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A Brand New Ending

17 Jul

Destruction3Today, I am choosing to surrender.  I am choosing to let go of the rules and regulations I have created.  I know that excellence doesn’t sound like a “bad” thing…unless you are captive to it, unable to rest until you’ve absolutely given your very best to whatever it is you are pursuing.

 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. – Galatians 6:4-5 MSG

It is my job to do the creative best with my own life.  I am responsible for making a careful exploration of who I am and the work I have been given and then SINK myself into that!

That means some things – such as the Philosophy, Vision and Strategic Plan paper for my Master’s degree due on Tuesday – still need to be put in their place.  Taking responsibility for doing my creative best doesn’t mean locking myself up for hours away from my family and friends to write my philosophy while ignoring my limiting beliefs about time scarcity therefore not living my philosophy.  Instead I need to slay this dragon or else time scarcity will continue to keep me captive, robbing me of more than I care to imagine.

I must choose to do the creative work of destruction.  I need to confront my rules and regulations and preconceived notions of what excellence is and isn’t.  Instead, I choose to walk in the FREEDOM that has been purchased for me and SURRENDER.

I’ve written about surrender before but I have a deeper understanding today because God has been clearly challenging me to recover the ME that was lost when I started my people-pleasing, mental ascent and striving for excellence.  The gifts and talents God gave me have been choked out by no one else but me.  I made choices, day after day, year after year to surrender bits of ME and instead built a version of me that is way less chaotic, creative and unpredictable and more acceptable to the expectations of others.  I didn’t consciously decide to do this (and neither did you, said the still small voice).

And as God reveals to me more about the freedom in surrender, he also has been reaffirming me as a pioneer.  And as an act of obedience to His request for me to live my faith out loud, I needed to take the time to write this now while I’m knee deep in the mess that this tearing down is creating in me.  To declare, clearly to myself and everyone else, that today is a new day!  Today I proclaim the day of my freedom.

And as I continue to surrender, I am so excited to rediscover the freedom of being ME.  And I hope and pray that today you will choose freedom – to surrender and tear down who you think you are to rediscover who you really are…who you were always meant to be!

I was awakened early this morning by my awesome husband who wanted to share with me this video that our dear friend (and my life coach) Deb Miller shared and tagged us in on Facebook.

What is the dream that has got you?  Start today to write a brand new ending.



Day 28 – Do things worth doing #30dreamdays

24 Sep

SayYesWHY do it?  Because you CAN.  Because you WANT to.

I’m not advocating doing anything just because you can or want to but there are some things that are worth doing and we stop ourselves thinking…why am I doing this?  What purpose does this serve? Don’t I have TONS of other things I SHOULD be doing?   The answer to that last one is ALWAYS YES.

However, even though there are tons of other things I should be doing, sometimes doing what I SIMPLY can and want to do IS the thing I SHOULD most be doing.  Sometimes I need to do that thing just for me.  Just because I want to.  Just because it is worth doing.

When I realize that my energy, passion and motivation are on a rhythmic ebb  & flow…I MUST add things into my day that I simply do because I can and want to.  Sometimes those things will be wildly productive in their own right.  Most times, those things won’t.   But those things are THE THINGS that refuel my energy, stir my passion and spark my motivation…and get the flow going.

Do the things that fuel your energy, stir your passion and spark your motivation.   If you need a good reason I simply say…Life is harder when you don’t.

(Image Credit)

Day 22 – Live a Better Story #30dreamdays

18 Sep

DebRobbins2I really LOVE learning.  I currently do most of it on my own, through research and reading.  But I really enjoy conferences.   Part of it is the gathering of like-minded people that makes for great conversations and new friendships and powerful connections.  Part of it is definitely the learning and inspiration of the speakers and sessions.  Part of it is just getting away from it all which is like a mini vacation of sorts.

My husband & I went to Punta Cana last December with some  friends and while I was there I read, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller.  This was the 2nd or 3rd book I read by Donald Miller but it was by far my favorite.

Needless to say I was excited when I saw that Donald Miller decided to start a Storyline Conference and have been trying to figure out a way to get myself to Nashville, TN on Oct 12-13 and realized today that the event in Nashville is sold out and so the closest one is now in San Diego.  (Sad face)  There’s always next year.

My dream, however, is that I will choose to live a better story regardless.   That I will be consistently aware of the fact that each day, with each choice, I am writing my story and that I get to choose how I show up and what I do.   I am the hero of my own story.  Just thinking about my life that way makes me see things a little differently.

Do you realize you are writing your own story?  That your choices and mindsets dictate what comes next?

Day 21 – Courage to be IMperfect #30dreamdays #30daysofreal

17 Sep


“Perfect is an illusion, one that was created to maintain the status quo. The Six Sigma charade is largely about hiding from change, because change is never perfect. Change means reinvention, and until something is reinvented, we have no idea what the spec is.” ― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

I struggled with perfectionism for a LONG time.  That’s mostly because for a long time I didn’t think it was a problem.  I was very proud of the flawless work I could deliver and it seemed to make everyone else happy too.

But there is a price.  I first noticed the cost when I was in my mid 20s.  I was seeing a therapist weekly trying to get a grasp on adult life as a full time mutual fund operations Assistant Vice President, a full time night student at Baruch College, a condo & car owner, commuter…need I say more?

I remember when my therapist got me to realize that the standards I was putting on myself were so high even I couldn’t achieve them.  From that point forward, I made progress and thought I had the whole perfectionism thing kicked.

Then came marriage, parenthood and business ownership all in the same year.  (Oh, and I moved from NY to CT at the same time so I was establishing ALL new relationships).  It took years before I realized that my perfectionism was back with a vengeance.

According to Brené Brown, “Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance in our grades, manners and appearance. Somewhere along the way, we adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. A ticker tape began to stream through our heads: Please. Perform. Perfect. ”

WOW!!! Does that sound familiar.  Please. Perform. Perfect.

Within 2 years of getting married I had over 100 new people (husband, kids, in-laws, clients, kids teachers) in my life and the ticker tape was flying all around me, all the time.  Please. Perform. Perfect.

It wasn’t until 2011 when I did most of my work with a Business/Life Coach that I realized how I had regressed into my “perfectionism” again.  I just thought my life was overwhelming.  What I found was that my life was full, rich and rewarding but covered with a heavy layer of perfectionism…and that is what made it overwhelming.  Who could have seen that coming?

Then early in 2012, I discovered Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame.  Things really started to turn around when I started to DIG DEEP and read The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

My dream for me and for YOU, is that we let go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we are.

I am currently reinventing myself. I am changing.  It is a process of re-discovery and it’s a bit messy…and I’m OK with that.

Day 15 – Reform Schools #30dreamdays

11 Sep


I have come to the conclusion that I am a budding Education Activist.   I hope through this post to inspire others to take a deeper look at how we educate our children and join the growing movement of people who believe that our whole method of educating kids has got to change.

If your child struggles in school, I urge you to read on, watch a few videos and reach out to me to start a conversation.

I was only drawn into this movement when my youngest daughter struggled so bad in school that I started researching ANYTHING that could help her.  What I found was that there are lots of outspoken people, including Bill & Melinda Gates, that believe that it is time for education reform on a massive scale.

The whole method of mainstream education in our country is built on  an outdated model meant to train people for the Industrial Age.  Here in the United States we are living in the Information Age and a Connection Economy.  The skills that are going to be most needed like creativity and critical thinking are not being cultivated as we continue to force kids to memorize stuff, regurgitate “right” answers and “learn” to take standardized tests.

I could go on and on…and I will undoubtedly make this at least a 2 part series…but I will end with this.

SETH GODIN – Excerpts from Stop Killing Dreams

“Go build something interesting and ask if you need help.  Why wouldn’t we want to teach our kids to go do something interesting?  Why wouldn’t we want to teach our kids to figure it out?”

Myth #1 – Great performance in school leads to happiness and success.

Myth #1 – Great parents have kids who produce great performance in school.

If these aren’t true, we should stop telling ourselves that they are…

Are we asking our kids to collect dots or connect dots?

If it’s work, people try to figure out how to do less. If it’s art, they try to figure out how to do more.

Watch the full video of Seth Godin’s “Stop Killing Dreams”…

I dream of a day where the stigma of Special Education will disappear because individualized or precise focused education becomes the norm and not the exception.

I dream of a day where all people will choose lifelong learning, not run from learning because they associate it with the awful experience they had at school.

(Photo Credit)


Day 14 – Living the Dream #30dreamdays

11 Sep

I have to say that this 30 Dream Days Challenge is getting me to realize that even though I sometimes focus on what I don’t have or what I haven’t achieved yet, I really am living a dream already.  I have everything and everyone I need.

In 2002 I was a single lady living just outside NYC.  I had grown up in Queens, then lived in Manhattan and had bought my first co-op apartment in Rockville Centre, Long Island.  I sold that one to move next door into a bigger unit and things were good.  I had a “great job” and I owned my own place and car (or at least a significant portion of…the bank owned the rest).   I had finally graduated college by going at night and my 15 year old sister was living with me to go to a better high school than John Adams back in Queens.


Then I met Chris and everything changed.  He was so charming and like no one I’d ever met.  So I fell in love.  Hard.  I got laid off from my job (by my request to save someone else’s job) and sold my place and moved to Connecticut.  Chris & I were married on 4/12/03.

[Link to youtube video of my wedding song – A little Rumba, anyone?]

Chris was a single dad of 3 kids when we met. Krista was 6, Aaron was 5 and Faith was 4.  I fell in love with those 3 even harder.  They welcomed me into their lives and we became a family.

KidsatWeddingFor anyone who knows my husband & I, we are determined to use our marriage to inspire others.  We have encountered some rough years but we made it through and now we travel around presenting marriage seminars for Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage determined to spread hope and eliminate divorce.

I have learned so much by being a wife and mother.  I really had no idea what love was before these 4 people made me part of their family.  I loved my mom and my sisters.  I loved my dad and still miss him even though he died when I was 10.  But it was through the relationships with my husband and my kids that the LOVE of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 became so very real to me.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Living and loving like that is the dream of a lifetime.  It was the dream of my 20’s, probably even my teens.  It has not come easy.  Love like this is frequently a 2 way street, but not always.  Because I am not always patient and kind.  I am sometimes self-seeking and easily angered (usually when I am stressed an exhausted but notice that these caveats aren’t in the verse).  How can I ever “learn” my way out of this existence?  I can’t learn my way out.  I have to love and be loved out of it.

This family and life of mine doesn’t look exactly like I thought it would, but it feels so much better than I could have predicted.

So as I continue to dream of my future, I have this amazing love surrounding me.  I know it can and will grow stronger as the years go by.  I also know that it is exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think.  And so even though I believe in the power of dreams, I believe the Power of God is greater than that.  I’m blessed because I can have my dreams and God too.  For my brothers and sisters out there who do not have an earthly love like mine, if you have God…you have Faith and Hope and Love.   Deep loneliness is like manure  to the heart, preparing it for true love…but stinky nonetheless.  Prepare your heart.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Day 12 – To Be Brave #30dreamdays

9 Sep

It is time to change our girls’ fate. Our brave daughters have the right to a healthy carefree childhood.

I believe that if you are not working to make the world a better place…you are making it a worse place.  Being neutral is a fabrication.   What we are really doing is either being apathetic or complacent.

Now I’m not saying you have to care about every cause, but you should care about something.  You should be working to make the world a better place in some way.

The normal tides of our world seem to be doom and gloom, dog eat dog, small and large injustices…you get the point.  If you don’t choose some good cause to support then you are just flowing with the apathetic and complacent current in the direction of the normal tide.  Don’t delude yourself, your complacency doesn’t make the world a better place; it makes these currents stronger.

The good news is that your support doesn’t have to be financial, even though your cause needs financial support if able to do so. You can support your cause with your voice, talent or in a myriad of other ways.

My friend and Life Coach, Deb Cwynar Miller, who knows me well sent this email over today: BraveGirlsWant

It doesn’t take much to inspire people.  A simple email like this was just enough for me to go off in the direction I was already bent especially when I have immersed myself in 30 days of dreaming.   Deb lives and breathes to inspire people and is making a huge impact in people’s lives in so many ways but does this small gesture look like rocket science?   Anybody CAN do this.  So why don’t MORE people actually do this?

I have accumulated a few friends (Deb included) who I have inspired to make major life changes through simple gestures like this.   When I first started doing this I didn’t realize what impact it would have but a few years of hindsight (which is 20/20 right?) has proven to me that it is these small gestures that make a big difference over time.

So here I am…doing something because I dream of making a real difference in this world.  I am doing precisely what Deb most likely expected I would.  I am asking you to consider one of these small gestures.

Watch this video to learn more about the Brave Girls Take Back Media campaign:

If you are moved by this cause and CAN offer financial support, contribute financially.  Financial contributions start at only $1.  You can access the crowdfunding website and the list of perks you can get, which are especially beneficial to business owners who want to be recognized with a voice in this matter:

This is where the campaign funding stood when I decided to get involved.  Not sure how much difference I will make but I'm going to try to use my VOICE to help spread the word and build awareness.

This is where the campaign funding stood when I decided to get involved. Not sure how much difference I will make but I’m going to try to use my VOICE to help spread the word and build awareness.

I am asking you to SHARE this post or whatever portion of it that you want to so that others can make the decision of whether they want to get involved and how.

And last but not least, because I live to inspire others to action, please take a moment to answer the poll question below.

Day 9 – Walk by Faith #30dreamdays

6 Sep

In January 2011 I completed an exercise that asked for My Big Dream and said have fun with it!  I went looking for this document during this 30 Dream Days Challenge to see what I wrote.

MY BIG DREAM (as of January 2011)

Write a #1 Bestseller (or many) while traveling the world “aimlessly” for at least a year.  Aimlessly really means led by God, so aimless to me but divinely destined and revealed to me as needed.  Now that’s what I call adventure!


It’s a bit fuzzy but that’s me on the right. I don’t do thrill type adventure well as you can see.

Writing a book is still one of my dreams, probably still the biggest as I know it would be a major undertaking.

For me, the part that has become easier over these last few years is the aimless and divinely destined part.   It is a walk by faith.

I don’t need to know every detail of where I am going, I just need to know the next step.  I am confident that when I take that step, I will know the next step after that because my perspective has changed, and I can see things differently from that new vantage point.

Too many people are scared to make mistakes or think the bottom will fall out of their whole life.   They get stuck.

I have had some rough patches but my faith in God and His love for me has grown so strong that I operate as if the whole world is stacked in my favor.

I also know that no matter what happens to me God can redeem it for my benefit and for the benefit of others.

Consider the quote I chose.  How many of you would have chosen Helen Keller’s circumstances willingly?  Her life was redeemed and she overcame her circumstances.  And now people like you and me get to be inspired by this story.

I have a theory that we can not truly appreciate goodness unless we have experienced tragedies, bad circumstances etc.  So I choose to be grateful even for the negative things in my life because those things allow me to appreciate the good things that eventually come even more.

With this kind of faith, it is easy to take the next step and trust that I will recognize the steps that lie ahead.  I continue to get better at it daily.   And without getting stuck in fear I am able to enjoy the adventure and make incredible forward progress…and so I will write a book (or more) one day.  Since I’m a recovering perfectionist, I no longer care if it is a #1 Bestseller…just that it impacts some people’s lives for the better.

Day 8 – Be in Awe #30dreamdays

5 Sep

How often do we really stand and admire the beauty of our surroundings?  Or savor the moments that are simple yet so special in the grand scheme of our own individual lives?  As for me, not as often as I would like.

As a mom of 3 children and owner of 3 businesses, I feel like I am always rushing.   I have so many amazing people in my life and good things happen all around me every day and I do not relish them enough.  I usually take a minute or two to thank God for those things and maybe I still remember to do the same tomorrow but there are moments that I wish I could capture forever.

"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." - Albert Einstein

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein

My dream is to not just be in awe when I stand at the edge of a beautiful thunderstorm in the Grand Canyon, which is spectacular in my humble opinion.

I want to stand equally in awe when I watch my daughter Faith take steps of faith in herself.  They might not be noticeable to others but they are to me and I stand in awe of her daily and am so very grateful to have this front row seat.  I get to watch my son Aaron develop into a man before my very eyes and see as he challenges himself to break the mold of his past.   I continue to be a “follower” (now from afar) of my daughter Krista’s inspirational messages as she develops into the woman of God that she is destined to be.

These are amazing things.  These are gifts.   My dream is that I will no longer be too busy and miss out on these moments.

Be amazed.  Stay in wonder.  Marvel at everything.  There is a depth to this world that few people bother to acknowledge.   Pay attention.  Miracles are everywhere.

Inspiration: Seth Godin

2 Sep

Seth Godin
best selling author

Having decided to start my own 30 Dream Days Challenge on 8/28/13, I have repeatedly and for extended periods of time thought about the people who have pushed me to this point.  I use the word push because while they are inspirational no doubt, their mission is transparent and it is movement.  So I believe Seth Godin wouldn’t mind me calling him pushy 😉

I read somewhere recently on a blog about the power of writing fanmail (it was probably on Seth’s blog but I can’t be sure).  I have never been known to be a person to write thank you notes and have always wished (or dreamed?) that I was better at it.    I can fix that!  Tada…Fanmail Blog Post!

Why did I choose Seth Godin first?

Because he is the only blogger I have read daily.   I’ve been reading his blog daily for about 10 months, more or less.   I’ve also read a few of his books (all on Audible because I love that he narrates his own books).   And so it is Seth Godin more than any other person (aside from God) who has PUSHED me to whimsically pursue 30 days of dreaming publicly believing that I…Nicole Colter…a wife, mom, and lowly business owner in Eastern CT could start a Movement of Dreamers.   Visionary Dreamers like Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who AM I to think I could do this?

I’m glad you ask.  The best way I can answer that is to refer you to my favorite quote from Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson

If you are not following Seth’s blog, your loss.   As for me, it is one of the first things I do in the morning, EVERY morning.

Thanks Seth!

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