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In most sports, the difference between making it to the finish line and making it into the record books is less than a second. In fact, more often than not, it’s milliseconds.

Yes, You Can!

Yes, You Can!

The small difference between good and great is also true in many other areas of life and work.

It’s certainly true for speakers. By speakers I mean parents, teachers, coaches, salespeople, trainers, mentors, doctors, nurses, attorneys, as well as professional platform and keynote speakers.

What separates good speakers from great speakers? Leadership. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t, because everything depends on leadership, including speaking–and this is true whether you are speaking to your children or to a room full of people.

How do you know if you have what it takes to be a great speaker? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

•  As a speaker, your chief goal is to influence people. How well do you influence and lead yourself?
•  People want to hear speakers who are fired up and passionate. Do you care about your message?
•  Great speakers are masters of nuance. How do you make use of non-verbal communication and silence?

Great speakers master their material and they master themselves, which allows them to instinctively know when to adjust their message in order to meet the audience right where they are.

Did you know that when you teach and mentor others, you actually learn your material even better? Why? Because when you teach something you’re passionate about, you want to ensure that what you pass on is accurate, insightful, and meaningful.

Becoming great at anything takes time and practice. Practice with commitment, diligence, and patience. Over time, consistent practice becomes habit, and good habits can lead to mastery. It will not happen overnight. In fact, it will take years. Many years. There is no other way. But if you’re diligent, it will happen!

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about speakers you admire and why. Use the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: http://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com. Have a fantastic week!

Pass It On!

Look Before You Lead

What separates great leaders from average leaders? Is it years of experience, a degree from a top-notch university, or an impressive title?

It’s none of these things.

Lead from Within

Lead from Within

The difference between average and great leaders begins long before they assume the mantle of leadership. In fact, you can be a great leader even if you do not have a leadership title or position.

How is that possible? Because great leadership begins from within. It begins with who you are. Who you are when no one else is looking. Your core values and how you act on those values will distinguish you as a leader—every single time.

How do you know if you have what it takes to be a great leader? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you value most about yourself?
  • Do you go along with the crowd—even when you know in your heart that you should choose differently?
  • Do you consistently look out for the best interests of others?

Great leaders have these things in common: self-awareness, core values that guide their choices and actions, and giving to others what they have received. Great leaders are also intentional. They look within first and are focused on living with purpose and passion.

So, ask yourself: What one thing can I do today to be more intentional?

May you enjoy the blessings of increasing your awareness each day… and reaching out to help someone else do the same—just a sampling of the many blessings of leadership.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about leaders you admire—in your family, in your community, or at work. Use the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have a fantastic week!

Pass It On!

I trust that your January is off to a glorious start. Very soon, I will lead a seminar on “Resolutions” for the New Year. Rather than the usual definition of resolution—to make a promise or an oath—I will invite people to consider the musical definition. Mount Rainier - reflected in lake

In music, resolution means to bring something that is out of tune, discordant, or inharmonious into a state of being harmonious & in tune. In order to bring our lives back into a state of harmony, sometimes we have to let go of something else. Perhaps we need to let go of old habits, negative thinking, too many things or possessions, or life-draining relationships.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is out of tune, or out of alignment, in your life right now?
  • What do you have to do to bring your life back into harmony?
  • What small step can you take today to resolve the discord in your life?

When you take a step away from discord, you take a step toward harmony.

May you enjoy the blessings of letting go, so that this year you can move in the direction of your dreams.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about your resolutions in the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have an wonderful week!

Pass It On!

You get a call from your dream company. “We’ve reviewed your resume and would like for you to come in to speak with the interview team.” Your heart races with excitement. You’ve made it through the first hurdle!

Then your happy buzz fades as the sobering reality sets in: You now face a second and more challenging hurdle—the Interview.

What should you wear? WHAT questions will they ask? How should you respond to their questions? What questions should YOU ask? Your Career

As you sit down to sort through the varying outcomes of each of these questions, you start making lists of “Shoulds” and “Shouldn’ts,” of “Dos” and “Don’ts.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were lists already made for you? Lists you could mold to fit your particular needs? Lists that serve as starting points in your preparation?

I want to see you land your dream job! To make your life a little easier, I’ve compiled several lists to help you as you enter the land of The Job Interview. In Part 1, we’ll explore the things you should and should not ask once you step into that room.  I hope these guides serve you well.

Questions you SHOULD ask during your interview:

  • Can you describe the position in more detail? Even better: do some research on your own and preface this or any other question with information you’ve discovered about the company. For example, “I see that your company is rapidly expanding… I’m curious if the position I’m applying for is new or is it an existing position?”
  • Can you describe a typical day for the person in this position?
  • Would you provide an example or two of the types of projects I’ll be working on?
  • Will I be primarily working with a team or on my own?
  • Can you describe your ideal employee for this position?
  • What’s your company’s 3- or 5-year plan, and how does the department I’m applying for fit into that plan?
  • How does your company show that it values its employees?
  • Does your company offer professional training and development?
  • When do you hope to fill this position?
  • If I were to start tomorrow, what would my top priority be?

 

Questions you should NEVER ask during your interview:

  • Do you pay overtime?
  • When will I be eligible for a raise?
  • How often does the company give raises?
  • Will you check my Facebook page?
  • Do you do background checks?
  • Do you pay overtime?
  • Will I be able to work from home?
  • How much sick, holiday, and vacation time is allocated? Actually, it’s OK to ask this question, but MUCH later in the process after the company has expressed interest in you.
  • Avoid questions that start with “Why,” because they put people on the defensive.
  • Do not ask questions that you can easily find information about on your own with a quick Google search.

Interested in learning even more interview tips and tricks? Follow me on Pinterest, particularly my board I’ve dedicated to helping you “Ace That Interview.” http://www.pinterest.com/drgloriab/ace-that-interview/

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Care to chat more? Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz! Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html.

Until next time… keep on keepin’ on. And let me know what’s happening with you.

Pass It On!

This week’s blog comes from my good friend and colleague, Adriana Girdler. We welcome her contribution. Thank you, Adriana!

Data and Intuition…the Perfect Business Partners

Have you ever been presented with so much data, graphs, chart, and numbers that instead of things starting to make sense it starts to become confusing?  In fact, more questions start to arise, your reasoning becomes cloudy and you become paralyzed by the data and are struggling to figure out what to do next? Adriana Girdler

Whether you’re a senior executive or an accountant, a sales representative or lawyer, we all want to move forward in business. The ultimate goal is to move your organization, department or career from good to great. Making the wrong decision can debilitate an organization and/or career as much as making a right decision can catapult it to the next level. But in the information society we live in today, sometimes too much information stops us from making decisions and moving forward. So how do we get over this issue in the business world? Try following your intuition along with your intellect. John Naisbitt, who invented the concept of “Megatrends” in 1980 and has been the world’s best known observer and analyst of global trends for more than 30 years,  suggests intuition becomes increasingly valuable in the new information society precisely because there is so much data.
What Is Intuition?

Intuition has been called many things: gut feeling, instant knowing, inner voice, and instinctive knowledge. Simply put, intuition is the ability to KNOW – beyond data, reason and logic – the truth of any question or situation. It’s available to everyone, an invisible, powerful intelligence free for the taking. Have you ever disregarded a ‘feeling’ or ‘sensation’ and regretted your decision? “I should have followed my gut.” That’s your intuition. Logic and analysis only provide partial answers. Intuition is our most reliable compass on life’s journey and everyone has it so why not use it, especially in business.

Intuition, when used with data, can confirm business direction, product ideas, new hires etc. As we know, a business decision is as much an art (intuition) as it’s a science (market research). Knowing how to use the two together is what distinguishes the good businesses from the great.

How Can You Use Intuition in Business?

  • Fine-tune your vision and mission statement and confirm that you’re on the right path
    • Intuition will allow you to tap into your feelings and confirm what truly resonates with you so you are motivated and passionate about what you do. This is critical to move yourself or an organization forward.
  • Evaluate team dynamics and find the most beneficial way to bring everyone together
    • Use intuition to guide you to find the right solution in bringing a team together and getting them to work cohesively. You can feel when something is off or when people are not feeling part of the team, don’t ignore this but use your intuition to fix it and get your team back in performance mode.
  • Create success through insightful hiring decisions
    • Ever hire someone that looked great on paper but you knew something was off and this feeling was confirmed the first few days at work? Stop the unnecessary task of hiring the wrong people which impacts your business negatively. Trust you intuition when something doesn’t feel right.
  • Identify areas and/or departments that need specialized assistance to ensure organizational goals remain on track
    • Why is it we can ‘see’ the solution to everyone else’s problems/issues but not our own. Your intuition can guide you in ‘seeing’ the issues before you. You need to be open to listening to the clues that are presented to you every day.
  • Establish and/or confirm business plans (Sales, Marketing etc.) content and strategies that will allow you to obtain the vision for your organization
    • Use intuition to confirm your plans. When revisiting ideas and examining them in a different light (via intuitive techniques) you will receive greater insight, allowing you to change direction which gives you that winning business idea.

When the top business leaders are asked what makes them successful, of course they answer the expected response, “hard work, great team, amazing idea, passion, long hours, but they also say they followed their intuition.  Something inside them was guiding them and they choose to listen to it. So if you don’t believe me that intuition is your best business ally, then maybe you will listen to the words of Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder:

I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.

Stop relying on just one way to look at things. Using just the intellect in business will only get you so far. Combine and use the power of intuition along with intellect. This is key to moving your ideas, decisions and organization to the next level.

About Adriana Girdler

Adriana Girdler is the President of CornerStone Dynamics Inc and an expert in business efficiency, helping leading corporations streamline internal processes to work smarter and improve productivity. Learn more about Adriana Girdler at: http://www.cornerstonedynamics.com/adriana-girdler/

Pass It On!

I want to see you land your dream job!

To make your life a little easier, I’ve compiled several lists to help you as you enter the land of The Job Interview. In Part I, we’ll explore tips to make your cover letter stand out from the rest. I hope these guides serve you well.

 Write an Effective Cover Letter

Think of your cover letter like a business card—it makes a first impression. It should pique a prospective employer’s interest in you. Be sure to highlight your skills and experience into the context of the position for which you’re applying. Another way to think of your cover letter is like a movie trailer. It provides a preview of coming attractions, so to speak, without revealing everything. Just enough to make you want to buy that ticket, right? Success or Failure

Tip #1: Keep It Brief

Your cover letter demonstrates that you are an effective communicator. Instead of elaborating what is already listed in your resume, highlight a few key points that will make a recruiter or hiring manager want to learn more about you. Write a brief introduction, then jump right into what you have to offer and why you should be hired for this position. Aim for three well-written paragraphs.

Tip #2: Keep It Relevant

In highlighting what you have to offer, focus on three key factors: what got you into this field, the accomplishments that exemplify why you are the best candidate, and why you are an excellent fit for their organization. Be sure to include a couple of sentences on what strikes you about their specific company.

Tip #3: Personalize

Make sure your cover letter speaks directly to the position for which you are applying. This means that you must write a new cover letter for each position for which you apply. An employer can spot a generic cover letter, so don’t do it or you will risk having your letter and resume tossed into the trash—the infamous File 13! Do not address your letter to “Whom It May Concern.” Do a little digging. A quick web search should surface the name of the person to send your cover letter to. If not–pick up the phone and call. Your prospective employer will appreciate your attention to detail.

Tip #4: Close Effectively

Be confident and assertive. Close your letter with something like this: “After you have reviewed my resume, please contact me to schedule an interview,” or, “I am excited about the prospect of working for you and would be pleased to discuss this opportunity at your earliest convenience. I will call next week to follow up with you.”

Closing comments, such as “I hope you enjoy my resume,” or “If you feel that I am a good fit, let me know” are weak. They don’t resonate with confidence. You know you’re a good fit, so SHOW it with a strong finish!

 Tip #5: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

I cannot stress the importance of proofreading. Proofreading will ensure that your tone is appropriate. It will also ensure that you’ve touched on key aspects of your background and experience as they relate to the job position. Finally, proofreading will ensure that you catch silly grammatical errors and typos. After you’re satisfied with your letter, ask someone else to review it. Why? Because another person will often find things that you overlooked, such as missing words. Yes, missing words. When we proof our own work, we unconsciously “fill in” words as we read, because we know what we intended to write.

*  *  *  *  *

I hope these tips put you one step closer to landing your dream career. Do you have any tips you’d like to share, or would you like to keep talking about this topic? If so, please send me a note, using my comment section below or follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD

And stay tuned for Part II in the series. Now that you have a killer cover letter, will your resume match your expectations? I’ll help you make sure it does with my resume tips! Until then:  Walk worthy my friends!

Pass It On!

Leadership is difficult.

Contrary to popular belief, leaders aren’t born. They are made. You grow into leadership through the choices you make.

We stand in awe of leaders who can make tough decisions on a dime, especially when they say, “I just went with my ‘gut feeling’ on the matter.” What these leaders don’t say is that their gut feeling is honed through years of experience, learning through their personal and professional trials and challenges as well as through others’.

That gut instinct is also honed through doing a few critical things every day. Things that over time become automatic, such as their ability to lead effortlessly under pressure. These learned characteristics mold leaders, transforming them from good to great, and they are characteristics that anyone anywhere can incorporate into their daily lives. Leaders Exude Positivity

They Exude Positivity and Energy

In any organization, there will be snags along the road to success. A great leader doesn’t allow those bumps in the road to disrupt positive momentum. The workplace they create is uplifting and inspiring, and they constantly seek new ways to generate positive attitudes among team members. Each morning, they set the tone for the rest of the day. Whether it’s simply saying good morning to everyone and asking if anyone needs any guidance on their work or if it’s organizing the occasional “company offsite” to boost camaraderie on their team, a great leader never lets the opportunity to lift the team spirits slip through their fingers.

They Speak Up

Great leaders are aware that if they wait for the perfect moment to bring up a concern, voice an opinion, or act decisively that moment may never come. They aren’t afraid to make themselves uncomfortable for the greater good. If they have a concern, they’ll surface it in order to rectify a situation before it snowballs into something bigger and, possibly, worse for themselves, their team, and their organization. Typically, they’re the first ones to say out loud what everyone else at the table is already thinking. What’s the difference between them and you? They took the chance to speak up.

They Communicate Their Expectations

Do mind readers exist? Great leaders don’t think so. They recognize the need to properly translate their vision and expectations to their team members so that their expectations will come to fruition. They keep an “open door,” encouraging team members to communicate directly with them and among themselves. After all, everyone needs to be on the same page if they’re all in the same organization working towards the same goals. Great leaders constantly remind their team of the standards they’ve set, making it easy for them to identify high-performers and those who are not.

What are some things YOU’VE seen great leaders do consistently? I’d love to hear from you. Tell me in the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have an uplifting week!

Pass It On!

A Fortune 500 company, a small business, a start up, a volunteer association. No matter the size, there is something every successful organization has in common: Leadership.

Being a Better Leader

Being a Better Leader

But what separates a good leader from a poor one? Is it enough to have the title? You know as well as I do that the answer will always be, “Of course not!” Although every successful organization begins and ends with leadership, every organization does not necessarily require the same type of leadership. As an evolving leader, you should continually be aware of how your communication, direction, and attitudes impact those around you, and hone your approach to suit their needs.

To assist you as you navigate the path to becoming a better leader, I suggest the following:

Don’t Let Perfect Get in the Way of “Better”

As a leader, you certainly want your daily operations to run continuously without a hitch. But you know there will always be a few speed bumps along the way. How you handle a negative situation affects the way your team members react to you, and it also says a lot about your leadership skills.

So what to do? Always identify the positives of a situation first. Then discuss what could be improved. By focusing on what went well, those around you are more likely to react positively. And when a person’s mind isn’t clouded by things that did not go well, the more easily they can strategize about how to solve a problem. Try this tip: Before bringing up an issue you have with a team member, identify two or three things they did right in the situation. Start the conversation by singing their praises!

Be Authentic

Leaders are attuned to their inner selves. Being conscious of your strengths and weaknesses is an important part of leadership and your authenticity. Self-awareness is a powerful attribute, especially when you’re confident enough to acknowledge what you don’t know and you work diligently to find the answer! After all, we’re only human. Those around you will find comfort knowing that you are not so different from them. Try this tip: At your next group meeting, express how your employees or volunteers can help you achieve a common goal. List some of the qualities they have that you lack, highlighting how they add value to your team.

Identify Your Successors

As difficult as it is to give up control, there is no way for your organization to reach new heights without a cadre of leaders who will succeed you. In fact, identifying these leaders is key to your success! Why not identify them early on? You’ll relieve some of the pressure from yourself while strengthening your employees’ connection to the organization. Be a confident leader and show that you can put your trust in others without having to hover over their every move. Try this tip: On your next big project, delegate significant responsibility to an emerging leader. Let them take the reigns and let them know they have your support. Then find an opportunity to praise their efforts publicly.

What steps have you taken as a leader or seen other leaders take to improve the culture of their organization? Tell me about it in the comment section below. And as always—have a blessed week!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Care to chat more? Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html.

Pass it On!

To Celebrate Life, Love, Moms, Motherhood, & Valentine’s Day

Letter to My Mom, Mildred Blackmon McEwen

Give her roses while she can still enjoy them. ~ Earnest McEwen, Jr. (my father)

Dear Mama ~

It isn’t your birthday or Mother’s Day. Christmas is over. Epiphany, too. It’s the beginning of a glorious New Year… and I’m writing this letter to honor you. I want to thank you for the singular blessing you’ve poured and continue to pour into my life: you!

You are that blessing. Your life is a poem, a mighty spiritual, a testimony of gratitude, faith, and love. And this letter is a celebration of you.

Your road has been long; your journey has not been easy. Bigotry and prejudice fortified you, teaching you how to love even more deeply and how to see not just with your anatomical eyes, but also to see with the eyes of your heart. Greatest of all, you relied on God’s love and strength rather than your own. In this you gave me the gift of faith and unconditional love for myself and others.

You also gave me what my sister-friend and fellow poet Nikky Finney would say is the gift of being “a woman with keys.” A woman with keys moves in a particular way and she has a responsibility, an obligation to help others find theirs, help them move through their rooms, cross their thresholds, unlock their windows and doors on the journey to claim their promise.

I remember as a little girl, you gave me the precious gift of encouragement. When you said over and again, “Be all that God intended you to be—no matter what, come what may.” I now offer that gift back to my daughter, other family members, my students, clients, and friends.

I remember your humility and sacrifice. For many long years you and Daddy toiled and sacrificed so that my sisters and I could have a better life than the ones you’d known. I remember your and Dad’s Mississippi stories of struggle and strife, of Dad’s deep longing to go to college to better himself and improve our lot, of him working as a janitor at Ole Miss and there, by the grace of God, William Faulkner came into his life and paid for Dad to attend Alcorn A&M College, with no strings attached. I remember you working as a teacher and cook in the nursery school to help make ends meet, Dad’s working at low-paying jobs even with his college degree. I remember you both standing on your rock-solid values of hard work, gratitude, faith, love, and integrity.

I also remember the profound lessons you taught me—to lend others a helping hand, to be of service to others… your constant reminders to do something with my time, to make myself useful. Even if I was already occupied doing something! Today your words echo in my soul as the voice of legacy. Early on, you taught me, Doris, Annie, Debbie, and Vera that you make a living by what you choose as your work, and you make a life by what you do for others.

I remember when I asked what compelled you to go along with Daddy’s “impossible” dreams, you said, “I loved your father and I believed in him. More importantly, we had an abiding faith in Almighty God, and He never gave us more than we could handle, and His grace always saw us through.” Even when you didn’t have any idea of how our family would make it, your love and faith sustained you.

Thank you for giving me a legacy that values education, character, as well as loving, lifting up, and helping others with no strings attached. Thank you for painting on the canvas of eternity with your unshakable belief in the nobility of the human spirit, for painting with a palette imbued with the qualities of humility, faith, love, triumph, and the capacity to treat every human being with dignity and respect. Through you, I have a small glimpse of God’s magnificence, devotion, and triumph.

Because of you, I know—deep in my bones—a few things: if you want change, you must stir the waters and be willing to get out of the boat. If you want change, then you have to invest your heart and soul in the generations to come. I also know that each person must live the legacy that God has intended just for him or her, which means that you can’t hide your light under a bushel. You have to dare to wear your soul on the outside, and keep on keeping on—no matter what, and we have to pass it on by building sturdy bridges for others to cross.

Mother, thank you for being a diva in my life, for not merely talking about blessings… but for being the blessing, and for passing it on!

Love and honor, your daughter Gloria

Pass It On!

In just a few days, we will pay tribute to an American legend – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Around the world we will celebrate his legacy, even as our own legacies continue to intertwine with his.

Even now, I imagine Dr. King’s presence… and I hear his marvelous voice beckoning us to lean into our deepest calling, which is to serve. “Anyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Storyteller and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that “One of the most calming and powerful actions [we] can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show [our] soul.”

In our ever-shrinking global village, standing up and showing your soul is not a luxury. It is an imperative.

In my latest book, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, I discuss what it means and what it takes to stand up and show your soul… so that we might co-create the kind of world that we want to pass on to our children and our children’s children and beyond.

As we remember Dr. King and celebrate his legacy, let us also remember to celebrate ourselves as we stand up, serve, and be the change that we want to be in our world.

Pass It On!

This holiday season, we are blessed once again by my daughter’s presence. Now that she has launched her career, we are even more grateful that she still delights in the simple pleasures of hanging out with me and her dad.

Last year about this time, I asked her what I should write about for my “Feel Good Tuesday” post. She said, “Oh, you should write about family—how wonderful it is to spend time with family members, the importance of appreciating one another, and sharing our love, especially older family members while they can still enjoy your presence.

Family matters. As I get older, I appreciate and celebrate family more and more.

On Christmas Eve, my husband, daughter, and I piled into the car and headed to Vancouver to see my mom, niece, and two younger sisters. We enjoyed a few joyous hours snuggled up on the sofa sharing stories and photos, catching up on each others’ lives, playing games, and dreaming about the year ahead.

Before my daughter returns home to Boston, we’ll gather around the fire, piece together several jigsaw puzzles, and take a few walks in the misty twilight. We might even round up our instruments to make music together, creating wonderful new holiday memories.

As you reflect on your holidays, may you be blessed with the warmth of family, blessed by love given and received.

Sending you and your loved ones Warm Blessings for a Joyous New Year.

Pass It On!

Gratitude. God is awesome. As 2011 closes, I give thanks for the many blessings received & shared with you, my community of family and friends. In May, I celebrated with my daughter as she completed her MFA at Boston U. She now enjoys a wonderful position as head of a Boston College’s costume shop, and she continues to expand her portfolio  of exquisite designs. I’m blessed that she’ll be home for the holidays.

Joy. I continue to lean into my ministry in communities near and far, and at my home church and others that call. This summer, I was blessed to visit Ghana, a ministry of learning and teaching with 23 seniors and juniors from University of Washington. My latest book, Pass It On!, will be released next year. It’s my first book for children, and I look forward to writing more.

Light.  In this holy season, I pray for those who are without shelter, food, or a community of loved ones; I pray for those ravaged by war, trafficking, famine, dislocation, flood, sickness, and spiritual darkness. As well, I pray for our service men and women who have returned home from Iraq, specifically for their smooth re-entry with family and community. For some this can be a most difficult transition. I also pray for those who are still serving us at home and around the world, those who are unable to be home with their loved ones during this special time.

May God’s glorious grace, love, and mercy enfold and comfort you during this Holy Season and throughout the New Year.

One Heart ~ Love and Joy, Gloria

Pass It On!

In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul declares that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Anthurium

More recently,  South African theologian and missionary leader Andrew Murray describes faith as a sixth sense. “Just as we have our [five] senses, through which we hold communication with the physical universe, so faith is the spiritual sense or organ through which the soul comes into contact with and is affected by the spiritual world.” Through this spiritual organ, we have the privilege of communing with the mystery and magnificence of God.

As Paul assures us, the marvelous tapestry of faith is threaded with confidence and evidence of the invisible.  To be sure, this faith is also threaded with fear, doubt, confusion, and, ultimately, surrender.

As our world becomes more chaotic and uncertain, we are called to be ambassadors of light, love, and faith. Ask yourself: What must I let go of, so that I can lean into faith that is confident and sure?

Sending you love, light, peace, and joy in this holiest of seasons.

Pass It On!

I’ve heard Wintley Phipps sing Amazing Grace many times, so much so that his astounding singing and insightful commentary have become inseparable. Wintley’s stirring offering of this spiritual is a classic, a marvelous gift of legacy living. Listen and be blessed.

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Fall is my favorite season, a time of bounty, beauty, turbulence, transformation, perpetuation, and possibility. It’s also a season that invites solitude, reflection, and gratitude.

During this season of Thanksgiving, give thanks for persons who have called your name, even if you weren’t aware of them doing so. When others call your name it is a way of acknowledging you… all of  your unique gifts, skills, and talents, which comprise your signature presence.

When others call your name, it is part of a larger pattern of recognizing the importance of an individual and the collective of which we’re all a part. It also recognizes our interconnectedness to one another and all of life, as well as our responsibility to care for one another and our planet.

As we’ve learned from so many cultures where hospitality and harmony are of utmost importance, I cannot exist with you, and you cannot exist with me. In many African cultures, this kind of innate interdependence is an aspect of the spirit of “Ubuntu.” 

When we deeply understand our interconnectedness, we understand the soul of leadership. In Western culture, we sometimes call this stance servant leadership.

As you prepare your heart for your Thanksgiving celebration, reflect on and count your blessings. Be sure to include persons who have come into your life – however briefly – who have extended a kindness to you… a loved one, a friend, or even a total stranger.

This week, take time to fill your heart with and reflect on these questions: Whose am I? Who supports me? Who do I belong to, and who belongs to me? Who has extended graciousness and blessings to me? Who do I extend graciousness and blessings to? Whose name will I call today?

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This morning, one of my students opened our class with an attunement, our meditative practice at the beginning of each morning to focus our energy – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Compassion Flower

Her attunement was to shine the light on simple acts of caring and compassion. She shared with us a moment she experienced just today while waiting for the ferry. As she waited in line, she noticed a man who had slept on the ground the night before, apparently homeless. She watched as he sat up, smoothed his clothing, folded his blanket, neatly, and brushed his hair, readying himself for the day while his companion was still sleeping.

My student noticed another man as he got out of his car and approached the man who had slept on the ground. They had a brief conversation then the man returned to his car. A minute or two later, he emerged, carrying two cups of hot, steaming coffee. He gave both of them to the man, a cup for him and a cup for his companion.

As my student described this early-morning exchange, she said she was struck not only by what she had witnessed, but also by the simplicity of what it means and what it takes to care for our brothers and sisters: a little time… attention… generosity… and a heart of kindness.

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As the golden days of autumn give way to auburn, rust, and brown,  we lean toward Thanksgiving, a season of deep gratitude.

Today and always I give thanks for my many blessings – family and friends, children’s laughter, angels and prayers that come into my life, bidden or unbidden, even my breath, which I so often take for granted… but which for some is an immense struggle.

Aunbance is Yours

Abundance is Yours

Many years ago, I wrote “Sanctuary,” one of my many poems of gratitude. I share it with you now as an offering of thanksgiving for a faithful, stout-hearted woman of God… my  mom, Mildred McEwen, and to two amazing men whose legacy of generosity and gratitude changed my life… my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.,  and William Faulkner.

Who has been a blessing in your life? Have you expressed your gratitude?

SANCTUARY

for William Faulkner and my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.*

Between the brush of angels’ wings

and furious hooves of hell, two mortal men

fell down. How you must have looked—

white shirt stained, khakis fatigued,

smelling of sweat and smoke,

hair at odds with itself and the world.

At the threshold among your restless dead

in echo and shadow of ancient oaks,

providing sanctuary, offering shade,

you had many worlds behind you,

few yet to be born: stories of insurgence,

scorn, decay—theme and variations

of a vanquished South.

Leaning against a jamb

of antebellum brass, you watched, waited,

raised weary arm and hand, saluted

the familiar stranger. Come. Enter. Sit. Sing.

You reached each other across the grate.

What you two must have known of heaven and hell.


* William Faulkner was my father’s benefactor, paying for him to attend college at a time when he had little

prospects of earning enough money to pay for it himself. This was Faulkner’s way of dismantling institutionalized racism long before desegregation was mandated in the South.

__________________________________

Harvest blessings.

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Last Sunday, I was a guest minister at a Seattle church. The people were very warm, welcoming, and open, and I felt very much at home. Responding to the pastor’s invitation to move from our pews to greet people we didn’t know, we joyously engaged in “radical hospitality.” How could he have known I’d be writing a post about this very topic?!

Children Sharing.Gloria Burgess.Radical Hospitality

What is radical hospitality? It’s genuine kindness and generosity not because you know someone; it’s kindness and generosity just because.

- Because we are in love with God… and we see and experience God’s love in others.

- Because we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers.

- Because we share a home – this great blue and green marble we call planet Earth – and we want others to feel welcome in our home.

- Because we must care for our home  so that, as gracious stewards, we pass on a worthy inheritance to our children and our children’s children.

- Because we must be about legacy living, about planting trees whose shade we might never enjoy.

The greatest force on earth is not compulsion of law. It is compassion of love. ~ Unknown

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Autumn as Teacher Supports Us as We Practice Surrender:

Autumn Leaves.Gloria Burgess

Surrender.Gloria Burgess.Feel Good Tuesday

- Give up your need to be right. Lean into curiosity – your own. Let your guard down, relax, & see where it takes you.

- Give up your need to know it all… or even to know anything at all. Be open to beneficial surprise.

- Let go of your need to have “the” answer. Let someone else respond. Let someone else find out. Deepen your appreciation for wonder, discovery, & leaning into mystery.

Give up your need to make others wrong. Notice what holds you back. Don’t judge yourself. Simply notice… be gentle with yourself & practice choosing differently next time around.

 Pass It On!

Sanctuary is very special time-out-of-time, a time-honored way to practice self-care for your own healing, renewal, and rejuvenation. It is a time set aside with the intention to take special care of ourselves, so that we can better care for others and our environment. In this sense, Sanctuary is about both “me” and“we” and how deeply connected we are.

Candles.Sanctuary.Gloria Burgess

Here are a few simple ways to time renew your spirit and feed your soul:

- As we lean into autumn, the days grow shorter and we have fewer hours of daylight. During this time nature rejoices and prepares for a season of rest. Following nature’s example, take time to pause and express gratitude for your many blessings—say thank you for family, friends, bread on your table… maybe even a few extra bucks to buy a loaf of bread for someone else.

- Light a candle to remind yourself of the many miracles in your life… and to offer light and prayer for those who live in darkness—the friendless, those without shelter or ample food… those who sleep with fear each night, without hope… those who must walk miles each day in search of sanitary drinking water.

- Take 10: 10 minutes today to select 10 gently used books to give away to someone who will benefit from them—a sister, brother, niece, or nephew; young people in your neighborhood; our service men and women who proudly serve our country; those in faraway places with few or no libraries  close by.

- Get outside and rejoice in nature. Be intentional. Focus on something or someone you don’t normally notice—clouds, colors, children at play, the texture of leaves beneath your feet, teenagers walking home from school, squirrels, nests, the sound of wind in the trees, your own heartbeat. As you dwell in nature, remember that we’re part of it. Care for all of nature as if it belonged to you, because it does.

Enjoy the blessings of this harvest season and the blessings Sanctuary—peace, love, abundance, and joy.

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In a recent post, I mused about the vibrancy of community in Ghana… & the dearth of community here at home. Of course, the best kind of community is making the best of it no matter what the circumstance.

To Flourish: Gloria Burgess

At the moment, my husband & I are blessed to be in community with my father-in-law, caring for & ministering to him after undergoing 5-way bypass surgery. Our community also includes other family members, wonderful care givers, rehab specialists, kind neighbors, & the many, many friendships he has sustained through the years.

At 88-years young, he’s doing remarkably well. Hallelujah! Though he still has many months to a full recovery, my father-in-law’s good cheer, generosity of spirit, & positive outlook is wonderful reminder of what it means to flourish.

Pass It On!

Have you ever taken a step that leads you on a totally unexpected, but life-nourishing journey? Recently I took that step: a trip to Ghana as guest teacher with a group of young university students from the U.S.

Ghanain Girl in Kente Cloth

Our theme was race and identity. We posed a few questions: Who am I? Whose am I? What do I stand for? What grounds me? As we pondered the questions, doors unexpectedly opened not only for the students, but also for me. I found in myself a hunger that was deeper than expected, further hidden than I remembered. My hunger was for belonging, for community, for soul-satisfying nourishment.

In Ghana, I was profoundly reminded of how easy it is to slip into the script of a culture that focuses almost exclusively on the individual, a culture that has lost sight of the value of the collective, a culture where we distract ourselves with daily minutia that leaves us exhausted and depleted. When we buy into this script, it is easy to lose our deep regard for and connection to one another.. We lose our way and we can no longer flourish.

While in Ghana, together, we were reminded of the importance of consciousness, of finding our intentional community where we’re loved and honored simply because we’re human beings. It is here where we have a shared sense of community and a shared sense of values, history, and possibility for the future. We share a deep regard for creativity and the innate creative capacity of others, and we have a deep appreciation for all things cultural, social, and spiritual, for all that nourishes the collective. For when the collective is nourished, it flourishes, and the individuals within it also flourish.

As for the polarity that we create between the individual and the community… how will we work to remove this schism? We must attend to the human community – our relationships with family, friends, and even strangers. We must choose that which is life affirming and life giving. We did it in Ghana. I know we can do it at home.

Pass It On!

Give the people you love roses while they’re with you.

Gloria on Woman's Day in Gele

Though my dad crossed over many years ago, his wise words and generous spirit still inspire me to celebrate and lift up others.

There’s no better time than now to give someone you love a wonderful bouquet of roses… whether it’s a kind word, a smile, a song, a poem, a prayer, or placing your hand gently in theirs. With so many things competing for our attention and time, it’s tempting to say, “Oh, I’ll get to “that” some other time.” Don’t wait. You just might be the difference that makes all the difference to someone else today.

Pass It On!

This post is by Vera McEwen. Thanks for sharing your heart, Sis.

Legacy Living…  and Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, these books in addition to the your wonderful workshops guide and inspire me.

Leaving my job of nearly 20 years to home school and open a CranioSacral Therapy (CST) practice was a huge leap of faith. We are heading into our sixth amazing year and I am thrilled! Thank you for the spur :o).

Ahhhh!

We have our times of stress and we’ve found that spending time in nature removes all stress.

Not to long ago we had a very stressful week! We’d finally settled into our new home after the third move in less than a year; the practice…very busy; my daughter Adrianna however, was feeling a bit left out.

I did not know it at the time, but a mini-break to the country was just what we needed. As we began to leave the city, I rolled the windows down, the fresh smell of hay, and greenness filled the car. As we left the car to walk toward the horses, peace surrounded us guiding us toward two lovely horses. Mmm… it was so nice to feel the warmth of their skin next to mine, and they took all tension out of my hands, arms, shoulders, neck, head, and spine. I was engulfed in a sea of horse hair, it tickled my nose, and made me smile. We tacked up and rode.

Adrianna, was initially at odds with her lovely black and white paint horse. Then as the tension and stress of the week passed, she became one with her horse. It is amazing to watch someone transform from rider to whisperer. She was amazing. Many thanks to Michele Deboer, she offers lessons and de-stress days for only $20 per person. She creates a safe environment; it is slow, peaceful, gentle, relaxing, and most of all healthy for horse and rider. I recommend her place to all who need a gentle break (kids, family, friends, etc).

God has placed us in the care of nature for a reason, that WE may be transformed by it. Nature, easily removes the stress of your week by allowing you to remember who you are and “whose you are!” Get out in nature, walk on the soil and leave the pavement behind; let sand surround your toes; tilt your head back, feel the fresh air against your face; and…breath…breath in…fill your lungs with…light.

That night, Adrianna peacefully lay in my arms. We said the Lords prayer in Latin… together… I stroked her lovely face, long hair and I felt, God’s peace surround me.

We are here to love one another. Hug your child, spouse, friend… and let him or her be the first to let go. Tell a friend thank you for kick starting your day with a jog. Hold hands with your loved ones and feel the warmth of their skin. Let others see you do these things so that they will know whose you are!

I love you all. May your day be filled with love.

May you be blessed on this liquid sunshine day.

Pass It On!

John and I just celebrated another anniversary. Our 36th! Where has the time gone?!

Well, we devoted time to growing together in God… nurturing our diverse ministries, including raising our wonderful daughter, creating careers in business, teaching, consulting, and coaching… encouraging others… enjoying and creating music… and attending grad school not once but many times. :o)

Mango Gerbera Daisy.Gloria Burgess

What’s the secret to a vibrant, joyous marriage? Here are a few things that have helped me. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Commitment. Begin with the end in mind. Even before you say “I do,” create a shared vision for your life together. And when you say “I do,” know that you are making a vow, a sacred commitment for the long-term. Remember that those 2 precious words—“I do”—are intimately connected with “’til death do us part.” When you hit the inevitable snag or a bump in the road, it helps to know you’re committed to each other, to God, and to working together to move through the rough times… and live to tell about it!

Love. The language of love includes gratitude, patience, courage, and forgiveness, along with a good sense of humor. Love is the only thing that multiplies when you share it, so be sure to love generously—with your smiles, kisses, hugs, whispers, laughter, snuggling, hand holding, stories, and hallelujahs. Discover your mate’s  love language—and use it! If just thinking about your spouse makes you flush, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell him. I love romantic surprises—a love note under my pillow or, when I’m on the road, tucked into my luggage… a shared sunrise or sunset… hearing John play the piano while I’m writing or cooking… or even better—having him cook!

Communication. Be sure to talk about everything—the big things and the little things. Share your beliefs and dreams… about faith, money, children, romance, family, friends, work, and recreation. If it’s important to you, then it should be important to your mate. Remember that in the grand aria of life, time is precious and life is short. Don’t waste precious time pouting, sulking, or dishing out the silent treatment. When you fight, get over it—the sooner the better. Do you really care about being right or being with Mr. or Mrs. Right?

Time together and time alone is essential. Be intentional. If you’re raising children, set aside time each day that’s just for the two of you. If you can arrange for a relative or friend to care for your children every now and then, do it. If your nest is empty, set aside a special time for a date night: take a walk, play a game, sing, watch a movie, learn how to say “I love you” in as many languages as possible. The important thing is to have fun. Invest in each other and the rewards will be a joyous relationship, good times, and memories to cherish for years to come.

John, here’s to you… Happy 36th! To many, many more.

Pass It On!

Each of us has been summoned to become a person unique in all the world. Just as every snowflake and flower is unique, so are you.

Bird of Paradise.Gloria Burgess

No one else is like you and no one else can contribute to the world what you were specifically designed to contribute.

Dancing visionary and pioneer Martha Graham likens dancing to the art of living. Both require years of practice and development. In her autobiography Blood Memory, Graham points out that we “learn to dance by practicing dancing” and we “learn to live by practicing living.”

For dancing and for living, that practice requires thousands of repetitions. Day in and day out. To learn and master walking, talking, and feeding yourself—complex skills that we take for granted—requires several years of practice.

In your life’s journey—or your life’s performance—some of the most important questions that you ask and grapple with may be questions about your legacy.

Questions to ask include: How do I want to be known… and remembered? What is the rhythm, or presence, of legacy in my life? What choices do I make each day to live my legacy here and now? What or who do I believe in so deeply and passionately that I will make enormous sacrifices for it?

Host these questions as you would a special guest in your home. Pay attention, but avoid hovering over them. In time, the questions will take up residence in your heart, and they will reveal their secrets to you. They will become your teacher and guide as you keep your eyes on the great prize of your life.

Pass It On!

One of the ways I keep my eyes on the future is by sharing stories and poetry, time-honored ways to impart wisdom and to teach what might otherwise take months or years.

Gloria Burgess Photo: Angel's Trumpet

Poet Theodore Roethke wisely reminds us that we all “learn by going where [we] have to go.” In this way, my stories and poems have helped me learn. As well, they have helped me grow by compelling me to work through the past–my struggles, joy, anger, triumphs, discouragement, pain… and glorious radiance.

When I share my stories and poems, I’m delighted to learn that they sometimes offer a much-needed bridge… a lifeline of sorts for others.

We never know who might need the light or warmth from our candle. We never know when a word or image we’ve chosen will awaken in someone something that allows him or her to claim and share their story.

It’s not our business to know.

Our business is to share our blessings, to share our beauty… the wonderful wealth of who we are. Our business is to wear our souls on the outside.

When we share our stories, we make ourselves known. We shine a light, making it OK for others to do the same. So many folks need the safety and comfort of that OK.

That’s how we heal the world. That’s how we create heaven right here on earth: a small step, a worthy action, a shared story, an OK zone.

One person, then another.

Day after day… and on it will go.

Mighty blessings!

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Almost 100 years ago, artist, poet, and author Khalil Gibran reminded us that “work is love made visible.” He encouraged us to remember what it means and what it is to work with love:

  • It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
  • It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
  • It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
  • It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit, and to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

Others are watching as well.

When you work with passion—fueled by the great fire within, you ignite the flame of inspiration in others. This is what it means to wear your soul on the outside, and it is one of the many ways you can make a difference in someone else’s life.

How are you infusing your work with love? How are you providing fuel for someone else’s fire?

Pass It On!

Peace and love.

Practice peace by breathing in peace. As you breathe in, simply say “Peace.” As you breathe out, say it again, “Peace.” Use your own words to usher in peace or use these: “Peace within me”… “Peace above me”… “Peace all around me”… “I am peace”… “I give you peace”… “Peace, peace, peace”… “Peace, laughter, love”…

Practice peace by listening to soothing, uplifting music.

Practice beat by listening to the beat of your own heart.

Practice peace by lying on the ground and gazing at the sky. Notice the clouds as they change shape. Years ago, I was lying on hillside in Scotland with the young man who would become my husband. We gazed at the sky for hours, staring at the clouds as they morphed into faces, butterflies, trees, animals. Even then, we marveled at the blessed companionship of peace and love.

Practice peace by lighting a candle or incense: as you do, say a prayer for peace for your loved ones, for your neighbors, for our leaders, for our forests, for the thousands of service men and women, for their family members, for orphans, for our rivers, streams, and oceans, for those who are without food, shelter, and hope, for those who are called to serve.

Peace and love to you and yours.

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The power of one encounter can change your life. You never know when that moment will happen.

It’s not your business to know. Your business is to simply live your life with intention, gratitude, and an attitude of service… to be a blessing to others along the way. In this video I share one woman’s remarkable story, an encounter that changed not just one life but many lives.

Pass It On!

Developing a sense of hopefulness helps us to maintain a positive focus on the future.

Hopefulness has many facets. The three most important are these: a sense of purpose, a devotion to service, and a sense of faith.

Today’s focus: faith.

Faith means a positive focus on a belief, trust, and power outside of yourself.

Our culture tells us that: Seeing is believing. The truth is: Believing is seeing.

Faith offers us the ability and power to be future focused—the ability to trust and keep our eyes on the prize… even when others can’t “see” what we see. Dr. King reminds us that “faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Indeed, faith is about building the bridge, even as we walk across it.

What is the rhythm of faith in your life? What must you let go of, so that you can be faithful to what is calling you–now?

Pass It On!

Developing a sense of hopefulness helps us maintain a positive focus on the future.

Hopefulness has many facets. Three of the most important are: a sense of purpose, a devotion to service, and a sense of faith.

Today’s focus: Service.

Service: a positive focus on others. Making a positive difference in another person’s life offers a double blessing. When you give your time, love, and energy to others, they receive a gift… and so do you. Your gift is the pleasure and sheer joy that comes from being of service to someone else.

I’m delighted that our young people are growing up to be givers, to understand what it means and what  it takes to serve others—their family members, neighbors, as well as our sisters and brothers around the world.

Growing up, my mom and dad taught me and my sisters that wealth had nothing to do with possessions. True wealth meant valuing yourself and others. True wealth was understanding that we’re all part of the same blessed community and that our number one concern is caring for and helping one another. Serving takes the focus off ourselves and turn it others—towards helping, supporting, and nurturing someone else’s hopes and dreams.

Service is giving to others without expectation of reward. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do. You do it because it feels good. A few years ago, I was blessed to plant a few trees at a school in Kenya. I planted one in honor Maurice, a young student. Just the other day, he sent me an e-mail to let me know that “my” tree is growing well.  Made my day!

When you focus on others, you naturally concentrate on the future. How are you serving someone else today? How are you passing on your values to others?

Pass It On!

Developing a sense of hopefulness helps us maintain a positive focus on the future.

Hopefulness has many facets. Three of the most important are: a sense of purpose, a devotion to service, and a sense of faith.

Today’s focus: Purpose.

Purpose: a positive focus on what’s important. Having a sense of purpose is essential.  Like a compass or the North Star, purpose provides direction and helps keep us on course—in our relationships, at work, and beyond.

When I was growing up, I remember my mom saying, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you’re going.”  What are your goals for today, tomorrow, and next week? What kind of relationships do you desire with your friends, your children, your spouse? What do you want to finish or begin by the end of this year?

When the going gets rough, people who are purpose-focused are more successful in navigating life’s adversities and storms.

Because they naturally concentrate on the future, individuals who are purpose-focused have something meaningful to look forward each day. What are you excited about and looking forward to today?

Next time, I’ll focus on service.

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Our culture wants us to believe that our physical appearance is the only barometer of health. The truth is that authentic health is about living our lives from the inside out. This means recognizing the importance of our spiritual, mental, and emotional health, all of which impact our physical health.

Ahhhh!

When we buy into a limited vision of health, we compromise ourselves… we settle for a life that is too small for us… and, sometimes, we even jeopardize our long-term health and wellness for short-term gains.

Every day we are billboards for our daughters and sons, not to mention other women. As nurturers and care givers, we are one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Who we are and what we do affects our loved ones here and now, and our choices create a ripple effect that will impact our children, our children’s children, and generations beyond. So, ask yourself: Will I be a billboard for compromise and betrayal, or will I be a billboard for faithfulness… and for creating a legacy of true health and wellness for myself and for those I love?

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It’s that time of year again—spring, when the world seems brand new again. And the greening trees remind us that it’s time to spruce things up a bit. Here are a few things you can do today.

  • Pick just one thing to focus on—the “junk” drawer in your kitchen, a closet, or even a corner of a room.
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes. Doing so will keep you focused and efficient. OK, go!
  • Put anything you don’t need or want in a bag or box to recycle or give away.
  • If it’s difficult for you to let go of some things, ask yourself: Does someone else need this more than I do? The answer is usually yes, so go ahead and make someone else’s day!
  • When the timer chimes, you’re done.
  • Now, make a date with yourself for a 30-minute fling next week.
  • Celebrate yourself: take a walk, ride your bike, sip a cup of your favorite tea, pick some spring flowers, call a friend.
  • In just a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at how organized things are and how great you feel.

Pass It On!

Welcome Spring! Sensual abundance. I feel very blessed to be coming back to my senses, especially since my fall just a few months ago.

So I’m counting my blessings. There are so many of them—greening trees, bulbs pushing forth from warming soil… more sun, wind and, rain… birdsong, children playing in the park. And less time in physical therapy. Talk about blessings!

I’ve been watching my step… and letting go of some things that no longer serve me well at this stage of my life. To help me prepare for new beginnings, I committed to one action each day, asking God, “How can you use me today?”  Each day, something new is being birthed.

May this Spring bring forth new beginnings for you and the people and places you love. And may your be blessed with great wealth–of gratitude, love, faith, compassion, forgiveness, and creativity.

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Join me in celebrating Women’s Month: Take a moment to enjoy Maya Angelou’s words and lovely image, taken last month when President Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As we celebrate women, here are 4 things we can do for ourselves and others—today and every day.

Show up. This is the first and most essential aspect of taking charge of your life… and influencing the lives of others. Be there. Presence makes a difference. And full presence—spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental—makes all the difference.

Speak up. As women, most of know the pain of being seen but not heard. As an African-American woman, sometimes the pain is double. But I don’t let that get me down. If I did, some days I’d wouldn’t get up! When women speak, we add our uniqueness and offer diversity that would otherwise be missing and missed.

Stand up. Find someone or something—a place, a cause, an idea—that you care about so passionately and so deeply that you will take a stand for it… and you can and will talk about it with anyone, anywhere, without apologies or regrets.

Lift up. We were made to love and honor one another. How will you celebrate someone and lift them up today and every day?

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A few years ago I attended a leadership conference in the desert of Southern California. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the speakers. He gave us such simple yet profound advice: “God is waiting on us. He needs our help.” What is God waiting on you to step up for? Who can you call today to offer a word of encouragement? Who can you pray for today? Are you taking good care of yourself, so that you can be at your best for others? Did you smile at someone today?

Pass It On!

In honor of African-American History Month, I’m combining some Feel Good tips that I learned from one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Eva Jessye, with a tribute to her.

Internationally renowned performer, choral director, educator, author, and ethnomusicologist, Eva Jessye’s accomplishments were many, and many of her accomplishments were historic.

Dr. Eva Jessye

Dr. Eva Jessye

In her long and prolific life, her “firsts” included numerous groundbreaking collaborations with Harlem Renaissance artists, concert hall musicians, and Broadway great George Gershwin. Dr. Jessye was also a leading activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Later in her career she was a professor at the University of Michigan, which is where I met and fell in love with her. In the time that I knew her, Dr. Jessye taught me a great deal. I’m blessed to share a few of those cherished lessons with you.

Find that spark within you that you were born to do. Because what you were born to do, you never have to stop and wonder should I, would I, could I? You just say I will do it. I WILL do it. I will DO it. I will do IT! For Eva, music came naturally. She was born to make music. She often said that for her music was “not second nature, but first nature.”

Don’t take no for answer. When people tell you “no,” that’s just another way of saying that your real work has just begun.

You are just as important, just as special as anyone else. A magnificent storyteller, Eva loved to share stories about her life. She told us about her work with George Gershwin on the original production of Porgy and Bess. Dr. Jessye said George had studied great deal and knew a great deal about music. “But,” she she’d say, “I’ve been black longer than he has.” Then she’d break out laughing.

If there is no wind, make some of your own. In other words, if you want something to change, don’t wait for somebody else to do it.

Whatever the task, always do your best. We owe the world the best that we can offer.

These lessons are as rich and relevant today as they were so many years ago. Thank you, Dr. Jessye, for your magnificence, your brilliance, and  your great gifts of heart and soul.

Pass It On!

Still on the mend from my recent fall… so I’ve had even more time to think about bringing my life back into balance. Here’s one:

Work is work, not your life. With so many time-saving resources at our fingertips, it’s tempting to want to stay virtually connected simply because we can. To resist being seduced by technology, be intentional about creating a boundary between work and your precious leisure and personal time.

2 Friends in the Leaves

When you’re with your family and friends, connect with them not with your laptop or e-book reader. When you go for a walk, leave your cell phone in your office or at home. If you must have it with you, then turn your phone off. And be sure to.. smile with a child, toss some leaves in the air, and smell the roses.

Pass It On!

While mending from my recent fall, I’ve had some time to think about bringing my life back into balance.  Here are a couple of them:

  • Set priorities and follow the energy of Yes! I often remind my students and clients that “priority” means main concern. Right  now, my main concern is my health. How liberating to have this kind of clarity. When I make choices, I just ask myself: will it boost my spiritual, physical, relational, and emotional health and well-being? The answer must be Yes!
  • Just say no. The idea of saying “no” can be tricky, so I decided to meet this challenge head-on. I made two lists—one of tasks and activities that gave me joy, satisfaction, and energy. I filled the other list with tasks and activities I no longer enjoy, tasks and people who sap my energy. When I looked at this list, I quickly realized that I could let go of many of these activities or delegate them to others. When we let go of the things that we no longer need to do or that no longer serve us, we open the door for activities that are meaningful and that bring us joy.

What will you do today to bring more joy into your life?

Pass It On!

As an educator, consultant, and coach, I work with students and clients who are often overwhelmed never-ending demand to do more and more with less and less. As difficult as these times are, the people I work with share something valuable, something  that money can’t buy.

They share the blessings of love, integrity, tenacity, laughter, hope, and the life-giving gift of gratitude. They are grateful for each day, thankful for their family and friends, and appreciate the little things in life, or what I call miracle moments… moments such as these:

-  From one sister to another: Thank you for reminding mom that her glasses aren’t lost, but that she’s wearing them. And thank you for going back to church on Christmas eve and retrieving her handbag that she left on the pew.

-  From a single mom: Thank you for offering to pump my gas. I’ve had a really hard day and I’m so tired… you must have known I had to hurry to the day care to pick up my little girl.

Miracle moments are all around us. To see and appreciate them, we just have to open the eyes of our heart.

Pass It On!

I trust that your 2011 is off to a wonderful beginning!

As the New Year approached, I found myself in the ER with a nasty gash on my forehead along with assorted bruises and sprains. Not exactly how I’d planned to welcome in the next 12 months. So instead of thinking about the usual resolutions for the year ahead, I simply counted my blessings: Thank you for family and friends. Thank you… that my fall wasn’t more serious. No concussion, no broken bones or teeth. Thank you for wonderful doctors and nurses who devote themselves to providing excellent care—even into the wee hours when most of us are snug in our beds.

My resolutions for this year? You can bet that I’ll watch my step! I also promised to let go of a few things and to give myself a periodic tune up to bring my life back into balance. Here are some of the questions I will ask myself today and throughout the year.

-  What activities, tasks, and things no longer suit me or serve me well at this stage of my life?

-  What’s out of balance, or out of tune, in my life right now?

-  How is this lack of balance holding me back?

-  What must I give up to rebalance my life, to resolve what’s out of balance?

-  What one action will I commit to today as my first step in resolving the imbalance in my life?

To prepare for new beginnings, we must often let go of something—old habits, patterns, things, relationships, or whatever it is that we no longer need in our lives. What must you let go of this year so that something brand new can be born?

May 2011 be an extraordinary year for you. And may it be the year that you dare to take charge of your life… the year you dare to live with passion, purpose, and presence… the year you dare wear your soul on the outside. May you bask in the bountiful blessings of gratitude, love, faith, courage, vision, and integrity, and may your creativity blossom this year and beyond.

Pass It On!

This holiday season, I give thanks for my daughter who at 24 still enjoys the simple pleasures of hanging out with me and her dad. Now in the last year of her graduate program, she didn’t think she’d be able to make it home from Boston this year for Christmas. By the grace of God, she did. And we’re delighted.

When I asked for her advice about my “Feel Good Tuesday post, she said, “Oh, you should write about family—how wonderful it is to see and spend time with family members. And the importance of appreciating and sharing our love for one another, especially older family members while they can still enjoy your presence.

I’m so grateful for the many evenings we’ve enjoyed snuggled around the fireplace, catching up on our lives, sharing stories and photos, playing games, or dreaming about the year ahead. Sometimes, we gather around the piano and sing… or we round up other instruments and play music together. I imagine other households and muse about the wonderful dreams being shared between moms and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters. The kind of dreams that connect one heart to another around the kitchen table and across the miles.

As you reflect on the holidays, I trust that the one gift you remember is the gift of family—the gift of giving and receiving love.

Pass It On!

Don’t put off clearing your clutter until the New Year. Begin today with these simple strategies.

  • Set a timer for 30 minutes. Focus on just one room, closet, or that “everything” drawer. If you choose a room, narrow your focus to a single area in the room. Doing so will keep you focused and efficient. No cheating. When the timer chimes, you’re done. For now. Make a date with yourself to have a clearing party once a week.
  • Next month, invite your family to party with you—for 30 minutes. Celebrate by playing a game together.
  • If you’re like me and you find it hard to get rid of some things, ask yourself: Do I love it? If yes, then ask yourself: Will I use it again?
  • If yes, ask if you’ll use it in the next 3 months? If you still say yes, then ask: Can someone else use it?
  • This last question is the kicker for me. It’s THE question that will force me to put that nifty basket, cellophane-swaddled candle, or some other unused treasure in a box to give away to someone else.

Clear your clutter—today. Not only will you be glad you did, you’ll also make someone else happy. Oh, Happy (uncluttered) Holidays!

Pass It On!

Time to enjoy a great recipe. No butter, sugar, eggs, or flour. In fact, it has no calories at all… yet it’s so refreshing!! Just think “HEART,” says Vera McEwen, fitness expert and cranio-sacral therapist. Follow this recipe daily for wellness, especially important during the busy holiday season:

Hydrate – drink plenty of water, at least 8 glasses a day. Reduce dehydration, confusion, and tension by getting enough water each day.

Exercise – start today, slowly at first then work up to 20 min. 4-5/week. Hey, even I can do this!

Awareness – increase your self awareness, which also increases your sense of presence and enjoying the gift of being in present moment.

Rest – the body needs an ample supply. We can all use a few extra zzzz’s.

Transform your mind – make healthy, life-affirming choices. Remember, whatever you choose today becomes your tomorrow.

Here’s to you—for the holidays.

Pass It On!

What the world needs now is love in all of its diverse expressions—empathy, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, passion, gratitude, kindness. Who will you say “I love you” to today? What word of encouragement will you whisper in their ear? Who will you feed with your smile? What a difference love makes.

Here are just a few of our sisters and brothers who have made a difference through the power of love.

Tina Allen •  Ella Baker •  Josephine Baker  •  Mary McLeod Bethune •  John E. Fetzer •  Mary Jane Gillespie  • 
Dr. Eva Jessye  •  Jesus  •   Helen Keller  •   Coretta Scott King •  Denise Klein •  Abraham Lincoln  •   Dr. Wangari Maathai •  Nelson Mandela   •   Earnest McEwen, Jr. •  Michelle Obama •  Julieanna Richardson •  Albert Schweitzer •   Mother Teresa  •  Archbishop Desmond Tutu  •  Tamara Woodbury

Tell me, what difference is your love making today?

Pass It On!

Every day is a day of blessing. Today, among my many blessings, I count these and so many more:

  • Family and friends who open their hearts and long arms of love to me again and again, even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. An aunt who recently lost her sister after her long bout with cancer, who cooks daily for her extended family and welcome neighbors into her home anytime, ministering to their many needs.

    Burnished leaves of fall

  • A dear friend who after serving in the Peace Corps in Botswana recently returned to the US. She returned  months earlier than planned so she could cradle her precious grandson to her bosom, the fragile little tyke whose life is a singular blessing from God. All praise for this miracle child and for His loving embrace and protection.
  • A deep bow to my husband, John, my soulmate, friend, and first listener for all my triumphs and trials. Mighty blessings and kisses for my daughter, Quinn, who called me earlier this week for a luxurious conversation. She wanted to be sure she had all the family recipes down as she prepares her very first Thanksgiving dinner. As I combed through my memory for those savory recipes that probably never will be captured in written form, I chuckled at how much I sounded like my own dear mom, “Well, honey… you just need a little pinch of this and about a handful of that… go easy on the butter….”

However you count your blessings, when all is said and done, the blessings we hold most dear are those filled with people and infused with love given and love received.

Have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!

Pass It On!

Feeling a little edgy, tense, stressed lately? Try some time outdoors…. Taking a leisurely walk through a quiet park, forest, or beside your favorite stream or lake lowers stress. Being outdoors away from noise provides a healthy dose of natural medicine that can lower the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Being outdoors in a peaceful setting can also increase the amount of cancer-fighting proteins in your bloodstream. Bonus—the benefits last for up to a week!

Too busy for a walk outdoors? No worries—just by gazing at a natural setting, you can lower stress. You can even enjoy the stress-reducing, cancer-fighting benefits by taking a few minutes to relax, close your eyes, and recall a calm, peaceful setting.

Invite peace and tranquility into your life—your friends and loved ones will thank you for it.

Pass It On!

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