Archive for the ‘Living More Authentically’ Category

I’ve often been struck by the idea that all the suffering in the world, all the world’s problems and deficits and cruelties are exactly equal in might and force to the love, the gifts, the talents, latent in all the world’s inhabitants.

In this way, the world is perfectly balanced: The sum of global pain is equal to our collective capacity for love. The deficit of goodness in the external world is equal to the power we hold within to create good.

Every need can be met. Every wound can be healed. Every pain can be soothed, but only if each of us uses our capacity for good fully.

In practical terms, of course, each of us can’t work on every issue. We can’t even learn about every issue. But we can begin to use our capacity for good more fully. Here are six ways to begin:

  1. Let the pain in. Open your heart to the pain of the world. We all have an instinct in us to avoid it, to turn away from the disturbing news, to shield ourselves from feeling tragedy. Instead, open your heart to the pain. Breathe it in. Feel it. Be present to it – not to get caught in drama or sadness, but to fuel action.
  2. Do small acts with great love, every day. Create a daily giving practice. Give something every day: money, time, assistance, or a heartfelt thank you or compliment. Keep a journal where you record your act of giving at the end of the day. Writing it down (and realizing when you’ve forgotten to do the practice) will help you integrate this habit into your life.
  3. Pick a cause to pour your time, money and energies to, over the long-term. Select something that moves you, something that you sense is the work you are called to do in the world.
  4. Be a light at work. As a coach, I often speak with clients who feel their work because is meaningless because they work at a company that’s “just about the money.” But as business scandal after business scandal shows us, these environments need ethical, service-focused, loving human beings desperately—perhaps more than anywhere else. If you work in one of those places, you have the opportunity to make a tremendous difference. Decide to be a light at work, through your kindness to coworkers and customers, by refraining from gossip, by helping to build bridges or resolve conflict when needed. Watch the ripple effects, and notice how it makes work more interesting and energizing for you, too.
  5. See what love-assignments life gives you. Life brings us little love-assignments in the form of the suffering that show up in our midst. Is there a need in your neighborhood, at your school, in your workplace, that is touching a place within your heart? You don’t have to solve the problem, but you can make a tremendous difference by offering your support, love, solidarity, skills, time, companionship, or a material gift. Notice what assignments life is giving you, and step up.

Yes, the world is full of suffering. Full of it. And we are full of the medicine that heals it.

Are you meeting the world with your full capacity for love?




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Hi there,

I’m so happy to welcome new visitors and readers who read yesterday’s guest post at Kind Over Matter.

I love the spirit, community, and vision of Kind Over Matter. I love the idea that through the work I do I just might be able to support creative young women (which much of the Kind Over Matter community is) to create more beauty in the world and experience the inexplicable happiness that comes from creating.

For my friends that have been her for a while, please visit my post over there. I hope you’ll reframe your thinking from growth to blossoming. More about that at the post. But think about, really, what would happen if you put less focus on “growth” and more on “blossoming”?

Tomorrow I’m getting on a plane to NYC to be with friends. Yes, I did just get home from Hawaii and Boulder on Friday. This weekend I took walks and caught up on Oprah and saw the beloved people in my life and learned that if you get Lacinto Kale you can eat it raw as salad greens. It’s quite tasty with olive oil, salt and pepper, and if you have the time and energy, with diced shallots and ricotta salata too.

By all of that I mean to say, travelling is lovely but if we design our lives with a sense of possibility, with a leaning toward who we really are, I think can be that an average day at home can be better, sweeter, more nourishing than a getaway in an exotic land.



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A couple of years ago I found myself asking, again and again, “Is this all there is?” The question popped up in quiet moments, in the spaces in between to do lists and tasks.

This question is a cliche, but more importantly, I’ve learned, its a sacred door opening. It shows up when something inside of us knows the path we’re on isn’t quite the right one. It’s the beginning of change. It’s the invitation to growth.

I’m writing about the question at Huffington Post, where I’ve just become a regular blogger. Yipee! This is an exciting milestone for me. I always love it when readers like you come and read my work over at other sites, but I’d particularly like to ask for your support in this case. Commenting, tweeting, facebook sharing the Huffington Post article will help it and me get more exposure at the site.

I’m still on the beach in paradise, and when I close my eyes, I often see the image of a large sea turtle I watched a few days ago…floating in a clear sea, light, turquoise blue. There he (or she) was, bobbing, paddling, close to the surface, every few sections stretching an open mouth up to the air. A huge gorgeous brown and green shell. I was the privileged observer.

The world is so big and I am so small, but I am part of it. Sometimes, in a human crowd, in the midst of a city, at a party, at the office, its hard to feel like we belong. But standing on the sand, part of this thing that also includes tress and sea and sky, its impossible to not feel full my fundamental belonging. Our fundamental belonging here.



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I’m writing from a sunny, beautiful, paradise place where I’m so thrilled to be spending a week.

It’s fascinating to me that it actually is easier for me to slow down and be present in this environment. I feel it when I have the impulse to leave myself, or leave the moment, and I have more strength to stop it, to just return to my breath, to myself, to the simplicity and truth of the moment.

I’ve had a few guest posts in the last week or two that I want to share with you. I was delighted to be at Robin’s wonderful blog, Naked in Eden, last week, sharing a piece that goes to the heart of everything I believe. I hope you’ll join me over there and read about the You-Shaped Hole.

And writing from paradise, here’s what I offer to you: whatever is true for you right now, look at it. Feel it. Breathe into it like you breathe into a stretch. Face it fully. Give it center stage for a moment. Maybe even name it. Get to know it.

Watch how that changes the emotion, sensation, worry, fear, thought, stress, hope, question…whatever it is…how it can’t remain exactly the same. How your awareness has shifted it. How being in the present is actually what moves things forward in time. How being with what is is what creates change.

That’s what I’m learning, sitting here, looking at the sea.



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Today I’m very pleased to have my first ever interview at Wise Living! Jen Smith is a life coach and personal development blogger, and she’s based in England.

I encounter so many blogs and writers online these days, but Jen’s energy really stood out for me. I could feel her kindness and integrity popping off the page.

Over the past several months, Jen’s been on a journey successfully changing her own habits of people-pleasing—which we all know is no small feat.

I asked Jen to share her wisdom about what allowed her to make real change in this area of her life, and the kinds of tools she uses to help her coaching clients do the same.

There’s a lot in here to think about, including many simple, practical steps you can take to reduce people-pleasing in your own life.

You can read more from Jen at her site, Reach Our Dreams., or subscribe to her RSS Feed here. I encourage you to soak up Jen’s positive energy and let it enrich your life.

Tara: You describe yourself as a recovering people-pleaser, which is an issue so many people struggle with. Can you tell us a little bit about how people-pleasing affected you and how you came to recover?

Jen: When I am in ‘people pleaser’ mode I worry too much about other people and what they think … “Are they ok?”  “Are they happy?” “What can I do to make them happier?” It is exhausting!

I have realized that people pleasing is often more about me than other people … What I mean by this is that I want others to be happy but more importantly I want them to be happy with me, which ultimately is about me!

I think for many of us this is a lifelong journey. What I am beginning to see is that I have to learn to know myself and what makes me happy and be able to take care of those needs. The more we can do that, the more conversely that we can be there for other people. This isn’t about being selfish, but about being true to ourselves and knowing what works for us and what doesn’t work for us.

Another thing to mention is that it is about letting go of control. It doesn’t mean anything about me if someone else isn’t happy, and it can be draining for others to feel like your happiness depends on them being happy!

Tara: Your point that people pleasing is really about us – not the other people, is so important. That in fact, as you say, it can be draining for those around us to sense that our happiness depends on theirs.

What do you see when you are working with people-pleasers in your coaching practice, and what strategies do you use to help people-pleasers recover?

Jen: I think when you are a people pleaser you know what you are doing on some level or see the pattern when it’s pointed out. I know for myself, people-pleasing was something I was acutely aware of. I knew something was off when I was in that mode, in comparison to genuinely helping people.

One strategy I use is to ask people to start catching themselves when they notice they are people-pleasing, and to implement a new behavior. Learning to say no, being authentic and listening to your intuition are all powerful strategies that make a real difference.

Tara: Yes, about “learning to say no” – can you say more about that? You’ve written about developing your “no” muscle and the surprising results.

Jen: If you are not used to saying no to requests, start with small things and build your confidence up with doing it. That is what I have done and it has helped me realize that it’s not as hard as I used to think it was.

There is a skill to saying no and leaving others feeling good too. For example, I recently said no to a request for my time, but genuinely thought the idea was great. I was honest about why I couldn’t do the request but also made sure I let the other person know that I thought it was a great idea too… Being honest and sensitive at the same time has helped me a lot in this area.

Another thing to mention is the trap of “over-explaining” why you are saying no. This can leave both yourself and the asker uncomfortable. Take the time to get comfortable yourself and why you are saying no first, before you respond. When you have decided to say no, be confident in your decision.

A final tip is if you feel ‘put on the spot’ explain to the other person that you need some time to think about their request and that you will get back to them. I often do that and it helps me take the time to decide what to do. It helps me not agree to things straight away because I didn’t know how to say no in the moment.

Tara: Got it. That idea of really getting comfortable with myself first – why I’m saying no – is such a powerful one. I love these other great tips too: taking time to consider something, watching out for over-explaining, being sensitive and kind while saying now. So simple, but we forget that we have them at our disposal.

In your blog you wrote, “others respect your boundaries when you respect your boundaries.”  Can you tell us more about that?

Jen: Great question. I think this relates closely to what I said about saying ‘no’. I used to worry so much about saying no (for example.) I would put the other person’s feelings ahead of my own. I am seeing these days that that helps no-one. Eventually you feel burnt out or resentful or your feelings come out in another way.

Taking the time to know what’s right for yourself helps you be clear. You can then be clear with others. With regards to my quote, I think we do teach others how to treat us. To explain a little more, if we respect ourselves and are clear about our own boundaries, we let others know where they stand and we don’t give mixed signals. They know we respect ourselves and our time and that we expect others to do the same.

Tara: Last but not least, one thing I’m enjoying right now is making up “rules” for living. So, what are the three “rules for living” would you like to share with readers here?


1. Be yourself.

2. Trust yourself. Listen to your intuition.

3. Enjoy life and make the most of each day.

Jen is a Life Coach and Personal Development blogger who can be found at Reach Our Dreams. You can connect with Jen on Twitter @reachourdreams or if you liked this article then why not subscribe to her RSS Feed?


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When you are motivated by fear,

you move through life propelled by what you don’t want.

Fear of not having a job. Fear of being fat. Fear of being rejected.

You spend as much time in worry as in action.

You’ve sentenced yourself to rains of unpleasant fear-thinking.

Your consciousness is centered in what you don’t want.

You hold the thing you don’t want inside of you everywhere you go.

You hold the thing you are afraid of inside of you, in your awareness, in your body.

So are you surprised that you’ve come to feel even more afraid?

When you are motivated by purpose, by a dream,

you move through life propelled by the possibility

of what could be, and your love for that.

Love flows through you like a river,

soul-leading, soul-leanings.

Something living inside you wants to radiate outwards

and you put your tools—mind, hands and words

in service of that.

That’s what life and action and doing were meant to be.

What are you using your tools for?

Are the tools running the show?

When you are motivated by purpose, by a dream,

you are moving the world forward.

You become one with everything and everyone that creates.

Life hums. Life vibrates.

You look back from here at moving out of fear

and it looks so small, the land of the scurrying mouse,

the land of frantic self-protection.

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Today I’m writing about Getting Unstuck, as part of a collaboration with three remarkable bloggers who are also exploring this theme in their posts today.

I’m delighted to be a part of this collaboration, and am so thankful to Gail at A Flourishing Life for conceiving of it and making it happen.

Here are the links to their posts about Getting Unstuck. I encourage you to visit their sites and drink up their wisdom:

As an aside, I must say: just look at these women’s faces. Until we are seeing faces like these in Congress and at the helms of corporations and reading us the evening news, I  don’t want anyone to lecture me about what is and isn’t possible for our world.

And here’s my reflection about getting unstuck.




It’s 10:44 a.m. and I’m sitting cross-legged, in a silent, glass-enclosed room. I’m looking out on the bay in a city I’ve never been to before. A baby squirrel is rolling around on a dirt path in front of me.

This is the last place I expected to be this morning.

Today started out as a regular work day. I had plans to write an article and coach clients from downtown San Francisco.

But something else happened.

Around 9am, my husband and I decided to squeeze in a quick run to the coffee place in the hour we had before our respective meetings got started. We joked around a lot. We laughed about a particularly hilarious abuse of grammar we had overheard that morning, about the fact that I misplaced my cell phone and found it buried deep under the covers in our bed. We laughed about something that we squabbled over a couple hours earlier.

Slowly it came over me: we were being graced with one of those perfect, casual laughing times together, one of those exquisite intervals of connection that you can’t force or plan, but that makes life feel so rich and comforting and sparkling when it arrives. I was turning from a rushed, somewhat resentful-at-my-day stress-knot to a heap of happy, caffeinated giggles.

As our little window of time came to a close, I thought, I really don’t want this to end. I want to keep going. In fact, I want to get in the car and schlep with him to his meeting so that we can continue this connection for another half an hour.

But I can’t, because…that’s silly. I have to work. I have so much that I have to get done today.

Then the miracle happened. Instead of taking the well-worn path of thinking, “Oh, I’d love for this to continue but now I have to go to work and so do you….Oh bummer, oh only if….” something else happened.

My mind took the other path. My mind said:

I really want this to continue.

Maybe that desire is important.

Life is short.

Can we work this?

It felt rebellious to consider the possibility of changing my plans spontaneously and in order to take a car ride with my husband.  I heard the fearful, chattering voice in my head rattle off a series of worried questions:

“Is it okay to chuck your plans and follow your husband to a meeting?”

Can people do things like this on a Thursday?”

The internal answer to that was something along the lines of, “who cares?”

“Could this create any kind of disaster?”

I thought about it; it seemed not.

“Am I still an independent, high-powered professional woman if I give up a productive morning to drive over a bridge with my husband?”

The answer came back, “Yes. You can have both.”

Yes, I was going with him.

Here I am, writing this while he’s in his meeting, feeling incredibly nurtured and over the moon happy. I got the time with him. And, due to the surprising location of his meeting and a cancellation from my first client, this has led to me writing in a gorgeous, glass room overlooking blue. It’s as if life was trying to show me that yes, it is a really good idea to listen to myself.

Out of the Box

Why should you care? Because this is not a post about changing one’s work schedule or about spending time with the people we love. It’s about getting out of our little boxes. It’s about getting free from the little rules that keep us stuck.

We’re all living with hundreds, if not thousands of these little, barely conscious rules: what it’s okay to do on a weekday and what can only happen on a weekend. About what it’s okay to say….or do…or buy…or wear…or eat. About how to talk to whom.  About when to do what.

The little rules, and the boxes they put us in, keep us stuck.

I got out of a few boxes today. I got out of one that says I have to follow the daily schedule as laid out for me. I got out of one that says when you have a longing to play hookie, you have to override it and push through, rather than see how you can honor that longing. I got out of a box that said ambitious professional women can’t change work plans impulsively to see a loved one’s smile for few extra minutes.

Open Top Boxes

In a 1970’s psychology experiment, dogs were caged and given unpleasant electric shocks. Some dogs could stop the shocks by pressing a lever. Some could not. In the second part of the experiment, the dogs were again given shocks, but this time, there was no lid on the cage. The dogs could escape the shocks quite easily. Here’s the kicker: dogs who could not control the shocks in round one didn’t even try to escape the pain in round two. They laid down and whimpered. They suffered instead of leaving.

Many versions of the experiment have been repeated with humans (without shocks of course, but with other unpleasant circumstances), and they show the same result – if we’ve learned from a previous situation that we are powerless to change our circumstances, we’ll later believe we are powerless victims in similar situations, even when we do have the power to change those situations. We actually develop a delusional point of view. We believe we are in a cage when we are not. We stay stuck in open top boxes.

In my case, I’d learned throughout my childhood, like most of us did, that I had to pull it together and go to school, no matter what my inner self longed for. That of course got repeated in jobs where I had to show up for work every day, no matter what. I have a lot more flexibility in my current situation, but I didn’t really see it, because of what I had been conditioned to in the past. Then, today, I saw this box had an open top.

Look for Your Have-To’s

Start looking for the “have-to’s” you carry around in your life. Good places to look are situations in which you find yourself complaining, resenting, feeling yourself a victim. Look for situations where you feel as if some sort of police-brigade (the indulgence-police, the slacker-police, the conformity-police) are going to come and get you if… Look for places where a barely detectable, happy voice in you asks with wonder, “Can I really do that?” Probably there’s a box there. Probably it has an open top.

Most likely, once upon a time, you were in a cage in these areas. There was no other way. There was no other way but this in your family. There was no other way but this if you wanted to fit in. Or, there was simply no other way you could see, or that you knew how to pursue.

Check it out. Is that still the case? Where do you have more choice and agency than you think? Where can you create new circumstances? Where can you can ask for something different? Where can you negotiate? Where can you now say no?

After my own experience today, I’m surprised by the big power of breaking the little rules. It’s our little rules, about how we need to show up in the mundane moments of everyday life, that determine so much the quality of our lives.

Start to notice: What are your little rules? Where do you hear “have-to’s rumbling around in your brain day to day?

And which of your own little rules are you willing to break today?



Don’t forget to go check out the other “Getting Unstuck” posts

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