Stefanie Zizzo's page


In a recent phone conversation with a family member, I was being baraged by questions about a joint issue we were discussing.   A string of What, How, When and Where questions that came one after the other.

My responses?  Most of them were “I don’t know” and I found myself getting uncomfortable – it felt like an interrigation.   Then suddenly I had one of those ahha moments of clarity.  It was as if I was looking in a mirror hearing/seeing myself do the very same thing to my husband!

Wow! I had a new understanding of what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a string of questions that can’t be answered in the moment, questions that require more investigation or preplanning.

The best part?  My husband was in the room while I was on the phone so he heard my end of the conversation.  When I got off the phone I immediately shared my revelation and he said “Yes!  I was thinking that the whole time you were on the phone!”

What behaviors of yours do you notice mirrored back to you?

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This is one of the questions in my Journal of Possibilities and a very important one.  Aliveness is what you bring to any experience you have.

I thought I would take a moment to share some examples from my own life of what makes me feel most alive.

I feel most alive when my senses are heightened

This can include tasting and savoring every morsel of a delicious meal, taking in with my eyes a gorgeous garden or other natural scenic vista, enjoying the scent of fresh flowers, enjoying the feel of soft fabric on my skin, listening to the sounds of crickets and birds in my backyard and watching wildlife go about their daily routine.

I feel alive in my work when I am engaged with others.  When I am working with my clients one on one, delivering a seminar to a group of people eager to learn and having a deep conversation with likeminded colleagues.

I also feel most alive when I am playing.  Whether it’s laughing with my husband and friends, creating a painting or new space in my home, or traveling to a new place.

When do you feel most alive?

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This months article focuses on learning what works for you, then using it to have a life that is more effortless.

I thought I would give you some examples by sharing what works for me.

What works for me in my business is structure.  For me that means scheduling everything, planning, getting ahead in writing, having a sounding board when I am working on a new idea and writing slowly in chunks.

One ingredient in my success formula is challenge.  When a trusted friend or collegue challenges me to do something that I don’t (at first) think I can do or am a little fearful of doing, it infuses me with just the right energy and courage to try it.

Two examples of this:  A good friend and mastermind partner Meri Rafetto of Real Living Nutrition and 3Tomatoes asking me to write my first article about 5 years ago.  My first thought was “I don’t like to write and I struggle with it”.  She believed I could do it and gave me a deadline for a publication she was seeking it for.  Well,  I took her up on the challenge and wrote something.  Much to my surprise it was easier than I thought!  That started me writing an article a month, and then blogging.

Another personal example is my personal trainer at the gym challenging me to run.  My first response “I can’t run”  She gave me one of her looks that said volumes so I said, “OK, I’ll try”.  Much to my delight, not only could I run (well, jog) but I liked it!  Now I include jogging into my weekly workout schedule.

Challenge (from those that have my best interests at heart and believe in me) clearly works for me!  When I focus on what works for me, I accomplish more, build confidence and achieve greater success.

What works for you?

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My husband and I had created a very comfortable life back in New York.  We created our home to fit our needs as best it could and we both had careers we loved.  Our home and life was nice, cozy, very familiar and pretty secure.

At the same time, we felt a pull to a different lifestyle that existed somewhere other than New York where we could have greater possibly.  Thus began our journey of exploring what different places (cities and states) had to offer, which places felt like a better fit for our needs and wants.  We were both excited about this journey but also very uncomfortable with the unknown.

Would we like this new place?  Would we be able to create the careers we wanted?  The lifestyle we wanted?  We didn’t know for sure.  What we did know was that we were ready to go for it, ready to leave the comfort we created for a little while to create new comfort – that looked and felt different – somewhere else.

That readiness helped us leap out of our comfort zones and make the move to North Carolina.  Those first few months in a new place were both very exciting and very challenging.  It was exciting to explore a new city, meet new people and buy a new home.  It was challenging emotionally to feel adrift with no anchor, no connections and no sense of where anything was!

We let the excitement win and soon enough we began to find new comfort as we made friends and made a home here.

What possibilities are you ready for?

What comfort must you leave behind to reach for those possibilities?

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How often do you find yourself completed depleted and exhausted?   I will venture to guess that it’s too often.  This is especially true at this time of year as we add holiday planning and festivities into our already packed lives.

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves (our work and our families) is to stay focused and energized.  To do that you have to make “recharging” a priority in your life and create habits that support it.

How do I recharge?

In my work it includes:

  • Taking breaks throughout the day – Whether it’s just 5 minutes to walk downstairs to get a cup of tea, do a few stretches, or get the mail…  These short breaks reenergize me and allow my brain to take a breather as well.
  • Finding my best schedule – it took a while but I have found a work schedule that aligns with my energy level
  • Conversations with like minded colleagues to keep me inspired – I love sharing ideas, information and getting feedback!
  • Days at coffee shop to write – I have found that getting out of my office in stepping into a bustling coffee shop awakens my creativity and offer a better writing experience.
  • Leaving enough time in my schedule to breathe – I am grateful that I have full control of my schedule but even then I have to stay aware of leaving room for me in the schedule.  It is too easy to become overcommitted.

In my personal life some of the ways I recharge are by:

  • Being in nature – I love being in nature whether it’s walking/running in my neighborhood or going to a park
  • Painting– allows me expression of creativity
  • Exercise – energizes my body the whole day since I do it first thing in the morning

How do you recharge?

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One of my favorite things to do is capture nature in photographs.  It’s easier than ever with my iphone since I am never without a camera.  I wanted to share some of the photos I’ve taken recently in my yard and gardens/parks in my community:

Tree in Hemlock Bluffs, Cary

Strawberry picking in Apex

Rose from my garden

I am in awe of the colors, textures and shapes in nature.    When I see the incredible beauty, it often takes my breath away.    The beauty in nature inspires me to paint and create, it fills me up.

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Several years ago I was completing some exercises as I was embarking on career and life exploration of my own.  One of exercises asked me to write my 20 year vision.  My first reaction?  20 years?? At the time I found it easy to plan my weeks and months, even loosely knowing what I wanted to accomplish that year, but the next 20??

After a brief challenge of wrapping my head around the concept that I could plan that far ahead, I began to imagine what I wanted my life to be like 5 years from then, 10 years, 15 – and I was able to get to 20.  So I sat at the table on my deck and began to write, letting my imagination run free, thinking about my big goals and dreams – especially those that had lain dormant for a while.

It was fun, soon the ideas began to flow so much so that a giddiness took over.  Could this really happen – I asked myself?  Why not I answered.  And that marked the beginning of my life and career transformation.

Now it’s your turn.  Whether you want to focus on 1 year, 5, 10 or 20 – begin to let your imagination run free – remember the dreams of your childhood, uncover those you never dared dream and create a realm of possibility currently beyond your imagination.  Then take it to paper, letting all your thoughts form words and images.

Your vision for the future is limited only by your imagination!

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Most of you know that I love painting – you may have seen some of them in the Journal of Possibility I created.

This creative journaling is something different for me.  You see, when I painted, I would always paint a picture, sometimes watercolor, sometimes acrylic.  I always wondered what to do with all of of the small paintings I made.  There are only so many I can put on the wall and I didn’t want to put them away, I like looking at them.

I had never experimented with creative journaling until a few months ago.  I started as a way to prompt me to write my thoughts and emotions, gain clarity about an issue, and a place to capture beautiful quotes or passages from books that move me.  Writing on white paper is not inspiring to me, so I began using watercolor to paint the pages of a blank journal I bought.   This brought the pages to life and made them inviting to write on.

I then started adding some of my paintings to the journal, adding more creative touches and backgrounds.  Now I am finding images from magazines that move me and adding them as a collage.

Having a journal (or now several) that I am working on inspires me to paint or create almost every day.  Here is a picture of my workspace.  I leave everything out or within arms reach.

How do you journal?

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It has been quite a while since I have written a blog post.  These last few months have been a sort of “time out” for me.  I stayed focused on my clients and some other business matters, but have taken some time off to focus on my own wellness.

At first it was uncomfortable to take so much time off.  I worried about my business and my clients, wondering how I could manage everything.  But you know what, it all worked out!

I took some days off, lightened my schedule other days, and had some full days as well.  This balance allowed me to reflect, to create, to breathe and to focus on what mattered most, my health.

Did everything fall apart because I said no to some things?  No it didn’t. Were there problems in my business because I moved some appointments further forward than I prefer?  No there weren’t.

What did this experience teach me?  That it is OK to pace myself differently. That it is more than OK to take time to breathe and reflect and renew.  That  it is OK to just simplify sometimes!

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There are so many favorite moments I experience each day and each week.  I’ve been reflecting on them and realizing that moments like these are what brings a spring to my step and joy to my life.

Some of these moments are consistent, some fleeting, some very small and brief, others lingering.   How long or how large does not matter, it’s allowing myself to fully enjoy and experience the moment that does.

Some of my favorite moments?

  • The drive home from the gym in the morning.  I bask in the energy I feel having worked out and enjoy the quiet drive as the sun is coming up
  • Breakfast.  Every day of the week I give myself enough time to fully enjoy preparing and eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Snack time.  Is there a food pattern here?  Throughout my day I enjoy several (healthy) snacks.  They taste good and the experience of stepping away from my desk to stretch renews my energy.
  • Sunday mornings.  Something about a Sunday morning that feels extra special to me.

What are some of your favorite moments?

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