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I consider myself a lucky girl to have received the new Fitbit Charge for Christmas. I see so many people wearing one or a similar device, and of course I was intrigued! And as a personal leadership and wellbeing coach I have to admit I was experiencing a some FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)!

So how has this magical device helped me, and how can it help you? Here’s what I’ve learned and loved so far:

1. Say goodbye to being sedentary! Did you know that the majority of Americans are considered sedentary? One of my favorite wellness books, Eat. Move. Sleep. by Tom Rath details this very clearly for us. Pay attention folks! People who walk fewer than 5,500 steps are considered sedentary, and the average American falls below this sedentary line!!! Being sedentary brings on a host of health issues which we won’t get into today, but 10,000 steps are considered a good target for overall activity and equates to about 5 miles. With Fitbit you can set a daily steps goal, and the minimum recommended to get us above and beyond that sedentary line is 10,000. In comparison to Americans, Australians average 9,695 steps per day. Their obesity rate is just 16% compared to our 34%! I don’t know about you, but I want to beat those Aussie’s!!

2. Say hello to accountability! The online Fitbit Dashboard and App gives you a multitude of ways to hold yourself accountable. First, you can find friends who also own one and challenge yourself to take more steps than they do daily! With the Fitbit you also can set alarms to remind you to get up and move. Also according to Tom Rath, and as I have learned as well, you can easily achieve 3,000 steps by just taking a daily lunch break and walking/climbing steps. Since I work on a beautiful campus, this allows me to not only walk, but achieve my mindful goal, which I love to do via walking and sensing the world around me. Oh, and, I just love that Fitbit sends me all these badges when I’ve achieved something super cool! (I love recognition!!)5 ways the Fitbit has rocked my world!

 

3. Here comes motivation! Let me be really clear. Achieving 10,000 steps daily is no easy feat. You have to want to do it, and you have to strategize how you’re going to do it. If you spend a lot of time in your office and on the computer, it’s almost impossible to achieve! Without a tool like Fitbit to be an ever-present reminder you’d need to create another source of accountability. As you begin to use it and visit your dashboard daily, you begin to understand the best way to achieve 10,000 steps or more each day. For me, if I’m not able to get out for lunch, I know that I need to get across campus for some reason, like visiting a colleague. Or, perhaps I will need to fit in an evening walk around my neighborhood, or a Zumba class. I also know that I have to take a break from sitting every hour, even if it means just getting up for a stretch, glass of water, or a short walk across the hall. Anything to not sit for so long. Bottom line, once you understand how you can reach 10,000 each day, and how very critical it is for your health, your motivation skyrockets!

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4. Wellness as a whole increases! We know that there are other strategies that we can use to help keep us healthy, like logging what we eat, our daily exercise, and how much water we drink. You also can do this on Fitbit’s dashboard. It’s a one stop shop! As the saying goes, what you focus on becomes a reality! Entering and looking at this data daily definitely helps you achieve a sense of wellbeing in a variety of areas.Screenshot 2015-01-12 10.48.11

5. Bring on the Zzzzs! One of the main reasons why I was interested in the Fitbit was it’s ability to track my sleeping patterns. As some of you know, over the summer I blogged about Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive. In the book she identifies sleep as one of the metrics for success and wellbeing. In it she states that just 30 more minutes of sleep will immediately improve your health, creativity, productivity and sense of well-being. (I agree!!) She recommends to either go to bed earlier, get up later, or take 2 short naps a day. In the book, Bill Clinton admitted, “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.”

I believe that each of us intuitively knows what those health levers are for us. Over the years I have realized that for me, sleep is critical. It is also one of the areas most challenging for me to improve. The Fitbit tracks the number of times I am restless or awakened while I sleep, therefore giving me a true picture of the total number of hours I am actually at rest. Well, it’s kind of scary! With this information, I’m able to better understand my sleep patterns and continue to make adjustments to help me figure out the very best way for me to get a minimum of 7 hours of true sleep each night.

And just to throw in one extra PLUS… for those of you who have been trying not to sleep with your phone next to you, but have to because your alarm is your phone, well the Fitbit takes care of that! I no longer rely on my phone to wake me. My Fitbit gently buzzes me when it’s time to wake, and it also notifies me when I receive a call. So, I’m no longer a hostage to my cell! BONUS!!!

I don’t sell Fitbits and I don’t make a commission off of them! I simply love sharing products or resources for busy people who want to make their wellbeing a priority.

How has Fitbit or another tool help you achieve your wellbeing goals? I’d love to hear from you.

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

 

Get into the Spirit of Spirit! As we approach the holiday season, I invite you to join me in slowing down, in appreciating what’s in front of us in each moment, to paying close attention to those significant relationships in our lives, and to connecting with our spirit—what never goes away!

I love this time because I feel more connected to myself, to others, and to the world. If you think about what spirit is, it’s what we came into this world with—naked! And it’s what we’ll leave with as well. No matter how successful (or not!) we are on this earth, our spirit won’t judge us. And best, it won’t leave us! It’s ever present. And it contains that SPARK of something special that we can never truly put our finger on, but we know we have it, and we know we’re lucky for having it!

This time of year is a great time to soften our intensity. To be reflective. To be grateful. To be giving. To be LOVE. And it’s a great time to connect with our SPARK to light things up for our new year.

As part of my Journey to Wellbeing program, which is wrapping up it’s 3rd month, we are now working on TWO things:

  1. Becoming clear of any deeply held thoughts and beliefs that don’t serve us. We are allowing them to rise to the surface. We are acknowledging them. Thanking them for their service, and we’re bidding them adieu!
  2. Choosing ONE overarching Intention for our New Year. It’s not a goal to achieve. It’s not an item on a checklist. It is a new Thought. A new Belief. A powerful, authentic, and empowering Feeling that will GUIDE our decisions and the small, yet effective steps that will take us to our destination.

I invite you to join us and do the same! What’s that one thought you need to get rid of and kick to the curb? What’s that inspiring intention that will be the tipping point for all that you do in 2015? Please share them with me in our comments section below, or on Facebook.

My husband may kill me for this, but I want to share a story that I feel will help all of us get into the SPIRIT of our SPIRIT! Here it goes…

When my husband was a boy he had a lot of energy (that’s the nicest way to describe it! LOL!). In fact, there were very few things his parents could do to calm him and get him to sit still and/or rest. In fact, he usually just collapsed at the end of the day, falling asleep in unusual places, like chairs, or under tables, etc. BUT, the one thing that did calm him—in fact it mesmerized him, was sitting in front of the Christmas tree and staring at the lights! Who knows what thoughts he was thinking. Who knows why it calmed him. But, I’d love think that in those mindful moments, he was at peace; at one with his SPIRIT.

So why not try it out for yourself? Whether it’s a Christmas tree, or a menorah, or a child playing in the snow. Indulge in the simple things of the season and just BE with WHO YOU ARE. With what is unchanging.

With SPARK,

Monique

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Just a few days ago I had one of those mornings! I felt the seconds flying past me, and the clock mocking me. I couldn’t seem to advance no matter how speedy I was! It also felt like everyone was pushing my buttons! There’s no other way to say it other than, I was in a sh!$ty mood! Been there?

I know that it’s impossible not to have days like these every now and then, but having one recently reminded me just how important it is to prepare for a great morning! I’d like to believe that I am extremely conscious of my thoughts and reactions, and so I did quite a bit of reflecting during that day to pin point what went wrong and how I could make sure to avoid it happening again (or anytime soon!).

See, as leaders, we can’t just go to work and ignore the world (or scream at it!). We are always affecting something or someone. As leaders we always have our vision in sight, and every moment we set a course toward that vision. More importantly, we hopefully are inspiring others to join us on this moment-to-moment trek to accomplish great things. See, as leaders, we can’t afford to have bad mornings.

In reflecting, here’s what set me off:

•   I didn’t sleep well and I woke up too early.
•   Figuring out breakfast for the family was challenging.
•   I couldn’t decide what to wear.
•   My family’s humor just didn’t jive with me that morning!

Now, would you agree with me that these things are little things? Yes! But what happens when a lot of little things add up? In my case it was just enough to throw me off into an emotional storm that lasted more than I wanted. I think about those individuals who experience the onslaught of many little things each day and don’t reflect; don’t understand why they are feeling as they are; don’t see how easy it can be to shift it, and never take action for change. For busy leaders, it’s crucial to plan for success and have systems and habits that support our wellbeing. On this morning, my being was not well, LOL!

As Oprah would say, here’s what I know for sure! These are the systems/habits that can help me (and I suspect you too, if your mornings can be a little crazy) ensure that I start out my days happy and effective:

1.   Go to bed at a reasonable time to ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep.

2.   Prepare for bedtime with a ritual, like a warm bath and cup of tea, or relaxing music, or reading or yoga.

3.   Make sure your fridge and pantry are stocked for the week so you don’t have to figure out how to feed yourself and your army!

4.   If you’ve got kiddos, like I do, make those school lunches the night before and set out their clothes.

5.   Set out your own clothes! Look at what your day will be like, know how you want to look and feel, pick your outfit, and steam/iron it.

6.   Set your Mind! Mindset is EVERYTHING. Have one or a few mantras on hand that allow you to set your mood. A good one I could have used that morning—“I laugh at myself & it feels good!”

7.   Turn off the TV and play music instead! The power of music to shift our mood is real! TV chatter and the increasing amount of bad news being broadcasted can overwhelm us. It becomes noise we don’t need.

8.   Forgive yourself. Sometimes, no matter how much we plan, things just don’t go as planned. Shake it off and don’t make it personal. Peace over Perfection! (Isn’t this a great mantra??!!)

9.   Shift to love and gratitude. When we sweat the small stuff, as I did that morning, I picture myself stopping for a few seconds, looking at my family, my home, everything in front of me, and saying “Thank you! I love these people and these things! I’m so blessed!” Focusing on what’s real melts away the self-pity, anger and stress.

10.   Breathe. Find just a few moments before heading out your door to take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, smiling. It’s a re-calibration and a moment to just BE before we launch for the day!

I know these work for me, when I work them!

What helps you start off your day successfully and positively? Please share your ideas below.

Here’s to great mornings!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

 

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

I still feel like I’m floating! My post today is simply to express gratitude for having been in the presence of amazing trailblazers this past weekend at Oprah’s Life You Want Conference. I am grateful for being surrounded by such wisdom, and a confirmation that I’m on my path. What’s a life of seeking without confirmation? As human beings we are always seeking because we don’t know everything. Or as many believe, we know, but have just forgotten. The amazing Eckhart Tolle reminds us that seeking too much takes us away from our purpose, which is always in this moment, and that’s exactly what Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth GilbertRob Bell, and Iyanla Vazant reminded us of at this magical gathering. Our homework–the reason for attending this conference was to claim your new vision. I’d love to share my simplified version with you, which we were asked to post on Twitter or Facebook 24 hours after the culmination of event.

 

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I know that one of the reasons I exist is to learn and share. And so today, that’s what I’d like to do. It’s my gift to you. Below you’ll find some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom I captured during this event, as well as some photos and videos. I hope that something I’ve shared today provides you with some confirmation as well that you are doing your work to Live the Life You Want!  So many of my friends and professional colleagues were “in the house” as well, and each of us took away something unique–what our souls needed to hear. For me, it was simplified into my vision or mantra above, focusing on the fact that I am everything I need to be right now in this moment, that only in this moment is where I will be on purpose, and that my breath and connection to spirit by being aware and being guided (by the whispers!) will allow me to fulfill my earthly contract and live a magnificent life.

Finally, I want to thank my mother, Ellie Kane, who treated me to this conference. What an amazing way to spend time together! It’s one of those Mommy/Daughter moments I won’t forget. Love you, Mom!

Mom and I with Oprah's best friend and Good Morning America co-host, Gayle King!

Mom and I with Oprah’s best friend and Good Morning America co-host, Gayle King!

Mom & I with some FAB powerful Fems!

Mom & I with some FAB powerful Fems and Friends!

Nuggets of Wisdom

From Oprah…

•   All real success comes from being connected to spirit.

•   We all have been called; nothing is an accident.

•   Your legacy is every life you’ve ever touched. (via Maya Angelou)

•   “I am the master of my fate; the captain of my soul!” Her mantra.

•   You can be a better you than you can be a pretend anyone else!

•   Knowing what you want to do is just as important as knowing what you don’t want to do.

•   Our lives speak to us in every moment. We have to listen! Listen for the whispers before they turn into rocks! The whispers will guide us.

•   If you can’t get paid for it (i.e., what you want to/love to do), then let it pay you! The miracle is in service.

•   For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

•   You co-create your life with every intention.

•   Who you are right now is what you have believed you are. You become what you believe!

•   Your greatest power is in your ability to love.

•   Gratitude is the best way to share your vibration.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=110292575&force_embed=1&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

From Deepak…

•   Don’t let the voices of the world drown out your voice from within.

•   You accomplish more via the Law of Least Effort; living from the level of your soul. (Source: 7 Spiritual Laws of Success)

•   There is no point of arrival (i.e., I have arrived!), it is in the right here and right now. That’s all we have.

•   7 Ways to Accelerate Synchronisity

1.   How you see the world is a reflection of your inner state. Shift from fear to love.
2.   Understand the essence of relationships; validating others for who they really are; honoring them.
3.   Create intentions not only for yourself, but for the common good.
4.   Learn to center yourself thru meditation.
5.   Free yourself from emotional hostility; it’s like drinking poison. Create a ritual of release.
6.   Embrace both the masculine and feminine aspects of yourself.
7.   Keep yourself healthy!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=110292574&force_embed=1&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

And, a few final tidbits from Liz (Author of Eat. Pray. Love), Rob, and Iyanla

•   If you’re planning to change your life don’t expect it to be easy and painless. All movement brings the risk of injury! (Liz)

•   We all have stories, but one never goes away, our Hero’s Journey (must stick with it, endure the pain to come out glorious on the other side!). You can hear Liz speak about a Hero’s Journey on Super Soul Sunday.

•   We co-create our lives by listening to what the world is telling us; by paying attention to the signs (whispers) and following them. (Liz)

•   We are miracles! Breath brought us into our lives and takes us from our lives. The fact that we are breathing is a miracle. Each moment is a miracle. Embrace the life that you have in this moment! This is the art of the spiritual life. (Rob)

•   The sound we make when we breathe (Ahhh!) is the name of God in all religious traditions! Breath is life; breath is being connected to spirit. (Iyanla)

•   The life you want is on the other side of the labor pains it takes to birth it! (Iyanla)

•   If you made it through the past, you passed!

Oprah & Iyanla saying good bye!

Oprah & Iyanla saying good bye!

Any of these tidbits inspire you to Live the Life you Want? I’d love to hear your shares!

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Monique

What exactly is intuition, and as leaders, why should we care if we use it?

As a leader in the making I remember craving time with “them”…those individuals who “had it”… “made it,” and could teach me a thing or two, or simply give me the right answer! Picture the Karate Kid visiting with the ever-mysterious Mr. Miyagi. His wisdom drew you in! “Daniel-san” just knew that somehow he would learn the way from Mr. Miyagi. He did learn “the way,” but along that way he also learned to listen for himself and tap his warrior within.

In leadership we often have to make uninformed, quick decisions. During many of those occasions we also have to jump without a net and trust in our inner knowing. Because of this, leading can sometimes feel very lonely!

How do we know we are doing the right thing? What within us are we tapping to get that wisdom we are seeking, and trust it despite the outcome?

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Over time we can learn to recognize feelings within our body that give us clues about what feels right or wrong. And, when we make enough of those decisions, we can assess whether or not our intuition was correct. But, if our gift for feeling is not yet developed, is not a strength for us, or we simply have not been successful in making those intuitive decisions, then here’s a fun way to try and access your intuition.

Building Your Highest, Wisest Self Archetype!

Perhaps Daniel’sarchetype was a powerful ninja, but for you it can be something entirely different. Take a brief moment to close your eyes and think of that superhero, or all-knowing being that you feel lives within you. You’ll know that it’s the right archetype when you can’t stop smiling, or tingling, or sitting taller and stronger, or speaking louder, etc.

Tapping our visual abilities, especially if we feel that this sense is particularly powerful for us, can be extremely effective. There are many successful leaders and individuals who tap their visual sense every day to access their “genius” or to help manifest their goals and desires. One great resource for these practices is Jack Canfield, renowned speaker, author and coach.

My archetype is a magnificent, larger than life beautiful goddess angel. She is wearing all white, has long shiny hair, and crystal blue eyes. When I imagine her I feel at peace and full of all the answers and wisdom I need. I’m drawn to her and her knowledge and guidance. When I need to make a decision I envision myself diving into a calm blue ocean, through a cave, and up to a brilliant sanctuary where she is always waiting for me. Then, I see myself embody her and deeply feel; knowing fully what my answer is and trusting it.

Part of being a leader is giving ourselves time to make decisions and not always succumbing to the illusion that “We need an answer now!” A wise leader will give him or herself, at a minimum, a few minutes to sit quietly and tap into their “source” to arise at the very best decision. Creating an archetype for yourself is one way to accomplish this!

Here are some questions to ask yourself in beginning to connect with your archetype:

  • What’s the best way for you to access your inner knowing? Which of your senses are the strongest?

  • Can you picture your Highest, Wisest Self?

  • What does he or she look like?

  • What messages does he/she have for you today?

If you’re highly visual, like I am, creating your archetype is a fun and creative way to spark your intuition and feel confident that you can access your Highest, Wisest Self and not have to always get the answers from others.

How do you access your intuition successfully? I’d love to hear your examples and suggestions!

Namaste,

Monique

 

SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 13

 

Welcome to Week 13 the final week of Summer of Well-Being! Our guest blogger today is Michelle Alva, an Energy Healer at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach. Today, she demonstrates 5 quick and easy tips to de-stress and energize ourselves in our daily lives. Watch her video and leave a comment below!


Mary P
Michelle Alva
Michelle Alva Integrative Healing and Wellness 
Michelle, who works as an Energy Healer at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach combines her 18 year background as a physical therapist, yoga therapist, belly dance teacher, and energy medicine practitioner to bring a very safe and effective approach to healing and wellness. Michelle bridges the gap between modern science and ancient wisdom approaches. She writes weekly on her blog, and has been published in national publications. She creates inspirational videos on her You Tube Channel, all designed to empower and educate individuals on how to heal, de-stress, love more and energize from the inside out.