Posts Tagged ‘Super Soul Sunday’

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!




Soulful Sunday: Life Lessons from Nate Berkus

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I have always liked Nate Berkus. He is adorable. He is talented. But never have I connected with Nate like I did when watching his 2 recent episodes of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. If you didn’t see it, you must!

Nate just moved way up on my list of favorite people much less favorite designers and maybe even fell into the category of spiritual teacher. I’m telling you he is one spiritual dude and I really had no idea how much our life’s philosophies overlapped.


Nate and I are the same age. He’ll be 42 in just a few days, me in four months. And though I have admired and adored him on Oprah and his own show and of course his work particularly when recently featured in Architectural Digest (his images from AD and his website are throughout this post), I just didn’t know how wise he is when it comes to life.

There were so many take-aways from Nate’s Super Soul appearances that I literally took notes. Yes, I’m a geek. My staff got a big chuckle, though they were not surprised, that I finished those two great Nate episodes on my DVR at 1:00 in the morning, with two full pages of ah-ha’s and life lessons.


One of the most lovely things Nate said is that “Everyday is the reason”, meaning every day is the reason to be happy, to live your dreams, to enjoy beautiful things. Everyday is the reason to love. Everyday is a gift.


And Nate spoke about how tragedy in his life has led him to find or create beauty in every moment. This was profound to me. It helped me to realize that in every moment, especially those that I am away from my daughter traveling for work, I need to make it count by creating beauty in EVERY SINGLE moment. If I am going to sacrifice time with her to do my life’s work, then don’t waste it. Not a single moment. Not being sad, being stressed or being less than present for those I am with…Not a moment. And then at home, the most simple things can be beautiful from doing the dishes to reading a book or having a cup of tea. Each moment is only as beautiful as you make it–it is our job to create beauty in our daily existence.

item2.rendition.slideshowWideHorizontal.nate-berkus-before-02Nate said about himself that he is “behind what (he is) doing 100%”–which to me meant he is 100% in the present and at peace in all that he is doing. He even said he was 100% behind his show going off the air–that it was a relief really because he had gained 20 pounds, was stressed, tired, and overwhelmed with it all. Seriously? I thought this only happened to us women, didn’t you?

This my friends was a HUGE Ah-ha for me as a designer and as a mom. The biggest disservice I can do to my daughter or myself is to not be 100% behind what I am doing. Otherwise, why bother? To travel and be away and not take care of myself and not make it really count is a bad idea. It is my duty to do my best, be my best, and be fully present and engaged with those I am with every day–in the moment. And if I can give 100% to what I am doing while I am working, then I will be able to be proud of my work and bring those blessings home to my daughter 100% when I return. And then I can be 100% present with her. WOW! All this from handsome Nate and there’s more…


I love that Nate also gave himself and all of us permission to love things, material things, and that loving them doesn’t mean we are materialistic. He said things are a part of us, because they remind us of people and moments that we love. So it isn’t wrong to cherish them. I just talked about this in a recent Tobi’s Book Club call with my Mastermind Group and E-coachers because I took the same idea away from Eckert Tolle’s great book A New Earth. Eckert says that we should even enjoy and cherish things while understanding that they are fleeting, so enjoy them while we can, but also that they do not define us—things are not who we are.


Nate’s thoughts that spirituality=art=beauty reminds me of a great talk this Spring by my designer friend Tim Campbell. Tim had the courage to stand up in front of a room in Berlin, Germany of many of the world’s top interior designers and say that he often designs purely for beauty. And that beauty matters. Beauty is important. Beauty makes life better. I think he and Nate share this amazing philosophy and are unapologetic about it. It is not superficial to value beauty. Life is Beautiful.


So much of Nate’s life story is defined by the loss of his true love in the Tsunami of 2004. And since I believe everything, even things that seem horrific at the time, happen for a reason it is amazing to see the “why” behind what happened to Nate. Nate and Oprah put the idea of death and it’s purpose so beautifully—they said “When the soul is done, when it has done its job, it moves on”—but in that moving on, our memories and experiences with the special person give us the strength to be what they would want us to be. WOW! In the passing of those we love comes the strength and even a presence in us that allows us to be all that person would want us to be. What a gift!


When I was recently at an amazing experience with Mastin Kipp, author of The Daily Love, he said “Imagine the people you love (dead or alive) walking into the room right now and saying all the things you need them to say about you” for you to be liberated from your self-doubt. So I envisioned my parents walking into the room and telling me all the things I think they are proud of that I have done, so many of which they have already really told me. And though my parents are still young and healthy and a big part of my life, I realized what a beautiful tool this could be to help us keep going when those we love are no longer here with us. We can still “hear” the loving things they would say about us. Amazing, right?


So ultimately Nate’s message was this…Life is short so “Amp up the volume and get busy living!”


And Nate and Oprah pointed out one of their favorite lessons from both Deepak Chopra and Eckert Tolle which is that “Life will never be what it was. If you resist the reality of what is, that’s where all the suffering comes from.”  So ask yourself…Are you resisting the reality of what IS in your life– your marriage, your career, your finances? Are you hoping that things will go back to the way they used to be? Resisting what is—your reality—is what causes the most suffering. Poignant, isn’t it.


And you know how just yesterday I spoke of Oprah’s question about “What is the gift you are supposed to bring to the world?”. Well Nate spoke of his duty to allow “Creativity to go through” him. He says it is his job to be creative, even when he doesn’t feel like it. It is his duty to bring beauty to the world. I love that!


And finally I felt connected to Nate because of many of his answers to Oprah’s final questions like “Where are you most at home?” He said, “I am comfortable and at home in every space in my house”.  And I so relate. I love my home. And I am working up the courage to leave my current home and move to a new one. Which for me, isn’t easy. But I will create a whole new place that I love and will soon feel at home in our new house. (Nate’s image above from Elle Decor)


When asked where is his sacred space? “The Sea”, he said. Me too, Nate…me too!

Happy Sunday Y’all!


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p.s. Speaking of Oprah, don’t forget to watch Oprah and Bishop T.D. Jakes tonight on Life Class and next week too. I was in the audience of the taping of these two episodes in Dallas last week and trust me, it was life-changing.


Soulful Sunday: Soul Searching and Simple Abundance

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It’s Sunday and my favorite day of the week. (I know I said that on Saturday too, right?). So I am a rose-colored glasses sort of gal. I’ll admit it. But I do love a great Sunday and enjoying the simple things (like an extra cup of coffee) that come with it.

But Sunday’s weren’t always my favorite. There were many years when Sunday’s brought on a feeling of depression for me. Maybe it was because I didn’t know how to slow down so a slow day brought with it anxiety. Maybe it was because I could see Monday and all it’s obligations staring me in the face. Maybe it was a day that was supposed to be for doing whatever I wanted and the pressure of making it a perfect day was too much. And that pressure made me feel sadness or disappointment or let down in some way. Whatever the reason, or a combination of them, I often had the “Sunday Blues”.


But not anymore. And here’s why…

I have learned to slow down. In the past 2 years on my journey to health and happiness, I have learned to be not only at ease, but in a place of bliss on a slow Sunday afternoon. I have learned to find happiness in quiet moments. I cherish them now.


I also love Sunday now because several of my favorite things happen on this day of the week–the CBS Sunday Morning Show, going to church, Super Soul Sunday with Oprah, cuddle time with my family, cooking at home, hanging by the pool or getting back into bed and reading my favorite books. And oh the list goes on and on…


And it is my gratitude for these simple things that has changed my life and my attitude towards Sunday, and everyday of the week for that matter. I have heard for many years that until we are grateful for what we have, we will never find happiness. And I am proof positive that it is gratitude for these simple things in life…simple abundance, that has helped me find my purpose in life and my true serenity. Gratitude is helping me Live My Bliss!


And speaking of Super Soul Sunday and simple abundance, today Oprah sat down with Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author of Simple Abundance. I bought that amazing book in 1996 at age 24 and it was truly one of the early memories of my spiritual awakening. Simple Abundance was a book that really changed the way I began to look at life.  I was reading it at a time when I was going back to school to become a designer and on a mission to live and work in my true passion. It was the time when I first began keeping a gratitude journal.  Yes, it was 17 years ago and today I practice daily gratitude in part thanks to Sarah and Oprah for introducing me to Simple Abundance.


I pulled out my copy of Simple Abundance today. I haven’t read it in years. It is a bit worn and many passages are underlined and noted. It gave me peace and satisfaction to pull it out today from under the white paper cover I had put on it. And I have already started reading it all over again. I have no doubt that at this place in my life, it will bring me a whole new set of lessons and meanings by reading it again.

And one big Ah-ha that I took away from Sarah’s interview today on Super Soul Sunday is that once again, I realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life. And that there is still more work to do to become even more grateful for all I have in my life right now. And that before I can have more money, more success, and more material things, I still have some work to do so that when I am given more, I will know how to use it all to help other people. Because without gratitude, things are just things.


Sarah has a new book called Peace and Serenity and it’s about finding a path to financial serenity through her story of financial crisis. As Sarah Ban Breathnach so candidly told Oprah…she wasn’t prepared for huge success. She sold over 7 million copies of her book, Simple Abundance, and made millions and millions of dollars and then she spent it all. Every dime. She thought it would always be there. And she forgot to give thanks for simple abundance.

Will you be prepared when your huge blessings come to you? Will you know how to use them for your purpose and to serve others?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some work to do.

Happy Sunday Everyone. Today I am grateful for each of you!


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