July 20, 2015

The Complete Guide to You


Breathe deeply and with each deep breath say it with me three times… and it will change your chemistry… and your life:

I am complete.

I am complete.

I am complete.

This seems to be the mantra and thread throughout many conversations with friends lately… that we are enough. Truth is we were born enough. This isn’t some "aha" revelation that I came up with because I’m a spiritual superstar (which I think we all are – some of you just don’t know it yet). It’s been taught in many religions, including Buddhism, where the core belief is searching for enlightenment.

I recently reconnected with a friend who seems to have it all. Professionally, she’s worked as an international correspondent and is currently a network anchor. Personally, she has a beautiful family, lives in one of the prettiest neighborhoods in America, has a handsome hubby and a gorgeous little girl. To add to the package, she is good looking, has mad style and then, there's her light. Wow. Her light.

I was shocked to find out that recently things seemed to have crumbled beneath her designer heels. She split with her husband, work has been uncertain because she isn’t locked into a contract (what workplace doesn’t have uncertainty?) and her spirit seemed low the last time we spoke on the phone.

When I met up with her, she had a lightness around her energy. Her aura was clear as though she had just finished a long yoga sesh. Why? We both agreed that we are complete and are always on the right path, even if it seems like the wrong path at the time.

Traversing these routes shows us the way to life lessons, blessings and miracles that unfold through the grace which is our life, our breath, our connectedness to one another. We talked about our lives and how far we’ve come in our personal, professional and spiritual paths. We agreed that no matter who you are, even Oprah in all of her Oprah-ness, she sometimes, I believe, still has days where she, too, doesn’t think she is as complete as she is (although she seems mighty close to complete). That I know for sure.

The truth is, thanks to ego, we seem to think we are never enough. Release that thought when it comes and instead, live in gratitude – that is the true meaning of grace. If you’re feeling way off your path, like your dreams aren’t unfolding as you think they should, here are three spiritual snackables to nibble on:

1. Anxiety is wanting to be where you’re not. Guess what? Even after I achieved ALL my dreams at an early age – TV reporter in a big market, co-host for a PBS show and instructor at the university level – I still felt like I hadn’t arrived. First I thought, “Will I ever get a paid TV reporting gig?” Then after achieving that I wondered if and when I would jump to a bigger city. “What now, what next?” That’s the ego talking. Be OK with the now. How? Start by breathing. It will chemically change the way you feel and shift your perspective.

2. Don’t compare yourself with others. It’s futile. We are all on different legs of our journeys. My friend mentioned that sometimes she got caught up in comparing herself with others, their jobs, buying luxury homes, having more children, etc…. I told her that I learned long ago not to compare – it wastes energy. I remember quitting my first TV job in Wisconsin to take care of my father who was battling cancer. I thought to myself, “This feels right, but my friends are jumping to bigger TV markets and I am so far behind.” Guess what? I got back into the biz a couple of years later and landed in San Francisco, the No. 5 market at the time, before the friends I was compared myself to did. I realized that it didn’t matter that I got here before them and it doesn’t matter that I’m out of the biz now. We all are being guided by something greater. We can’t control timing. Just be here enjoying what is….

3. You are complete. Born complete. Start by writing a gratitude list. It doesn’t matter if you’re on your last dime. You have something to be grateful for. Maybe it’s the check coming your way when you didn’t expect it. Or a loved one who loaned you money to pay rent. Begin with your breath. If you’re alive, you’re blessed. You’ll see before your eyes how real your completeness is. A few days ago, I was inspired to go to my rooftop and practice yoga. I joined Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditation challenge, "Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude." That day’s entry was perfect for this lesson on being complete and grateful for what we have now:
Day 3 - Awaken the Energy of Gratitude

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” ― Karl Barth

In today's meditation, we learn how to recharge our gratitude batteries. If we are tired, upset, or stressed, then our heart is closed and we are not able to feel or express real gratitude. Genuine gratitude comes from a feeling of contentment, safety, and being welcomed in your life – what Buddha called the “gladdened heart.” This natural energy of gratitude is awakened when we meditate. Our intention in meditation will be to invite this warm attitude of appreciation into our awareness and perception. With this recharged heart of thankfulness we will find reason to be grateful wherever we look.
If you do all three exercises, you too will feel the shift. Nothing else has really changed around you, but something is changing within you. Honor this moment. The only thing that is real. You are complete. You are complete. You are complete.

Onward and upward,
Toan

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July 2, 2015

In Search of Modern-Day Heroes

One of the biggest questions on planet Earth that humans have twisted, toiled and contemplated is, “What is the meaning of life?” I was so excited when I got close to the answer after running across a Dalai Lama quote that I even blogged about it.

The second biggest question (at least for me and for many folks who follow my blogs and videos about everyday heroes) is:

“What does it mean to be a hero today?”

Toan spoke earlier this year at the Community Heroes
club at Sun Valley School in San Rafael, Calif.

I don’t think many people ask this question enough in this day and age where we are inundated with junk TV, an unhealthy obsession with celebrities and Hollywood’s depiction of comic action heroes. It’s important to contemplate because we DO need heroes to look up to, attempt to emulate and get excited about. According to research from Santa Clara University:

“We need heroes first and foremost because our heroes help define the limits of our aspirations. We largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose, and our ideals -- things like courage, honor, and justice -- largely define us. Our heroes are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy. A person who chooses Martin Luther King or Susan B. Anthony as a hero is going to have a very different sense of what human excellence involves than someone who chooses, say, Paris Hilton, or the rapper 50 Cent. And because the ideals to which we aspire do so much to determine the ways in which we behave, we all have a vested interest in each person having heroes, and in the choice of heroes each of us makes.”


My curiosity to explore the essence of what makes a hero ultimately led me to quit what I thought was my dream job as a TV reporter and start my voyage to discover everyday heroes so others – you – can find the hero within you. Perhaps the best answer came from a friend on Facebook:

“Heroes are popularly depicted as the comic action brave-heart who saves the day. The real version of a modern-day hero is the nice guy/woman who stands up for what they believe in for the sake of the greater good. An act of goodness beyond themselves, and against any odds. Contrary to popular and cynical belief, good guys don't have to finish last. Within every good guy/woman is a hero waiting to be to unleashed.” – Meno Crompton

After meeting hundreds of heroes, some of whom can be celebrated via our Go Inspire Go YouTube channel, I realized that everybody can be a hero in their own way. They don’t have to accomplish huge feats like Phoebe Russell, a 5-year-old San Franciscan who wanted to feed hungry homeless people. Or Matthew Kaplan, a teenager from Arizona who, in standing up for his brother who was being cyberbullied, educated and inspired compassion amongst thousands of bullied youth around the country. And Tony Tolbert, who at age 52, moved back in with his mom and gave up his home in Los Angeles to a homeless woman and her children.

To get a kid’s perspective, super mom Kala Shah, co-creator of Go Inspire Go's Community Heroes program, asked them, "What does being a hero mean?”

Sun Valley School students explain what a hero is.


They answered, “Fearless, helpful, giving, persistent, passionate and courageous....”

Their real-life heroes include, “My great aunt for taking care of people in a dangerous part of the world,” “Malala because she helps people and risked her life to stand up for her beliefs,” and “My uncle because he’s a policeman and helps the community.”



These elementary school students appear to be on the right track in identifying admirable heroes and their lofty answers underline the importance in starting these conversations early to help direct young minds towards worthy pursuits.

The truth is each and every one of us has a superhero power within us. It’s our duty to find it while on this planet and use it to the fullest capacity. That’s the meaning of life. That’s the answer to what our purpose is. That’s what ultimately leads us to joy. So we’d love to know, what do you think it means to be a hero today? What’s your superhero power? How will you use it? Inquiring heroes want to know. Share in the comment section below! Pow!

Onward and upward,
Toan

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