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Through Her Eyes

December 20, 2011

I love observing my daughter. In fact, I laugh quite a bit when I do, because I realize how much I was like her when I was her age. Do you remember when you were 7…how you saw the world from those little, brilliant eyes? Was it very different from your perspective today?

Nia, happy, in character

Watching her, I remember things that make my spirit flicker. I remember dancing and singing without inhibition in front of ceiling-to-floor mirrors. In my eyes and in my heart I felt and looked amazing–all the time (that rocks!)– and I could be whoever I wanted to be… Sandy in Grease, Pippi in Pippi Long Stockings, Annie, etc., you get the picture. Yet, the most exciting part of her world is her exploration of everything, indoors or outdoors, and her almost complete avoidance of TV.

She doesn’t care much about that world in the screen, but the one in her mind and in her heart.

Now, I’m not recommending living in La La Land, but, what if we could keep that flame flickering? In fact, what if we made sure we didn’t allow it to burn out? How would daily, mundane tasks in life feel different? Think about it. Really, really think about it. I am.

When I visualize myself now, seeing life through my daughter’s eyes, I notice myself smiling, A LOT. I feel lighter, happier, healthier, and in awe of everything. In fact, through her perspective I think of a situation that normally would drive me into a tizzy, and it just seems so petty now– simply meaningless. In fact, petty, ego-driven and non-creative meanderings would most likely not even capture an iota of her attention. They would simply fly past her like a feather in the wind.

Yes, through my child’s eyes I get to determine what has meaning and what doesn’t. That’s powerful!

So, although we always want to tackle a great BIG goal each new year, what I’m suggesting is that we do something quite simple: see this new year through the eyes of a child, and more specifically, our child within. My sense is that in doing this one simple thing we’ll achieve more goals and more happiness, with greater ease.

Here’s my Five Step Prescription:

1. GO BACK. Find a photo of yourself as a child, that you absolutely love; one that without question speaks to who you are at your core.

2. TAKE NOTE. Grab a sheet of paper and without thinking, write down the first five words (adjectives or verbs) that capture the essence of your child spirit. Then, think of five specific memories (one for each word) that bring to life each word.

3. COME INTO THE NOW. Find a photo of yourself, today, that you love! If you don’t have one, take one!

4. BRING YOUR WORDS TO LIFE. Take your five words and now clearly define how you can lead with them and live them out daily– in the now.

5. SEE IT. LIVE IT. Take a large enough poster board, or create a screen saver of your two photos, your five words, and your new actions. Look at it daily. This is a new twist to the standard vision board– much less time consuming, and more powerful.

Are you laughing at my photo? I hope so. That’s what I’m doing, and that’s exactly the feeling I’m after. I love everything about this photo because it points to things I loved experiencing as a child: my secret hiding place (yes, behind this flower bush was my hollow hide out!); my first bike which tattooed me with a scar the first time I fell off it, and which allowed me to explore the world around me; my Mickey T, which represented one of my favorite fantasy lands– Disney; and my cowboy boots, which I loved to dance in and that reminds me of the little pony I once rode and connected with. And, best of all, my David Lee Roth jump that says it all.
It says, “I’m Kick A_ _!”

It’s funny. Looking at this photo brings me to present day, where my daughter creates the strangest ensembles which make me cry out, “You can’t leave the house looking like that!” But from her vantage point, each piece of the ensemble means something to her; it’s a piece of her very personal puzzle and she can care less what anyone thinks about it. To her, it’s the best ensemble ever that screams, “This is me, people! Love it or leave it!” That’s exactly how I felt in this picture. It’s a precious reminder.

If you’re looking for a way to bring 2011 to a close and begin to bring in some authentic energy for 2012, give my prescription a try, and enjoy re-connecting with your inner child…your true self.

Cheers to a passion-filled new year.

Namaste,

Monique

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Nahant Simplified

Nahant Simplified

It’s always fun to spend time in the Boston, MA area, where my husband grew up. More specifically, he was raised in Malden, where his parents still reside. Even though Boston is not my home, it “feels like home” if you know what I mean. In fact, when I travelled there with my husband (my boyfriend at the time) for the first time in 1994 it was meeting his parents and extended family that sealed the deal for me. Family was everything for them. We still joke that one of the similarities between our families (mine: Cuban; his: Irish/Italian) is that we all are so family oriented (and love to dance!). We both love spending time with our family members.

It wasn’t until our trip this June 2009 that I really got to thinking how going home was a way of “plugging in” for my husband—recharging his battery, especially since we don’t visit as often as we used to. The things we do when we are in Boston are things that for him are essential to charging his spiritual energy. It goes something like this…

  1. Arrive at Logan and be greeted by Mom and Dad.
  2. Tune into the local stations for “the best music ever”.
  3. Come home to homemade chicken wings, meatballs and sausage in “gravy”, and homemade pizza (among many other delicious goodies).
  4. Sit out on the deck with the lighted palm tree decoration and drink a few cold ones (usually Sam Adams) and talk about “the days” while taking in the cool air.
  5. NEXT DAY…the itch begins…we must go to Nahant (40 Steps) to see, hear and touch the ocean. This is the place where my husband’s dreams were born—his love for the ocean, what’s underneath the ocean, and scuba diving.
  6. Having a Maine lobster or “lobsta” roll.

You get the idea. The list continues for us…a check-off of sorts of things to do (whale watching, seeing old friends, a Sox or Pats game, etc.) before we head back home. This time, however, I noticed how truly important these activities are to my husband, as small as they may seem.  It’s almost like he’s on a mission—quiet, yet excited; eager, yet meditative, until he’s filled his cup. These are things “of the soul” that keep him charged so he can go back to his “adult life home” in Miami and get back to living. During our trips, I know not to say “no” or ask “why”—it’s clear that it is something he truly needs, an hourglass that continually empties and needs to be filled again.

And isn’t it the same for us all? I compared my husband’s experience to my own and I do believe that there are times in our lives that we all must reconnect and fill our souls so that we can continue on our journeys. For me, since I live in my home town, it’s more about connecting with those things about my life’s experiences that were meaningful to me and helped to make me who I am today, like spending quality time at least once a year with my middle school girlfriends, eating my favorite childhood meal or dessert  when I feel I need “soul food” (arroz con pollo and arroz con leche—yum!), listening to music that reminds me of the “old times” especially the music my mom played, driving through my grandparent’s old neighborhood (Little Havana), etc.

So why not plug in when we need it? We all need to recharge at different times, perhaps when we are feeling a bit disconnected, unfulfilled, or when things just seem a bit mundane. What is it about these experiences that recharge us? It seems to me that the feelings we are trying to reconnect with are those of love, belonging, familiarity, comfort and excitement. So when you need a dose of these feelings, here are at least 10 ways you can recharge your soul:

  1.  Take a trip! If it’s been a while since you’ve visited your home town, why not take a few days and make that trip. Or, if taking a trip is not a possibility, how about picking up the phone and having a nice conversation with a loved one? If you live in your home town, why don’t you take the time to visit with a relative you hardly ever speak with or see? Web cams provide another great way to connect with those you love and/or miss.
  2. Girls/Boys Night Out! Same concept here, but with your childhood or close friends. Even if it’s for a few hours, schedule a dinner or cocktail with one or more of your close friends you don’t get to see too often. Reminisce and catch up. Have a few laughs!
  3. Have some soul food! Gosh… there is nothing like some good soul food! If you can’t actually make it out to that favorite restaurant or to your mom’s house where she can whip up your favorite dish, how about making it yourself or ordering out? It’s the feeling of eating the special dish that you’re after, so eat up and leave the guilt at the door.
  4. Visit that favorite place. For my husband that place was Nahant. What is it for you? Can’t visit? How about find a photo, frame it and hang it up in your home or office?
  5. Rent a movie. We all have that favorite flick that get’s us going. For me, it’s either Grease or Footloose. I have very distinct memories of reenacting these movies in front of my living room wall-to-floor mirror! What movie makes your energy soar?
  6. Turn up the dial! Does music lift your spirits like it does for me? What songs from your childhood/youth do the same for you? Find them and play them.
  7. Scrap. Photos have a way of instantly creating that connection once again. If you’re anything like me, you probably have many boxes stored and filled with photos from childhood and up. Why not sort through them, pick a few favorites that recreate those feelings you crave and create a scrap book? It also feels good to create photo albums or scrap books for others.
  8. Blog. There’s no better way to reconnect these days than through the internet. If you have not yet connected with those dear friends or relatives on Facebook, you can always use a blogging tool, like Blogger or WordPress to create a personal blog to keep you connected with your family and friends. You can share photos and keep everyone up-to-date on your life’s happenings.
  9. Take up a hobby. This doesn’t have to be too time consuming; a simple game can do the trick. What board game did you play with your relatives or friends that made you smile? How long has it been since you played it? Dust it off and get going. Or, was there something you truly enjoyed doing that you wouldn’t mind doing again, like playing an instrument, or taking a dance class. I’m all for finding some time to do those activities that create excitement and purpose for me. What are they for you?
  10. Journal or write a letter. Writing can be a soothing and healing process for many. When our lives are too hectic and we long to create or connect with something more meaningful, jotting down our thoughts, remembering experiences that put smiles on our faces, listing those things we are grateful for today, or writing a letter to someone who we miss dearly or appreciate can send our energy right back up again. Purchase a simple, beautiful journal—one that calls out to you—and give it a try.

Remembering the past doesn’t always mean living in it. It’s important to make that distinction as I’m a believer in living in the moment. This brings to mind Daughtry’s song “Home” where he says… “I’m going home, to a place where I belong, where your love has always been enough for me.” Going home means different things to different people. For some it is literal and for others, a cup of coffee, a song, or a conversation can create that feeling that will put us back in balance and provide us with some needed energy to keep moving forward in our lives with a sense of meaning and with a smile on our faces.

What creates that feeling of home for you? Add to my list! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

All my love to our family and friends in Boston who always make us feel at home!

With gratitude,

Monique

What’s Burning You?

January 19, 2009

My 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