Don’t Hire a Social Media Manager for Your Well-being Business

social media

If you visit my website and read about my services, you’ll see one of the hats I wear is social media assistant. So why am I telling you not to hire a social media manager? Here’s why…

Social Media Marketing is About Relationships

If you are a yoga teacher, health coach, massage therapist, or other wellness service provider, your business depends on the relationship you build with students or clients. That means you need to participate in your social media marketing campaign. At least some of the posts need to come straight from you!

So, when I say don’t hire a social media manager, I mean don’t hand the reins over to someone else and disappear. Of course, you can hire someone to help you. I often post on my clients’ behalf, but I cannot take their place when it comes to building a relationship with their audience.

The exception is clients who sell products—yoga apps, clothing, aromatherapy products, etc. In those case, the awesomeness of the product doesn’t depend too much on a relationship between the person who created the product and the people who buy it.

So, yes there is a place for a marketing manager. But if your business is about service, your followers want to see you! They want to see your face on your website and read your words on social media.

How to Start the Conversation

Social media marketing is all about the conversation you have with your followers. And it does not work overnight. It also doesn’t work on its own. It’s only part of a marketing strategy, so take the time to decide if and how much you need to use it. The truth is, you won’t get far with organic traffic. In other words, if you want people to find you on social media, you’ll need to pay for ads or to boost your best posts.

Ask yourself where online your audience hangs out, and how often are they likely to be there. In my experience, people who buy wellness services like yoga classes, health coaching, aromatherapy, etc. like information, inspiration, and images. They go to blogs, which can be shared best on Facebook and Twitter for information. They go to Pinterest or Instagram for images. They go to all social media sites for inspiration!

Ideally, after someone reads your blog or sees an image you post, they’ll have something to say about it. Better yet, they’ll want to share it. They may even have a question for you!

Unfortunately, getting people to comment on posts is difficult. My advice is to focus on creating content that at least engages people’s thoughts. Give them reasons to notice you and think about you. When they’re ready for your service, they get in touch!

Always Be Authentic

The important thing is that you’re giving them something that is authentically you. If you hire an assistant—because keeping up with social media is a lot of work—find someone who understands what you do. An assistant can curate and post content that keeps you in front of your audience regularly. It’s good to be seen regularly!

Just remember, you will not gain a huge following simply by having a Facebook page or Pinterest account. You also need a great website/blog and other ways to stay in touch with your tribe, such as an email list and newsletter.

I’ll tell you more about why your website and email list may be more important pieces of your marketing puzzle in another post.

How is your experience with social media marketing? Have you noticed a change since you started? Remember, it’s all about sharing, so let me know!

Love is Never Having to Define Love

need self-loveAfter my mom passed away, I wondered: Can I still love her? After all, doesn’t love imply some type of action?

Well, that depends. Is love a verb?

As a child, I loved my mom by doing my chores, being a good girl, and doing my best to get along with my siblings. As an adult, I loved her through our conversations, trips to the mall when she didn’t want to go alone, and daily visits when she was ill.

No what can I do?

Thinking about this led me to consider the question no one can really answer: What is love? The word is probably the most over-used, misused, and possibly meaningless word in our lexicon.

Here are just a few of the ways I’ve seen the word love used:

Love is the opposite of fear.

God is love.

Love is a decision.

Love is extending oneself to nurturing one’s own or another person’s spiritual growth.

If you love someone, set them free.

Love is never having to say you’re sorry.

I’m in love with my husband.

I love coffee.

To love another person is to see the face of God.

Love hurts.

All you need is love.

Be love now.

Looking back over the list, I can see that some of the statements involve action (extending one’s self, deciding, setting someone free) while others are more states of being (God is love, or love is the opposite of fear). Still others involve feeling good in some way (about my husband or drinking coffee). In one case, it even feels bad (love hurts).

So, what is love?

Part of the problem in defining love comes from the fact that it’s not a concrete thing. I can’t define love—or describe it even—the way I can tell you about a tree or a candle flame.

Is love an emotion? Is it a behavior? Is it a state of mind?

Maybe we need more than one word for love. Or maybe we should forget about the word entirely. We do have more than one adjective to use with it, as in agape love, romantic love, Divine love, etc. In each of these cases, though, we assume the word love refers to the same thing.

Another Definition of Love

A definition of love that works well for me is love is the driving force that propels beings toward union with their source. So, for me, God is love, be love now, and love is the opposite of fear are the most useful descriptions. If I live in union with God, I become love, and I am no longer afraid.

My behavior can change based on my ability to experience love. I can make decisions or extend myself or enjoy someone or something once I’m in tune with my true, higher Self.

For a while, I had no idea why anyone would make a statement like “love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Then I realized the beloved, not the lover, was the one who needn’t apologize. Love means forgiving our loved ones when they act in ways that are not so loving.

Love is Beyond Words

Love, like God really cannot be defined. No one knows for sure what it is, but most of us believe to some extent that it exists and that it matters.

Maybe there are as many ways to love as there are ways to describe it. Rather than settling on a single definition of love, I think I’ll just work on getting better at it.


Will You Have Great Content to Share on Social Media This Year?



One of the services I provide is social media assistance for clients in the well-being niche. Specifically, I find and share blog posts, quotes, and other content to that inspires yogis and other well-being enthusiasts. You’d think this would be easy. After all, there are so many yoga and wellness blogs out there, right?

Well, yes. There are a lot of yoga blogs and websites, but I have a surprisingly difficult time finding “go-to” sites that are sources of shareable content.

Do you have one? Send me a link! I’d love to read it!

Not sure if you have one? Keep reading, and maybe I can help you decide.

Obviously, you want to be sure you have well-written posts, but it doesn’t stop there. If you want your content to be shared, there are a few other things you need to do.

Let me give you an example. I did some ghostwriting for a client’s yoga blog a while back. So, I know I like the content, but I rarely share it. Why not, you ask?

Well, when my client designed his website and posted the pieces I wrote, he didn’t make the content easy to share.And that’s unfortunate, because it’s not too difficult to make content shareable!


Five Simple Ways to Be Sure Your Content is Shareable

1. Write well. I know I said this already, but it’s important. I’m not suggesting you need to be an award-winning writer. Just be sure you organize your thoughts concisely and minimize typos and grammatical errors. One or two mistakes won’t hurt (you’re human after all), but I promise your readers will get a subconscious message if your writing is riddled with errors or difficult to read.

2. Use short paragraphs, headings, and numbered or bulleted lists. I still come across blog posts that are just a few long paragraphs with no headings or other way to break up the text. That may work if you’re writing a print book, but your online readers will get tired quickly if you don’t give their eyes a break.

3. Use social share buttons, and be sure they work! Be sure, too, that it’s obvious which icons are for sharing your content and which are for connecting with you on social media! It shouldn’t be a surprise that content is easier to share with a simple click of a social share icon. The alternative is to copy the link, go to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and share from there. I don’t do that often, and my guess is other potential ambassadors for your work won’t either.

4. Include an eye-catching image. You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? I’d take it a step further and point out that a thousand words are also worth a thousand words. The picture and words together are worth much more than the sum of their parts. There’s no replacement for prose—for dialogue with your reader that encourages, inspires, or informs. But images enrich prose by appealing to more of our senses. They also call attention to content in an undeniable way.

5. Make sure your image can be shared easily. That means that someone clicks the social share icons I mentioned earlier, they will be able to share the post and the image. People are much more likely to notice, click on, and read a post if they are attracted to it by a colorful image that helps tell the story.

So, now that you know what makes your content shareable, you may have a bit of tweaking to do. I hope you’ll do it, because the easier you make it for like-minded folks to share the love, the more likely they’ll do so and help get your message out there!

Need help with content creation or social media? Contact me anytime for a free brainstorming session!

The Trumpet Shall Sound: Daring to Live in Awe of Mystery

trumpet shall sound

In 1983, my dad took me to hear Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It quickly became a holiday tradition, and he and I have attended a performance of the Handel’s masterpiece almost every year since. Many years, my mom came along as well, and when I met my husband, he also began to join us for the annual tradition.

This year we weren’t sure we’d get there. My mom was very ill as the holidays approached, so we put off buying tickets.

A few weeks after Mom went home to God, we decided we’d go ahead and attend the performance. I’m glad we did.

The Magic of Messiah

Handel composed the music for Messiah in an astonishing 24 days. If you’ve heard it, you know what an awesome feat that was! I’ve never doubted, as many who love this music will agree, that the composition was divinely inspired.

A tuned-in listener can’t help but feel comforted, hopeful, and full of faith when hearing this music. That same listener might also feel challenged in a way. It is, after all, the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, beginning with the prophets foretelling the birth of a Savior.

You’re probably familiar with at least a few of the choruses or arias (solos). Most people have heard the Hallelujah Chorus, for instance.

There is one aria that has always held me captive, but this year it did so with a special emphasis. That solo is “The Trumpet Shall Sound.”

Toward the end of the performance, the we hear passages from the Acts of the Apostles about the resurrection of the dead. The lyrics are taken from 1 Corinthians 15. The bass soloist sings a recitative:

Behold, I tell you a mystery.

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye

At the last trumpet.

And then, the magnificent aria. If you haven’t heard “The Trumpet Shall Sound”—or even if you have—take a few minutes to listen to it here.

Then come back, and I’ll tell you my story.

Did I Really See That So Clearly?

Remember I said this year, I was captivated with a special emphasis? You can guess, of course, that it had something to do with my mom’s passing. And there’s just a little more to the story.

As a multi-focal contact lens wearer of a certain age, I’m rarely able to make out details like performer’s faces or the details of instruments when I attend a concert. Things were no different on this occasion…until the trumpet sounded.

When the bass began to sing, I suddenly realized I could see him very clearly. I thought, Wow. Why can I see that so clearly?

And then I thought about what I had just thought.

Perhaps you think I’m grasping for meaning in a time of grief. Maybe I am, but that is what I experienced.

Living in Awe of Mystery

Let’s face it, the story of the resurrection—not just the resurrection of Jesus but the idea that we too shall be changed—is awe-inspiring for many. Many others doubt it or flat-out reject it. But no matter where you stand on the validity of this story, can you find a way to live in awe and mystery? Do you believe only what you can explain, or do you accept that there is something more?

Without belief and trust in what we cannot understand, we are small, pathetic creatures indeed. But when we dare to take leaps of faith and connect with mystery—with the idea that there is a greater truth and a purpose for our existence—we embody the meaning of the Christmas season: The awesome became accessible to us if we choose to accept it.

A Sign From Mom: The Mourning Dove and the Cross

dove and cross

My mom loved to tell the story of a memory she had from when my nephew Matt was a toddler. Mom and my dad cared for Matt—in fact for all four of my sister’s kids—while my sister and brother-in-law were at work.  She had a favorite memory for each of them.

Her memory for Matt was of a day when a mourning dove was cooing in the yard. Mom pointed to the sky and told Matt to listen for the sound of “the owl.” (Eventually, she realized it was not an owl, but a dove.)

The dove cooed, and Matt asked, “Grammy, if I point to the sky will it do that?”

The night before my Mom passed away, Matt, now 19, had a dream about an owl. Or maybe about a dove. The next day, as our whole family sat with her during her final hours on Earth, my sister told Mom the dove would be our sign.

“Send us a sign,” she whispered in Mom’s ear.

Mom passed away peacefully with her husband, children, and older grandchildren by her side. We’re heartbroken, and as I write this, it’s hard to imagine the pain will go away. But I lean on the words of my dear friend who told me that despite the pain and stress, this experience would also bring us the key to a new kind of love. He is right.

Our Sign

After Mom’s funeral mass, as we left the church and got into our cars for the drive to the cemetery, my sister said aloud, “Mom, you were supposed to send a sign!”

At that moment, she looked up and saw a mourning dove in the sky, “sketched” from clouds.  (“Mom really couldn’t draw,” she joked, though later when she sent me a photo of a mourning dove in flight, I thought it wasn’t such a bad sketch after all.)

mourning dove in flight

A mourning dove in flight

And that wasn’t all. Next to the dove was a giant cross. It followed our cars all the way from the church to the cemetery. Another sign, we’ve decided to believe, that Mom is okay and with God.

Our Mom’s Christian faith was the cornerstone of her life along with her love for her family, friends, and students. So, it’s fitting she’d use the cross along with the dove as our sign. The days ahead will be difficult, but we choose to believe that not only is she with God, but that both she and God will always be with us.




Well-being Business Content Marketing: Part One—Who Are You and Who Are You Becoming?

explore create inspireLately, I’ve spoken with a lot of wellness professionals who are wondering what to do next. A yoga teacher wants to write a book. A personal trainer is thinking about blogging. Another yoga teacher wants to get certified to teach Pilates, and a nutritionist is branching into holistic health coaching, so she can focus on the mind and emotions as well as diet and exercise.

The great thing about wellness is the possibilities for growth are endless. I’m working with a coach right now who has just been through a series of certifications so she can do wellness counseling. She’s also a writer, and the project we’re working on is a book to supplement her counseling and position her as an expert in the field.

Today I met a young woman who described herself as a “holistic wellness junkie” and a “hippie.” She was wondering how to focus her passion as an entrepreneur.

First Steps First: Defining Your Well-being Business or Service

Before you can create content for your well-being business or service, you need to know what that business or service is. Sounds obvious, I know, but most of us evolve, and as we do so, we become a slightly different version of our former selves.

Are you a yoga teacher? What sets you apart from all the others? Maybe it’s your love of restorative yoga or your ability to inspire others to become more powerful. Maybe devotion to classical yoga is your ID. Or perhaps you’re ready to offer videos of your classes or write a book about how yoga changed your life.

Did you begin your career as a nutritionist? Your next step may be holistic health coaching that focuses not only on food but on the mind, emotions, and physical fitness. What tools will you create to reach that goal?

Do you want to connect with your tribe via email marketing or is blogging your thing? Helping people grow their own well-being business may be next for you. Or perhaps you offer complementary healing services, like reiki or aromatherapy in addition to teaching yoga.

I worked with a personal trainer who created his own vegan protein powder and became a new kind of entrepreneur. Another client turned a passion for yoga into a business selling yoga and aromatherapy products.

Let Your Passion Lead You

Last winter, we had a blizzard in the northeast. The yoga studio where I practice was closed, but one of teachers posted a YouTube video on Facebook so we could all practice at home. It was wonderful! I wouldn’t be surprised if the next step in her career is creating more videos and DVDs.

The point is if you tune in and follow that voice that led you to a career in wellness to begin with, it will continue to lead you. What would you like to create next?

Content is King

If you market online, you’ve heard it said that content is king. To be honest, I’m a little tired of hearing that. Obviously, your online presence depends on something your audience can read, hear, or see. The problem is there’s so much to read, hear, and see these days that a lot goes unnoticed.

The real question is how can you stand out? Here are a few ways to start with:

  1. Be sure your content is relevant to your audience. So, this means not only defining what you do but who you do it for. Be as specific as possible.
  2. Create content your audience can respond to. Engage them. Make them want to comment, share, and follow you. That may mean testing different formats—written posts, images, quotes, videos, etc.—to see what resonates with your tribe.
  3. Know why you’re creating. The content you offer online is probably not your end goal. You want to get people interested in your services, your classes, your book, or your paid courses, right? People you meet online may not become students, readers, or clients overnight—or even ever—but they’ll be aware of what you do and may refer others to you.
  4. Get help if you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one is successful alone. If you find assistants you connect with and trust, you may end up with much more than a better product and more successful business. You’ll also have the opportunity to form valuable relationships with like-minded wellness entrepreneurs. The value of good relationships really cannot be overstated!
  5. Help others. Join networking groups and share your knowledge. You’ll be surprised how much people appreciate a tip or answered question that takes only a few minutes of your time. That time will pay off. You never know when someone you’ve helped will need your services or know someone else who needs them.

I hope these words will help you move along the path of your dreams. I’d love to learn what you’re creating, and so would others, I’m sure. Please share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s see how we can help each other move forward!


Uplifting Essential Oils: Using Aromatherapy To Lift Your Mood

essential oilsI’ve been a fan of aromatherapy since I learned about essential oils in a workshop at my local yoga studio awhile back. I’d been using scented candles and those plug-in air fresheners to keep my home smelling good, but I was wary of the ingredients in those products. Aromatherapy with pure essential oils solved that problem. The benefits turned out to be more than I expected, especially when I discovered uplifting essential oils.

Diffusing essential oils does more than keep my home smelling great. Each oil has specific benefits as well. I learned that certain aromas have a direct effect on specific brain centers. Aromas travel through the capillaries in our sinuses and trigger nerves that send direct signals to the brain. Many of these signals have to do with emotions.

A number of uplifting essential oils can be used to boost mood and even alleviate depression. And you can go a step further to target specific kinds of depression. For example, do you tend to feel tired when you are feeling down? You can lift both your mood and your energy level with geranium, lavender, peppermint, basil or rosemary. Anxiety can be calmed with clary sage, frankincense, patchouli, ylang ylang or chamomile.

How to use uplifting essential oils to lift your mood 

There are many ways to use essential oils. Start by simply opening the bottle and inhaling the aroma! Some other great uses include:

Diffuse them. Place a few drops in a room diffuser and the aroma will last for hours. There are many types of room diffusers on the market.

Bathe in them.  Add your favorite oil to warm bath water and soak your way to good mood. Scented water is extremely relaxing and very therapeutic.

Use them in lotions or bath products. You can make aromatherapy products yourself by adding essential oils to unscented bath products, or you can buy them already made.

Spray them in your room or car. Essential oils can be added to pure water in a spray bottle and used sprayed anywhere to instantly fill your space with pleasing aromas.

Sleep with them. Put a few drops of essential oil on a tissue or piece of cotton that you slip under your pillow case. You can even put a drop of relaxing oil inside each nostril at bedtime. If you choose to latter, make sure to choose oils that will not irritate your skin. The labels on most essential oil bottles will indicate if you can use them directly on skin.

Use them for a relaxing massage.  You can make your own massage oil by adding essential oils to unscented massage oil. Another option is to buy aromatherapy massage oils infused with essential oils.

Once you discover the benefits of aromatherapy with essential oils, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

A Complete Protein Supplement for Vegetarians and Vegans!


Originally published in 2013. 

I recently learned about a product unlike any I’d seen before. It’s called Complete Truth Protein Powder, and it is a raw, plant-based supplement designed primarily for active women.

Now, I’ve never used or seen the need for protein powders since I’m just an average active woman, but this supplement intrigued me. When I read about it, I learned it could be used for baking, and this discovery could not have been timelier. I’d been looking for something easy to carry with me when I need to eat breakfast on the road. I like a moderate amount of carbohydrates with my breakfast, but I don’t want to go overboard. In other words, I don’t want a bagel or any other kind of commercial bakery product.

At home, I usually have something like scrambled eggs and a slice of sprouted grain toast or a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter for breakfast, but obviously those are not foods I can throw in a baggie and take with me to eat in the car! So when I came across CTP, I thought this might be my answer.

The Truth about Complete Truth

While it’s labeled a “protein supplement,” CTP is really much more than that. It’s a whole food; it’s raw, and it’s 100% vegan. It also provides a good source of nutrients like magnesium, iron, and zinc. These are not qualities that are easy to find in a single package.

If you’re a health-conscious vegan or vegetarian (yes, there are unhealthy forms of these diets), you know you need to pay attention to the way you combine plant foods to be sure you get all the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) your body needs. If I asked you to name a plant that provides a complete source of protein, you’d probably say soy. But soy can be problematic for some for several reasons, such as allergies or the desire to stay away from the hormone-like phytoestrogens soy contains.

If you’ve made the decision to eliminate or reduce the amount of soy in your vegan diet, what do you do for protein? You may wonder if there are any other options out there that provide a complete source of this important nutrient. Well, there are: quinoa and hemp, which happen to be the only two ingredients in Complete Truth Protein Powder.

What’s so great about quinoa and hemp?

You probably know that quinoa is a high-protein grain, but did you know that its protein is complete? I love quinoa as an alternative to rice, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a protein powder with quinoa, not soy, as one of its basic ingredients.

The other ingredient, hemp, is also a complete source of protein, this time in a seed. And hemp’s got some other benefits as well, most notably its omega 3 content. In fact, both hemp and quinoa qualify as super foods in my book.

If, like me, you are a vegetarian or vegan who enjoys a moderate amount of carbohydrates but wants to balance them out with protein and healthy fats, few foods on the planet are better choices than quinoa and hemp.

Finally, a Complete Protein Breakfast Muffin!

Drew Taddia, the fitness expert who designed Complete Truth Protein Powder, says he created the product after searching for a whole, raw, plant-based source of complete protein that did not contain long list of added ingredients he couldn’t pronounce. Not surprisingly, Drew couldn’t find such a product…so he created one himself!

Maybe if I searched long enough, I could find a whole food, high protein breakfast muffin that has all of the essential amino acids and also a good amount of omega 3 and other nutrients. But why look? Now I can make one myself!

My Complete Truth Protein Banana Muffin

There is a recipe book that accompanies Complete Truth Protein Powder, but since I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand for any of the recipes, I decided to try CTP in a banana muffin recipe I often make with oats and whole wheat flour.

All I did was substitute Complete Truth for the flour, and in about 30 minutes, I had a healthier version with a complete source of protein! I can store the muffins in the freezer and take one (or two) out whenever I need something to carry with me for breakfast on the run.

I’m guessing you can do the same with anything you bake – muffins, cookies, breads, etc. But if you’re not a baker, you can also add CTP to yogurt, oatmeal, shakes, and smoothies to make those foods more balanced and healthier.

Bucket Lists, Careers, and The Meaning of Life: Why Do You Do What You Do?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What’s on Your Bucket List?

Recently, a friend asked me what’s on my bucket list. He began to name some things on his—mostly travel to various places. I couldn’t think of a place I need to see in my lifetime, though there are a few places I’d like to go. Go or not, I’ll be happy.

Or not.

I no longer have a specific career goal on my bucket list either. Over the last few decades, I wanted to be a noted psychologist, a bestselling novelist, and a nutritionist. I imagined changing people’s lives with my insights and ability to motivate my clients to live a healthy lifestyle.

A more recent career goal (before I became a freelancer writer), was to be an awesome teacher to a special population of kids I really understood. Let’s just say politics got in the way of that goal.

But like I said, I no longer dream of accomplishing a specific career-related goal. I now see how all of these pursuits fit together.

There are a lot of things I’d like to learn—or relearn—before I leave this planet. I’d like to sing again, play tennis again, and I’ve always wanted to learn to draw. I have to learn about technology and digital publishing (but none of that is on my bucket list).

In fact, I’ll be fine if I accomplish any of these things or none of them, as long as I stay engaged in something.

A simple goal: Finding the meaning of life

So what is on my bucket list? What do I need in order to feel that my life has been worthwhile?

Well, it’s simple. I need to know—or believe, because we never really know anything, do we?—that I’ve somehow made a positive difference. Isn’t that what most of us want?

Can I ever know for sure if my life means something? Maybe not. It may have to be enough to just believe. In many ways, I have yoga thank for knowing what’s enough. Yoga has taught me to be myself and to use my gifts without attachment to the outcome of my efforts.

It’s hard though. I won’t lie.

Making a difference

I suppose it’s to some people that they’ve made a difference in the world, and it must feel good to know this. Respected doctors, best-selling authors, Noble Peace Prize winners and the like get some kind of tangible feedback and proof that their lives have meant something.

Do I need to be famous or remembered in history books? Of course not. Does it matter much that I may not be personally remembered by many once I’m gone? Not really, though it would be nice. But I do want to believe I made a small difference somehow, because a small difference can have a huge impact. It can be part of a whole movement toward the development of good. I know in my heart that this is true, though I can’t find any scientific evidence to support my hunch.

Your Career is Not What You Do, But Why and How You Do It

The other day in yoga class, my teacher, who always seems to know exactly what I need to hear, read a passage from Marianne Williamson’s bestseller, A Return to Love.  The book is a classic for good reason. It’s simple and brilliantly poetic. It’s about love.

The passage my yoga teacher read was about, of all things, careers. How did she know I’d been wondering about the direction of mine?

My friend who asked me the bucket list question is struggling with a similar problem, at a career crossroad himself. The career thing is very different for him than it is for me in some ways. But in others it’s not. We both want to make a difference.

How to Make a Difference

How can we make a difference in such a complicated society? We have so many choices. On the other hand, as we explore each possibility, we often find our choices are, in reality, remarkably limited. They may lead us down dead end roads until we hit a wall.

And then what?

There is fierce competition for jobs, whether one is a corporate executive or a freelancer looking for her next gig. There is so much that seems irrelevant and pointless when it comes to using our gifts. Are we “qualified,” are we “certified,” do we have experience in a very specific field we know we can succeed in?

Simply using our gifts is not always enough—because of the competition, the bills, the tax laws, the stock market, and information overload. Every day my inbox is bombarded with the latest “secret” for finding clients and well-paying writing gigs. Most of them are regurgitations of the ones I received the week before. At this point in my career, few of them are useful.

But I shift through them all to find that needle in the haystack. Because there are still needles to find.

My point (I do have one)

When I forget why I do what I do, I am tempted to give up. I need to remember to serve, and my way of serving is helping people communicate what they do (or know).

We all have gifts. If we use them well, we can craft a meaningful career, though it may not resemble what the textbooks say a career is supposed to look like. In other words, we don’t all choose a profession, get an entry level position in that field, and then slowly but steadily climb to the top until we are making a comfortable living, then retire and look back with satisfaction on how seamlessly our working years progressed. For many of us, this career thing is a mish-mash mess.

Enter the simply brilliant perspective of Marianne Williamson. As a writer, I’m in awe of her brilliant ability to cut through to the point and say it with beautiful simplicity. “Success,” says Williamson, “means going to sleep at night knowing our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.”

Williamson goes on to say that what we do is not as important as how (or why) we do it. We should do whatever we do kindly. The key to success is to realize how we are connected—that the purpose of our work lives is not different from the purpose of the rest of our lives. It’s all to spread love.

Does Your Work Spread Love?

For some, it’s a stretch to see one’s job as work that spreads love. And some work does not (in which case the doer may want to consider a change). But every job worth doing has the potential to be done with love. Even if your job is to sell used cars—or carpets—you can do it with love. I mention carpets because I once knew a salesman who was joyfully helping people pick out carpets well into his eighties. That kind of thing can be inspiring.

Whatever you do, you can be kind, honest, and friendly while you do it, and your goal can be both making a profit and helping someone else, whether that person is a customer, client, or coworker. If you are doing your work solely for the profit, you may miss a lot of opportunities spread love. That is, you may miss your purpose.

My goal as an editor and writer is to help people communicate. I enjoy writing about others and helping them polish their work as much as I enjoy crafting my own stories. For the most part, I work in a niche that is easily about love—well-being—but it’s not the only way I use my talents. I’m also a technical editor, and I spend a good amount of time pouring over copy about digital imaging products. How is that about love? Well, the team I work with is a great group of people; for most of us, the work is about supporting each other’s efforts. Our collective goal is to communicate an accurate message.

Before I launched myself as a freelance writer and editor, I was a teacher, an administrative assistant, a nutritionist at an upscale gym, a financial aid counselor, and a research editor. Yes, I’ve had many jobs. In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says the same of her life.

Marianne also says she’s had many jobs but only one career. I say the same.

The reason I’ve had many jobs (and clients) is I’m continually tweaking my work life to align with purpose. I’m looking for the best way to use my gifts to do what I came here to do—what we all came her to do—spread love and make a difference, no matter how small that difference seems.

If I can do that, I don’t need a bucket list.


Improving Communication Starts with Listening Longer

balancing the fifth chakra

I was flipping through channels on TV and came across a psychologist doing an audience Q & A. Someone asked him for tips on how to communicate better with loved ones.

The psychologist’s answer was simple (but not easy). “Listen longer than you want to,” he said.

Improving Communication Starts with Listening

I’m often told I’m a good listener, but I’ll be honest. There are many times I just don’t want to listen anymore. Usually, this happens when I’ve heard the same thing before—sometimes many times before—from the same person. You’ve probably been here too. Your friend or spouse or sibling is going on about the same problem they’ve shared seemingly a thousand times.

And you’re just like, “OMG, get over it already!”

I don’t feel great about this. But I think we must be honest with ourselves. Even the most compassionate, skilled listeners have a point at which they don’t want to have the same conversation again.

But why not? It doesn’t take more time to hear the same thing than it does to hear something new.

I think the reason is listening to someone struggle with something you (and apparently, they) are unable to change, makes you feel inadequate. Why, after all, do they keep coming to you with this problem? If you haven’t helped them get past it the last fifteen thousand times you’ve listened to it, what will be different this time?

Okay, I’m exaggerating. It’s usually only a thousand times. But there’s a point at which no amount of listening will make a dent in improving communication.

Communication is Connection

One definition of communication is the exchange of information. It implies a connection between two or more parties to impart and receive information. When we speak of communicating with people close to us, we’re usually interested in more than information. In fact, information is easy to communicate.

When we talk about improving communication, we’re usually talking about connecting on an emotional level. We want to understand intentions, values, and things that are difficult to describe using words alone.

Yet, we use words because words are the best tools we have for communicating. When we’ve heard the words and nothing has changed, though—we neither understand more nor feel understood more than we did before—it may be time to think beyond the words.

Listening longer than we want to does not just mean hearing sounds. It doesn’t only mean being silent while words are spoken. It means being present and tuning in to those words and the message the speaker is trying to impart. This isn’t easy. To do it, we need to suspend our own egos and check impulses to be defensive or have answers. And often, we need to sit with impatience when we realize we can’t fix someone else. If we look closely, we may find it’s ourselves we’ve lost patience with.

And the truth is, if the other person isn’t a good communicator, there may be nothing more we can do to improve the connection.

Meditation for Improving Communication

Want to practice communicating better? Learn to meditate!

Meditation teaches us to be present, suspend, the ego, and tune in—the very things we need to do well if we want to be good communicators. It also teaches us to listen and to pay attention when we listen, not just to words, but to emotions and things beyond words.

And it helps us stay present, even when the connection isn’t happening the way we’d like it to.

So yes, if you want to be better at communicating, listen more than you want to. But empty your mind and be present while you do it.


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