Keeping the Greeting Card Tradition Alive

Do you ever miss getting a real greeting card in the mail?
Do you have fun choosing a card for someone?

When I started drawing Niki Owl, the tradition to wish people well, thank them and celebrate their birthday was to send greeting cards via regular “snail mail” as my mother likes to call it. Things have changed a lot since then, especially with technology and environmental consciousness.

Where does the greeting card tradition come from?

The greeting card tradition itself dates back to the ancient Chinese (who shared messages of good will to celebrate the New Year) and the Egyptians (who used paper scrolls to transmit their greetings). By the early 15th Century, people in Europe were exchanging handmade greeting cards, and the Germans started printing New Year’s cards from woodcuts.

So the tradition itself go back a long way, as does the use of “technology” for larger scale printing.

A PERSONAL GREETING CARD TRADITION IS BORN…

I loved receiving greeting cards in the mail when I was a “wee sprocket”. They usually came from family members in the US and the UK, for birthdays, Christmas and perhaps some other celebrations. I was elated when my dad would come home from the post office and hand me a letter with MY name on it. I felt special. I felt recognised. Someone outside of my close environment was thinking of me, had made the time to pick a card I would enjoy, and included a personal message. Just for me. It was wonderful. I loved the thoughtfulness. As a family, our tradition was to buy UNICEF greeting cards at Christmas to send out to our family and friends (which also meant part of what we paid for them went to a good cause).

I injected this same spirit into Niki Owl cards when I started making them as a teenager. I was delighted to gift a piece of my creativity to somebody, knowing that the design itself often reflected something unique about them and the things that made them happy. Those were my first incursions in using my creativity to inspire and uplift.

How often do you get cards like that these days?
And how often do you send them?

“The secret to living is giving.”- Tony Robbins

As technology and the internet began to permeate our lives though, sending online greeting cards became the norm for many people.

When I built the first Niki Owl website (circa 1999) – guided purely by a book on HTML and some very basic online forums – I had wanted to develop an online greeting card section. I saw the benefit of giving people the chance to not only buy my physical handmade greeting cards, but also email them if they chose to. But my programming skills didn’t stretch that far, and other sites at the time didn’t offer customisation for independent artists. Then life led me in a different direction for a while until I returned to my true passion of writing and developing Niki Owl. By then, the internet had changed significantly.

I still love making, sending and receiving cards, although I’ll admit I fell off the path of sending them for a bit. We get so busy “doing” other things that we put off making that call or sending that card to thank someone or remind them of how special they are to us.

Yet the tradition of sending cards is still huge for many people, and the beauty is that technology has come a long way, so we have lots of options now. There’s really no excuse not to take a few minutes to send a card and nourish our relationships with people, whether they’re personal or professional connections.

So, what if you could marry new technology with tradition, and send the same card design in print and online? And with the same ease of selection and detailed thought for the person you’re sending it to?

After researching ways to bring back the greeting card idea for Niki Owl, I discovered Paperless Post and how easy their platform is to use, so I decided this would be the perfect way to integrate this tradition again into my life. 

It also gave me the idea that I may not have to “build” a greeting card platform, but rather team up with another company that does this exceptionally well, and that’s what I’m finding with Paperless Post.

I’m enjoying new inspiration through the experience of sending online greeting cards to friends, clients and colleagues through Paperless Post. It’s got my creativity fired up too.

If you’re looking to send cards – online and/or printed – you’ll find a great selection of birthday cards, invitations, thank you notes and other occasions. You can upload your own designs, or choose from a classy, elegant and inspiring selection of designs. Their attention to detail and aesthetics will inspire you.

For now, I’ll be using Paperless Post to send both printed and online greeting cards to clients, colleagues and friends, and I’ll see how else this develops. Who knows? Maybe Niki Owl will become one of their featured designs. Everything starts with a dream, right?

Keep dreaming your dreams into life, and tell people how much you appreciate them,

Karin

This post was published in partnership with Paperless Post, because I love what they’re up to.

How To Create Everything You Want

+ An Invitation to Imagine

This week marks the beginning of school for most kids around the world. And for a lot of adults, it also means “going back to reality” of work.

School was where many of us dreamed up our life’s vision.

We spent hours there with other kids, surrounded by some form of creativity, and someone to guide us through it. We played with clay, made potato stamps, created macaroni art, plastered our painted handprints everywhere we could…

School is also where many kids stopped being kids and became “grown ups” with high levels of seriousness attached. Many carried the structure of school into their work life WITHOUT the playfulness they experienced at school.

WHO ever said we had to let go of that playful wonder???

There’s plenty of study, research and metrics on the level of stress and anxiety adults feel at work, and the impact this has on physical health, productivity and plain mental sanity… right down to the financial impact it has on a company (factoring in sick leave, healthcare costs, staff turnover, morale, etc.). But this post is not about money, it IS about what you can do to change this for YOU and the people you spend most of your time with.

You may or may not have kids (or be the best Aunt or Uncle), and you may have just returned to “work” after your vacation – whether that’s working at a fancy office, in a cubicle, or whatever your regular workspace is. And with all the emotions attached to productivity and performance that often get in the way of your flow, joy and inspiration.

Meanwhile, the kids are excited about school because they get to hang out with their friends and favorite teachers again. They get to learn new things, and enjoy some form of creativity. As a parent, you work hard for them to get this experience and eventually get them through college. But what about YOUR fun and creativity?

If you’ve ever spent time trawling the shops with kids tugging at your sleeve wanting to pick out new school bags, pens, pencils, notebooks – you’ll notice they always go for something bright and colorful. They’re excited about the new stuff, and it’s not so much the material aspect – it’s what they get to CREATE with it that’s the real fun.

Do you still buy yourself new pens, notebooks and office materials with the same excitement and wonder as when you were picking them out as a kid? Or did a pen just become something you sign checks and NDA’s with? An automatic response to the “demands” of work and business?

Seriously. Whilst the young ones are picking out bright colors, you may have picked out a plain notebook for yourself, and a mega box of pens so you don’t have to buy any more for the next 6 months. It was probably automatic. And dull. But the pens were a good bargain.

But that’s not the life you dreamed of as a kid, is it? You didn’t dream of bills and hamster-wheel repetitiveness and wonder why you’re doing it at all… did you?

If you’re feeling like there’s something missing in your life, then I have something that will help you.

You see, I love helping people feel good and do good, but was fed up seeing so many adults get distracted from their dreams and question what they’re doing with their lives, so I created the Niki Owl coloring book to help them get in touch with their inner kid, activate their imagination and act on what’s already in their hearts waiting to be realized.

You may not have picked up a coloring pencil in years, or you may already have other coloring books purely to relax with.

This is not just any coloring book for adults though. It’s for the kid in YOU. With this book, you get to color for fun AND purpose. It’s designed to help you move your life forward, in a fun and creative way. You get to imbue your day to day with inspiration, activating those dreams and hopes you may have put aside for who knows how long, because that’s what’s tugging at your sleeve now.

People who have already used the Niki Owl coloring book are experiencing better focus at work in high-paced environments, positive shifts in attitude, and it’s even improving their sales (who knew?!).

This has inspired me to create an online masterclass to guide you through making the best use of the coloring book for your dreams and personal goals. There are 2 dates to choose from: September 29 and September 30.

It’s $15 to attend and your registration fee includes a copy of the book that I will mail to you, plus a series of emails before and after the workshop to help you set some action steps in place as you move through the coloring book.

Details & Registration

If you already have the coloring book – you’re automatically registered “on the house”. Simply pick your Masterclass date and email me through the form on the registration page so I can set you up to receive the right notifications.

It’s going to be fun, and I’m looking forward to having you at the Masterclass. And please share this with anyone you feel could use an extra dose of inspiration and creativity in their lives.

To your creative spirit,
Karin

How Structure Helps Your Dreams & Goals In Life

So you want to (or already have) put a new structure in place to meet your dreams and goals in life.

Awesome.

Now, you may be someone who can transform your daily life in one go, or you may need some time to move through these changes. It’s okay. Most people need an adjustment period to build confidence in something new.

The key is to stick with it and ensure that you’re hitting each of your primary points in your day to day, even if the schedule itself requires flexibility (especially if you travel, have meetings, have kids, in a career transition, in a new relationship, recovering from a health concern, etc.).

At first you’ll feel inspired and awkward as you transform your daily routine to meet this structure. “What is this new thing I’m doing?” You’ll feel the strong pull to go back to your old “comfortable” way of doing things, but as long as you remind yourself that this was the very thing that kept you from making progress in these areas of your life, you’ll start to appreciate the new muscle you’re exercising so you CAN complete on yourself.

And like most things, before this new framework kicks in and life gets better, you will feel like it’s getting worse (same as when you start a new workout routine). My first couple of weeks of setting my new structure in place felt more exhausting and less productive on my personal creativity – but that was also because there were still “leftovers” from how I’d set things up the prior week/s (throw in a bit of travel to boot). So it was important to move through it with compassion towards myself, reminding myself that this new framework would help me set up the next weeks with more precision and success (which it did) to meet my goals.

It also helps to remember that your lizard brain wants to play it safe and small… but if you’re really committed to living a life by design that suits your desires, then you’re going to have to learn to manage your little gecko friend.

HOW TO CREATE A STRUCTURE THAT SUPPORTS YOUR GOALS AND DREAMS IN LIFE

The beauty of a vision or a dream is that it’s “ours” to achieve, although it requires setting benchmarks and frameworks for us to move towards the fulfillment of that dream or vision. Hence, putting in a structure that works for us, as well as understanding our personal flow. This may not be the same structure or flow for you as it is for me.

Personally, this means completing daily actions that support what’s important to me; writing (a blog post or content for a book), drawing up Niki Owl concepts and business development, developing relationships with my clients and network, and working with those who feel I’m the right fit to help achieve something that’s important to them, as well as enjoying life itself. I have certain goals in place for each one of these so I can measure progress <— this is muy importante!

After understanding my personal “flow” and what works best for me, I’ve learned to structure my day around my strengths, so a typical week day looks like this:
– early morning meditation, reading, and writing (add coffee and breakfast)
– mid morning I’ve cleared my creative plate, so I can run personal errands, tend to client projects and general business development (outreach, checking in with people I’m speaking to, building and maintaining relationships, and related research)
– I have my lunch break, after which I spend about 30 minutes reading a book and/or playing my guitar (another creative and learning “touch point” for me)
– I have coaching calls lined up with clients in Europe and the US – this is primarily designed to consider time zone differences with my primary client base.
– evening time I have flexibility to do whatever I want
– I have 2 afternoons per week that are blocked out for my personal development work with my coaching/business development team
– depending where I am, I like to take a 30-60 minute walk or workout as a way to get myself out of the house and be active.

Sounds like a lot, right? Well, it is, AND as long as I’m diligent about each of these “touch points” I know I’m making progress on all fronts. Plus, I know where I’m going with all of this. A lot of people are floundering because they lack the focus to pull it all together and they’re not tracking their progress (which is where I usually get called in to help on personal and business development).

Now, personal structure is not the only thing that will help you move forward on your goals and dreams, but I’ll talk about other key aspects in upcoming posts. Right now, we’re starting with your personal motivations and abilities to get moving in the right direction along your personal “flight path”.

It also requires knowing WHY these things are important to you to even build them into your structure so they can take shape.

Back to you. Write down the main things you want to be working on or achieving in the next year, even the next 3 months if that’s more digestible. Go with something that feels attainable to you <— this is also muy importante! This is what you’d call the “good stretch” in a workout. While you do this, look at:

  • What does life look like now and what will it look like after completing those goals and dreams?
  • What will those accomplishments do for you?
  • How will you feel after completing them?
  • What will your life look like if you DON’T make any changes?
  • What do you feel you need the most help with now to achieve them?

This will help form the flight path you set in place to achieve the goals that will lead to the fulfillment of your aspirations.

Next up, we’ll take these core aspects of what inspires you and why it’s important to you, and explore a fresh approach to goal setting and creating achievable outcomes in life.

Yours in Creation,

Karin

5 Keys To Living the Life of Your Dreams

If you read this post, you saw this one coming.

It’s no joke. Without going into nitty gritty details or productivity prompts, these are some core aspects of what it’s going to take to develop a life by design, versus a life by default where most people live automatically and linearly whilst putting personal dreams off into an unspecified time in the future (then wondering why they didn’t materialise at the end of their days)..

So, here are 5 keys to achieve this “dream” life (meaning, what truly suits your soul’s fancy), and this is the ultra-simplified version (which I’ll expand on in upcoming posts):

1 / DREAM

Dreams are not just for kids, they’re for all of us. I believe every dream matters and that’s why I’m so adamant about this topic. Dreams are not just for weekends or as a result of seeing what you don’t want in life or work either… breathe life into your dreams every day, whether it’s writing about them, talking to your family or close friends about them, or reading up on things that will help you develop the beliefs, skills and abilities to achieve them. If you’re a parent, your kids are watching and soaking up every action you take – and this will equip them to create their dream life. If you’re a leader, your team is watching and hoping for guidance they can apply in their lives.

A dream for you may be to have a month-long vacation every year ANYWHERE in the world of your choosing, or it may be that you want to have a happy healthy family, or be in a position to put your kids through any college of their choosing, or create the next best innovation that will transform our world for the better, or have your art displayed in a renowned gallery. Whatever it is, it’s your world. You get to live it. YOU GET TO LIVE IT, YOU REALLY DO. I really believe that, and let nobody else say anything against that.

2 / TAKE YOUR BELIEFS TO COURT

One of my coaches likes to use this phrase. Simply put, it means getting out of your own way by asking yourself if the beliefs you currently operate your life by are really true, or if they’re actually keeping you from fulfilling your dreams. Put them under a magnifying glass and get clear on what they’re doing (or have done) for you. When you’re able to isolate the beliefs that have been holding you back, you can do something to change them and move forward.

To have the life you want, you have to become the person who can have it. This is the true change we all speak of. If you don’t know how to do this, read books or spend time with people who have worked through transformation in their lives to help you steer yours.

3 / DEVELOP A FRAMEWORK THAT WORKS FOR YOU

One that supports the creation and evolution of those dreams, and it will probably evolve over time as you complete certain goals and benchmarks, and adapt to your evolving life. It may require some sifting and adjusting, but as long as you’re proactive and focus on what works, you’ll see results and areas to improve upon. Get help if you can’t figure it out on your own – we’re all in this together.

This will inform your inner wisdom to help move your life and career in the direction of your dreams, from the actions you’ll take to the people you spend time with, and a blend of other things that are unique to your life journey.

4 / PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Are the people in it supportive of you, or keeping you where THEY are at? Your survival-based lizard brain (aka “Little Gecko Brain”) is active in all of us, to whatever degree we let it. Our friends may have the best intentions for their comfort and safety, not the fulfillment of your desires. Be mindful of the true support you’re receiving, and if it’s not what you need, expand your horizons. Find people that help you strengthen your wings so you can fly.

When I first moved to Canada, two of my best friends in Spain literally told me to get the hell out of Marbella. They could see that I had outgrown my hometown and there was “nothing” for me there, that I needed to experience life in another country. They also knew I had “reasoned” myself out of moving to Barcelona previously. So I listened, took the leap to move. Miss them as I did when I moved, I realized it was the best kind of friendship one could have. “We love you but go live your dreams.”

Environment doesn’t just mean friends and relations though – it comes down to the space you’re living and working in. Do your home and work space feel inspiring? Drill down to the details of what works – in my first home office I changed my desk twice and then moved my desk around 5 times before I felt like I’d found my stride to work well. If you live in a rainy place and can’t afford to live in the sunshine, plaster your walls and desktop with photos of sunny places. Is your internet fast enough to get work done so you can have more time for YOU? If that’s what it takes, do it. These little things make a huge difference for creation and feel-good factor.

5 / PUT YOUR DREAMS INTO ACTION

You have to start somewhere to move forward, so “get up” and get started. 

The biggest neutraliser of dreams coming to life is only focusing on writing the business plan but never acting on it, writing copy till it’s Nobel-worthy but never publishing it, talking about meeting the love of your life but hiding at home every weekend, sharing your ideas about the next best Oscar-worthy film and then reaching for another beer whilst never writing the script, and any other such thing that keeps you from LIVING what you say you want. There is a fine balance to the art of setting a desired outcome and working towards it, and not being so attached that it wipes you out if you don’t achieve it (been there done that, didn’t work at all).

When I published my first book in 2012, I was living in LA, and most of my actor friends up until that time disappeared from my life almost overnight. They were the ones who had talent, but were unfocused or disbelieving to be proactive. They wanted someone else to do the work for them. They complained about what wasn’t happening, instead of focusing on what they could create and make work. So when I snapped out of my dream slumber and did the work for one of my dreams, it shed a powerful light on what they weren’t doing in their lives. It took me a while to figure that out, and it became apparent when I met other people in the industry who often seemed happier that I published my book than I was. I asked them why.

“Karin, we’re in the mecca of creativity. So many people here talk about the script or book they’re working on but never complete it. You completed. Congratulations.”

THAT struck me like the apple that fell on Newton’s head. I had floated around life longer than felt good to me, procrastinating on my own dreams, so when I heard this, I wondered how many other people were “suffering” from this and I knew I had to do something. Not just keep living my own dreams, but really help others see that they can do it too, whatever “it” is for them. That’s what got me on this path of helping others and coined my “dream catcher” phrase.

So, in a nutshell, here’s how you can live your dream life. Obviously this goes deeper and farther – but the first step is up to you.

Everything in your life starts with being clear on what that dream life looks like. Then the answers, people, strategies and situations to support it show up and life begins to unfold before you.

Are you up for it?

Remember, there will be times you might feel lonely, but you are never alone in the pursuit of your dreams. We may have never spoken before, but reach out if you’re feeling lonely or out of sorts along your journey.

Now go forth and starting catching some dreams – you’ll make the world a better place by living this way, and we (humanity) thank you for it. The best way to start that is creating a map that will help you navigate towards what you want in your life.

Take a really wild guess at what my next post will be about…

Karin

Why Structure May Be Holding You Back

I was struggling to get my daily routine the way I like to flow. I wasn’t feeling settled in myself. Every morning I set out with the best intentions, but I seemed to slip into a time warp of “other people’s stuff” and I was tired at the end of the day. No energy left to read a good book to feed my mind, feel conversational with my co-pilot, or write at the level I enjoy. I just wanted to go to sleep and try again the next day.

I felt inadequate, like a fake, and annoyed at myself, “I can do better, I have done better.”

Do you ever feel that way?

I knew I wanted a healthy daily routine so I could be fully present to whomever I interacted with and be on my A Game, so I set out to create a new personal structure. One that integrates the things I love and feed my soul (writing, reading, drawing and playing my guitar consistently) and the things I “do” for others. And in a way that flows throughout the day as I do.

Some people will say these things should be saved for last when we’re done with work, but how many times do you tell yourself, “I’ll do [ __happy thing__ ] this evening after I’m done at the office,” or something along those lines? And did you actually do it? Or were you too tired and decided to put it off till tomorrow (and we’re counting years of “tomorrows” by now…)?

I’ll be brutally honest, creating a new schedule for myself was excruciating… I loved drawing it out by hand to “make” it my own, but filling in the actual blocks of time made me really uncomfortable. I stalled, I went around in circles. I writhed in my seat and in my mind. I didn’t want to fill this thing in. I felt like the cat that Pepe Le Pew falls in love with – she’s frantic to get away from his insistent grasp… and yet I knew that if I didn’t do this, I would be stalling on the fulfillment of my personal vision, which includes helping others like you. I would be letting you down if I didn’t lead by example. So I had a moral obligation to get this personal structure sorted out. By setting up a structure that works for me, I get to work better with and for YOU. By taking care of the things that fuel me, I get to infuse the rest of my day with that energy of creation, including my conversations and creations with others. And whilst we often have a good structure in place, sometimes it needs adapting or restarting based on changes we experience. I had lost my stride after a major move, so I needed a major reset in my structure.

Then I realised, this scheduling thing started when I was kid, and for most of us really…

You see, I loved getting my class schedule at school. Every time that new clean sheet showed up in front of me, I got to fill it in and color code my classes. I love love loved that part, especially at the beginning of the school year when I had brand new pens.

But the schedule itself?

I detested that f***er.

Except for the classes I love love loved like History, English and Art.

I detested that schedule because I didn’t want to be told when I could have lunch or take a snack break – what if I was hungry sooner because I have a high metabolism?

Deeper than that though… What if writing stories in English class flowed better for me first thing in the morning than after lunch? What if studying History in the afternoon helped me retain facts because I was relaxed and I could absorb information better? How did these elements impact my overall performance?

As a kid, you don’t usually feel you can speak up about these things (at least not without being told off), you’re just doing what some group of adults decided was “the way” for everyone to follow.

For a long time, I felt like a misfit in school, when it was really the other way around. Once I understood that the school system I had been in did not fit me, I felt massive relief. Perhaps you’ve spent years trying to fit into a system that feels like it’s constantly working against you. How about creating one that works for you?

So the schedule, the imposed structure, these things challenged my free flowing creative spirit. You stifle a kid’s creative spirit, and it explains why there are a lot of unhappy people in this world. Thankfully my parents gave me the ideal creative space at home.

Now, I love to learn, and even though I was a diligent A student (in classes I loved, the rest were comfortable B’s), there were subjects I intuitively felt I would never need growing up. Like Chemistry – had I been shown that baking soda and vinegar could be used to clean off pots and pans, THAT would have piqued my interest from a practical day-to-day use that I could apply later on in life, beyond seeing it as a cool volcano experiment in a lab. But memorizing the Table of Elements? No thank you, not for me. That was mis-used precious time in regards to my creativity, to be honest.

That said, structure is good for certain things; some people need a lot of it, and some people crumble at the thought of it because it feels so restrictive to them. But the structure we had during the Industrial Revolution and the school system that was built around it are long gone. Therefore, we need to adjust all our systems, starting with what works for each one of us.

Some people feel safe in the confines of their highly laid out plan for the day, and their life. And that’s great if it works for them. But for many people it doesn’t, even though they try because someone else told them “5 Things You Must Do To Live the Life of Your Dreams” and it keeps misfiring on them, building frustration and anchoring beliefs that the dream life is NOT for them. Yikes.

Some of the most successful businesses are built on high-detail structure, down to the very minute. Some people function well like this and their calendars reflect that. But does that really leave room for true creativity, innovation, freedom and presence with others?

Do you have a healthy daily routine that works for you?

Whether you lean more towards calendaring every minute of your life, or flowing freely throughout the day. The key is to find what works for you, and recognise when it’s time to adjust.

Me? I can deal with a certain amount of structure – and I learned this not through school but through music studies later on (ironically, Music was my least favorite subject in school).

Studying music gave me a healthy daily routine to develop my patience, persistence, measure progress, and achieve completion. Just half an hour to an hour playing my guitar every day when I was a teenager, I saw myself make significant progress with pieces of classical music that I love. It’s helped me in many ways.

But… one of the things most people I talk to about creating their future seem to struggle with is this thing called structure. What does that look like for them? How do they integrate it into a jam-packed calendar that was built to suit everyone else’s needs and demands but their own?

“But Karin, I need to put these things first so that I can take care of my kids/family/etc…”

I get it, and there’s nothing wrong with that, AND if you’re not taking care of you at the core, most of those people are probably missing out on the very best of you. Which means you’re cheating on them.

Sit with that for a moment…

It’s wonderful and honourable to live from a place of service. But if we keep procrastinating on our personal goals and dreams, then we’re not really mastering our lives. And we really don’t know how much time we have on this precious planet. So why keep putting things off into the future? What are we really telling our kids, protegés and team members by doing this?

Self mastery comes from finding and implementing a structure that includes a healthy daily routine, which supports our personal development whilst we develop our families, friendships, businesses, well being, etc. Not one or the other, not this then that. Like mastering one bar or chord at a time, we’re taking small steps towards our greatness. We’re past lizard brain status, much as it’s still there operating in the background of our minds. And the best of scientists have tangible evidence that we can transform our neurological patterns by thinking differently, which means we have to act differently and LIVE differently as well.

So, I’m inviting you right now to take a look at your personal structure. Look at your overall day-to-day:

  • What works?
  • What doesn’t work?
  • What would you like to see and experience differently?
  • What is something you’ve been saying you wanted to do for a long time but haven’t done yet?
  • How does this impact how you feel about yourself and what you feel you can accomplish in this precious life?

If you need someone to talk this through, reach out to me or someone else you trust to help you get clear and take steps towards improving your personal structure, and create a healthy daily routine that works for you. Hint: start with your happy place, your personal joy. And work outward from there.

Karin

PS: This post is the product of my new morning structure where I start my day focused on personal creativity and writing. I hope you enjoyed it! Please share it with anyone you feel could use this kind of inspiration to get a handle on their day-to-day.

Why Should I Help You?

It was 1945, and WWII had just ended. A 9 year old boy, tucked away amidst the rubble of war-torn Vienna, watched as the Russian soldiers rolled into his home town with their tanks. All of a sudden, from behind, one of those soldiers hauled him out of his hiding place.

“Go home, it’s safe now,” he was told. And off the boy went to be with his grandparents.

The soldier could have ignored my dad and carried on checking the area for enemy soldiers, but he didn’t. He stopped to help.

At its simplest, this was an act of one stranger helping another stranger. There was no other exchange or expectation of one.

It was one human being extending his commitment to help another be well.

Now, whilst the story I just shared was based on extreme circumstances (and some people are still experiencing such battles) most of us are blessed with living in a safe environment. However, there are subtle battles that we all face.

These “battles” are the internal conflicts of wanting to experience our ideal life, with the people and things that we value. And for that, we also need support, because if left untended, this can still kill people (of any age and background) and destroy relationships, business, visions, etc.

As I continue my mission to help as many people create fulfillment in their lives (whatever that looks like to them), I encounter some skepticism from those who don’t quite know what to do with this offer to help. And that’s okay.

I reach out to help because it’s my moral obligation as someone who cares deeply that people liberate themselves, and experience fulfilled lives.

The truth is, I never know what someone needs when I reach out to them, nor where the conversations we have will go. Sometimes they lead to a direct relationship where I support them in creating their ideal life, and sometimes it’s simply connecting them with another person, or another resource to help them along. Either way, I’m happy to help because of the powerful ripple effect this causes.

What matters to me is that we engage. Because without that, we do not help each other move forward in life. This is how we improve circumstances all across the world. These are the best battles to win, because over time they wipe out the extreme ones that serve nobody.

I’m here to help people create the life and respect they deserve. That includes YOU.

So, what can I help you with?

The Problem with “One Day I’ll Do That”

I wrote this inspired by my reply to someone’s comment that, “Writing a novel is a dream at the back of my head, but maybe one day.”

It got me thinking about how we postpone our dreams and outcomes in life, and how we can change that.

Here’s an extended version of what I offered, which I’m sharing with you:

“One day” is not a day of the week. And “maybe” is noncommittal. Nothing right or wrong about that. However..

Whilst a dream or idea can come to us in a moment, the dream doesn’t just “happen” out of the blue.

Our primary task is to bring the dream to the forefront of our mind, find out what’s really important about it for us, get committed and then get working on it. We need to create it.

Publishing books was one of my childhood dreams but I never had any “plan” to get it done (I was thinking about it in the context of “One day I’ll do that…”). Until I started asking myself later on in life what I wanted to do with the rest of my life – and that dream popped up and said, “Pick me! Pick me!” So I listened, got clear on what kind of message I wanted to put out there, and got working on it. Like anything, it requires clarity, focus and dedication.

I couldn’t “do” anything about that dream until I actually got committed to it.

And once that first book was published, I realised there was more “work” to be done – promotion, distribution, evolution, ideas for more books… It’s a constant exercise in clarity, focus and dedication. And I’ll be honest, some days I fall off track with that (and so will you, and that’s okay as long as we get back on it). But when I remind myself what my whole life commitment is, then I’m able to do something on a daily basis to keep the dream nourished, growing, and planting more seeds of joy around the world. Because that’s my mission.

People wither and settle for mediocrity because they stop believing in their dreams, because nobody encourages them to make those dreams come to life (or they discourage them based on their own perceptions of their world or “What REAL life is.”).

That’s how postponing or delaying our outcomes starts, with this surreptitious “one day” trickster in our minds. This is how a lot of people live with regrets on what could have been, without ever giving it a chance to become.

I believe that every dream matters, and it’s up to each one of us to “do” something about our dreams, which is how we inspire others to help us in our endeavours – whether that’s a global vision, a new enterprise, an invention, a book, the ideal relationship, or whatever your dream life looks and feels like to you…

Please “do” whatever you need to let your dreams come to life, starting with clarity and commitment.

Your Relentless Dream Catcher,
Karin

Why I Love the Olympics (and you do too)

I gained an early appreciation for the Olympics as a kid growing up in Spain. I took pride in our athletes, and often wondered how they got to be on the national team. There was always something amazing about the opening ceremonies and the Parade of Nations. That inspiration remains with me no matter what.

So, it’s that time of the 4 year cycle again. You may or may not be watching them. If you are, you may have had conversations with people who joke about the Olympics, “Two weeks of sports you never watch during the rest of the year.”

Yet, most of us are glued to the TV at some point, watching swimming, track and field, and other sports we admittedly don’t typically watch very often…

WHY DO WE DO THIS?

Here’s my theory:

Most TV and news coverage is full of mind-numbing or heart-sinking crap that distracts you from your personal dreams.

With most national channels and news outlets around the world offering full coverage of the Olympics, you get two weeks of reprieve from that distraction. You switch on the TV and can’t help but go from sport to sport, watching people accomplish something special. Anyone from anywhere, or just your favorite athletes. It’s a call beyond national pride, it’s global pride in our potential as humanity when we commit to our joy.

Watching the Olympics, we get to overwhelm our minds with something that is super packed with GOODNESS and inspires us to keep dreaming.

Here’s why I believe we love the Olympics:

They make us feel good.

They’re  a powerful reminder that good things do happen in this world, more than we’re often shown.

And…

We like to see people win because it reminds us that WE win too.

Whilst we think we’re watching athletes compete at their sport, what they’re really doing us is showing us their joy, on a world stage, witnessed by millions.

We also love watching them excel because it triggers that feeling and desire within us.

It might look like they’re competing against one another, but really they’re competing with themselves. And really, the only competition you ever have is with yourself. Whether it’s in business, well being, creativity, love.

“Can I do this thing better than yesterday? Can I express my love more openly? Will I complete that painting today? Can I take my company to the next level and impact more lives? Can I make a consistent habit of feeling good?” The list goes on…

Your stage may not include millions of people, but it still includes people, the most important one being YOU.

Athletes help us remember to be in our joy, because that’s what they live and breathe through their sport and daily practice*. It’s a reminder to perform our personal best, every day. To do it again with more focus, more commitment… and more wonder. Because that’s what keeps them going. The possibility they can run faster, jump higher, score more goals, reach the podium, achieve a gold medal. It’s purely a symbol of achievement, and the biggest achievement is staying the course of feeling good.

We’re built to want, with this vast playground of life experiences to choose from.

Your “gold” may not be a medal, it may be some external symbol of achievement, and it’s whatever it means to you. It’s a reminder of the deeper accomplishment of committing to your own joy. So honor what you relate to as a symbol of personal achievement, as your dreams unfold. This is your life. Create your own benchmarks. Create your own podium. Most of all, have fun.

This is my encouragement for you to carry the torch for your dreams, because the world needs more inspiration.

Every day,
Karin

*do athletes feel physically good after completing a triathlon? Probably not, but they do feel ecstatic for staying the course of what they set out to do. That’s what we’re talking about here.

I Could Really Use Some Help Here

It’s easy to think that someone whom we perceive to be successful (in whatever way we relate to success) doesn’t need or want help.

It’s very easy to assume the CEO has it all together and doesn’t need help. It’s easy to assume the woman who carries herself confidently has it all figured out and doesn’t need help. We are likely to assume the same with people we look up to and admire.

It’s common to think, “Oh, they have money or a staff, so they have the help that they need. They don’t have a need for me to help them.”

We probably assume that the people in our business community don’t need help because we’re all supposed to “look” like we have it together.

The truth is, most of us do need help, regardless of position, regardless of the car we drive, regardless of how we carry ourselves. We don’t always know how to ask.

The trouble with being the person people go to for help and advice is that we don’t always know how to ask for that help ourselves.

We all need help to some degree. And it’s not necessarily a “needy” need coming from a place of pain or lack.

Some parts of society believe that only those in dire straits deserve “help”, and that’s not true at all. Help is available in many forms and for all of us, whether we have 50 cents in a cup or we drive a luxury car, because I believe we all have dreams that deserve to live, and we all deserve to thrive.

If Sir Richard Branson hadn’t known how to ask for help when he started Student magazine, before the Virgin brand came to be, do you think he’d be where he is now? Do you think he’s stopped asking for help at his level of success? Absolutely not! He has a family and dreams to care for, and he still deserves what he asks for, just like you and me. We’re all the same in this regard, and we all deserve to have what we want. Whether we’re creating a business, a car, a house, a relationship, a global mission, or whatever inspires us; we get to have that, and together we get to help each other create it.

The sooner we ask for and offer help, the sooner we all get what we’re aiming for.
(tweet this)

What’s in your heart to grow in your life?

In this light, I challenge you to do this right now:

Think of the most successful person you know (personally), or whom you perceive to be successful or well off. This might be someone whom you frequently rely on for support in your life and business. Now, pick up the phone and ask what he or she could use some help with right now.

Here’s the key:

1. do not judge whatever they’re looking to create – it’s their life and their dreams, just as yours are yours.

2. do this without any expectations of what they might be able to do for you – find out what’s important to them.

3. do not let them get off the phone without an answer (you might be the first person to ever ask them this question!).

Go on, do it. I guarantee you’ll be amazed at what transpires.

I’d love to know what comes of that conversation.

Karin

You’re Not Broken

It was a Sunday afternoon. Sitting across the table from me at the coffee shop was a highly successful business man who was managing several high end companies, traveling the world for client meetings and conferences. Life was good on all fronts – he had the luxury car, a comfortable house, he was on a powerful fitness path, and the money was rolling in quite nicely. All sounds pretty good, right?

He had called me that morning sounding distraught over a personal matter, so I agreed to meet with him promptly.

His heart was hurting. He was feeling torn between continuing a friendship with a woman he’d dated several years before who had come back into his life, and letting her go.

He simply wanted to be friends, having realized they were not the ideal match as a couple. He could even pinpoint how their first attempt at a relationship had taken its toll on his ability to take care of himself and keep “his house” in order; such was the level of attention it seemed to require, and which he allowed himself to focus on over his own well being. Every time he felt a sense of freedom from her though, she came at him with some reproach. She was trying every which way to have more than friendship with him, and much as he cared about her, he wanted no such thing. When you try too hard, you actually push against the thing you want to receive.

I listened to him as he candidly shared their last discussion. She felt he needed to go to therapy, so he could fix himself (meaning, so he would be what she wanted him to be for her). He wanted to be with a woman who would love him unconditionally, and let him “be” himself.

I told him, “You’re not broken.”

Have you ever felt that way?

He reached over the table and took my hand gently, but firmly, “Thank you. Thank you…”

It’s not often I see a grown man cry, let alone do so in a public place.

My words – innocent and fast as they rolled out of me – had touched him deeply. I held his hand, and we quietly moved through that tender moment together.

After we went deeper into conversation on what he wanted, he was able to realize that she was simply reflecting back to him his own belief that he could not find everlasting love with a woman who can love and appreciate him wholly and completely for who he is, not try to make him into someone else for her sake. He had twisted himself out of shape looking for that, and after recognizing how it had impacted his life in ways that didn’t serve him, was now in a place to untangle himself from the reflection this person was mirroring back to him. His main task was to stay aligned with that vision he held for himself.

I believe that none of us is broken. What may appear broken is our perception of ourselves, and it’s up to us to change our perception; sometimes, with the loving encouragement of others who see us as we truly are – as powerful creators, perfectly evolving in our excellence (even if we’re not feeling it). This is what helps us grow into the person we feel within, the one that’s knocking at the door of our heart saying, “Hello, it’s Me…”

Just because you’re not getting what you want from somebody does not mean there is something wrong with them or that they’re broken. Some people want others to change for them, so they don’t have to. That’s not how it works.

You can’t make anyone change for you, but you CAN change yourself, and that’s an inside job. But…

You have to want it, to become it.

Consciously. Deliberately. Every day.

Talented as the greatest musicians, artists, athletes and CEO’s of the world are – they all invest time and energy to hone their personal Genius, no matter how they apply it. You could be a CEO looking for your life partner to enjoy your success with, or you might have that base covered and seeking further fulfillment to your life’s purpose through the work you do…

Whatever it is, are you deliberately taking care of your Personal Genius, or are you holding yourself back under the false idea of feeling broken (whilst letting others sway your focus)?

You’re not broken. Nobody is. We’re all perfectly evolving on our journey of Personal Excellence. Your duty is to honour that within yourself, and engage with people who see you with the right eyes.

Big Love,
Karin

PS: do you think she was loving herself unconditionally or holding onto a sense of brokenness within?
ANSWER: She’s not broken either…