Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5 things I learned from Life You Want - Detroit

Covering Oprah's "Life You Want Tour – Detroit” for Soulful Living on Empower Radio and Simple Steps Real Change Magazine was an incredible honor.  People from all over the country came to The Palace of Auburn Hills to hang out with Oprah and her friends in the hopes of learning a little more about living life to the fullest. We had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country including Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, and California.  We even connected with OWN President Erik Logan.

On the way in I mentioned to my assistant, aka my daughter, how incredibly detailed the logistics must be to successfully pull off an event of this magnitude – the details are endless. Being the one that’s “always prepared”, I’m glad she was with me when the message, “not enough storage” popped up on my phone.  She had my back, like I always have hers.

On top of the “Trailblazers” present:  Mark Nepo, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, and Iyanla Vanzant, the event included self-work with ways to make the most of your life, on your own terms. Believe me when I say tears were flowing from the moment the lights went out and Oprah took the stage Friday evening until the moment the lights went on and she walked off the stage for the last time Saturday afternoon.  Oprah is a force of love and light so strong that her life should be an inspiration to us all. 

I am a “soulcial activist”.  For years I have practiced, preached and lived much of what was shared during this event.  In my practice, nothing prepared me for the moment when my daughter reached over and grabbed my hand, saying, “OMG mom, these are the things you always say to me!”
It doesn’t matter how we “get it” in life, it matters that we do get it.

So, what is it that made such a profound impact on us?  Below are five SIMPLE “takeaways” from the Life You Want Tour-Detroit that I think are worth sharing.

     1.   "The energy you put out is responsible for what you get back”.  Oprah Winfrey– That’s right, what you give is what you get.  It’s really that simple.  Each positive, joyful thought is going to bring that much more positivity and joy right back to you – x 1000 I say.
     2.    “Negative thoughts are like humping puppies – get them down!” Iyanla Vanzant – As soon as that negative thought appears, swat it down.You have to practice, YES, re-train your mind to recognize more joy and less pain to be more aware of the good in your life now.  
     3.   “The longest journey you will ever take is from your head to your heart” Mark Nepo – Take time to listen daily to what your heart and soul are telling you.  Don’t let the voices in your head scare you away from the longings of your heart.
     4.    “It’s better to live your life imperfectly than to live someone else’s life perfectly”.  Elizabeth Gilbert – Stop thinking about, and doing what, “you are supposed to do” by everyone else’s standards.  Do what your heart and soul are calling you to do.
     5.   “The life you want begins when you embrace the life you have, and the life you have is a miracle – life matters!”  Rob Bell – Yes it does!  Realize that you and your life matter.  Everything about you matters.  See it in yourself – see the miracle of you.

Oprah said, “The greatest power is love – show it, receive it, feel it.”  Imagine simply beginning to love yourself enough to live the life you want?  Miracles happen every day – you’re one of them!

Thanks, Oprah, for shining your light so bright that others can’t help but shine, too!  And thanks to your team for helping make it all happen.  Everyone matters!  Aho...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What would you do?

Have you seen the show, "What Would You Do?" with John Quiñones on ABC?  If you haven't, take some time to watch a few episodes.  It's a hidden camera show where actors act out scenes of conflict or illegal activity in public settings.  The focus is whether or not bystanders will intervene when they think no one is watching. The scenarios make you think about what you would do if certain events took place right in front of you. I've watched some very powerful acts on this show and often wondered what I would do had it been me.

As you might guess, I'm pretty verbal and passionate when it comes to stepping up to do the "right" thing; not perfect by any means.  I've hit some low places in my life and have always been beyond grateful to the people who have showed up to help me out. Many of those have been complete strangers.  So when offered the "chance" to pay it forward, I respond to the Universes nudge accordingly.

It's no wonder I did what I'm about to share.  (Some of you have probably done the same).

The other day I was at the grocery store.  The woman in front of me was buying a few essentials and a few "non essentials".  Those non essentials were a box of no brand cake mix, a tub of no brand frosting and a few birthday candles - for her sons birthday.  She didn't have enough cash and began putting away the birthday stuff.  You can guess that the people behind us were getting very frustrated.  Who knows, maybe they were in a hurry.

Well, those are considered ESSENTIALS in my life.  So, I offered up the cash to pay for them.  Not because I wanted a thank you or any other type of recognition; because I wanted a child to receive recognition from his mother - something symbolic of the love she had for him.  There have been many more instances like this in my life; some more dramatic, some less dramatic.  (I think John Quiñones and his team would approve!)

One of my own low places was just after my divorce, when my kids were babies.  I was a single parent and didn't have quite enough money to buy presents for Christmas.  That year my sister and her husband, my sister in law and my brother, made sure my kids had more than enough presents from their mom and "Santa". We awoke to bags of gifts on our front porch.  It was our own Christmas Miracle.

Next time you're in a situation that calls for stepping up, just act as if John Quiñones and a whole TV crew were watching and ask yourself, "What would you do?"  Practice Soul-cial Living, I hope!

Peace and blissings....

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A hug a day keeps the doctor away :)

Reprised and updated from January 2011

It's that time of year again - time to celebrate one of my favorite forms of therapy - hugging. Yes, folks, today, January 21 is National Hugging Day. As I say with most holidays, National Hugging Day needs to be celebrated every day for us to thrive. Virginia Satir, a Wisconsin Marriage and Family Therapist agrees, "For human beings, you need two hugs a day to survive, four hugs for maintenance, six hugs to grow." 

The hug is one of the most common human signs of love and affection.

My Dad was the first person I knew to celebrate hugging! He was truly an inspiration to me and many others. Talk about a giver! He wore a button on his suit coat that said, “Everyday is a hug day” and treated his employees with compassion, honesty and integrity. His team knew they could count on him for support, no matter what, and they knew they’d get a big hug when needed!

According to an article I found in his effects after he died, “Hugging is painless, unless you are hugged by Hulk Hogan." The article ran June 11, 1986 in The Way We Live section of The Detroit Free Press and was titled, “Get Ready for the Big Squeeze” celebrating the 3rd Huggers Holiday. What better way to get your mojo on than a friendly hug.

There are some pretty basic hug styles. Below is a list of the most common types:

• The A-Frame: Shoulders are barely touching. Mostly done by members of the opposite sex
• One Sided: Moving only slightly closer, the huggers have close contact at one shoulder
• Two-Sided: There is close contact with both shoulders, but both stand with lower torsos apart. Sometimes the huggers may even step back and kiss each cheek.
• The Full On: From shoulders to the tips of your toes and every place in between!
• The Group Hug: You get it! Someone in the group yells, “Group Hug” and everyone joins in a big hug!
• The Run-and-Jump: Ever watch reunions at the airport? Those are my favorite – when two people run and jump into each others arms, with huge smiles on their faces – sometimes even tears!

One of my very favorite hug styles is in the form of a "Deep Hugging Meditation". A few years ago my friend Sean, Director at the Detroit Lotus Sangha, and I shared this practice with the group. It is one of the most powerfully moving styles of hugging I've experienced. It truly connects you with the person you are hugging in a way that shows a deep honor and regard for that soul, affirming that you are really there for them. In his book, Teachings on Love, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, "To be really there, you only need to breathe mindfully, and suddenly both of you become real. It may be one of the best moments in your life."

You might want to let people know ahead of time that you are celebrating National Hugging Day. Click here now to watch a few great National Hugging Day videos!! Brighten the life of another with a hug and a smile. 

For free meditations and more visit the resources page at

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And they sniff..

A dogs path to enlightenment

Dogs are really pretty simple creatures, I should know, I live with two of them.  As a matter of fact, dogs have been in my life since the day I was born.  I've learned much from observing them.

In my opinion they ARE the enlightened ones. The meaning of life is simply "to sniff" more often. Here's what I mean:

They wake up, they sniff.
They stretch, they sniff.
They wake me up, they sniff.
They wait for me, they wag their tail, they sniff.
They go out, they sniff the air.
They walk down the stairs, they sniff the steps.
They pee, they sniff the ground.
They look around, they sniff the rose bush.
(Ok...that really gets me...they stop to smell the roses!)
They come in, they sniff their food.
They see their bones, they sniff (and chew).
They go back out, they sniff the ground.
They poop, they sniff the air.
They see Leo (their boyfriend next door), they sniff his face.
They come back in, they sniff their beds.
They lay down, they sniff the air.
They wake up, they sniff.....
And they sniff, and they sniff, and they sniff!

Yes, that's right, "the sniff" says it all.  With everything dogs do, they stop to sniff.  Sounds so simple - sniffing is the way to enlightenment.

There's still one bud left on my bush.  I'm off to sniff the roses!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When did you stop thinking you were beautiful? 

That is a question the makers of Dove posed in a recent video that my friend and colleague, Birgit Keil, shared just this morning.  I KNOW when I started realizing, again, how beautiful I am -

From a distance many of you would never suspect that I was quite camera shy.  Yes, I was one of those women who would run from the camera.  What I saw in my pictures were flaws, lines, pimples, the hidden scars from listening to callous, insensitive, abusive people; from a society who suffers greatly; from believing I was not "good enough".

Well....Enough is ENOUGH.  I, like all of  you, am more than enough.  There is nothing wrong with me or YOU! We all have a spark, a shine, that when nurtured can light up even the darkest of moments.

My moment came when I shot my first video, with ME in the scene.  While reviewing the piece, I began critiquing it, cutting and cutting until there was nothing left.  My production partner, Judy Davids, gave me sound advice.  She said, "Stop watching yourself with judgement and simply let it be. The world sees only your beauty and hears only your words of love and encouragement, because THAT'S who you are!"

Wow!  Really, that's who I am?  Well, sisters (and brothers) if that's who I am then that's who YOU are - because I am you and you are me.

"I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille!" Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard, 1950

Are you ready?

When will you start thinking you are beautiful? How about right now? Just say, "yes I am" - it's that simple!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reset yourself back to your factory settings

Comparatively speaking, our minds and bodies are very similar to a computers hard drive and how the web operates.  All are warehouses and storage units for unlimited information and stimuli. As humans, information begins "uploading" into our system before we are even born.

In computer lingo SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), in short, it is an industry standard used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.

In my world SSL is Simple Soulful Living – is the standard used for protecting and enhancing my place in the world; that I might live with a greater sense of love and joy.

Like a computer, when we are constantly exposed to viral threats, pop ups, and daily intrusions our system gets overloaded and can crash.  For humans the "blue screen of death" shows up in the form of extreme exhaustion, unending stress, and sometimes, debilitating disease.

How do we recover?  By resetting our human system back to its factory settings; back to the state of the pure love and joy we knew in the womb and at birth. 

How to reset your inner hard drive:

1.  Do a virus scan - Old emotions and trauma get lodged in our body just like a bad file on the computer.  Pay attention to the way your body feels and moves in the world; pay attention to what triggers and stresses you by tuning in.  Set aside time on a regular basis to sit quiet then scan and listen to what your body, mind and soul are telling you.

2.  Empty your temporary files - We carry a lot of baggage that's not ours.  Let it go by focusing on allowing only that which serves your highest good to enter your life.  Begin practicing radical self care and radical forgiveness.  Follow up with radical kindness.

3.  Clean your inner/outer hard drive - Cleanse your system.  Begin feeding your body and soul the foods and activities that support your system, particularly H2O and a little exercise. Both are essential elements for your operating system to work properly. Other ways to clean your inner and outer hard drive include raw juice fasts, soul retrieval, massage, and inner (and outer) space clearing.

When our minds and bodies become overloaded with everything that is thrown at us on a regular basis, we can't help but crash.  It's crucial to give ourselves time, space and permission to reboot - back to our factory settings and SSL -  simple soulful living.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What is soulful living?

What does it mean to live a life led by your souls calling? 

First of all, let's define soulful living.  Below are four definitions I found on Wikipedia, all of which I have heard many times throughout my lifetime.  I’m sure you have, too.

1. the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
2. the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul.
3. the disembodied spirit of a deceased person: He feared the soul of the deceased would haunt him.
4. the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments.

What's my definition?  Simply being in the flow with your your soul self and allowing yourself to be guided by that voice instead of the voice of your ego.

I grew up in an Irish Catholic household.  My pre-programmed vision of the soul was like this ethereal like fog that lives outside of me.  It seemed like it should be a part of me - that my soul held wisdom – a wisdom I wanted to tap in to.  I began reading about shamanic work and knew it was the work I needed to be doing.  It made so much sense.

Painting by  Andrea Tiffany 
While reading about the many different cultures who identify with Shamanic practices, the words “soul retrieval” kept popping up.  What did that mean?  Did that confirm that my soul was something outside of me?  No, it simply meant that pieces of me needed to be brought home.

Several years ago, I decided it was time to integrate that part of me, the essence of who I am, into my life, then listen to her voice more than my ego’s.  Ah, yes, ego, “Everything’s Going On” - everything besides the truth of your souls’ calling, your soul self.  I began a path to soulful living.  Here’s what I found:  When you tune in and listen, life becomes easier and easier – effortless and joyful.  

How do you tune in?  By getting quiet, meditating, prayer - whatever you want to call it.  Tuning out what's happening around you and tuning into what's happening inside of you.

Oh, I’m not so naive to think that nothing’s going to rock my boat – I’m human.  When it feels good, when there’s no tension, when it sends “God bumps” up and down my spine – I know it’s part my soul’s path.  What is your soul calling out for you to do today?  Not sure – STOP and listen.  It's that simple.