Gratitude even if. Gratitude no matter what.

I have a blogging schedule. I have a marketing plan. Today’s regularly scheduled programming post was planned to be about engagement and marketing and choosing the right words (from the billion-plus we have in our language) that speak to the heart of the people I am here to serve and support.

Then Orlando happened. With a heavy heart I marched candle in hand on Sunday night with other grieving friends and community members. On that day, and since then, I’ve noticed my reaction to the normal sort of marketing emails and posts that have landed up in my inbox and feeds — they feel dissonant to me and haven’t held my attention as usual. The emails and posts that I read and responded to were the ones that were speaking to and about this tragedy.

Sometimes it’s good to step off the regular agenda and take time to stand in and speak to the moment. Today I know in my heart that it’s the right time for me to talk to you from my heart about gratitude even if, and gratitude no matter what.

Which I’m doing with you today.

I will resume talking about engagement, marketing, and business copy writing next time. Today let’s just get grateful together. Please.

Gratitude even if. Gratitude no matter what.

Gratitude even if. Gratitude no matter what.

I’ve had a gratitude practice for a long time. It’s a key part of my spiritual practice. I started writing fifteen items for which I was grateful every day in a journal almost fifteen years ago. Then I started sending my gratitude list in an email to my coach each morning. The circle expanded and I was sending that email to six or seven people every day.

When I started this blog, 800-ish posts ago, it began as a gratitude journal. I shared my daily gratitudes with the world. The blog has evolved in the nearly ten years of its life to be much more about living and being of service in a fully expressed way — integrating your passion, purpose, and prosperity into a seamless, sacred wholeness. But my gratitude practice has never stopped.

gratitude jarThe practice has circled around again to a private one. I write my gratitudes on a piece of paper (varieties of brightly colored origami paper these days) and crumple it up into a little ball and put it in my seemingly bottomless gratitude vase. Today I’m sharing my gratitude with you.

It’s easy to be grateful when things are easy, less challenging, less tragic. When you can tap into your gratitude no matter what is happening to and around you and your business, when you can tap into your gratitude through your tears and your grief, you’ll find a new ability to experience and act from a place of radical acceptance and love.

I am grateful today.

  • I am grateful that so many are safe.
  • I am grateful for the outpouring of love, solidarity, and support that fills my community and the world.
  • I  am grateful to know that grief and compassion are healing emotions.
  • I am grateful even for the anger and that feeling of being done, done, and done! with this violence because that anger spurs me to commitment and to action.
  • [and here come the hard ones] I am grateful that my daughter, who loves guns, and shooting them, does not have an assault weapon (that I know of).
  • I am grateful that my daughter and her partner are alive and safe.
  • I am grateful to know in my heart that my daughter’s path is her own, and that my work is to be a source of unconditional love for her every day.
  • I am grateful even if. I am grateful no matter what.

What prompts your gratitude today, even when grief is present?

What gratitude can you find in your heart? Let’s talk in the comments.

Posted on June 14th, 2016. Posted in these categories: business, compassion, gratitude. 31 Comments

Make and use a Goddess Box — it will hold your wishes and worries

There are many ways to bring the sacred and add ease to your life and your work.

Which is a really good thing because life can be busy and hectic and challenging, making a big toolbag a very nice thing to have.

As I develop the new and upleveled brand for Magnolias West (coming soon!), I’m finding myself stepping over, around, and through any perceived barriers between my spiritual practices and my work. I am refining my offers, as you will soon see, and bringing every Priestess quality I manifest in my life and work to the forefront.

[Inserting a slight side-note here] Just like what happened to the Wizard in the movie, Toto seems to be pulling the curtains back for me as well — more is being revealed to me and through me to you. It’s a bit scary (makes me feel even more tender and vulnerable than usual), and completely the next right thing for me to do in my work, in my being of service. More on this coming soon. Stick around, won’t you? [end of side-note]
Goddess box. It will hold your wishes and your worries.

I teach this in my work, as it’s been taught to me:

You can bring your best and highest — even if it may appear to some to be offbeat and weird — to your business, your work, and every part of your life.

One really good way to Priestess Your Life — to imbue every action with sacred intention — is to make and use a Goddess Box.

What’s a Goddess Box?

The Goddess Box is a container that will hold your wishes and your worries. It’s a way of handing those wishes and worries — could be anything you can’t resolve in this now moment — to the Divine. Doesn’t matter at all what name you use for the Divine — for me it’s Goddess. You might use God, or Allah, or Nature, or Source. Power tip: You don’t even have to believe in any particular kind of spiritual force. Really, just knowing that there’s something else besides you is all the opening you need for the Goddess Box to do its magic.

What this action of naming and then tucking away your wishes and worries gives you is a way to let go of that tortured idea that you have to solve this now — whatever this might be.

This releasing and surrendering idea is central to many spiritual techniques and practices.

  • Eckhardt Tolle calls it “living in the now.”
  • Meher Baba said, “do what you can and then don’t worry, be happy.”
  • Lindsay Wagner said “give what you have to give…and you let God handle the rest.”

Here are some wishes and worries you can put in your Goddess Box and let go of for now.

  • Thoughts about possible future outcomes of all sorts, including money, employment, and health
  • Anxiety about your children (or any family member) and the choices they make (probably accounts for more than 50% of anything I’ve ever given to the Goddess — “Here! you take her; I can’t solve this and I’m scared!”
  • Desire to improve your emotional vocabulary and balance, to be more positive and more loving even if/no matter what.

I’ve used my Goddess Box to:

  • Hold a draft of an angry email or text for three days. Each time I tried this, one of two things happened. Either the anger would dissipate and drift away and I’d forget the whole thing, or I’d take a look three days later and there would be an opening for me to reframe the communication in a more loving way — an opening that absolutely did not exist when I was in the heat of the anger.
  • Hold my desire to take a big trip or buy a big-ticket item when I didn’t have the money to do so. I could relax into that middle place between knowing that the wish wouldn’t be forgotten and trusting that a higher intelligence was sorting out the how and the when.

The Goddess Box is magical.

Your mind rests into the solidity of the gesture of writing down your wish or your worry on a sip of paper and tucking it into your Goddess Box. The restful ease comes from knowing that you don’t have to keep obsessing, that the Divine has got your back on this one.

You’ve written it down, whatever it is. You’ve given it structure. You’ve created sacred space for outcomes to unfold as they are meant to be.

When you add a Goddess Box to your sacred ritualized spiritual practice you add more even more quiet ease and peace to your mind and heart. More easy and peaceful because you won’t be so hung up in your worries; you’ll be more present, and more available to the magic of this now moment and the next.

Of course, you still take actions. You and the Divine, you’re a team. Take the actions, and rest in letting go of the results.

How to make a Goddess Box.

Couldn’t be easier. And it’s fun! Grab a box (I’ve used a shoe box, and I like the little pressboard boxes I can get for $1.99 at the local crafts stores too). Grab decorative bits. I’ve used images from magazines, paints, glitter (of course glitter!), markers, feathers, beads, and more. Set some intention to be shown what this box needs, and go to town. Make it beautiful. And you’re done!
Goddess box info

Or… if you’re going to be in the Bay Area on June 19th, join me for a Goddess Box Creativity Salon in my beautiful backyard on the harbor in Marina Bay.

No more than ten women, I supply all the materials, it will be so much fun. And hella sacred.

Sunday, June 19th, 1:30–5pm, $89 includes materials, $79 early-bird if registered and paid by 6/5/16. Download the info flyer here, or click or tap on the image to the right.

Have you made a Goddess Box? Does you feel called to create one? Tell me…let’s talk in the comments.

Posted on May 31st, 2016. Posted in these categories: Goddess box, Priestess Your Life, ritual, sacred intention. 28 Comments

Website pages — how many and which ones?

What website pages are essential? How many do you use?

Anatomy of a rebrand, part 3

I’m deep in the design process now for the new Magnolias West website. As I started fiddling with the menu (nav) bar, I took a minute to really think about the main nav items, and about what website pages I want to include and which might be eliminate-able.

What website pages are essential? How many do you use?

I really want to simplify the new iteration of my site, for a couple of reasons. This will be my first responsive website* for myself (after designing and developing responsive sites for my clients for the last 18 months), and I’m designing with functionality and ease in mind. In a responsive site viewed on mobile, sidebars appear below the main content, and there can be a lot of scrolling when you’re on an iPhone. So… no sidebars (for now anyway).

Second reason: simplicity for simplicity’s sake. My goal is to keep the text lean, and to embody and manifest the principles of heart-centered empathy-based marketing in as few pages as possible.

Well then, what website pages are essential?

My current Magnolias West website has seven main pages:

  • Home
  • Start Here
  • Who I Am…
  • How It Works
  • Work with Me
  • Blog
  • Connect

As of this moment, the new site will have only five:

  • Home
  • About Me
  • Let’s Work Together
  • Blog
  • Connect

A few words about the pages that are being eliminated

The Start here page. Also known as Is this you? or New here?, this page is a key element in empathy-based marketing. I learned this method of tribe- and practice-building from some amazing teachers, and in a large part from Mark Silver of Heart of Business (who is also the source of the doors and windows magic mentioned below).

The way this teaching has landed in my heart is this: Speak to and about your ideal client before you speak about yourself. Or: Roll out the red carpet for your ideal client so that he or she feels seen, heard, recognized, welcomed, and like they’re in just the right place. The “Start Here” page is a great way to do that.

Notice its placement in the order. It comes after Home and — most critically — before I start talking about myself and my badass expertise.

I’m going to combine what I’d put in a Start here page with my Home page text and see how that works. Hey, it’s WordPress, and there’s plenty of space. I can always add it back.

The How it works page. I have never really felt that this page served my site, as it’s very similar to the page called Work with me. This one is an easy one to drop. And since I’m in a dropping mood (for the sake of simplicity), it’s gone.

Website pages — what order?

Of course, you create your nav menus with a reading order in mind, but there’s no way you can guarantee that your imposed order will be followed. Think about it: Do you ever read a website in order? Of course not. Something will catch your eye. Or you’ll enter from an external link and go on from there.

Knowing this, go ahead and create your website pages in the order you’d like them to be looked at, and then employ this amazing magic trick to increase the odds that your reader will check out the stuff you think is important:

Create doors and windows at the bottom of each page.

Yup, leave easy paths for your reader to follow at the bottom of each and every main page. At the end of the text on each page, add a paragraph that reads something like:

Want to know more? Check out my About page or subscribe to my newsletter.

Keep it to two links — no more. Keep it simple, and trust that by including these doors and windows you’ve added a few inviting and engaging links to those that appear in the menu itself.

That’s it from me today. Now I’d like to hear from you. How did you decide what pages to include in your menu? What do you know that I should? Share your questions and tips in the comments. Blessed be.

*Responsive websites are designed to be read on tablets and phones as well as computers; Google encourages responsive and penalizes non-responsive in search results. Which is a very good reason to upgrade your existing site if it’s not responsive already. You want to be found, right? And yes, I can help. Want to talk?

Posted on May 17th, 2016. Posted in these categories: branding, web design. 20 Comments

Do you see obstacles to your happiness? Who put them there?

What obstacles do you put between yourself and your happiness?

Some wise lessons take a lot of repeating to sink in, and a lot of teachers with a lot of different delivery methods — for me anyway.

I learned this lesson about happiness twice recently: in tai chi class and then again two weeks later from Molly Gordon in her Art of Living class. (Just in case Molly’s class page is down, you can meet her and her beautiful work here.)
What obstacles do you put between yourself and your happiness?

The tai chi lesson

The latest in a long line of ego smackdowns that come with studying an internal martial art.

This happens a lot. I’ve been a tai chi student since 1974. So many opportunities to see (and be shown, in case I’m missing it) my ego in all its sad glory.

There I am, in class, soaking up the too-infrequent feedback and instruction I get from my friend and teacher Greg (who visits twice a year from NYC, who’s known me pretty much this whole time — over four decades) and then I get frustrated and say something like: “Why do I bother even trying to do push hands? My body (and its musculo-skeletal challenges) — I just can’t. I’m too old, too damaged, too sick.”

Greg’s response to me: “You always have some reason that keeps you from fully engaging with what you have, who you’re with, what you’re doing.” I’m paraphrasing the exact words a bit (not the sentiment). I got so mad at him when he said this, and in the time between being angry and realizing just how right he was, I managed to forget exactly how he put it.

Then I realized he was right; I can be so skillful at finding an external circumstance to blame for…anything!

And every story I tell myself gets in the way of my ability to experience happiness now.

  • Losing my balance in tai chi push hands? I must be too old and too injured.
  • Not getting enough attention? I must be an unlovable loser.
  • Still dealing with that persistent digestive issue? I am clearly not trying hard enough.
  • My rebranded, upleveled new website isn’t completed yet? I’m moving too slowly; I’ll never get it all done!
  • Finances are in a shambles? My business revenue is down? I’d better not go to the beach, or the movies, or pretty much anywhere.

You know the kinds of thoughts that come right on the heels of these stories:

  • Resignation: Why bother?
  • Self-pity: Why doesn’t anyone call me?
  • Fear: I seriously don’t think I’ll What’s wrong with me?

The Art of Living lesson

The assignment from the first Art of Living class was to “make a list of all the stories you’ve been living out.” Watching myself write these down as they occurred to me, I realized in a new and deeper way that the content of my stories is just that — content. I realized we all have stories, and while the content is different for each of us at different times, the pain and unhappiness they bring are universal.

  • The content and circumstances of my stories are not what cause me to feel blocked from happiness. That comes from what I end up believing because a story is present.
  • If the stories aren’t telling me “too old, too broken” or “unlovable” or “too lazy” they would be telling me something else. In fact, if I don’t take them too personally, each story is a transformation and growth opportunity.
  • When I can choose to love what is, unconditionally, and let go of the belief that I have to change circumstances, I can be free.

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. — Guillaume Apollinaire

What about you? How do you deal with the stories that dance around inside of you and get between you and your happiness? I’d love to know; let’s talk in the comments.

On another note…

How are you doing with the Retrograde madness?

Mercury just began another retrograde (until May 22), Mars is retrograde (until June 29), and every other planet except Venus is retrograde (or approaching) right now. Are you feeling sped up? Slowed down? Stuck? More problems than usual? I know I’m moving slower than I’d like to. I’m hoping that when Jupiter stations direct next week, things will begin to ease up. I’m hoping. How’s it going for you?

Posted on May 3rd, 2016. Posted in these categories: happiness. 18 Comments

Rebrand continues — the naming decision

Another in the series of posts about branding. This one is:

Anatomy of a Rebrand, part 2 — the naming decision

Keep the name? Or get a new one?

Anatomy of a rebrand — naming

I’m not done yet. Yup, I may be standing in that still, deep water (at least I’m still on my feet, could be worse, could be flailing, or drowning) but that water is deep and it’s broad. I wanted to be done by the upcoming end of this month, and I won’t be. I can’t even tell you that I see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I can tell you that I know how many more stops there are before I can see that light. As soon as I get detailed layouts made (nope, not even started yet), and hand them off to my developer team, I will be counting the days to launch.

Continuing the story from the last rebranding article six weeks ago, there’s a lot that has been decided and accomplished. There are a boatload* of decisions to be made on a big project like rebranding, and when it’s your business, if you’re like me, you give those decisions some focused and supported attention because it’s your business!

A big decision: Naming

I decided to keep the name Magnolias West. Although this rebrand is all about upleveling my brand and my offers so that I can better connect and work with the wise and passionate women I know I’m meant to serve; although I’m changing the look, the logo, the colors, the fonts, and every single word — when it came to the naming question, I realized that there are many very good reasons for me to keep the name just as it is.

  • It’s my brand! It’s everywhere. I’ve built this brand and the Magnolias West community for over five years. I feel like my business name and my personal name are integral parts of my business connections.
  • I still really love magnolias. Fact: the naming of Magnolias West was a convenience move for me back in 2010, when I was combining two distinct businesses into one. At that point I didn’t see the natural synergy of my two careers like I see it now. I didn’t know how to combine decades of design and branding work with my newer coaching practice. So I went on a naming journey for something that would be pleasing and evocative and meaning-agnostic. Of course, haha, now I have developed a coaching program that’s all about branding and marketing from the heart (coming soon in the new MagnoliasWest website). Who knew?
  • The PITA (pain in the ass) factor. The very idea of what it would take to change my business name all over the interwebs made this a really easy choice. As it is, changing out my logo everywhere is going to be massive enough. Sadly, I am not that woman who has a list of every website and service on which her logo resides. Think about it. Do you have an online business? Then you probably know what that means.

There’s much done and much left to do.

  • Many of the new web pages are written. Once I get 2-1/2 more done, I have all I need to get the site launched.
  • The design is kinda sorta clear in my head, so when I get started on layout, it should go quickly.
  • I have lots of support, and I’m so grateful, because support makes it all less overwhelming and therefore more doable. I’m asking for and getting lots of input from my mastermind folks and my coach, and I’ve upped my meditation practice.

How’s your business development going? What’s moving smoothly? Where are you stuck? Let’s support each other. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

*Go ahead, replace “boatload” with your own favorite unit of measurement. I was thinking “shit-ton” or “fuckload” but then I decided to be a lady for once.

Posted on April 19th, 2016. Posted in these categories: branding. 32 Comments

Exquisite self-care for your business (yup, starts with you)

Okay, wait, calm down.

I’m not writing a rose-petal baths and massages self-care post and pretending it’s about business. Not pretending — self-care is about business.

Yes, I am connecting scented baths and massages and similar yummy events to the care and nurturing of your business.

Because this: You love your business. It’s your passion and your calling. And this: Every action you take to feed and nurture your business reflects and manifests (and maybe even multiplies) the way you take care of yourself.

Exquisite self-care. It's an inside job.

Solopreneur, wisdompreneur, humanpreneur:

Exquisite self-care for your business starts with you. Exquisite self-care opportunities show up in many ways, some teeny and some huge. You get to choose and commit to self-care every day — in your work, in your life, in your relationships.

It’s an inside job. All the best external successes grow, thrive, and sustain because they have a strong inner foundation.

It’s pretty simple: It’s about having and keeping a sacred commitment to practices that let you establish and maintain a state of being resourced, restored, and in balance so that you attract the clients, revenue, friends, satisfaction, and joy you desire.

The inside job: some tips and how-to’s:

Feed, nurture, and tend your body, the vehicle of your consciousness.

Eat, move, and rest like a boss.

Grow a loving relationship with your body and with food, and keep expanding and improving that relationship as you can. A juicy add-on: grow some food, even a pot or two of herbs in a sunny spot if you’re a beginner (it’s nearly impossible to kill a pot of peppermint).

Move your beautiful body — I love my daily walk. Take breaks and get away from the computer.

Prepare good meals and eat them away from your desk.

Absolutely do not forget the scented baths and massages.

Sink into your sacred silence and welcome the presence of the divine with a daily practice.

A strong connection to the divine — to a power bigger than you — helps you stay grounded through the hectic busyness of each day, even in the scary and unwelcome moments. Grounded,  peaceful, and motivated. Grateful. Happy.

These days my daily practice looks like something like this: two rounds of tai chi, a journal entry, gratitudes written on colorful paper and added to my gratitude vase, and a guided meditation. I take a walk and I do a workout or a stretching routine as well.

Grooming.

Dress for work, even if you work at home.

Don’t wear the clothes that you slept in. (What? You wear PJs? Me, I keep it simple. I just ditch the bra layer and sleep in the shirt I wore all day — works 90% of the time because I wear comfy cotton knit t-shirts 90% of the time — and slip into yoga pants if I’m not wearing them already.)

Grooming #2.

Doing errands around town? Dress in something you wouldn’t mind wearing when you are meeting a new prospective client.

You never know when a stranger you encounter will end up becoming your next prospective client.*

Be intentional about fun and downtime.

Want a successful and sustainable business that has you doing your inspired best work for your ideal clients? Then nurture and sustain yourself.

Work/life balance is a thing. When you’re out of balance and working so much you can’t make time to play and restore, your good health and positive attitudes take a hit. Over time those hits can suck the life, and love, and success right out of your business.

And three exquisite self-care tips directly for your business:

Get support. Even (especially!) if you are a solopreneur.

Working at home on your own? It’s so easy to slip into feeling alone and worried. Take an action that fits your needs and your financial reality: Find a mastermind group. Hire a coach. Set up an accountability buddy system with a friend whose business is in a similar reality to yours.

These days I am in a paid small group for coaching, I have a buddy I meet with every other week for content development and heartstorming, and I have a no-fee peer-led mastermind where we talk through business questions and do content creation separately together.

Put structures in place that support you to stay productive and accountable.

I use the tools that allow me to schedule my life and live my schedule and be accountable when things change.

What’s working for me these days is a powerful combination of mostly cloud-based systems that allow me access from anywhere with internet. The three main ones are Evernote, Apple’s calendar, and Google docs and sheets.

Know what your business’s financial reality is (even if you pay a bookkeeper).

Put on your big-girl panties and find out what it feels like to have a grown-up relationship with money.

When you know what’s going out and what’s coming in, you’re in clarity (not vagueness) and you’re in much better shape to be present and take the next right action.

What do you think? Useful?

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Drop me a line in the comments.

*That sentence about not knowing if a stranger will end up considering hiring you? Taking actions consistent with these words is a formula for an increased-happiness and decreased-regret life. The concept applies not only to your appearance — what you’re wearing and that you’re clean and smell healthy and alive. It applies to every interaction with every human.

Not knowing whether this or any other stranger might be your next client may not be the most selfless motive for changing and improving your behavior. But like many things, it’s a really good way to convert a wish into a behavior into a habit that can and will improve your business and your life.

Posted on April 5th, 2016. Posted in these categories: business, self-love. 47 Comments

Balance point and the fiery energy — how to use them

This year’s balance point — the Equinox — was very lively.

So much wild energy happening (including buckets of much-needed rain here in California).

The Equinox — that beautiful balance point — was sandwiched between the two eclipses of the season, just ahead of the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse this week.

In my world — in my life and in my business — the balance point this year felt like a moment of stillness wrapped around a fiery ball of energy ready to explode! How did the Equinox, and its moment of balance, feel for you? Did you notice anything unusual?

Now we are in that beautiful creation-inspiring, fiery, let’s-get-going, time-for-new-starts Aries energy.

yin yang balance point
Here are three actions you can take that will make good use of all this energy.

Because it’s a new season, because it’s Aries, because you were gonna take action anyway (weren’t you?), so why not feel even better about the changes you have in your mind and heart?

  • Step back from the details and the day-to-day tasks and take a fresh look at your brand. Solopreneur, wisdom teacher, healer, or humanpreneur — your brand is all about how you show up in the world matches your values and actions. What’s aligned, what isn’t? In business: Does your marketing reflect where you are now? Are you supporting your work in the world with a clear, steady, loving presence? Is it time for a facelift, or an upleveling of some or all of the elements of your brand?

    Outside of business: Are you walking your talk? Are you showing up as you intend to? When shit happens (and it does), do you let others know that things have changed? Power tip: Schedule a no-strings call with me and I’ll look at all of it with you.

  • Clean house. Release what no longer serves you. In your office: Step back and take a look at your desk. Declutter those piles of paper and business cards. Take a quick look at each one and either file it, or schedule an action, or toss it. Have a lovely reunion with your cleared desktop and in-baskets.

    You can do the same thing with your clothing. For each item you can ask: Is this in good repair? Do I wear it? Does it fit? Do I like the way I look in it? Depending on the answer, keep it, give it away, or toss it.

  • Start something new, something daring, something you’ve been meaning to do. In your biz: Ask previous clients for referrals. Call someone you’ve met online whose work interests you — bonus points for calling a niche-mate! Schedule some fun time right in the middle of your work week.

    Up your wellness game. More/longer walks. Regular meditation. Take a class. Start cooking. Knitting. Dancing. You know, that big scary stuff!

I’d love to hear what you’re cooking up in this fiery new season. Talk to me in the comments, or send an email.

Posted on March 22nd, 2016. Posted in these categories: balance, business development, Full Moon. 36 Comments