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Archive for August, 2010

Breaking Ourselves Open

Monday, August 30th, 2010

After visiting Omega Institute for the weekend, I felt myself break open a little more. I became so mindful of the earth I was walking on, the food I was placing in my mouth, and the thoughts flowing in and out. I “thought” I was going to Omega for a yoga weekend, but found myself exploring organic foods. I walked away with a whole new relationship with my meals—eating slowly, consciously choosing what I put on my plate, and noticing how foods from the earth tasted in my mouth. My relationship with food is breaking open.

Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute, writes about the journey of breaking open in order to blossom into who we really are. In her book, Broken Open, she writes:

“Over and over, we are broken on the shore of life. Our stubborn egos are knocked around, and are broken open—not once, and not in predictable patterns, but in surprising ways and for as long as we live. The promise of being broken and the possibility of being open are written into the contract of human life. Certainly this tumultuous journey on the waves can be tiresome. When the sea is rough, and when we are suffering, we may want to give up hope and give in to despair. But brave pilgrims have gone before us. They tell us to venture forth with faith and vision.

May you listen to the voice within the beat when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom.”

Here is to breaking open over and over and over again.
Mary Anne

This is dedicated to Elizabeth Lesser, all the amazing staff at Omega Institute, and Sri Dharma Mittra for breaking open my relationship with food.

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Welcome Home

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

While attending a Journal Writing class at the New York Open Center, we were asked to do a guided visualization. The teacher invited us to think about having a conversation with someone who had passed away even if we had not met them before and ask them for a message that would be meaningful to hear. I sat with my eyes closed, breathing softly, and my Uncle Edmond from Ireland came to mind. I had never met him, but I had memories of how much my father loved him and was so upset after he passed away in 1983 at a young age.

I asked Uncle Edmond for a message. I listened intently and wrote the following:
You are the way; once you believe that and claim that, the way will be open for you. The past is always available, the present is always free, and the future is always open. Listen to yourself, honor yourself, remember yourself, love yourself. That is the way. You are home.

As the teacher, Catherine Ann Jones, said, “It’s not the past events, but the way we remember them.” And in the end, it’s about coming home to ourselves.

Welcome home.
Mary Anne

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What Is Your New Story Behind the Rainbow?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Recently, a friend posted a video of the song The Never Ending Story by Limahl. I had not heard that song in years, but have a vivid memory of singing to my 45-inch record.

“Dream a dream and what you will see will be
Rhymes that keep their secrets will unfold behind the clouds
And there upon the rainbow is the answer
To a never ending story”

How many times have I told a never ending story? Could there be a new way of telling a story – behind the clouds and upon the rainbow?

Just last week I was telling “the story” of how I started my company, Toning the OM™. I went right into the “never ending story” of how my mom passed away and I needed to find an outlet for my grief. For the past four years, I have told the story of my mom’s death as the reason I started Toning the OM™. In reality, it was my mom’s life that inspired me. It was her dedication to her faith, her friends, and her never-ending belief in me to do anything I put my mind to.

My new story is about how I created Toning the OM™ not because my mom died, but because she lived.

Mary Anne

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Acorns for Sale – for a Penny!

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

When I think about how easy it is to market my business and speak about what I do, I remember the story of selling acorns for a penny. Back when I was around seven years old my sister, Dawn, and I filled an old blue baby carriage with acorns from our street. We went door to door and asked people if they wanted to buy an acorn for a penny. I have a vivid memory of seeing the smiles on the adults’ faces when they looked at the two of us selling acorns. No one turned us away. They all bought acorns from us – many even bought five or ten acorns.

I don’t imagine anyone needed acorns in their homes. They bought them because they knew the Flanagan girls, because it was a unique idea, and because it was a reasonable price. Years later, when I think about my coaching and healing business, I think of selling acorns for a penny. My business is based on building relationships, sharing unique ideas, and pricing my courses/sessions that allow for accessibility.

When people feel good about paying for something and want more, then you’ve done something far better than selling – you’ve made an impact, created a change, and built sustaining relationships.

I have more acorns for a penny if you want some.
Mary Anne

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Love or Illusion?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

When I look through the eyes of love, the world seems so open with possibility. I wrote in my journal,”If it is not love, then it is an illusion.” So much of life and what we tell ourselves is an illusion. I was meditating on illusions and when I finished, I turned on my iPod and Melissa Etheridge’s song, Only Love, was playing.

As I started singing along, I heard her lyrics:
“Only love is real
Everything is love
Everything you feel
That’s what your world is made of

And when I took a good look around I see
My thoughts are coming back to me
So look around
We are in charge of our own dreams
We have more power than it seems
So look around”

I’m looking around with love.
Mary Anne

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What Is Today Asking of You?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

What is this day asking of you? It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily routines of life. We can mindlessly go about our business – getting our children dressed, having breakfast, commuting to work, running errands, or driving our car – that we forget about all the little moments in between that show us the miracles all around us. Are we willing to listen?

What’s new about today? What would you like to see change and are willing to do one thing to make that happen?

I have often heard people say, “It’s the way it is.” Yes, it is the way it is, until it’s not.

How will you listen to this day and all it brings you?

Mary Anne

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Only Carry What Is Necessary

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

My office is going through major renovations. We have spent the past week packing up everything in our offices and can only take with us what is necessary. What a wonderful practice—to only carry what is necessary. It made me look at what I need vs. what I want.

How much am I carrying around with me as a form of comfort or because I want to hold onto it to feel more secure? What am I willing to let go of? Throwing things away or giving them away is such a practice in freedom. The emptier my office, the lighter I feel.

As I was packing my last box, I looked at my desk and saw my favorite pen, my coffee mug, a couple of books, and a Margaret Wheatley poster. The poster was rolled up and looking down I read, “Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.” What a great reminder that stuff will come and go, but what remains are the relationships built and sustained. Meaningful conversations are necessary and are coming with me on my move.

Next week the walls are coming down—that’s a whole other lesson!

Mary Anne

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How Do You Make Decisions?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I realized recently that most of my decisions happen effortlessly. If I have to think too much or too long, then I know that the time is not right to make a decision. Or as Seth Godin says about the ‘Decision Before the Decision’: “This is the one that was made before you even showed up.”

When was the last time I made a decision? Probably when I was hungry and decided what food to eat. Other than that, decisions just happen when the time is right

Byron Katie talks about decisions in this way: “You can’t make a decision. You can only experience a story about how you made it. Decisions make themselves; they’re happenings; they come when the time is right.”

What a relief!
Mary Anne

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Create Space for What You Love Doing

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Create space for what you LOVE to do, rather than fill space with what you are ‘comfortable’ doing.

I hope you have been able to spend time doing what you LOVE this summer. I decided to take a little more time off this summer from what was becoming a hectic schedule (that I created). I would often hear people “admire” me for my busy schedule, all the programs and workshops I gave, my growing business, all while working full-time. The truth is I became very “comfortable” filling my schedule. What I really needed to do was become comfortable being uncomfortable with less to do.

After emptying my calendar and saying “no” to a lot of invitations, I began to create space in my schedule. I was able to spend time seeing what it was I really LOVE to do. I didn’t need a sabbatical from work; I needed a sabbatical from myself! I spent a lot of time going to the beach, connecting with friends, taking long walks, and reading lots of good books. This gave me the respite I needed to relax. I spent many mornings and evenings sitting quietly, watching sunrises and sunsets, and listening to the birds sing. I came to a place where I finally acknowledged how much I love to write meditations, poetry, and blogs. The quieter I became, the more ideas for my business flowed effortlessly.

Create space for what you LOVE to do! How could being uncomfortable give you the space you need to show you what is you LOVE?

Mary Anne

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Hurry Up and Wait!

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

My father had this saying when I was growing up: “Hurry up and wait.” I would often laugh at the expression – until I had to start driving on I-95 in New York. Anyone who has driven I-95 knows that there are two speeds on this road – drag racing and dead stop. There are so many times it has taken me hours to go 13-15 miles. By now you would think I might have learned patience after 18+ years of driving on the Cross Bronx Expressway. The reality is, I still get frustrated and yell at drivers.

I am not one for sitting in traffic or waiting on lines (heck, I was born two months premature!). I will often choose to take lunch early or late so I don’t have to wait on line. So, when I went to Whole Foods for a lunch treat this week, I thought I would miss the mad rush. But there I was – standing on a long line. If you have ever been to a Whole Foods, you might appreciate the anxiety running through me. You not only have to wait on a LONG line, you have to stand in a color coded line and wait for your color to be called and told what register to go to. There’s a science to it. And finding your register when it blinks is an art – one I have not mastered.

I waited on the long line because I had bought a delicious lunch. And then I thought, “Why am in a hurry?” Other than wanting to enjoy a yummy meal, what was the big rush?

Of course, there are many other things I would rather be doing than sitting in my car in traffic or waiting on a long line in a food store, but I get to choose how I think about it. I get to listen to more CD’s in my car and meet new people while waiting on line. I even chatted with the cashier at Whole Foods as I had just seen her over the weekend. This doesn’t mean I’ll love to sit in traffic or wait on lines, but it does mean I might choose a different response to it.

What is something that teaches you to hurry up and wait?

Mary Anne

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