Thank you, 2017 Soul Bosses!

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As 2017 comes to an end, I wanted to recognize everyone in the Soul Boss community. I’m happy and humbled to know that Soul Bosses are around the globe – from my home in the rainy, fierce beauty of the Pacific Northwest to countries like Turkey, India, China, South Africa and Ireland.

I thank everyone who has read, commented, liked and shared the posts. The deep work we do every Tuesday is just a set up for all the fun we have on Good Find Fridays. Qualities like mindfulness, empathy and awareness show up in the least expected places – whether you’re eating great food with friends and family, traveling the world or taking in a new book or movie. Soul Bosses took those ideas off those page and made them a rich part of daily life this year.

Thanks for joining in and meeting up:

  • At Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. We continue to keep the conversation thoughtful and positive in an unpredictable, often volatile space. We stayed centered and didn’t let all kinds of crazy become the boss of us!
  • On Soundcloud and iTunes. A hat tip to everyone who takes the columns on the go, especially listeners half a world away in Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • At MyTrendingStories. I’m grateful to readers who catch the series every month at the MyTrendingStories hub.
  • By Email. Special acknowledgment goes to email subscribers. Many of you are close friends, and I value your support, encouragement, and kind and constructive feedback.
  • Through WordPress. My fellow WordPress writers motivate me with their creativity and tenacity. Thank you as well to the WordPress staff who work hard to make their platform better and better.

I always take a break at the end of December, and I hope you will, too. Until Tuesday, January 2, I’ll leave you with a beautiful idea from author Hamilton Wright Mabie.

However you choose to celebrate, go in peace. Have a blessed holiday!

Peace and Purpose

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If anyone had a right to hold a grudge, it was New York Police Department Officer Steven McDonald.

McDonald was shot three times on a routine call to Central Park in 1986. He had just two years on the job when he became paralyzed from the neck down.

Officer McDonald was as human as the rest of us. Still, he found a way to channel his feelings toward Shavod Jones, who ultimately served 8 ½ years for attempted murder. He wrote, “I’m sometimes angry at the teen-age boy who shot me, but more often I feel sorry for him. I only hope that he can turn his life into helping and not hurting people. I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life.”

Steven McDonald’s life changed the day he was shot, but he was adamant about making a difference. He became a regular spokesman for the NYPD, meeting with students throughout New York City, campaigned for gun control, and even had an audience with Pope John Paul II. NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said, “No one could have predicted that Steven would touch so many people, in New York and around the world. Like so many cops, Steven joined the NYPD to make a difference in people’s lives. And he accomplished that every day.”

In the December series, Satisfied, we’re talking about how to surrender. You might listen to the story of Steven McDonald and think, “He had to surrender to his circumstances; his injuries wouldn’t permit anything else.” But thinking that would take you past the true story. McDonald’s years of service showed how he fought back at every turn against the common expectations of what someone who is paralyzed could do.

Yes, Steven McDonald surrendered, yet he never gave up. He surrendered being resentful. He let go of any notion that he was above the man who shot him. And he didn’t burden himself or his family with days filled with bitterness. Before he passed away from a heart attack this year, he spent three decades contributing to his community.

As the year ends, there’s probably someone you need to forgive. But if you find forgiveness next to impossible, follow Steven McDonald’s lead and decide that you will take the first step and let go. Let go of reliving the hurt that does nothing but give you pain. Leave every disagreement, no matter how large or small, behind as the clock strikes midnight on December 31. And then send a blessing to anyone who might be doing the same for you, so that you can be completely at ease as 2018 begins, living in a world free from harsh judgments, fear and unhappiness.

In the place of anxious, restless energy, welcome the peace that passes all understanding. The feeling where you can honestly say from the tip of your toes to the top of your head, “It is well with my soul.” When you can do that, you are truly satisfied.

 

 

Good Find Friday: Classic Christmas Cookies

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December has barely started, but you probably have 20 browser windows open as you search and search and search for new ideas. Am I right?

Here’s a thought. Skip the pressure to make all new dishes this year and stick to the classics. Whether you’re at the office cookie swap, the school concert or hanging out with friends, the cookies below are everyone’s favorite for a reason! (And think of your Christmas meal this way: When dessert is a snap, you’ll have plenty of time to wow your guests with a knock-out main course.)

If you’re new to cooking or have a kid who wants to pitch, start with an easy sweet bread. A friend who is a master baker raves about tried and true recipes like cranberry orange loaf, banana bread and lemon pound cake (you can find them all at a slideshow from Martha Stewart). She jokes, “I hate standing over the oven switching one tray of cookies after another. With breads, you have one pan, hit the timer for about an hour, then walk away!” That sounds like a self-care practice in the making to me.

Enjoy the baker’s dozen below and wash them down with one of 40 Winter drinks. Don’t forget – calories don’t count when you’re having fun!

Enjoy!

  1. Original Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies
  2. Mexican wedding cookies (a/k/a snowballs)
  3. Sugar cookies
  4. Chewy molasses cookies
  5. Jam thumbprint cookies
  6. Snickerdoodles (cinnamon cookies)
  7. Citrus butter cookies (a/k/a spritz cookies)
  8. Oatmeal raisin cookies
  9. Peanut butter cookies
  10. Peppermint brownie bit cookies
  11. Lemon zest shortbread cookies
  12. Dark chocolate cookies with espresso
  13. Rugelach

What I No Longer Want or Need

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I admit – I had to read the product review twice. The tech journalist liked the device…just not enough to keep it. The final verdict? It wasn’t something they wanted or needed. After the test, it went straight back to the manufacturer.

The December series, Satisfied, is looking at the topic of surrender. When you hear “surrender,” what words or phrases spring to mind? Someone waving the white flag of surrender? Surrendering in defeat? Surrender as loss?

What if you could rejigger this idea so surrender wasn’t disempowering? Instead, imagine it just like the journalist: you see something for what it is, but gain satisfaction as you release what you do not want or need.

This is what happened for Cassie Young, an on-air host and social media director in Atlanta. She was thrilled to announce her engagement on Twitter. Things got interesting when a personal trainer reached out and offered to get her in shape before her wedding. He confidently declared he was worth every penny of his $75 an hour fee. Cassie thanked him for the note, but her reply was swift and clear: she was in shape.

The trainer refused to quit, sending one message after another. Cassie said, “If [he] had hit me up and said, ‘Hey, you know I can help you find the perfect balance in your life between being healthy, working out, and still having the life you love’…I probably would have been like, ‘All right, let’s see what you’ve got.’” Instead, none of his suggestions resonated with her, especially his final message that shame was a great motivator.

The personal trainer may have had plenty to say about Cassie’s waistline, but he didn’t see a critical component: her heart. You could say she surrendered trying to win the argument. However, she also released a less than view of herself, something she didn’t want or need. She ended their conversation with the hopeful statement, “I know I’ll look my best because I’ll be so happy I get to marry the man I love.”

Cassie Young’s experience is about much more than body image. It’s about self-confidence and perspective. Think back over this year. Do you have a similar story? When you use key Soul Boss principles like demonstrating courage and trusting your instincts, other people’s comments can’t become the boss of you. You’re able to release negativity before it takes root and say, “In the past, that really would have upset me. But not now. And not in the future. Thanks for the information, but I’m at peace with my choices.”

Being satisfied isn’t about ending the year with a million dollars or the love of your life. In fact, the reality of December may not bear any resemblance to the high hopes you had in January. Yet before you write this year off, take another look. Like Cassie, you might have achieved something you never set out to do – learning how to remain true to yourself, automatically creating space for people, places and things that are right for you.

Good Find Friday: Let It Be

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“Let It Be” doesn’t usually make the cut for Christmas tracks, but don’t let this beautiful version by GENTRI pass you by.

December can be a tough month. Ask people how things are going, and there can be a distinct lack of holiday cheer. Replies like, “overwhelmed,” “slammed,” and “exhausted” are common. That’s why this extraordinary cover is so eloquent. In minutes, you will release all the chaos that is quickly becoming the boss of you and find your center.

Bring the peace, wherever you find yourself this holiday season. Enjoy!

 

 

In the Now

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If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s filled with posts berating politicians. Wait – I mean last year’s candidates. Not the people who are in office today. The people who ran and lost over a year ago.

Am I the only one groaning?

We don’t have to agree about politics. But we can agree on one thing: Constantly replaying the past just brings irritation. If you want to experience kindness, you need to be in the now.

In the November series, Love Yourself Up, we’re talking about how to show compassion. Think about the last time you were kind to someone. You were perceptive, seeing their fears or doubts. You were empathetic, taking the time to let them voice their feelings. What was the common denominator? Staying present.

When you’re present, you’re not trying to re-engineer the past or architect the future. Miracles can happen, because you’ve stopped pushing in one direction or another. Here’s how Meredith Walters described it:

“To allow my self-healing process to unfold with its full power, all I need to do is relax. When I stop trying so hard, I reconnect with my true self. I have access to the fundamental wisdom and strength we all share. When I trust my inner workings to do their thing and simply observe what’s happening without trying to change it, my ego relaxes and healing happens naturally.”

I had my own challenge last Winter to be in the now after my furnace broke down during a bitter cold snap. I called the furnace company at 4 AM, but then made myself go back to bed. Why? It was pointless to anxiously wonder if a pre-emptive service call would have helped. Scouring the internet, frantically putting calls out to companies I didn’t know, was equally unproductive.

What worked was trusting the process. And guess what? The journeyman technician arrived on time and got the furnace up and running within the hour. All that worrying wouldn’t have helped one bit.

This month, the people we’ve met are far from perfect. But amid their vulnerabilities and imperfection, they learned how to show themselves kindness, consideration and empathy, the qualities of compassion:

  • In Handle the Quiet, Humans of New York profiled a man who had experienced constant trauma since childhood. He was at a loss defining the next chapter of his life, even though the crisis and stress had ended. His challenge was allowing open space and silence, rather than recreating more problems to solve.
  • In The Table of Nope, we saw how practicing compassion includes course correcting. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do is quickly admit a mistake, laugh at yourself, then move on.
  • We met Erin in Worn Out. Cancer gave her an unexpected opportunity to slow down. When she went back to work, she decided to keep the healthy practices she discovered post-surgery, including receiving help from others.

The next time you’re in a tough spot, avoid the temptation to play and replay your worst fears. Do you want to be kind to yourself? Stay still, fully available in the here and now.

Good Find Friday: Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

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Let me guess – you have a refrigerator full of turkey and even the thought of looking up one more recipe makes you weep.

I get it.

That’s why you need to kick back and watch The Domestic Geek tell you how to use your leftovers for a breakfast quiche, lunch salad and at dinner.

OK – you may want to avoid turkey at every meal, but at least tuck the turkey pot pie recipe away. Winter is still a month away, and it’s already raining almost daily in Seattle. Count me in for making this dish a staple!

Enjoy!

Worn Out

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We’re smack in the middle of the holidays. Are you tempted to amp up your already busy life?

Don’t take the bait.

Spending time with people you love is essential, but let’s face it – frantic, crazy, pushed and pressed isn’t fun. For anyone. It certainly isn’t a way to demonstrate compassion, the focus of the November series, Love Yourself Up.

My heart broke when Erin told me she was taking medical leave. Calling her a Type A personality was an understatement. She was the picture of the axiom, “If you want something done, give it to the busiest person.” She was never exhausted. If anything, she thrived on back-to-back meetings followed by volunteer activities at her kids’ school.

Erin put her career on hold to face surgeries and a painful recovery. When I ran into her six months later, everything had changed, yet there was a silver lining: Her life had expanded in ways she never expected.

Erin had pushed through being tired ever since her children were toddlers. But her old habits came up short after her hospital stay. Post-surgery fatigue made her start listening to her body for the first time in years. She said with a shrug, “Now there are plenty of Friday nights I look at my husband at 7:00 and say, ‘Pajama time!’ After a long week, I relax on the couch while my teenagers freestyle dinner.”

During her leave, her team adopted to handling some meetings and tasks without her close supervision. When she returned, things were running so smoothly that she let the leads keep going. It was a win-win. They became better managers while Erin finally had time to start doing something that had been on her wish list for years: mentoring new hires.

Erin wasn’t the same after facing down cancer, but she didn’t see that as a loss. She started from where she was, rather than trying to recreate the person she had been. She decided that some habits, like no longer taking her laptop to bed and stopping for lunch every day, weren’t a “nice to have”. They became non-negotiable. The kindness she showed herself rippled through her whole world.

If you ever compare yourself to others and ask, “How do they do it all?”, this week’s challenge is for you. The trick to having meaningful experiences, especially during the holidays, isn’t to pile more on. It’s about deciding what matters most.

Maybe your body is trying to get your attention, asking you to slow down the pace. Or this could be the season where you choose activities with a little more thought and slightly less obligation. Or perhaps you’ll go even deeper and, like Erin, make peace with the reality that you’re not invincible.

The world is overflowing with intensity right now. Adding to the tension with unrealistic expectations won’t help. If you’re not sure where to start, ask a simple question, “What is one thoughtful thing I can do for myself?”, and then follow through.

Love yourself up today. 

Good Find Friday: Thanksgiving Cards for Kitchen Sanity

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Has anyone told you that Thanksgiving is complicated? Yes. It. Is!

So repeat two mantras after me. “I don’t have to do everything from scratch,” and “I don’t have to do everything myself.”

That’s why you need these fantastic, fun cards from KitchenAid. They’ve launched a series you can hand out to your favorite helpful people as soon as they arrive. You can designate someone as the Decorator, Greeter, Drink Master, Carver, Cleaner, Shutterbug, Entertainer, etc.

Print the cards directly from the KitchenAid site, find them on Pinterest, or crafty Soul Bosses – make your own cards or stickers and put your personal spin on the sentiment. And don’t forget to let everyone know that you’re grateful for their help!

Enjoy!

The Table of Nope

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Do you need more compassion in your world? Build your tribe.

A close group of supporters does more than meet your emotional needs. The Mayo Clinic reports that there is a quantifiable health effect, helping reduce depression, body mass index and high blood pressure.

Shauna Niequist, author of “Bitterwseet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way,” described the kind of profound, heartfelt understanding that your tribe can give:

“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyway. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”

Philippa thought she would find her tribe over the Summer. She had so much fun on a weekend kayaking trip that she signed up for 10 days in the San Juan Islands. Her vacation photos were fantastic. The backstory? Not so good.

She shook her head and said, “When I booked the trip, I was sure I’d have a lot in common with everyone. That was wishful thinking! I wasn’t ready for some of my traveling companions. First up was the pair of chatty sisters, but I soon learned their chit-chat was a long list of complaints. They were out of sorts about something breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then one of the guys somehow always landed in my radius. He was a little too close for comfort,” she continued. “And finally there was the lady who was nice as she could be…when she spoke. Which wasn’t often.”

“After a few days, I looked around after a long dinner and thought, ‘This is the Table of Nope!’ she laughed. “They were nice people; they just weren’t for me. I decided to catch a ferry back from Orcas Island and use the rest of the time for a staycation. Cocktails on the patio, long lunches with close friends… The last week of the Summer was phenomenal!”

The November series, Love Yourself Up is focusing on showing ourselves compassion, a core Soul Boss idea. Like Philippa, your journey to find your no-matter-what people may include a few bumps. However, that’s the very moment to choose kindness over criticism and regret.

Imagine a friend saying, “Whoops – I’ve made a mistake. One that I can course correct. This isn’t the group for me. I’m going to check out before I make myself or anyone else miserable.” Wouldn’t you applaud them for skipping past blame and facing the future with their sense of humor intact? In a word, that’s grace.

So start by cutting yourself and everyone involved some slack. Release any hard feelings or sadness. And for heaven’s sake, give yourself credit for trying.

The next time things don’t go according to plan, don’t fuss and fight. Make the gentle choice: Surrender.