Welcome to Week 5 of Summer of Well-Being! I love sharing what I learn on my own well-being journey, and I’m THRILLED to be taking all these juicy tid-bits of great information our guest bloggers are sharing with us and applying them to my daily learnings, and ultimately, my very own evolution. If you’ve missed our first four weeks, you can find those blogs here. I’ve already seen this week’s vlog by Livia Stabile, Vedic Master certified by Deepak Chopra, and a Registered Mental Health Counselor, and you’re going to just love it! I appreciate her knowledge, wisdom and love for helping and teaching others. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

Have you done the same for yourself? What growth in your well-being have you experienced so far? I always enjoy hearing from you, so feel free to share below.


I just enjoyed a wonderful long weekend with some of my “besties” in New Orleans, and just as the plane was about to land in Miami, I experienced one of those moments that we can either grow from or shrink from. Here’s the quick 411: just moments from landing on time, our plane is sent to Fort Myers due to storms. We are told that as soon as the airport re-opens in Miami we’ll be one of the first planes to leave. We are in a holding pattern for several hours. Finally, we are informed that the flight will be cancelled due to the pilots’ shift ending. There are no more planes or pilots. The flight was cancelled and we were STUCK (or at least my initial reaction was one of feeling stuck and powerless). We are told that eventually a bus will be available to take us back to Miami.. The only thing I could think of was, “I have to get home to my kids! My kids are expecting me.” Even though they were in a safe place, my “Mommy guilt” was on overdrive.

Grow or Shrink?

I have to be honest,  I wasn’t sure which way I was going! Was I going to grow from this or shrink from this? Looking back on it now, I vividly see the cycle that I went through, which was launched by my thoughts and was followed by my emotions. The pattern continued until I reached a point of clarity. And, since I don’t believe in coincidences, I’m grateful for observing the book one of my seat-mates was readingEmotional Intelligence 2.0 which quickly reminded me of Lina Acosta Sandaal’s post and the steps she offered for being either receptive or reactive. I knew that the choice was mine.

You know this cycle…

1. Stressor hits.
2. Thoughts go wild! Fight or flight!
3. Emotions erupt and body floods with Cortisol and Adrenaline.
4. Reactivity strikes. Usually not good reactions!

So how do we stop this cycle?

In answering this question, I’m reminded of a quote from the book Ask and It Is Given, which is all about understanding our inner power, how it is connected to a greater source of truth and power, and how we allow our natural well-being to come forward by accepting this power we all have. It goes like this:

“You now remember that you are free (in fact, you are so free that you could choose bondage), and that everything that comes to you is in response to the thoughts you are thinking.”

Self-Compassion and Safety

Martha Beck, coach and contributor to O Magazine, shares in one of her articles that when anxiety strikes, we should try what poet, Rumi, calls “Mighty Kindness.” I just love this term! By offering kindness to ourselves, we are creating within ourselves the safety that we need to stop our negative emotions from firing uncontrollably (lack of emotional intelligence). She offers that we can speak to ourselves like this: May I be healthy. May I be free from suffering. Or, in my scenario, May I release my fear of not getting home to my children, or May I feel safe.

The bump in my travel schedule put my emotional intelligence to the test. It also allowed me to see the stress cycle in action. Finally, in the end, I understood that I had a decision; which path would I choose? Because I always ask “What was the lesson here?”, I also realized how helpful it was to understand that I was not alone in this. There was an entire plane filled with individuals experiencing the same feelings. I met a couple who married that day and wouldn’t reach their honeymoon destination. I met a recent college grad who had an interview of a lifetime the next day, and many others who all missed their connections.

We are not alone.  

A big part of well-being is our connection with others and communicating our feelings. My seat-mates and I, although strangers initially, supported each other, stayed together, and helped each other stay more on the responsive side. Situations like these stink, but are wonderful teaching opportunities for us all.

This week we will have an opportunity to learn more about meditation—one of the many ways we can support ourselves daily, and during stressful times, like the one I shared above. I can’t wait to share Livia’s video with you on Thursday. Look out for it!

If you’re enjoying Summer of Well-Being, why don’t you share it with a colleague, friend or relative? Share the love; pass it on. “-)


Photo courtesy of mehmet nevzat erdoğan


This week our well-being expert is Lina Acosta Sandaal teaching us about Emotional Intelligence. Read her blog below to learn what emotional intelligence is, how to achieve it, and some great ways on how to increase your emotional intelligence day by day!

The Nest Miami2We all experience positive and negative feelings. Most of us want to protect ourselves from negative experiences and avoid negative emotions. However, every time we tell ourselves that our negative emotion is intolerable, we rob ourselves of an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence and a way of walking through our emotions into taking intentional decisions. Most importantly, neurologists know that we best engage, learn, and make meaningful decisions when we are in a receptive state. A receptive state  is when someone feels seen, soothed, secure, and safe. The alternative is a reactive state  where we are constantly looking for danger and reacting by fighting, running away or freezing. If we work on our emotional intelligence, we move towards being in a receptive state more times than not. Ask yourself these two questions:


Take the answers to these questions and the next time you feel them, go through the process that I will walk you through next. If you practice handling these emotions with emotional intelligence you will no longer need to “react” to the feeling, and will become more “receptive” to the information these feelings give you.

Emotional Intelligence is being able to:

  • •Feel an Emotion
  • •Tolerate Emotion
  • •Recuperate from Emotion

This is learned by:

  • •Naming and labeling emotion
  • •Physically experiencing emotion
  • •Seeing and empathizing with others   (REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT)


Tools to Build and Increase your Emotional Intelligence


  1. Label the feeling. (“I am scared of this new job hunt. I am embarrassed what my friends will think.”)
  2. Pause (try 90 seconds) and remind yourself that this emotion is transient and not permanent and no action needs to be taken while experiencing/labeling  the feeling.

“It takes less than 90 seconds for an emotion to get triggered, surge chemically through the blood stream, then get flushed out…..anything beyond that is of your own choosing.” —Jill Bolte Taylor  (http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en//id/229)


  1. Narrate to yourself what is happening:
    1. Describe the feelings in your body.
    2. Wonder what the feeling reminds you of.
    3. Check in with expectations or “shoulds” that may be helping you to feel this particular emotion.
    4. Walk yourself through what happened right before you started feeling this way and how you have walked yourself out of this feeling before.
  2.  Make a choice to breathe, move (i.e. walk, jump or simply pump your fists) or embrace yourself until you feel the emotion begin to pass (placing one hand over you heart and another over your stomach while breathing soothes most people.)


In the moment:

  1. Continue to tell the story of “the FEELING event” – this time observe yourself and tell yourself, as if you were a lawyer, the facts of the event.
  2. Reinforce how you were able to calm down – tell yourself several times what you did to calm down.


Day to Day

  1. Learn to breathe and calm down, most of us hold our breath more often than we think.  Just one deep breath will reboot our neurology. (i.e. Yoga, meditation, Simply Being app)
  2. Journal or get used to speaking regularly to a close friend/partner about your emotional state allowing yourself time to process and understand your emotions.
  3. If you find that when you ask yourself “what does this feeling remind me of?” you remember past hurts, you may want to work with someone who can help you understand and know your history and how you make sense of your own emotions as it is influenced by your past history (eg. therapists, personal coach, clergy)

“Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not easy.” —Aristotle


Mary P
Lina Acosta Sandaal
Lina Acosta Sandaal, MA, program director of The Nest in Miami, is an expert in child and adolescent development and infant and early childhood mental health, having worked and trained at Vista Del Mar in Los Angeles, Yale’s Minding the Baby, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and Child Trauma Research Programs.
Website: thenestmiami.com
Facebook: facebook.com/TheNestMiami
Twitter: twitter.com/thenestmiami



Welcome to Week 3 of Summer of Well-Being! If you’ve been following our last few blogs, you know that I’m reading and writing about Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

Each week we also have been featuring a guest expert to share a tip on improving your well-being. If you missed those, make sure to check out Mary Trontz’ blog about Strengthening your Core, and Davis Mitchell’s vlog about Hydration.

This Thursday you’ll hear from Lina Acosta Sandaal about Emotional Well-Being. So much of what I teach through my courses and coaching has emotional intelligence at its core.  You simply cannot lead your life well or lead others successfully and meaningfully without having or acquiring this skill through practice. It’s one of the most difficult skills to master, because you have to be aware and in tune almost all the time. Lina teaches us a great way to practice this skill!

Last week we discussed the importance of Wonder for our wellness. I promised I’d report back on all the wonder I discovered on my vacation, and my promise to myself that I would not head to the office first thing on Monday with so much stress that my vacation would have been pointless!

Well, the vacation did not come without stress. My daughter ended up in one of the Bahamas’ medical centers, day 1, with what we thought was an eye infection. And, on day 4, she slammed into the pool wall, injuring her chin! Luckily, she is healing nicely and had lots of love and support during both incidents. I have to say that I kept it together and focused on all the positives, which were many! Being intentional about how I wanted to feel during and after my vacation really helped! In fact, I’d love to share with you my video below of the two dolphins—Exhuma and Robella, who were the cause of much WONDER and joy during our trip! We actually got to swim and play with them in the open ocean and experience their beauty and brilliance. And, it is my first morning back to work and I’m feeling great! A bit tired, but staying focused on getting things done with a Caribbean state of mind.


Wisdom and Success

This week, I’d like to focus on the importance of Wisdom on our journey toward well being. In Thrive, Arianna Huffington describes it in this way:

“Wisdom frees us from the narrow reality we’re trapped in—a reality consumed by the first two metrics of success, money and power, long after they have ceased to fulfill us. Indeed, we continue to pull the levers not only after their diminishing returns have been exhausted, but even after it’s clear they’re actually causing us harm in terms of our health, our peace of mind, and our relationships. Wisdom is about recognizing what we’re really seeking: connection and love. But in order to find them, we need to drop our relentless pursuit of success as society defines it for something for genuine, more meaningful, and more fulfilling.”

When I read this I naturally want to question, “What is success, then, and how do we redefine it, understanding that the majority of our waking hours are spent trying to achieve ‘it’?” Maybe you have struggled with this question as well? In reading one of my favorite blogs—Sources of Insight, Zig Ziglar’s definition of success is:

“…closing the door on your office at the end of the day knowing that you did a good job and knowing that those that interacted with you had a positive experience.”

“…looking forward to getting home and seeing the people you love.”

“…turning out the lights and saying to yourself it just doesn’t get much better than this.”

When I read this definition I get excited! Yes, success should be measured (daily) by how we affect other’s lives positively, connecting with and loving others, being purpose-driven in all that we do, and being grateful. You with me?!!! All of these concepts are found in Thrive.


Wisdom and Time

In Thrive, Arianna refers to the epidemic of “time famine” and how it sucks the wonder and wisdom out of our lives. She shares,

“In order to manage our time—or what we delude ourselves into thinking of as managing time—we rigidly schedule ourselves, rushing from meeting to meeting, event to event, constantly trying to save a bit of time here, a bit there. We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing. But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all that time we ‘saved’. It’s actually a very costly way to live.”

How can “time famine” affect our well-being? A study led by Lijing L. Yan at Northwestern University found that young adults exhibiting time urgency and impatience had a higher risk of developing hypertension and weight gain. No surprise here! If this study measures young adults, can you imagine how adults who live unconsciously this way year after year are affected over time?


Wisdom and Habits

So much of wisdom is tuning into our minds, our hearts and our intuition. How can we put ourselves on a path to well-being if we are not aware of what is working and what is not working in our lives? In the book, Arianna shares what poet Mark Nepo says about this understanding:

 “(Sacrifice is) giving up with reverence and compassion what no longer works in order to stay close to what is sacred.” Arianna adds, “So recognizing when habits are no longer working for us and sacrificing them is a cornerstone of wisdom.”

I also appreciate what Arianna shares about “Keystone Habits” from Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit:

“Reprogramming the autopilot (in each of us) takes different amounts of time. What makes it easier is focusing on ‘keystone habits’; when you change one of them, it makes changing other habits easier. (This) starts a process that, over time, transforms everything. Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers.”

Arianna’s keystone habit was and continues to be sleep. By getting more sleep regularly she is able to more easily create other new well-being habits, such as meditation and exercise.


Finding Your Thread

In closing, I love a Greek Mythology story that Arianna shares about Ariadne (also Arianna’s given name), in which Theseus could be saved and free to return to Athens only if he entered the labyrinth and slew the Minotaur (monster, or our old habits!). All who had gone before him had perished, but Theseus, guided by the thread Ariadne had given him (what guides us back to our center; our core sacred being), was able to make his way into the labyrinth and come out of it alive and victorious. What a great analogy, huh?

So, here’s my challenge to you this week:

  1. What is your Keystone Habit? That one thing that you can do that will be the foundation for your path to well-being?
  2. Create one small action step to begin creating that Keystone Habit.
  3. Take a piece of thread that will remind you of your step and tie it around your wrist as a reminder.

Here’s a picture of mine! My Keystone Habit is movement! I’ve noticed the difference in every aspect of my life (especially how I sleep!) when I move—whether it’s yoga, walking, biking, dancing, etc. My step is to do a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

photo copy 2

Please share what your Keystone Habit is below, and I’d love for you to share a picture of your Thread! Thanks for tuning in today. “-)

It’s your life. Lead it well.


Photo courtesy of Neerav Bhatt

Woman Looking at Reflection

“Without self-reflection, how is it possible for one to know himself or herself? And if I don’t know myself, how can I lead myself? And if I cannot lead myself, how can I lead others?”

–Harry Kraemer, former CEO of Baxter International

When I think of leadership, both in our careers and in our personal lives, (parent, volunteer, sibling, spouse, etc.) I cannot separate it from awareness. In fact, from my perspective, you cannot lead your life effectively without it. Awareness, or consciousness, must be at the foundation of your leadership, and it begins with self-awareness.

So what does being self-aware look like? At Life Well LED we help individuals know themselves deeply and honor who they are at their core. Through assessments and coaching that reveal amazing discoveries you can SEE and FEEL who you are and how you interact with others in your world. You can define the foundational principals and values that guide you; the beliefs that support your emotions and actions (good and bad), and the unique combination of talents that only you have, and that with proper investment, become strengths that lead you effectively toward the whole-life success you desire. Conversely, you also can shed light on your default tendencies—those habits that can prevent you from achieving that sense of success and purpose that we all crave.

In some ways we understand these things about ourselves, but with the noise and stress of daily life we often operate unconsciously—just going through the motions with little intention, which often results in a lack of energy (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) to be able to get from point A to point B faster and easier…if at all (spinning our wheels endlessly!).

When we are highly aware we also pay attention to how we are perceived—how we operate through the lens of others. Are we as effective as we can be? Are we being the kind of leader that others need and expect of us? Are we others-focused, or are we only caring about ourselves and how we win?

Science and statistics show us the strong link between awareness and leadership. I cover a lot of this in my courses. I love being a scientist of human potential and connection! In fact, Emotional Intelligence (EI) experts, like Daniel Goleman, teach us how EI (EI = Awareness, Expression & Management/Controlling of Emotions) is far more necessary than IQ in powerful and effective leadership. IQ only takes you so far. You can’t build EI without awareness!

The path to being a highly-aware individual and leader is not easy, but it is so worth it! Through awareness you create meaningful connections… with you at your core, with those you work with and lead, with those closest to you, and with your and your team’s goals and mission.

In closing, to help you become more aware of your awareness (LOL!), try this very simple daily strategy:

  • Set your timer to go off every hour for one week. If this is too much, try it twice a day—one during lunchtime and once in the evening when you’re winding down from the day.
  • When your timer goes off, just take 5 minutes or less (no more than that) to create a short list that answers the following questions:
    • “What did I notice about myself in this hour/morning/afternoon?”
    • “What did I notice about others?”
    • “What did I notice about my environment?”

At first this may be really hard and you won’t come up with much. But as you get used to it, you will realize so much about yourself, others and your environment because you are paying closer attention. You’ll see things you never did before. You’ll have many “hmm’s?” and “aha’s!” You’ll also notice more ways to connect with others and the world around you. We don’t live alone in this world, right? We certainly can’t accomplish much on our own either!

I’d love to hear what you noticed! Please make sure to share below and keep the dialogue moving and growing! Feel free to comment on my Facebook page as well! 

Here’s wishing you a day of shock and awe! You’ll see both with this exercise.

For some more fun reading, here’s a great FastCompany article that details some of the benefits of being aware and mindful. Enjoy!

Wishing you a life well led,