161: What will join your life next year?

It’s the last week of the year.  Many of us have started putting away the holiday decor and memories. We are now thinking about what’s next? A new year is the time many of us think about the things we want to come into our life. What shall 2017 bring?

As I reflect on the year ahead, I can’t help but think about how we can never be complete in ourselves. Deep down, in the core of our being, in the deepest part of our heart, we all seek to join ourselves to people, success, possessions, achievements, money, comfort, acceptance, beauty, romance, family, power, a movement, a goal, and any multitude of things. Something deep within, there is a desire to grow and get. What things do you want to join your life in the next year?


As you think about this, give a moment to think about why you want these things to join your life? How will this thing joining you in 2017 help your life and being? Where will you go? What will you do? Who will you interact with more – or less? How will your heart, soul, wounds, longings, and desires be a part of 2017?

We are never complete on our own. Seek to join with those things that T.E.L.L. you at your core. Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love more in 2017…. from your core.

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160: Let your child T.E.L.L. you this holiday season!

Do you love or dread the holiday season? Are you burdened or enthusiastic? We all know there is much to be done. How do you live in these moments? Is your choice to be enthusiastic?

When an individual is enthusiastic, you can see it in the flash of their eyes, in their alert and vibrant interactions with the world. You can see it in the spring of their step. You can see it in the verve of their whole being.

Enthusiasm makes a difference in our attitude toward other people. It makes a big difference in the way we speak, see, and hear the world around you. Are you enthusiastic during the holiday season?

Most children are enthusiastic! The enthusiasm is seen in their whole being as they anticipate the holiday events and celebrations with family and friends.

Happy children silhouettes on summer meadow running and jumping

They have that special zest in their eyes and words as they see decorations, when they think about the gifts they made, or purchased, for someone special. When they join with family and friends to celebrate. It’s the simple things that surround the holidays that children are enthusiastic about! Pay attention, and a child’s enthusiasm will lift living the holiday season. A child makes the holiday mean something special.

What about you? Do you have enthusiasm? Or have you grown dull, lackadaisical, or indifferent? Are you focused too much on the chores ahead? Could you use some enthusiasm? Could you use the zest and delight as children experience? Can you gain a more enthusiastic participation this time of year?

Let a child T.E.L.L. you about being enthusiastic during the holidays. Interact and let a child teach you and encourage you to enjoy the simple things this time of year: the decoration, the music, the candles, the good cheer, a hand-made gift, sweets, just to name a few of the simple things to keep in mind. Listen and love their enthusiasm, because as you do, you can’t help but get that flash in your eyes. Your step becomes more alert and vibrant. In turn, you too will shed warmth and enthusiasm to others.

May your blessings and enthusiasm lift you up this holiday season!


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159: T.E.L.L. more than Happy Holidays!

Political correctness is in the limelight these days. For years, there has been a message that we should communicate in a generic way, in a way that doesn’t offend someone or anyone. Say something that applies to everyone. Keep everyone happy. “Happy Holidays.”

The generic message is especially enforced in the public eye and during this time of year. Each day, I read about a school or business that has been directed to remove a visual which seems to favor one religion over the other. Unlike the past few years, this year some of those directives are being challenged. There are responses such as, “Ignore it if it doesn’t apply to you”; “This is for the majority of the people in this setting”; “No intentions to offend, only to celebrate with one another.”

I was thinking back on my upbringing in the ’60s and ’70s. I had friends who celebrated Hanukkah and Kwanzaa; we celebrated Christmas at our house. Privately and publicly, we talked about the different holidays. There were holiday displays to represent the beliefs throughout the community. There may have been a Christmas scene in one window and down the street a display celebrating Hanukkah. The public places were allowed to celebrate with their communities.

Not only were these displays part of the holiday joy, these visual displays encouraged people to talk about the different faiths, traditions, and messages.  Because we could see and talk about the differences, we learned more about one another and the world. It brought the community together. We learned each others’ messages of faith, joy, and hope that is part of the season. It opened the door for respecting differences, not ignoring differences.

When the predominant message is to speak generically so you don’t offend, we give the message to ignore. We are not teaching, encouraging, listening, and loving our uniqueness.


Inspirations of candles, of music, and meaning fill the air during the holiday season. I agree, we should not force one message on all, but why not learn to embrace our uniquenesses? When we are open to see and hear the messages, traditions, and faith of those in our life path, we learn more and become more accepting. We have more information about one another, and we are less likely to have an attitude and belief against each other.

Today, commit to learning how others celebrate this time of year. Do more than wish them “Happy Holidays.” Learn about their message, faith, and traditions. Ask, “How do you and your family celebrate the holiday season?”…think and say to yourself, “T.E.L.L. more.”

Whatever you celebrate during this time of year, may it be joyful, hopeful, and faithful. May your holiday season be happy!

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158: Focus on the relationships that matter to you

We all recognize that in order to get something done, it requires focused attention. As Bill Gates has said, “Only through focus can you do world-class things, no matter how capable you are.” Similarly, “Where focus goes, energy flows” is another phrase spoken by another author unknown as I write this.

It sounds simple, but for me staying focused is something I have to practice day in and day out. I have to constantly and consciously remind myself to fully engage in my work – and in the personal relationships that matter to me. We tend to think more about how we focus in our work than how we focus on our relationships. Relating Bill Gates’ message to relationships, only through focus in your key relationships can you create strong relationships, no matter how capable or desirable you are. You must give people your attention; you give people your focus as you interact with them.

To focus on key relationships means that when someone you love is talking to you, you block out distractions and give them your complete attention. Be all there so they realize you value them and believe they’re worth your full focus.

When you’re distracted, at best you miss out on what you need to know or understand about what they’re telling you. At worst, you’re communicating that they are not worth your time or energy. There is something else more important. Something more important has your focus.

Staying focused isn’t always easy nor efficient, but it’s also not complicated. Bottom line: we focus more, or less.

There are lots of people, for example neighbors or co-workers we meet in passing, where it’s natural for you to focus less. Actually, you would not want to focus more; however, when you are with your children, spouse, or your closest friends, focus more and often.

Today, make a conscious effort to focus more when you interact with your key relationships. Focus by clearing your mind of outside distractions and stepping into the other person’s world. Simply focus on what the other person’s joy or need or hurt really is. Where your focus goes, the energy will flow!


If you are one of those people who is more focused on your to-do list than people. … if you are someone who tries to make every minute and second of your waking hours productive, then focusing on relationships may be uncomfortable at first. Stopping, focusing on another person, and giving them your time and attention may feel like you’re wasting time. But, if you want to share memories with others, if you want world-class relationships. You know that this is what it takes. I’m T.E.L.L.ing you… focus on the person; focus on your relationships!


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157: Are you ALL there for the children in your life?

One of the hardest things to do at times is to be there with someone. By “be there,” I mean really being with someone in mind, body, and spirit. Where you listen and care intently; where you experience the moment together. You offer your undivided attention to them. You want them to know, “You are important to me.”

Being there can be for a split second or for an extended conversation. What matters is that you invest thought and consideration as well as time and effort to make another feel special.

I’m remembering a story about Marilyn Monroe, memorable because it illustrates how meaningful such an interaction can be, especially to a child. A reporter was interviewing the actress. The reporter was aware of Marilyn’s difficult past and how she had been shuffled from one foster home to another. The reporter asked, “Did you ever feel loved by any of the foster families with whom you lived?”

amazing-1295347_1280“Once,” Ms. Monroe replied, “when I was about 7 or 8. The woman I was living with was putting on makeup, and I was watching her. She was in a happy mood, so she reached over and patted my face with her rouge puff. … For that moment, I felt loved by her.”

Ms. Monroe became very emotional when she remembered that moment. It was a playful, insignificant touch that probably meant less to the woman who gave it. But to a little girl wanting for someone to be all there for her, it was an act of love she would never forget.

Being there doesn’t have to take a lot of time; it’s a matter of being fully present when you interact. For Marilyn Monroe, this was a brief moment. Other times, the interaction may be longer. Being there for the people closest to you is the basic formula for successful, productive relationships.

One day years ago when my son was a teenager, he came into my office while I was preparing for a class. I was in the middle of a really busy week, and my schedule was overloaded with deadlines. My son wanted to practice a speech he had to give the next day at school.

At first I tried to think of a way to delay this – I had so much to do – but I finally stopped what I was doing, and said, “Sure, let me hear it.” We spent about an hour talking about his speech. Each time he practiced, I saw him getting more and more confident. It was great. I believe I felt better about the time together than he did! The next day he was excited to share how well his speech went, and he thanked me for being there for him.

Looking back, I can’t say I remember anything about the class I was preparing for or any of the important tasks from that week; being there with my son and watching him gain confidence in himself is what I do remember.

Today, take the initiative to be all there, especially with the youth in your life and other key relationships. You can be the one to T.E.L.L. them to be there! Teach them to be there; Encourage them to be there; Listen and Love being present, being all there!

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156: Your thoughts determine your perception

How do you perceive life this moment? It may seem as if your perception is based on the people and circumstances around you at this time. It may seem that you perceive your life according to the actions and behaviors of family and friends, or coworkers around you. It may seem that you perceive life as good, or bad, based on what is happening here and now.

The real truth is that your thoughts determine your perception. Your thoughts determine how you see and interact with the people around you in the present moment. Your thoughts about the circumstances you are experiencing determine your perception. If you want to change life in the moment, change your thoughts.


The idea about changing your life by changing your thoughts has been spoken by many individuals. I’ve heard it over and over in the last decade of life. And, as much as it makes sense that our thoughts determine our perception and not the people and circumstances, remembering this is not always easy. It takes practice. It takes a lot of practice.

In moments where I want life to change, be better, I try and remember to close my eyes for a minute or two and speak slowly and softly to myself. I gather new ideas by asking questions such as, “How might I think differently to make this moment better for me and those around me?… If I knew better, what might I try in this moment?… How might I inspire a new, better outcome?…. I remind myself it is my thoughts that determine how I perceive and interact in this moment. I acknowledge that I may influence the moment – and other people’s perceptions – by how I think and interact this moment.

This exercise has benefited me when I remember! With more and more practice, I now remember more often.

This exercise helps me develop a better perception in the moment. It has allowed me to think twice about how I interact….when I remember!

This exercise is foundational for T.E.L.Ling better ideas. We T.E.L.L. our perception. We teach our perception. We encourage, listen, and love by our perception. Change your message by changing your thoughts.  Change what you T.E.L.L. by improving your thoughts.

Today, give yourself a moment to close your eyes for a minute or two. Speak slowly and softly to yourself. “What thoughts am I using to determine my perception this moment? What do I think and feel about (person or situation)? Are these thoughts and feelings helpful or hurtful? Are these the best thoughts to have? If I want this relationship and situation to improve, what might I think about doing?”

Then T.E.L.L. your new thoughts.

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