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Is Thanksgiving a Joke in American Culture?

On December 3, 2013, in Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Black Friday Death Counter

The column I wrote for the December issue of the Garland Rowlett Messenger caused quite a stir. But it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s so right it hurts. What do you think? Leave a comment!


Every year we, as Americans, gather around our dinner tables with our family, friends, or both, and we break bread in a tradition of being grateful for the people, opportunities, and possessions we have in our lives. Some families do not begin eating until each person has spoken briefly about what he or she is thankful for that year.

We consume an average of 4500 calories each, and watch football on the TV between rounds of green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. With stuffed bellies and family gathered together, life is pretty good, right? That’s what Thanksgiving is all about – being grateful for what you have. This couldn’t be further from the truth in American culture.

Thanksgiving is a joke, and millions of people are in on it.

Thanksgiving is about the latest and greatest Black Friday sale. It’s about carbing up the day before the big shopping marathon. We eat big meals to fuel our bodies so we can then trample over the weaker of our species when those glass doors at Wal-Mart slide open at 5am.

We spend one day together feeling thankful for what we have, and the next day clamoring for materials we simply cannot live another second without – and we’ll hurt each other to get them.

The image at the top of this column is a screenshot of the current deaths and injuries related to Black Friday shopping excursions. It began in 2008 as a way to record the needless violence that occurs due to our need to have more stuff in our lives.

This is shameful.

This is the opposite of nourishing what matters.

This, of course, doesn’t reflect the actions of everyone, but it does reflect a cultural pattern in this country, and it’s not a good one, no matter how you look at it.

I challenge you to step back from all the commercialism of the holiday season, and genuinely reflect on your life for a moment. What are you grateful for this year? Who are you grateful for this year?

My invitation to you is to make this season about the gifts of gratitude, appreciation, and love – not making sure your loved ones have the latest electronics come Christmas morning. Spend a little more time showing them you care and less time making sure you have enough space on the credit card to get them a PS4.

It’s time to treat the holidays like more than just a gift exchange party. It’s time we Nourish What Matters.

What do you think? Leave a comment so we can connect.

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The Bigger Game Hits Home

On October 21, 2013, in Events, News, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Silhouette Man

 

“There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart.
We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies.
We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake.

It is the Human desire for Love. Every person in this Earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love.
Our true identity, our reason for being is to be found in this desire.

Love is the “why” of life, why we are functioning at all. I am convinced it is the fundamental energy
of the human spirit, the fuel on which we run, the wellspring of our vitality.

And grace, which is the flowing, creative activity, of love itself, is what makes all goodness possible.

Love should come first, it should be the beginning of, and the reason for everything.”
― Gerald G. MayLiving in Love


There is a project coming that has the power to shift us. I am excited to give you a little teaser because I’m not willing to throw too much at you too soon. We have started our Bigger Game here at H.Q. and it’s going to be nothing short of extraordinary. For the time being, pay a compliment to one another, express gratitude in your life, and start living for experience rather than what monetary gain it may bring.

The shift is coming. Stay tuned.

Blake and the new team.

Commitment Over Criticism

On September 16, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, News, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Diana Nyad

I write a column for the Garland & Rowlett Messenger in Texas, and with the paper coming out last week, I think it’s only fitting to share the column with you all here. If you click the link here, you can see the photo copy I’m all kinds of proud of.

Faced with a seemingly insurmountable goal, nearly every last one of us quits the fight.  Then there are the select few that reject the hand-me-down rules of what we are capable of. These individuals change the landscape of human achievement, and they don’t do it for medals, awards, or recognition. They do it because they feel it in their bones as something they can do when the world tells them it’s impossible.

Diana Nyad did the seemingly impossible over Labor Day weekend by swimming, without a shark cage, across the Caribbean Sea from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys. 110 miles of open water, hordes of box jellyfish, and the ever-present threat of sharks weren’t enough to deter her from reaching her ultimate goal.

Nyad is no stranger to defeat and the pain of failure, having finally completed the swim 36 years after her first of five attempts. At 64 years old, she swam for 53 hours straight, fueled by unshakable vigor. It begs the question, what drives someone to do such a thing?

In her 2011 TED talk,  she explained her commitment and drive, saying, “I want it to be difficult. I want it to take passion. I want it to take an unwavering commitment to be able to get to the other shore.” She spoke volumes when the first few words out of her mouth after finally reaching that shore were, “we should never, ever give up.”

This is a shining example of having a vision and commitment to making it become a reality, regardless of what obstacles come before you. In my workshops and personal coaching programs, I meet countless people with big dreams and big reasons for them, but not enough strength to keep forging ahead when it becomes difficult.

The great Roman philosopher, Lucius Seneca said it perfectly: “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” The journey is almost certainly going to be difficult at times, but you must keep pushing if you wish to shine.

You have within you the power to create an absolutely extraordinary life if you simply give yourself permission to do so. Since we were little, we’ve all had those voices telling us to be more realistic and practical in what we set out to accomplish. For some of us, the voices were those of our family members; others learned to aim lower from their coworkers, friends, teachers, or spouses.

This is the great lie of the human experience. Fear of aiming too high and failing was instilled in us based on the opinions and experiences of others. We carry around other peoples’ assumptions about life as our own. One of my favorite questions to raise is this:

If you never learned failure – if you never learned to be realistic, what would your life look like?

Give yourself permission to throw out all the conclusions you’ve been given about life, and goals you’ve been told you can and cannot reach. The greatest innovators, athletes, leaders, and performers in the world share the same chemical makeup as you – they just don’t believe the same things about life, and it allows them to create extraordinary successes.

If I told you a 64 year old woman was going to swim for 53 hours straight, 110 miles across the Caribbean Sea from Cuba to Key West, you might not believe it. You might think it couldn’t be done. She, however, never learned that lesson.

My invitation to you is to examine your beliefs about what’s possible for you in your life. Take a closer look at where you may have learned those beliefs and give yourself permission to throw out assumptions that no longer serve you. Focus on what you truly want to believe and experience, and notice what begins to happen when you do.

Until next month, stay brilliant.

—————-

Nourish What Matters – a monthly column of empowerment, clarity, confidence building, and challenges from inspirational speaker and coach, Blake Alexander Hammerton.

A Taste of Bliss: Moving On in Four Steps

On January 23, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Guest Post by Greg Malouf of Epsilon Healing Academy

Buddha in the rain - clear and mindful.

“Get out of your head and get into your heart. Think less, feel more.” – Osho

 

I came to a point in my life where I felt like something was not working the way I wanted it to. I struggled with addiction, stress and anxiety, and had to go through a painful divorce. Once I was finally ready to make a change in my life, the question became: How?

Having the desire to change was an important first step because it led me to begin a search for answers. One thing that is necessary to understand, however, is that in seeking change, we are embarking on a journey. There are answers, but there is no magic that will instantly fix everything in life. I had to learn to be patient and to be open as I moved through the process.

With that said, I’d like to share a few tips I used to get through making a life change that you can try right away that will offer a taste of what is to come as you progress through this work.

Shift your perspective

Try this exercise for one day of your life—just one!

Throughout the day, stop yourself—as best as you can—from criticizing, judging, attacking, or acting out behaviorally when a negative emotion or uneasiness is triggered within you. Focus on your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions as you encounter people, things, and circumstances that trigger those negative thoughts and feelings in you. When those feelings come up, and you are tempted to speak harshly or act out of anger and frustration, catch yourself and take a breath. Instead of the response you would instinctively make, on this day, make a conscious effort to shift your perspective from negative to positive.

Watch what happens when you make a conscious choice to see circumstances differently. As you choose positive responses over negative ones, you will certainly notice a shift in your perspective and your outlook.  You will also notice a shift in those around you. Think about an argument you’ve had with someone. Typically, arguments start with something simple and relatively unimportant, but as heated words are exchanged, the hostility ratchets up until it seems there is no going back. But imagine if instead of fueling that fire, you step back, take a moment, and respond with openness and kindness. The situation would be resolved much quicker and without all the bad feelings.

Indulge only in loving thoughts and your day will be beautiful. Feelings that you have not felt in a long time will continue to surface – joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment.

Practice Forgiveness

The next step in the process is forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean condoning bad behavior. It simply means that we choose to release any anger or bitterness toward the person we believe has caused our unease. That can be difficult to do, so here is a way to start.

When you feel resentment, anger, or grievances, replace these feelings with the thought, “I love you, (name), and I accept you as you are.”

Repeat this each time you feel a change of mental state or an uneasy feeling.

Identify the thought and at whom this negative energy is projected. Forgive, using loving words and affirmations. Repeat the words above until you are free of any negative energy and unease.

Forgive yourself for your reactions—for carrying the shame of that past for so long. Recognize that you are now in control of your life!

Know that those who you reacted to have helped you recognize and release the part of your past that kept you prisoner within your mind and body. They helped liberate you, and you love them for it. This is true forgiveness!

Release negative feelings

As with any skill, learning to respond with love in potentially difficult situations takes practice. There is something you can do to help yourself be better prepared when you do encounter triggers.

At the moment you feel unease, take note of where you feel it in your body. It may be pain that you don’t readily associate with an emotional issue, or it may be emotional distress that you can now associate with a physical manifestation, such as stomachache, headache, or tension in your neck. Either way, when you feel pain, be aware that it is a sign that you are out of alignment with your true values; you are disconnected to your inner you.

Sit quietly, and focus on your pain. Say what you are feeling—grief, anger, resentment, loneliness, and so on. Separate the feelings from the pain. Release the emotion and simply be aware once again of the physical pain. Breathe deeply in and out, and allow the breath to carry this pain with it. After a short time, your body will feel rested.

Now you have isolated the negative energy that fed your thoughts. As the thoughts come, simply observe them without judgment. Continue to sit quietly and breathe.

Ask yourself ––in the inner silence of Self, “What part of my past caused me to feel this way?” Remember that your negative thoughts stem from your past traumas, large and small. Recognize any resemblance between your current feelings and that past experience.

Use positive affirmations

Positive affirmations are an excellent way to remind yourself throughout the day to check your emotional state and redirect or reframe any negative thoughts or feelings. Here are a few examples:

“I am now in control of my life.”

“I forgive those I now recognize for holding me in their shame, and I forgive myself for carrying it for so long. I send them love and offer myself love.”

“I am okay in Self.”

As you practice each of these exercises, keep in mind that the real miracle–– the major shift–– will come when you are ready to create your life consciously. Consider this a small miracle to enjoy, an opportunity to experience a mere taste of bliss, calm, and joy all around you.

Don’t be afraid to give yourself a chance – after all, the primary beneficiary will be you! In this one day, you may feel what it is to liberate the soul.

Let go of your fear, and give it a try! If I was able to do this, you can too.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. What resonates the most with you in your life? What do you focus on when you begin to heal? Please comment and share.

 

Gregory MaloufGreg Malouf is the founder of Epsilon Healing Academy where he works with students throughout the world to take a journey away from life as they know it, and into the inner world of the Self – where they ultimately find healing. His book, “Silent: The Power of Silence,” was written to take readers on an inward journey to find the all-loving place and connection that is the silent connection to Self.

Reclaim Your Health in 2013

On January 7, 2013, in Events, Speaking, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Whole Health Awakening

 

I have recently partnered with Dr. Kristen Bobik of Balance Chiropractic and Wellness in Hoffman Estates, and we creates Whole Health Awakening. Whole Health Awakening is about gaining clarity in a chaotic world, making conscious choices for a better life, and feeding your body and soul with what it needs to prosper. It’s a beautiful meld of our two disciplines. Through it, we have created out first event: Reclaim Your Health in 2013.

If you’re going to be in the Chicagoland area (especially the Northwest suburbs), I highly recommend you attend the event! It’s going to be incredibly enlightening, and we’re going to be giving away a ton of information on what you can do to change your health for the better without breaking your budget on expensive detoxes, diets, therapies, or programs. What have you got to lose, except a few extra pounds, some cholesterol points, and added health risks in the future, that is. Join us!

Here is a break down on the event:

Reset. Regroup. Restart here.

Dr. Kristen Bobik, The Balance Doc, and Blake Alexander Hammerton of Applied Happiness Coaching have teamed up to bring you a health and wellness workshop to Reclaim Your Health in 2013.

Do you find that your new year’s resolutions never stick? You begin the year with the greatest of intentions, but life gets in your way and you don’t make any real changes?

Do you feel like you’re always battling those extra pounds no matter what you do? Are you unmotivated, uninspired, or uninterested in wading through the fad diets and products out there to finally reach your optimal health?

Discover the difference between health care and disease-care, and why everything you’ve been taught has kept you in poor shape. Explore your body’s chemistry and learn how to modify it to sleep better, feel better, and kick your metabolism into gear.

Learn why you have trouble reaching your goals (like everyone else), and what to do about it. Uncover what three words in your language you can change to create real, lasting, permanent results.

Blake will bring his inspirational speaking and coaching to the room and empower you to declare what you want and what you’re ready to do to get it. He’ll share stories and secrets to making remarkable things happen in your life, and inspire you to step up to the challenge of living the extraordinary life you deserve. You’ll walk away with tools, resources, and wonderful anecdotes to help you create real change in 2013.

Dr. Kristen will share her incredible knowledge of acupuncture, Eastern and alternative medicine, and Chiropractic with you. You’ll learn easy-to-implement nutritional strategies for improving your health, without breaking your bank, or your kitchen appliances. She’ll introduce you to your body’s own chemistry so you can create a diet specifically for YOU.

Start 2013 off on the right foot and join us for this incredible day of learning and inspiration!

The Hyatt Place in Hoffman Estates is a beautiful hotel with elegant rooms and a restaurant for lunch. We are honored to have our event there.

Agenda:

9 a.m.–3 p.m. with a lunch break from 12–12:30 p.m. There will also be period breaks throughout the day to stretch our legs and get fresh air. Please bring a pen and note pad – you won’t want to miss any of the information being shared!

Please comment and share this post and help us get the word out!

Join The Fight Against Breast Cancer

On October 16, 2012, in Events, News, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Click and like the page to be counted toward the donation goal!

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I have combined my efforts to rebrand and give back to the community. I have had to create a new Facebook page for myself, and am slowly growing the likes and subscribers. To help keep that movement going, and help in the fight against breast cancer, I am donating $.50 for each new like on the page this week.

This could get huge.

Right now it’s a very small donation because there’s a very small amount of likes. You have the power to help change that. The money is coming out of my pocket, and a part of me is worried that should this go viral, I’ll have to write a very, very large check. The truth is, I would love to write that check. Help me do that. Click the image above and like the page.

Please share this post, comment, tweet it – spread the love and help spread the wealth.

Let’s do this!

Peace, Love, and a million successes to you,

Blake

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30-30 Challenge: An Update That Matters

On February 27, 2012, in Events, News, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Nourish What Matters Web Store Screenshot

It’s been quite a crazy week! I’ve been sending out newsletters a few times a week since this started, and last week I threw out a challenge that came back to me like a wrecking ball. I invited all of you to revisit an old idea you had – maybe one you threw on the “back burner” quite some time ago. I didn’t challenge you to bring it to fruition that day, but I opened the door Monday, and challenged you to take some steps to see if it could hold water on Friday.

I received a lot of responses, filling my inbox throughout the day, and I cannot express how amazing it is to hear some of your ideas! Some of them felt so strong – like they have been burning the midnight oil inside you for years, and the passion and excitement of bringing it out was incredible to witness!

Monday I thought about the charity/foundation I wanted to start “eventually” – eventually is code for a magical time called “someday.” I opened my intention up for suggestion, and asked for a hint – what some of us call quantum flirts or signs. Well, I got it. There was so much going on in my world that day, that I almost felt like we had missed the reasons why we were living. Then a Trevor Project commercial came on. I immediately heard the voice in my head screaming at me.

We need to Nourish What Matters most in life.

That was it. I knew this was what had been burning inside me. So I did what any other completely neurotic nerd with a good idea does: I got on the computer, registered a domain name, built a quick website, created logos, a mini mission statement, and designed merchandise to get started.

Nourish What Matters

Many of you received the newsletter this morning regarding it, but I’m going to throw in some details here as well. Nourish What Matters is an ideal, a foundation – nay, a movement in the making. It’s about recognizing the value and preciousness of life, and the community and connectedness of humans. We’re all different, but we’re all here for the same thing: to experience whatever greatness we can while we can.

Nourish What Matters is about acknowledging that ideal in everyone, and giving them a place to call home. We will raise monies for various events and charities until we have our own charity to tout. We want to support the Trevor Project, Sing for Hope, and organizations that promote the human spirit and innovation.

You can join the movement, and get the donations started by clicking the image above, or this link, and purchasing a t-shirt or hoodie. You know you want to. They’re wicked-awesome, and so are you… isn’t that a perfect match? I vote yes.

Follow @NourishTheLove on twitter, and stay tuned for more updates and developments on the Nourish What Matters website.

Please purchase a piece of merch, and spread the word!

Together we can do this!

Peace, Love, and a million successes to you all!

Blake

P.S. What charities do you want us to donate to?  What causes speak most to you?  Let us know in the comments below!

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