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Archive for September, 2010

Inspiration, Curiosity, & Positivity

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

After meeting some of the best and the brightest researchers and educators at a recent Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital Coaching in Medicine & Leadership  Intensive, I wanted to share some amazing quotes of inspiration:

“All great leaders by their passion and sense of purpose, and their accomplishments, live a great story.” ~Sanjiv Chopra, MD

“The opponent within one’s head is more daunting that the one on the other side of the net.” ~Sir John Whitmore, PhD

“Positive emotions help us become the best versions of ourselves.” ~Barbara Fredrickson, PhD

“Changes in the internal system will effect changes in the external system and vice versa. This means that how you relate to your Inner Team members is similar to how you relate to the people in your world and vice versa.” ~Richard Schwartz, PhD

“We cannot inspire passion in others without engaging it ourselves.” ~Richard Boyatzis, PhD

“Coaching improves psychological resources that predict higher performance, capacity to change, and mental health, e.g. increasing positivity, resilience, and self-efficacy.” ~Margaret Moore, M.B.A.

You don’t have to be a life coach or a doctor to ask, to be open, to be curious, to connect in ways that allow us to reach our deepest vision of healing and wholeness. As Paul Farmer once said, “The only true nation is humanity.”

Mary Anne

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Believing in Your Potential

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I just came home from a Coaching in Medicine and Leadership Intensive with Harvard Medical School. In another blog, I will post some amazing quotes and ideas. I wanted to dedicate this one to sharing why it meant so much to me to go to this Harvard Intensive.

Back in grade school, I was never the best or brightest in class. Teachers often based my grades on my hard work, my creativity, and my enthusiasm. My report cards had remarks like, “Mary Anne is a joy to have in class.” While I may not have understood everything happening in the classroom, I had an insatiable curiosity and loved asking questions.

By the time I went to high school, I felt like I had to work so hard just to keep up. I started to feel very lost and struggled with many classes. By the end of my junior year, I prayed to get through one more year. Not knowing what I would do after high school, I met with my guidance counselor, who after looking at my transcript, told me not to apply to college. My counselor thought I ought to go to a trade school or find a job. She told me I wouldn’t make it through college.

As a Life Coach, I can look back now and see that this counselor didn’t see or believe in my potential. She never asked me what I wanted to do after high school or ask if I wanted to attend college. Fortunately, I had a religion teacher who told me I had a lot of gifts to share with the world. She encouraged me (along with my parents) to attend college and explore classes until I found something that brought me joy.

This teacher saw in me more than I could at 17 and encouraged me to explore and dream — she saw potential and possibility. I graduated college with honors and have gone on to do amazing work with non-profits as well as successfully start my own company.

Going to Harvard Medical school this weekend was symbolic for me. It reminded me that anything is possible and I have even more potential to celebrate.

Who believes in your potential? As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”

Mary Anne

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How Will You Fall into Trust?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

After returning from an incredible two week vacation where I had to trust that work would get done while I away and trust that I could leave work behind, I realized how much trust plays in my life. When I started thinking about trust, I remembered how I taught “Trust Falls” with junior high school students about twenty years ago. I was trained with New York City Outward Bound and I worked with youth in the South Bronx on team building. After some ice-breakers and strategic games, the final activity was a Trust Fall. A young person would have to stand on a table with their back to a group who had their arms criss-crossed waiting to catch them. The person doing the falling would shout, “Fall.” The group had to respond “Fall Away” and after hearing that, the participant would say “Falling” and lean back and land into the group who would catch them.  The whole group would gently place the person back on their feet. Each one of these trust falls would inevitably end with applause.

The activities took great concentration, teamwork, and of course, trust. For many youth, this was the first time they allowed themselves to become vulnerable with a group or trust someone. If a young person became scared (many did), I would invite the group to share their thoughts and feelings. The teenagers were amazing as they expressed encouragement to their peers. They would share things like, “You can do it”, “We have your back”, or “We won’t drop you.”

Twenty years later, I still remember many youth from IS167 on Webster Avenue and see them close their eyes and drop into the hands of their peers. As we begin a new season, let us turn to one another and say, “Fall.” Fall away……

How will you Fall into Trust?

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What Is Your Theme Song?

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Once I get hooked on a song, I play it until I can’t hear it anymore. It becomes my theme song and I never know how long it will last. My latest theme song is Glitter by Pink. I play this song on my iPod every day while riding the subway and hit the repeat button so it just keeps looping back to that song.

There is something about hearing the lyrics:
Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don’t care?

It’s only half past the point of no return
The tip of the iceberg, the sun before the burn
The thunder before the lightening, the breath before the phrase
Have you ever felt this way?

What’s your theme song these days?

Mary Anne

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How Are You Spending Your Time Today?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Every so often I pick up Robert Grudin’s book, Time and the Art of Living, and read a passage that becomes my focus for the week (or longer).  When I flipped open the book, here is the paragraph I opened to:

“When building a nest of time, be certain of its dimensions. Its duration should not depend on something unpredictable — a homecoming, a phone call, or your own whim — for then its outer fringes, beginning and/or end, will be weakened by uncertainty. It should be long enough for the activity it includes, not so short as to be rushed or so long as to be oppressive. If possible it should look out, like a room in a country house, toward some pleasant prospect of future time — a meal, a meeting, a rest. Protect these periods also from within. A telephone or television set or radio, for example, can ruin time as thoroughly as a hole in the roof or a missing door can ruin interior space. A confused schedule, conflicting obligations or habitual distraction all crack the walls of time, leaving us defenseless against an infringing environment.”

How will you spend today?

Mary Anne

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What Opens You to a Change of Heart?

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

After listening to a Holly Near song at a recent Celebration of Life Show in Provincetown, I was reminded how much we can make the changes we want in our lives just by changing our hearts.

As Holly Near sings:
Something changes in me anytime there’s someone singing

All the songs I’ve never forgotten, let our voices sing them strong

Something changes in me anytime there’s someone standing

For the right to be completely all the good things that we are

There’s a change of heart

Anytime there’s someone counting

All the lives that won’t be thrown away

There’s a change of heart

Anytime you join the choir, be a voice up on the mountain

Or see a fire…in the rain

Something changes in me when my arms are held wide open

Fear and hate are set aside and only love remains

Something changes in me and I feel a deep emotion

While the ones who offer help replace the ones that just complain

Where am I offering help rather than just complaining? It’s time to stand up more each day for the right to be completely all the good things that we are!

Mary Anne

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National Yoga Month!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

September is National Yoga Month! It’s a great way to celebrate mind, body, & spirit connections. I only started taking yoga classes this past January. It has been an amazing journey. Most of the poses still confuse me and it takes great effort to do a should stand, but I find that I can push myself just a little bit more each class. And what has really inspired me more than the poses is the ability to create a heart-centered practice that deepens my relationship with the Divine.

My yoga teachers start our class by asking us to dedicate our practice or our day to someone we love. ‘May each pose be an offering to a loved one or the Divine.’ What a beautiful way to start each day! When I look around the room at other folks doing yoga poses, I often think, “Will my body ever bend like that?” I am reminded to always come back to my breath. I breathe deeper and watch how my body is able to expand, and yet, I can clearly recognize the limits of how far my body will push itself — how much pain feels good and tolerable.

For me, yoga has been more than a trendy exercise. It’s been an experience of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I am perfect exactly as I am in this very moment.

I invite you to stretch yourself this month (in mind, body, spirit). Offer your practices or day to someone you love.

Mary Anne

To find out more information about National Yoga Month click the link: http://www.yogamonth.org/

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Are You Ready to Do More Than the Status Quo?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Seth Godin speaks about Redefining Failure. Godin says, “We think failure is the opposite of success and we optimize our organizations to avoid it.” In other words, we treat everything we do as if it ought to be a non-failure. He thinks we have narrowly defined failure. Godin continues, “Failure creates urgency. Failure gets you fired. Failure cannot stand; it demands a response. But the status quo is simply embraced and, incredibly, protected.”

There are so many places in our life when keeping the status quo seems easier than going with something new that may fail and we might learn from that. What if we redefined our definition of failure so we could experience something new, make changes, and create new opportunities?

Stepping up with a new idea and failing and then making changes is far more successful than doing the same thing with little or no result. I think of my friend Joe who will move to the West Coast in January after twenty years in New York to live his dream or my friend Clayton who invests in promoting his LGBT organization by offering gift card incentives to homeowners.

I am looking at how I could redefine failure. I could stay with the status quo and continue doing really good work in New York or I could expand into Provincetown and/or other global parts of the world and see this as an amazing chance of growth—even if there is some failure.

I am ready to do more than the status quo. Will you join me?

Mary Anne

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What Is It to Work with Love?

Monday, September 13th, 2010

As I fully return to my daily routine, I wanted to share a passage from one of my favorite writings of all times, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Perhaps it is time to see my “routine” as a way to work with love!

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Yes, work is love made visible~
Mary Anne

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Why Meditate?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

What’s the point? I am often asked this question after people have tried to meditate. Many people say that they can’t meditate. There is the misconception that meditation is about shutting down or shutting off the mind. In fact, it is the opposite. The whole point of meditation is to allow the mind to feel free. The best meditations happen when we can acknowledge our thoughts flowing through us without judgment. And like anything we want to cultivate, meditation is a practice.

Meditation is about cultivating the mind. The very word “meditation” in Sanskrit means “to cultivate.” In Tibetan, the word meditation translates into gom, which means, “to become familiar with.” Meditation is about becoming familiar with ourselves over and over again. It allows us to cultivate the chatter and draw out what we have kept stuffed inside.

Cultivating our mind is essential if we want to develop our emotional well-being, create inner peace, and our service to others. The more we attempt to block thoughts during meditation, the louder they will be. The whole purpose of meditation is to show us what we need—to allow our thoughts to arise and dissolve into mindfulness. This might mean allowing ourselves to set a course that is most desirable for our experiencing peace.

Imagine the benefit of giving ourselves a new experience of the world with each passing breath. All it takes to start is ten to twenty minutes daily to get to know our mind.

Why do you meditate?

Mary Anne

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