Posts Tagged ‘Oprah’

7 Steps to Living with Intention

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How self-aware are you? I consider myself pretty self-aware. It’s a skill that I have been cultivating for years. And I am a seeker, constantly reading and learning and working to be my best. But something I still struggle with is consistently living with intention and having the courage to hear and then take action on my heart’s desires. It means acting on what is authentic and true for me daily while saying no to the rest. This practice involves so much more than self-awareness and it’s just not easy.

But what’s even harder than living with intention, is paying the price for always saying yes. A life of hustling, of just going through the motions or letting others decide your priorities for you, means you risk missing life’s really important stuff. By saying yes to every big, shiny opportunity, we miss the little things–the tiny moments where love lives. One of my favorite quotes says “if you miss love, you miss life” and that’s just not something I am willing to miss anymore.

Now that I am in my amazing 40’s (where you finally start to care a whole lot less about what others thinks of you), I have developed a practice of checking in with my wants daily or even multiple times a day. If we aren’t intentional, it’s so easy to say yes to things that seem fun or positive or like a great opportunity in the moment, only to discover that when it’s time to deliver on that commitment, our heart’s not really into it and we aren’t inspired to follow through. We must remember that there is always a trade off, so every time we say yes to something or someone, we say no to ourselves, our priorities and our goals, which for me involves my family, my health and our joy.

When I was growing up, I was taught to be a person of my word and to always be responsible. In the South, especially for women, we are taught not to disappoint people. Our job is to make everyone around us happy and that typically means saying yes a lot! I was also taught to be a hard-worker. “Don’t be lazy, Tobi”.  By trying to avoid lazy, I created a life as a workaholic, a person addicted to achieving. And whether I consciously realized it or not, in my mind, achievement equaled my worth.

These ideals, teachings, raising, conditioning–whatever you want to call it, caused me to be a person who followed through with my commitments no matter what, even when I over-committed which was often. And even to the detriment of my health, my happiness and my family.

Living with Intention, listening to your intuition or your desires, and following your heart means un-learning these core beliefs that were passed along to you, but that no longer fit. “Being responsible” the way I learned it as a child, has meant doing what pleases other people. It has meant sacrificing my wants and goals at times, particularly in the area of self care. I believed for years that putting myself first was selfish, or at least taking care of me was something that I would get to after I did all the things I promised everyone else. Now I know self care is imperative for me to be and give my best to the world. And there is almost nothing worth forgoing taking care of me first.

I also thought for years that success came with the hustle–that the harder you worked the more successful you would be. Or worse, that to be successful, you HAD to work hard. But I have learned that working harder doesn’t equal success, but it can definitely equal exhaustion. If working hard guaranteed success, all those working 3 jobs to make ends meet, would be. But sadly most are still struggling, and they are definitely tired. However, I don’t like the saying “work smarter, not harder” either–I mean do any of us really think we are working “stupid”? I believe the key is working differently, or really it’s about thinking differently.

The reality is that we get most of our values from our parents and usually our parents are well-meaning, I know mine are. Parents want their children to be successful, to be happy, to be liked. But there comes a time somewhere between your 20’s and your 40’s that you start to consider whether all those beliefs your parents instilled in you, really work for you. And it takes a lot a courage to decide that they don’t work anymore. As I raise a daughter of my own, I am becoming so much more careful about the core beliefs and ideals that I instill in her and about the way I model and talk about success. But I am not perfect, and so I know she will have to decide at some point if the ideas I passed down, work for her. I now know there is more to life than work, being responsible, and pleasing others and I only hope I can model that for her in a way that serves her future self.

I have been moving in the direction of slower and more intentional living for about six or seven years and it is not a straight line from workaholism to living a life of balance and alignment. It is messy and hard. Shiny, exciting opportunities present themselves every day and we have to have the perspective and the tools to know when to say yes and when to say no. I believe we are here to do more than just push ourselves through another day of hustling. Yes there are trade-offs for every commitment, and some of them are really costly. I have learned this the hard way.

To live with intention, we have to get comfortable disappointing people. The old Southern way of making everyone happy just isn’t an option for me anymore, and it’s likely not working for you either. In fact to choose my family and me, I know I am going to disappoint multiple other people every single day, and just like with anything else, the more I practice it, the better I get at it. Yes, I am becoming a “master disappointer”.  And to my surprise, it feels good!

So if you want to live with more intention, here are my top 7 tips to making it happen…

  1. Create Space–If your schedule is jam-packed like mine has always been, you cannot get perspective on what is good for you and what is too big of a trade off. When you are worn down by too many commitments, you are much more likely to say yes in the moment. You have to create some space in your life. Whether that means meditation, prayer, yoga, taking a nap, walking in nature, or bing-watching your favorite Netflix show, slowing down and creating some breathing room will allow you to step back and better evaluate all those shiny opportunities that are being hurled at you every day. And when you’re rested, you’re more likely to say no to a lot of them.
  2. Write it out–I journal every day, sometimes for as long as an hour. It’s how I work through my thoughts, ideas and challenges. Writing clears my mind of worries and fears. It helps me remember what is important. It’s where I count my blessings. It keeps my priorities top of mind and my goals too. Give it a try. I think it makes living with intention much easier.
  3. Have a Waiting Period–Just like in some states where getting a marriage license or buying a weapon requires a waiting period,  there should be a waiting period for saying yes. So often when someone asks you to commit to an event or idea, it’s on the fly, right? You are usually juggling 10 other things at that very moment, so what do you do? You break down and say yes. Waiting to give an answer until you are able to clear your head and focus on the costs and benefits of saying yes, can make all the difference. So let that call go to voicemail or let that email sit in your inbox a day or two and then answer. You will thank yourself later.
  4. If it’s not a Hell Yes! It’s a No–Time is our most precious commodity, but we often treat it recklessly. We only get 24 hours in a day and tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Do we really want to be so casual with how we spend those valuable hours and moments? Or worse, give them away to people that aren’t on our short list of most important people? I know I don’t. So when considering any commitment, if it is not a HELL YES!, then it is a no. Easy peasy, right? Ok, maybe not easy, but it’s totally worth it.
  5. Give up Excuses–Stop with the excuses already. If you are going to succeed with living intentionally, you have to be confident in just saying no, with a smile of course. Give yourself permission to say no just because. You don’t have to have an elaborate excuse like “I’d love to do dinner with you but my great-aunt’s neighbor’s dog is having it’s seventh birthday and I really have to be there!” Feeling the need to come up with a reason or excuse is just silly and it’s a waste of your time. Have the guts to say “Thank you. I wish I could” and move on. Don’t even say “maybe another time” because then you will have to think up a wild excuse all over again the next time they ask.
  6. Do the Math–Every time you say yes to someone, you are saying no to something else like family time, rest, and your health. Nothing is without a trade-off. So take committing seriously. Do the math and make sure you are willing to give up important moments, goals and your priorities when you say yes.
  7. Dance with Ones that Brought you–There is an old saying, especially in the South that means give your attention to those that have been with you along with way, that have paid their dues, and had your back. For me that means my family and a handful of true friends. There have been many times that I said yes to the world or my industry in search of recognition, money or excitement, or the promise of some big payoff in the future, while saying no to those that mean the most to me. At the end of the day, all that other stuff is fleeting and much of the future payoff never even comes to pass. Other people will forget about you easily, when you aren’t giving them what they want over and over again. And you hope the ones that brought you, are still waiting for you when you return.  So pick them first, and be very selective about committing to the rest. No matter how much you give to the world, it will always want more. And like they say on Project Runway, “One day you’re in and the next day you’re out”. So I choose to be “in” with my family for the long haul. They deserve it.

If you want to learn more about living a slower life, check out some of my favorite life-changing books and resources that have greatly influenced my path…

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Friends, I literally wrote in every margin, dogeared every page and practically underlined and highlighted this entire book. I felt like Shauna was telling my life’s story! (And she’s going to be on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday this month, y’all!) This book helps you see the extremely high cost of giving yourself to your work and the world, including the toll it takes on your health, your joy and your family. For all you Type A, working moms like me who are trying to make your mark on the world, get this book today!

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

I just discovered this book by a blogger I have known about for years and I couldn’t put it down. I read it this week in about 2 days and had quite possibly the biggest Ah-ha moments of my life. It helped me answer some BIG life questions that I have been asking myself for a while. It’s a must read for all you Provers and Hustlers like me, who have tied your worth to your work. I was sad when this one was over, and I am sure I will soon be reading it all over again.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I learned of this amazing book when taking Hilary Rushford’s course, Elegant Excellence (great course by the way!), and I am about to start reading it for the third time (Thanks Hilary!) This book is about the “disciplined pursuit of less”. Greg shares how he worked right through the birth of his son because his boss and the world expected him to, and how he hurt his wife, and ultimately lost the respect of the client he was trying to impress. For all of us who regret putting work first and missing out on the most important parts of life, this book is a must read. And it will help you understand that when you do one thing and do it GREAT, then you can make more money, in less time, with more joy than trying to be all things to all people. Read this book…and then read it again!

Here’s wishing you lots of slow, intentional living and joy!

xo,

 

 

Saturday’s Secret Sauce: Finding Your Passion

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Passion. It’s what sets me on fire. It’s what drives me. It is what has made me work like a dog for 17 years–or really my entire life. But don’t get me wrong. I have loved working that hard because I am passionate about Interior Design and product design, and I am even more passionate about being an entrepreneur. Building businesses, creating revenue streams, reaching my business goals–these things keep me up at night and get me up in the morning. Work. It’s what I do. I am passionate about my work.

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And yes, it can be hard. But I am one of the lucky ones. My passion is my purpose. I have never had to make a living doing something that doesn’t inspire me, that isn’t fun, that I don’t like. I work in my passion every day. And yes there are days that my job is hard and moments that are less fun than others. There are days that I wish I could rest, but I don’t. I push harder. I work a little longer. I make my dreams happen. Why? Because I can’t NOT do it.

So what is Passion? Well it is defined in a few ways…

  1. An intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
  2. The state or capacity of being acted upon by external agents or forces
  3. A strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept

And when it comes to my passion(s) these all make sense. I definitely feel “an intense, driving feeling” and sometimes like I am being “acted upon by external forces”.  And my passion is certainly a “devotion to an activity or concept”. I can’t turn it off. Working at what I love is not elective or optional for me. And because of that, I have a really hard time stopping or relaxing. For better or worse, my passion is often all consuming.

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My daughter is 10 and a half and she is crazy about baking. She says she wants to own a bakery when she grows up. I don’t know if she will really want that when the time comes to choose a career, but at the very least I believe it will be her passion for the rest of her life. She bakes several times a week and often everyday. She feels a “devotion” to baking.

She loves cooking too. She cooks her own meals and often cooks my husband’s even though I cook all the time and would be happy to prepare meals for the family. They have the same tastes in food and she loves to take good care of her daddy. She never thinks of baking or cooking as a chore.

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And although I have an extremely busy life myself full of my own passions, I am having a fun time being her trusty baking assistant. I think it is important to help her pursue her interests and dreams. I think it’s critical for me to invest in her passions at an early age. Plus her creations are so pretty and delicious and she’s getting orders from our friends and my clients, how could I not support that?

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And she’s going after her dreams in a big way. The week before last she made a chocolate chip bundt cake for the family of a close friend of ours who passed away, she made 3 dozen cupcakes for another friend of mine to deliver to the doctors and nurses that helped my friend through cancer treatments, she made 4 dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies for her classmates because they were studying the Ghirardelli company and the history of chocolate. That same week she also made the birthday cake for one of my very favorite clients, another bundt cake for a friend, and 2 dozen cookies for my nephew who is away at college. Whew! And if that weren’t enough, she and I made Chocolate French Macarons and 15 mini loaves of Banana Bread in our spare time. This week she was back at it again making 3 dozen cupcakes for my friend and spa-owner’s business event. And though I make sure she is safe, she does all of this baking and cooking on her own with very little help from me.

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Do you know what I call her love of baking that happens every single day including week nights and all weekend long? Crazy?..Well maybe. Exhausting?…Sometimes. But what I really call it is passion. My little chef and mini entrepreneur is passionate about baking. She never grows tired of it. She’s always up for making a new recipe whether it’s early in the morning or late at night. I think it may really be her purpose. It will be fun to watch her life unfold and see if she thinks so too long term. At the very least, it’s her purpose right now. She’s making people happy with her confections. And it keeps her happy, and energetic, and out of trouble, and from being bored. It gives her confidence. It feeds her soul. And if she’s not in the kitchen concocting something, she’s watching a cooking or baking show like Master Chef Jr. or the Kids Baking Championship on TV or Netflix and planning her next meal or recipe.

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This child literally “eats” and breathes baking and cooking (pun intended) and every gift she gets or dollar she spends has something to do with her passion. She received REAL junior cookware and junior Wusthof knives from Williams Sonoma for Christmas and boxes and bows and ribbons and tags and a personalized stamp with “from the kitchen of” and her name so she can dress up all her creations and let people know they were hand-made by her. And this month when other kids were wanting candy and stuffed animals and sweets for Valentine’s day, she asked for a red hand-held Kitchenaid mixer for Valentines day. This girl is hooked!

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It’s so fun to see how people react to my daughter’s cooking skills and abilities. It’s not unlike how people react to my Interiors. It’s great to see how much they love her food. And I believe the response is because people can tell when you are passionate about something. People love to support others in their pursuit of their passions. It is fun. It’s exciting. It’s inspiring.

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For a happy and fulfilling life, I think finding your passion is everything. And yes, you may have more than one. But there is only room in your days for a handful of things to be really passionate about. My daughter is lucky. She is 1o and she has already found one of hers. I am lucky, I have been working in my passion for almost 2 decades.

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Where are you on the path of finding your passion? Do you listen to your heart and do you follow it to make your passion your life’s work? And if you don’t, why not? Maybe you know what your passion is (or what it used to be) and you’ve lost it. Well that happens to us all. Author and peak performance expert Brendon Burchard (author of the fabulous book The Charge), says there are 4 things to help you re-ignite your passion…

  1. Rest–a good night’s sleep on a regular basis keeps you energized and engaged in your passions. When you get too tired, you often fall off the wagon of living your passion or in your sweet spot. Can’t get enough sleep at night? Try taking a nap or meditating for similar benefits.
  2. Visualization–Get away from other people, your job and your phone on a weekly basis so you can dream again. Go to that place physically and figuratively where you can visualize what you really want. In the busyness of work and life, we lose sight of what we want most. Try to visualize your dreams every night and every morning to keep it top of mind and keep your passion for those things stoked and focused.
  3. Triggers–Set up triggers so you are reminded of your passion regularly. Try reminders on your phone or your mirror, or listen to certain videos, affirmations, or music that inspires you. Only you know what will trigger you to go to your passion place so make these triggers unavoidable.
  4. Celebrating Wins–Allow yourself to celebrate even small wins when they occur–which may even be daily. So many of us just go from one accomplishment to another without ever patting ourselves on the back, writing it down, or acknowledging  these wins at all. By celebrating them, it helps you stay connected with the emotions you feel when you do win, and that can reconnect you with your passions more often.

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So go out and find or re-ignite your passion. To do that you have to listen to your heart and take action. Your passions are waiting for you.

And don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t feeling your passion right now or you’re experiencing burnout. It happens to all of us. I have been going through that very thing just recently. But I am excited to say practicing these tips above, especially rest, has helped me move beyond being stuck and back into a place of motivation so that I can reach even bigger dreams and live in my passion this year.

Yes, finding your passion is the secret sauce to a life that is happy and fulfilled. Good luck!

xo,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

IMG_5077Speaking of Celebrating our successes, try celebrating with my family’s favorite cake. Here, my daughter made the recipe in her mini bundt pans so we could each have our own personal celebratory dessert!

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake:

1 Yellow Cake Mix

1 pkg Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix (3.9 ounces)

1/2 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup Water

3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

4 Eggs, beaten

1 Cup Sour Cream

1/2 Cup Semi-sweet Mini Chocolate Chips

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees. Grease and Flour 10″ bundt pan. In electric mixer, add cake mix, pudding and sugar. Add oil, water, eggs and sour cream and mix until well blended. Fold in Chocolate Chips. Bake for 50-60 minutes in preheated oven. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire rack to completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

 

Motivational Monday: Change as a Way of Life

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Birthday cupcakesTomorrow is my 43rd birthday. I love birthdays! Getting older doesn’t bother me – I think it’s a privilege. I actually like myself and my life more each year. But time does fly, doesn’t it? Seems like yesterday that I was saying I was turning 40. And the day before that I was having my daughter, who will be 10 this summer.

Things change. In fact, they change every day. Or more like every second. Just yesterday at church I was reminded that every 7-10 years, our bodies and our cells completely regenerate themselves. Isn’t that interesting? Every 7 years we are a completely “new” person.

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Dr. Wayne Dyer, one of my favorite teachers, authors, and deep-thinkers puts it this way:

“This strange phenomenon of you being an I that continuously enters, discards, and reenters a new body has proceeded right up until this very moment.

I am currently in a 70-year-old body that’s nothing like the body I occupied 50 years ago. I remember well what that 20-year-old body I occupied looked like, what it could do, and what it knew and didn’t know, but I can’t find it anywhere – it’s simply an illusion. It is gone from this physical world, as is every body that both you and I have occupied in our lifetime. 

The physical body that you think of as you is rearranged in a pattern designed by a formless intelligence independent of your opinions. This I that you use to describe yourself isn’t the physical form that you occupy and take with you everywhere. Quantum physics states that the body you’re occupying, which is reading this paragraph right now, is completely different from the body you were in when you read the previous paragraph. Such is the nature of the physical world in which we all live.

The ancient philosopher Heraclitus put it this way several thousand years ago, and it is true today: “All things are in motion and nothing is at rest… You cannot go into the same [river] twice.” A river is a constantly changing phenomenon, as is a tree, a mountain, a goat, a human, and the physical universe including Earth. That which defines a thing, therefore, is not physical in nature; it is metaphysical. When asked “What is real?” an ancient spiritual avatar responded without hesitation, “That is real which never changes.” And since your body is in a continuous state of change, it is not real.

If you try to find that toddler body you once occupied, you realize that it is not real, since it no longer exists. Even while you were in it years ago, you couldn’t call it real, because the moment you pinpointed and defined it as real, it would be something else, something new. What you’re calling real would already have disappeared. Still, you know with all of this change taking place that there is a changeless component to who you are. The I in that toddler body hasn’t changed, it is in the body that you currently occupy. The I is your higher self, changeless and real. This higher self is who you are. When you make this discovery and consciously befriend the I you are, nothing is impossible.”

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I had a big Ah Ha moment about this idea from Dr. Dyer a year or two ago watching him on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. And though I had never been bothered by age, probably because neither of my parents ever have been, this gave me a whole new understanding of myself and my life. It helped me realize even more what is important in life and why I like myself more with each passing day.

We are not our bodies. Change is inevitable. Things come and things go. But the whole point of life, I think, is living our purpose and finding joy. Both of these things I have. I am grateful for my life at 43. I am exactly where I am meant to be.

We can strive to have the perfect body only to find with time it will change – a little bigger here, a little smaller there – and not of our doing. But our bodies don’t define us, our actions do.

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We can go through life striving to “reach success” but what we know and what we think success is, doesn’t exactly exist. It’s why people say “enjoy the journey” or “happiness is the journey, not the destination.” We can only base what we think success will be on what we have experienced in our past. And as the quote by Heraclitus reminds us, all the things we know are ever changing. “We can never go back to the same river twice.” Profound, isn’t it? Success likely won’t look like what we think it will.

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All we have is right now. In the body we were given. All we can do is cherish each moment, because in a blink those moments will be only a memory. All we can do is find happiness and joy today. Tomorrow is a gift but not a given.

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So on this eve of my 43rd year, I am cherishing moments including the moment that I am 43. Because before long, I won’t be any longer. I will age, my family will grow older, too. And it is most important to me that I imprint where we all are in this moment on my mind. I love and hold dear the moments that happen each year of my life in a special place in my heart and my mind, for I can never truly experience those exact moments again. They are special. They are unique. They are fleeting.

familyI hope you will cherish each and every moment too. They are ours alone. No one else experiences a moment or time exactly as we do. And it is ok to strive to be better, and healthier, and more accomplished each year. But only if you remember those are not the things that truly bring you joy. Joy is found in the present moment. If you cannot be content in your body, and your age, and your life…no amount of achievement will make that so.

hb TobiThanks for sharing my birthday with me friends. My birthday wish for myself and also for each of you this year is this…

I wish us enough sun to keep our attitudes bright

I wish us enough rain to appreciate the sun more

I wish us enough happiness to keep our spirits alive

I wish us enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger

I wish us enough gain to satisfy our wanting

I wish us enough loss to appreciate all that we possess

I wish us enough Hello’s to get us through our final good-bye’s.

And I wish us a life that is long and healthy, full of love and joy and a cake big enough to fit all our candles!

xo,

Tobi Signature

 

 

 

 

P.S. Today’s photos are just a few of my most favorite experiences and moments with family and friends over the last 12 months captured on Instagram.

Reality Check Tuesday:How’s that working for you?

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I saw a great article in Oprah’s Magazine the other day by Dr. Phil talking about New Year’s Resolutions. And he had a great question…

If your resolutions from year to year are exactly the same because nothing ever changes–lose 15 pounds, start spending more time with family, open my dream business–don’t you think it’s time you take a hard look at your methods for achieving your goals?

I mean really (in classic Dr. Phil lingo)…How’s that working for you? Apparently, not very well.

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So if your goals for 2014 are the same as they were for 2013, there’s a problem. It’s time to get real with yourself. Or maybe just admit that you’re giving lip service to what you say you want, but you must not really want it or you would have done it already. And that’s ok. It’s just time to decide what you DO want.

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Just a little reality check Tuesday, thanks to Dr. Phil and me. 🙂

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And in case you missed them or want another shot of inspiration, here are my goals and intentions for 2014. They are far different than last year, thank goodness, and boy am I excited.

Here’s to setting fresh and inspiring to do’s for 2014, cheers!

xo,

Tobi Signature

 

 

Are you living your life for you?

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b29c8840505311e3b995125caca955e5_8Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) is almost here and the new year is just around the corner. It is this time of year I always start reflecting on the things for which I am most thankful. On my daily walks when I am admiring the change of seasons, I assess whether I am truly counting my blessings and living a life of gratitude each and every day. It’s hard not to feel blessed with views like these, but that’s the very time I ask myself if I am living out my passion and my purpose the way I had planned for this year.

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While pondering these thoughts last week, Kris Carr, an amazing young woman I have followed for a while through her Crazy Sexy Kitchen cookbook and Crazy Sexy Wellness healthy eating regimes and who has been living with stage 4 cancer for 10 years was perfectly re-delivered into my universe. It was not a coincidence.

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You see, last week Kris was an added bonus to Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Mark Nepo. And Kris gave me what Oprah would call an A-ha! moment. Here’s what she said…

“I have cancer. I may never be healthy on paper. But I am well.  Life is a terminal condition, we’re all going to die. But how many of us will truly live…for ourselves. Not for our spouse, not for our parent or our careers, not for our illness but truly for ourselves. That’s the golden ticket.”

Kris’s words stopped me in my tracks. It was just another reminder to look at my life and see if I am truly living it. Not for my career. But for me.

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I’m still working on my answer. It’s not a simple one. And I will let you know when I have it figured out. But since I have some more work to do on it, you can probably guess that my answer is NOT a resounding yes.

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While I’m off on my next walk to think about living my life for me–do tell me, are you living your life for you? And if not, what needs to change?

Let’s get back on track together while we still can. Because as I always like to remind us…life is short.

xo,

Tobi Signature