THE 2 REALMS OF EXISTENCE, WHEN AND WHERE TO USE EACH ONE


I would like to begin this post with a mea culpa of sorts. In my books I advocate using the separation of mind and body to our advantage, especially in stressful situations. In fact, I have been quoted as saying “There is no law that says your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” This is indeed true and can be helpful when you are in a stressful situation. It can also be used for motivation. Please allow me to explain both.

Let us say your boss is pressuring you for a deadline, or just being the pain bosses can be on occasion. As you practice patience and compassion in an effort to remain employed, you can go somewhere else in your mind. I transport myself to a beautiful beach in Jamaica sipping out of a coconut. It also reminds me that the job I am working will help me get to that destination. When I am working out at the gym feeling like I am going to have to start breathing through a brown paper bag and wondering if I wouldn’t be better off at home laying on the couch eating a pizza, I think of that same beach. This time I imagine how I would look sitting on the beach in my current shape. Usually, that is enough to help me power through the remainder of my workout.

So far this all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? There is one word of caution. In using this I have become a little too good at it. What do I mean by that? There are times when it serves us to have our mind at body in the exact same place and time. For sake of continuity and because I love writing about the tropics when it is below freezing here in Wisconsin where I live, we will stick with the Jamaican beach example. Let us say you finally reach that fabulous vacation you have been saving for. Now you are on the beach with the one you love enjoying the sun and frigate birds. It would serve you well to be both physically and mentally present in the moment. Paying attention to all that is transpiring and soaking in the ocean water and the memories. You should make an effort to not only remember, but relish in the sun on your skin and the joy in your heart.

What do we as humans tend to do? We do the exact opposite. When the boss is yelling, everything is in chaos and you have only been at work for an hour, what do we think about? How little your pay seems to match what you have to put up with? How many hours you have yet to struggle through? Wait….is that clock actually going backwards? Why are there not more windows in this office? When we finally make it to vacation or even just home from the office do we focus on all of the great things we finally have in our grasp? Often, the answer is ‘no’. We then think of how much the vacation is costing. We worry about the pet we left back at home. Or worse yet, we begin to have thoughts of having to go back to the office.

We can do a lot to correct this lack of being present with exercises to take control of our mind. A daily practice of meditation, even 5 minutes a day to start, can be very helpful. If you are unsure or just not familiar with meditation there are several CDs you can purchase (Brain sync is one of my favorite companies) or even just look at guided meditation on YouTube. Then you just pop on some headphones, sit back, relax and follow along.

Even more simple is taking time to be fully in the moment. As I write this I am sitting at a coffee shop. I can pause and notice the mingling of music and the blend of voices. I can feel the fabric of the chair I am sitting on. I can smell the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans. I can even pause, take a sip of my coffee…feel the texture of the cup against my lips, notice the temperature, smell the scent of the coffee and taste the mix of the slight bitterness of the coffee mixed with the mellow flavor of coconut milk I added.

Try doing this while engaged in a host of different events. You could try it while you are at a stop light. Notice the feel of the steering wheel in your hands. Smell the air in your car. Do you have the windows open? Can you smell fresh air? Can you feel a breeze? Maybe you are in a cold climate like me and can feel the heat coming out of the vents? Notice the sound of the engine, the passing cars, the birds chirping outside. Just make sure you notice when the light turns green again or you might also be able to notice the sound of the horn of the driver behind you.

Start practicing the separation of mind and body at the appropriate times. When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard too. Soak in the joy when it is there and escape back to it when it is not.

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YOU MUST DO THESE 3 WORKOUTS TO BE SUCCESSFUL

While mowing the lawn the other day something profound occurred to me. In these blog posts I occasionally use physical fitness as an analogy to self-improvement. What occurred to me is that there are three parts to an individual and all three of these must be worked out and in top shape for us to have an amazing life. The three parts of a person are the body, the mind and the spirit or soul. To keep all of these in shape requires some of the same principles. Let us look at each one briefly to get an idea of what we may need to do.

First, let us look at the body. Depending on what shape you are in really depends on what kind of workout you need to do. Is it maintaining or getting in shape? You should spend several days a week working on your physical fitness, while at the same time allowing periods of rest and recovery. To reach your fitness goals may take months or it may take years. It always makes me chuckle how busy gyms are after the first of the year, only to be empty a month later. It would seem that people who have had an unhealthy lifestyle for years think that can be turned around after only a few workouts. Trust me, it can’t. I tried. As Jim Rohn said, “No one else can do your push ups for you.”  To achieve great physical fitness you must put in the work.  Once you achieve your desired state of physical health it is important to institute a regular maintenance routine. If we get in shape and then stop we will begin to decline.

 Next, let us look at the mind. Whether you are a sitting with a college degree or chasing your GED the principles are the same. If you haven’t dusted off the grey matter at the top of your head in a while it may be a little more difficult to get back into the habit of learning. This is very similar to working out. The worse shape you are in, the more sore your body will be when you start. A lot of us do not have intellectual goals like we do fitness goals. It is important to do so. How will you ever know if you have arrived if you do not know where you are going? When you do arrive, you must also have a regular maintenance routine just like fitness. If you think intellect doesn’t fade as fast as muscle, try opening a high school math book to realize how much you have forgotten. With intellectual fitness this can range from reading something inspiring every day, watching an instructional video or even using one of those fabulous brain fitness apps for your phone.

Finally. let us look at our spiritual health. This is the area that most of us ignore, yet is one of the most important. Think of how many celebrities you hear of that have all of the physical tools, they are accomplished in their career and then take their own lives. To be successful and unfulfilled is one of the greatest failures. Luckily, there are steps we can take to keep our spirit in shape the same as we can do for our body and our mind. Interestingly enough, these are more individual than either of the afore mentioned. What helps your soul develop and heal is as unique to you as it is to the next person. To some, it involves going to a house of worship one day a week. To others, it involves spending quality time in nature. Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Kurt. When people and life becomes overwhelming enjoys relaxing in a darkened room for several hours and taking a day to recalibrate. Personally, after often the same exposure to…shall we say the same stressors, I enjoy listening to some classical music and spending time in nature.

 We should also have a regular maintenance to keep our spirit and vibration high. You may think you do not have time for that, but as short and precious as life is, I am here to tell you that you do not have the time not to focus on that. A lot of us think that we should worry about paying the bills and then we will worry about our own happiness. As you can see from the example of celebrities above, that can lead to a tragic ending. I am all for trying to improve your situation, but I strongly suggest implementing a plan to enjoy the process and feed your spirit along the way. As I write this, Margie is having therapy shopping. I am enjoying a good cup of hot coffee. I also need to meditate regularly and sometimes just be alone and read. It allows me to enjoy the rest of my life so much more.

Focus on all three of these workouts to have a life that is completely fit and healthy. I encourage you to write down plans for your physical, intellectual and spiritual fitness today. Feel free to share what some of the items you do to keep all three of these areas healthy in the comments below.

YOU WON’T BE INJURED

Here is a point to ponder – what does it hurt to be positive? I hear all of you pessimists out there screaming that you will constantly be disappointed, and to some extent that may be true. Really disappointment is tied to expectations. If you maintain a positive attitude and strive to find the best in everything it is very hard to have a bad day.

When you first start out it is a little rocky and you could be tempted to give up when life starts to go sideways. We all can feel that way at times. Once you develop positivity as a lifestyle it becomes easier to maintain. It is like anything we start. Take diets and working out for example. If you decide you are going to “Start working out” or “go on a diet” that is a lot different than “Committing to living a healthy and active lifestyle. A diet is not the same as “committing to eating healthier”.

There are two very distinct and important differences. One is a trial. I am going to go on this diet or go to the gym and there really is no long term commitment. As a matter of fact, most diets advise you not to follow them for a prolonged period of time. That should tell you that they may not be the best for your health. Committing to a healthy eating program or a more active lifestyle also gives you a little more freedom. From a psychological standpoint diets usually involve you ‘giving up’ something. A workout program entails you ‘having’ to go to the gym. One leaves you feeling deprived, one leaves you feeling forced. When you commit to a more active lifestyle that can start with parking far away and walking to the store. Eating healthier can start by adding more vegetables to dinner. These are things you are adding to your life. This will give you a much better chance of sticking with it in the long term.

It also gives you options. Maybe the gym is not your thing? All of the sweaty people and the occasional grunting individual can be a bit much for me at times. That is why I enjoy taking my bike out and going for a ride. I also enjoy walks around the neighborhood. Not only does it allow me to be active, but get to know some neighbors as well. When it comes to eating healthy I enjoy trying new dishes, learning about exciting meal prep options and a host of other things. I still have my occasional pizza or nacho night because I enjoy those things and feel it is good to enjoy them in moderation.

My main point I would like to make is living a more positive and rewarding life is the same. You do not have to start by walking on rainbows and sprinkling glitter everywhere you go. Start with whatever feels right for you. Maybe smile at one stranger a day? Perhaps mail out one thank you card a week? There are a million different options. Once you add one you may choose to add another because it feels so good. Do it at your own pace and when you feel it is right.

DO YOU DO IT IN THE RAIN?

Hunting in the rain. I equate this to putting in the work when it is not convenient. Do you go to work after staying up late and not getting any sleep? Do you put in time for your passion even after working 8 hours at your day job? Do you attempt things even when the path ahead looks difficult and you are not sure you will succeed? If so, then you hunt in the rain. You are one of the rare people I enjoy spending my time around.

What is the big deal about hunting in the rain? There are a few things that make this so special. First of all, it shows how committed you are. Anyone can go to the gym when they got enough sleep, the sun is shining and they feel good. What happens when you wake up to temperatures well below freezing and a great deal of snow outside? Do you still lace up and give it your best? If so, then you hunt in the rain.

People who hunt in the rain have strong ‘whys’ They know exactly what the reason is for them doing what it is they do. It is that health challenge that gets them to the gym. It is the thought of supporting their family that makes them go to work even on days they don’t really feel like it. They are generally people aligned with their true purpose.

Hunting in the rain sucks. It is not easy, so why do it at all? If you are a person who is determined to get ahead in life, hunting in the rain is for you. Given that hunting in the rain is uncomfortable and unpleasant many will not do it. That means while you are hunting your competition is sleeping or staying where it is warm and safe. It is by doing the hard work, by hunting in the rain that you get ahead. You take advantage of the extra time they are wasting. Because not many hunt in the rain, the field is always less crowded. People will remember who was there for them when the going was tough. Bosses will remember who showed up when there was a blizzard. If you want to stand out and make a good name for yourself, you must learn to hunt in the rain.

How can we be motivated to hunt in the rain? Print out the picture above would be a good start. Remember your why, have it written down somewhere you can see it. If you add a picture too that would make it even more powerful. Also, stay focused on the advantages of hunting in the rain that we mentioned here. Note that an animal that hunts in the rain has access to prey those who stay where it is warm and safe do not. Show up every day and do the best you can. Before long, you will be the king, or queen of your own jungle.

DO THIS INSTEAD OF A RESOLUTION!

The above stats reflect the growth of this website. In the top photo you can see we have grown pretty consistently in the number of viewers since inception in 2012. A good thing to also note is that we have come close to doubling our views in the last year! While I was pondering such statistics and looking forward to watching them grow in the future, an idea occurred to me in regards to personal development as well.

Today is New Year’s Eve. On this day for a good portion of us, our focus turns towards ‘New Year’s resolutions’. I am going to encourage you to do something different this year. If you find it ironic that a website dedicated to becoming the best version of yourself is encouraging you not to make resolutions for the new year, let me further explain myself. I would like us all to make a new kind of resolution for the coming year. Generally, resolutions consist of things we would like to do. Things such as ‘start going to the gym’ or ‘quit smoking’. While both of these are certainly admirable goals and ones I would encourage you to take, I would like to approach the new year in a different way.

Instead of focusing on what we would like to do in the coming year I would like us to change that focus. This year I would like us to focus on two different personal areas. The first being who we would like to become. After all, when it comes to improving our lives that is the ultimate goal, to become more. In the case of the above examples, quitting smoking and joining a gym, one could change that to ‘I will become a non-smoker this year’ and ‘I am going to be more fit and healthy’. Not only does this provide us a psychological change in identity, but can provide us both more options to our success and more motivation to do so. In the case of becoming a non-smoker we can avail ourselves to the many treatment options available to us. In the case of becoming healthy and fit, we could not only go to the gym, but walks after dinner, bike rides, play sports, start dancing or any other activity that gets you closer to your goal.

The other thing I would like to focus on is how we can give. All of us have so many gifts to share with the world, our focus in the coming year should be how to bring more of them to light. If you would want to live a life filled with passion, joy and vitality, you could make no better choice than to live your gifts. This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your day job and running off to the tropics. Although I can appreciate that urge more than you can imagine. What it means is finding more ways in which you can bring what you love and what you are good at to the world. What if you are already living your gift? How about finding ways to share even more? Let us say your passion is riding your skateboard. Last year you made it a point to spend some time every week enjoying that passion. This year you may wish to start a blog about riding skateboards, or the skateboard life in general. Perhaps you could start a YouTube Channel showing how you do different tricks.

Let me share with you some of the goals I have for sharing my gift more in the coming year. First and foremost, my second book will be officially released early next year. I plan to continue the growth of this blog by exploring new avenues of sharing it as well as new partnerships with other blog writers. There will be a Secret2anamazinglife clothing line available by summer. We will accomplish our goal of reaching 1000 posts on this site. The YouTube channel Neil Panosian will reach 100 videos and look to expand its reach as well.

Think of who you would like to become in the new year and how you would like to give and share your gifts even more. Feel free to share with us in the comments below. We can all encourage each other in the next 12 months and stand a better chance of success.

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THAT TIME OF YEAR

As we wrap up our holiday celebrations and prepare for the coming new year, I feel it would be a great opportunity to pause for a moment of reflection. Think of what this past year has brought us. There have been stress and challenges for sure, but there have also been moments of joy and celebration. We must appreciate and grow from all of these.

When reflecting on the past year and preparing to make our New Year’s resolutions, or even just plans for what we would like to accomplish in the coming year, there can tend to be a feeling of despair as to how far from our goals of last year we came, or how quickly we gave up on them. That is ok. A little bit of that pain can serve us to be more motivated this coming year. Staying in a feeling of regret and anger at ourselves does not serve us. We need to grow from what happened.

This is what I suggest. As we sit down to ponder what the coming year has in store for us, let us grab a pen and a piece of paper. Writing down your goals and resolutions as we tend to call them this time of year, has great power in creating a mental/physical bond with them. If we notice some of those goals look a lot like the goals from the year before, this might not be that bad of a thing. As we write down those goals, we can also write down what transpired that prevented us from achieving them in the year prior. Then we can begin to think of ways in which we can move forward while preventing those same obstacles from stopping us this year. By doing just such a thing, we can move forward in the accomplishment of our goals.

Let us also think of the challenges we have faced in the last year. Write them down. It may not seem fun to relive moments of the past year that were less than pleasant, but they can serve us as well. How? If we then write down what we learned or gained by going through them. Was it a greater appreciation for those who stood by our side? Was it new skills we were forced to learn? Was it just learning how strong we could be when we had to? All of these things are items we can be grateful for.

Lastly, let us not forget the moments of joy we had. Remember the accomplishments we did make. Sure, you may not have followed that gym routine like you intended, but you did go for a couple of weeks…days…hours…maybe you just joined a gym. Knowing what we learned about the challenges we overcame from the steps above, let us celebrate the gains we did make by looking forward to an even greater success in the coming year. Now would be the time to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for all we did do. It might not have been perfect, or turn out exactly how we wanted, but let us remember all the good we did do this year.

In the coming year, this blog will continue to bring you thoughts and actions that will improve your life if you put them into action. I invite all of you to share this website with at least one other person you know who is doing their best to live a more inspired and positive life.

TRANSFORM TOGETHER

There are many good places to meet friends for social reasons.Here is one that not only accomplishes that, but has an added bonus of science. The science behind making good friends? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me back up and talk a little more about the social pluses of today’s place to make friends. Today’s place to make friends and generally improving your life is the gym. Before you start rolling your eyes and clicking off this website, let me assure you I can relate to your doubts.

At the gym I am usually in a state close to hyperventilating, dripping with sweat, smelling less than ideal and in short, not my ideal self. Why on earth would this be a good place to meet someone? First of all, chances are most people there are in a similar state. Second, all of you already have one thing in common, you are chasing the goal of being healthier. Sure, your goals may be different. It may be you are facing a serious health condition, maybe you are trying to get in shape for your Jamaican vacation or you just want to fit into the clothes in your closet better. That gives enough variety to start some interesting discussions.

Here comes the science. The first one has to do more with working out than making friends, but it good to know just the same. It would fit under the category of psychological science. When working to obtain our fitness goals having a workout partner dramatically increases our chances of success. We find it easy to make excuses to ourselves, but most of us tend to feel a lot worse if we let someone else down. Having a partner that can not only talk us into the gym when we don’t feel like going, but hold us accountable when we don’t make it, will have our butts cursing on the treadmill far more often than when we try to go it alone. Adding to the fact two heads are always better than one when it comes to figuring out how to use that complex machine you never see anyone on but looks like it could really help your fitness.

The second half of the science as to why the gym is such a good place to make friends is even more impressive. When we exercise the brain releases ‘feel good chemicals’. These chemicals are called endorphins. No, they are not the cute animals that swim around the ocean. Those are dolphins. They do, however, cause very similar reactions in our bodies and brains. Endorphins, again the chemical not the aquatic animal, interact with receptors in your to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. They have been compared to a natural form of morphine.

Imagine everyone you meet being on morphine. There would be a lot less conflict and a lot more mellow happy people. That is exactly what happens after we work out. It is also something I recommend couples try working into their routine. Spending time around someone who has just experienced the rush of chemicals compared to natural morphine should be pretty easy. If both parties are experiencing that feeling such as a workout partner or your loving spouse, great feeling are bound to occur. As the new year approaches lots of your friends will join gyms and those gyms usually run specials to get people to join. Why not find a friend to make that commitment with you? Can’t find a friend who is looking to get healthy? Join yourself and begin to talk to people there. Trust me when I tell you most people would be more than happy to talk about their workouts, diet and fitness routine. I don’t know if this is due to endorphins or just the fact they love to have people working with them.

Try taking and making friends at the gym. You won’t be disappointed. As an added bonus, you will become healthier and happier yourself.

HOW TO BEAT YOUR COMPETITION

 

Competition. Everyone has someone they are competing against. A coworker for a job. A person on the team for a position. Maybe even the violin player next to you so you can get first chair. There are even healthier forms of completion. Competing with your lover to see who can be more romantic. Competing with a friend to see who can eat healthy for the longest and who can make it to the gym more days this week.

While all of those may indeed be examples of competition, I think the real competition can be found within ourselves. There is an old Cherokee tale of the two wolves inside each one of us. In short, there are two wolves inside each one of us, a good wolf and a bad wolf. Each one wants to be in control and they will fight to gain control over our mind and body. The simple way to figure out which one will win? The one you feed the most. That is the real competition. It happens inside each and every one of us. The picture above gives plenty of examples.

Let me put a few more out there and see if they sound familiar. You know you should get up early and go to the gym before work but you hit snooze because it is cold out and you are tired. You just fed the bad wolf. You finally go the gym and put in a good workout. You fed the good wolf. On the way home from the gym you stop at the all-you-can-eat pizza place and have…well…all you can eat. You fed the bad wolf. You know you should apologize for something you said to a friend, but you don’t because your ego convinces you that you will look weak or bad. You fed the bad wolf. You talk about your neighbor/coworker/friend behind their back. You fed the bad wolf. You helped a complete stranger just because they needed it. You fed the good wolf.

Our lives are filled with examples of this over and over everyday. It is a never-ending…competition. The competition you must win is on the inside. This is a competition we will be in for the rest of our lives. Some days we may win, some days we may lose. Like any other competition, the more we practice, the more we train, the more we learn from our loses as well as our victories the better chance we stand in winning tomorrow.

THERE IS NO SHORTCUT

We are fast approaching holidays, followed by a brand new year. Personally, I feel excited about what 2019 will bring and I am working now to make sure it will be the best year it can be. I am back to 5 days a week at the gym, I am starting to clean a lot of the clutter out of my life physically and spiritually. I am also putting in the work with my writing career to help advance that as well. I was doing very well in 2018 until a few personal and health issues derailed my progress.

If you are a person who spends any amount of time trying to maintain your physical fitness, I am sure you can relate to the next thought. I had spent the first 6 months of the year working on getting back in shape. In mid June I was sent to the ER with what was later determined to be a serious heart issue. I was out of commission for about 30 days. When I returned to the gym it was as if those first 6 months had never happened. How frustrating. Only now, 3 months after getting back to the gym am I starting to feel like I am close to getting back in shape.

What is really important to keep in mind is there is no shortcut. Everyday I have to show up. Every single day I must put in the work. This has held true for my writing career as well. 7 years ago I began this website. 5 years ago I released my first book. I would have thought I would be all over television and on the radio talking about my 4th book. Next year my second book will be published. Everyday I showed up and wrote something. It would be great if we could all workout one time and be in shape for the rest of our lives. It would be great if our relationships would be filled with joy every moment. It would be great if we were successfully working a career we loved, were good at and made a great deal of money from. Life, as we know, does not work that way.

The reward is that the harder we work for something the greater the sense of accomplishment when we achieve it. Not only does struggle and discipline increase our feeling of satisfaction, but also is the best catalyst for growth and evolution. We may not realize it at the time, and trust me I get that it may feel like you have paid more than your share of dues, but sometimes there is just something that we have to learn, some growth we have achieve.

This can be especially hard to grasp when you watch others around you achieving more with what appears to be far less struggle. First, we must remember we never know everything that goes on behind the scenes with even the people closest to us. The relationship they have may have taken a lot more work than we know. That promotion they got? They may have studied and worked for years we do not know. Second, they are not us. This may seem like a tip from captain obvious, but think of how unique each of us are. We all learn in a different way. Some like to read, some are visual, some are audio-based learners. Does that make one better from the next? Of course not.

Those who have toiled the longest often end up with the greatest sense of joy. If you are handed a promotion because of who your father or mother is verses having to work for it, you may very well appreciate your job less. Be grateful for the struggle my friends. It may seem like a painful thing to go through, but it can be the greatest teacher. Also, remember we are all going through it. Struggle is a universal experience. It may not all be in the same area of life, some may be better at hiding it but we all go through it. Be thankful for the lessons. Be grateful for the practice in patience and the chance to grow. Whatever you do, just do not give up.

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” – Jim Rohn

YOU CAN’T, OR YOU WON’T?

Earlier this week we talked about the person looking back at us in the mirror and how we can decide who that person is. How can we change from someone who sleeps in to someone who goes to the gym five days a week when we are ‘not a morning person’? Better yet, how can you decide to be a morning person when you just really are not a morning person? Leverage.

What do I mean by leverage? One way of looking at this is putting pressure on yourself. This may sound like a terrible idea to some. Being under pressure is generally not a good feeling for most. If we want to change, however, it can be a great tool. Hate cleaning the house? How much can you get done when you discover you are having an unexpected visitor in a little while? If we want to make a change we cannot rely on our willpower alone. After all, if it were that easy we would have made the change already.

How does one get leverage on oneself? One way is to make it imperative. In the above example of you saying, “I would love to go to the gym 6 o’clock in the morning, but I am just not a morning person.” What if I told you every morning you show up before work I am going to give you $5000? Where would you be tomorrow before work? Where would you be at 5:59a.m.? What has changed? It was what became important. What you need to do is find reasons that what you are trying to accomplish is important to you. To this end I suggest using two methods. What pleasure you will receive by doing it and what pain you will experience by not doing it. Then have those reminders in front of you…daily! Don’t like how you look in the mirror? Take a picture and look at it every morning. Being happy with your appearance may get you to the gym. If being that extreme isn’t comfortable, try hanging up an outfit you would really like to fit in. Keep that in front of you daily. Maybe try it on of few times a week.

We touched on the other thing that can keep us from succeeding, and that is our personal identity. How many times have you told yourself, “I am not a morning person?” How many times have you said it to others? That is why our list of who we wish to become is so important. Reading out loud twice a day “I am a morning person!” will slowly get you moving in the right direction. This will not happen overnight. Your identity has been created over years, maybe even decades of beliefs and saying and doing the same things over and over again. Try telling yourself a new story for 60 or even 30 days and see what changes.

Get leverage on yourself. Make the change you desire to make important. Change the story you tell yourself and others and you will be amazed at what kind of changes show up in your life. It will seem like magic!