Archives for the month of: April, 2017

My first job out of college was teaching Spanish for grades 7-11 at a private school in New Jersey.  I started right before I turned 22.  I left way before I turned 23.

Fast-forward many, many moons when I found myself in a high school classroom again, this time in one NYC public school’s ninth grade to talk about social media.

Don’t ask. Those of you who know me will find this laughable since I am a recovering technophobe who probably wouldn’t even be online if I didn’t kinda have to be for my type of work.

It all happened very quickly – I was asked on a Wednesday if I would start the first of six classes the following Monday, and without much thinking said yes, I guess because I trusted the person and wanted to see if I could now handle the critters that gave me so much grief way back when.  Besides, I’ve been speaking/teaching for years, and I remember ninth grade being my favorite at the time, so why not? Social media? Apparently the entire curriculum would be provided, I just had to deliver it.

HAH!  After the first day, with little to no preparation or training, it was like being thrown into a tank with 40 cranky sharks – what did I get myself into?!?!  I held my own, but nearly quit. Other days it was like wrangling cats. But there were a few days of pure magic.

After surveying the students and finding out they spend nearly 100% of their free time on social media, I realized that a.) that’s the first problem, and b.) beyond the general predator and online reputation issues (along with their celebrity obsession), when looked at through the lens of cyberbullying and the associated psychological and physical tolls – as in murders and suicides – it quickly occurred to me that having them understand the proper and positive use of social media, texting and the internet could not be a more important and serious assignment…and that it was quite literally a matter of life and death.  In other words, I realized that since they live most of their lives on social media, I was really there to teach them about life.

Aha! Now that made sense, because that is what I do for my day job.  Let’s just say I tweaked the lesson plans I was provided.

It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I could go on telling you how much I learned about kids, education, their future, our future, and the culpability of adults; the upsetting things I discovered about how our youth behave, what they think, what they do to each other; how they only care about being famous; how I tried in our short time together to turn some of those things upside down and instill them with completely new empowering ideas and perspectives (yes, the Golden Rule was one of the “new” concepts introduced after you could hear crickets when asked if anyone could tell me what it was); and how I held their attention with my knowledge of Justin Bieber (yes, I saw Never Say Never and was impressed – don’t laugh – it was relevant because of  how he used YouTube to become famous, but he is/was extremely talented and worked hard even though he’s had some trouble lately…not to mention second highest amount of followers on Twitter etc.)

I know this is probably the first and only time some of these kids will hear about such things, and I’m pretty sure I reached at least a few who will now think a little differently about their lives and the consequences of their actions, both online and off.  But I know for sure there was at least one who truly got it.

After the third lesson, which was the first on cyberbullying and the aforementioned wrangling cats day, I was caught off-guard when after class, a soft spoken but confident kid from the back of the room came up to me, shook my hand and said Miss, I just wanna let you know I really appreciate you.”  He had me at appreciate!  But he went on to say how disgusted he was with his classmates, that they weren’t taking this seriously and that he had been listening to a lot of Bob Marley lately and was looking for his purpose, how he wanted to be a leader and that today he found his calling.  STOP THE PRESSES.  “Purpose” and “calling” were the exact words he used. I cannot make this up. And you can imagine to someone who does a talk called “Who Are You and What Are You Supposed to Be Doing with Your Life?” it was like winning the lottery. 

My work was done, (or as my new colleague Karim goes: “Boom!” while gesturing the dropping of a mic and exiting stage left.) even if no one else got it and they did not listen to the next three lessons!

Junior (his actual nickname) and I talked about how he might accomplish such a mission, and I asked if he would like to start by talking to the class.  Our final day together he did just that – the first time he ever spoke in front of a room! And he was an unlikely candidate to do so according to him and his teachers who say he’s not a great student, and he admittedly wasn’t even the best kid but recently had a change of heart  – and my class helped to solidify and confirm his new direction.  With no coaching from anyone, he spoke for almost 15 minutes about how his peers need to wake up and take life and education “fa real” and do something that helps others. I couldn’t have been more inspired and proud, as I know for anyone, especially at that age, to get up in such an environment and speak his truth was quite remarkable.  It was one of the best days of my life.

I tell you all this because I did not do anything special  – all I did was listen to my gut, show up, be myself  and do my thing, which is all you can ever do, regardless of the context.  You never know what the bigger plan is and how affecting just one person can make a huge difference. The Universe knows what it’s doing – and what it had to do to get me in the same room with that 14-year-old boy was nothing short of a miracle.

Still not a Belieber? Whether you’re 15 or 51 you’re never too young or too old to take responsibility for your lifediscover who you are and be confident enough to share it with the world.  Give me a buzz and I’ll help you offer more than just a #Selfie to have a positive impact in the Twitterverse and beyond….

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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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In case you haven’t noticed, change is in the air. It has been for a while now, but the pace is accelerating faster than you can say Speedy Gonzales.

Whether we are experiencing change via technology, elections, economic shifts, loss of loved ones, the effects of global warming, natural disasters or, in the most extreme cases, living in the midst of or fleeing war and/or genocide, it’s important to have as much clarity and strength as possible to weather such turmoil, and to have an inner resolve of peace and harmony that can carry us through when all around us has been anything but.

I recently saw the films The Promise and Their Finest, which take place during some the most tumultuous times on our planet, World Wars I and II, respectively. Although they are set in the past and in foreign lands, unfortunately the themes and similarities are all too close for comfort in the current political climate. Watching them only confirmed my sense of urgency about doubling down on living in the present, stopping even more to smell the roses and appreciating all that we have while we have it. Essentially focusing on our positive feelings, which at the core helps to maintain a state of peace in all its relative forms.

This is why practices like mediation, yoga, affirmations and other mindful activities I often prescribe to my clients are so important, now more than ever, not just for wellness, sanity and self-care, but for building up a muscle you don’t even realize exists until you are required to flex it in times of crisis and chaos. This is what will sustain you when the goin’ gets tough.

Another way you can build up that foundation of calm, centeredness and strength is to be continually conscious of the present, and really feel each good, joyous, peaceful moment as you experience it — not just by observing or having a positive attitude, but by integrating and absorbing them into your cellular memory so they can be recalled as needed down the line, and when you might least expect it.

Take advantage of every glorious encounter — even small but meaningful things like soaking in the sun on a warm spring day or having a good laugh with your bestie — by staying awake to your own existence, absorbing its essence and expressing gratitude for it on every level. This creates a storehouse for when the storms and stress arrive — as they inevitably will, such is the cycle of life — but you can then be more fortified and less influenced by the accompanying toxicity and dis-ease when they do.

Become hyper-aware of when you are enjoying moments of pleasure, connection, joy, love, beauty, justice. Although they, like everything in life, are always temporary, when you allow yourself to experience them more viscerally on all levels of mind, body and spirit, you are building up an internal stockpile that will serve you when they are in short supply.

Be sure to rest whenever you have the opportunity, and be disciplined about recognizing, seeking out or making it possible when you don’t.

Embrace and savor fully music, dance, food, conversation; listen deeply to your friends, kids, parents, spouse, partner, neighbor, strangers. Really hear and interact with them with every cell of your being. This is what builds up your reserves for those more isolated or disorienting and dehumanizing times. Remember your humanity.

Clean up and stay clear of any emotional, mental and physical clutter, so when situations and crises arrive, you can be fully present and deal with them by standing in the most enlightened, compassionate version of yourself.

Sink into the present as if the past and future don’t exist, because technically, at this moment they don’t. Learn from and then let go of the past. You cannot change what has already transpired, so no reason to regurgitate and relive it over and over, especially if it was a painful or negative situation — this is where forgiveness comes in! Get out of your head so you can be open to and grounded in the possibilities at hand. Therein lies our empowerment and salvation: our current thoughts, words and deeds are our building blocks, and the more aligned and aware you can be in your present intentions and interactions, the more fulfilling and peaceful your destiny will be, since you are the one creating it.

By being fully present, we can weave a future to be proud of and comfortable to live in, even in our darker hours. In other words, liberate yourself today by being in the here and now, and you will ensure a better tomorrow, even if it’s only your ability to cope more easily and successfully with whatever that future beholds.

In need of a little Ray of Light to illuminate the positive and keep it from flying by? Give me a buzz and I’ll help you slow things down and focus so you to feel like you just got home to enjoy the universe of goodies contained within it!

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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
Like me on Facebook  Follow me on Twitter

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 | Express Yourself

I always like to remind folks who attend my talks that we are living in extraordinary times. Now more than ever we need to listen to our hearts and march to the beat of our own drum. Yet we are not solo performers on this stage – but more like duets, with the Universe as our partner – in what I like to think of life as the dance of life. There is ebb and flow, push and pull, reap and sow.

In our technologically advanced, left-brain evolved world, we think we can do more and know all the answers in making things happen for ourselves. But the truth is that we are only half the equation: the Universe, with its great unknown and unseen power, process and nature, is the other half.

There is a sublime order to things in our world if we only allow ourselves to honor it, regardless of how long our journey takes or what form or shape the fruit of it bears – and the Universe always knows better than our little pea brains. There is a method to its seeming madness and oft-lengthy timeline, but the more we resist its infinite wisdom, the more we suffer, the more mess is made, the more there is to clean up, and the longer it can take to get back on track.

Instead, we must learn to go with the flow – not in a loosey-goosey kind of way, but with faith and confidence, like a farmer planting his seeds, in knowing that the sun will rise tomorrow and that what comes up must come down.

Any artist, dancer, musician or athlete understands that practice and technique will only get you so far; at some point you have to let go and allow the Universe do its thing. In other words, no matter what you are working toward – getting a new job, growing a business, reaching health goals, or improving relationships – you need to simply “do your best and surrender the rest.”

If you haven’t seen the external results you desire, take a moment to slow down and reflect. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice you’ve been undergoing some major inner reconstructing and re-arranging of molecules, experiencing a deep emotional and mental detox encouraging you to let go of the past in order to move forward; this too is part of the dance. Sound familiar? If not, and you’ve been feeling blocked at every turn, ignoring the call to do this type of internal work is probably to blame, and is easy to correct.

The beauty of dancing with the big U is that that once you get in sync with it, things actually get in sync with you, and stuff starts to happen, as I always say, “in time and on time” – and often more miraculously than you could have ever imagined.

Not sure of what steps to take next or feeling like you wanna rock right now?  It Takes Two to make a thing go right, so give me a buzz and I’ll help you to make it outta sight!

Today’s PGG was originally published in longer form on November 12, 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. 

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

Join Mailing List
Like me on Facebook  Follow me on Twitter

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 | Express Yourself

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