The word play ritual to spell release, intention and surrender

As the year end is getting closer, people take time to reflect on the months past and set their vision for the future. Today, I offer you a ritual that can bring more creative play to this process. Words, rituals and play captivate the brain in their own unique ways and facilitate transformation. Words can cause the brain to create a vivid and real experience of whatever these words represent to us.  Rituals tap into the predictive power of the brain to set expectations and rewire the brain to give commands in accordance with such expectations.  Play liberates our creative spirit, silences the inner critic, and allows us to see a broader range of possibilities and solutions.

The ritual below is a form of contemplative practice, so it should not be rushed. You may have heard that the popularity of coloring books for adults have grown over the past years because they help people release stress. Coloring is easy and gives an opportunity for the mind to wander. In addition, research suggests that using your hands to write or do crafts, like knitting, for example, also benefits the brain. The word play ritual offers the same benefits but in a more personal and creative way. Children can have fun with it too.

It is inspired by nature and the change of seasons. While trees let go of the leaves and stay bare in their dreamy rest through the winter, our human cycle of activity tends to speed up during the holiday season.  Amidst this hustle and bustle, it is useful to find a practice that can bring us to the roots, ground and center our energy. As leaves decompose in nature to fuel the growth of plants in the Spring, our dry plant ink will help us let go of anything that is no longer needed and cultivate the quiet intention for the transformation we want to bring into our lives.

You begin by preparing your dry plant ink. For my ink, I used dry rose petals, chamomile flowers and lavender flowers that I often use to brew teas.  Dry herbs, spices, tea leaves are all good options. You can crumble the dry plants with your hands or use a rolling pin.

I like to collect my dry plant ink into a mesh sachet bag. I may even through a few of my favorite crystals into the mix.  When not in use, you can keep such sachet on your desk for its beautiful aroma, which will serve as another reminder to your brain of your set intentions. (The sense of smell is the only one of the five senses directly linked to the limbic system – the center of emotions in the brain.)

For your project, you will also need a surface to work on, such as a sheet of paper or a canvas. Instead of a pen, I roll a paper cone to spread my dry plant ink on the surface. You can just use your fingers to spell the words too. I have a little paint brush and a broom to help me along.

Once you have everything ready, it is time to think of the words that represent something that you want to release. For example, I chose to spell the word “fear” as something to let go of. I “sit” with this word and the feelings it may stir in me as I spell it with my dry plant ink. As you paint your word, notice what comes up for you in the process. For example, I noticed that I wanted to rush and finish the “unpleasant” word faster. This is not surprising because we want to avoid unpleasant feelings or discomfort associated with them. However, I chose to slow down and make it beautiful nonetheless. Those negative feelings are there for us to warn or alert us to something. They are worthy to be acknowledges and accepted for what they are.

Once the word is completed, take time to appreciate it before you let it go. I sweep it with my tiny broom. You can mix it up with your hands or even blow it away. This represents the impermanent nature of our emotions. We can move from one mental state to another.

Now is the time to pick up a new positive word that represents something you want to focus on or bring more of into your life.  You use the same dry plant ink to transform the negative into the positive as you invite the lessons of your negative experience to fuel the positive change. Savor the time and the process as you spell your positive word. Notice what comes up for you now. My positive word ended up much bigger and fuller than my negative word. I added more ink to complete it. Keep it as long as you wish before you feel it is time to return it back into the sachet bag and breathe in its lingering aroma. I left mine on my daughter’s desk for now as a surprise when she comes back from school. Perhaps, it will inspire her to paint her own.

Try it and let me know how it goes. Maybe, you will want to share your picture too.

I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season!

[UPDATE] This is what I got back from my daughter 🙂

By | 2016-12-21T12:49:31+00:00 December 20th, 2016|Brain, Change, Communication, Creativity, Learning|0 Comments

Using BYOD in teaching and public speaking

presentationI recently returned from the University of Iowa where we held a 4-day workshop within our 2016 STARTALK grant program “Bridging the Gap: STARTALK, Teachers and High Tech.” This live workshop was a culmination of a four-week online training of teachers of Russian from various colleges and schools in the US on the use of instructional technology in distance learning, as well as teaching and leading lessons in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) format where students can utilize their smartphones and tablets during their language lessons.

As a result of their learning and collaboration, the teachers created innovative learning objects that used technology to engage students through gamified scenarios and simulations and expand learning beyond traditional classrooms. We were inspired by the teachers’ creativity, flexibility and willingness to experiment with new approaches to education.

Teachers and speakers have a lot of common goals and tools when it comes to imparting their knowledge and message. In my future posts, I hope to share some of my own takeaways and reflections on how the use of multimedia and BYOD approaches can enhance speeches and presentations and provide fresh, new ways to engage the audience.

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By | 2016-08-12T21:09:19+00:00 August 12th, 2016|Communication, Learning, Public Speaking|0 Comments

Trailer for our online course on Russian Folklore

In 2015, our program “Increasing Engagement through Storytelling, Scenario-Based Learning and Gamification” was a 2015 STARTALK grant recipient. During our program, we trained teachers of Russian on how to increase engagement in blended and distance learning classrooms through the use of storytelling, scenario-based learning and gamification. As a result of their training, we developed a fully functioning online course on the Russian Folklore based on the materials created by the teachers. Here is the trailer for the course.


By | 2016-01-20T17:31:46+00:00 January 20th, 2016|Communication, Learning|0 Comments

7 highlights from the New York Social Media Week Panel

SMWUSTeamThis week, I had an opportunity to attend the New York Social Media week sports panel hosted by Blue State Digital “You Won. What’s Next? How to keep your audience engaged after the big moment.”

The panel featured Olympians and NBC Broadcasters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir;  Joey Maestas, Head of Social Media at the US Olympic Committee; Ashley Ramirez, Senior Account Strategist @ Twitter; and Evan Moody, Senior Media Strategist at Blue State Digital and Mitch Germann of FleishmanHillard.  It addressed the topic of “how you can keep your audience engaged after the big moment – whether it’s your athletes taking the global stage, a major legislative victory, or after a breaking news story hits. Because when the world isn’t watching, how do you stay relevant? ”

The video offers my seven highlights from the social media panel that apply to authors, experts and speakers.  After you have written a book, launched a program or a course, or had your big PR moment, how do you keep the momentum going?

P.S. You are invited to our first Cyber Soiree. Join our virtual get-together and learn how to create your perfect cyber cocktail:
    Mix your favorite brand ingredients;
    Stir by putting your brand message in motion;
    Create buzz 8 seconds at a time.

We’ll demo a few of our favorite things.
March 4th, 8:30pm EST/7:30pm CST/5:30pm PST. Click HERE to register.



By | 2015-02-28T02:05:59+00:00 February 27th, 2015|Communication, Learning|0 Comments

One Simple Solution to Stop “Exchanging Money for Time” Madness


…There’s only one of you…And, like you’ve probably realized, there’s only so many hours in a day. And that means that no matter what, your income (and your impact) will always be limited.

When there’s no more room in the day for any more billable hours, how do you grow? And even more importantly– how do you stay sane?

Here are some possible causes of your “insanity” (see if you catch yourself nodding your head as you read the following statements):

  • You want to be seen as a leader in your industry and being recognized for your expertise
  • You want to create something tangible, something of your own, but instead you are still a jack of all trades (doing tons of things that others are doing), or have so many offerings that even you can’t keep up with them….feeling drained and unmotivated…
  • You have a lot of great ideas but you are not sure which one to pursue – which one will make the most impact and bring the most income.
  • After following tons of other experts, it seems that all niches are taken and you just do not have anything unique to offer to the world anymore…
  • You know you have talents but it seems that you cannot get out of the “world’s best kept secret” level …

 These thoughts are a sure way to get yourself upset, disappointed, unmotivated and “stuck”

 Now, how do we stop this madness?

 Very Simply- You need to create your original

Signature Program

that can be used either face-to-face or online.

See how your world (and your physical and emotional state) change as a result of this simple solution:

  • You will stop worrying about attracting new clients. Imagine creating a referral powerhouse where your satisfied clients spread the word about you! (Remember, people would more likely buy a product recommended by their friends).
  • You will feel more fulfilled and confident as your make much more impact on other people’s lives
  • You will grow your income in less time. When you can serve more people and still offer high-quality products that deliver outstanding results, and create an army of raving fans–your reputation grows.
  • You find your “golden niche”: during the process of creating your Signature Program you become crystal clear about your main message and your competitive advantage.
  • You build your presence and your expertise. Having a Signature Program moves you to a “leading expert” or “authority” status. You start being recognized for your message and your unique way to solve your customers’ problems.  You will see that new opportunities that you have never before imagined possible start rolling into your life.
  • You package and repackage already created content.  All of those cool ideas that you have been writing down, all of those pieces of content that has been created over the years – they will be rolled into one system., You will be able to use them and reuse them to create more products that serve multiple people at the same time.
  • You attract more engaging, committed clients that are willing to pay premium prices.

So, in essence, it’s about leverage. It’s about scalability.

And it’s about going from a 1:1 mindset, to 1:1000 And beyond… while being able to engage with each customer ….

Now that you discovered one simple solution to help you move from 1:1 model to 1:10000000 model, do you want to know HOW to do it?

Then join us for a Rapid Fire Free Mentorship Session on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 8pm ET http://forms.aweber.com/form/08/86908308.htm

In this session we will show you how to follow a 3-step process for creating Signature Systems.  You will discover 3 simple steps to:

  1. Discover your main idea and Signature System that will instantly connect with your audience.
  2. Shape, reposition & intelligently repackage your ideas into training programs that multiply your impact and income.
  3. Build connection and engagement through compelling storytelling, gamification and scenario-based activities that could be adapted to face-to-face and online environments.

Here is the link again: http://forms.aweber.com/form/08/86908308.htm


By | 2015-02-05T21:56:22+00:00 February 5th, 2015|Books, Communication, Learning|0 Comments