Archives for posts with tag: meaning

Day 9 – Thanksgiving Thankfulness – Voice: Voice is one of the most powerful tools we have to communicate our thoughts and feelings, individually and collectively, internally and externally. Voice transcends vocal chords and written word – it is the unmistakable spirit that inspires and empowers us to take stands against injustice, spread new ideas, forge deeper bonds, pass on generational traditions and create a community of oneness. All it takes is an act of kindness, a nonviolent protest, a reassuring hug – no doubt your message, your intention, your voice, will be clear as can be. Amazingly, through technology, your and my voice have gained spread and meaning. Our voices can be shared amongst an entire global community to help provide support, information and understanding. To quote Sheryl Sandberg in her HBS Class of 2012 speech: “… Now ordinary people have voice… Anyone with access to Facebook, to Twitter or a mobile phone. This is disrupting traditional power structures and leveling traditional hierarchy. Voice and power are shifting from institutions to individuals.” At first, I was set on finding my perfect pitch. Now, I realize that my voice will continue to morph over time as my belief system, authentic Self and circumstances change. Thank you. Xx

si·lence
complete absence of sound.
 
Sometimes we have to do the thing that seems the least intuitive to get what we want.  We have a problem to solve, a missing link to find, a solution to figure out, an idea to generate, so we sleep less, eat worse, think more.  We don’t even bother to consider their opposites.  What we need to realize is that doing these things can hurt, not help in the creative process.
 
The mind needs a break.  The mind needs time to synthesize, understand and derive meaning from the constant stream of incoming data and information we receive.  This is why deep sleep is so crucial for us to get every night.  Sleep is restorative.  It is the way our mind replenishes itself and gives us new insights.
 
For me, I needed that break the past week or so.  Hints of guilt cropped up every now and then because I felt neglectful of those duties of which I thought I should be taking care.  However, I also knew that the silence, the distraction, the break was necessary.  The silence served a purpose.
 
Scientists have shown that creativity (e.g. idea generation, problem-solving, etc.) is conducted in stages.  I don’t outline all of them here but will give you the gist.  The initial phase includes collecting various data inputs.  The next phase involves organizing the data into meaningful information.  Most of us try to continue pushing through these stages into actualization – finding the missing link, figuring out the solution, seeing the pattern, etc.  While sheer will can provide the means to the end, an easier more creative approach is silence. 
 
Oftentimes, breakthroughs come in visions or dreams.  Or else, in the most random moments, while brushing our teeth or going grocery shopping, we get struck with that AH-HA! moment.  Our mind is at rest.  We aren’t trying to figure anything out.  Instead, we are allowing the things we have been feeding our conscious mind sink into the subconscious where our inputs mix and mingle with memories, associations, intuition and much more fabulosity to get you exactly what you need.  Then, the subconscious will instruct the conscious on how to proceed.  Et voila.  Ideas, breakthroughs, dreams, solutions come bursting forth. 
 
Below are a few ways that I have learned to embrace the silence in hopes to make it work for me, not against me:
 
Let Go Of Guilt
Oftentimes, weeks will go by where I am in full-blown execution mode filled with agendas, plans, tactics, calls, lists, to-dos.  In order to go silent, I drop them all, making me feel like I am not being ‘productive.’  In my opinion, this is the biggest myth of all time.  Productivity does not always equate to doing.  Productivity includes engaging in any activity that contributes to a desired outcome – watching artistic movies to get inspired, being one with nature to soak in some good vibrations, falling into some deep sleep to get some restoration.  So, I remind myself of the importance of everything that I am doing.  When I run errands, I am freeing myself from the incessant background noise reminding me that I need to get them done.  When I sleep in, I give my subconscious permission to do its job.   When I spend quality time outside with my dog, I fill myself with gratitude and joy.  On top of this, I believe wholeheartedly that everything I do is working for me – helping me achieve my dreams (even if indirectly related to a specific goal).  
 
Make It Yours. Make It Yummy
I haven’t said this in a while, but it’s sure to always come around.  If you’re going to give yourself a break, do it right!  Absorb, soak up and revel in the wonderfulness of that deep slumber, soothing salt bath, sumptuous massage, invigorating run and sappy romantic comedy.  You gave yourself permission to take the break.  You are giving your subconscious permission to do its job.  So give yourself permission to truly be in every moment of your silence.  Enjoy it.  Appreciate it.  Feel the yumminess.  Don’t muddy it up with interference.  Otherwise, you will only be creating opposition in your body and mind, which is the opposite of your intention and desired outcome. 
 
Stop Willing. Start Wanting.
There is absolutely no formula or equation that tells you how long of a break you need.  Some need to return from a break because we have deadlines, bosses and milestones.  So, we don’t always have the luxury to take as much time as we may want or think we need.  Nonetheless, try to take as much time as you can.  You want to give your thoughts a really good soak in your subconscious.  If you don’t have to, don’t force yourself to return to the brain hammering because you think you should.  Should is another form of opposition.  If you can, wait for the moment to come to you – for the feeling of wanting to return, for the feeling of inspiration that motivates you back into your problem-solving, analytical mode to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  Don’t worry.  That moment will come, and it doesn’t have to require the use of will 😉 (at least not all of the time!)  It’s just so much more yummy when you are ready, willing and able to rev things back up. 
 
We live in the kind of times where we feel pushed and pulled in so many directions.  We don’t ever think we have enough time to do everything, let alone time to take a break.  Yet, sometimes that break is exactly what we need in order to help us get everything done.  It provides the restorative energy that helps calm the mind, soothe the soul and bestow us with the kind of perspective, clarity and wisdom needed to make life feel yummy again.
 
TAKE A BREAK.
 
With Love,
theDesignLife
storytelling

conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment.

 
In Daniel Pink’s new book, “To Sell Is Human,” he explains that selling is ubiquitous – everyone is becoming a salesperson, and (almost) gone are the stereotypes of the slick car salesman and Willy Loman.  Individuals and businesses alike are persuading and negotiating everything from movements (think theDesignLife) to ideas (think theDesignLife) to brands (think theDesignLife) 😉  Moms are selling a yummy nutritious breakfast to their 5-year olds who only want to eat sugary and sweet while CEOs are selling a great new disruptive service to their consumer markets who are tied to the old way of doing things. 
 
I am a salesperson.  Every time I meet someone I like, have an interview, coordinate a get together or write a blog entry, I inevitably incorporate an element of salesiness into my pitch.  I want you to buy me – get me – like me – understand me – hire me – believe in me – support me.  I could muddy this with the details, but overall, they all wrap up into one in the same.  I’m selling you ME.  It’s 100% au-natur-el, too.  Our brains are still largely wired and influenced by our old, or reptilian, brain.  This small but powerful section dictates that acceptance within our social group will give us a competitive advantage while playing survival-of-the-fittest.  We are programmed to seek out love and acceptance every which way we turn because we are being told to do so!  The alternative is a too grim reaper.  Eeek.
 
For me, selling feels most prominent and recognized when I am interviewing for jobs, most specifically new types of jobs that don’t fall within the boundaries of my old jobs.  At this point, it is necessary for me to create a magnificent rainbow-colored bridge of analogies that will deliver my interviewers to the light – large-scale technology implementations and public relations are really the same, and therefore, I have the perfect skill set to work in public relations.  Hire ME!  
 
In order to craft this rainbow-colored bridge, I have realized that I must become a better storyteller.  Bullet points are great for email summaries, but a good story can be quite awesome for creating emotional connections, imprinting memories and starting a new relationship.  Below are some of my story-telling build-a-bridge techniques:
 
Become A Great Listener
I have to become familiar with my customer.  Who are they?  How do they understand the world?  What are their needs?  In the end, I am trying to determine if I can meet their needs, but the only way I can do that is by asking and listening.  Even in interviews, where it’s oftentimes assumed that the interviewer should be doing all the listening, I find that it’s much more beneficial to be equal parts listening and talking – you are discovering, investigating and creating a dance-of-the-dialogue.  Take note of his/her lexicon, meanings, contexts, symbols.  You will want to either mirror or make parallels to them to create a shared understanding.  When I worked in Consulting, I would have to redefine words and acronyms constantly because they would be used differently at each client.  Remember that shared understanding creates shared meaning.
 
Find Fundamentals
A lot of times, the fundamentals get fuzzy.  The details of the specifics take you further away from the essence of what you do and who you are.  For instance, we take 500-question assessments to determine our work styles, yet, as someone I read put it – we are a combination of thinker, manager and/or doer.  When we talk in these simple and straightforward terms, it’s easy to find the common ground or gaps.  Similarly, despite differences in industries, business practices and job titles, there are similarities among approaches, methodologies and processes used to solve problems, structure projects, execute tasks and produce outputs.  If you can find the fundamentals, it will be easier to bridge the gaps.
 
Make Parallels
From here, you have a good basis to start making the bridge.  Equipped with a shared set of tools – words, meanings and context – you can figure out how well what you have to offer can meet your customer’s needs.  At the very least, you will also have a better understanding of how things will fit together.  When you can illustrate a picture with shapes and colors that the other person can recognize, it becomes that much easier to start making the parallels. 
 
Like any good salesperson, you want to know and understand your customer’s needs and wants in order to tailor your perfect pitch.  At its essence, you need to be able to communicate effectively by finding common ground through a shared story. 
 
BUILD RAINBOW-COLORED BRIDGES.
 
With Love,
theDesignLife
fear

(n) an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat; (v) be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.

 
We live life being protected.  We are protected from the threat of guns, germs and steel, as well as the danger of our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  The macrocosm of societies have long equipped themselves with arms and weapons to defend against the real or perceived threat of neighboring invaders while the microcosm of Self was born with innate responses to fight, flee or freeze to protect itself from social and animal predators. 
 
Freed from the threats of sabre-tooth tigers and cave men with clubs, we now face different kinds of fears.  Mostly, we come face-to-face with our own internal fears surrounding rejection, abandonment, isolation and all of the other internal mechanisms we employ to protect us from humiliation, shame and guilt. 
 
Fear definitely holds value and plays a well-respected role, but there is also an appropriate time and place for its expression.  When fear is what is beating you up, being the voice of your inner critic or expressing itself as your shadow and is blocking your potential for further self-expression, then it needs to be confronted. 
 
The biggest realization we need to make is that the fears we have are ours alone – we created them, we carry them, we manifest them.  Fear is our own defensive play in the game called, Life.  The best part about this is that if we create our own fears, then we can also control them.  Don’t believe that fears, just like our shadows, insecurities or inner critics, will ever be eradicated.  They are part of us, so need to be recognized as such.  The most effective way to confront our fears is not to shun them but to accept them and put them aside. 
 
Over the past several years, I have explored some of my deepest and darkest places, forcing me to confront as many aspects about myself that I can find, including my fears.  Today, I try to muster every ounce of courage I have to overcome the fears that are holding me back.  When I come across a recognized fear, I ask myself two big questions before I figure out how to proceed:
 
What’s The Worst Case Scenario?
The best part about this question is that it usually provides an answer that isn’t nearly as scary or daunting as thought prior to asking this question.  Most recently, I questioned whether or not to even share my personal thoughts on this blog, then share it with those in my personal and professional network.  I wondered how others would perceive me; I became frightened that too much of myself would become exposed; I assumed everyone would become a critic of my grammar and composition, etc.  However, when I took several steps back, I re-examined my objectives and intentions against the worst case scenario.  My primary objective has been to write my story because I love writing.  The secondary objective has been to share my story with those who might be able to learn from, gain understanding through or just relate to my soul-searching journey.  The worst case scenarios were people rejecting my story, hating my writing or ignoring my blog altogether.  And I was ok with that.  So long as there was a part of this process that was just for me, I would be ok… Now, with a handful of followers and some blog post likes, I’m even better 🙂  Thank you, readers, for your support and encouragement – you have made my worst case scenario turn into my best case scenario!   
 
Am I Hurting Myself or Anyone Else?
This is a hard question to answer sometimes because harm can be manifested in many guises – actions, words, intentions and thoughts even.  As I am starting to write a book about part of my life, I come across this question often because there are others who I will write about in the context of my life.  Sometimes, the roles they played aren’t always portrayed in the best light, and since I don’t want to hurt them, I need to figure out better ways to show how they helped to shape me and my life.  I do believe that there is a fine line to be walked in these circumstances, and for me, I am letting my heart be my judge.  Ultimately, so long as when I want to do or say isn’t going to endanger someone, I’m good with it. 
 
Fear can be elusive.  It seems to slip its way into our lives in many sizes and shapes.  At the root of seemingly innocuous hesitations, postponements, deferrals and projections is a fear that forms a barrier between us and the life we want to lead.  Like my Vision Board says:
 

If you don’t try, fear wins.

 
DON’T LET FEAR WIN.
 
With Love
theDesignLife
 
 
 
sa·cred

regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual.

 
I am in the middle of reading the book, ‘Anam Cara,’ meaning ‘Soul Friend.’  It is a book about Celtic culture, tradition and wisdom regarding life.  It examines the concept of the anam cara and how it is manifested in love, friendship, ourselves, old age and death. 
 
What strikes me the most is how Celtic tradition so easily integrated the anam cara into its heart and mind, almost as if the term ‘anam cara’ didn’t have to exist because it was a quality passed down through each generation as part of their collective unconscious.  The anam cara was a state of being, not doing. 
 
The anam cara not only flowed within the individual but also among the community to create a sense of unity, belonging and understanding.  The meaning is most definitely infused with divinity, grace and God, and you can think of it in these terms or in terms of compassion and love.  Either way, the anam cara was sacred to the point that rituals, prayers and even greetings recognized this in their expression.  For instance:
 

Regularly throughout the conversation in Gaelic, there is explicit recognition that the divine is present in others.  This presence is also recognized and embodied in old sayings such as, ‘the hand of the stranger is the hand of God.’

 
I am still making my way through the initial chapters, but the message has captivated me and is forcing me to rethink the way I view the world – the people in my life, the beauty that surrounds me, my environment, myself. 
 
It also made me recall memories from when I was working in Latin America.  Whether I was working in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia or Puerto Rico, everyone placed such an emphasis on the greeting.  In the morning, it was customary to go around and greet everyone in the office!  Depending on the country, we exchanged two kisses (one for each cheek) or even three.  My favorite person in Mexico would walk directly toward me, look me in the eyes and say, ‘Hello, my friend.’  When I left Latin America, I lost that.  I lost some of that sense of community belonging.  Sure, office politics and gossip had their place, too, but more often than not, we acted like a big family.
 
In my mind, the anam cara and its sanctity is another way to be grateful.  It helps me to recognize and, best of all, receive the many blessings and gifts that surround me.  The anam cara is something that I want to hold softly in my hands. 
 
RECOGNIZE THE SACRED.
 
With Love,
theDesignLife
step
(n) an act or movement of putting one leg in front of the other in walking or running; (v) lift and set down one’s foot or one foot after the other in order to walk somewhere or move to a new position.
 
I have a newfound personal manifesto thanks to my vision board find: ‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the FIRST STEP.’  And, of course, symbolically, ‘FIRST STEP’ is written on the first step of the beginning of a staircase.  How perfectly poetic 🙂
 
I have lived most of my personal and professional life in terms of plans, contingencies, strategies and methodologies.   I have spent many years defining logical, step-by-step processes meant to complete tasks, produce outputs and create some final performance-related result. 
 
While processes and plans aren’t without value under certain circumstances, they aren’t always productive when it comes to taking the necessary risks to live a life by your design.  For most, dreams represent stretches and reaches into infinity.  They are reserved for fulfillment later, not now.  They promise rewards for long-term gratification.  They are for our ‘dreams,’ instead of our reality.
 
You need to realize that dreams ARE for NOW.  They are and can be manifested whenever you decide  that you want them to be fulfilled. 
 
Some of my favorite moments in life are the ones where I knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t even consider the ‘HOW.’  During college, I found a study abroad Art + Italian program being conducted in Urbino, Italy.  My friend handed me a brochure for the classes his dad was going to teach that summer, and I signed up then and there.  There was no question in my mind that I wasn’t going to do this.  Only after I signed up and sent in the initial payment did I tell my parents (I needed the rest of the money!).  Not until 6 years later did I have that kind of conviction again.  Only one day after I returned home from a one-week-turned-one-month vacation in Los Angeles, I dropped out of a Post-Baccalaureate program and ordered a car moving service.  Within the next week, I moved out to Los Angeles with no job, very shocked/unhappy/sad parents and a semi-shocked/happy/excited friend with whom I lived.  
 
This connection to my conviction is so critical at this time in my life as I am working toward achieving my dreams.  Below are some of the ways I have been able to take that first step and keep climbing:
 
WHERE: Get Clear On Where You Want To Go
No doubt that taking any first step is praise-worthy.  Life can open up some opportunistic doors when you make such a loud and powerful statement.  However, when you know in what direction you want to go, your statement becomes even louder, clearer and more powerful.  You are no longer led by life’s whims, you are leading (your) life.  When you are ready to take that first step, take one that is aligned with what you want so that you are moving in the direction of your dreams.     
 
WHAT: Don’t Overthink Your First Step
Your first step is meant to help you break the inertia and gain some momentum, so don’t get too hung up on what that first step needs to be once you figure out where you are heading.  Start a search, make contact, attend a networking event, research!  Even just creating a buzz by telling friends and family about what your intent is can be a powerful first step because they can help become connectors, buzz agents, your own personal public relations team.  By taking action, you are sending the message that you are serious about making your dreams come true.
 
HOW: Forget About How!
When we start to think about what we want, we also start to think about how we can get there.  Shortly thereafter, the doubts, questions, concerns and risks start to roll in.  While it may seem logical to validate, verify and vet, think about how you are spending your energy.  You end up focusing more on workarounds, risk mitigations and delay tactics than you do on making it happen.  The truth is that no matter how iron-clad we believe our plans and strategies are, the minute we take that first step, we are entering the unknown and what we thought gives way to what actually is.  Your success will be more dependent on your attitude, mindset and flexibility than your 100-page business plan. 
 
WHO: Find Those Who Are On The Same Path
Make it a point to create a network with those who are either on the same path as you or have arrived at the destination where you want to be.  The ensuing support structure will give you an outlet to share your experiences, lessons learned and resources.  Those who have made it to where you want to be can act as guides and teachers, offering light and wisdom. Even if your paths look different, you can gain a lot through the knowledge you share.
 
Taking first steps and forgetting about the how, I have been learning one incredible lesson after another.  The most important one among them has been to trust myself, the process and others.  When I place my trust in all of these components, I only make room for success – there is no allowance for missteps or mistakes. 
 
TAKE THE FIRST STEP.
 
With Love,
theDesignLife
hun·ger

have a strong desire or craving for.

 
My hunger strikes in 60-90 minute intervals… for food, that is!  However, these days, I am noticing a different kind of hunger… for a purposeful life.  I am craving the kind of life that strives toward my dreams.  For the first time in many years, I have been afforded the opportunity to think beyond daily, weekly and monthly.  After digging myself out of a financial grave I very well dug myself into, I now have the freedom to envision my life beyond next year.  Throughout this process, I have come face-to-face with my own angels and demons, which has allowed me to not only understand myself but also my needs and wants much more clearly.   
 
By paying my dues (literally), I finally arrived at what I believe is this sacred, fertile ground to plant the seeds for my dreams to grow.  While I felt a hunger to pay back my debt obligations, I feel an even stronger hunger to make my dreams come true.  I am taking full responsibility for every part of my life – the company I keep, the thoughts I have, the emotions I feel, the words I say.  I am letting go of the non-serving; I am making space for the new; I am changing my belief system. 
 
I am still playing in this fertile soil, and with the help of many different people, I am planting seeds.  Below are some of the techniques they have taught me to help channel my hunger in a productive way to help feed my dreams:
 
Meditate on Yummy
I know all too well that the brain works overtime to try to make all the pieces fit together perfectly.  Life can become overanalyzed and over-engineered.  The best piece of advice that I am given continually is to get out of my head with meditation.  While there are many different kinds of meditation, this version is meant to get soft within your body and prime yourself to feel yummy, then really feel it in your body.  Guide the meditation by leading in with what you want to feel yummy about – job, love, relationships, health, etc. (Swap out yummy for luscious, awesome, fantabulous… whatever works for you to make you feel goooood!) Watch or feel whatever gets conjured up in your mind or body that makes you feel yummy.  This is a great starting point to just see what bubbles up.
 
Write Down Life Outward
I understand that it can be easier to think through where you want to be over the next several years.  Your best bet will be to couple this up with your meditation – sometimes what comes up through your relaxed body and mind will be different from your strained body and mind.  Write down what you want your life to look and feel like over whatever time period you are trying to achieve your goals and dreams.  If you have immediate goals, then start with 3-months, 6-months and 1-year.  For mid-term goals, skip the 3-months and 6-months and tack on 3-years and 5-years. 
 
Create A Vision Board
This is something I am actually doing for the first time right now, and it is so much fun!  I feel like this is a place where you can let your creativity and soul soar.  If there are specific categories or buckets you want to dictate what you want to fill up on your poster board, then you can use your Life Outward list.  In addition, I am letting whatever pictures or words that speak to me be part of my collage.  Since I am focusing on very immediate goals, I am targeting my vision board to represent my life in 3-months and 6-months. 
 
Believe That Your Dreams Are Coming True
Just remember that your thoughts become reality.  If you are living a life that is thinking, saying, doing things that make you believe that you can’t do this, dreams don’t come true, it’s not happening for me…. then all of them will come true.  You must truly believe that what you are doing is helping to plant those seeds and making your dreams come true.  Take ownership of yourself – thoughts, beliefs, expressions – to help turn your disbelief into belief. 
 
My hunger is what is keeping me driven, motivated and focused.  It is my absolute desire and craving for a new kind of life and a new way to live it so that I am fulfilling my soul’s purpose.  Tap into your hunger and see what it’s saying to you
 
GET HUNGRY.
 
With Love,
theDesignLife