Reflecting on a wonderful year in your life and looking forward!

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Named for the two-faced Roman god Janus, January is a time to look back – and forward.  Janus is the god of beginnings and endings, of doorways and gates, of time and transitions, and passages, as he looks to the future and back to the past. For without reflection on the past,  the dream of a new, bright future is hard to imagine.

The end to the year is here – and the beginning of another is upon us. December 31 and January 1 – we straddle the past and the future, the end and the start.

This is what I’d like you to do today, on the very first day of the New Year.

I’d like you to reflect on your year in its totality – between January 1st and December 31, 2016:  the hard times and the tears, but the great times, too. There is always at least one – and, if you reflect, there are many, many more.

Okay. As you reflect, write down all the amazing things from 2016. Handwrite them – don’t type them. There’s something about writing by hand – from your heart to your hand, from your soul to your hand – that makes those great things seem even more real.

Here are some thought starters for you. Write yours down in a list, and really think about how each made you feel – and why.

  • A new child in your life
  • A degree in school
  • Paying down (or paying off!) a debt
  • Moving into a new home
  • Finding or rekindling love
  • Planting a garden
  • Creating a painting
  • Writing a book/play/song
  • Being cancer-free
  • Adopting a shelter pet
  • Landing a new job
  • Being with family and friends
  • Volunteering at the soup kitchen

Now, once you have that list and have reflected on each one, tear each good thing into its own strip of paper, fold it once or twice, and put each “blessing” in a jar that you’ll label “2016.”

Guess what? This is going to prepare you for 2017. For any hard times, for any pain. You can go right back to that jar, close your eyes, and pull one “great 2016 moment” from the jar.  The good from the previous year can get you through any rocky times in the coming year.

And now that you know how buoyant that feeling of fabulous is, I’d like you to get a jar and label THAT, “Sensational 2017.”  DO IT NOW.

This time, you won’t have to wait until the end of the year to write everything down. Now, every time something good happens – no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – write it down on a strip of paper and place it in the jar. As you do this, think about how this star of happiness made you feel. Why did it make you feel that way? Was it because you proved to yourself you could do “it” – whatever that it may be? Or was it because it made your heart happy?

You want to focus on moments that light your soul, engulf your heart with happy, and inspire your mind.

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it”-  Amelia Earhart 

So what are you waiting for?

Send us some of your inspirational events so we can share in your accomplishments!


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“When there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit.” –

Hillary Rodham Clinton,

former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and Democratic Nominee for President


No, this is not a political post.

Rather, it’s about life: your life.


Think back. How many times in your life did your negative thoughts entrap you? Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time, or perhaps you don’t even realize it now. But negativity constructs walls, topping them off with an impenetrable ceiling, creating a nearly indestructible box from which you can’t escape.


Or so you think.

Mind and thoughts are powerful entities. Emotions, too, generate their own power.

Together, they have the power to dictate your physical experience.


Yes, we face our own share of challenges every day. A challenge for one person might not seem like a challenge for another. It’s in the way we observe, process, and navigate the challenge. It’s our total capacity for life and everything it throws at us (or serves us). Some people have a large capacity and higher tolerance for challenge. Everyone has a breaking point, though, and most of us know when we’ve approached it: short temper, impatience, exhaustion, negativity.


But I know from experience – my own and others close to me – that optimism in the face of heartbreak, or soul crush, or physical illness helps to set the tone and the course of the outcome.


When we think in terms of limits – whether a ceiling, walls or a situation – we can’t see the way out. Such is the nature of limits. We limit ourselves in our thinking and outlook. We construct limitations for ourselves because we’ve probably never pushed ourselves to our real limits.


I’m convinced we don’t know what our real limits are until we are thrown into a situation, or until we unhook ourselves from our own tired worldview. I’m also convinced that optimism shines the light on possibilities, illuminating a new road or a new opportunity for us.


Being optimistic isn’t easy – but it gets easier when you develop the habit. Negativity is draining mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why go down the rabbit hole to the dark side? Re-train your mind to focus on positivity. Pay attention to your thoughts and your words. Pay attention to every thing, every situation. Keep your eyes and your heart open. Look at the world and yourself with positivity and optimism.


Pretty soon the ceiling and those walls will fade, and a blue sky with a shining sun breaks through or a wide open velvet night with stars sparkling comes into view. Both are beautiful, and both contain potential.


The sky is the limit – which is limitless.

The Effervescence of Joy 

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“Pleasure is always derived from something outside of you, whereas joy arises from within.”

–Eckhart Tolle


What does that word mean to you?

For many, it’s synonymous with Winter, Christmas, and joy to the world.

Peace, Love, and Joy – the holy trinity, the apex of human experience. Something to which everyone aspires. Joy – real joy – resides within every person. Sometimes, though, it takes hard work to crack open the joy.

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” 

–Henri J.M. Nouwen


No matter the circumstance, I find joy and happiness ever present. They exist right in front of us, free to us to experience.

What about joy in the face of negativity, whether negative experiences to us or other people’s negativity? Choose joy.  Choose empowerment of self. Choose aiming a bubble full of joy into whatever non-optimal situation you face.  It’s so much easier, so much healthier, to embrace joy.

With that said, snap on the flashlight, light the lantern, strike the match to the candle in someone else’s darkness. Be the light – don’t be a part of the vortex of negative. If you choose joy, you allow other’s to recognize the beauty and joy within themselves. And isn’t that a great way to live life? By choosing joy and lifting yourself up, you can do the same for others. One person can’t force another to experience joy, though. Sometimes, layers of thick, hard shell need peeling away before reveling the joy at the core of your existence.

Joy lifts you up – finding that floating effervescence is transcendent.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” 

–Marianne Williamson


Someone once said, “Joy is contagious.” It is. Ever been around someone so filled with joy that it’s impossible not to smile, not to hop on board the joy train? How often have you been that person? Can’t think of a time? Stay present. Be aware. Find beauty and joy in everything. I guarantee you, it’s there.

“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.” 

–English proverb


Don’t extinguish or contain your joy. It will spark the flame of joy in others. Isn’t it fun and freeing to laugh like crazy with someone, to share amazing news – big or small?

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh


It’s so much easier to choose joy. But it takes practice. It’s a good habit to develop. Those people for whom negativity is the first “go-to” – that’s a hard habit to break. Rewiring your brain is a challenge.

When those negative thoughts pop up – STOP. Stop and think first: what is the positive in this situation? How can I create joy from this? Before those negative or callous words tumble from your mouth – STOP. As our elders taught us – THINK before you SPEAK. How will your words affect others in your presence? Will it bring them joy? Will it bring you joy? Will they uplift someone’s spirits? Will they make you feel great? If the answer is NO – STOP.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Pay attention to your words. As negativity creeps in, choose JOY as its replacement.

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” 

–Eleanor Roosevelt


What gives you joy? What makes you joyful? Sunny days, with a cool breeze, birds chirping, leave rustling. I love it. It enables me to inhale quiet joy and breathe out exuberance. Cats playing, cats purring, dogs running, rabbits hopping, birds flying – all of these provide me with unbridled joy!


At the end of every day, think back and jot down joy points. Make a Joy Jar, and drop in beautiful slips of paper filled with those joy points. It’ll provide you with a tangible record of all the joys, the good, and the happiness in your life!


Choose joy!

By Syndee Barwick


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By Syndee Barwick

Spring arrived in the wee hours of Sunday morning here on the East Coast, bringing with it a blast of lingering winter chill – a reminder of how the old likes to hang on for as long as possible until change shakes loose.

Most often we associate new beginnings with the traditional new year on January 1. That’s fine. So, take a look at your progress. Right now, it’s a great opportunity to assess those resolutions and results. How are they working out for you? Are you on your way to that weight loss, less spending, dumping the cigarettes, and increasing your exercise plan?

If so … congratulations!

If not, don’t be frustrated. It’s not surprising those resolutions made in the freeze of winter cold have limped along until you’re frozen into stasis. Now’s the time to scrutinize and reassess who you are and what you’re doing.

It’s time to celebrate spring, celebrate a new you, and celebrate change.

With Spring, the motivation for shifts in your life and change are more alive, more vibrant. How could it not be? The sun warms the ground, coaxing color and flowers to life, breaking through the defrosting earth and dirt barriers. A bite in the air still lingers, but the breeze carries scents and sounds of spring, pushing your body, mind, and spirit into motion.

spring2016Change is painful. Change is terrifying.

But change is also exciting and exhilarating. It opens doors and lifts blockades on life’s path placed there by us or by circumstance.  Without change, everything withers and dies. Nature, us, our ideas, our lives.

Embrace change. Do you really want to be the person you were last year? Ten years ago? I don’t. If you do, I urge you to explore all the awesome possibilities that await you with taking that first step. What’s holding you back? Fear? What are you afraid of – and why? Do you feel that you don’t have the necessary skills or resources to achieve what you want? If that’s the case, what steps can you take to set you in motion and on the path to an improved life?

Spring is the perfect time to craft a life of growth, full of new ideas and skills. Inspiration is everywhere – buds on trees waiting to blossom, flowers blooming, baby birds and other animals finding their own voices and taking their first steps. Connect with the beauty surrounding you, and I promise you’ll find exactly what you need to inspire and motivate you.  Celebrate Spring! Celebrate Change!


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David Bowie is dead.

This news shocked me awake two weeks ago on that Monday morning. I couldn’t believe it – still can’t. Tears and tributes and total disbelief from around the world, as social media exploded with the news.David Bowie is still in the news, a full fortnight after his death, with his first number one album and his music dominating the rest of the charts.

At the heart of this, is still the grief and disbelief.

There’s something about mourning someone you’ve never known personally.

There’s also something about mourning someone who had an enormous impact on so many lives for DECADES on a global scale in music, art, movies, fashion, and culture as a whole.

And, then there’s the knowledge that you’re not alone in your grief – that you and millions of others are collectively in a mindset of sadness, but remembrance.

It’s a powerful force.


David Bowie WAS a force. For five decades, Bowie continuously evolved and reinvented himself, emerging as a fresh extension of his former self, exploring places and subjects others feared to face.

It’s difficult to describe my feelings, swirling in a multi-colored nebula of stardust and glitter, trekking through a forest of loneliness and self-discovery. He was a guide, a psychopomp to generations, leading us into birthing new versions of ourselves – in thought, life, creative endeavors, and business.

For me, it started with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. As a nine-year old, I’d never seen anything like Bowie/Ziggy before. I loved boy bands, but oh – the glitter and glam of Stardust Spiders hypnotized me. His first appearance on The Midnight Special (for those of you too young to remember that show … I’m sorry!), changed the face of rock forever.

On Diamond Dogs (probably my favorite album), Bowie sings of a post-apocalyptic , Orwellian-inspired Manhattan. Bowie’s eerie, spoken lyrics in Future Legend tell of “fleas were the size of rats and sucked on rats the size of cats,” and the words,

“Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers,”

have stayed with me over 40 years after I first heard them. Not sure why, but his post-apocalyptic glitter visions made him a mystical messiah. He was dystopian, before it was de riguer in books, movie, and culture.

And I’m not the only one impacted by Bowie, with songs and style with staying power.

That’s saying something.

What does Bowie and his long and glittering career demonstrate to everyone – fan or not – about motivation?


Reinvention is the engine of growth. Bowie recognized this early in his career – and it became a something fans looked forward to. Who would Bowie be next? What new songs, style, and outlook would he give us?

Reinvention in the face of criticism and other expectations is scary. Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust at his zenith, shocking fans and critics alike. Ziggy was huge – HUGE. So huge, that Ziggy overshadowed all the other stars twinkling in the shadows and deepest depths of his creator’s soul. But for Bowie, it was time to move, to grow, to evolve.

Evolution and Transformation

Life is evolution. Evolve or die. Evolution of emotions, of ideas, of spirit. You are not the same person you were at 16. At 25. At 38. If you are, then there is something terribly, terribly wrong. That is truth, and the way of the world. A body or mind or spirit in stasis doesn’t grow. It deteriorates, devolving into pale shades of wasted potential.

From Major Tom, to Ziggy Stardust, to Aladdin Sane, to the Thin White Duke, to the Goblin King, David Bowie evolved, transforming his music, his look, his masks and persona – taking us along with him. You transformed or you didn’t – along with him. Simple. Bowie’s transformations were overt, donning masks and costumes. Attention grabbed: check! Once riveted by the new persona, songs were played over and over, lyrics pulling the listener deeper and deeper, sparking a new awareness within.

Reinvention: Face and Embrace Ch-ch-changes

CH-ch-ch-changes. Everything changes, and to fully live life it’s in our best interest to realize that change is the one constant. Bowie knew this. He reinvented himself consciously and creatively over and over. Embrace change & embrace the inevitable (death). Bowie embraced change within the culture. He embraced it, massaged it, grew it, and gave it back to us – forcing change in us and the culture from which he took the seeds of ideas. He did that right to the end of his mortal life. As he faced impending death, he embraced the process. Death and transformation set to a powerful, eerie soundtrack with video, allowing us to glimpse the soul of a messenger heralding his final journey.

That’s powerful stuff.

Magic and Masks

Wear many masks, but stay true to yourself. David Bowie was a master of this. He knew the secret: to be an expert mask-maker, you first have to know who you are – and be okay with it. Make the mask and wear it with gusto! Bowie made magic with his life and shared it with others, encouraging and exploring the good, the bad, and the ugly of our existence.

Rebellion and Defiance

Rebel against convention and defy labels and stereotypes. Bowie was the ultimate non-conformist – an unapologetic artist. Create art for personal and spiritual fulfillment – chances are you’ll hit a universal nerve. You may think you’re alone in your ideas or feelings, but you’re not. Bowie knew this. By tapping into his own soul, he expressed for us what so many cannot. The mark of a modern day shaman.

Fabulous and Fearless

Live your life on your own terms – and go out on your own terms, too. Bowie did. In the face of critics and haters throughout the years, Bowie stayed true to his own self. He looked and acted fabulous in his fearlessness. A fearless quality which at times explored the ugly side of life, giving it a voice and a platform in which we could all share, nodding our heads and emphatically stating, “Yes, I’ve been there.”

Possess Vision

Look beyond your situation to the stars. Bowie did. In the months before his death, he worked furiously to deliver the last album of his career – and his first #1 (posthumously). Did it matter to him if it was number one? Probably not. Did it matter to him if it impacted millions? Most likely. As has been said, it was his last gift to the world – a musical exploration into a human being actively participating in his own transition from this world to the next.

David Bowie will ALWAYS be a force – an otherworldly messenger who fell to Earth for a short time, spreading stardust and inspiration.

David Bowie isn’t dead.

His journey continues, stepping over the threshold into the infinite.

No, David Bowie isn’t dead.

He’s alive in every song he wrote and sang; he’s alive in every single one of us whose lives were changed in ways we never expected.

Thank you, Starman. You will be missed.

By Syndee Barwick