Stop Conforming – Day 302 of 365 Days to a Better You

Too often you revere paradigms that enslave your thinking and limit your possibilities. Stop it! You’re not here to live by their expectations. You’re not here follow the rule book to a T. You’re here to live out a unique experience in all the universe – your life in this place at this moment.

So, laugh out loud. Use your outdoor voice inside. Color outside the lines. Do it not because you disrespect your society, but because you know it can be better, saner, and more fun. Status quos are for breaking. Like everything else in this universe, paradigms must perish to make room for their next incarnation.

There are no extra points at the end of the game for exceptional conformity. There is a simply a life well-lived or a life well-worried.

So, dance heartily and joyfully in the the rainstorm of change that showers down upon you each and every day.

In case no one else reminded you today, you are awesome!

Ray

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Your Unique Contribution – Day 301 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today’s Affirmation:

I am 100 percent genuine. I am 100 percent original. I am 100 percent authentic.

Everything that happens, regardless of the immediate suffering or joy it creates, perfectly prepares you to fulfill your purpose and achieve your goals. Focus, therefore, always on your experience and the lessons it has to teach you.

For just as the sun knows when to rise and the rose knows when to bloom, so too will you know when it is your moment to step forward and shine. It will be obvious that circumstances call for the special gifts and personal abilities that are uniquely yours.

Remember no matter where life has led you or how much pain you have endured, you still have something wonderful within that you, and only you, can contribute to the universe. Never let anyone tell you that your contribution is umimportant.

I’d dare say that your contribution is so important that the natural unfolding of the universe is undermined when you or anyone else fails to make their contribution. Live as if you dwell in a blessed state of grace because you do. Act as if you are endowed with enormous power to make a difference because you are.

Each day is one small deposit in your larger contribution to all of existence. Do yourself and the rest of us a huge favor and don’t forget to make it.

Stay positive stay inspired!

Ray

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I Am Human – Day 297 of 365 Days to a Better You

I am human.

I have let anger boil when I should have let compassion rain down. I have felt afraid when the moment called for bravery. I have taken when I should have given. I have ignored the needs of others when those needs were right in front of me. I have wanted to be right more than I wanted to be good. I have failed to say thank you more times than I can count. I have lived a lesser version of me, when my greatness shined right in my eyes.

I am human.

I have been a hero in small ways and large. I have tipped more than the service called for. I have handed people money on the street rather than walking by. I have said yes when I really wanted to say no. I have put the good of others ahead of my own. I have succeeded when everything said I should have failed. I have stood against the odds, my fears, my selfishness, and all the negativity the world could throw at me. I have seen my greatness and that of those around me and reminded us all of it.

I am human.

Some moments I’m brilliant and some I am dumber than a rock. I wake up each day and I do the best I can as my awareness, experience, and circumstances allow me to see it. I will do better tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I will encourage others to do the same. Together we will create the world we are capable of having; a world better than today, and yesterday, and the day before that.

We are human!

If no one has reminded you today, you are AWESOME! Have a fantastic evening and I will talk to you again soon.

Ray

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Lao Tzu’s Four Cardinal Virtues – Day 241 of 365 Days to a Better You

We’ve mentioned Lao Tzu previously in our journey together. He said to have authored the Tao Te Ching and founded Taoism. He’s considered among the great spiritual masters of ancient China.

He wrote:

“To realize the constancy and steadiness in your life is to realize the deep nature of the universe. This realization is not dependent on any transitory internal or external condition, rather it is an expression of one’s own immutable spiritual nature. The only way to attain the Universal Way is to maintain the integral virtues of the constancy, steadiness and simplicity in one’s daily life.”

What are the virtues he’s speaking of and how do you and I apply them to our lives? There are four main virtues or spiritual rules he lays out in the Tao Te Ching.

  1. Reverence for all life – this first virtue drives the others. It lays the foundation for harmony within and from there spreads to all living beings. It recognizes that all living things rely on each other for their very survival. As such, we should approach all other beings with kindness, respect, and gratitude. The Buddhist metta meditation is a very effective way to make this virtue a practical part of your day.
  2. Natural Sincerity – our ability to spread harmony into the world begins with our ability to find it within. According to Lao Tzu, we find harmony within through sincerely and authentically being ourselves. He’s essentially encouraging us to live our truth. Stress and unhappiness come when we are living in insincerity. Peace and happiness come when our thoughts, feelings, and actions align.
  3. Gentleness – this virtue is practiced by relinquishing our egoic thinking and action in the world. We cease needing to be right or to control others. We become sensitive to the needs of others and choose to live in harmony with them.
  4. Supportiveness – Because we revere all life, we live with sincerity, and we practice gentleness, we’re able to be supportive of ourselves and all other beings. This virtue promotes love and service. It’s focused on what you can give rather than simply what you can get. It’s the energetic glue that holds us all together through our care for and commitment to each other.

Four simple virtues that are simple and profound. They took minutes to read and a lifetime to master. However, even imperfect application begins to yield results. You operating by these principles will change your life. Many people living this way would shift the world.

May we achieve change in both!

Just in case no one else tells you today, you’re AWESOME!

Ray

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Interview with Andreea Ayers of Tees for Change – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday November 28, 2007


Thank you for visiting The Affirmation Spot. Your comments on the blog or this article are always welcome. Please click here to comment on today’s blog.




ray_launchpad.jpgWhat Ray’s reading right now:

April and I are reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. This is the latest Oprah’s Book Club selection. Oprah and the author Eckhart Tolle are hosting a 10-week online course covering this book beginning Monday March 3. They recommend reading the book before the class. You can register for free at Oprah.com



March Affirmation Sale!

Beginning February 28 Download any two affirmations during March from The Affirmation Spot.com and get a third affirmation free. There are no limits! You can download 20 and get 10 free. Simply type the word “blog” into the coupon field at checkout. Thanks for getting your audio affirmations at The Affirmation Spot!



Today The Affirmation Spot begins a series of interviews with and articles about inspirational people. These are people making a difference in the world by demonstrating the courage to share their gifts and pursue their dreams. My hope is that their stories will inspire you to begin taking steps in the direction of your dreams.
tees_for_change1.jpgThe first installment is an interview with Andreea Ayers, Founder of a Boulder, Colorado company called Tees For Change. Andreea started the company in early 2007 and it is already transforming her life and the lives of everyone wearing her products.

Her company is something special. Tees For Change is very eco-conscious – all their products are organic, they use low-impact eco-friendly dyes, and they plant a tree for each t-shirt sold. Her t-shirts proclaim emphatically positive messages such as, “today matters”, and “choose happiness”.

In a recent interview with on makethemostofu.com, Andreea is quoted as saying, “I am hoping that my tees will impact the person wearing them and also the many people he/she comes in contact with. Words are so powerful, as are thoughts, and a slight shift in your thoughts can make a difference in your day.

Our tees really make you think. What does “live mindfully’ or “today matters” mean to you? It’s probably different than what it means to your friend, sister or co-worker. My goal is to get people to at least stop for a moment and think “hmmm…” I want people to have conversations (with each other or even within themselves) about what the words on our tees mean to them.”

The following interview was conducted with Andreea by e-mail.

The Affirmation Spot:  Andreea, thank for your time. Can you share with us a little bit about your professional background and how your path led you to create Tees For Change? And, please tell us about Tees For Change and your goals for the company.

Andreea:  My background is in marketing for ‘green’ companies. I have a degree in Marketing from Cornell University and my first few jobs out of college were in market research and analysis. In 2001 I started to work for a non-profit publication called The Green Guide and, because the company was so small, I did everything but editorial and fundraising.

That was a great way for me to learn all aspects of online and offline marketing, customer service and the publishing industry. Then in 2004 I branched off on my own and self-published a book called The Green Apple: Organic coupons for healthy living in NYC. It was a guide and coupon book to everything eco-friendly in the Big Apple. However, I felt that I wanted to do something more national in scope and reach out to more people, so I did not re-publish the guide in 2005-2006.

In late 2005 I became a marketing consultant for Ideal Bite, a great company that sends out free, daily eco-living tips by email. I did their affiliate marketing, online marketing, and set up marketing partnerships, so I had the chance to learn more about ‘green’ marketing and building an email list.

Then, in 2006, after a brief stint in direct marketing at New York University, my husband and I moved out to Boulder, CO. I got the idea to start Tees For Change while I was in a prenatal yoga class. My goal for Tees For Change is to grow the company and reach out to as many people as possible. Right now our tees are available for sale in nearly 50 yoga studios across the US, but it would be great to have them available in every state and hopefully, one day, to have our own Tees For Change storefront or showroom.

tees_for_change_men.jpg

TAS:  Unfortunately, we live in a world bathed in a lot of fear and unhappiness. I’m sure you’re aware that many people see “positive thinking” as somewhat unrealistic in the face of realities like war and famine. In your experience, what tangible difference does thinking positively make in our lives and in our world?

Andreea:  In my opinion, thinking positively has a huge impact on our lives and decisions. I grew up in a communist country where people were constantly afraid and did not trust anyone. Then there was my grandmother who always instilled in us to think positively and look at the bright side. She lived her life that way, despite all the hardships she encountered during communism and despite the fact that her husband died when they were still very young. Today, she is 95 years old and still looks at the bright side of things. She taught me by example that positive thinking is the way to go.

I learned that you can’t be creative if you are constantly afraid. And if you can’t create, then you can’t advance. So, in order to grow as a person, a company or a nation, you can’t be afraid.

I don’t watch the news because all they report on is what is wrong with our neighborhoods, our schools, our roads, and our security. Can you imagine how different your evening would be if you turn on the news and you hear about all the good things people are doing in our communities and in our country? Just by being aware of people doing good things you feel better. Imagine if you walked around all day thinking good thoughts! I constantly challenge myself to think positively, even if I might not feel it at the moment, just to see what happens. It makes a huge difference!

TAS:  You’re a new mother with a new and growing business, I’m sure there are tough days. Who and what keeps you inspired and motivated? Do you have any role models, mentors, or heros?

Andreea:  There are definitely tough days, but I love what I do, so that makes my challenges a bit more manageable. I am definitely inspired by my family and by the natural world around me. I am inspired when my customers write to tell me about the difference that one of our tees has made in their lives. I am inspired by people who follow their dreams, whether it’s to be a doctor, entrepreneur, teacher, musician or plumber. I am constantly inspired by children – they naturally ‘think big’ and it’s amazing to see their drive and determination.
 
Everyone I meet is a role model, in one way or another. The ‘positive people’ teach me what to do and the ‘negative people’ teach me what not to do. Sometimes I feel that we all start out as role models and then, somewhere down the line, life takes over and we forget what it’s like to have dreams and ambitions. I think I’ll add two new tees that will say “be unrealistic” and “reclaim yourself.”

TAS: What does owning and operating your own business mean to you?

Andreea:  It means that I can be creative and follow my dreams. But it also means working long hours and taking risks (good and bad) that I would not normally take if I was working for somebody else. Having my own business has allowed me to constantly challenge myself and to question my decisions and actions.

TAS:  Many people have creative dreams or business ideas they want to pursue. Often, they feel paralyzed by the perceived risk or by other peoples’ opinions. If you could speak directly to one of those people sitting in a cubicle in corporate America reading this interview or to someone working a job that’s not advancing their dreams, what advice would you give him or her? What words of wisdom can you offer to persuade that person that following your bliss is worth it?

Andreea:  Well, I think that there is definitely a place for corporate America in all of us. I learned a great deal from working for other companies, small and large. There is value in learning from other people who know more than you do. But, having said that, I think that if the spark is there, you’ll know when you’re ready to pursue your dreams. For some people it might not make sense to quit their job and start their own business, but what if those people start their own business (part-time), while holding on to their job?
 
About five years ago I read a great book called Kiss Off Corporate America : A Young Professional’s Guide to Independence by Lisa Kivirist. I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of leaving the cubicle life. It inspired me to leave my corporate job and start my own market research firm. Even though the market research firm didn’t work out (there was still so much more that I needed to learn!!!), it was a great experience and it gave me the courage to start other things later on. I personally feel better when I know I tried something (even though it might not have worked out) than when I don’t try it at all.

tees_for_change_women2.jpg

TAS:  Finally, what’s on the horizon for Tees For Change? Do you have any new lines coming out? Where can people find your tees? Are you expanding beyond tees into other products or apparel?

Andreea:  I am currently working on sourcing the tees for the Spring 2008 line and I will be adding more styles (tank tops, sweatshirts) and colors. I want to expand to other products, especially eco-friendly ones like canvas bags and reusable water bottles.

Right now, people can find the tee at Tees For Change and at nearly 50 yoga studios and boutiques across the country. For an updated list, they can visit http://teesforchange.com/retailers.
 
Thanks so much for allowing me to share my story!

TAS:  Thank you, Andreea, for generously sharing your time and your insights on positive thinking and pursuing your dreams.
With the holidays fast approaching, there is probably someone on your list who could use or would appreciate “the gift of positive”. Tees For Change is ideal for that person. Here is a quick FAQ on shipping and the logistics of ordering a shirt from Tees For Change.
 
Peace…

Ray
The Affirmation Spot.com

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Those Magic Moments – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday October 24, 2007

 Today’s affirmation:

“I know what achieving my goal feels like. I know what it smells like and tastes like. I know what achieving my goal looks like and sounds like. I envision my life with my goal attained.”

Some of you are probably familiar with that old Drifters song This Magic Moment. If you are, you know it is one of those songs that starts you humming and probably gets stuck in your head all day.

Life is about Those Magic Moments. We move through the “average days” in our life longing for another Magic Moment, or, in many cases, really just to relive previous Magic Moments.

As is often the case, sports, this week, has provided a lesson on the chalkboard of life. This week two traditionally successful teams have taken opposite approaches to rekindling Those Magic Moments.

In the history of college football, only three teams have a higher winning percentage than the Nebraska Cornhuskers. During the mid 1990s, the Huskers finally overcame their long-time nemeses University of Miami, FL and Florida State to become college football’s premiere program.

Legendary coach Tom Osborne finished his career with three national championships in four years capping the most illustrious stretch in the history of an illustrious program.

People in Nebraska got used to Those Magic Moments. They almost felt entitled to them. When Osborne retired, Nebraska hired long-time assistant to the legend, Frank Solich. Solich only went 61-19 in six years as head coach – not good enough. There were no more national championships -no more Magic Moments.

He was fired in favor of NFL coach Bill Callahan. Callahan, now in his fifth year, has compiled a 26-21 record. Those Magic Moments feel further away than ever for Nebraska fans.

This week, in the midst of a particularly devastating losing streak, Nebraska fired its Athletic Director and hired the legendary Osborne as interim Athletic Director.

The New York Yankees are far and away the most successful team in the history of major league baseball. However, the team had fallen on a decade of hard times. In 1996, the team hired Joe Torre as its manager.

Torre led the Yankees to four world championships in five years between 1996 and 2001. In the years since, the Yankees have had baseball’s best record, but no more World Series wins. Owner George Steinbrenner and many in the Yankee nation grew impatient with not winning a World Series every other year.

This week the Yankees offered Torre a contract the team knew he would not accept effectively forcing him out. The team believes it can recapture Those Magic Moments with a new manager.

These two teams are following two strategies we often pursue when we are searching for Those Magic Moments. Nebraska looked backwards to past glory. The hope is that Tom Osborne, through his mere presence, can bring the Magic back.

The Yankees chose to look to the future in the hope that “new blood” might transform success into perfection. 

We, too, are always looking for Our Magic Moments. We look forward and we look back. We try to relive the past or we try to change everything in the hope that change itself will bring us the happiness we want.

The truth is that our happiness is hidden in the most conspicuous, but unlikely place….NOW.

The past is the past. When we try to recreate the past the best we can hope for is a meaningless replication. We don’t live there anymore. We live here and now. What worked in the past may not work today. Can Tom Osborne really return the Nebraska football program to 1997?

When we change everything hoping to come up with something better, we usually wind up with a rootless life that does not live up to our expectations. Will the new Yankee manager be able top Torre’s 95+ win per year average and win enough World Series’ to keep George and the Yankee faithful satisfied?

The past is our teacher. The future is our dream. Neither provides a foothold for us to climb and build and grow. The only foothold on the entire mountain of life is right now.

Now may not seem like Magic. It may not be all we want it to be, but it is really the only clay from which we can sculpt the rest of our lives.

Afterall no Magic Moment that ever was or ever will be is inherently Magic. What makes Moments Magic is not the moment. It is us. It is us being fully who we are in that moment, dealing with its realities, and making the most of them.

We already soaked all the Magic there was from yesterday. We cannot begin drawing on tomorrow’s Magic. Let’s stay focused on finding all the Magic that exists today and be content with it.

Peace…

Ray

The Affirmation Spot.com

I’d like to personally invite you to come by The Affirmation Spot today and try a couple of our free affirmations or download affirmations in a category of interest to you. We are constantly growing and expanding with the goal of offering affirmations for your specific life needs.

New affirmations are available in the Wealth and Prosperity, Personal Empowerment, and Sales sections of the website.

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Maximum Impact Opportunities (MIOs) – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday October 9, 2007

Today’s affirmation is:

“I prepare so that I maximize my opportunities when they count.”

Good morning. We spent a beautiful day yesterday at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orlando. We attended some wonderful shows and saw some amazing things!

One of my favorite attractions was a virtual ride called Soarin’. It was an ingenius combination of motion technology and IMAX images that created an exceptionally realistic experience of hang-gliding over scenic parts of the United States. It was breath-taking.

The experience itself was only about eight minutes, but the line to get in was almost two hours. It occurred to me that our lives are very much like that. We spend so much time preparing for those big moments and so we want to make them count.

Think about a major league baseball player who dreamed from the time he was 10 of being at the plate in the bottom of the ninth of game seven of the World Series with the game on the line. He prepared his whole life for that moment and when it arrives it is such a brief blip built on a lifetime of work and preparation.

For most of us the stakes are not quite that dramatic, but we all have these relatively few key moments – maximum impact moments (MIOs) – or experiences on which our lives turn. We work for weeks, months, or years on something only to have come down to a few minutes.

Maybe you’re a salesperson who has been working for two years to get an opportunity to pitch to this big client, or football coach who always dreamed of coaching in the big game, or an actor looking for his or her big break.

Each situation comes down to a few minutes in front of that client, a single game, or that big audition.

The difference between people who succeed and those who do not is that they prepare themselves to take advantage of their MIOs. They do the long preparation and are prepared to harvest it when it comes.

I waited two hours for that eight minutes on Soarin’. I was determined to take every second of it in and maximize my experience.

We can do the same in life. During the long hard work towards our personal MIOs, we can stay motivated by remaining focused on that one shining moment that will be the result. Once we are in that moment, enjoy, experience, and achieve. That moment is yours. You earned it!

Make today peaceful, positive, and prosperous Tuesday.

Ray 

The Affirmation Spot

P.S. – Be watching for a large number of new affirmations coming to The Affirmation Spot in November in December. Sports, Learning, and Personal Empowerment will be the key categories with many new additions coming.

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