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Putting Out Our Little Fires

By Lisa Jo Barr

Have you ever woke up to the reality that your life is completely out of control? That there are a million things you need to do and the pressure to get them done paralyzes you from doing any of it?

It is as if an invisible unwritten list of to-dos keeps tugging at your heart and your head. You feel haunted and distracted at the same time. An inner voice is pleading, “Get to it,” but your energy is tangled up in too many loose ends. You might be wondering: How do I get out of this mess?

Simply begin with a list. Get out your pen and paper. Put down all the small things you have been meaning to get done, but have avoided for way too long. Maybe it’s getting a pair of shoes fixed, balancing your checkbook, calling your favorite uncle back.

Listen to your gut, your intuition. Really get quiet so you can hear the tiny voice inside of you. Explore the benefits of doing these tasks. Ask yourself:  What are some positive consequences of getting this small thing done? For instance, if I organize my desk and dust it, then I will journal more. If I get an oil change, then my car will last longer and I’ll be able to avoid expensive repairs.

One example is that I have this nice pair of black pants. When I bought them, they were way too long. I knew that they needed hemmed. The little voice inside of me started nagging me to hem them. A couple of months went by. The longer I put off the hemming, the louder the inner voice got. During this time, every day I thought about hemming them. It hurt my brain. Then I’d feel this resistance and rebellion and turn my attention to something else.

Then one day, I started looking for more work opportunities. I really started putting myself out there. I wasn’t getting any response. Every time I envisioned myself being interviewed, I was wearing the pair of black pants that needed hemmed. Finally, I put pen to paper. On my to-do list was to hem my pair of pants. Still I put it off. I began to experience anxiety, worry and panic. The more I reviewed my list, the more I saw that I needed to hem my pants. At last I surrendered and hemmed them.

Two days later I got two interviews. A coincidence? I think not.

When you put out the little fires, it frees up a lot of energy. Energy that you can use toward your positive goals.

Remember: big crisis fires start with little fires. When you become your own fire fighter, then you will begin to move confidently into the direction you want to go. You can direct your life by taking responsibility for it. This will act as a solid foundation for you to enjoy your life, know yourself better and discover and follow your dreams. Freeing up the energy allows you to get back in touch with your power. By tying up loose ends you’ll practice taking ACTION, an important key to success. Action is what makes things happen. The more you take ACTION, the more momentum is created. The more things you get done, the quicker you can reach your goals or take a brilliant idea from new-born to fruition.

What causes procrastination? It’s fear. You are afraid to move out of the familiar chaos into a new place, even if that new place is so much better. You stubbornly hold onto the old pattern, as an attempt to control. You know what to expect in the past. It’s predictable. You don’t know what to expect when moving into somewhere new. Instead of letting your fires build up and burn a bridge to your shiny future, put them out, so you will have more energy to move across safely. It is a guarantee that where you are heading will be different, but in a better way. Take care of business and put out all of the little fires, one by one, so that the foundation of your new place can be built on solid ground. Have faith and let go.

If you are faced with a lot of stress in your life and are afraid to take action, know that you are not alone. We’ve all been there, done that. Make a list today and turn it into a game. See how many things on the list you can cross off each day. Make note of how you feel after you put out a fire. You will be amazed.

Happy firefighting everyone! 🙂


Risking it for a Better Life

Posted on

By Lisa Jo Barr


Do you long to do something with your life? Do you feel it’s out of reach? That dream? This profession? That great work? It’s only as out of reach as we believe it is. And we always act accordingly.

We play mind games with ourselves. To the degree that we don’t believe in ourselves, is the degree that we won’t take a leap-of-faith risk to move toward our dream. When we don’t believe in ourselves, we stay frozen in a place we don’t want to be. We live in fear. Our mind and our limbs don’t even know what a positive risk is. It’s too frightening. We cannot fathom taking a leap of faith. It feels too life threatening. We are scared of where we are and also scared of where we will land up if we take action. So we remain stagnant.

A positive risk is DOING something to move toward our most longed for goal. We jump out of our heads and climb into our bodies to take action. To DO gets real results. Just thinking doesn’t. When we take positive risk through action, we surrender to what we want in life and let go of the fear of failure. We begin to brainstorm the paths to get from where we are to where we  want to go. We are guided by our most creative selves.

There are all kinds of little stepping stones to move toward your dream and away from settling. For instance, a budding artist going to the art museum or buying a sketchbook and a pencil is moving in the right direction—or rather—in the direction of the dream. They all add up and there is a tipping point. Soon, all of you is geared toward the change, and you move toward it with pleasure and courageous boldness.

One way to collect your ideas of a better life is to get things on paper. What can you do to get closer to your goal? Is there a class you can take? A certain type of mentor you can hunt down? ALWAYS ask. Think: the sky is the limit. Is there somewhere you can work that would hone your skills? Would going to the X-Games inspire your sought after skateboard career? Think: inspiration. If you want to be a key note speaker, do some spoken word at a storytelling night in the back of a bar.

When you take action, really put yourself in your future role. Dress the part. What do you look like? Act like? If you use role-play in the present, then life will come alive into a dress rehearsal for your big change to manifest.

Take the risk. Ask for help. Look at yourself as willing to learn. Be humble. Look at life through a child’s eye. Bathe in all possibilities. Be curious and explore the life that you really want to live. Let go of the fear and step into the immense strength that lies inside of you. It’s already there.

If fear is preventing you from taking positive action, don’t worry. Be gentle on yourself. Visualize yourself in a different place—in a safe place that expands into your dreamscape. Imagine yourself laughing and moving around in your new world where your dream has already come true. Agree to let yourself be where you are. If you’re afraid, just say “I feel fear.” Don’t deny anything.

Start a dialogue with your negativity. Give it a voice. Talk back and forth or write down the dialogue if you feel shy. The best way to communicate with yourself is to talk. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy, even if you answer back! Ask yourself: What’s holding you back? What’s the benefit of staying where you are? Do you want to live a boring life? Do you think your life will be satisfying by being a slave to fear? If the answer is no, then you will need to do something about it. You can’t just sit still any longer.  

The benefits of positive risk taking: Life becomes much more interesting. Shades of grey, black and white turn into three-dimensional color. You are challenged in new bold ways that put your old fearful ways to the test. It’s thrilling  like a water ride. It can feel like a free-fall drop—but have faith—you will come out ahead living a much more fulfilling life.

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Pep Talk or Head Trash

What do you say to yourself? Do you build yourself up or tear yourself down? If your answer is, “Well, I’ve never thought about it,” then think about it now.

Examine what your thoughts have been like for the past month. First, look at the attitude you have had toward your actions. If your choo-choo brain has said “I think I can,” then you’ve been cheering yourself on through the best or worst of times. This type of silent talk will propel and sustain healthy actions. It will lead to improved self-care and you will attract healthier people (“like attracts like”).

If you’re making poor toxic choices then your brain is saying , “I think I can’t.” Indications that you’re in this frame of mind are panic, worry, fear and physical pain. You just won’t feel right. You’ll feel off and unsure of yourself.

Are you picking on yourself like a bully? When you do this you are ignoring all your best qualities, all your attributes. You become blind to your beauty. You are so locked in on the parts of yourself that are not perfect and trying to force them to be something that they’re not.

Perfection is something you do not want to be smothered with. You want to keep the door open to accepting your imperfections, accepting your humanity. Otherwise you will always be fighting to live up to a standard that is not realistic, and you will invariably beat the shit out of yourself, and you won’t be able to stop.

When you’re stuck in the cement of perfectionism, you think in terms of black and white, all or nothing. There is no grey area at all. It is about you being perfect and if you’re not perfect, then you reject yourself. This is distorted thinking. The negativity will get you nowhere but down.

Now, if you want to turn it around, you will have to break the shell of perfectionism. You’ll have to begin to love the parts of yourself that you once rejected. Think of your best friend. Look at all of his/her imperfections and pick one out that you love. Why do you love it? Does it make her unique? Is it an endearing quality of his? A hidden strength?

When I used to go for a walk around a park near my work, I would pay particular attention to the trees. My favorite tree was an oversized pine that was lopsided and bare in spots. I really loved this tree in all its imperfect glory. My gut reminded me that the most interested and loveable characters in the movies are the ones that have character flaws, in other words, ones we can relate to.

We loved Forest Gump not because he was perfect, but because he was imperfect.

So, embrace your imperfections. Just be yourself. Don’t try and contort yourself into some perfect package of fakeness. It will make you sick and also those around you. Just be yourself. Accept your imperfections but always work on yourself. Learn about yourself. Don’t forget this ongoing education with yourself and the universe. If you keep your eyes peeled and your heart open you will be a student of positive life, and you will grow beyond your wildest dreams.

So what quality do you want your life to have: positive acceptance and learning and growing how to be more yourself and be comfortable in your own skin? Or do you want to turn and twist yourself into a punishing boxing match with yourself in one corner and perfectionism in the other? The choice is yours, and the great news, wherever you’re at, is that you can switch it at any time.

So, what will it be?

Breakdown or Breakthrough? It’s Your Choice.

A spiritual teacher once taught me that crisis proceeds change. The storm will come before you make a breakthrough. It always seems to work this way.

When your whole world is crashing down around you, or it just feels that way, ask yourself: Is there something you have been working toward about to manifest? Is your life starting to reveal some changes, and are you holding on for dear life, to the old comfortable place? Then pay attention:


Remember the dreams that you longed for and prayed for? You could now be standing on one side of the dream river with another on the other side. The ol’ painful one foot in, one foot out routine. Be aware that this may be what is holding you back from the inevidable breakthrough. This calls for a dose of letting go. Surrender to the new; let go of the old.

Don’t hold onto the old for nostalgic reasons. It may just be what’s bringing you down. Be weary of negative patterns and how comfortable they are, the longer you’ve indulged in them. To get out of that place that is causing resistance requires action. Take positive action TOWARD your dream, not away from it. Let go of the security blanket and learn to dance a new step.


When you are not going through crisis, practice taking risks on your terms. Make goals and take action steps to meet those goals. If your scared to get out on the dance floor, take a dance lesson. If you’re a writer afraid of rejection, then pitch a story to a newspaper. Don’t allow a meltdown to happen if it doesn’t work out. Look at it as practice. Experiment with life.


When you’re going through something fierce, don’t grind yourself into the ground. Be good to yourself. Take old things that have been healthy forms of comfort for you, like walking the dog or drinking a glass of apple juice, and incorporate them into your daily routine. Learn new relaxation techniques at yoga and meditation classes.

Also, do what you love. PIck up that hobby you normally love to do. Go have some recreational fun.

Most importantly while traveling through the abyss, is to communicate your experience. Spend quality time around healthy supportive people in your life. This will calm your ass down like no other. You need to practice describing what you’re experiencing in real-time, to friends and supportive family, in order to ground your feelings, in order to not feel alone and in order to not lose your mind during the crisis.


Get out of your head by helping others. Volunteer at The American Red Cross or some other non-profit organization. Google “non profits Denver,” or wherever you live. Helping others will be like a shot of calm in your arm. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy. Seriously. Try teaching someone something you know or mentor someone. You will spend your time wisely because your problems and crisis will vanish for a few minutes. Just enough time to surrender the old patterns. This can create a pathway for the breakthrough to happen.


You have got to do something different in order to get a differernt result. If you start down a path of destruction, that is what you will reap. You cannot put a cat’s tail on a rat’s ass. You cannot keep repeating the same storyline, thinking you’ll get a different ending. You won’t. You must do something different to reap a different kind of harvest.


Whatever you do—keep on moving. Keep on taking action even when you think you have no steam left in you. Even if you don’t think you are heading in the right direction, pick another path and keep on going. You will make it. You ARE making it. You’re closer than you think. Welcome to the world of breakthroughs!

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places…

By Lisa Jo Barr

We associate hearts, roses and chocolate with love. We think that we find love through holding hands with our boyfriend or girlfriend, or through all night kissing marathons.

If you’re single, you may long and ache for a partner. So what do you do? Where are the right and wrong places to find love? It can be a mysterious journey—the journey to finding love. Then there is the question: Should you even look for love, or should you wait for love to find you?

On the subject of love, here is the panel that I’ve interviewed. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent:

1. Maureen, owner of ABC Custom Framing.  2. Sabrina, artist.  3. Keegan, Culinary student.  4. Sara, artist.  5. Donna Seabreeze, nurse.  6. Ori Bengal,  ( ), marketer and adventurist. 7.  Jeff, writer.  8. Paul, mechanical engineer. 9.  Joey, sales.  10. Greg, video producer.

QUESTION: Where are all the wrong places to look for love?

Sabrina:  Any situation where you cannot be yourself, where you think you have to change yourself, where the other person is not emotionally available to you.  In a mental ward, in a therapeutic relationship or if the person is married.

Keegan: Any online dating site, happy hour, or the friend you’re really good friends with. With dating sites, you have the same chances of finding love as you do sitting on the bus or walking down the street.

Donna: Your girlfriend’s address book, a back alley of a bar, church.

Ori: There is no wrong place. Love generally finds you. Don’t hang out with smokers if you don’t want to date a smoker. But then again, they might turn out to be the one.

Paul: Facebook.

Joey: Bars and the bathhouse.

Greg: At the bar, in the club, in the mental ward, in other words ,wherever dysfunction people gather


QUESTION: What are the right places to look for love?

Keegan: On vacation, at your local coffee shop.

Sabrina: Springtime at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Friday nights at the Denver Art Museum, out to dinner with friends and friends of friends, browsing bookstores (check the Kama Sutra section), take a pottery class, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in the summer when everyone can take their shirts off. Intermural sports, Washington park, yoga. Maybe you’ll go to all these places but run into love at the dumpster taking your trash out instead.

Ori: Go to places where the traits you’re looking for are going to be found. For instance, if you want someone who is healthy and in shape, then go to Whole Foods where they probably do their shopping. Then go to the gym and hike at the park, where they frequent. Also, online is great –you can really put yourself out there.

Donna: Your girlfriend’s address book, a back alley of a bar, and church.

Sarah: Work and school.

Paul: Nightclubs/bars, churches, church groups, and schools.

Maureen: Your friends hooking you up with their friends, activities you like to do, dancing.

Greg: inside yourself in your own heart.

QUESTION: Should you look for love, why or why not?

Sabrina: Yes and no. If you’re in the habit of looking for love in the wrong places then you need to learn how to be alone.  Love is bound to find you unless you turn it away. Some people need to go out and look for love, it’s not going to find you while you’re sitting on the couch. Be active. Love brings out who you are and strengths in you and you become a better person for it. Life is more fun and enjoyable to share it with someone.

Keegan: Yes, You should if you’re capable of loving yourself if not work on self before looking for love.

Sarah: No, You shouldn’t look for love because when you do, you get a lot of disappointment. I believe in fate instead.

Donna: I’m split down the middle: no, because I’ve been there, done that, over it. Yes, because it feels good.

Ori:  Yes, always be looking for love but have no attachments.  If you have a goal of the type of person you want to attract, then move toward it. Be the best you. Also ask yourself if you would want to date you? Become this person. For instance, if you want someone who is financially stable, then get your financial shit together.

Jeff: Yes, but Craigslist will not get you there.

Paul: Yes,  because I want to get laid. I don’t want to stay a virgin my whole life. I’d like to have children someday.

Maureen: No, because you should allow love to come to you. You should not try and control love but instead be open for it to organically come to you.

Greg:  No. You cannot look for it. The more you look, the more love evades you. Love is mysterious and beautiful when it appears in our lives.


Action Jackson: Don’t Stand Still…Move!

By Lisa Jo Barr

Posted on February 5, 2012 by Lisa Jo Barr

They say that the only way to get over fear is to move through it. To move. To take action.

If you sit or lay still, the fear just hovers above you and grows bigger inside you. When you sit still, that beautiful imagination of yours starts to work against you. The shadows grow bigger and the source of those shadows becomes more and more vague. It becomes harder to do something new. You begin shaking in your shoes. Everything becomes tinged with the fear, you see the world through the lenses of hesitation.

It is very painful to live in a state of fear. Of wondering when the next shoe is going to drop. Being afraid before, during and after every move you take. And what a toll it takes on your self-esteem and confidence. So why do it? Some of us are conditioned to embrace fear, especially if you grew up in violence. Also, if your parents were scaredy cats then there is a good chance that you will be imprinted with the same patterns of fear.

If you are an adult–over 18 years old, guess what? It is your responsibility to release yourself from fear, or to take responsibility to get some help to do that. You must do something different, because doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result spells insanity.

Change doesn’t have to be one big lump sum, all at once. As a matter of fact, most huge shifts that “magically appear” without any lead up to, won’t stick. Baby steps are where it’s at.

Take one area where there is fear, and break it down into tiny steps. Set positive goals–both quarterly with monthy goals to support them. Make the monthly goals baby steps that lead up to conquering larger chunks of fear in one of the many areas of your life.

For instance, let’s say you are afraid of losing weight. You are afraid to go into the gym because you have extra padding. You are afraid that people will laugh at you. As a matter of fact, you are afraid to even go for a walk, because you are bigger than you’ve ever been before. You are scared people will roll down their windows in their cars and laugh at you.

Here’s the goals you set, determined to prove your big fears wrong:

1st week–1 block x5/week

2nd week–6 block x5/week

3rd week–12 block x5/week (walk one block/jog a block) alternate

4th week–16 block x5/week (walk one block/jog a block) alternate

The first week you noticed nobody was rolling down their windows laughing. They were just driving past! This was a major 1st step.

Gradually you move from 1 to 6 to 12 to 16 blocks, walking to alternating walking with jogging. Your metabolism rises S-L-O-W-L-Y. It will stick more than if you go from 0 to 120 in 60 seconds. It just won’t stick. You’ll probably end up burning yourself out and possibly injuring yourself which will lead to you giving up on any exercise regime, and going back to embracing good ‘ol fear.

When you take change slowly, you can get used to the way the new shoe fits. You can break it in at a leisurely pace instead of the day before you’re scheduled to run a marathon.

Doing is the most important component to change. There are other things to embellish change that will help keep the fear at bay. Affirmations are phrases that are used to tell yourself the truth about who you are and where you are going. They are best to be written and said in the present tense. They can be very powerful when used in conjunction with ACTION.

Holding yourself accountable is another great way to make your goals stick. Tell a trusted friend what you’re planning to do before and after you do it. This is called bookending.

Just remember–you are an adult. You are responsible for the quality of your life. You deserve better than to live in fear. You deserve happiness and freedom.

Sometimes you have to fight and work for them. You can do this. Make the goals and take ACTION!