where necessary and rebuild a more enlightened society that reflects our evolved humanity.  But we have to start with ourselves and do what we can in our immediate environments to demonstrate our own revolution – which, by the way, does not happen overnight or with a magic pill, silver bullet, or special app.

Only through keen observation, deep reflection, and inner and outer sweating effort and energy over a long period of time directed towards improving ourselves and serving others that true transformation can take place. Then, if we’re lucky, by the time we reach our 90’s we can look back and see how our journey has positively and productively unfolded in both a personal and political way, and be proud of what we accomplished and the legacy we will leave behind.

Wondering how it will all go down if you take up the cause? Give me a buzz and I will incite a riot in your heart to make the most of what you got, so at the end of the day you know it’s gonna be alright. 

(Today’s PGG was originally published on December 13, 2013)

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

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Two years ago, after a series of health problems and other major stresses had taken a toll on her, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  Like anyone who has been through this, there are lots of ways it could have played out depending on a variety of factors.

Initially she was given a good prognosis based on the normal course of her particular kind of disease; you listen to what the experts say and hang on to that when the news is good.  But when you take into consideration so many other factors that have nothing to do with visible symptoms, textbook analysis or testing you see a different picture, and understand it to be a much different reality than what you are being told or hope it could be. Even though deep down you know the truth, you keep yourself in a little bit of denial for self-preservation, because that’s the only way you could get through it.

The following period was one of the most painful, challenging times in my life, as she went through eight months of suffering, a tense roller coaster ride filled with glimmers of upswings and moments of despair. But the underlying feeling, whether any of us wanted to admit it or not, was she was not going to make it, and at the end of June last year she passed away. Even though we knew it was coming, when it actually happens you are still in shock and have to process and digest it, grieve the loss and deal with all the collateral consequences of such an event.

I bring this up to you now because it is the best analogy to describe how I felt when the results came in Tuesday night.  For me, and in my observation of so many, the day after the election was a National Day of Mourning. Because although the GOP candidate technically won, our country as a whole lost, not just because of how close it was, but how split apart and divided we are as a result. Amplified by technology and media, we feel this more viscerally than ever.

Unlike many of my friends and others who opposed and then were shell-shocked by the announcement of our new President-elect, I had seen this coming since the summer, slowly and steadily building with a ferocity and stalwartness that you would have never guessed if you only went by the mainstream media. I paid close attention to the backstory and aftermath of Brexit, recognizing a mirror image of ourselves across the pond, and had a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach when it happened. I paid attention to the worldwide trend towards nationalism. I opened my ears and eyes as wide as possible, kept coming across non-stereotypical supporters and noticed traditionally assumed liberal outings and locales were populated by more “Make America Great Again” t-shirts and hats than I would have imagined.

In an effort to understand how this was happening, I observed and sometime interacted with people outside my circle, read articles and watched un-sarcastic straightforward reporting of why they were for this individual; I read the often pain-filled, hateful comments and tweets on articles with biases on every side of the spectrum, and as heartbreaking and difficult as it was, and now even more so continues to be, chose not to un-follow, block or delete any of my FB friends and family who posted about the then Republican nominee, (many of who are now coming out of the shadows and gloating in their win without any empathy for the fear that so many are experiencing as a result). I made an effort, and will continue to make an effort, to engage thoughtfully with them when possible – because if we can’t reach out and be civil to the people in our own sphere of influence, the rest of the nation is doomed. 

After gathering all of this “data”, and seeing that the debates and late-breaking scandals did not change their positions an inch, to me, the writing was on the wall, and if it was not going to be an outright win for them, this would be very, very close.  Like with my mother’s illness, I was not surprised at the outcome, but held out hope and stayed in a little denial in order to keep myself from really going there until I absolutely had to.  And here we are.

Obviously, if you voted for the person who won, you are likely not experiencing this, and I’m sure are more than content with your candidate’s victory.  As I wrote on my Facebook page on Wednesday though, regardless of why you might have voted that way, this change indeed came at a very big cost, because the man elected also carries with him the promotion, glorification and inflaming of bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexual assault, xenophobia, Islamophobia, bullying etc., and if you were one of his supporters I implore you to please do your part to mitigate the horrendous side effects and collateral consequences your vote has set in motion by speaking out often and with conviction against these things, and demonstrate the opposite of what he exemplified and modeled in his campaign.

I learned a lot in my “research”, and was reminded that no voting block is a monolith, especially since we are such a diverse nation; with traditionally only two parties, this in itself was understandably the cause of much discontent and frustration.  There are legitimate reasons for everyone to have wanted change.  If I was a career coach working exclusively in many of the rural areas or depressed industrial towns, it would indeed be more difficult for me to do my job.  Other folks succumbed to fear-mongering and scapegoating. Others were just disgusted with the whole process. The media did not offer  equal, broad or totally impartial coverage, nor did they make it easy for anyone to get the straight story about anything. People on the left, right, and in everywhere in between expressed themselves through anger, sarcasm, name-calling, and even violence, and are continuing to do so.

Most people found it more comfortable and comforting to stay in their own bubble and feel good about themselves in their own echo chamber.  What I did took time, intention, and much restraint. It did not feel good being exposed to so much I find distasteful or flat out wrong, but as a citizen living in (what will still hopefully be) a democracy, I felt it was my duty, and will continue to stretch beyond my choir, and at the very least listen, not respond by yelling or attacking, and either politely agree to disagree, and at best find a way to some mutual understanding and acceptance.

Those on every side need to understand not everyone is like them, nor thinks the same way or wants the same way of life, but that does not have to come at each others’ expense. We must call out our own when they are being intolerant or feeding into stereotypes. And we must make sure our rights are not violated or suppressed. This will take vigilance and courage. But then again, we are the home of the brave, right?

The reality is that we cannot go backwards, we must move forwards and come to some compromise as to what that forward should be. How are we going to do that? What can you to make yourself stronger and more perceptive? Your community better? Yourself more accepting of anyone who is different or “other”? How can you become a master listener? How can you use your career to serve others simply by doing what you are meant to do and brings you a sense of peace and fulfillment? How can you step out of your bubble, especially on social media, and when you can, in person?

Last month I wrote about the end of an era and a sense of displacement in my PGG Stranger in a Strange Land. Things now feel as strange as ever, and it’s about to get even stranger.  I’m hoping that this is the breakdown our country needs in order to have a breakthrough; how poetic it is that Leonard Cohen, who I quoted in Let the Sun Shine In, died yesterday:  “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” It’s up to us to create a new reality that deems everyone equally valuable and allows each other to thrive.

My apologies to any of you I may have offended by offering my viewpoints on such a personal matter, but more than ever we need to share our experiences and perspectives with one another in a safe, grounded and open-minded manner, because that is the only way we will find out that we actually have more in common than we think. This is a revolutionary act that is not partisan, it’s patriotic.        

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

Read over thirty 5-star “Yelp” style reviews here

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Throughout the Halloween season we are bombarded with spooky images and haunted houses to remind us it’s that time of year to face our deepest fears.

But the majority of things that frightens us isn’t conjured from external forces. Like the creepiness that comes from being in a house of mirrors, what usually freaks people out the most is seeing themselves multiplied a hundred times!

When in your own personal house of horrors, no matter how many cobwebs and shadows you find, know that we all have darker aspects of our personality, and we’re never confronted with anything we can’t handle, so we should never be afraid. Whether your fears and ugly parts are real or imagined, the key is not to run from them. The only thing to do is to shed light on the source of our anxieties and perceived inadequacies, get to their roots and make adjustments that will bring us closer to the most fulfilled and peaceful versions of ourselves.

And like the end of a scary movie, it comes down to you and only you to fight for your life.  There is no magic formula or genie in a bottle, no Calgon or knight in shining armor to take you away. Taking responsibility for your life centers you in who you are and what you want – fantasy and illusion, or simply ignoring things, move you farther away. It’s up to you to create your own happiness and what you want in your life, and ask for help along the way.

So if you need to do a little exorcising of your inner ghouls and goblins, who ya gonna call?  Like Ghostbusters or those meddling kids in Scooby-Doo, I will expose and expel the real cause of your heebie-jeebies and things that go bump in the night so you can move forward and make the changes you need to be all of who you are in the bright light of day! 

(Today’s PGG was originally published on October 26, 2010)

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

Read over thirty 5-star “Yelp” style reviews here

Join Mailing List
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Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours

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