For the last three weeks, I've been participating in a Meditation Challenge hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Those names tend to go without explanation.
The Chopra Center is a hub for wellness and growth and uses meditation as a tool to get there.
I've only just discovered meditation in the last year. I always avoided it because I thought it might brainwash me in some way. I come from a very conservative background, and meditation was a far out concept. I was frightened of what I didn't know. As a result, I steered clear of it.
On December 6th, millions of people around the world celebrate the Saint's Day of St. Nicholas, also known as, St. Nick. He's, of course, most popularly known as Santa Claus!
The life of dear old Santa tells us a story of a boy raised in a wealthy family. He wanted for nothing and grew up privileged. After his parents passed away, St. Nicholas was better known for taking care of children and making sure they had everything they needed. He used his fortune to give to those who were less fortunate than he rather than indulge on himself and the pleasures of this life. I think it's safe to say St. Nicholas found more joy in giving than receiving and that his primary love language was gifts.
In addition to giving gifts, he also gave money. He is known for leaving coins in the shoes of those who left them out by their doors. For this reason, traditions have developed among many in Russian and Romanian cultures for children to leave out their shoes for gifts from St. Nicholas.
Not only is St. Nicholas the saint who looks after children, he is also known as the patron saint of sailors. Seamen look to St. Nicholas for protection on their seafaring journeys.
This is the story of Santa Claus, and on December 6th each year, we celebrate the memory of good St. Nick.
As I watch these 2012 Olympic Games in London, I'm always amazed by the professionalism, poise and athleticism of the athletes from around the world. Sometimes I wonder how these sports were invented
Photo by john Cheng
in the first place. I am most amazed when I look at the gymnasts. The U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team is full of teenagers facing more pressure and competition than most of us ever sees our adult lives. How can a sixteen year old keep it together and perform? More than that, how do these athletes come back after making an error like stumbling or falling all together?
I always think of the Chumbawamba song that says, "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never going to keep me down." Unfortunately, the rest of the song isn't about facing a fear factor, but the chorus gets the point across. When an athlete falls in the Olympic games, she gets back up and keeps going.
I'm a trained opera singer, and sometimes I don't hit every note perfectly. What happens when a musician makes an error or a singer cracks a high note? You keep on going.
What is harder than continuing on is suppressing the voices of fear that enter your mind once you screw up. It's the ones that tell you how humiliated you'll be if you do it again. They tell you that you aren't good enough and a myriad of other negative things.
The first thing you have to do is acknowledge it. Separate yourself from the incident. Then you must trust your training and past history of performance. With time and practice, you can develop the mental prowess to suppress the negative voices and concentrate on only positive ones. You can envision yourself succeeding, and mostly, you press on.
I won't lie that time can erase some of the hurt, but we don't always have the luxury of time. So as I face any voices of fear or doubt that enter my brain each day, I like to think of the Olympic athletes and follow the encouragement of watching them perform time after time.
Like attracts like. That is the Law of Attraction.
I must admit that I was the number one skeptic of the power of positive thinking as presented through books like The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I convinced myself it was a new age, cultish philosophy and that I should steer clear.
Over the last couple of months, I had multiple conversations with both friends and acquaintances where the book continued to come up. The person I was talking to would look at me intently and say, "Have you read The Secret?" After this happened for the third or fourth time, I decided to pay attention. Since I had a credit with audible.com which I needed to use, I decided to listen to the book.
I bought The Secret and am finished with my third consecutive listen. I'm blown away. This book is a game changer. It's not cultish at all. Instead it is helping me change many negative thought patterns to positive ones. That, in turn, has helped me to manifest dreams into reality. By thinking positively about things you want to see in your life, you attract those things into being. Moreover, The Secret helped me to realize that those dreams come from your Higher Power in order to help you fulfill your purpose in life. There is a reason those hopes and desires live in your heart. They are a compass to guide your life. All you have to do is be open to let them happen and choose to put away any self-doubt mentality.
The law says to ask, believe and receive. It even comes straight from the Bible in Matthew 21:22 that says, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (NIV)
The law can be applied to your health, your wealth, and your relationships. I've already seen dramatic shifts in my attitude and the activity in my life and look forward to developing this new attitude of positive thinking in abundance and joy.
I've only started this journey and am excited to see what will happen. What I do know is that negative thinking and putting myself down has not worked, so it's time to try a new approach. It will take some practice, but over time, I feel like I can grow into an overall more positive person, full of joy and abundance.
I will say there are some philosophies in the book that I do not agree with, but if you listen with a sense of discretion, it's easy enough to acknowledge the pieces that do not align with your belief system. The book is presented in a way that you can apply it to whatever you believe. Rhonda Byrne and the contributors try to make it religion agnostic, if that's possible.
There are other books out there proposing similar philosophies like Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus of Serbia. This book addresses a similar concept from a Christian perspective. I'm reading this one next to see how the two compare.
I encourage you to put the Law of Attraction into action because you can!
"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new."
Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, 2005
He was boy wonder who revolutionized our lives. He brought us products we didn't know we needed. Do you remember walkmans and CD players? I remember carrying bags of CDs around to have music during summer vacation. Boom boxes graced our bedrooms, and we thought records and 8-tracks were a thing of the past. Kids born today won't even know what VHS and cassette tapes are. Is there something after and MP3? Maybe it's an MP5. We continued to progress, and Steve Jobs was a beautiful mind that helped us go where we had never gone before.
As I type this on my Mac I'm grateful for its ingenuity and intuitiveness. I'm an iPhone junkie and have an iPod in my car, but I don't think I'm the only one. I'm grateful and blessed to have technological treats that are fun to use. Steve helped bring a little joy into our lives with them.
He will go down in history as a technical icon, a marketing genius, and a visionary like none other. Steve Jobs' innovation brought the world products that never existed before. His marketing showed us we needed them, and his vision took them all even farther.
What is next for Apple? What will the next product announcement be without Steve on a stage in jeans and a black turtleneck standing there, revealing the next cool toy with features that revolutionize how we do things? It won't be the same, but I guess the world will go on.
Death is the only sure thing in life, and we remember Steve Jobs fondly as he lived his dream and brought the world happiness through Apple. May His Memory Be Eternal.
I recently heard Dean Lindsay speak on The Progress Challenge. The premise of his talk was about what real progress is and how to achieve it. Dean says that all progress is change, but not all change is progress. Often times people and companies make changes but do not always progress.
In light of my last post about how to make better decisions, I thought this subject would be a good follow up. If you are making an effort to self-improve and make better decisions in your life, it will require both change and progress.
To better understand what that means, we have to understand the difference between change and progress.
Dean Lindsay himself says, "Change is inevitable. Progress is a choice." Webster's definition of change is to make different or alter, and their definition of progress is gradual betterment. You can make physical changes to your situation without bettering it. You can reorganize your company or cut yourself off from a bad habit, but until you start making decisions that lead to new, better pathways, you won't progress.
Oftentimes, the problem with progress is we are too impatient to wait for it. It takes time for the flywheel to start gaining momentum in a different direction. Taking actions towards both your personal and professional goals will help you make progress. It's probably true that you won't make progress without the help of others around you.
In business the help could come in the form of a network and a connection to a good contact. In your personal life help can come through your friends and family or others who act as sounding boards in your life including mentors or counselors.
Good luck progressing towards your goals. You can!
I am a daddy's girl and proud of it! On this Father's Day I want to celebrate my father and share my admiration for the love he gave and sacrifice he made for our family over the years.
When my mom and dad got married, my father made the jump over the big blue ocean to move from Greece to Mississippi. That was a bit of a
culture shock to say the least. My brave father moved without knowing much English or a lot about the local culture of the place he was moving to. He left his mother and brother and the sea he grew up with to go to the flat, hot, humid, and deeply hospitable Mississippi Delta. He starting working in the family restaurant, where he learned a business and became a master chef.
My dad adapted to everything new to him like American football, hunting, and thick Southern accents. He picked up tennis and golf as and adult, and as a tennis player, he became ranked and competed successfully.
When I would come home from school, my dad would be taking a nap in his lounge chair before heading back to the restaurant to work the night shift. He put in split shifts for over 25 years, played sports, and participated in any other activities he could. He did all that and loved my mom, brother and me. It's something to stop and look at how my papa achieved work life balance. He's been an example in more ways than I knew while growing up.
Sometimes when I hang out with my parents now, they make me get a big smile on my face as they playfully argue about the traits I inherited from each of them. It makes me happy that my parents want to claim so much of me. Beyond physical characteristics, I inherited much of my dad's personality. He is very neat and organized and takes care of the details, just like me. We'll work on a project together and he'll get a twinkle in his eye and tell me he knows he can rust me to do it right, the way that he would.
He shows his pride for me, and I want to share my love and pride for my papa, Yianni, on this Father's Day. I love you, Dad!
Oprah Winfrey ended her show this week after 22 years of being on air. This is a major milestone for a woman who grew up poor in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She didn't have a privileged childhood by any stretch of the means, yet she finished college at Tennessee State University, where she began her career in broadcasting. Later she changed the way we view the world through The Oprah Winfrey Show. She brought us Dr. Phil and audience give aways. She committed every show to trying to help people and make the world a better place. She was able to accomplish through her career the contribution that most of us want to make to society, helping other people.
Oprah is an amazing example of someone who could have held herself back with negative self-talk because her childhood environment wasn't perfect. She didn't. Instead she followed her heart and the good within her to impact the world in a positive way. She resisted temptation to take her show in the direction of the Jerry Springer Show with people fighting on stage. She kept her content rich and meaningful to her audience, which set her apart over the years.