I’ve said a number of times that my success is due in large part to the power of the human spirit – something we all possess, but don’t always tap into. Usually, my audiences and clients know what I mean – or I think they do. But, one time, a man I was working with got really excited and curious and asked “tell me more about this human spirit”, how do you define it? He sincerely had no clue what it was, but was fascinated and wanted to learn more.

To me, the human spirit is the essence inside each one of us that makes us push boundaries, strive for change, that seeks justice and equality, that knows what’s true, right and good, that strengthens us to endure, that connects us to everyone, that makes us feel for suffering people on the other side of the world, that fuels our passions, that sparks our desire for innovation and betterment, that drives us to create beautiful works of art in various forms, that enables us to overcome and accomplish unheard of feats. It’s the stuff we’re all made of.

I believe that each one of us can access this wellspring of inspiration, strength and hope to be our best and highest self – the self that expresses our maximum potential. It is when we access this place that we are able to overcome the obstacles we face and find success and happiness with ease and grace. I believe this is possible for everyone. Undoubtedly, it is the primary reason I went from literally wanting to die to loving my life and all the opportunities it presents. Once I tapped into the tremendous power that is the human spirit, I knew I had to share it. That is why I speak, write and coach. It is my way of not only sharing my story and gifts, it is my contribution to helping raise the overall level of happiness and success in the world and making a real, substantive difference in lives.

Do you agree with this definition of the human spirit? What does the human spirit mean to you?

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A dear friend was sharing her feedback on a draft of the first part of my forthcoming book, OPEN: How to Create A Life You absolutely Love Living. She loved the chapters I sent and is eager for more. However, in the introduction, I write “I am not special” and my friend took issue with this. “You’re not special?!”, she said. “I’ve seen the pictures of you, your wedding, your husband… You’ve got this life you love… and, you’re saying you’re not special?”

“Yes.” I said. “Unique maybe, but not special”.

Then, as is the nature of our relationship and my relationship with most people, she got real and got right to the crux of her issue. “Well, then, what does that mean for me? If you’re not special and you have all that, then what am I?”

Whoa, there it was – laid out right there on the table. And, it all made perfect sense. Nobody’s special or everybody’s special. I prefer to say nobody’s special because, fundamentally, we’re no different from one another. Circumstances, appearances, etc. may be different, but there are certain fundamental things that tie us together – certain characteristics that make us inextricably linked, that make us human and that make us the same. One of the most significant of those things is the human spirit. My happiness and success is not me being special. It simply is me demonstrating a piece of our collective humanity – the power of the human spirit. This is what we have. This is what humans, you and I are capable of and can do. The human spirit isn’t mine, it belongs to each one of us. How we use and express it in our lives makes us unique individuals.

Nevertheless, it may seem like certain people are special when you’re comparing, but that’s just it. You’re comparing. This is a common outlook block I see in people generally and my coaching clients in particular. When you’re looking through what I call corrective lenses, you’re stuck in a cycle of comparing yourself to others, measuring your life against some external ideal standard of how things “should” be and thinking that success and happiness is special. The real fact of the matter is that, true success and happiness may be uncommon, but it is not special. And, more than that, even though I love the life I’m living, you might not love living my life.

I’m not special, I’m open. I know who I am, where I’m heading, I have the support I need and am willing to create the life I want regardless of what it looks like to other people and what they think is possible for me. And, that’s what I want not only for my friend, but for you as well. You don’t have to be special to be happy and successful. You only have to be yourself – your true, best and highest potential self. Once you honestly, truly and deeply make this part of you and your being, you’ll realize that special isn’t really so special after all.

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Do you consider yourself lucky?

Once when I was on a cruise with my family, a woman I did not know approached me and my husband when we were laying on lounge chairs by the pool and said “You’re so lucky you get to bring your dogs with you! How’d you do that?”

My husband didn’t miss a beat. He smiled and mischievously said, “First, you have to go blind”.

The woman was horrified and embarrassed. She didn’t realize we were blind and that our dogs weren’t pets, but Seeing Eye dogs. Eventually, she saw the humor in it and joined in with our laughter.

Even when people know we’re blind, some still comment on how lucky we are to be able to bring our dogs with us everywhere we go and how they wish they could do the same.

This used to upset me. Really? Lucky? I thought. I guess that depends on your definition of luck. And, that’s exactly it.

We often think of other people as being lucky when they have something we want. No matter the bigger picture, we focus on that one thing they’ve got, that we wish we had. If that’s what lucky is, then you’re already lucky because you’ve already got something in your life that another person wants. Do you know what that thing in your life is? And, more importantly are you grateful for it?

Don’t get me wrong. Focusing on what you have or can get that other people want is a really bad idea for basing your life. You’ll likely never be happy or feel successful. I know this from first-hand experience and observation. However, this definition of lucky is good for broadening your perspective and for identifying small things in your life where you have the opportunity to not only consider yourself lucky, but to be appreciative and grateful for the seemingly small things. It’s often the little things we take for granted because we are so focused on the big picture.

When you look at luck with this outlook and from this perspective, you’ll see that we’re all lucky. We each have an opportunity to create our own luck. If you want to be lucky, just look for those small things. They’re already in your life.

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When I was at the Seeing Eye training to get my dog, one of the women there commented on how lovely she thought my walk was. She wanted to know my secret. She had lost her walk after an unexpected and severe illness and never regained it. I asked her what was her theme song. She was a little confused at first and said she didn’t have one. I explained to her that I had a theme song for different scenarios, feelings and moods I want to invoke. For instance, when she saw me walking down that long hallway, I likely was playing The Commodore’s Brick House in my head- that’s right- “she’s mighty, mighty”. And, before presentations or a speaking engagement, I listen to Bob Sima’s “How You Made Them Feel” in which he sings, “they won’t remember everything you said, but oh they won’t forget; they’ll always remember, how you made them feel”. I’ve got dozens of go to songs like that.

Have you ever watched a movie that had a really sparse soundtrack? Could you imagine what it would be like to watch a thriller without that orchestral bum- bum at a pivotal point; a romantic comedy without that sappy, love song. It just wouldn’t b the same, would it? Music is so important for drawing us in and foreshadowing our emotional responses. So, with that back drop in mind, do you have a soundtrack for your life? And, how’s the music on your iPod or in your head setting the scene for your life?

Create a musical score for your daily life Not just fun, fluffy songs that sound good- that’s important too and there always is a time and place for those songs- for some reason, Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back always comes up whenever I’m in a dressing room trying on pants. But, seriously, create a meaningful score of songs that motivates you, inspires you and reconnects you to your highest and best self. Just try it, it’s pretty magical.



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People frequently ask me “How do you do it?” – meaning, since I’m totally blind, how do I do all I do – speak, coach, practice law, serve on boards, invest in real estate, how do I pick out clothes, dress myself, and , yes, even, how do I pick up my Seeing Eye dog’s poop. Because, yes, I do that too – no matter how successful you think you are, there’s always sh*t to shovel and to keep you humble.

Do you want to know the secret to my success? It’s simple, but admittedly not always easy. Here it is… I finally allowed myself to OPEN to life.

O- Outlook
P- Plan
E- Education
N- Network

These are what I call the four master keys to happiness and success. They are interrelated and interdependent concepts – you can’t have just one, you’ve got to have them all working together. Focusing on these four master keys unleashed my true potential and allowed me to tap into the power of the human spirit. Once I accessed the power of the human spirit – something we all possess, but don’t always know how to access, I was unstoppable and couldn’t help but to be the best and most purposeful me I could be. I don’t believe everyone can do what I do; just as I can’t do everything everyone else can do. But, I do deeply and undoubtedly believe that each of us has a best, highest purpose that we can reach only by opening to life and tapping into the tremendous power of the human spirit.

The moment I realized my vision loss would affect my life, I understandably sank into a deep, dark, lonely and seemingly endless depression. I thought going blind meant I would never have or experience all the things I wanted – love, happiness, freedom, independence, success. And without those things, I thought what’s the point of life? I didn’t just lose my sight, I lost all hope and vision of a future. I disengaged from everything – family, friends, my studies, my hobbies – everything.
You see, after three years of depression and several more years of being socially and emotionally withdrawn, I was tired. So tired, that I was fed up and tired of being tired. I realized that I had a monumental choice – to test what was actually possible or to simply accept what I feared was true; a choice to go out and live and experience what it really meant for me to be blind and discover all I was capable of achieving or to be consumed by fear and just lay down and die. Everyone has this choice.

I chose to live. I chose to open the door and open myself to life. Why not? I had nothing and therefore nothing to lose. Allowing myself to open and rediscover myself and the world was not only liberating, it was a total game-changer. And, guess what? I proved my fears wrong on every level.

Happiness and success is not just for me; they are for you, too. Of course, your success and happiness is unique to you, and, inevitably, will look different than mine. But, it is your happiness and success and you not only deserve it, but can have it.

Here’s the quick rundown on what it means to OPEN:

Outlook is how you choose to see yourself, situations, other people and the world. By shifting your outlook, you change your world and how you live in it. Selecting an outlook that enables you to realistically see your strengths, gifts, talents, challenges, flaws as well as the strengths, gifts, talents, challenges, flaws in other people and in situations, empowers you to break free from limitations (either self-imposed or so called societal norms) and connect with what’s truly possible.

Plan is having a goal and working your way, step-by-step, toward that goal. The magic comes in choosing the right goal for you. Unfortunately, many people have the wrong goal in mind and may get to where they set out to go, but never really get what they want. That’s why setting and connecting with the right goal is critical. Also, having a plan doesn’t mean you rigidly follow one step after the other because you will encounter detours and obstacles. Having a plan with the right end goal, helps and motivates you to always stay on course – even when you detour.

Education – Education is much more than formal academic education and technical skill and expertise. Education is the continual acquisition of knowledge and understanding about yourself, other people and the world. You’ve got to consciously know what you know, recognize what you don’t know and be aware and eager to discover the areas that you don’t even know you don’t know. Right education is a balance of technical skill and training, self-awareness, self-discovery, curiosity, reflection and emotional intelligence.

Network – There are two major parts of networking- your own personal support network and your broader communication network. The latter generally gets the most attention – it’s who you know. But, you’ve got to know who you are before you can effectively network because it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you and for what. The second part of network is identifying your core support team. These are the people who teach, advise, guide, challenge, comfort and cheerlead you. An effective support network usually consists of a combination of friends, family, mentors and professional expert consultants.

That’s the secret to my success. Obviously, there is a lot more detail on each of the master keys and how to use them in your own life (that’s what I talk about in my speeches and work on with my private coaching clients), but this is the essence of it. SO, how open are you now? And, how much more room is there for you to OPEN further?

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I asked my husband the other day, ‘Are we doing anything for Valentine’s Day?’ I asked him this because I only just remembered that it was coming up and I couldn’t remember whether we celebrated it. There are certain holidays that we don’t celebrate in the traditional way. The strange thing about this was that, in college, I vividly recall being shocked when a friend of mine had no clue when Valentine’s Day was. I couldn’t believe anyone in America, especially a woman, wouldn’t know this date.

After all, I pined over not having a Valentine for years. I wanted the romance, but most of all – I wanted to be loved. Back then, I believed I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t even worthy of love. I hated everything about myself – the way I looked, the way I felt, how people treated me, that I was different – everything. So, I spent a lot of time sitting alone in my room, watching romantic comedies, wishing my life was different.

I wanted someone – anyone – to love me. And, more than anything, I desperately wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I wanted flowers sent to me publicly – what’s the sense if nobody’s sees it, right? I wanted to be wined and dined, given jewelry, perfume, and experience music and dancing. The whole nine.

Then I got angry and bitter about Valentine’s Day – telling myself it was just a commercial holiday anyway. And, now that I have a built-in Valentine, I don’t know if I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day. What gives? Am I really that ungrateful? Jaded? What changed?

In short, I did. I changed my outlook and allowed myself to open not only to life, but to love. And I’m convinced everyone has the ability to open themselves and create a life they love.

Do you love the life You’re Living? How do you show it?

You see, now, just about every day, I wake up happy. Unbelievably, deeply, thoroughly and completely happy. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a morning person. What I’m saying is, I am not only at peace with life and waking up to it, I love it. I absolutely love the life I am living.

I love my husband, our dogs, my mother, my father, my brother, my sister, my colleagues, my friends, my acquaintances, strangers and my enemies. I love my career and my lifestyle. And, by almost every measure, I am what you’d call “a success”.

I love all of it. It’s true, there are times when I certainly don’t like every aspect all the time. Days when I experience sadness, days when my husband tests my nerves (he seems to do that better than anyone), and my life and the things in it definitely aren’t “perfect”, but I love it. As Robert Plant sang, that’s “a whole lotta love.” But what it boils down to is this: I simply love living and love being me. At least, now I do… And, I try to show it every day not just on Valentine’s Day.

I learned that to create a life you love you have to OPEN. But even before you get to the nitty-gritty of what it means to open and how to do it, you need to understand that when you show and appreciate your love it grows. Anyone who has multiple children or pets know Why You Should Stop Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Anyone who has multiple children or pets knows that when you add another, the amount and quality of love you have for the first one didn’t change. Your love grew and you suddenly had more love to give to the second one.

So where’s the love in your life? There many realms and aspects of your life to love: Your family, your friends, your pets, your children, your work, your hobbies, your lifestyle, your spiritual beliefs and practices, your home, your abilities, your talents, and of course, your beautiful self.

Love is indeed around you. So, acknowledge it, let it in and spread it out. If you do, it grows.

I finally realized that ignoring Valentine’s Day, boycotting it, emphatically stating its commercial nature, are all excuses for pushing love away and shutting it out. If I want love, why not open the door and welcome it into my life? But, then, why am I not celebrating Valentine’s Day?

This year I’m consciously celebrating everything I love instead of simply observing the holiday. Do you get what I’m saying? Instead of doing what I’m “supposed” to do for Valentine’s Day, I’m proactively proclaiming and praising who and what I love.

Whether you are single or in a relationship, love and celebrate yourself, your life and everything you love each day, every day, including Valentine’s Day.

So, stop celebrating Valentine’s Day and start celebrating love.

Here are 3 easy ways you can spread the love instead of the hype:

1. Instead of saying “Happy Valentine’s Day!,” thank your friends and loved ones and tell them how much you appreciate them being in your life.
2. Pay a sincere compliment to a stranger or someone who you normally wouldn’t.
3. Write a short love note to yourself. It can be to yourself right now or you can write it to your younger self, perhaps at a time when you needed love. Whatever feels right to you.

So, what are you going to celebrate this Valentine’s Day? I’d love to know.

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