1. 5 Reasons Why Pulling the Plug is a Good Thing

    Having just come off one of my busiest spring speaking schedules, I was celebratory about meeting all of my deadlines and aspirations. At the same time, I was also dreaming of when I could escape to the Rocky Mts. with my tent, with no demands other than: what time I wanted to get up (answer: when I WOKE up!), when we wanted to have dinner, and if we’d rather go fishing or hiking on any given day.

    It’s no surprise, then, that I wore a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon when my husband, Richard, and I finally loaded up the car and headed for the hills. With every mile clocked on our drive to Nirvana, I felt a new glob of tension being left on the pavement. By the time we arrived at our campsite, set up camp,

    Our Campsite Visitor

    and popped the cork of a good zinfandel, I was darned near giddy. After all, this was V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N and I’d been lusting for it for several months.

    Summer is the time of year when the majority of us in the U.S. take our vacations. Or, at least we take them in theory. The sad truth, as shown by a recent poll by TripAdvisor, the largest travel site in the world, is that 77% of U.S. respondents reported that in the last year, (Read more…)


  2. Wandering Mind Syndrome: Good or Bad for Creativity & Success?

    Have you ever noticed that when you need to write an article, a report or a presentation, or even come up with a new and original idea or a better way of doing something, your brain often wants to play hooky? It will take you on many different desultory paths, revisiting where you went on your last vacation, thinking about Aunt Lulu’s upcoming birthday party that you’re hosting or even recalling that golf game where you almost got your best score ever. It will go anywhere but where you need it to go. When this happens, do what you would do with a child who wanders away from the homework table: gently and repeatedly take her by the hand, bring her back to her chair and help her refocus.

    The truth is, however, that this wandering mind syndrome is part and parcel to the creative process. As all artists know, some of it is a good thing, as it can take us to places and ideas we might not have directed it to go. But too much of it can just keep us away from our objective, i.e., to get that article written, the painting finished or that new method figured out. Know the difference.

    As you create, keep your end goal in mind and persistently maintain your focus while also paying attention to the quality of your mind’s wanderings. All the while remember: one wandering ain’t the same as the next.


  3. Going in Circles: Success Strategy for Life and Work

    This 4th of July weekend, my husband and I were on a glorious 6-day tent-camping trip in the Colorado Rockies. The peace and quiet and sheer beauty of the surroundings calmed our minds and opened our souls in the way that nature can do.

    As a bonus, about two minutes from our campsite, we discovered the gorgeous alpine Lake Monarch. Around the lake was one of the most splendid hiking trails, winding us under the shading trees and through exquisite columbines and wild roses. As much as we enjoyed hiking around the lake, we also enjoyed being on the lake in our IK (inflatable kayak).

    Monarch Lake Colorado

    Being fairly new to kayaking, we’re still flexing our beginners’ muscles and so, amidst hearty paddling (synchronized as well as we neophytes could), we often found ourselves going into a spin out of which we could not come, no matter what. Although we tried our darndest, we realized that at a certain point, we just had to relax and surrender to the circular spin, smile and enjoy the stunning views and refreshing water––Nature’s Masterpieces.

    We all live in such a linear society where we’re so often rushing to get to some straight end point that it’s nice sometimes to just step off the grid and happily go in circles . . . to realize that “going in circles” does not have to have the rather negative connotation we usually give it, but that it can be a positive endeavor.

    There’s a freedom and a relaxation in the circular pattern. In art that’s often what brings about unity in a painting or sculpture’s composition: everything coming together as one. I think that’s exactly what we were feeling: being one with nature and the world. And if that’s what “going in circles” once in a while brings about, a betterment for both our lives and our work, sign us up again!


  4. TURN YOUR WEAK SPOT INTO YOUR SWEET SPOT

    In August of 1949, Jackson Pollock was profiled in Life magazine as possibly “the greatest living painter in the United States.” This definitively helped cement Pollock’s reputation, but the truth was, he was actually nervous about this success. He was always afraid that he would be “found out,” as he was not very skilled or educated in classical painting techniques, especially drawing. Studies, by the way, have since shown this is the very same fear many executives admit to having: that they are only at the top temporarily, until their inadequacies are “found out.”

    Interestingly, however, Pollock’s own weakness in the more traditional, classical arena moved him toward being a renowned leader in a brand new art movement called “abstract expressionism.” This style was devoid of recognizable content and instead used color, line and shape to express the spontaneous assertion of the individual artist; no recognizable landscapes or vases of flowers here! Pollock’s weak spot forced him to (Read more…)


  5. DON’T FORGET YOUR CHANGE!

    Organizations. Schools. Leaves. They all change.

    I was reminded of this concept when I sat in the church in Arlington, Virginia last month at my nephew’s wedding. While many people in the pews saw Nick only as the upstanding 28-year old young man that he is now, I also saw the sweet toddler with tousled auburn curls and ready smile. And I wondered, “How did it happen? How did this change occur, seemingly when nobody was looking?”

    There’s an interesting push and pull when it comes to change. On the one hand, the majority of people do not like change. It makes them feel insecure, unsettled and even a bit anxious. On the other hand, change has held fascination for us through the ages. For many centuries, people have been thinking about, talking about and experiencing change. Back in the Italian Renaissance (16th century), Michelangelo, a Master at changing a piece of marble into a pulsing, nearly human figure, greatly admired this musing of the great philosopher from ancient Greece, Heraclitus, “One cannot step twice in the same river.” One cannot step twice in the same river because (Read more…)


  6. IS YOUR “PEE YEW” ALL GONE?

    Is there anything sweeter than the softness of a newborn’s precious little feet? When my sons, Gavin and Collin, were born we went from planting tiny kisses on that soft new skin to playing a game called “Pee Yew!!” We’d take a giant whiff of their pint-sized feet, scrunch up our faces and shout “Pee Yewwwww” in the most exaggerated manner. The result? Peels of laughter from the boys with squeals to “Do it again, do it again.” Well, this was all fine and dandy until one day when Gavin, getting a little older, suddenly screamed, “Mommy, NO, NO . . . S-T-O-P!” I asked, “Why?” With great alarm, he replied, “’Cause you smelled all the Pee Yew out!” I chuckled and assured him not to worry: there was plenty of Pee Yew left where that came from.

    Over the many years that I’ve been speaking to and working with organizations about Mastery and Excellence, I’ve realized that many people believe in the Pee Yew Syndrome when it comes to creativity. They regard it as a finite commodity: “Yep, I used to be creative when I was a kid, but then I used it all up.” Granted, they might not consciously realize that’s how they think about it, but, nevertheless, they do. In fact, a somewhat shocking number of people have said with conviction, (Read more…)


  7. JOIN DIANE SIEG FOR A LIFE-CHANGING COSTA RICA RETREAT & GET THE EARLY BIRD RATE

    Five Lessons from a Costa Rica Yoga Retreat . . . from Diane Sieg

    For the last two years, I have facilitated a yoga retreat on the Osa Peninsula at Boca Sombrero Resort. The unspoiled Osa is a remote area on the south Pacific side of Costa Rica where the rainforest meets the sea. On my first trip to Costa Rica, I was so impressed with the beauty of the jungle and ocean, the wildlife, and the people, I am returning for a third time in 2013! It is difficult to capture the full impact of our rich and colorful experience, but I wanted to share a few of the lessons learned.

    1. Practice Pura Vida

    Pura Vida literally translated means “Pure Life.” Costa Ricans use the phrase to express a philosophy of perseverance, good spirits, enjoying life slowly, and celebrating good fortune, whether small or large. One of our retreaters had the chance to put the concept into practice immediately when she got to the airport and realized she’d somehow failed to book her flight! All the details of arranging child care, organizing work responsibilities and carefully packing for a week in the jungle had taken precedence over actually buying her ticket. Fortunately, she was able to get on a flight that same night and arrive only a few hours later than the rest of us. And more importantly, she was able to practice pura vida and recognize the whole incident just validated how much she really needed a vacation!
    The next time you make an honest mistake that proves your humanness, can you practice pura vida?

    2. Open to Grace

    With the overall theme of the retreat being Discover Your Inner Grace, we had ample opportunity to practice it all week. Opening to grace is a softening, allowing, and opening to the possibilities of what is, versus what you want something to be. Living in yurt huts for a week with outdoor showers, bathrooms, and the call of the wild reminding you where you are requires a softening to what is. Probably the biggest opening we had to make was getting up in the middle of the pitch dark night to go to the bathroom. With all the animal noises and (falsely) perceived threats from the jungle habitat, it was even more scary after one of our retreaters found a scorpion waiting for her in the bathroom!
    Where in your life could you open to grace, to soften, allow, and open to the possibilities instead of struggling and fighting?

    3. Have a Beginner’s Mind

    Beginner’s mind is about approaching things with the gentle curiosity of a child instead of the harsh judgment of an adult. We all had new experiences on the Osa, whether is was surfing, river trekking, or performing handstands. With a beginner’s mind, we open up and expand our horizons without getting so frustrated about doing something we might not be very good at initially. I definitely had to use my beginner’s mind with my surfing lesson. Paddling out to beyond where the waves were breaking was exhausting, but getting up–even for a nano-second was well worth it!
    Is there an activity you have been wanting to try that you could practice beginner’s mind with, even if you aren’t very good at it?

    4. Flow with Nature

    Whether we were planning our surfing and beach walks around the high tides, sunscreen according to the day’s rain or shine, or using headlamps when the sun went down, we flowed with nature on the Osa. We were in the rainforest, so of course it was going to rain everyday (usually less than an hour), the ocean ebbs and flows with high tide and low tide every day, and when it got dark, we went to bed after enjoying a fabulous gourmet meal. Even the howler monkeys who woke us up with their loud roars every 5 a.m. became part of that natural flow. (Well, at least once I was convinced that one hadn’t made it’s way into our tent, which I thought initially). Howler monkeys are the LOUDEST mammals on the planet and to give you an idea, they used them for the sound effects in the movie, Jurassic Park.
    How different would your life be if instead of fighting and complaining about the weather or the lack of sunlight in winter, you just flowed with it?

    5. Embrace your Kula

    The meaning of kula is “family”, “group” or “self-contained unit”. While on the Osa, we had opportunities for endless activities from surfing to river trekking, massages, spa treatments and day trips–plus plenty of pool chairs and beach vistas to enjoy doing nothing at all. We all chose various levels of involvement from socializing to solitude, but came together for our twice daily yoga classes and four meals a day. We celebrated (3 birthdays) and we consoled (a misplaced passport, luckily found in a couple of hours). The kula held such a strong connection for us, providing a sense of support, commitment, and safety—reminding me how important it is for us all to feel like we are part of something bigger, no matter where we are.
    Do you have a kula in your life you are currently embracing?
    I know the 18 of us are all different people leaving the Osa than when we came. We grew, expanded, and strengthened not only in our bodies from our yoga practice but also in our minds and hearts from this rich experience. We leave with lessons from the Osa, where the rainforest meets the sea.
    For more pictures, please click here to go to my Facebook album of Costa Rica.

    Same time, next year? You bet! We are going back January 26-February 2, 2013. Register by August 31st and you can save $100!


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