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The Perfect New Year’s Resolution

Photo by Andrea D'Aquino
Editor’s Note

I am honored to introduce you to a new member of our TSN team, Cat Li Stevenson.  Cat is an exceptional writer - transparent, authentic, and self-reflective.  This is an extraordinary piece from her as a gift to us for the New Year.  I loved and savored every word.  I hope it will inspire you to reflect and contemplate your truth in welcoming a new marvelous year.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~Lao Tzu

As we bring a close to 2010, I decided to take a new approach to how I’d invite the New Year into my life. In prior years, I would laundry list every over-achieving goal that would bring me closer to the perception of “perfect.” In reflecting on check marks next to certain goals of the past, I honestly cannot attach a purpose behind what that particular accomplishment did to truly serve me. Once I removed the glitz of the curtain—the appearance of the goal—behind it was nothing more than the yearning of fulfillment I had began with.

What I thought I knew was—that with each accomplishment—this would bring me closer to the perfection theme I sought out in my career, physical appearance, friendships, bank account, family, and spirituality. I practiced this redundancy for the past several years without realizing that this “perfect” I pursued was never defined by the reality of my own authenticity.

Being Present

Editor’s Note

This article was extracted from the daily emails.

Monday, last week was a crazy ride of a day. First, it was my son’s one year old birthday, and we were planning a big party – 24 adults and 8 babies. Second, we were notified that we’d won the Good Mood Gig contest!

The day consisted of a lot of running around, last minute shopping, cooking for over twenty people, writing the announcement blog post, and taking part in the excitement on facebook. I don’t think I ate anything all day until 9pm.

The party was a success, people looked like they had a good time. We had loads of food, helium balloons, and a lot of red wine to keep many of the adults happy. Ryan was properly dressed in a suit vest with a red tie, and brown dress pants.

I ran around, making sure the food was all laid out, that people got drinks, and that everyone had their photo taken in our makeshift portrait studio we had temporarily setup in the garage (Photos from the party can be seen here).

When Couples Fight

Photo by Erik Clausen (His Blog, Flickr)
Editor’s Note

This article applies also to those not currently in a relationship.

My husband and I had a fight over the weekend – on our date night, of all nights. We rarely fight, so when emotions escalated to shouting, I knew something had to change. I had to change. There was something to be learned here.

The thing about when couples bicker is that both people feel that they are right. Both people feel that their point of view is rightfully justified. So we try to make the other person understand. When we are arguing, what we are essentially trying to do is to show the other person our side – to show them that we are right (and they are wrong).

After all was said and done, underneath the problem on the surface, what we were really fighting for was to feel appreciated and validated. We, each in our own indirect way, were trying to let the other person acknowledge us, and to value what we contribute. But sometimes, we can be so stubborn.

If you dissect all the fights we’ve had in the past with our significant others, and through observing our friends, I think the desire to feel appreciated and recognized is a common theme.

What’s interesting is that in the heat of “battle”, when we are so consumed with wanting the other person to see our side, we become blind to recognizing the other person’s point of view – which is equally valid and understandable. It’s like trying to put out fire with more fire, you will just end up with a bigger fire.

Finding Miracles

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. ~Charles R. Swindoll

Three days ago our family dog Blackie went missing (pictured on the right in photo above, taken in 2008).

It’s not the first time our dogs have gotten out from the yard – it happens from time to time. Each time it has happened in the past, someone would call and return him to our home – after all, we live in a safe, family-centric neighborhood. This time, someone did call, but they never returned him home.

We tried phoning back the person who called us, but each time, the person would either hang up on us, or not pick up the phone.

If you’ve been following our journey over the past few years, you may remember Blackie as the puppy we found on the streets of Beijing, China from 2008, whom we later immigrated to the USA. His story is a heartwarming one. We love him, and we miss his little black-and-white butt.

You may not be a dog person, but you can probably relate with the feeling of losing something or someone, and the frustration that arises with that.

The Art of Embracing Change

Photo by Gala Darling
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. ~Charles Darwin

Change is a beautiful thing. Despite its innate beauty, it is one aspect of life that many people resist. Why is it that some people can easily embrace change while others will do everything in their power to prevent it? It all boils down to a matter of perception.

To be candid, I never really had any problems with change. On the contrary, I welcome change with open arms. To be fair, the reason for this is because I had a very tough childhood.

Going to school each day was like going to war. The only thing that kept me going during my tough times was hope and the knowledge that this torment would have to stop at some point.

Change, you see, was a savoir in my mind. As a result, I view change as a joyous thing. To not change and remain in stagnation is equivalent to death. Nothing can be accomplished by not moving forward.

21 Secrets To The Life You Want

Who is in the driver’s seat of your life? Your job? Your family? The changing wind of life’s circumstances?

Ask yourself, “Is my life the way I want it to be?” If not, what is blocking you from jumping in the driver’s seat of your life?

Sometimes, it feels impossible to take control when you are stuck in a job you dislike because it pays the bills. Or when you can’t find a job. Or when you know your friends or family will reject you if you choose a different life path.

Life can sometimes be like a sticky spider web — the more you struggle against it, the more stuck you become.

Yes, life does have limitations, some of which are unchangeable. But a very large percentage of our lives is in our control — enough to profoundly impact how fulfilled and happy we feel on a daily basis.

Just knowing that you have some control is enough to change your perspective from hopeless to optimistic.

How to Be Yourself

Photo by Lauren Rose
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

Have you ever been in a social setting, suddenly realizing you are not being yourself? This article takes an in depth look at why we play various roles in our lives, and how to overcome these socially conditioned “masks” to be yourself.

Perhaps you’ve caught yourself saying, “I love catching up with my old school buddies, it’s so easy to be myself in their company”? Or, “Felt so miserable at that party, making polite conversation with bunch of superficial people.”

It transpires that we are often not our true selves in the company of others – subconsciously and repeatedly wearing masks that project a certain image of us to the world.

We seem to have a collection of these masks that habitually surface, intending to best serve our self-interest, based on the need of our immediate environment. These masks come in varied shapes and colors like, the aggressor, the conformist, the nice guy, the shy one, etc.

Only when we are able to bring these masks into our active awareness and deal with them, can we be ourselves and experience the freedom that brings.

Confusion to Clarity in 3 Steps

Photo by Andrea D'Aquino

Time and time again, I’ve watched coaching clients walk into my office stuck, in the fog of confusion about some situation in their lives. They are sure that they don’t know how to move forward, that they don’t know which next step to take.

We’ve all been there – in that uncertain, frustrating place. It’s no fun.

Time and time again I’ve watched those same clients walk out of my office having uncovered a clear, wise answer to their questions, a clear resolution to their dilemma, the kind that allows them to move forward with that wonderful sense of confidence and calm.

I certainly didn’t give them their answers – I don’t have them. They found the answers inside. We followed a simple process that cleared a space for their own answers to emerge.

This article is a guide to doing that process on your own. In 3 simple steps, you can shift from a state of confusion to mental clarity.

Overwhelmed? 8 Ways to Overcome It

Photo by Andrea D'Aquino
Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you. ~John De Paola

Do you have so much on your plate that you’re left feeling overwhelmed and stressed out? What can you do to get back to a place of controlling ease and relaxation?

In an age of fast paced lifestyles and heightened commercialism, everywhere we turn is a demand for our attention. On top of the information overload, we are working longer, and taking less time off. The result? More stress and less time to ourselves.

Juggling between work, family and our personal needs, it’s easy to get sucked into the never-ending list of to-dos and end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

This article looks at 8 simple stress management techniques to overcome this sense of overwhelming anxiety in order to live a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.

Find Peace in a Busy Life

Photo by Vadim Pacev
Life is just a quick succession of busy nothings. ~Jane Austen

Do you remember the last time you asked someone how work was? How about life in general? What was their response?

What did you say the last time you were asked those questions? I bet I know. It’s the same thing almost everyone I talk to says, and something I’ve been keeping track of the past few weeks.

The unanimous answer: “busy”

The response is almost programmed. No need to think. And then they look at me proudly, as if I should be impressed. Well, I can’t say that I am.

I must admit that “busy” has been my response for years. But how did we all of a sudden find ourselves in a society where busy was the most acceptable way to be spending our time?

We’ve talked of being busy for so long that we’ve forgotten that being busy was never the goal. We are not on this earth to be busy. We are here to build relationships, experience life, go places, create things, help others, or whatever else you decide. Our reasons for being will all be different but I have a feeling that none of us feel we are here simply to be busy. But this thinking has lead us to think busy is good…no matter what we’re busy with.

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