From Boring to Brilliant: Setting the Stage to Shine


How many of you are feeling the big-yawn of your daily life right now, the measured and dull predictability of things just marching along?


Sometimes when we feel mired in the same-old, same-old it's hard to imagine that our life could really be edged in Shine, could reflect the more brilliant and enlivening aspects of who we are.


While we may get the concept of Shine we still find ourselves living ho-hum, the two states, Shine/Ho-Hum, feeling more like two planets a million miles apart. 

And even though we suspect our ho-hum is somehow connected to our brilliance, what's alive and dynamic in us is often overlooked for what's mundane and often just inching its way along. 

We live a lot of grey. And it's not just the weather.


Some of it's Habit-Mind

A big part of our dullness comes from the mental ruts we favor.


When we rely on overused perspectives we slip out of the wide-open here-and-now moment which is where aliveness lives.


When we opt for the familiar, the focused, the zones, the shut-in mental-scapes we produce only forgone experiences.

And foregone experiences are the foundation of ho-hum existences. And in living ho-hum, Shine might as well be a planet away.


The Richness of Here and Now

People talk a lot about the power of the here-and-now. And I'm sure it's so for many reasons. But one of my favorite reasons to promote here-and-now living is that it's just teeming with Shine opportunities. 

Being here-and-now, meaning you have body/mind/emotional awareness of the moment you're in, let's you see not only the specifics of the moment you're in, but as importantly, let's you glimpse the possibilities of where you could be.


Presence is preamble to Shine as hunger is to satiety, or creeping shadow to lighting a fire.


Presence shows what is and what could be.


Comfort is not Shine

If tuning in tells you where you are is not where you want to be, then obviously you can make choices to restore your equilibrium.

You can stand and stretch if your back feels tight, get a glass of water if thirsty, scratch the thing that itches.

Here-and-now presence is good for basic comfort and functioning.

But comfort is not Shine.


Shine is something different: it's your aliveness, your meaning, your joy, satisfaction and highest sense of well-being. It's the animating force that springs from your core and defines your particular expression of the above.


I would even say it's the reason you're here, your singular raison d'etre.


Genius is like Shine

If I were going to liken Shine to anything it would be to genius, to those flash moments that are deeply relevant, often revolutionary, and yield exponentially.  


And as we know, genius follows her own schedule. She visits at will, like the desired and unpredictable lover she is.


And while we wait her arrival, it's best to do so in readiness if we hope to optimize the chance encounters.

Likewise, we can set the tone to capture potential moments of Shine.


Setting the Tone for Shine

We set the tone to experience more Shine when we make daily choices consistent with our Shine, with our vitality, joy, well-being and existential satisfaction.

And these choices are there for us to make precisely in our daily wandering about the desert of ho-hum.

These choices can look like any of the following:


  • lingering for five minutes longer with your kid, or spouse, before heading off to work because it brings you joy or resonates with the tempo of life you want to be living. (It also works lingering 5 minutes longer with a favorite book, a glass of wine, or moment of beauty, etc. - anything related to the life that matters to you.)

  • making the difficult choice to say No to someone/something you care about so you can say Yes to yourself - to that quiet evening at home, or evening out with girlfriends, or whatever it is that recharges you and puts you in touch with your essential aliveness.

  • affirming your place and authority in the web of life by taking some action and making a difference in something that matters to you (donating money, time, a kind word; proposing a better solution; picking up litter; waving at a random child.)



The actions that lay the groundwork for Shine don't have to be big. They just have to be relevant to your Shine, meaning they flow from what makes you come alive, gives you meaning, satisfaction, joy and well-being.


And it's precisely when in the desert of ho-hum, meaning the mundane moments of living, when we work the soil of our Shine, when leaning into the here-and-now we can see which actions will draw her near. 

This is how we leverage our guaranteed ho-hum to set the stage for our optional Shine.

This is how we Shine.



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Building a Life with Shine


Everyone I know wants the keys to success; to be where they want to be with relationship, career, financial security and health.


And while there may be many keys to accomplish those goals, there is a master that will throw the bolt on all the locks, simultaneously. That master key is living from your Shine, from the unique brilliance at the core of you.


Big claims I know, so let's dig in.

Most of you have, at least once, had the experience of living from your Shine. It's the moment when you were "on," on your game, in the flow and moving from your innate knowing. You felt the sureness and you saw the rewards.

After a Shine moment you likely felt energized, connected, deeply satisfied and well, and your actions were spot-on, transcendent even. 

These descriptors capture some of the afterglow of moving from Shine, and if you think back, you've likely experienced it.

Given that Shine feels so good and creates such impeccable results, it really is curious that we don't choose to live from it's aliveness more regularly.


Elusive Shine

In working with folks interested in tapping their Shine, I've found one persistent and significant barrier. Shine can be difficult to distinguish from the room full of circus mirrors that continuously surrounds us.

The shiny bling-bling is everywhere.

Who doesn't want the adulation of their peers, the glitz and glamour, the power and control? And not because someone told us we should want them, but because we just do. We all like the shiny, however we construe it for ourselves.

No judgement over shiny really, but there is a problem. Shiny can blind us to our real Shine.


Shiny vs. Shine - how to tell?

And it only gets more challenging from there, because those living their Shine often become shiny, meaning they attract the mundane trappings of success. Shining brightly can also mean sparkling brightly, despite the sparkle being a by-product vs the thing pursued.

If we throw in the house of mirrors, our obsession with multiplying and magnifying all things bright, you have a blinding glare reflecting off every possible surface. Who can think, or perceive well in such a visually overloaded environment?


The Path to Shine

Instead of trying to discern and follow the right bright light, you can take another route entirely. One that actually works. You can shift the direction of your gaze from an outward one to one trained inward. 

Shine can only be discovered with an internal focus.


Looking Inward

Now most of us associate looking inward with meditation, with stopping external engagement and being with our internal experience. And when we look inward, most of us experience one of the following:

  • nothing
  • mind chatter
  • discomfort
  • boredom


It's hard to imagine Shine emerging from such a ground.

And actually the pursuit of Shine does requires a little something different than the usual inward gaze. It does require an inward focus, but it also requires motion and feel.


The Motion and Feel of Shine

Shine is animating, is alive, and thus itself is discovered through motion and feel. To know Shine you have to be tuned to its essential nature.


Shine is discovered through movement and resulting experience, through action and the feel of what comes from that action, from tuning into your internal response. 


You take an action and you observe your internal experience. Did that action make you feel more alive, more grounded, sure, satisfied, elevated, energized? Or did it make you feel the opposite? 

The true story of whether an action aligns with your Shine is told by the way it makes you feel. 


Questions, Actions and Responses

As you can see, discovering your Shine has a lot to do with posing questions, taking actions and reflecting on the internal responses you get. Shine is discovered by tracking your internal landscape and whether your actions activate your aliveness, or not.

Your vitality is where your Shine lives. Learning to find your way to your aliveness will put you directly in the heat of your Shine.


Shining Internally, Shining Externally

Concrete actions happen in the external world. And because Shine is discovered through action, Shine has an external face as well as an internal one.

As you track and follow your Shine by reflecting on the internal experience of your actions, your external actions over time begin to align more and more with your Shine.

Tracking your Shine internally is then how you build your Shine externally, how your external life comes to reflect and embody and be elevated by your Shine.


You're invited to join me for an open discussion and coaching on the ideas, skills and principles behind the article Building a Life with Shine. If you're not already subscribed, make sure to do so (it's free!) to be notified of the date and time of our free call.


On the call we'll explore:

  1. Tracking your Shine internally.

  2. Living Your Shine externally.

  3. Your general questions related to Building a Life with Shine. 

Yours in Shine,


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Your Daily Dose of Special


I call it your Daily Dose of Shine, and it's not in the attention-grabbing images, blurbs or rants you post on Facebook.

It's not the day your hair stayed put, or the moment someone congratulated you on your well-deserved promotion, or when your kid decided to grace you with a compliment - even the hard-earned "I like the way you boiled the hot dogs Mom!"


Real Shine is the essential stuff of you, that sacred and rare elixir that resides at your core and animates every cell of your being. It's not your unique fingerprint, but the force that makes your fingerprint unique. It's the light and the energy and the creativity at the very beginning of you.



Why Shine Matters

There are many reasons your Shine matters. But we'll consider a few.


  1. Your Shine matters because it can be a tremendous source of vibrancy for you when you align with it. Think fountain of youth, that endless source of energy, enthusiasm and regeneration. Your Shine is your well-spring.

  2. Your Shine affirms who you really are, not in some other-dependent congratulatory way, but in a seeing-yourself-in-the-mirror kind of way, and seeing not just anything, but seeing the bright light of your essential nature. Catching a glimpse of this is always profoundly validating, simultaneously soothing and stimulating.


And that's two for you. Now on to the rest of us.


  1. Your Shine matters to others because it affects both what you do and how you do. Aligning with your most energized, authentic self has a way of instilling confidence and contentment. Moving from this place of security vs. the graspy-feel-of-scarcity we see everywhere these days often moves people in the direction of generosity and openness. And you all know what the world needs now...

  2. Shine exists in us all, and when you live yours, and she lives hers, novel ways of approaching the challenges and pleasures of the day multiply. Our innovation is maximized and with it the likelihood that our future will unfold safely, even brightly,  and with all of us in tow.

That's two for us all.



The Difficulty of Shining

Tapping into your Shine is not an automatic thing. In fact it's just the opposite. It's a radical thing. 


We've been taught, in so many ways and from so many directions, that the correct and noble action is to hide our light and go along for the good of others. Because of this other-focused narrative, many of us have lost a fundamental and intimate relationship with our Shine. The act of getting in touch with our essential selves has been re-purposed as some lost and esoteric art. We've fundamentally lost the ability to listen deeply to our own truth.


Even more subversive, we've been conditioned to appraise our value in "alienated" terms, meaning we've been taught to measure our worth by standards and within parameters that may suit others, but don't always relate to who we are and what we need.

From these perspectives we will always fall short. When we value ourselves by "foreign" standards" we are made strangers in our own land.


Why Shine Daily

Tapping into your Shine and living from its light is not only radical, it's restorative. Connecting with your Shine on a daily basis can bring you back to life, the life you were born to live.


  • Connecting to your Shine is validating: You get a daily reminder that you're unique and worthy. Reconnecting with your Shine both affirms and strengthens this idea.

  • Connecting with your Shine is vitalizing; it's tapping into a personal source of endless energy that's always available to you.

  • Connecting with your Shine is orienting; when you touch base with who you are, what's important naturally follows. 

  • Connecting with your Shine is calming; getting a dose of your inherent value and purpose has a tendency to quiet the external noise and put things in perspective.

  • Connecting with your Shine is centering; when you act from who you are you place yourself at the center, the position of authority. This is the surest place from which to take action. 


But the most important value of Shining daily is this. You will slowly but persistently begin to awaken the dormant connection to your vital self.


Through finding and exercising what's weak, but always there, you will discover something. You will uncover the thread of your vitality, your authority and your truth.

In other words, you will find your way home.



You're invited to join me for an open discussion and coaching on the ideas, skills and principles behind the article Your Daily Dose of Special. If you're not already subscribed, make sure to do so (it's free!) to be notified of the date and time of our free call.

On the call we'll explore:

  1. The nature of Shine, and how you find yours.

  2. What Shine looks like in everyday life.

  3. Your general questions related to Your Daily Dose of Special

Yours in Shine,


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Your One Big Problem


If you haven't yet surrendered your dreams, I know you face a big problem.

"Big problem?" you say, as you whip out your list of all the big problems blocking your dreams. "Try this for big problem!" 

I get it. The list's endless.


And I just want to be heard saying, "I respect that list of yours. I do." I know how complicated it can be to bring dreams to life, and the myriad obstacles they always seem to conjure.


But me, I seem to be on a reductionist jag these days, interested in the one thing, and in particular the one thing's one/off switch, that can move a whole multitude of problems if flipped the other way. 



The One Thing

If there has to be one, it would have to be your willingness to suffer. Willingness to suffer, unwillingness to suffer. On/off, on/off.

Some call the willingness to suffer by another name, a willingness to tolerate discomfort: to tolerate the feeling you get when you delay gratification, or dig into details, or conversely go with the flow, or stand to speak or sit to contemplate. It's whatever brings on your personal angst and which you avoid like the plague. 

The one thing is that. Your willingness to suffer that.



Avoidance Strategies

We've gotten good at avoiding suffering, because we're very, very practiced. 


And so practiced, and so good that we've become dulled to the larger truth that we're continually opting for the less-in-life over the more because it comes at the price of this suffering.


Our choice for the lesser shows when we dutifully cross things off our list in a bid toward productivity, but cross off the easy (and wrong) things, or jump in to what needs doing, but exit prematurely. Or have "just one" of the thing we shouldn't have at all, or skip the commitment "just this once," or sign off on good enough when what we wanted was everything.

And if we paid attention at just those moments, we'd discover the same action operating over and over. We'd have a front row view of the quick-step evasion of our legitimate suffering, and the ongoing sabotage of our dreams.



A Different Way

Because forward motion toward our goals requires the embrace of suffering - when what's required in any given moment is not what's desired in any given moment - it's useful to develop a different relationship to suffering.

A more informed one.


Most of us have lost a direct and meaningful intimacy with our suffering because of this habit of side-stepping. We don't really experience our suffering anymore; we briefly experience our made up story of our suffering, one grown so large and encompassing we feel lucky to have escaped alive.



What If...

What if instead we paused whenever we felt a suffering coming on, whenever we were faced with a discomfort borne of the clash between our desire and the "ought to" of the moment.

What would we experience, and would it in truth be intolerable?

What if we let the discomfort just be, experienced it fully emotionally and physically? What if we replaced fear with curiosity, and learned a thing or two about the mechanism that separates us from so much we in truth long for?



We Just Might...

We just might discover that our suffering is also spacious, fluid and suggestive: more pliable, and vastly different than the specter we conjure and avoid.

We just might in fact discover that our suffering will yield with not much effort, if effort's applied in the right direction.

And we just might discover that the embrace of our suffering is in fact an embrace of our very selves, and every movement toward our dreams an opportunity to declare, act on and bring to life who we in fact are, and who we would be. 

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The You Who Has Worth


It's easy to get trapped in the story of your "UNs," with your UN-worthy character often chief protagonist and villain.


And when UN-worthy reigns, it's not uncommon to find these additional cast of characters assembled: UN-loved and UN-lovable, UN-attractive, UN-suited, UN-able, UN-motivated, UN-sure, UN-stable and UN-der-performing.


The "UNs" act like an extended family system, the dysfunctional side, all living on the same street. Invite one to dinner, or heaven forbid, let it occupy the guest room for a spell and you just might find yourself groaning under the weight and overwhelm of a massive pile-on. 


The Hard Fix

Any reasonably-sized bookstore will help you here. At the moment there's likely half a dozen books offering reasonable fixes for the "UN" problem, how to let go of or make peace with each of the "UNs" mentioned above.

And in this method, once you've figured out how to restore your self esteem, find direction at work and passion in the bedroom, you'd be on to the next level of fixes. The ones that deal with all the cross-over issues such as finding your self esteem at work and in the bedroom, or your direction in life and love, and your passion in who you are and what you do. 


And if your list of issues is on the longer side, so too would be the many configurations and dynamics to be tackled. There's probably something in there right now on codependency and your pet Walter. 


The hard fix is hard simply because it's endless. It's a kind of psychological whack-a-mole approach that easily and predictably leads to overwhelm and modest, often very modest change. 

You could tackle your "UNs" that way, the hard way, or you could deal with them the easy way.


The Easy Fix

The easy fix is easy because there's only one thing to do, and if done thoroughly goes on to significantly impact every one of the "UNs" noted above. It impacts your self esteem, work direction and passion, your motivation, stability, performance, aliveness and more. It's the panacea everyone only wished existed. 

I bet you want to know what it is, so I"ll tell.


Positive change in every area of your life follows naturally from one thing. It follows from thoroughly believing you have worth - and acting thoroughly on that belief.


Ok. In reality you don't even have to be 100%  thorough in your self-believe for that belief to start working kind-of miracles. If you merely start going in the direction of your self-valuing you will already begin to notice positive changes across the board.

I know. It's simple. And sometimes the simplest things are the most disturbing and hard to accept. So breath, and stay with me.


Living by Faith

We all do it. And it matters to our discussion.

The truth is that we already believe so many things for which we have no fundamental proof. That the world won't implode tomorrow, that our knees won't buckle when we walk down the stairs, or if they do, that the railing we hold onto for support won't itself give way, or if it does, that the myriad insurances we carry will take over and take care.

Beliefs all.


Because the hard truth is that we can only assume what the next moment will bring, can only trust and have faith it will yield what we trust it to. 


And if you think about it, most every moment we live is permeated through and through by just such small to large acts of faith. 


Why Acknowledging Faith Matters

Taking a minute to acknowledge and really take in just how much you depend on faith, or "your choices, or habits of belief" to run your life does something very profound. It exposes just how much authority you actually have in determining what you experience. It places the responsibility for much of your reality squarely where it belongs, on you.


The "fact" of your worth is just like that. You can choose to believe it, or you can not.


Ultimately there is nothing to categorically prove your worth or your lack of it. It's all subjectively defined by the context in which you exist. And the contexts are always changing, nation to nation, neighborhood to neighborhood, street to street and even house to house. It changes person to person and even within ourselves, from one moment to the next. 

Ultimately the "fact" of your worth is not a fact at all; it's a choice. It's another faith-based decision, one that you can't prove your way into, though you may often try, and in truth, can't prove your way out of either.

Whether you experience yourself as worthy is your choice.


The You Who Has Worth

But if you do, if you choose to believe you are a person of worth, you create new possibilities for yourself.


You position yourself to receive and be nourished by the good in life, to become the better version of yourself with all the pleasure and meaning this version can provide. And most important, you become a portal through which all your native brilliance can shine into the world, a world which is just waiting and wanting the light that you are.


It's good for you. It's good for all of us. Accept your worth, and let yourself shine.

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Get What You Want by Noticing the Right Things


Most of us thrill to the idea of a "big life," whether it's a big idea we get to live, a big love, a big moment or just a life lived large.  

And while it can seem antithetical, setting ourselves up to experience "big" often requires that we at times go really small, catching the subtleties, the nuance and the grace notes of life.


Because going big, living out a dream, often depends on us catching that little tell-tale sign, the brief opening, or the faint suggestion that happened and then disappeared.




Face it. We're all super busy these days, with more responsibility and distraction than time. Just managing to get to all the "musts" on our to-do lists feels like a significant and elusive accomplishment. 

Which means many of us will plain old miss anything that's not obvious and "up in our face." We just don't see it. 


We're cruising at such blistering speeds with the volume set high, too high, and for too long, that anything below a certain threshold just ceases to exist. 


And we kinda know it.

Which is why so many of us are into meditation, or journaling, or long walks or some other form of activity that intentionally slows us down and helps us be more present. 

Which is a good start, but not enough. Because slowing it down and finally hearing "below the threshold" doesn't mean you're actually now tuned in to what matters. 


Listening to What Matters


To catch the information critical to your success, you have to be paying attention to what matters, and specifically, what matters given what you want. 


Listening to what matters has everything to do with paying attention to what you're after, and then engaging whatever form of it appears. Experiencing some form of what you want and then reflecting on how it really makes you feel to have it IS paying attention to what you want in the way that matters.


This is truly an important nugget, so let's take a moment to break it down.


What You're After and How it Feels


Being clear about the big experience you want is half the struggle. When we can see what we want in highly specific and adjective-rich detail, we are more apt to notice some form of it when it appears.


Staying connected to what we want and living with the felt sense of what we want sets the stage for its perception. 


The other half of the struggle happens after we perceive some form of what we want. Going for it, experiencing it both emotionally and physically and then reflecting on that experience lets us know if we're on track with what we want. It's like taking a bite and chewing slowly to get at the taste.

While at first we may just sense the general outline of what we're after, experiencing some form of it lets us know if adjustments to what we want are in order. Experience is then the great modifier, shading in the outline of our desires and bringing them to life. 


Are You Listening to What Matter?


What is your dream? What is the thing that matters to you, that you want to experience in life? Take a minute to see/feel it in your mind's eye. Now take that picture out into the world, noticing when it crosses your path. Are you ready to engage? If you do, what's the experience? What does it tell you about the thing you think you want?

As always, I love interacting in the comments with you. Share your experiences of listening to what matters. How has getting clearer on what you want made it more visible in your daily life?

Believing in you,


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When It's You, You Fear


I wrote this ominous sounding line two posts back: 


You may fear your aliveness because you fear yourself, fear that in connecting with your passion you'll come face to face with an unsettling personality you only suspect lives there.


Feels disturbing doesn’t it, being afraid of yourself, or some aspect of yourself. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you looked in the mirror, and thought, “Ew, scary.”

But just because you’re not exclaiming loudly doesn’t mean you’re not in fact on the run and hiding, hiding parts of yourself you don’t feel good about, or in some cases, even parts you imagine others don’t feel good about.

We all do it to varying degrees. And the degree to which we do it, is the degree to which our aliveness suffers.


Your Flat Zones


I call them flat zones, the places where the disowned parts of ourselves live, parts we’d rather not claim and in fact leave hanging.

These areas are flat because we’ve withdrawn energy from them. It’s even possible to cut the switch on whole regions of ourselves in an effort to avoid what lives there.


You can tell a flat zone because it’s an area where the signal goes dead, usually brought about by some kind of constriction.


For instance, maybe you love, love, love your best friend because of their great energy or kindness or humor. But maybe you also notice there are times or situations where they just don’t function the same way. They go all flat on you: or heavy, or worried, or silent or distant, or confusing or what-have-you. 


What you’re experiencing at those times is their flat zone, and it’s flat because something there is being protected through some strategy of avoidance.


And while the constrictions or flat zones may be easier to see in others, guess who also uses the same strategies if to different degrees? True, it can be scary to consider facing distanced parts of yourself, but it’s your sense of aliveness that hangs in the balance.

The good news is that flat zones don’t have to stay that way. Disowned parts can be reclaimed, making the unique, sometimes dynamic qualities they possess available to you once again.


Re-invigorating your flat zones


1.      The easiest, most powerful thing you can do to start feeding energy back into any flat zone is to light it up by paying attention to it. That’s right, paying attention directs mental, physical and emotional energy to what’s being looked at. This not only starts the reawakening process, it also allows you to see to the core of things more clearly. And clarity is good, because years of inattention can wreak havoc with your memories, often distorting what was originally there.

2.      Once lit up, take a good look around. Lighting up a previously unused area will make you feel things, physically and emotionally. Try to stay with the physical and emotional experience. And because it’s likely to be uncomfortable, only stay with it a few seconds at first. Each subsequent time you pay attention to some disowned part or experience, try to lengthen how long you stay with it. But only by seconds.

3.      Lastly, once you’ve seen and experienced what’s there, step away. Really step away. Don’t continue to think about the experience until the next time you intentionally decide to pay attention. Use movement, distraction, absorption (in something else) or re-grounding exercises to help move you out if you get stuck.

The trick with facing any fear is to at first do it lightly and quickly. With time you should be able to expand how long and how deeply you engage.

Keep at it. Second by second. In time you’ll find that what once had you turning away in fear is now the source of greater understanding, richness and depth.


You may discover that the parts of yourself you feared in fact held great promise, revolved around a strength of character or ability your early environment was too weak to hold. You may in fact uncover some of the best parts of yourself.


The journey to aliveness is at core a journey to who you truly are. It’s not without its challenge, but in times of struggle remember it can be done, and that a most important someone awaits you on the other side! (Caveat: Some of us have experienced very challenging life circumstances. In this case, facing fears may require the help of a trained professional.)

As always, I love connecting with all of you in the comment thread, hearing your experiences and sharing strengths and insights. What fears have you recently embraced, and how did paying attention and staying with them help get you to the other side? Any other strategies you can share?

Let us know.

In courage,


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How to Know When You’re Being Selfish


It’s easy to have your enthusiasms wither when someone insists you’re being Selfish. Easier to turn back from some promising discovery or life adventure than to struggle bravely onward and have to fear you're consuming more than your fair share of the room’s oxygen.


Being called Selfish, or even dreading you'll be, can be a real passion zapper.


So if you're after a life of aliveness and passion, understanding Selfishness is important. The clarity it brings will help you know when a course correct is needed, or just a thicker skin.



What’s Selfish After All


Here’s a definition lifted off the internet: selfish: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.


Apparently to avoid being selfish you need only do two things:

  1. Care about others, and act from that caring.

  2. Really consider another’s position.


Since we’re all pretty nice people number 1’s kinda covered. Number 2 is the one that really gets short shrift.

Because being fair (not selfish) is not about equal distribution of resources – time, money, attention, etc. It’s not about you get ten and I get ten and we call it good, which is easy, and takes little thought.


Really being fair means factoring in context – what the actual situation is at the time.


And understanding context requires thoughtfulness consideration and engagement. Only once you’ve thought the whole situation through will you know if you’re really overstepping a boundary and need to step back, or rather need to step up and call a bluff.



Thoughts on Your Fair Share


Some things to consider when thinking about the context of a situation (and once you get the hang of it, you can add your own):

  • Is one person or group behind in some way – physically, mentally, emotionally and needs to catch up? If so, it matters and should be factored into the fairness equation with more weight.

  • Is there urgency to the situation – urgency matters, and should be factored in with more weight.

  • Is everyone participating in both the pain and the reward of a situation, and how, and to what degree: this matters, and should be factored in with more weight.

  • Is the situation set up so that the rewards automatically roll in one direction while the effort rolls in another: this matters, and should be factored in with more weight (and restructured)

  • Is this a one-time, largely insignificant tipping of the scales: if so, this doesn’t matter and should not be factored into the fairness equation.

  • Does your action disappoint but not disadvantage or break a commitment: if so, this doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be factored in (though recurring disappointments will have their consequences and could probably use a discussion)

  • Does your action challenge someone else’s ideas, but not their health, safety or bottom lines: if so, this doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be factored in (though it could probably use a discussion)


We could add more bullets to the list, but the ones listed will already start creating clarity around what’s really fair, your Selfish and their Selfish and where to draw some lines.


While none of us wants to be Selfish, neither should we willingly assign our portion of this world’s delight, richness, ease, thrill, abundance and our aliveness to anyone else. We impoverish ourselves when we do so, and ultimately those around us.


As always, I’d love to engage your thoughts on today’s post in the comment thread. How do you know when you're being Selfish, and what have been your insights around this? 

It’s a real pleasure to hear your reactions and experiences and to deepen our understanding together. 



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Feel Alive - Be Alive


Everyone knows they want more aliveness. Mostly because it seems the opposite of deadness, which we're clearly passing on for now!

Aliveness sounds and feels good, like the electric surge you get after jumping in an ice cold lake. You wake up. You feel vibrant, ready, more ON. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, I suggest there's something you need to do - like get yourself into some freezing body of water.)

Being more of who we really are in life has a lot to do with tapping into our aliveness, that current of energy that is more focused than happiness, and more connected to what's around us.


And the thing I want to suggest today, is that hooking into our aliveness is just as important, and in my mind, as necessary, as the need to keep ourselves safe and secure. Because our aliveness heralds our joy and fuels our purpose. It's the stuff of our Yeses, and if we get it right, is the current on which a profound life of pleasure can be built.


Not kidding. Which is why your aliveness matters.

Guess what we're talking about today? 


Your Aliveness.

You may have been too afraid to let your aliveness out of the box, wrongly assuming it's the same as being Selfish - capitalized and lived in the wrong way - as if tracking and living into your aliveness might break every bond of responsibility you possess.

You don't have to be a hedonist and irresponsible to pursue your aliveness.


You may have feared your aliveness because you fear yourself, fear you would touch into the core of your wildness and possibility and have to deal with an unsettling personality you only suspect lives there.


A commitment to your aliveness often results in discovering and integrating parts of yourself, but contrary to your fears, makes you more of who you are already, not less: more exciting, courageous, inspired and inspiring.

You may avoid the pursuit of your aliveness because you've slipped into complacency, which is connected to a dull plodding and a loss of your ability to dream and aspire. Maybe you've gone all predictable when you could be deeply creative.

This last bit is true for us all. We get so entrenched in our routines that our sight dims over time. We no longer even see what could be. 


Getting Back To Your Aliveness

No matter how out-of-sync you are currently with your aliveness, and this will differ greatly for different folk, we all have to start at the same place. We have to remember we have such a thing as our aliveness, and decide to let it matter.

This commitment sets us on the path to noticing, which is the next step in reclaiming aliveness. We notice the things that make us feel more alive, and the things that don't.

If spending three hours on the pottery wheel blisses you out - take note. Closing that deal, reading to grand-kids, savoring the sauce you just made, fleshing out your ideas - it doesn't matter. Whatever makes you feel inspired, connected and energized is the stuff of your aliveness.

And the reverse is true as well. What depletes, deadens and erases you drains your aliveness and keeps you operating below capacity, silo-ed from your life energy.

Lastly, when you see what contributes to and what detracts from your aliveness experience, you must commit to taking action to move toward aliveness and away from depletion.  

This then is the direct path to reinvigorating your aliveness. 


So Ask Yourself

What's your willingness to go big in this lifetime?

Where's your desire to be who you were truly meant to be, to tap into your aliveness and rock the world in the process?

Just asking.

Join me in the comment thread and let me know what's going on with your aliveness these days, and what you're planning to do about it!


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Capture Your Aliveness With These Strategies


Today we circle around a critical bit of information for those interested in discovering what they really, really want in life.

I say circle, because no matter how hard I tried, and it’s been over a week now, I haven’t been able to find a direct and simple way to talk about this material.

Whether it’s me, whether it’s the content, whether it’s the alignment of the stars, I decided to deliver today’s post like one would play a game of capture the flag: sprint in, dash out, sprint in, dash out until that one successful run that makes you the victor. Well, that’s the idea anyway.

So to start with, here’s the flag, the concept that must be captured to win:


What ultimately differentiates you from others and informs what you really, really want is how you go about satisfying the core human needs we all share. It's the thing that must finally be understood to know what matters to you, what inspires, satisfies, elevates and moves you. Living in sync with your personal spin on essential need satisfaction is the key to not only your aliveness, but a life of fulfillment.


See. I told you I couldn’t get it simple!

So that’s the flag, and some of you will make a run on it right off. It’s one strategy, and might get you caught, but no worries, with a little luck you'll get tagged back into the game.

Now the flag can be hidden anywhere, which also seems to align with our situation. For some it will reveal itself behind an “aha!” For others it will appear in stages and after dogged and incremental effort. It’s the nature of the game you’re in.

I'll lay out several routes of attack, and you get to choose what works for you. Or maybe go for them all.

First task for everyone is to understand the difference between your essential and more superficial desires. Here’s the game rule on that:


The way we test a desire’s necessity is by asking this simple question: without the thing/experience I desire, do I become unsafe in some way, or does my aliveness suffer? If the answer to either is yes, the thing/experience is essential to you at this time and reveals at least one way you like to get at least one essential need met.


For some of you this is all the direction you’ll need to capture the flag. If not, keep going.

If you read my last post, you’ll have been given the sustained why-method for discovering essential needs. For some, working this process will get you closer to the flag.

If you really worked the why-method you no doubt discovered that in the end all your wants and desires are in fact fueled by needs most of us share: core needs like safety, belonging, health and happiness.

These core needs define us as humans, as part of the collective, but are not the collective’s many expressions, not the things that define our individuality and make us uniquely who we are.

Ready for the next game instruction?


To discover your unique individuality you have to mine the layer of experience just above our common needs. This layer of want is where you'll find the most important information for what you really, really want. It’s where you’ll see your preferences played out, how you like the common needs satisfied.


Anyone at “aha?”

Safety for me might mean ten months of mortgage tucked in a bank account, for you, steady rains during the growing season, for another, marrying up. The drama and mark of our individual lives gets expressed in how we engage with the core needs. Moving through this layer of experience is sure to get you in touch with what you really, really want.

“Oh. Damn. Someone just made it to home with the flag-in-the-shirt trick. Clever devil.”

As always, join me in the comment thread with your game stories.

"In the purple rain..."




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Ask This Question to Get What You Really, Really Want


Today we go on a deep dive to discover what you really, really want, and in the process uncover some of who you really, really are.

Not in a cloistered philosophic way, or even a two-year walkabout, vision-questy kind of way, (though I've done and love both), but more in the  "I can't find my keys. Do you know where I put my keys I'm late?" kind of way, meaning the way you really live it way.

Today you are the subject of what matters, the glorious, inglorious moments of the life you really live.

And because today is also about questions, and lots of them, it's best you have paper and pen in hand, and time to devote when you attempt your dive. 


To discover what you really, really want, and by extension who you really, really are, you have to start with something simple. You have to start with the first layer question of what you want right now, what matters most these days. 


And because this first question can feel big and overwhelming, I find it useful to make the question concrete by giving it a context, like "what matters to me as a parent, or a lover, or friend?" In fact, jot down all the areas in life that matter to you right now, and ask the question for each.


Like this:

  • Parent: "What matters to me most as a parent?" Example: That my kids get all A's, are respectful and independent." 

  • Partner: "What matters to me most in partnership?" Example: That we finish each other's sentences, that we share work fairly and take lots of vacations. 


Two things to remember as you explore. Any judgement about what you write only inhibits the process and has no value at this point, and two, this is just a first, though important, pass. The more detail you include now, the clearer you'll be later.


Once you have your impressive list. There is one more question to ask of it. And that question's why?

Example: "Why is it important to me that my kids get all A's, are respectful and independent?"

You can see we're drilling down. And if you're a bit obsessive, or have nothing to do today, or are at a point in your life where you super need answers, then here's something more to do. Keep asking the same question why for every answer you give.  

Like this: "It's important that my kids get A's so they have a secure future, so their grandparents will be proud and they can get scholarships to school." Why do these things matter to me? "I worry they won't find jobs, I want them to be able to stand on their own, I want my parents to be proud of my parenting, I want them to finally approve of me, I want my kids to be financially independent so I can be financially independent of them, I want an end to my parenting responsibilities, I want to get back to my life, etc."


See why a non-judgmental stance is so important? When you really drill down to what matters and why, you uncover some needs and desires that you might not be so comfortable acknowledging, but totally run the show from afar. You also discover genuine values, like independence, that may be important to you. 


In our next posts you'll learn how to clean up and create order to all that surfaces from your deep dives, but until then, pulling up what you can from the deep should be your main goal.

Diving into the deep to discover what you want and who you are can be an interesting, at times disorienting process, but I'm here to help you get what you need. Feel free to check in on the comment thread with questions about your process. I get every one of them.

Happy Diving.


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What You Really Really Want


You may have noticed that life these days, everything from happiness, to your career to your relationships to even your workout routine seems to circle back to you. Everyone wants to know what you want.

You can't go to dinner without being asked  your food requirements and who hasn't puzzled over the coconut, vs. hemp, vs almond vs dairy milk dilemma? Which is like a great thing, right. Everyone wants to cater to what you want!


Problem is, not everyone knows what they want, and if we add in knows what they really, really want, then we start getting the collective head scratch. Because knowing what you want, what you really really want is not a simple thing.


But this new paradigm of "starting with you" is already in place; no longer can you get away with someone else's idea of who you are and what you need. These days you're expected to follow your own script if you have any hope of reaching the promised land of your dreams.

Which takes us right back to that little problem; how do you know what you really really want?

If you strip away what the educational systems taught you, and muted for a moment the influence of all the other big institutions in your life, including the nervous goodwill of your parents, what desires linger?


And which of these desires comes from You, and not just you in the moment, but You as in  the most essential, enduring and unique You? The You that truly represents your fundamental self, whose fingerprint and blueprint is as sure a compass as any Northern Star?


Not simple stuff. But important stuff that has launched any number of vision quests, and walkabouts and "finding oneself" passages and brain rattling explorations into what we really really want.

It's the stuff behind well-aimed career choices, and partnership choices and life choices, and when done well, IS the stuff of a meaningful and satisfied life.

But how to do it?

Welcome to the next round of our work together, where we get nitty-gritty on what it takes to discover what we really really want, and the bigger discovery behind it of who we really really are. (tweet it on!)

I'd love to hear from you in the comment thread; when faced with a big decision, what do you do to figure out what your next step should be?

And as always, totally grateful to be here with you, and looking forward to our next deep dive together. 


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How to Live a Life of Passion Without Burning Out


What keeps your desires alive so the passionate life you so long to live can be known and sustained?

Last post we looked at two critical factors needed to achieve a sustainable desire: doing what truly matters to you, and keeping on being inspired in that doing.


But how do you really know what matters to you, and how do you find the inspiration required to keep it all going?


Put more deeply and perhaps more directly, how do you create intimacy with yourself so you can perceive what matters to you, and how do you create intimacy with what’s outside yourself to receive needed inspiration?

The answer to these questions can come from many directions, but as I like to keep things simple and actionable, I’m going to focus on just one attitude you can nurture that will increase intimacy in both directions.

And that attitude is hopeful anticipation.

Think about when you’re expecting a call from someone with the potential for great news. Don’t you check your phone more often than usual, think about getting a call more often than usual, and perhaps even keep your phone closer than usual so you can hear it ring more easily?


You are tuned in to the possibility of good news, and this creates a focused attention on the carrier of that news.


Now, if you were tuned in to yourself with similar hopeful anticipation for news of what mattered to you, or outwardly, to receiving inspiring impressions, your senses would become more alert.

You might scan your body or emotions more frequently for information about what made you happy or otherwise, or the environment for what moved you or brought you joy.

You would be training your attention on the carriers of the information you sought, and would be exponentially more aware of the information when it arrived.


Caring, paying attention, receiving, responding are all actions related to intimacy, whether trained on yourself or on things external to yourself. This attitude will best position you to hear what’s coming your way, and puts you in the best position to take advantage of it.


You want to know what truly matters to you? Listen. Pay attention to what your body and emotions are saying. You want to be inspired? Stay open to the flow of impressions that surrounds you, and allow yourself to be moved by them.


The life of passion, of desires expressed, is first a life of desires known. A life of passion sustained is a life where passion is fed and inspiration nurtured.


Listening inside, listening outside, allowing the vulnerability of hopeful anticipation and the intimacy it generates. These are sure paths to the sustained passion and desire so many of us long to experience in life, and really can.

Join me in the comment thread and tell me, what are your techniques for listening, to yourself, to others, to moments for inspiration? What brings you closer to an intimate understanding of yourself?

And as always, feel free to send this post along to someone who might benefit, and up the social media channels for inspiration. 



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What it Takes to Sustain Desire


Desire exists behind all that drives us to do, and do well. As we know, desire is essential to our success. 

So today we have the first of two posts on getting to the root of our desires, and what specific abilities we should be cultivating to keep them fueled and flamed. 

Today we also uncover two essential questions related to the care and feeding of desire. 


Now, on to Part One of What it Takes to Sustain Desire


Most likely you respect the fiery nature of desire and how it gets you to both do and achieve. But desire, like any fire, dies without adequate feeding.


Our desires, as fires, live on ember and air; the ember being who we are and what matters to us most deeply, and the air being our inspirations. (tweet that!)


I said it all in one sentence, but these are weighty concepts, so let's go back and break it down.

To keep our desires charged, they must be in contact with a hot bed of embers, those embers being the accurate knowing of who we and thus what really matters to us.

And when I say know who we are and what matters to us, I'm not talking about a superficial, copy-cat cultural expectations kind of knowing. The kind of knowing that says "of course I want to get into the best school, or make a zillion by the time I'm 19, or achieve the model relationship, etc."


I'm talking about the knowing that emerges from an intimacy with the self, and results in highly specific, often unexpected and sometimes very simple truths about who we are and what we want, truths that just feel right. (tweet that!) 


When our desires emerge from this kind of knowing, they blaze with a sustained force because they are fueled by the truth of our existence and thus purpose.


Question #1: How do we create the kind of intimacy with ourselves that feeds desire?


And as everyone knows who's knelt around a fire, huffing and puffing your last breath to coax it into being, fire takes air, lots of it. And the air of desire is inspiration. It keeps our desires going.

Inspiration is easy. It can come with exposure to things and ideas, situations and moments.

Can come, but does not always come.

The fact that inspiration is everywhere at all times, and we're not everywhere and at all times inspired speaks to a critical and often missing factor in the inspirational equation.


Questions #2 What is that factor, and how do we incorporate it to keep a steady stream of inspiration fanning our desires?


These are the questions and the important actions we'll be exploring in our next post. But in the meantime, and to prime our coming conversation, I'd like to hear from you. What do you bring to your days that keeps you inspired, and, how do you know when a desire is really yours vs. something culturally created?

As always, I totally enjoy connecting with you in the comment thread, and look forward to engaging your ideas.

Consider sending this post along to someone who might benefit, and sending it up the social media channels.



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Life Put You on Hold? How to Keep Things Moving


I was recently sitting in the ferry line watching the morning fog roll in when I caught hint of the most amazing sound. Amazing because it seemed industrial: metallic, clanging, rhythmic, and yet full of melody. The kind of musical moment that appears and then disappears, usually in some concert setting, leaving no trace of itself, but only wonderment - what just happened, what was that sound?


It was beautiful and haunting... and gone.


Life is filled with just such moments, and they're super important generally, but essential to those choosing a life of passion.

I know I made a nod last week to those moments when we've pulled out all the stops pursuing our desires, only to find that we're in a moment of uncertainty. Do I move forward, do I pause, do I go lateral or do I just indulge in a bowl of ice cream and pull out my last remaining hairs?

We talked about doing and not doing, and today I wanted to talk more about the doing part, but doing in a way that doesn't add to our depleted state, but in fact gets us primed and ready for when inspiration does hit.

It's true of the driven mind that every ounce of energy we conjure we focus on the thing we're pursuing. Productive time is seen as time spent on the myriad activities associated with our desires.


This is the great gift, and the great burden of passion, and why times of uncertainty are more apt to crush the driven than the dabbler. When the passionate don't know what to do next, because their passion is all they've been doing - or mostly so - they face a void of tremendous proportions.


Many passionate folk implode during such periods, taking bad risks just to create a sense of productivity, or sink so low emotionally that abandoning their dreams seems the most logical next step.


Passionate folk are not good at waiting. 


But there is good news. Times of uncertainty actually require that we stay busy, but busy in ways that rebuild our strength and bring a flood of the new impressions needed to catalyze breakthroughs. And the best news? I'm sharing three such stay-busy strategies below.



Three Must-Do Activities for Those in Waiting (who don't want to be)

  1. Get out of your head and into your senses. What connects you with your senses, allowing you to perceive and be enriched by the wonder around you? Is it food, sex, exercise, natural beauty? Make a list of things you do to enliven these connections and start working down the list. Living from the senses is fun.
  2. Focus on the other things in your life that bring meaning and purpose. Strengthen your connections to them with concrete actions. Is it your friendships, your family, your hobbies? Make your action list and start doing. Caveat: The driven mind can get uni-directional and lose touch with the rest of their life. This is a good time to revisit connection to the other things that matter. It can bring a sense of well-being, insight and some fun. 
  3. Relish what's working Now. This is a two-step process, both to recognize and celebrate the good things. This is a time to work with gratitude and its twin, generosity. Is your health in good order? Express gratitude and celebrate by offering to help a friend move. Do you have enough resources right now? Feel that gratitude, and celebrate with a donation to your favorite charity. Celebrating through action which includes others not only takes you out of yourself - a needed balance for the driven mind - but provides the perspective to invigorate purpose and meaning. And it's fun.


And the great, even unexpected benefit to staying active using the above three must-do strategies is that you are not only replenishing yourself, you are replenishing those around you. A strong support network is one of the most critical protective factors and predictive factors for those who will succeed.

Join me in the comment thread to share any of the ways you become energized during periods of waiting. I love engaging with your comments and insights. 

And if you like what you've read, consider subscribing to my blog if you haven't already, or forwarding this post to a friend.


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Three Strategies to Make the Most of Uncertain Times


This is the situation that makes folks bat-crazy.

You're most susceptible to the crazy If you have a vision, a cherished desire, or some passion you want to live out.

If you've done your homework, are particularly sharp and fired-up, committed, supported and even carefully coached, I hate to tell you this, but you're the most in danger.

Those that are in full-tilt pursuit of their dreams, whether those dreams be relational, work related or represent some general slice-of-life, are on a collision course with their most dreaded nemesis, the one thing they didn't count on when their inspiration took hold. 


They are headed straight for a confrontation with mystery: for the yet-unknown outcomes, the no-way-to-know next steps, the mis-directions and re-directions, and the endless stepping into the dark and unsuspectingly over ledges.


And when you've put it all on the line, the dance with mystery can be a bone chilling rattle that steals the soul and leaves the body for lame. 

But there's another way to tango. Read on to discover three strategies that can help transform mystery into a most desired partner.


Three Strategies to Dance with Mystery


1. Normalize the state of Mystery. In truth, mystery is the norm, not the exception. We live its reality every single day without injury. If we can quiet the mental reactivity to the unknown we create room for seeing it for what it is, the fertile ground of possibility. Mystery is the seat of quantum progression, genius and innovation. She proceeds every big shift.

2. In times of Mystery, be idle. Many of us react to times of not knowing by getting busy, equating activity with significance. Accept that the significance of this moment lies in the state of not-doing. Instead, listen. Tune in to perceive new ideas and connections. Throw your net wide to experience new impressions and listen deeply to understand where they take you. Absorb.

3. In times of Mystery, be not idle. Continue to take needed actions as they arise, while lightly  testing new ideas. Without action it's impossible to get valuable feedback. The trick in periods of mystery is to not over-invest in an idea, but to test it just enough to gather data. It's a kind of casting about, trying this, trying that with limited expenditure of resources. Reminds me of pre-teen dating.


While periods of uncertainty and unknown are certain to arrive in any targeted endeavor, their passing is also certain. Remember this, and the above three strategies to get your heels kickin' and your dance on. 

As always, join me in the comment thread to keep the conversation going. I truly enjoy engaging with your ideas and experiences.

And consider sharing this post someone who'd benefit.



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Wield Your Double-Edged Boundary to Get the Spoils of Life


Today I reveal a simple - we all know it - but profound - no one ever thinks of it - fact which is going to change forever your concept of boundary-making, or yes/no-making as we've been calling it.

When you think of exercising your limits, or boundaries, I bet your head goes right to the nos. "No, you can't borrow the car," or "we've done Italian three times, can't we do Thai tonight?" delivered in a growly, exasperated tone for emphasis.

When I talk with folks about boundaries in relationship they always think limits, or their nos.

It seems we're conditioned to think first toward survival - keeping bad things out - and not expansion, bringing good stuff in.


But the truth is that boundaries have both an inner and outer edge. Someone or a situation can "cross your boundaries" not only by being intrusive, moving too close, but by being too distant and not showing up in the way you need or want. 


Absence is a boundary-cross as significant as invasion.


To live well, you have to fully own that your yeses are fundamental to who you are, that your aliveness, built on the exercise of your yeses, is a right.


It's not just accepting baseline existence, focusing on what you need to avoid to stay safe, but realizing that each situation you're in should also be contributing to your thrive account, or the positives you want from life.

When you own the outer edge of your boundaries, the place where your yeses live, you reclaim your joy. 

When you act  from both boundary edges, your nos and your yeses, you discover the zone in which comfort and optimal functioning occur naturally.

I'd love to hear how exercising the yes-edge of your boundary is changing your experience of life/work/love. As always, join me in the comment thread below to keep the conversation going. I actually enjoy listening in and commenting on your experiences, so feel free to participate.

In aliveness,