I See the Sunshine!

I confess. I’ll be making a negative statement right now.

When I look at the world around me, most of the people I know are inclined to think negatively. When something happens, their first thought is something like, “Why did he/she do that?” or “How am I ever going to get out of this?” “Why do these things always happen to ME– especially when I’m rushing/sleeping/tired/etc.”

And because I’ve been exposed to so much of this, I didn’t realize that over time, I was growing into a person I didn’t like. When things didn’t go my way, I saw everything I wanted to see: the bad, the bad, and the bad. But when they did, I was still looking for the bad.

Until I had enough of it. When there’s sunshine in my life, when I choose to bring it in, my days are so much brighter. Why couldn’t I just SEE the beauty in everything, to minimize my sighs to nothing, like that very positive friend I have who’s always smiling inside and out?

One fine (because it felt so good to be positive!) day about two years ago, I realized that the only way I could be a positive person was if I CHOSE to be one. It wouldn’t happen on its own. I wasn’t that friend to whom everyone, everything was all good.

And because I’m not intrinsically inclined to look at the bright side of the sun, I knew this would take some work. Some very hard work. But I wasn’t ready to allow my laziness to have me waste away a life that’s filled with oh so many gifts. I was ready for the challenge. When a challenge comes my way, I turn to InQuell for a solution.

Welcome the sunshine into your life through InQuell!

Welcome the sunshine into your life through InQuell!

Here’s what I did:
Every day, I chose ONE incident that caused me to stir up those negative juices. This worked best when I did the exercise as I was experiencing the feeling. The range of episodes I captured in my InQlog was impressive: from situations like a slow-moving person ahead of me in the supermarket line when I was rushing to catch a bus, to something a child did that called for a grand cleanup, and lots of other major and minor situations that would’ve easily led me down the teeth-gritting slope.

As soon as I felt the negativity seed sprout inside of me, I grabbed my InQlog and started a list. A list of ten reasons for me to be positive today. Right now. “I’m alive.” “I’m healthy.” “I love my family.” “I got a great job offer.” This worked even better when the list included positive aspects of the situation I was in. “This child is so inquisitive.” “This woman has so much patience.” “This friend has so many other qualities that make her special.” Only once the list was done, did I allow myself to raise the pen from the page.

And then, finally, I saw the beautiful sunshine through the crack in my InQlog.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
― Walt Whitman

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Dear Me

I know I shouldn’t be doing this now. I should be sleeping– because that’s what Baby is doing. Or working– because the deadline for that article was yesterday. Instead, I decided to come talk to you, to encourage you to continue your great work with InQlog (or, if you haven’t yet, to start your InQlog journey!)
Why now? Why am I shaving off from my precious quiet time to share my thoughts with you?
Because of something that went through my mind today. It happened as I was squeezing my toddler’s pudgy hand into her pajama sleeve, the sound of my son’s drilling (t’was a toy drill!) in the background. I suddenly realized just how hectic my life is.
And then I thought, “There must be so many mothers out there who feel the same way! And we’re all in our own cozy quarters, changing diapers, wiping noses, cooking up pots and pots of soup, and then, before long, scrubbing them squeaky clean. And while we’re all in this together, we’re in this alone.”
So I thought– who can I talk to about this now? I’m just so busy, and so is everyone else. I can’t pick up the phone right now, and who says someone else is interested in hearing the details of my simple life?
That’s when I remembered InQlog. Hey, I could talk to my later Me. The Me that’s calmer, the Me that went through this already and is only looking back at these moments with fond wistfulness. I want that Me to relive these moments because they’re so so sweet. And that’s what InQlog is for. For the harried mom, for the relaxing vacationer, and even for the busiest executive.
It’s a brilliant way to etch your life into stone, to keep every special moment alive and kicking.

Keep it up!

Because Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: InQlog Writing Tip for Moms

Motherhood is a lot of things. It’s exhausting, rewarding, challenging, and surprise-laden, among many other descriptions. Oh yes, and motherhood is a whole lot of fun. In the whirlwind of it all, moms often lose track of time: on a daily basis (it’s bedtime already? But they haven’t eaten dinner yet!), as well as in the greater scheme of life (it was only yesterday that he made his first step and I already don’t know where he’s gone off to…).

As women and mothers, the emotional side of us has this beseeching request for time to stand still. In joyous, nachas-filled moments, all we want to do is grip the hands of the clock and scream, “Give me a minute!”  When your heart swells with pride, isn’t your deepest wish to remain right there, perpetually stuck in the sweet, sweet moment that smells of baby shampoo and cotton candy?

You wish you can, you wish you can, but deep down, you know you can’t.

Until today.

With the InQuell technique I will share with you today, you can make time stand still. Now you have the chance to stay stuck in those delicious moments. Okay, not really, but the closest you can ever get.

Start your Mom InQlog today!

How does this innovative idea work?

notebook

First, go on a shopping spree to find a notebook that tugs at your heart– the kind that represents the relationship between you and your child. For your little girl, look out for that frilly pink thing. For your son who’s missing his two front teeth, find the one with the oversized cars or lions. You can also personalize a plain notebook by writing the child’s name on the cover and adding some appropriate designs. If you want to go all out (which I did for my first daughter) design a cover with photos of you and your child. Remember that this notebook will be eternally cherished.

Once you found that perfect notebook (don’t let the search take too long!) you’re ready to start your Mom InQlog. On the very first page, introduce yourself to your child. Tell him/her about yourself, how happy you are to be his mom, how much you love him and what joy he brings you every day. Let the child know at which stage he’s in at that point (today, you rode a bicycle without training wheels for fifteen seconds!).

The rest of the InQlog is all yours! Write entries as often as you can (at least once per month) and fill them with the positive moments you’ve shared with your little one. Keep telling him how much you love him (this’ll happen anyway, especially if he’s sleeping as you write!) and focus on the small details of his life that would otherwise be relegated to the trash bin of history. Make this notebook a very special place by pasting in cute little drawings that your child created, and notes that he received from his teacher or friend. The more you invest in your InQlog, the more you will make time stand still for you and your precious one.

Don’t forget to date every entry. I like to write the date, time of day, where I’m located while I’m writing, and how old the child is right then, at the right-hand top of the page. Feel free to date it however you like.

Let me tell you this: Since I’ve started the Mom InQlog for my kids (you can prepare the new notebook even before the birth so you get the chance to record the earliest memories) I’ve gradually let go of time. My fingers aren’t forever tight-fisted in my quest to retain the grip, because even though I’m having fun while mothering, I know the memories are here to stay– in a most precious possession I can’t wait to share with my kids one special day in the future…

notebook 2

 

At the Heart

Today, I’m working feverishly in preparation for a workshop I will be delivering tomorrow at The Writers’ Seminar in Jerusalem.

The topic I was asked to cover is how to write marketing material that sells itself. Because I’ve been working in the field for quite some time now, a lot of what I want to say is dancing around in my brain and all that’s left for me to do is to collect those thoughts into one neat stack. (Will share some of the tips with you in a future post.)

It’s interesting that I spend so much of my time as a copywriter and a syndicated columnist for a world-renowned business consultant when my dream was always to immerse myself in the world of psychology and education. Originally, when the job came my way, I was hesitant to accept it for fear that I’d get sucked into this cold, emotionless world of technical terms and business stuff. All that business connoted to me at that time was in diametrical opposition to what I was planning to do with my blossoming life ahead.

In no time, however, I learned the good news: that all of business– the nuts and bolts of it– is heart. All it takes is emotional intelligence and psychological depth and understanding (and of course some good logistical planning that I leave for the math heads out there) to succeed in business.

And so, I am not at all surprised or disappointed with the twist my life has taken– that I, a psychologist at heart, have found a career in copywriting while I climb the my way toward my career as a therapist.

InQuell is indeed a culmination of these experiences in my life. It’s the understanding that all things are intertwined, that with the use of words in every aspect of our lives– be it business, relationships, or anything else– the heart is at the center of it all.

What better way to bare the heart than through that freshly dipped quill?

Not the Post You’re Waiting For

I didn’t meet my posting goal this week.

It wasn’t that unattainable a goal, actually– I set my posting schedule to one post per week.

So, why, I wonder, didn’t I make it? Of course, there are always excuses.

I’m a mother of two. And what Katherine Anne Paterson says on this topic resonates well with me:

      “I had no study in [the early] days, not even a desk or file or bookcase to call mine alone . . . It might have happened sooner [the writing of work worthy of publication] had I had a room of my own and fewer children, but somehow I doubt it. For as I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who took away my time and space are those who have given me something to say.”

Still, I don’t think this cherished role, nor my others, exempts me from this minimal posting responsibility.

So why is it? In my quest to figure out this issue, I did the response log magic technique, which is a writing technique I teach at InQuell. Thankfully, it led me to the root of my procrastination: I need my pieces to be perfect.

This is my confession. My written works must be perfect before they could see the light of cyberspace.

Interestingly, on the day I made this observation, I came across an article by Megan McArdle, titled “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators” on this writing blog. In her excellent article that had me nodding all the way through, the author lists a host of reasons why writers tend to do anything but produce work. The excuse that resonated most with me was that writers are always afraid their pieces haven’t yet reached the level of perfection they set for themselves.

Because I have this desire, this need, to do a perfect job, I keep putting off the work for who knows when… for when this magic perfectionistic ability will course through my being and onto the page (which, of course, is never).

So, because I must learn to untwist my all-or-nothing thinking (because, after all, this is a large part of what I teach at InQuell…) I write this post now. Even if I haven’t yet decided what exactly I want to share with you today, I write, because I have a goal that I must meet.

Image

Sorry. This is not the perfect post. It is not the post that culminates into something beautiful, something you can take away with you even after you forgot that you ever read this piece.

That’s because I’m learning that good work is perfect enough for me.

***

Does this perfectionism/procrastination relationship resonate with you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below! Then we can work out a writing technique that will help us solve this work impeding problem.

Why I’m Giving You All This Information For FREE

Last night, I shared with you the secret to a self-esteem quick fix.

About ten minutes after the post “went to press,” I received an email message from a follower, Daniella.

She started her message with a word of thanks and a compliment.

Here’s why I’m writing to you, Shiffy, she continued.

This is too good to be true! In this highly competitive world we’re living in, I’m wondering what would inspire you to share this valuable information at no charge. What is your purpose in doing this?

So, why am I doing this? Why am I offering you advice at no charge with no intention of promoting myself– only to help you discover the gift of writing for self-growth?

Free!

Here’s why:

1) Because I believe there’s a purpose to my findings.

As an Orthodox Jew, I feel strongly that the capabilities I was given by G-d are for one purpose: So I can make the world a better place. Nothing is for naught, and if I was meant to discover the beauty and purpose of writing, I am also obligated to share my findings with others so that they too can benefit from this therapeutic tool.

2) Because I love to share what I’ve learned or discovered.

It’s a personal liking of mine: To make an impact in this world in a way that only I can. (I know, I should change myself first. I’m trying…) I feel that by sharing information at no charge, I will be able to touch many more lives around the world.

3) Because I’m excited about InQuell!

How do you react upon hearing a good piece of news? You share! I am so excited about InQuell, and the potential it has to enrich your life, that the excitement begs to spill over somewhere. You’re the lucky recipient of this hopefully contagious spirit.

4) Because I care about you.

I love people. My understanding of humankind is that we are all inherently good. We all want to be the best we can be– at least deep down. Because I care about you, and every person I encounter, I want to share with you these tidbits of advice that will hopefully make your life the life you want it to be.

Now you have a basic understanding of why I write this blog– of why I’m dispensing advice on a steady basis that has already helped many people.

The clients I see privately and the groups I give workshops to mainly find their way to me through word of mouth and recommendations, thank G-d. My payback for this special privilege and pleasure of helping people find inner success and revel in their newfound appreciation for writing is this blog.

Enjoy it. Take one, two, three… because it’s free!

 

 

The Magic Booster

We all have those days– some more often than others– when we feel unspecial (is there a better word for this?).

It’s on days like these that we talk to ourselves in a way that is inexcusable. We tell ourselves things we would never forgive anyone for saying (You’re such a–. Why can’t you be like –? Why aren’t you more –?).

Or worse, so unimpressed are we with ourselves, that we don’t even bother talking to the undeserving being.

For me, days like these can happen when the house is a mess and I’m in no mood to get my act together. Or after a painful column rejection, which happened last month.

For my friend, days like these happen when she remembers the dark days of her marriage to an abusive man.

For my teenage client, days like these happen when she loses a close friend to a silly fight.

(It’s interesting to observe how quickly we fall into this unrealistic mindset.)

It’s not a good place to be– the place where we feel unwanted and unworthy of even our own love.

I don’t want anyone in the world to be in this dingy place. Ever.

Because every human being– brilliant or not, talented or not– is unique and thus deserving of his/her own love.

Image

I want us to celebrate our uniqueness, always.

How?

Here’s my simple booster list #1 for days when you find yourself skidding down that negative slope all too fast.

As soon as you hear those negative, self-defeating voices, give yourself the privilege of your own time.

Set aside five to ten minutes, and seat yourself in a quiet, calm place.

On the top of an empty sheet in the back of your InQlog, write:

My Booster List

Why I, (fill in your name) Am Unique

Why There’s No One Like (fill in your name) In This World

Now jot down the numbers 1 to 10.

And start listing.

Just write anything that comes to mind– anything that makes you special.

Some descriptions on your list can be your unique qualities, talents, accomplishments, or relationships.

Give yourself the best emotional massage in the world.

Allow yourself to cry as you embrace your uniqueness.

And tap yourself on the back over and over again.

When you’re done (I hope this takes you really fast!), read the list aloud.

Savor the sound of your praise on your tongue like you would a sweet, sweet treat.

And as you write the next lines, say them aloud:

Yes! I, (fill in your name), am unique. I am completely deserving of my love and the love of others.

Nobody and nothing in this world can harm me if I choose to believe in myself.

I am a being of infinite value.

***

None of what you wrote in your booster list is false.

Yes, dear InQuellian, you are unique.

Celebrate that uniqueness with the self-esteem booster list and revel in the beauty that’s you.

May I take a gamble?

I bet that once you find your own beauty, others will too.

That’s An Idea!

In the post where I list the characteristics of InQlog, I suggest that you take only five minutes during your bedtime routine to write about your day.

For me, that works. It gives me a chance to wind down after chasing my tail all day long. It gives me a few breathing moments during which I dig deeper into my self before drifting off into a state whose imminent end will automatically jumpstart another day of tail-chasing.

But the truth is, I don’t know much about your life. Perhaps five minutes at the end of your busy day is asking for too much. Perhaps you can’t imagine how I can propose such a ludicrous suggestion.

So because I want this to work for you too, here’s a suggestion a participant of my group workshop shared with me the other day. “By the time the evening comes around, I’m dead. I can’t bring myself to keep my eyelids open for five more minutes, even for the pleasure of writing,” she said.

“I can hear that,” I answered. I was once there too– before InQlog became my best, best friend. I’m not here to force friendships on anyone (leave me alone!), so I wouldn’t suggest that she push herself to do this either.

“But I found a solution,” she continued, excited. “Throughout my day, I look out for those five-minute pockets of time. I actively work to make them happen. While I’m waiting for the soup to bubble on the stove, while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, while I’m riding the bus to work– whatever. I make sure to find those five minutes somewhere in my day.

“And if I don’t manage that, then I take five minutes in the evening for this worthy project.”

“That’s an excellent idea!” I said to her. “I like it!”

The others in the group nodded vigorously.

Are you nodding too?

Who Doesn’t Write Today?

It’s interesting.

The more I believe in the power of the written word, the more I realize I don’t need to prove it anymore…

How’s that?

Take a look at your surroundings and observe what the others are doing. You’re reading, but are they too?

In today’s world, more than in any other generation before, people are using the written word as a form of communication. Be it through instant messaging, texting, sending email messages, or blogging, writing is the number one medium of communication in today’s hyper-technological world.

So, isn’t it time for us to learn some basic writing techniques through which we can enrich our lives, embrace our relationships, appreciate ourselves, and become more successful?

Even those who never considered themselves writers find themselves writing today. If it didn’t happen by choice, it happened by necessity.

And if you’re already writing because you must, why not learn to write because you want to? Why not learn to cherish this tool to enrich your life?

Changing Diapers… And Perspectives

Last week, a close friend of mine gave birth to her second child– her first son.

When I called to congratulate her and hear how she’s doing, I asked if she had a pen and paper with her in the hospital.

“Why?” The new mother asked, confused.

“I know this may sound interesting to you, but have you thought to write down your feelings at this special time? Childbirth– despite its frequency– is one of the greatest miracles of all time, isn’t it?”

“I hear you,” Sara said, albeit slightly unconvinced. “But I don’t know how to write.”

Yes, yes, we’ve heard that. Not once. Not twice…

“Sara,” I said to her, “Do you talk to your child at all?”

“Of course I do! This is how we bond! In fact, last night, before I returned him to the nursery, my heartstrings tugging, I stood at his bassinet for twenty minutes and let the words pour forth.”

“There you go,” I said triumphantly. “Do you know how valuable it would be for you to jot those very words down? Nothing fancy– just the words from your heart. I’m suggesting this to you as a friend, not because I want to bombard you with a new task. New mothers are busy enough.”

Image

“You know what?” she said. “It can’t hurt to try. I’ll ask my husband to bring me a notebook soon.”

It can’t hurt.

It never does.

Because it always works.

“Call it your InQlog,” I offered. “And let me know how it goes!”

Well, last night, I got a phone call from my dear friend, Sara.

“Shiffy,” she said to me, “Your suggestion worked like a charm. I’ve been writing every day– even on the evenings that I’m drained from lack of sleep and endless feedings. I don’t want to omit one detail of this precious time.”

I listened silently, happily.

“I don’t remember any of my initial emotions from my last birth. I’m so glad that this time, I’ve taken the time and courage to sit down and actually write. When I finish the page, I feel like I’ve just spoken to a good friend. I want to thank you for prodding me along the writing path.”

I was so glad when I heard this.

Not because someone liked my advice (although the ego doesn’t mind a compliment or two!), but because I know there’s one more person in the world who has come to appreciate her inherent gift of writing– even if all she claims she knows how to do is change diapers.

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