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5 Easy Ways to Inspire Yourself

5 Easy Ways to Inspire Yourself

We all have that little voice in our head that trips us up – that makes us feel insecure and unsure about who we are and what we’re doing. It’s no wonder.


We are bombarded with ads and commercials that tell us we’re not good enough, smart enough, sexy enough, or skinny enough. But it’s time we regained our power.

So I’d like to offer you five easy ways to inspire yourself. Putting these steps into your daily practice will not only inspire you, but empower and motivate you like never before.

Here are the 5 steps with brief examples below to get you started:

  1. Be kind to yourself
  2. Pay yourself first
  3. Know that it is more powerful to go towards something rather than away from something
  4. Trust yourself
  5. Understand that you don’t need as much as you think you do

Be kind to yourself – here are three easy ways:

  • Savor the next bite of food you eat or the next sip of beverage you drink. How does it smell? What does it remind you of? Feel it on your tongue and feel it nourish your body. Even if you’re eating fast food, think of it nourishing your body supplying it with needed energy.
  • Hug yourself. Go on – wrap those arms around yourself and give yourself a hug. Breathe in deeply and feel your hands around you. Let go. Repeat as often as necessary.
  • List 10 things that make you happy, and try to do at least 3 of them every day.

Pay yourself first. When I was in high school and got my first job, my dad told me to pay myself first. I asked, “Does that mean I can buy that sweater I want from Hudson’s?” “No,” he said. “Then you’re paying Hudson’s first.” That stuck with me. I worked hard for my money and I wanted it to work for me (not Hudson’s).So, I opened a savings account and put $10 of my paycheck in that savings account each pay period. Then I used the rest to pay bills.

“I asked, “Does that mean I can buy that sweater I want from Hudson’s?”

“No,” he said. “Then you’re paying Hudson’s first.”

But isn’t paying bills important and more urgent than saving money? Yes, at times it is. But someone will always hound you to pay bills – you will find a way to pay them. But, no one will hound you to take care of yourself – to save money for your future. You must make that happen. Why? Because this is the most effective, proven way to financial freedom. And when you have financial freedom, you no longer have to work – you can choose more freely what you do each day. And that is a beautiful feeling.

It is more powerful to go towards something rather than away from something. When we think about changing something in our life, many of us say things like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to stop smoking”. What this does is create a kind of void around where we are going – we are running away from weight gain or smoking, but we’re not quite sure where we’re going. What if we told ourselves a different story. For example, what if we said, “I want a healthy, toned body”; or “I want strong healthy lungs”. In going towards a picture of ourselves as healthy, we automatically make better choices. And the rewards will follow.

You don’t need as much as you think you do. Somewhere along the line, we forgot who we are at our core. Big cars, big homes, big bank accounts took over and left us feeling like there should be something else. Something different. Somewhere along the line, we’ve converted curiosity about the world into constant worry about status. We can change this simply by reminding ourselves how blessed we are for what we have.

“We’ve converted curiosity about the world into constant worry about status.”

Watch the sunrise or sunset. Take a walk. Look at the moon tonight. Try something new, or teach one person a skill that you have. It can be anything from baking a cake to learning a computer program or changing the oil in a car. In this way, you are not only reminding yourself that you have something of value to offer others, but you’re bonding with the other person and empowering them in a way that just doesn’t happen otherwise.

The Indigo Girls wrote a powerful song called “The Thin Line”. In it, they sing “Now I’m trying to get back to what I know that I should be. Hoping to God, I was just a temporary absentee”. We’ve all been absent from our own life – we forget who we truly are on a spiritual level, and we let the worries of the world consume and control us. The great thing is that we can change it. And we are changing it – one person at a time. Here’s to your power!

So Beautiful. So What.

So Beautiful. So What.

full moon Imagine a full moon. Bright orange, heavy in the sky. It’s one of those moons where you feel you can reach out and touch it. “Wow, look at the moon!” you might exclaim to the person next to you. And they glance, and kind of grunt “Yeah. So what?”

Now imagine standing on the beach with the ocean stretching far in front of you. You hear and see the tide coming in….the tide going out. Magnificent. There is something about the ocean tides that help people release all stress. Now imagine the life in that ocean. If you’ve ever been snorkeling or scuba diving, you know there is so much more just beneath the surface that we never see until we make an effort to look.

Now see your breath. In and out. In and out. In tune with the tide.

Many people never even notice a full moon. Some people who live near the ocean take it for granted. We often fail to connect the dots between the life force that keeps the moon in the sky, that causes the tides to go in and out, that allows us to breathe. And we forget to connect those dots with the vision staring back from the mirror each day. It’s in us, too, you know.

“Yeah it’s beautiful”, we might say. Or we may really appreciate it and be in awe. “It’s AMAZING! Wow!” And the next minute we say, “Oh crap, I forgot that deadline, and I still have to do ________ (we can fill in the blank)”.

And so it goes. And so we go.

To the Student Whose Name I Forgot

To the Student Whose Name I Forgot

In 1994, I was a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. I was only 23 years old, and so very excited to be on my way to a Master’s Degree. 



 My main role as the Honors’ Program grad assistant was to publish the monthly newsletter and set up the annual Honors’ Program symposium. But, I also got to teach a few college courses on my own. One of the courses I taught was CTA 101 – Public Speaking. Everyone’s favorite course :).  I loved it. I loved the students, and I loved the environment that created community, encouraged discussion, and enabled the sharing of knowledge.

When I graduated, my wonderful professor, Dr. Gary Evans, asked the graduating class if any of us felt like a fraud. As if this should have been harder. As if we should somehow feel differently because we now had our Master’s Degree. I slowly raised my hand and was happy to see that I was far from alone. Most everyone in that classroom raised their hand. He went on to explain the importance of giving ourselves credit for completing the courses, doing the homework, and defending our thesis. He talked about how common it is to see ourselves as frauds – as if someone is going to find out that we aren’t as good as we pretend to be. We’re not as smart as our resume sounds, and we’re certainly not as “together” as we may appear.

He made it ok to feel what I was already feeling. He made it ok to be less than perfect. And for that, I will always appreciate him.

But one thing he didn’t’ do was remind us of the importance of the teacher/student bond. To let us know that, years later, we may run into one of our students, and we may not be able to remember that specific student right away, but they will remember us. When this happens, smile warmly and say “Of course I remember you! How have you been?” He did not mention this that day when we graduated and went off into the world.

And thus, years later, as luck would have it, I found myself in a restaurant with a friend. One of the staff came up to me and asked if I was Denise who used to teach Public Speaking at Eastern.

“Yes,” I replied.

She so sweetly went on to say many kind things about the class and about me. Then she asked if I remembered her.

I can’t explain what I was thinking – although, in my defense, I was at the restaurant with a female friend whom I was about to tell I was gay and ask her out, and I was about to do that for the first time in my life. I had a lot on my mind.

But that’s no excuse.

I looked at this former student and replied honestly, “No, I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”

She looked so sad. What the hell was I thinking? After she walked away, and I ate my meal, and talked with my friend, I looked everywhere for her so I could try to explain. I couldn’t find her.

Since then, I’ve even called the University to ask for my student rosters, but was told they don’t have records going back that far.

So, to that dear student on an afternoon at Macaroni Grill in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I say, “I am very sorry. I hope you are happy and well. If you read these words, and are willing to do so, I would sincerely appreciate your reaching out and giving me another chance.”


I Just Want To Be

I Just Want To Be

I don’t want to change the world. I don’t care about being famous or flying around the world on a private jet. I just want to be.

I want a loving, healthy relationship, a happy, healthy family, to be debt-free, and I want to own my own home. I enjoy being comfortable. 

RoseBut in this crazy world, my dream sounds boring. In this crazy world, being comfortable and content with your life means you’re not stretching – you’re not trying hard enough – you’re not thinking BIG enough – you’re not enough.

We have to stop.

I feel so very blessed with my life. I have everything I ever hoped for, and I’m happy. I may not be the next Suze Orman or the next Marianne Williamson, but I’m going to be the first ME. And the best way that I know how to do this is to simply be. We can’t keep comparing ourselves to everyone else – we have to remember our own dreams. Focus on our own life – it’s not selfish – it’s essential. Focusing on other people is actually much easier than focusing on our own self.

Build the life that you TRULY want – not the life you think you should want. Along the way, remember to pet the puppy, smell the flowers, and smile at the sky. Just be.

Maybe the Goal in Life is….

Maybe the Goal in Life is….

Maybe the goal in life is not to “be happy”, but to “be human”.

To be human is to express all our emotions – anger, sadness, love, pain, fear….

To be human is to fall, is to stumble, to fail. And to keep picking ourself up time after time after time.

So often we try to hide who we are rather than heal who we areTo be human is to understand that anger shows us where we are hurt, and tears show us where we have loved.

Every tear we shed has to be shed. Don’t bottle it up. Let it out – time after time after time. We can’t dictate when our grieving ends – only our heart can do this. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself love. Let yourself be.

When we allow ourselves to truly feel the full range of emotions within us – when we cry & kick & laugh & scream – we bring more of who we are into this world. And, yes, that’s a good thing.

As Marianne Williamson said,

“so often we try to hide who we are rather than heal who we are”.

We can heal only by bringing our full self to the table – to show up fully – with all our bruises and all our scars. And to hold ourselves gently, knowing we are growing.

Three Steps to Follow-thru on Your Goals

Three Steps to Follow-thru on Your Goals

Do you have a project you’re working on, but can’t seem to get it done?
Do you have goals set, but can’t seem to work towards them?

Why is it so hard for many of us to follow-thru on what we say we want? Maybe we’re afraid. Maybe we’re lazy. Or maybe we’re just not really clear on what we want or how to go about getting it.

Here are three simple steps to help you follow-thru on your goals. For the next month, I encourage you to follow these steps and see what happens. If they don’t work for you, drop them. But at least give it a shot.

Step 1 – Write Your Goals Down – But There’s a Catch
Let’s look at the goal of “losing weight”. First of all, if you want to lose weight, what do you hope to gain from it? In other words, what do you REALLY want?

You probably want to look and feel great in summer clothes. So, rather than write “I want to lose xx amount of pounds”, try writing what you really want. Which might sound something like this:

“I want to have more energy, be healthier, have more vitality, and fit into this pair of jeans”.

Ok, so we’re getting a little more clear on what we want.

Step 2 – Write Your Goal Down as Though You’ve Already Accomplished It, and Thank God for Your Blessing
Try this. Instead of writing “I want [goal]”, try writing “I have or I am [goal]”. So, using our example above, you could write:

“I have more energy, I am healthier, I have more vitality, and I fit into my old pair of jeans!” Thank you, God, for this blessing.

Feel the difference? When you state your goals in this way, something magical happens. You begin to feel like you do have more energy; that you are healthier. The following story helps illustrate why this works:

WaiterImagine being in a restaurant and the waiter comes over to take your order.

“I’ll have the filet mignon, please”.

He says, “very good, how would you like that cooked”

You interrupt him and say, “no, you know what, I’ll have the chicken, please”

“ok, very good”

“No, wait a second, could I just have the Caesar salad, please”

By this time the waiter will probably be annoyed with you, and may even mess up the order.

Now, imagine yourself talking to the Universe, and asking for what you want when you don’t really know yourself. No wonder life seems confusing at times – it’s because we are confused.

We can ask for what we want, and, then we can act as if we’ve already attained our goal by focusing on our behavior.

Step 3 – Focus on your behavior not benchmarks
If you focus only on the number on the scale or the number of calories you eat, you are focusing on the benchmark – the goal of losing xx amount of pounds – and that’s not what we want. That’s like a student focusing on grades rather than studying the information in front of her.

Improve your chances of achieving your goal by focusing on your behavior. What do you do every day towards your goal? When you want to reach for a piece of cake or a bag of chips, re-read your goal aloud. Literally say “I have more energy, I am healthier, I have more vitality, and I fit into my old pair of jeans!” Thank you, God, for this blessing.

Maybe get up and walk for 5 minutes repeating this in your mind. (Regardless of your goal, getting up and walking – even for 5 minutes – is an excellent way to improve your energy and introduce new ideas).

When you’re done, if you still want the cake or the chips, then enjoy them. Eat half a piece of cake and savor every bite. Or put a handful of chips in a bowl, close the bag and put it away. Then, enjoy the chips.

Obviously, it’s not wrong to enjoy snacks – in fact, it’s probably wrong not to enjoy them. Because that leads to mindless eating, and mindless eating isn’t what we want.

Behavior is a process – and that process becomes a habit. Focus on the small steps you take every day. Be aware of what you’re eating, and enjoy it in smaller portions than before.

I’m not saying this is easy, but it’s important. Working towards something that we truly want puts a process in motion that brings us more energy, more strength, and more enjoyment in our life. Every outcome we achieve in life is created by a process. These three steps help you develop a new process for yourself that, if followed, will lead to your attaining your goals.

Here’s to living life fully,