Archive for Self Improvement

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/.

The Power of the Seed


Life.

That saying, “Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug”, sure does fit. It’s crazy how you can feel so on top of the world one day and the next, like you got hit by a freight train.

Feeling powerlessness has such a deep impact on one’s mood and relationships.

And it is SO my go-to response.  Whenever life doesn’t go my way, my knee-jerk reaction is as if I am the victim to whatever is up against me.  Depending on the situation, I can stay stuck in it for days, weeks even!  It’s crazy!

The truth is, I am NEVER really powerless.

I am the Creator of my life.  It is up to me to decide what kind of life I want to live.  Unfortunately, THEN I have to take steps to create that life.  I have to face my fears, sometimes do what I don’t want to do. But I know it will move me closer to what I want.

I love contemplating the power of a seed.  This tiny little piece of nothing, when placed in dirt, given water and sunlight, blooms into a whole bunch of something!

It grows because that is what it was created to do.

As were we.  When I look back at my life, I can’t find a single instance where circumstances didn’t work out in a way that blessed me beyond measure.  Or taught me lessons that helped me to grow, or shifted me to a place where I could prosper.

And yet,

Every time I slide back into that powerless feeling, I allow it to suck me under.  I forget that ALL is well.  And that I am on point to bloom beyond measure.  All I have to do is trust.  It’s easy to do that when I stay in this moment. It’s when I get out in front of myself that I begin to hyperventilate.

So today, I tap into the power of the seed.

I choose to BE right here, where I am planted, and trust that my Creator is growing something amazing out of me.

And YOU too.

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.

 

Who made that voice in my head the boss???

Seriously! Who made that voice in my head the boss???

I’ve started hearing some of the things she says to me and she is mean!  Things she says, I actually repeat without even questioning her!  I listened to her more closely this week and when I finally woke up enough to challenge her, she shut down!  I admit, my life is a little quirky.  I have a deep passion for raising Monarch butterflies (I have over 100 eggs, caterpillars and chrysalis in my garage as I write).  I LOVE Zinnias and plant them all over town. I wrote a book about them and spent over $500 getting seed packets made to hand out.  And I take care of 7 horses every morning that aren’t mine.  I say things like, “I know, I’m weird” and “what’s wrong with me?” and “I’m such a dork!” These little put downs might seem like nothing but said over and over, I just realized they have a way of undermining my self-confidence.  Add to that, beating myself up for not living up to other’s expectations . . . no, wait.  Correction.  It isn’t even other’s expectations, it’s really the voice in my head magnifying what SHE thinks others expect and then holding ME to that standard.  NO one else does.

Dr. Kristin Neff is an expert on self-compassion.  I was turned on to her by another AMAZING human being, Jessica Schultz of BeYOUtiful Minds and Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin.   Dr. Neff states, “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

Could someone please tell that voice in my head that??????

Oh wait, I CAN!  I can begin by challenging her assumptions.  Hmmmmm…. so why does it have to be weird and dorky to do these things?  Who gets to decide, anyway?  What if reframe it. “I am really passionate about really cool stuff.”  I’m not a dork, I’m a delight!”  How will that impact my day?

I am just grateful I finally heard the voice. Realized that SHE isn’t me. For my entire life, she has been talking crap about me and I believed her!  That stops today. I realize that the voice in my head is just trying to keep me small and safe.  But I am a grown up now and I can take care of my SELF! I am so done not being enough and doing enough.

I went online and looked through hundreds of affirmations and chose ten that resonated with me.  Each morning, while cleaning horse stalls or working in the garden, I repeat them to reprogram my brain to begin saying GOOD things about me.

After all, I have planted in ME the seed of the essence of GOD!  I’m gonna focus on growing THAT!

Cheers!

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.

 

What Book is Helping YOU to Shift?

I finally signed up for an Audible membership.

There are SO many books I was dying to read but there was never the time.  Even when there was, I’d fall asleep within the first few pages! So, ‘reading’ books that are being read to me seemed like a great alternative.

And it was.

I find myself traveling a lot on the weekends.  Being able to sink into a good book while driving has become an absolute treat!  Here are the books I have listened to this month:

  • The Miracle Morning, The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life – Before 8am by Hal Elrod
  • You are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
  • The Subtle Are of Not Giving a F*ck, A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

You might have noticed a theme here.

Most who know me would assume they are research for my speaking presentations.  The truth is, I have been out of sorts for quite a while now.  I have yet to uncover exactly what is at the root of my dis-ease but having been a recovering alcoholic for over 30 years, I don’t take it lightly.

I am in the middle of a serious shift.

See, my entire life I dreamed, but couldn’t even say out loud, that I wanted to be a professional speaker.  I was so afraid of what people would say.  Then a series of ‘coincidences’  landed me smack dab in the center of my dream.

  • I met speaker Matt Booth, who connected me with the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Speakers Association.
  • I joined their academy and was gifted the most amazing fairy god-mother, I mean mentor, Susan Young.
  • I crafted my talks, created a marketing sheet, website, joined Toastmasters to hone in on my skills, published my first book, and today I AM a professional speaker.
  • I even work with Bonnie Davis, a virtual assistant, to help me with the details.

All in a couple of years.

It seems my body hasn’t caught up with my spirit yet.  Something I’d dreamed of for over 30 years, I am now doing.  It took courage, faith, showing up, following through, not listening to the voice in my head that tried to shut me down, and investing money I didn’t have, trusting it would pay dividends beyond my wildest dreams.

What’s that quote?  Fake it til you make it?  That’s what I did. I still have a long way to go, but I HAVE made it.

What have I learned from the books listed above?

  • To love myself. A message that echoes time and time again in every stage of my life. How ironic that it is so difficult to live.
  • I practice 10 affirmations and do a visualization while mucking horse stalls each morning.
  • And I stopped caring about so much. I am starting to care most about MY dreams.  I am not taking for granted my responsibilities, but I am also not saying yes to everything and everyone else.

What’s your dream?

What are you waiting for?  Life is WAY too short to wait one more day.  It isn’t comfortable, but oh is it worth it!

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.

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.