Growth Stories

How Much Time Do You Spend in Agreement Reality? 683 1024 Thayer Fox

How Much Time Do You Spend in Agreement Reality?

Do you ever have conversations in your head for hours about something that is bothering you? Do you call friends or family to vent? Do you think that a solution and relief will appear if you keep hashing it out? How much time do you spend in agreement reality

It won’t until you get into action. In your head, you’re dead.

Frequently, I hear people talking about what is going on inside their heads as if their thoughts are a reality. I did it just the other day for over an hour. I knew what I was doing, and I stuck with it because I had some free time. “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” gets me every time.

Had I been sitting alone, talking out loud on a crowded New York City street, there would be no difference between me and the schizophrenic, homeless woman Paula, who sits on the church steps a few blocks away from my apartment. The difference between Paula and me is that I have a home, a cell phone and a few people who I can call who will listen to me.

After a little circular time in my head, I phoned a friend under the pretense that I needed her opinion. I didn’t really care about her feedback; I just wanted to run the tape of my internal dialogue. The specifics were that I felt a teacher at one of my children’s schools handled something poorly. My friend listened politely, agreed and then threw a few of her opinions into the fire. My friend’s well-intentioned participation and agreement solidified my story and what started off as a flame, turned into a bonfire. We analyzed the teacher’s personality and motives, rehashing what happened from different angles. Eventually, we pulled the lens up and made the problem more systematic, a sample of the more significant issues arising at the school. Our continued agreement kept stoking the fire, we settled in around it, roasting resentments in righteous tones.

What started out as a passing thought now had an entire structure to it and showed up as “the truth.”

This is an example of agreement reality.

Here is the definition:

“Agreement reality is knowledge acquired due to others telling you it is so.”

I wish venting and agreement worked and I walked away from such calls feeling better. The agreement creates and confirms positions and venting strengthen neural pathways. I left the call angry and disempowered, planted in a clearly defined stance. Whenever I am making myself right and someone else wrong, alarm bells eventually sound. There is no possibility when positions are fixed. Just a drop of doubt can allow workability to enter the space. Curiosity creates bridges between us.

We live in a world of agreement reality, it’s happening all around us all the time. People who disagree with prevailing opinions often stay quiet due to the spiral of silence. The gist of that theory, developed by German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann is that if you speak up against a well-received, societal agreement, you risk being kicked out of the campfire and eaten by wolves.

Here it is:

On my best days, when issues involving a person or organization arise I have two sound choices; I can go directly to the person or organization with my complaint, or if I am not ready to do that, I can pray or meditate. If I am too possessed by negative emotions to trust myself to engage in a fruitful interaction, prayer or meditation is always a good choice for further guidance.

I also have another tool I regularly utilize which may sound simplistic and is a gem. I write down the person or organization’s name on a strip of paper after I meditate or pray and put them in my “God box.” It’s an action when you are not ready to take action. My God box is a small box that I keep on a table in my bedroom. The idea is that whatever you believe in outside of yourself (God, nature, whatever) will give you guidance when the time is right, regarding the name you place inside of it. It works because it gets the name out of my head once I put the slip of paper in the box.

If my issue is some circular, self-loathing conversation about an area of my life I feel dissatisfied or helpless in, there are even more options available. Figuring out where I can effect change is the first step, and I use the Serenity Prayer as my guide:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to the change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” When I figure out what is in my power to shift, I can create an action plan to do that ASAP. If I am unwilling to take action required for me to feel better, I acknowledge that and pray or meditate for willingness.

Getting up and moving ( Move a Muscle Change a Thought ) is always a good idea when possible. I then drop the issue by creating a distraction. Depending on the situation, I turn on a podcast or pick up a book, or call someone who needs support. Service is the best way I know to turn off the constant stream of self-talk.

Even if you choose not to address the primary issue, there is always an action you can take to get out of your head.

Talking to your friends or your shrink will only be helpful if they are brave enough to offer a different perspective. An agreement will reaffirm your position and keep you in your head. In your head, you’re dead.


Tomorrow Never Comes: Make Today Count 681 1024 Thayer Fox

Tomorrow Never Comes: Make Today Count

Do you have something that you promised yourself you will tackle tomorrow? Will you start a new diet plan, or visit the gym you signed up for two months ago, and have not stepped foot in yet? Tomorrow, maybe you will get around to calling that out-of-touch friend who keeps popping up in your thoughts? Since you didn’t sleep well last night, tomorrow makes sense to start your job search. What about today?

The days and weeks go slowly and the years fly past us. Tomorrow never comes. The past and the future are hollow concepts. The time to take action is now. Today. The present moment is all we have and all we have ever had.

I have a game that I play when I find myself procrastinating too often. I visualize myself as a ninety-year-old woman in a rocking chair on the porch of our home in Maine, watching the wind blow the leaves backward on the trees in the yard. How will I feel about the past 90 years? Have I shared my love? What more can I give away? Have I allowed God to use me? Will I be at peace as I take my final breath?

After I do this simple exercise, sloth or fear or whatever is holding me back is gone. I become more afraid of sitting in that rocking chair filled with remorse. We regret the things we wish we had done, more than any of our perceived mistakes.

When I heard about the Stoic practice of memento mori, or “remember that you have to die” it gave language to my ritual.

“Memento mori is an ancient practice of reflection on mortality that goes back to Socrates, who said that the proper practice of philosophy is ‘about nothing else but dying and being dead.’”

Here is the link to the Daily Stoic describing this practice in detail:


“Memento Mori”: The Reminder We All Desperately Need


A few nights ago, when I was turning off the lamp in our living room at 10:30pm, I noticed bright lights beaming in an apartment across our back courtyard. Pressing my face close to the glass, I saw a nurse talking on her cell phone. She was waving her free hand around animatedly as she stared out into the darkness between us. I noticed movement behind her and focused in on an ancient woman tossing and turning in a messy bed. Staring blankly out the window, the nurse continued her call for over thirty minutes. I watched from the bench, wanting to make sure the lady in the bed was ok. When the nurse finally hung up, she pulled the bed back together and tucked the lady back in. Relieved after witnessing proof of care, I left my perch to go to bed.

I woke up the next morning thinking about the woman across the way. When I was out later for an errand, I stopped by her building. I have a friend who lives there and vaguely know the friendly Irish super, Joe. After inquiring about the lady in the bed, I learned that she has no visitors but her neighbors handle her doctor visits and nurse schedule. I walked away feeling uneasy but understanding that there was nothing I could do.

I took action because I don’t see that lady as separate from me. She is me, and I am her if I live another forty years. The only difference between us is time. I hope someone asks after me if I am alone in a bedroom. That lady is all of us one day not too far off. We come into this world alone, and we leave the same way. Death is the only road out of life.

The next time I feel scared or tired, or when I come up with reasonable excuses not to do something, I will think of the woman across the courtyard. What does my soul need to do before I lie down in my final resting place? I want to give everything away before I reach the end of the line.

How can I make Everyday Extraordinary? Even more, than I think possible.

We are all masterpieces, and it’s wasteful not to share ourselves. Let mortality be your motivator. Commit to living full out right this second; tomorrow will never come.






How You Spend Your Time is How You Spend Your Life 1024 768 Thayer Fox

How You Spend Your Time is How You Spend Your Life

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. When a friend said this to me a few years ago, it changed the way I thought about my time. He said that we are all concerned with how we spend our money and think little about how we spend our time.

After this conversation, I went home and looked at my desk calendar to analyze how I was spending the bulk of my time. As a stay-at-home mother, most of my time was spent with my children. The other quarter was split between “friends” and self-care. I didn’t have conscious parameters around friendship back then, so my friends were mostly other mothers who lived nearby. Gym visits and nail/hair appointments filled the additional flexible hours. Some of it was necessary to maintain a healthy body, and some of it was filling the void.

As my children grew, I longed to create my corner of the universe. I had an arsenal of excuses about what was holding me back that sounded pretty legit. There is a great saying “you either have results, or you have excuses.”

Six months ago, a friend asked me about my daily schedule after I described my desire to get back into writing. She also shared the steps that she had taken to create a new career for herself as a screenwriter. Revisiting the “how you spend your time is how you spend your life” conversation woke me up. I was saying that I was desperate to create something new, but my schedule did not reflect the passion in my words. Words without actions are concepts; only actions produce results.

I committed to reworking my schedule, with writing as my primary focus. Writing first thing in the morning with a clear mind was more productive and satisfying than trying to write in between lunch and school pick up. Creating new habits takes two months of discipline, on average. Now, two-and-a-half months later, I can’t remember life before my current schedule. I am much happier with my time and desire aligned.

At a Tony Robbins event I recently attended, “Date With Destiny,” Tony repeatedly bellowed “Raise Your Standards! They are way too low! Its why you don’t have results in your life!”

Here is a Tony clip I love:


If you don’t have results in a targeted area, take a good look at your standards. Does your schedule reflect your alleged commitment to this area? Who are you spending your time with? What are the standards in your peer group/closest relationships? When I had more excuses than results in my life, part of the issue was the people with whom I was spending my time. Small talking that occupied hours each day amounted to internal emptiness. The idler I became in my mind, the lower the energy in my body. That’s a state that people label as depression. Productivity is all about personal power. From that old state, I didn’t have access to the drive or confidence required to step up my game.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Our relationships are imperative to our growth. Thriving people have thriving friends.

We always have control over the way we spend our time.

I understand now that the years I spent in advertising jobs complaining about my bosses were all a choice. The paychecks were good enough, and I was too lazy to look for a job with a kinder boss. We can’t choose the families we are born into, and as adults, we can create healthy boundaries if we have unhealthy relatives. When I hear friends say that they “should” do something, I feel their pain. A life of “shoulds” will never soar.

Look at the way you spend your time, and the people surrounding you. How many of them give you support and inspiration? Then look at your dreams and see how much time you allot to pursuing them. Do you have role models and strategies?

Even if you don’t want to make any changes yet, understanding that everything in your life is a choice is an empowering first step.



When You’re Hysterical, it’s Historical 1024 683 Thayer Fox

When You’re Hysterical, it’s Historical

Have you ever experienced an immediate and overwhelming emotional response? As if a swarm of angry bees suddenly possessed your mind? Your heart rate accelerated as your body entered fight or flight mode? You called five friends to describe in detail the atrocity that occurred, later realizing that your reaction was disproportionate from the actual trigger? If so, then you have experienced an Amygdala Hijack.

Before I learned this terminology, I heard people in the rooms of AA say, “when you’re hysterical, it’s historical.” It took a while for this concept to sink in, but I knew right away that this applied to me regularly.

A few years into my sobriety, life got pretty good and yet I was often a wreck. Seemingly small incidents would set off my internal alarm system, and I would freak out. After a few hours, the overwhelming emotions would subside, and I would have to go and clean up the mess I made by overreacting. I got sick and tired of saying sorry. Around six years ago, I learned about an Amygdala hijack. Learning the science behind “when you’re hysterical, it’s historical” changed my life. Here it is:

The good news is that there are actions that you can take to diffuse this unbearable emotional state more quickly. Awareness is always the first step in creating change. Increasing your emotional intelligence will help you identify when you are in a hijack. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is an essential book on this topic. Here it is:

Make a list on the notepad in your phone identifying your biggest triggers. Becoming familiar with your trigger list will immediately depersonalize the situation. Awareness does not prevent the storm from happening, but it will stop it from turning into a category 5 one. Once you realize that you are in the grips of a hijack, don’t react directly; focus on breathing and count backward in your head, starting at ten and repeating as necessary.

The sensation to release the upset feeling is powerful, and resisting the urge to share is the best tactic. If you cannot do this or need confirmation that you are in a hijack, speak to one safe person. Be mindful, that the more you tell the story, the stronger the swarm becomes. I sometimes ask my husband to support me, “I am starting to lose it, can you listen to me for a few minutes?” As soon as he confirms that my reaction is over the top, I stop talking. Another tool I learned in AA and utilize when triggered is restraint of pen, tongue, and email. Until the swarm is gone, it’s too risky for me to address the situation. An Amygdala hijack passes, and with older triggers, it can take an hour or two. The less time you spend giving it life, the quicker it will move through you.

My Amygdala was hijacked a few days ago. I haven’t experienced one for a while, and it was uncomfortable. I was caught up in a frenzy after a seemingly benign text message. Daniel listened to me patiently for ten minutes until I experienced a pattern recognition aha moment. One of my biggest triggers was activated – when I perceive someone has been dishonest by omission for personal gain. Sneakiness gets me every time, wiring back to a pattern in my family of origin. When I realized what was happening, I put my phone away in a drawer in my bedroom because I was tempted to respond. I counted backward as I paced around the apartment.

Walking is a great way to break up and redistribute negative energy- see my post below:

I continued to kick the disturbance out of my mind every time it popped up and my heart rate finally normalized. I had done no external damage, so no apologies needed. I thanked Daniel and picked up a book.
That’s a win with an Amygdala hijack.


Landmark Education: Change Your Thinking in Three Days
How to Change Your Thinking in Three Days 640 298 Thayer Fox

How to Change Your Thinking in Three Days

A great workshop can change your life after three days. Landmark Education runs the most powerful ones around the world.

I disliked my first Landmark workshop called ‘The Forum.’ I attended it in January 2013 in New York City. The only Landmark space I am familiar with is the one in New York – a windowless basement filled with uncomfortable chairs. It’s not a stretch to feel like you are being held hostage down there. The temperature is comparable to a meat locker; I wore a down jacket and ski hat throughout the process. The hours are long, and the breaks are short. Pack a big bag of nuts, fruit, and a water bottle.

The person who hosts the forum is called the “Forum Leader.” Their unwavering energy and confidence will blow your mind. Overall, the support staff is fine. They smile a lot and use Landmark jargon, which can co-sign the cult story for people who are looking for data to confirm that belief. They encourage staying in the room, except for allotted breaks. This made me claustrophobic immediately. They even recommend that you only pee on breaks, which are two to three hours apart.

Landmark’s sales tactics are not subtle. Pressure is applied to sign up for the next course starting the second day. I was one of three participants out of a group of 1,000 who refused to sign up for the next workshop, called ‘The Advanced Course.’ They bank on the fact that most people won’t step outside the campfire. I believe it’s an opportunity to get in touch with the pleaser in you and the pushback that can accompany a firm “No.”

So why am I even writing about this unpleasant place and experience?

The weekends I have spent in the NYC Landmark basement rewired my brain. No other work I have done has been that effective in such a short time. Three days and 36 hours were all it took. Feel-good weekends full of trust falls, and affirmations are a lot more enjoyable short term. You may even fondly remember that type of weekend a year or two out, similar to how you would a fishing trip to the Bahamas. Within weeks though, you will revert back to your default setting. Our settings are powerful. Rewiring your reptilian brain is not a comfortable process. Your ego fights for its survival. I felt as though I was going to die in that first Landmark workshop. Now I know that something was dying – the part of my ego that was messing up my life.

I walked away from the Forum believing that I would never step foot in 317-A West 33rd Street again. So why did I end up returning to attend three more courses?

A month later, then a few months later, then a year later, I noticed that my headspace and internal dialogue had shifted entirely. I will write about some of the distinctions I learned at Landmark in later posts. Overall, my limiting narrative was gone. Without it, something huge felt possible, and I wanted to find out what that something was, so I signed up for The Advanced Course a year later. During my third Landmark course, The Self Expression and Leadership Program, I created a transformational program of my own called “Change Your Story, Create Your Life” (post to come). I went on to teach “Change Your Story” in a Juvenile Justice home in the Bronx with five friends for the next two years. CYS was one of the most magical experiences of my life.

Whenever I meet someone who has completed the Forum, I know they are a force. It takes something way above mediocrity to commit to a weekend in that basement. All Landmark graduates share a bond. Most people complain when they are there and walk away with significant breakthroughs. Whatever bothers us in our regular lives shows up in the Landmark room. If we hate authority (yes, that’s an issue for me) then all the Landmark employees can be perceived as controlling. If we like judging people, we scan the crowd and make up stories about everyone seated near us. It’s not a Landmark issue, just a blank space in which we cannot escape our own patterns.

And In all the Landmark courses I attended, I peed whenever I wanted to.




Why I Decided Not to Shop in 2018 1024 684 Thayer Fox

Why I Decided Not to Shop in 2018

I would NEVER have conceived of not shopping for a year had I not read “The Year of No Shopping” by Ann Patchett that ran in the New York Times on December 15, 2017.

I posted the article on my Facebook page and asked my social network if anyone wanted to join me in taking this challenge for 2018. Two out of my 1000 “Facebook friends” responded. Two other friends, who are not on Facebook, said they were interested, so that brought us to five, which is a solid number for a group. Doing anything in a group is more fun than doing it alone, not to mention that your likelihood of success multiplies. Outside accountability when forming a new habit is helpful. It doesn’t matter how disciplined you are; habits take months to develop.

I emailed my No Shopping group, and everyone agreed to a January 15th start date.

These are our rules:

— No apparel.

— If there are desperate needs that come up (athletic gear), ask your husband for Valentine’s Day, bday, whatever. But don’t cheat and ask for a new handbag. That breaks the spirit of the rule.

— Outsource as much as possible to your husband, babysitter, whatever. Food is included because it’s a downward spiral.

— No browsing, anywhere.

— Gifts: as much as possible, give books. Stuff like other children’s birthday gifts — try to outsource.

— Experiences ok- travel, exercise classes, mani/pedi- if you can’t take it home in a shopping bag, you can have it.

— If you’re invited to something you don’t feel like you have the right clothes for, DON’T GO!

— Check social media twice a week only for 20 min period, unless using it for work-related activity.

— Can replace cosmetics/toiletries you already have once they run out and try to use excess in your medicine cabinet or under sink beforehand.

Shopping has been a blind spot of mine for a long time. I had a cognitive understanding that I shopped a lot, but still gave myself permission to do it, which is often the case in blind spots we learn of but want to retain. I am not referring to big-ticket items either. I cut back on that two years ago after a marital spat, where I came face to face with the disconnect between my entitlement and our bank account. After that, my shopping got sneaky.

I rationalized the time and excess by connecting it to my family. I spent more time and money than I budgeted in Whole Foods, squeezing organic fruit and filling my cart with seemingly healthy products I didn’t need. Amazon boxes arrived in piles every day containing one item each. A box with a new emoji notebook for my daughter, a box of caramel tea to add to a shelf that was already overstocked with ten other boxes of tea, a six-pack of pens that looked like they wrote more smoothly than the ten I already had in a cup on my desk. Three small items in three huge boxes, the waste alone was disturbing.

I shopped for things I already had, things I didn’t need. I bought backup for everything I deemed essential for life to run smoothly. God forbid, I had a tea emergency and had to run half a block to D’Agastino. There is clutter in every closet and drawer in my home. What is the layer below this habit? Below any unproductive habit? Is shopping a distraction? If so, from what? What will happen if I run out of something?

Leading to the January 15th start date, I panicked. The weekend before I intended to stop by all my favorite stores to stock up. I wasn’t able to execute this plan, and now a month later, I can’t recall everything on that list. I am sitting with my questions, uncomfortably so when a craving strikes.

Overall, not shopping is a relief. The fact that it’s off the table as an option creates space in my brain and schedule. Abstinence is the easiest way to jump-start significant change.

Don’t get me wrong; if I go down the rabbit hole of wondering if I have enough jeans to last me a year, I can quickly become concerned. What if I gain or lose 5lbs? Then buying new jeans would become a necessity that my group would understand. My mind is always ready and willing to offer me loopholes.

Thank God, for consciousness.


Move a Muscle, Change a Thought 1024 543 Thayer Fox

Move a Muscle, Change a Thought

Do you think walking is useless? Not a calorie burning exercise and a slow way to get around? I didn’t learn about the benefits of walking until my first year of sobriety.

The first year of my sobriety was like restoring electricity to a house that had regularly been hit by hurricanes for sixteen years. Overwhelmed by the wreckage, I didn’t know where to begin. AA recommends you find a sponsor to guide you through this process. Fortunate to be immediately introduced to a woman I deemed appropriate, she told me to call her every day to check in. That sounded ridiculous initially, but I ended up calling her 3-4x a day because I had the coping mechanisms of a thirteen-year-old.

Most of my problems were fictional, stories I made up and played on a loop in my head. My thinking was obsessively cynical, portraying me as the victim in all scenarios. I complained to my sponsor incessantly. Two months into working together, she interrupted one of my monologues, “Since you have already been to an AA meeting today, why don’t you go for a walk around the block? Or if you have time, go for a walk in the park. Move a muscle, change a thought.” The simplicity of her suggestion annoyed me.

At that time in my life, exercise was a punitive measure after an evening of binge eating cupcakes. After I quit running due to injury, I would spend hours counting calories on an elliptical trainer at my neighborhood gym. Aimlessly walking around was a waste of time and how the hell would that solve any of my problems?

I took her advice because she had been spot-on about everything else so far. I got off the sofa, where I had been sprawled out stewing, put on some sneakers and a jacket, and walked out of my apartment. I had never walked without an end goal in mind. Something shifted as I walked around, listening to Van Morrison and looking at passing people and clouds. The thought bubbles I was stuck in burst and started flowing. I felt lighter, all my problems more manageable in this mindset.

Walking became my primary mode of transportation around New York. I walked home after work most days, sixty blocks from the Meatpacking District to the UES. On weekends, I walked around the park. Aside from AA meetings, it was the only time I could escape my mental tenants, Fear, and Anxiety. Occasionally, when I was focusing on the scenery around me, another voice would speak up. “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche This voice was softer and didn’t ramble on. It came from a deeper place, below my regular chatter. All my best thoughts pop up out of nowhere and come from this voice.

I still walk everywhere, in silence or with music or podcast or audible book playing. The combination of walking and replacing my thinking with better thinking works wonders. The problem du jour goes away in minutes. Taking in new information has been the most effective method of influencing my patterning. Move a muscle, change a thought.


How to Build a Healthy Ego 1024 779 Thayer Fox

How to Build a Healthy Ego

Ego is a dirty word these days. “Get out of your ego”; “Your ego is the enemy.” I used to believe that when I had evolved enough, my ego would dissolve. Over the past five years, my thoughts on this have changed. There is no such thing as getting rid of ego. It sounds like a lofty goal and is an impossible feat. As my brilliant, old shrink Chris Ford used to say, “the goal is to create a healthy ego, you need a healthy ego to survive.”

So that begs the question, what is a healthy ego?

At my latest course, Tony Robbin’s “Date with Destiny,” I had a breakthrough on how to gauge whether I was living in the healthy part of my ego. Tony talked about The Six Human Needs: Certainty, Uncertainty/ Variety, Significance, Love/Connection, Growth, and Contribution. You do workbook and partner exercises to discover what two needs you inhabit most of the time. I knew as Tony explained that Certainty was the number one need. I like being in control, a lot. Certainty is also a commitment to being comfortable. Much of my planning involves creating optimal contented circumstances for myself. For example, I struggle for months before signing up for the workshops I attend. I know that they are designed to be uncomfortable, and I spend the week before in a state of dread. I know the cancellation policy and locations of all the exit doors.

My need for certainty conflicts with my need for Growth, Connection, and Contribution. True fulfillment is only available when you spend time in those three needs. Tony makes it clear that you can have all six needs met and there is nothing wrong with any of them when they are in the right order. When I allow certainty to be the deciding factor in my life choices, I limit growth and ultimately my happiness.

Unclear on my second need, I had to dig deeper. I assumed it was Growth or Contribution because spending time in either of these areas lights me up. Attending transformational workshops, doing service work in AA, and mentoring teenage girls in the Bronx are highlights in my life aside from Daniel and our children. So if I am already living a life I love, why am I crammed into a freezing West Palm Beach conference center pondering this question?

To reach a point where I even consider signing up for a workshop like Date With Destiny, my need for Growth has to outweigh my need for Certainty. Pain has always been my greatest motivator. When I stay stagnant for too long, I get depressed which manifests in complaints. I make everyone around me wrong before I go inside. When the low-grade misery morphs into pain, I take action. Even though I loved my life, I was dissatisfied with the level of my contribution. I was capable of doing a lot more in the world, now that my kids were in school full time, I was out of excuses.

Breakthroughs pop up in an instant, no rhyme or reason to them. Suddenly, I understood that my need for Growth and Significance were intertwined. Although I don’t strive to be significant in an overt way, the reason I felt dissatisfied was that my volunteer work didn’t feel like enough. When I sit down at a Manhattan table of significance, I fall short using the metric that most people use here, multiple degrees and titled jobs. Every environment also has a need structure, and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, significance is king.

When I focus on my need for growth, the path ahead in the work I already do looks different than if I am striving to keep up with the conversation around me. Tony announced at the same time, “Significance is a mountain without a top! If you have this as your top two needs, you must get rid of it! It will make you miserable.” YES.

Every morning before I start writing, I go through a morning ritual which involves meditation and a cold shower. I stay in touch with my WHY as I write, and throughout my day. Spreading and supporting Growth is my happy place. Whenever I leave the world of action (contribution) and step over into results (What do you think of me? Am I doing a good job?), I move into significance.

It’s a great question to ask your self regularly. At work, when you are showing up for a friend, training for a marathon, volunteering at a kid’s school- what need am I in right now? Guarantee if it is Growth, Love, or Contribution you will be satisfied. If you feel that you are not being appropriately acknowledged, then you are probably in significance.

The part of the ego that doesn’t serve us is the part that needs to be in control and acts for the reward of recognition. A healthy ego focuses on putting growth or love or contribution first. Significance naturally moves down to the bottom when one of those three needs is first; the order is imperative. The great news is we can choose to shift our needs any day, any time. Today, I am putting Growth

Find Your WHY 678 1024 Thayer Fox

Find Your WHY

Two weeks ago I read Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” not expecting that it would put me on a path to find my Why.

Shortly after, I listened to The Tony Robbins Podcast “Simon Sinek on the 10 rules for achieving greatness.”

Here it is:

Then I visited Simon’s website that has a section about finding your Why.

Here it is:

Simon’s work is friendly and easy to retain. In the podcast, Simon’s humility shines through his responses. He is patient and present with the talkative interviewer. I kept listening because I liked him, not because I thought that he had anything groundbreaking to say. His theory, at a glance, occurred to me as rudimentary. If you find your Why and create your life, business, relationships from that base, it will soar. Most people and companies tend to focus on their How and What instead of their Why. I assumed that these fundamental distinctions were like learning the alphabet, geared towards beginners. For a seasoned growth vet like myself, this was merely a helpful review.

How wrong I was.

As I digested the information, I held on to the idea that I was already a self-aware person who understood what lit me up. I started to try and explain my Why to myself a quarter of the way into the podcast. I rambled about my life journey, passionate, and a bit scattered. It dawned on me that my Why at that time was like telling someone you are going to vacation in France, and when they ask the whereabouts, you talk in detail about The Eiffel Tower, vineyards and olive groves, without ever naming the exact location.

Finding my Why put the key in my ignition. I turned on.

My Why is that I want to share my process of growth, transformation, and healing with others to support and inspire them. Writing this blog became something that had to happen because it was in direct relationship with my Why. Navigating mundane areas of my life, like social and kid-related invitations, has become a no-brainer. I have always enjoyed working with my AA sponsees and now, connecting it back to my Why gives me clarity and purpose. The more opportunities I create to share and spread growth, the more energy flows through me. Any environment or individual that contains growth is always a yes for me. My Why is the reason that anything I do feels worthwhile.

I encourage you to discover your Why.

Back Pain Secret
Back Pain Secret 663 1024 Thayer Fox

Back Pain Secret

I have been fortunate to avoid serious injury over the past 44 years. I do experience chronic back pain from tightness in the surrounding muscles. Once it activates, it can take weeks to go away. If you have other aches and pains from exercising, traveling long hours or sleeping too often in one position, then this tip is for you.

Aside from my daily multivitamin pack and two omega fish oils, I prefer not to tamper with my body chemistry.  The data on the effects of long-term pain reliever use include liver damage and ulcers, so I avoid them unless my pain level is at a 10. Two years ago, I strained my back doing yoga. Attempting to imitate a seasoned yogi on the mat in front of me, I felt a sharp, sudden pain in my lower back. This ego-inflicted injury taught me more of a lesson than my yoga practice ever did.

I visited a doctor even though I knew it wasn’t anything serious. She told me not to exercise for a few weeks, see a physical therapist to strengthen the surrounding muscles and take some Aleve when needed. Going without activity is only an option if I have been up vomiting all night. Exercise doesn’t have to be a shirt drenching, Soul Cycle class; it’s anything that gets me moving. An hour walk in Central Park or some light weight lifting is sufficient. Bottom line, I didn’t listen and learned quickly that consistent movement agitated my back to the point where I was in constant pain.

I reluctantly set up an appointment with a friend’s PT. My experiences with PTs range from a waste of time to feeling ripped off. Monica Joshi at Back in the Game Therapy located in Midtown Manhattan is the real deal. Aside from being an attractive woman, she is also a straight shooter with the goal of getting you in and out of her practice short term and long term at a rapid pace. She taught me exercises and gave me lifestyle strategies that helped my back enormously and still do two years later. It turns out the way I was standing was hurting my back more than any exercise I was doing.

Pain management became a fixation because I missed park walks and sitting upright in a chair at a restaurant was still sending my back into spasms. While grabbing some toothpaste at Duane Reade, I walked past an aisle and noticed a section with Icy Hot patches and ThermaCare Heat Pads. I had never used either. Grabbing a few boxes, I hurried home to conduct a performance evaluation. The Icy Hot patches worked well and reeked of mint. The ThermaCare pads were more effective without stinking up my clothes.

What started out as a way to manage my back pain turned into an obsession. I actually have one on my lower back now as I type this. Sitting and working on my computer for hours can still bother my back. The heat pads last for eight hours, staying in place even under a cocktail dress. They also function as a heat source on winter days. I also wear them to bed because I find that when vital muscles in my body are soothed, I sleep more soundly.

No, ThermaCare is not paying me to write this although they probably should.