Tag Archives: self improvement

WEEKLY JOURNAL: Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities

See Sunshine in Shadows

Success is when you realize obstacles you face are challenges to help you become better- and your response equals the challenge.
– Stephen Covey

Recently, my husband and I have found ourselves in a frustrating yet common parenting place. Our son is 26 months old and testing his boundaries in all the ways that toddlers do. Being first-time parents, we of course are concerned with our discipline style and curious if our technique is too stern or relaxed. My sister, who has thankfully trail-blazed this path before me, recommended a great book called Boundaries With Kids. Needless to say, I immediately began reading it in hope to gain wisdom.

After only reading the first chapter, the book has already shed light on some of my questions. What I’ve realized most is that we (parents and child) are experiencing obstacles, and even though they are annoying and exhausting, they are necessary for my son’s future growth, development and maturity. Furthermore, and regardless of age, the blessing of obstacles remains the same, as they are the stepping stones for our future success.

Author Harvey Mackay says it best in following story:

A man was walking in the park one day when he came upon a cocoon with a small opening. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It looked like it had gotten as far as it could, so the man decided to help the butterfly. He used his pocketknife and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily, but something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to emerge was natural. It was nature’s way of forcing fluid from its body into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives.

If we were allowed to go through life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.

History has shown us that the most celebrated winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.

Thomas Edison tried over 2,000 experiments before he was able to get his light bulb to work. Upon being asked how he felt about failing so many times, he replied, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process.

Helen Keller, the famous deaf-blind author and lecturer, said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. Silver is purified in fire and so are we. It is in the most trying times that our real character is shaped and revealed.”

As an adult, encountering obstacles is interesting, as we no longer have a parent to redirect us or tell us ‘no.’ Instead, we get to choose our behaviors, attitudes and actions around them and either turn obstacles into opportunities, or not. Moving forward, the big question is: will you view your obstacles with a defeated mentality or face them head on and see them as necessary opportunities for nature to take you where you need to grow and succeed?

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Point To Ponder:
What current obstacles can you turn into opportunities?

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Action Item:
Determine the obstacle that has the greatest opportunity to positively impact your life. Take responsibility for the obstacle, change your attitude around it and make the decision to turn it into a successful situation.

To your health,

Neissa

About Neissa

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POINT TO PONDER: How Open Are You to Change?

Life Gets Better by Change

Change is difficult, this we all know — but it is a necessity for true life change.

How willing are you to make changes in your life?

Life is Like Flying a Kite

Fly Like a Kite

The worst thing one can do is to not try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something would have materialized – never knowing.        – Jim Rohn

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

There’s no doubt that March has come in like a roaring lion here in Austin, making for ideal kite flying conditions. So, this morning my son and I did just that — flew a Spiderman kite.  As the winds whipped, Spidey enjoyed several joy rides. He soared right, left, up, down and even found himself in a tree (a time or twelve). There were also plenty of times when he took sharp nose dives into the ground, at which we’d pick him up, throw him into the air and try again. It was during our many failed attempts to have Spiderman fly for an extended and uninterrupted amount of time that I began to see the parallels between life and flying a kite.

Life is like flying a kite. We can wait for the perfect conditions to pursue life-long desires, dreams, interests or to simply try something new, however there will always be extreme winds that temporarily throw us off course and even into the ground. We will also experience times of no wind at all, leaving us with little hope that the ideal opportunity will arise for us to fly. The truth is that as long as we are living, flying is a possibility, a choice that we get to make. We can embrace and even appreciate the sharp and unexpected turns and know that they are part of the ebb and flow process, or, we can allow the nose dives to harden our hearts, leaving us with the ongoing and defeated question of ‘what might have been?’  Either way, it is a choice, it is yours, and that’s the good news.

I leave you with this simple yet profound poem. I hope you choose to fly!

“I never can do it,” the little kite said,
as he looked around at the others high over his head.
“I know I should fall if I try to fly.”
“Try,” said the big kite, “only try!
Or I fear you never will learn at all.”
But the little kite said, “I’m afraid I’ll fall.”
The big kite nodded: “Ah well, goodbye:
I’m off,” and he rose toward the tranquil sky.
Then the little kite’s paper stirred at the sky.
And trembling he shook himself free for flight.
First whirling and frightened, then braver grown,
up, up he rose through the air alone,
till the big kite looking down could see,
the little one rising steadily.
Then how the little kite thrilled with pride,
as he sailed with the big kite, side by side!
While far below he could see the ground,
and the boys like small spots, moving around.
They rested high in the quiet air,
and only the birds and the clouds were there.
“Oh, how happy I am!” the little kite cried,
“And all because I was brave and tried.”

Author Unknown

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Point To Ponder:
Are you waiting for the perfect conditions to try something new or chase one of your dreams?

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Action Item:
Just do it! Don’t wait any longer and FLY!

WEEKLY JOURNAL: Living with Purpose and Passion

What do you want your legacy to be?

“You need to know what life you want (as well as what life you don’t want). Then you have to muster up the will and drive to go after it.”

– Bob Greene

Yesterday was our New Year, New You holistic women’s wellness retreat at Barton Creek Country Club. The day kicked off with exercise, breakfast and then four fantastic, inspirational and extremely knowledgeable speakers. Pam Owens, a married mother of two young children and owner of consulting firm Edge of Your Seat spoke first. I met Pam last spring after attending two intimate women’s conferences where she both spoke and served as the event facilitator. Pam’s approach to life is candid, compassionate and hysterical, which I have grate appreciation for.

Pam presented on Living with Purpose and Passion, and as always I am still thinking about her thought provoking and introspective questions — 36 hours later. I’ve included her worksheet below, as I believe living with purpose and passion is the way we all should strive to live, everyday of our life. And, as a result of Pam’s wisdom, it occurred to me that I can have more than one purpose/passion — which I do. Ridiculously, I’ve placed self-imposed rules around my purpose/passion, so it was freeing to know that not only can I have several, but they can morph and change too!

Furthermore, in pursuit of achieving joy and finding our purpose and passion, Pam asked us to identify three things that we would absolutely NOT be willing to give up, as well as three things that we need to starting saying NO to immediately. I loved this exercise, because not only do we need to know what we want out of life, but we also must be willing to acknowledge what we don’t want. It sounds simple, but answering these questions will guide our joy and provide clarity for our purpose and passions.

Below is the content of the worksheet. I hope you’ll take the time to answer the questions and explore your purpose, passion(s) and joy!

Complete the following sentences and/or answer the following questions:

  • What do you want your legacy to be?
  • How do you define success?
  • My 3 strengths are…
  • When was the last time you felt pure joy? What were you doing?
  • What I like doing the most is…
  • What is Passion? (in your own words…)
  • What are 3 things that you are absolutely NOT willing to give up?
  • What are 3 things that you need to start saying NO to, immediately?

The Roadblocks:  Which box do you check all too often?

___Less Than    ___Jealousy           ___I can’t do it    ___I’m not good enough
___Victim           ___Comparison    ___Lonely             ___Guilt/Regret

Road Test: How do I know if I’m loving my life with passion and purpose?

  1. You are totally obsessed with what you are doing
  2. You can’t stop talking about what you get to create and do everyday
  3. You feel it in your gut without a doubt, an underlying belief that this IS definitely what you’re meant to do.
  4. You wake up ready to take on the day in a new way, leaving what may have happened yesterday in its place so you can be fully present today.
  5. Resilience is your middle name.
  6. You shock yourself occasionally with just how good something you did really is!
  7. Things just seem to become effortless and fall into place.
  8. You can stay focused on what you want to accomplish regardless of the distraction.
  9. Your faith or belief in something bigger than you allows you to stay balanced on your journey.

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Point To Ponder:
Are you living everyday with purpose, passion, and joy?

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Action Item:
Answer the questions in the journal above and see where they take you!

Neissa Springmann

By Neissa

WEEKLY JOURNAL: Creating Your Powerful Intent

Don't just wish upon a Dandelion

“Our intention creates our reality.”
-Wayne Dyer

How is it that we are only one week into 2013 and I already feel disorganized and overwhelmed, to the point of near paralysis? To be honest, I have gone from thinking I could conquer the world to now being back to discouraging square one. Is it possible that I was overzealous and set too many haphazard goals in addition to suffering from post holiday blues? Yes!

Since riding the new years high, my life has settled back into the routine, and my unrealistic vision of being incredibly productive (both personally and professionally) with no interruptions, distractions or energy lows has come to a screeching halt. My lists and goals are not getting crossed off near as quickly as I had hoped, and if I am completely transparent,  the truth is that I actually didn’t spend enough time thinking through and prioritizing my goals. Instead, I wrote a million things down, wished upon a dandelion and said GO!

All of this leads me to the big question, which is, once we settle back into our daily routines and that first-of-the-year momentum dies down, how do we get on track and stay focused on our goals, dreams and visions, all the while getting the absolute best out of life?

Besides acknowledging that everyday comes with curve balls and opportunities to get side-tracked and even quit, our first and most important step is simply creating a solid, concrete intent. As Debbie Ford states in The Best Year of Your Life:

Identifying our intent “acts as an organizing principle, guiding you to make powerful choices. It ensures that you are indeed the captain of your own ship, and it gives you power to choose your own destination…If you aren’t making the best possible choices for yourself on a daily basis, if you’re bored, resigned, or struggling; if you’re continually making the same mistakes over and over again — your intent is most likely old, out-of-date, and just not working for you.”

The sample intent that Debbie gives is: “This is the best year of my life.”  Whatever your intent is, in order to make it come true, the most important step is committing to it — and right now.  Everyday remind yourself of this intent and it will begin to inform your behaviors, actions, choices and words.  It will become your personal operating system.

It is very likely that my intent is out-of-date and taking the time to rewrite it will make a momentous difference in my life. So, how about you? What will your powerful intent be? Regardless of what or how you choose to organize your intent, I encourage you to take the time and make at least one related to your most important goal, dream, vision or priority.  And don’t be shy about it either. Let others know so that they can support you — because as we know, accomplishing anything worthwhile takes a village, and it just plain feels better to have some support and encouragement along the way.

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Point To Ponder:
Do you have an intent that will successfully guide your goals, dreams, visions and priorities, or are you simply wishing and hoping for the best?

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Action Item:
Create an intent around your most significant desire for yourself this year.

By Neissa

WEEKLY JOURNAL: The Road to Your Best You in 2013

The Road to Your Best You

The noblest question in the world is, what good may I do in it?
-Benjamin Franklin

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

I think it’s safe to say that in 2013 we all want to experience good health, happiness and prosperity. To get there, setting goals and being intentional about our wants and needs is necessary — but what if we first determined what our best really looks like? For example, rather than focusing on the desired outcome, let’s think about what we will need to do on a daily basis that will allow us to be our best and ultimately give our best to others. After all, isn’t the ultimate goal to lay our heads down at night knowing that we have done our best, used our gifts and helped one another? The process may look something like this:

Step 1: Ask yourself, what does my best self look like? Could it be…

  • 7-9 hours of sleep each night?
  • Quality time with my family/friends?
  • Exercising five times a week?
  • Meditating each morning?
  • Eating five high protein/low carb meals each day?
  • Spending six days a week giving of my time, talents, or treasures?
  • Drinking 1/2 my body weight in ounces of water or cranberry water each day?
  • Resting one day a week?

Step 2: Ask yourself, when I make the effort to be my best everyday, what is the result?  Could it be…

  • I am happy
  • I am energetic
  • I am fulfilled
  • I am patient
  • I am kind
  • I am productive
  • I am loving
  • I am generous
  • I am healthy
  • I am someone that people want to spend time with, allowing me to bring and spread joy

Step 3: Read the following five quotes, listen closely to your heart and without hesitation write down all of the ways you want to be and give your best this year. Keep this information handy, as this is the beginning of an exciting opportunity for yourself and everyone around you!

“It takes courage for a person to listen to their own goodness and act on it.” ~ Pablo Casals

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“The work of your heart, the work of taking time, to listen, to help, is also your gift to the whole of the world.” ~ Jack Kornfield

“The luxury of doing good surpasses every other personal enjoyment.” ~ John Gay

“If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.” ~ Joanna Macy

—  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —

Point to Ponder:
Do the actions you take in your daily life represent your best you?

—  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —

 Action Item:
Determine what your ‘best you’ looks like and all of the ways you want to be and give your best self this year.

Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.
-Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965)

As you have likely noticed, I am most inspired by people and quotes. I am in constant pursuit of actions and words that cause me to think outside of my box and challenge me to be a better person.

Fortunately, my husband recently told me about a beautiful poem called The Bridge Builder. It not only speaks to the season, but also to our regular and daily lives, as our actions, words, body language, and tones are either building or burning bridges. We have control of our lives and get to determine how we use our time, talents and treasures to make a positive difference for another person.

The poem is below and I hope it impacts you as much as it has impacted me.

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The rapids held no fears for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” cried a fellow pilgrim near,
“You’re wasting your time in building here.
Your journey will end with the closing day;
You never again will pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at even-tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There follows after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This stream, which has been as naught to me,
To that fair youth may a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim —
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

-Will Allen Dromgoole (1860- 1934)

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Point To Ponder:
Is your life and energy being used on building bridges of kindness?

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Action Item:
Live your life in a way that makes the future better and brighter for someone else.

To your health,

Neissa

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Enjoying the Little Things

Appreciate the Little Things in Life

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

-Robert Brault

Last Wednesday evening after our Christmas Market event, several of the vendors and I were gathering our things and making multiple trips to our cars when we stumbled upon a magical moment. As the full moon glowed and a dazzling bright planet sat to it’s left, the night sky was dark and oozed with holiday sweetness. The crisp cool air added to the charm, but then, as we continued to make our trips, we gathered outside to listen to and witness two owls hooting sweet nothings back and forth, from one chimney to another.

Sitting on top of a chimney was the silhouette of one owl, and across the street was the silhouette of the other owl who was also sitting on the chimney of a neighbor’s house. The hooting was enchanting and we all agreed that the male owl must have been courting the female owl. I also felt that at any moment Hedwig, the owl from Harry Potter, would swoop down and deliver us an invitation to Hogwarts. It was just that cool!

What I appreciate most about the courting owl encounter was it’s simplicity and spontaneity. We were all pretty tired and fairly eager to get home and have dinner when we were gifted with this magical moment. In addition, it wasn’t a huge thing, it cost nothing and it was a unique blessing from nature. (You know that anything that causes five hungry women to stop for an extended period of time must be something very special!)

If you’re like me, contentment is one of your opportunities for improvement — not a strength. I have the tendency to want more, try to “keep up with Joneses'” and covet my neighbor’s things. Our mystical owl moment reminds me to be more wise and treasure the so called “little things,” like family, friends, and nature — which are actually the big things! — for most often they are what makes life so memorable and worthwhile.

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Point To Ponder:
Do you have the tendency to place too much value on material things, a.k.a. the real “little things?”

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Action Item:
Spend time being thankful for the things that really matter in life — the daily gifts and blessings that cost nothing.

To Your Health,

Neissa

About Neissa

Silence Has Substance

Rest

I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
-Chaim Potok, The Chosen

Here we go! The extra high speed season has arrived. Very soon we’ll have parties to attend, gifts to buy and meals to prepare. I must admit I do love this time of year, as Christmas is a time of celebration that fortunately revolves around friends and family. Unfortunately, I have yet to discover how to avoid the chaotic and frantic mode that I take full responsibility of putting myself in. In other words, I epitomize the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result), as I have great intentions of living a harmonious holiday, yet year after year I find myself repeating the same behaviors but expecting a different result (ugh!). It is for this reason that I continuously seek inspiration and wisdom about ways to remain centered without the unnecessary and unwanted stress of overspending and overdoing, which is contrary to the season I believe in.

Thankfully, this morning while attending a Sunday School class I received the inspiration I was looking for. It is not a new or foreign concept to you or I, but the timing and delivery was spot on. I’ll put it in one delicious word: Savasana, which is great on a daily basis but is dire during the holidays when emotions naturally run high.

I know what you are thinking —  Sure Neissa, a daily Savasana sounds great (in theory), but the reality is that I don’t have time for it and if I do enjoy a daily Savasana, I’ll fall asleep!  Yes, in theory, a daily and reflective Savasana would be ideal, however just lying down in “dead body pose” is not the goal. The objective is to find time each day for your body to be inactive and your mind to be silent so that your spirit can be rejuvenated from the inside out.

So, what does this mean? It means sitting on your front porch, lying in a bubble bath, sitting on a park bench, or hiding in a closet (from your kids). It can be anywhere for any amount of time, just as long as it’s in total silence and you can catch your breath and get re-centered. And, unlike what we are trained to think, inactivity can be productive and silence definitely has substance –especially during the fast-paced holiday season.

Finally, I understand that the idea of enjoying a still and silent moment each day sounds simple, however it goes against everything our culture tells us. Therefore, if one minute of inactivity and silence feels  uncomfortable, know you are in good company. Building endurance for silence and stillness is no different than building endurance for activity. It can be painful and take time, but is well worth it!

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Point To Ponder:
Do you ever give yourself a still and silent moment?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Action Item:
Spend time every day to be still and silent.

To your health,

Neissa

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A Lesson From Sandy

Friendship

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
-Mother Teresa

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy blew through the east coast causing devastating damage to countless homes. Every night the national news continues to report on the people of New York and New Jersey whose houses are in ruins and are still without power. This of course is unimaginable and almost more than the human spirit can withstand; however, I have noticed a common thread amongst our neighbors in the East: they are sticking together like glue. Each time someone is interviewed they use words like “my friends” or “neighbors,” as they are having to rely heavily on one another to get through each day.

Mary Catherine Jarvis, a.k.a. “MC,” the free-spirited old soul and daughter of iGnite Member Anne Jarvis, lives in Manhattan and was without power for almost a week. MC shared what I think is remarkable perspective.

We are still without power and it is projected that power will not be restored until Saturday. So until then, we are candlelit. The one advantage to this whole thing is camaraderie: without cable, internet or cell service we have had to rely on good ol’ fashioned conversation to get us through. Each night people come over and we sit by candle light, drink room temp beverages, and talk and/or play board games. It has been fun, and tricky since you never really know when people are outside your apartment (no cell, no electricity to buzz people in).

It’s ironic to think that the city that never sleeps, slept, and I can only imagine how incredibly inconvenient and costly this tropical storm will prove to be. However, the gift of human touch, fellowship and companionship is where peace has been found.

As we enter the holiday months, I challenge and encourage both you and I to stay focused on people and the gift of camaraderie. Not only is it good for the soul, but  taking a break from technology is beneficial for reducing physical and mental stress too.

Check out this week’s video that showcases unique displays of camaraderie, proving that we are created to fulfill one anther’s needs which is something that technology will never accomplish.

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Point To Ponder:
When you are with people, are you focused on them or are you distracted by technology?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Action Item:
Take a break from technology and plug into people.

To your health,

Neissa

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