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What’s Burning You?

February 26, 2015

Dear Life Well Led Community,

I’m leading a stimulating week of trainings and haven’t had the moment to blog this week, so I thought I’d share one of my early blog posts from 2009. It offers a few ideas on how to both resurrect an early passion of yours, as well as identify a thought or feeling that may be holding you back in some way. It’s a blast from the past, this week at Life Well Led. I hope you enjoy it!

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

What's Burning You – Life Well LEDMy husband recently bought an outdoor fire pit for our son’s backyard camping party. Last night, I was enjoying the crisp, cool evening by

the fire and was mesmerized by the stunning flames. Within in a minute or so this question came to me—“What’s burning you?” So, I decided to ponder upon the question for a while.

There are two ways to look at this question—both very useful. The first way provides us with a mechanism to dig down deep inside and discover (or rediscover) what positively ignites us—“lights us up.” A great way to do this is to think back to your childhood (8 yrs old or younger) and try to remember what you absolutely loved doing. What were you doing? Who else was with you? Can you remember your feelings? Why did you enjoy doing this activity so much? How was it meaningful for you?

Don’t you remember the feeling of being a child…carefree with

not much to worry about or fear over? These feelings tend to get tucked away as we grow older and the expectations of others and the world weighs heavily upon us. But, if we can just tap into that fire again (our true colors) and learn to incorporate some of these childhood passions into our lives, perhaps we would feel more fulfilled.

Here’s an example…I recently heard a woman describe that as a child she absolutely loved to dance. Now that she can look back at that experience, she realized that it wasn’t the dancing itself (because she commented that she wasn’t a good dancer), but how she felt when she was in front of an audience, and her interaction with them. So, today, she taps into that passion by making sure that she often has the opportunity to “perform” in front of others in her career, whether it be during a staff meeting, presentation, event, or otherwise. These activities conjure up in her the same emotions she felt as a child dancing. What has resulted for her is that she now feels happier at work. Neat realization, huh?

A second way that we can look at this question is to uncover what negatively burns us inside. You know that feeling when someone embarrasses you in public or doesn’t include you in an activity or gives you criticism you can’t handle? Whatever the “thing” or “things” are that burn us up inside truly provide us with some insights that, if uncovered, can help create new opportunities in our lives that we, ourselves, are blocking.

Let’s take the example of not being included in an activity. I know someone who would “burn up” every time his peers would go out for lunch and not invite him. It would infuriate him, especially because he felt he had a great relationship with all of them. He never spoke to anyone about it though so as not to be seen as a pushover. However, after digging a bit, he realized that perhaps the reason he had not been invited was due to his office door being closed around lunch, which may have given others the impression that he was not interested in socializing or joining them.

So what changed? You got it…he opened his door and the invites poured in! It is amazing how our beliefs and self-doubts can limit us and make us angry in the meantime. And what does anger do? It can affect our stress levels, which can in turn affect our health, sleep habits, etc. Let’s leave this for another blog!!

So, what fires within yourself can you IGNITE or PUT OUT? Sometimes, simple internal shifts can make such a difference in how we feel and how we show up in our lives each day.

This week, I encourage you to light your fire within. As singer and songwriter Jerry Garcia expressed in one of his beautiful ballads,“Inspiration moves me brightly”, may you be inspired and moved this week and brightly shine your light!

Monique

“The flow experience is good in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful. It’s good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

I’ve been blogging a lot recently about goals, probably because I, too, have been trying to find the right mix between “being” and “doing“. Perhaps you’ve thought about this as well. In fact, in addition to a few very focused whole-life goals that I set for myself this year, I also created one over-arching theme for my year, which describes how I want to feel. It goes like this:

FLOW IN ALL THINGS

(You dig it, don’t you?!!) I have to say that because I’m focused on being whatever I need to be in each moment, I’m definitely feeling the flow, while accomplishing a lot more! It’s an interesting phenomena, and quite the opposite of what many of us are used to, which is DO, DO, DO and keep going!

So how does this work? Well, for me, it can go something like this…

1. Look at my to-do list once at work and begin to plow away.

2. Today I am not feeling so well, and I realize that I may not be able to accomplish some things on that list.

3. PAUSE. Become fully aware of how I feel and what I need in this very moment (more self-compassion; less action). P.S. – This is hard for Type A’s!!

4. ACCEPT how I feel and decide what the best use of my time is in this moment. What can I focus on and move forward with the energy I have available to me right now?

5. I choose to BE in that feeling of “not-so-good”, honor it, and identify what I can do in this moment that affirms how I feel and also allows me to act. In this real example, I made the decision to push-off some tasks to later in the day, or worst case, the next day. I decided that I would respond to some communication that I felt well enough to tackle.

6. By consciously choosing this action (and not feeling badly about it!) I was able to focus on just that, let the rest go, and flow– BE and ACT at the same time.

In the book FLOW  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this is referred to as The Merging of Action and Awareness.

Now, we can take my reason in #2 above and replace it with any other reason that could have interrupted my plans for the day. Many of us lead hectic careers, where emergencies pop up all the time. I used to work in a hospital, and that feeling of being on your toes all the time was ever-present. You were always looking over your shoulder waiting for that “thing” to happen. Sometimes we can’t change the nature of work environments like this (some people are hard-wired to thrive in these environments!), but we can learn to flow with them and find enjoyment in them. This is the ultimate benefit of flowing, and it can be one of the best ways to be engaged in your life and in your work.

Awareness and choice are really KEY in helping to make this happen. As stated in FLOW, “(It is) An individual’s ability to restructure consciousness so as to make flow happen.” You have to choose it, folks!

Although I know that we can and do achieve flow most often by simply leveraging our strengths, which can create optimal and enjoyable states, we also can consciously create the conditions of flow. Some of these conditions are:

  • Concentrating on the task at hand
  • Having a sense of exercising control
  • Doing something that is not done with the expectation of some future benefit (not of the self!)

So when that “thing” happens, or the other shoe drops, what will you choose? Consider going with the FLOW, and knowing that you can, indeed, find happiness in those moments and love what you’re doing right now.

“Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents.” —Eckhart Tolle

 

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

 

 

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I love it when nature becomes the perfect metaphor for life and leading. My family and I recently took a super fun excursion on a GINORMOUS buggy deep into the Everglades. I have to admit that I was both excited for the adventure, and scared of the “what if’s!” It’s sad to admit that I have not taken much advantage of this beautiful resource in all my 40+ years in Florida.

I was with my children, though, and I kept listening to my inner chatter, which at times was saying something like, “You don’t want your kids to be fearful! Suck it up, smile, and have a blast!” In this moment, my leadership role was as MOM to my kids, preparing them for the Jungle of Life! You know what’s in the jungle…lions, tigers and bears (oh my!)
In this jungle, on this perfect sunny and cool day, we encountered fresh panther and bear tracks (yes, I said fresh!!!) And, as we explored one Cyprus Dome after another, we came across a water moccasin! It got a little hairy at that point, and we realized that we were, in deed, in the presence of danger. We held our breath. We laughed it off. We kept going.

I look back on that day and see all of us without the proper gear (although we tried!), up to our thighs in mucky cold water exploring our South Florida gem, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished and survived as a family. My 16-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter dug deep that day, kept their thoughts positive, and pushed through. And, well, I kept my cool even during those moments where I wanted to grab my kids and run back to the buggy! I pushed myself. In the end, we had a fantastic adventure and created great memories. In fact, our wonderful guide shared that he’d never met a more adventurous family!

On the buggy during our ride back, I couldn’t help but notice how one side of the ‘glades was black, dry, and brittle from brush fires, and the other side was green, lush and vibrant. For me, this signified the yin and the yang in everything, just like my feelings of both excitement and fear. Additionally, it was a great reminder that some things have to die to bear new life.

So what does this have to do with leading? I’d love for you to identify for yourself a personal experience where you could take those learnings from “life” and bring them into your “work life”. I truly enjoy making these parallel comparisons often.

For me, here are a few leadership learnings I took from this journey into the ‘glades:

1. Expect Yin and Yang in Everything!

Even the best of opportunities bring some challenges. Where there is light there also is darkness. Be prepared. There is no better example of this than in nature. As we witnessed…a tree, completely burned, with one small leaf growing out of it! Death, yet signs of new life! I also think about perspectives. Where there is one perspective or opinion, you can bet there will be another! As a leader in all situations, being prepared for this dichotomy can save us a lot of wasted energy.

2. Set the Pace. Be the Example.

Leaders are expected to lead. When we don’t meet those expectations, our tribe loses faith in us. We are nothing without our tribe! My children were definitely looking to my husband and me to model how to think, feel and act during this new adventure for us all. And isn’t that how leadership begins? We learn by and through others. Some leaders are great, and some not so great, but the learning is continuous regardless. Especially when teams and organizations are in challenging, and perhaps risky situations or environments, it really helps to hunker down and follow the leader. Sometimes, that’s the only way to make it through to the end. For us, heading in and out of these high grass and water domes, there was no other way…it was one behind the other!

3. You don’t know what you don’t know!

Although we tried our best to prepare, I’m not sure we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into! We made a quick run (the day before!) to Target and purchased anything that resembled “jungle gear”. We made some great finds, but we didn’t realize how under-prepared we were until we hit our first dome. That was the negative. The positive is that you better believe we’ll be ready next time. As leaders, if we are able to do the necessary homework and preparations to plan for success, do it! Err on the side of caution. Although we were lucky enough to not encounter a truly sticky situation, we did come really close with that water moccasin! Too close. Sometimes business is unforgiving and you only have one shot to win. I am grateful for our tour guide, and learned a lot from him. As leaders we really don’t know it all and we have to be willing to listen and learn in order to grow.

4. Share and Celebrate.

Don’t we always have war stories to share? No matter what the outcome, it’s so important to focus on what went well and cement those awesome moments in our memories. They really do help us stretch. We all were outside of our comfort zones that day, and stretch we did! We celebrated our adventure with a yummy BBQ lunch, and we still can’t stop talking about it and sharing it with others. At work, these are moments that can really bond a team and provide spaces for vulnerability, which help us all understand that we’re human after all.

I bet you have a similar experience, and I’d love to hear it!

Share and celebrate!

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

 

This holiday week, I wish you and yours moments of memorable connection, laughs, hugs, and lots of cheer!
I also wish you moments of mindfulness and peace, so that you may cherish yourself and renew your unique spirit.
To help you do that, here’s a 60-second Moment of Mindfulness, from our beautiful FIU campus, and below it, a holiday poem by Henry Wadsworth LongfellowCherish both the loud and quiet moments this magical season!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=114989187&force_embed=1&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0


The holiest of all holidays are those Kept by ourselves in silence and apart; The secret anniversaries of the heart, When the full river of feeling overflows;– The happy days unclouded to their close; The sudden joys that out of darkness start As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart Like swallows singing down each wind that blows! White as the gleam of a receding sail, White as a cloud that floats and fades in air, White as the whitest lily on a stream, These tender memories are;–a fairy tale Of some enchanted land we know not where, But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

It’s your life. Lead it well,
Monique

I’m in awe of you! Yes, you!Once for each thing. Just once; no more.

And we too, just once. And never again.

But to have been this once, completely,

even if only once: to have been

at one with this earth,

seems beyond undoing.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Since having attending Oprah’s the Life You Want weekend, I’ve become very clear on the one thing that I am uber focused on for a period of time until I begin to sense a positive change within me. And should that happen (which I’m fully intending for!), at that moment I hope that I won’t need to make a conscious decision to keep it going, but I will become aware that it already has become a new habit. That I have, indeed, already changed. That I am that.

Now, as I would have questioned in the past, some of you may be questioning in this moment, “Just one thing, Monique?”  Yes, that’s right. So many of us have this tendency to try to make MANY changes at once, only to exhaust ourselves, or notice that what we had decided needed changing really is not something we’re eager to change, if at all. I have lived in that pattern of “The more I do the more I am.” You feel me? Yet, if I could FOCUS; truly FOCUS ON JUST ONE THING, well I get excited about how life changing that could be.

What would focusing on JUST ONE THING do for you? How impactful could that be for your life? Do you have moments of feeling scattered and disconnected, or feeling your purpose fleeting? I’d love to hear about those moments for you.

I know you’re curious about my ONE THING! Okay, I’ll tell you. My ONE THING is to be my purpose in EACH MOMENT. This requires not planning so much. Not setting extraordinary goals to “be something”. Not checking off lists just to feel accomplished. I know you’re freaking out reading this! I kinda am too! It’s a big change, you see, and big changes sometimes require a proper freak out! BREATHE DEEPLY. Instead, in each moment I will ask myself, “What is my purpose in this very moment? What do I want to achieve right now? What do I want to be right now? How do I want to feel?” and I will listen for my answer. I will be guided by my answer and take the appropriate next step, whether that is to write my blog, call my mom, go for a walk, draft a proposal, organize my office, make a follow up call, play with my daughter, create a new program, etc. I will choose to be that which I am in that moment and make the very most of it! I may just even sit still and breathe.

I know you’re still freaking out! Just chill out! I promise you that I will feel on purpose. I promise you that I won’t need to read a definition daily of who I think I am or who I think I want to be.

I’LL JUST BE.

So what does my ONE THING have to do with awe and with my being in awe of you? Well, for me, part of truly finding my purpose in each moment is also seeing the awe in every single person I encounter, even if no words are exchanged. Mark Nepo calls this Beholding Others. He writes,

“The truth is that each living spirit we encounter is a depth to gently swim in, a miracle that can quench our thirst.”

Can you imagine how our work and relationships would serve us if we went into every conversation wondering what this person could teach us–being in awe of them even without knowing one thing about them? Or, for those we do know, suspending all judgment and allowing them to re-introduce themselves and demonstrate who they are in that moment. Could we see something about them we never before saw?

How would you feel knowing someone was beholding you? How different would that be from wondering if you were good enough, or successful enough?

BIG SHIFT.

Behold others and you too will feel beholded.

I am grateful for this moment, for each word that is created in my mind and which I type in this moment.

And in this final blog moment, I honor and behold YOU, for the unique and magnificent individual that you are. That is, in fact, what Namaste means.

Namaste,

Monique

 

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I just purchased a book for my husband, The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell, who is heralded as a superb storyteller. This gift is supposed to be a surprise, but I guess it won’t be after I post this blog! In his book, Campbell recounts his conversations with many amazing individuals he was close to about their life’s quests and explorations. When I heard about it, it reminded me of my husband’s journey, which he’s still living out fully today. In fact, as I write this he’s incommunicado, on a live-a-board ship, diving with Tiger sharks! He’s all about exploring and creating his story in every moment, so I thought it was a perfect gift for him. Taking this leap was not easy for him–for any of us. Leaving a solid 15-year sales career to live his childhood passion of being the next Jacques Cousteau could never be easy. But, what a ride! It’s an exhilarating story, one with a lot yet to be written. I tell him all the time, “This is another chapter in your autobiography!” He laughs and responds, “Yep, our grand kids will get a kick out of this chapter!” This is an invested, deeply meaningful journey, and I do hope he does write about it one day!

(Oh, and since it’s our 18th wedding anniversary this weekend, let me use this platform to wish my husband, Billy, a Happy Anniversary. Love you, honey!)

Though his transition into entrepreneurship was kind of a big deal for us, we all don’t have to have a major transition happen in our lives in order for us to feel or express our story’s power and have it continue to expand us. And, we all don’t just have one story, either! This thought process brought me back to my new program that I just launched this past week, Journey to Wellbeing. I feel so blessed to be walking side-by-side with many individuals who are diving deep into their stories–their journeys to more balanced, conscious, healthy, joyful and meaningful lives. Although it’s only been a week, what I love most is getting a glimpse into their stories, one week at a time. And, since this program’s foundation is journaling, I love the idea that they can begin to capture and/or create their stories, just one sentence at a time. I don’t know about you, but its always a person’s story that instantly connects me to them. It’s what remains when everything falls away. Author, Anne Lamont shares that the thought of writing her first book was terrifying, until one day one of her mentors suggested she write just one sentence every day until she finished. That’s exactly what she did. What would you say is your Hero’s Journey? Have you thought about it? Have you shared it with others? Have you dumped it out of your head and onto paper? Can journaling help you capture it, or would writing one sentence a day be an inspiring starting point for you as it was for Anne Lamont?

We are all hero’s in our own right–in our own lives. Capture it. Own it. Share it.

Namaste, Monique

SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 9

Are you looking to find some inner insight on your well-being? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe there is more to life than the physical? Sure, staying fit is wonderful and all, but do you ever think about the nitty-gritty of things, through soul searching, or even trying to find that balance in life to make you feel “whole”? Holistic practices have been used for hundreds of years. A holistic practice not only focuses on the body, but the entire body-mind-soul connection to help achieve a greater satisfaction of oneself. Wholeness is just right around the corner, folks.


 Bringing Your Well-Being Full Circle

How we can heal our lives through holistic practices.

Holism means that we are all connected somehow to the world and everything around us. We humans spend so much time bettering ourselves via money and indulges that we forget to thank ourselves in personal and natural ways. We need to allow ourselves to access peace and harmony to better help our spirit remain in the state of bliss and tranquility that we deserve. We can do this through holistic practices.

yoga-pose2Caring for the mind and soul are equally as important as taking care of the body. The metaphysical components of wellness should be taken into account and not be set aside. We can all benefit from getting that ol’ yoga mat out more often instead of waiting for that rainy day Yoga, one of the more practiced types of holism, not only helps to stretch the muscles, it decreases stress, eases depression, and even helps keep blood pressure in check.

Meditation is also a spiritual awakening practice that can put us in a relaxed state of mind. When meditating, we clear our minds and focus solely on slow, balanced breathing. For a beginner, it may take a few meditations before he/she can fully relax and forget those pesky daily woes that trouble us all. Meditating, even if for 5 minutes, can benefit us in the long run. So, the next time you find yourself thinking there aren’t enough hours in the day, believe that there are, take a seat, relax, and ‘om’ your way to a better, happier you.

These are merely two well-known types of holistic practices. There are many other ones that you can easily try at home, or at a studio with a teacher or professional. And, they can also support any illness you may be working through. Sometimes, medication is not enough. Holistic exercises and rituals can help heal your soul and awaken you to your true self and true needs.

The forces of our minds and our transcendental connection to the universe can make miracles! I believe holism can help anyone, if they’re willing to open themselves up to the universe—mind-body-and-soul.

I created I AM Equilibrium because holism has been in my life as long as I can remember! My grandmother taught me to always to look at the root of a situation or illness for the blockage or obstacle, and try to find the “why.”  The surface of anything tells a different story than its root. Looking for the answers within helps you evolve spiritually.

beach-yoga-holiday-fuerteventura

My tip for you is to try and do the same. This week, when you feel stress or pain, instead of masking it with pain killers, cocktails, or other quick fixes, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and ask yourself questions that can help you find the root—the spiritual cause of the stress or pain.

And, I invite you to consider expanding your well-being horizon and trying out a new and unique holistic method. Regardless of the method or practice you try, be patient and be in the moment with it, releasing any judgment for the activity and for yourself.

The art of allowing is never easy! When I began my holistic journey I decided to take it slow. I realized that to develop the habit I needed to take baby steps. First, I set a time, even if I wasn’t going to do yoga or meditate, I’d have the alarm sound ‘meditation time’ and I would be ready with some affirmations or thoughts that I wanted to manifest as detailed as possible.  For one week, it was just that! The following week I wanted more, so I would actually sit up and meditate for 5 minutes and put on some yoga clothes, never pressuring myself to do more. These small baby steps helped me incorporate these and other practices into my life, all while running two companies! I also realized that how I thought about my time was critical. Did I feel I had no time at all, or all the time in the world?  Believe you have the time and you will find it.

I wish you much success on your well-being journey, and a lifetime of mind-body-soul practices that bring you into the wholeness you deserve.

Thank you!

 


Mary P
Ivette Agusti
Founder of I Am Equilibrium
Ivette Agusti is founder of I Am Equilibrium, a Holistic Gym in South Miami focused on helping others integrate Holistic practices into their everyday lifestyle. IAE offers classes, one on one treatments and weekend workshops for the mind, body and spirit, ranging from prosperity classes to the latest healing modalities like Sound healing, etc. Recognizing always how you are your first and only healer, IAE provides simply the tools to assist in your evolution and growth.