How to Save the World and Yourself

red_coatWe encourage entrepreneurs and businesses to discover what makes a product or service unique so they can stand out from the competition.

Yet, as kids we’re raised to shave down our individuality so we can fit in and belong. It’s not good to be too smart or too funny. It’s not good to be different. If we sparkle a little too much, we make others uncomfortable.

But to be successful in the world (and I mean in every definition of the word) we need to be genuine. We need to find the thing we have that others don’t because that’s what the world is starving for.

We need less John and Jane Does and more Sabrinas and Zeniths.

We need people who are courageous enough to embrace their strengths.

If I want anything for my children, it is to know what makes them weird makes them special.

You could spend years trying to replicate someone else’s success. But you will find your own when you free yourself.

That inner soul who loves to sing, draw, dance or stand up for people’s rights, make others laugh or write poetry in a delightfully odd way, that’s the missing piece of your own puzzle. That’s the gift you were given. It’s what the world hasn’t yet seen. So we need you to be brave enough to risk showing it.

My favorite lines from The Neverending Story:

The Childlike Empress: Bastian. Why don’t you do what you dream, Bastian?
Bastian: But I can’t, I have to keep my feet on the ground!
The Childlike Empress: Call my name. Bastian, please! Save us!
Bastian: All right! I’ll do it! I’ll save you! I will do what I dream!

Dear readers,

Please face your fears. Stand up for yourself. Believe in your dreams.

We’re all waiting for you to discover it, recover it and reveal it to the world.

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5 Habits of Successful People You Know

biker

You’re no different from me. You know uber successful people and ones that only talk about success. If you’ve spent any time studying them, you’ll have discovered a few interesting ingredients that separates the two. In order to make all your dreams come true in 2016, I think it’s pertinent to understand the difference. Here are a few ways you can leave the dreamers behind and begin living the life of your more successful friends.

  1. Fear

Everyone experiences fear. The difference is it’s not a deterrent for successful people. Less successful people will see fear as an indication they shouldn’t move forward. They stop even before they’ve entered the gate.

2. Failure

Failure is a necessary part of success. No successful person has gotten to where they are without a few epic failures. It’s how you learn. It’s how you grow. It’s how you get better. This is often the step that propels an unsuccessful person towards success.

3. Belief

Successful people believe that they will eventually get there. They may have experienced the above two, but this third tenet is what keeps them going. I’ve heard people say, “I didn’t know how I would do it. But I knew I’d get there one day.” And they did.

4. Work

It takes brutal rolling up your sleeves work to get what you want. You may love it. It may excite you. But there will come a time when your big dream will require some heavy duty effort. Elizabeth Gilbert calls this the, “Shit sandwich.” When you meet the not so fun part of what you want to do (e.g. paperwork, cold calling, networking events) and throw in the towel, it probably means you’re not serious about what you’re trying to do. Everything good takes hard work. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you will get there eventually.

5. Perseverance

I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but last year my goal was to publish my first children’s book. This is great and all. But just doing the above four were not enough. Patience, shaping my work so it was the best it can be and continuing despite ongoing rejections were key. All the successful entrepreneurs I know persevere despite a rocky economy, uncertainty and fear. There will always be an excuse to not do something. Deciding to do it anyway is what keeps them at the top.

What successful qualities have you witnessed in someone you admire? What qualities have helped you soar and grow?

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Should You Throw in the Towel?

{Morguefile photo by MMAARRSS}

{Morguefile photo by MMAARRSS}

Every now and again, I hear a little voice that says, “It’s time to quit!” But how do I know if it’s coming from my inner mentor or fear?

Sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between the two. Over the years, however, I’ve gotten better at identifying them. Here are a few clues that help me decide whether it’s time to throw in the towel or keep going.

1. Your inner voice sounds desperate. 

Does the voice sound desperate and whiny? Chances are if it sounds like it’s trying to convince you to quit, it’s most likely fear. Fear doesn’t want you to succeed. It wants you to stay safe in your comfort zone. When you decide to do something risky, something close to your dreams, you better believe that voice will come across as desperate, argumentative and even somewhat convincing. In comparison, quitting something that’s not right for you will feel like a calm knowing.

2. Your beliefs are based on “should.”

Sometimes I hear the voice of surrender and it’s focused on something I “should” do. Maybe I need to quit pursuing my dream so I can focus on making more money or I should stop doing this project because I should be spending my time on something more practical. If your inner voice is based on something you “should” be doing, chances are it’s not time to quit just yet.

3.  You would feel temporarily relieved, but filled with regret down the road.

Imagine how you would feel if you quit. If you’re hit with instant relief, but think you’d regret it later, you’re probably being motivated to quit by fear. The things that matter most to us cause us the most fear. But while quitting will initially eliminate the discomfort, the realization we’re not pursuing our dreams feels tragic. While fear ebbs and flows as we continually push ourselves, the feeling of continual comfort and living a lifetime of safety never feels good in the long run.

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The Dream is Over

Happy sacks from my first workshop.

Happy sacks from my first workshop.

Seven years ago, I had a dream. It was an unimaginable, insurmountable, mountain of a dream. To me. I wanted to be like Carrie Bradshaw. I wanted to write for a living.

At the time, I was in and out of jobs. I just got my Masters in Counseling Psychology. The dream seemed impossible. It was scary. Was I good enough?

I spent many afternoons dreaming of the dream, but keeping my uninspiring day job. I accomplished small victories. I called the local newspaper and ask if I could talk to someone there. I told everyone I knew in the community that I wanted to get paid as a writer. I started my own meetup for writers. I signed up for writing classes. I got a coach. I took free writing work. I read until my eyes got dry and blurry. I filled myself up with knowledge and education until I knew everything left and right up and down. I tweeted. I networked.

It worked.

I started to make a living full-time as a paid writer.

And then I moved.

I had to do it all over again.

It’s been 3 years since I moved back home to Hawaii and I’m writing again. I’m writing for magazines, newspapers, and websites. And guess what? The dream has changed. I still want to write, but I want to teach too.

That darn muse.

I wish I could stay happy in my little comfort zone, where I know what to expect. But she’s pushing me to do something seemingly impossible again. I feel like it’s my obligation, duty and life purpose to teach what I’ve learned.

I went to graduate school so I could help others live a healthier life. It’s always been a dream of mine to teach, counsel and support others on their own journeys to follow their dreams. At the end of last year, I taught my first stress management workshop for moms and I’m planning on doing another one in early February. *I hope you will join me on the journey!

It’s another scary, vulnerable time for me. But I’m excited at the same time.

What are you working on? Are you stumbling into new territory in 2015 like me?

Playdough activity

You can get more information on my stress management workshop and register here. Prepay and register by January 31st and save $5.


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Inspiring People: Q&A with Yoga Teacher Amanda Webster

Amanda Sunrise header image

People who pursue their passion inspire me. With their courage, determination and faith, they’re blazing the trail for other dreamers to follow their dreams.

In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a celebrity designer, successful author, Olympic medalist, and my favorite design bloggers.

Today, I’m featuring someone who I’ve admired for a long time. Amanda Webster is a yoga teacher and co-owner of Yoga Adventures Hawaii in Kailua, a business that offers yoga workshops and retreats. As a student in several of her classes,  I know she lives by what she teaches and I’m honored to have her here sharing her wisdom and path she took to follow her dreams.

Amanda Webster

Please describe what you do.

I teach heart-centered yoga classes, workshops and private sessions that range from upbeat to serious, restorative to powerful, and everything-in-between. I believe yoga helps us to identify the intentions, habits, and limiting beliefs about ourselves and others, and to recognize the value of consistent self-inquiry, growth, and expansion of universal awareness both on the mat and off. My strength as a teacher is building community and meeting people where they are by teaching from the idea of “vinyasa krama,” the breakdown of yoga into manageable steps to explore the gradual unfolding of the self in a way that reflects the intelligent unfolding of nature’s inherent rhythm. This is an awareness that benefits you off of the mat, too, which is where the real power of yoga exists.

I am also fortunate to co-host yoga retreats with my business partner Michael Graney. We make a great team, inspiring people to expand their boundaries and constricting beliefs, and to recognize how yoga can improve their welfare beyond the yoga mat!

Can you describe the journey that led you to where you are today?

I always felt a quiet pull towards yoga, but growing up in the Midwest, yoga was something that was just catching on in the celebrity realm. In college I ended up switching majors from pre-medicine to community health to behavioral psychology, eventually working as a behavioral therapist and case manager for autistic children. In 2008, after moving to Hawaii from Los Angeles and giving birth to my oldest son, I took my first class at the Windward YMCA and IMMEDIATELY knew yoga was “my thing.”

As an introvert, I hated speaking in front of people, though I recognized that this work would require me to make many essential shifts that could only make my life and relationships better. I often joke that diving deep into the yoga practice is like jumping into a rabbit hole, meaning it is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time and once you jump there is no turning back! For me, as a student and teacher of yoga, that exploration is the journey….

What was the greatest obstacle/challenge that you had to overcome to get to where you are?

The most challenging part of this work, both past-tense and currently, is finding a balance between the finances/marketing side of yoga as a business and the philosophical components of yoga. This includes marketing events without feeling like a salesperson and earning enough money to make ends meet while allowing yoga to be accessible and affordable to your clients…all while upholding the heart of yoga as a non-dogmatic practice characterized by self-inquiry and unity through adherence to the eight limbs of yoga.

It’s like this: Yoga students often see great value in their practices and have much appreciation for their teachers. An amazing yoga experience is like the satisfaction you feel after eating a delicious, well-prepared 5-star meal. However, students would prefer to only pay fast-food prices for that meal, they only want consider the final product. For teachers, often the work is the reward, but we cannot sustain the 5-star quality on a fast food budget. Many of us who teach yoga as a living are like the fast-food employees making minimum wage and struggling to cover basic living expenses; we need to be paid for the work that goes into preparation in addition to the final product.

Basically, if yoga (or anything) is such an important component of your life, the amount of resources you devote to the development of your practice should proportionally reflect the value it has on your life. It feels taboo to even approach this subject, but there are some really inspirational people in the wellness industry beginning to intelligently bridge that gap. I’m still working on it!

What do you love most about you’re doing?

When we establish a practice (such as yoga) that routinely brings us to the state of connectivity through quiet mind, we see, speak, act and relate with more awareness, intention and love…experiencing this huge shift as an individual and developing a community as people practice together, THAT is why I love what I am doing.

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5 Things You Don’t Want But Need

Wahiawa Botanical Garden

We spend a lot of time (too much of it actually) focusing on all the things we want.

We want a new car,

a house,

a 4-person family,

a new job,

a spa day,

a luxurious trip…

Over the holidays, it’s even easier to fantasize about all the things we could have. Some of us have dreams as BIG as Oprah’s Favorite Things List.

What we rarely spend time dreaming about, however, are the things we really need. This post is dedicated to that.

During this holiday season, I hope you’ll savor a few moments, drinking in the nectar of these:

1) L o V e:

Love comes not from material things. You can’t get it from your wallet or download it like an app. It takes a good deal of time and work. But it’s as necessary as the air you breathe.

2)  Silence:

Everywhere we go there’s noise. When we’re in the city, there’s traffic. When we go out of the city, there’s white noise from our smartphones, TVs and computers. Go out a little further away and sit in silence. It will feel unnerving, even painfully quiet at first. But then your ears will rest in the place where you and your soul can finally meet. Then you will hear the trees. Then you will know the answers you have been waiting for.

3) K~i~n~d~n~e~s~s:

We’re too busy to be kind. We’re too important, too fancy, too smart…There’s not enough time to be kind, courteous, or civil. You have a list of wants to run after. But you do disservice to the world and yourself when you choose to be short instead of kind. Kindness begets more kindness. Change yourself. Change the world.

4) W*o*n*d*e*r

A little wonder can change your life. You don’t think you need it, but over time a lack of wonder will age you. It will grow cracks in your heart. It will cover your eyes. It will make you see life as mundane, as routine, as required, expected. You take life for granted. You start to miss out on the magic. Breed wonder. Kill routine.

5) Vulnerability:

The dreaded V-word. We spend a lifetime running away from it to avoid disappointment, hurt, pain. But in escaping we also flee from love, excitement and the sweetness of connection. It takes a courageous heart to venture into the world of vulnerability. But once we open to it, our lives open up as well.

What will you be dreaming about in 2014?

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Ingredients for a Successful Life

"Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

“Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

When I reflect upon the almost 7 years I have been a freelance writer, the biggest hurdle had less to do with my professional experience than my personal struggles. In fact, success often deals with the latter.

Of course you need experience, a little bit of talent and much hard work to be successful. But often what stands in the way of most individual’s success is what they believe to be true about themselves.

In 2006 and earlier, I had an overwhelming desire to write. I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. I wrote down my own stories on little pieces of paper. I composed poetry as a kid. It pushed me to get a BA in English, but after college I just didn’t think I had the skills, talent or ability to get hired.

I skirted around my career, went into research because it felt comfortable and then psychology instead. I’m grateful for that experience. It gave me the confidence and courage to deal with a lot of the inner shadows that were clouding my work.

It took time, patience, resilience and the foresight to follow my calling. Along the way I picked up a lot of negativity about my desired career. I realized these words were just external versions of what I was telling myself every day. You may be familiar with some of them:

“You’re never going to make it.”

“You’re not smart enough.”

“Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“If so and so can’t do it, why do you think you can?”

Those words prevented me from trusting my instincts. It beat me up from the inside out. Even when I was getting writing opportunities, I ended up sabotaging them. How could I not when I essentially believed I didn’t have what it takes to do it?

Fast-forward to 2013. Since then, I am continually surprised with the doors that have opened for me. Recently, I started writing for Intuit’s Small Business blog and signed a contract with a greeting card company. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work as a freelance copywriter for several online retailers and I have been writing for local and regional publications and been an online columnist for The Writer magazine, Psych Central and Beliefnet.

That wouldn’t have happened to me if I continued on the road to self-sabotage, negativity and perfectionism. It took constantly beefing up my critical mind with positivity. I had to work on being cognizant of what and who I was allowing in my life and how it was impacting me personally and professionally.

Essentially, what I learned can be valuable to those of you seeking your own success in life. I realized that when we change how we view ourselves on the inside, we change our external world.

It’s not an easy process especially if you’ve been brought up to believe the worse in yourself. It will take time. But know this…

The fact that you are here means you have an important purpose. Don’t let your past, critical people or your own negative voice prevent you from fulfilling what you are meant to do.

There is only one of you. Celebrate it! Share who you are with the world and you will see the gifts unwrap in front of you.

Don’t squander your talent, hide your true self or shy away from your voice. The world will benefit from you being uniquely you. Let me tell you-as you sit doubting yourself, we are all desperately waiting for you to reveal it.

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