As a professional life coach I work with individuals who are motivated to change something about their lives.   Their stories are always fascinating and the inspiration for change can come from many places. This saga of the forks and knives is a love story about a man, a woman, and food.  The plot is simple.  The man loved food- the more meat, potatoes, and pastrami the happier he was.  He fell in love with a woman who was a committed vegetarian who believed that her diet had helped her beat cancer.  At their wedding, he jokingly asked the Rabbi to include an addendum to the ketubah (marriage contract) that would guarantee him 4 meat meals a week.  Their happy home was known for its culinary delights.

Then one day something changed dramatically for this couple.  They watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives” (http://www.forksoverknives.com/) and decided that their love of life and each other meant that they would need to make some changes in the kitchen (No, I am not referring to granite countertops!).  Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Their idea of food as medicine is evidenced as cameras follows “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes.  As these patients trade plant-based proteins for animal-based proteins, their health and lives dramatically improve.

The husband decided that his love affair with meat would become a “friendship” where they would get together once a week.   His wife quickly procured The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal D. Barnard (http://www.21daykickstart.org/) which contains the  plant-based menus and recipes discussed in the film.  She replaced most of the dairy products she used and greatly expanded her own vegetarian repertoire.   A new attitude took over the kitchen that expressed the couple’s desire to look, feel, and live healthier lives.

No matter where we are in the life cycle, most of us would say that living a long healthy life is a priority.  As we get older, the meaning of “long” comes into sharper focus as we experience the loss of parents, friends, and eventually spouses and partners.  Those of us who are “baby boomers” know that our later years are being designed in a very different way from the lives of our parents; we will work into our 60’s and 70’s,spend more time exercising, shopping at Whole Foods, and live with rather than die from disease.  The boomer mantra of “age is an attitude” will define many of our life choices.

So our “long” is longer, but is our “healthy” healthier?  If you took an inventory of your family members, friends, and professional colleagues, how many would you find that are overweight and taking medication to control blood pressure, acid reflux, or high cholesterol?  The following statistics from the Center on Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/) are frightening:

       ·  About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese. 

        ·  Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of death.

         ·  In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs paid by third-party payors for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Our relationships with food and health are often affected by those around us.  As we enter the holiday season where food reigns supreme, take the time to think about changes you would like to implement.  Integrate them gradually and realistically.  Watching Forks Over Knives may not motivate you to make major changes, but it will make you think about small ones.

I will keep you posted on our happy couple as their (my) journey continues…Image

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Dr. Neal Barnard from FORKS OVER KNIVES

Cunningham Falls Lake

Why do we call this season of crisp weather and the scent of cinnamon “Fall”?  According to those wise researchers at Yahoo! Answers, it is what you probably guessed— the falling of the leaves.  Based on my personal experience and as a mental health professional, I recognize that autumn also marks the season of “falling” moods; in some cases this is diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  Let’s take a look at what feeling “SAD” is about.

According to the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year; symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody, lethargic, and longing for a cabana in Jamaica.  The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. It’s likely, as with many mental health conditions, that genetics, age, and, perhaps most importantly, your body’s natural chemical makeup all play a role in developing the condition.  Specific biological factors that may come into play include:

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

Interestingly, there is a fourth factor that is important to discuss and yet is overlooked by many clinicians. I call it the “Anniversary Effect”; there are individuals who have experienced patterns of traumatic events or difficult life passages in the fall months.  For me, the list includes: death of a parent, diagnosis of cancer, three major moves, resignation from a challenging job, and the ending of a significant relationship.  October once represented pain and loss for me until a very wise colleague pointed out that I could view it instead as a memorial to the healing power of time, faith, and self-awareness.  As my wonderful husband (and copy editor) reminded me, it is the month when we joyously celebrate our wedding anniversary.  I made the shift and now am able to experience October with gratitude instead of sadness.  As we read in Ecclesiastes:

”For everything there is a season,

 a time for every matter under the heaven”

What does making a shift mean?  As a professional life coach, I help my clients identify and change negative thoughts and behavior patterns.  We work together to develop a strategy for coping with moods that are triggered by memories.  By reframing the pictures of the past, we create a brighter view of life which elevates and celebrates the riches of our personal strengths.

If you experience symptoms of SAD, these are excellent strategies to implement:

  • Invest in a light therapy box
  • Move your body— exercise, yoga, tai chi, dance—whatever you like
  • Make meditation part of your daily routine
  • If you experience more serious symptoms of depression, consult your physician about the use of an antidepressant
  • Work with a mental health professional or professional life coach who is experienced in dealing with SAD
  • Read Dr. Norman Rosenthal’s book Winter Blues (http://normanrosenthal.com/winter-blues.html)  I have recommended this book to many clients.  It is an excellent source of information and resources, including the use of light therapy boxes

May this be a season of seeking what brings joy into a cloudy day- whether it is a walking meditation, discovering a new recipe using cinnamon (the spice of contentment), reconnecting with an old friend, or creating an attitude of gratitude journal.  Fall into habits that focus on the beauty of life.

October has made her presence known in dramatic fashion; she banished the sun and warmth of a luscious Indian summer and has chilled the air with no redeeming fall colors to soften the blow.  The color that does surround us at this time of year is PINK, for we are once again reminded of the presence and power of breast cancer and the need for programs such as The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month http://www.nbcam.org/.  It has been thirty-one years since that cold fall day when I learned that I had breast cancer.  It was a time when we hadn’t heard of Susan G. Komen; the only race we had was that of trying to stay alive.  American Cancer Society volunteers supplied patients with soft inserts filled with birdseed to stuff inside their bra in order to fill in the space once occupied by a breast.  I was a young bride and business owner who knew one thing; this disease could kill my body but not my soul.  Over the years I would receive phone calls from friends, clients, and strangers letting me know that they had received a membership in the Cancer Club; it is the one club no one ever wants to join (AARP is a close second!).

Those calls are reminders that my survivorship has shaped who I am and has defined me professionally. I feel very grateful that today there are a myriad of services, products, support systems, funding sources, medical interventions, researchers, and information sources for those women who find themselves in The Club.  And I pray for the day when we won’t need any of them.

Here is what cancer taught me.  These are lessons that can be applied to any of those life-altering challenges that all of us face at one time in our lives:

  • LIVE YOUR LIFE ONE DAY AT A TIME.  Stay in the moment and learn how to live consciously.  Today is filled with opportunity that is unique to who and where we are.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR WAKEUP CALLS:  If your body is sending you signals that something isn’t right, follow up with a trusted health care professional.  If you are told it’s “in your mind”, then seek a second opinion.
  • HONOR YOURSELF:  Women spend most of their time and energy in the care and service of others.  We DO NOT prioritize our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs; this leaves our immune systems and coping abilities in weakened states.  Be a role model for your daughters, sisters, friends, and co-workers by taking care of your mind, body, and soul. Remember the words of author Julia Cameron from The Artist’s Way             ( http://juliacameronlive.com): “TREATING MYSELF AS A PRECIOUS OBJECT WILL MAKE ME STRONG.”
  • DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED:  There is nothing like an illness to remind us of the small but important blessings of everyday living.
  • LOOK AT EVERYTHING WITH GRATITUDE. I never say this to anyone who is newly diagnosed, but I speak for many women when I say “Thank You” for the woman I became a result of my cancer journey.
  • STAND IN AWE OF OTHERS:  I have been so privileged to have met many amazing women in my career as a therapist and life coach; their stories have inspired and encouraged me. Thank you Lillie Shockney, RN and Dr.Generosa Grana for your courage and professional dedication, and to Dr. Diane Barton (http://www.cooperhealth.org/departments-programs/complementary-medicine-program), Kris Kelly (http://www.kriskellyfoundation.org/), and dear Alice W. for watching over all of us.

One of the rules of professional blogging is to not overwhelm one’s readers with statistics. I AM BREAKING THESE RULES TODAY BECAUSE I HAVE A PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL COMMITMENT TO YOU, MY DEAR READERS.  Being educated and aware will help you to be proactive; forwarding this blog to five of your best friends may help you save a life.

  • About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • From 1998 to 2007, breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. decreased by about 2% per year. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
  • About 39,840 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women. More than 1 in 4 cancers in women (about 28%) are breast cancer.
  • In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
  • About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations (abnormal changes) inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. Women with these mutations have up to an 80% risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, and they are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age (before menopause). An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, about 1 in 10 breast cancers are believed to be due to BRCA2 mutations and even fewer cases to BRCA1 mutations.
  • About 70-80% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
  • The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). http://www.breastcancer.org

To learn more about my journey, please visit my website: http://cindyfaustworld.mysite.com/

Celebration


One of the questions that I like to ask myself on a regular basis is “Am I evolving or just revolving?”  It seems that at this time of year when I come out of my “summer mode” and start gearing up for the Jewish holidays with its requisite cooking and soul searching, that I feel the need to evaluate the state of my life.  In the corporate world this would be my “performance review”. This question targets two basic pathways that life can take: evolving means that I am developing, growing, and progressing towards my goals.  Revolving indicates that I am spinning my wheels, circling around my goals but not reaching them; this feels like when you want to enter the department store of your dreams and are caught in the revolving door and can’t seem to break out of the rhythm of the door and head into the store.  You are moving but just circling your goals.  There are so many people whose lives are all about revolving; I meet them all the time in my coaching practice.  They are not stuck in the dugout of life, but are in the field each inning without ever making a great play or hitting a home run. (Can you tell that I am a Phillies fan!)

When we look at the word “revolving” we see that it is “evolving” with the letter “R” added to the beginning.  Is this a clue to the two different choices we have of how we lead our lives?  If we identify the possibilities of what the “R” could represent — resistance, reticence, refusal, rejection — we start to see a way of examining ourselves and uncover the blocks that may be standing in the way of evolving into the individuals that we would like to be.  If you want to test this theory, pick up a pencil and pad and write down the following words:

            RESISTANCE

            RETICENCE

            REFUSAL

            REJECTION

Now, next to each word write down an example of a part of your life where this word describes your behavior or thought process.  It will look like this:

RESISTANCE:  I am not open to making changes; I don’t like to take risks.

RETICENCE: I have ideas and dreams about changes I want to create in my life, but I guess that fear is holding me back.

REFUSAL: I don’t do things I don’t want to, even when those who are close to me are urging me to try or to see their point of view.

REJECTION: I hold back from trying to advance myself in my career, dating, and even in some relationships because I can’t stand the idea of  being rejected.

As you can see, this exercise can begin the process of seeing where you need to change how you think so that you can change how you live.  Often, the journey can be facilitated by working with a professional life coach.  We help create strategies and game plans so that you can “step up to the plate” and really get into the game of life.  You have strengths and talents that are waiting to be energized.

Pema Chodron writes about tapping into your inner sourcein her book Guide to Compassionate Living:

There’s a reason that you can learn from everything: you have basic wisdom, basic intelligence, and basic goodness. Therefore, if the environment is supportive and encourages you to be brave and to open your heart and mind, you’ll find yourself opening to the wisdom and compassion that’s inherently there. It’s like tapping into your source, tapping into what you already have. It’s the willingness to open your eyes, your heart, and your mind, to allow situations in your life to become your teacher.”

 I recently discovered a beautiful old barn with a waterwheel while exploring the Maryland countryside.  It has become my favorite place to go when I want to think things through or get clarity about my life.  As I watch the wheel continually turning, I see that with each revolution it is bringing new water into the stream.  It has purpose and intent and is doing what it was created for in addition to giving pleasure to those who observe it.  May we all learn from the water wheel.

 

 

“Mind your own business” was a phrase that many of us heard as we were growing up; it was an indication that we were stepping into the physical or emotional territory of someone else who clearly didn’t want us to be there.  As I write these words, I am re-experiencing the feelings that would arise from inside; rejection, rebuke, distancing…nothing pleasant for sure!  I was being trained to see other’s lives as “off limits” and to focus on my own “business”.  It is so interesting that in fact I entered a profession where my business was all about being very involved in the emotional lives of others and how their behaviors affected those in their personal and professional worlds. As I have segued from working as a psychotherapist to working as a professional life coach, my interaction with clients continues to be about their “business”, albeit the issues are more centered on growth and movement in areas of career, dating, and stage of life events.  I laugh at the paradox; the messages are now “Please mind my business!”

My most valuable lessons about our roles in the lives of others have come from observing my clients, my friends, my family, and myself.  We are all learning the “dance” of relating without invading, loving without smothering, distancing with love, giving others time for their journeys.  Each of the players in our lives­ children, parents, friends, colleagues, spouses, partners–all need something from us; determining what that is can be a challenge but it is also part of the formula for experiencing healthy relationships.  The famous family therapist Virginia Satir wrote in her book Making Contact:

“The more full and complete the contact that we make with ourselves and each other, the more possible it is to feel loved and valued, to be healthy and to learn how to be more effective in solving our problems… Making contact involves two people at a time and three parts.  Each person in contact with himself or herself and each in contact with the other.”

Our challenge is to understand that “full and complete contact” does not mean that we should act like a football player who is driven to score a touchdown and will use all force available to achieve that goal.  Rather, it means that we need to analyze and understand our needs and motivations first before inserting ourselves into the “business” of others.  Only then can we make contact with others in a way that is beneficial and not harmful.  Satir expresses this concept so beautifully in this poem:

 Goals for Me

I want to love you without clutching,

Appreciate you without judging,

Join you without invading,

Invite you without demanding,

Leave you without guilt, criticize you

without blaming,

And help you without insulting.

If I can have the same from you

Then we can truly meet and enrich each other.

 I now have this poem on my refrigerator and “make it my business” to read it daily; it serves as a great reminder and inspiration.  If you would like to learn more about Virginia Satir and her influential work, visit the website: http://www.satirinstitute.org/satir.php

In my role as a professional life coach, I encourage my clients to reach beyond their comfort zone when facing challenges.  This week provided me with the opportunity to follow my own advice and I am delighted to report a great success story!  My challenge was to “take care of business” with our telephone provider who had not followed our request to forward calls to our cell phone while we were on vacation.  It seemed like an easy enough request, but as everyone knows, these easy requests very often end up as nightmares.  Over a five – day period, I spent over six hours speaking to six different service representatives trying to get the problem resolved. (Yes, this did interfere with my beach time!)  I explained my saga to each representative and in return received the same promise of resolution within 72 hours, an explanation that the previous representative had “messed up the order”, and a heartfelt apology.  My usual strategy of asking for a supervisor wasn’t working.  I decided to take my problem to the top; I Googled the name of my telephone carrier and the words “report trouble/ executives” and magically got the list of the top executives in the company along with their e-mail addresses.  I sent a group e-mail to all of them explaining my problem and within an hour got a telephone call from Miss Sakinah, a Vice President who PROMISED me that she would take care of the problem and gave me her direct line should I EVER run into problems again.  She is my new BFF (best friend forever) and she did get the problem solved.   People can now reach us and I am now free to catch up on beach time.  What is the valuable lesson here?

  1. When faced with a challenge either situational or relational, it is best to solutionize, not dramatize. (Complaining is draining)
  2. When seeking a solution, go to the person who holds the key, not the gatekeeper.
  3. Focus on what is really important-changing a situation, or honoring the persons involved by observing and endorsing them for their efforts.
  4. Make it your business to live by the Serenity Prayer:

                                                                                 God, Grant me the Serenity

To Accept the things I cannot change;

   The Courage to change the things I can,

    And the Wisdom to know the Difference.

 

Romance has been on my mind this week and seems to be entering into my professional and personal life at a higher frequency than usual (what can be wrong with that?).  Face it, we all love romance, whether it is in real life, books, or movies.  What is romance exactly and what is the attraction?  Interestingly, the Thesaurus gave me a clue with its list: story, account, fiction, legend, saga, relation, fable, narrative.  Each of these words paints a picture of a situation that isn’t necessarily based in reality; it is an interpretation of a situation or a moment that will create a feeling of rapture and serotonin overdose.  So, is romance real or a figment of our imaginations?  Let there be no mistake, IT IS REAL.  It is a feeling that can sweep over us at times, bring a smile to our face, and a longing in our heart for more.

When I mentioned that romance seemed to be on the agenda in my personal life, I feel I must explain (my husband proofreads this blog and will wonder what is going on…!).  Last week we were privileged to be able to share in the joy of dear friends as their son was married.  After the breaking of the glass under the chuppah, the boy looked at his new bride with such joy and elation that I started to shed tears of joy.  I looked over at my husband and remembered when I felt the same way under our wedding canopy.  Was that romance that I was experiencing?  I do believe it was that and much more.  Our “story” was just beginning, and the warm loving feeling was there to fuel the journey with excitement and help to see the other person as perfect in that moment.  Later in the week, when I felt I was dedicating more hours in the kitchen than I would have liked, my husband picked up the cue and at the end of our dinner, asked me for a dance; as we slowly negotiated our small kitchen and I ignored the sink full of dishes, we experienced a very romantic moment that made all the hard work seem very worthwhile.

In my coaching practice I am currently working with several women who are all looking for Mr. Right.  They range in age from 24 to 61 years.  They are all very bright, attractive, funny, intelligent women with reasonable expectations and fine characters.  In the process of dating, each one has experienced a level of disappointment, hurt, confusion, and frustration.  This is not to suggest that each date has been a disaster, but the question of “is there someone normal out there for me?” comes up frequently.  Looking for a life partner these days isn’t easy and even those most resistant to cyber-dating often turn to the internet in order to “meet” possible candidates for dating and commitment.  I feel that it is possible to find a viable dating or life partner online; I have several friends and clients who went this route and were very successful.  In a recent interview on NPR, New Yorker staff writer Nick Paumgarten discussed his latest New Yorker piece, “Looking for Someone” where he profiles several of the major online dating websites and explains what they’re doing to pair people with compatible romantic mates.  He notes that the multibillion-dollar Internet dating industry now accounts for one in every six new marriages.  For more on this story, go to http://www.npr.org/2011/06/29/137456270/matchmaker-matchmaker-run-your-algorithm.

If you are pursuing Internet dating, I would like to remind you of some very basic rules to keep in mind. (These are from clients who learned the hard way).

  • Do not give out your home phone number or address to someone you just met online.  You need to meet a man at least once if not several times before you disclose this information.  He may not be dangerous, but he can turn into a nuisance or disrupt your life if you decide not to proceed with “chatting” or dating.
  • GOOGLE the person’s name.  If nothing comes up, proceed with caution; almost everyone is linked to a social or business networking site that brings up your name on a search engine.
  • Ask for a reference!  This can be a coworker, clergy, or friend; anyone who can confirm this person’s information will do.  Most of my clients have balked at this idea, but when they did make it part of their dating protocol, they were glad they did!
  • Take things slowly; invest in conversations on the telephone or by e-mail and gather your information and get a “feel” for the person.  Many women are rushed into meeting someone and let the excitement cloud their judgement.  Also, be cautious if things seem to be moving too quickly; trust that inner voice that whispers “this is happening so fast.”  It probably is.

A successful search for romance and marriage sometimes takes a village.  In our family, we were lucky to have friends who became the “matchmakers”.  It is an age-old tradition and I believe is the best system ever invented.  The matchmaker checks out a potential candidate using references to see if they are who they say they are; mutual life values and goals are emphasized, and as the dating process proceeds, the matchmaker acts as an intermediary who helps the couple work through issues and provides an impartial view of things. If either person decides not to continue the relationship, the matchmaker communicates that information which helps to avoid hurt and embarrassment.  There are also professional dating agencies which provide some of these services.  It is best to get recommendations from someone who has used an agency and had a positive experience.

Malka Schulman is a certified life/relational coach who has developed a very successful business geared to those who are dating for marriage or who are married and looking for ways to enhance and strengthen their relationship. She offers inspiring and effective teleclasses, workshops, and an Internet Dating E-Book to her clients through her website http://www.dating4marriage.com/.  In speaking to women who are dating for marriage, Malka reminds them of the top mistakes women can make:

  • Treating marriage as a solution to all your problems
  • Thinking that getting married is your best escape from an unhappy life as a single
  • Believing that going out with prospects having different goals and values than yours is intriguing
  • Considering that the longer you go out with someone, the better; and that simply keeping the relationship going for as long as possible is a surefire route to marital bliss. And yet, before you know it, you’re dating 3 years—no ring!

As you are reading this, you may be saying to yourself “I am already married…what does this have to do with my life?”  The answer is simple: Each of you knows someone who is serious about getting married or being in a committed relationship.  You probably have devoted hours on the phone giving advice or listening to their latest dating horror story.  That is a valuable service but it isn’t enough.  Take the time to forward this blog to them; encourage them to “think outside the box” and take advantage of expert advice on dating.  Perhaps you could offer to be the matchmaker!   Do you believe in magic, love, romance? Then help someone you care about transform their dream into a reality.

 

I firmly believe that as a Professional Life Coach, I can’t ask any client to do something that I am not willing to do myself.  So today is Ignition Day for me.  Why today?  Because for reasons beyond my understanding, I was stuck for four days in quicksand; a quagmire of quirky moods, low energy, brain-fog, and foiled attempts at trying new recipes (this always burns me up, pardon the pun!).  I am not going to blame this on my dear husband who tasted the edame salad and left it on the plate, or on the new gefilte fish recipe which won absolutely no positive comments ( I am going back to the frozen variety!).  Luckily, today I woke up feeling like the woman I know and like, ready to get back in the game.  I took the time to feel gratitude for my return to “myself” and designed what I hoped would be a productive and fulfilling day.  First I completed and posted this blog; creating it was a great expression of the passion I have for inspiring (and entertaining!) others. Then I set about designing my menus for the upcoming Jewish holiday and started the chopping, rolling, and baking while connecting with the idea that women all around the world are engaged in this same elevation of body and spirit. It felt awesome!  If there is any time left today, I want to begin a painting  (PAINTING IS MY BIG PASSION) using some of the fabulous new handmade watercolor paper that I just purchased.  NOTE TO SELF: PASSIONATE LIVING CAN BE EXHAUSTING!

Since PASSION is the driving force in leading an authentic, enriching, and inspiring life, let’s take a look at how to identify your passions and ignite them!

1. For the next week,  claim 15 minutes every day for yourself  and sit quietly with your journal or notebook and write down what you would be doing if you had the time and ability to create a wonderful and exciting experience or opportunity.  Think BIG and BOLDLY.

2. You may have difficulty with step 1; your inner tape will be saying ” There is nothing that I am passionate about” or “I don’t have the time or money to follow this passion.”  This is not uncommon.  DON’T GIVE UPInside all of us is a spark that is craving to be ignited; we owe it to ourselves to make it happen.

3. Share what you are doing with a good friend; invite them to join you in this exercise of finding passion in your life.  You will inspire each other with your dreams and ideas.  The measure of true passion is that it benefits you and others.

4. Invest time in researching people who are leading lives with passion.  This is the best reading you can do for yourself.

I discovered a wonderful article in Sunday’s Washington Post on Nancy Brinker, founder and chief executive of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. 
As a breast cancer survivor, I am deeply grateful for her dedication , vision and commitment to the cause of finding a cure.  Nancy explains how to succeed in the face of fear and follow your own passion: “You’ve got to get up every day, throw your legs over the side of the bed and practice your passion.  Some things seem impossible until you do them.  Every day, I try to remind myself of that: That no matter what people say, you just believe that you’re on a tightrope and that you can see the platform and you’re walking toward it.  You’ve got to stay on the tightrope.” 

To see a short and inspiring interview with Nancy Brinker, go to www.washingtonpost.com./leadership.

Wishing you a passionate day,

Cindy

I discovered Stiltsville this weekend…yes it is a location (not an amusement park) rather a magical and surreal collection of houses in Biscayne Bay, Florida that is the backdrop for a wonderful first novel by Susanna Daniel called Stiltsville.  I highly recommend this book for those of you who love to glimpse into the lives of characters that soon become a part of your life.  I feel that this novel speaks to the passages of a woman’s life- childhood, teen years, dating, marriage, parenting, betrayal, self-growth, illness, and so much more.  These are the issues that are the focus of my work as a professional coach working with women, and seeing how the women in Stiltsville negotiated their journeys was inspiring and thought-provoking.  I am always in awe of writers who can create works of art like this, and when it is a first novel… I rejoice in their success and talent.  If you are fortunate enough to belong to a book club, Susanna’s website  www.susannadaniel.com has a wonderful book club guide.  If you are a teacher and have a well-deserved summer off, perhaps you want to start a book club.  This would be a great kick-off novel…you could come to club meetings in outfits from the novel (sandals, bathing suits, etc.) and reproduce the drinks and menus!

To show you how much I loved this book, I sent an e-mail to the author Susanna Daniel.  She responded within the hour which was really amazing!!  Susanna, my new BFF (only kidding!) was so pleased to have heard from me.  I had mentioned that I was a family therapist and really appreciated how she developed her characters, and she told me that her mother was also a family therapist and that definitely influenced her perspective. Cool!

I did research the real Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay and was fascinated by the stories of the houses and the people who lived in them.  On our next trip to Florida, I do plan to drive down to Miami and go exploring.

Life is good.  Enjoy the day and remember to breathe.

Cindy

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