Friday, November 20, 2009

Udon with Spicy Ginger Sauce

Ok, this is for my SCA friends who helped us cook for that Medieval event I mentioned. They might remember this one....

3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp ginger (fresh, peeled & minced)
2 cloves garlic (fresh, minced)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber (peeled, seeded & chopped)
1/4 c parsley (fresh, chopped)

Whisk all ingredients to blend in a large bowl. Refrigerate. Serve cold with chilled Japanese noodles, such as Udon (cook as directed). Original recipe called for 1 carrot shredded, omitted for Medieval event.

Creamed Cheese Spinach

Another recipe requested by my ex-roommate....

LOADS of baby spinach, without stems. The more the merrier, it really reduces when cooked. (20 oz of spinach approximates 2 cups of packed spinach and when it reduces you'll be disappointed)

Steam & strain spinach, then chop and squeeze out liquid.

5 tbs butter, softened
1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 c half & half
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbs minced onion (or fresh)
1 tbs minced garlic (or fresh)
1/4 c parmesan

In a medium saucepan:
-melt 3tbs butter over low heat
-stir in flour & salt until creamed (smooth)
-slowly add half & half, then cream cheese & increase heat to medium
-whisk together until thick & smooth, set aside
-sauté onion & garlic in remaining butter until transparent
-add spinach to pan on low heat, stir
-add cheese sauce and parmesan cheese, stir until blended.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

By popular demand by my recently removed roommate: A Russian roasted vegetable recipe adapted for Medieval ingredients. For a New World version substitute potatoes for turnips, carrots for parsnips. This is one of the recipes served a zillion years ago at a Medieval event thrown by a proposed Brooklyn, NY canton in the SCA.

3 medium turnips (or one rutabaga) peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium red onion cut into wedges
6 small parsnips (or carrots) peeled and sliced into 1 1/2 inch pieces (or 2 cups peeled winter squash, 1-inch pieces)
2 fennel bulbs cut into wedges (or 6 celery stalks but much better with fennel!)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed (or dried rosemary crushed)
fresh rosemary (garnish, optional)

Lightly grease a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch, 2 inch deep roasting pan. In the pan combine turnips, parsnips, fennel and onion. In a mixing bowl stir together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sugar, crushed fennel seed, salt & pepper. Drizzle over vegetables.

Bake uncovered in 450-degree oven for 45-50 minutes or til turnips and onions are tender, stirring twice (or more) during baking. To serve transfer to a serving bowl... if desired garnish with fresh rosemary.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Importance of Language

I've changed my website branding, the subtitle of my upcoming book (now Healer in the Hotseat: Rekindling energy for your burning desires), my seminar & workshop titles to talk about "energy management" rather than "burnout". I realized that people aren't able to "get it" when I'm talking about "burnout". Whether out of self-defense, denial, or misunderstanding the language, they don't relate to the term burnout. The people who needed the workshop haven't changed. Their problems haven't changed. In fact, my workshops haven't changed. I'm just changing the package the workshop is wrapped in so that people have a better chance of "getting it". It should have been obvious to me: I had no idea that I was on the road to burnout until I was reading the literature. That's not what I would have called it. I have people coming to my workshop on Friday (now called 9 Keys to Energy Management) because they have been listening to me and realize they're on that road. It's like I'm the pied piper or something. But just like the pied piper, there's a danger of falling off the cliff when calling it "burnout" too. It sounds too absolute, too final, too pessimistic, although I transform not only the symptoms of burnout but the term burnout itself into a positive in my workshops. Before my workshop in that space where people acknowledge that they need my classes, I don't want them to depress themselves or feel fear of what they're going through. Exhaustion and overwhelm are enough, I'm not trying to cause people to prematurely hit rock bottom. Changing the title means I don't have to work against days or weeks of suffering with the notion that one is at the end of their proverbial rope. My SURRENDER™ system isn't just about burnout; it's about managing your energy. Every day we transact energy with the universe. Those of us in most balance may be sourcing some of our energy outside ourselves. Others are trying to get water from sand in a desert and are too depleted to go on much longer. So on this note, for a limited time you can sign up on my mailing list and get "Transforming Burnout into a Burning Desire" -- the recording of a conference call on October 6th that includes some exercises from my book. Last night I had a teleseminar titled "Introduction to Energy Management" which is a 1 hour version without exercises. Once it's ready I'll be swapping the Introduction to Energy Management audio in the place of the burnout audio.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thinking Bigger: Worldwide Calls

With no small thanks to Michael Port (creator of the Book Yourself Solid 15 week course I'm currently enrolled in, author of The Think Big Manifesto that I'm currently reading -- and the leader of the revolution via the website ), a nodding acknowledgement to Peter Gabriel (Big Time), I am thinking bigger and bigger. Many of you know that I've been a holistic healer for many years, and that's one reason I've always extended a discount for my services to holistic professionals. You may not have known that I have been an ordained Interfaith minister for over 10 years, although if you've been reading this blog you should be aware of that as well. I've decided that I am going to practice (and preach) what I preach more often: unconditional love, non-discriminatory healing of anyone and anything, raising the bar on planetary awareness. This is part of my personal Think Big Revolution. Now it's on your doorstep. "Whatcha gonna do 'bout it?" Sorry, you can move the girrl outta Brooklyn butcha can't take da Brooklyn outta da girrl. Here's what you can do about it: Get on the calls! Not interested? Get someone else on the calls! You know the type -- they think they can help people, heal people, save people. Maybe they're even doing their part already. Invite them to this call. My ultimate goal is to make sure the healers are taking care of themselves. How better to do that than to have them share with each other about how they work, what they're up to, getting help with the work, sharing the burden. In my self-examination in Michael's Book Yourself Solid course, I realized WHY I want to work with holistic healers. My answer to why: "I can't heal the world alone!" Well, duh, of course not. But maybe all the other healers are thinking the same thing! So get them on the call -- because if we can't heal the world alone, we can heal the world together! Hence the "Let's Heal the World Together!" Collaboration Calls are born! Let's Heal the World Together - free collaborative calls* Motivation - Connections - Group Healings Mondays: August 17, August 24, August 31 Time: 5pm EST, 2pm PST Get together on a conference call with healers from around the world to talk about how we can raise awareness of healing modalities and collaborate together to perform group healings to help people all over the world. Everyone is welcome - this is free, you don't need to be a holistic practitioner or healer to participate on the calls. All modalities of healing welcome. Please invite other healers to the call! if the calls are successful, they will become a regular offering! Register for the call here. *This is not a toll-free call. You must cover the expense of connecting to the call. The call is in the USA area code 530. For now only the first 50 people can be on the call, but we'll have the ability to have break outs into smaller groups to have intimate discussions. If you're too busy to join the calls, I'm going to try to record them and offer recordings to my mailing list for free after-the-fact, so be sure to sign up on the mailing list!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Follow Your Burning Desire - without burning out

I've been working on a proper marketing plan for Liberated Life Coaching and following a path that seemed to resonate with me, and I ended up in the category of burnout in the holistic practitioner market.

It was an interesting cubby, I thought, as a life and business coach, to help practitioners identify and manage burnout. There's a reason these things happen. Call it Law of Attraction, synchronicity, kismet, coincidence, what have you: I'm pondering dozens of articles about burnout, printing them, making mindmaps of a variety of concepts on my whiteboard, digesting all this information.

When I got to the second article, or was it the third, I stopped in my tracks. That veil of ignorance or is it denial suddenly fell down and I was looking at a profile of myself on paper. Signs & symptoms of burning out vary from person to person, but enough of them fit my former incarnation as a web designer that I realized that I was at minimum at very high risk if I had not already succumbed.

I won't go into all the symptoms here and now, the list is tremendous, but I checked in with my life coach, Sheila Pearl about it.

So our meeting this week was an overview exploration of my burning out, whether complete or in-progress, and what I needed to do to start getting un-burnt.

Causation or correlation, no matter, when you burn out you are no longer living your dreams, no longer taking care of yourself, not maintaining a steady energy and beneficial stress (eustress) level, and you are succumbing to exhaustion, lack of motivation, distractions, and sometimes a sense of fight (gripe) or flight (change careers, change cubicles, something).

I have an extreme problem in how I frame my "to do" list. It's my "Do I have to?" list. It's full of should's, have to's, musts, someone will get upset with me unless...but on the other hand the entire list, top to bottom, are things that I decided, wittingly or not, to accept onto my plate. How something I've said "yes" to (even if only by not saying "no" to it) suddenly transforms into this heavy weight of obligation is beyond me, but it does.

I recognize that I did the same at my last employer too. At every weekly meeting, I was given a few more things "to do" aside from requests that came in from staff during the week. I ended up with a "Do I have to?" list of over 100 items, frozen in my tracks unable to define an action plan or prioritize the list, and I was fired.

That's ok, I usually would burn out and leave a position in about 3 years -- long before they wanted to get rid of me. I've only been fired twice out of a dozen jobs, and I take being fired as a great learning experience. It's only taken 3 years to learn this particular part of the lesson, and I've never said they were wrong to fire me.

Well, I have to fire my "Do I have to?" list. It's now becoming a "Want to" list. This is a challenge for me, having been blackmailed out of being comfortable with saying I want something in childhood. 

The fear says that "When I want something, someone is going to use it against me." So if there's something on my "Do I have to?" list that can't be reframed as "I want to..." then I'm going to have to -- oh, there I go again -- then I want to get rid of the sense of obligation. I want to find the person who handed it to me (yay monkeys! Which book has the monkeys again?) and give it back.

I may be doing a lot of apologizing, but at least I'll be able to sleep.

Oh, I see 2 paragraphs above, I did it there too: I WANT TO fire my "Do I have to?" list. **Phew** This is tough work.

Sheila asked me to spend time this week exploring why I'm reluctant to label things as "wants" rather than "shoulds" or "musts".

For example, I caught myself this afternoon saying "I should check if there's a UPS number for my book order" and corrected myself to "I want to check if there's a tracking number" because there isn't even a client involved.  Checking for a number won't change when it gets here. It's not an obligation, and it's absolutely unreasonable to call it a "should." It's an unnecessary burden -- framing my desires as obligations is hurting my ability to finish even my personal projects.

As I work on my own burnout, I'm also taking note of the process I'm going through. I will be helping others with this process in the very near future.

Update: I ended up having a complete epiphany and writing a whole book on burnout recovery:  SURRENDER™ to Passion: Worried to wonderful in 28 days by Rev. Criss Ittermann.  Check it out on & Kindle.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Victim or Perpetrator?

If you're in professional services of any type, where you have to put a price tag on your time, this definitely happens to you. If you are not, it's likely you're doing this to people delivering professional services to you.

Let's look back, for a moment, to my post "Thank You For Your Time" -- are you expressing gratitude to people for their one finite commodity, their time?

Service professionals in all industries struggle with the question of pricing. The actual real value of the dollar fluctuates constantly, the purchase power of each greenback gets weaker by the moment, housing, stocks, retirement savings plans, investments, everything around us is bouncing around like a yo-yo on a daily basis, but we need to have a snapshot fixed hourly or service-based rate that we can quote to people. Or perhaps today we're sending out a 20-page proposal on a 6-month contract and trying to gaze deeply into our crystal ball and project our financial needs for 6-months + the period of time we'll be looking for the next contract + padding for inflation and emergencies over 6 months, and oh yeah a profit margin so maybe we can actually advertise.

But for some reason, people have little or no respect for time -- our one finite commodity. As they firmly grasp and push forward the hands of our lifetime clock, taking our time that we will never get back, the mechanisms screaming protest in clockwork agony, they hold onto their wallets for dear life. Money, however, is an asset that you can quite readily get. Ask any affiliate marketer, you can get a residual income for an up-front investment. That up-front investment, again, is time. But it will continually pay off, the check's in the mail from the company paying you a commission. If you ask law of attraction aficionados money is ready to come to you in great quantities once you free yourself from disbelief and actually act on your dreams, fulfill your mission in life and STOP WASTING TIME by getting in your own way.

Even as they lengthen our lives with medicines, cybernetic enhancements, nanoprobes, and everything that the creativity of science can leverage against the Reaper, lives will still run out. We can squeeze only so much out of life before it is gone. With the caveat of a few people on ice awaiting immortality.

So why do people "leak minutes" on the boob tube? (I don't) Why do we often commit sins of robbing others of their time and being stingy on the compensation? While we should come at this with an attitude of gracious thankfulness, instead we hang on to our wallet when someone is willing to leverage their expertise, blood, sweat, and most especially precious moments to further our cause. It's perhaps one of the leading causes of burnout amongst the experts, since we always have to fight for the right to feed our families, insure our business, plan our financial future. Hear the sound of clients crying in agony, clinging to their wallets like we were ripping out their heart, when what they're paying for is the ransom for saving them that one absolutely finite commodity -- time.

If you could do it yourself, in less time than it takes you to make that money, and with the same quality, then you should do it yourself. What you are hiring is higher quality than you can produce, with less of a <cough> commitment <cough> of your time (remember: the pig is committed*), far less stress, and the ability to "set it and forget it" with regard to achieving the results you need. You decide what price that's worth to you, and PLEASE save the expert a lot of time by telling us up-front if there's a hard price limit on what that's worth to you. We shouldn't spend 5 hours writing the 20 page proposal if we can tell we'll need over $15,000 to do the work, but your hard limit is $10,000.

Below is a video message that's absolutely brilliant. I think it was meant to be funny, but I didn't laugh. I thought I would share it to help you understand the patent ridiculousness of arguing with service professionals who have set their fees, or poured over your RFP to give you a quote.

Are you the victim or perpetrator? Enjoy:

Perhaps this can help change people's attitudes? Here's my wishful-thinking:

If you're in need of an expert's services...quit haggling. If you must, ask if the price is final, or if there's budge room, but don't whine if the quote is final. Perhaps removing a few unnecessary items from a quote will lower the price to an acceptable fee for excellent service. You can save precious minutes, or hours if you keep requesting revisions to a quote -- both yours and the professionals. And if you're more interested in price than the high quality of the professional who gave you the quote, ask: "Do you know someone who can provide a comparable service for $1000?" Cut to the chase. Everyone can save some grey hairs on the issue.

On the service person's end: if you've poured over pricing and you think it's fair -- It Is! Quit letting customers haggle. If you really feel that you want to work with them, level with them: "What exactly are you willing to pay?" Then decide whether you can remove some items from the list of deliverables to bring it down to their price, but don't compromise. If there's no equitable solution cut your losses, reclaim precious minutes and walk away. Someone so willing to haggle over everything is going to be a source of pain for every moment while you're on the job. If you lower your prices, you will resent doing the work. You shouldn't charge money if your very best will be tinged with resentment or regret. Don't low-ball yourself by jumping the gun and offering lower fees if the potential client hesitates. Just keep your trap shut and wait. Either they want you or they don't want you: they'll speak with their wallet.

*In the making of the average american breakfast, the chicken and cow are involved, the pig is committed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Word of Love

Many civil marriages are not considered “holy matrimony” by religious institutions because they do not conform to the rules of the religious institution. Those marriages have not challenged religious liberty. We must see that civil marriage, which has always been separate from religious marriage, will remain so.
-- New York Times, Why I Now Support Gay Marriage by Tom Suozzi
As a proud supporter of the Queer community, and an open-minded Interfaith minister, a statement like this raises my hackles. I agree about the separation of religious marriage from civil marriage only because I'm a staunch supporter of the separation of church & state. I want to debunk absolutely any implication that Gay marriages may not be suitable for "Holy matrimony." They are entirely suitable in my church. I challenge people to give a great deal of consideration to how much of their particular bible is in favor of love and inclusion, against mortal judgement, and what a small portion is dedicated to statements telling you to hate, to exclude. If God is Love, and we wish to spread the Word of God then we must spread the Word of Love. Where there is love, let there be marriage. Where two mindful respectful beings decide to share their lives together in the name of what is most holy, which is to say in the name of love, we as ministers are but there to witness that which has already taken place, to set it in stone, to bring it to the people, to create a certificate and to show without doubt the explicit vows for those that have already been whispered by the fireplace, whispered from the pillow, written in private love letters, engraved on the inscription of a ring too tiny to use for a proclamation, the spirit of the roses given now dust, the intent, the promises, the decision to spend a minimum of one's life with another. We are genderless spirits incarnated for a time into bodies with gender. No matter what the bibles say about that which is not condoned by God, the same bibles say to love thy neighbor, to forgive, to not pass judgement. It is not our job, and God has left us with contradictions rather than explicit instructions, with rules that say first this, then that. I'd rather go to the pearly gates and beg forgiveness for having solemnized marriages than be eternally damned for having violated the one supreme commandment: Love. It is with great love that I look forward to performing my first legal and religious marriage ceremony. Thank you, Tom Suozzi, for your explanation of your reconsideration of equal marriage. I pray that you're able to help change minds, and that more and more people will listen to the Word of Love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Minister on Marriage Equality

A note to share on one of my personal & professional struggles for change in the world. Governor Paterson has introduced a bill for marriage equality to the New York State congress. I have written to my state senator: As your constituent, and as an ordained resident minister in the state of New York, I request the right to marry all loving and committed couples, and to officiate their access to the civil privileges and responsibilities of marriage. I applaud governor Paterson's support of equal marriage, and I am asking for your support and your vote for the Governor's program bill to provide equal marriage for lesbian and gay couples in the state of New York. New York is always on the forefront of equal rights movements of all types. We enjoy civil liberties in New York that we take for granted, however we always pave the way for progressive change across our nation. Our stance is a strong vote towards a future without hate, where people enjoy simple but profound freedoms regardless of their color, their religion, or the gender of their true love. As an ordained minister, the lack of equal rights legislation is preventing me from performing my ministerial and civil duties when I am asked to perform joint civil and religious ceremonies of love and commitment for gay or lesbian couples. This legislation is pivotal to my granting access to civil liberties and equal rights, hampering my full access to the same rites/rights and rituals I am privileged to perform for heterosexuals. I hope you'll vote for this important legislation and make clear that New York is a state that honors and respects all loving couples and all families equally, and grant the freedom to ministers like myself to do what is right for committed and loving couples. Rev. Criss Ittermann I wanted to publicly post this as a reminder that it is not all religions, nor all religious persons, priests or ministers who are in opposition to marriage equality. I support the change and my church of ordination respects the equal rights of all people regardless of religion, sexuality, gender, race, (dis)ability, etc. I have already vowed that the first wedding ceremony I perform will be a same-sex marriage. I know we are closer than ever before, and I will happily and proudly officiate once this legislation has passed. Here's hoping that President Obama keeps his promises to the Gay community, that New York remains on the forefront of change in our nation and stops dragging its feet. I bless and thank all states that have already recognized that equal access to marriage is pivotal to remaining a society that is free and respects basic human liberties, and here's hoping those states that have recognized then overturned equal rights to marry wake up and smell the freedom coffee brewing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

As the Portfolio Unfolds (humor)

One day a nice Jewish Family girl named stopped for a Minute to check out some Superior Sheds. She had the Ways & Means* from her Scholarships & College Planning, in fact she was Beyond Rubies*! In a Spirit-to-Spirit meeting with Life Coach Sheila Pearl, she rediscovered her Sophistication & Abundant Life. This Lucid PEP talk revealed that every cloud has a Silva Lining, and was Simply Flawless. After the delivery of the Savvy Structures, she hopped on the Great Hudson River Water Quilt, powered by New York Solar Energy, and flew from Pine Island for her Luxury Sun Vacation. All this Independent Living made Emily homesick, so she hopped into a Newburgh Envelope and mailed herself to Weinert t-Shirts, a well-known Middletown Business. She got there Just In Time to SCORE 4.0 on her exams.

* website pending

So, can you come up with an interesting story based on YOUR client's business names? My apologies to clients who were left out. I'll try to come up with revisions that add more clients in!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alive in spite of myself

I took a brief shamanic journey yesterday at the request of Sheila Pearl, my life coach and coaching trainer. The topic at hand was to think of a significant situation in my life and find the gifts in it. I had already found so many gifts from the event I brought up, it seems like there's nothing left to find, but all things have so many layers to them, we can always find new meanings and new purposes if we look again. The event I brought up was of a period in my life where I hit "rock bottom". I'll go into it more, because not everyone has been to rock bottom. I took a shamanic journey back to my rock bottom. If you've experienced rock bottom it may be very different from mine. Or it might be the same. Please share in the comments! My brief Middle World journey back to Rock Bottom yesterday: I had no trouble finding my Rock Bottom -- since Sheila and I were actively talking about the journey I had taken there, it was palpable, just within reach. I closed my eyes, and drumless, only my heartbeat and my breath there to take me to the otherworld. But I often walk with one foot in each world. Only a slight twist of my inner eye, and I was there. It was a dark place. But not the dark of void. It smelled of loam, of rich earth of the forest floor. It was a deep vertical shaft, a pit, and only the very barest hint of light like your eyes at 3 am could barely pick out objects in a pitch black room. I could feel, touch, and faintly see the materia* laying in the bottom of this earthy shaft. It was not rocks, it was fertile soil, disintegrating wood, nitrogen rich, nutritious and dark and oh-so-ready to bring forth life. The ether hummed in this place with the pain, the loneliness, the crying, the tears, the torn stuff of the soul that I had lost there, the possibilities so limited in this narrow space. I wrote about it, "At the bottom there is a richness of emotion of feeling of exquisite negative fodder." When you're at the bottom there's only one way to go: up. "In depths of pain and despair we can fuel our return to the fullness and possibilities of a renewal of life & positive energies," I continued writing. But there reliving my moments in this pit with the clarity of the Shamanic experience, I realized what I had done with myself. I didn't climb my way out. I didn't claw my way with bloody torn fingernails. I gathered the fuel. I set it on fire -- a mystical blaze of energy and renewal. I took a long time to rebirth myself. So I wrote, "Like the phoenix, I simmered in the ashes of a ruined life -- alive in spite of myself. And with the carcass of love at my feet. It was no instant journey to rebirth & renewal. It was a hard journey." I might explain. I am alive in spite of myself. My journey to Rock Bottom was hard and long. I'd been there, or someplace like it, so many times before that day. But this time it was different. This time, Rock Bottom had taken the life of my lover -- boyfriend, best friend and confidant. I was the sole survivor of a suicide pact. It took 9 years to start to forgive myself, but that is behind me. It is now almost 23 years ago. I've moved on. I'm moving on yet farther. Forgiving and never forgetting. I am not Christian, I do not have conversations with God in a Judeo-Christian sense. He has only graced me with His voice once: I lay in the hospital, in the aftermath. I am only just coming to, raw and open like a bodiless heart laying on a gurney in the ICU. The room has not yet come to me. My whole body is coalescing around me, transparent like the manifestation of a body through a transporter beam. I have the dawning realization that I'm still alive. And I have the utter gall to ask, in the overdose-induced haze and only dawning self-awareness, but with the ever-present, full and overwhelming burden of all my mystical and Shaman gifts at the tender age of 16. In that moment I reached out, bewildered. "Why?" I asked, "I tried so hard. It would have been so much easier to let me go." and He replied, although not quite in words, "You're not done yet." Since then I have spoken with many gods, of many religions. Gods who you can dine with, gods who will massage your back when you are tired, gods who will hug you and hold you when you are weak & cold. I have channeled gods, and I have been given great gifts by them. But that Judeo-Christian God has nothing to say to me after this one day. Perhaps He has no great love of me, if He takes those he loves the most early. Or He loves me most dearly and refuses to face the hard work He has put before me, and in staying His Hand and saying, "Sit! Good dog!" was all He had the heart to give to me. It is clear to me that I am my greatest church, my best temple, and that all the sparkling facets of divinity are free to come and go from my life. That is not enough, but it will do. For a time. My Shamanic journey ends in the present & future tense, so I write, "Arisen and on fire, I dried my wings & soar -- I now lead a flock of phoenixes like geese to ignite a new direction -- to bring the rebirth of the planet -- to give hope & love & healing." The most amazing thing is that without intending to, I realize I've done a spontaneous soul retrieval. It's not recommended to do your own soul retrievals, but it was not my intention and I'm not one to listen to other people's rhetoric & dogma anyway. I understand soul retrievals are very very dangerous territory, but I considered myself very safe in the loving presence of my Life Coach Sheila, and I am so very happy to have another part of my big soul puzzle back. That I spontaneously recovered part of my soul (in the Shamanic sense) explains why I felt wonky when I left. If you're interested in learning more about Soul Loss and Soul Retrieval, I have an article I wrote many years ago on the topic. Thank for for being my Witness. *In Latin, herbals are called materia medica.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Are we causing our nightmares?

"Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. And lo, no one was there." -- unknown

May I coach you?

As individuals we have no control over our national or worldwide economy. Anything causing us to feel out of control is a source of anxiety to us. And anxiety is a perpetual level of fear.

I hear about people afraid to open their statements for investments. I hear about people afraid to part with their money. I hear about people living in fear of the economy.

Fear is an unsubstantial prison warden. When we fear, we shrink into ourselves. We no longer are self-actualized, although we continue to be self-determined. Look at those words, because hidden in them is the crux of the situation.

Actualization is the act of bringing dreams to reality, or in this particular moment, the act of facing reality. Self-Actualization is the realization of the basic human drive to become who and what we want to become, or the act of facing reality in this very moment and being at peace with it. As long as you are running away from your financial reality, you cannot be self-actualized.

Self-determined -- we are all self-determined whether we like it or not. This is the act of determining or causing our own reality. "To be the decisive factor in..." is the dictionary definition I'd like to focus on. We are all the final deciding factor in our own realities. We each have the last say about who and what we are. Are we fearful? Or are we faithful?

So let me say this again: When we fear we are no longer self-actualized, although we continue to be self-determined. When we fear, we impose limitations on our ability to dream & grow. When we fear, we are making ourselves into something fearful. Often, even worse, when we fear we make ourselves into something to be feared. When we fear, we are bringing our fear into reality, but it is the reality of our nightmares, not the reality of our dreams.

I listened to an interview of a financial coach the other day who said (to paraphrase) that running away from our financial reality is only going to attract more financial uncertainty. We can't get money unless we face the current reality of how much money we have. Guilty as accused, I immediately did as he suggested and made my financial map. I split a page into 4 boxes. In one, I put my current debts. In another, I put my current liquid assets & immediate accounts receivable (checks in the mail). In another I put my accounts payable (and in some cases a due date). In the 4th quadrant, where most people would put their investments & large assets (perhaps a home, retirement accounts), I jotted down decisions of where to move my liquid assets to cover bills. My whole financial picture fit on one page. My payables & debts far outweigh my income, but facing that reality is the important part. I'm not going to get out of my current financial conundrum from hiding from it or being afraid to pay the bills. The financial coach in the interview says that people who face their finances every week find that their finances correct themselves within 6 months. I'm prepared to do that, and I am prepared to remove fear from my life.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place last night. I purchased a book last night: "To Sell is Not to Sell" by Greta Schulz. One small section stands so apart from the others I flipped through so far. It's about our civic duty in the midst of wars, famines, financial hardship. It is the duty of our soldiers to fight. It is the duty of our firefighters to protect. They face overwhelming decisions in-the-moment and simply have to plow ahead and do what they do -- they cannot allow fear to immobilize them. They work to protect, to make secure. And they do not ask a leave of absence simply because they are fighting overwhelming odds, or because they may not live to see it through. In the aftermath of 9/11 Greta was immobilized. To paraphrase: How can business go on when the firefighters are digging through the ashes for survivors (I add, "or breathing toxic fumes that will haunt them for years...."), and our soldiers are being deployed? she asked. How can we do "business as usual" when our country is under attack?

Then a realization came to Greta -- she realized that it is the duty of a firefighter to find the survivors, to fight the blaze. It is the duty of the soldiers to fight for our freedom & to protect our country. Surely they have a healthy fear, but -- to get patriotic and pragmatic both -- it is the duty of the business owner to go back to business as usual, to protect the economy that funds those soldiers, to contribute to the tax base that feeds those firefighters. I will take it one step further: It's the duty of the consumer to continue to purchase services and products (no matter how much more choosy they will be about it) to complete that cycle.

Business must go on. We have a terrific country, and if you're running from financial reality through fear, you are in the way of both the progress of yourself and others. You are contributing to the financial instability of our country. It is your civic duty to purchase goods & services, to provide goods & services, to give this country economic stability. And since we're all self-determined, we must start with ourselves. We each can only change our own outcomes -- that is self-determination. I refuse to buy into the recession: I continue to purchase goods & services.

To allow the fear to control us is a lack of faith. We have a "Chinese menu" of whom we are committing our lack of faith against: God or higher powers, our President, our country, our economic system, our state, county or town, even our children's future employability. To quit spending money is a selfish act against our neighbors, it is entirely about thinking of ourselves and our family first before thinking of the needs of others. And lastly, spend it now because the value of your liquid assets may dwindle further if you don't: what good is holding on to the money? If the money isn't flowing, if people are holding on to their money, there is nothing that can stop the spiral. The only way for our money to keep its value is to keep it circulating, otherwise it's a pile of empty promises & the bad debt our money is backed with, rather than a means of economic exchange.

I face my financial reality, that frees me up to be self-actualized, because to live out my dreams, I must not fear.

I have lived my life by this memorized chant by Frank Herbert, from Dune: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mr. President (parody)

I apologize. I had to do it. I saw the photos, and this parody immediately came to mind. I was careful not to make too much fun of our new most honorable President, but I had to do this at the expense of (former) President Bush.

Please laugh! Please. Don't cart me away. LOL!!!

JPEG (below) & PDF versions available. Feel free to print it, pass it around the office, have a good laugh.

Apologies to the Chicago Tribune, but your excellent photos inspired this parody. Click the thumbnail for the full-sized version.
[caption id="attachment_114" align="alignnone" width="612" caption="Parody of the coverage of the Inauguration of President Obama"]Parody of the coverage of the Inauguration of President Obama[/caption]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Boycott the Recession

Click for images to spark the imagination on how to think differently about the so-called recession.

I don't know about you, but I didn't ask for a recession (or depression, or whatever....). It wasn't on my list of "things to do" this year. It's not on my resolution list. And it's not even on my bucket list.

I've decided to boycott the recession. I refuse to buy into it. It's like the guest you really wish you didn't have to invite to your potluck -- they don't bring a dish and they eat for 20. And they pick the best dishes to eat. Nothing left for anyone else. Well, I've decided I don't care if I piss off Uncle Sam, this person ain't coming to my bar-b-que.

Maybe you'd like to join me. I have created a group of images, badges, stickers, funny sayings -- stick them wherever you want as long as you keep to the "by" attribution requirement. Put them at the bottom of your email, on your blog, on a card in your wallet. Or don't. If you find them offensive or silly, then move along. I don't know what colors people need them in, so I didn't get fancy with colors. It's a boycott, not a Gala.

I'm especially fond of "While you were out griping..."

I've been saying it for a while, but avid networker Dr. Ivan Misner inspired me (in this YouTube video) about buying in to the recession. He met someone with a "I ABSOLUTELY refuse to participate in this recession" button. That's what did it. Criss on inspiration. That means "Watch Out!" to anyone who knows me. If anyone is actually interested in my hastily-designed buttonfest, I'll make this one easier on you and actually slice up the images so that you can post them individually on your website with a transparent background where warranted....but if no one wants the images, I won't bother.

Keep working, keep thinking, keep dreaming big, keep your head above water, and don't stop doing the doggy paddle. You know, all that law of attraction stuff, right? Don't think fear. Don't feed the mental commiseration going on. You're running a business! Think of sales closing the way they should. Think of checks in your mailbox. Think of how much your business is going to grow. If your business is growing double this year, you have a lot of work to do -- "Sorry guys, no time to gripe...." or, as one of my images says:

"While you were out griping could have picked up a client."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Maximize Networking Results in any venue

How can networking events work for you if attendance is still dwindling? If you're not looking at them as a small trade-show where you'll get tons of leads, are they still worth attending?

Here's 3 quick tips to use individualized invitations to markedly increase the value of any event you attend:

Invite referral partners: Stack the room. Your referral partner(s!) will get a little more face-time with you, which puts you at the top of their mind. If they're a networkaholic, they'll appreciate meeting a new group, and on the selfish side you get more kudos so they'll want to do you a favor in-turn. If you received a referral from them, invite them AND pay for their fee to come to the networking event. How's that for a "thank you!" gift? Note, you're not taking them out to lunch -- ask your accountant if you can tag it as an incentive gift for taxes.

Invite prospects: Suddenly you have a reason to reach out to a prospect without giving a sales pitch! This is for them -- right? You can introduce them to your network, and they might get business from it. For you, the networking event becomes an opportunity for a high-touch contact with low pressure. Don't talk about your services unless they mention their interest in your products, but do allow them a chance to get to know you and your other referral partners better. If you have clients or referral partners in the room, someone else may talk them into closing the sale! You have increased your value to the client without doing anything you wouldn't have been doing anyway.

Invite clients: Another opportunity for a high-touch contact, which is excellent customer service and maintains top-of-mind awareness with someone who has already paid you. Talk them up to others, and play matchmaker for them. They're living, walking, breathing proof that you do your work, and do it well. They're an on-the-spot testimonial for your services. They may evangelize you to the group. If you do your 30 second or 1 minute presentation on a service they did NOT purchase (yet) or maybe don't even know you offer, you may just be able to up-sell it to them later.

Work on making it a habit to invite one person to every networking event you attend -- or invite 3 people to the QED luncheons to get $15 off your next luncheon. Shuffle these invites into your normal sales calls, schedule dance cards with referral partners before or after a networking event, and make these invitations a normal part of your ongoing customer service.

Let everyone know how it works out for you--I've been applying these techniques and I like how it has been working out.

For local networking venues see -- and make sure you join us at the QED Networking Luncheons and QED Hudson Valley Business Edge Conference events!