Start With Where You Are

It is the eve of a new year — a time to reflect on what has passed and to set our intentions for the year ahead.

Often our resolutions are about doing something different from before, whether losing weight, changing jobs, or finally getting around to writing that book you’re just sure will be a best-seller. Moreover, if we’re really honest with ourselves, the best of our intentions often fall short of the promise of what’s possible and we end up right back where we started, perhaps feeling disappointed and defeated by the lack of change in our lives.

But what if instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water we made a choice to build upon what is already there? What if instead of spending our time dreaming of something altogether new, we focused our energy on cherishing what is, while reflecting on ways to expand and enrich the present(s) in our lives?

The best resolutions are those that honor and reflect our authentic selves.

Need to lose weight or lower your cholesterol? Start by loving your body as it is and making a mindful choice to care for it through healthy eating and exercise. Want to change jobs? Take an inventory of your current skills and environment and explore ways you might be find fulfillment by adding value where you already are. Still dreaming of writing that best-seller? Start by taking baby steps…cultivating a daily writing practice or joining a community of writers who share your passion.

Change may be difficult, but growth begins with where you are.

As you contemplate ringing in 2017, I hope you’ll consider joining me in making it the best year yet, remembering that the grass is greenest — not in some fantasy or someone else’s back yard, but where we choose to water and nurture it.

Happy New Year!

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Postscript: Speaking of resolutions, one of my intentions in 2016 was to finally compile some of the best of my insights with original artwork and publish as an inspirational quote book. In March 2017, my new book, Walking the Heart Path, will be released and available for purchase. Click here to learn more, reserve your copy, and read what others are already saying.

 

Creative Visualization

15541549_10154808096969655_9204891255238104112_nRecently I was feeling a bit silly and rather serious at the same time. Practicing a little creative visualization, I sheepishly snuck an advance reader copy of my upcoming book, Walking the Heart Path, into my local Barnes & Noble, found a few favorite authors’ books for companions, placed my own on the shelf, took out my camera, and began to snap away. No, I didn’t leave it there, but I did pause for just long enough to breathe in the moment and visualize possible outcomes . . . specifically, to envision and consider what success might look like for me.

15589980_10154808096974655_5275041062588752987_nCrazy? Perhaps; Will it work? Possibly; Has it worked in the past? Absolutely. Many times, in fact.

Too early to know for sure, what I do know is this:

We become what we imagine and believe is possible. We should therefore learn to dream with our hearts wide open. 

No, I’m not suggesting that everything is possible. If you are an active asthmatic, for example, the U.S. Air Force is not going to let you pilot their planes. Some rules  (including the laws of physics) are, at least in this present moment, what they are.

But I believe in miracles. I believe in dreaming big, working hard, and acknowledging that while not everything is within our control, the possibilities for our lives do in fact expand or diminish in proportion to our courage and commitment to our vision AND our willingness to make sacrifices and do the hard work required along the way. I believe in the power of Faith, prayer, and honest intention, too — which collectively calls us to both dare to dream and be willing to simultaneously surrender to unknown outcomes.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

If we’re not careful, fear (whether of failure or success) and its close cousin, pride, will show up at our party, often unannounced. Invited or not, letting them roam freely in our minds is the sure fastest way to sabotage our dreams. Left unattended, they will plant seeds of doubt and/or create a lengthy list of reasons why we deserve something less than we imagine is possible (or perhaps have yet to imagine), though trying to smother, silence, and bind them only fuels their fire and determination to squash our spirit.

So what is the answer?

As Elizabeth Gilbert suggests in her book, Big Magic, make friends with fear (and feed your pride some humble pie while you’re at it). Acknowledge fear’s presence, but while you’re at it, step up your Faith, paint the picture you want to see, and learn to lean into love.

That’s where the real magic resides.

I’m curious to know and ask…

Do you find it easy to dream or do you find yourself holding back? What are the biggest obstacles that keep you from pursuing (and therefore realizing) your dreams? Have you ever painted a picture in your mind and/or created a physical visual of your desired outcome? What was the result? How does creating a vision for your life (or project) help move you closer to realizing your dreams?

p.s. Want to read a great book on daring to dream? Pick up a copy of Whitney Johnson’s book, Dare, Dream, Do, and while your at it, a copy of her latest book, too — Disrupt Yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

The High Price of Fear

When we are stuck in reaction, we cannot thoughtfully act. When we are stuck in fear, we cannot love. When we are stuck in pain, we cannot forgive. When we are stuck in a mindset of righteous indig…

Source: The High Price of Fear

The High Price of Fear

Without question, the political landscape and election season within the United States have given rise to the shadow side of human nature, regardless of whether you paint yourself red, blue, or some variant shade of purple. Fear and hate have erupted across our country, threatening to drown out what lightness remains, as people and communities have become more divided than ever, determined to defend their rightness of being, regardless of cost.

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The trouble is, however justified the fear; however painful the injustices (whether real, perceived, or projected), giving into and giving rise to anger and hate only guarantees more of the same. Importantly, it robs each of us of the ability to be fully engaged in the present of our lives, and it is in that place of presence where we have the best opportunity to make a difference, positively impact others, and effect change by the values we choose to live out in our everyday lives.

This post is not a commentary on our current politics, but rather, our collective psyche, and the high price of fear.

Recently, I was sharing a painful story from my past with a close group of friends, affectionately referred to as my gal pals. In the wake of my own recounting, one friend asked me how I was able to find forgiveness and ultimately forge a close and loving relationship with someone who had once caused me pain. In recent months, other people have asked me how I’ve been able to move forward in the wake of other struggles and setbacks, too, finding success on my own terms and ultimately reuniting with peace and joy along my own twisty journey.

The truth is that it took a long time and has been an imperfect journey at best.

It took digging deep and getting honest enough to realize that carrying around pain, fear, anger, and resentment did nothing to move me forward in my own life and all but guaranteed I would stay stuck while alienating others in the process. It took recognizing that there were gifts to be found in my struggles if I was willing to open myself to the lessons at hand. It took acknowledging that other peoples’ behaviors, however egregious, is often a projection of their own pain, too. It’s not a reason to condone their actions, but the responsibility of how we choose to respond is entirely our own.

And here’s the rub. When we are stuck in reaction, we cannot thoughtfully act. When we are stuck in fear, we cannot love. When we are stuck in pain, we cannot forgive. When we are stuck in a mindset of righteous indignation, we can neither act with kindness nor compassion.

And that hurts all of us.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am choosing to take the time to reflect on my own choices — of thought, word, and action. To take responsibility for the energy I choose to put out into the world, recognizing that none of us are islands unto ourselves. I encourage you to do the same, considering what it might mean to replace fear with fierce love, too. Not the namby-pamby kind of sentimentality we tend to think of when we hear that word, but the kind that is anchored by courage, strength, and deep faith in the unseen and larger hand that is at play in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and all of you!

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Postscript: Sometimes the anger that rises within us can give us the courage to boldly act and take risks we might otherwise never dare. When harnessed constructively, we can leverage our feelings to effect thoughtful, positive change. That is a good thing. The challenge is when fear gives way to destructive and thoughtless reaction that only serves to perpetuate more of the same.

On Service, Sacrifice, and Self

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It is tempting to buy-into the notion that our purpose and calling is solely a product of our personal ambition. While our ambitions may well reflect our personal dreams and hopes for the future, often we discover that our true aim is found in service to others, rather than service solely to self. It’s found in those moments when we are invited to stretch beyond our present comfort; to step out of ourselves and into the world, recognizing that we each are part of a larger whole.

Calling and Purpose

Yet living and leading in service to others need not be a black and white proposition. It does not mean martyring ourselves to our causes or abandoning our own dreams in the process. Importantly, the inevitable sacrifice that comes with serving others is not synonymous with abdicating our sense of personal responsibility, whether to ourselves and/or our families.

Rather, it’s about carrying out our work, in whatever form it takes, from a mindset of noble purpose. It’s recognizing that we each have gifts and talents to offer the world that when combined with the gifts of others, can leave a lasting imprint and create a ripple effect far beyond our own personal vision or reach. It’s allowing ourselves to find meaning and glory in the mundane, not just the milestones of personal achievement.

I’m curious to know…

How do you define and distinguish between personal dreams, ambition and living a purpose-driven life? Are they all one and the same? How to you choose to live out your own sense of calling and purpose? For those who are driven by a deep sense of calling, have you ever martyred yourself to the call at the expense of self-care and personal responsibility? How do you navigate the tension between head and heart? How can we better learn to live and lead from a mindset of noble purpose and service to others, regardless of the work we do in the world?

Making Peace

“Sometimes achieving peace without begins within.” On this International Day of Peace, I invite to you to consider what role personal accountability, forgiveness and compassion play in achieving peace with others? How can holding space for another and/or opening a dialogue from a place genuine respect, create a bridge to deeper understanding and acceptance? How do you achieve peace in your own life?

Sharon E. Reed | Heart by Design

Sometimes achieving peace without begins within. It begins with reconciling our heart with our head, facing head on those things we might rather avoid. It means taking a personal inventory of our behaviors and choices; making amends with those we have hurt or been hurt by. It means meeting others where they are and as they are… choosing to forgive and let go from a place of love, not ego; from a place of compassion, not resentment, without an expectation of reciprocity.

In celebration of International Day of Peace, recognized on September 21st, I’m curious to know and ask…

How do you achieve peace in your own life? What role can personal accountability, forgiveness and compassion play in achieving peace with others? How can holding space for another and/or opening a dialogue from a place genuine respect, create a bridge to deeper understanding and acceptance? As you inventory you…

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Possibility Thinking

Impossibility thinking comes from a place of fear and a lack of Faith. Possibility thinking comes from a place of love and a fundamental belief that all things work together for good.

I’m curious to know…

Expanding on the theme of dreams and miracles, are you driven more by your fears or your Faith? Despite the inevitable heartache and hardships that are part of any life journey, do you believe that all things work together for good or that you are simply a victim of life’s circumstances? In the larger context of the world we currently live in, what role can possibility thinking play in creating meaningful solutions to complex problems? What role does possibility thinking look like in your own life?

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