Author Archive

The Joy of Essentialism

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Have you ever heard the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” Well that is what Greg McKeown is for me–a teacher. I am on my second reading of his book Essentialism. I discovered this book last year thanks to a course I was taking online by Hilary Rushford (she taught a great class on doing less by the way!) and this book changed my life.

So now that I have made some MAJOR changes over the last 9 months personally and professionally (we’ll talk about those more soon – I promise!), I decided to read it again. I knew that I would hear things that I didn’t hear the first time around because I am already in a different place thanks to my pursuit of a simpler life and my resolutions to find more joy and love myself more.

I think the biggest gift from Greg’s book is this:”If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” WOW! Talk about a litmus test for what to allow in your life! And I don’t know about you, but I think I have a harder time dealing with some of the small things like whether to go out with my girlfriends on a weeknight vs. staying home and getting a good night’s sleep than I do with big business decisions sometimes. But whether the decision is big or small, this concept makes the choice crystal clear. If you waiver at all, the answer is no. What a relief that is to me in so many ways. It stops the conversations in our heads, the guilt, the waffling. What a lot of time this one concept can save in our decision making and in our lives in general. Time that we can spend doing something truly meaningful.

Greg and I have a similar vision about people. I love to help others find their passion and purpose, live their best life, find happiness and joy in their businesses and in their homes. And I see so many people doing things because they think they “have to” but not because they want to or like to. And I have definitely felt that way at times. But the truth is this…

Very few things are essential. There are so FEW things that we really must do to be happy or profitable. This is completely in line with my mantra “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.” What stresses us out, overwhelms us, makes us want to escape work and life, is saying yes to all those non-essential things that we somehow can’t say no to. How many times I have heard people I am consulting with on their businesses say “Well, they aren’t my ideal client but they were a referral from a friend so I HAVE to take them on.” No you don’t! Or what about when people say “You know, I don’t want to offer that service, I don’t even like doing that, but I feel like to be in this business we have to have that service or people will not hire us.” Ok, so they don’t hire you – you don’t like working that way anyway! The list of things that I hear people doing daily that they don’t want to but “have to” is endless and if we are perfectly honest, it’s also a lie. We DON’T have to do it. We have a choice.

Oh wouldn’t life be so beautiful and people so happy if they had the courage to live a life that is true to themselves. I want this for my daughter, heck I want this for me!  I want this for my niece and nephew, my husband, my mom, my brother, my friends. I want this for our world. A life of authenticity, to truly be who and what you want to be. That would be the most refreshing and inspiring world I could possibly imagine.

I can’t say enough things about this book by Greg McKeown and how this way of thinking has changed my mindset. And it builds so beautifully on other great books I have read like Tim Ferriss’ idea in The 4 Hour Work Week of making as much money as you can in as little time as possible so you can spend the rest of your time doing what you want. Yes, that definitely fits my idea of the essentialist lifestyle and it’s a plan I am putting into place more now than ever.

I don’t know about you, but hitting mid-life made me re-think what I want for the next half of this life. And I definitely want more listening, pondering, meditating and enjoying the most important people in my life. One of the most interesting things in the book to me was discussion of priorities. The word “priorities” only became plural in America in the 1940s. Prior to that is was priority, singular, because really you can only have ONE MOST important thing. But in the ’40s, Americans started trying to do more and be more and at work we were expected to accomplish more.

And now in our lives and businesses we talk about priorities and the list could include dozens of things. DOZENS! Then we wonder why in the world we are so tired, so overworked, so confused and so ineffective all the time. This way of thinking is a sure-fire way to fail every single day. And I don’t know about you but I feel like that often. I rarely feel like I win when I go head-to-head against my to-do list.  But if we had one true priority every day, could we really hit that? I suspect we could. If we removed all the non-essentials from our to-do list, it would probably be really short.

So I want you to know the JOY I am finding in Essentialist thinking and in the quest to move closer to this way of living. It is definitely what helped me find more Joy in Quitting and I know that the more I practice the “Disciplined Pursuit of Less but Better,” the more Joy will surely come into my life and the lives of those I love. Cheers to Essentialism!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

The Joy of Quitting

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Yes, you read that blog title right. Sometimes it is a JOY to quit things–to just decide you will not do some things in your life anymore. Whether it’s things on your to-do list or your bucket list or maybe it’s some of your business services or social media–quitting can feel great. And oh my yes, don’t we want to quit social media sometimes?! Being a part of too many things is exhausting. I so relate to the quote above. It’s funny but for me, it’s also very true!

There are many things that most of us need to quit. And believe it or not, sometimes it’s relationships…the toxic and draining ones that only take and don’t ever fill you back up. Or maybe even ones that aren’t really taking anything from you much, but you feel guilty for not being able to give them more time. Anything that brings guilt needs to be reconsidered. And then there are all those hobbies and exercise classes and social groups and bible studies and charity boards and the PTA. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn’t be an advocate, a philanthropist, a friend or be spiritual or religious. I am just saying that it’s time to take a look at the particular groups or activities you are currently in and see if they are still the best fit for you.

But I have to tell you, quitting is one of the hardest things for me at times. It is often harder than saying no to new opportunities. As kids we were taught not to quit, right? You’ve heard all the sayings…”Don’t be a quitter”. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win”. But you know what? That is a myth, and a dangerous one at that. It is often the reason that we become overloaded, stressed out and unhappy. Because we keep adding new things, exciting things, things that seem like they will make our life better, but we don’t quit things to make room for the new. So we just cram it all in there like our days are going to magically become longer than 24 hours if we just keep stuffing more into them. Surely they will have to stretch like our stomachs do when we keep cramming food in, right? Ha! But unfortunately, our days never do.

I have learned that I have a lot of core beliefs from childhood, from my parents, from teachers, from society that are not healthy for me. It’s not that people didn’t have the best intentions when they were teaching me these ideas, it’s just that they are outdated thoughts. They don’t fit my grown up life or my goals or my health plans. They are beliefs that have become obsolete, but for some reason, we don’t get new beliefs when they stop working for us like we get newer models of cars, TVs, phones and computers. Think about it, how effective would we be if we were still using a phone or computer from 1970 or 80? Not very, right? And how many of us would look our best if we are 45 and still dressing like we are 16 or 20. Probably not many of  us. But we will continue trying to make beliefs, ideas and life lessons from our childhood or youth fit where we are today. That just doesn’t make any sense.

Not being about to quit is one of these outdated rules for me. It no longer serves me well as a core belief. I think that is true for many people including children today. When we were told not to quit, we didn’t have a schedule like a high powered CEO at age 10. But children today are expected to act and work like an adult, keep a schedule that would exhaust any grown up and they have so many choices of activities it makes their heads spin, but we still associate failure or embarrassment with quitting. So they just stay over-loaded or we let them quit, but shame them for it. Why? Why not let our kids, or us for that matter, sample something–try it on for size–and see if they/we like it? And if we don’t, then why not quit and keep looking until we find the right sport or interest or school or career or relationships that are a good fit?

As I continue on my quest this year for my 2 resolutions…1) finding more joy and 2) loving myself more, I am realizing more than ever that there are a lot of things I need to quit to be happy and healthy. And this doesn’t mean I will quit being a consultant or a designer or a mom or a wife, but there are parts of each of those things that I need to quit if I want to be the best version of me. And it doesn’t mean I will quit every group I am in or quit eating, but there are some things in my life and diet that definitely need to go if I want to feel good.

I love how Arianna Huffington says in her book Thrive that she decided just to take a bunch of pressure off of herself by simply striking a ton of things off her bucket list that she really didn’t need or want to do. She realized if they were that important to her, she would have already done them by now. What can you wipe off yours? There are several things that I am striking from my bucket list this year and a ton of things off my to-do list, and I feel great about it!

I have to remind myself that some things run their course in life and that’s ok. Some relationships come to an end and that doesn’t necessarily mean they were a failure, they just ran their course.  Some careers or business services had a great run but now it’s time to do something different with your time and resources. That’s not a bad thing. In fact its a good thing. Some exercise routines or hobbies you have tried to make stick for years need to go. They aren’t right for you or you’d be a pro at them by now.

I think back to when some of my favorite TV shows (Sex in the City, Castle, Downton Abbey) went off the air and how sad I was. But it was always better for them to go out on a high note leaving me with fond memories instead of waiting until the last possible minute, far past their prime, when they really left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth or mind. So what in your life or your business is like that? What are you tired of? What has run it’s course? What do you find yourself dreading every time you start to do it? What needs to end so you can make room for new, exciting and better offerings to your family, your friends or your customers? What should go so you can create things that are more in line with the season of life you are in right now? Again, my list is pretty long and it will take courage and guts to make changes. That’s true for us all, even when we know it’s the right thing to do, it’s hard to change.

I’m here to tell you, there is a lot freedom and a lot of JOY in quitting. Scary? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely.

If you need help deciding, read this great little book by Seth Godin called The Dip, when to quit and when to stick.  It even tells you that there are some things you should quit and quit fast! Don’t linger. And I agree. Every day you wait you are keeping yourself from more joy. And the good news is most things aren’t absolute. You can usually go back in some form or another, and maybe even a better version if you quit and regret it. So don’t let fear hold you back.

Happy Quitting, friends. I hope it brings you as much peace and JOY as it is bringing me. Think of how happy we will all be with all those weights lifted from our lives!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

The Joy of Listening

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Listen carefully because I need to tell you something really important…We don’t listen. Yes! It is so true. None of us (or very few) truly listen to each other or to our bodies. We often don’t even listen to the small voice inside–you know the one you may call intuition or your gut that is your innermost guide to what works for you.

We don’t listen to our spouses, our children, our families or our friends. We don’t listen to clients. We don’t listen.

As a part of my course in Nutrition at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, listening is taught as a very important concept for both personal wellness and coaching others. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why don’t we do it?

listening sinek

Well we all have our reasons. Usually it’s because we are thinking of ourselves or thinking about what we are going to say next. Often it’s because we think we are smarter or know better than the person that’s talking. Sometimes it’s because our minds are wandering or fretting over all the things on our to do list. It may be because we are distracted with social media (put your phone down please!) or television or our kids or our dogs. I mean seriously could we have any more distractions in our lives?

will rogers

So I am going to be brutally honest here—isn’t listening the only way we really learn and help others? As I really started to think about the reason that I personally don’t listen the way I should to my family or my clients I learned that for me it’s a matter of time. I’m always in a hurry. I never feel like I have the “luxury” of listening. And I think that is really sad. It goes back to my post last week on “having my plate too full”. I realized I feel this constant pressure to get things done and so every meeting, every encounter whether with friends or family or my business associates or vendors I am in a race against the clock to blurt out all the important things that I feel must be said before that imaginary buzzer in my head sounds and tells me it’s time to move on to the next thing. And I wonder why I always feel so stressed!! Living in this self-imposed fight or flight mode has the cortisol pumping 24-7 in my body and the repercussions on my health and relationships is detrimental.

respect

Then I started thinking about the JOY that comes with listening. And I am depriving myself of that connection with others when I am harried and on a deadline for every conversation. It is most evident when I think about my pre-teen daughter. I want more than anything else to stay connected with her as she grows like my mom has connected with me. And I’ve now had the light-bulb moment about listening and I realize this means clearing my plate so that I have time to listen to her. Real time. Eye contact. Being fully present.

And that is not semi-listening while on my laptop. It’s not pseudo-listening while I am cooking dinner. It’s real listening maybe while we go for a walk, or drive in the car or head out for a frozen yogurt and sit across from each other and smile. I have been drawn to a quote for a while that says “Time without attention is worthless”. These are powerful words. I think it goes to the heart of idea of quality time. But I feel like quality time has become one of those things that Americans give lip service to, don’t you? Most of us consider it “time with family” if we are in the same room or house with them while we multi-task on a million different things. And then there’s the problem of not listening to ourselves.

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Yes, there is the whole debacle of me not listening to my body. Seriously, could it scream any louder when I am out of balance. I suspect some of you can even hear it screaming where you are right now, ha! But all joking aside, when your joints ache and your pants don’t fit and your feet hurt and your brain is foggy, wouldn’t an intelligent and logical person listen? One would think, but so few of us do. That’s why we are all overworked, sleep-deprived, stressed out, and depressed. It’s why we need alcohol and anti-depressants, mindless TV and Facebook to numb us from hearing that persistent voice inside telling us exactly what we already know, but don’t want to hear. For me the message is SLOW DOWN! DO LESS! RELAX! It’s saying please, please, please I beg of you to go up to your yoga room, or take 20 minutes and meditate, or go out for a walk and breathe all that fresh air! What message is your body telling you?

listen to your soul

So I am turning my focus now not to listening (ironically), but to getting things off my plate. My need to open up whitespace in my life, to prioritize and say no. I need to remove more deadlines and stress and quite honestly to love myself more. This is the only way I will be able to listen—truly listen, to those precious people and clients and colleagues that are most important to me. And it is definitely the only way I will ever hear myself.

learn to listen

I know in my heart and in my gut that listening is one of the things that can bring me the most JOY this year. I want to listen to my heart, my loves and my body more than ever before.

Will you join me in finding the Joy in listening? Tell me your answer—I’m listening.

Joyfully yours,

Tobi Signature

 

 

Shopping Guide: Luxuries for the Bath

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luxuries-for-the-bath

I love making my bathroom feel as pretty and relaxing as a spa or fine hotel. And with all this talk of my two resolutions for the year–finding more joy and loving myself more–my new Kohler Vibracoustic tub has become a big part of my daily existence. Not only does it make millions of tiny relaxing bubbles, my favorite part is that it plays relaxing music of your choice above and below the water for hydrotherapy. It helps me escape a busy day. It’s amazing!!

So needless to say, I am spending more time in my new Master Bath than ever. Now with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I am thinking all things bath related would make a perfect gift for yourself or someone you love.

Here are some of my favorite bath and vanity products that make self-care easier than ever. Wishing you more downtime to be good to yourself this year!

Joyfully yours,
Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

  1. Mullein & Sparrow Cacao Cleanse Bath Salts– These luxurious bath salts made with cacao increase blood flow, in turn, promoting healing and boosting collagen for healthier, softer skin!
  2. Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar– A cleansing bar with all of the benefits of Dead Sea mud! Just use morning and night as part of your cleansing process to detoxify, exfoliate, and reveal a new glow!
  3. Nest Fragrances Cashmere Suede Liquid Soap– I love Nest Fragrance products and this Cashmere Suede soap is no exception! A perfect blend of warm cashmere tones mixed with hints of tobacco leaves, black amber, and soft suede are sure to excite you and your guests!
  4. Simple Human Sensor Mirror Pro Wide-View Mirror– A lighted wide-view mirror with adjustable side panels will add ease to your morning make-up routine!
  5. Voluminous Canisters– Who says bathroom storage is boring? Keep extra soap bars, Q tips, cotton balls, or even bath salts in these shapely glass containers!
  6. Diptyque Roses Scented Candle– Sit back and relax to the scent of fresh roses for your next spa night.
  7. Juara Invigorating Coffee Scrub– Get an energizing boost in the shower with an energizing coffee scrub from Indonesian Sumatran coffee beans and finely crushed walnuts!
  8. Waterford Crystal Lismore Square Ring Holder– Place rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets in this gorgeous crystal ring holder for safe keeping!
  9. Hermés Eau de Mandarine Ambrée Hair and Body Shower Gel– A hair and body formula that mixes the classic, fresh citrus scent with amber to create a lively scent!
  10. AERIN Rose Hand & Body Cream– A lightweight cream that will soothe skin with magnolia and peony infusions with the decadent scent of roses!
  11. Short Silk-Trimmed Cashmere Robe– What is more glamorous and cozy than a cashmere robe? A beautiful shawl collared robe with silk trim in a feminine blush tone.
  12. Mercer Bathtub Caddy– Sink back into your tub with a good book and a glass of wine with ease when using your new bathtub caddy with an elegant polished nickel finish!
  13. UGG Classic Luxe Cotton Bath Sheet– Wrap yourself up in these pure cotton bath sheets, which are larger than the typical bath towel!
  14. Tory Burch Bath Soaps, Set of 4– Beautifully wrapped soaps in Tory Burch’s signature prints are filled with beautiful fragrances of peonies, grapefruit, and tuberose!

The Joy of Saying No

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learning to say no

There is so much JOY in saying no sometimes, right? But conversely, saying no is often one of the hardest things we do. It is really difficult when good and exciting opportunities present themselves to you and you think “I HAVE to say yes to this”, but you know you really don’t have the bandwidth to take it on. You’ve been there, haven’t you? I know, me too!

And then sometimes even when our gut tells us we don’t want to do something, it’s still hard to say no. We feel guilty or obligated or uncomfortable in these situations, don’t we?

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I have a life philosophy that says “Say no to the good so you can say YES to the great”. But sometimes in the moment you can’t tell the difference. Especially when it’s someone you love or admire or respect that is doing the asking.

I have been working with my team, my family and my therapist (yes, I have one and I think everyone should, but that’s a whole different blog post) to continue to clean out and declutter my life and my to do list. I know this is the only way to find more joy and to love myself more–which are my only 2 goals for this year.

because I am busy

But even at that, it is SOOOO hard sometimes to get rid of things or say no to new opportunities. Or for me, the hardest is probably NOT launching new ideas and endeavors because I am an idea girl, a visionary, a big thinker, a dreamer. And cutting out all of that brainstorming of new ideas is killing me in the short run. But for my long term goals, simplifying is the only way to true peace and joy.

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So this week, my therapist and I came up with a great analogy or plan and I think is something to which many of you can relate, so I wanted to share it with you here. We were talking about my workaholic tendencies and my chronic over-achiever personality. And trust me, over-achiever sounds like a good thing but that’s not always the case. It can be exhausting and hard on you both mentally and physically. And we noticed that my workload was still out of balance, even with all the pruning I’ve been doing. I have “too much on my plate” as we say.  My therapist said my plate looks like a Thanksgiving feast piled to the top and over-flowing and we got a good laugh at that. But it also gave me a HUGE Ah-ha moment.

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You see, she suggested my “plate” look healthy with 3-5 dollops of work on it TOTAL.  You can imagine a healthy plate of food with a little protein, a little carb, a lot of green veggies–you get the point. And you know what I realized? When my proverbial “plate” is overloaded like the Thanksgiving feast, so is my real plate because my personality type and habits include emotional eating or eating lots of sugar and carbs. I know for many of you stress equals an unhealthy existence for you too.

So for the first time in my life I think I really “got it” that for me an overloaded plate of commitments means weight gain, fatigue, stress, and many other unhealthy things. And this really clicked with me. In fact it sort of scared me.

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So I am back to my mission of saying no to the good and saying yes to my best self. And there is so much JOY in this way of thinking and even more in the results I will be getting including more time for all the things that are most important to me and feeling healthy enough to enjoy those blessings.

Here’s to the JOY of saying no more this year and saying YES to the best version of you!

Joyfully yours,

Tobi Signature