Meet Denese and Get Thoughtful – One Word Wednesday

Denese and I “met” online a few months back when we both participated in a 31 Days to a Better Blog challenge sponsored by Lisbeth Tanz.

Sharing a common love of words, good content and conversation, we hit it off immediately and have been twitter-buds ever since.

On her blog, Thoughtful Content, Denese weaves her knowledge of design, architecture, marketing, yoga, and social media into a delightful mix of information and insights that always leaves me uplifted, enlightened and wanting more.

In this interview, we had the chance to sit back and get thoughtful about words.

What’s one thing you know about words?

I believe that if we really understood how much power words have, we’d pay a lot more attention to what we say, write and think.

What one word describes you (and why)?

Open.
I’ve been called optimistic… But, I’d like to think that has more to do with being open to possibilities and other perspectives than always seeing the bright side.  A friend can come to me with pretty much any problem.  I go immediately into “let’s look at all the possibilities here… let’s make peace with best-case and worse-case scenario…let’s get to the heart of the issue…  then let’s think about next steps…”

What one word describes your mission, or your message (and why)?

Encourage.
I’d like to encourage people to embrace their creativity, to find their unique voice (or communication platform) and live their life, build their business from that place.  One of the things I love about blogging is that it’s given us a worldwide exercise for finding your point of differentiation. Whether you’re blogging for personal or business reasons, the relationship building aspect of it only works when you’re connecting naturally, as you are, listening, truly caring. The best relationships are formed when you’re yourself, not who you think you should be. Any exercise that encourages that is okay in my book.

What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?

Awareness.
Awareness that they have a superpower within them already…  one they can tap into whenever they’re wondering who they are, what direction to take, what decision to make. One that knows exactly what it takes to make them happy, what they were meant to do in this life.  I don’t want them to struggle to find it anymore.   I want them to simply tap into the power they already have and let it create the happy life they were meant to have.

What’s your ‘go to’ word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or turn to the moment around if you are not on your game?

Grace.
Yoga has given me a whole new appreciation for dancers and athletes who can make something so physically difficult look so easy. Through my practice, I’ve learned that strength comes first, then lightness and flexibility – which has been a helpful mantra whenever I’m uncertain or feeling clumsy about life in general. I try to gather strength by staying grounded in gratitude for everything I already have… while staying open to the possibilities and lessons life is throwing at me. Typically you’re naturally strong, or naturally flexible…the challenge is cultivating and balancing both. It’s not easy and I’m not always successful, but I feel better considering everything that happens as an opportunity to practice grace.

Say a little about the role that words and language play in your life and your work.

Our words shape our perspective and experiences, not just in what we write or say, but in our thoughts about ourselves and others. I think The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz sums it up nicely. If we can strive to 1) be impeccable with our word, 2) not take things personally, 3) not make assumptions, and 4) always do our best, we’d prevent a lot of heartache and produce a lot more happiness.

Any last words about the power of words?

My 13-year old niece wanted to write a list of “64 Things I Love about Grandma.” We got to #6 and she said, “It’s hard to find the words to describe what I’m feeling.”

It’s important to recognize that finding the right words is hard.  Acknowledging this takes some of the pressure off… Having a practice, or a way that helps you get to the heart of you want to say is essential. Going for a walk helps me. I’m also intrigued by the 750words.com exercise. I like the online format vs writing in my journal.  I can crank out 750 words of random thoughts, ideas, lists in about 25 minutes.

It’s kind of magical how it works. Getting all of that out of my head, first thing in the morning, really does help me find the right words when I sit down to write something more “productive” later in the day.

Dense helps companies get thoughtful and create meaningful marketing content at Thoughtful Content. You can follow her on Twitter @Denese_Bottrell.

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Meet Sandi and Get Ready to Shine – One Word Wednesday

I’m very excited to introduce the official launch of my new series – One Word Wednesday.

For me, it’s a perfect culmination of passions colliding. A trifecta of things I love: connecting people, playing with & sharing the power of words, and with any luck, serving up a dose of inspiration on the side.

As the inaugural interview, I’m proud to introduce you to Sandi Faviell Amorim. Her regular readers know her as authentic, courageous, challenging and insightful.  I know her as blog buddy (a conversation we had early last year launched both our blogs), inspiration, fellow word lover and dear friend. She’s a woman with something to say, and if she has her way, you will shine.

What one word describes you(and why)?

Intense.
I’ve often been told that I’m too intense, but I’ve come to see this as a very good thing. When I commit to something, I give myself fully; it’s a way of living life that feels most authentic and fulfilling for me. Also, being a fellow wordie, I like that its synonyms are more words I love:  fervent, passionate, ardent, strong!

What one word describes your mission, or your message(and why)?

Shine.
I love helping people shine! It’s not altruistic – it’s me following my bliss, a total win/win. Here’s why: Starbursts, Sirens and Siriously Shining

What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?

Play.
We mostly take life so seriously. Lighten up and play more. At the end of your life do you want to be remembered for how hard you worked or how much joy you squeezed out of life?

What’s your ‘go to’ word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or turn the moment around if you are not on your game?

Love.
I believe that all our emotions are sourced from love or fear. That’s it. And because it comes down to just two, it makes it really easy for me to choose. In my mind’s eye I see a fork in the road; one path takes me down the path of fear-based thinking and the other, leads me to love. It might sound simplified, but I think that’s good. We complicate life way too much. Love or fear. Choose.

Say a little about the role that words and language play in your life and your work.

When I was a kid I was a total bookworm, so much so that I even had a list of favourite words! Not much has changed since then 🙂 What I love most about the work I do as a coach is that it really is about words and language. It’s not rocket science, but rather a skilled way of using language. I’m fascinated by how changing just one or two words in a question alters it profoundly.

Can you share some final words of advice about words?

Your words create your reality. Choose wisely.

Sandi Faviell Amorim is a straight-talkin’, relentlessly curious, intense and playful instigator. She helps people shine at Deva Coaching.

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Kindness, courtesies, and the little things [Week 2 – 50 weeks of 50]

I remember as a child being taught that it was very important to be kind.

As I neared school-age, the importance of kindness was impressed ever and ever more urgently upon me. Being a youngster, I don’t think I really understood what kindness was, but I knew it was sort of like being nice (pleasant, agreeable).  So – especially when adults were around – I made a point to try to be ‘nice.’ Perhaps not as fake as Eddie Haskel in the old Leave It To Beaver TV series, but still, if I may have lacked in a naturally benevolent nature, kindness was a veneer that I very much knew I was expected to show.

That strategy, formed and practiced in primary school,  seemed to work well at keeping me in good graces of teachers and parents. And thus I went on in life with hardly another thought about kindness – it was something I had mastered, after all – until now.

Unbidden, I noticed a lot of little kindnesses this week.

Mundane, commonplace courtesies, but somehow they struck me deeply. A driver stops for a pedestrians to walk, when five before have driven by.  A man opens and holds the door for me with a nod. My friend calls from the store to see if there is anything I need before she comes over. With each of these, I smiled and said a heartfelt “thank you” – but when I realize how deeply they’ve touched me,  I wonder if thank you is enough.

As I move into my 5th decade of life, it seems I am suddenly much more aware of how precious these little kindnesses are – both in the giving and receiving.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  ~Plato

Perhaps it is because I have experienced first-hand the comfort of having a stranger offer “let me help you with that” when I am having a particularly hard day. And I’ve also experienced the cold-slap to the soul when someone shows indifference or contempt, when they could have just as easily shown courtesy. Or even perhaps, it’s because somehow along the way, that adolescent veneer of ‘niceness’ has ripened into a genuine kindness of heart that I now see in others, as I carry it in myself. Whatever the reason, the difference is –  I no longer take these courtesies for granted.

I’ve always believed the world to be a big, wonderful, beautiful and amazing place. But it can also be harsh, demanding, scary, cold, intimidating and unforgiving.

Each of these kind moments is a precious gift, and our lives are richer, our challenges more tolerable because of them.

The best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.  ~ William Wordsworth

So, for every little kindness and courtesy you have shown this week, to whomever it was – I acknowledge you and thank you.

Thank you for stopping at cross walks.
Thank you for waiting for pedestrians to walk before turning right.
Thank you for holding the elevator.
Thank you for meeting my eyes and giving me a smile -however fleeting – when I’m walking my sweet, adorable dog. Thank you for acknowledging when I hold the door for you.
Thanks for waiting patiently as I back out of my parking spot, and thank you for letting me merge on to the interstate.
Thank you for returning my phone calls.
Thank you for replying to my emails when I’ve asked you a question.
I thank you all for these little things and more.

Although I am sure my mom started teaching me at 5 or younger, at 50 it seems I’m finally learning, it really is the little things that count.

Photos by Nena B. and girl.from.melbourne

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52 things I know about words (and you should too) #5 Words Connect

According to Malcolm Gladwell, I’m a Connector – with a healthy dose of Maven thrown in. Who am I to argue with  best selling author and trend-setter, Malcolm? Connector sounds spot on to me. It almost certainly explains why I am such a fanatic about blogging and social media –  they provide unprecedented opportunities to meet and connect with a limitless array of fascinating, brilliant and inspiring people who (due to a myriad of reasons; geography, vocation, social status, ect.) would be otherwise out of my reach.

True to the connector profile, one of my greatest joys is bringing amazing people together.

If you know me, you’ve heard me say “Oh, you should know X – you two would totally hit it off.” or “Oh, you are working on Y? You really have to check out Z – she is doing really great work about that.” I’ve also been known to throw some pretty kick-ass parties, for the sole joy of seeing people from different corners of my world meet.

When two people that I’ve introduced hit it off – “Oh, wow – he is so great.” and “Did you know that X and I both …?” – and I get to see that special spark of a new friendship or alliance just waiting to happen – it’s one of the most fulfilling things I know.

Anais Nin said it best, I think:

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

That’s my moment. When due to a connection I’ve fostered, I get to see a new world born.

So it’s only natural that having found and connected with so many truly exceptional people through this blog and related Facebook and Twitter endeavors over the last year, I would want to find a way to share them with you all.

And…since this is a blog about the power of words, what better way to introduce you than by way of asking them to share their unique relationship to words and the power language?

The world of One Word Wednesday is born.

In this weekly series, I will introduce you to the people that I have learned from, been encouraged, inspired and amused by, hope to emulate, and just plain like.

In doing so, I aim to give rise to many new worlds being born.

Here’s a preview of some of the questions I’ll be asking:

  • What one word describes you(and why)?
  • What one word describes your mission, or your message(and why)?
  • What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?
  • What’s your ‘go to’ word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or turn the moment around if you are not on your game?

Check back next Wednesday for the first installment. Same bat time, same bat channel. In the meantime, I’d be delighted to hear your answers.

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50 weeks of 50 – A new beginning of being

A few weeks back, I promised to share a bit about a milestone birthday. Well, now that it’s been and gone, and the reaching of that milestone is a fact rather than an event anticipated, I can finally say without equivocation that I’m 50 years old!

No longer turning 50, coming up on 50, dreading 50, or anticipating 50. But actually just 50. Whew! Seriously. I may have wished that I could’ve taken it in stride like any other day or birthday, but the run up to the actual event turned out to  have a mind and force of it’s own that would not be denied. (To those in my inner-circle, many thanks and much love  for your patience and generosity. For those of you spared my day-to-day machinations over the last few weeks, count yourselves fortunate.)

This milestone has prompted me to take a new view. To evaluate my life so far, and engage a fresh perspective on what lies ahead, and what I am committed to creating and contributing to the world.

In light of all that (and in an attempt to redeem myself from  the nuttiness of turning 50), I’ve decided to chronicle my one-year journey of “being” 50.

I’ll spend the year observing and experiencing life through the prism of my elevated bucket list. Here’s the updated list.

I’m calling it my ‘Being Bucket-List’.

1. Love everyone.
2. Acknowledge everyone.
3. Forgive everyone.
4. Live with heart, humility and passion.
5. Inspire strangers.
6. Leave a legacy worth celebrating.

Inspired by a reader’s comments, I’ve added one more to the original list – Inspire strangers. This one really resonated because it seems the perfect reminder for me to reach out beyond the familiar and comfortable confines of close friends, family and colleagues, in order to engage with people and life in a larger, more expanded way.

Each week, I’ll be reporting on what I have done, learned, observed and experienced in these areas. It’s my hope that by doing so, I will be moving toward fulfilling on them all. I’ll be honored to have you join me for the ride.

Photo: Bernat Casero

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52 things I know about words (and you should too) #4 Words Elevate

I was reminded recently of how just a few simple words can elevate our thinking, our emotions, our intentions, and the quality of our daily living.

A woman I had never met -but who was known well by many members of my immediate social circle – died recently. I didn’t know her, but since so many of my friends did I have been party to conversations about her life, who she was for those around her, and her passing. Hearing my friends speak of her, I know she was certainly a remarkable woman. I wish I had known her.

You’re probably familiar with the popular practice of having a “bucket list.” A list of things you want to do before you die. Most of these lists, mine included, are made up of experiences and accomplishments – vacations, traveling, achieving goals and such.

Hers was different, and one of her closest friends shared it with me (with permission to share it with you):

Joanne left us a road map in the form of her bucket-list. Now, you’ll remember that her list was not your ordinary traditional bucket-list. It didn’t list places to go and things to do or see before you die. Rather, it is a list to live by:
1. Love Everyone
2. Acknowledge Everyone
3. Forgive Everyone
4. BEing Compassionate

As I said – surely a remarkable woman. I am moved each time I read this. I am humbled. I am also a bit embarrassed of my own bucket-list – rather narcissistic in comparison –  that includes mostly things like: sail around the word, go to Greece with my girlfriends, write a best-selling book, become a sought-after speaker and coach. Yes, there are some generous, altruistic and benevolent-sounding things on my list, but they are nowhere near the top  and (telling the unflattering truth) they only came to mind to include once I had pictured that all the other “fun stuff” was accomplished.

Do I want to do those things? Yes. Do I think it is wrong to have those kinds of goals for myself? No. And yet,  by Joanne’s words, I am humbled and inspired to push to the top of the list a few things more lofty and uplifting to the world and those around me. The words of woman I never met have elevated my thinking and my aspirations to reach farther and deeper than my own amusement.
My new, elevated bucket-list now includes at the top:

  1. Love everyone.
  2. Acknowledge everyone.
  3. Forgive everyone.
  4. Live with heart, humility and passion.
  5. Leave a legacy worth celebrating.

As I move quickly toward a milestone birthday (more on that later), I am so very grateful for the elevating gift of Joanne’s words.

What about you? What are some words that have elevated your life? What can you say today to elevate your world?

photo credit: phil h

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My Annual Ode to Fall


Last days of red and yellow

I see neighbors, bundled and well meaning
with their rakes and leaf blowers, and in an instant,
I despise them.

Not yet.
Let them be.
Until I have piled high a cloud of yellow glow and run through it kicking my feet and tossing handfuls of nature’s confetti to the sky like a child.

Not yet.
Let them be.
While they still pulse with color
As though each golden leaf had drunk in every summer ray and saved it up to shine back at gray November skies triumphant
As though the glow of every sunset red and orange had faded into the night sky only to live on dormant, merely hidden
Waiting for this one fall day to burn boldly again.

Not yet.
Let me walk a little longer – a week or two – on this sparkling path of gold no less wondrous than the road to Oz.
Let my eyes drink in the red blaze that moves me, dares me, commands me to live fiercely, to abandon my certitude for passion, if only for an afternoon, or better, as long as the colors remain.

Not yet.
Soon enough the deciding storm will come.
The storm that rips the last defiant leaves from their branches, and leaves the glorious golden carpet a mass of fibrous, browning decay.

Not yet.
Soon enough the branches will stand bare and naked, stripped, with no adornment to shield them from the unforgiving winter sky.

That is the time for raking.

photo credit:oedipusphinx

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