Stop! Wait! Before you start visioning and writing goals, do the completion and release work first

This post was originally published in December of 2012. It’s been completely updated and brought up-to-date.

This is the time of year when your thoughts start to turn to your visions, goals, and intentions for the year ahead

It’s December, a natural time to start thinking about plans, and set intentions, to get clear about your visions for the coming year. You may even be thinking about those things right now.

2014 Year-End Completion and Release WorkbookBut before you start writing those goals for the coming year…Stop and breathe. There’s work to do first!

Honor yourself in the most sacred way and allow for closure for all the beautiful actions you took in 2014. Take the time to look back, and acknowledge your magnificent accomplishments of this past year. Give yourself the gift of completing and releasing the year that’s coming to an end before you begin looking ahead — when you do, you’ll be creating a firmer loving foundation for your intentions and visions.

Introducing the Magnolias West 2014 Completion and Release Workbook.

Here’s how to create a strong, workable, sustainable foundation for your vision, goals and intentions for an amazing 2014! In this workbook you can make note of what challenged you, and what may still be incomplete. Celebrate yourself for all the new, audacious, brave, risky things you’ve taken on, tried, and manifested. The actions that worked out as planned (or better!) and the ones that didn’t. Everything that was wonderful, everything that was challenging, and everything in between. When you get to gratitude for all of it, you are lovingly cutting the ties to what may hold you back from your magnificence in the New Year.

Read what a client, Christine Scudder, has to say about the Completion & Release Workbook

CSheadshot“When I started the workbook, I was feeling pretty down on my year that was ending, but in the process of reviewing the questions, I found that I actually took more risks — and some significant ones at that — in the past year, and that each risk, each action, was deserving of my mindful attention and gratitude. I found the overall “taking stock” to be helpful. The language was at once direct and empowering, serving as an invitation to reflect upon this year in a way that was forthright, yet kind to myself. This is new for me — previously I’ve found “year in review” type activities to bring out a serious amount of harsh, critical self-judgment. I left this activity with a sense of clear renewal.” —Christine Scudder, MSW.

Even when your efforts fail, gorgeous, as long as you’re trying, you’re making progress.

They call it failing forward. I promise you, taking the time to do this completion work will remove the weeds and undergrowth from your path, so that your new start  —the goals, visions, blessings, and miracles you will bring to 2015 — will germinate, root, and flower beautifully for you.

How to buy the 2014 Year-End Completion and Release Workbook

It’s easy! All the information you need is right here.

Pricing, purchase links, more information, more testimonials, the whole megillah (yup, that’s Yiddish again — means the whole story). Check it out. Put yourself high on your gift list.
But wait, there’s more!

Posted on December 7th, 2014. Posted in these categories: completion, goals, intentions, release, resolutions. 16 Comments

How do you discern what’s true and glean useful knowledge and wisdom?

There is a lot of information flying around

The upcoming Full Moon in Gemini, which is ruled by Mercury, may be bringing a wide array of information to your attention. Mercury will be only one degree away from the Sun in Sagittarius during this Full Moon, intensifying the information load (and potential overload), if you’re not mindful.

Full Moon in Gemini 2014

Full Moon in Gemini

Saturday, December 6th
14º18′ Gemini
4:27 am PST, 7:27 am EST

It’s a good time to be flexible yet discerning as you go; check all facts before making assumptions and decisions.

Not everything you are told will be useful or reliable, and not everything has to be fixed right now. Gemini’s twin energies can be scattered, and may prefer to go after the quick fix or the hard-to-resist temptation to make hasty decisions. Stop. Breathe. And breathe again. Allow the commitment to the truth that Sagittarius brings to help you discern what’s useful, what can and should be acted upon now, and what can wait.

Believe me, a lot can wait.

Resist impulses, spend some time in the waiting, so you can discern in your sage heart what’s really useful to you and your business at this time. There is useful knowledge and wisdom for you — take the time to get clear.

How liberating is it when you allow yourself to choose what actions you will take!

This is the last Full Moon before the Solstice

The light will begin to change.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere this Moon has been called the Long Night Moon, the Open Moon, and the Cold Moon. Wherever you are, whether the light will begin to return or begin to wane at the Solstice, we are coming up to a turning point. If you can take some time during the Full Moon weekend, some ritual work around communication, expression, and discernment can be really useful. Useful for you and your beautiful heart, and useful moving forward in your business as the calendar year winds to a close.

  • Do you have a special pen, and/or a journal? I have two fountain pens that I use pretty exclusively. One has green ink, for all matters financial, and the other has purple ink, because of course 8-) . I will place my pens outside on Friday to charge overnight with the energy of useful and accurate and loving information (received and given) under the light of the Gemini Full Moon.
  • throat chakraAre you expressing everything you want and mean to say? I like to do some chanting to clear any expressive energy that may be blocked. You can clear the throat chakra by sitting in a meditative posture, and chanting Om 9 times, then Ram 9 times, then Ham 9 times. Stretch out the sound gently, easily, without strain. As you chant, focus on the center of your throat, and imagine the blue image to the right. When you have done your three rounds of chanting, repeat: “My thoughts are positive, and I always express myself truthfully, clearly and with love.”
  • Could you use some support in discerning what’s useful for you now? What I’m going to do is to put a bowl of filtered water outside next to my pens on Friday night to be charged. I will cover it with a cloth or a dish to keep any schmutz (Yiddish: dirt of unknown origin) from landing in the bowl. I will drink the water on Saturday, as close to the actual Full Moon as I can.

What do you have planned to mark the energy of this Full Moon?

I’d love to hear from you! Please talk to me by leaving a comment below.

Blessed be!

Posted on November 29th, 2014. Posted in these categories: Full Moon, wisdom. 10 Comments

Are you honouring your authentic introversion (or are you just hiding?)

This is a guest post, by the beautiful Tanja Gardner. She lives in New Zealand, although she spells like she’s British, and she’s an amazing writer who’s taking a powerful stand for introverts stepping regally into the full expression of their purpose in business.

There’s a difference between honouring your introversion and playing small

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone dismiss introversion as an “excuse to play small”, I’d… Well, I’d probably invest it, live off the interest, and offer my coaching services for free.

Seriously, the myths around being introverted — that we’re all just shy, poorly socialised, or just too selfish to make an effort — are mindboggling. Errr… no actually, there’s a growing body of scientific evidence for genuine physiological and biochemical differences between introverted and extroverted brains. (In everyday terms: we really are wired differently!)

That said, introversion can make an incredibly convenient excuse to avoid stretching beyond your comfort zone. So how can you tell whether you’re being true to who you are as an introvert, as opposed to hiding your light?

It’s a complex question, and without getting to know you, I can’t say for sure. But here are a few things to consider that might help you figure it out for yourself.

FreedomLet’s start by defining what introversion actually is

Before we talk about whether you’re honouring your introversion or not, it might help to check that we’re all talking about the same thing.

Being introverted (or extroverted) is basically about how your energy levels tend to respond to interacting with others.

  • If you’re introverted, you’ll generally find that spending time with other people drains your energy levels; and you recharge from being blissfully alone.
  • If you’re extroverted, you mostly get your juice from being around other people; and you start to feel flat when you’ve been too long by yourself.

Note the terms “generally” and “mostly” there. That’s because introversion and extroversion aren’t absolute characteristics – most of us experience a little bit of both in different situations. So instead, the terms refer to what you tend to experience most often.

(Not sure which “-vert” you are? This fun, free and totally unscientific quiz might help you figure it out!)

Plenty of introverts “play big” — but that doesn’t mean you have to

But wait, there’s more!

Posted on November 21st, 2014. Posted in these categories: guest post, introvert. 13 Comments

The zero point — recalibrate, renew, restart

The New Moon in Sagittarius is at zero degrees

It’s the second zero point New Moon in a series of four — let’s look at this; what can we learn?

New Moon at the zero point — recalibrate, renew, restart

New Moon in Sagittarius

Saturday, November 22nd
0º07′ Sagittarius
4:32 am PST, 7:32 am EST

They say that zero degrees of any sign is a jumping-off place.

Look, I don’t wait for the stars and planets to align to inspire me to recalibrate, renew, or restart, and I don’t advise you to do that either. You get to make those transformative, empowering, and liberating decisions in any moment, in any breath.

Paradoxically (on the surface, anyway), as a woman who lives connected to and respectful of the cycles, of the wheel of the Moon and of the seasons, I take each New and Full Moon as a special and sacred invitation to stop and connect with the energy of the season and the planetary positions and alignments. I consider each Dark Moon a perfect time to intentionally go inside, to go deep, and to do the clearing and releasing work that will let me set achievable intentions for this next lunation (Moon cycle).

Life hands out opportunities to claim sovereignty over how you react to the challenges, surprises, joys, and tragedies that can come at any time. In your business life, too, right? In the face of the unexpected, or the seemingly unendurable, how amazing does it feel when you plant your flag in faith, and take the time to stand in the zero point? They taught me in 12-step recovery that I can start my day over again as often as I need to do so. A zero point New Moon (and this one is the second in a series of four, so we will get to look at this for a while) invites you to take a quiet moment and ask:

  • What do I need to do to restore balance and harmony (recalibrate)?
  • What commitment can I make now (or make again) that will help me reconnect to the joy and inspiration that got me here in the first place (renew)?
  • What small action can I take today to get my stalled project back into action (restart)?

But wait, there’s more!

Posted on November 16th, 2014. Posted in these categories: astrology, New Moon, zero point. 14 Comments

Three reasons not to have a do-it-yourself website

I get asked about this all the time, and everything I’m about to share with you could fall under the heading: “You deserve support!”

And because I know that every one of my clients, and every one of you, is different, none of these bits of advice that are coming in this article are absolutes.

Your website: three reasons not to do-it-yourself

  • Some of you will be able to take on all of the techy stuff with ease, and some of you will be driven to distraction by it, and many of you will land somewhere in the middle. I’m extremely techy, I spend a lot of time studying WordPress and web design and development minutiae, and WordPress and css and html and all the other things involved in creating and launching a website can drive me nuts — often when I’m on a deadline!
  • Some of you are designers, you know your brand inside and out, and you know just how your website should look, and what words you should use so that your website (and all your marketing efforts) will appeal to the heart of your ideal client, so that she or he sticks around, tells others about your awesomeness, and buys your products and services. You’ve got the words, you’ve got your colors and your logo, but that doesn’t mean you automagically know how to make a workable, nimble, and reliable website.
  • Some of you are held back from getting the support you deserve because your business is brand-new, or not yet financially sustainable, and you believe you can’t invest money in this part of your business. I hear this a lot: “I need to make more money before I can hire someone who does what you do.” I am not now, nor would I ever, suggest to anyone that they put themselves in financial straits for their business. At the same time, I know from experience that part of what we get to do as passionate, mission-driven soulpreneurs, is to step out of our comfort zone, and invest funds along with our investment of time and energy. (Another part of this, of course, is to revisit your fees and make sure you’re charging enough, but that’s a topic for another article.)

Three reasons not to have a do-it-yourself website

But wait, there’s more!

Posted on November 8th, 2014. Posted in these categories: branding, Unmask Your Brand, web design. 16 Comments

Everything contains the seed of its apparent opposite

Full Moon in Taurus

Thursday, November 6th
14º26′ Taurus
2:23 pm Pacific
5:23 pm Eastern

Apparent opposites and the Taurus Full Moon

I learned this lesson a long time ago, and I’m revisiting the concept again as we come up to the Taurus Full Moon. After all the drama of the Aries Full Moon Lunar Eclipse which was followed by the intense Scorpio New Moon Solar Eclipse, this apparently ho-hum Full Moon in Taurus might seem rather boring. I’m here to tell you (as a Scorpio fixed-sign woman) that it’s those still times that can bring about major and lasting transformations.

Everything contains the seed of its apparent oppositeThe reason apparent opposition is still such a resonant teaching for me is that it helps me with perspective, with myself and with everyone else.

I have learned that while I may be feeling unsure of myself, what others see is often brash, brave, and confident. I have learned that when I’m anxious, my external affect may look calm. Knowing this about myself helps me see everyone in my life with so much more compassion. When someone reacts with anger, I can see past the anger to the hurt inside. When someone expresses elation, I remember that there might be some sadness underneath, or behind, it.

This week’s Full Moon invites you to lovingly look inside.

What changes are ready to be made? In your business, in your relationships? In your wellness?

Remember, this Moon is bringing the Taurus energy, with its themes of security, stability, possessions, health, and wealth. What’s working? What’s not so much?

Here’s where the apparent opposites come in.

Don’t let the Taurean desire to hold on to everything keep you from embracing change. Remember and embrace the opposites. Holding tight to what is and to what you have can hold you back from stepping into the next unfolding of your highest good. And don’t forget: the Sun’s in Scorpio, Venus is in Scorpio, and Mercury will finally re-enter Scorpio on the 8th after the last retrograde. Embrace change, beloved. So much easier than holding tightly. And as I learned in a 12-step meeting, “When you walk around with your hands clenched shut, you can’t receive the abundance that’s coming your way, that’s meant to enrich your life.”

As one of my favorite teachers, Jen Louden, said in her recent blogpost: “I keep trying to open to the ache of being alive. I mostly fail. I don’t stop trying.”

Start with gratitude.

I find that when I stand in and express my gratitude, I’ve made a good start. Gratitude opens my heart and oh-so-resistant mind to what is, what’s moving, what’s changing, and what’s coming.

  • I am grateful for learning the WordPress keyboard shortcuts. Life is much better now! :-)
  • I am grateful for my birthday tomorrow, and for the dinner party I am having tonight.
  • I am grateful for the smell of the pork shoulder that’s been s-l-o-o-o-o-w-l-y cooking in the oven for the last 18 hours.
  • Ok, I’m also grateful for taste of that roast. At this point, I am hoping there’ll be some left by the time my guests arrive in 3-1/2 hours!
  • I am grateful for a sense of humor around this position I’ve put myself in for the thousandth time, of cooking something I’ve never made before and serving it to guests. Good thing I’m a decent cook. Good thing I ran to the butcher this morning to check out what I was doing. Good thing my friends and family are patient with me! (They’re gonna love it.)
  • I am grateful for my daily walks and for the Map My Walk app I have put on my phone. Now I know how long I walk, and the distance I cover.
  • I am grateful for my improving strength.
  • I am grateful for having doctors in my life with whom I can be completely honest.
  • I am grateful to be learning all the time.
  • I am grateful for my increasing html and css skills. I am rocking making style changes in my website and for others.

I’d love to know how this Full Moon is shining in your heart. How will you enjoy the stillness and invite change? I’d love to hear from you. Please share your insights and your gratitude in a comment.

Posted on November 1st, 2014. Posted in these categories: apparent opposite, Full Moon. 15 Comments

Five spiritual practices that help you be your best self

The Five Yamas

Lessons from the yoga mat

The Yamas are one of the spiritual practices I learned about in yoga. The Yamas, when practiced with intention, add to your groundedness and balance, allowing you to live in peace, good health and harmony with yourself and your world.


I talk about spiritual neuroscience a lot

Spiritual neuroscience teaches how negative behaviors became habits by repetition, which is the good and the not-so-easy-to-take news. The good news: Once you start repeating intentionally positive behaviors, you can actually create new patterns and habits that will eventually replace the old. The other news: It can be so challenging to begin to let go of the behaviors you used to protect yourself early in your life. It can feel so tender and so uncomfortable when you start making these changes. You are not alone. Your heart knows your true essence, trust your heart. Remembering the good news will it easier for you to make each effort willingly — one thought, one word, one action at a time. It will pay off. I’m living proof. (You can read other articles I’ve written about neuroscience here, here, and here.)

I like to look at spiritual practices for transforming consciousness through many different lenses.

I recently learned about the five Yamas (and their sister practices the Niyamas, which I’ll come back to in another post, if you find this one useful), in a yoga class, of course. The Yamas are described as universal, and outer-oriented, in the teachings. But what I really like is applying each principle from the inside out. How am I treating myself? First I look at my relationship to myself, and when that is in balance, then I can apply the same principles to my family, friends, community, clients, colleagues — in ever-expanding ripples, to my world.

Let’s look at these spiritual practices as the gentle and powerful internal shift-makers they can be

  • Ahimsa — compassion, doing no harm. Remember that your own sovereign, sacred, essential self is the same one you honor in the people you love and serve. When you say “Namaste” at the end a yoga class, recognize the internal Divine in yourself first. When a client wants to do forgiveness work, I tell her to begin by first seeing herself at peaceful and content, to visualize herself as healed and forgiven before she extends that same prayer outward.
  • Satya — truthfulness. How do you describe yourself to yourself? How do you talk to yourself? When you are harsh, and judgmental, you are thinking and speaking from fear, resignation, disappointment, and bitterness. Start by changing the way you talk to and about yourself. Cut yourself the same slack you freely give a loved one. Be your own loved one. Try this: imagine putting your arm around yourself with love and compassion. Then speak the real truth, the one that reminds you that you are a child of the Divine.
  • Asteya — non-stealing. More than just about the tangible, we can look even deeper. What old feelings of deprivation and entitlement drive you to be out of balance in your relationship with yourself and with your world? Are you demanding more time from friends, loved ones, and teachers than you really need? Reclaim your balance with gratitude and generosity. Express gratitude, daily, and give of your time, your treasure, and your talents. Stretch yourself: share a little more gratitude and give a little more of what you have than you think you possibly could; that little bit more is a powerful healing.
  • Bramacharya — moderating the senses, lack of excess. What keeps you from standing in your sovereignty? One place to look is at your excesses. Are you living in balance, or are you manifesting addictive behaviors so much that you can’t feel the ground under your feet? Start here: Choose your media wisely: what you read, what you watch. Make intentional choices about what you eat, and about the people in your life. Moderation opens the way to a more mindful and balanced life.
  • Aparigraha — absence of greed. When we enjoy what we have with equanimity, without grasping too tightly, we are manifesting this quality. How is your balance here? Do you take the same care of others’ possessions as you do your own? Do you hold on so tightly that you lose the ability to release what no longer serves you? Are you trying to get others to love you so you can feel better about yourself? If you tend to hold on too tightly, step back and let go a little. If you are afraid to show up and claim what’s yours, take a slightly firmer grip. Find your balance.

So, beautiful, what do you think? How are you folding these spiritual practices into your own life? Let me know in the comments. Blessed be!

Posted on October 25th, 2014. Posted in these categories: neuroscience, spirituality, transformation, Yoga. 12 Comments