Feeling Like a Scatterbrain?

You are need to prioritize to dive. image: fastcompany.com

In order to dive, you need to prioritize. image: fastcompany.com

Oh boy what a week I had last week. Besides almost every important planet being in retrograde (Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto), it seems like all my projects either sped up or came to a screeching halt last week.

Things that usually worked like a charm like Google decided to go haywire. Yes, Google!

I was aware that my energy was totally scattered and that I had to make some decisions before I lost my marbles.

When I get to that place of overdoing, over saturation, or just plain overwhelm, I luckily have some tricks up my sleeve to shift my energy.

If you’re feeling the same way, here’s one trick that is a super duper priority focusor that will get your chi flowing back right again.

It involves a big, nice white piece of paper. The bigger, the better. Partner that with post-it notes, a pen or sharpies and about 45 minutes of time.

6 Steps for a Massive Brain Dump that will Free your Mind – and Soul! :

1) Catch it – Get a blank piece of paper or posterboard*. This will be your foundation or catch-all.

2) Divide it - Draw some vertical lines to separate different categories such as Personal, Household, Professional, and any other category you would like to add. Just be sure that you keep your categories to about 5. Any more than that, guess what happens? You get overwhelmed by your simplification process!

3) Post it - On separate post-its, write down things that you have to do, that is on your to-do list or on your mind, from each category. If you are using a letter sized paper, you may want to use smaller post-its. Go at warp speed and brain dump. Don’t think about it too much and make what you write on each post-it short and concise. It may look something like this, “write my bio”, “go to Costco”, “buy mom a birthday gift”, “create spreadsheet for event.” Keep writing. This is not the time to edit. Remember, brain dump.

4) Sort it - Now we get to the hardest part for most people. It’s the time to review, classify, maybe even toss what’s in the pile. Put all the post-its that pertain to Household in one pile, Professional in another and so on. No judgement, just a quick sorting. You’ll find that many of the post-its won’t seem that important anymore and, seriously, can be tossed.

5) Organize it – Look through what’s left in each category pile and take out the ones that are most time sensitive. Maybe your mom’s birthday is this week and you need to get her a gift asap. That stays. Maybe you have a business launch in Sept and you need to brainstorm with your copywriter. It’s important but perhaps that can wait till next week. As you are working through the post-its, stick the more urgent ones up in the categories and leave the others in their pile.

6) Use it - First, take a minute to stand back and take a look at your masterpiece. Aren’t you proud? If you are feeling overwhelmed, you may need to break your post-its down into smaller steps. Or you may need to take off some post-its all together. The purpose of this exercise is to simplify. Then, get going on your categories!

This process should be fun, inspiring and downright liberating. If it’s stressful to you, you may want to light a candle beforehand, make a cup of tea and set an intention for the process.

*If you’re more of a digital person, you can also do this using a program such as Evernote, Google Keep, etc. I’ve never done it digitally before but I have found that paper and pen really gives me that feeling of satisfaction.

Your turn!

How did this exercise help you? Do you make your own tweaks to it that worked for you? 

Share it in the comments below. Would love to hear where you are in the process!

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How to Create Big Change in Your Life

There is such beauty in releasing. image: beliefnet.com

There is such beauty in releasing. image: beliefnet.com

This past month has been a doozy. No joke.

As I’m a reasonably sensitive person, the swirling energy of the recent Spring Equinox (new beginnings), the flurry of planetary dancing (eclipses/new/full moons anyone?) along with my own life situations have come together to create this magnificent, perfect doozy.

And boy did it show in my space – newspapers and books piling up, a million unfinished projects lingering, leaving my desk looking like a war zone by the end of the week.

In the past, I would have gone into go, go, go, fix, fix, fix mode, not even taking a minute to breathe.

Eventually my “plow through it” attitude would take me down – either by getting me sick, or launching me into full blown overwhelm, sending me to hide under my covers.

It was an exhausting cycle that kept me in a holding pattern.

I’m sure this doesn’t even sound remotely familiar to you.

Thankfully, over the years, I have developed some pretty decent tools that have helped myself and others move through during these challenging times.

To start creating change in your life, you must cultivate the expert sniffer-outer in you; detecting the first signs of sneaky patterns as soon as they rear their little heads.

You may notice that you are regularly forgetting your keys or you have developed a dull pain in your shoulder that is annoying but not enough to get it looked at. If you allow yourself to really see, feel and to be in the moment, you will notice that catching these early signs is easier than you think.

Experience has shown me that your outside world is totally telling you what is going on in your inside world.

Almost all discomfort, pain, and unease is a result of not being able to let go. And developing this awareness in the early stages can potentially save you a deep dive into overwhelm or paralysis.

Ask yourself the simple question, “What am I holding onto that I need to let go of?” 

Forgetting your keys may mean you may need to let go of overcommitting yourself to allow room in your schedule to breathe.

Having a dull pain in your shoulder may mean letting go of the idea that you have to “work hard” to get the results you desire.

Get the picture?

So first step is awareness, second step is asking, what do I need to let go of?

Third step then, is to let go.

Be patient with yourself as you learn these new skills.

The process of change takes presence, practice and most importantly patience.

Remember my messy desk? The zone of combat, reminded me to let go of overdoing and take care of myself. It really is that simple.

Your turn!

What are the small signs that are begging for your awareness? What are the things/emotions/thoughts that you can let go of today? 

Share it in the comments below. Would love to hear where you are in the process!

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Coloring 101

Go back to your childhood activities image: myartscrafts.com

Go back to your childhood activities image: myartscrafts.com

It had been years since I colored for recreation, not work. I think I was probably in pigtails.

The coloring book trend was subtle at first. Now, every where I looked, someone was asking me to color within their lines.

I wouldn’t conform. I wouldn’t be so easily converted.

I had spent years of my life in front of color for professional reasons, and felt uninspired and colored out.

But the day I picked up my first coloring pen, something magical happened.

I messed up.

And there was no eraser, no “undo” command.

Realizing this, I was somewhat relieved. I allowed myself to let go. I let myself be inspired. I let myself have fun.

There was no turning back.

Inspiration struck at the glimpse of each nude page. New possibilities, new opportunities, just…new. I chose colors that made me smile, letting myself be led by whimsy.

When I started coloring – usually with reckless abandon, I sometimes escaped outside the lines. Then my analytical side wrestled its way in: Color similar objects the same colors to keep symmetry and ease of production. Ha, production. But unfortunately, my “reasonable” self listened. I quickly discovered that production was too automated and I got bored. In a coloring book!

With my laser focused coaching eyes, I realized that how I was coloring is how I did everything in my life, punctuating the familiar saying that I am annoyingly fond of:

How we do ANY thing is how we do EVERY thing.

I’m so glad that when I messed up, I was compassionate and forgiving of myself. That speaks volumes to the rest of my life.

What I learned in my production process is that if I don’t keep things varied, I get bored and nothing was ever completed. So I have to keep shaking things up to keep projects rolling.

Colors

My work in progress, my teacher. Don’t worry, it WILL get completed!

Here’s a little Feng Shui challenge for you and it doesn’t require a coloring book, just your awareness.

For the next week, pay attention to how you move through things in your life and where it applies to other things in your life.

For example, you may love learning new languages. You may love meeting new people. Bored at work? Request to be taught something new or take a work related class to learn something new. Not only will that stave off boredom, you will increase your value at work.

Happiness on the outside is happiness on the inside and vice-versa.

I got alot out of coloring, right? I’d encourage you to try it too. It’s fun, helps reduce stress and, in my experience, improves awareness and focus.

Your turn!

What do you recognize as a tendency in your life that applies to various other aspects of your life? How can you learn or benefit from it? 

Remember, when we are aware, anything in life is possible. So put on your Feng Shui glasses and share your experiences this week!

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Happy Year of the Fire Monkey!

Let's get this party started!

Let’s get this party started! image: kids guide magazine

Woot woot!

It’s Chinese New Year, yo!

If you’re a NYC public school teacher or parent of a public school child, you may have the day off so be sure do something fun!

I hope you are celebrating like I am today, sporting your red outfit in your clean home!

By the time you read this, I will already be in NYC’s Chinatown, watching the 500,000 Firecracker Display Festival - hello excitement!

Whether you are at work or have the day off today, here are my suggested ways to spend this first day of the Monkey year:

1) Chill the Fire - It’s the start of the Fire Monkey but today is a day meant to chill out. It’s a holiday for Chinese folk so we spend the day doing fun things that we love. That could mean seeing a parade, hanging with friends and family. Just be sure that you are relaxing and enjoying yourself because that is the energy you want to bring into this year – Ease and Joy!

2) Chow Down - Food is of utmost importance to the Chinese, so tonight, do it right! Prepare some simple yet favorite dishes for your friends and family. Had a long day? Order from a restaurant that has noodle dishes and sweet desserts to welcome in longevity and sweetness into your life and the new year.

3) Lift your Chi -  Can’t get to any firecracker or celebration dances? I’ve brought them to  you! A caveat: Lower or turn up the volume on your device depending on what you and your surrounding friends want to experience! They may scare or entertain your office mates. Viewers beware! Firecracker display to scare away demons (or your office mates!) Next is a Chinatown Dragon Dance. You know what they say, if you can’t join them, watch ‘em on you tube!

Thanks so much for joining me these last few weeks prepping for the Monkey Year! Stay tuned for more Feng Shui tips next month as per our usual schedule, second Wednesday of each month!

Your turn!

How are you spending your Chinese New Year? We’d love to know!

GUNG HAY FAT CHOI! (learn how to pronounce it here)
Wishing you Prosperity and Abundance!

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Chinese New Year Chow Down

HandPulledNoodles_FengShuiCreative

This guy is gonna make sure you have a great year! Watch him make noodles here

Earlier this week you found out that one great thing to eat for Chinese New Year is long noodles.

That’s because long noodles symbolize long life. I know you knew that.

And I promised you that if you weren’t so kitchen savvy, that I’d help you out this week.

I’m not backing down on my promise. I’ve got that down pat as well as some other Delicious goodies that begin with the letter D.

The Fire Monkey is just 3 days away and he’s getting hungry!

Here are some things to eat (and places to feed you) to help you tame the hungry beast.

1) Hand Pulled Noodles – I will repeat. Long noodles = Long life. Eat long time.

This guy is gonna make sure you have a great year!

Bonus: Recommended noodle spots with some great reviews:

  • Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles: 1 Doyers Street, New York, NY 10038
  • Sheng Wang: 27 Eldridge Street, New York NY 10002
  • Lam Zhou: 144 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

2) Dumplings - These little packets of happiness symbolize exactly that, packets of happiness. Most often eaten during the Chinese New Year, it’s associated with happiness and celebration. Even the shape of Chinese dumpling is auspicious – the ample forms resemble  gold and silver ingots of ancient China’s currency. In modern day, people squish them in this shape to welcome in fortune and wealth.

Think of them as little money pouches.

Think of them as little money pouches.

Bonus: Recommended dumpling spots with some great reviews:

  • Prosperity Dumpling: 46 Eldridge Street, Chinatown prosperitydumpling.com
  • Tasty Dumpling:  42 Mulberry St, Chinatown. tastydumplingnyc.com
  • Kai Feng Fu Dumpling House: 4801 8th Ave, 48th/49th Streets in Sunset Park, Brooklyn
  • Pacificana: 813 55th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

3) Fish - Lastly, we have the food of the wealthy - Fish! The Chinese love eating fish since the word sounds like ‘surplus’ in Chinese (I’m sure it’s because fish is yummy too). According to the Chinese, it is encouraged to have an extra sumthin’ sumthin’ at the end of the year, since that little sumthin’ means that it’s possible for you to make sumthin’ even mo’ in the following year. So yeah, ditch the idea that fish only makes you smart. It will also make you rich!

The food of the rich and brainy.

The food of the rich and brainy.

Bonus: Recommended seafood spots with some great reviews:

  • Ping’s Seafood: 22 Mott St, Chinatown
  • China Pearl: 8222 45th Ave Elmhurst, Queens
  • Lucky Eight: 5204 8th Ave, Borough Park, Brooklyn

So remember, plan to prepare a wonderful meal or to have the meal prepared for you on Chinese New Year. Include a couple of these dishes to make sure that the Year of the Monkey starts off on the right foot.

Your turn!

Do you have a favorite Chinese restaurant that just kicks butt on these foods or another dish? Share it in the comments below and until then, happy eating!

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Chinese New Year Dos and Don’ts

Even this little guy knows what to do before the big day.

Even this little guy knows what to do before the big day.

You’ve cleaned your house, you’ve learned the symbolism of some popular Chinese New Year decorations.

Heck, you can even speak Chinese now.

What more can I ask of you in preparing for Chinese New Year?

I still have some little nuggets up my sleeve, of course, as the Year of the Fire Monkey is exactly one week away!

Yes the Chinese are a bit superstitious, but don’t you know that it’s for your own good?

Here are some final tips on what to do and not do for Chinese New Year.

I’ll start with the things to avoid first:

DON’Ts

1) Skip the Sweep - The Chinese believe that good fortune is swept out the door if you sweep on the New Year. Do yourself a favor and sweep your home at least a day before the New Year. I know it sounds like a funny superstition but my perspective is, why leave anything to chance?

2) Lock your Locks - Don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day. It is believed that good luck and fortune can be washed out of your year if you wash your hair on Chinese New Year day. Imagine my groaning teenage self when we were reminded of this annual tradition on New Year’s morning. Mom, couldn’t you have reminded me the day before? So plan ahead, wash your locks on Feb 7th or even better, Feb 6th. And keep a can of dry shampoo nearby.

3) Hide your Wares - To avoid cutting off good luck for new year, you are not going to want display your knives. I don’t mind this tip. I’m a city girl and seeing knives displayed in kitchens always brought up the Psycho (the movie) paranoia in me. So keep em hidden from me please.

Put these babies out of sight for the week of Chinese New Year to ensure a great year! image: pinterest

Put these babies out of sight for the week of Chinese New Year to ensure a great year! image: pinterest

DOs

1) Push the Petals - Commonly used in Feng Shui remedies, fresh flowers in a home promote good energy. During Chinese New Year, inundate your home with fresh flowers, preferably red or pink ones to promote harmony, prosperity and good fortune.

Bring beauty into your home with fresh flowers. image: lifestyle asia

Bring beauty into your home with fresh flowers. image: lifestyle asia

2)  Pour Some Sugar on Me - Displaying trays of sweets and bowls of fresh fruit encourages sweetness to permeate your New Year. And the Monkey is going to need his sweet tooth satiated this year. Balance the candy with natural sweetness by putting out bowls of tangerines and pomegranates – symbols of prosperity and good fortune.

A regular staple at the house during Chinese New Year when growing up. image: four seasons magazine

A regular staples in the house during Chinese New Year while growing up. image: four seasons magazine

3) Pull a Fast one - The Chinese love eating foods that are symbolic for good fortune and one favorite dish involves long noodles because long noodles represent long life. Be sure to stock up on your noodles!! If you don’t have a culinary bone in your body, stay tuned for my next blog post later this week that will surely help you out.

Your turn!

Share with us what your final preparations are for the Chinese New Year and how it’s already changing the energy of your home.

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Your Answers are in Your Numbers

These numbers are more powerful that they appear. image: bradley keen

These numbers are more powerful that they appear. image: bradley keen

A friend the other day was telling me about the heated “discussion” that she had with her boyfriend.

It went something like this:

Friend: Whenever he gets stressed out from work, he shuts down. It’s like I’m not there. And all I want to do is make him feel better. But when he doesn’t respond, I get annoyed. It happens all the time and I don’t know what to do.

Me: That’s because when M is stressed, he’s goes up to his Mountain. When you see that, you want to nurture him which makes him go deeper into his cave. It makes TOOOTTALLLL sense.

Friend: (eyes the size of golf balls) OMG, exactly! How did you know that?

Me: Ancient Chinese Secret (glint in my eye)

I continued to tell my friend how she and her beau could better interact with each other these stressful moments, while honoring themselves and each other.

She also gained some crucial information, specific to her, that would help her navigate through this DYNAMIC Monkey year coming up.

With this insight, my friend skipped home, happy to have a better understanding of what to do to help move her business forward. She also knows now what to look out for the next time a stressful moment came up with her boyfriend.

Job done. Next! :)

I know, I’m always throwing you a curveball with new Chinese stuff, but you know, it’s my job.

There is so much information available to you that I would like to share so you can start living the most awesome version of your life!

So you already know what your Western sign and your Chinese animal are.

What else is there to know?

Your Chinese astrological numbers!

When I started working with these numbers with my clients years ago, I could not believe the accuracy and information that it provided.

Not only did Chinese Astrology help clients with getting to know themselves better in different situations such as with relationships or career, it even advised when to take (or not) take action for a certain activity in life.

To break it down in a nutshell, here is what you need to know:

Each person has specific numbers that correlate to their birthday and with that information, we can glean the information to better know yourself, better interact with others and learn how to use this information to your advantage.

THEN, you have the energetic number of the Universe. Let me explain. Each year, the Universe supports you in a very specific energetic way. Knowing what this energetic support is can help boost your career forward, strategically plan your year, alleviate potential health issues and be the deciding factor in potentially making or breaking your year.

So why wouldn’t you want to be in the know?

Using the Universe's help can make your year THAT much easier.

Using the Universe’s help can make your year THAT much easier.

The information is right at your fingertips. Cool right?

To find out more about about Chinese Astrology readings or to book a reading, contact me! I’d love to help provide the info you need to make this Year of the Monkey a super awesome one.

Your turn!

Have you already started noticing a shift in the energy of yourself or the energy around you last year (Nov-Dec?). That was the Goat already handing the baton to the Fire Monkey. Let us know what you’ve been experiencing because this shift is real! :)

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Visiting Chinatown

Chinatown_FengShuiCreative

Paper lanterns are good luck for Chinese new year. image: feng shui creative

Field Trip!

Glad I made it to Chinatown before the Blizzard of 2016!

Prepping for the Chinese New Year is no small task.

It was time to get out of the house and see what the kids were up to.

Watch this video to learn the symbolism behind some of Chinatown’s unusual decor and learn a useful phrase for Chinese New Year while you’re at it!

If there’s one thing that you take away from today’s video – it’s your first Chinese Lesson!

Repeat after me: “Gung Hay Fat Choi” 

Meaning: Wishing you Prosperity and Abundance. This phrase is commonly used as a greeting for Chinese New Year since prosperity and abundance are what people hope for in the new year.

If you are a language stickler, you can also say: “Sun Nen Fai Lok” which is literally, Happy New Year. I have usually heard it said AFTER the first Prosperity greeting.

Now say it all together:

“Gung Hay Fat Choi! Sun Nen Fai Lok!”

Have fun practicing your Chinese New Year Greetings!

Your turn!

Do you have decorations that you are use specifically for Chinese New Year or do you have a question about something you have seen and I have not addressed? Share your question here!

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The Secret to Speaking to the Monkey

I look as cheeky as the monkey will be this year

I look as cheeky as the monkey will be this year

Oh, Year of the Fire Monkey.

You’re so Cheeky!

Not only do we have to look for Elephants in our home just for you (see my last blog post to know what I’m talking about!), but the Fire you bring to 2016 is sure to bring about big transformations.

And let’s not forget the Metal that accompanies your Fire that will make sure it’s not a dull year. Oh my.

My theme word for the Fire Monkey 2016 is DYNAMIC.

Why Dynamic?

Because the elements Fire and Metal are usually clashing elements and that, in my opinion, forecasts an exciting year! (can you tell I’m an optimist?)

Don’t be alarmed. I’ve got you. A Chinese Astrology reading is a great way to find out the best way to use this Chinese new year to your advantage.

There are 12 animals, and if you are one of these 3 animals – Tiger, Dog or Monkey – let’s talk, since I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get on the Monkey’s good side :)

Watch this video now to get more info.

Regardless of what animal you are, here is ONE secret to help you ace the Monkey year:

Do a GOOD DEED once every day. You heard me. Just ONE good deed daily, every day for the new year.

Sound tough? It doesn’t have to be.

See someone who needs a door opened? Give them a hand. Buy someone lunch or coffee. Send someone a nice email or voicemail to brighten their day. Smile at the guy at the deli. When walking in New York city streets, slow your pace down so you don’t plow someone over, especially a tourist.

Yup, in my books, that’s a brownie point.

A good deed is as easy as pie and good for your Chi daily quotient! image:  ellenmmay.wordpress

A good deed is as easy as pie and good for your Chi daily quotient! image: ellenmmay.wordpress

So get creative. Make it a fun game. And watch your energy soar this year. And who knows, maybe the Monkey will come out to play with you too.

Your turn!

Share with us, what good deeds you are doing everyday. One up yourself everyday and spread the good Chi for this Chinese New Year!

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Clean Up Your Act for the Monkey

You know I'm all about styling, even when your cleaning! image: etsy.com

You know I’m all about being proud of your personal style, even when you’re cleaning! image: etsy.com

I promised you that I would not make you clean like a crazy person.

And I promise to stick to my promise.

In the weeks preceding Chinese New Year, the tradition of cleaning your home is very important. It prepares your home (and life!) for the energy and bounty of the upcoming year.

The “sweeping” action you do when you clean (I won’t tell that you use a vacuum or these groovy moppets), symbolically means that you are sweeping out the old energy of 2015′s Goat and welcoming in the new energy of the Monkey.

Here are some easy (I promise) home cleaning and nurturing tips:

1) Focus on the Elephant - I realize that we live in a busy society and that we can’t take the amount of time to clean that the Chinese do to prepare for the new year. Don’t worry. The Monkey totally gets it. Remember folks, it’s all about the intention.

So here’s your first easy task: find that ONE place in your home or office that has been bugging you for ages and take one small action to bring it to light. This area is what I call, the Elephant in the room. It’s that place that you always avoid that is dark, cluttered or just feels just…stagnant. Examples of Elephants can be cleaning out the top of your fridge (ick), downsizing the pile of shoes in the corner or replacing the burned out light bulb at your entry.

Make a commitment to donate/repair/clean/shred/organize the Elephant this week and see the Chi of the space, and you, change instantly. Remember this should be one EASY and focused action. I love Mari Kondo but I believe in making small changes that bring about big Chi rewards.

2) Have Better Vision - In Feng Shui, the windows represent your eyes, or more specifically how you see things. When windows are dirty, especially this time of year in the US, it can make for blurry vision, lack of clarity or not even noticing obvious things.

I know you don’t normally do windows (as the saying goes), but make this an exception. Clean all the windows in your home while setting the intention to see all the opportunities that come your way during the Monkey year and to have the clarity to make all the right decisions. Make Mr. Clean proud.

Help this guy out. He's been cleaning for eons. image: rageweb.info

Help this guy out. He’s been cleaning by himself for eons. image: rageweb.info

3) Roll out the Red Carpet – Don’t worry. This does not require you to buy a fancy gown or tux. You probably know that the color red is a very auspicious and lucky color in the Chinese culture. During Chinese New Year, it’s even more widespread. After you’re done with your Elephant cleaning (bravo!), you can move on to decorating or what I call, “embellishing.”

Buy or add something red to your space to welcome in the lucky and prosperous energy of the year. I understand if you don’t want Chinese lanterns or Monkeys hanging all over the place, so feel free to adapt this suggestion to your personal aesthetic. Candles, placemats, flowers are great inexpensive ways to add a splash of feisty color to your space.

Decking the Halls in Red Deco. Image: dfic.cn

Decking the Halls in Red Deco. Image: dfic.cn

Some easy ways to see red! image: apartment therapy

Some easy ways to see red. image: apartment therapy

I went easy on you guys this year but you never know, once you start cleaning, you may not want to stop. Plus you have 3 weeks to tackle the easy-paced cleaning of your home.

If you follow these 3 tips, the Monkey will be a happy little bugger. Just be sure to do all your cleaning and prepping in the next few weeks before Feb 8 but DEFINITELY NOT on Chinese New Year. More on that in a later post.

Now is the time to show the Monkey that you mean business. Do ONE thing today that you have been resisting. It is in the allowing and doing that you will see and feel an instant change of positive energy. And that’s what we want to welcome in 2016, right?

Your turn!

Share with us, what’s your Elephant and what is your ONE focused action you will take? And if you are inspired, take a picture of the red element you brought into your home to welcome in the Year of the Monkey.

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