Fearlessness or Courage?

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“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

Georgia O’Keeffe


“The heart pointed to the brain and said with great disdain, “Those who live their lives in here live the lives most full of fear.”

Ryan Lilly

Our family recently escaped our homestead for a few days of outdoor exploration in the Sierras. California  is vast and there is so much we want to share with the kids from our first stay here and so much more  we have yet discovered. After almost seven years settling down here… it was about time!

It seems like trips always have a transformational aspects to them. This time is especially apropos as we are both, my husband and I, at a juncture in our professional lives. Needless to say, the trip was  all we needed to create deep reflections and conversations upon our return.

Returning to my true nature is the endeavour of the summer. I got lost in false assumptions about how to direct my career and need to reset. I already have more than I can handle and it feels a bit overwhelming. I know once the teachings from the mountains will set in, I will be back on track full of energy to step up to the plate. Still, I  wish summer was six month long.

I started a somewhat dear and big project to tidy up the entire house (Yes, from the book The life changing magic of tidying up The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing from Marie Kondo, more soon on my experience in a future blog post). As a mother working from home with two children on school summer break, I need to adjust the suggested pace and do it a bit everyday rather than a one- day-do-it all deal. The wardrobe work has paid off and I felt great yesterday night. However, tired and pensive, I am still in that doubtful place, wondering how the next chapter of my life will unfold and feeling unsure about how my gift can help others, how to share them and where to begin.

As I am starting anew I asked for guidance and felt grateful this morning with the sign I received. While meditating, I was suggested to read one of many, many books in my bookshelves waiting patiently to deliver their teachings to me.  The Places That SCARE YOU A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron was calling me. In the first ten pages alone, I found enough to feel the need to write this post. I think it says a lot.

Upon reading those few pages,  I realized  that for most of my life, I based my actions and decisions on being fearless. Fearless in the sense of not letting  fear dictating my life. You see, my parents have lived most of their lives on unachieved dreams, financial lack, self-responsibility denial for their fate and health. I wanted the opposite: a vibrant, healthy  and fearless life, and was determined to do all it takes to get there. Of course I can say that most of the time I do not let fear get in the way but is this enough to affirm that I am I fearless? I believe now that all these years, what I wanted most was to be courageous but I did not see the nuances between this and  fearlessness. As the quote from Georgia O’Keeffe suggests, it is more about jumping and trying that matter, despite the fear. Succeeding, aka attaining our goals in a defined way and timeframe is not even part of it. In fact, in my humble opinion, trying despite our fear IS succeeding.

From now on I decide to live courageously and working towards what Pema Chodron is describing as a warrior of courage and love. I am letting my heart decide and my brain will follow. As quoted in her book this question is guiding my journey on this earth: ‘’ Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly or do I choose to live and die in fear? How about you?


10 Tips on keeping up with Goals and Intentions all year long

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“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Nelson Mandela

This post is the last of a series of four posts on goals, intentions or resolutions, whichever term you use.

Well, we are almost at the end of January and I wonder if some people already went back to their former life, having already surrendered to their dreams and goals for 2013. If you are like me, life must have taken over some of your aspirations, at least momentarily.  You may feel like this was too much to aspire for and therefore going back to your “former”, life is the only solution! NO! Don’t give up so quickly! There are so many ways to solve a problem and for me, surrendering is not even on my list. Readjusting is, however.

Last weekend was overwhelmingly full for our family, Monday was a holiday and one of my children was out of school for a day, which left me 3 days to devote to my work goals. So I went down on the former path and went to bed well past midnight most nights, woke up late a few times (my goal is 6 am so I can have my “me”, time before my kids are waking up), was tired, missed my new morning routine and felt I was going nowhere. After a few days of this, it was time for a reality check. I had my call with my accountability buddy, of course told the plain truth, and while talking I had some revelations and found new ways to work on my new goals. Here are some of the ideas I came up with and some I had prior to my path deviation but had no time to implement yet.

1-     Print your work and post it some place where you will see them regularly. I have my whys, goals, mission, vision, core desired feelings and rules to live by at different location in my house. I look at my feelings right after going out of bed and my goals before opening the computer to start my day. Reminder in the car, a screensaver, a pop up window at lunch time, notes in your bathroom mirror, anything that works for you to read them DAILY is a must! I neglected this so far but I am back on track for next week.

2-     Create some visuals to keep the dream alive. As quoted last week dreams and goals go hand in hand if we want to go somewhere. Dreaming is passive and solely relying on goals make it more like an obligation than a joyful path to your dream life. I started collecting idea for our dream house and yard on Pinterest but will also print a few significant picture at least one for each feelings/area of my life.

3-     As you break down the goals into months, weeks and days to some instances, spend the time needed to enter it on your calendar, now, for the entire year. I strongly suggest to do that especially if you are using an electronic calendar as this is so easy to readjust when you need to move some deadlines. If you are still working on a paper version, using a pencil might be your best option.

4-     If it feels too overwhelming all at once to modify multiple habits, pick one or two at a time and stick to it for at least a week. Depending on how big is the change for you, you may even need more time and this is alright. It is better to start slow and keep the habit than to try to change them altogether and ending up discouraged and conceding.

5-     For each change of habit, consider to transition slowly rather than going cold turkey. The cold turkey method might work for some but, personally, I feel easily overwhelmed by too many changes in my rhythm. Therefore, after reading Leo Babauta’s post this week, I decided to give myself the gift of slow transition when it comes to going to bed early and rising with the sun. I was trying to get going with too many new habits all at once, thinking this will not disrupt my usual life and will not interrupt my new sleeping pattern. I was obviously wrong.

6-     Take time daily and weekly to write some insights from your life experience. I am devoting 5- 10 minutes daily to revise my day and see how I could do better. Have I been distracted? Was my time management well done or should I allow more time for my tasks? I will then start looking at my week’s big picture as well, not to judge but just to understand if there is a pattern that need to be addressed.

7-     If you did not achieve your goals, focus on your feelings. Remember on a previous post we talked about destinations and journey? Well, plans are meant to be changed. I see goals as a motivation not a way to drag me down. Life happens and we need to take that into consideration. Keep in mind your feelings. If I was feeling affluent, innovative, radiant, grounded and perceptive, all is good in my world. Feeling good is the key here.

8-     Plan your week on Sunday. Monday 8 am, kids left for school with daddy and I am ready to jump into action because I know already what is in my plate. What a difference it makes. I know where to go and feel at ease. Try it and see for yourself!

9-     Have an accountability buddy. Well, you can make it work as you wish but I suggest that:

  • Don’t pick your partner. You can always share your ups and downs- and I hope you do that with your partner- but I believe an accountability buddy need to be less emotionally involved in your life. It just makes it easier.
  • Follow-up on a weekly basis. More is ok and less is definitely not going to help you enough. There is so much happening in our lives that we need consistency and frequency.
  • Be honest. If you lie to your buddy, well, you are missing the point and of course there is no use to have one. This person is there to listen and help with suggestions if you are ok with that. Carving this time to give and receive is so great. I have so far never felt like it was a waste of time, quite the contrary. We share resources, encourage each other. This is my boost for the day!

10-  Keep a positive attitude. Whenever you feel like you are going nowhere, go back to your insights, write a gratitude entry in your journal and acknowledge where you start and where you are at this moment. Even if none of your goals were achieved, you still have made progress and changed perceptions about certain things in life and just this is awesome. Remember that a positive outlook make most of the journey’s fun, no matter what.


One acronym to help you turn feelings into gold !

Posted by in Self-Care

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. Vision with action…can change the world”. Unknown Author

No, I am not trying to advertise that you will become rich with this post‘s tips. Hard work and consistency may be needed as well ;-). BUT I have seen in my life and those of others how easy it is to slip after a few weeks or a few months and letting go of our worthy goals. A road map to success also need to be about setting the right goals and following through.

If you are in any business setting, you may have heard about smart goals. I just recently was reminded about the idea of setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R  goals. This may not be new to you but believe it or not, I am used to set goals this way in a business setting but for some reasons, when I am in my personal life I tend to forget about these tips. So if you do it already this will be a refresher.


Now if you Google these two words, you will find a plethora of different meanings for this acronym. The one that stick with me though is from Danny Iny at Firepole Marketing. Why I like this one so much? First, because I use their small business marketing tools personally and can vouch for the quality of their work. Second, because of the E and R meanings at the end. More on this soon, stay with me. Let’s look at how smarter goals pertain to how I see my intentions coming true this year with one example of mine, while looking at the acronym itself.

If you remember I started the other way around and defined the feelings I want to see more in my life. One of them is being grounded. Under this feeling I have 2 yearly goals which are then divided under sub goals to make smaller chunks of work or action items and make it feasible.

S is for Specific If I say I want to feel grounded is my goal, it is hard to manifest this in my daily life at this is way too vague. Something more like this works better:

Goal #2: In order to feel grounded I want to take some daily personal time for renewal as of January 2013 and pursuing on.

M is for Measurable This is where the word daily takes its importance. When it is measurable you can monitor your progress and see how you can improve and which strategy you need to put in place to find consistency.

A is for Action Oriented This part is the map to help you get to the destination. This is the how. How will you get from point A to point B?

That is why I had some sub goals, so as to define exactly how will reach the goal I want to take some daily personal time for renewal as of January 2013 and pursuing on. 

One of my sub goal is:

Create an evening ritual and review which include:

  1. Plan the next day in the last 15 minutes of my work day.
  2. Stop working no later than 10:15 pm.

iii.    Reviewing my day and taking note on what went well and what need readjustment.

  1. Writing down my next day’s top 3 priorities.
  2. Wash face, brush teeth, floss and gargle with On Guard and peppermint if need be. (10 min)
  3. Practicing the mirror exercises with my wins and victories, affirmations and I love you.

vii.    Read

viii.    Go to bed no later than 11pm

All of these steps are my map. I could even go further and mention how I will transition from doing almost none of this into all of this. If we impose too many changes on ourselves all at once it is harder to maintain them. However is we are more forgiving with ourselves and not too demanding, we can transition slowly with one thing at a time. This happened organically with me in the last few weeks. I don’t beat myself up because I cannot do it all at once. The point is we need to keep in mind the feelings. Do I feel grounded when reading and going to be no later than 11 pm? If yes and that is all I can do then no problem because this is all about finding the feelings deep down inside that matters to me.

With all that has just been said, we addressed the next letter of the acronym:

 R is for realistic If it is not realistic to do it all in one shot then it means we need to divide up the task into smaller pieces that we can chew on. Plans are meant to be changed. At some point we can revise how things are going and see if either we lost consistency or if either it is not feasible in the time-frame we established. That is all right. This is part of the learning process about us and life. I tend to forget that if I need to go somewhere I need to stop working before it is time to go. I might need to use the restroom, pack a lunch or snack for the kids and might be stuck in traffic. Therefore I tend to arrive tight or late almost everywhere I go. This one bad habit is so hard to change for me. But I am working on it, again and again. Some days are better than others.

T is for Time-bound The words says it all. When does that goal need and can be achieved? If there is no deadline, it is solely a dream. To make it a reality you need to have some timeframe or deadline to work with, which in turn is helping you to schedule your monthly, weekly and daily activities.  To get there, we need to have a plan and a realistic date for each milestone as well as for the final destination.

E is for Emotional Remember, the goals we want to achieve are not the destinations anymore. They are the map to get to our desired feelings. All the material things and the achievement we are looking for in life are related to one thing: how we want to feel.  It is time now to remind ourselves why in the first place did I want to achieve this specific goal? Which emotions will bring into your life enough determination and perseverance to meet each of your goal?

R is for Reward Celebrating our success, how small they feel to us, is tremendously important. It seems that in our society we like to entertain ourselves and yet, sometimes, our only focus is to get to the next thing without stopping to savor the moment. There is no fun on a trip when all you do is try to get to your destination as fast as you can without looking out the window or stopping because you were drawn to. Worst, once you get to a place you are already thinking of your next trip. For each of your milestones and once the final goal is obtained, find ways to reward yourself. It does not need to be related to material possessions. Giving yourself permission not to work for a weekend, spend some quality time with your family or trying something you always wanted to but never did is probably even more rewarding. Experience based rewards can get you closer to the feelings you want more in your life.

Why don’t you try to set some smarter goals for yourself and share your experience with me? Can’t wait to hear about how it feels for you.