Thank you for reading my articles here. If any piece resonates with you, I encourage you to share your reactions, as they will likely resonate with other readers, too. I also invite you to visit my website to learn more about REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Much Love and Many Blessings, Alice

Friday, June 24, 2011

Everything in its time

Patience has never been a virtue of mine. When I want something, I wanted it yesterday! Delays bug me, especially if due to quality issues. After all, I've always been committed to delivering quality work to my clients on time and on budget. It generates referrals and repeat business, of course, but the true motivation for me has always been taking pride in my work and wanting happy clients. Apparently, not everyone cares as much about doing quality work and delivering good customer service. This past week has been filled with reminders of this reality.

My book apparently went live on June 13, but I wasn’t officially notified until this week. More importantly, it was released before I approved the physical copy. The print quality simply isn’t acceptable. Also, I’ve been hanging onto the edge of my seat for weeks to get going with my website design. However, I haven’t been able to talk to the design team, despite multiple inquiries/requests. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Frustrating? You bet! However, the highest part of me realizes that these objectively undesirable experiences are actually opportunities to practice surrendering to the mystery of timing and recognizing the embedded gifts. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Everything in its time.” It's sage advice.

The way I was intuitively guided to write my book in a fast and furious manner earlier this year meant that I didn’t spend months and months prior to getting the book published to build up my “platform”--that’s the publishing industry’s term for the people to whom an author promotes his/her book. While waiting for the book production issues to be resolved, it gives me more time toward building my platform. With respect to my website, I’m learning more and more every day about how it can be a great opportunity to engage my audience. I don’t want my website to be just an online business card. With the website production taking longer than the impatient part of me would like, I'm using this time to refine my website objectives and incorporate new learning.

In short, it's all good.

I was born a planner, and will always be a planner. It's also very much in my blood to set goals and take action to achieve them. What's more, it's in my genes to want to deliver and receive quality always. Of course, it’s delightful when I get to work with people who operate with similar orientation and standards. When that isn’t the case, I have the choice to not dwell on what's lacking but instead look for the gifts in an objectively frustrating situation. There is always a silver lining in everything, if we open our consciousness to see it.

Everything in its time. This is true about my book and my website—and everything that’s currently in my “dream escrow,” waiting for the right time to close. What’s in your dream escrow and what gifts does the waiting time come bearing for you?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stretching vs. Dishonoring Ourselves

I spent the first three days of this week in Philadelphia attending a publicity and marketing training program. It was intense to say the least – 8:30am to 9pm every day. On Monday, I was really hurting, as I flew in on a red-eye flight that morning just in time for the program to start, and had only about an hour of sleep on the plane. I’m still decompressing from the intensity of this week but very grateful to have participated in the event. It was highly educational, and I came away buzzing with excitement about how to fulfill my mission of getting the message of REACH out.

While watching different speakers present their expert advice, I found the inner observer in me taking note of how I was feeling about the different strategies and tactics recommended. I especially paid attention to those moments when I felt my stomach tightening. As I wrote in my book, our body holds a tremendous amount of intuitive intelligence. When we feel physical sensations, they are messages to us about something we’re facing in our lives, including warnings and encouragements. 

When my stomach—or some other body part—tightened, I knew that what I was seeing and hearing was causing me discomfort. The bigger question was why I was feeling uncomfortable. Was it because following the advice would stretch me out of my comfort? Or was the strategy proffered not right for me, my goals and/or my style of being? 

That’s a critical distinction to draw. After all, growth and expansion do require stretching, which isn’t comfortable. It was a long time ago, but I remember adolescence and how my muscles, bones and joints ached when I grew three inches in one summer. The discomfort, soreness and pain were, unfortunately, a necessary part of my physical growth. The good news was that, when the growth spurt was completed, I stood taller. (Side note: I thought I’d be tall, but it was only one isolated growth spurt. Too bad!) So, I understand and embrace the wisdom and value of weathering through the discomfort of being stretched to new heights.

However, feeling tightness in my body because something didn’t instinctively resonate with my nature is an entirely different story. I firmly believe that we’re all born to walk unique paths using our distinctive complement of gifts to create in this life. Just because someone has created success using their chosen mix of strategies and tactics doesn’t mean it becomes the perfect prescription for me to follow. I still want to honor who I am and how I do things to fulfill what I’m in this life to do. It’s my choice to pick and choose how to get things done that may stretch me beyond my comfort but doesn’t require me to dishonor myself or try to be somebody I’m not—and will never be, thank you very much!

It’s important to pay attention to what our bodies try to tell us when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. It’s very tempting to want to emulate everything that those before us have done to achieve great success. However, we’d do ourselves a major disservice if we don’t listen to our own inner compass to decipher what is right for us and what truly honors our nature. Yes, let’s all welcome being stretched to grow in order to expand the impact of our endeavors. However, we don’t need to be someone we aren’t in order to be successful, to achieve our goals and reach our dreams.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How may I serve?

How may I serve? This question has been front and center in my consciousness lately. No doubt it has something to do with having recently completed a course at Conscious Living Center, titled “Make Me An Instrument.” It was created and facilitated by Rev. Jane Beach, an esteemed spiritual mentor of mine. Based on an exquisitely written book exploring the Prayer of St. Francis, we spent 8 weeks contemplating line by line how to live every day with a consciousness of being of service. You don’t need to be religious, let alone Catholic, to appreciate the heartfelt wisdom conveyed in the prayer about how to be a presence of peace, love, grace--or whatever label resonates with you the most.

Since I was little, I knew instinctively that I was meant to be a helper in this life, even if I didn’t always know in what specific capacity. That’s how I ended up becoming a professor and spending another decade-plus being a consultant. I was doing my best to feel my way around how to be of help. Then, I started studying spiritual teachings by renowned teachers like Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and others. Using different words, they all urge us to focus on being of service. When we focus on giving to others, success ensues, even if it isn’t the motivational driver behind the action.

It has taken me years to let this wisdom truly sink in and to practice it in everyday living. After all, as human beings, we’re wired to instinctively tend to our survival. In other words, we’re naturally “me-focused”--How do I take care of myself? What do I need to do to ensure that I’m safe? Every time we experience letdown by others, it further feeds our self-preservation instincts. We can only rely on ourselves to be safe--until we learn to debunk this fear-based myth.

There’s no shame to being human, and there’s no need to reject our instinctive selves. In fact, it’s really needless hard work to push away our fundamental needs to feel safe. It’s far better to let the fearful part of ourselves know that whatever we choose to do will not compromise our safety. That energy can then be directed to much more productive endeavors, when we learn to choose an “other-centric” way of going about life. By being “other-centric,” it doesn’t require us to be martyrs or to dismiss our own wants and needs. It’s about reframing what we do to focus first on how to deliver value to others. When we’re able to serve others well, our wants and needs will be met also.

This service consciousness is precisely how I’m approaching building my next business. I’m keeping the intention to be of service in everything I do in the otherwise dreaded “me-centered” promotional activities. That is, instead of worrying about how I can sell books, speaking engagements, workshops and coaching programs, I focus on the intention to serve as many people as possible through these different wrappers around how I can help them--at different levels of affordability to them. Even though not everyone will end up buying from me, it’s ultimately all good. It makes me feel wonderful to know that the free article they read, the free talk they attended, or the free coaching discovery session we had helped them in some measure that’s meaningful to them. In these encounters, I’m fulfilling my intention to serve.

When I focus on gracious giving, the energy of love and grace flows out of me toward my brothers and sisters on Planet Earth. It comes back to me multiplied in love and grace, filling me up with the joy of living my dream, acting on purpose, being of service. This is so much better and more freeing than the debilitating, inwardly focused energy of worrying about survival. I also believe wholeheartedly in the pure magic of universal circulation. If I manage to deliver value to those I’m intended to serve, it’s inevitable that the value of having done that well will come back to me, even if my overt focus isn’t on giving to get. So, why would I ever worry about anything, when I can focus joyfully on creating the most value for others and finding the best ways to let them know about how I can help? 

Choosing to be of service feels really good! Why not try this for yourself sometime? The next time you start worrying about being ok, try asking instead: How may I serve?

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Call to Action - Honor Yourself

I’m on a mission to change the inner dialogue a lot of us have day in and day out, whether or not we’re aware of it. We live in a world in which most of its inhabitants walk around feeling flawed and incomplete in some way. Often, we’re unaware of how these perceptions limit us and, more importantly, that we have total and full control over changing our internal self-talk to change our reality.

To give you an example, a very smart, educated and successful woman I know has longed to be in a loving relationship for as long as I’ve known her – 17 years and counting. However, she wanted to make sure she lost that extra weight before she’d start actively dating. As far as I know, that’s still the status quo. As another case in point, an intelligent, thoughtful and congenial man I know dwells in the shadow of inferiority because he lacks the formal education he believes he needs in order to get ahead – and he had long since passed the time to do anything about it. He blames his lot in life for limiting him, when, in fact, his attitude and beliefs imprison him. These are examples of big limiting self-perceptions. There are many others, some more subtle and less easily detectable. Most of all, it isn't so comfortable shining the light on what we don’t want to see. Instead, we adopt different coping mechanisms to manage or mask anything from low-grade numbness to full-fledge pain.

We don’t have to live with the discomfort, numbness or pain, and every one of us has the power and capacity to change the story we tolerate at best. The first step is to honor ourselves, who we are right here and right now. Recognize that flaws and ways in which we feel incomplete are only self-judgments that can be changed. To go back to the examples above, we see overweight people in loving relationships all the time. Some of the most successful people in the world (e.g., Bill Gates) lack formal education. It’s what we believe that manifests our reality, because our beliefs ultimately shape our actions too. So, why not start with altering our self-talk from the ways in which we’re flawed or incomplete to honoring how we show up in this world right now? Don't think you can do this? Ask your loved ones what they honor about you.

Similarly, you can reframe judgments of what you have done – and what you have failed to do – to get to this point in your life. Honor that you've tried to do your best, and cut yourself some slack. Why let the guilt of (not) doing what you feel you should have (not) done consume precious life force energy within you? Instead of chastising yourself for not having adopted a healthier lifestyle sooner before your weight got out of control, you can shift your focus to how much you have enjoyed indulging in what life has to offer for so many years. Know that you can choose to change your lifestyle habits at any point. Instead of lamenting that you have missed the opportunity to go to college when you were young and unencumbered, you can choose to appreciate the life you have been able to create without tons of formal education. Know that it’s never too late to go back to school if you want to do it. Similar reframing applies to whatever shortfall or regret you may be torturing yourself with right now. Honor your (in)actions and the good that has come from them. It can't be all bad, even if your ego directs your attention solely to the bad.

Growth and improvement are important for our evolution. So, I’m not advocating that we all get complacent. Instead, by honoring who we are and where we are in life, we first get on good terms with the creator we already are and the container in which we create the more desirable future for ourselves. When we get ourselves to this place, whatever change or improvements we aspire to make are motivated by the desire for joy and expansion, not because we feel we need to fix ourselves and our lives. We also free ourselves from the suffocating feelings of guilt and shame and make room for expansive feelings of anticipation and excitement. We can all do this, we really can!

So, here’s the call to action I’d like you to accept: Honor yourself and your life. Share this call with people you care about, especially those who tend to be really hard on themselves. Be a change agent yourself by spreading love and acceptance. Namaste.

P.S. If you’d like to hear more about this call to honor yourself and your life, join me for a free 20-minute talk and an optional 1-hour workshop (fee: love offering) on Sunday, June 12, 12:30pm at Conscious Living Center, 2400 Wyandotte St, Suite C, Mountain View, CA 94043. To register for the talk and/or workshop, email me at alice - at - dralicechan - dot - com. The talk (not the workshop) will be videotaped and shared online. If you live outside of the area and would like to be notified when the video is ready, drop me an email.

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