Happy Mothers Day to All Tough Mother F…ers!

Tough Mother F…er! — Not what you think

As many of you know, one of the treasures I found in these past couple of really difficult years is a much, much deeper appreciation of my mother.

She’s had some really hard times, abused as a child and a wife and a mother. And yet, she stayed happy. She never talked about the hard stuff and she gushed about the good moments.

It used to drive me crazy! As a kid, the abuse spilled over onto me in a big way and I felt my mom was avoiding it, rewriting our history, in denial.  What the hell?!  I was pissed that she was whitewashing it.

I was wrong.

She doesn’t deny what went on. She’s just made a decision to FOCUS on the good. She has practiced gratitude for so long and so regularly that it’s now her native habitat.   She chose to find beauty and joy in simple pleasures. She made a CHOICE to be happy.

My mother is one Tough Mother Focuser! (Ha! You probably thought Tough Mother F..’er was going in a different direction! )

Focus is power. From the Law of Attraction, to The Secret, to recent developments in quantum physics, there are now mountains of evidence showing that our thoughts and intentions have concrete substance – they are very consequential. They shape our reality, our experiences, even our bodies.

For the last 30 years my mom’s life has not only delivered freedom from abuse but also beauty, love, joy, financial security.  And, as it turns out, greater appreciation from her children than she probably ever could have imagined.

My mom didn’t whitewash or run away from anything. Instead of delusional she’s intentional. She chose to focus on the positive because somehow she knew that life was much more than whatever awful situation we might be dealing with in any given moment.  Somehow, despite her very limited and challenging upbringing she knew that often the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond to any given situation and what we choose to FOCUS on.

Looking back I now see that I learned so much from her example. I have big time “Resiliency Muscles” and man, am I ever grateful for them!

Thanks Mom. You have set and continue to set such a beautiful example.   Happy Mother’s Day. I am so grateful for, and to, you.

Cylvia Hayes

#CylviaHayes  #ResiliencyMuscles

 

A Toast to the Challenges of 2016

grateful-for

So we’re moving into yet another new year. Lot’s of people (me included) have been noting how this has been a tough year. But before it slips into the rearview mirror I want to take a moment to appreciate these past twelve months. They’ve been hard to be sure, but also really, really rich.

Here’s my toast to 2016 — I thank you for …

  • All the incredible growth and learning that came from the big challenges
  • The forced Reinvention that’s broadening my self-identity
  • The beautiful softening that comes with humility
  • Those moments when I felt so overwhelmed and broken that I stopped trying to plan, work, force and just gave in, got present and really saw the beauty right there in that moment
  • My incredible true friends and Beloved John who stuck with me and offered love and support
  • My Resiliency Muscles and the new appreciation I have for how the hard times in the past prepared me for these recent unprecedented challenges

For me 2016 sure wasn’t easy but it was uniquely beautiful, I think of it as a gift wrapped in barbed wire.

I would love to know what you were grateful for in 2016.  What were the unexpected and unasked for gifts wrapped in barbed wire that showed up just for you?   To what do you toast the year just passing?

Cylvia Hayes #cylviahayes #resiliencymuscles

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One Question that Will Change Your Whole Day

tigers-nest-cyl-in-monestory-doorOne of the most empowering things I’ve started doing is asking myself really useful questions.   Until recently one of my favorites was “What kind of day do I want to have?” This question helps to focus on what we want to accomplish and do and feel each day. Today I want to kick butt at work. Today I want make sure I work out. Today I want to experience a lot of happiness. Today I want to cross everything off the Do List. Etc., etc.

But very recently the question evolved a little into something I REALLY LOVE! The new improved power question is “WHAT KIND OF DAY DO I WANT TO BRING INTO THE WORLD TODAY?”

I love this slight reframe because it shifts from just thinking about getting to also focusing on giving.  Yes, I still want my knee to heal. And yes I want to grow my business a bit. And yes I want some personal challenges to go AWAY!  Yes, all of that AND I also want to be kind to everyone I meet today.  I want to increase the love in the world by being loving.  I want to listen deeply to my partner or my child or my friend who is struggling.

Throughout the day – during work, while working out, going through the checkout line in the grocery store, etc. — if I stay aware of the “Kind of Day I Want to Bring Into the World” I am a little kinder and more thoughtful.  And every time I have a day like that I’m automatically a little happier and more content.

So I ask YOU, what kind of day do you want to bring into our world today?

Cylvia Hayes  #cylviahayes 

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Reentering the Arena

colliseumHave you ever been really stung by someone’s criticism, felt the stab of harsh opinion? Have you ever failed at something important to you and lost a little confidence in yourself?

Unless you’re not human your answer almost certainly must be yes! We’ve all felt these hurts, usually many, many times! And each time we do we have a decision to make. Are we going to slink away and hide, lie down and give up? Or, are we going to reenter the arena?

One of my favorite quotes is Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

We all face many arenas – stepping into a new job, dealing with a difficult boss in an old job, starting a business. The terrifying arena of putting it out there for public office or trying to share our talents with the world and hoping they like us. The different but equally terrifying arena of opening our hearts to love.

Doing any of these things takes courage but it pales in comparison to the courage it takes to have your ass kicked in the arena, to have your heart broken, your pride hammered and then to choose to pick up, dust off and go back in. Hard stuff, not the easy way. But that’s how we grow and it’s how we make a life that makes a difference.

So to all of you who are bruised, wounded, standing before the arena gates with hands or hearts trembling afraid of what the lions and mob will tear into next, know that there are lots of us who feel you, who get it. Your fear is real.   So is your strength to push through and dare greatly to love, to strive, to put yourself fully out there once again.

Take a step — the world needs you and your incomparable uniqueness.

If old demons of self-doubt pounce like starving lions remember the past doesn’t dictate your future.

If anyone spits or throws rocks or tears into you they’re only doing it because they’re in terror themselves in their own arenas.

Move you brave soul! The critics, those cold and timid souls who knew neither great victory nor great defeat, are irrelevant in the face of your courage.

Cylvia Hayes   #cylviahayes

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Three Truths about Friends

true-friendsI am feeling incredibly grateful for the amazing, generous people in my life.

I’ve spoken with so many people who have been through really challenging life situations and have lost friends in the process. I was totally shocked and deeply hurt by how many people walked away when I was in the midst of my crisis.

And here’s what I’ve learned:

1) YOU CAN’T LOSE TRUE FRIENDS!

If they abandon you when you’re at your lowest they weren’t really friends to begin with and you’re better off knowing it.

2) You never know when or where a true friend will show up.

Each time I’ve gone through a really difficult, as in life-changingly difficult situation I’ve come out the other side with, other than a very few exceptions, a whole new set of friends.

I think as we grow, as we are transformed by the things we go through, we attract different people into our lives. Those few who weather the storms and make the transformations with us are rare, and beyond special.

3) TRUE friends are PRECIOUS!

Just this past week I’ve received so much love. One old friend gifted me an amazing retreat working with Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly program. Two others gave me their time and expertise in some business dealings. One new friend who has quickly become a best friend was once again unbelievably generous with her time and brilliance. One brand new friend freely offered me her life coaching wisdom and tools, even creating a custom-designed video program for me! I was so touched by her generosity. And, then in the truly tried and true best friend category John offered complete support and encouragement as I’m embarking on a new venture.

Thank you to you all!

Cylvia Hayes

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Fall … Falling … away … and into place

fall-leaves-fallingToday is the first day of Fall. I LOVE the turning of the seasons. And I seem to especially love it when I’m in a time of challenge and major life reinvention. Seeing Nature do her thing reminds that life goes on, things keep moving.

Autumn is a time of harvesting the hard-earned growth of previous seasons. It’s also a time of pulling in our sap and shedding the dry pieces of ourselves that no longer grow.  This includes, as starters ….

  • Dry leaves
  • People who are unkind and judgmental
  • Habits that gnaw at our self-respect
  • And perhaps, most importantly, old, outdated beliefs (especially about ourselves) that hold us back.

I love the part in the cycle where the old leaves get ground into pieces and then become rich soil for vibrant new growth and life.

Leaves … and pieces of our lives … falling away ….  and into place.

What are YOU currently harvesting?  And, what OLD, DRY things are you SHEDDING?

Happy Equinox everyone!  To shedding the old in ways that enrich the new!

Cylvia Hayes

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The Looking Glass of Relationship

relationship-reflectionsSo much of life is about relationships. Even when we aren’t thinking about it we are totally immersed in relationship. You may go to the store to buy eggs all by yourself but in that act you are in no way alone. There are the store owners, the store workers, the truck drivers who bring in the eggs, the farmers who keep the chickens, the people who provide the chicken feed – heck, even the chickens! Heck, heck, even the worms that grow the food the chickens wind up eating!

Our whole existence really is about relationships. And the quality of our lives is HUGELY affected by the quality of our relationships. And here’s what’s really amazing, challenging and useful: Every feeling we have about our “out there” relationships reflects WHERE WE’RE At in RELATIONSHIP TO OURSELVES!

You know how sometimes that trip to the store for eggs is just great and maybe you even have a nice chat with the checker or another shopper? And then the next time the trip is a chore and everything seems delayed and you get irritated and cranky? Usually the differences in those experiences have way less to do with what’s going on at the grocery store than what’s going on inside of you!

Relationships with others mirror what we’re feeling about ourselves. Was the checker really that bad or were you preoccupied and worried about something that had nothing to do with eggs?

Nowhere is this more clear, and powerful, than in those relationships with family, friends, co-workers – anyone that really matters to us. And when those relationships are in difficulty the mirrors are the clearest and most informative.

I’ll give you a personal example. Recently I had a run in with a family member that bothered me for weeks. I asked for a personal favor and was turned down because this person thought I ought to be trying to handle the problem differently. I felt judged, rejected and embarrassed for being in a position to need to ask for help in the first place.

I was so uncomfortable about it all that I pulled back from the entire relationship and ran the events over and over in my mind. I was angry and hurt, and annoyed that I kept thinking about it! It’s said rejection leads to obsession and I was basically obsessing.

Finally, determined to let it go, I had a breakthrough. I realized the negative judgment hurt so much because I partially believed it about myself! I felt like a failure for needing to ask for help. I felt vulnerable. I felt rejected and disempowered. By focusing on what wasn’t working in my life instead of the 90% that was going great I had amped my own insecurity and critical self-judgment to such a point that I bought into the rejection from someone who didn’t even really know the situation. THE ONLY THING THAT GAVE THAT PERSON’S NEGATIVE OPINION ANY WEIGHT WAS MY OWN NEGATIVE OPINION ABOUT MYSELF!

I am now hugely grateful for this outer relationship irritation and discomfort because it helped me better understand and improve my self-relationship – and, at the end of the day NOTHING has a bigger impact on our lives than that. If there is anything I know for sure, it’s that NOTHING HAS A GREATER IMPACT ON OUR HAPPINESS or torment, our hope or despair, our success of failure than our true, deep beliefs about, and how we interact with, our Selves (Capital “S” intended).

There’s a story about how a man named Akkosa was hurling terrible insults and criticism at the Buddha. Buddha was unmoved by the barrage of nastiness and calmly asked, “You know how people sometimes give gifts?” Akkosa snapped that yes of course he did. Then Buddha calmly asked, “If the person doesn’t accept that gift who does it belong to then?” “Well, it still belongs to the giver of course!”, Akkosa snorted. Buddha then replied, “Well, I do not accept the insults and abuse you have tried to give me today, so who really owns them?”

AND NO ONE CAN MAKE US FEEL ANY CERTAIN WAY.      Only we choose how we will feel about the other person’s action or reaction to us. Even that oh-so-awful feeling of rejection is something we choose to take on or not. Taking responsibility for our feelings takes back our power.

Glass mirrors reflect our outer appearance. RELATIONSHIPS REFLECT OUR VIEWS ABOUT OURSELVES. Only we have the power to decide how we see, feel about and project those reflections.

Cylvia Hayes

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How to Flip a Bad Mood

keep_calm_and_focus_on_appreciation_mousepadRecently I was in a pissy mood. I was super frustrated about legal complications that were still dragging on and completely out of my control. Several pending work projects had been delayed by over a month and I was worried, again, about how I was going to pay the bills. Stressed, depressed and feeling stuck, I was right on the verge of just giving up on the day, grabbing the TV remote and hitting the couch.

And, then a question popped into my head – “What’s GREAT in my life right now?” The frustrated cranky part of me tried to shake it away but soon I found myself thinking about my great relationship with John, my wonderful friends, Tessa my awesome 100-pound lapdog, my cozy little home, the sparkling summer day. Pretty soon I realized there were actually only a couple of things going on that weren’t great! My whole mood flipped and I had to laugh. I realized I’d been doing a version of that thing when your hair looks great, your outfit is fantastic, but all you notice is the zit on your chin!

When I look back at even the darkest, heaviest, hardest times in my life I can see there was always a ton of good stuff too.

What’s great right now? This simple little question has the power to bust us right out of a bad mood because it puts us in a frame of gratitude and appreciation. And what we appreciate appreciates! So now, every time I find myself feeling low, fixating on the zits in my life I ask myself that simple question.

Give it a try! WHAT IN YOUR LIFE IS GREAT RIGHT NOW? Make a list. Say ‘em out loud. Feeling better?!

Cylvia Hayes

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7 Steps to Shining Bright!

When I was littLet your light shine hands making heartle we used to sing a song called “This Little Light of Mine” in church. It was one of the few light and joyous parts of my early church experience.

My spiritual path took me in different directions and I hadn’t thought of that little song in years. But months ago, in the midst of unforeseen challenges that led to a great deal of unexpected and unasked for free time I started, once again, to learn to play guitar. In was sort of therapy and distraction.

One of the songs in the songbook that was easy enough for me (given my pretty lame state of guitar skill) was “This Little Light of Mine.”

This upbeat little tune goes like this:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

Many of you have probably heard it and even sung it.  For me, in these recent challenging times it started to become something of a mantra. Sitting in the middle of the big mess my life had become everything seemed dark – what had just happened, my past, my future, my spirits.

In one of my darkest moments, although I never really contemplated suicide, I did reach the point where I longed for release from this life. I wanted escape from the battle, to just be able to stop fighting and check out.

It scared me and I realized I’d let the darkness grow too strong.

From that moment I set out on a path to REDISCOVER MY INNER LIGHT.

In that long process I have learned that we are all sparks of creation, ONE-OF-A-KIND SPARKS OF LIGHT, with our own unique paths and purposes in this amazing human experience.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained glass windows.   They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”

More than ever before I started noticing people who really seem to radiate from the inside out – certain friends, special colleagues, the woman I always love running into at the gym, the little kid in the park that just seems to glow extra brightly.

I started studying and interviewing these bright ones and there seem to be some universal characteristics they share.

  • Gratitude.  Being aware of and appreciative of the good things in our lives helps us stay above the challenges and stay optimistic during difficulties.
  • Being Present. I think if you’re paying attention at all you can’t help but notice when a person is really present and focused when they are interacting with you. And in those moments you can feel their inner light. WHEN YOU ARE THAT PRESENT WITH OTHERS THEY CAN FEEL YOUR LIGHT! I’ve had close encounters of the most beautiful kind when I’ve set aside the “busyness” and distraction and really been present with the stranger in line at the bank!
  • Don’t you notice when someone offers you a little random kindness? Like when you have only a bag of cat food and a cantaloupe in the grocery store and it’s really busy and the person with the fully loaded cart ahead of you let’s you go in front of them? Or, you accidentally drop your wallet and a stranger hands it back to you? Our inner lights shine through in these simple, kind moments. KINDNESS ROCKS! AND IT SHINES.
  • Everyone I’ve ever met who has a blindingly bright and beautiful inner light has some sort of spiritual framework, a sense that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Self-love and acceptance. People whose inner lights shine like beacons aren’t egomaniacs or narcissists. On the contrary they aren’t even very self-absorbed. But, they are secure in themselves. They know they aren’t perfect and they are usually still striving to be better and more, but at their core they accept, appreciate and improve of themselves. There is SUCH a powerful lesson in that. It’s like when you’re on a plane and the flight attendant advises that if the plane runs into trouble and the oxygen masks drop down be sure to put your own mask on before you start trying to help others. THE MORE LOVE AND BRIGHTNESS WE SHINE ON OURSELVES THE MORE WE HAVE FOR OTHERS.
  • They’re Funny! The people I see shining most brightly have a sense of humor! I don’t mean they’re clowns or comedians; it’s just that they don’t take everything so seriously. They see the humor in our beautiful stumbling human behaviors. They may be fierce in most aspects of their lives but they also let in and out some levity and lightness.

When a good ol’ gospel choir really gets cranked up it’ll launch into a second verse of “This Little Light of Mine.”

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine! 

Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

Yep, WE ALL HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BE LIGHTS!  So, you unique spark get up! Crawl out from under whatever that bushel may be and LET YOUR UNIQUE LIGHT SHINE! There’s no other quite like it on Earth.

Cylvia Hayes

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P.S.

If I ever really get brave I’ll do a video blog singing and playing “This Little Light of Mine”, but that will surely have to be filed under comedy instead of inspiration!

Gold Medal Reinvention

Olympic Refugee TeamI am utterly inspired by the Olympic Refugee Team! These ten athletes fled horrifying conditions and undertook life-threatening journeys to find better lives for themselves. And in the midst of those terrifying and exhausting circumstances they decided that their reinvention would be more than escaping harm, they would put in the killer hard work to become Olympic athletes!

I recently wrote that self-reinvention isn’t for wimps and wow, these folks take that point right over the top!

They each have incredible stories. The seventeen-year-old swimmer who crossed from Turkey into Greece in an inflatable boat and when the motor died, she got out and swam, pulling the boat filled with people to safety. The young man who fled to avoid being forced to become a child soldier. Extraordinary.

They haven’t won any medals, at least not yet, but they have won my heart, and countless others as well. I still can’t hold back tears when I watch the footage of them marching into the stadium during the opening ceremonies and the entire place giving a standing ovation in honor of their courage in overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to be there.   It was a breathtakingly beautiful human moment.

Their journeys say a lot about self-reinvention:

  • No matter how terrifying it is to leap into the unknown sometimes the most dangerous thing is staying where we are.
  • Our human spirit can do so much more than we usually realize.
  • There is huge power in huge dreams! Can you imagine the sheer audacity it took for these people to say, “yeah I’m a refugee without a dime to my name, but I’m also a talented athlete and I am going to compete in the Olympics?!!

I have loved witnessing these extraordinary people and their incredible accomplishments as I am navigating my own self-reinvention.

Most of us won’t have to face the horrors of fleeing our homeland and risking our lives in jungles, deserts and the open sea, but we will face times when life throws a curve and we have to reinvent.

I am committed to taking a page from the playbook of these extraordinary refugees turned Olympic athletes and set big audacious goals for my next chapter!

What about you? Are you facing a challenge, or change, a reinvention? Are you ready to hold a go-for-gold attitude when stepping into that big, scary unknown of what next?!

There’s a wonderfully inspiring short video about these athletes. In it one amazing young man says, “Yes, we are refugees but we are also human being just like you, see?” They’ve done something great. So can you. No matter the odds … your next steps can be toward something great!

Cylvia Hayes

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