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Block: Unclear Intention
Buster: Know What You Want.

Number 2 on the Top 10 List of Achievement Killers is having an Unclear Intention. How can you possibly get what you want when you can’t state it with conviction and clarity? Once you can do that, have you defined a SMART intention, meaning is it specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely?

Remember, an intention according to Webster’s Dictionary is “something that somebody plans to do or achieve, the quality or state of having a purpose in mind.” The element that fuels the plan or purpose is clarity. What do you want? Why do you want it? When do you want it? Who’s going to make it happen? Where do you want this to take place? Yes, you’ve got it, defining your intention is a bit like being a detective. You’ve got to get to the facts, all of them, and keep narrowing it down to what is achievable. Just keep asking Why? Until you drill down to the heart of your intention – the heart of the matter.

All of my clients must start their projects with me by having an intention in mind. They must also name what they think is blocking them from getting that intention. Recently, one client, by our fourth session had still not been able to define her intention. There were many factors at work: She was a multi-tasker and couldn’t imagine narrowing her projects down to one; She had difficulty prioritizing; She had a fear that if she named her intention, determined to go after it and failed that she wouldn’t be able to face the consequences. These are just three of the many excuses people find to keep them from going after their dreams. Let’s not forget, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m too busy.” “It’s too late.” I could list 50 excuses that block us at one time or another.

When the excuses are at work, we tend to be more general than anyone can grasp or even care about. My client kept saying, “My intention is to be happy.” I kept saying, “Yes, you and everybody else. And, what will make you happy? Choose a concrete intention and explore the happiness that accomplishing that intention brings, then go on to the next intention and the next intention…”

Bottom line is, know what you want. Think about it, feel what it would be like to achieve it, feel what it would be like to not have it, look at it from every angle, talk about it until you can express it in 7 words – a good headline. Have a picture so clear in your head, heart and soul that you can get anyone and everyone to see the vision of your intention — accomplished.

Define it, see it, speak it, feel it, strategize it, and you will achieve it.

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Block: Risk Aversion.
Buster: Take Action.

Number 1 on the Top 10 Blockbuster List of Achievement Killers is Risk Aversion. Let me tell you, nothing in life gets done without a tiny bit of risk attached to it. There’s an old joke about a man stuck on the top of his house during a flood. He prays to God for help and waves away a raft, then a boat, then a helicopter, because he knows he doesn’t need them and that God will help him. Tragically the flood rises and takes him under as he cries to God, “Where were you?” Then he hears God’s voice, “I sent help three times. All you had to do was take it.”

All you have to do is take it. Take the first step, ask the first question, offer the first suggestion, jump in and go after what you want. Take the risk before the little voices come in with a chorus of fear and insecurity saying, “You might be wrong,” “What if you fail?” Who do you think you are?’ So-and-so does it better,” jump in and take the risk.

Long before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I had a feeling something was wrong with my business or the way I was running the business. I needed to raise the fees in my advertising agency, I needed to replace some employees with more qualified ones, I needed to take the leap of growth in order to attract more and better clients. Instead, I kept working harder at the old, comfortable ways of doing things. I worked round the clock and ignored every warning my body sent me. I ignored exhaustion, I ignored floaters in my eyes, I ignored an occasional loss of balance, because I couldn’t “risk” listening to my body and changing my ways. So, my body finally screamed at me with partial paralysis from the waist down and loss of my central vision. I had to stop and listen. I had to take a risk, change my habits, learn to be healthy and find balance in my life before I succumbed to the disease.

So, I took action after action after action – all with a bit of risk attached and all different than I would have taken before. One by one over three years my symptoms disappeared. I’ve been healthy since 1990. Nothing about my life is the same today as the year of my diagnosis in 1985, and everything is BETTER.

What are you ignoring? What risk do you need to take that can change your life, relationship, health, financial situation, career? Don’t be a whiner and mourn what’s missing in your life. Explore the possibilities and take ACTION. Fill up with love for your life and what you are going to do to achieve your intentions and push out the fear of risk that blocks achievement.

Watch for my next blog and number 2 on the Top 10 List of Achievement Killers – Lack of a Strategy.

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Block: Ego.
Buster: Go beyond thought to the zero point.

Seventeen years ago while working on my book, HEAD OVER HEALING IN LOVE, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Learner about the role of thought in healing disease. Mark had just turned 30 when he was diagnosed with progressive MS. Eighty percent blind and numb over most of his body, Mark says MS put him on the most intense spiritual journey he could imagine. At the time of the interview, Mark was 12 years into living with MS. In that time Mark had started two corporations, written three books and spent as much time as possible counseling people with serious illnesses and handicaps, many of them veterans. It was the lessons he shared with me from the veterans that remain with me today, especially in my own teaching.

Mark explained that when healing (or dealing with blocks) it’s important to go to a point far beyond perceptions and conceptions. He said, “Combat veterans have the most intense experience of death I’ve ever known. I feel that most people resist that, because to enter depth, which I call the zero point, is to go beyond thinking. It’s the same as death to the ego. I feel the majority of religions are based on a level of belief systems. To find what I was looking for, I had to go beyond my belief system.”

Combat vets are often not spiritual people, but they’ve had the deepest spiritual experience I’ve ever seen, because during intense combat, they were forced beyond thoughts. Nobody thought, “What am I having for dinner tonight?” They were just alert — with clear awareness, fighting for their lives.

Mark then shared a positive/negative self exercise with me that he learned from combat vets who had to create habits in order not to think. He asked me to think of the worst thing that ever happened to me and to capture the experience in a word. I thought PANIC. Mark had me imagine the physical sensations of panic and give the self that felt that way a name — I chose “Ditzel.” Next, Mark led me to do the opposite. I concentrated on the best thing that had happened to me and feelings related to that. I thought of EUPHORIA, imagined feeling a blissful peace, and named the self with those feelings “Darling.” Mark taught me how to automatically connect to Darling, my positive self, by feeling the pulse on the side of my neck and repeating, “I am darling…” According to Mark, by doing that nightly before going to sleep, while concentrating on images of myself when I felt “darling,” my positive responses would become automatic.

The reality is, Darling is connected to the silence and the inner resources much better than Ditzel who is connected to the doubting voices in your head. It’s the zero point. If you return importance to your zero point, you can trust yourself and connect to your resources. You can’t give that zero point a concept, like God, however, because then you put importance in the concept representing the zero point. Mark calls it the wisdom of the body without the film of the mind.

“Value life,” exclaims Mark. “Nothing you think is as important as your life. Even the thoughts of your family and the people you love dearly, are not as important as your life. For instance, if you have a close relationship with your husband, it goes far beyond the mental agreement; there’s a bond that’s closer to life than what’s in your mind.”

With Mark’s blessing, I have shared the technique with hundreds of people who have used it to quit smoking, survive loss, heal relationships, gain confidence to communicate better, survive financial reverses, turn businesses around, and so much more.

The reality is that when you’re faced with death, your ego (your thoughts) becomes insignificant. To consciously deal with that, is an incredibly evolving reality. In our society, people don’t consciously face that. The worst part of a terminal illness is the ego’s death, not physical death.

On Memorial Day as we honor those who have faced death and given their lives so that our beloved nation could survive and so that others could taste the freedom we hold dear, I ask you to pause in a moment of silence and meet our veterans in a place beyond thought – the zero point where all is possible as we connect to a field of wisdom and love that is never-ending.

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Block: I need a sign.
Buster: Pay attention to the signs you are ignoring

Don’t you just hate it when you are told, “The answers you seek are already deep inside of you. All you have to do is access your own wisdom.” Well, I’m an expert on that one, in fact I’m quoting myself. My body had to go numb, become partially blind and lose its balance before I stopped in my tracks and said, “Hey, what are you trying to tell me?” My body manifested a disease to keep workaholism from killing me.

I didn’t see doors of opportunity, I saw dead ends. When I read this quote from Helen Keller, however, a little light went on. She said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”

Was that true? Was I focusing on closed doors? I sure was. I held on to relationships that needed to end. I failed to replace employees who were not doing the job because I thought I could change them. My carefully designed “look” (hair, clothing style and make-up) hadn’t changed in 20 years. I had chronic bronchitis, constant exhaustion, two automobile accidents, but still I wasn’t listening — I was STUCK.

Listen for what, you may ask? Listen for the open doors. Here’s a little experiment you’ll find enlightening. Using the list of prompters below, list five signals your body (or life) sent you over the last month indicating that you needed to stop staring at a closed door and open a new one:
Accident, Traffic Ticket, Anger,
Depression, Lethargy, Fights,
Drowsiness, Mistakes, Cravings,
Urges, Longings, Memories,
Family Trouble, Social ups & downs, Community,
Stress, Discomfort, Illness,
Sloppiness, Disrespect, No control

Now that you have the five signals or messengers it’s time to connect the dots. Let’s say your signals are anger, a fender bender, mistakes at work, lack of control and fights. List them all on a piece of paper then play the detective game. What are the who, what, where, when and why of your signals.
Why are you angry? With whom are you really angry? Why were you not paying attention when driving? Why so many careless mistakes? What makes you feel out of control? Why the fights? What’s the point of them?

As you answer the questions, take a highlighter and underline what your answers have in common. See if the answers will lead you to a new intention – something you want to accomplish right now in your life. When you define your intention, write down what you think is blocking you. That will be your closed door! Once you’ve found the closed door, you can say good-bye forever, and walk through your open door – your intention.

Feel better? It’s called being conscious of why you do what you do when you do it. Look at your decisions, realize you have a choice, then make it. Conscious decisions will lead you through a lot of wonderful open doors.

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Block: It’s too late to change.
Buster: Look through your mother’s eyes.

Florida Scott-Maxwell writes, “No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.” For all of you who think it’s too late, I urge you to access your inner mother. I know that my mother looked at me and saw the unrealized possibilities of her life. But, she also saw me, flesh and blood, and she was proud as only a Mom can be.

As I became a change agent, helping people through difficult transitions in their lives, my mother did an amazing thing, she continued to change up to 6 weeks before her death, when a stroke took her away from the final stages of painful cancer. She died 8 years ago.

I write this for my Mom, Ellie Parker. I miss her every day. I struggle to hear her laugh. When good things happen to me, I miss seeing them through her eyes. I know she is near, I can smell her perfume and feel her breath when I least expect it.

Yes, my Mom was born scared, timid and a world class worrier. The main people in her life let her down terribly – her mother who was caught up in survival mode and serial marriages when Ellie was young, and her husband, whose alcoholism turned him into a monster through half of their marriage. Yet, she prevailed. Seldom was a hair out of place. Her clothes, while inexpensive, were stylish and she wore them like a suit of armor. Her home, while modest, was neat and lovely. She raised two accomplished kids, held a marriage together for over 50 years until Dad died, and then at 70 she became a career woman and built up her bank account to the highest level in her life. She was proud, this time of herself. She forgave, she embraced life, and she made countless friends.

I can also feel her support whenever I think I’m alone, I can feel her watching for signs of improvement and feel her smile with pride when I succeed for us both. I can feel her joy in reminding me that “It’s never too late to change” as I bust a block a day for myself and others. I wrote the following poem for Mom 5 years before she died.

There’s No Place Like Home
and No One Like Mom

There once was a woman named Ellie
Born frightened, a real Nervous Nelly
She timidly stepped out to become a wife
With style, she’d make the best of her life!

They struggled, they learned
For all answers she yearned
Instead, she got children, ten years apart
A boy, then a girl to fill her big heart!

Oh, how she worried!
Would she raise them just right?
They didn’t eat
She couldn’t sleep
They were so thin
She felt so grim.

They grew up and left home.
She was sad and so alone
They gained weight and ups and downs
She gained more worry, frets and frowns.

Now the kids are 40 and 50-something.
Businesses not babies they’re busy running.
They still access mom’s will to advise.
She’s sage and witty, reasonable and wise!

She’s a self-supporter, an independent lady.
All at the impossible-to-tell age of eighty.
She’s our mom, our friend and a career gal
A homemaker, stylist and favorite worry-pal!

Mom, we couldn’t love you more if we tried.
You’ve earned our greatest devotion and pride!
May you continue to grow younger each year.
You are our treasure, we always want you near.

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Block: Being heard.
Buster: Listen and then Repeat, Reframe, Rethink.

A speaker colleague and friend of mine, Ed Rigsbee, recently had this to say about communication road blocks:
“Be clear on what you say, how you say it, and in a way that your partner will completely understand your intended meaning. Hinting is not communicating! Expecting the other “to understand” is not communicating. Expecting your partner to read your mind is also NOT communicating. Communicating is, eyeball to eyeball, using simple and clearly understood language—expressing what’s on your mind with understanding as your intent—not cryptically stinging under your breath.”

These words have special meaning for me as I struggle to communicate with my almost-deaf husband. His hearing has been diminishing for almost three years. Gone are the days of innuendo, funny voices, subtlety, and lots of other conversation makers. Now, we fight for every word. I know he truly wants to understand what I have to say, and I pray for the patience to somehow get my words across.

When I read Ed’s article, it occurred to me that most people are conversationally deaf these days. We are more concerned with being heard than hearing and with making a point than understanding. There is so much attitude in our platitudes that the words and meaning are lost.

When I lose my patience and yell at Jack after repeating the same sentence five times for him to hear, he painfully repeats, “I can hear you! Loud doesn’t help. I just don’t understand you.” His hearing loss scrambles words and leaves sentences completely meaningless.

I contend that we have a worldwide hearing problem. Our anger, impatience, distrust, egocentrism, protectiveness and sense of entitlement and danger scrambles our words and leaves our sentences completely meaningless. It might just as well be blahbidy, blahbidy, blah that’s coming out of our mouths.

So, how do we unscramble our communication?
First, we have to get the other party’s attention. Not by screaming. I find a gentle hand on the forearm works, or a kind, “Honey, can you understand me,” to give Jack time to focus. In front of a huge audience with a microphone in hand – stand, breathe, make eye contact, take in their energy and give them some of yours – then quietly, powerfully say what you have to say. Whatever you do, don’t scream. That gives your audience permission not to listen.

2nd: You have to think about what you really want to say. What is your intent? What will most concisely and clearly get your point across.

3rd. Make eye contact and see if your words are even being absorbed by the receiving party. Maintain eye contact until you sense the block and proceed to bust through it by restating, rewording, or rethinking what you have to say.

4th: Listen and look. What body language are you perceiving? Check for non-verbal cues. Wait until you are sure your intention has been absorbed before proceeding, because only then will you know whether to repeat, reframe or rethink.

5th: Remember, as Ed said, “Communicating is, eyeball to eyeball, using simple and clearly understood language—expressing what’s on your mind with understanding as to your intent…”
There is a universal language – the language of caring and that comes with questions: Are you OK? Do you understand what I’m saying? Tell me what you are thinking and feeling about what you heard? If there’s a difference please let me know. Is there a way we can come together on this?

Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

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Block: Lack.
Buster: Love.

Sandy Brewer, coach and spiritual guide writes, “Lack is the four-letter word of judgment and doubt. Love is the four-letter word of creation.”

Which will you choose today?

I choose love and I choose it over and over again, because judgment and doubt have an insidious way of sneaking in and infecting my thoughts. Before I fall prey to the judgment/doubt virus, I choose love and start all over again.

Many times I compare a human being to a house. Just think of all the things we accumulate in our homes – drawers and drawers and closets full of clutter that we hardly look at, let alone use. Well, our body house is made up of an accumulation of conversations: Conversations we have about ourselves, conversations we have with other people and conversations they have about us when we leave the room. Many of those conversations are over-whelmingly negative because they are made up of the disappointments, failures, prejudices and false assumptions left behind by various teachers, preachers, pundits and peers. Many times they are conversations of lack.

So, let’s say you have a spring cleaning project to clean up your house. What do you throw away? Clothes that no longer fit; keepsakes that have lost their meaning; papers, books, pictures and remembrances of times, places and people you have left behind long ago… The litmus test is this: Does this object serve who I am today? Does it fill me with love or lack?

The same process goes for cleaning out the conversations in our heads. Do the conversations serve who you are today or do they keep you helplessly tied to an old version of yourself, a version more like someone else, not the authentic you?

Today, choose to love yourself. Take a positive action and erase an old conversation or two. Let judgment and doubt hang out with lack in the garbage bag of mind clutter that you are throwing away.

Good riddance, Lack! I choose Love!

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Block: Lost Your Sizzle.
Buster: Take Your Dreams Off Hold.

In a recent LBN Report, Elvis Presley was quoted as saying, “When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.” He also grew up accomplishing his dream, certainly as a heart throb hero, scintillating singer and romantic lead in many movies.

Over the past few weeks I have sat across from many new clients who have lost their passion or sizzle for life. Our work always begins by reconnecting them to their dreams.

What have you dreamed and not accomplished? Are you stuck in a career that doesn’t satisfy you or in a relationship that isn’t working, or simply in a rut of being bored with your life? Do fear, anxiety and stress have you running in place like a hamster on a wheel?

If so, it’s time to reconnect with your passions? What are your passionate five? It should be easy for you to reel off five things you feel passionate about, but if you’ve lost your sizzle you may have to try harder to make a conscious effort to reconnect. Here are five things off of my Passionate list: My husband; Sharing my experience through public speaking and seeing the light bulbs go on in my audience members’ brains, Dancing, Travel, Busting Through Blocks.

Your turn. Write down 5 things you feel passionate about currently. If the way you make your living or spend the majority of time in your days does not show up on your list, you may need to re-career, or at least re-design what you are currently doing.

One of the positives for some of those who have lost their jobs during the economic downturn has been the discovery that they really wanted to do something else. Years ago, I was in the advertising business until health issues made me re-career into self-help, writing, speaking and consultation. What do you think I dreamed of as a child? I dreamed of speaking to huge, international audiences and changing their lives. Bingo! That’s my new career.

One client of mine spent years as an attorney and entertainment executive and hated it. Our exploration found she had a love for travel, a flair for turning interesting fabrics into enticing clothes, and a real sense of what women “comfortable in their own skin” wanted to wear. She started a successful design company, and everything in her life improved including her battle with weight and her relationship with her son.

Please take a little time to do a Passion Treasure Hunt in 3 easy steps.
1) Write down 3 to 6 things you dreamed of as a child.
2) Write down 5 things you feel passionate about now.
3) Connect the dots between your childhood dreams and current passions. Where they intersect or simply relate to each other, write down actions you can take to make the dreams and passions more a part of your life today.

The sure way to put sizzle back into your life is to: Figure out where you are in your life; Figure out where you want to be in your life; Take action to make that happen. The actions will be fueled by your dreams and passion. Hey, it worked for Elvis.

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Block: Stuck in the feeling that something’s missing in your life?
Buster: Renew your passion; Define it, feel it and take action.

Why are we so in love with Springtime? Could it be because the air is fresh, the sky sparkling blue, the wildflowers vibrant and everything around us looks new again? How wonderful it would be to feel that way about our lives. To look at a loved one as if for the first time. To find renewed energy and passion for our life’s work. To re-discover what attracted us to our best friends. To look in the mirror and see a face and body without age, without worry and with eternal beauty, vibrancy and peace.

Unfortunately, it’s possible to get so stuck somewhere in our lives that we forget how to put spring back into our hearts. I want you to discover springtime internally and allow it to wash your lives with the freshness of a spring shower. Once you discover your internal spring, you can tune into it year round.

A wonderful place to start is in your closet because, if you’re like many of us, inside your closet you will find a representation of every age, stage, phase and size of you. You can even find out what’s missing in your life, because the associated clothing will not be there. Throw out things you haven’t touched in one year. Make a section for out-of-date clothes and see if they can be updated. If not, get rid of them. Make another section for clothes that you are simply hanging onto for sentimental reasons: First date with the love of your life, first time you weighed your absolute drop-dead gorgeous weight, If you’re not going to wear them again, get rid of them and make room for more firsts. We’re often holding onto a lot of emotional baggage in our closets. Clean out that troublesome closet, and you’ll make room in your life for all sorts of new people, experiences and activities.

The closet is a great metaphor for cleaning out the thinking and emotional patterns that are cluttering up your life. Are you trying to get back to a time, a feeling, or even a memory of yourself that probably doesn’t apply anymore?

There are a lot of feelings attached to old, negative thoughts and behaviors. When you want to clean out the closet of old thoughts and emotions, you need to write a new script. For instance:
Old thought: I’m incapable of starting my own business.
Old feeling: I’m unworthy. I’m less valuable than others. I’m not as important.
New Script: I am ready and capable of starting a wonderfully successful business.
New Feeling: I feel joy in my new endeavor. I am valuable, talented, recognized and appreciated.
Every time you feel drawn back by a negative thought, switch your thinking to your new script and feel the feelings you have attached to the script. Attaching a feeling to your thought gives it power and puts it into action. The opposite is true when you’re clearing out the negative. You must detach the feeling from the negative thought and sweep both into the garbage. Your new scripts will become your eternal Spring.
Make a clean sweep this Spring and enjoy the power of living in your actualized desires.

Take a thinking and feeling inventory.
What thoughts do you no longer desire to have?
List 1: Rewrite the unwanted thoughts into positives that work for you now and throw out or burn the old list.
What feelings do you no longer desire to feel?
List 2: Acknowledge the feelings and allow yourself to feel them. Then release those feelings through a breathing exercise. For instance, exhale the bad feelings, then inhale and replace them with an opposite, more positive feeling.
What fears are you holding onto?
List 3: Date this list and then fold it up and put it away into a “doubt box.” Let the fear and doubt go as you make a conscious choice to release it to the box and not think about it anymore.
What anger still remains in your system?
List 4: Get the anger out. You can do so either through exercise, shouting, or by writing an anger letter that you do not send. Then forgive and move on. Don’t ever hold onto anger.
Now take out another sheet of paper and make a list of your desires. Look at your four thinking and feeling inventories. Are there any things on the old negative lists that you can rewrite into positive desires? If you have completed the 4 steps listed above and have cleaned out negative thoughts and feelings, you have done your Spring cleaning. Congratulations! You’re now ready to live your life based on the desires you have listed in your journal. Make it happen!

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Block: Feeling low.
Buster: Smile!

“People who smile a lot are usually happier, have more stable personalities, more stable marriages, better cognitive skills and better interpersonal skills,” according to research recently conducted at Wayne State University, reports LA Times Reporter, Shari Roan. They also live from 1 to 5 years longer dependent on the size and sincerity of their smiles.

I find this to be extremely wonderful news as I sport a big wide smile across my face the majority of the time. My smile has Julia Roberts wattage and Mary Tyler Moore (Mary Richards character) sincerity. Remember the show theme song? “She could turn the world on with her smile. She could take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.”

Only once in my life has my smile worked against me. I was running for Student Body Vice President in High School and the night before the election my opponent, plastered this note across all of my posters. “How can anyone who smiles all the time be trusted?” I was devastated, because I temporarily bought into his attack on my self-confidence.

Now years later, I put on my smile each day with as much thought and gratitude as I put into selecting my clothes for the day and doing my hair. It’s all part of putting the “me” together who’s ready to face the world as a contributing member of the population.

Think about it – a smile can say so many things:
“Thank you for sharing.”
“I’d love to spend more time with you, but I have to wash my hair.”
I love you even though I don’t agree with everything you say.”
“Isn’t it nice that we share this planet and can each contribute our own thoughts and deeds?”
“You may never know exactly what I’m thinking, but my heart reaches out to you anyway.”
“Let’s meet somewhere in the middle.”
“I love you. I don’t like some of what I hear, but I’m willing to listen.”

Let’s stay on that last thought for a moment. I have blogged a lot about what I call the United States of Anger. I’m so ready for all the shouting, insulting, fear-mongering hate speech to end. So my answer to hate speech today is this – DO NOT believe all that you hear and DO NOT say all that you think. That’s where the smile comes in. I delete hateful emails, fast forward through hateful news stories, and I try to stop speaking before mindlessly voicing some of the “hateful” comments that live inside of me.

We all have them. They are comments that are born from fear and from the imprints of all the experiences of our years and from all the lessons left behind on our psyches, both good and bad, from our teachers, preachers, pundits and peers.

Just imagine a world where we all live more in our hearts and less in our heads. Suddenly the noise level is not so deafening and the healing level is a force to be embraced. It takes time to sift through the garbage of our back stories to get to our truth, and while we’re thinking (silently) we might as well smile.

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