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My Top Blogs of 2014

January 7, 2015

Life Well LED Top Blog Posts of 2014

As I begin a brand new year of fresh content, I look back at 2014 and what my readers (you!) enjoyed the most.

In case you missed them, here they are again. If you’re reading them for a second time, I hope you take away some new insight that will help you in this brand new year.

1. 10 Tips to Start Your Day Right!

2. Natural Strengths and Wellbeing. Is there a Link?

3. Get into the Spirit of Spirit!

4. 3 Ways to Fly High with your Leadership!

5. SWOT it out! Annual Review in 4 Easy Steps!

6. Gratitude, Breath, and the Whispers.

7. Knock Some Sense Into Yourself!

8. Unconditional Love, Forgiveness, & Puppy Breath!

9. 5 Ways to be your own COO!

10. Know Your Super Human Power and Deploy it in 3 Simple Steps!

We also had some AMAZING guest bloggers this year during our first ever Summer of Wellbeing! Browse them again for some great tips on staying WELL this 2015.
Also, you all just loved my e-book! If you didn’t download it, you can do so here.

Finally, I had the pleasure of guest blogging for one of my favorite blogs, Sources of Insight, by J.D. Meier. I wrote about Sensing, Loving & Leading. Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for being a part of my 2014! I’m so grateful, and ready for another FAB year of blogging!

It’s your life. Lead it Well!

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

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

 

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Maybe you’ve experienced this funny phenomenon as well! I never put much thought into it except to giggle over it, but yesterday it certainly caught my attention. As I was going for a power walk I noticed how all of the lizards on the sidewalks just hang out on the sidelines and only dare to cross the very moment my foot lifts to take another step. It’s actually quite scary, since every step I take I feel like I’m going to squish one of these little guys! However, they always seem to make it across! I’m thinking they’re stupid and careless, but what do they know that I don’t?

My thoughts then quickly shifted to us humans and our tendencies to stay on the sidelines— sometimes for way too long. What is it about lizards that make them act so quickly and go all in when the danger is at its peak?

Well, our “lizard brain” tends to either freeze, fight, or flight when we feel in danger. It’s that primal, instinctive part of our brain that is always trying to protect us. Certainly, those big visions we want to go after can be just as frightening as they can be exciting. And I wonder how throwing ourselves into the perceived danger can get us that much closer to where we want to go, and sometimes, where we know we need to be. Achieving “success” also can be fearful in and of itself, because then we may wonder what happens when we “get there”? We may ask, “How will my life change, and can I live up to that change?” Perhaps, instead, we should be asking ourselves, “What if I never change? Will I be content with my life staying as is?”

If you find yourself in that scenario, like a lizard looking up at a big shoe about to drop, consider asking yourself:

  • What about this fear is true?

  • Is this just my lizard brain trying to protect me?

  • What’s the worst that could happen if I felt the fear and did it anyway?

  • Without fear would it be as meaningful?

How could our lives shift dramatically toward our vision if we actually began to embrace fear, as if it were a marker that we were on our true path?

Gosh…I get excited thinking about It. Do you?

What are you fearing right now that’s keeping you on the sidelines?

I guess it’s no coincidence that lately I’ve been surrounded by so many amazing individuals who are breaking through their fears and finding major breakthroughs on the other side. I find that it’s much easier to go all in when you’re not the only one doing it!

As the amazing Brené Brown says, “You can’t find courage without walking through vulnerability.” You think those little lizards aren’t vulnerable when they jump out in front of a huge, scary sneaker? They survive over and over, and so can we.

Are you fear FULL? Embrace it and move toward your dreams.

Namaste,

Monique

We did it! We made it to the final week of Summer of Well-Being! As I type these words, though, I’m reminded of one of my favorite song lyrics by Kenny Loggins (yes, I’m dating myself a bit!):

This is it! Make no mistake where you are! What’s left to provide?
You think that maybe it’s over .
Not if you don’t want it to be!

Here’s what I know for sure…our well-being is a daily, life-long process. And more than just a process, it’s a decision. A decision we make every moment of every day.

I’ve so enjoyed bringing you on this journey during our summer. Please know that the journey is not over! On Thursday, you’ll hear from our final guest blogger, Michelle Alva, who is an Energy Healer at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach. She’s going to wrap up our awareness program very nicely. And, I’m so excited to announce that on September 1st I’ll be sharing with you a way that you can continue on this journey with me and with many others, as I launch my new 6-Month Group Coaching Program: Journey to Well-Being! I can’t wait to share this opportunity with you, and I hope you will consider remaining in our community and growing in your well-being every day.

Today I want to write about one of my favorite things…creativity! One of my top 5 talent themes as defined by Gallup’s Strengths Finder is Ideation. I just LOVE ideating and getting new ideas going and growing! Because it’s one of my strengths, I know that leading with this strength each day, even if only a little bit, gives me so much energy! But even if it’s not a natural talent for you doesn’t mean that you can’t employ it to boost your well-being. They say that if we spend too much time nourishing our logical reasoning, we in fact starve our non-linear, right-brain functions. As a result, we only half live!! bigstock-Thinking-Smiling-Woman-With-Qu-46191085

Research shows that stimulating our right-brain helps to relax us, lower our blood pressure, reduce migraine headaches, and generally increase our harmony. Of course, this can be attained via activities such as mindfulness, or guided visualizations, which we’ve covered during Summer of Well-Being. They help to quiet the rational “thinking” brain. However, there are other ways to spark the right-brain and transform the way we think, learn and operate.

As an example, just this month our team had a retreat that was based in ideation. We wanted to get outside of our boxes and come up with as many innovative ideas as possible (without being logical!), so we used Improv techniques to help us do this. Not only was it a lot of fun, but it truly helped us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, which often is a requirement to operating in a right-brain kinda way! If you had a chance to view our Summer of Well-Being guest blogger last week, David Suarez, then you know what I’m talking about.

To take it one step further, I want to share five tips for thinking laterally, as Edward DeBono, Ph.D., calls it, or as I like to call it, “Sideways” thinking!

1. Get Random Input: Instead of relying only on what we think or know, we can take our question somewhere else for input, like a mall, or museum, or neighbor, or random book, etc. DeBono says that “A random input from outside can serve to disrupt the old pattern and allow it to reform in a new way.”

2. Quotas: By imagining that there is only one right answer, we limit ourselves. By using quotas, we challenge ourselves to come up with a minimum number of alternatives. We can take this deeper by setting a deadline.

3. Rotation of Attention: Sometimes when we try to solve a problem we focus on just one aspect of the problem, thereby limiting our solutions. One example is losing weight. Perhaps we only focus on the diet and the specific food item we need to reduce or eliminate. Another way to look at it, thereby sparking our right-brain, is to make each factor in the problem (or question) the focus of attention and learn as much as we can by examining it as if it were the only factor in the problem.

4. Reversals: Turn a situation completely upside down! By doing this we are changing our point of view. For example, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what it is we want, but it may be interesting to ask ourselves what it is we don’t want! To determine what well-being is for us, we may learn a lot by asking ourselves what we know for sure that it is not.

5. Cross Fertilization:  It’s natural to avoid those opinions that are not like ours. It’s often uncomfortable to think and feel in a way that’s not natural to us. However, by forcing ourselves to get input from those who often see and feel things differently than we do, we are allowing ourselves to expand the possibilities. This is especially useful when we are stuck and can’t see a way out. When it comes to our health and decisions that we may need to make, this can be a great solution and opportunity.

When it comes to our well-being, sometimes we just need to get a little sideways! For some of us, activating our creative side can juice us up with lots of energy that we can apply to various aspects of our lives, and it can transform our relationships and environments by allowing us to be more open. And for others, thinking laterally can really help us make some important life and health decisions.

Give it a try and let me know what it does for you!

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Monique

Happy Tuesday Summer of Well-Being readers! For those of you with school-age children, congrats on getting them out the door again and off to a new adventure! Our summer blog season is coming to a close. I have to say, though, that focusing on what makes us “well” and exploring new ways to make our well-being a priority brought an exciting spin to my summer. What about you? This week I’ll introduce you to a great friend, and a very funny guy! David Suarez, founder and lead facilitator of Interactive Training Solutions, will share how humor can be just the thing your well-being plan needs. Look for his blog on Thursday.

My family and I just finished up two weekends of hosting a garage sale. Gosh, it’s exhausting! You may be asking, “Why on earth would you have a garage sale during the summer?” Yeah…we kinda asked ourselves the same question, but the benefits certainly outweighed the negatives. It was one of those activities that wasn’t planned, and by a sheer push of energy, took us there.

garage_sale1Perhaps you’ve experienced the same feeling during your Summer of Well-Being? When opening certain drawers, walking into my kids’ rooms, or trying to pull something out of the shed, I felt a heaviness coming my way. That was it! I didn’t think I could take another day of looking at certain messes and just letting it slide…again! We underestimate how these “messes” affect our lives, and when we actually pay attention to how we feel when we experience them, we get it.

In thinking about the well-being of my family, here’s what our garage sale experience taught me.

1. Stuff is energy.
Our “stuff” truly is a reflection of our inner lives. I’ve always been a student of energy, which is why Feng Shui makes sense to me. We don’t have to think of it as some “weird science experiment” we’re conducting, we can simply think of it as clearing the way for new, fresh energy to come into our lives. Now, when I open my shed I smile; when I enter my son’s room I get excited about the new “man” room we’ll be creating for him soon, and when I put my daughter to sleep every night I know she’s resting in a space that will promote creativity and safety, not chaos. I’m breathing so much easier. Old, stuck energy out…new fresh energy in!

2. We choose what things mean.
This was a tough one! Do you hold on to things for a long time because they hold a special meaning? I definitely do. This time, however, I understood that I would keep these things forever if I could, instead of truly creating the open space I needed. At the end of the day, I want my inner world–the things we don’t always see–to truly reflect what I want to create in my physical world. This garage sale truly required all of us to examine how truly important all these “things” were to us. Perhaps they held a stronger meaning 10 years ago, but today they don’t represent who we are or want to be. Finding meaning and defining those things that truly are important to us is a big part of creating a well-led life. I did choose to not let certain things go, but only because what they represented matched one of my current strongly-held values. No negotiating here.

I love this poem about the process of finding meaning:

The past is dead. The future is imaginary. Happiness can only be in the Eternal NOW moment.

This sunset…This smile…This word you are writing…This pain you are feeling…This question you are asking…This omelet you are cooking…

The meaning of life is the tear of joy shed at the sight of the well-cooked omelet.

-Jere Pramuk

3. People need people.

Spend 8 hours outdoors and you’ll connect with more people than you probably want to. However, some of those connections will be special. As a coach I love to make people feel good, it’s in my DNA. So, when a few of our visitors just wanted to talk and share, not shop, that was ok. I got the impression that these individuals really needed some acknowledgment in their lives, no judging, just listening. I also experienced some of my neighbors in a new way. I got to spend time with them and learn more about them. I also very much appreciated their generosity in supporting our sale and offering us cold refreshments! Sometimes we may take for granted the amazing people who surround us (literally!) for most of our lives. They can be an extension of our family.

Our well-being doesn’t have to come from a check-list or rigid plan. It can be present for us in every moment and in every experience. Do you have an example like mine that provided you with some awesome well-being moments? I’d love to hear all about them. Please comment below.

It’s your life, lead it well.

Monique

I’m particularly excited about our Summer of Well-Being guest blogger this week, because she happens to be my Mom! That’s right, folks, the apple does not fall far from the tree! Ellie Kane is an artist, healer, and certified coach. I cannot express how powerful her teachings, healing and love have supported me along my journey, and I know you’ll appreciate what she has to share! Providing her this forum is one of the simple ways that I can say, “Thanks, Mom” for being such an important part of my life, and for helping so many others!! You are AWESOME! Make sure to check out Ellie’s blog on Thursday to learn how you can heal with Art!


What does living “well” at work mean to you? If you are like most Americans, you’re spending the majority of your waking hours either working, or thinking about your work! Work can be both a blessing and an energy vampire, depending upon how you “work” it.

Are you “working” work, or is work “working” you?

Because we are at work so much, it can’t NOT affect our well-being, right? But, does it affect us negatively, or positively? Although there are many things outside of our control when at work, like the behaviors and actions of others, tasks we are mandated to do, or whether we have access to clean air or natural lighting, we do have the power to make REALLY GREAT choices for ourselves, helping to make work THE VERY BEST place to make significant strides toward our wellness.

If you’re a fan of the Pareto Principle, you’ll understand the power behind this strategy. The principle states that 80% of the output is achieved with 20% of the input. Since we spend approximately 80% of our waking hours engaged in work (give or take), why not use 20% of our work day to achieve 80% of our well-being goals? You with me?

Let’s seek out a few holistic strategies to begin doing this! Here are 5 ideas you can try:

 

1. Seek the Truth.

Much of our stress at work can stem from focusing on what “may be true” vs. “what is true.” A simple example could be having a quick conversation with your immediate supervisor and assuming that he is not pleased with the news you are sharing with him because his arms are crossed and his brows are furrowed. Assumptions like this one can nag at us mentally and emotionally all day long, sucking away our creative, healthy energy. Why not just ask him, “I am sensing that you are not happy in this moment. Does this have to do with my work, or with the information I’m sharing with you?” Many times, individuals don’t even realize the signals they are giving. Knowing this can also provide them with a moment of awareness that can benefit them tremendously. What at work might you be assuming that is sucking up your energy?

2. Seek Feedback.

Humans are emotional beings, and our emotions directly affect what we choose to believe about ourselves, and the actions we take to get to where we want to go. As emotional beings, we want to know how we are doing, that we are on the right track, and that we are appreciated and doing a great job. Even if you are the leader within your organization, you need this too! Take time to ask others how you are doing. Get the validation that you need and deserve, and don’t judge any constructive criticism that can help you continue to develop and grow as a professional/leader. Knowing how we are doing and that we are appreciated can make our days at work so much more enjoyable and can even ignite our inner fire to achieve greater results at work. Who’s feedback are you desiring?

3. Seek our Authenticity.

An important component to our wellness is loving and sharing who we are naturally and at our best. In many work environments we feel as though we cannot show ourselves in order to move up the ladder, or sometimes, just keep our jobs! Over time this can cause sadness, de-motivation, and an overall disconnect with the individuals we work with, and ultimately, with our purpose and ability to grow in our career. We can seek our authenticity in comfortable steps by sharing our ideas, speaking up when we normally would not, and developing a more personal relationship with a co-worker. According to Gallup, having at least one good friend at work can dramatically improve our well-being and our engagement at work. How can YOU better show up at work?

4. Seek Nature.

If you happen to be cooped up all day long in a “concrete jungle,” do yourself a favor and get up and outside at least once per day for a minimum of 15 minutes, but if you can do more, do it! You can accomplish so much within one hour that can positively affect your well-being, like breathing in some fresh air, getting your daily dose of Vitamin D by sitting in the sun, walking and getting your metabolism going, sitting under a tree and doing something for yourself, etc. Even 15 minutes of disconnecting from work and connecting with nature can reinvigorate you. You can even connect with nature by eating a nice salad (or drinking your salad!) during this nature break. What aspect of nature is screaming for your attention during work hours?

5. Seek Silence.

What? Yes, that’s right. Whether you’re in meetings all day, or chatting around the water-cooler (not a great use of your time), creating time for YOU to brainstorm, move your ideas or work forward in a focused way, or take 5-10 minutes to breathe or stretch at your desk, you will be doing your mind, body and soul some good! It may be harder for some of us to accomplish these quiet, focused tasks at home, especially if we have to cook, do homework, clean, organize for the next day, etc. So why not find the time to work on your activities during your work hours? How can 10 minutes of silence during work skyrocket your productivity or decrease your stress?


The ideas I’ve shared above relate to some key dimensions of well-being, including Thinking, Feeling, Breathing, Communicating, Sensing, Eating, Moving, and Self-Responsibility. The cool thing is that when you work on just one dimension, you truly are working on all of them! They are fully integrated and cannot function without each other.

Even though these ideas are quite simple, they are not always easy! Try just one and see how it may help shift how you approach work and wellness, and how other areas of your well-being may be affected as well.

Don’t let work “work” you! Be intentional about how you approach your work hours and take advantage of that time to feel great!

It’s Your Life. Lead it Well.

Monique