Author Archive for Bonnie Jo Davis

Water Your Soul By Taking Care Of Yourself

It took me a long time to understand that “me taking care of me” was actually watering my soul. I had all kinds of reasons for not taking care of myself. It was selfish, it felt uncomfortable, there wasn’t enough time or money, and it felt better to take care of others instead. I came to realize that by putting myself first, I would be more able to take care of others. I was afraid to step into this new idea of becoming self – Centered for fear of being judged as Self-centered. But one day, I decided to break out of my shell and venture into the world of watering my Spirit. I made a plan. I got in my car, and headed north. I was going to face my fears in a radical way by cracking my own fear-based shell open.

I was afraid of heights, claustrophobic, and suffered from severe motion sickness. What a better way to face those fears and limitations than to go skydiving?

As I drove, the voice in my head desperately tried to convince me to turn around. I had children, for God’s sake! What was I thinking? This was by far, the craziest thing I’d ever thought of! Just as I slowed to turn around, through the radio Celine Dion began to sing, “I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky”. I took that song as divine intervention, not a coincidence but a God-incidence telling me I had to follow through with it. I started crying, knowing deep down that this day would have a much deeper impact on my life than I even knew.

I made it through the class and climbed into the plane. It wasn’t until the skydiving instructor opened the plane door that I went into panic mode. Just as we’d practiced, he directed me to hold onto the plane’s wing brace, step out on the ledge, and he would give me a thumb’s up when I was to let go. There was no possible way I was “STEPPING” out of an airplane! The houses looked like specks! There was only one thing I could do. I prayed. I told God that if He wanted me to do this, He was going to have to do it, because there was NO way I was. In the next moment, I was in the sky like a bird, drifting quietly and calmly to the earth. The landing was incredible. I cried. I didn’t sleep for days because every time I went to close my eyes, I pictured myself looking out of that airplane door and seeing myself stepping out of it. How had I done it?!?!?

My next thought was that anyone can do something once, when they don’t know what they’re getting into. I decided that in order to say I had faced and conquered my fears, I would need to go again. I did go back again, and this time I had it videotaped, with my children, my sister and my husband as witnesses.

A couple months later I was at the shoe store. I saw this pretty pair of white pumps. I tried them on and couldn’t believe how comfortable they were! I laughed and took them off, reminding myself that I was a truck driver and couldn’t wear high heels (Kinda cool side note: I was the first woman to drive a snow plow for the State of Illinois. The lessons I learned there would fill another book!).

As I got in my car, I had a flashback of jumping out of the airplane. Wait, I can skydive, twice, but I can’t wear high heels? I returned to the store and purchased those shoes, and wore them proudly around the house. Little did I know that God was growing me into a position where I would need those shoes.

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This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book.  To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

Choose To Be Positive

Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, Author and Coach Cheri Neal

One day I noticed a sparrow bathing in a puddle in the parking lot of a local greasy spoon restaurant. I watched the ripple effect caused by this tiny bird. I smiled thinking about the ripple effect our attitude has on others. Then I noticed something. With every splash, droplets of water were creating their own ripple effects all over the puddle.

This made me think of the waitress inside that restaurant. She made every customer feel like they were special. Her ripple effect on the customers was very positive. They would leave feeling appreciated and happier. Like the droplets around the puddle that the splash caused each of them created a positive ripple wherever they went.

Sadly, the opposite is also true. A boss in a bad mood can affect the teacher of his employee’s child, by snapping at his employee who then goes home frustrated and yells at his son, who then goes to school and acts out. It is never ending.

Today you get to choose for yourself AND for that little child in the picture, to be a positive or a negative ripple in this world, staying in this moment or losing it forever.

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This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book. To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

The Difference Between Being SELF-centered and self-CENTERED

Find Joy with Motivational and Inspirational Author, Speaker and Coach Cheri Neal

Another huge lesson for me was understanding the difference between being SELF-centered and self-CENTERED. I was raised to believe it made me a good person if I put everyone else first. What I came to realize is that I mattered just as much as everyone else. I was so selfless that I didn’t take care of myself. I was so preoccupied with everyone else that I didn’t even consider what taking care of myself looked like.

It wasn’t until I read Cheryl Richardson’s book about extreme self-care that I began to understand that it isn’t selfish to put myself and my needs first, so long as I am considerate and caring of others also. That message was further ingrained in me during a chance meeting with a very wise soul named Daniela Popa. Visiting the U.S. from Romania, we sat across the small table at Panera Bread in Madison, Wisconsin, where she helped me to script my mantra:

“Today, no matter what I’m doing, no matter who I’m doing it with and no matter where I‘m going, it is my primary intent to please myself, because it brings me joy, putting me in alignment with my Spirit. And that is the greatest gift I can give the world.”

Never would I have considered allowing myself the gift of pleasing myself first. But in doing so, I truly bring joy to those around me and that makes everyone happier.

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This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book.  To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

How To Be Whole In A Healthy Relationship

This excerpt is from my book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life Book. To purchase a copy yourself visit my products page and get a packet of FREE California Giant Zinnia Seeds!

Are you dependent on those around you? Can you be alone and comfortable? I used to believe that relationships were like addition . . . take half of me and half of someone I am in love with and that makes a whole. Fully dependent on each other is how I thought a good relationship would be. Then one day I was told that what I was describing was a co-dependent relationship.

Healthy relationships are not about addition; they are about multiplication. You don’t take a half person and add a half person to make a whole relationship, it makes a fourth (½ x ½ = ¼) of a relationship. One whole person times one whole person makes one whole relationship. The idea of having someone complete you generally only works in the honeymoon phase of the relationship or in the movies. To have a healthy relationship, complete yourself. Then be with someone you enjoy being with. Wow, that was a hard pill to swallow.

Cheri’s Favorite Quote!

Watch Cheri’s new video where she reveals her favorite quote and how it applies to her life as a professional speaker and published author. For more inspiration from Cheri purchase her book Seeds of Joy – Growing Zinnias & Your Zest for Life book by clicking http://cherineal.com/products/.

Another Life Lesson in the Garden

Who’d have thought gardening could teach me so many life lessons?

I’d planted Zinnia seeds in the shape of the word JOY in my garden.  More seeds came up than anticipated.  In order for flowers to bloom optimally, they need space in between.  So, on Saturday morning, I set out to decide which stems stayed and which I would need to pull.

I settled in, sitting Indian style facing the plants. I love Zinnias.  It hurt to have to pull any up, especially because they all looked so healthy. But I had to.  If I didn’t they stood a really good chance of being overrun by powdery mildew.  Also, the plants would crowd out and it would stunt all of them.  In order for them to bloom it was necessary.

I thought about my own life.  My calendar looked much like my garden.  I had always rejected the notion of creating space in my day, believing that life is short.  You have to squeeze in all you can.  But what if by cramming in so much, I am missing out on the most beautiful blooms I might produce?

How might this principle apply to my life?

I am blessed with a DOING spirit.  I can get more done in one hour than most accomplish in a day.  The curse that accompanies this blessing is that I feel guilty if I don’t get ‘stuff’ done.  I feel like I am not ‘earning my keep’ unless I have ‘product’ to show for it.  A list of things completed to prove I served well.

In my day job, I am the boss.  I don’t need to prove anything. And yet, a cloud looms over me with the limiting belief that I do.  Ironic that this belief might be the one thing standing in my way of blooming beyond anything I have ever dreamed.

If I were to replace it, what might a new belief look like?  Hmmm . . .  the picture of a gorgeous Zinnia comes to mind.  As it grows, it merely reaches for the sky, taking in the sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil.

How peaceful to consider modeling my life after that magnificent flower.

Centering myself. Recognizing my value in being and not in doing.  Taking time to enjoy the moment and not ‘make it matter’.  It already does.

Trusting that I will intuitively know how to handle whatever life serves me.  Staying focused on what brings me joy.  Identifying what I am most grateful for each day.  Taking care of me.  Not as a way of over-compensating for running myself ragged. As a way of savoring today.

Recognizing that some of the things I will need to let go of are really good things that I won’t want to let go of. But my life is too full, and I need to make room. Just like pulling the perfectly healthy Zinnia stems did.  Realizing that it is for the best in order for me to truly bloom into who I was put here to be.

Blooming ON purpose sure does hurt sometimes.  But it’s worth it.

 

Cheri Neal is a dynamic professional speaker, trainer, coach and public service professional.  She mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities.  Contact Cheri today to see how she can support YOU at http://www.CheriNeal.com.

 

 

Everything Changes When YOU Change Your Perspective

Perspective.  THAT word again.

The quote “Everything changes when YOU change your perspective” came from my book, Seeds of Joy, Growing Zinnias and Your Zest for Life. In it, I challenge readers to go into their mental closet and clear out the resentments that they have stuffed in the corners of their mind.  Those memories that block them from their own sunlight.

I have done this practice for over 32 years now, listing my resentments to shine a light on what is gucking me up. Interestingly enough, this last week, I uncovered a mound in my closet that I didn’t even realize was there. Resentments that have been holding me back my entire life.

It all started at the Dream Bank* in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jessica Schultz of BeYOUtiful Minds and Fitness shared the work of Dr. Kristin Neff around self-compassion.  I had heard that word many-a-time but never considered it at depth, believing I am as self-compassionate as the next person.

The following day I visited Daren Pagenkopf of Image Massage Therapy.

Daren isn’t just about working out the knots in one’s back.  He is about working out the knots in one’s unhealed life experiences.  What came up in our session were a mired of memories that were connected to emotions I had no idea I carried.

Daren asked over and over again, “Have you forgiven yourself for that?”  “Can you forgive them for that?” Forgiven myself and my brothers and sisters for fights we had when we were young? That seemed so petty and yet… I never realized just how much emotion I carried around in response to those childhood events.  Seemingly normal occurrences, but situations that caused me to react emotionally when brought up years and years later.

Over the next few days, countless scenarios from the past flooded in.  For the first time, I began to recognize just how self-critical I was of myself!
The greatest ah-ha moment came in realizing that my self-care practice was not really about self-care.  It is an elixir for the constant anxiety in my gut for all the self-judgement I abused myself with.  I judge myself based on how others judge me. That is a lot of power I give to other people! Which is a really dangerous practice with me being in politics.  Especially during an election season when individuals were determined to character assassinate me.  Daren called my aggressors, my “healing angels” because they were showing me what I needed to heal.  Now THAT was a twisted way to look at it!

He was right.

I have given my power away my entire life.  Not forgiven myself for not being perfect. Isolating. Dr. Kristin Neff calls it as forgetting we are part of a common humanity.  Not practicing self-kindness and mindfulness.  And instead, choosing self-judgement and over-identification.

What’s CRAZY is that I have lived this long without seeing it.  You can’t change something you can’t see.

But I do now.

*The American Family Insurance DreamBank is a space in Madison, WI designed to help dreamers find inspiration, tools and support to bring their dreams to life for free!

Cheri Neal is a dynamic professional speaker, trainer, coach and public service professional.  She mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities.  Contact Cheri today to see how she can support YOU at http://www.CheriNeal.com.

 

I FORGOT I HAD A CHOICE!

Seriously? This is NOT the quote I want to be writing about today.

“Today you get to choose for yourself to be a positive or negative ripple in this world.” This was easy to write when I was in a good space. Feeling tired and sick and sick and tired, I am combating the urge to flip off my computer screen right now.

Here I thought I was doing good by just living by the golden rule ‘do no harm’. Living by the philosophy that just because I’m not at the top of my game doesn’t give me the right to be less than kind and respectful to others. Especially because that sabotages my life.  It slides  me into the dreaded drama triangle, which makes me feel worse. If that is possible.

“Choosing” is such an interesting term. How difficult it is to recognize the power of choice when in the middle of a funk. It certainly doesn’t FEEL like a choice at all, whether “to be a positive or negative ripple in this world.” But I do recognize having a choice whether to do things that will bring me out of my funk.

There are two directions I can go to feel better.

  • One direction will make me feel good in the moment. Like eating foods that comfort me, calling a friend to complain to, shopping, having a few or more drinks, watching TV, etc. But those and other actions in the same vein often times make me feel worse about myself later.
  • Alternatively, I can choose to do something that will make me feel good about myself. Like go for a run or a walk by the lake, listen to music that brings me up, volunteer to help someone else, read a book that inspires me.  I can HALT and address whether I am Hungry (and eat something that is good for me) or Angry (do I need to have a constructive conversation with someone instead of letting it fester?).  Or if I am Lonely (can I reach out to someone who might be feeling even lonelier than I?) or Tired (is it time for a nap?).

The difference between doing what makes me feel good and makes me feel good about myself is HUGE.

It’s the difference between becoming the person I want to be and staying stuck in who I keep telling myself I don’t want to be. The shift happens right here, right now, while in the funk. Because THAT is the place that I tend to self-sabotage what I say I want for myself. This is where the ‘rubber meets the road’. It is easy to make good choices when I am feeling good. Not so easy when I am feeling bad. So, maybe this quote today was written for a time such as this. And maybe I will take heed in these words of wisdom. . . starting with a nap.

Cheri Neal is a professional speaker, coach and public service professional. Cheri helps people turn adversity into opportunity so that they can live engaged, fulfilling, and prosperous lives. A dynamic speaker and trainer, Cheri mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities. To hire Cheri for your next event: http://www.CheriNeal.com.

It’s ALL in the Believing

Growing flowers from seed is a LOT of work.

Not physical work exactly, but more of a discipline.  One must care for the seeds, making sure they get water on a regular basis and that weeds don’t take over.  If you aren’t invested in the flowers growing, if you don’t believe that they will actually bloom into gorgeous specimens, you are less likely to remember to take care of them.  Not believing they will bloom leads to not taking care of them, which leads to them not blooming – a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Make no mistake, having one seemingly dead seed produce an entire harvest of gorgeous blooms IS a miracle.  But make that miracle happen, it takes believing and nurturing that belief.

How does this same scenario play out in life? The miracle I dreamed of was wanting to be a professional speaker.  I would honest to God, sit in the front row of motivational events wishing that the speaker would spot something in me and encourage me to follow that dream.  I never said anything, never did anything but wish.  Then one day, I met a professional speaker at a conference I attended.  He shared with me that the National Speakers Association actually helps individuals start professional speaking businesses.

The meetings were two hours away, during the weekday and expensive, but I was so excited, it didn’t matter.  I attended every meeting, joined the academy, bombed my first speech and quit.  I sulked for a while, joined Toastmasters and went back.  I locked myself in my home for three days and finally figured out what I would speak on, got help in creating a logo, business cards, one sheet, website and worked hard on my talks.  I said yes to anyone who would invite me to present.  And I stopped allowing myself to sabotaged by that voice in my head that was so desperate to keep me safe and small.  And then, a miracle happened.  At age 53, I became a professional speaker.

Another miracle was my struggle with my weight . . . my ENTIRE life (no exaggeration).  Then one day I quit and had a literal come to Jesus meeting (or Higher Power, God, Source, Spirit, whatever works for you) stating that I was done!  I informed my God that I had two non-negotiables: I would NEVER diet again AND I would release 30 pounds.  I did not know how it would happen but trusted God to show me. Shortly after, I heard about a study where scientists worked with rats to get them addicted to cocaine, and then gave them the choice between cocaine and sugar water.  The rats chose the sugar water every time!  Hearing that made me so angry, as I realized I was nothing more than an addicted rat to sugar!  On that day, August 1, 2016, I quit sugar 100%. No will power needed (after I got through the withdrawals which weren’t pretty!).  I am now 35 pounds lighter and have never felt better.  A miracle for sure!

What miracle are you hoping for?

What are you willing to draw a line in the sand and step over to make a miracle happen?  What seed can you plant and then water, to grow YOUR miracle? DO IT ALREADY, would YOU?

Cheri Neal is a dynamic professional speaker, trainer, coach and public service professional.  She mixes a powerfully refreshing blend of education, energy and entertainment, engaging participants with right-on-time concepts for enhancing their lives at work, home and in their communities. Contact Cheri today to see how she can support YOU at  http://www.CheriNeal.com.

Seeds of What?


Zinnias are filled with rich metaphors, bringing out the best in humanity.

The Zinnia grows in every size and comes in a wide array of vibrant colors, much like human beings do. In Zen culture, the Zinnia represents joy, the slice of life that so many of us seem to be missing.

Have you ever considered the power of one little Zinnia seed?  Each seed produces a multitude of flowers.  And each of those flowers produce a multitude of seeds, propagating over and over again. What would that look like in your life?  Consider what it would  look like to embrace the idea that a seed was planted in you by our Creator.  And if allowed, that seed would produce an entire harvest of blooms for a specific purpose and passion?

What keeps us from connecting with our purpose?

Most of us were never encouraged to identify the purpose planted inside us. Instead, we looked outward for approval, afraid of being kicked out of the ‘tribe’ if we don’t fit in.  The voice in our head’s job is to keep us playing small and stay safe so we wouldn’t be rejected. This fear robs us of our joy. I love the acronym for FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real and Forgetting Every Available Resource.  See we are each here ON purpose, but we have to be open to the quest.  By choosing to live on purpose, we grow seeds of joy, not just in our life but in the lives of those around us.  And the route to joy is inevitably through self-acceptance, faith, curiosity and love.

There is something powerful about the decision to give ourselves permission to be just as we are.  To stop and contemplate the soil we were planted in, the quality of the water we received and sunlight we were privy to, or not, while growing up. Reconnect with the flame that was planted in us.  To rid ourselves of the weeds, disguising themselves as resentment and regret. Uncover and fall in love with who we came here to be. And then to follow that thirst for joy and see where it goes.

What do you thirst for?

It is different for everyone.  Most of us don’t give ourselves permission to discover, more less quench that thirst.  We turn to substitutes that fill the void sort of but don’t really fulfill us.

But when you are on purpose, living for what you thirst for, the world opens up and delivers what will quench that thirst.  Imagine a world where we all live on purpose, quenching our individual thirsts that our SPIRITS long for.

Let this be the year YOU step into living on purpose. If you’re not sure how, start by planting Seeds of Joy, Growing Zinnias and YOUR Zest for life!

Cheri Neal is the author of Seeds of Joy, Growing Zinnias and Your Zest for Life and the owner of Candid Coaching and Conversations.  Audiences describe Cheri as: Very interesting – great speaker – kept my interest – one of the best presentations I have been to – love her energy and enthusiasm! – her passion shows through and she is a pleasure to listen to – she’s great and funny – really draws this crowd’s attention.

Hire Cheri for your next event and infuse your program with ZEST!