The Beauty of Different

beauty of different rainDear Friends,

Yesterday morning was unique.

It’s not often that I get to enjoy reading the morning newspaper on my porch while watching the rain.  Reading the morning paper is pretty normal…it’s the rain that’s so different.

We just don’t get to experience it very much here in Phoenix, and when we do it’s truly something to appreciate.

As I sat there thumbing through the business section and enjoying the cooler weather I came across an article about a company that has become enormously successful by regularly blow drying and straightening women’s naturally curly hair.

The fact that the founder of the company used her story of struggling to take care of her own curly hair and turn it into a multimillion dollar business is truly impressive.

But what I question is why we curly haired women want so desperately to have straight hair in the first place?  So much so that we are willing to pay to have it straightened week after week.

I’ve been there. I can think of countless times I spent glued to my blow dryer to fight off the frizz – I did it for years. And I remember thinking that there was so much more I could be dong with my time if I didn’t have to spend it fighting with my hair to look a certain way.

The truth is I didn’t have to spend my time that way, I chose it, mostly because I was trying to fit an image of someone that was not me. I was spending an awful lot  of time trying to be the same as others instead of embracing my own beauty of being different.

Eventually I gave up trying to look so smooth and polished, retired my blow dryer for a curlier and much freer feel, and never looked back.

I guess that’s why Karen Waldron’s book The Beauty of Different captured my heart. In it she explores beauty in nine fresh ways and challenges us to revel in our own uniqueness. She shares…

“Beauty is something we experience and feel on a soul level. It’s more than being pretty or aesthetically attractive – it’s an intangible attribute that stirs something deep inside of us.

Each of us – because of all of our differences – possess the power to touch another soul.

Look closely. We are all beautiful.”

Whether it is the beauty we express through our individuality, our imperfections, our sense of adventure and even through our heartbreak, Karen shares that it’s our willingness to be different that makes us beautiful.

We all have a story of “different”.

 

 I hope to see you at Community Chocolate soon,  you never know what you may learn or who you may strike up a conversation with.


Warmly,
Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.

Why Finger Painting is the Cure for Inaction

finger-painting-pinterestFinger painting? Isn’t that for kids? 

Sure, but the way I see it, it also has a lot to do with taking action and getting things done in life.

Much like taking action, finger painting is an imperfect experience and sometimes you have to make a mess in order to make it happen.

It’s the perfect art form to explore what gets us going and what stops us from moving forward.

In his book The Art of Taking Action, Gregg Krech takes a mindful approach to exploring ACTION and how to do what’s important to you in the time you have left to do.

Here are a few things he has to say about taking action (along with my thoughts on why it has a lot to do with finger painting…).

Inaction – Taking action can be stressful. But it can be more stressful to procrastinate and leave things untended. In the world of finger painting if you leave the paint alone on the paper long enough it dries out, leaving you with a crispy half finished version of the colorful picture you imagined. Life can be pretty similar, leave something ignored long enough and it’s meaning can dry out.

Defeating the Demons of Inaction – Fear, Indecision, Perfectionism, Discouragement — these are just some of the “demons of inaction” you may have to battle on the road to taking action.   Trying to be anything close to perfect when finger painting is futile…it’s just too messy.   Indecisive about what colors to use? Fearful they will mix together and look like mud? Discouraged that your child’s finger painting looks better than yours?  All artful metaphors  for life.

Starting - “An object at rest will remain at rest.” Getting started is often the biggest challenge. But it can be done.  Worried about getting your hands dirty? Don’t like the squishiness of the paint?  Can’t commit to the time it takes? Just dive in, get your hands in the mix and experience the beauty you can create!

I hope to see you at Community Chocolate soon,  you never know what you may learn or who you may strike up a conversation with.


Warmly,
Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.

A Woman Called Steve

take actionThis week at Community Chocolate we watched a TED Talk by a women who goes by the name of Steve.

Why Steve? Turns out it was the only way she could bring attention to herself and  (what would ultimately grow to be a $3 billion ) innovative software company she was building.

Her real name is Dame Stephanie Shirley and her  TED talk that inspired me so much is “Why do ambitious women have flat heads?”

Raised during the political strife of World War II in Europe,  Dame Stephanie Shirley is the most successful female tech entrepreneur you never heard of. In the 1960s, she founded a pioneering all-woman software company in the UK, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members.  She is currently one of England’s most prominent philanthropist and talks about why giving it away is so much more rewarding for her than making the money in the first place.

For me, Dame Stephanie embodies what it means to move forward and her level of resiliency and strength is motivating.  Some may classify her as one who takes massively powerful action, but I actually think there is an underlying theme behind it  – profound self belief.

Along with self belief she has an intertwining of “self value” as well as a deep desire to add value to the world.

When I consider the topic of productivity and making things happen I think ultimately,  it doesn’t feel as rewarding to just check things off a list. Dame Stephanie reminds us that taking action starts with a burning desire to achieve a result  and along with that result comes the riches of relationships, challenges, and life lessons.

For me personally the concept of taking action is very attractive.

This may not be news to you, but I am a contemplative person, sometimes it take me a little bit to get going and Dame Stephanie’s  talk encouraged me to both embrace how I do take action while also highlighting the importance of not waiting for the “ideal situation” or for every star to align.

She’s a strong , inspiring woman that consistently put her ideas into action.

I believe we all walked away from her talk uplifted, and motivated to breath new life into some of the ideas and projects that have been waiting for a green light.

During our conversation we considered several quotes from her talk as well as explored the idea of creating an “action habit” –   the habit of putting ideas into action NOW.  

I’ve included some of the ways you can grow your own “action habit” as well as the insights  the women in our community shared about them.

The action habit  is the habit of putting ideas into action now. Here are some ways to grow  your action habit:


1.
Don’t wait until conditions are perfect or until the stars are aligned – There may always be something that isn’t quite right. If you wait to start until conditions are perfect, the chances are you probably never will. Perhaps the timing is off,  the environment doesn’t feel right, or the right people are not in our lives. In reality there is no perfect time to start. We have to take action and deal with problems as they arise.  The best time to start was last year. The second best time is right now.

2. Be a do-er - Practice doing things rather than thinking about them.  Do you want to start exercising? Do you have a great idea for a business? Do it today. The longer an idea sits in your head without being acted on, the weaker it becomes. After a few days the details gets hazy. After a week it’s forgotten completely. By becoming a doer you’ll get more done and stimulate new ideas in the process.

4. Use action to cure fear – Shift fear by taking action and build on that confidence.  Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of public speaking is waiting for your turn to speak? Even professional speakers and actors experience pre-performance anxiety. Once they get started the fear disappears. Action is the best cure for fear. The most difficult time to take action is the very first time. After the ball is rolling, you’ll build confidence and things will keep getting easier..

5. Start your creative engine mechanically – One of the biggest misconceptions about creative work is that it can only be done when inspiration strikes. If you wait for inspiration to, your work sessions will be few and far between. Instead of waiting, start your creative motor mechanically. If you need to write something, force yourself to sit down and write. Put pen to paper. Brainstorm. Doodle. By moving your hands you’ll stimulate the flow of ideas and inspire yourself.

6.
Live in the present- Focus on what you can do in the present moment. Don’t worry about what you should have done last week or what you might be able to do tomorrow. The only time you can affect is the present. If you speculate too much about the past or the future you won’t get anything done. Tomorrow or next week frequently turns into never.

7. It takes courage to take action – When you have a good idea, start implementing it  rather than waiting for others to  get on board. New ideas sometimes take a bit to catch on but once people  become aware of it they’re likely to participate.

This list was inspired by The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

 I hope to see you at a class or event at Community Chocolate soon, you never know what you may learn or who you may strike up a conversation with!

Warmly,

Elissa

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.

Planting Seeds of Change

photo-2I’m a lover of gardens.

Some years you can find me enjoying the amazing spring weather we have here in Phoenix covered in soil, planting all kinds of vegetable seeds and seedlings and watching daily as they sprout, flower and grow.

Other years I am just to busy with other projects to start a garden and I live vicariously through the many conversations I have with fellow garden growers who are actually tilling the soil and harvesting delicious heirloom fruits and vegetables.

This is one of those “living vicariously” years and instead of “physically” planting seeds, I’ve been thinking about the “idea” of planting seeds in my life in terms of goals, adventures, interactions and experiences I envision for myself this year.

After thinking about it I realized that for me setting goals and intentions is more about “who I am willing to be and how I am willing to grow” rather than “what I want to do or accomplish”.

How willing am I to try new things? Am I my willing to take risks, make mistakes and put  myself out there in ways I haven’t before? Am I willing to build new relationships and let go of old ones?

How far am I willing to stretch myself into new areas that have in the past scared me or have been unknown to me?

And, I think most importantly, am I willing to let myself be freer, more playful and enjoy life more? That can sometimes be a stretch too.

These are the seeds of change that I will be planting this month and I invite you to join me.

Over the next four weeks as we move into Spring, you’ll have the opportunity at our Tuesday gatherings to begin planting seeds for your goals over this next year.

What seeds will you plant?  What plans, ideas and inspirations do you want to grow? We will plant these seeds in March so they can take shape in April  when we’ll “Take action” on our inspirations. 

I hope you’ll join us for a class or event soon, you never know what you may learn or who you may strike up a conversation with!

Ted Talk & Chocolate                                        Tuesday, March 10

Creativity, Connection & Chocolate            Tuesday, March 17

Craving Quiet                                                       Tuesday, March 24

Coaching Conversaton & Chocolate           Tuesday, March 31

Please call 480.704.2787 to register for our Together on Tuesday gatherings!

Warmly,

Elissa

 Community Chocolate …connection sweet.

 

Craving Quiet?

IMG_5054

Reflections on living passionately.

We live in a fast pace world, one that is probably not changing anytime soon.

But here is what can change…ourselves.

I recently had the privilege of leading a class at Community Chocolate called “Craving Quiet” and the magic that was elicited simply by taking the time to reflect and journal was amazing!

There was both a depth and a lightness experienced in that it was like peeling off layers.  When we truly clear our minds and unburden our hearts from the weight of unprocessed thoughts and emotions as well as finally taking a break from so much stimuli we emerge refreshed and renewed.

We experienced spaciousness and a return to our most generous and peaceful state.

Craving quiet was a journaling class where we contemplated what it means to live passionately (this months theme at Community Chocolate). I  thought what better way to begin a class like this then by sharing a few quotes from Paulo Coelo, one of my favorite authors who is both inspiring and romantic.

“No desire is vain and no request futile. Each of us knows how to best feed our own soul. Only by accepting our desires can we begin to understand who we are.” (Paulo Coelho) 

“Whenever you want to find out about something, plunge straight in.” (Paulo Coelho)

 “You must be careful never to allow doubt to paralyze you. Always make the decisions you need to make even if you are not sure you’re doing the right thing.” (Paulo Coelho)

The women in our community took the opportunity to journal on questions about living passionately or  contemplate on what living passionately means to them while doing the meditative exercise of coloring mandalas.

 Here are some of the journaling exercises for you to explore:

These first four exercise are from The Artists Way Workbook by Julia Cameron

 Time Travel

  1. Describe yourself at 80. What did you do after 50 that you enjoyed? Be very specific. Now write a letter from you at eighty to you at your current age.  What would you tell yourself? What interest which urge yourself to pursue? What dreams would you encourage?
  1. Remember yourself at eight. What did you like to do? What were your favorite things? Now write a letter from you at eight to you at your current age. What would you tell yourself?

 

Your Environment

Picture your house. Is there any room that you could make into a secret, private space for yourself? Convert the TV room? Buy a screen or hang a sheet and cordon off a section of some other room?  This is your dream area. It should be decorated for fun and not as an office. All you really need is a chair or pillow, something to write on, some kind of little altar area for flowers and candles. This is to help you center on the fact that creativity is a spiritual, not an ego, issue. Describe your new private space below.

 

Imaginary Lives

If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?  I would be a pilot, account hand, a physicist, a psychic, a monk.  You might be a scuba diver, a cop, a writer of children’s books, a football player, a belly dancer, a painter, a performance artist, a history teacher, a healer, a coach, a scientist, a doctor, a Peace Corps worker, a psychologist, a fisherman, a minister,  an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a sculptor, a lawyer, a painter, a computer hacker, a soap-opera star, a country singer, a rock ‘n roll drummer.   What ever occurs to you, jot it down. Do not overthink this exercise.

The point of these lives is to have fun in them – more fun then you might be having in this one.

Now write down plans for doing bits and pieces of these lives in the one you’re living now. If you have listed a dancers life, do you let yourself go dancing? If you have listed of monks life, are you ever allowed to go on a retreat? If you are a scuba diver, is there an aquarium shop you can visit? A day at the lake you could schedule?  If you said country singer, could you pick up a guitar?

How  does it feel to write about  this possibility?

 

Starting An Image File

  1. If I were 20 and had money… List  five adventures.  Add images of these to your visual image file.
  2. If I were 65 and had money… List and describe five postponed pleasures. And again collect these images this is a very potent tool.

For those who were looking to define their passion more clearly, the following questions were helpful to consider.   They were created by Scott Dinsmore ,  I’ve posted the first 10 of his 27 Questions to Live Passionately, but you can find more at at www.LiveYourLegend.net.

1.What makes you happiest in your life? What excites you?

2.What do you do that makes you feel invincible?

3.What do people thank you for?

4.What are you ridiculously good at? What are your precious gifts?

5.Who do you look up to? Who are your mentors? Who inspires you? Why?

6.When was the last time you massively over-delivered on something? What was it and why did you work so hard?

7.When was the last time you were in a state of flow, in the zone and totally lost track of time? What were you doing?

8.Imagine you won $158 million in the lottery. It’s now three months later. How will you spend tomorrow?

9.What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

10. If you could have or do anything, what would it be?

If you’ve been craving quiet,  perhaps you’ll take some time for journaling as well!

I hope you’ll join us for a class or event at Community Chocolate soon, you never know what you may learn or who you will strike up a conversation with!

Warmly,

Elissa

 

Community Chocolate…connection is sweet.