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4 Ways to Embrace that Goal – Life Well LED

Last week, we talked about our New Year Resolutions and whether or not we were over-valuing them. This week, I want to share some tips on how to EMBRACE THAT GOAL that you are not choosing, but your boss is assigning to you! Many of you are fortunate enough to have a supervisor/leader who understands your strengths and let’s you decide the who, what, when, where and how of your days. If you do have this luxury, chances are you know exactly what’s expected of you, what you have to produce at year’s end in order to be successful in your role, and you carefully craft your goals in a way that will get you to that pot of gold in an energizing and engaged fashion. (If not, we should talk!!)

For those of you who may not be as fortunate to work for a leader who provides you with this opportunity, it’s going to take some personal leadership and self re-direction to appease both your boss and yourself. Here are some tips to consider and try out immediately:

1. Pay close attention to your inner chatter.

When that goal is assigned to you (and you freak out!), immediately become aware of what you’re saying to yourself about it. Your inner dialogue will provide you with clues about the fastest way to shift your thoughts and get busy succeeding. For example, let’s say Charlie finds himself thinking, “I’ve never led a team of so many individuals to coordinate such a large-scale project. I’m not a project manager!” When we lead with strengths we learn to shift our thoughts toward what the possibilities of our succeeding can look like. So after you capture your inner chatter, you want to do the following…

2. Pick a strengths-based NEW thought.

In the example above, Charlie can pause, understand that his inner chatter is putting him into a fear-based place where success doesn’t live, and have this expanded dialogue with himself, “I’m usually the one who takes action on project issues and gets them done quickly. I’m an Activator, and that’s where I’m comfortable! How might I, though, use my talent of Arranger to work with others to begin making this happen?”

Now, in my example, Charlie is obviously aware of what he’s naturally good at and how he achieves success. You, too, can identify your talents on your own and in your own words by taking the time to become keenly aware of what you’re great at and how you operate best. However, you also can use the quick, inexpensive, and effective Strengths Finder assessment. Once Charlie has shifted his internal dialogue to a better place where solutions live, he can then…

3. Create a specific strengths-based action that will get him started.

It’s important to realize at this point that although an assignment has been given to Charlie, one he’s not crazy about and which can disengage him from his role if he’s not careful, he can take back his personal power by tailoring that goal to how he operates best. He’s going to find a way to do it so that he supports himself and appeases his boss. It probably won’t be the very best use of his talents, but he will bring more energy to the task and feel better about it.

So now that Charlie identified that he has a unique talent that he can leverage to help him get excited about this goal (even if it’s just a little bit!), he needs to immediately write down 1-3 steps he’s going to take using his talent of Arranger. One of these steps can sound like: “I will schedule a 15 minute meeting with each person on the team to identify what they’re best at and how they can be successful to this project.” Arrangers happen to be great at spotting talent in others and bringing many people together to bring things to fruition.

In this example, Charlie was not using his talent of Arranger as much as Activator, so he now needs to bring it out into the open and make it a focus for this specific project. Finally, to ensure increased energy and success with this goal, Charlie should…

4. Track his success and check-in with himself weekly.

The self-awareness should never end. Just as with any goal, we must keep them in front of us and present at all times, measuring and tweaking them. Especially with goals that do not initially hold much value for us at the onset, we have to breathe life into them consistently so we don’t push them to the back of our list. We all do this, don’t we? All of the goals we’re super excited about we tackle first, but those which are equally important, because we will be held accountable for them by our leaders, we tend to push them off for as long as possible. But, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, that tactic can hurt us more than help us.

Leading a strengths-based life is not easy. It takes moment-to-moment awareness, focus and action. But, knowledge is power, and this knowledge about ourselves, what makes us unique, and what helps us to feel successful in all we do, can truly make the difference in our own personal engagement with our roles and goals.

Now, some of you may be in a third category (almost all of us experience this!), where you’ve got that leeway to operate in a strengths-based fashion, but you also have to tackle some assignments or goals that you just don’t care for. Well, I just like to call this LIFE!! If we are able to shift ourselves into a strengths-based way of operating, despite who our supervisor is or what he/she assigns us, chances are that we will be more engaged in our work and and in our lives, and we can better manage those unwanted things that come our way daily. Am I right? Whether it’s an emergency where we have to drop everything, or our position changes overnight, or someone drops the ball and we’re asked to pick it up and make great things happen, change is constant and our glory and engagement lies in leveraging our strengths to make the very best of it (and move on!).

Bottom line: When we are able to roll up our sleeves and accomplish a worthy goal (whether we like it or not) we receive a tremendous amount of energy and exhilaration from it. And if we do so using our talents and strengths, we will always achieve greater levels of productivity, success and joy. All of us, equally, have the capacity to receive these benefits. It’s always a choice.

What will you choose?

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

 

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Natural Strengths and Wellbeing. Is There a Link?

This one’s for the Ladies!

I remember when I was disengaged from work and life. It felt a bit like depression, although I did a pretty good job of keeping it together. Perhaps you’ve been there too? See, as a busy mom and professional, I always felt like I couldn’t relax. I had to keep moving, building, growing, succeeding. Feel me? Even worst, I felt I had to keep it all inside. Heaven forbid if someone could see how I really felt. That I didn’t feel successful. That I didn’t know who the heck I was anymore. That I just didn’t care. I know you feel me, and you want to know why? More and more I get calls from professionals and executives who feel the same! They want to be engaged again, they want to feel successful, and they want to lead purposed-driven careers and lives. I love working with these amazing people, because I’ve been there, and through inside-out work, I found my way.

In my work as a Gallup Strengths Coach I love reading Gallup‘s research on leadership and wellbeing (no surprise there, right?!). I was so thrilled to read the following, and this is why I want to celebrate all of you amazing women professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs.

  • Of the 11 million men and women around the world who have taken StrengthsFinder, men and women share the same four most frequently named top five strengths: Responsibility, Learner, Achiever, and Relator. (We’re not that different. Ok, that’s cool. Keep reading.)

  • Although many men have Empathy as a strength, women tend to have it in their top 5! (Ladies, it keeps getting better!)

  • And, women tend to lead with Responsibility. (Hmm…Empathy, Responsibility…I’m seeing a pattern here!) The article asked this question: Could this be because we were raised differently in our respective gender roles, or because our expectations for work or our definitions of a life well lived differed from the outset? What do you think? What’s true for you?

  • Here’s the kicker, Ladies! When Gallup analyzed its five largest data sets, including World Poll data from 160 countries around the world, employee engagement, and wellbeing data right here in the U.S., they found that men and women alike define wellbeing or “a life well lived” as five elements, consisting of the following:

•  Their purpose for what they do every day

•   Their financial wellbeing

•   Their physical wellbeing

•   Their community wellbeing

•   Their social interactions

When they broke down the data by gender, they found that women are FOUR PERCENTAGE POINTS more likely than men to be thriving in their strengths and wellbeing; that’s significantly higher!

I’m not a scientist or researcher, and I’m not claiming that there is a direct link to higher wellbeing, but it excites me to think that leading with strengths like empathy and responsibility could contribute to our increased wellbeing. It makes me curious. In fact, whether these strengths are in your top 5 or not, we know that THEY ARE critical skills for leaders, regardless. I don’t know about you, but as a woman who’s been hearing for years (especially from other women who are hard on themselves) that we do too much and we can’t handle the pressure or we get too emotional, this is re-affirming. Here’s a bigger question when we look at leadership today, why is leading with empathy and responsibility important? Well, simply put, knowing that you work with leaders who care for your whole-life wellbeing, not just bottom line results, makes a huge difference in employee productivity and engagement. And we know from Gallup that what employees want most from their leaders (in this order) is: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope.

Ladies, it’s time we celebrate our natural tendencies to really care for others, while still being able to achieve great success in our careers and lives.

So, are women doing a better job at embracing their natural strengths? Are we understanding that we can’t do it all – all the time and still be proud of who we are and what we accomplish on a daily basis? According to Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott, authors of Standing in the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women,

“…Now the emphasis has shifted to the changing contours of life—choices and trade-offs, the forces that influence decisions, and the strategies successful women use for constructing meaningful and fulfilling careers. Traditional career paths can seem clear but also unsatisfying or impossible to travel, while new paths that allow for a full and rich life are complex, uncertain, and ambiguous.”

Sarah Kauss, founder of S’well, which makes reusable insulated steal water bottles says:

“You have to be comfortable with not doing everything.”

Anita Krohn Traaseth, a mother of three, blogger, author, and the CEO of Innovation Norway, shares:

“It’s one of my father’s favorite expressions and has saved me from being an unnecessary perfectionist…If you don’t take care of yourself, set your own standards, decide when enough is enough, learn to balance and rest, you’ll have limited success. I learned that life was not about striving for perfection.”

 

So how in the Balance is Bullshit Luly Bh$ll do you balance?

I truly believe in moment-to-moment, intentional “balance”. In knowing myself, my strengths, my vision for my work and life, my priorities, and daily powerful decision making. I always ask myself each morning, “What’s important today, and what needs to come first?” I also have to remind myself that some things JUST ARE NOT IMPORTANT (to me!) AND ARE A WASTE OF TIME! We all have time and energy wasters that are not aligned with our values, strengths and vision! We have to know what those are.

My good friend, Luly B, speaks to this idea of Balance in her book and new audio series, Balance is Bull$hit: 7 Steps to Boycotting Balance and Living Life on Your Terms. Because women need to celebrate themselves and each other, I want to celebrate her success and determination in creating this amazing product, which helps her live her vision each day of helping moms lead successful lives through boycotting balance! You definitely want to check it out and share it with those moms you know need it! Luly’s voice is authentic and empowering.

Keep leading with your heart ladies! Our wellbeing is better because of it (at least I believe so!).

It’s your life. Lead it well….Monique

5 Ways to be your own COO!

September 23, 2014

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When speaking about my coaching, I often get asked, “What’s personal leadership?” Leadership, at the end of the day, is the ability to inspire others with a clear and powerful vision, mobilize them around that vision, and empower them to productively work alone and together with others to achieve a united mission. Now, take that definition and apply it to one’s own life. A “personal leader”, then, can be seen as someone who has a clear vision for his/her life, mobilizes him/herself daily around that vision, and empowers him/herself to productively walk toward achieving that mission. Personal leadership also entails understanding when we are “off mission” so we can make those necessary changes that will put us back on track.

Heck, you can think about personal leadership like being your own Chief Operating Officer! Why would you let someone else operate your life, right? Yes, we all have to follow orders when we work for others, and oftentimes in teams we have to forgo our own agenda. However, despite scenarios like these, life just flows better and energizes us when we are able to tap into our personal leadership and lead our lives from that “core”, proactively, moment to moment.

A key component of our core is our natural talents–innate ways in which we think, feel and act. Each of us is uniquely inclined to think, feel and act in certain ways. In our own leadership, we often feel in-authentic when don’t operate from our core, but instead do what we think others want from us, or we want to be like “those leaders.” Certainly, there are traits of other leaders that we strive to attain for ourselves. Yet, research clearly shows that being more of who we are naturally, makes us more engaged in our lives and “inner”gized, so we can go out there and do our thing.

Now, let’s simplify this! After all, a COO’s job is no easy task, and leadership is kind of a big thing. One easy and empowering way to begin connecting with and applying our personal leadership is to be clear about our natural talents, which become strengths via our focus, intention and application. Many of us innately understand what our talents are. An easy way to “get it in writing” though is to use the simple and time-tested tool: Strengths Finder. In organizations, especially, where you may want to encourage personal leadership among all your employees, this tool gives you a common language to work with.

Screenshot 2014-09-22 20.41.05

When you look at this chart, you can recognize the language that we operate within our careers. These leadership dimensions are critical in any business and for any COO. However, are we naturally strong in all of them? Should we spend our time making ourselves strong in all of them? Or, should we invest in understanding where we operate at our best, using our natural talents, and invest in operating chiefly there? As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach I’m partial to the ladder, but primarily because I truly believe in the science behind it, I live it, and I have seen the difference when individuals lead their lives from their strengths.

So here are 5 ways that you begin to be your own COO (and love it!)…

  1. Identify your Top 5 talent themes via Strengths Finder
  2. Place them on the chart above
  3. Visually understand how you operate at your best within these dimensions. Some times we are balanced and sometimes we are not. No two leaders’ strengths are identical!
  4. Take the time to see how your talents currently play out in your life and where they are lacking.
  5. Intentionally decide how you will play to your strengths daily and do it!

Leading strong in our lives is truly the first step in then being able to lead others in a unique, authentic way. Embrace your unique talents and become your own COO!

If you’d like to take the Strengths path along with others to Name, Claim and Aim your strengths, I’d love for you to join me for my upcoming one-day workshop on October 23rd. Learn more here.

Have a magnificent day!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

 

In my life I have definitely benefited from being a phenomenal planner and uber focused. Early in my career I became an expert in planning small and large, complex events and programs because of this skill.

Perhaps this strength became over-used? I soon found myself not wanting to plan anything! In fact, if I never planned another event again that would be just fine (LOL!). What I noticed, however, was my internal resistance to not plan, or just do those things on my check-list or calendar.

215405524_15a94966c9_zAs a coach, I can pick up on “gremlins” pretty quickly. Well, I realized this was one of my gremlins, an inner voice that whispers to me, “Stop fooling around! Plan girl, and check off that list!”

One of my top 5 strengths is Ideation, so it’s natural for me to come up with ideas all the time. So, my rebel gremlin, I call her Reba, wants to protect me. She wants me to do what I’ve done in the past that has helped me succeed. She wants me to take all of these ideas that pop up, ignore them, and keep working my plan.

I get it, if I always deter from my plan I may not accomplish anything. Heck, this is what I work on with many of my clients. However, as someone with high Ideation and Activation, I do know it’s important to act on some of my ideas–planned or not–and just go for it!

So, what do I do? Listen to Reba, or ditch my plans and go for the big ideas?

Reba shows up so often, that I’ve learned to recognize which unplanned ideas are the ones to go for! I feel a specific vibration in my gut, and I even hear my inner voice saying “Yes, this is the one, act now!” If I don’t take action, I know that I will miss out on something quite extraordinary.

Yes, I still plan. Every successful professional who has various roles and responsibilities must plan in order to accomplish some level of daily balance and reach their goals. But, I do listen to my inner voices and learn to discern what’s real and what isn’t; what’s worth the risk and what isn’t.

I have to say, Reba certainly adds some excitement to my life!

Do you have an inner Rebel? How has he/she helped you Rock?
I’d love to hear all about it.

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Monique

Photo by Alex de Carvalho

Born to be Wild

May 7, 2014

shutterstock_73937902

“According to this law [the law of Dharma], you have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it. There is something that you can do better than anyone else in the whole world — and for every unique talent and unique expression of that talent, there are also unique needs. When these needs are matched with the creative expression of your talent, that is the spark that creates affluence. Expressing your talents to fulfill needs creates unlimited wealth and abundance.” Deepak Chopra

Are you born to be wild, or are you born to be quiet and focused?

Do you ever wonder why you make certain choices?

Why you do what you do?

Why you like certain things?

Why you are better at some things than others?

I remember being terrified about some of my MBA courses. I was excited about being challenged to think, explore and debate, but the thought of analyzing financial statements or evaluating a corporate merger made me shake in my bones! Well, there is a reason why, of course! I was not born to be a CFO or an Accountant, but I certainly was born to communicate, to learn and share what I’ve learned, and help others maximize their talents. Those specific MBA classes were certainly challenging, and I was certainly able to learn and apply some very important financial skills, but having me master those skills would forever be a waste of my time and gifts.

We know these things instinctually, I feel, but in our world of fixing “What’s wrong” we are often pressured to focus on what we are not and what we “should be.” This way of thinking, learning and living has become so engrained in our work and educational cultures, it’s no wonder individuals feel disengaged and “lost.” More and more I meet amazing, very accomplished people who want to deeply connect with who they are and be impactful in leading a life of deeper purpose.

As leaders, are we helping our team members contribute their best and grow in their strengths?

As parents, are we honoring our children’s unique talents and helping them to shine in what comes naturally to them?

These stats below tell us how crucial it is that we move in this direction:

Here’s what Gallup knows about using our talents:

  • People who know and use their talents and have the opportunity to use them at work are six times as likely to be engaged in their job.
  • People who know their talents and have the opportunity to use them at work are more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.
  • People who use their strengths every day have 7.8% greater productivity.

Weakness fixing prevents failure.

Strengths-building leads to success.

Identifying our strengths and the strengths of others doesn’t have to be rocket science. You can do it through self-awareness, through input from others (on what you’re awesome at and examples of when you are at your best!), and you certainly can use one of the best tools out there—Gallup’s StrengthsFinder.

As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach I not only love OWNING my strengths and making sure that I’m utilizing them to their fullest, but I also love helping others do the same. One of the most empowering things to do is share your strengths with others and honor YOU! So, I’m happy to share my top 5 with you:

LEARNER. MAXIMIZER. POSITIVITY.

INDIVIDUALIZATION. IDEATION.

Every time I read my talent themes my inner cheerleader does a back flip because I know that I am investing in them and making them stronger day-by-day.

Care to be inspired? Here’s someone who’s definitely using her strengths and non-apologetic about it. In fact, she’s rockin’ the medals!

Engagement numbers truly scare me. I picture the more than 70% of individuals in our workforce who are disengaged, bored, depressed and just working to collect a pay check and I am saddened. I imagine a world where we are all fully engaged and turned on, making things happen individually and together.

How are you maximizing your talents and gifts?

I’d love for you to share what you feel you were born to do.

Are you doing it?

Have you taken Strengths Finder? If so, please share your Top 5 with me!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Wishing you a life well led,

Monique

Sprouting Seeds

March 5, 2014

Birthdaycakeedit1      Happy Birthday To Me!!

Yes, today is my birthday, and I couldn’t be happier sharing my special day with each of you.

Birthdays are a wonderful time of year for each of us to honor who we are, the special gifts we bring to the world, and to reflect upon all of the good in our lives and all the greatness ahead. I could not be more grateful.

If you’ve read my blog posts in the past, you know that I believe everything is energy. As such, I also believe in the energetic cycles of time — what each day, month or year has in store for each of us, uniquely, based on our birth date, as well for all of us as a whole. It just so happens that this time of year, the energy of Pisces helps us to give birth to all of those wonderful seeds we have planted. If you happen to have the urge to pursue an idea or start a project that has been collecting dust on paper or on your mind’s shelf, know that NOW is the time to take action!

Sprouting-Plant

Taking action isn’t easy. But trust that in pushing forward slightly, you are opening a universal door that will support your every move.

Here are 10 easy tips to help you take off. Pick one or two that resonate with you and get going!

  1. Pick a partner. Enlist someone savvy to help you with your idea or work together with you.
  2. Create space in your calendar. Block off 30 minutes three times per week to dedicate to your initiative. Use your lunchtime if necessary.
  3. Use Sunday as your Creative Day. Take a journal or piece of paper, list all of the things that come to your mind that you would like to DO, BE or START. Pick the one that calls to you. Circle it. Then, ID the first three super small steps you can do this week to launch it.
  4. Design your Manifest Monday by creating one small step you will take action on each Monday for one month.
  5. Write your goal on every mirror in your house, car and office. Keep it top of mind.
  6. Schedule reminders each day (via your calendar or smart phone) to get you to take one more step toward completing your project.
  7. Ask your partner to hold you accountable by calling you daily, weekly, etc.
  8. Ask the question: “How will I feel if I don’t take action on this idea?” Does your answer motivate you?
  9. Write a one-page letter to yourself expressing what you will have accomplished by taking on this task. Seal it. Write your deadline date on the outside of it. Don’t open it until that date. Keep the envelope with you at all times.
  10. Find a picture or image that represents your accomplishment. Make it your screensaver on all your smart tools and computer. Visualize daily your successful completion of it.

Speaking of our uniqueness and sprouting seeds, this month I am giving birth to an exciting new workshop that will help you do just this! I can’t wait to work with a group of individuals who truly want to operate from their core talents and design strategies that will help them operate at their very best.

If you’re in Miami, I hope that you will consider joining me at FIU on March 27 for Discover and Develop Your Strengths NOW!
If you’re not in Miami, I also offer this work one-on-one.

I know you have planted seeds!!!

Go water them now and watch them grow!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Namaste, Monique

I’ve always been a big fan of strengths-based leadership and personal development. It just makes sense to me. I was speaking with a student last week who was challenged with finding what it took within her to buckle down and study for a math exam she absolutely needed to ace, despite her lack-luster interest in math. Sound familiar? Well, it did to me. I resonated with her story. Although I was very good at math and enjoyed the challenge during a particular time in my life (10th & 11th grade) when I was very focused and desired to be a “great” student, I understood deeply that it just wasn’t “my thing”.  My strengths were always in the areas of communication and expression, whether it be dancing, singing, broadcasting, writing, etc.  Yet, while it may always be worth our while to place most of our energy into our areas of strengths, sometimes we do have work in and around these challenging areas. We need to do just enough to get through or by them.  And, interestingly enough, many times our strengths are what we need to rely on to help us pull through our weaknesses.

This week when I received one of my daily kabbalah tune up messages, I was reminded of how looking at solutions vs. problems can be similarly challenging.  Here’s what the tune up said:

“The solution exists before the problem. This is a kabbalistic truth that saves a lot of worrying. So often in life we freak out because we don’t think there is an answer, a cure, a way out. We needn’t worry. It’s there. We just need to find it….answers come from unexpected places….the more you feel this truth, the faster it will come.”

Then, it dawned on me…this is the type of mentality we must also have when it comes to manifestation, or the expectation of creating miracles in our lives. If we don’t look for those miracles to show, they just won’t! It takes practice to think in this manner and to expect the universe to send us what we need or desire. The same should be true for seeing solutions rather than problems.  So, if it takes practice to have this become a learned behavior and see results, why not practice it! That’s what I’ve decide to do “religiously” for one week. Maybe you can join me on my one week challenge to be completely and forcibly solutions focused?? Let’s have some fun!

My Plan.

  • Expect the unexpected. I shall write this on my mirror and in my office so that I see it throughout the day.
  • Play detective. If solutions exist before problems, then I must search for them like a detective! (I’m having fun already!)
  • Play catch. I must pay keen attention to these so called “problems” that I and others around me encounter. I will catch myself and them in the act!
  • Keep track. I will keep a journal and jot down immediately the identified challenge and the solution that I have found.
  • Start a revolution! I will share my results with you and others (see below) and launch a wave of solution thinking!

Let’s begin!

Here’s what I found…

Interestingly enough, the week began with what most would consider a major problem…my husband parting ways with his job and his career of 15+ years with no foreseeable income in sight. Overnight I have become the sole bread earner for our family. Pressure? Not really! This so-called challenge is providing me with the best of the best opportunities to practice what I preach—to think thoughts of abundance and gratitude and TRUST that our family will be taken care of and that we will receive all that we need exactly when we need it. I am frighteningly calm.


The second part of this first, very real challenge is that my husband now has the chance to fulfill a life-long passion of his, which is to pursue a career in the scuba diving industry. He is jumping into the abyss of entrepreneurship and without an iota of “lack” in his mind or vocabulary he is leaping in with tremendous joy and passion. I love to see people take risks; to pursue and live their dreams. My support he must have. This is the solution that I found.


My detective work continued thoroughly throughout the week and my journal filled with problems and solutions. Things that disrupted my days and my pre-planning, things that made my ego rage and incidents for me and those around me that provided instant occasions for learning. By Thursday I had absolutely no interest in being this detective any longer. Why? When I read through my list of so-called problems I realized how these things we call problems are simply distractions…things that take us away from our intended plans and cause frustration if we allow them to. They no longer were problems for me and I was happy with that realization.

The most important lesson I have learned this week is that we truly cannot sweat the small stuff. Yes, life will throw us some really big and difficult problems, but if we truly choose to believe that the universe only sends us problems because the solution was created first, then we have no problems, yes? I love this thought and I choose to believe and live this thought. I am at peace.


Speaking of peace…I feel the powers at hand sent me a nice gift this past week; a gentle reminder that life is about balance and trust…about ying and yang. As I was brushing my teeth and staring at my beautifully tiled bathroom I noticed what looked to be a ying/yang sign naturally created in my stone. I couldn’t help but giggle. Here is a photo of it.

YingYang

I expected the unexpected, and that is what I received.

I choose to be at peace and to trust that we will be taken care of.

Only solutions exist.

May you have a month filled with peace, light and blessings,

Monique