Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Overcome the Haters and Stay Connected

“Learn how to use the criticism as fuel and you will never run out of energy.”
~Orrin Woodward~

The world is really small. We are all surrounded by those who don’t like us or would not agree with who we are and the choices we make. At the same time we can’t isolate from the rest of the human population much less deny ourselves the pleasure of experiencing our life as it is. So you are not a hundred dollar bill to be liked by everyone but you like yourself enough to take charge of your life and decide exactly how you want to live it.  It is good to remember that your reactions to criticism, negative attitudes, and even gossip will determine how much power people will have over you. Next time they start a campaign against your sanity reach out to these suggestions:

1.       Breathe: Simple enough but powerful. Deep breathing relaxes your body and helps you to face any situation with more ease.
2.       Become aware of your feelings: Sometimes we react without noticing the reason why we are reacting in a certain way, making the situation worse, ending up in a more difficult situation than when we started. Get in contact with your emotions first. 
3.       Slow down: Think before you respond. It has been a hard lesson to learn but sometimes it is better to walk away from an argument instead of getting all heat up. In most cases this strategy would leave people confused and speechless.
4.       Don’t take anything personal: People have the tendency to oppose the same things they would love to do but are afraid of.  It is true that we are all mirrors of each other. Don’t forget that everyone has a personal story and we all carry a heavy baggage.
5.       Learn the lesson: Dealing with negative people teaches us to set boundaries, to grow stronger in our beliefs and lifestyles.  Being kind to everyone doesn't mean that everyone should be allowed in your circle. If we are looking for positivism, negativity can’t be welcome.
6.       Do it anyway: This is my favorite. Against all odds, follow your instincts, your path, and your mission no matter how many out there oppose it. With time you’ll be satisfy with the life you've chosen and they will have to back off, realizing it is a waste of their time and energy.

In the end, we can all stay connected and live harmoniously respecting and accepting each other but since we live in a wonderful imperfect world, we need to learn how to play the game and stay grounded in our happy place. Like grandma use to say, “Kill them with kindness and they’ll have no other choice but to let kindness in.” 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Becoming a Successful Woman: 8 Ways to Do It

“I am proud of you nena (girl). You turned into such a strong and successful woman.” That was my mother. For the last 16 years since I moved here, I call her every other day. Mothers are always proud of their children no matter what. “Thanks mom.” – was my answer. However, after hanging up I kept thinking about her comment.

For some people success equals money, a big suburban house, a brand new car, and all the other luxurious commodities sold to us on TV. Well, I drive a used car, sold the big house and exchanged it for a rented townhouse, and try to live as simple as possible. Still, yes, I consider myself a successful woman under my very own definition. I fully enjoy my profession, have great friends, a supportive family, travel whenever I have a chance to feed my spirit, and delight into two of my passions; writing and cooking. For me success is the magic we put into motion changing our circumstances and writing our own life story. That’s how we create success no matter what it means to us. It hasn't been always easy but I did it. How did I do it? How any woman can do it? My mother’s words made me reflect and this is how:

1.       Believe in you. You are your best friend. No one knows you better. Self-confidence is your best weapon to knock down any obstacle. Follow your instincts and trust in who you are.

2.       Say no to doom forecasters. You’ll always find negative people trying to talk you out from your dreams. Usually these kind of people are the same living in fear. They don’t have the strength to make it happen for themselves. They lack confidence in their own potential. Avoid them at all cost.

3.       Stop trying to fix yourself. Know that you are perfect the way you are and have all the skills and talents needed to succeed. Learn more. Keep growing in and out but stop looking only at what you consider your flaws. Think that even those “flaws” could be turned into precious jewels.

4.       Take control of your life. Don’t let others make decisions for you. There’s a difference between listening to a wise advice and becoming a string puppet. It’s your life!

5.       Pay attention to your emotions. They might start in your mind but emotions are physical. You can feel when you are stressed, angry, or frustrated. Don’t overlook these signs. Be aware and find healthy way to manage them.

6.       Wear your warrior armoire. Always be prepared for the unexpected; have a plan B. The biggest battles are not necessarily won because of good weapons but because we have developed great strategic plans.

7.       Think abundance. Don’t harbor lack thoughts. You have all you need and more. Good things happen when we think that all our needs are already fulfilled. Think big, always abundantly big!

8.       Know that you are not alone. Grow a network of like-minded people. Be open to give and receive. We are all connected and the best service we can offer is to exchange our talents and help each other.

And this is how I made it happen. It took some time, many lessons learned, sometimes the hard way but over and over I have seeing the rewards and it has been worthy. Thanks mom.

“Dance to the beat of your heart, sing the songs you have written, the ones that nourish your soul.”

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Who are the Women Protecting Our Nation?

If you travel through Washington DC, you will probably feel attracted to the famous and monumental memorials honoring men; mostly former presidents of this great nation. Jefferson sits powerful at the edge of the Potomac River. The Washington monument stands tall reminding us of the ancient Egyptian culture; a 555 feet high obelisk reaching out to the sky. The Lincoln monument, facing Washington’s, is a neoclassical temple with Doric columns inspired by the Greeks. Everywhere you go they are. However, in my recent visit, I noticed that guarding these entire men stand tall the women who have protected and nourished this country giving it a different meaning.

Lady Freedom has stood for over 140 years witnessing all the events happening in and around the State Capitol; a mix of Native American and European imagery. From the top of the government building where many national and international decisions are made she has been speaking softly to the soul of all the people inhabiting this country. The north entrance of the Arts and Industries Building is protected by Columbia and if you pay attention while walking through the Eisenhower monument you’ll see a massive bronze sculptor, missed by many among the waterfalls. One of the panels exposes images of trapped but brave women, fighting for their rights; emerging untouched from the melted bronze. Stay on track and here and there, you’ll find the trace of Mary McLeod, educator, Jane Delano, founder of the Red Cross Nursing Service, Maria Sanford, educator and civic leader, and the Vietnam’s Women Memorial depicting the solidarity, tenderness, pain, and hope of women around the world. Their monuments and statues are not made of expensive marble but their presence is enough to tell their story.

Next time you visit this diamond shape city, stop and look for the ladies that sculpted this nation. Look for the ones that keep laying down the bricks of positive change.  

“I leave you love, I leave you hope…I leave you racial dignity.” ~ Mary McLeod Bethune~

Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Keep Your Wheel Moving This Fall?

May you always have the courage to spread your wings and fly! 

The fall season has come to remind us of the circle of life; and everything shall pass and be renewed. Native Americans honored these cycles. They have given us the tools to keep our inner wheel moving so we can find the right balance in the outer world. This fall:

·         Keep water flowing. Pay close attention and take care of your emotions. Get rid of those not needed. Bring forth clear and fresh feelings that would nourish and re-balance. Revisit your intentions. Like the water, stay in motion and flow.
·         Pamper your physical body. Fertilize it like you would your garden. An infertile and uncared body, like the soil, will soon deteriorate. Show your body how much you love it by feeding it with care.
·         Breathe and fill your mind with positive thoughts. Don’t dwell in the past or the burdens it carried. A negative mind is polluted. It can’t support you. Breathe deep and clean the personal air that sustains you.
·         Live fully. Like the fire, walk bright and strong. Expand your light and free your spirit. Spend time with those you care for; give and receive. Acknowledge what you have and be grateful for it. Focus on abundance instead of lack. Fire up your life’s zest.

This is a period of change; the beginning of a new cycle. It is the time to clean, let go, reflect, and restore. Life is constant motion. We must keep moving, shedding old layers, and renewing the best in each of us.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus~

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Teach Me How To Feel

This is a teacher’s moment of transformation. There are no boring days in the life of an educator. We cry, smile, fight for what we believe, and fight for our students well-being. We have been “trained” in the art of promoting academic achievement. However, as time goes by, I have found myself questioning if academic success has turned into our sole purpose; if this is the ultimate goal. My response, against all odds, is no. What do our children and young adolescents really need to be successful in life?

Society these days, with its focus on testing as the ultimate source of measuring present and future success, has been denying our children of a whole education; that which reaches out to the body, mind, and soul. We have settled for a mediocre standard education.

Let’s take a look at the A average student. Suddenly life strikes with an unexpected situation; something he is not able to handle. Nowhere in the curriculum there’s a course that has given him the tools to deal with it. He is struggling, suffering, losing control, and unable to express his feelings. His academic career is now in danger simply because his intellectual mind has been stuffed with facts but his heart hasn't been guided in the art of awareness, understanding, and healthy management of his emotions. This is precisely the kind of education we have been missing and as a consequence we have laid roadblocks preventing a balanced, truly successful life. This is the existing disconnection between what is stated, written in black and white, and what truly matters. These are the challenges teachers face every day.

What a difference would it be if we take the time to teach these children how to identify, differentiate, and accept their feelings and diverse emotional experiences? What is we decide that besides the core courses, we should provide them with the tools to manage stress, stay motivated, set realistic goals, accept healthy challenges, and adapt to different environments with a positive mind frame? What if we remove the roadblocks that could lead them to depression, mental and physical disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, and violence against others? Their future would be better. Our future would be brighter. We would have made a difference and they would be the creators of a new society. Isn't that what we are all craving for?

You don’t have to be a teacher to make this possible. You are a parent. Start at home. You are a neighbor. Lend a hand to your community. You are a human. Reach out to those who are just beginning to live. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

101 Advise: Why and How of Unpredictable People

Confession: I am unpredictable. I seldom know where I am going until I get there or sometimes plan to go somewhere and change plans in the middle of the road. My gut at the moment is my guide. I am always learning, changing, and growing. I always do what I feel right at the moment; what I want to do. All my life I have been criticized, sometimes severely, for what constitutes in the eyes of others a very bad habit.

We tend to predict people’s behavior based on our own beliefs, so when they don’t do as we expect we feel frustrated, trying to figure out the why of their behavior. We take it personal, thinking that their actions work against us; that they live to challenge us especially if we can’t control them.

Unpredictability is part of human nature. This is the first fact we must understand. Some might argue that unpredictable people lack knowledge of themselves. I would say, based on my own experience, that it is totally the opposite.

Unpredictable people know exactly what they want and what they don’t; what they will not settle for. They feel very strong about the values and beliefs ruling their life and they follow them. At the same time, they know how to be flexible in actions and thinking. They know how to adapt to different circumstances not losing out in the search for the best things life has to offer.  They don’t conform to the norm. Instead life is a constant searching, learning from different venues, experiencing by doing, and creating new visions for their own world.Yes, that's them. That's me. 

Next time you deal with unpredictable people please understand that this is not a psychological disturbance. Give them some space. Listen to them. Release the leash; control won’t work. Understand that their actions are not a threat to you. Respect their lifestyle and what they hold valuable. 

The appeal of the wild for me is its unpredictability. You have to develop awareness, react fast, be resourceful and come up with a plan and act on it.
~ Bear Grylis~ 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Words of Wisdom: Live and Laugh

That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.
~Robert Louis Stevenson~

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Five Habits for a Better Life

How different would life be if we could respond to everything it throws at us through a deep connection between mind, emotions, meaning, and purpose? How many struggles, individual and collective would be avoided?

Some time ago, I attended a conference based on Alexis De Tocqueville coined phrase; habits of the heart. These habits follow five basic principles. I believe there’s no better time than the now we are all living to put them into practice.

1.       Rowing the same boat. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Regardless of our personal habits or beliefs, we are all connected. We need each other. We share a common place.

2.       “Us and them” is not the same as “us versus them”. WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM EACH OTHER. Our unique creativity is what enriches our individuality and what give us the tools to better the lives of others.

3.       In the midst of our struggles and contradictions WE NEED TO EXPAND OUR HEARTS to understanding. We are not perfect. The world is not perfect but it is the human heart what allows us to bring the best in each of us.

4.       OUR VOICE IS OUR POWER. How we use it for the good of all makes the difference; our main contribution to positive actions and changes.

5.       When we practice these habits we are CREATING A HEART BASED COMMUNITY centered in oneness; like-minded citizens with a common goal.

To live the habits of the heart is to live courageously, not giving up under any circumstances, trusting ourselves as well as those in our communities, making it together and making it better.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart.” ~Helen Keller~

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Warning: Are You Traveling Lifeless?

Year: 2000 Destination: Spain It was the first time I was traveling to Europe. I had been packing for a month. The excitement was filling half of my suitcases. I would be spending a whole month studying in one of the most renown and old universities in the world. I was me before Spain and totally different after it. However, I was simply a tourist, focusing on study and main attractions. 

2011, New Delhi, India, a place I had always wanted to visit. This time my main duty was to teach but my mission was to blend with the people, immersing in their culture, their struggles, and hopes. I did and my view of life has never been the same. I was part of them.

Traveling is an adventure close to my heart but I learned that real traveling as an immeasurable rich experience is only reached when the human element is embedded in our everyday plans. This is the only way we get to really know a country, for a country without its people is just a piece of land with diverse landscapes. It is the people who make a country day by day. Instead of a mere tourist, the true traveler becomes a cultural digger, one who explores the beliefs, values, traditions, and problems holding people together or keeping them apart. By becoming one with them we discover how alike we all are regardless of our apparent differences. That is what makes us unique in a world so vast.

Next time you travel set a new agenda... 
be spontaneous, by all means avoid stereotyping, go where no one has thought before, enjoy the locals and their activities, don’t be afraid to ask and start a conversation, forget about the tours, get in the bus or any local mean of transportation, and focus on those places not published on the fancy guidebooks.

Everywhere we go brings us the chance to be transformed if we change the tourist visa for a global citizen passport. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The New Me Challenge Giveaway

Life is a bowl of cherries. Some cherries are rotten while others are good; its your job to throw out the rotten ones and forget about them while you enjoy eating the ones that are good! 
~C. Joybell C.~

September is national self-improvement month. Hurray! We all want to make some changes that would better our lifestyle. It could be improving our eating habits, starting an exercise routine, getting out and enjoy nature more, take that course we have been delaying, or simply finding some more time for us or our loved ones. What is it for you?

There's always something to do out there. Connect it to your life's drive and you'll always find ways to recreate yourself inside out. To begin with your plan, I am sharing my personal tips:

1.Set reasonable and realistic goals.That way, if something happens, as it usually does, you will not feel guilty or frustrated.

2. Always seek the company of positive people who would join you and cheer your efforts.

3. Cut everything that would have a negative impact in your life.

4. Start by giving yourself the daily gift of a 10 minutes walk.

5. One fruit a day will keep you smiling.

6. Commit at least 30 minutes daily to learn something new and exciting.

7. Keep moving. Get out of the easy road; your comfy zone and be determined to shift for the best.

8. Treat yourself to an "all about me" day and don't regret it! This is my all time favorite.

We have a whole month to record our progress. Need some extra motivation? Share your goals, tips, and personal story with us and enter the self development giveaway to an awesome life changer.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

How Bad Do You Need a Career Break?

In 2010, after many years teaching and dealing with all kind of administrators, I knew I desperately needed a break from the profession I had loved so much. It wasn't that I had stopped loving it but that I was feeling drained, bored, and frustrated with what I considered back then a system in decadence. I gave it a serious thought for a week and took action. It was me or the world.

Taking a career break is a difficult task; a tough decision to make, especially if you have responsibilities, meaning bills to pay every month. It is the constant inner battle between your well-being; your sanity and the good citizen obligations. Now, let’s be real. If you survey most of your co-workers, how many of them do you think are considering or have thought about taking some time off to re-charge, think things through, and spend some quality time doing something different? What is stopping them? That would be mostly fear and the money factor. How do you know if you are in need of one? Are you dragging your way to work? Do you feel uncomfortable, anxious? Do you spend most of your working day waiting for that time when you will finally get off? If your response is yes, then you do need one ASAP.

You don’t have to quit your job. Maybe you don’t need 12 months but some time to think about what you really need and want. You might need more than a week to make a decision but, if you are feeling overwhelmed by your surroundings consider these options:

1.       If your job offers it, ask for a sabbatical. Use this time to learn something new or explore different career options. If you find an opportunity abroad, mix learning and traveling. Check this for Sabbatical information.

2.       Do some voluntary work related to your field or any area you are passionate about. You would have taken a break and it would weight positively on your resume. Check Idealist for volunteer opportunities world wide.

3.       Plan it! If you know that’s what you want, plan it ahead of time. Make sure you’ll have the necessary income to take a break without the stress. Consider you break as an investment. Go here for a plan on  Financing Your Break

After almost two years of experiencing the world without a clock ticking, I went back to the classroom totally renewed, with a bright brand new view of what I wanted, new goals, and clear thinking. I traveled, learned from a different culture, had time to write, and explored new career fields. I came back with new skills that have certainly been very useful in my new workplace. Would you take the leap?

If you are still undecided, you can also check Jeff Jung's book here. 


Airfares Around The World

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

AdulteryAdultery by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great story by Paulo Coehlo. Real life down to earth characters struggling to find the meaning of life; a mirror of what we all go through day by day. The amazing story of Linda makes us ponder and question. What's life's ultimate purpose? What force moves us? What is it that we should all strive for?

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