How he prioritized himself, and ease followed


A while back, a gentleman came to me for coaching whom we’ll call Bill. Bill had been having panic attacks and was so overwhelmed, he didn’t know what to do. No matter how many hours he worked, it didn’t make a difference in his “to-do” list. There was always more and more to do, and it was causing him a lot of anxiety.

As we talked, I saw that Bill had lost his focus. I told him that unless he put himself as the top priority, nothing else would get done in a satisfactory way.

What does it mean to make ourselves the top priority?


For Bill, one aspect of making himself a priority is that in the morning he does whatever he feels called to do, in order to center himself that particular day.

The morning practice that we decided on for him consists of meditation, exercise, and reading, and he emphasizes one or another of these on a given morning to match what feels is most needed.

Once he feels centered, he can look at his “to-do” list and choose to do the three most impactful items, and only those three items. The rest? He let’s them go, crosses them off or delegates them.

Just by doing those simple things to prioritize himself over everything else, Bill has doubled and then tripled his income and began ending his work day two hours earlier. He is now on the elliptical machine about 45 minutes a day and meditating daily, as well. The panic attacks and anxiety have eased off considerably.

Have you lost sight of yourself? What small change can you make when you wake up tomorrow to shift some attention back onto what’s most important—meaning you?

I want to support you in prioritizing the most important person in your life. YOU.

AAA Method to Refocus and Recharge Your Life


How many things do you have to do today, this week, this month? If you’re like most people, your life is filled with lots of tasks, and often not much else. That can lead to a feeling of exhaustion and stress.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

It is a lot easier for most people to “do” than to “be.” Sometimes we are even proud of the lengths of our “to-do” lists, when not frustrated by them.

At the end of the day, though, we are always left with more to do, and the cycle goes on and on.

People usually do not stop to ask, “What do I need?” and “What can I do right now that will re-charge and fulfill me?”

Because then we might think of ourselves as selfish. To counteract that, you start giving to others as another form of doing. But where are you giving from? From fullness, or from depletion?

Your ability to give and to accomplish your goals will multiply, once you begin focusing more on yourself – on being instead of doing.

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Here’s a little formula you can use, which I call the “AAA Formula”:

  1. Awareness: Stop and be willing and able to look at yourself.
  2. Acceptance: Accept whatever comes to the surface when you look at yourself.
  3. Action: Then—and do this only after awareness and acceptance—take inspired action, which will take you toward what you want to create.

Who are better communicators, women or men?


While gender differences have been widely researched and certain behavioral differences observed and labeled in our society, it is not appropriate to stereotype.

The differences between each individual are far more significant than the gender-based differences. This difference between individuals applies to the capability for communication, as well.

The truth is we all need to acquire good communication skills to connect, lead, persuade — and simply to get along! Since relationships of all kinds are absolutely essential for well-being and success, we need to keep developing the ability to relate and connect constantly.

Authentic and compassionate dialogue with ourselves and others can be challenging at times.

Here is an assessment that you can take to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses during your communication process.

Based on your insights gained from taking the assessment, what is one thing (maybe even two things) you can do differently the next time you have a conversation with someone?

And I thought my dishes will be washed…


“If you have time, try to wash the pots in the sink,” said the mother as she walked out the door to go to her office. Her teenage son, head down concentrating on the cell phone, grunted in reply, “Uh-huh.” To the mother’s dismay, the pots remained untouched when she returned home that evening. The son, when confronted by his frustrated mother, excused his lack of action with the explanation, “You said ‘if I had time,’ and I was at the mall all day.”

Yes, it is funny, but if it happens to you, not so funny, right?

At times, do you feel that you are not heard or seen?
Do your efforts not seem to lead to the returns you expected?

Misunderstandings similar to the one described above arise at work, in schools, on the playground, and at home creating conflicts, resentment, and disconnection.

Communication issues are the number one reason for relationship problems. They can get in the way of people connecting at a meaningful level.

And after all, isn’t it the relationships we have that help determine whether we feel happy or miserable?

Effective communication skills are vital for us to live a fulfilling life.

But despite the importance of communicating effectively, communication skills are very misunderstood, and one of the most challenging skills to successfully use.

So, if you want to build strong, meaningful, and more enjoyable long-term relationships with your family, friends, and colleagues…

If you want to succeed in your business life…

If you want to be more appreciated and influential…

Then you need to be able to COMMUNICATE effectively.

And communication is not all about using words.

According to studies, your words contribute only 7% to the effectiveness of your message. Your voice–how you sound when you’re speaking–contributes 38% to the effectiveness of your message. Body language, which is what you do and how you look when speaking, contributes the remaining 55% to the effectiveness of your message. Your own state of mind when communicating is of vital importance.

What if, when speaking to her son about washing dishes, the mother had said, “I need you to wash these pots so I can cook tonight. When can you get to these, at latest by 5:00 this evening?” The verbal response, and the actions, would have had more meaning and avoided what, in reality, was a mutual frustration.

When a child (or significant other or colleague at work) evades being response-able, they are weakened and allowed to avoid, while you of course feel frustrated. And when communication does work, everyone feels empowered. Effective communication can make a big difference in your daily life.

This is not how I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day.


Chocolates, cards, roses… Will you be my Valentine?

When I was in high school, I found a book by Leo Buscaglia entitled “LOVE”—at the time it was quite popular. As I read the book something was stirred up in me. As a matter of fact, I brought the book with me from Turkey when I moved to the United States! Since then I have been studying love so that I could expand in it and with it.

So, what is love? It can be:

  1.  An emotion
  2.  An action
  3.  A state of being
  4.  An ability
  5.  A connection

Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks used 7 words to define the different states or kinds of love:

Storge: natural affection, the love you share with your family
Philia: the love that you have for friends
Eros: sexual and erotic desire kind of love (positive or negative)
Agape: this is the unconditional love, or divine love
Ludus: this is playful love, like childish love or flirting
Pragma: long standing love
Philautia: the love of the self (negative or positive)

A lot of choices, right? Which one do we mean when we say “love”?

To me love is happening when I feel that warm presence of being connected to myself so that I can be connected to someone else, and to life itself. It is when all worries, fears, and lack are lifted and I am present and open to the moment. Love is an emotion and connection in action creating the “awe” of life. It is all inclusive. It is a practice, not something we find or not find; it is our essence.

Then my question is: if someone is single and not in a relationship or experiencing romance, are they out of luck on Valentine’s Day? Is love inclusive of everyone or is it exclusive for select few?

With world population well over seven billion, it seems strange to think that anyone could be lonely. The Internet and cell phones are everywhere, but in the midst of all of this community, many of us still find ourselves alone. Our lives are crowded with people but what we really need and crave is intimacy—the certain knowledge that someone is familiar with us, that someone knows who we are and cares about what happens to us.

Loneliness, at its core, is a feeling of disconnection, a feeling that nobody loves us. All of us want to be loved. So this Valentine may I invite you to extend your love to all of life including yourself. Making this kind of love our prevailing desire will make us live in our highest potential and optimize everything from health to fulfillment and wisdom.

I plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day like this. Will you join me?

How I clean bathrooms and beyond…


“Do you need gloves? Gather all your cleaning supplies. Make sure you squirt the soft scrub in the toilet and let it sit while…” I was getting the instructions on how to clean the bathrooms while I was attending the four-day silent retreat last week.

Is there any household cleaning chore more dreaded than tackling a dirty bathroom?

I remembered telling my mom that if I ever had to do that chore I would work to make money to pay someone to do it for me. How I have changed!

Now, after years of practice, I can perceive cleaning toilet bowls as a meditative practice. That is, since I started to think of cleaning as a practice in loving, caring, and making a difference.

When we shift from negatively complaining to positively affirming, conditions change. Then complaining is no longer the operative law in our life-freedom is.
– Michael Bernard Beckwith

How can we apply this understanding to our everyday life for the things we perceive as boring, dirty, and unpleasant? This might be preparing Excel spreadsheets, gathering data from all over, drilling a hole, dealing with co-workers; whatever you dread. Can you change the meaning you give to the dreaded task and see if your emotions towards that task will change as well?

We are so conditioned by the ideas that pour out of our TVs, radios, internet and social media – and often, our friends and family. We are conditioned by ideas that we must do certain tasks, wear a certain brand, drive a certain car, make a certain income; so conditioned that we start living in fear, worry, and lack.

May I invite you to break free from the hold of what we may have accepted until now that we should be like, and no longer consider as trendsetters those people who are simply admired and imitated without having actually accomplished anything? Let us connect to what matters to us and attend to our everyday tasks and life as practices of love, care, and making a difference.

So, where can you start?

Witness or experience the resistance, and then remind yourself to focus your attention not just on the dirt, the boredom, the discomfort, but on the beauty, the support, the difference you are making. Joy and beauty are available to you in the seemingly mundane activities that you do. Notice the gentleness here of the reorientation; it is a subtle shift in perspective. Be present in the here and now, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant the experience may be, and you can surprise yourself.

Keep in mind that our approach to physical dirt, boredom, or discomfort trains us to straightforwardly deal with non-physical dirt at every level. Maybe the tasks that are seen as stressful or exhausting can take on a new meaning. Why not give it a try?

The Secret to Your Happiness


If you check out the self-help section of Amazon or any book store, you’ll find hundreds if not thousands of titles aimed at increasing our personal happiness by losing weight, getting a better job, finding the ideal mate, taking the perfect vacation, eating the latest trendy food, or making more money.

The Secret to a Happy Life ~ Native American parable

One day the Creator gathered all the animals and said:
‘I want to hide the secret to a happy life from humans until they are ready for it.’
‘Give it to me. I’ll fly it to the moon,’ said the Eagle.
‘No, one day soon they will go there and find it.’
‘How about the bottom of the ocean?’ asked the Salmon.
‘No, they will find it there too.’
‘I will bury it in the great plains,’ said the Buffalo.
‘They will soon dig and find it there.’
‘Put it inside them,’ said the wise grandmother Mole.
‘Yes,’ said the Creator, ‘it is the last place they will look.’

The latest research on happiness suggests there are as many definitions or experiences of happiness as there are people. Finding our own brand of personal happiness is a bit like appreciating art – it’s subjective, but we know it when we see it.

Though happiness is unique to each of us, we have control over our own happiness (or unhappiness). We can measure it, control it, and learn to cultivate it. In other words, we can proactively train ourselves to feel happy.

Simply wanting to experience more happiness won’t make it so. The happiest people are the ones who take charge of their attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. “Taking charge” is being able to align your thoughts and actions with core values, the result being serving the higher good of oneself and others.

Finding the secret to your own experience of happiness doesn’t require a trip to the moon, a submarine ride to the bottom of the ocean or digging it up on the lonely prairie—it lives within.

My theme for this year — and what is yours?


This new year, may you have the courage to go after your dreams, as well as allowing yourself to receive all the good that life has to offer.

Last week I started sharing with you the rituals I do to make my year the best year possible. I hope that you have reflected on the past year to gain clarity to plan for 2018.

The other ritual I do at the beginning of the year that you might also do is picking a theme or a word that will help me get to the next level of expansion, personally and professionally.

Having a word, phrase or theme helps me steer in the right direction by asking myself whether my thinking and actions today are taking me closer or farther away from my theme. The word or theme holds the essence of my intention.

I invite you to choose a word or a theme that will inspire you this year as well. Start by making a word list.

What are all the things you want to do, be, or have in this next chapter of your life?

How do you want to feel?

What word makes your heart open?

Simply list out everything that comes to mind. Take your time with this, and don’t leave anything out. No filtering or judgment, just write it down.

Keep feeling the words and looking at the essence, then you will be able to choose your word. Pick the one word or short phrase with which you resonate the most.

Do you want to know my word this year?

It is: ACTION.

My sweetheart asked me for more detail on why I am choosing this word, since I have contemplated choosing others as well. I am choosing this word because this year I want to feel movement and momentum. This word gives me that feeling of movement and momentum, and it is what my intuition says will add the most to my life right now after investing much time and effort into self-understanding as well as researching principles of making a better life. So it is time to take more action!

When choosing YOUR word, connect to yourself and check with your body how the word feels for you. Don’t make a choice just because the word sounds good; make a choice because the word inspires you and points the way to move forward.

So, what is your word? You can enjoy not taking the first one that occurs to you, but giving it some reflection, and then choose after considering a number of options and meanings.

Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best


“Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” – The Four Agreements

This is the last agreement and applies to all the other three, which are:

At times it can be difficult to keep the above agreements but if you just do your best, there is no room to judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment.

What does “do your best” mean? That is the heart of it, and here is my answer to that question: be inspired, care about yourself and others, focus, feel joy and sadness, express yourself, and keep to your way!

At those times when you feel excitement, when you are in love, when you are deeply engaged in trying to accomplish a mission you believe in—in all those moments and periods, you do your best. And there is no judging during those times of inspiration.

Only when we drift into an uninspired state of mind, disconnected, skeptical, wondering, do we give time to excessive self-doubt and self-criticism. So finding true inspiration in each moment is key for the fourth agreement: “Always do your best.”

One other important observation is that doing your best does not mean things such as spending the most money possible on a party or a gift, drinking the most alcohol, exercising until you drop, working the greatest number of hours humanly possible, or similar excesses. Those excesses will all lead to an imbalance and if pursued over time can threaten mental and physical health.

But instead, when we are in the right “zone,” we feel connected and nourished by ourselves and those around us; we work with others towards a common goal and share the load; we pursue our own goals with joy and also take breaks to rest and to be with people who are important to us.

I am aware of the fourth agreement as I go through my days, as I consider the following: am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? What priority in choice of words or actions will lead to the best result I can achieve? Hopefully, that awareness and effort is keeping me on a path that will be best for myself and for others.

So when your expectations of yourself and others may be too high, and your perfectionistic tendencies increase out of control, or when you want to push yourself harder to get things done, or when you want to quit and do nothing, at those times stop and ask yourself if you are truly doing your best—then relax your mind, take a few comfortable deeper breaths, and get inspired.

Third agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions


“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” – The Four Agreements

“What do you mean, you don’t want my pumpkin pie??” (see below!)

It is very easy to fall into making assumptions. I believe as the change in our communication is happening more rapidly through technology the third agreement, “Don’t make assumptions”, will get harder and harder to implement. Today’s very rapid pace of communication through technology is decreasing the interaction between people and making people instead interact with their own thoughts, so the conversations end up being one-sided. You speaking with you!

When was the last time you looked at Facebook or Instagram and assumed from the pictures there that person was having the time of her/his life, while not knowing their reality?

And have you ever received a text message and thought you knew exactly what it was saying, only to find out that the sender’s intention was quite different?

We are thinking and thinking… What is she doing? What is he doing? What about this? What if?… Every human can think a lot and this may cause worry, fear, and anxiety. From there, we start to create the assumptions and the drama yet we don’t always know where it started.

Yes, we often can assume a lot of information based on our own interpretations, beliefs, moods, or values.

A client of mine was working on managing his relationship with food, but was faced with his mother having given him a “CARE package” after Thanksgiving, with a complete pumpkin pie being the main event along with many other goodies. We had a heartfelt discussion of what food means to my client – and his perception of what it might mean to his mother.

He was afraid to tell her that he would rather not have such a large amount of food all at once, because he thought his mother would feel deeply hurt and not loved.

After looking at the situation together, my client and I agreed he would be open and have a heart-to-heart discussion with his mother. He understood that speaking clearly and openly, instead of making assumptions, would lead to a better result and a closer relationship.

In this and many other life situations, imagine instead of just being in your head, speaking openly and looking and gaining for mutual clarification while getting what you really need. How freeing that is!

Perhaps at times initiating such open conversations may not feel safe but I assure you, you can start with small steps, and you will see how this can transform your life. Here are some suggestions that can help:

  • Find out more information about the situation
  • Don’t expect anyone to read your mind
  • Know that you are also not a mind reader
  • Communicate clearly, openly, and honestly
  • Ask for what you want and need

During your interactions with people this holiday season, be aware of your own thinking. You can truly enjoy not making assumptions, and you will experience the positive results that you create. Of course this principle is not only for the holidays; it applies to your whole life. Honest and open relationships are what make our lives meaningful, and filled with love.

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