A Blessing for the New Year

May your new year be filled with abundance.

May it bring you new opportunities to grow and learn.

May you find peace in the present moment.

May you be blessed with the strength to face any challenges that come your way.

May you be surrounded by people who support and uplift you.

May you find the time and energy to nurture your relationships and cultivate meaningful connections.

May you express your creative free spirit with joy.

But most of all, may the new year bring you endless opportunities to love yourself like never before.

– Peleg Top, Guest Author

The Good, The Holy, The Beautiful

“Every moment is a doorway through which the good, the holy, and the beautiful can be expressed . . .”
From the book:
The Way of Mastery – Part One: The Way of the Heart
Shanti Christo Foundation

What does this mean to you?

Typically, I might start looking around me or noticing what I’m reading to declare, “This one is good, that thing is holy, and the woman over there is beautiful.”

When I read it recently, I had a different response.

I’m on Day 24 of a challenging 40-day meditation. I’ve been resisting it because it involves holding my breath 52 times for longer than feels comfortable to me.

Shortly, after I read, “Every moment is a doorway through which the good, the holy, and the beautiful can be expressed…,” I began my meditation. As soon as I started, it occurred to me to simply experience the good, the holy and the beautiful in the challenge.

I was shocked by how easy it was. Without the resistance I’d been creating, all that was left was the good, the holy, the beautiful. Truly.

One of the infinite expressions of the good, the holy, the beautiful
One of the infinite expressions of the good, the holy, the beautiful.

Wow, where else in my life have I been overlooking the opportunity to experience, create, express or allow the good, the holy, the beautiful?

I’d love to hear your experiences! Join the conversation – comment below.

To expressing the good, the holy, the beautiful.

How Do You Stay Calm in the Middle of Several Problems?

It’s been happening for five of my clients. It’s been happening in my life. We put out a fire in our personal life and two erupt in our business. It looks like we’re getting those under control, and then we have a health scare. We do what needs to be done for our health and then there’s a crisis with our mother or daughter.

Maybe something like this has been happening for you too?

My clients tend to solve problems well. So do I. You probably do too.

And constant problem-solving takes a toll on us – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I’ve been pondering Einstein’s idea that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I then argue with God that I didn’t create some of the problems in my life. Then, I realize that I’ve created so much thinking around the problems – including labeling them as problems.

So, onto new thinking …

I’m engaging and encouraging my clients to engage in a specific type of new thinking for just 5 minutes once or twice a day. From the book, The Way of Mastery, Part One: The Way of the Heart: “Sit in a chair for 5 minutes. And, observe all that you see, all that you feel, all that you think, as though a perfectly awakened Christ was the only one sitting in the chair.”

I’ve found my 5-minute sessions to be truly miraculous. One filled me with beautiful self-compassion. After I finished another, the idea of “problem” didn’t even make sense.

How Do You Stay Calm in the Middle of Several Problems?
In a third session, I saw myself as an explosion of Light.

One of my clients came out of one of her sessions giggling. Another dissolved a long-time grudge. A third client came out of one of her sessions without a physical pain that had been bothering her for months.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to try this simple and powerful 5-minute practice. Including when you don’t have any problems!

Even though I’ve been practicing the 5-minute sessions only intermittently until recently, I notice flickering moments beyond my sessions of also being only a perfectly awakened Christ. It’s awesome.

I’d love to hear your experiences! Join the conversation – comment below.

To living our perfectly awakened Christ Self more and more …

What Happens When I’m Willing to Release Control?

When I first moved back to New Mexico two and a half years ago, I created a wonderful, ever-changing art project for myself. I filled a white, ceramic, shallow, baking bowl with fine black sand and created a new Zen “rock garden” daily, or as inspired.

On my daily walks, I would notice which small rocks wanted to come home with me to play in the rock garden. I loved collecting various sizes, shapes, colors and textures. The interplay between matte finishes and shimmery finishes delighted me.

I put all possible rock players in a basket in a drawer beneath my butcher block counter top. Whenever I felt like it, usually while waiting for my coffee to brew, I would take the current rocks out of the garden and arrange new ones. Sometimes the basket got too full to close the draw and then some of the rocks would go back outside.

I loved the ever-changing parade of rocks in the consistent, stable environment of the white bowl with the black sand. One of the best parts of the ritual involved picking my “favorite” rocks to play with on any particular day.

What Happens When I’m Willing to Release Control?

What Happens When I’m Willing to Release Control?

What Happens When I’m Willing to Release Control?

After a few months, the same rock garden would stay in place for weeks or months. One day last summer, the wind kicked up through the open widow behind the rock garden and, in a moment, black sand was all over the kitchen. After I had cleaned up everything, I put the bowl and what was left of the sand into a cupboard.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I felt inspired to put the rock garden back in service. Once again, I was enjoying the ever-changing art. Then, spontaneously, a few days ago, I decided to change it up. I had pulled the rocks out of the sand and was beginning to choose the next rocks to play.

Then I had the thought, “why don’t I pick the rocks that want to play without looking at them?” So I did. When I looked at the rocks I had picked without looking at them, I felt disappointed. I wondered, “How could I make any beauty with these rocks?”

Boy, was I wrong. I placed the rocks and THERE it was: Beauty where I thought there wasn’t any!!! Turns out that when I allow and receive, it works out as well or better than when I choose “my favorites.”

For fun, I’ve included photos of three different rock gardens. Which one of them do you think has the “random” rocks rather than the “chosen” rocks?

So what about you? What might be the value for you in releasing control in a particular area of your life right now?

How Do You Restore Inner Peace? In Just a Few Minutes?

You may not realize this, but chances are good you already know the answer for you!

Let me tell you my answer, and then let’s explore yours . . .

A few days ago, several challenges occurred on top of each other, minutes before I was to meet with my next client on the phone. Instead of attempting to resolve all of them in that time, I instinctively went outside and laid on the ground.

I am still astonished by how quickly Mother Earth restores my inner peace even though I have known this since I was a little kid. And, I love that my job requires me to be in a state of inner peace!

During those few minutes of laying on the ground, anger dissolved into love and open-heartedness around one situation. A second challenge became easily resolvable. I found kind wording for dissolving a third challenge. And, the exhaustion I had felt disappeared.

All that in less than 10 minutes and I was ready for my client a few minutes ahead of schedule.

That’s how I restore my inner peace.

At some point, this conversation comes up with almost all of my clients.

One realizes that walking her dog, even just around the block, almost always does the trick. Another puts on loud music and dances like crazy for 3 to 5 minutes. Yet another asks himself, “What is the Big Boy response here?” Years ago, one of my clients took her kids to the park. Now that they are growing and grown, she goes for a run in the park.

So, what about you?

For many of us, it’s a physical thing. For a few, it’s some kind of mental challenge. For others, engaging in or reading something that touches their heart or stirs their creativity. For some, it involves extending kindness or care to another.

I challenge each of us to make a written list of our top 3.

How Do You Restore Inner Peace? In Just a Few Minutes?
In addition to laying on the ground, I find sitting on the ground and stacking rocks brings me back to inner peace.


  • Laying or sitting on the ground.
  • Shaking out every part of my body to an energizing song.
  • Singing along at the top of my lungs with one of my favorite songs, currently “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon.

Post them below in the comments section . . .

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for transforming crisis into clarity and purpose”)

What Is the Secret to Life-Work Balance?

Several of my clients asked me variations of this question in the last couple of weeks. Two are working full time and starting a new business in the evenings. One is scrambling to keep up with the unexpected rapid growth of her business. Another wants to be a better father. Yet another is grieving a sudden loss and feels concerned about spending so little time in her business.

The answer is the same for all of them: this is the wrong question.

Balance rarely exists. Balance might happen for one second in time. The very next second, the teeter-totter will have tipped in one direction or the other. Sometimes dramatically so.

What they really want to know: how can I be effective at all I’m doing and feel good about it?

The answer is super simple. Be Present. Judge nothing.

When my clients are present at their day jobs, present with the kids before they go to bed and present with their businesses in the evening, they feel alive and fulfilled. When they judge nothing, they don’t feel pressure that starts them thinking about life-work balance.

When I become too focused on work without enough play, Jasmine, my Director of Play insists I become present to her and to playing. When I judge nothing, I do as I’m told!

When my client is present with each task involved in her rapidly growing business, she enjoys her work and success. When she judges nothing, she knows everything is fine as she takes time to go for a run.

When my client allocates time every day to spend with his son, he’s happy about being present with his kid. When he judges nothing, he’s happy to work a bit later into the evening.

When my client is present to and compassionate with herself about her grief, she accepts what is. When she judges nothing, she trusts things are working out with her business, knowing she’s doing the best she can right now.

So what about you?

When you think your life is out of balance because you’re spending too much time or not enough time at work, what might you become more present to? What might it be like to judge nothing? I’d love to hear from you . . .

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you”)

What If You Didn’t Believe Everything You Heard (in Your Head)?

Last week we looked at two types of thought: regurgitated thought and inspired thought.

When we don’t distinguish between the two, we tend to give all of our thinking the same weight. When we name regurgitated thought for what it is, we give ourselves the opportunity to take ourselves far less seriously, to quiet our minds and live our lives with far greater contentment and ease.

What if you noticed regurgitated thinking and named it? What if you didn’t engage with it? What if you didn’t heap regurgitated thought about your regurgitated thinking on top of your regurgitated thought? Think about that!

What if you then smiled, took a deep breath and went on with your day? What if your mind then became far quieter? What if you then could more clearly notice and distinguish inspired thought?

What If You Didn’t Believe Everything You Heard (in Your Head)?

The more we become aware of these two types of thought, the less sense regurgitated thought makes. With awareness and without effort on our part, we then tend to have far less regurgitated thought.

What might your life be like if you didn’t believe everything you heard in your head?

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you”)

The Natural Organizing and Aligning of Life

I’m on the second day of a 40-day meditation for greater awareness of faith. What struck me this morning: how amazingly precisely things Organize and Align in my life without me doing it.

For example: many people don’t know that I chose my last name, Strong, in 1991. I was getting married for the second time, we wanted to share a last name and I didn’t want to take his. We spent months pondering what to choose. We wanted a name with meaning without calling attention to it. I wanted to be Ann Fortunate because that’s how I felt. And, that would have called too much attention to it. 🙂

When we thought of and chose Strong, I thought it was to help him become stronger. Ah, silly me.

We were together four years, and our marriage was miserable. We divorced and both kept the name. Perhaps one of the karmic reasons we married?

Interestingly, I took the name Strong 10 years before Gallup came out with the StrengthsFinder assessment, something that has been so integral to my work since 2008. People often asked me back then why I didn’t name my business Strong Coaching. “Too hokey,” I said over and over again.

Then a couple of years ago, I asked you, the readers of this ezine and blog, what to re-name the ezine. The clear feedback was Strong Notes. It seemed close to hokey, but I thought it was a good change – temporarily. Until I could come up with something better.

Do you see the Organizing and Aligning pattern here? And I was not only not doing it, I was resisting along the way!

How could our lives be any less Organized and Aligned than the sunflowers and the sun and the clouds?!?
How could our lives be any less Organized and Aligned
than the sunflowers and the sun and the clouds?!?

Fast forward to six months ago, and it became crystal clear to me that my next book would be Strong from Within. I finally surrendered. I renamed the company too. Strong from Within may very well be my life’s work – personally, professionally and literarily.

What I became aware of in my meditation this morning: something greater than me is Organizing and Aligning my life. Then, I had a few blissful minutes of knowing what it feels like to have faith in that!

What about you? What do you notice has Organized and Aligned in your life?

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you”)

Listening through Your Body

One of the core components of living Strong from Within involves developing and nurturing an intimate relationship with our body.

Until October of 2008, I didn’t know my body or listen to my body. I had no idea my body had wisdom to share.

Today, I know that my body always knows. My body doesn’t lie. And, it isn’t just body stuff that my body knows. She serves as a reliable guidance system for everything in my life, if I tune into her.

Oh, the joy when we tune in and listen to our body and through our body . . .
Oh, the joy when we tune in and listen to our body and through our body . . .

Since October of 2008, I have learned to listen to my body, primarily through my practice of kundalini yoga. I am forever grateful for this practice that awakened me to the body of me.

Recently, I have also been practicing Qoya, a movement system based on the idea that through movement we remember our essence as women is wise, wild and free.

One of my favorite reasons for practicing Qoya is that the creator, Rochelle Schieck, says over and over again, “The way you know you’re doing it right is if it feels good.” What a life-affirming reminder.

Experiencing is so much more powerful than reading about . . .

Give yourself the gift of 14 minutes to experience Qoya with Rochelle.

I notice I hear my body speak in several ways. I feel if something feels good. Or it doesn’t. I often receive insights and inspiration after finishing Qoya. Also, the qualities I play with during Qoya – open-heartedness, softening, slowing down, receiving, sinking in and many more – are showing up in my life, too.

There are as many ways to access our body wisdom as there are bodies on the planet. How have you been listening through your body? Might you be interested in listening more deeply or more consistently? Is a new way calling you?

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within.”)

I would love your thoughts and responses. Post comments and insights below . . .

Affirming New Ways of Being

I’ve never been sure about the whole affirmation thing.

On the one hand, I love affirming my good. “I am at my ideal weight.” “I consistently bring in more than $9,000/month.” “My wonderful guy is looking for me as I am looking for him.”

On the other hand, the affirmations more often than not sound like lies to me. I am now at my ideal weight, yet it took me years to find my specific way. Sometimes I bring in more than $9,000/month and sometimes I don’t. And, I would love to believe my guy is looking for me, yet I’d much rather he find me!

A poster I’ve seen in many Santa Fe bathrooms helped me see that I do much better with new ways of being rather than new affirmations. The poster says: “Help Save Water! Saving water is always in season.”

Having lived in Denver most of my life and being a hippie Earth girl in my soul, I have always conserved water. Yet, I noticed that I have started conserving in several new ways since I moved to Santa Fe and read those posters.

For example, I often conserve heat by working with a hot water bottle in my lap. I heat the water several times a day. In the past, I dumped out the cool water and filled the tea kettle with new water. After reading the posters, I automatically started dumping the water in the water bottle back into the tea kettle – reusing the same water all day. And now, each morning when I give my cat, Jasmine, fresh water in her water bowl, I water a plant with the “stale” water.

What "posters" might we create for ourselves that help us naturally create new ways of being?

What “posters” might we create for ourselves
that help us naturally create new ways of being?

I’m amazed and pleased that simply reading a poster caused me to naturally and easily change my way of being. How can we use this idea to create new ways of being that support our ideal life and work?

Let’s play with this.

I know that one of the keys to maintaining my ideal weight involves practicing kundalini yoga twice a week. And so, I do. Almost every week for six years. Without question. Without affirmation.

I’m not yet consistent with the activities that lead to consistent income. I do know what activities make the difference. The first is tangible: make group invitations and talk with people one-on-one about working with me or taking one of my programs. The second is energetic: keep my focus on serving without attachment. Daily, weekly, consistently.

The one that is most mysterious to me involves my guy. And, I would imagine it is similar to the activities for consistent income. Spend time out in the world, around people each day or each week. And, focus on connecting with men without attachment. I will have to let you know how that one goes!

So, what about you? In what areas of your life or work would you like to create new ways of being? How can I inspire you to begin now?

Post your comments, insights and progress below.


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