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Michele Harvey

I am a certified life and spiritual coach offering excellent value for the lives of men and women around the world. Create the career, relationships, and lifestyle that fulfill your true life purpose. Learn to use your intuition to overcome blocks, and to find, fuel, and fulfill the life of your dreams.

Personal Growth and Adapting to our Changing World

Do you often feel like the pace or scope of change in your life is overwhelming? Are you struggling to cope with the seemingly ceaseless stream of urgent input that seems to force you into almost non-stop activity? In the face of this accelerated time, what is the best way to avoid confusion and gain more clarity? Klara Acel

One of the most effective ways to handle accelerated time is to actually step out of it. Don’t try to constantly do more and fill up every minute of your day trying to keep up. Instead take more time during the day to stop all outward activity and focus inward. It is ideal to spend at least 20 minutes in quiet contemplation or meditation every morning before your day starts. Many people find that this gives them the clarity to remain centered throughout the day.  Blog post image

An alternative is to break up your day with short moments where you shut off your brain and disconnect from your to-do list and simply be with yourself for 2 to 5 minutes. Deep breathing will initiate the process and enable you to relax and reflect.

It is amazing how quickly you can gain clarity and connection with your essence. When you resume your activity you are likely to find that you are much more focused and productive. It is quite possible that you will resume with more passion and joy because you have connected the activity with your higher purpose in life. Try this method for the next three weeks and see what it does for your sense of clarity during these busy and often confusing times in which we live.

 

Global Oneness Day – October 24, An Invitation to Create a World of Peace

Founded by Humanity’s Team in 2010, Global Oneness Day is an annual opportunity for thousands of us who care deeply about our world to be together in solidarity, and experience our oneness with the Divine and each other.

Humanity’s Team is an international spiritual movement whose purpose is to communicate and demonstrate the G1D2015_Logotimeless truth that We Are All One, with God and life. It proposes a New Spirituality (not a new religion) that enlarges and enhances humanity’s current beliefs about God and about life in ways that could change how we live with each other, bringing peace and harmony to our planet at last. Key to the New Spirituality is a belief that God is not separate from anyone or anything — and neither are we.

Global Oneness Day brings together dozens of passionate speakers whose commitment and insight into Oneness have inspired millions. On this day, we see We Are All One with the Divine, each other and our Earth home.

The purpose of Global Oneness Day is to create a shared consciousness of Oneness. By coming together, we believe we can build a global community devoted to living as One. Global Oneness Day is a time for people across the globe to join in celebrations of all types, such as cross-cultural and interfaith gatherings, song and dance gatherings, walks in nature, meditation circles, and reading of the Oneness Declaration – all in true communion and remembrance of Who We Really Are!

The Global Oneness Day virtual summit continues to grow as the rallying point of celebration. Join us to hear dozens of renowned speakers share how Oneness can be realized and expressed in daily life, so that our global society blossoms into greater health, harmony and happiness. There is no cost to participate in this live, interactive event. Replay after the summit is also available when you register. http://www.globalonenesssummit.org    /?inf_contact_key=f1e39ea57c52971eae56e144bdd65a3fba5b555e0c3c4b695ace5ea23732449e

In addition, it only takes a few minutes to join the global community of almost 100,000 people who have already mandala-with-everyone-300x225signed the Oneness Declaration. http://humanitysteam.org/sai/oneness-petition/document The Oneness Declaration expresses the very spirit of Global Oneness Day. It is a mirror for reflection and inspiration. Even if you can’t participate in our Global Oneness Day program this year, we invite you to please join us in signing the declaration. Together we can make our world a better place.

Serious Food Waste Occurs Due to Confusion over “Sell-By Date”

I have developed a strong interest in food waste since I began volunteering at my local food pantry. We help to alleviate food insecurity in the local community by rescuing perfectly edible food that is often past its “sell-by date.” I have cultivated this interest, in part, because food waste also contributes to global warming, another  long-time concern of mine.

According to a recent article in The Guardian, if food waste were a country, it would rank as the third highest national emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China.

The worst food waste occurs in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where consumers waste 39% of all food purchased, followed by Europe, where about 31% of all food purchased by consumers is thrown away.9a326bf5b6200284da7377644df83796

With the global population rising, wastage of products including 45% of all fruit and vegetables and 20% of meat is one of the greatest challenges to achieving food security. If the amount of food wasted around the world were reduced by just 25% there would be enough food to feed all the people who are malnourished, according to the UN.

According to Business Insider, experts estimate that $165 billion worth of food gets tossed each year, much of it wasted, out of fear of bogus expiration dates.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises you to purchase the product before the “sell-by date,” but most expiration dates are largely made up. According to The National Resource Defense Council, the “sell-by dates” simply tell you when food will reach its limits for “optimal quality.”

The USDA notes that it’s OK to eat these foods past the expiration dates on the packaging, with the exception of infant formula. The USDA advises parents to not buy or even use baby formula once the “use by” date rolls around.
A rule of thumb to go by is to pay attention to when you purchased or opened the food, rather than what the packaging says.

If in doubt, the website StillTasty provides helpful tips on when to dispose of hundreds of household goods.

We need more ways to educate the public with regard to the definition of the “sell-by date,” in order to dispel the fear of consuming expired food, thereby reducing food waste. It seems to me that many of us waste a good deal of money, as well as the opportunity help those in need, by disposing of edible food we fear is no longer fit for consumption.

Creating a World of Peace for Everyone

Recent news of the United States Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage, as well as calls to remove Confederate flags in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, has moved me to share with you, a group called The Evolution Revolution, www.evolutionrevolution.net in which I am one of many like-minded individuals around the globe who is honored to play an active role.

The Evolution Revoultion is part of Humanity’s Team. Humanity’s Team, a top-rated global nonprofit, was founded by Neale Donald Walsch, a modern-day spiritual messenger and the author of Conversations With God, as well as 30 other books.

In his book, The Storm Before The Calm, Neale raises seven simple questions, the first of which is, “How is it possible for nearly 7 billion people to all say they want the same thing – peace, prosperity, health, happiness, safety- and still be unable to produce it after thousands and thousands of years? The intention of these questions is to begin a Global Conversation. GlobalMeal1

Members of the Evolution Revolution are joining this gentle revolution because we believe, as Neale has said, “The problem in the world today is a spiritual problem, and we are trying to solve the problem at every level except the level at which the problem exists.”

We believe at their core, the problems in the world are not political problems. They are not economic problems. They are not military problems. The problems facing the world are the result of our beliefs, and as Neale states, “The solution is to change our most basic beliefs, the most damaging of which have to do with humanity’s belief in separation and limitation.” mandala-with-everyone-300x225

This is NOT about starting a new religion. Rather, members of The Evolution Revolution come from many persuasions and we believe there is peaceful common ground, where all religions and non-believers can come together for the benefit of all humankind. The underlying message of The Evolution Revolution is that, “We Are All One.” We all have the same basic wants. We all want safe food, good health, safe communities, a sustainable world, security, etc.

We seek not to convince others with different points of view to embrace our mission. We understand that, “Ours is not the only way. Ours is just another way,” as Neale offers.  Rather, we seek to encourage other like-minded individuals to join with us. Perhaps after taking a deep look at the mission and scope of the Evolution Revolution www.evolutionrevolution.net, you will feel that this includes you.

Should Environmental Sustainability Play A Role in Dietary Guidelines?

Do you believe that environmental considerations should play a role in setting dietary guidelines? Here in the US, 49 academic centers, health advocacy groups, and environmental advocacy groups that make up the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisary Committee (DGAC) sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt tsustainability recommendations developed by the DGAC.17842641-Food-sources-of-protein-including-cheese-lentils-red-and-white-meat-kidney-beans-fish-tuna-nuts-and--Stock-Photo

 

The letter places strong emphasis on plant-based diets, indicating benefits for both human health and the health of the environment. “The food we eat, and how it’s raised, has a profound effect on public health and the environment,” said Bob Martin, director of Food System Policy at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

 

The letter goes into how the industrial model for meat production in the US is unsustainable and is a potential threat to public health, due in part to the routine use of antibiotics. It also states that the new dietary guidelines should take into account, how meat is raised, (notice they don’t use the word animals) and lowering meat consumption.

 

In addition, the letter emphasizes sustainable seafood production and eating lower on the aquatic food chain, as industrial fishing over the past half-century has noticeably depleted the topmost links in aquatic food chains, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the technical organizations of the United Nations.

 

Despite broad support from health and environmental groups, USDA and HHS are facing stiff opposition from lobbying groups for the meat and poultry industries to omit the sustainability recommendations in the final rendition of the revised dietary guidelines. They argue that lean meat consumption is a key component of a healthy diet, and that environmental sustainability should not be discussed with regard to an individual’s diet. RB35287269524

 

The letter urges the USDA to resist pressure from lobbying groups, stating that “current industrial food production methods can work to undercut the nation’s long-term food security by contributing to biodiversity loss, soil degradation, water contamination, climate change, and antibiotic resistance.”

 

The public is encouraged to view the Committee’s Advisory Report and provide written comments at http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2015/comments/ The comment period has been extended through 11:59 p.m. E.D.T. on May 8, 2015.

 

What are your thoughts and concerns regarding dietary guidelines? Do you believe that environmental concerns should play a role in responsible food choices? If so, how much of a role do you think environmental concerns should play in shaping eating habits both collectively and individually?

A Vegetarian Diet is Better for the Environment

Whether you choose to be a vegetarian for the environment, for your health, or for the animals, you have the power to reduce your ecological footprint, and save money, simply by changing your eating habits.

Each day, factory farms produce billions of pounds of manure, which ends up in lakes, rivers, and drinking water. The one trillion pounds of waste produced by factory-farmed animals each year are usually used to fertilize crops, and they subsequently end up running off into waterways—along with the drugs and bacteria they contain.

Many tons of waste end up in giant pits in the ground or on crops, polluting the air and groundwater. According to the EPA, agricultural runoff is the number one source of pollution in USA waterways.

Raising animals (including the land used for grazing and growing feed crops) now uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined.

Of the grain grown, more than half is fed to farmed animals. Think of how many people around the world could be fed with that grain. To produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water.

According to a report by the California State Senate, “Studies have shown that animal waste lagoons emit toxic airborne chemicals that can cause “inflammatory, immune, and neurochemical problems in humans.”

According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.   green-foods

Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and to grow grain to feed them—that’s almost half the total land mass of the lower 48 states. In the “finishing” phase alone, in which pigs grow from 100 pounds to 240 pounds, each hog consumes more than 500 pounds of grain, corn, and soybeans; this means that across the U.S., pigs eat tens of millions of tons of feed every year.

Chickens, pigs, cattle, and other animals raised for food are the primary consumers of water in the USA.  A single pig consumes 3-5  gallons of drinking water per day, while a cow on a dairy farm drinks as much as 30 gallons daily. It takes more than 450 gallons of water to produce one  pound of cow flesh, whereas it takes about 180 gallons of water to make one pound of whole wheat flour.

The Worldwatch Institute estimates that at least 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide can be attributed to “livestock and their byproducts.”

If the switch to a vegetarian diet seems too extreme, I suggest cutting back on your consumption of meat and poultry for a few days each week, by experimenting instead, with vegetarian meals.

Being a vegetarian is easier than ever before. I (again) made the switch to a vegetarian diet three years ago, and this time, I haven’t looked back.

Please share your ideas and your questions about vegetarianism and what it means to you.

Healthy Snacks for Children

Because children have smaller stomachs than adults, they need to eat more often to meet their needs for optimum growth and development. Between-meal snacks are an important way for your child to meet part of his or her daily nutritional requirements. After-school snacking provides about one-third of most children’s total daily calories during the week, according to Iowa State University Extension.

Involve your children in preparing their own healthy snacks. Photo Credit snacks image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com

Involve your children in preparing their own healthy snacks. Photo Credit snacks image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com

Variety

Healthy low-sugar snacks for your child can be found within the all of the food groups. This includes grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans. Vary the color and texture of snacks to hold your child’s interest while helping to meet his or her nutritional needs.

Considerations

In addition to limiting sugar intake, healthy low-sugar snacks should be high in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. Healthy low-sugar snacks should have less than 10 to 15g of sugar per serving. They should also have less than 10 percent of the Daily Value for total fat and sodium.

Choices

Healthy low-sugar snacks for children include fresh sliced fruits; fruits packed in their own juice,; fresh cut vegetables with low-fat dip; low-fat cottage cheese; low-fat string cheese or sliced cheese; popcorn; low-sugar cereals, such as toasted oats; whole-grain breads; animal crackers; graham crackers; low-fat granola; unsalted nuts and seeds; and low fat milk. Combine these foods to create delicious snacks such as trail mix, individual pizzas and low-fat smoothies.

Reheat small servings of leftovers from the night before to provide a healthy snack for your child. Healthy low-sugar snacks can still taste sweet. Offer frozen fruit bars, low-fat fruit yogurt or dried fruits, such as raisins, dried apples, apricots, pineapple or cranberries. To set a good example and avoid temptation, keep high-sugar snack foods out of the house.

Please share your comments, questions, and in particular, suggestions for future posts.

Bon Apetit!

 

Healthy Restaurant Dining

When dining out, we are faced with many tempting food selections. This post offers straightforward tips for making healthy food choices when ordering a meal in a restaurant.

1. Ask how the food is prepared and take your time when ordering.

2. The more simply something is prepared, the more control you have over what you are eating. Choose plain baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, poached, or steamed food without added sauces or gravy.

3.  Ask for butter, sauce, gravy, sour cream and salad dressing to be served on the side so you can control how much of it you add to your food.  

4. Avoid foods that are breaded, deep fried, sautéed, scalloped, creamed, in cheese sauce, or prepared with mayonnaise. Ask that the chef to prepare your food with very little butter or oil or none at all.

5. Ask how large the serving size is. If the meal is large, ask that half of it arrive on your plate and the other half be given to you in a take-out bag to go. This way you can stretch the meal into two meals.

6. Ask that bread not be served or if a bread basket is brought to the table, take one piece and then have your server take the rest of the bread away.

7. Order an appetizer and a small salad instead of an entrée or share an entrée with your dining companion.

8. Be selective at salad bars. Choose fresh greens, raw vegetables, fresh fruits, and low fat or fat free salad dressings. Avoid salads prepared with mayonnaise.

9. Order healthy side dishes such as vegetables or a baked potato.

10. Skip dessert, share a dessert, or order fruit (even if you don’t see it listed on the menu) for dessert.

11. Limit yourself to one or two alcoholic beverages.

12. Ask for fat-free or 1% milk so you can add it to your coffee instead of cream or half-and-half.

13. Try to avoid restaurants that offer all-you-can-eat buffets because you’re more likely to eat more food (and more calories) than you need. ShrimpDish494

14. You can always try virtual reality dining, an experiment in its early stages which includes virtual reality headsets, along with food aromas, to make users  think that they are enjoying a range of delicious foods such as lasagne and steak.

Please leave a comment or question. What is your greatest challenge when dining out?  What type of ethnic restaurants do you prefer?  What future food related topics would you like to read more about in future posts?

 

 

Nutritious Meals – Finding Healthy Balance

My last blog was about making healthy food choices in 2015 with an emphasis on portion control.  This post continues along these lines, as greater awareness allows us to make healthier, more satisfying choices for either maintaining or losing weight.

As a registered dietitian in private practice for 10 years, the majority of my physician referred clients came to me with a diagnosis of obesity, overweight, or type 2 diabetes.

I would like to offer some valuable, simple, and straightforward suggestions that I shared with my clients over the years.

1. Use smaller plates to help control portion sizes, calories, and overeating. Having a large plate full of food will most likely lead to eating the entire thing — and that’s often more food than necessary. An option is to have two plate sizes. If you’re eating very healthy food opt for the bigger plate, if it’s a less healthy meal, use the smaller plate.

2. Use a measuring cup to determine how much liquid your various drinking cups and glasses actually hold. Cups and glasses come in many different sizes and this can sometimes be misleading. A short glass can sometimes hold as much liquid as a tall glass. A tall glass can sometimes hold more or less liquid than we think.

3. Use non­-see through containers for storing high calorie snacks, binge foods, and leftovers. If you are likely to open the cupboard or refrigerator and get hit in the face with something you just can’t resist, (the candy, cookies, or snacks you keep on hand for when company comes, for example,) storing these items in a non-see through container might be just the solution.

4. Go out to enjoy your favorite high calorie foods and desserts rather than bringing them home. For example, go out for ice cream or cake, occasionally, instead of bringing it in to the house. Although it will cost you more, you are deliberately making it less convenient for yourself to access these foods, which you would likely overeat if you invite them to live in your kitchen.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

5. Certain colors have been shown to diminish appetite. Gray, brown, black and blue are all colors that have a tendency to decrease appetite. Red and yellow tend to have the opposite effect. It is recommended that those looking to maintain a healthy calorie intake buy plates that are crafted in gray, brown, black or blue as opposed to red or yellow.

6. Fruit juices contain a lot of calories from natural sugar, even if no sugar is added. This is why I always recommend avoiding fruit juices whenever possible and consuming fresh fruit instead. Fresh fruit contains fiber which is filling, and because we have to chew it, fresh fruit has much more satiety value than fruit juice. Whenever possible, I recommend calorie free beverages, water in particular.

7. Don’t skip meals. Eat every 3-5 hours if possible. Three meals a day or three smaller meals and two small snacks, for example, is beneficial for the efficient burning of calories. When we skip meals, we tend to overeat when mealtime comes, and our metabolism also tends to be slower because we skipped a meal.

8. When reading food labels, make sure to look at the serving size since nutrition information is given per serving. Look for calories, grams and percent of fat and sugar, and milligrams of sodium. If you plan to consume more than a single serving in one sitting, make sure to do the math.

Please leave a comment, ask a question, and/or share the tips that work for you below.

Bon Appetit!

Better Eating Habits in the New Year

toon-1446As a registered dietitian for more than 20 years, it seemed only natural to offer my clients nutrition counseling, in addition to career and relationship coaching in my practice as a life transitions coach.

Since I am a new life coach, having received my certification this past September, I expected things to be slow in the beginning.

To some extent this was true until a couple weeks ago, when I started receiving calls and emails from prospective clients who want to control their overeating and to “eat for the right reason,” in 2015.

I read recently that most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the third week in January.  The plethora of reasons why many people overeat, including the many deep-seated psychological reasons, are, for the most part, beyond the scope of this article.

Having said this, I would like to offer some valuable, simple, and straightforward suggestions that are helpful:

1) Control your portion sizes by choosing cooked foods that come as a single serving. For example – a baked potato as opposed to pasta, rice or mashed potatoes. I say this because if you prepare a plain baked potato, once you finish eating the potato, there is nothing left, as opposed to cooking a pot of rice or pasta. If you prepare rice or pasta, take one serving and then create individual servings with the leftovers, to be eaten at a later date, or prepare only enough for a single serving.

2) Eat fruit that comes as a single serving. For example, an apple or an orange, instead of grapes or cherries. Once you’ve eaten the apple or orange, you are finished, not so with grapes or cherries, which are more likely to lead to binge eating.

3) Choose food that requires more chewing. An apple for example, takes longer to eat than a serving of applesauce, and it has greater satiety value. A salad takes longer to eat than cooked vegetables.

4) Serve meals by filling plates with food in the kitchen as opposed to serving meals family style with all the food spread out on the table. This gives you more time to think before getting out of your chair for second helpings.

5) Avoid cream sauce, cheese sauce, or excessive use of fat as a topping or in food preparation.

6) Don’t go grocery shopping or make a shopping list when you are hungry. Eat before you go shopping. Make your shopping list, and buy only what is on your list.

7) Drink a tall glass of water and eat a salad with low calorie salad dressing or a small amount of oil and a flavored vinegar, before meals. This tip is also helpful if you are going to a party where there is liable to be a lot of rich food selections. Mingle. Don’t linger next to the table where the food is spread out and just waiting to be eaten.

8) Slow down. Make your meal last at least 20 minutes. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that it is full. If you are a fast eater, take a break mid-meal to slow yourself down.

9) Sometimes the best exercise is learning to push yourself away from the table.

10) If  someone else is serving and they tend to re-fill your plate whenever it is empty,  you can avoid overeating, or offending them, by eating slowly and savoring the meal.

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and healthy eating in 2015!

 

 

 

Bartering Makes Good Business Sense

Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using money.

I believe that bartering can open doors for entrepreneurs so I recently joined a local barter exchange called Bay Bucks. . There are hundreds of small local businesses that belong to Bay Bucks, and collectively, these businesses offer every possible good or service one can imagine.

About a month after listing my services on Bay Bucks as a Life Transitions Coach, another member of Bay Bucks, specializing in website development, used Bay Bucks to purchase one of my life transitions coaching packages.

In turn, I am very low tech, and my website was in need of a major overhaul, so I decided to buy services directly from her company using the Bay Bucks I had earned from her purchase. (A quick look around my website, and you will see the help I have been blessed to receive.) barter-a-skill

Although, a complete history of the bartering system is not the intent of this article, the history of bartering dates all the way back to 6000 BC, long before money was invented.

Besides the fact that no money is involved, another advantage is to bartering is that there is flexibility. For instance, related products can be traded such as portable tablets in exchange for laptops. Or, items that are completely different can be traded such as lawn mowers for televisions. Homes can now be exchanged when people are traveling, which can save both parties money.

When bartering, you do not have to part with material items. Instead, you can offer to swap a service for an item. For instance, if your friend has a laptop that you want and their car needs work, if you are good at fixing cars, you can offer to fix their car in exchange for the laptop. The value of items being traded can be negotiated with the other party. You can buy items by exchanging an item you have but no longer want or need. barter-week-italy-960x1363

A disadvantage to bartering is that at times, it is easy to think the item you desire is worth more than it actually is, while underestimating the value of your own item.

I believe the barter system is a creative way to connect and collaborate with and other people and businesses in the local community and beyond.

Bay Bucks hosts mixers every couple months where local business owners can meet, but actual exchange of goods and services is done via the website.

On Bay Bucks, members don’t necessarily trade with one another directly like we did. They offer their goods or services, and in return, can take advantage of any other members’ goods or services.

Bay Bucks receives a small commission on trades. Every time someone buys a service on Bay Bucks, Bay Bucks receives seven percent of the value of the service in cash. Every time someone sells a service, Bay Bucks receives five percent of the value of the service in cash. These are the only costs.

Barter exchanges in the USA are considered taxable revenue. According to the IRS, “The fair market value of goods and services exchanged must be included in the income of both parties.

How do you feel about bartering? What kind of experiences have you had with it? Does your community have a local exchange like Bay Bucks?

How to Use Your Intuition to Make the Best Decisions

A Quote From Confusion To Clarity, The Book

A Quote From Confusion To Clarity, The Book

What is intuition? How often do you trust and follow your intuition? How can you strengthen your intuition and harness it to serve you?

Intuition has been defined in many ways including: inner wisdom, the voice of your higher self, the voice of God, a gut feeling, and inner guidance, to name a few. The definition of intuition that best resonates with my own intuitive sense of the word, is the one by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, who describes intuition as “being in touch with the wisdom of the body.”

According to Marla Mitchell, a professional spiritual and medical intuitive, “Everyone has intuition. The more you acknowledge it, the stronger and more accurate it gets.”

How do you acknowledge your intuition? For starters, many people experience intuition as a feeling in part of their body. I experience mine at times in my solar plexus and at other times, I hear a definite knowing, a yes or no, with regard to the best direction to take in a specific situation. What feelings or words do you notice as a truth signal that guides you?

In a world where we have often been taught to value rational thinking and information that comes to us from outside sources over our own inner-knowing., how often do you trust and follow your inner-truth signals? What makes intuition confusing is that sometimes we allow our thoughts to get in the way and talk us out of what we sense. This occurs when our intuition is not strong enough to direct our thinking or we feel unready to act upon what our intuition is telling us. We need a balance of both intuition and rational thinking to make the wisest decisions.

Hindsight being what it is, how often have you looked back and said, “I should have followed that hunch I had about such and such?” Intuition can help you make decisions in every area of your life, from business and relationship decisions, to what to eat for lunch. Steve Jobs called it, “more powerful than intellect.” Intuition is even used by the U.S military. It has helped troops to make quick judgments during combat that ended up saving lives.

Spending quiet time alone and engaging in mindfulness meditation which stills the mind and trains it to focus only on the present moment, can help you hear and adhere to the voice of your intuition. Learning to clear your mind without focusing on anything in particular can have a similar effect. Paying attention to your dreams which draw information from the subconscious can also provide powerful intuitive direction with regard to handling situations in your daily affairs.

Tools to Strengthen Your Intuition

David Stevens, professional intuitive and founder of Yoga of the Mind suggests doing a blind reading.

  1. Sit down at a writing table with three blank index cards.
  2. Think about a decision you are currently grappling with and write three solutions for it, one on each card.
  3. Turn the cards blank-side-up, shuffle them and place them face-down on a table.
  4. Run your hands over the cards and notice the feeling of each card.
  5. Assign a percentage to each card based on how powerfully you’re drawn to it.
  6. Turn the cards over and take note of the answer with the highest percentage.

Another fun way to practice strengthening your intuition is to take two index cards and write yes on one, and no on the other. Turn them blank side up and ask a yes or no question while running your hand over the top of each card. Turn the card that you feel most drawn to and follow through with the answer.

What is your experience with using your intuition? How do you experience the voice of your intuition and from where does it arise?

Ethics in Life Coaching

Near the end of my life coaching course with Life Purpose Institute, while studying for the certification exam, I came across a section in our manual that discusses the board certified coach code of ethics as put forth by the Center for Credentialing & Education.

As I studied the section, it occurred to me that although coaches need to abide by ethical and legal standards, coaching clients, and prospective clients also have a right to be aware of these coaching ethics, since this piece could serve as one of the guidelines for them in choosing a coach.

In life coaching, as in any profession, it is critical to work with clients from a place of integrity. If client issues arise that the coach is not qualified to work with, they are supposed to refer the client to an appropriate professional and remain within the scope of their coaching practice. Benefits-of-Life-Coaching

Life coaches are obliged to truthfully inform clients of their credentials and experience without overstepping their boundaries or advising a client in any area in which they are not trained and legally qualified.

Coaches by definition do not give advice to their clients. They partner with their clients and collaborate with them by offering strategies to help them break through blocks and to reach their goals.

Coaches are facilitators but the client is the one responsible for determining what their goals are, and for following (with the coach’s support and use of professional coaching tools) their agreed upon action steps to reach those goals. Coaches cannot and should not make promises or guarantee results to clients or potential clients.

From the outset, clients should be clear about what they can expect regarding responsibilities, results, confidentiality, and financial agreements. This is generally done through the use of a written client agreement signed by the both coach and client.

If a client asks a coach for a professional referral to a third party, the coach is supposed to disclose to the client, any commission or compensation they receive from making the referral. Coaches are supposed to maintain good client records which are to be kept and kept confidential regarding the content of the coaching sessions.

Though client goals can change, the coach should not continue to work with a client who is not progressing under their guidance. Coaches are supposed to avoid pushing their own agendas on the client. Competent coaches are trained and certified professionals but they are not therapists or gurus and must not misrepresent themselves or the coaching profession.

Coaches should receive training through a reputable, accredited coaching organization to learn the particular skill set that coaches use to best serve their clients’ needs and they must not allow their own biases to affect their work with clients.

If you choose to work with a life coach to help you move through a life transition of any kind, or a spiritual life coach to learn spiritual tools which you can then apply to your daily life, such as connecting with your own intuition and using it to live your life more intentionally, the most important thing is to find a coach with whom you feel a comfortable rapport, someone with whom you feel invited to work in a focused and sacred space, and someone trained and qualified to coach you in the area you choose.

That said, information on coaching ethics provides added insight into the coaching profession, and what you as a client can expect when hiring a professional coach.

Traveling Solo Through Chile For Personal Growth – Part 2

After my three month visit to Chile in 2007, I returned to The States to find that in my hometown, there is a school which offers certification to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL).  It turns out there are many programs of this nature offered both on site and online.

The TEFL class I attended took place Monday – Friday from 9AM to 6PM for one month and includes both classroom learning and student teaching. Although the course takes only a month to complete, the work to complete it takes every waking moment of your life for the entire month.

Upon completing the course and obtaining certification, the school offers a lifetime job placement service. Most of the students in my class had a pretty good idea of where in the world they wanted to teach. Many of my classmates planned to teach in South Korea. My plan was to return to Chile, this time, to live and work for a while.

In March 2008, I returned to Chile having arranged to stay with one of my Spanish teachers for a week while finding a place to rent.  I got a job teaching English to business professionals, at one of the many language schools in Santiago.

There is a push for business professionals in Chile to know English and job promotions are often contingent upon learning English. Employers pay for their employees to attend class and as students, they are highly motivated.

I was hired by the language institute but quickly learned that most of my classes would not be held at the institute. Instead, most of my day was spent traveling throughout the city, from business to business, wearing a backpack filled with books, to teach my students in their offices, while eating empanadas on the run. Chilean food is for the most part bland, and they remove the peels from everything, even tomatoes, before eating.

Chilean Independence Day Celebration

I loved my students and teaching English but my day was often very long and tiring. You can earn a living doing this type of work if you stay busy.

Because it takes time for businesses to enroll their students and for classes to start, it is important to have money saved before embarking on the journey to this type of career.

In Chile, if you work for an institute under contract, you will receive a temporary resident’s visa, allowing you to stay in the country for one year.

My first job was not a contract position which means I had to leave the country every three months in order to renew my tourist visa. The fastest and least expensive way to do this is to take a seven hour bus ride from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina, a beautiful city with close proximity to vineyards, skiing, and thermal springs.

You can go through customs and immigration and return immediately on the next bus if you are inclined, but most folks spend at least one night in Argentina. These trips require careful planning during the winter months since it is possible to get snowed in for quite some time which is problematic if you are scheduled to teach classes.

In 2008, I taught English from March until November and then traveled through Peru on a tour and to the Antarctic Peninsula on a ship. Lima, Peru is a four hour flight from Santiago. Peru is a beautiful country with wonderful food although I don’t recommend the cuy (Peruvian Guinea pig.) Peru feels much more like South America to me than does Chile. It’s a place I definitely recommend visiting.

Peruvian woman selling hand woven scarves made from alpaca wool.

Peruvian woman (with her alpaca) selling handcrafted items

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer in Antarctica

 

 

Antarctica has 24 hours of bright daylight all summer long. After a day, you lose all track of time. It is a magnificent place with lots of penguins. I even saw an Albatross fly over our ship.

We attended fascinating lectures with scientists who were stationed for one year on the peninsula to study global climate change.

 

In January 2009, I returned to The States for two months, to re-group, before planning my next work/travel adventure. So stay tuned…

Traveling Solo Through Chile For Personal Growth

Bust of Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda at his home on the coast in Isla Negra, Chile

Bust of Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda, at his home on the coast in Isla Negra, Chile

I traveled solo through much of Chile, (the birthplace of Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets) having arrived there from The States for my maiden voyage in June 2007. As a poet, my intent was to write poetry in what is often referred to as the “Land of Poets,” improve my Spanish, and explore the unfamiliar culture.

I was keen on avoiding the hot summer weather here in The States. Since Chile is located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. Thus it was quite chilly (no pun intended) when I first arrived, in early June, in this faraway land, where I knew not a soul. Since I planned to stay for three months (to fully avoid summer heat,) I arranged in advance to rent an apartment in Santiago, Chile’s capital city.

I had a couple years of Spanish under my belt, and had even lived in a Miami neighborhood known as Little Havana for a while. My Spanish skills were fairly good, until I moved to Denver, Colorado in 2000 and stopped using them. Denver is a city with a large Mexican population. Many of the Mexican people I met don’t speak Spanish. They come from families that have been in The States for several generations. Since they go back so far, their families no longer pass their language down with the generations.

Thus was my language preparation for arrival at the Santiago airport on June 6, 2007 at 7:30AM. Instantly, I was seized; alone, and handicapped, in the early morning airport rush, where I couldn’t understand a single word of Chilean Spanish, AT ALL. Zero, Zip, Nada.

A winter's day in Santiago, Chile

A winter’s day in Santiago, Chile

I hadn’t planned on enrolling in Spanish language classes right away, but due to my predicament, the first phone call I made just hours after arriving, was to Escuela Bellavista, a language school in the city. Clutching the receiver with a sweaty palm, I spoke to the voice on the other end. “Do you speak English?” I asked in desperation. “Yes,” he replied and then continued. “If you study here, however, this will be our last conversation in English. You will only be allowed to speak Spanish at the school, and on tours you attend with the school as well.”

A total immersion sounds like just what I need, I thought. I started classes the following day and couldn’t have made a better choice. The school uses a particular method of teaching known as the Direct Method. It is so subliminal, as a student, you don’t even realize you are learning. The teachers use mime and play games with the class in Spanish.

There was so much humor in these Spanish mime games, we learned Spanish through our laughter; and fell in love with the language and each other. Our teachers introduced us to Chilean music during break between classes. They danced with us in the lobby of the school.

In the high-end beginners class, where I was placed, we were immediately taught survival skills for travelers such as: asking how much things cost, asking and giving directions, purchasing tickets of all kinds, handling a wrong number politely on your cell phone, booking reservations, how to rent an apartment, how to make an appointment with a doctor, how to tell the nurse what’s wrong, how to order in a restaurant, how to complain about service and accommodations, all weather related vocabulary including the necessary clothing…

My favorite class was at the open-air fruit and vegetable market. Our teacher had us ask the vendors about the produce, and the prices. She took us shopping out in the real world, where we tasted what we didn’t know and wanted more.

The school teaches Castilian Spanish, not Chilean Spanish. All Chilean people understand and can speak fluent Castilian Spanish but that is not what they speak on the street. Surviving The Chilean Jungle is a three-volume dictionary filled with Chilean Spanish including Chilean slang. Both words and expressions that continue to grow and evolve over time, make it a living language.

Even when Chilean people speak Castilian Spanish, they are difficult to understand at first because they omit pronouncing the letter s in most words. Instead of saying, “estufa, “ they say “etufa. “ The word means heater, an issue worth a tissue or two on a frigid August night!

I spent a fun five (half-days) a week, for two and a half months at Escuela Bellavista and two delicious weeks traveling, including a week in the Atacama Desert (the driest desert on earth) and another in the Lakes region, a region of beauty with active volcanoes, and a 10 hour drive, south of Santiago. (Please click on the photos to enlarge them for a better view. )

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile Driest Desert on Earth

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile
The Driest Desert on Earth

 

I kept the promise I made to myself, wrote poetry daily while living in Chile. Some of the poems I wrote in Chile, were accepted for publication, and along with several others, also appear in the book, Poetry For Living An Inspired Life. This was my three month experience in Chile but as some of you know, I later lived there for three years. Stay tuned for more about Chile, its food, culture, geography and more…

Puerto Varas in The Lakes Region of Chile  (background, Volcano Osorno)

Biodanza: Poetry of Human Encounter

Biodanza (biodance) literally means the dance of life. It is a system of personal growth using music and movement to develop one’s instincts, self-awareness, communication, and confidence. Biodanza facilititates the deepening of one’s bond with others and with nature, allowing participants to express their feelings more fluidly.

I was first introduced to Biodanza in 2009 while living in Santiago, Chile. As I began participating in weekly classes, I noticed that I felt more grounded and emotionally open as a result.

Biodanza was created in the 1960s by Chilean psychologist and anthropologist, Rolando Toro who experimented with the effect of music and dance on psychiatric hospital patients. Toro introduced upbeat dances with happy rhythms that stimulated patient’s motor responses. The result was a remarkable increase in patient’s capacity to judge reality. Toro observed that their deliriums and hallucinations began to vanish.

In 1970 the Catholic University of Chile invited Rolando Toro to create the first Biodanza class, which at that time he called “Psychodance.” Biodanza sessions eventually found their way to healthy people in non-clinical settings.

Biodanza has been described as a series of exercises and movements that promote self-esteem, the joy of life, and the expression of emotions. People who participate regularly, say that biodanza enhances their creativity, vitality, and focus on the present moment. Within the dance, participants are invited to connect to their essence until all their senses and cells are awakened to the joy of being alive.

Biodanza uses a variety of international music to bring forth free self-expression, and is not choreographed. Dancing is done alone, in pairs, and in groups. No previous dance experience is required and there are no age requirements.

The Biodanza system is now taught in 54 countries around the world. Perhaps biodanza is available where you live. The magic of biodanza will open you to greater joy.  I invite you to come dance with life.

A Coach Approach to Personal Growth

I began as a psychology major in college, but my parents were so dead set against it that I eventually gave up and became a dietitian instead. Many years later, I am now studying to become a life coach. Before making my recent decision, I had briefly considered becoming a minister. So what is the difference between a psychologist, a life coach, and a minister, besides education?

In a nutshell, coaching focuses on the present and is oriented to achieve a future result. Psychotherapists on the other hand, focus on the past and on fixing pathology. A minister uses particular rituals and leads rituals that often adhere to a particular set of beliefs.

Coaches ask questions based on what is happening now, questions that move the client where they want to go, not where they have been. Coaches ask questions that are direct but not directive. For example, what would you like to change? What do you really want in this situation? How can you take action to move toward the outcome you actually want? The client must be ready to work on moving their lives forward without delving into the past.

Psychologists often teach clients problem solving strategies. Coaches do not give advice. Instead, they ask questions to draw clients out of themselves, to identify what their goal is and what motivates them to want to achieve it. Coaches help clients by asking questions which guide the client in creating their own action steps for reaching a goal as well as their commitment to a time frame for each step.

A life coach holds the client accountable for each step along the way, within the time frame set by the client for achieving each step, and helps the client identify any potential blocks or obstacles that could arise. If a client identifies blocks including beliefs that may be holding them back, the coach asks questions which cause the client to remember things which enable them to re-frame their limiting beliefs.

By asking clients what they would like to achieve and identifying their core values, coaches give clients something to think about. Without giving advice, they help clients bring out their own wisdom and potential to solve their own situations by focusing on what motivates the client to want this change.

If you have goals you’d like to achieve and are ready to go beyond what the Handel Group has identified as your inner chicken (that voice that tells you, you can’t do something,) your inner brat, (that part of you that wants everything right now,) and your inner weather reporter, (that false belief that tries to convince you of all the reasons you will never change,) coaching may be just the right relatively short term approach for helping you move forward to achieve your goals, and finally realize your dreams.

How Meditation Contributes To Personal Growth

A Quote From Confusion To Clarity, The Book

A Quote From Confusion To Clarity, The Book

Have you ever had problems that won’t go away, recurring situations that cause you to ruminate, rather than guide you to focus and to be at peace in the moment? There are situations in everyone’s life that can only be understood on the level of the soul, rather than with the rational mind. You know which situations these are because if you were able to understand them by thinking enough about them, eventually they would be solved but instead confusion remains, just eating away at you.

I often find that by simply relaxing and clearing my mind, I suddenly realize something that had eluded me for a very long time when I tried to figure it out through working with my mind. These realizations often seem profound when they arrive (when we arrive) but what I believe is more profound, is that meditation opens us in a way that can enable us to quickly receive our own inner wisdom and guidance, leaving us with powerful new perspectives that can change our daily lives. All it takes is practice, and the willingness to surrender.

There is no correct way to meditate and there are many different ways to meditate. I use four different meditation practices, one on a daily basis, and the others, from time to time. Morning meditation I believe is the most important because it sets the pace for the day. We have sixteen, if not more waking hours in front of us as we face each day. By taking part of an hour early in the day for meditation practice, I establish my intention and rhythm for the day, and the rest of the hours seem to fall into place. This is because meditation has a residual and cumulative effect, the more consistently we do it. “When we learn to listen with our soul, our life becomes larger,” is a quote in my first book, From Confusion To Clarity, which goes into greater depth about the many benefits of having a meditation practice.

What is your preferred meditation practice? My daily practice involves chanting in front of a scroll which serves as a focal point. I’ve also done Transcendental Meditation which is the silent repetition of a mantra, given especially to you by someone trained in TM. You are not supposed to share your mantra with anyone or ever say it aloud. It is meant to be yours and yours alone. My mantra was given to me several years ago by a teacher who had just returned from a retreat in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM. I won’t forget the moment my mantra was first whispered in my ear or the many benefits I’ve received since embracing both of these practices.

Since those early days, I have also used the Holosync Solution, which is sound meditation with headphones, and involves listening to rain and crystal bowls, as well as guided meditation with Neale Donald Walsch, where you write down a question, and the answer to your question is received during the meditation. All of these are powerful forms of meditation, for me and many others, and I highly recommend them, I have friends that do yoga, and I have tried different types of yoga but none seem to resonate with me. You must find what works for you.

Like meditation, inspirational quotes can serve a similar purpose in the sense that they help to remind us of and reinforce, ways in which we can reframe our thinking. There are many places to find daily inspirational quotes. I invite you to visit me at https://www.facebook.com/MicheleHarveyAuthorPoet where I post inspirational quotes twice daily. If my inspirational quotes resonate with you, please become my friend or subscriber.

Taking a walk in nature, doing the dishes, sweeping leaves, dancing, all these things and many others, can serve as meditation practice when you relax into the present moment, attune with your senses, and when your mind is clear and unattached to whatever thoughts may occur. What is your preferred meditation practice? How has your life improved since you started meditating? What do you find challenging about meditation? What if anything holds you back from embracing a daily meditation practice?

What Do You Do When the Bottom Drops Out? by Michele Harvey

400_1200358798_gotas-de-aguaThe other day I was boiling water for coffee when suddenly I noticed the pot was not only empty, it was bottomless. The bottom of the pot had literally melted off, and was stuck to the electric burner. Staring in disbelief, I lifted the pot from the stove, stuck my head in, and looked right through the bottom and across the room at my son, who couldn’t believe what had happened.

In life, what do you do when the bottom drops out? Do you make it your mission to find out who or what is responsible, and to try to even the score? Do you analyze what happened, analyze your options, blame yourself or someone else, or freeze in your tracks, stuck, unable to make a quick recovery? Do you complain? Do you phone a friend?

When you take a course of action that leads to a dead end, how does it make you feel? Do you take it personally when things don’t turn out the way you planned? How quickly do you find new ground and carry on? How flexible are you?

Are you strong like water, immediately able to pour yourself into, and take the shape of a new container? Do you show up with humor and gratitude, as a larger version of yourself, or do you simmer for days, wondering what went wrong?

What about the rest of the pot? Do you discard the whole thing, calling it another one of your ideas that didn’t work? Can you find use for the scrap metal, mold it into treasures that will serve a part, hold a place in your new trajectory?

Often when a course of action leads to a dead end, it is because something larger, more durable, and broader in scope, is just waiting to be discovered. A fresh path, an unheard calling, a better way of doing things, is on your horizon. Something you overlooked, something more meaningful that you would not otherwise have attempted, but that is part of your purpose, stands before you, seeks you, and will become clearly apparent to you, as you surrender your perceived limitations and open to welcome it.

Create a Life of Golden Memories by Michele Harvey

“Without helping others, life has no meaning. It’s how we lose ourselves. It’s how we find ourselves.” Michele Harvey

A few weeks before the New Year, many of us begin to look ahead with hope and fresh intentions. Some folks also look back, remembering with gratitude, relationships and events, or ruminate over unresolved loss from a state of nagging despair.

For the past month, I participated in a series of teleseminars, and have made the decision to become a Spiritual Life Coach in 2014. You see, I have been meditating for quite some time now, on something my spiritual teacher, Neale Donald Walsch, said to me on 3 separate occasions over the past 2 years. “Michele,” he said. “Your life is not about you. Your life is about everyone else whose life you touch, and the way in which you touch it.”

Each time I heard those words, I felt as if I was staring into the hollow of a shoe several sizes too big for petite feet. Nonetheless, I decided to focus my intention on growing into a larger version of myself, and with this intention, have drawn just the right program of study into my life.

In my book, From Confusion To Clarity, I discuss how life for me fell apart in 2011, with the death of my first born son, as well as the loss of another relationship, which evolved and changed form, contrary to my conscious desire. It was during this time of suffering, that I learned from my teacher, “The quickest way to experience having something, is to give it away to someone else.” For example, if you want more love in your life, give love to others. If you want more money, give money to others who seem to need it more than you. If you need more patience, give patience to someone else who requires it.”

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, this exercise does work. For by giving those things freely to others, without expectation of anything in return, you start to see that you have the very things you thought were lacking. I, as well as countless others, are now having this experience. In fact, by helping others, we step outside the victim mentality of rumination, and instead create space where actual miracles can occur. What we give to others, always comes back to us C2C3dbookmultiplied, sometimes,from some highly unexpected sources, and not necessarily from those we have served. My book gives countless examples of this, and you can easily apply it. Create a year of golden memories rather than rumination and regret. This is my fervent wish for everyone. Happy New Year!

From Confusion To Clarity: Vital Personal Growth in 30 Days or Less is available @ http://micheleharveyauthor.com, CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com, etc.