Monthly Archives: February 2014

Integrity is the new black

One of the most critical attributes necessary for realizing your dreams is integrity.

By living a life of integrity, you can be proud of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and have confidence in your ability to rise to even higher heights.

In a conversation about achieving your dreams, integrity is essential and can be summarized as simple as: say what you mean and mean what you say.

Why is this so critical? How can you truly focus your energy if you are being held down by guilt or self doubt?

Live a purpose driven life by honoring your agreements and living by your word. People will want to work with you, and that is the key achieving your dreams.

The enemy of realizing our dreams? Self doubt.

Lying to yourself can fuel self doubt and be harmful to your dream. Many people color reality, making it better or worse than it actually is. If you don’t have a clear vision of where you are, how can you make clear decisions or know where you might need help?

Report accurately on where you are and the status of your dream. Define the necessary strategy for progress and to achieve your goals and adjust accordingly. When you accomplish a milestone, take time to celebrate or at least to acknowledge your achievement.

Self doubt occurs if you only dream but never take action. It is essential that the dream move forward. Break your dream into short-term projects. If you are unwilling to turn your dreams into projects, check and see if this is what you truly want.

Maybe you’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. Maybe this dream isn’t your dream at all, but the expectations of others. Be truthful with yourself.

Having integrity is the only way to truly identify what you want.


Falling to Pieces or Falling to Peace

Sunday morning in yoga. I always arrive with my mind full of thought and leave in a very clear space. This morning, the teacher talked about how we are either falling to pieces or falling to peace.

I smiled.

Falling to pieces takes a lot of thinking. The mind gets filled with thought, and the thinking that the thought means something.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with ‘stuff’ which can lead us to fall to pieces.

But that’s not our only option. We can choose to fall to peace.

Falling to peace happens when your mind is full of chaotic thoughts, and you let the thinking go. In essence, you fall into peace. A space of nothingness. And in the space of nothingness, what emerges is inner peace.

Peace is your factory default.

Gerald walked into my office. We scheduled a coaching intensive. Coach until complete. Gerald’s mind and life were in overdrive. A successful entrepreneur with two businesses, Gerald was allowing one situation to so overpower his thinking; he felt on the verge of breaking down. And he was not succeeding. We talked about the situation and peeled it back to see where he was giving his thought ‘power’ and why he was falling to pieces.

Thought creates story. Story often begets story. When the thought arises from an old story of pain, a story which parallels the current situation. Usually the story is so old, most are not aware of the impact of these old stories on their current situation.

Through peeling the ‘thought onion’ back, we got to a core wound; an old situation which was not resolved. And this unresolved thought and the associated heavy emotion was tainting the current situation.

In doing some work, we came to a place of peace around this core wound. Then from this space of peace, we looked at the current situation and Gerald just sighed.

The solution was soon present and relatively simple. What emerged was a smile. And peace. Gerald returned to his life, empowered and back on track.

Falling into peace can occur. Whether it is in meditation, in yoga, or through coaching. Today, be aware that most of the problems we create are the result of over active thinking.

Life happens; it always will.  As life happens, are you going to fall to pieces or fall into peace?

Remember, peace is your birthright.

Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

The Leap is the Easy Part

It had been on my bucket list for years, but I froze when the opportunity was right in front of me.

Anytime I heard the word “skydive,” it sent a burst of excitement through my body.  I knew that one day it was the kind of extraordinary leap of faith that I wanted to take, but I never imagined the day would actually come.

This past summer, my husband called me to say that his brother Jack had invited us to spend some time at the lake with his family. Jack is a professional skydiver, and he runs his own drop zone in Cushing, Oklahoma, which we would have the opportunity to visit over the course of our trip.

Oh crap, I thought to myself.   Here I had been saying for years that I wanted to skydive and now the opportunity was here.  Inside, part of me was leaping “YES!” and the other part of me wanted to backspace and delete all prior thoughts I ever had about jumping out of a plane.  My mind raced from “YES” to “Absolutely NOT” and to every nook and cranny in between.

And then it happened.  I landed on a firm and confident NO.  I decided it would be careless and irresponsible for me, as a mother of two young boys, to take such a risk.  What if something happened to me and they were left motherless?

Later I spoke with Kim, my business partner at Frame of Mind Coaching and my dear friend.   When she heard that I wouldn’t be going skydiving, she asked “Is skydiving on your bucket list?”  I hesitantly replied, “Well, yeah, I guess it was at one time”.  She then said 13 words that I will never forget.

“What if your greatest responsibility as a parent is to live life fully?”

These words cut through all of my excuses and landed precisely on my heart. I have always felt committed to living life to the fullest, being courageous, and doing things that allow me to spread my wings and grow. I realized that by turning down the opportunity to skydive, I would be making a decision that was out of alignment with my values.

Kim’s words knocked down all of the fear long enough for me to pause and reconsider skydiving.  In the coming days and weeks leading up to our trip, I’d remember my bigger purpose and I’d trust my instincts to make an aligned decision.

I’m not going to lie, I wrestled with bucket-loads of fear and the idea of being irresponsible over and over again.

Fast forward to four days into our vacation.  We were boating, fishing, relaxing, and connecting.  But, in the back of my mind the questions were relentless. Was I going to jump out of a plane?  Was it the right thing to do?  What would others think?  Would I live?  What if I died?  And on and on and on.

The moment of truth had almost arrived.  It was the last day at the lake and I had a very restless night of sleep, tossing and turning in my bed and in my mind.

The next morning, the family hopped into the car and drove four hours to the drop zone.  My mind began racing and my stomach began churning.

In the midst of the uncertainty, a vision of a different kind began to surface.  I began to imagine the parachute lifting, my feet hitting the ground, hugging my boys and husband, the smiles, the exhilaration, the storytelling, and the knowledge that I’d taken an ultimate leap of faith.

Once I imagined it working out, everything began to shift.  Game on.

We spotted the drop zone from the road, a white structure with the words “Sky Dive” written in big, red letters.  We circled around, parked the car and made our way to the front.  The place was buzzing. People were sitting around on couches, watching and waiting for their loved ones to take the big leap.  My eyes landed on the electronic listing of skydivers for the day.  I had already been put on the schedule.  One hour from then, I’d be making the jump.

The mental struggle was over.  Excitement began to stir.  They geared me up, goggles and all. I met my tandem jumper who happened to be a very normal looking dad.  It was comforting thinking if a dad can be out there every weekend jumping, surely I could do it once.  We hopped on the golf cart and headed for Jack’s plane.

Being Jack’s sister-in-law, I got “special treatment.”  Not exactly the special treatment I was looking for: I got to sit in the co-pi seat of the plane while all the other skydivers piled in the back, and I soon found out that I would be going up a few thousand feet higher than the others to take my jump.

When my turn came, I was instructed to scoot out of the co-pi seat on my butt and inch my way towards the four-foot door that was WIDE open.  My tandem was behind me and he buckled me in securely.  He proceeded to put his hands on my shoulders and motioned to me that we would first lean out of the plane, then in and the 3rd time around we would literally fall out of the plane.  It was in this moment that at last I surrendered completely and trusted…

Here we goooooooo!

Falling, falling, falling, fierce wind whipped the skin on my cheeks.  I had no thoughts other than making sure my hands and feet were in the right position.  No thought of when the parachute was going to open.  I was just in it.  And, then a sudden jolt – the parachute had opened!  It was like a rollercoaster, floating and diving down to the ground.  I saw my boys (all three of them) below watching and waving.  Relief, exhilaration and aliveness set in and my feet hit the ground.

It turned out just as I had imagined in that one unique, extraordinary stream of thought.

I will never forget the complete uninhibited exhilaration and joy that filled my entire being.  The physical sensation lasted for hours.  The experience will stay with me forever and is a constant reminder to push through, to live in alignment and to take more leaps.  The leap is actually nothing in comparison to the struggle and anguish that I created in my mind.

The leap is the easy part.  And from here forward I vow to take more of them.

So what’s your next sky dive?  It might be having that conversation you’ve been putting off with your spouse, leaving a job you know is draining your soul, or putting a stake in the ground for your next audacious goal.   What’s the greater risk – taking the leap or betraying what is in your heart?   You get to choose.

Contributed by Business, Life and Relationship Coach, Carla Reeves

Personal Growth and the ABCs (Attitude, Beliefs, Clear Goals)

Personal Growth and Attitude

When something happens in any kind of situation, the results can be interpreted negatively or positively. Defining something as a “good attitude” or a “bad attitude” doesn’t make it good or bad. It’s just an interpretation, and interpretation depends on beliefs and attitudes.

You can learn to use interpretations to empower you by getting accurate information and by thinking of outcomes in positive terms. If you believe there are opportunities in everything that happens, the possibilities will appear everywhere. If you take the attitude that you’ll “believe it when you see it,” chances are you’ll never will.

Personal Growth and Beliefs

Your beliefs can empower or impede you in moving toward your dream. If you see your beliefs as obstacles to personal growth, they will trip you up or keep you from stepping into your dream.

If you use your beliefs as tools to help you achieve your dreams, you transform them into stepping stones. Your beliefs have become the bridge that moves you easily from where you are to where you want to be. Will you use your beliefs as barriers or stepping stones?

Personal Growth and Clear Goals

Being vague about your goals and dreams will keep you confused. If you aren’t clear about your dream, it’s hard to know what to do about it or how to ask for help. The ability to articulate your dream clearly and with passion is essential for establishing credibility.

A powerful shortcut technique is also your ability to make specific requests, making it easy for people to help you.

And finally, if you set vague goals, then it’s also going to be unclear whether you reach them. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. Don’t deny yourself that rush.

“Anxiety is Love’s Greatest Killer”

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”
~ Anais Nin

Let’s look at an old friend – Anxiety.  Earl Nightingale once said that 92% of what you worry about will never occur. Many of us realize this, but we still worry- often to the point of anxiety.

Anxiety is composed of thoughts infused with emotions.  We keep thinking the thoughts which rile up our emotions, and suddenly this state of anxiety starts becoming automatic, and a terrible cycle develops. We hold ourselves back from opportunities and we sabotage our relationships, feeling helpless all the while.

But you’re not helpless.

Lets try something. Let’s put our mental gear into neutral for a minute and look at the nature of thought.

When you look at your thoughts for what they are, what do you see? Nothing. You realize that thoughts have no weight, no smell, no taste- they’re not even real.

Our mind is like a river, just flowing thoughts down stream.  When we get stuck in an eddy of uncomfortable thoughts, we just swirl and swirl and swirl.

Now let’s add emotion. Interestingly, where thoughts are not real, emotions are VERY real.

We feel emotions from our head to our toes. Whether or not the thought behind the emotion is real, panic can kick in and send the body into a primal state of fight or flight. Once you feel that signature shortness of breath, it only deepens the panic the mind feels.

Unless you take back control.

Stop thinking.  Take a deep breath.  Open your eyes.  Take another deep breath.

Did you know it’s not possible to breath deeply and have an anxiety attack?  Long slow breaths tell the body everything is okay, which in turn sends signals to the brain that there is no real threat.

Can you now ‘see’ your thoughts?  Can you separate your emotion from your thoughts?

Most clients return to a state of peace when they learn to vaporize the anxiety through realization it is merely a thought. This step, however, takes awareness and work.

Look at this way- babies do not experience anxiety – it has to be ‘taught’ to you.  And that which has been learned can be unlearned through awareness, perception, and realization.

Anxiety can be unlearned – I wish I could just list the 4 steps to living anxiety free,  or the 3 steps to living in peace, but it’s not quite that easy.  If you experience anxiety, it takes a bit of work to free yourself from your self-created bondage.

However, the people I have worked with have done it and so can you by choosing to understand the nature of your thought.

You have to choose to unlearn and step back into the space of a child-  back when the world was an adventurous place to be.  Back when life was simply wild.

So for now, begin to see your anxiety as thoughts (not real) which are combined with emotions (very real).  You are creating a mirage – it seems that you see it, yet the closer you get, it disappears.  Unlike a mirage in the desert though, anxiety feeds upon itself and literally clouds up your state of mind, until the only real thing is a cloud of anxiety.  But’s it’s not even real.

This week, become aware of the thoughts which create your anxiety. They are just thoughts. Without emotions, they are just thoughts.  With emotion, your reality is clouded in anxiety.  When you take the emotion away, you are empowered to choose a new thought.

Try choosing one which empowers you.

Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

Don’t think too hard. You’ll create a problem that wasn’t there in the first place

Seriously. Stop over-analyzing this tip.

One of the pitfalls of thinking too hard about a certain decision is amusingly referred to as analysis paralysis. This is the condition of thinking so hard about something that no action or decision is reached.

Sound silly? It’s very real. From my experience it happens most frequently when one person says to another person, “hey, what should we do for dinner tonight?”

If you live in an urban or suburban environment the choices can seem endless. First of all, do you order in or dine out? Second of all, what type of food are you in the mood for? American? Sushi? Indian? You must then choose a restaurant based on the first 2 criteria. The closest? The cheapest? The one with the nicest staff? Suddenly, the concept of picking a place can seem overwhelming and nobody is willing to make a decision.

Eventually if someone doesn’t end up overcoming the analysis paralysis, you end up getting too hungry to go anywhere and find yourselves eating cereal at home.

The above example is a trivial, albeit frustrating, example of what can be a major life problem for people. It can happen in every facet of life from choosing which college to attend to what career path to follow.

We make millions of tiny decisions every day. These decisions end up giving our lives their shape and dimension. Wherever you are in life now is based on the culmination of these decisions.

A lot of times you know you’re not happy at your job or in a relationship, but you’re not quite sure what to do about it- you think about it endlessly, weighing the pros and cons and the possible alternatives and consequences, and suddenly the problem seems SO much bigger than it is. It seems insurmountable, so you do nothing to change it.

That analysis paralysis ends up being your decision. You have actively decided to do nothing.

Nothing will change until you get out of your head and into the world.

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department usually sticks to water.

That’s right hot heads, cool your jets.

Ok so, you know when you’re in the midst of dealing with a nagging problem that just refuses to go away?

At some point, perhaps at the climax of the drama, a strange calm sweeps over you. You pause, sigh deeply and lower your head ominously between your hands.

When you look up again, with a glimmer in your eye and a morally questionable plan in your head, you proclaim (to nobody in particular) that it’s “time to fight fire… with fire.”

And then, as if it’s some great declaration of fire-extinguishing know-how, you get that mischievous, self-satisfied look on your face like when the Grinch decided to steal Christmas.

That fire on fire plan always seems like a good idea in the moment.

But answer me this- when was the last time anyone ever had an actual fire break out in their house and yelled to someone nearby to “bring more fire! We have to fight this fire with fire!”

Answer- never.

If you want to put out a fire (real or metaphoric), you need water (real or metaphoric, respectively). The only thing you’ll ever accomplish by fighting fire with fire is a larger, more destructive fire. That’s just science.

So, if you’re having a problem with someone at work, school, or in your own family who you don’t feel is playing fair, don’t stoop to their level. Once you compromise your integrity, the other person has already won.

Extinguish the problem by rising above it.

Find Your Guru

Are you in search of your guru? Someone you can model yourself after, someone that can fill that empty space inside of you? Perhaps you think you’re simply not enough, and deeply wish to emulate someone who is.

You seek a guru to follow and to adore. And in doing that, you’ve lost who they are.

Or perhaps you’ve found a guru. This guru may have seemed perfect at first. He or she may have seemed to have it all. But eventually, you realized that even your guru isn’t perfect. And what did you do? You began searching for another guru, and in the process lost yourself and even your faith in humanity.

Stop. It is time to pause and take a deep breath.


Get present.

It’s time to find your guru.  He or she is closer than you think. Follow this simple 3-step process:

1. Go to a mirror and close your eyes.

2. Spell guru out loud while your eyes are closed.  Spell it 3 times out loud.

“Gee You Are You . Gee You Are You . Gee You Are You”

3. Open you eyes and say hello to YOUR guru.

YOU are the guru you seek.  When you realize the power you are and the power your have, YOU become the guru you seek.  The world created you – perfect, authentic, and having the ability to tap into the wisdom of the ages through confidence, clarity, and courage.

The world asks that you fully become you.  Be the best you ever.  YOU are all you need.  YOU are what those around you want.  No one wants you to become a clone to another. They have their gifts, allow them to be who they were intended to be, and YOU become who you want to be.

One of my teachers told me about a book by Rusty Berkus which relates to this.  On one of the pages showed a guru in black robes and a guru in white robes.  The caption said — “What is the difference between the guru in the white robe and the guru in the black robe?  Answer:  The guru in the black robe accepts your total dependence of them for finding the answers to your life.  The guru in the white robe sends you out into the world having taught that YOU are the answer to your life.”

Now, you may find guides, coaches, and teachers along the way.  Learn about you through them.  True teachers bring out the best you and then send you on your way. True teachers do not allow themselves to be worshiped. They appreciate acknowledgement and they are humble, confident, and clear in all their intentions.

So this year, find your true guru.  Hint: it is YOU.

When you accept that, you will find your passion, step into you natural gifts, abilities, and talents.  And, it is the teachers, guides, and coaches who assist you to polish the facets of your beings such that you shine.  Yes, it is time to shine – fully and completely.

So this is YOUR time.  BE your brilliance.  BE your shine.  Live life fully, as your own guru.

Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

Take Care of You First

What is your limit? Have you reached yours?

Do you ever think to yourself as you are falling asleep at night. “I never seem to have time for me?” or “There has to be more to life?” or “Things have to be better than this?”

I know I used to do that, but I never stopped for long enough to consider how things could be different. Focusing on everything and everyone but myself was a great distraction.

At work, the more dedicated I was, the prouder I felt.  The more hours I worked, the more productive I felt.  In my home life, I was eager to lend a hand to family and friends.
From time to time, someone would hint that I needed to focus on me, but that seemed so selfish.

It took me a very long time to figure out that if I didn’t take care of myself first, I wouldn’t be in very good shape to offer my help to others.

Here’s how my story unfolded:

For over 25 years, I worked myself to the bone in corporate America. I cared for my family and friends in my spare time, and I worked 60-70 hours per week at my job. I was darn proud of it all!  I looked after the house, spent time with my husband and somehow squeezed time in for family and friends. I was on the gerbil wheel of insanity and didn’t know how to get off of it.

Then, about six years ago, my husband and I made the decision to welcome my 90-year-old grandmother (Gam) into our home to care for her.

Initially, Gam did not require a lot of care, but my husband and I put a lot of time and effort into making her feel loved, safe and part of the family.

As time passed, I knew I wanted to spend as much time as I could with Gam, but I was feeling pressure from work. Gam’s health began to decline after she had lived with us for about three years, and it become a challenge for me to care for her and stay on top of work – something had to give.

The guilt began to set in. I had so many demands, and I didn’t know what to do. My husband, David, and my mother-in-law were a huge help, but I felt overwhelmed.
My friends told me to put Gam in a nursing home, which was not an option for me.  Gam’s parents had left her when she was a few years old, and she lived in orphanages and foster homes until she met my grandfather.  I couldn’t have her start her life and end her life in a sterile facility with no love, especially after all that she had done for me throughout my life.

I was tearing myself apart trying to figure out how to make this all work, and seeing my inner struggle, David, encouraged me to quit my job.  At first I thought he was nuts. However, the longer I considered it, the more sense it seemed to make. I began to listen to myself and most importantly, I began listening to my heart. I realized that leaving my job was the right thing to do.

It was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. I felt like I had gotten sucked into my job to the point that it identified me, and I was terrified of who I would be when I left.
I gave my notice six months ago, and I haven’t looked back .

Sadly, Gam passed away about a month after I left my job. I was hoping to have more time with her, however I cherished every moment that I did have with her.

Once I made the decision to take control of my life, I began focusing on me and taking better care of myself. Now I have a renewed energy that enables me to give so much more to everyone around me, and I no longer feel deprived.

So ask yourself – are you putting you first? Maybe you are a dedicated stay-at-home mom, a successful professional who dedicates his/her life to work. Maybe you have a boat-load of responsibilities that all need your attention.  Maybe you are the primary caregiver of an aging parent or grandparent, like I was.

Maybe you put your time into your kids and your job and your friends- into everyone but you. It doesn’t have to be this way.

If you’ve ever told yourself “there has to be more to life,” I challenge you to stop and consider your options. This may very well be the perfect time to take care of you first.

Contributed by Business, Executive and Life Coach, Lori Fortuna

Beautiful You

A Beautiful You, getting to the core of who you are is a self-exploration process I created  that will help you see your beauty and self-worth inside and out. The beauty I am referring to is not your outward beauty, but your inward beauty (soul and spirit) that we all possess.

As women we tend to put our own wants, needs and desires to the back-burner generally causing burnout, depression, sadness, and other negative emotions. This process is designed to help you manage your outer beauty inwardly.

Often times we spend so much time making our physical bodies perfect that our insides (soul and spirit) are contaminated with all the negative energy and emotions of the world in and around us. In most cases its self inflicted pain caused by our own thoughts, feelings, and limited beliefs.

This whole process was created from my own identity crisis in times past I have had so much chatter in my own head that I started to believe what I was hearing. A Beautiful You, getting to the core of who you are is a journey of self exploration to see yourself the way you truly are, beautiful in soul and spirit.

During the process I had to dig up my own weeds (negative thoughts, and emotions) in my  mind that did not serve me anymore, and replace them with thoughts that did. I will help you do the same. It wasn’t easy an easy process and every now and then I find myself trying to re-visit old habits and I catch myself.

We often tell ourselves that if we were taller, thinner, smarter, prettier, had more money, well educated we would have all the things we want in life. We define beauty based on things and from that perspective you would be beautiful. I am here to help you reverse the curse to see from your own lens when you do obtain the things you think you want you still won’t be beautiful because we are always striving and looking for more. All you need is within you.

It took me a long time to figure out that what I was searching for I already had.

We NEVER have to search outside of our-selves for the things we need: love, respect, admiration, appreciation, etc. It’s already there. Until we tap into the power of US it’s not possible to be who we were made too be. A Beautiful You, getting to the core of who you are will give you the courage to pull up the weeds and tap into it the power of YOU!!! Let’s Go!!! Join me on this journey to a better life!!!

Contributed by Business, Life and Relationship Coach, Mechi Renee