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Griffin and friendThat’s a photo of Griffin and one of his BFF’s kicking off a 9-day break from school for their Thanksgiving vacation.

It’s one of my great joys to see Griffin and his friends play for hours with their imaginations driving the fun. (My pic didn’t really catch it, but what you’re seeing is an epic “Knights vs. Aliens” battle.)

I’ll get more into the importance of play for kids and adults in a bit, but first a little more of an update from me: It’s been a WHIRLWIND week and we haven’t even officially started the holiday season!

As you know we had our big holiday party for friends last weekend, and then I spent most of last week querying agents for my book, Pain Body Proof: How to Transform Your Negative Thoughts, Improve Your Relationships and Enjoy More Happiness  – YES!! We have LIFT OFF!

If you’ve been a reader for a while you know I’ve been working on this book since last February and I had an absolute deadline for completing the book proposal (which comes even before completing the manuscript if you’re writing non-fiction) by November 28th and I DID IT – a full 10 days before the deadline!

One thing that really helped me persevere through all those longs months was looking to other authors of books I admire for wisdom and inspiration. One of my most-oft used mantras is, “If she can do it, so can I!!”

Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life by Marney MakridakisA book I was asked to review fits that bill exactly – Marney Makridakis was inspired to write her book, Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life, after watching Cirque du Soleil – the company that reinvented the art of circus performance.

She decided right then and there to imagine a world where work feels like play, and live there as much as possible.

Marney makes a compelling argument that when we’re having fun, any task is easier. She says play is many things, but it’s never stuck, still or stagnant.

The secret to turning work into play is simple: what moves us is what moves us. That is, what moves us emotionally is what moves us to action.

In her book she shows us how, whenever we’re tackling a particularly challenging project, we can bring play into the work. She provides 75 creative exercises that really can make it happen. (Seriously, 75!! This woman is crazy creative!!)

The “Hop, Skip and Jump” in the title represent three phases of what Marney calls successful manifestation: the “Hop” phase focuses on dreaming, brainstorming, planning and visioning; the “Skip” phase focuses on experimenting, dabbling, and trying new things; the “Jump” phase focuses on conscious action and completion.

Each of the phases is equally important to the manifestation process, but Marney points out that most people are naturally inclined to feel more comfortable in one phase than in the others.

I’m definitely a Jumper, but if you have any question as to where you fall in the spectrum, Marney has provided a helpful quiz that you can take here: http://artellaland.com/play.html

I loved so many of the tools, techniques and strategies in this book, but my favorite is Playful Permission Slips: Imagine you’ve been given a permission slip containing the words you need most right now. What does it say?

Do you need to give yourself permission to break the rules and do things in a new way?

Permission to trade security for freedom and happiness?

Permission to do the things that truly light you up inside (no matter what other people think)?

Do you need to give yourself permission to take risks?

Do you need permission to look at “failure” as a badge of courage – a testament that you’re doing hard and interesting things?

(Not to get off topic, but lately I’m getting more and more adamant on this point. Show me someone who hasn’t “failed,” and I’ll show you someone who has a boring – and, to me, undesirable – life.)

So, the above are just a few of the permission slips I wish I had received in the past when I was struggling on my journey to live the authentic and happy life I’m enjoying now.

Now here’s Marney’s exercise: A Tale of Two Permission Slips

  1. Think of a permission statement that would summarize the kind of personal permission you need right now. Draw a rectangle, and write your statement in the middle of it.
  2. Make a second version of your slip, this time making it more playful. You can use these questions to spark ideas:

How could you make your permission slip colorful?

How could you make it silly?

How could you make it three-dimensional?

How could you make it into a song?

  1. Look at your two slips. You have permission to choose the one that is most motivating for you.

Isn’t that awesome??

Again, the exercises in the book don’t remove undesirable circumstances or unsavory actions from your path on the way to your dreams, but they do invite you to approach them with more spontaneity, adventure, ease and joy.

And who doesn’t want more of those experiences??

Marney shares a story of how she was feeling bogged down in a massive filing project, but when she changed the task from “files” to “frills,” the whole energy of the project shifted for her.

Yes, it was still a tedious project, but incorporating some quick doodles and other “frills” as she worked made the time go faster – and she just felt better.

You all know I’m a huge proponent of finding your better-feeling thought, and how I believe it makes all the difference in feeling happy and successful.

Marney’s book provides so many wonderful tools for finding your better-feeling thought that I really hope you’ll check it out!

Again, you can take her quiz to discover your type and download a FREE gift: Your very own (personalized just for you!) Productivity Pack here: http://artellaland.com/play.html

(The second FREE gift is my holiday planner which you can find when you click here.)

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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Stacey, Mauri and JenThat’s a photo of me and my dear friends Mauri and Jen getting a jump on the holiday fun!

Griffin, Doug and I hosted our 11th Annual Thanksgiving Party. This gathering is one of the ways we choose to celebrate the holidays with our “non-belly-button” family and it was delightful as always.

Speaking of my non-belly-button family, I was so touched by all my readers who reached out and offered words of support and prayers for my dad’s healing!! They mean SO much to me!

For those of you who don’t know, last week I talked about my dad’s cancer and how I now have a whole new perspective on sorrow and joy and how the two are so often connected.

This week’s feature article is all about expanding on that concept – using a scientifically based formula!

It’s mathematically proven to help you be happy in any circumstance – and even if you’re not dealing with a cataclysmic event, it could help you during the holidays, which, let’s face it, can be a little stressful as well joyful.

It comes from Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist who works at UNC-Chapel Hill and studies my favorite field of academic research, positive psychology.

Her book Positivity discusses her research that shows that there is a mathematical formula by which success (in terms of production in a business sense, or feeling happy in a more personal sense) can be predicted by the ratio of positive events to negative ones.

She and her team of researchers discovered that the “tipping point” where good things start to happen occurs at a ratio of three to one. That is, three positive events for every single negative event.

I think this finding can tell us a lot about life – how to perceive it and how to live it with great satisfaction.

As Frederickson puts it, “If we’re aware of the tipping point ratio, that could make a big difference in how we choose to live our lives.” (emphasis on the word choose is mine)

As I would put it, finding three things to appreciate for every negative one is the tipping point at which people can experience true happiness and success.

Yes, as my dad’s cancer attests, there are always going to be undesirable events in our lives, and we may not be able to do anything about them.

But we always have the ability to increase the power of the positive events in our lives – and even multiply them – by focusing our attention on what makes us feel good.

In her book When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron describes how our daily lives can feel like a confused, busy street; the traffic is going fast in all directions and we can’t find a way to cross. It’s overwhelming and frightening.

We’re so busy jumping out of the way of the speeding cars that we can’t understand what’s going on, or how we contributed to the confusion.

But if we can step out of the melee of cars and watch the activity for a while, we can take a more objective look. We begin to see that there are openings in the traffic. And that no matter how busy the traffic is, there’s a flow to it that we can adjust to.

And if we then moved so we were looking at the street from the top of a building, we’d see that the traffic really doesn’t have anything to do with us; it’s just a flow of energy. In the same way, if we put a little distance between ourselves and the challenges we face in our lives, we begin to see that the challenges are part of the deal, not necessarily good or bad, just inescapable parts of life.

surf the fearWith this in mind, start finding things to appreciate. Notice your surroundings and ask, “What feels good about my current situation? What makes me feel lucky to be here?” Mentally registering the benefits of any given circumstance will remind you that you have the power to influence your reaction when things become challenging.

Want to make this a really fun exercise? Find something to appreciate in three people today and share your appreciation with them.

Bonus points if you can manage to direct a sincere compliment to someone who has really pushed your buttons quite recently. (You should be provided with at least one opportunity to do this during the holidays, don’t you think?)

Then, once you’ve got a handle on it, use this practice even when you’re faced with a truly undesirable circumstance. Look for something to appreciate in the middle of a challenge, and note how this shift in thinking helps you respond constructively.

Finding something to appreciate is not going to be as hard as you might think. Once you’ve taken full responsibility for how you feel in any circumstance, you will find the strength to look for the positive—to find the flow – in all aspects of your life.

So start now, and continue over the holidays. If you do, I think you’ll find the New Year a VERY happy one indeed.

P.S. My teleseminar on November 6th was an AUTHENTIC SUCCCESS!!

I’ve heard from SO MANY people that they absolutely loved all the great content, and I was especially moved by the moms who let me know that the part where I shared the question, “Are you the adult you want your child to be?” inspired them to make BIG changes in their lives.

If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, I’m going to give you one more week to benefit from all the incredible actionable content – you don’t even need to “opt-in”!

You can receive instant access just by clicking this link: http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=61286997

After this week it will be gone, so take a moment now to click and download, okay?

You can also access the worksheet I made for the call (to record all of your breakthroughs and aha’s) here: http://tinyurl.com/asmfyl

If, after engaging with all the awesome content, you decide you want to have a Discovery Session with me and start making big changes in your life, you can do that by clicking here: http://midwifeforyourlife.fullslate.com/

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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why cancer is a great teacher (+ other lessons learned from truly undesirable circumstances)

November 11, 2014

That’s me with my dad. He just found out last week that he had a very invasive form of skin cancer – and had to have ALL of his right nostril PLUS a lot of adjacent facial tissue removed! His doctor is confident that he got all of the cancer, and he’s already started the […]

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How to surf fear (and stop squandering your one wild and precious life)

November 4, 2014

That’s me with my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, after our very special VIP Day together last week. I then spent the rest of the week working “on” my business within her year-long training program. It really was an epic week – in the last week alone I finished my chapter for Choosing Happiness, an anthology that […]

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This ONE Feeling Gets You on the Shortest Path to Your Dreams (+ My Mind Movie!)

October 28, 2014

“Strength implies remaining the subject of one’s life.” – Simone de Beauvoir The photo to the right shows a scene from Griffin’s Annual “Apple Pie Baking and Movie Making Play Date” at our home last week. I was careful to really savor his wonderful friendships right at this moment – filled with lots of light […]

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The Coolest Drug Doesn’t Require a Prescription (or fear of incarceration)

October 21, 2014

I just snapped this photo of Griffin and our dog, Spencer. They’re often inseparable. Is there anything better than the love between a boy and his dog? I’ve talked about the joy I experienced from “big” pleasures like swimming in the Ionian Sea or climbing the Eiffel Tower, but of course, it’s much more likely […]

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When you think it’s hopeless, it’s time to create a miracle. (powerful evidence inside!)

October 14, 2014

The photo to the right is me with my dear friend, Mary Cade, and her adorable daughter, Emeryn. You’ll find out more about them below, but first a little background for readers that are new to the Midwife for Your Life community. For many years I’ve asked family, friends, and dear readers to give to […]

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My Mindset Retreat Breakthroughs (+ lots of great pics!)

October 7, 2014

Wow! There were SO many wonderful things that happened in the last week, but one of the best parts was that I got to spend it in gorgeous, sunny Florida with Doug. It was the first time we’d had a week away with just the two of us since Griffin was born over 9 years […]

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Use Your Emotional Guidance System to Feel Great AND Accomplish Great Things

September 30, 2014

The photo captures Griffin and two of his best friends after a “movie making” play date (that’s a Flip video camera in Marley’s hand). Marley has been one of Griffin’s best friends since Kindergarten (Jackson became a BFF when he joined Griffin’s class last year), and I honestly can’t believe how much these kids have […]

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Leap Before You Look and other surprising keys to success

September 23, 2014

The photo shows my husband, Doug, enjoying a much-deserved break after sending in the final draft for his book that will be published by Capstone Press in September 2015. I’m so proud of him! It’s been a big writing week in our household – I just completed my chapter for Choosing Happiness, the anthology that’s […]

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