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Thanksgiving questions to ask this year at the table! An exercise in Gratitude

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes.

This is not coincidence.” -Erma Bombeck

I just love Thanksgiving! I love cooking, I love spending time with my family, and yes, I even love football! But, as the quote above eludes to, do you sometimes think to yourself, “This just went by way too fast!” Or, “Am I really living in gratitude today and taking full advantage of this time with those I love?” Well, I do. In fact, I just don’t see my family members enough. Enough to understand how their lives are going. What they are joyful about. What they are grateful for. Why they may be hurting. Isn’t amazing how we can go days, weeks and months without seeing them, and when we do, not take full advantage of KNOWING THEM, APPRECIATING THEM, VALIDATING THEM,  and LOVING THEM (in person!).

As a coach, one of the things I find so fascinating is how easy it is to feel appreciated and loved by just listening (really listening!) and asking questions. How do you feel when someone is holding on to your every word, letting you share what’s on your mind without interrupting, or simply asking you something about you and your life? It’s juicy! Yes! It may even be juicier than turkey on Thanksgiving Day!

So, why don’t you join me for a Thanksgiving Day Exercise in Gratitude, Appreciation and Love, by making time for REAL CONVERSATIONS, and REAL CONNECTION with those you love?

Thanksgiving Gratitude ExerciseI’ve created a special Thanksgiving Exercise download for you to print. Simply cut out the questions I’ve included, add your own (if you like), fold them, and place them in a bowl. Then, after your delish meal, take turns picking a question and asking it of someone. The person who answers the question gets to ask next. (You can also Pin this to save it for later, just hover over the image to the left and click the Pin It! button)

I can’t wait to see how this goes at our celebration, and I’m very excited to try it out. I will definitely report back what I observe as outcomes and lasting memories for our family. I hope you’ll do the same.

And, in celebration of this magnificent holiday, when we take extra time to truly savor all the good in our lives, I invite you to meditate upon it. Here’s my Thanksgiving Post from last year. I plan to meditate upon it at sunrise to start my magnificent day!

I thank you for subscribing, for reading, for including me in your life as a source of inspiration and motivation for a Life Well LED.

I cherish this and all opportunities to positively impact you and your place in our amazing world.

Namaste,
Monique

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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

The day our fish died!

April 23, 2014

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“There is no right reaction. There is only your reaction.”
Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul

Jack Canfield was one of the primary influences in my life when I began my eye-opening journey of awareness and the transition into my career of being a catalyst for individuals to be their best selves and leaders of their lives.

Jack is a no-nonsense businessman and transformational author, teacher and coach. When I dove into his Success Principles book, self-study course and worked with one of his coaches, I came across a simple equation that changed my life. I share this with everyone I teach and coach, and I will share it with you today. It goes like this …

E + R = O

It stands for … EVENT + REACTION = OUTCOME.
Here’s the learning behind this:

  • Everything in our life is an EVENT (E) … every conversation, meeting, chance encounter, exercise, meal, etc.
  • How we REACT (R) to any event is completely within our control.
  • Based on our reaction, an OUTCOME (O) will result.

When we are not aware — operating unconsciously due to habit — we are not pausing (even for a few seconds) to be intentional about the outcome we desire out of all the events in our life.

Here are a few examples of how you can use this equation to help you become more aware and proactive so that you are not living out the victim energy of “All these things happen to me; I have no control!”

  • (Event) Your boss walks into your office annoyed and screaming at you. (Your Reaction) You interrupt him/her, in protection mode, and scream right back. (Outcome) The relationship between the two of you is tense and lacking respect. Nothing was accomplished, and you have a knot in your stomach the rest of the week and avoid your boss.
  • (Event) You are about to go for your everyday evening run, but you are stopped in your tracks by the president of your neighborhood association who has some important news she must share with you ‘right now’.  The conversation lags. (Reaction) You cancel your run. (Outcome) Your goal of running for 20 minutes a day for 30 days is interrupted. And, you were on a roll with your goal! You feel a bit defeated.
    • Reflection: If you had a quick moment (just a few seconds!) to confirm for yourself what you wanted the outcome of these ‘events’ to be, how might you have reacted differently?

Here’s a true, simple example of an event that took place recently. After looking back, I could have designed a better reaction and had a more positive outcome:

We purchased our beta fish, Sushi, for our daughter, who is lover of all things living! Sometimes, we call our daughter Snow White because all types of animals love her and flock to her. Sushi lasted much longer than any of us expected, and even though he was my daughter’s fish, I was the one who truly cared for him. We all loved him! So, when I realized one night — right before my daughter’s bedtime — that Sushi had passed, I didn’t even think to stop for a moment before reacting. If I had, I would have known in less than a few seconds that I shouldn’t have said anything at that time, because I knew in my heart how my daughter would react. Well, I screwed it up! The words “Sushi died” flew out of my mouth and my daughter was inconsolable. Our bedtime ritual went up in flames and she wouldn’t even sleep in her bed because of how sad she was. It was heartbreaking for me, her Mommy, who never wants to see her sad. And, none of us got much sleep that night!

Again, this is an example of a simple ‘event’ (not in my daughter’s eyes, however!), but I think you get the picture! I can say with conviction that although I still find myself reacting (we are human after all), for the most part I’m very conscious of what outcomes I desire and I’m able to change my reactions in a moments notice. My life, my health, my self-confidence, my relationships, and my energy are all the better for it!

In this process, it’s important to understand that there is no right or wrong to your reactions and the outcomes. What is powerful about using this equation is that you begin to see and feel the power behind pausing (before reacting unconsciously) and choosing how to react to ensure that you are happy (or more happy) with the outcome.

I encourage you to think about a few examples of events in your life, perhaps this week, that looking back you could have achieved a more positive outcome based on your reaction.

If you have a great example, I’d love for you to share it below. Sharing is caring (and learning)! And, if you know someone who can benefit from today’s blog, I’d love for you to share it with them!

If you want to read more on this topic, here’s a great article on Emotional Agility in the Harvard Business Review.

Wishing you a life well led,

Monique

Retirement? Meh!

March 12, 2014

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A few weeks ago I blogged about Pushing Through on something that is either important for you, or will help you get to that very next level. I truly enjoy the process of pushing through, and this month I’ve been working on my very own project — one that I have been putting off for quite some time. We all have those, don’t we?

Since knowing and leveraging my strengths is very effective for me, I tap into my talent of “activating,” which basically states that in order for me to feel on point, launching things often is very important for me. In the same way, NOT starting something that I know I need to start takes me off track.

Because my project has to do with planning, the idea of retirement came up. Suddenly, I’m paying more attention to the commercials Prudential has been putting out (which I feel are quite impactful) and beginning to imagine what I truly want my “retirement” to look and feel like. I visualize traveling (a lot!), enjoying daily life with my family, and engaging in super fun and youthful activities (hee hee!). Connecting my idea of “retirement” to something meaningful and exciting really helps me to look at it differently.

It doesn’t surprise me then, that one of the factors we know causes the feeling of “happiness” is being able to work hard to achieve something of importance or meaning to us. Shouldn’t our retirement be one of those things? Perhaps it is a time of rest for some, or for others, transformation, healing, or adventure. (Personally, I like adventure!)

Thinking about it is motivating me to redefine the word “retirement.” Let’s simply break down the word:

Retire: to withdraw to or from a particular place

Ment: this suffix can hold several meanings, but the one I’m drawn to is “State of Amazement!”

So, here’s my chosen new meaning of Retirement …

To Withdraw to a State of Amazement! (WSA)

Is this not the hippest way to look at retirement?

YES! If I don’t say so myself!

With this new way of looking at retirement, envisioning what we want and planning how we are going to make it happen becomes a happy planning activity for us.

What’s your vision for your WSA?

Can you tap into one of your strengths to help you think of retirement differently?

Please share your thoughts, or perhaps some great pictures of your new vision for WSA!

Finally, if having the “money talk” is uneasy for you, check out this video from LearnVest to help you get started.

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Namaste,

Monique

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Morning Prayer to the Four Airs

I give thanks that I have risen again today and to the Great Rising of Life Itself.
As the sun brightens up the sky and earth,
may my soul be bright with gratitude for all the good things in my life.
May I be generous in sharing these with others.
I give thanks that I have risen again today and to the Great Rising of Life Itself.
As the trees, rivers, animals and everything sing their songs of life,
may my soul sing the song of my heart.
May I sing gladly whether in joy or in sorrow,
and may it help me find humor and laughter in the day.
I give thanks that I have risen again today and to the Great Rising of Life itself.
As the sun crosses the sky to where it will set in the west,
may my soul proceed on its journey through life.
May I keep the vision of my life ever before me,
and may I have faith that my life has meaning.
I give thanks that I have risen again today and to the Great Rising of Life Itself.
As everything in nature strives to live and survive,
may my soul be strong in its struggles.
May I meet adversity with courage and hope.
I give thanks that I have risen again today and to the Great Rising of Life Itself.
As the earth spreads out from me to the horizon,
may my soul expand to embrace it.
May I speak the truth of the land
and take responsibility for my life.

–Colleen Deatsman & Paul Bowersox

Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

Namaste, Monique

The holiday season is special. It is a time for all of us to create a space for our children, family, friends (and us parents too!) to step outside of ourselves and our lives to tap into the wonder of the amazing lives we are leading. Truly…is it not a miracle in and of itself that we are on this earth breathing? Yes, take that deep breath!

In preparation for a joyous, sacred and stress-free holiday season, join me and two other AMAZING, women (see below) at The Nest in Coral Gables, on Saturday, November 3rd, 2:30 pm, to help you set the stage for a magical holiday season.

So, save the date now!

Listen to my dear friend, Lina Acosta, program director of The Nest, describe this very special event coming very soon.

On this day I will share with you how to:

  • “Friend” your energy so you can BE your ideal parent and professional
  • Understand your unique stress tendencies by looking at your face (and the faces of your children and relatives!) That’s right!!
  • Use a simple 3 step process to shift to a happy, stress-free state

I’m so lucky to share this time two talented practitioners, Michelle Alva and Alexis Edwards!

Integrative and Holistic Practitioner Michelle Alva, PT will present different ways to avoid low back and neck tension which are very common during the Holidays. She will also introduce a great way to de-stress and get fit called Awaken To U Yoga class which will be held on Thursdays at 7pm at The Nest.

Alexis Edwards, Acupuncture Physician will discuss the benefits of using laser instead of needles for children and discuss the benefits of using Chinese Herbs for various stress-related ailments.

We’re always present for others, especially during the holidays. Use this special occasion for some YOU time and get ready and psyched for one of the best times of the year.

Hope to see you there.

Monique