Archive for December, 2012

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 14 – Let it Go

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

The little birds are happy I didn't get around to cleaning out my planters

The little birds have food in the winter because I did not get around to cleaning out the planters.

It’s been on my “to do” list for several months to clean out my deck planters.   It’s not a very peaceful feeling for me to have what I consider unfinished work around my house.  Seeing the little birds in the snow surviving based on my laziness – ahhhhh peace.   For today,  peace starting with me means letting go of my perceived imperfections.  In reality they are in fact  perfection in the overall scheme of life.

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 13 – Cheer Squad

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Today I participated on a businesss talk radio show on 780 KOH AM in Reno, Nevada.   I met the talk show host – Mike Bosma –  several weeks ago when renting office space for one of our salesman.   He needed a last minute guest for his two hour entrepreneur start-up advice show and put out a request for volunteers earlier in the week.   Mike sent me the format for the show – I was supposed to discuss my story in business start up with the purpose of helping other people start up their business.    I like Mike’s show and his mission.    It made more sense as the show progressed though to help promote Mike’s accounting business – it was after all his radio show.

I learned from this amazing woman in college named Lillian Millman how much influence you could have by gushing over how great other people are.   Lillian was the assistant to the Dean of Engineering and over my four years there it was obvious how much she set the stage for caliber of professors and students the School of Engineering was able to attract.

Can you imagine what this world would be like if we learned about others capabilities and were able to promote their abilities as part of our day to day dialog?   Cheerleaders help build moral and boost the spirit – not just in sports.   As my practice of peace I’m going to be a better one person cheer squad and keep the spirit of my early mentor Lillian alive and well.

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 12 – Rhythm

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I am a lap swimmer.   My preference is freestyle, also known as the “crawl.”   Last week, my 80 year old father taught me a new way to do the crawl.   Instead of pulling my hand back along the same side of my body he showed me a new stroke,  Sweep my hand across my body to the other side.   It completely changed the rhythm of the stroke and I found myself wanting to take a breath with every stroke as it turned me way over on my side.   I practiced this new stroke for several laps then I took my standard metric – how many strokes does it take me to do one lap of the pool?   With the standard way of doing the freestyle where my hand pushes the water on the same side of my body – it takes me 33 strokes to complete one length of the pool.   With the new stroke where I push the water diagonally across my body, it only takes me 24 strokes to complete one length of the pool.  WOW – what an amazing improvement from one simple little modification.

It took me a bit to adjust to the rhythm of this new style of doing the crawl.   It has more benefits than just speed, it works out different parts of my body and I feel much more limber in my core muscles because of the twisting.

It got me thinking – where else in my life am I habituated in rhythms that may not be delivering great results.   And is there a way for me to gracefully ease into more peaceful rhythms in life?    Just like I did with this new swimming stroke.   Is there  a minor shift in the rhythms of my day that could generate more peace overall?    Maybe I’ll start by going to the pool and contemplate this as I practice my new crawl.

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 11 – Beauty of the Soul

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

“Remember that there are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body. That of the soul displays its radiance in intelligence, in chastity, in good conduct, in generosity, and in good breeding, and all these qualities may exist in an ugly man. And when we focus our attention upon that beauty, not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity. I am well aware that I am not handsome, but I also know that I am not deformed, and it is enough for a man of worth not to be a monster for him to be dearly loved, provided he has those spiritual endowments I have spoken of.”
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote Part 1 Of 2

This quote shows the struggle of embracing the beauty of another’s soul when outward appearances violate modern day definitions of beauty.   Can you imagine if there were makeup to pretty up your soul?   Could it be blush to improve your humility, eye liner to make your most lovable characteristics pop, lipstick to show your sensitive and caring nature?

For today I will contemplate how I can put a shine on my soul for the enjoyment of the others with whom I share this planet.

Beauty is transient available in a moment yet gone in a flash

Beauty is transient available in a moment yet gone in a flash

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 10 – Sovereignty

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Sovereignty is typically a term you see associated with governments and their rights to govern people in their defined geographic boundaries.   It also applies to each and every one of us in our innate rights to make our own choices in life.   The question comes in – what happens when my rights to make my own choices bump into your rights to make your own choices?   Take for example – smoking in public.   Does someone have a sovereign right to smoke in public if the smoke from their smoking device impacts another?   For peace to prevail, it’s critical we live in harmony with each other’s right to exist in the manner that best suits each of us.

My friend Jeff Allen proposed this model for civil discourse I like to contemplate from time to time.   What I like about Jeff’s model is it provides a framework in which to have productive dialog with others about the issues of the day.

For today, I am going to frame my thoughts on peace with respect to Jeff’s model on civil discourse and the notion that we all have the sovereign rights to make our own choices in life with the concurrent responsibility to preserve the rights of everyone.

Framing a Productive Dialog With Others

Framing a Productive Dialog With Others

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 9 – Bring Joy to The World

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Twenty three years ago we crafted something for the fridge about our family values.  The family at the time being just me, my husband and our new baby.   I don’t recall much of what we wrote for the fridge at the time to contemplate and display to us on a daily basis.   The one value I do recall was that being happy was an important contribution to our family and it was each of our responsibilities to bring happiness into our home.

I remember that one because it’s how I’ve lived everyday since we crafted those values.   Ten years after we wrote these, I was working as a research scientist for a large multi-national company.   Since we were in the “research” division, I decided to do “research.”    Everyone I ran into, I greeted with a very friendly smile and a big hello.   Over time, people started responding to me the same way, many even initiating the friendly greetings.   The environment felt very welcoming, friendly and joyful.   Several months after I started my experiment, a new scientist moved into the office next to mine.   We were chatting after work hours a couple weeks after he started and he asked, “How come you are the only happy person in here?”   This observation significantly contrasted my experience with the Research Center as a place filled with happy people.

My experiment taught me how much we each influence the environments we frequent on a day to day basis. If I want to live in a joyful, peaceful and happy world – It is as easy as showing up that way in every encounter.

Be the rainbow wherever you go.

Be the rainbow wherever you go.

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 8 – Enjoy Differences

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I remember the first day this dawned on me fifteen or so years ago. I noticed this inspirational poster encouraging tolerance at a company where I was teaching Project Management. I thought to myself – do I want people to simply tolerate me or would I prefer they enjoyed me? Why not aspire to enjoy people’s differences rather than merely tolerate them? Wouldn’t we all prefer to be enjoyed for those unique and quirky elements that make us, us?

So much anger, misery and suffering comes from expecting people to be different than who they are. It’s as if we have a beagle and are mad at the beagle because he is not a black lab.

Differences stimulate new thoughts, new learning, and new experiences. Viva la difference!

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 7 – Reflection

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

In Cheetah Learning, we use reflection as a way for our students to assess what behavioral changes they will maintain based on their unique learning experience in their class.   I thought it would be a good idea to do that here 1/3 of the way through the 21 day practice of peace.

Our learning reflection questions are:

What happened?

How did I feel?

What did I learn?

What am I going to do differently going forward?

So here I go:

What Happened?   Becoming more conscious of being peaceful I realized how inherently peaceful I already am.   I heard my calling to learn how to accelerate learning 20 years ago.   Part of that calling is to test out new theories on how people learn and change behaviors on myself.   The bodies of work I have studied are from many disciplines.   What I have applied has created a base operating system of peace inducing behaviors.  It is a good exercise for me to take stock of what has taken hold in the various practices I’ve adopted.

How did I feel?   Some elements of what I practiced over this week I realized I was not so peaceful in some parts of my life.   There are relationships with others that at times challenge my personal goals of staying in a space of peaceful interactions.   When I look at the lives of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela – they had their own relationship challenges with those closest to them over the years as well.   This doesn’t exclude me from holding myself to my own standards of peaceful interactions with those closest to me.   Where I was stretched and felt uncomfortable gave me ample opportunity to reflect on how I could and would do better in future encounters.

What did I learn?   I have learned this lesson with patience – the more I learn to be patient, the more opportunities I will have that test my patience.   The more capable I am, the more I will be able to develop more capabilities.  And now, the more I focus on peace,  the more I will be able to be peaceful.

What will I do differently going forward?   Stay present to the opportunities available to practice being more peaceful.   Anytime I get rattled by something going on in my world is an opportunity to create more capabilities for being peaceful.

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 6 – Compassionate Connection

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Yesterday when I was getting onto the highway, I didn’t see a small white car coming up fast behind me.   As I merged into the fast moving traffic, the small white car let me know they were there with a horn blast.   Not one, but at least 20.    I was very thankful I had just been at the pool and had not put in my hearing aids yet.  I asked one of my kids traveling with me what was all the commotion.    They said – Mom, I think you just cut off that white car.   Oh so sorry – but I didn’t think it wise to stop to apologize – we were speeding down the highway at 60 miles an hour.

I realized I had a choice in how I reacted to the news that someone was blaring their horn at me.   I was concerned I had scared the driver.   As I looked over to the left lane and saw no traffic there, it occurred to me the person may be an inexperienced driver and did not realize they could get over into the left lane to allow merging traffic to enter the highway.

In the book Buddha Brain, the author talks about the misery and suffering created from the second dart.   The second dart is our reaction to events – when we expect another person to behave in any way differently than what they are currently behaving and we become upset because of these perceptions.

A couple years ago, inspired by the behavior of a Cheetah Mastermind participant who routinely expressed dissatisfaction with other participants – I created a technique called “conversational aikido.”     Attached is an image of the Conversational Aikdo technique.

A way of compassionately connecting with people who are upset.

A way of compassionately connecting with people who are upset.

Based on what I had learned from Scot Nichols in Somatic Psychology, when we focus on the area right below our belly button, we can stay in a positive neutral state of being.   This helps with compassionately connecting with others who may be behaving as if they are upset.   Just like the driver in the white car in the story above.  What good would it be for me to get upset in response to the driver in the white car’s blaring horn?   I couldn’t hear the horn well because I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids.  So it certainly wasn’t disturbing my physical sense of peace.   Any disturbance to my sense of peace was all my own, if I chose to go there.

For today – regardless of what anyone else is doing, I am going to stay conscious of how I am choosing to react.   I will choose to compassionately connect as my first go to behavior if I encounter people who are upset.

21 Day Practice of Peace – Day 5 – Find the belly laugh

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

For those people who know me in person, you know my big belly laugh.   Oh, almost a decade ago now, I made it one of my practices to have five big belly laughs a day.   I’m way past the five big belly laughs a day – the world can be such a funny place and I find the humor everywhere.   Most of the time.   Sometimes I let the world get heavy.   It’s harder to find the belly laugh then – but this is the precise time it’s most important I do this.

I learned from my somatic psychologist friend – Scot Nichols – we store emotional energy in various places in our body – from all types of life experiences.    The purpose of doing any type of somatic work is to become conscious of this stored and stuck emotional energy and release it through body work.   Scot tells me this allows the events of the day to flow through you and not get stuck causing further angst.    The body work can be as simple as shaking it out, focusing on the area you feel the sensation, and a conscious and consistent refocusing over time to create new neural network patterning.

Different parts of our bodies store different memories and sensations.   Like butterflies in the stomach over time can become a nervous stomach.   Stress tension in the neck muscles over time can become chronic headaches.   I’ve chosen to store belly laughs and let my belly move like a bowl of jelly.   The way I did it was to focus on my lower belly.

What I later learned is this same area is where the “power” center is of your body.   Try this exercise – just stand regularly and ask a friend to push you slightly.   Next focus on the lower belly and ask the friend to push you slightly.   What do you notice?    When I first did this – it was a lot harder for someone to push me off balance when I focused on my lower belly.    And this is precisely what the belly laugh does into my lower abdomen – it helps me keep an inner joie de vivre – happiness and excitement about this fantastic experience we call life regardless of what is going on around me.   I find my inner balance of joy with the practice of the deep belly laugh.   Give it a try.

Tomorrow I’ll share how you can use the focus on the lower belly to increase compassion.