Pushing through the failures of 2017 to get to your best year ever!

2017 brought disappointments and failures and 2018 may seem like an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. So up goes the lists and vision boards of everything that will be brand new in 2018.  New work out goals, new boos, new focus, and new wins.  But somewhere in the midst of the excitement and plans for all things new we forget the valuable losses that are equally important as we head to a new year.  Yep I do mean failure and inside each and every one is a gem more valuable than all the new new you can load in your New Year’s cart.  Sometimes in trying to move on to something better we can purposefully forget the losses that can provide the true insight to get the things we desire.

The appeal of a new year is like a new present, often looking forward to something shiny with all the external trimmings and trappings. So we can all too quickly turn the page with the expectancy that suddenly everything will be different.  At the root of it, this option can be a lot easier than admitting the opportunity to start over not only comes every year, but with every rise and fall of the sun.  Yes the opportunity to start a new was there for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, indeed it is there every day of your life.  So where does the fulfilled promise of a new future really stand?  I think it lies in part in a collection of lessons from the past.  Taking the time to welcome and accept your failures so you can see the landscape for what it was.  Yes missed opportunities, yes to not working as hard as you could have or lacking the consistency to win.  In each of the sore spots from the last year can be a bright spot for your New Year and new life.

So how do you get back down to the lessons that the past year has brought you. For me it begins with a simple list.  Making a top ten list of the biggest failures from 2017 in all their ugly glory.  First give yourself and opportunity to let it all out.  Let it all out, who did you wrong, what opportunities did you miss, what relationships failed to nurture any positivity.  Next think of how you could have changed things. This means just you, not anyone else as you are all you can control.  If you could have been more proactive write it down, if you could have been more understanding then write that down too and if you just need to accept things and people better then there is also a line for that.  Finally In all these find a way that things could have both gone better and gone worst.  The key in this exercise is to tap into the power you have every day to see things different, do things differently and appreciate the crazy ride call life while you still have an opportunity to get in on the game.

Legacy Building

What stands behind when you are no longer here? At some point or another through the passage of time we will get an opportunity to consider what we leave behind.  Perhaps it is when you go to a funeral of a loved one or hear about a senseless killing on the news.  No matter how you might try to ignore it, one day you will have to face yourself and ask what has been the impact of your footsteps in the sand in your life and how will the footsteps continue or be honored once you are gone?

Over this weekend I attended a funeral for a cousin. A man who in life always brimmed with energy and a steady selflessness that you could sense before he even said a word.  In facing such a sad end to such a beautiful story I pondered this question as I have before in the shadow of death from other dear ones I have lost before.  In truth I believe clarity in this question comes while you are facing the sunset of your life but for me there is strand of vitality that has followed all I have loved into the great beyond.  Even the greatest of us may be washed away in the sands of time.  Names people once clamored around will become a distant memory for the world at one point.  And despite the natural order of immediate focus demanded by the present, the legacy that can matter most can still remained intertwined, brimming with the life force from which it was sent. Long after you leave this existence the core lessons of how you treat others remain.

Yes I have seen others pick up the path left by your footprints while yours seemingly wash away. For my grandmother I see the seeds of selfless kindness left in my vision of the world and it directs my path.  For my cousin I see in his children the consistent support of a gently but firm heart left in his children.  And one day I am sure I will see this same thread in his children’s children.  Even after the way we live our life loses all things personal to us, regardless of if your children’s children know just where the contribution came from, the way we treat people remains around as a foundation to those we love most.  And when we live lives fertile in this the best things about us can grow and blossom as its spread.  For those we leave behind it comforts us in our sadness that the long path of life that was walked was not in vain.  Without any fanfare or spotlight, the legacy remains even in something that seems as nameless to the person as kindness or joy or compassion.  A true legacy comes from inspiring others with some of your best habits while comforting them that you faced your worst, as they will have to, with determination and transparency.  The end of the sentence is often the best reminder of just how much the seeds you plant in your life matter, even when it is not destined for you to ever bear witness to the fruit.


In memory of my cousin

Michael Lynn Dotson

PHPB Book Club: The Power of Thinking Big Review

Think bigSome books circle around how to become successful but leave the details you need on how to make it happen flying in the wind.  This book The Magic of Thinking Big by David Scwartz reinvents this big picture approach to success with tasks to help you get there.  The approach as it works more like cookbook showing you that you already have (or can easily get) everything you need for success and gives you steps to follow in order to make it happen.  Within the book you step in quickly to the idea that the key to success isn’t the best education or the background, it is just YOU and your attitude about life.  Once you start with a great attitude the other things that are needed such are power and skill are energized up to do the work.

The Magic of Thinking BIG RecapThe book served as a great reminder to me that what I need first and foremost is the belief I will be successful.  By tapping into this belief regularly and making sure that I am dreaming as big as I expect to succeed I am starting my journey off on the right foot.  To continue on this path, however, the book also makes some suggestions for avoiding the disease of failure called excutitis.  This disease amounts to the piles of excuses we often use to set ourselves apart from the success we see all around us.  By learning how to look at excuses like bad heath, not being smart enough, not being the right age, and just being plain old unlucky, we work to boost our attitude and truly believe we can succeed.  Doing so prepares us to meet for our greatest battle along the way to success… conquering fear.  While fear can keep you from jumping on opportunities coming your way, identifying your fear and taking action is a direct way to cure the fear and walk away from the battle with more confidence than ever before.

With fear behind you, The Magic of Thinking Big, serves one massive tip – you don’t have to go at it alone.  The world is filled with the creativity and skills needed to assist you along the way and you can easily tap into the creative potential of the world by becoming more open to ideas and change and to work with others for sources of inspiration on how to make things happen.  This attitude towards tapping into the energy of success all around you it not only inspires you to put service first and let the money follow but also encourages others to lift you up along the way.  All in all the book was a great motivator to get in gear, embrace the action habit and stop procrastinating, welcome the lessons in opposition, and harness your desire for success.

Allowing time to wash away the pain of old wounds

Happy New Year 2015 wash away 2014 concept on sea beachThe old phrase that time heals old wounds, although true, can be painfully misleading.  It gives the message that if you wait long enough some of the injustices done to you by others will slowly wear away like sand on a beach.  Although time is a great conduit to healing, the truth is that the mental battle to forgiveness still exists, time or no time.  Forgiveness from our hearts often starts in our minds.  This is where the memory lives and it is all too easy to fall in to the trap of letting the negatives distort the offense and make it bigger and badder than it ever was.  With every negative association we add to the wrong we build up a fortress to prevent times healing power from washing in.  In this case time can in fact make the wound fester instead of heal.  Full of the puss of anger or injustice or neglect that allows us to carry it with us and have a negative impact on other parts of our lives as well.

Time can heal wounds, but it is up to us to open the door to allow it to do so.  Time has the ability to take negative events that were so vividly painful when they happen and slowly erase the jarring edges that hurt us as the mind is attracted to positive more than negative.  We just have to make sure that we do the work as well to assist this alone.  I do it by trying to do some simple re-programming.  Most recently I was deeply hurt and I felt betrayed by someone I trusted and really struggled with the idea of being able to just let it go.  It seemed the well was too deep, but one day it dawned on me that within my life I have forgiven worst offenses.  The newness of the event made it seem impossible, but my track record showed that even the most painful wrongs can find a resolution.

With that goal in mind, every time my mind triggered the event and all the pain and anger that came with it I tried to change my perspective or change the channel all together.  I did so by tempering the pain of the experience with the positives of that person.  Indeed the relationship was not all bad and as the fog of pain cleared I could also remember some of the good times that endeared this person to me in the first place.  Each mix of these positive memories caused a retreat in my mind to the pain that I felt.  If you can’t pull up any good memories you can always just force feed your mind good memories or say a little prayer for them and keep it moving.  No, this is not an instant fix, but is a good way to get a hold of yourself, clean and bandage the wound and prepare yourself to continue on.  As they say “life goes on” and you always have the choice to linger in the past or relish in a future that you can create.

Learning how to not be the emotional band aid in your relationship

DonazioneRelationships with a damaged person can feel like a constant process of fix it as a way to keep someone else above water.  Often once we are in it the situation, it becomes one of dread, but when we are honest with ourselves we saw trouble coming from a mile away and still invited ourselves in.  We see the baggage, the damage from the ex or their family or just their own self-image and instead of turning around and running or encouraging them to jump start their own improvement, we hop feet first in to a mess feeling like the world’s best handyman up for the challenge of a rundown house.  So what is it that makes us believe that we can be the band aid to someone else’s problems and come out on top in a successful relationship?

There are a lot of band aids we can try to apply to stop the bleeding of a damaged person.  Once you care and you want to help you get involved in a deeply personal process that really must come from that person’s own desire.  Nonetheless we get sucked into the wormhole by either overestimating ourselves and our ability to fix them or underestimating the problems that the person is dealing with and the ease in which it can be solved.  I have often fallen in the overestimation trap as I believed that the damage others have done can be healed just by me showing them the opposite.  If they dealt with a gold digger I have tried to show myself to be self-sufficient with their money not being my motivation.  When they have trust issues I have tried to go above and beyond to prove myself worth and true to my word.  The opposite is just as dangerous, by looking at their tangled personal life or personal image as something that is a quick fix.  Armed with a motto of self-reliance you start on the path of you can do it and you can fix it before even really honestly looking at the problem and listening to what their game plan is for the approach.  Either way the result is you putting in work on a problem that really is not yours to solve.  Chances are it does little to improve that person’s situation because their perspective on people, including you, is a key piece of the puzzle.

Regardless of if you are overestimating or underestimating, the result can put you too close to your band aid application to realize that the small sore you are trying to treat only covers a much bigger internal problem.  Perhaps something about the damage in others makes us feel a little better about the bumps and bruises that we all experience along the way.  If we came out on top our ego whispers others can too just by doing what we did.  The vision loses sight of the truth that everyone is different, and likewise so are their problems and solutions to those problems.  At a point true healing has to come from the inside and be self-directed.  Healing isn’t a magic show where you can waive a wand and instantly someone is better.  They have to be invested in their own growth and healing first and foremost.  Without that they will treat the most trust worthy person with constant suspicion and take someone’s adoration as a trick of the mind.

cuore reduceNo matter how big the impulse is the truth is everyone has to take out their own trash or the end up sealing their fate as the “bag lady”.  Stuck in their own prison of mistrust and self-doubt.  Yes once you have been burned you should learn a lesson, but really learning a lesson involves applying it, not just using it as a giant shield that misses out on good things coming your way or as a scape goat for everything that could be wrong.  Relationships work best when not just both parties are working at it but also when both parties are working on and commitment to their own improvement and growth.  Without understanding and accepting this you can end up in a relationship that ultimately damages you as much as the other damaged party through your attempt to play nurse in their life without being a doctor in your own.

Cinco De Mayo celebrating the PHPB Way!

Cinco De mayo favoritesIt’s Cinco de Mayo and for me the day has always been a great celebration of food and fun.  Admittedly in my college days the fun was more how much tequila could I take on challenge, but to this day it is always a day of celebrating the wonderful Mexican culture and heritage.  Before I’m off to cook one of my favorite Mexican dishes I thought I would share the recipes for the food and drinks that really make this day memorable for me.

Chicken Enchilada SuizaChicken Enchiada Suizas: I can be a little reluctant on Rachel Ray recipes as I like my food spicy and it is usually something she steers clear of.  This dish takes on some of the spice of jalapenos and poblano peppers and mellows it out with layers of cheese and tomatillos sauce that leaves a mark.  It became an instant classic in my house in no time.  The prep work on this dish is no joke as you are essentially making a Mexican lasagna with sauce from scratch but in the end you can feed a lot of people with one pan.  As an extra bonus once you let the food sit over night the flavors unite even more for a left over dish your family and friends won’t run from.


Ingredients:Guacamole dip and nachos

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 10 Mexican limes, juiced
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 vine-ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 serrano peppers
  • Kosher salt

Mash the avocados to your preferred consistency and combine with other ingredients

Instead of inserting some extra heat from spices like cumin and chili powder this recipe I learned from my friend Rudy focuses only on using fresh ingredients and the results are amazing.  In the end the recipe is a great way to make a friend or catch a man.  It may look heavy on the limes but not only do they work to add great flavor, they also ensure the avocados don’t turn brown and the guacamole lasts literally for days.  You can use the peppers to scale up or down on the heat or just add more spice in a separate batch so you have something for everyone.  The real secret ingredient in this dish is using fresh ingredients and eating it with home style tortilla chips.


orange jello shotsI was going to include a fav margarita recipe but on this day celebrating Mexican victory I think one of the treasures of Mexico should be treasured…Tequila!!! Unlike how most people drink it tequila to me is best served chilled with lime.  The quality of your tequila will then be the star.  If you feel like spoiling yourself try Don Julio 1942.  If you really must have the tequila in a mixed drink check out one of my favorite jello shot recipes that is festival enough for the celebration.   Orange Slice Jello Shots


PHPB Book Club: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Review

Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey has always struck my interest because in my world being able to do more with the amount of time I have is high on my priority list.  The book does give some clear instruction on structuring your life to find more time for the most important things, but the biggest and best surprise of the book was how it reframes how you look at life, starting with you and moving to impact the family, relationships, and businesses around you.  It is no wonder why this book is a classic as it empowers a way to think about the solutions of life instead of the problems that are sure to come.  Within the seven habits described of the book are practical examples as well as instructions on how to get started in actually appalling the habits to your own life.  As a basis covers the root of the problem and explores how it can be addressed through developing the habits focused on in the book

Paradigms: In this section you begin to rethink problems as external forces and internalize the role you play in seeing and fixing the problem.  Through the process of moving to a principle centered paradigm in which to see the world the shift can occur to change perceptions, ourselves and eventually situations.

Habit 1: Be Proactive – This habit focuses on how to take what is going on externally and processing what can be done internally that essentially makes you a proactive person.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind – As a kid I always cheated when it came to mazes and started at the exit.  Something about the process gave some clarity and seemed to make the path to get back to the beginning crystal clear.  Likewise in life we can start off heading towards a goal but get lost in the activity trap that leads to a dead end.  This step walks through the way to visualize the goal in mind and then creating a physical path to that goal.

Habit 3: Put First things First – This is the action component to the first two steps as you take a long look at why you are missing out on your effectiveness possibility.  By becoming more of a self-manager in planning roles, goals and scheduling you can adapt to the things that are really most important in your life on a daily basis.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win – This habit moves from the inside out wins and begins to impact those you interact with.  While the position between two people can vary with those who lose and those who win, this habit sets a definitive goal of win/win where both parties have a mutual benefit.  By building character, relationships, and agreements you can use this principle to springboard into relationships of tremendous synergy.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood – Instead of believing you have to put yourself first to win, this habit focuses on reaching goals of interdependence starting from others perspectives.  By learning to listen empathically you risk vulnerability but gain the ability to identify the needs of others and move them towards the steps to satisfy them which is true motivation.

Habit 6: Synergize – The truth is two heads are better than one and when you focus on synergy you get a result of parts that are unified and power unleashed so the whole is better.  By valuing the differences in others you can begin to build trust in the relationships and communications that open up creative possibilities.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw – As we see in the season, the world is made to renew itself, so why should we be any different.  The final habit builds all the other habits because it focuses on putting yourself in a constant process of renewal of your physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional components.  Allowing myself this “empower hour” every day to continue my development to be a better person has been one of the most rewarding gifts this book has to offer for me.

What I thought would be a book on how to fit more in a day turned out to be a book that unlocked possibilities on how to motivate myself and others to work smarter, not harder towards the goals I have for my life.  This book is a great one to shed insight on yourself and others and provides some real life instructions on the road to being the best you can be.

The benefits of walking: mind, body and soul

Rear View Of Family Taking Dog For Walk In CountrysideIn today’s fitness arena the newest is almost always thought to be the best.  I definitely like to feel the burn to know I am getting the job done and this has taken me to everything from barre classes to Pilates to interval workouts all around town.  While there will always be a place for these exercises when you are looking to lose weight or work specifically on certain strengths or body parts, sometimes you need something a little lower impact but packed with other benefits.  An injury after a cycling class forced me to resort back to my old go-to…Walking.

In my mind walking was something done by people just getting back in a workout state of mind.  While some of the low impact benefits do make walking appealing to those who want to take it easy on their knees or hips, I fell in love with some of the other benefits of walking. With high impact exercise off my menu for a while any exercise is definitely better than no exercise.  As many jobs have us sitting all day it is a great way to get on your feet and get moving.  Gymnast girlYou can always modify your work out as well by adding weights around your ankles and/or wrist or picking up the pace.  Also you can mix in some calisthenics like jumping jacks or squats to add some strength training to your walk.

I have discovered through my walks at Hermann Park that the physical benefits are actually at the bottom of the list on why I walk.  Instead it’s the mental benefits that keep me coming back.  Having a chance to get out outdoors, stretch my legs and let the stress of the day melt away under the umbrella of trees.  After a long day it is the perfect break between work and home that delivers you a little bit calmer and better able to give your best self to your family.   It is a chance to reflect on the day before you put the past behind you and to meditate on how you can get better in the days to come.  Most of all surrounded by the miracle of nature it is a great place to just feel grateful.  There is no better reality check from what you don’t have then realizing all that you do and a great way to change your perspective, even after a horrible day.  Especially while the weather is mild, take advantage of a great chance to walk in a park or on a trail in Houston.

Think you are taking care of business? Take 15 minute challenge to find out

Pins on calendarIf you are a busy professional it is easy to spend a whole day working hard and to assume that all of your hard work means that you are taking care of business.  As the days and weeks go by, however, and your to-do list has some frequent visitors the question moves from if you are doing things, to if you are doing the things that help you reach your overall goals.  In what started as a simple exercise in the “12 Habits of Highly Effective People”, I took a week to break down my day until 15 minute intervals to see exactly how I was spending my days that prevented me from knocking out some the most important items of the things I needed to get done.

The challenge seems simple enough, in a spreadsheet or in a notebook write down what you do any given day in 15 minute intervals. In doing so try to be as detailed on the tasks as possible.  It is very tempting to write down “work” if you are at the office, but the truth is that being at work does not mean you are working or shine some light on what you are actually working for.   The exercise needs to details on what is going on before you can work on improving your habits.  I spend a lot of days busy and the natural thought is when you make it home exhausted that you must have slayed a lot of dragons in the day.  The exercise shines some precise light on the possibility that although you left out to slay dragons you spent your whole day swatting flies instead.  This means it is very easy to get caught up in the little things and minor emergencies that pop up throughout the day instead of focusing on some of the larger more important projects.  If you let yourself you can get caught in a void of busy that dumps you in the black hole of true productivity.

Even if you have structured your life to avoid a steady focus on minor emergencies, there is another challenge lurking in the bushes, the great escape.  While it can often look like businesses it is just periods where your brain takes off.  Things that may have normally taken 15 minutes can easy drift to an hour.  Sometimes there are filled with minor distractions like social media or a constant recall of minor things that you feel like you should do immediately.  For me I just honestly get lost in my mind, with the old daydreaming nature of my childhood finding me in full force.  The reality is that these distractions exist but by looking them in the eye once you finish your 15 minute day detail you can see the problem and start to train yourself how to focus on what is most important first, not last.  It is a great self check and if you 2015 goal is to meet some new challenges it is a great way to actually get it job done with simple adjustments to how you see your day and your time.

Starting at the end: Writing your own obituary to figure out the maze of life

woman in mourning at cemetery in fallI recently read a story of a mom who wrote her own obituary after a long struggle with cancer and was able to share it with her family before reaching her end.  Within the obituary she told her story and as she shared it with her family she was able to feel the summation of her life better than any words could ever describe it.  She loved and loved hard and loved sincerely.  The tears and laughter that came with the reading filled in all the blanks and provided all the emotions that without the words would just fall flat without.  In thinking about the story it dawned on me how motivating it is to live, and live well, when you accept that it all can come to an end that dawns most likely without your notice or approval.

Thinking of your obituary is considered to be a pretty morbid thought.  Why think about the announcement of your death when you are still in the midst of your life??  Well the period at the end of life comes for all of us and often if we can see it approaching the feeling is how did time fly so fast? Followed quickly after by the wish to have just a little more time, like a kid wanting to squeeze the last bit of fun out at dusk of a long summer day.   With some courage you accept this truth that as morbid as thinking about your obituary can be, it can also help shape on a daily basis the things you do that impact what will happen the gap in between your birth and your death.

Like a summary of any book, an obituary gives the long and the short of your life in a quick review.  But in these words, as with your life, you can pack quite a punch.  Writing your obituary looks back and ask the question who were you and what did you do to make an impact?  Instead of focusing on the future which we can usually see in the best light, it looks back and only looks back.  Considering what will be written of you can cut out the procrastination and drifting we all can be guilty of and get you back on track to the person you want to be realizing that the time to do it is a gift, not a given.  This perspective can re-energize you to be up for the challenge of living while it is still your challenge.  As with the kid heading in from a day of fun, you can often dream bigger, jump higher, and see the world in more vivid colors when time is almost up.

What would your obituary read if you died today?????