5 things you'll get from @LetsBlogOff

Every other Tuesday, I participate in a writing challenge called @LetsBlogOff.  A random topic is presented and a variety of bloggers present their insight. I happen to think that its process provides better bloggers and humans. Here’s why:

1) you’ll have a safe place to practice 

LBO provides a safe environment for new and established bloggers. You’re bound to get a few comments and re-tweets, which feel really good, especially when your own blog hasn’t quite got it’s groove down.

 I still remember the first comment on my first LBO post (September 7, 2010; Topic: Where’s your slice of heaven?) where Cindy Frewen Wuellner http://urbanverse.posterous.com/ welcomed me aboard. I felt so special.

2) you’ll get a sense of a genuinely caring community

Spending a couple of hours every Tuesday reading the other posts on the same topic opens your mind to new ideas for your own blog and with this insightful bunch, your bound to find yourself pondering ideas for your own life…

You’ll want to comment on their blogs…. You’ll want to see them grow… You’ll feel part of their world and genuinely happy for their success… You’ll feel a sense of community…

If you’re not getting that connection with your own blog, you’ll at least get a sense of it through this challenge. And, you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out in other communities, commenting on other blogs. You’ll be more likely to incorporate this into your blogging routine which is just as important as writing thoughtful content.

3) you’ll shake the sales-y, marketing-ish tone

While the topics might not seem productive or relevant to your own blog or business, the process of writing about random topics like obituaries and thumbtacks, makes you a better marketer. It makes you more comfortable being “you.”  You’ll be surprised how you can tie a topic to your business…. you don’t have to, but when you’re doing something you online casino love, it naturally shows itself.

4) you’ll discover your unique point of differentiation

As you start shaking the online casino corporate tone you think you should have, you find that when you write from your heart, the real you is the one that gets the most comments and encouragement from your readers. That’s what they want to hear.

That’s what expresses the only true point of differentiation that you have in this world…

That’s what will give people a chance to see if they connect with you in some way beyond the service you’re offering. Do they want to let someone like “you” into their home, their life?

5) you’ll build confidence

I think the LBO process makes you a better human being. It cultivates confidence in expressing yourself… and reaching out to others. The LBO routine, of reading and commenting on other blogs shows you how it works. It can take time to get that sense of comraderie with your own blog. Having a place to experience what it feels like to give and receive encouragement makes you more likely to continue.

For more background on LBO, read this. To check upcoming topics and start participating, go here. To read about my process and how much time LBO takes, go here.

 

 

Words to live by: Steve Jobs, Ideas, Faith

Like all things Apple, the classiest home page reaction, ever.

On the day Steve Jobs passed, I was reading Fast Company’s, “United States of Design” series which included “What Steve Jobs Can Still Teach Us” by Cliff Kuang. Reading this article made me feel for the frustration he undoubtedly felt when his ideas weren”t accepted.

Now we know that the ideas were brilliant, the market just wasn”t ready to accept online roulette them in the 80″s and 90″s.  Steve certainly didn”t know that his thoughts about usability and IPhone/IPad-type concepts would become what they did. Instead, he had to put those ideas aside, despite his passion.

What’s inspiring is that he didn’t shut down in those moments.  He was patient. He On this issue of whether or not free-credits-report.com is money, rests the foundation of monetary thought. stayed grounded. He focused on what was relevant at the moment. He kept his heart open to new ideas and possibilities.

He had faith.

As he says in his famous Stanford commencement speech,

“You have to trust in something, you have to trust that the dots will connect. Believing that they will, will give you the confidence to keep going.”

Steve had faith that life was unfolding exactly it should…not on his timeline. And when the time was right, he was richly rewarded.

There have been so many great blog tributes to Steve Jobs.  Here’s one of my favorites from Brene Brown of Ordinary Couragem who, inspired by Steve’s insight on creativity says, “When failure is not an option, neither is innovation.”  

What inspires you to keep going? 

 

 

Back to basics… in the bathtub

When I’m feeling off, as I was recently, I like talking with someone who’s in tune with being in tune with your body. So, I booked an off-the-mat appointment with my yoga teacher who is also an ayurvedic counselor.

Ayurveda is the ancient science of living… it goes hand in hand with yoga… specifically focused on getting your digestion and overall nature or way of being in balance.  What’s interesting is that the foundation of ayurveda is routine. And, I’ve been reading a lot about routine in my Nutrition (health counseling) School studies.

Our bodies crave balance and routine. The busier we are, the more downtime and structure we need…which sounds crazy and impossible…

But, the next time you’re feeling run-down, about to catch a cold, reaching for sugar or not sleeping, take that for what it is – your body telling you it’s trying its hardest to power-through everything you need it to do, it just needs a moment to catch it’s breath.

As I rambled to my teacher about feeling scattered and craving sugar, she gently suggested an oil massage and bath before bed every night.  hhhmmm…. I thought she might want to delve a little deeper into my diet. Try that, she said, and see how you feel.

I know it sounds simple… Mom’s been telling me that for years and she has no idea what ayurveda is.

For whatever reason, I was ready to hear the bath message this time. I tried it and felt better the next day. I’ve started shutting the computer down a little earlier to make time for my new evening ritual…  which of course makes me sleep better, which leaves me rested, with more energy, clarity and vitality for my day.

If a bath doesn’t work for you, try a hot towel scrub (I like this in the mornings before yoga.) Vigorously scrub your body from head to toe with a warm washcloth. Pay special attention to the tense areas like your neck, shoulders and joints. Massage them in a circular motion. This removes toxins, allows your skin to breathe, and more importantly, puts you in tune with where you feel tension.

These simple acts show your body you care and that you value it enough to do what it needs to feel better.

Walking, napping, sitting, writing, taking time to go grocery shopping are also routines and rituals that can bring us back into balance.

What works for you?

p.s.: photos are via Jennifer Brouwer Design ‘s article on “Bathroom Bliss” (beautiful ideas and practical tips!)

p.s.s.:  For more about the program  visit my web site at www.yourbestselfhlc.com (it’s a work in progress… ). And, if you’d like to help me practice my coaching skills, I’d love to give you a free one-hour consultation where we talk about your health goals and what might be preventing you from being your best self. Just leave a note below with your email or send me one at denese@thoughtfulcontent.org.

Privacy is a beautiful thing

Like art, privacy is subjective.

To me, privacy is a silent, peaceful, wide open place. It’s not noisy, loud and crowded.  Yet, it’s not necessarily an alone place. It’s where the most important relationship you’ll ever have is cultivated. It’s where you get to know your soul, where you determine what feels good to you and what form your inner world will take in the outer world.

What I think is important, is that privacy should be encouraged, right alongside the push for authenticity.  There’s nothing wrong with alone time, or letting thoughts percolate before expressing them.

Privacy is where ideas come and lessons are learned.  It’s also where you find the courage to express them gracefully, authentically, as only you can.

 

Like art, privacy is a beautiful thing.

 

Every other Tuesday, a group of bloggers respond to a writing challenge put forth by the #letsblogoff crew. It’s open to anyone and a great way to practice blogging, building relationships and expressing your unique voice. Read everyone else’s response to “What is privacy?” here.  Join us next time!

Images found on pinterest, here and here.

 

Kelley Moore & Lisa Thiele’s 30 Day Challenge

Even when you’re bombarded with good-ness in your life… opportunities are coming left and right and dreams are coming true (all typically a by-product of following your heart)…it’s easy to let the most important thing slip – your health.  You’re just too busy to listen to your body and take the time to do what it needs.

Last week, I shared Pamela Slim’s blog post about stopping the madness in the midst of goodness and asking a weight loss counselor for help. This week, Kelley Moore, from For the Love of Design did the same. She recruited Lisa Thiele, of With Style and Grace, an advertising excec turned food stylist, photographer and gluten-free cooking expert (her recipes are amazing) to challenge her for 30 days to get on a better path with her health.

I’ve followed Kelley for over awhile and love her story. She began as a social worker, then started planning events for non-profits, which led to her own event and lifestyle business, her For the Love of Design blog and a regular guest spot on the Nate Berkus Show… now that’s progress!  Recently, she found her self getting so much business in New York that she decided to move from Seattle to the Big City.

You’d think she has it all together, right? What more could she want?

What I love about Kelley is her willingness to be real with her readers. She tells us she doesn’t feel good, has gained weight and is struggling keeping up with her a crazy schedule. She’s exhausted. (Not a good way to be when you’re livelihood and passion depends on your creativity.)

On Monday, she kicked off the challenge, introducing us to Lisa who had helped her shop for and plan her food for the week – and a green smoothie, which I promptly tried and after 3 attempts, decided I love it. (I used 3 limes, I think she meant 3 “slices” of lime. One slice was plenty for me.)

On Tuesday, she posted “Rest Needed”….. she was taking the week off from her regular posting schedule. I was sooooooooo happy to hear this. My first thought on Monday, was “that smoothie is great, but she’s also going to need to slow it down a bit!”

On Friday, she posted this.….. she had come down with bronchitis this week so it had been hard to stick to the plan. That’s her body telling her in a big, bronchitis kind of way to SLOW DOWN.

I’m looking forward to following the challenge and watching what lifestyle change are going to work for Kelley.  I’m pulling for her. She’s an inspiration on many levels. Asking for help is one of them.

What is your body telling you to do?

Pam Slim's secret to becoming her best self

Pam Slim, author of the book, “Escape from Cubicle Nation” has encouraged thousands of people to create the career of their dreams through her books, blog, and classes.  In her article this week, “How you eat is how you work”  she touches on what I think is the biggest obstacles people struggle with when trying to become their best self – slowing down.

Too many times we look to leaders and think they have it all figured out, then beat ourselves up for not being able to do something as simple as eat healthier and exercise more.

If we can’t even do that, how in the world will be able to leave our job, start our own business, or do that thing we’ve always wanted to do?

The fact she enlisted the help of a weight-loss or “wellness counselor” who thinks beyond what’s on your plate is even more inspiring. It sounds like the process they’re going through has already uncovered the secret that most people miss.

The answers aren’t within the diet “program.” They’re in the process of slowing down and letting everything you already know about what works for you bubble to the surface – then letting yourself indulge in those…

When you can do that, you magically gravitate toward the food and exercise that feels best to you and you’re drawn to the people, relationships and career that empower you.  Then The reason for this is because so many new players are constantly signing up with online casino s and playing every single one of the Blackjack games they have to offer. one day, you find that you’ve built a stronger foundation that’s enabling a life that’s better than you ever imagined.

I’m looking forward to watching Pam’s journey unfold. (Follow her blog or on Twitter @pamslim and you can too).

I”m also looking forward to continuing my studies to become a health and lifestyle counselor through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

If you find yourself struggling to live your best life…maybe we can help each other. I’m not officially able to start seeing clients yet, but I do need lots of practice listening to your health and lifestyle concerns.  All you need to do is complete a health history form and send it to me. Then, I’ll schedule a phone call with you so we can go through it together.  It helps with my school requirements and just might help you uncover what’s holding you back from living your best life.  Just email me at denese@thoughtfulcontent.org and I’ll send you a form, or fill one out online here

Thanks and take care,

Denese

 

Small but mighty, the power of a thumbtack

Today’s #LetsBlogOff challenge is asking us to write about “thumbtacks.”  Now I know that the act of writing uncovers your innermost thoughts and feelings because because I had no idea I was so passionate about thumbtacks until I started writing about them.

In my mind, the thumbtack is everything good design stands for – it’s simple, it’s functional, it’s versatile, it’s sustainable.  I’d even go so far as to say it’s magical.  Yes, the thumbtack may be small, but it’s mighty.  The only thing I might change about it is its name, although I admire its straightforwardness …  I think dream-catchers or place-holders better capture their role.

On bulletin boards throughout my life, thumbtacks have held everything that’s special to me and everything I’d like to be.  When I’m confused, trying to figure out a project, or my style or my passion, I start posting pages of magazines, pictures, notes and quotes that speak to me.

The thumbtack patiently holds all of it in place, giving a sense of order to my madness. Then one day, clarity magically comes.

As with all good designs, they’re often taken for granted.  But, that doesn’t seem to bother the thumbtack. It doesn’t care how perfect your boards look, it’s just happy to be part of your process.

You can go old school and use a plain old bulletin board like this one I used to have:

 

You can go sophisticated, like this one from Restoration Hardware:

Or, you can go ultra-creative-designer-type like this one from Sibella Court, creative concept developer and curator for Anthropologie, author, stylist, and owner of the Australian shop, The Society, Inc.

Perhaps the biggest test for good design is its ability to withstand time. If it can endure technology and the internet, you know you’ve got a good thing going.  The thumbtack has been deemed so vital in our culture that an entire web phenomenon has been created around it – Pinterest.

That’s when you know you have value, meaning. You’re needed in the world.  Bravo, thumbtack. Yes, you may be small, but you’re mighty!

Check out the rest of the LetsBlogOff crew’s take on the thumbtack here.  And, join us every other Tuesday for a great way to exercise your unique voice and get into the blogging groove.

 

 

Should I stay or should I go?

photo via pinterest from 2.bp.blogspot.com

This question was on my mind last week.  After a year of traveling, living in limbo and immersing myself in new projects, I had made up my mind to slow down and stay put for awhile.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all been good, but, even too much good-ness can leave you scattered, tired and craving stability.

As soon as I made up my mind, two emails appeared in my inbox (funny how this happens):

  • Fall conference announcement from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, in September (my health counselor school, where all kinds of doctors and speakers would be presenting all kinds of topics I’m passionate about…)
  • Marie Forleo’s Rich, Happy & Hot event at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Center in New York in October. (I was more interested in seeing Donna Karan’s place and speakers like Kris Carr from Crazy Sexy Life and Russell Simmons, author of Super Rich, than the rich, happy & hot thing….)

Normally, I’d pick one, book the flight and go.  I might even find a way to squeeze in both. And I would love them. I’d come home inspired with lots of new friends and a notebook filled with ideas and to do lists.

But, after a few days of wallowing in wishy-washy-ness, I decided to honor my craving for slowing down and pass on both. I have really been feeling off. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t gotten back into the routine of making real food at home, or taking my walks or sitting for 20 minutes… all things that are essential for being my best self. These things ground me…and I don’t make good choices when I’m not grounded.

I haven’t gained weight, but I feel heavy.  I’m not sleeping well so I barely make it to my 6 am yoga class.  When I do get there (late), my practice is off, I’m so tight and can’t hold a balancing posture for the life of me.

The more I learn about how we make healthy choices (not just about food, but how we live our life) the more I realize the power of listening within –  and it is usually telling us to slow down in some way, shape or form.

Once the decision was made, I took a walk, booked a grounding ayurvedic treatment with my yoga teacher and started planning the meals I’ll make at home in the next few days.  I already feel better. (And IIN announced a March conference in Long Beach, CA… a much easier trip. Funny how this happens.)

What is your body craving right now? 

A potent wake up call & some inspiring posters

I”ve just spent a few hours writing blog posts that encourage people to express themselves, to embrace their unique-ness, etc… then decided not to post them because maybe they weren”t going to be helpful or “right” or whatever…..

Then I found Karen Salmonsohn (via Twitter @notsalmon) and read this:

“Everything that is not given is lost.”

She found these words in a book left in a drawer by her Dad”s bedside after he passed away.  She tells us to read those words again – and really take them in… this is a potent wake-up call.

“Because we are mortal, every talent, skill, ability we possess, every thought or feeling we ever have, every beautiful sight we ever see, every material possession we own, will ultimately be lost. UNLESS WE SHARE IT.”

This reminded me that even if no one ever reads my blog, it”s the practice Yay can’t wait really there is no one in the world love justin-bieber-news.info like me lolcant belive i cant wait ohhh my goshhhh my love my idol my only oneyeah,before it was lailani now its u and y do u think that u love justin more than anyone in this world,huh…Thanks!this is gonna be amazing !!! cant wait. of giving what”s in my heart that”s the most important. So, I”ll get to posting.

Read the rest of Karen”s article here. She happens to be a best-selling author of a new breed of books, “self-help for those that wouldn”t be caught dead reading self-help”  or “self help books you can give as a gift – without the dread of being slapped because they look kinda cool.”

She”s also created a whole collection of inspiring posters (including the one shown here)  that I will definitely be posting on all those blog posts I”ll be sharing.

Take care and enjoy your weekend.

The Bhagavad Gita (Ghandi's guide to life)

Of all the great spiritual texts, there’s only one that Gandhi carried with him everywhere. Even though “The Bhagavad Gita” is not about religion, Gandhi called it his “prayer-book” and its the one he lived his life by. The Gita (as it”s affectionately called) is a beautiful poem that happens to capture the heart of yoga beautifully. It’s also the one book that many yoga teachers recommend for aspiring yogis.

Like all poetry, the Gita is best read slowly, from your heart, not your head. Because the setting for the story is a war between two families, it’s often confused with supporting violence. However, the war is simply a metaphor for the war we fight daily.

It’s a reminder that our mind can be both friend and foe and you have to stand up and fight the enemies – jealousy, anger, impatience, doubt – the enemies that prevent us from delivering our true selves, our gifts to the world.

The story is told as a conversation between Arjuna, the warrior representing the good family and Krishna representing the Divine. As Arjuna struggles with having to fight a battle he really doesn’t want to fight, one against his own family, Krishna shares insight on relationship with the Atman (our true self or soul), the Divine and Liberation.

Yoga is referenced throughout – without ever mentioning a yoga pose. The Gita defines a yogi as “the lluminated one,” a reminder that just because you do yoga, doesn”t mean you”re a yogi.  Most of us aren”t quite there yet. We’re simply on the path.

Regardless of what’s going on in your life, The Gita can be your compass, casino pa natet offering direction, comfort and wisdom. One time you may read it and be called to take action, another time you”ll find surrendering the better option. It reminds us to take care of the physical body that houses our precious soul ; to fight for our svadharma (our personal path), to love our work and recognize the power we have to make the world better simply by bringing joy to whatever that “job” is.

It also reminds us to live life fully and to let go of attachment to outcome.  That”s a hard one, often confused with not caring. But, when we”re not attached to what we “think” the fruit of our efforts “should” be, the fear of disappointment is replaced with faith. Faith that being present, giving our best effort and being true to ourselves is enough. That”s all we have to do, and the blessings will come.

Today is LetsBlogOff day. Every other week, a group of bloggers write about a topic that”s typically more personal than what they normally blog about. It”s a great way to practice writing from the heart, finding your voice and having the confidence to push publish for all to see. It”s also a great way to connect with other bloggers and get a glimpse inside their hearts. This week”s topic was “What”s the best book you”ve ever read?” Check out everyone”s responses here and join us next time.

Photos via: The Bhagavad Gita in Pictures

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