Archives For February 2014

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I received one of the most important pieces of advice that I’ve ever received on a drunken St. Patty’s Day.

I was with my then boss and his girlfriend at a St. Patrick’s Day event on a closed-off street in downtown San Francisco. I was maybe 22 at the time, if not younger.

My boss’ girlfriend was a petite brunette who was super sweet. I don’t remember all the details what we were talking about or why (blame the booze) but what I do remember is she was very classy, she did something and made a lot of money for herself, and she was wearing a turtleneck.

She and I stood face to face with the crowd buzzing around us in varying shades of green and intoxication.

We were generally talking about being an adult and feeling like an adult and that’s when she passed on the advice that she felt was an “adult” making revelation.

“A real woman never makes excuses,” she told me.

“This is for everything,” she continued. “If you don’t want to date a guy, you just say no, don’t make any excuses.”

It was such a simple concept and yet it seemed so profound.

“A real woman never makes excuses.”

At the time, although I generally got the gist of what she was saying I don’t think I understood it as well as I do now. Logically, it makes sense but for many women, especially those of us who tend to be people pleasers, the idea of just owning our shit without making excuses is a very sensitive spot.

In some ways, it seems like we’re taught from a very young age to be apologetic for who we are. We pepper our feelings with “I’m sorries,” or offer other polite explanations as a way to make others more comfortable with our feelings.

We say no when we mean yes, and say yes when we mean no. And, even if we’re being 100% honest with how we feel and say yes or no, we still feel like we have to give an explanation, as if to apologize for how we feel.

But we don’t.

As I’m growing and becoming more comfortable with the woman I am, I now fully understand what my boss’ girlfriend was trying to tell me all those years ago – that it’s okay to just be myself.

I do not need to explain, ask for permission, or feel guilty for anything.

In a world that is constantly telling us who we should be, what we should dress like, and that we are not enough, it’s a great act of bravery to just be who you are. To mean what you say, and to say what you mean.

And to never have to make up an excuse.

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Yoga Berra said, “When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.”

Robert Frost wrote about two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and how he wished he could have traveled them both. Our lives are kind of like walking down a road. Sometimes the road is smoothly paved for us and sometimes there are rocks and cracks.

Sometimes we’re guided down the road by our parents, fear, or just the idea what we have to keep going in this direction because that’s the only road we’ve seen, so we make like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and follow it hoping that it will take us to safety.

Or sometimes there are no roads.

When I was little I had my life planned out.

I was going to go to George Washington High School and I was going to be on the pep squad. I would then go on to college, most likely at Spellman, where I would learn to speak fluent French, Spanish and Italian.

See, I was going to be the first female Secretary General of the United Nations and in the past all the Secretary Generals had always spoken multiple languages. Or at least that’s what my 10 year-old self remembered from the tour of the UN.

My plans were like a path laid out in front of me. I knew exactly the road to walk to get to my goal of becoming the Secretary General.

Clearly, that didn’t happen and instead, I choose to meander off the path and into an area that was undefined. And it all started with one small step and one giant leap of faith.

And this little city that you may have heard of – Paris.

In keeping with my young girl dreams I  studied Spanish and, though not completely fluent, found that languages really were a gift for me. So I decided I’d also learn French because why not?

Lots of living and life happened in between and then one day there I was at the airport with a one-way ticket to Paris.

Not only was I completely off the beaten path, but I was deep in the wild uncharted territory of life. And I was scared shitless.

Yet, walking away from the planned path for my life was the best thing I ever did. It changed me permanently leaving a lasting impression like a butterfly tattoo on a teenage ankle.

I did not have a plan when I left other than to live and experience, and to see and to feel. There was no goal in mind other than to grow and just have life experiences. The feeling of just being without anything extra attached to it, no goal or expectation, felt like freedom. It felt the way birds must feel when they fly high into the air with nothing but the clouds around them.

It felt like life.

But, we get older and wiser and with kids it’s not always possible to just throw on a back pack, stuff some traveler’s checks in your pocket, and hop a flight to anywhere.

Yet there are still things that we can do to feel that sense of freedom, of excitement and mystery in our everyday lives.  We can feel freedom and that je ne sais quoi by just daring to be a little uncomfortable, or maybe even scared shitless, and to try new things by taking a tiny step off the usual paths we walk down.  Things like…

Doing Something You Never Want to Do Alone

For me, it’s going to the movies. I’ve never wanted to go to a movie alone. I don’t know what weird phobia that is, but I’ve always imagined that going to the movies alone would be a really lonely experience. And yet when you’re at the movies it’s not like you talk to anyone anyway.

In reality, these types of feelings are usually fear. Fear that someone will see us at the movies alone and think, “Wow, what’s wrong with her?” I mean, I traveled the world alone at a very young age knowing no one there and yet I couldn’t get my butt to the movies alone? Life is nothing if not ironic, n’est pas?

When we push ourselves to do things that are outside of our comfort zone, we create a space for possibility. We give ourselves permission to experience life.

Taking The Stairs – Doing Something Uncomfortable

I recently went to a retreat for my life coach certificate program. When we registered we had the option to have single or double rooms. Normally, I’m the type who would pay extra for a private room because I don’t want to be sharing a room with a stranger.  I mean a stranger is someone who I wouldn’t know. Someone who could be, well, strange.

But, I really want to meet and connect with other women who are like me and how on Earth am I going to make new friends and connections if I don’t step outside of my comfort zone? So, I got the double room. And then I spent the days leading up to the retreat kicking myself and even as I was checking into the hotel considering whether it was too late to get the solo room.

I didn’t end up getting a solo room and, instead, had a great roomie and a fun night of talking and laughter. I got what I wanted – connection. I also opened my world up more and gave myself a little more freedom to just live and to be. And all by taking a tiny step off the usual path I walk down.

Getting Classy

No matter how old I get I will never stop being curious about the world and wanting to try new things. There is just so much out there to experience and yet we often miss out on things that we would really enjoy because we don’t make like Nike and just do it. Classes are a great way to expand our minds and open up more space in our lives.

It could be anything from a language class to a dance class, a cooking class, or learning how to fix your own brakes.

I am participating in two programs this year and my mind and heart have been blown wide open. For the first time in a really long time, I feel the same sense of excitement, bewilderment and endless possibility that I did when I stepped off the airplane in Paris when I was 18.

You don’t have to travel the world with a hiking backpack to find yourself or to renew your zest for life. You can just open your mind, feel the fear of trying something new, take a step off the comfort of the path, and run barefoot into the woods of life.

If you don’t like the road you’re walking at, start paving another one. – Dolly Parton

If you didn’t catch the last post, I’ve decided to take Fridays to express my gratitude to the Universe for different things that I’ve seen, done or experienced in the week. It’s my belief that when we stop to appreciate what we have right now in the present, no matter what else is going on in our lives,  we can feel happier and experience joy more.

I believe that by practicing appreciating the little things on a regular basis, we can train ourselves to be more joyful, relaxed and open to life and that gratitude is one of the tools that can help us get there.

So, here are five things that have totally raised my vibration this week (in no particular order):

Music, Man

I love music, clearly. I’ve written about it’s power and how it can heal us, it can soothe us and pick us up when we’re down. Music can be a hug. I was having “one of those days” and listening to Pandora just  minding my own business and working when this song came on. It’s by Stardust and I just love it.

“Music Sounds Better With You” was followed by some other awesome tracks including Prince and Lenny Kravitz and, hello, I was instantly happy. “I feel so good, I feel like the music sounds better with you…” It’s true, friends, the music sounds better with you.

My Grandma Helen

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For the past week I’ve missed her terribly. I have thought of her everyday.

Every. Single. Day.

And even though she’s now Spirit, I am left with a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude that I was blessed enough to have such an awesome grandmother who was such a huge part of my life, and who helped to shape the person I am today. She gave me Paris, a love for quality, art, blond hair, consistency, courage. She gave me my mom who is an awesome mom and is who she is because of her parents.

With every new step I take in my life, every courageous breath I take, every moment when I love myself just a little bit more, I know she is there with me pushing me on and that she is so proud of me. I am grateful for knowing so completely how much she loves me that I can still feel her love today.

Flowers

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Flowers are beautiful. They smell good and did I mention they’re beautiful? And how amazing is it to live in a world with flowers?

Second, Third & Fourth Chances

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No matter how many mistakes we make, we can always begin again. This week I feel incredibly thankful for the gift of being able to start over. I am incredibly thankful for allowing myself to try again. 

Love

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With today being the national day of love it’s only appropriate to be grateful for it. I’m not talking solely about romantic love, or the love we feel for our children, or our best friends. Not the love we feel for our pets. 

But Love with a capital L.

The Love that is the very essence of who we are. How magical is that?

What’s got your gratitude bee buzzing this week?

“Never give up.”

“Keep on trucking.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”

Many a bumper sticker, magnet and cute meme are peppered with quotes about never giving in and never giving up.

McHammer sang that he was “too legit to quit.”

There is something to be said for sticking to your guns and trying your best even when you fail at something. Many a successful person has failed miserably at their first attempt at something. People probably questioned their sanity at times when they continued to try.

“Don’t be a quitter,” is a message most of us learned from early childhood.

But there are times when the best thing we can do is quit. There are times when quitting is not a sign of weakness, or not being smart enough or good enough, or a judgment on the type of person someone is.

Sometimes quitting is an expression of self-love.

Some great things to quit are:

::Smoking Cigarettes::

Now, I’m not one to judge but let’s get real here, smoking is bad. It’s not a judgment; it’s just science. I smoked for years. I have even smoked the occasional outside a bar cigarette even after quitting. I’m not saying that it’s easy to quit, or that the occasional once a year “cause it’s my birthday” cigarette is bad either. What I am saying is that smoking is not good for any of us and the less we do it the better. When we do things we know are harmful to us, we really have to think about why we would make that choice.

I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. If you’re still smoking that’s your choice but quitting is always the better option. Plus, when you quit smoking you’ll realize how horribly those things stink. So, if you look at it from that point of view, you’re also quitting being stinky at times. Cigarettes are also hella expensive. That’s shoe money right there which makes quitting a triple win because you’ll have better health, no worries about smelling bad, and have more shoe money. Winning!

::Making Excuses::

We’ve all had times when we don’t want to do something and we say no but we still feel like we have to make an excuse or explanation. Just as we’ve all had moments when we want to do something but we’re worried about what someone else will think so we make an excuse about it.

“I’d really love to come to that event, but my husband is working and I don’t have a babysitter, so I wont be able to make it,” or “I know it’s dumb but I’m only taking this dance class because I need another elective to get my degree.”

Those kinds of excuses – quit that shit!

Saying no is okay. So is doing what you want even if no one else gets it.

No excuse is needed.  This goes at work, or with your spouse, your kids and even with yourself.

When we make an excuse we’re essentially shifting our focus from how we feel onto something else to avoid being accountable, in a way. Like, last night I didn’t workout that hard or for that long. I said, “oh, I’m too tired to do this,” which was an excuse. In reality I just didn’t feel like it. And that’s cool – no excuse needed. But I told myself that excuse to avoid feeling guilty when in reality I had no reason to feel guilty about it. It was my choice and I should’ve just been okay with it.

Owning how we feel is important and is also a way that we can hold on to our power. When we make excuses and are not accountable for how we feel, it’s almost like we’re saying how we feel isn’t okay and can’t stand on it’s own. It’s kind of like admitting we’re guilty for how we feel so we have to find a reason outside of ourselves to make it okay. Whether you want or don’t want to do something, that’s cool. Do you and quitting making excuses.

::Saying You’re Broke::

One of the things I’ve really been working with is my relationship to money and realizing that money is just energy. I’ve also been working on taking responsibility for my financial decisions. “I’m broke,” used to be a standard response when asked to do something I didn’t want to spend the money on.The truth is that usually when we say “I’m broke,” we’re not broke. It’s just that we choose not to spend our money that way. I’m sure that, like me, when there has been something that you really want to do, you found the money to make it happen.

Quit saying you’re broke and instead own your financial choices. Replace the thought “I’m broke” with “I choose to spend my money differently,” or “I choose not to spend my money on that right now.” Not only are you totally owning it, but it also keeps the good money energy flowing towards you. Think of it like this, do you think energy wants to flow to something that is broken? Probably not.

::Playing Small::

(Okay, here’s where it gets super sappy and woo woo ’cause that’s how I roll. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

You were born to shine. You are special because you are YOU and there is no one else in the world quite like you. You were here to share your unique gifts and talents and to be fully yourself. You were not born to play small, beloveds.

So, quit playing small. When you do something great — own that shit. Own the hell out of it like it’s your favorite new purse that you just have to carry with you everywhere. Reach for your dreams, whatever they are, even when it feels scary and like you’re doing everything wrong. Even when it makes other people uncomfortable.

Quit playing small in any way that you do be by taking care of everyone but yourself, to over committing, to not speaking up in a work meeting to share a great idea, or staying in situations that no longer serve you. Stop playing small by quitting the things that make your heart sing while holding onto those that don’t.

Like everything in life, there are times when you keep walking forward knowing that no matter how many times you get lost, you will reach your destination. But there are also times when we need to know when to fold ’em. Never feel too legit to quit.

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I have always loved Valentine’s Day.Since I am a hopeless romantic it’s pretty much a given that I love Valentine’s Day.

(Okay, I confess, I love just about every holiday, but still….)

I love the idea of a day that’s just dedicated to love.

People doing sweet things.

Surprise flower deliveries, sweet and chocolate – oh my!

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Even so, Valentine’s Day and I have had a sort of torrid relationship. Sometimes we’re the best of pals and other years it has been a total bitch. Life, right? And yet I love it still. Because love is like that, not always flowers and chocolate but always worth it.

Now that I have kids I think I love the holiday more than I ever did before. It’s less about romantic love but just love in general. Love for everyone.

Love for ourselves.

Easy, simple, natural love.

We’ve already done our Valentine’s Day cards for the two third grade classrooms. We’re not giving out candy this year but are giving out cute pencils along with the cards. We’ll also bring cupcakes delicately decorated in pink icing and sprinkles. Even Lovebug will bring Hello Kitty magic pen pads to everyone at daycare.

Every Valentine’s Day morning my kids come downstairs to find cards, chocolates and whatever little chotskies I find, like light up heart rings, or pens with big fluffy hearts on the end.

But the best part is the card.

Always.

I want my girls to know that they are loved. That they don’t need to get a card from the cutest boy (or girl) in class, or from a secret admirer. I want them to know that they aren’t only loved but they are love. And that’s reason enough for chocolate and glitter.

Even when you tell someone you love them everyday there’s just something a little special about saying it in a glittery card. Just the little extra effort in the morning to make the table all cute, or to start the day with a chocolate kiss.

Because it really is the little things in life that are the big things.

Even if you don’t have a sweetie or a lover, or kids, you can still celebrate love.

Because we are all Love. It is our very essence.

Don’t have a date – take yourself out. Buy yourself flowers or candy!

In fact, have flowers delivered to your office for you (but plan in advance because you’ll never be able to get a last minute delivery on V-Day), and sit them on your desk and enjoy their beauty.

And if anyone asks who they’re from tell them, “Someone who loves me very much.”

Wear a pretty dress. Throw on some lip gloss and some sexy lingerie. And don’t forget to tell yourself how pretty you are one the way out the door.

Because it really is the little things in life that are the big things. You are worthy of flowers and sweetness and something a little extra special just because.

So be your own damned Valentine. And go and be love, beloved.

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Sometimes we think that joy and happiness are destinations.

As if we can jump on a plane as easy as we would to Paris or Cancun and land at Joy International or Endless Happiness Airport. There is no overnight flight to joy. You can’t hop a train, jump on a bus or hitch a ride there.

Joy is not a destination. It’s a feeling that we can have while we’re in route to having our dream homes, family vacations, or the career that we were born to have.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to access joy, happiness and feeling content is through gratitude.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Brother Stindal-Rast

When we stop to take notice and appreciate the little things, we realize that the little things are the big things. We also make our lives more joyful.

I’m grateful for the these things for making me feel happiness and joy this week:

1. This post on Mercury in Retrograte and seeing beyond the craziness it can bring.

This week has been one to go down in the books in terms of poor communication. My internet connect has had a mind of its own which means that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. There have been all sorts of little technical snafus and other crazy happenings, and communication with other people has been so out of it that I’ve had moments where I’m convinced we must be speaking different languages. This post was a nice little reminder that everything is an opportunity for growth.

2. Fresh Produce

It’s such a simple thing but this week I am totally appreciating fresh produce. There is nothing quite like fresh fruit and veggies that fuel my body and keep my family healthy. I am grateful that I live in a time and a place where fresh produce, both organic and non-organic, is at my fingertips. I am grateful that I have options when it comes to what my family and I eat. And asparagus with cherry tomatoes and kale over rice noodles… in a word: bangin’! (It’s extra delish if you eat while wearing ladybug slippers, like I do.)

3. This Song

For no other reason that without fail every single time I hear it I smile and feel an instant injection of joy.

4. These Shoes

I am a recovering high-heel addict. Yes, I was one a stilletto stalker. I wouldn’t be caught anywhere but the gym without a pair of high heels on. At one point in time, I didn’t own any cute flats. But you live and you learn. Plus, my office is like so not a place to be walking up and down the stairs in stilettos. Now cute flat shoes are a must.

Enter these Minnetonka Moccasins that were gifted to me by my shoe fairy — Pam. She’s always hooking me up with the cute kicks and these are so comfy and so cute I can look over the fact they make me feel like a total hipster which is generally not a good association for a San Francisco Native like me.

5. Y O U!

For anyone who has taken the time to read my blog, has read and/or liked my Facebook page, and given me such positive feedback on my last post about launching my life coaching practice, I thank you so much. I am so grateful that the ramblings in my mind that spill out my fingertips in black type resonate with you. I write them to spread love and light in the world and through your support I feel that love and light right back.

Now it’s your turn! What are some things that you’re thankful for this week?

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The great online business guru for the modern day soul-preneur (or really anyone trying to start an online business) Marie Forleo advises that we should start before we’re ready. In fact she says that it’s the “key to sucess!”

Her belief is that you don’t need a fancy website and all the trimmings of a “real business” to make an impact. What an entrepreneur has to offer is more than the total sum of their webpage, how many fancy widgets they have, or whether their monthly newsletter looks like it was designed by a rockstart. Ms. Forleo encourages her followers to make like a baby bird and jump out the nest.

Because you don’t know if you can fly until you jump.

The idea seems terrifying but it makes perfect sense.

So, with that… I’m spreading my wings and jumping head first into the world. In a way, I’m coming out a closet of sorts.

I don’t have my fancy website yet. No personalized branded logo that matches my Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter banners, but…

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I have launched my own Life Coaching Practice!!!

By now you have probably heard the term Life Coach thrown around and if you’re into self-help and all things woo woo then without a doubt you’ve heard the term. But, you may still be wondering, “What the heck does a life coach do anyway?”

I work with individuals who want to live their life to the fullest. My ideal clients are folks who have already planted the seed for change and personal growth, and who are ready blossom into their full potential.

I may not have the fancy site (yet!!!) but a fancy site does not make the work we will do together any less powerful. I have guided my own life from being a struggling single almost teenage mother to a woman with a book coming out this year, and now my own coaching practice. And I am still on my journey and would love to help you along yours.

If you are interested in working with me, you’re in luck! I’m hosting a giveaway on Facebook! When I reach 250 Likes I will be giving away two months of sessions with me! Like my page and encourage your friends to do the same for a chance to win!

For those who want more information about what I do, please feel free to send me an email.

World it’s so nice to meet you!

With love, Yroko Marie, Life Coach

I have some great friends. We always have fun when we’re together.

This year we’ve committed to one day a month to get together without the easy excuses of last minute life stuff, or without falling back on our usual go to hang out thing.

Pam & Me on my 30th Birthday

Friendships are like romantic relationships in that they require time and attention too. Sometimes they also need some spicing up, just like a love life.

In the book Spirit Junkie author Gabrielle Bernstein talks about the idea that we should treat our friendships like romances, and our romantic relationships more like friendships.

Friendships can be an important part of our emotional well-being. Our friendships can provide support, a springboard for ideas, and so much more. Not to mention it sometimes comes with the perk of being able to borrow cute clothes! Score!

But, like romantic relationships, friendships can be taken for granted. They can get stale and boring which may be why some friendships end. Not because the people have changed but they just drift apart for lack of tending their friendship garden to make sure it continues to grow.

By throwing in different fun activities, you can not only have a great time, but create bonding and fun memories with your besties that keep your relationship fresh. Some great activities to do with your girlfriends (or male friends) are:

A Proper Tea Party

Get all dressed up with hats, gloves and the works and go to a tea house for a proper ladies’ tea. If you prefer the comfort of your own home, still ask your tribe to come dressed up. You can ask everyone to bring their favorite tea, or to bring a tea like snack. You could research characters or make up your own and just have a good time.

Pole Dancing Classes

Whether or not you’ve ever shaken your shimmy on a pole, this is a great way to get a workout in and have a fun time with your girlfriends. If you’ve never done it before, the idea may conjure up images of something sleazy but it’s not. You and your girls can hit the pole and work on feeling good in your skin. It’s also great for bonding.

Solve the Crime!

When I was a kid one of my besties, Amilca, always had Mystery Parties for her birthdays. And they were awesome. Basically, with the invitation to the party you get a character and everyone comes to the party as their character. There are little scripts and prompts and the party goers try to solve the crime! These parties are available for adults too!

What I remember most about the parties is that they were always such fun and we were always silly, and the time just seemed to fly by.

Vision Board Making

Ask your tribe to bring old magazines and their favorite dish to share and get together to make vision boards. This is a great way to connect and also to do something to help you manifest things that you want in your life. If you want, you can start with a led group meditation, yoga, or just dancing around. My vision board making extravaganza includes mimosas, but yours doesn’t have to.

Walk It Out

Meet up somewhere in your area and just go for a walk. Pick an area that you don’t usually go and just walk and talk. If you pick a park consider removing your shoes and walking in bare feet so that you can practice grounding and get the healthy benefits that come from touching your naked skin to the Earth. I don’t know why but, for me at least, walking with friends always inspires deep conversations.

Volunteer

Grab you group and pick something you guys are passionate about and go and be love. Maybe help at your local library, your kids’ school, or a soup kitchen. The best time to do this is not during the holiday season when large groups tend to get together to help those who may be having a rough time. Pick a time that just works for your group. If you wanted to take it a step further, encourage your friends to raise funds for the organization or entity that you’re making (it doesn’t have to be a lot) and giving your donation as a group after you finish your day.

Swap It, Baby!

No, I’m not talking about swapping romantic partners (but if that’s your thing that’s cool — I don’t judge). I’m talking about a closet swap! Ask your group to go through their closets to find anything in good condition that they don’t wear or use including shoes, jewelry or accessories. Everyone meets and then you swap the stuff you don’t want for stuff that is “new” to you. This is not only a great way to expand your wardrobe and push your personal style envelope, but it’s also really good for the environment because it’s recycling versus buying another cheap top at Forever 21. If you’re anything like me, even after my latest closet purge pre New Year’s, I still have some stuff I would happily swap for something else.

An Amusement Park

Amusement parks aren’t just for kids. Amusement parks are all about fun, over-priced under-nutrient food, and games. It’s a great way to bring out your inner kid and to play. Rollercoasters scare the shit out of me to this very day, but I love amusement parks and there is so much to do. It’s always fun when I go with a big group.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. – Marcel Proust