Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Speak to Strangers

I just spent the weekend at two conferences: Biz Tech Day and the Omega Institute's Women and Power Conference.

At both conference I felt I was with "my people." I eagerly made eye contact with others, openly smiled, and introduced myself to anyone and everyone I came across.

Now cut to the scene of me two days later in mass transit. As I unintentionally made eye contact with someone, something surprising came out of me. It was, "hello." The "hello" sounded surprised by its own existence. It was soft and vulnerable. It was almost lost and confused. The man I said hello to just passed me by.

And then, the flash of awareness hit. When I was a wee-one I remember being brainwashed not to speak to strangers by everyone from my teachers, my parents, and friends. "They could be dangerous and can kidnap you and feed you poison."

As a little girl, anyone who I did not know was a "stranger." Here's what stranger means according to some online dictionary: "anyone who does not belong in the environment in which they are found."

Is that how we view anyone who is not someone we know? As a STRANGEr? As someone who does not belong? Imagine if instead of walking down the street and seeing others as people who don't belong, you see them as if they do. How will your walk to work be different?

I challenge all of you (especially in NYC) to make more eye contact and smile to people as you pass them by.

Please report back and let me know what you experience.

Much love,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meditating to Murder

I know that title is freakish. Scary. Ugly. I don't like it. I'm sorry if it's disturbing. But I use such dramatic juxtaposition to capture your attention and demo the reality of the images/messaging/media we consume.

Today I was meditating at my parents' home in the morning while they were watching an action movie on HBO. As I tried to produce my OM, I had a hard time centering with the background noise of primal screams and gunshot permeating from downstairs.

In many studies, scientists intentional use movie clips to manipulate the moods of participants...because that's what movies do. Just because we know it's not real, doesn't mean our bodies and emotions know it. When you're experiencing negative emotion - you go into fight or flight, your blood pressure is increased, etc.

I now choose to watch movies that give me some positive emotional value - movies that uplift, enlighten, humor, inspire, or teach me. I avoid things that are depressing or scary unless they're super good in some artistic way that's worth it.

Consider your choices in what you watch and read as much as the food you ingest. We all go to the gym and watch what we eat to take care of our bodies. But what are you doing to pro-actively take care of your emotional/psychological well-being?

Much love and peace.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Treat Yourself the Way You Treat Others

I work with LOTS of women. What I see happen all the time is women giving more to their clients than they do to their own businesses at the sake of their own business. For example, I've see women who do PR do great PR for clients - but miss out when it comes to their own business. They give so much that they are not focused on growing their company.

If you were your best client, how would you treat yourself differently?



I truly believe that we get what we ask for. That we choose the life we live today. The key is to make those choices as consciously as possible - otherwise you might lose your voice when you need it most.

Let me share an example I'm living right now.

If you read my last post, you'll know that I lost my voice. (It's still finding its way back after about one week).

This is quite an inconvenient time not to speak. Work is busier than ever with our upcoming event: I need to be on the phone with speakers, sponsors, members, new employees, and volunteers. Plus, next week I'm attending Omega's Women and Power Conference and look forward to meeting hundreds of amazing people - I need my voice in full effect.

But, I must say, I actually asked to be silent at exactly this time. Earlier this year there was nothing I didn't want more than to escape to a silent retreat in upstate New York in early September for 10 days. While finishing my masters I kept promising myself that I'd give myself this gift.

Well, I may be stuck in New Jersey for now, but I certainly got the no-talking I craved. It might not be in the form I envisioned, but it's here.

We really must be careful what we ask for. Or rather, be careful in our thoughts. Because everything gets answered.

I'm grateful for this rather unexpected answer to my desires. It's at least a reminder that I have the power to create my whole life and the events that I experience.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Between a Frog & a Pornstar

Okay, so after coming back from Jamaica I started going like 300mph. We have an exciting conference coming up with some amazing women who I'm in love with. PLUS, I'm launching a new biz (more on that soon!).

So while in the middle of my fifth hour of talking, talking, talking with Alisa Vitti (aka Vagina Whisperer and Protector of the Period) over yummy dinner at Market Table last Wednesday I noticed my voice began to sound scratchy in a sexy kind of way.

Quickly my low, sultry, vocals progressed to croaky-ness and then to nada in the next 24. That was my sign to sloooow down. So I did and slept and slept as much I could this past weekend.

Once I got my rest I began to feel lighter and better. And then Sunday night I realized "OhMyGod...the copy on the website hasn't been updated...we're delayed another week...I won't be able to promote...and then..and then...ohmygod."

All that rest I accumulated zipped out the window. My body got tense. I was GRIPPED with stress. I could feel it everything tighten up. The world went crashing down. Suddenly I felt depleted, annoyed, and just wanted to kick some ass. SHIIITTT! I realized. All in a matter of minutes.

I quickly got in touch with this nasty, fear-based, stressed out, state and knew it need immediate adjusting - especially given the delicacy of my vocals. Knowing what I know - I knew that I wasn't in "broaden and build" mode - the upward spiral of positive emotion that leads us to flourishing. So I thought...

"QUICK, STELLA. GET BACK TO NORMAL. WHAT THOUGHT CAN YOU THINK OR THING CAN YOU DO TO INCH YOUR WAY BACK TO POSITIVITY? Your health and your productivity are depending on it!" (Positivity greatly impacts our longevity, immunity, efficiency, and power to make things happen).

This is what I did.

1. I visualized success and let myself feel the excitement and pride of producing a spectacular event helping over 700 women grow and launch their businesses.

2. I took a few deep breaths getting into my body.

3. I focused on the present considering what I could do now and releasing the other stuff that would just have to wait. There is only so much time in a day (especially when it's 12:30am and your internet decides not to work).

4. I looked around and said thanks.. Thanks for my voice coming back slowly. Thanks for my family. Thanks for my business partner. Thanks for the opportunity to serve these amazing women. Etc.

5. I read a non-business book to distract me.Distraction is key. Sometimes we've got to treat ourselves like 5 year olds in a tantrum. Distract yourself away. Where your attention goes is EVERYTHING. If you continue to focus on your concerns they will grow.

THE LESSON: Inch your way back to feeling good. Leaping emotionally doesn't work. Take small steps to feel just a millimeter of relief (even if you feel silly doing it). Pretty soon it will all spiral exponentially and you'll be back in your groove, expanded, positive, and attracting all good things!

Much love,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Do You Choose to Suck It?

Finally, my moment had come. I was sprawled on the table. The air smelled fresh. There was a scent of lemon and echninacea lacing its way through the cool still room. The lights were dim and sunset was peaking its way through the sheer, plum blinds. My sister wasn't far…we were separated by a curtain. It was just me and a big, strong Jamaican man.

And then it started.

As I was getting ready to let out my first "ahhhh" of surrender, instead a big "UGHHHHH" escaped.

SHIT! This massage therapist SUCKS!

Oh noooo! But I've been waiting so long for this.

My shoulders and my knots! The long, long nights of writing my thesis! All the build up was ready and excited to be released by this man. Oh how I had hoped he had magical hands. Instead, with every stroke, I found myself getting frustrated.

Here's what was going through my mind (sounds a bit split personality when written out - but I know you can relate):

Dude, you don't know what you're doing do you? Do you know what muscle you're working right now? You can actually damage my little shoulder blade right now. Are those yours nails I feel in in my skin?

Okay, Stella, chill out. Relax. Focus on your breath and maybe you'll just get into it. Even a bad massage is still good, right? Just speak up and let him know how to adjust.

"Sir, I can feel your finger nails in my skin. Would you mind softening up?"

Of course! Of course! He says.

See, Stella. This man is so nice and he just wants to please you and help you. Just breathe. Use this as a practice for meditation.

Oh my god. But this guy doesn't know what he's doing. Now I'm really sure.

So what should I do, stop this? I've never had to stop a massage.

Once he moves up to the back it will get better. Just hang in there.

Hang in there? But this is supposed to feel good and I'm coaching myself through this. WTF?

Chill out, Stella. Acknowledge these thoughts, but focus on your breath.


Did he hands just squeeze my neck so hard that my air passage was slightly blocked?

Yes. Ok. That's it. I'm stopping this.

But it will hurt his feelings. He seems so nice and is doing his best.

So what? You have to do what's right for you. And if you stop, maybe he'll realize he should go back to school or communicate more with his clients. This may help him in some way.

But maybe in Jamaica they don't have such rigorous training. Maybe he needs this job really bad and I might get him in trouble. You only have 20 minutes left.

Are you really having this conversation right now?


And I feel more tense than when I came in. This is not serving me.

I sat up. Sir, I'm sorry. This does not feel good to me at all. I'd like to stop this.

It was hard to face him after the massage. But I did. I thanked him for what he had done and said it just was not right for me. The staff asked, so I gave some constructive feedback.

Without my saying a word, I got another massage therapist immediately for an hour. She was great. I still spent some of the time battling between slight guilt for shocking the young man on his performance, and pride that I did what served me best.

The lesson we all know, but that got further affirmed through experience is: if I don't stand up for what I need, who will? So my question to you is... do you suck it up and accept less-the-best for you? If you asked for medium-rare and it's well-done, do you send it back? It's sometimes harder to choose higher and ask for it...especially, if it doesn't come the first time around. But know that asking for what you deserve isn't bad or mean as long as you do it with good intention and grace. This is about justice, people!

I'd love to hear stories or comments about choosing or not choosing to suck it up. Do share!



One of the qualities I'm working on strengthening is CARE. Compared to other qualities such as creativity, humor, ambition, motivation, self-discipline, etc...care sounds boring and passive (at least I never gave it much thought). But alas, I was wrong.

Caring for me = mindfulness plus LOVE with a touch of gratitude wrapped up in ACTION with sprinkles on top. If you care about something that means you not only give it attention, but you do what needs to be done to express your care.

Here are some things I realized and care to share about CARING.

1. If you don't CARE about _____ (fill in the blank), why should anyone else? Remember what Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." So if you want something to happen, begin by caring about it enough to act on it. This includes taking care of YOU. If you feel like you're not getting the love and attention you desire from others - pay attention to how much of it you're giving to yourself.

2. CARE about the SMALL STUFF. Not sweating the small stuff does not equal not caring about it. Consider how you can exit a car without slamming the door, but rather gentle close it. Think about how instead of chowing down in front of the computer at lunch, you take time to just eat.

3. CARE about others. Often we're in our own world so much that we don't recognize opportunities to help others. I regularly see standing pregnant women or elderly people go unnoticed on the subways. Most of the time I attest people not giving up their seats because they don't realize the opportunity to help. We are so wrapped up in ourselves, that our CARE radar isn't even on.

4. CARE about the GOAL and PROCESS, release the RESULT. The only thing you can control are your thoughts, and to some extent, emotions. So do the best you can and care about the parts you can affect. Release attachment to getting a particular result. If things don't work out as you had planned, continue to care about your desired result enough to adjust the process and go again.

5. CARE enough to care even if you feel like you don't care about much. Just take each moment for what it offers and care about that - start there. Wash you dish as best you can. Sit as straight as you can. Breathe. Write neatly. Think of the honor a monk gives to each step he takes. You don't have to do this 100% of the time, but the more you do, the better

Much love and care,