Tag Archives: life

Back To School Intents

shutterstock kids
Last week, after dropping Leela off to her first day of 4
th grade at school, I came home and a wave of exhaustion, relaxation, elation and depression all hit at once. My 7th grader, Tara, started a new Middle School two weeks earlier.

Back to school bliss or back to school blues?! I couldn’t decide. 

We had had an adventurous summer, with lots of friends and family visiting us. But we also truly relaxed, enjoying days with no schedules. My summer intent for my kids was to let them get bored – rather than sign up for camps, we did a few classes and they spent the days at home figuring out what to do. They read, they watched television, played video games, painted, wrote, and hung out. I let their minds wander, aimlessly, happily, with no agenda.

Yet, within hours of them back in school, I was on my calendar, scheduling after school activities, logistics of two different drop offs and pickups, work commitments. I found myself mentally scheduling time to relax with our new Fall schedule! Why does it seem inevitable that our modern life gets us busy again? I find that despite trying not to get my kids too busy, the homework/music lessons/sports/friends life balance already seems an untenable goal.

As I begin the Fall, I decided to set some Back To School intents for me and my kids.

So here goes:

My intent is to meditate regularly.
This is top priority for me. And if I can commit to it, and show my girls through my example its value, I believe they will want to do it as well. I love meditating with my girls. We sit together in our favorite spots in the living room, we cuddle a bit, talk about the day, close our eyes, meditate, and then set intents for the week or day.

My intent is to make sleep a priority in our life.
My girls are growing, and need their sleep. For the last few months, we have been able to sleep without waking up with an alarm clock. I know the health and emotional benefits of good sleep, and don’t want to compromise on this for our family. We have an early morning schedule now, so if it means compromising some activities, that’s ok. Sleep is more important.

My intent is to focus on nourishing foods.
I just completed a two week cleanse, and for the first time since I can remember am feeling good without my cookies, ice cream, brownies, and heavy carb-filled pastas, pizza’s etc.

Also, while writing my book, Living With Intent, I was more mindful of my eating habits and why I was choosing the foods I consume. I realized that I am passing on my own eating habits to my kids. Once again, if I can guide them through my own example and through the changes in our meals at home, I hope I can teach them better habits.

My intent is to be flexible.
If we need to adjust schedules, skip a dance class, drop tennis, forgo doing extra math homework, I need to let go and know that it’s ok. Together we can figure out schedules and think about “time management”, but at the end of the day our journey is about love and service. I do believe flexibility is one of the keys to finding joy, and want to embrace that idea fully this school year.

My intent is to cherish the love of learning.
My kids are learning so many incredible things in school this year. I want to celebrate the love of learning, and engage in conversations with them about new ideas and discoveries.

My intent is to express gratitude every day.
Early mornings, new schedules, lots of homework – its easy to fall into the back to school blue mode. Instead I want to focus on gratitude, and incorporate it into our daily conversation. I want us to share at least one thing daily that we are grateful for.

 I’d love to hear your intents for the Fall here in the comment section. 

Please do share them on www.intent.com as well, so we can keep the dialogue going!

Intention in Nature

Dear friends,

I am on safari in the Serengeti in Tanzania as I write these words on my iPhone for this week’s newsletter. The power of intention could not be more powerful here where the circle of life plays itself every day. Watching a cheetah scope out its prey, baboons playing in the trees, giraffes elegantly chewing leaves, and elephant leaving behind downtrodden trees as they slowly walk through the bush, a mother lion suckling its young cubs. Such images are nature perfectly, harmoniously, acting out intention in perfect balance. I feel blessed to be here. Here are some photos which I hope give just a hint of the extraordinary magnificence of the gifts of our planet. Enjoy!

Mallika

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3 Steps to Reload When You’re Filled to Capacity

capacityOur lives are filled to capacity. Technology has encouraged us to stay connected in every moment. We rarely allow ourselves time to think, to be, to experience, to dream. We can’t make any space to allow for new things in life because we have filled every moment with something.

A solution is to learn to intentionally NOT fill the daily schedule. Having time and making space creates the opportunity for spontaneity, wonder, new perspectives and an expanded view of life. Our best ideas come from the space we allow ourselves, not from the hurried, harried, filled-to-capacity day.

Everyone in my house will raise their eyebrows when they read this because I am the master of filling each moment. My life moves from checklist to to-do lists. I think it is this way partly because I run my own business (hear the rationalization?) and partly because I like being busy (more rationalization). But I am aware and do now make the commitment to be more intentional about how I use each moment.

It is truly our choice how we fill the moments of our lives. What if we were to intentionally build time into our currently filled-to-capacity day to step away from the busy-ness? What if we were more intentional about putting time into our day to breath, dream, invent, connect, consider, imagine and relate? To consistently do this, I know I will have to make some changes – here is what I commit to doing (perhaps they will inspire you to do the same or something similar):

  1. Rethink how I start the day. I commit to starting each day with what the great writer/speaker Robin Sharma calls the “holy hour” – 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of meditation/stillness, 20 minutes of exercise. Get up an hour earlier (this of course adds a few more moments to the day) and use that hour wisely to set the tone, direction and pace of the day. This time reminds me to create moments to connect with my world – to be inspired by reading, to get clarity through mediation and to feel healthy though exercise. I commit to starting my day with a “holy hour.”
  2. Add “exist time” to my to-do list. I’ll admit I am just working around my incessant need to have a to-do list, but since that is the way I manage my days, I’ll add an urgent-and-important topic of “exist time” to my to-do list. “Exist time” is time allocated to wander through the yard and see what is blooming (in FL there is always something blooming), time to chat with a neighbor, time for hobbies (for me it is more time cooking), or time for just being with the people who matter in my life. I know I’ll need to set the alarm; not to remind me to get back to work, but to remind me the “exist time” isn’t over yet – to stay in the moment – to enjoy it. I commit to creating “exist time” each day.
  3. Take mini NOW (mini memory vacation) breaks. Because much of my work, when not out with clients, is at my desk, I have great mementos of life all around my workspace – the hand carved Buddha statue that was a gift from my partner, the pictures of the kids and my new sons-in-laws, the mascot bobble head of the college I teach at, the watercolor paintings by my mother, the artwork and things we collected on our travels – all things that encourage (and even beg) me to take mini NOW breaks – mini memory vacations. These help me step out of the rush to be part of a thought, feeling or emotion. This encourages me to dream, reminisce and change the pace of the day. I commit to taking mini NOW moments.

Make space – this is the antidote to a life filled to capacity. Living out loud and living full out doesn’t mean running through life at breakneck speed. Instead, living boldly includes time to get focused, have some chill time and be part of mini mental breaks or NOW moments. Each is like a deep exhaled breath – the opportunity to allow new things in, connect to what is important and feel part of your amazing life.

3 Tips to Stay Fired Up Instead of Fizzling Out

fired upLife comes at us fast. We choose whether it fires us up or fizzles us out. Here are two stories to make the point and then to share some comments in how to stay fired up – passionate – energized in life.

Story one. Fizzled out.

A friend of mine tries to do it all. Someplace in her thinking she feels she is supposed to be supermom, super-employee, super-friend, super-problemsolver, super-cook and super-spouse. She has a personal requirement to be all these – her choice. She comes from a family of high performers where they constantly assess and judge each other based on the things they do. Huge pressure. Lately I have seen the normally fire-filled eyes with gray shadows – she is fizzling out – losing her inner passion, fire and energy. Instead of showing up big to any of these roles, she is now just barely keeping up, disappointed with herself, with others and with the world. Fizzled out.

Story two. Fired Up.

Another friend of mine is a talented speaker who has a high-activity life. It is not unusual for him to be in two or three cities in a week. Between his writing and speaking, he is on the go all the time. He is fired up, passionate, excited and energized by what he does for work. But to keep this pace and to keep the internal fire burning, he has built some effective and practical “stay fired up” habits.

  1. Gratitude. Always start each day or event with a thought of gratitude. Each moment of each day has blessings in them if we choose to see them. By taking the time to appreciate the greatness and “amazingness” of each moment, we fuel our internal fire. Gratitude is a fire builder.
  2. Breathe. Take a breath anytime we feel too busy, confusing or chaotic. In this moment, we improve our clarity about our situation. This creates the ability for our next moment to be wiser, saner and more effective. Stop things even for a fraction of a second to see more clearly. This can help us pace ourselves to feel more in control, less defeated and therefore more fired up.
  3. Self-talk. Have positive self-talk. Most of the chatter in our minds is critical, non-supportive and judgmental. Noticing that chatter and realigning it to be kind, gentle and supportive is the way to rekindle our passion for what we are doing. That critical “committee” in our head is a fizzle maker. Tell the noisy voices in your head to sit down and shut up (I know that sound severe but sometimes our committees only respond. Then, without the noise, you can take a breath, be grateful and reconnect to your inner fire.

A single dad friend of mine used to say to his kids as he got them into bed (and help them to stay there instead of wanting this and that and making the bedtime process take hours), “When you stay in bed it gives me time to be ready to be a great dad to you tomorrow.” We all need to develop our personal habits to allow the time to plug back into our power source – to have greatness habits that fire up the passion for life, the passion for people and the passion for our work.

Our world can wear us out. Actually, we allow our world to wear us out. Since we choose how we respond to the things that life sends us, we could also choose to stay fired up. We could choose to feed our internal fire by connecting to our passions, being more present in what we choose to do and to appreciate what is instead of noticing what is missing. It takes awareness. It takes practice. It requires building some fired up habits.

What feeds your soul and energizes you to love life and feel connected to it? What can you do each day to do more of this? What makes you feel empty, tired and disconnected? What can you change to do less of this? Fired up or fizzled out. It’s always a choice – our choice.

***

If you like Jay’s post check out these similar intents on Intent.com

fired up

fired up

fired up

photo by: matthewvenn

The Improv Rules For Better Relationships & a Better You

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 9.33.42 PMI’ve had trouble with social anxiety since I was a kid. For holidays I would hide in the bathroom or some hidden corner of my room just to avoid having to talk to family members we didn’t see on a regular basis. Today I am the most grateful person for Dominoes online ordering service so I don’t have to actually call the store and converse with whoever answers the phone. Initiating conversations in general sounds pretty horrifying as far as I’m concerned (note my job as an internet blog editor).  So it is with a great flare of irony that I didn’t find my footing in Los Angeles until I started taking improv classes at Upright Citizens Brigade.

For those not familiar, Upright Citizens Brigade specializes in long-form improv. So you and your scene partner start having a conversation and build a comedic scene around a “game” or a repeatable funny idea. And it’s all made up on the spot. So basically, you spend 3 hours a week for 8 weeks starting random conversations with people you just met. At the end of the course you then try to have one of those conversations (praying it’s funny) in front of every friend and family member you could convince to pay $5 to see it. It’s insanity – the definition of my worst social nightmare – and it’s the best thing I’ve ever gotten myself to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I have to pry myself off the back wall for every initiation I make. I want to throw up before 90% of shows I do and when I see the pros do it I am astounded at their ability to make it look so easy. What I’ve learned through my two years of classes and indie shows though has not only helped me develop as a performer (When I moved here I would rather be hit in the face with a shovel than be accused of being an actor, but now I have head shots. It’s definitely part of the dream) – but the rules of improv have helped me become a better person in life. Don’t believe me? Try a few of these basic principles and see the good it does for your own relationships.

1. Listen – This is the first and most important rule of creating any scene – but it should be the first rule of any interaction you have. Get out of your head and stop thinking of what you’re going to say next and actually take a second to hear the words someone else is saying. Watch their body language. Take notice of the intonation of their voice and make sure you understand what it is they are trying to tell you. For better or worse, everything said at the top of your scene if your foundation but it is only through listening that you can lay down bricks next to each other in a coherent fashion. Listen first, and you’ll be shocked how much easier it is to talk second.

2. “Yes and…” – Tina Fey has a similar list to this in her book Bossypants (which everyone should read) and she talks a lot about the “Yes and..” rule. This is actually the first thing you learn in improv. Your job as a performer is to agree. What does this mean? Don’t deny anything your scene partner says. You do not have to agree with it, but you’re not allowed to negate it or say that it isn’t true. It’s disrespectful and ruins the progress their contribution made. In real life terms, saying yes being means staying open to someone else’s ideas. It goes hand-in-hand with listening, really. The truth of the matter is that we’re all on this planet together and no one gets anything done alone. Honestly, it’s a lot more fun when you’re contributing together and a lot less stressful than trying to build an empire by yourself.

That brings us to “and..” This is the hardest part. You have to agree, and then add to the conversation. You have to participate. Otherwise you leave your scene partner doing all the heavy lifting and often times a scene will stall. It’s the same in life when you just plod through saying yes without actually getting involved. You become an inactive observer and before you know it you’ve watched so much go by without ever being part of it. So be open and jump in.

3. Be honest – When you’re building a scene it only works when everyone agrees that what you’ve built is real. If halfway through someone says “Ha, but I lied!” then it negates all the work up until that point. If you tell one lie then it’s impossible to be sure if anything that you’ve said has been the truth – on stage or off. An extension of this is don’t be coy. A lot of beginner improvisers will pretend to have a secret or delay saying their full idea because they think it will prolong the scene but really all it does is prolong the frustration. When you’re direct with what you’re thinking then it can be dealt with and built into the universe. When you’re dealing with real life relationships being direct may cause more confrontation initially, but the problems can be dealt with immediately and you learn only to make issues out of things that you really care about. When you purposefully try to be sneaky you waste scene time on stage, and you waste time in your relationships, for what? Something you’re going to have to deal with eventually, so just do it now so you can move on to better things.

4. Be a human – My favorite improv coach started our first class by saying the most popular critique he would give us would be “Be humans to each other.”  It sounds like common sense, right? I mean, how would we not be human to each other? What he meant was to combine all of the aforementioned rules and react to our partners like real people. We may be making things up but comedy comes from truth and you create a richer scene when you play it real. Being a human means you have to listen to what your scene partner says and be affected. If they insult you then you need to be honest and show that you’re insulted. If you’re not insulted then you better “yes and…” with the reason why. Sometimes in the real world we don’t take the time to be affected by the things around us. We’re moving too quickly in our own bubbles to absorb the events in our lives. When you take a second and process how something makes you feel and you react honestly to it you make progress. You learn. You grow. You’re more empathetic to others and you’ll find that it’s much less stress for you.

Improv hasn’t changed who I am, but it has given me several tools to be a better version of it. I will probably always choose the online option over calling it in, but at least I know I can get off the wall if I want to. I know that not all the pressure is on me, and if I can listen and react honestly then there’s the potential to create something out of nothing. Isn’t that the magic we’re all looking for?

How do you try to be a better human? Share in the comments below! 

The Fault in our Stars: One Sick Love Story Shows Us What It Means to be Alive

the fault in our starsIf you’ve been to a Barnes & Noble recently then you’ve probably seen the bright teal cover of John Green’s best selling novel The Fault in Our Stars. I haven’t been a stranger to talking about it on this blog either.

If you aren’t familiar The Fault in our Stars or TFioS as the internet refers to it, is about two teenagers Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters who have both been diagnosed with cancer. They fall in love while attending the same cancer support group. It starts off as any other young adult love story would, but Hazel and Augustus have the oppressive knowledge that they don’t have as much time as their peers. Thus, their love takes on a more epic quality and two seventeen year olds teach us what it means to live every day to its fullest and to love like you won’t have the chance to do it again (because we never really know if we will).

Megan, that sounds ridiculously depressing, why would I want to read that? Because while the potential is there for a ton of cliches and melodrama, John Green strives to tell the truth. The characters in this story are sick but does that mean they don’t deserve the opportunity to love? To be happy? To make the most of their lives even if they are threatened to be shorter than we imagine? The beauty of Gus and Hazel are perfectly aware of their situation but they don’t allow it to make them wallow in the fear or depression that goes along with it. Instead, the give in to each other and go for their dreams, and there is a pretty magical trip to Amsterdam involved that will melt the heart of any cynic. It’s hard to explain the magic specifically without a giant SPOILER ALERT.

Don’t have time to read the book? I actually insist that you make time because it is so worth it. But just incase your schedule is that packed, Fox Studios released the first full-length trailer for the movie adaptation today. The movie stars Shailene Woodley (The Descendents, The Spectacular Now) and Ansel Elgort (Divergent). It arrives in US theaters on June 6 and it is bound to make you cry and laugh and realize what it means to make the most of every day we have. I dare you to make it through the trailer without getting a little bit wispy.

“I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” – John Green, The Fault in our Stars

It’s the Journey, Not the Destination That Matters

the journey homeSo many of us are rushing though life – focused on the destination, not the journey. A great life, however, is really all about the journey – about what you meet, learn, endure, understand, appreciate, discover and choose along the way. Be intentional about participating in what life shares with you as you head out each day.

It is good advice to have goals and objectives – to know in which direction to head. The more we understand our unique abilities – our talents, strengths and passions – the clearer our life’s direction becomes. With this information, we can then sort through what our world has to offer to find those opportunities that fit what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. This is only the start. The real value happens not as we define our road, but as we show up on that road – to see what we can see and be part of along the way.

“The view matters,” is something my dad used to say to my five siblings and me. The view from the meandering garden path matters as he would stop us on each curve in the path to see what could be seen, experienced and even smelled. His intentional planting of certain trees, bushes and flowers created beauty, fragrance and an experience along the way – from the house to the street and from the house to the driveway. All of it was intentional. Stop. Look. Appreciate. Enjoy. Learn. Experience. It’s here for you – along the way.

My 3 daughters are now in their 20s and out of the house. Between rushing to and from soccer games, school events, college dorms – it all seems to have passed by so quickly. Goals achieved: college completed, jobs and lives on their own. On those roads over the past 20 years, I met amazing people, been to some outstanding places, done some totally dumb things and some absolutely amazing things. I have such bigger and fuller memories of the times I took the time compared to those that blurred by as I dashed here and there. I truly believe that a great life is not about getting it all done, but is one committed to seeing and experiencing things along the way.

Mind you, I have better intentions to slow down and show up than my delivery seems to show. But I am glad to be aware of it because awareness is the first step to becoming more intentional about choosing to experience the moments of life. Acknowledging that we are rushing through life, missing the things along the way, can help us choose to show up more present – to notice what we can see, feel, sense, experience and be part of. Life’s value isn’t in getting the to-do list all done. It’s about how we how up to the list.

So we are still at the start of a new year. There is time to make a commitment to make 2014 the year of the journey, not the dash for the finish. What today, right now, can you pay better attention to – can be more intentional about – so that you connect to the moment and all that it has for you? How can you slow down to increase the learning, experience and connection that will feed your soul, your spirit, your passion and perhaps even help you find your purpose. Everything you need for a most amazing life is found in the moments that you meet along the way.

Like Jay’s blog? Check out these similar Intents on Intent.com!

Intent - journey

Intent - miraculous journey

photo by: paul bica

5 Steps to Handling Life When Things Get Rough

SadnessDo you secretly ache for something more? Do you celebrate the miracle that is your life or are you constantly running, frustrated by the never-ending to-do list at home and at work?

When life is not going our way, it can be hard to look on the bright side. And what about the people who tell you “It’s all good” when your life is in a state of overwhelm, collapse, or just plain sucks. What’s good about it?

The key is to realize that you are creating everything in your life, that it is all perfect, even though you might not recognize it at the time. Hold the faith – understanding will come. Rather than seeing yourself as a victim, ask yourself, for example: “Why am I creating this difficult, angry neighbor who refuses to discuss the parking situation with me?”

In this very question your freedom starts. By refusing to get angry back, which creates a power struggle, you step past the ego, which would love to be ‘right’ and ‘win’, and create a calm spaciousness, in which amazing outcomes can happen.

By sending love, and compassion, to your antagonist, miraculous changes can occur.

In addition, you discover a rich well of creativity, strength, and wisdom inside you that you didn’t know you had.

What if we allowed ourselves to fully experience our challenges and grow and expand because of them?

Concerns and fears will still arise but we can learn to meet them from a place of spaciousness and calm. With these proven strategies below you will gain the understanding, and courage, to overcome challenges, and no longer run from your fears, but stand self-assured knowing you can navigate whatever comes your way.

1. Acknowledge Your Present Moment Reality

Accept what is. This doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you do have to accept it. Fighting reality only make things worse. In the very acceptance of what is happening, you relax, and a spaciousness opens up, that allows for a shift to happen. You are now entering the miracle zone, where all kinds of unexpected goodness can appear. Stay open to possibility.

2. Experience Your Moments Of Joy

This might sound obvious, but a lot of us have a pattern of expecting the other shoe to drop when life is going well. Become aware of this habit, and put your attention, energy and focus on really experiencing your moments of joy without assuming that disaster awaits around the corner. What if, around the corner, there is even more joy?

Love, joy and happiness are our natural state.

It is only our programming of fear, lack, and scarcity that tells us otherwise. The more you become aware of this negative programming, and ignore it, the more joy you will experience.

3. Allow Yourself To Experience Your Fears and Challenges

Instead of shutting down, and running from fear with all kinds of distractions, like obsessively checking your social media, too much TV/Internet, and so on, sit with yourself, and allow the feelings, however uncomfortable, they might be. In the very feeling lies the healing. In the very allowing, fears dissolve.

Don’t be afraid of fear: befriend, and embrace it. Open the door, look inside and realize that there is no skeleton in the closet. This will free you up to experience more joy, and less fear.

4. Let Go Of Desire

At the root of fear is desire: your agenda that things have to look a particular way. Let go of your attachment to the way you want things to look, relax, and see what happens. And I don’t mean that you fall into an apathetic, aimless state of passivity. Have your desires, but let go of your attachment that they have to manifest in a particular way.

When we insist that things have to be a certain way, we can miss what life is offering us.

5. Understand & Be Grateful For Your Fears

The key to dissolving fear is to understand it. This means that you have to drop all judgment, condemnation, and evaluation that fear is wrong. Fear is a reality in our lives, it is a part of being human. Once it is faced, and understood, it can be transformed. You experience more love and joy, and fear lessens. Your challenges become easier to navigate.

From Intent.com: Big Stuff On It’s Way

“If everyone is moving forward together,
then success takes care of itself.”
-Henry Ford

There’s something unstoppable about a group of people dreaming big in conjunction.
It’s like one truly passionate person creates this open door for more and more people to dream big and join the party. It just takes that one to be bold, to have the audacity to believe that they could be the one who sees the vision in their head become a reality. It’s that one who gives you permission to be audacious along with them.

So, it’s Monday. If you were waiting for the one, here are three.
Three images to click on leading to projects that are in the dream phase.
Three people who are saying “this is where I’m headed because I believe in this.”
Read their stories. Share you’re own.
You could be one!

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Join intent.com.
Share your dream.
Be one.

From Intent.com: Be On Your Own Team

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I see a lot of intents everyday from people starting new adventures, new careers, new hobbies. It’s encouraging to be surrounded by such bravery.

I also see so many people who are tackling the biggest battle of their lives thus far- the battle with themselves. Isn’t it funny how it offends us to see the innocent attacked but we won’t stand up for us when we are beating ourselves up?

You’re not thin enough.
You should be a VP by now.
No one likes the things you like. You’re weird.

Most kind-hearted, rational humans would never say things like that to another person, yet we let the most destructive things play on repeat in our minds. So how could you set an intent to blaze new trails and go on daring adventures when your voice will be the first one tearing down your bravery?

My hope is that this year you would be on your own team.
That for maybe the first time, your voice is one of a cheerleader instead of a naysayer.
My hope is that you would say “I can” this one time. And then one more time. And then another time.

Find another track for that song in your head. One that reminds you that you are no less capable than the next guy.
Why should you not fight for you?

For every guy, there is an opportunity to be a lot better than he thought he could be.
We can’t all be the star of the team, but we can be a star in our life.
That’s where you set your goal.
-Sylvester Stallone

Be a star in your life.
Be on your own team.
Make intents bigger and bolder than you thought possible.
We believe in you.

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