Monday, October 20, 2014

Be who you want to be

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Simple concept, right? Just be yourself. Just be authentic. There certainly are a zillion "gurus" out there with 3, 5 or 7 easy steps to living authentically, or some other hoo-ha to make you think it's that simple, or that there's something wrong with you if it's not.

Here's the truth, at least as I believe it. 'Just' being who you want to be is NOT SIMPLE. AT. ALL.

Let's get real. The world, our family, friends, colleagues, media, etc., all have expectations of us. Sometimes, those expectations are really loud, and the overshadow who we want to be.

I get it. I think it's safe to bet that you get it, too.

It's never as simple as an affirmation or a 3, 5 or 7 step guide. It's a lifelong journey to be who you want to be.

Guess what? Sometimes who you want to be changes over time, too! That's OK. Life is about learning and changing and, yes, being who you want to be, but growing into that. 

Give yourself the space and the grace to grow in to that. You don't have to have it all figured out today.

What I can tell you, is that by understanding that this is a process, and accepting that sometimes we ALL give in to what people expect of us, it becomes easier to be who you want to be. We learn from observing the process and we grow from accepting it.

So, go ahead. Be who you want to be, on any given day, no matter what that is...even if it is what others want to see. Just notice and grow.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.
❤, Lara

CLICK TO TWEET today's Monday Motivator: It's a lifelong journey to be who you want to be.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Memories in hiding

Can no longer speak to my past
Muted , In the presence of my youth
Drank the potion of clarity
My flesh responded
I kissed the lips of a sleeping beauty farewell
Vast memories became past lovers
As I took a deep breath of yesterday's answers
I was shaped
Into the image of a new beginning
Embraced but doomed
Behind me, nothing
Ahead, open
Images still haunts my essence
With no ability to conversate
Cause I am muted in its pressence
I listen to the last deep breaths
From my memories
My hand calms it
Last comfort to its eyes

Espen Stenersrød is a Norwegian writer and poet from Oslo. With two poetry collections behind him (Diary of poet,2012 and Lifecycle in Nihighnigma, 2013) he is now working on a novel and a new poetry collection. His poetry has been described as unique, attention grabbing and memorable. Espen enjoys writing deep, insightful poetry that examines the human condition from both a modern and universal perspective, balancing between hope and beauty and darkness and mystery.
Check out his website and buy his poetry collections on Amazon 
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lessons for The First Year of Business I Learned from My Engagement

Post by Ellen Nightengale for the Kindness in Business series.

I was engaged to be married nine years ago. You may be wondering how my engagement has anything to do with my lessons in business. A few months after my fiancé put his great-grandmother's wedding ring on my finger, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. The rug was pulled out from under me, and all desires to plan a perfect wedding were gone. I wanted to run away and live in a cave (I've also felt this way on some of my hard days during my first year of business) - but I stayed the course despite my frequent crying-in-the-bathroom meltdowns. Friends and relatives said our wedding gave my mother something to look forward to during those six months of chemo. Starting your own business can feel similar: just wanting to get to the other side of the unknown, with reassurance that things will be okay.
I'm sharing some of my lessons from my engagement which also supported me in my first year of business.

1. Only work with kind people.
This may have been my biggest lesson. I did not have the energy to deal with people who brought on additional stress during my season of vulnerability. I was 6 months away from my wedding when I began looking for a dress. My mom was too sick to join me in the fancy bridal salons of New York City. Some of the sales assistants made me rushed saying my wedding was too soon being just 6 months away and I had to special order any dress for a hefty extra fee. After crying in the Kleinfeld's dressing room alone, I went to meet a designer in her Gramercy Park studio. The wedding dress designer was lovely, comforting, and created elegant dresses which I loved. She understood my figure, vision and budget - sharing sample sale dresses with me which were a fraction of the retail price. She included alterations and made the process simple. I liked her and came away from dress shopping like it was an enjoyable experience feeling good about my purchase. We even orchestrated an extra dress shopping event for my mom's benefit the following weekend, so she could weigh in and ultimately say yes to the dress.
I had a similar experience while working with my web designer. My designer understood my offerings, my style and my brand. When we collaborated there was synergy. It wasn't just about the site; it was about the ease of the entire experience. This is not always common when you hear of business owners and their website woes and brides' stresses with their dresses.

2. Planning can be fun - if you plan.
I am not a planner by nature. I enjoy spontaneity and thought planning was a chore; especially while my mom was sick. At one point, I shifted my attitude since this was my only wedding, knowing I could embrace the journey or fight it. The planning became joyful; choosing a dendrobian orchid floral arrangement while visiting my aunt (our talented florist), talking to our photographer about his passion for celebrity sightings (my fiancé loved this), playing DJ with my guy to determine which songs we loved, and which were on the do-not-play list. (The list was quickly forgotten when I saw my new husband dancing to "It's Raining Men.") I began to enjoy the planning rather than looking at it as a to-do on a long wedding checklist. I received a beautiful handmade wedding binder as an engagement gift, which I slowly filled with images and ideas.
I think the same thing is true in business. We can think of all of the "to-dos" as a chore, or we can choose to embrace the journey and this phase of life. It's easy to become overwhelmed so I look for joy in the process. On a day when I'm not booked with clients, I embrace some freedom to write and to plan. Instead of a binder, I now enjoy Pinterest to keep a file for retreat planning, blogging ideas, therapy resources, coaching inspiration, and my current obsession: a room of her own. If you are running your own business or thinking about it, I highly recommend some downtime to just browse and pin away.

3. Learn to Communicate With Your Love.
Deep breath here. When your mom is undergoing chemo and you feel like calling off the wedding, there are a lot of big conversations with your honey. You begin to understand what is most important and why you want to build a future together. You wonder if your fiancé can take care of you "in sickness and in health." One of the best things we did for our future was Pre-Cana which is a marriage preparation program for the Catholic church. My fiancé and I both came from different religious backgrounds and we needed to communicate about how to navigate and mesh our spiritual selves while coming together as a family.
Communicating is SUPER important being in business for yourself. Going from a comfortable steady paycheck to building a business is not for the weak of heart (or weak relationships). The root of our arguments frequently comes from communication breakdowns, especially if you are coming from different backgrounds where your loved one might not have the same entrepreneurial mindset. How much money is okay to invest? Is there a business event which is calling you? What are the obstacles? Do you need some more childcare or are you worried about the travel expenses? Remember, two brains think better than one. It's important to also listen to your partner's fears and learn to compromise. When my husband was worried we wouldn't be bringing in enough income after I made the leap to work part-time for myself exclusively coaching, I made a deal with him: if I didn't meet a certain income level by a specific date, I would look for traditional speech therapy work. (Knowing that was at stake, it kicked my butt into gear.) Make time for these conversations so you feel like partners on the same page.

4. Write Thank-You Notes.
Gratitude matters. Kindness matters. My heart began to explode with feelings of gratitude during all of the celebrations for our wedding. If you are feeling like your thank-yous are just another to-do, it won't come from the right place. Shift to a feeling of appreciation. Shower the person who thought of you with words to let them know that their kindness mattered, their generosity was appreciated.
This is one of the biggest lessons in my own business. Stoke others’ fires. Send vibes of appreciation. After going through a trying month, I sent a note to Mama Bliss Coaching School creator Kathy Stowell telling her how Mama Bliss Coaching has become my anchor through the storms of motherhood. Those words of encouragement are food for another creative entrepreneur's soul. You don't know when someone is having a rough day and might be ready to throw in the towel, and your words are enough to help pull them back on their feet.

5. Don't forget about the honeymoon!
I was so busy planning the wedding, and being with my mom during that year that I completely forgot about the honeymoon. Thank goodness my husband did not and it was one of the best parts of the whole wedding experience. After the wedding, the honeymoon is an unexpected relaxing treat.
Remember the honeymoon for your business. Maybe it's a weekend away to celebrate your first year in business. Maybe it's investing in yourself in a much needed retreat to re-group and plan for the following year. But whatever it may be, don't skimp on the honeymoon. You will have earned it!

Ellen Nightingale is just about to finish her first year in business for herself meshing her roles as a speech language pathologist, writer and coach. She has been helping clients find their voices for the past 11 years through her speech therapy practice and parent-child communication workshops. She recently began facilitating writing workshops and spiritual retreats to help others find and tell their stories. Personal writing has been her main tool in healing professional burnout, documenting her journey with the breast cancer gene, navigating motherhood, and redesigning her life. 
You can find her blogging at She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's all a part of the process

Post by Laura Summers for the Love for Love series.

image courtesy of Joel Penner on Flickr

“Boundaries represent awareness, knowing what the limits are and then respecting those limits.” ― David W. Earle

It sounds strange, but there is something ultimately freeing about setting boundaries. Unfortunately I learned to set boundaries in all the wrong ways. My boundaries were just walls with a fancier name. Constructed out of fear and built to keep me apart from others, walls allowed me to perpetuate the myth that I could trust no one but myself. A lifetime of thinking and behaving as if everyone I meet will employ their ability to hurt me has been no small feat to overcome.

Trust is not something that comes naturally to me, especially in a romantic relationship. Therefore I must be extremely diligent in my practice to recognize, acknowledge, and master my subconscious thoughts. That is not to say I don’t have extremely bad days. Ohhhhhh my gosh, do I have bad days. In fact, this past year was just 365 bad days strung together.

There is no special magic to this setting boundaries, save it be that you have to re-set and re-set, and re-set them sometimes. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s easier to let it slide. But once you’ve set (and re-set) them you’ll find that folks start respecting the limits you’ve set for yourself. It’s not always an earth shattering boundary that needs to be defined, but sometimes it DEFINITELY is. Learn the difference between the boundaries set to keep your day-to-day sanity, and boundaries that are a means to ensure your immediate physical and emotional safety. I believe sometimes they can and will be the same.

For me setting boundaries is a process that starts with forgiveness. Forgiving myself for allowing behaviors that are not consistent with what I envision for a healthy me. Forgiving others for the behaviors I have allowed them to believe are appropriate to be in a relationship with me. Perhaps the MOST difficult part of that process is not getting tangled up in that nasty place where you convince yourself of your own innocence while simultaneously condemning another.

Once you’ve established that your own behavior may not have been operating at peak performance, you are able to more fully take part in the catharsis that comes from owning your shit. One you’ve owned your shit, you can start to behave more appropriately in the future. People, we all have baggage. (Some of us have a matching 20-piece set. Ahem.) None among us are immune to saying something hurtful to someone we care about. None of us are innocent of behaving in a way inconsistent with the story we tell about ourselves. It is sometimes the smallest infractions of character that do the most damage. If you cross the boundary, apologize, and expect others to do the same. It’s possible others will not apologize. In that case, you will have to establish a healthy boundary that allows you to continue to be kind, but guarded about the amount of energy you allow yourself to take on from an unhealthy person or situation. Accept the apology you didn’t get and love yourself enough to say, “This no longer works for me.”

Finding that honesty was ALWAYS the best policy and that forgiveness is a gift she strives to live in line with those values. 

Mama to a college quarterback and a rescue pup, she finds joy in a touchdown pass and go fetch. 

Ever working on improving herself, she'll finally have that bachelors degree in the Spring.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Always be a little kinder than necessary

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Confession: I've been struggling a little with being kind this week.

Yuck. That feel gross to admit, but it's true. I got pretty snappy with a hospital orderly who went past a family member's room twice without taking the dinner tray, finding a daily kindness this week has been quite a challenge, and I've just generally not felt like it.

Kinda weird to choose this quote then, right? 

Well, I figured I needed a reminder of how I want to show up, and more importantly, some gentleness around my own human imperfection.

Yes, I always want to be a little kinder than necessary. That's how I want to show up in the world whether it's with a client, my husband or a perfect stranger. There's so much negativity and terribleness in the world, I really feel drawn to sharing some light. That's my goal, but the reality is that I don't always achieve that goal...and that's OK.

I'm not perfect (duh!) and in times like these when I'm struggling with being a little kinder than necessary, what becomes so important is self-kindness. Letting myself off the hook, knowing that I'll try again tomorrow and forgiving myself. All of those things that don't necessarily come naturally, but are so important to practice.

I spent some time this past weekend doing just that. Reflecting, pausing and letting go. It's OK that I wasn't the greatest at my kindness goal last week because I choose to keep trying. I choose to practice gentleness with my self because I know I'm going to try again.

So, here's me. Trying again. Practicing. Because life is a one time offer, and I choose love.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.
❤, Lara

CLICK TO TWEET today's Monday Motivator: @kindovermatter is working to be a little kinder than necessary. Are you?

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Last words

Every two weeks, one of the world’s languages is lost as its final native speaker dies.
(Factsheet, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages) 

She sings herself a song. Her mother knew

It, and her son, long gone

It tells of birds that fly on

Silvered feathers to the moon

Kimberly G. Jackson studied literature at Yale and New York University, but now reads and writes poetry just for the love of it. 

She lives in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.
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