Friday, December 31, 2004

Something to Think About for the New Year

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier" - Mother Teresa

Every year I write a blog with my New Year's thoughts and wishes for you and was sitting here thinking of what I wanted to say....what I wanted to share.

I do believe that it's what we give in life that makes a difference not what we get, and for those who are takers....who want to know what's in it for them, they are always disappointed. In giving, sometimes it's the easiest thing that makes the most difference; giving not only the gift of your time, but attention.....the gift of an ear without your two cents attached, and the gift of a hug when there aren't words or, just because hugs are a great thing to give!

Then I came across this quote that says it all. For if we all adapted this way of being, could you imagine what our lives would be like? So I leave you with the wisdom of these words along with wishes for a very joyful, fulfilling, wonderful year to come.

All the best for 2005!
Donna Karlin

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A Request

"Humanity is always stronger than any disaster if we all participate as part of the solution!" The Tsunami was far far more devastating than what people might thought at the beginning. The reported death and casualties are mounting by the hour. Some villages were totally wiped out with nothing left other than the surface of a temporary sea.” - Asmir A. Agoes

This is a part of the account a friend of mine from Indonesia just sent to me. The devastation is far beyond anything in the realm of imagination…. except it is very real.

I urge you to help in any way you can. If you can donate to the relief effort then I ask you to contact your local Red Cross or any other organization supporting the efforts in Asia. And if you can’t afford to give financially, then donating your time to help process the overwhelming number of calls coming into these organizations is equally appreciated. Help comes in many forms. The ripple effect is astronomical. You can make the difference in the lives of one or many, but bottom line is, you will make a difference. Isn’t that what you would hope for if something this horrific happened to you?

Donna Karlin

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Creating a Life You Want

The New Year is dawning…..people dust off their New Year’s resolutions and try them out for size yet again. For those of you who know me, you know my opinion of those pesky resolutions. You mean well at the time but do you remember them a week or so later? I was sitting here thinking of many of the things I work on with clients and suggest to friends and family alike. And the only reason they listen is because they’ve seen me live it, each and every point as I make changes in my life. I want to create a life I love, not just exist through its days. Life is much too precious for that. I want to learn more, be open to experience and surprise…not to have control over life or exist through it but truly live it. The promise I made to myself is to be my authentic self, not what someone else wants me to be…and, from that basis, to give of myself by choice, not demand or expectation.

If you answer and reflect on these points, you too will create a life you love. And if you have any to add….I’d love to hear them!

What are your environments? Is your foundation strong? i.e. taking care of health, people in your life who nourish you in all ways, physical space, mental space. Time to clean it up and choose what you want within every environment.

Reach for the moon but be happy with what you have, regardless of circumstance. Whether or not you feel it is so, your life is perfect the way it is even if it’s to teach you what you’re made of.

Do you want to expend energy on reacting to things in your life or choose how you use that energy? It isn’t limitless. And if you’re going to spend time, which is a precious commodity these days and energy which, if anything, decreases as the years increase, it better be worthwhile and of your choosing. Take at least 10% of your time to make the other 90% easier. Eliminate delay. If you do that, you avoid a lot of wasted time catching up.

Never stop learning…knowledge feeds you in every way. And while you’re learning about others and life’s lessons, take time to learn more about yourself as well.

Ask yourself what it is you can give in life, not get. What gifts do you have that you can share with others?

Your values come first. If you live from that basis, everything else falls into place. Live your life according to your vision.

Get out of your own way. Let yourself succeed and celebrate those successes. You’re allowed.

Get rid of the baggage of the past. If it’s still hurting you then it’s your memories that are doing it, not the person or event. Let go of the future and live in the present. If you perfect what is right now, the future falls into place all on its own.

Make sure any goals you set for yourself are those you want with a passion. If they’re what you feel you “should do” you won’t do them. It’ll be a tug of war.

Start planning for financial independence. Now…. not next week. That ten dollars a week adds up really fast and disappears even quicker.

Don’t change your behaviour. Grow into who you are. See what works for you and what doesn’t and evolve into the person you want to be.

Life is more than making money. You need to take time to nurture your spirit. There’s intellectual and emotional banks to consider as well. Do you have reserves in all?

Hang around people who will help you grow, not pull you down. Energise don’t deplete. The fastest way to suck your energy dry is by hanging around with takers and users and those in perpetual bitching mode. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.

What are you waiting for? Act! Call, do, move, create, initiate.

Have a problem? Even if it was handed to you? Solve it. Get rid of it! Saying “It’s not my problem” or “I didn’t start this!” lets it fester. Get rid of it before it becomes costly baggage.

Enjoy change. Have fun with it.

Love. There’s nothing like it!

"There are times when life surprises one, and anything may happen, even what one had hoped for" – Ellen Glasgow

I hope the new year brings you all sorts of wonderful surprises…those you wished for and those beyond your wildest dreams.

All the best for 2005 and beyond… Donna Karlin

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Holidays

I love this time of year. Oh not the traffic and crammed stores and the 30 minute wait in the express line at the grocery store when I want to buy a carton of milk. It’s the colour and the music everywhere and the old movies. It’s pretty much the only time of year when I have the time to watch old movies. And I can’t miss Jimmy Stewart with his friend Harvey….the 6 foot 1½ inch rabbit : ) I think I watched that movie every holiday season growing up when I was up in the country with my family.

Snow birds might scoff, but I love being able to light a fire, put music on, tackle a jigsaw puzzle which I open up in all its million pieces on the dining room table every winter. It’s a hectic time when I slow down. An oxymoron I know, but true. I’d hate to miss the pulse of this time of year, listening to people scrambling around looking for that perfect gift, the look on their faces as wonder if that person they’re thinking of would love that piece or another one better.

I guess you could say I love the energy.

Many people I know don’t. Many find it incredibly stressful. All I could say is, for this time of year, for all times of the year, remember to celebrate yourselves as well. Oh it’s wonderful to acknowledge all the people in your life who you want to wish the best for, but remember to do the same for yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back for all you did that you could be proud of.

This has been a year of intense change for me. I feel as if I’ve grown as a person, I’ve met (personally and virtually) and worked with the most extraordinary people. Oh many will ask how could they all be extraordinary? Ahh but they are. Each and every one has a unique talent, perspective, kind of humour and intelligence and in sharing even a part of themselves with me, has given me the best gift ever. For that I am extremely grateful.

These gifts are intangibles, but priceless nonetheless. If I can help a person have a better outlook on life and celebrate who they are in some way big or small, then, to me, that’s all I could ask for.

And if I could have a wish for all of you, it would be to celebrate what you have right now, find laughter, give someone else a smile, relearn (for those of you who have forgotten) how to hug and give them regularly and most especially, when you see something wonderful in someone else, tell them!

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays…
Donna Karlin

Saturday, December 18, 2004

First Impressions, Assumptions, Judgments

Years ago when I was doing group workshops, very intensive ones, one of the dynamics of these programs was to pair the participants off in a very unique way so they would have a ‘buddy” through the week-long process. You were accountable to your buddy. If you didn’t get all your work done by the end of the day, then your buddy didn’t go to sleep until your homework was completed. And since sleep was at a premium to start off with, let me tell you, you didn’t want to be late with deadlines or you heard about it BIG time! The part I loved was the pairing off process. This is where it got interesting, and, based on feedback at the end of the program, one of the most powerful lessons they learned.

What we did was ask the group to form a circle. They were anywhere from 22 – 30 as we capped the class off at 30. At this point most of the participants didn’t know one another so it was quite quiet, uncomfortable for some (hey this was ‘stretch-beyond-your-comfort-zone 404” never mind 101!). We asked everyone to look around the room at those in the circle….to choose who they thought they’d want to be partnered with (friends or acquaintances were not allowed to become partners), then the second person they’d choose and so on and so on, and when we said “GO!” they should rush to that person and ask if they wanted to be their buddy. Chaos? Yep!

From an observer’s point of view, it was amazing to watch some of the men beeline over to the prettiest women, women to the best looking men, those who had a control-type personality to go over to someone who was much smaller in stature etc etc. Basically people were chosen by how they looked. How could they do anything else when they didn’t know the others, right? The odd one would stand back and look to the eyes of the others in the circle and choose by what they saw shining back. But that was very rare.

At the end of the week, these classmates were like family. They knew everything there was to know about each other and then some, the good, the bad, the hidden secrets, everything. Many of the participants ended up pairing off with their least ‘favourite’ choice initially and were angry about it to start off with. Bottom line was, each person in the room was there to support the others and to be supported by them through the process. They all said (not almost all, but all) how lucky they were to be partnered with the best buddy in the world… they should have looked past the surface to the person beneath before judging who they might be.

So why am I writing about this? How many meet someone for a brief meeting, and judge that they don’t want to meet again? How can one possibly know who a person is after speaking to them for only 10 minutes, an hour? I’m not talking about your intuitive feelings where you sense your safety is at stake. I’m talking about not talking to someone because they’re not dressed well or aren’t beautiful or handsome. Whether or not they have the perfect physique or a disability doesn’t matter. That’s not who the person is. A person isn’t their disability. They are a person WITH a disability. Some are visible, some are hidden.

Someone can be the best groomed, most with-it, business-like person in the world who looks intelligent, can read but doesn’t and is basically a functional illiterate. That person might get by on looks alone. But can you have a conversation and be stimulated by that for long? A person might struggle with all sorts of challenges, but if they don’t give up, show courage and strength, wouldn’t you want to get to know that person?

How can you find their hidden mischievous streak, warped sense of humour, keen intelligence if you don’t give them the time of day and truly get to know who they are?

One of the things I often hear from clients is how I see and bring out the best in people. Those ‘lost causes who are inherited in an organization’ who turn around and strive for more. If I see what shines in a person and help them see it as well, then eventually others will glimpse at it too. When I walk on a floor, everyone who knows me knows I will want to hear their victories and what they’re happy with in their lives, well after our contracted period is over. They know I celebrate knowing them, having worked with them and having earned their trust for them to share the deep-downs with me. I respect them, see their talents, strengths and love the person I see, as a whole person, not just a piece here and there.

So next time you walk by a stranger and might take a moment to smile at him/her, remember it’s telling them you value them for being and for taking a moment to share a second of your time with them. And when you see yourself judging because someone you meet isn’t perfect at first sight, take a moment to have a deeper insight. You might never know what you’re missing but on the other hand, taking the blinders off and seeing people three dimensionally will teach you a whole lot more, not only about them but you as well.

Best on another snowy day : )
Donna Karlin

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Seeing the Deeper Aspects of Life

It’s funny. I remember a conversation that Thomas Leonard had about opinions. He didn’t argue back after sharing his point of view (pushing many buttons along the way of course : ) and when he was asked why he didn’t argue back from someone who, believe it or not was becoming angry because he wasn’t arguing his response went something like…. “Who am I to argue? Mine is just one opinion. Who am I to be ‘right’? I'd rather listen and learn what I don't know”.

If we all did this at least some of the time, listened, opened our minds to what isn’t right in front of our noses, it would open our hearts to acceptance, to learning and growing in a world where, let’s face it, few “fit the mold”.

Tonight someone I have the utmost respect for reminded me that just because we don’t see something, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The question that was up for debate (why, I still can’t fathom) was “Does cognitive impairment equal disability?” Many think a disability has to be visible. Not so.

The definition of disability is 1) A disadvantage or deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that interferes with or prevents normal achievement in a particular area. Or 2) Something that hinders or incapacitates.

Those with cognitive impairments face the same issues and challenges as the physically disabled, however, with the added frustrations and challenges of those who don't have a visible disability. Many need to compartmentalize things, people, situations, religions, races. Why not just accept an individual based on their individuality and help them become the best they can be? I’d love to begin a discussion on that topic.

Those who are even debating the issues, why pray tell should they be right? Theirs’ is only one opinion and an opinion at that, nothing factual.

Becoming more neutral is the first step toward non-judgment. Eventually, you begin to see the deeper aspects of life and people that are really wonderful, some might even say divine. Instead of quickly identifying people's faults and seeing them through that lens, you begin to lead with love. Not only do the people around you start to look better, but your entire spirit is enhanced by that generous, life-giving quality.” - Doc Childre and Howard Martin

Can’t ignorance, self-imposed when one chooses not to learn or open one’s mind, hinder more than anything else?

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fulfilling Life vs. Impressive Lifestyle

The second step in being personally mindful is to choose what it is you want in your attract what you want with the absense of anything else.

“Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny.” - Carl Schurz

Ideals are what we reach for as we move forward in our lives. It’s being in tune with our core values and ways of being. When we fight those ideals we forget what it is we stand for and if we don’t make decisions based on who we are, we fall for anything that comes our way. My clients struggle the most when their actions and decisions aren’t congruent with their values. They not only fight a plan of action, they fight themselves in the process. As Carl Jung said “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside awakens.

I don’t want my clients to change. I want them to learn, to grow, to live their lives and make choices based on their personal ethics and integrity. It’s one thing to fight for what you know is right, quite another to fight what you know doesn’t sit right deep within your heart. Success at what price?

Don’t fight your intuition. Go with it. Let it guide you on your journey to growth. Listen to what your feelings are telling you. They will be your highest truth. Choose what it is you want in your life….people, ideas, experiences, feelings, environments. When you chose there is no room for anything else. The 'don't wants' cease to exist. And when you let your choices be your guide, you will create a fulfilling life, not just an impressive lifestyle….unconditionally.


Donna Karlin

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

Every year Fast Company Magazine runs a challenge….a worldwide search for ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This year, thanks to support of friends, clients and colleagues I’ve made it to the second level and am in the running for the finals. If you’d like to read the entry, vote and perhaps leave a comment (based on the work I do) I’d very much appreciate it. You can find it and vote at

I love this challenge because it brings to the fore a reminder of all the good that’s happening in the world every day when people who are passionate about their work, life, goals and dreams go out there to make a difference, even if it’s one person at a time.

With you, your feedback and support I continually grow in my life and work and can continue to help people discover how extraordinary they really are. Even though it’s one person at a time, the ripple effect is immeasurable. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to watch people fly as they reach for their dreams, then sit back applaud them as it happens. I celebrate your victories!.

Donna Karlin