Expanding Your Capacity – Expanding Your World

earthglobe.jpgI’ve been focusing a lot lately on the idea of expanding capacity…the capacity to do more of what we love, bring forward more of who we are, and the capacity to live with increased joy and grace.

One way to expand capacity seems to be to surround myself with new opportunities, new circumstances and even new information.

I’ve been browsing through books I haven’t known about before, DVDs I haven’t seen or heard of, and even new blogs I haven’t visited. The books I found at a used bookstore and the DVDs from a new catalog I discovered. As for blogs, I found 259 new ones in the batch of 260 that Liz Strauss brilliantly showcased at her annual Blog-To Show this past weekend (I also expanded my capacity for trying new bloggy things and put my own blog in the show:) Pop on over to discover some new blogs that will help you expand your capacity!

At first glance, the notion of expanding capacity might seem to be the antithesis of living a simpler life…I don’t see it that way. Expanding capacity doesn’t inherently mean “get and do more stuff”…it could mean expanding our capacity to live more joyfully, simply, and authentically. I like thinking of it that way.

How about you? What would it mean for you to expand your capacity? What might be possible?

Wellness Cafe – What’s on Your Mind?

friends-at-cafe-2-copy.jpgThis afternoon I went to my favorite cafe. Took nothing but money, my driver’s license and my car keys. Thought I’d take a time out from all things work related.

I got my iced green tea, settled into a comfy chair, and did nothing but stare into oblivion. I’m sure there were whirring blenders, a strong aroma of dark roast coffee, and a cool breeze produced by the overhead fan…I’ve experienced them all, many times before. But today, I just needed to chill out. I did. For a good 15 minutes.

And then I heard a voice rise from the group of people who sat at the table beside me. “What’s been on your mind lately?” I heard a young woman’s voice ask. I turned, thinking she was talking to me. She wasn’t. She was talking to her group of friends. I turned back to my iced tea and, having borrowed her question, mulled it over for a while.

“What’s been on my mind lately?” I asked myself. Posing the question to my own self made me smile. My own “answers” to the question included everything from “maybe Oregon would be a good vacation spot this year” to “I’m wondering if my own fitness regime needs tweaking?” I even thought about several business decisions I’d sworn I wouldn’t bring with me to the cafe. Doing so with detachment was actually enjoyable.

After I left I realized that just exploring the terrain of my mind, without insisting that I had to do anything about what I was pondering, held the key to that enjoyment…

So what about you…what’s on your mind?

Life Lessons from Watching a Master Golfer

golf.jpgEven though I come from a family of avid golfers, and grew up with the game surrounding me, I am not a golfer.

What I do have though is a profound respect for those who do play, a love for the aesthetics of beautiful golf courses and an unexplainable obsession for watching masterful golfers and gleaning lessons I can apply to my own life.

So yes, I was glued to the TV for days watching Tiger Woods win this latest U.S. Open. Especially the round on Father’s Day, the play off round on Monday and the subsequent sudden-death game that resulted in his win. The man never ceases to amaze me.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned from watching Tiger play this past week and how I will put it to use. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. I’m not privy to the inside of Tiger’s head…if I were, I’d guess that his mindset FROM THE OUTSET of this U.S. Open was: “I’ve WON the 2008 U.S. Open”.

2. Like a pilot with a specific destination (let’s say Kansas), he knew where he was headed. He had a clear intention. In fact he already saw in his mind’s eye that he had arrived at his destination.

3. Also like a pilot, he had to do course-correction along the way. I imagine when a shot didn’t go as planned, even let’s say an hour before the tournament ended, he didn’t say to himself, “Oh crap, I’m not going to win now”, any more than the pilot would say,”Oh crap, I’m not going to land in Kansas” when the wind shifted a bit and the course had to be altered an hour before landing. I’ll bet instead Tiger’s thinking went something like:

4. “Okay, now what? Since I see myself as ALREADY HAVING WON THIS THING and I project to an hour from now when I am holding that trophy, WHAT DID I DO AT THIS POINT SO I WOUND UP WINNING?”

5. And then he just did the next thing he had to do…he did the next thing that his “winning script” (which was written in terms of the future) already said had happened to get him the trophy. He put ALL HIS FOCUS ON THE SHOT HE WAS TAKING AT THE MOMENT, knowing IT WAS IN SERVICE TO THE GOAL HE HAD ALREADY ACHIEVED IN SOME FUTURE STATE. In the present, he isn’t griping that he has to get out of the sand trap or rough (okay, maybe for a split second) but then, he immediately focuses and just gets out because he knows that’s what will have happened in the script of his already having won that trophy.

6. I truly think he enjoyed the process. (Okay, maybe not the knee pain, but certainly the chance to focus and apply his skill.)

7. In my own life, I have a few “trophies” that I want to attain or cultivate. Some are intangible trophies like peace and joy. Others are tangible like a clear business goal and a fitness goal. I am committed to spending time each day seeing the future “script” of myself as already in possession of these things.

8. And I am committed to simultaneously focusing on each task in front of me that is a part of that “script” with mindfulness.

9. I am committed to shortening the time I spend griping about unexpected sand traps. (I mean really, yes I might be bummed, but how much preciouis time do I want to hang out there?)

10. I’m committed to refocusing on the needed course correction that is already a part of my future success script. (My friend and financial mentor, Loral Langemeir, calls this future pacing.)

11. I’m committed to enjoying the process.

I sure have no inkling whatsoever to pick up a golf club, but God, I love golf. And thanks, Tiger. You’re the best business and wellness mentor I’ve ever “hired”.

How about you? Love to hear if any of this makes sense in your life…

Cultivate Wellness By Keeping it Simple

bluewater-ripple.jpgWellness – a small word with big implications. So big, that some people are overwhelmed by the idea. Overwhelmed because they think they have to take big steps, make major shifts, and do so all at once, right now. It’s no wonder.

Just reading the front cover of a popular wellness magazine this morning, I saw admonitions that I, while reading this one issue, should: “Change the Way I Eat; Change the Way I Exercise; Improve My Meditation Techniques; Revamp My Yoga Practice; Hire a Personal Trainer; Achieve My Ideal Weight; Stay Calm.” Yikes!

Of course, you could get equally overwhelmed by reading every single post I’ve put on this blog and expect yourself to implement everything – and implement all of the tips all today no less. But that’s not the way I approach wellness in my own life, and it’s not the way I want to promote wellness here. I’m a big believer in keeping things meaningful and simple.

Keep it simple.
You can begin to make a difference in the wellness of your life and business with your next breath. You already have the blueprint for doing so within you. With simple attention and a commitment to your inner nature, you can begin today to uncover or rediscover that blueprint.

5 Simple Ways to Bring Wellness into Your Life

1. Honor your breath.
Right now. Without changing a thing, what do you notice about your breath? Is it shallow? Fast? Slow? Your breath is the source of your life. Taking time to notice it each day, in the midst of business and personal life tasks, is a powerful way to honor your inner nature.

2. Clarify your values.
What’s important? Personally and professionally, what do you value? Efficiency? Joy? Education? Recognition? Identify your Top 3 Values and post them on your calendar or dashboard. Refer to this list as you make choices throughout your day, especially the choices you know will impact your overall wellness level.

3. Make a mini-assessment in 1 hour. Assess your life, your business and your actions.
Are your values evident in your personal and professional life? Are you walking your talk? Take your Top 3 Values and spend an honest hour with yourself as you assess your life and business. Is there one small but high-leveraging change you can make? When and how will you do it? Go ahead. Shift something right now.

4. Discover what you love.
What makes your heart sing? What fills your soul at this stage in your life? Sometimes we get stuck in routines and wake up to find we are far away from doing what we love. Tame the Gremlin® that tells you that discovering what you love takes a lot of work. Keep it simple. If you had plenty of time and money, what would you be doing? Why? Take some time to write your answer (or speak it into a tape recorder). Find a way this week to start doing something you love. Review this tip often.

5. Focus on your strengths.
What do you do well? What comes easily? Are you overlooking any personal or professional strength that others see? List your Top 5 Strengths. Now ask 2 people (whose opinions you respect) to do the same for you—have them include any character attributes, business practices, or life skills they admire. Combine the information. Keep the final list handy and review your strengths often.

Bonus Tip: Read Something Inspirational
It’s amazing to me that the simple act of reading a short haiku, a small poem, an ancient fable, or an inspiring essay, can open up new space in the day. Find a collection of your old favorites, or discover a new one. Place Seven Sacred Attitudes® on your nightstand for easy morning or evening inspiration.

Invitation: Choose to take one of these simple tips and start cultivating wellness with your next breath!

Keep us posted: I haven’t done a few of these myself in awhile, so I’ll be looking at #5 today. How about you?

Time Out for Happiness

playing-monopoly.jpgWho knew family game night last night would lead to a blog post on the WellnessCoach blog? Not me. But I will use anything in front of me as a metaphor if I think it will help me shift and broaden my perspective on wellness. And today, I’m looking at a board game.

I believe the designers of Monopoly® were on to something when they put the “Free Parking” space on the game board. I think it was a subtle reminder to take time out and do nothing. A subtle reminder to heed the following quote in our daily lives:

“Now and then it’s good to pause
in the pursuit of happiness
and just be happy.”

– Guillaume Apollinaire

At least that’s how I’m thinking about the “Free Parking” space today.

And if you’d like to join me in this line of thinking, feel free to use this blog post as a “Free Parking” spot for yourself today. In your pursuit of happiness, your rush to read blogs, gather new information, and all matters you face, take a break.

Right here.

Right now.

Take one deep breath.

Close your eyes and just feel the joy of taking that breath.

Yes, just like that.

Take this one moment to be happy, right here, right now.

For this one breath.

Namaste

The 20th Tip for Happy and Stress-Free Holidays

look-closely.jpgThe first 19 tips for a Relaxing Holiday Season were wonderfully presented today by Edward Mills, in the Evolving Times Blog. I’d like to add the 20th tip here.

Just Notice
Yes, this is the tip I offer you this season…Just Notice. Simple words, challenging to remember. The method? Glad you asked…

Try this:

Throughout the day, take time to be present to the moment before you.

First, ask yourself: “What do I notice here?”

Then check within yourself and with all that’s around you by asking:

How is my breathing?
Are my shoulders tensed?
Am I grinding my teeth?
What is literally right in front of me?

And the big question:

What about this haven’t I noticed before? (I was instructed in a workshop once to ask myself this question while looking at a $1 bill for 15 solid minutes, where all we did was to notice something on the bill that we hadn’t noticed before. It was quite illuminating.)

Make no judgments about what you notice, just notice it. Examples: “I see a desktop with 10 stacks of paper, an over-flowing in-box, I don’t think I’m breathing, there is a holiday card from a dear colleague and my clock says 3pm.” or “I see a table of gift wrap, a sink full of dishes, my breathing is shallow, my shoulders are hunched and tight, I see small flecks of glitter on the card my niece made, and I never noticed the way the light comes in through the shutters in the afternoon.”

Then take a deep breath and continue with what you are doing.

I can guarantee that if you “just notice” and omit the judgments (“Oh, this place is a mess and I am way behind”), and simply answer the questions above, the “just noticing” will go a long way toward keeping you focused on the heart-centered present…which is all the holiday present you might really need:)

What tips do you have for stress-free holidays? Let us know!

Seven Sacred Attitudes® –Living in the Richness of the Moment During the Holidays and New Year

3207cvr.jpgThe holidays and a new year bring many opportunities to “live in the richness of the moment”, as I call itor to “live consciously” as Leo Babauta says in his ZenHabits post today. But most of those opportunities for conscious and rich living will go unnoticed if we stress out, multi-task and rush around getting everything “just right” for our celebrations and year-end business obligations.

To reclaim the richness of those moments, I’ve found It’s helpful to adopt the 4-step practice I call, Stop…Breath…Notice…Choose.™ And though I’d love to teach it to you in a coaching program or a Sacred Attitudes workshop next year, the holidays are already underway and I’ll bet you’d like to start reclaiming those moments right this minute. Good news is, you now can!

Announcing the arrival of my e-book! Yes, after a successful year in paperback, Seven Sacred Attitudes has morphed into its new form. For those traveling a path of personal growth and development and wanting to live more meaningful lives, here’s the e-book no “traveler” should be without: Seven Sacred Attitudes®: How to Live in the Richness of the Moment.

I am honored that wellness expert, Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, M.D., endorsed the book by saying:

“Erica Ross-Krieger’s words are wise, sensible and compelling. From the very first page, her profound Seven Sacred Attitudes will become an important part of your life. It is with admiration and acclaim that I recommend this must-read book to everyone desirous of adopting attitudes that heal.”

— Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D.
Author of Love is Letting Go of Fear
Founder, Center for Attitudinal Healing

A few notes about the e-book:
With compelling stories and thought-provoking questions this e-book will encourage you to open your heart and explore your attitudes toward life. Learning the 4-step process to cultivate the Seven Sacred Attitudes will help you lead a more joyful, meaningful life. Discovering more about the attitudes will be a juicy journey. The Sacred Attitudes are:

* Use Inner Wisdom
* Accept What’s So
* Go Slow
* Do Less
* Show Up
* Trust the Process
* Be With the Questions

Each essay, fable, and story in Seven Sacred Attitudes illustrates one of the Sacred Attitudes, revealing that every step, every breath, along life’s path presents an opportunity to deepen your learning. Questions help you examine—and cultivate—energy-giving attitudes for personal growth and a rewarding life.

So, enjoy the e-book and join me in the practice of reclaiming each moment, so we can fully enjoy the season and cultivate the richness of the New Year.

P.S. Here are a few more endorsements of the e-book and mega-thanks for giving me the chance to share my good news:

“This engaging life manual teaches you to rely on Sacred Attitudes to nurture your inner wisdom, cultivate serenity, and allow happiness to emerge. Following Erica Ross-Krieger’s simple daily process of ‘Stop, Breathe, Notice, and Choose’ will help you focus on the heart-centered present.”

— Roger Jahnke, O.M.D.
Author of The Healer Within and The Healing Promise of Qi

“As you contemplate the delicious gems inside Seven Sacred Attitudes, you will find Erica Ross-Krieger has accomplished two marvelous things: first, she reveals the Heart of a true Teacher; and second, she gives us a new model for being with ourselves, coaching others, and making our lives full and meaningful.”

— Craig Carr, CPCC, PCC

Founder, Coaching Elements, Inc.
Senior Trainer, Coaches Training Institute

Seven Sacred Attitudes is a compelling and inspirational book. Who can resist finding out what the Seven Sacred Attitudes are and how we can use them for healing our lives?”

— Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., Author of The Four-Fold Way and Signs of Life

About the Author

What will you do continuously?

In his Zen Habits blog yesterday, author Leo Babauta wrote a delicious post called Faith in Humanity: How to Bring People Closer, and Restore Kindness. As others who inspire me have done before, he wrote of the simple acts of kindness and “paying it forward” that help make this world a better place. In the past, I’ve responded to the idea of “paying it forward” with great enthusiasm for a day or two. I’ve anonymously paid bridge tolls for cars behind me, put money in expiring meters and volunteered my time.

But somehow, after a day or two, I forget. This time, I have an idea for keeping the idea alive. Leo offered his e-book for free to the first 30 people to comment to his post, and a link to those who wrote about the post in their blogs (like this one) and mentioned how they would “pay it forward.” I think the best way I can “pay Leo forward” is to offer this idea to my readers:

I’ll be posting a yellow stickie on my mirror as soon as I’m done with this post. It will say: “How will you spread kindness today?”

I hope you’ll do the same. It will remind us to consciously look for ways to “pay it forward” every day…not just for a few days. Thanks for the nudge, Leo.

Your Wellness Manifesto – Don’t Wait for the New Year!

megaphone.jpgI’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. That doesn’t mean I’m not a goal-setter, it’s just that I’d rather develop new habits (personal and professional) one day at a time, keep assessing progress throughout the year, and make course corrections as I go. I encourage my clients to do the same.

Wellness Manifesto
One of the tools I use to assess my overall wellness is a “living” document that I call a “Wellness Manifesto” – my clients have caught on and love the idea, so it’s the heart of this post today. A Wellness Manifesto is a written declaration of activities (and non-activities) that support wellbeing as you define it, declared in the present tense. I say that the document is “living” because you continue to refine it and revisit it on an on-going basis, not just at the New Year.

What Does the Manifesto Contain?

The Manifesto’s key components are: The Current Date, The Next Review Date, Your Wellness Intention, Keywords (words used frequently in the intention and/or those that you used that hold lots of juice for you) and 3 Habits to Strengthen.

Frequency
I suggest revisiting your Wellness Manifesto quarterly and reading it aloud to at least one other person. Since I did so in September, my own Wellness Manifesto is already in good shape for the holidays.

Focuses Your Intention
When I glance at the Wellness Manifesto document each day, I’m reminded of my Wellness intentions. For example, I’m reminded that, in keeping with my Manifesto, I want to look back a week after Thanksgiving land say, “How wonderful it was to eat well, enjoy the gathering of friends and family, and get some exercise that day.” I’m just more likely to act accordingly if I write the Manifesto “as if” things I intend to do have already taken place. It doesn’t guarantee anything…it just helps me put my attention on what I want regarding my wellness.

Example of a Wellness Manifesto
Look through the following example of a simple Wellness Manifesto that I revised in September. Notice it is written in present tense as if these things are already firmly in place as I write it. Notice the keywords are really the top values I’m declaring to be of importance right now. Looking at this list each day (as well as having announced and read the Manifesto to my coach In September) supports the 3 habits I want to strengthen during this time.

Date: September 1, 2007

Next Review Date (three months): December 1, 2007
*************************

Wellness Manifesto of: Erica Ross-Kriegeer

I experience wellness in body, mind and spirit. I rise early in the morning so I can enjoy the quiet hours before the active day begins. I use the time to meditate, stretch, write a few words of gratitude in my journal and identify my priorities for my business. In this way, I am more focused and prepared for the full day ahead. I focus on relaxation during the holidays, build restful “time-outs” into my workday, spend time outdoors daily and also clear time to spend with family and friends. I take time to truly savor the healthy food I put into my body and know that when I do so I’m caring for the vehicle that let’s me do the work I love to do in the world.

Keywords:
Quiet
Priorities
Focused
Relaxation
Body, Mind, Spirit
Healthy Food
Savor
Enjoy Friends & Family
Exercise

3 Habits to Strengthen:
Rising at 6am
Daily time outdoors
Business Priorities set each day

A Gentle Yet Powerful Reminder
I don’t suggest using the Wellness Manifesto to give yourself a hard time – I figure Life can be hard enough as it is some days. Just use it to keep your eye on what’s important.

For instance, let’s say you’re currently working on developing the habit of getting up a half-hour earlier than you used to (like I am). You can keep your manifesto by your nightstand and your alarm clock. On the manifesto will be a few keywords that you want to emphasize in your life right now – words that could include: quiet time, priorities, and focus. You might glance at the document before bed, taking a minute to imagine those qualities as already present in your life.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, and you’re tempted to hit the snooze button one more time (or turn it off and go back to sleep) just glance at the manifesto again. Ask yourself if those qualities of  quiet time, priorities, and focus are important?

If so, glancing at that list might just be all you need to get going and further solidify your habit of getting up earlier. If not, and you choose not to get up, don’t beat yourself up about it later on. Just re-group and course-correct. Maybe 15 minutes earlier is a better target for a while. Maybe getting to bed earlier is where you really need to focus. Just revisit the manifesto, revise it, declare it to someone again, and gently get back in the saddle.

Your Turn
I invite you to use the example above as a guide to create your own Wellness Manifesto and put it into place before the winter holidays this year.

It could just be one of the best gifts you give yourself.

What will your Wellness Manifesto say? Send a comment and let us know.

Oh…and do you see how you could do a Wellness Manifesto for your business? (Another topic for another post:)

Living in the Richness of the Moment – Part 7: Use Questions as Passports

be-w-questions.jpgGot any business questions hanging around?

For many entrepreneurs, unanswered life questions in general cause anxiety — and business questions?…let’s just say “wellness” is not the word I’d use to describe our states of being when we are “wrestling” with an unanswered business question. In this final post of the series, I’d like to explore another perspective about questions.

My client, Wendy (not her real name), once said to me, “Questions are like passports…they take you into new territory.” I don’t think she’s the first one to have ever said it, but since she’s the first one I heard it from, she gets the credit. Anyway, since the first moment I heard those words I’ve recited Wendy’s quote to myself more times than I can count. I do so whenever I consider making changes in my business and I’m stumped by the questions involved.

You know the ones…”should I spend X on marketing? Should I start a blog? Do I hire an assistant? Is this the right course of action this year?”

When I’m surrounded by questions (which is often), can’t find answers (even more often), and have a gnawing sense of unwellness because of it all, I remember the “passport perspective.” I take a breath, employ a few techniques (I’ll share them below), embrace the state of suspense, and am finally able to relax into the unknowing. When I resist, and insist on pushing for an answer before its time, I wind up miserable.

As I said, I’ve got several techniques and inquiries I draw from when traveling in the territory of unanswered questions [Pamela Slim (who writes the phenomenal Escape from Cubicle Nation blog) refers to this turf as “wandering in the desert” in Psychology Today’s December cover story that features her.) Quite often, the techniques and inquiries I use transport me from fears of making a wrong decision or getting stuck “answerless” forever, to a state of acceptance. I have no idea if the same tools will foster “passport travels” with your questions…but give them a whirl and see what happens:

Try this: Take a Question for a Walk Exercise
This coming weekend, consider taking a question out for a walk. Write a question that you are facing on a small piece of paper. Simply notice how you feel about that question in your life. Now, place it in your pocket, put on your favorite walking shoes, and head out the door.

As you walk, move briskly and concentrate fully on all that surrounds you. Notice everything. Notice the color of the sky, the feel of the air on your skin, the pebbles on the ground, the shape of the neighbor’s roofline, the sounds coming from your left, the number of telephone poles you pass. Notice it all. Continue doing so for at least 15 minutes and then head for home.

Back at home, take the question from your pocket. Notice how you feel about it at this point. Did something change? Is there another question that now comes forward? Let that question, or the original one, percolate for a few days. Practice the art of what I call in Seven Sacred Attitudes, Being with the Questions.

Try this: Explore these inquiries this week:
• What questions are you living with?
• What would change if you viewed those questions as “passports” to
another phase of your life?
• How will you give gratitude (even for the questions) this month?
• What is it to enjoy the unknowing?

The realm of unknowing is often paved with discomfort. Embracing unanswered questions and learning to relax into the uncertainty is grist for the mill of a daily practice. Wishing you many blessings as you hone your practice.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment™
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?
3. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Slow Down to the Speed of Life
4. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Do Less
5. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Trust the Process of Life
6. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Count Your Entrepreneurial Riches