Farewell to a Friend

Etapes de la croissance d'une pquerette, fond nature

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a dear friend.  She was the first one to “like” a blog post or leave a comment on my “latest and greatest” idea, no matter how wacky or weird it was.

If we’re lucky, we all have at least one person like my friend Linda who makes us believe in our own brilliance by reflecting it back to us.

Ours wasn’t a likely friendship but one that developed by working together.  We didn’t work together for hours on end but in the odd hours when everyone else was asleep or had gone for the day or the week.

You see, Linda was the caretaker of our building.  She was the invisible hand that kept the floors and windows clean and everything in operating condition. She would usually come in around 4 in the morning and spend a couple hours at our building before heading to her full-time job to put in another 8-9 for the day.

In her “free” time she made quilts and took in sewing projects and did all kinds of odd jobs for others.

She was a worker bee.

About a year ago Linda got bone cancer and embarked on the only route she deemed acceptable – the grueling road to recovery. She was an extremely private person so at first she simply withdrew. I’m sure she thought she could handle it without bothering anyone else and be back to work in no time.

But that was not the case.  She had a long battle ahead of her and she was forced to fight it full time.

Once as I was driving her to the hospital I remember thinking, “This is really happening to us. We are no longer immune to cancer. It’s no longer something other people deal with.” 

I got a glimpse into the impact a diagnosis of a debilitating disease has on a person. She, of course, was not going to let it get the best of her.  In fact, like many people who have had cancer, it seemed to bring out the best in her.

Despite her declining physical condition, emotionally and spiritually she seemed to simultaneously harden and soften. Harden to take on the fear and uncertainty and soften to allow others to help. This brought about a kind of acceptance and letting go that comes with finally understanding what truly matters.

During the service, the priest admitted that he didn’t know Linda. I thought about how lucky I was that I did. As he fumbled his way through a reference to some Twilight Zone episode meant to comfort her family and friends, I consoled myself with what I did know and love about her.

While he surmised she loved being an aunt, he had no idea how much she loved her “kids” Rick and Rachael, the cats who shared her life.  He made no mention of how mechanically minded she was or how, despite her fragile physical form, she was in the midst of a full DYI home renovation that had her excited about her future again.  He failed to mention her lucky streak at the casinos or her love for Manny’s pizza.

He had studied her obituary but knew nothing of her life. He hadn’t had the opportunity the rest of us did.

As the priest offered the congregation communion, I imagined Linda finally communing with Michael Jackson, whom she admired more than any other performer.  She told me once she’d love to have his music played during her funeral service but didn’t think it would go over very well.

So I came home and honored my friend the best way I knew how.  “Alexa,” I commanded my AI device from Amazon,  “please play ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson.”

Let me just say Alexa has ever understood or responded to any of my requests before. I believe she’s in cahoots with Siri who has the same problem. But today she responded, “Okay, Penny.  Playing Man in the Mirror – the Immortals edition.”

Then I moon-walked around my kitchen, celebrating the life of my friend.

Please Come to Boston for the Springtime

Boston 005.JPGFollowing the plea from the David Loggins song, I just got back from 4 days in Boston.

I would not recommend it as a spring break destination since the day before I arrived the snow, rain, ice, and wind did, leaving me in a bit of a panic as to whether I would actually make it there or not.

The plan was to attend an Ignite Your Power conference with Margaret Lynch. I was the usual mix of excited/terrified, so when Mother Nature unleashed the blizzard that looked like it would throw a wrench in my plans, I was secretly relieved to let her call the shots and let me off the hook.

But then came the video from Margaret on Tuesday night saying all systems were go and Boston would be ready to receive us on Wednesday. So much for sabotaging my self-development plans.

Now there was no excuse not to pack my bags and conjure up the courage required to head into 3-days of intense personal development work.

I have spent my whole life attending personal growth workshops.  Every “vacation” is really me heading somewhere to learn something with a bunch of other people who have similar interests.

While friends and co-workers talk about their unforgettable time in Bermuda, Jamaica, or Cabo, I talk about my adventures in forgiveness, opening my heart, and getting in touch with my lower chakras.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my “vacations”. I have met some of the coolest people on the planet just by being brave enough to go where they are gathered.

But initially walking alone into a room of over 400 people I don’t know catapults me so far out of my comfort zone I’m amazed I can function. I never get over the feeling that I could be the last one picked for the popular team.

So I breathe.  And now I tap because tapping (or EFT) is the reason I am at this particular event.

I remind myself I belong here. These are my peeps. This is my tribe.

I remind myself there are others who feel exactly the way I do.

So I take a seat next to someone and introduce myself. And in a few days my world doubles in size.

Who knew the exact right people would be sitting next to me? Who knew they would share my same fears, challenges, joys, and dreams? Who knew that allowing myself to be uncomfortable for the better part of 4 days would yield such immediate and impressive results?

I did.

That’s why I went. That’s why I continue to put myself out there over and over and over again.

Because try as I might to go it alone, I can’t.

I need support in order to do cutting edge work.

I need mentors to model success.

I need coaches to hold me accountable.

I need clients to experience the transformative power of what I do.

I need an expanding group of friends from around the globe to help me gain the perspective only they can provide.

And I need water taxis and drivers with that unmistakable east coast accent to shuttle me back and forth to the city and the airport and tell me stories about Boston so that when I get home, I can bring these stories back to you.

What about you? What do you do that leaves you feeling alternately exhilarated and exhausted, excited and anxious, and alive and exquisitely vulnerable? What do you need to continually coax your life forward?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

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When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.
This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.
My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.
One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.
This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”
So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.
With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.
What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?
Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.
What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.
How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.
What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?
What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?
And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.
Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Finish Strong

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Congratulations for sticking with me through the whole alphabet plan in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.  As you know, each day presents its own challenges. Since you can’t always depend on Plan A or even Plan B, you now have a whole alphabet plan in your arsenal.
But it doesn’t end here.
We’ve got one week left and this is when things can get tricky. It’s like you’ve been on this long road trip and you’re mere miles away from home when suddenly your car breaks down, you get pulled over for speeding, or you’re redirected on a detour that turns your minutes from home into hours.
How you handle this determines how you view the entire journey as well as how you approach future adventures.
Remember, you are equal to the challenge. You wouldn’t give up earlier in the challenge. Do not give up now. Don’t let fatigue or perceived failure stop you now. Put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this, my friend.
Even if there are no hurdles left to jump and you plan to coast into the New Year without much thought, I’m asking you to give more.
This week reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the bardo – an intermediate time between death and rebirth. So much depends on this week.
Pay particular attention to your thoughts and actions. Act with intention and do with deliberation.
If you can take the time and make the space to review your year, you’ll be much more likely to see the patterns, the people, and the places that impacted your well-being in the last twelve months. Then you can consciously choose whether you want to include them in the next twelve.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Acknowledge what went well and what didn’t. What did you learn and how can you leverage that in the New Year? What do you want and why do you want it? I mean really truly want and are willing to disrupt life as you know it to get, not those things you say you want every year but never quite get.
I’m not interested in resolutions that will be broken by 12:15am on 1/1/17. Resolutions seldom stick. We need “goals with soul” as Danielle Laporte calls them.
I’m interested in those things you want to create, do, be, or have that will keep you up at night dreaming and scheming and planning and collaborating until it comes to fruition.
And that starts with a little clarity.
This week I’ll be sharing some of the templates I use to do my Year In Review. Hopefully they will help you start thinking about what’s possible for you in 2017.
Regardless of how you’ve ended years in the past, this year I want you to finish strong. As they say, “It ain’t over, til it’s over.”
Use this week to amplify your output.  You know how you get super productive the day before you leave for an Alaskan cruise, Hawaiian vacation, or weekend getaway? This is the time to tie up loose ends, anchor out of control emotions, make things right in your relationships, and take care of any business you don’t want to drag into the New Year.
You are beginning Week 52 of 52 for 2016.  What would it take to make it your best one so far? Only you can define what that means to you.
Let me know in the comments below what you would like to accomplish this week so you can go into the New Year in Good Cheer – especially if that is to just have fun and completely relax because you’ve been crazy busy all year.
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P.S.  Do you need a notebook to write down your responses?  If so, I’ve got one for you.  Leave your information below and I’ll send a Resolve to Evolve notebook out to you in time for the New Year. Your information is safe with me.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan "O"

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Okay. We’re back with the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and the plan for today starts with the letter “O”.
As I write this, the steady stream of snow continues to obstruct and obscure all attempts to remove it. Overtaxed and overwhelmed city workers optimize ongoing efforts to overcome this disadvantage, opting to remain optimistic as they operate heavy equipment and implement organized outlines for clearing what appears to the casual observer to be overwhelming amounts of the fluffy white stuff.
Even if the weather outside is frightful, today’s tip is to be open to the outdoors.
You may object or oppose this idea, but hear me out.
Snow days (sick days or whatever the warm weather equivalent might be) offer all kinds of opportunities to overthrow official agendas and orchestrate new world orders that oust the overburdened, overextended, or overzealous plans that originate in a kind of overrated orneriness.
Outwitting, outsmarting, outmaneuvering, or outrunning the regular routine often offsets the outrage or ennui that oozes from an obsessive obedience to ordinary operations.
Occasionally we need the oddly outrageous to overtake our senses. This allows us to get over what we’ve outgrown that overshadows our ability to move upward and onward and opt in to an optimal operating system.
You owe it to yourself to entertain what occupies your attention. Overlooking it or omitting its existence will obligate you to deal with it later.
How do you overhaul or override your over scheduled calendar so you can create some space for something original?
I’d love to hear how you overturn the ordinary and make it extraordinary in the comments below.
PS – Here’s an “O” book recommendation for those of you who enjoy oracle cards and other divinely inspired works – Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan "I"

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It’s Day 9 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. The letter “I” is in charge today and insists on an intermission.
With that imperative, I’m going to improvise and instigate an improved schedule of imparting inspiration Monday through Friday instead of including a daily tip .
The intention is to give you some breathing space to shop, ship, wrap, write, bake, budget, or tackle the imposing task of actually installing the Christmas lights before Christmas.
You might also be inclined to inhabit your home, indulge your spirit, and invite family and friends to interact with you instead of isolating yourself or only interfacing with interesting individuals on the Internet.
In the incubator is an insider’s view to into all that’s involved in instigating an intense challenge like this from idea to implementation.  I’ll introduce to you that once we’ve included all the letters in our alphabet plan
I’ll be itching to inundate you with helpful hints on Monday morning when Plan J will jockey for position as your favorite tip of the week.
I would love to know you what incredibly impressive things you are out there initiating or investing in. Indulge me by informing me how you are incorporating the Alphabet Plan or inventing your own holiday survival tips in the comments below.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 8 – Plan "H"

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Hey there, hi there, ho-ho-ho there!
It’s Day 8 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge.
Headlining today’s tips is the letter “H”.  Put your headphones on and click here to hear them.
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Hark the herald angels sing! Which begs the question, “Do you hear what I hear?” or am I hallucinating? Today I was hankering for a hack or a hook that would help you hoot and holler with happiness or at least hum along to a hassle-free hip-hop house party hit. I happened to hone in on recording this because caroling is out of the question. I can’t sing to save my life.
But I can hurtle through hundreds of “h” words in a horribly halting hammer-time haze. She who hesitates, complicates and hinders her hitch-hiking heros journey home for the holidays.
I’m recording this hurried and hobbled together blog post to humanize my written words. So huddle in close for hidden hints at what hooks the ear and hitches good cheer to the sound of one human humbling hearing and healing another.
I’m fully aware this may hurl me into humiliation and hamper my hopes of hatching a career in voice-overs. However, it’s what we do to help each other through the holidays. What will you hear today that highlights, hijacks, or harnesses your good humor?
I‘d love to hear what you heard in the comments below. If you prefer to hear these tips rather than read them, please let me know and I can make that happen for you. By the time we get to Plan “V”, I might just have some video for you as well. It never hurts to hypothesize!
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 4 – Plan D

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It’s Day 4 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and today the letter “D” will be directing the show.
Words beginning with “d” are drenched with determination as if daring us to do something difficult, daunting, or demanding. 
Let’s face it, Darling, dealing with the holidays can be discombobulating.
So what do you do?
Well, my answer to everything these days (okay, maybe every day since the 80s) is disco. 
Before you dis this idea, don your earbuds or headphones, dive into the video, and discover for yourself how this dazzling display of dorkiness dispels any doubt that dancing develops the necessary dossier to deal with drama. 
A few of my distinguished friends and followers have agreed to be featured in this divine dance with me. Tom, Terry, Bob, and Barbi have demonstrated that disco never dies. I’m sure you will agree they are dynamite.
For more fun than Dominick the Donkey, drop in on the folks at JibJab  and let them help you make a decidedly different holiday card that will delight family and friends and delineate your card from dozens of others this year.
If that doesn’t drown you in good cheer, come back tomorrow when I dole out more advice with the letter “E” as our guide.
Dare to share your dancing dreams in the comments below. Be sure to click here to register for door prizes and other goodies dispersed throughout the challenge. A link will be provided so you can download your Holiday Survival Guide once you register.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 2 – Plan B

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It’s Day 2 of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Leading the charge for today is the letter B.
Today’s tip comes from Dan Pink’s book To Sell Is Human.  It was also inspired by my trip to the pool for a swim on Wednesday.
Become buoyant.

Buoyancy is the quality that allows you to stay afloat amidst a sea of negativity, rejection, discouragement, heavy traffic, crowds, or whatever brings you down.
Reciting the work of a leading researcher on positivity, Pink describes buoyancy as the “calibration between two competing pulls: levity and gravity.”

Levity is that unseen force that lifts you skyward, whereas gravity is the opposing force that pulls you earthward.  Unchecked levity leaves you flighty, ungrounded, and unreal.  Unchecked gravity leaves you collapsed in a heap of misery. Yet when properly combined, these two opposing forces leave you buoyant,” says Barbara Frederickson of the University of North Carolina.

I don’t know about you, but I span the emotional spectrum from levity to gravity every day. Sometimes every hour. Calibrating these pulls can take some practice. Pink suggests three things to help cultivate buoyancy.
The first is to practice interrogating self-talk such as “Can I figure this out?” as opposed to emphatically affirming self-talk like “I’ve got this!” Questioning if something is possible or doable opens you up to more creative options as to how to get it done.
The second is to allow yourself a proper ratio of positive to negative thoughts or comments (3 positive to 1 negative is where people seem to flourish) as you attempt to figure it out. Reality checks keep your dreams grounded. Humor does wonders as well.
And finally, an optimistic explanation of your results – no matter what they are – prevents you from playing the victim or taking rejection personally. That will help you get up and do it again. Amen.
Today as your emotions bubble up, remember Casey Kasem’s tagline, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” 
Be sure you don’t miss a day of  our Here to the New Year In Good Cheer challenge by signing up here. This allows you to pick up your Holiday Survival Guide and other goodies as we go.
I’d love to hear your comments below.
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Stuff Your Turkey, Not Yourself

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It’s that time of year when the holidays have a way of hijacking our attempts at remaining calm and practicing healthy habits. Today I’ll be sharing some tips to avoid overeating and over-stressing over the holidays on Paula Sands Live.
Here are a few strategies to get you from here to the New Year in good cheer.
HALT and Plan Ahead
Making decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired usually leads to poor choices. Planning ahead when you have time to calmly think through your options and prepare healthy snacks will save your sanity by eliminating the emotional frenzy that comes with feeling famished.
Nourish Yourself Regularly
Contrary to popular belief, skipping meals or eating them on the run does not help you lose weight. In fact, it can lead to weight gain. Fueling yourself with whole, nutritious foods at regular intervals will help regulate your appetite, clear your mind, and keep you energized throughout the day.
Pace Yourself

Treat the holidays like an endurance event and train accordingly. Eating, drinking, or otherwise consuming your way through the holidays will only compound your stress. Take it one day at a time. If you blow it one day, don’t resign yourself to giving up until the New Year. Just begin again. Six weeks of bad habits is hard to overcome. Especially  when you can simply start over whenever you slip up. A new perspective is always one thought away.
Move Through Your Stress
Working out does wonders to help alleviate the stress that can accumulate at the mere thought of attending a party or preparing a family feast. Find a way to move that’s fun for you. It doesn’t need to look like exercise. Fire up your Wii Fit. Get out your bowling ball. Break out the ice skates. Rake up the leaves and then jump around in them. Recruit your family or a few friends to make it more likely you’ll stick to it.
Unplug and Get Enough Sleep
So much to do. So little time. Skimping on sleep will not only add to your stress but add to your waistline. Your body needs downtime to rest and repair. Unplug from your electronic devices in plenty of time to wind down so you have the energy to get up and face another day refreshed and rejuvenated. Never unplugging leaves you in an endless cycle of feeling wired and tired.
Be Grateful
Although the focus of Thanksgiving tends to be all about the food, it also includes the many people, things, and opportunities you have to be grateful for. If this is the one day of the year you look forward to feasting, by all means savor the flavor of your favorite foods. Do not obsess over calories. Feeling guilt or shame around food robs it of its pleasure. Take the time to be present and aware of what you are eating.  Get curious about where it came from, who prepared it, and the love that went into sharing it. Ironically, when you give a meal the time and attention it deserves, you end up feeling more nourished by less food.
When you reflect on how much you already have, you can resist the urge to fill yourself up with food, shopping, and other distractions. In other words, stuff your turkey, not yourself.
Join my Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge starting on Black Friday and running right up to December 31st. Details to follow later in the week. Or email me at penny@wellpower.com for updates.
For now, keep calm and gobble on!
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