Moticise Blog | Sonia Satra

De-Stress Your Life with this One Trick

This week, my good friend Karen Jacobsen, the GPS Girl, came to hang out in the Moticise studio. We had a great Twitter chat and Periscope video (you can catch it here) on her signature topic – recalculating.

“No matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to recalculate,” she said. “The first step is to notice when you’re off course.”

That got me thinking about times in my life when I’ve had to adjust my course. Most recently, it happened around food. Recalculating – realizing I needed to make a change – liberated me from a lot of self-induced stress.

I’ve long been an aspiring vegan, and in the past few years, I’d come to dread dinnertime. Trying to cook healthy, plant-based meals that everyone would like, every single night? It just reminded me how much I was failing both myself and my kids. I wanted wholesome, plant-based, delicious, fun, together time.

But in reality, it was more like a battle. I always got it started late; no two people wanted the same thing; it was never as healthy as I wanted; half the time it ended with take-out, and me exhausted and frustrated.

Fortunately, a friend recommended a vegan chef who made house calls. (Don’t you just love New York?) The plan was, he’d come over, give us a cooking lesson, and off we’d go into a lifetime of easy dinnertime sunsets. This chef, I believed, would usher in a new chapter in my life: one where I’m 100% vegan, where my family is always satisfied and impressed with their meals, where I actually look forward to dinner.  

But this chef was not the fairy godmother I hoped for. He was a big fat jerk, and it started as soon as he opened the fridge.

“Dairy milk? What is this doing here?” He rounded on me and shoved it in my face, like it was damning evidence of something unforgivable.

“I—I know it’s not great, but I like a little in my coffee,” I said. “And look, there’s almond milk and coconut milk, back there next to the soy mi—”

“Orange juice!” he cried, back inside the fridge. “And it’s not even fresh squeezed. Do you know the sugar content in this?”

“Yes,” I said weakly, “that’s why we mix it with seltzer water. I don’t usually buy it, but Kaya was having a sleepover, and—”

He shook his head derisively. “You are just lazy,” he announced, like a doctor giving a diagnosis. “All it takes is the willingness to chop vegetables. You can do that, can’t you? But you don’t.”

Shocked, I said nothing. Lazy? I thought. Is that my problem? I’m just lazy?

“She’s not lazy,” Stephen told him. It felt good to hear him say that, but the word still triggered me. For the rest of the meal, I couldn’t escape the spiral of I’m not a good mother. I’m destroying the environment. I’m killing my kids!

In the days following, I calmed down a little, and was able to gain some perspective. Our judgmental chef had offered no solutions, only criticism. He “didn’t do kids,” so he had no empathy for my role as a parent. All that was frustrating, but it led me more deeply examine my struggle. If being vegan was so important to me, how come it hadn’t happened?

I did some soul-searching, I began to understand what was happening. The chef had forced me to defend my choices, and in doing so, I noticed a pattern. And it wasn’t because I’m lazy, or not enough.

It was this: freedom, adventure, and exploration are fundamental values of mine. And I’d come to associate being vegan with being restricted. Feeling restricted is stressful and anxiety-inducing – so, for me, “vegan” equals “stress.” No wonder it’s been such a struggle. I was fighting to attain something that was making me miserable.

So I had a pretty revolutionary idea: Maybe I just don’t really want to be vegan. (This was where I started to notice that I was off-course. It was time to recalculate.)

Being 100% vegan sounds good on paper. It fits with my values of plant-based nutrition, let-food-be-thy-medicine eating, and doing my part to protect the environment. But was it really what I wanted?

In reality, I’m happy with being 90% vegan, or even 80%. Maybe I could aim for a 90-10 ratio, knowing that if I end up with 80-20, it’s still okay. Which gives me room for freedom and adventure. It takes away the restrictive feeling while still honoring my beliefs about clean eating. It changes the meaning of the word “vegan” for me – instead of inducing stress, now it feels exciting.

This is still new for me – it’s only been a couple weeks – but I already feel more free, more fluid, more excited about my choices and my responsibilities. I’m still practicing recipes and collecting ways to make everyone happy at dinnertime, but I’ve taken the heavy weight off my shoulders to make it perfect. Which leaves more room for me to enjoy my family and my food.

What about you?

What is it that you’re trying to change, but having trouble with?

Take a close look – why are you making that change?

Is it honoring your values? Or is it going against something you value?

If your values are in conflict, that’s going to make it hard. Often, that’s when it’s time to recalculate.

What’s something you can do that would align with your values? Something you’re excited about, that you can reach for wholeheartedly?

Tell me about it below! And then go out, recalculate if you need to, and shine.

By |July 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Key to Survival (it’s not what you expect!)

Last week, my family and I spent a week in London to celebrate my mom’s and sister’s birthdays. (Okay, the birthdays were more of an excuse – we just wanted to see each other and explore somewhere exciting.) The whole week, there were eight of us coordinating plans, picking out activities, trying to agree on a restaurant…and it went so smoothly. Everyone was surprisingly flexible, and it was wonderful.

I’ve been on enough group vacations to know how special that is. On other trips, whether with family, friends, or colleagues, it isn’t always so easy. So this past week, I’ve been thinking about the virtue of flexibility, and how underrated it really is.

I brought it up to Lauren in the office the other day, as I often do with things on my mind.

“How important is flexibility, do you think?” I asked her. “People don’t really talk about it that often, but it’s pretty critical, right?”

“My dad always said that flexibility is the key to survival,” she said, without missing a beat. Her father is an airline pilot who regularly flies between the U.S. and China, so I figure he knows a thing or two about getting from point A to point B.

“Wow. Really?” I said. “The key?”

“Yeah. He’s always dealing with things like turbulence, having to change the route, navigate storms, land somewhere different than he expected. Things are always popping up that he has to deal with.”

Sounds like life, I thought.  

“So if he weren’t flexible enough to take each one in stride, well, I don’t know,” she said. “He probably wouldn’t be flying planes.”

Well, that makes perfect sense, although I might have expected an airline pilot to say focus or courage was the key to survival. But the more I think about it, the more I see that flexibility might really be the secret to living well, living long, and getting where you’re going.

Naturally, as my mind tends to, I started thinking about the two aspects of flexibility: physical and lifestyle. First, to be physically flexible means you have greater range of motion, lower risk of injury, and more freedom of movement. If you’re flexible in life, you’re more adaptable, able to move more fluidly through crises or challenges, and you have more freedom to, well, move. You have a lower risk of stress, because you can roll with the punches. To paraphrase Confucius, “The reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”

The older we get, the more rigid our bodies becomes. If we don’t practice flexibility, we lose our range of motion, so we’re more limited in our pursuits – whether that’s learning to waterski, or simply going up a set of stairs. We’re more like to “snap,” or stress out, or otherwise sacrifice our well-being.

The same principle applies to lifestyle flexibility. If we let ourselves get rigid, we lose out on the opportunity to expand our minds, to experience new things, to stretch our boundaries, if you will. We lose our youthfulness.

So what does it mean to practice flexibility in life? How can we be more flexible?

In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Alice Boyes writes that flexible thinking comes in many forms. Here are a few examples:

  • Perspective taking. This means looking at a situation from someone else’s point of view, and understanding that yours is not the only one. This one’s especially important in a conflict or argument, and it can help you reach out instead of alienate people.
  • Balancing optimism and pessimism, or weighing both the ups and downsides, instead of focusing on one of those. Flexible thinkers know that there are advantages and disadvantages to almost any outcome, and choose the most helpful piece to focus on.
  • Allowing for uncertainty. If you don’t hear back from someone, don’t assume the worst. A flexible thinker understands that there are dozens of potential reasons for this. Also, allowing for uncertainty means not marrying yourself to a particular outcome. If things don’t go the way you want them to, you can still remain open, instead of dwelling on your loss. What happens next may be a pleasant surprise.

Physically, too, you can increase your flexibility. And don’t go telling me you don’t stretch because you’re not flexible. That’s why you stretch – to get more flexible. Start slow and go gentle. You don’t want to hurt yourself by overstretching, or by stretching without warming up first. Studies show that just a few minutes of stretching a day can significantly increase your flexibility over time – so be patient, and be consistent!

As with all mindset tools, practicing flexibility is a choice, whether or not it comes naturally to you.

What is an area of your life where you’re really good at being flexibility? How does that feel?

Flexibility is one of my favorite mind-body exercises, because it’s such a clear parallel. So while you’re answering these questions, stand up and stretch your hamstrings or your shoulders, and feel that openness in your muscles. (For some guidance on this, check out my latest Moti Minute!)

What’s an area of your life where you could use more flexibility? Where you’re pretty rigid or stubborn?

How can you stretch into that space, and allow for whatever might come?

What’s possible when you step into a place of open, flexible thinking?

By |July 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

3 Ways to Stay Sane When Your Life is Crazy

Do you ever have a day like this? Last week, it was like someone put my life in a blender. Every area needed some attention in the span of about eight hours (and 100 city blocks).

The dog had an ear infection when I woke up, so I rushed her to the vet. From there, I took Ty downtown to skateboard camp before running to Soho to shop with Kaya (her summer camp requires that she bring 16 different pairs of shorts…really? Really. And we had to get them all right then because her clothes were being shipped off to camp the next day.) That made me late to the office, where I had a Moticise call about web development, then a meeting about product launch.

Then I had an audition (in an English accent, no less) which I’d only rehearsed for about five seconds. Then I ran to the eastside for a vibroacoustics session at Tournesol; then back to the office for a quick coaching session; then off to meet Stephen for yoga, before going home to get everyone fed, washed, and to bed.

At Tournesol, my physical therapist, Carey, asked me how my day was going.

“It’s insane,” I said. “I have something involving everyone today, and there’s zero time in between. But they all need my full attention and focus. How do you keep each thing from bleeding into the next?”

She laughed, but she said seriously, “I know what you mean. If I couldn’t compartmentalize, I think I’d fall apart.”

Carey runs her own business, has dozens of clients a day, and has three kids. So I asked, “How do you do it?” I asked.

“I go into my office and close the door,” she said. “And I picture myself walking through a white, cleansing light. It’s like this bright, clean energy, and it washes away the last thing, and leaves me feeling fresher for the next.”

“Wow,” I said. I didn’t know what to say, but I knew I wanted what she had. A ritual. Some meaningful way to help her navigate her day. A way to not just keep her head above water, but to swim.

In the next few days, I gave it a lot of thought. Could Carey’s technique work for me? What if I’m not in my office? I wondered. On that day in particular, I’d been in and out of subways and taxis and stores and other people’s offices, so I couldn’t exactly retreat into my private sanctuary. Or could I?

There are many days where I’m traveling around the city, and sometimes New Jersey, and sometimes other cities or even countries. But I knew I could still find a way to adapt Carey’s trick to fit my needs. After all, she was using two of my favorite things: visualization, and physical movement.

I tried it one afternoon on the subway, heading home after a long day at the office. I wanted to be ready to play with my kids and make them dinner when I walked in the door. I wanted to feel energized and refreshed, not muddled and overwhelmed. I didn’t want work to bleed into my home time.

So I copied Carey, and I envisioned a bright light surrounding me. I felt my body and mind being cleansed of the day, of what happened and hadn’t happened. I invited that light in. Even with the backdrop of subway musicians and announcers and doors screeching shut, I felt peace. It was like a mini-meditation (even a mini-mindset reset, if you will). And then when I got home, I felt ready and excited to be there.

That week, I experimented with ways to compartmentalize, and I found three techniques that really work. Here they are:

  • Physically embody each task. Every task has a distinct feeling, so I decided to fully embrace that feeling. (Sounds a bit like mindfulness, right?) By stepping into each environment, each purpose, and noticing how it was showing up in my body – what did it look like? Where did I feel it? How did I carry myself? – I could really participate in each task, not rush through it, or feel distracted or overwhelmed by all the others.
  • Throw in a little exercise or movement. This one’s especially good when I’m in my office all day. I take a walk in between phone calls, do jumping jacks after a meeting, or even just stand in conscious mountain pose to help clear my mind. Then, I literally take a step into the next activity. This sends a message to both my body and brain, like “Okay, now it’s time for X. New task, new you. Let’s do this.”
  • Make a to-do list, and cross items off when you do them. I know it sounds cliché, but a to-do really does help settle your mind. You don’t have to juggle everything if it’s written down (and if you’re using it – i.e., it’s not buried in a drawer, or forgotten on your fridge). You get a little burst of accomplishment from crossing something off, so you’ll feel productive, which gives you energy. And if it’s all written down somewhere, you can let go of the worry that you’ll forget something, and fully immerse yourself in the task at hand.

Try these techniques during your busy day! And let me know what YOU do to compartmentalize.

Then go out and shine.

By |June 29th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Stay Motivated – Without Using Willpower

Do you ever think “I can do it, I’ll just power through it,” and then two days later, you quit?

It’s tiring, isn’t it? If all you’re doing is plowing through a task or an event, chances are that you’ll burn out. 

That’s why willpower is overrated.

The other day, I came across an article by Benjamin Hardy that said, “If your life requires willpower, you haven’t fully determined what you want.” In other words, if you have to power through something, then you haven’t made a decision.

“Until you decide,” Hardy writes, “you’ll be required to use willpower, and will continue making minimal progress.”

Is that true? I wondered. So, as usual, I decided to test it out on myself. What, for me, takes a lot of willpower?

I confess…it’s networking.

I used to think I could power through events, like I was the Wonder Woman of business. No sweat, I can survive this, I’d think. I am strong! I am social! I am a networker! I’d remind myself of all the great things about networking: new relationships, new business opportunities, free wine. And that’s how I’d rally myself to get out the door.

But rallying yourself is draining. And often it doesn’t work. Some days, I’d rationalize myself out of going. I’m not Wonder Woman tonight. I’m going home to my kids – they need me. Plus, Stephen never goes to networking events, and look how successful he is. Maybe they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

Hardy is right: I hadn’t decided. That’s why it was so hard to make myself go.

So I asked myself: Do I really want this? Is networking something that I really want to do?

The answer is yes. Sure, I don’t love those meetings. I’d rather go home and tuck myself into bed. But the truth is I get a lot out of them. I’ve met wonderful people, and created some deeply meaningful, lifelong relationships. I’ve gotten some fantastic business opportunities. And I always learn something. They’re definitely worth it.

So, right now, I hereby decide: I want networking to be a part of my life and business.

Willpower is finicky. It’s like a gas tank that’s randomly empty sometimes and full other times. If you’re hungry, tired, cold, sick, or bored, it’s likely to drain suddenly.

It’s about as reliable as the weather channel. You definitely don’t want to bank on it.

That’s not to say it can’t be helpful, or that you shouldn’t take advantage when you have it. But it shouldn’t be your primary source of motivation, because that’s often an indicator of a deeper problem.

What’s something you’ve been powering through?

Have you really decided that you want to do it?

No? That’s okay. Walk away. Don’t feel guilty. Just let it go. You can always come back to it.

If yes, then connect to your reasons for doing it. Why is it meaningful? Why is it important?

Once you’ve decided, the best thing to do is to create an environment that’s conducive to doing what you need to do.

If you’ve decided to use your treadmill more, get it out of the dark, dingy basement and put it in the living room, where you can look out the window or watch TV (or better yet, get out your vision board!).

If you’ve decided to write a business plan, make your desk or office space somewhere really pleasant, somewhere you like being. Then you’ll spend more time there. It’ll take less willpower to stay in it.

Put yourself in places where you’re likely to do what you need to do. Surround yourself with things that point you toward your goal.

What does that look like for you?

Incidentally, my friend Roberta (who I met by networking J ) just sent me a flyer about a yoga networking event. Now that is my kind of environment.

I’d love to hear how this works for you. Tell me your experiences below!

Now go out and shine.

By |June 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why You’re Managing Your Stress All Wrong

In the spring of 2014, I spent a few weeks touring with the play Vanities, a comedy that follows three women’s lives through the 60s and 70s. What makes it different from other plays is that we actually get ready onstage, sitting at our vanities – while the audience files into their seats.

At the start of one performance, my co-stars and I were up there, primping our beehives and gluing on false eyelashes. I was so nervous, my hands were shaking, which made it hard to get my eyelashes even. I thought I might throw up.

Next to me, Heather Tom was the picture of readiness. She powdered her nose, adjusted her hair, smoothed on lipstick – all in easy, confident motions. She looked totally at home.

We were supposed to be visiting each other’s vanities, borrowing makeup and gossiping, so I went over to her vanity. “How are you so calm?” I said. “I’m so nervous I could barf. Isn’t this stressful for you?”

“Of course it’s stressful,” she said. “I’m super nervous.”

“But you got your eyelashes on straight and everything. How are you staying so calm?”

She looked at me, and behind the excitement, I saw the nervousness in her eyes. “Listen,” she said. “This stress is a good thing. It’s keeping me focused. It means I care about this. The day I’m not stressed about going onstage, I should probably quit acting.”

Heather was just as stressed as I was. But she wasn’t trying to manage it, or reduce it, or “de-stress.” Instead, she chose to perceive it differently. Her perspective that day helped her (and me) get into character. And we put on a great show (if I do say so myself).

The other day, that conversation came back to me, when I learned something extraordinary that changed my entire belief system around stress.

It’s this: when you perceive stress as a positive thing, it impacts both your mind and body more positively. If you perceive stress as damaging, then it impacts your mind and body negatively.

It’s proven: it’s all in how you see it.

Today, we’re taught to believe stress is negative. It causes high blood pressure and heart disease; it weakens your immune system; it harms the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems. We’re taught to be scared of stress.

But Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist who research stress, put it this way: “the harmful effects of stress may be a consequence of our perception that it is bad for our health.” And the opposite is true, too.

In a groundbreaking study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers asked 29,000 people to rate their stress levels over the last year, as well as how much they believed that stress impacted their health. Over the next eight years, the researchers monitored the subjects’ lives. What they found was that the people who reported high levels of stress, and who believed that stress had a large impact on their health, had a 43% increased risk of death.

Meanwhile, those who reported similar levels of stress, but did not believe it to largely effect their health, were the least likely to die in that time.

Perceiving stress as a positive actually helps you live longer.

In another study, students took a survey that measured their baseline stress levels. Then, they were told that five of them would be randomly selected to give a videotaped speech in front of their peers. Each was asked to decide whether they wanted feedback on their speech. After telling them this, researchers took mouth swabs to measure cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.

What they found was this: “those who naturally saw stress as helpful had a more moderate cortisol level in response to hearing about the speech possibility – and they were more likely to request feedback.”

Physically, those students responded less severely to stress. Emotionally, they were more ready to take on a challenge. All because they saw stress as helpful, not harmful.

To me, these studies (and the dozens of others like them) are just mind-blowing. Our mindsets are so powerful, they even determine our physical response to stress.

I don’t think Heather knew about those studies. But she intuited that perception is everything, and it helped her perform better. Little she did know, it might be helping her live longer, too.

Like almost everything else, we do have a choice – even when it comes to the physical effects of stress.

What about you? Where are you feeling the most stress now?

What would it feel like if you chose to perceive the stress differently?

Tell me about your experiences below – I’d love to hear how shifting your perspective around stress impacts your life.

Go out and shine.

By |June 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Which is more important, courage or confidence?

The other day, someone posed to me the question: which is more important, courage or confidence?

At first, it sounded like a chicken-or-egg question, one of those deep philosophical things you’d ask a guru on a mountaintop. But in the past week, it gave way to some great conversations, and lots of personal exploration. And it turns out it has a really useful, practical application in my daily life.

Constantly, people tell me, “I wish I had more confidence.” That sentence is forever stopping people from doing things they really want to do. I know for me personal, it’s responsible for almost everything I ever procrastinate on.

During the Twitter chat last week, the group unanimously agreed that courage comes before confidence. And that made me think: maybe confidence is the wrong target. Maybe we should aim for courage instead.

As usual, when I’m mulling over a phenomenon like this one, I decided to try it out on myself.

I’ve been doing more live events on social media lately (Facebook and Periscope, to be precise). And while it’s fun, and there’s a lot that I like about, I find it really scary. People think it’d be easy for me, since my background is in acting, but it’s unnerving. It’s hard. And now (today!) we have this special guest coming on, the extremely knowledgeable Dr. Scott Schreiber, so the stakes are even higher.

The truth is, I wish I had more confidence about going live on social media.

There’s this unwritten rule around confidence. It implies that you know what you’re doing, that you’re an expert, that you’ve done this a million times before. That expectation was throwing me off – mostly because my inner monologue was saying, I don’t know what I’m doing! I’ve never done this before! So I couldn’t quite make the leap to “Look at me! See my unshakable confidence!”

Instead, I decided to try the “courage comes first” approach. I thought, what would happen if I chose to be courageous instead?

Immediately, I felt different. I felt like it was okay that I was nervous. Nervous people can have courage; people who don’t know what they’re doing can still have courage. You don’t have to be perfect to be courageous; you just have to be willing to step into the unknown, and hope that you fly instead of fall.

Picture (5)I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m willing to give it a shot – now that was a mindset I could step into.

At about this point, some people might be saying “But I don’t have courage, either!” But think about it. We’ve all done things that show courage – stepping into our first classroom, going on our first date, breaking up from a bad relationship, quitting a job, having a hard conversation, asking for a raise. We didn’t always have confidence when we did those things, but we sure had courage – that’s how we did them. Nervous, uncertain, scared – we still found courage to do what we had to do.

My Twitter chatters were right: courage comes first.

So the first step is to shift your focus away from “I need confidence,” and toward “I have courage.” Think of all the times in your life you’ve mustered up the courage to do something. I promise you, there are more than you think.

Then, ask yourself these three questions to help you build up your courage, and then your confidence:

1) What’s the worst that could happen?

(When I answered this around the social media events, my answer was, “I’m probably not gonna die, even if I make a total fool of myself. At least my family will still love me.” That gave me some perspective.)

2) What do I have to gain?

(For me, it was “Experience. The potential to reach a lot of people, to share something I’m passionate about, to impact somebody. The chance that somebody will benefit, and maybe even share that with somebody else – so, I have the potential to create a domino effect. That’s worth taking the risk.”)

3) What do I have, that prepares me for this?

What skills, background, life experience, resources? When have you done anything like this before?

(“All my acting experience. The past few live events I’ve done. All the practice and rehearsal time I’ve ever put in. Plus, I have my fabulous support staff. And I have courage. And maybe even a little wisp of confidence.”)

Courage is like a seed. If you shine a little light on it, and help it grow, soon you’ll find it blossoming bigger than you thought possible. And the fruit of that will be confidence.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this. Feel free to share them below, and tune in to the live events today! (Wish me luck!)

Go out and shine.

By |May 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments

How to Believe You Are Good Enough

Last weekend, I went to a four-day certification course from Z Health about the neurology of fitness. Based on the topic, you’d think it was my cup of tea, right? I thought it would be, too – which is why I was so disappointed and frustrated when after the first day, I just wasn’t getting it.

I felt so dumb. I sat there throughout the presentations, listening, taking notes, trying to take it all in. But they might as well have been speaking ancient Greek. None of it landed for me. It was like everything went right over my head.

The same thing happened on Day 2. I can’t make it through two more days of this, I thought. Maybe I just shouldn’t come tomorrow.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling grumpy and mean. My poor kids knew something was wrong as soon as I stumbled into the kitchen, and they scattered like mice to avoid me. Looking ahead to the next two days, all I felt was that awful sense of I’m not good enough for this. I’m not smart enough. I don’t know enough. I didn’t prepare enough.

That’s where I caught myself. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this plague of “not enough.” It came up a few weeks ago, when I was reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. There’s a passage where she quotes Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’…We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of.”

abstract human body background neon designNow, when I encounter a mindset issue like that, it just calls out to me. Like blank paper calls out to an artist, or a track calls out to a runner. I just gravitate toward those, especially the ones that I wrestle with. I love trying to come up with a mindset tool to work around it. How can I flip it around, and help other people do it, too? How can we shift our perspective into a more positive, useful one?

Since reading that book, I’d come up with a few theories around this “not good enough” mindset. So Saturday morning, I decided to put one to the test.

On a scale of one to ten, I asked myself over a cup of coffee, how much do I feel like going to the conference today?

Two, I answered.

Why not a zero? my coach-self asked.

Well, it’s about the brain and fitness, so I wish I could get something out of it. It’s not like I’m not interested. It’s just that I’m not smart enough.

Okay, let’s work with that. What are you smart enough for, today?

I don’t know, I thought glumly. Maybe if I can just get one thing out of it, then it’ll be worth it. I would hope I’m smart enough to understand one measly thing.

Great. Let’s do that, said my perky inner coach. (Somehow the coffee had had its effect on her, but not on my grumpy side).

So I went. As I walked in and sat down, I made a conscious effort not to give in to the gremlins of “not good enough.” And throughout the day, I looked for that one single thing that I could take home, that would really make today worthwhile.

And I found it. (It has to do with experiencing movement and the need for safety…I’ll go into that another time.)

I found something else, too. Once I let myself off the hook from trying to take everything in, I was able to appreciate more of what they were saying. My mindset was more receptive and open. Sure, not every single piece of information landed for me. But some of it did, and that’s what I’d needed. And the things that did were extremely powerful.

It was a breakthrough day. It wasn’t just a little better than Friday. It was a great day, by any standards. I left feeling hopeful, energized, and, well, smart.

‘Until you stop breathing there’s more right with you than wrong with you.’

– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Try these questions next time you need to work around that horrible feeling of “not good enough.” Ask yourself, on a scale of one to ten, how ready or willing do you feel to take on the challenge you’re facing? (That challenge might be a day, it might be a particular event; it might be a speech or a presentation or an interview.)

Why isn’t it a zero? Or, if it is a zero, why isn’t a negative two?

What do you feel good enough for, today? Or smart enough? What do you have enough time for today?

Usually, something comes up. Keep asking until you get it. Once you open up even the slightest crack in your negative mindset, you’re letting in the possibility for a positive one. Even a tiny step can lead to a whole paradigm shift.

You can use these questions together or separately. For me, they happened to work really well as a process, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

What’s something you’re facing now, that you don’t feel good enough for? How have you dealt with it in the past?

What’s possible when you acknowledge that you actually are good enough?

Tell me about it below!

And then, go out and shine.

By |May 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Keep the Magic Real

For months now, my son Ty has been on a mission to disprove the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and all things magical.

A few weeks ago, when he lost a tooth, I snuck into his room and put some money under his pillow, successfully taking the tooth without waking him up. When I got back to my room (this was about five in the morning) I just put it in a bag under a sweatshirt, thinking I was safe to leave it there for the night.

It wasn’t even seven a.m. when I opened my eyes to the sounds of rummaging. As I sat up and rubbed my eyes, there was Ty, holding up the bag, with a look of supreme triumph on his face. Ha! his eyes said. Caught you.

“What are you doing, honey?” I said, opting for the “innocent-me” route.

“What is my tooth doing in your room, in this bag?” he said, his sweet voice dripping with accusation.

I shook my head in wonder. “I have no idea,” I said, as if I could not fathom such a turn of events. “Is there any money under your pillow?”

So I managed to dodge a bullet on that one. But one random day, weeks later, I came home and he asked me for a handwriting sample. “Write your messiest,” he said, so I did – only to see him pull out an old note from the tooth fairy, to compare with mine. It was another close call, but it didn’t give him the proof he needed. So once again, I was off the hook.

But then this past weekend, Ty’s snooping skills finally paid off. (I’m thinking about getting a safe…but he’d probably crack the code.)

It was Easter morning, after they’d found their eggs and baskets and eaten too much chocolate, when Ty found the receipt from Target. He held it up like a trophy, like he’d just solved a cold case. “Mom!” he cried, waving it in my face. His big blue eyes were filled with knowing. “Mom, what’s this?”

IMG_6993It was pretty damning evidence. Unfortunately, the Easter bunny and I had done our shopping all in one trip – so there it was, the Legos, the candy, the games, the toothpaste, the razors, all on one receipt.

Unfortunately, his friends Max and Riley were there, too, also looking at me accusingly, waiting for an answer. Somehow, I got the receipt from him without fully coming clean.

The rest of the morning, he was acting uncharacteristically bratty. Until he broke down, said he didn’t believe in the Easter Bunny, and that I’d been lying to him.

So Stephen took him aside, and they had The Talk. Our friend Lisa had given us some advice about what to tell him: it’s true, there is no Easter bunny. But now that he knows the secret, he’s entered into a new club – and now it’s his responsibility to keep it a secret for others. To keep the magic going.

After they talked, Ty wandered back over to me. “Hi Mom,” he said, looking downcast.

“Hey, buddy,” I said. “How are you doing?” He shrugged. “Are you feeling a little sad?” He nodded. There wasn’t any denial, no glimmer of hope – it was done.

And right then – I know, it’s a little cheesy, a little Hallmark-y – I started crying.

I felt like I was watching the kid in Ty disappear. I was watching him step into this new adult role, where he had to let go of all the fun and the wonder and childlike joy.

It’s gone, I thought. He hasn’t even lost all his teeth. Will we still even hide them? What about Christmas, will he even be excited when he wakes up?

That’s what was so painful for me – the feeling that the magic of childhood was over for him.

Does it have to be that way?

I started thinking. Maybe not. Maybe the magic doesn’t have to be over, I thought. Maybe we just need to find new ways to keep it alive. And thanks to what Stephen told Ty about the new “club” he’s in, now Ty can get in on doing that, too. Not just for other kids, or younger kids, but for us.

We decided that could be our new tradition: we all hide Easter baskets for each other.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about how that can apply to things outside of my kids. What about daily life, where for so many of us, the magic is totally gone?

Every day, people let you down, things don’t work out, ideas that once held all the magic in the world suddenly crumble to ash. It’s like we as adults are constantly being told that some new Santa Claus isn’t real.

But that’s not how it has to be. What if there was a new club we were all in? Where we took it as our responsibility to keep magic alive for each other?

I’m not suggesting we go around hiding Easter baskets in the office or the subway. (Though I don’t hate that idea…) I’m talking about applying this concept to daily life, to our everyday relationships. Helping to rekindle joy where it’s been lost.

Have you watched someone you know lose the magic?

I see this around birthdays for adults. It’s so easy to think, “Shoot, I missed another of so-and-so’s birthdays. Oh well, I’m sure they’re busy. I’m busy. I’ll do something next year.”

But our days count. Moments count. Once you start looking for ways to make other people’s day, that energy will flow right back at you.

Or maybe it’s for yourself. What’s an area in your life where you’ve lost your excitement?

Has your job turned into a daily torture session? Have you lost touch with your spouse or a close friend? What about in your personal life – what’s something you once loved to do, something that gave you joy, but you haven’t done in a while?

How can you create just a little spark of magic, either in your life or someone else’s?

Go out and shine.

By |April 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Dark Side of Bucket Lists

When she was in third grade, my beautiful, waif-like daughter Kaya earned herself the nickname “Pig.” For years, her friends called her that – affectionately, I might add – because it’s her favorite animal, and because she wanted nothing more than this: to swim with the pigs in Exuma. (Yes, it’s a real thing.)

So last weekend, we boarded a plane – me, Kaya, her friend and her friend’s mom – and headed to the Bahamas.

kayaWe took a boat ride to the island where the pigs lived. When we got off, one thing was clear: the pigs were not interested in swimming. They had swum all morning, and were tired, and just not in the mood to help Kaya live her dream.

At first, I just stood there, dumbfounded. This was it?…This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen at all.

Kaya was disappointed, but she didn’t dwell on it. We did other islandy things – hung out on the beach, went swimming without pigs, you know, the usual.

When we got home, I told Stephen how anticlimactic it was. “The trip was kind of a bust,” I told him quietly. He asked Kaya if she had fun.

“Yeah!” she said, her face lighting up. “It was lots of fun!”

“What was your favorite part?”

“The boat ride, and the beach, and…” She went on to name a dozen other things.

When I saw her face, I realized I’d been wrong. The trip hadn’t been a bust. I’d just been looking at the wrong things.

Sometimes, you go for something, especially a bucket list item, and it’s just not what you expected.

There’s an old Harry Chapin song, “Greyhound,” that I used to love. In it, there’s the line, “It’s got to be the going, not the getting there, that’s good.”

I sang that line over and over when my sister Karin and I biked the Pacific Highway Coast, from San Francisco to San Diego. There were a lot of big hills, so it was like a mantra for me. I’ve got to enjoy this part, too, not just wait for the end. And there were so many things to enjoy—my sister, the sun, the wind, the view. They were the best parts of the trip.

In Exuma, there were dozens of moments of fun and light and joy. We got to hold piglets. I held a giant starfish. Kaya had a great time with her friend, and I had a great time with her mom. I went for a walk by myself and found these spectacular little coves. I had some cool ideas for my business.

On the way back, we rode a prop plane—something I swore I’d never do again. But there we were, flying through the air in a shaky metal box, and the sunset was so stunning I forgot to be nervous.

Most people, myself included, miss those small moments – either because we’re too focused on the end goal, or because we’re afraid to accept joy.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about “foreboding joy” – that tendency to feel afraid when things are good, thinking something bad will surely happen next. We close ourselves off to the joy, believing if we don’t get too happy, we can’t get too sad.

But that’s the wrong approach. When you’re blessed with a moment of joy, she says, the best thing to do is feel it, to “lean into” it, accept it.pigs

Don’t squander joy, she writes. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen – and they do happen – we are stronger.

Strength and resilience come from leaning into joy when it’s near, so it becomes a part of who you are.

I see this working whenever my son Ty has a nightmare. When that happens, we play this game: “What are some things that make you happy?” And he’ll start naming things, one by one, until he’s ready to go back to sleep.

It’s so important to enjoy those things, to collect them like seashells, keep them somewhere safe. When you need them, you can get them out and look at them, turn them over, experience that joy again.

Of course, crossing off a bucket list item – that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t mean to imply we should think small, and forego all the pig-swimming and globetrotting and thrill-seeking that life has in store for us. But on the way to those things, don’t lose sight of the little moments. In the prop planes and the sunsets, the snorting piglets and the starfish. That’s where joy is, waiting for us to find it.

And then when we reach our destination, we’ll know how to enjoy it to the fullest. We were training for it all along.

I’m no musician, but I’m going to rewrite Harry Chapin’s lyric. I think it should be “It has to be the going, not just the getting there, that’s good.”

What are some little moments you’re experiencing, right now? What’s around you in this very moment that’s giving you joy, helping you become more resilient and strong?

It can be anything – a glass of water, the view out your window, the face of a loved one. Acknowledge those things now; bring them in to your collection of joy.

Write them in the comments below – I want to spread the joy as much as possible.

Go out and shine.

By |April 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

These 3 Lessons Changed My Life

This week, my mom celebrates her 85th birthday. In the last few weeks, as my sisters and I get ready for her big day, I’ve been realizing how much I love her, but I sometimes forget to take those moments to say so and really appreciate her. Isn’t it strange, how easy it is to forget to express your love to those closest to you?

So in honor of her, today, I’d like to share with you three things she taught me that changed my life. Here they are – The Top 3 Life Lessons from Gunvor Satra:

1. Let the spirit of adventure guide you.

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but my mom found a way to show us the world. She loves to travel, and anywhereworld-travel on the globe was fair game. Once, we were actually debating between Turkey, the Baltic countries, and Peru. Most people don’t look at such a wide range of place at one time, but from her, I learned that anything is possible, and anywhere is worth seeing and learning about. (We ended up in Turkey that time. She went to Peru the next year without me.)

Once, in Egypt, she wanted to get to this little town, but we couldn’t find any transportation to get there. “If the locals can get there, so can we,” she said, and sure enough, we found this open air bus, full of goats and chickens and locals. We made it to the town, where of course she made friends, despite the fact that she didn’t speak the language.

Across any barrier, she could connect with people. And she’d go around the world to do it.

2. Movement helps you experience life more fully.IMG_2811

My mom is no a gym rat. I think she belonged to a gym maybe six months total in her whole life. But she loves being active. Most of my memories are of us hiking, swimming, skiing, tennis, exploring outside – and it was a huge bonding time for me and my sisters. It’s a family tradition that every Christmas, we go out and do something outside. Sometimes it’s cross country skiing; sometimes it’s digging people out of snow drifts.

By encouraging us to move – “get up! Time to go outdoors!” – my mom taught me that movement is key to really experiencing life. You don’t get that on a couch. You get it by physically, actively engaging with your body and your environment.

I don’t know if she ever meant me to create a business out of it, but, oh well. Too late now!

3. There’s always another way.

With my mom, there’s always just one more possibility. (This makes decision-making VERY difficult, especially in a family of people who can’t make decisions.)

If you’re feeling stuck, or something’s not quite right, always knew there are least ten ways around it. Maybe this is where my love of Perspectives comes from.

What better feelings are there than love and gratitude? TheIMG_4481y open your heart and make you notice the goodness in people. The more you look for it, the more there is. And it’s contagious, because then you start seeing it everywhere, in all the people in your life who’ve impacted you for the better.

So today, in honor of Gunvor Satra, I invite you to open your heart to all the love that’s around you. Feel free to share below who it is for you, and why. And then take it out with you into the world, and shine.

Thank you, Mom, and happy birthday. I love you.

By |March 22nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments