365 Challenge-Day 20 A Visit from a Friend

Suppose a friend who has come a long way to visit is having a cup of tea with us. Mindfulness helps the time we spend with her to be a time we won’t forget. We’re not thinking of anything. We’re not thinking of our business, our projects. We just focus our attention on this moment when we are with our friend. We’re fully aware that she is there and that we can sit with her and enjoy a cup of tea. Mindfulness helps us to taste the joy of each moment very deeply. Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home

I just had the chance to spend time with one of my sons who had returned from a trip. He was really excited to share about his travels. It was one of our best visits in recent memory because I made the conscious choice to listen to all he wanted to share. I did not get up and clean the kitchen while he talked, or look at my phone, or interject with too many questions or comments. I listened. I learned so much about his trip, what he liked about it, what he didn’t like. I learned so much about him. Even thinking of it now, I am filled with the richness of the moment.

To be very transparent, at the beginning my mind was wandering a bit because there was work to do. I was tempted to interject a couple of times because I was familiar with the locals of which he spoke. Luckily, I caught myself.

Being present in this way is a good example of ‘simple but not easy’. I would challenge you to apply this practice more in your personal and professional relationships. The results might surprise you.

You will feel better.

You will have given a gift more meaningful than anything you could buy.

You will have a much clearer and deeper memory of your time together.

Try it and let me know how it goes either by leaving a comment or reaching out to me directly at

My clients know that I am in the business of supporting the sustainable and profitable growth of their businesses. I have many more tips that I would be happy to share with you. Email for a free 30 minute consultation, I work with business owners who are really gifted and talented at what they do and could use help building a better foundation for their business.

In gratitude,


365 Challenge, Day 19 Flowers and Garbage

Flowers and garbage are both organic in nature. So looking deeply into the nature of a flower, you can see the presence of the compost and the garbage. The flower is also going to turn into garbage, but don’t be afraid! You are a gardener, and you have in your hands the power to transform garbage into flowers, into fruit, into vegetables. You don’t throw anything away, because you are not afraid of garbage. Your hands are capable of transforming it into flowers, lettuce, or cucumbers.

The same thing is true of your happiness and your sorrow. Sorrow, fear, and depression are all a kind of garbage. These bits of garbage are part of real life, and we must look deeply into their nature. You can practice in order to turn these bits of garbage into flowers. It is not only your love that is organic; your hate is, too. So you should not throw anything out. All you have to do is learn how to transform your garbage into flowers. Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home

What is the garbage in your life that is ready to be transformed into flowers?

You may have heard me tell this story… is a story that bears repeating.

Once upon a time, I was a landscape designer who was very busy but not very successful. I always felt like there were not enough hours in the day or enough dollars in the bank. As a result, I would accept any client who would have me. One day I received a referral from a good client. The referral was a family that was getting their house ready for sale and required a ‘refresh’ of the landscaping for the photos which were to be taken in just a few days. It was a holiday weekend, and in order to meet their schedule, I rescheduled a couple of other clients. Their budget was in the tight to non-existent realm. The yard was a mess; years of deferred maintenance had rendered the space completely uninviting. To top things off, not everyone in the family was excited about moving. In fact, the person with whom I had the most contact and would be paying the bill for my company’s services was downright angry about the move.

Of course, I jumped at the chance to take this job because I was going to save the day and give the home curb-appeal for a quick and profitable sale.

The outcome was a disaster. The yard looked fantastic but the client dodged me for over a week then paid an amount they deemed our efforts were worth and berated me personally in the process.

The emotional toll on me was tremendous. The financial toll was significant. Here was a job that I had taken with such high hopes and good intentions and the result was a enormous pile of garbage!

It was a turning point for me, for my company, for my future. I did take that garbage and transformed it into flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

It did not happen overnight; I did wallow in self-pity and shame for a bit. But then because I had other jobs that still needed my attention, I began to look at what was working, who were the clients who really appreciated my work, and developing some boundaries. I committed to myself and my company in a new way that included not working for people who did not appreciate the process and my value. And I began to say ‘no’ to clients and projects that were not right for me.

Many times I have thought about this experience, and I am so grateful that I choose to learn from it.

We are all going to experience tough times, really hard moments. How we move through them and apply the lessons learned will determine the bounty of our gardens. Are you at a point where you or your business is giving you garbage? Let talk about how to grow a garden of flowers, fruits, and vegetables from your garbage and compost,

In gratitude,



Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the author of Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People. His insight into the necessity and value of living as your most authentic self is terrific. I have revisited this article several times and each time I am struck by a new thought or phrase that resonates strongly. Today for me, it is the concept of how our perceived roles can interrupt our authenticity. This can be a familial role or a professional role. Where have you adopted a role or a set of behaviors that are based on fitting in, keeping the peace, or in an attempt to make someone else happy? What I find fascinating is how comfortable it can be to remain stuck even when the requirements of the role are not in keeping with our integrity. When I realized that I wanted to move from designing spaces for clients to helping other business owners grow their businesses, it was hard for me to give up that comfortable place I had worked hard to achieve-Kristan, the landscape designer and interior designer. Yet, it was also hard to continue to ignore the calling I felt to coach other creatives. For a couple of years, I sat on the fence and tried to do both, with less than stellar results. It was scary to declare myself as a business coach because one role I had assumed both in my personal and professional lives, was that of being reliable. You could count on me to get the job done, to see ‘it’ through, to show up when I said I would, etc. Somehow in my brain, I thought that by changing my focus, my business model that I would be viewed as flaky, unreliable, a fake. A) That is just not true. I bring my same reliability and dedication to my coaching clients that I brought to my design clients. B) Who cares? Who am I trying to impress?

So my question to you, is how are you hiding your authentic self and why?

Here is a link to the full article:

If I can be of help in supporting you, listening, brainstorming then do not hesitate to reach out,

In gratitude.


Day 18 The Next Buddha

Two thousand six hundred years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha proclaimed that the next Buddha will be named Maitreya, the ‘Buddha of Love’. I think Maitreya Buddha may be a community, and not just an individual. A good community is needed to help us resist the unwholesome ways of our time. Mindful living protects us and helps us go in the direction of peace. With the support of friends in the practice, peace has a chance.

Being in community such a powerful tool. I think about all the years I spent as a business owner doing it alone. I didn’t know any different; most of my friends worked for large companies and had a built-in community. What do you do if you are a company of one?

When I graduated from college with a Fine Art degree and a Geography degree, I went straight into the restaurant industry in a small resort town. In theory, the other restaurant managers could have been my people, but at the end of a day, I was so exhausted that the thought of talking about work was the last thing on my mind.

Fast forward many years later as a landscape designer and a business owner, I found a community in a professional association, APLD, and sought out professional development as well as continuing education classes. Spending time in the company of your peers and developing a few good relationships is vital to the sustainability of your business as is finding a mentor.

This is not a unique concept as I look around at the other parts of my life, my alumni associations, the kids’ school parent associations, neighborhood groups, etc. I wasn’t blind to the benefits of community nor was I alone in other areas of my life. However, as an entrepreneur it took some time to bring community into my business life. I was invested in this belief that I had to go it alone, that the lessons learned were only meaningful if I learned them firsthand and the ‘hard’ way, that I should always know the answers and asking questions was a weakness or failure. Really, this is the kind of thinking that kept me back for many years. Sure, I was busy but also overwhelmed and frequently wondering whether or not I wanted to continue.

No matter where you are in your professional journey find a community to support you, seek a mentor, engage in continuing education. It is one of the most powerful tools for growth. Your community will inspire you to do some of your best work, will be there for you during the tough times, and offer a new way of looking at a challenge.

If you are interested in getting support for your business then please contact me at .

In gratitude,


Day 17 Becoming a Bodhisattva

If we make a sincere effort to practice alleviating our inner suffering and the suffering of others, we too become bodhisattvas, awakened beings. We support our family, friends, and coworkers, and help them to manifest as bodhisattvas; we do this for the entire world and for the happiness of all beings. If through your practice you become a bodhisattva, those around you will see that beauty, genuine spirituality, and true love are possible. Living like this, you are happy and will become an inspiration for others.

This all sounds great and it all sounds a bit too saccharin sweet at this moment. How do I even begin to alleviate suffering when each week seems to bring a new tragedy? How do I begin to alleviate suffering when it feels so big, so global, and so wrong?

I feel powerless. I hate feeling powerless. I am an optimist. I am the one who can find the silver-lining in a situation. Where is the silver-lining in another mass shooting? What is the silver-lining in another person subjected to any kind of abuse? What kind of silver-lining is there to be found in the increasing number of homeless individual in my city?

If I refer back to this lesson then perhaps I find some clues: Start by alleviating my inner suffering. So much of my inner suffering is about worrying. I think about things in the past that I wish could have been different and what I could have done better. I spend time ‘Future-Tripping’; thinking about what might happen. I attempt to solve problems that are not really yet problems and more importantly, are usually not mine to solve.

Being present helps, yet who knew it could be so difficult and so healing to stay in the moment. Last year, I found myself going about my day with a constant, low-level buzz of anxiety. It would stay with me as I went to sleep. It was there when I woke up. It traveled with me as I worked, shopped, spent time with my family. I realized that it was becoming my norm, my baseline, AND that something had to change. The simplest and most effective practice I implemented was to stop whatever I was doing and check in with the question, “Is everything okay?”. What I was really asking was ‘what is happening in this very moment’-Do I have a roof over my head? Are the kids safe and healthy? Is there food in the cupboard?

Big, obvious questions that immediately gave me a sense of relief from the anxiety both because the questions I asked myself are the really important questions and in order to respond I have to be present.

Lastly, I can’t expect to become a bodhisattva overnight. I can tend to be impatient. Once I identify a problem then I want to fix it, immediately if possible. However just as I have made progress with my anxiety, I have to check in with myself regularly to keep the anxiety from taking up permanent residence. My being grounded allows me to make better choices and be of service to others. My being present is the key for connecting with others.

If you feel moved to talk about your journey, please email me at or call 626 755-8043. We are all in this together; let’s be there for each other.

In gratitude,



Have fun! In your business.

Jody Palmer Garden, photo credit Gerry Kiffe

Have Fun! Business Tip from Kristan Browne
When you are having fun in your business, then you are much more attractive to potential clients. Give yourself permission to play, to daydream, and to take time off. Structure your business in such a way that you get to focus on what you love to do. Schedule your days and appointments to compliment your rhythm. Keep of a list of your successes – big and small. Interested in learning how to grow your business while having more fun? Email me. To see more terrific photos of Jody’s garden and read the entire newsletter , click here.

Building Trust with your Clients

Ruskin Garden, photo credit Gerry Kiffe

Building Trust with Your Clients-Business Tip from Kristan Browne
When you are working on someone’s home, you have been given a special privilege. Your clients trust you. One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to be honest. Be willing to admit when you do not know something and not to have all the answers. However, be part of the solution and let your clients know that you will do research, contact an expert, see what you can learn. No one likes or trusts a ‘know-it-all’. Remember it is much more professional to be upfront about your experience. Curious to learn more about balancing your business strengths with your challenge areas?? Email me.
For more gorgeous photos of Debby Ruskin’s garden, read the entire newsletter from PlantMaster.

Great Projects Start and End with Great Clients

Business Tip from Kristan Browne
Great Projects Start and End with Great Clients

One of the most common misconceptions shared by small business owners is that they will attract more business if they are all things to all people. In truth, the more specific you are about who you serve and the unique aspects of your talents, allows your ideal clients to find you much more easily.

Photo Credit-Gerry Kiffe

It is a domino effect in that when you are working with your ideal clients then the results are great projects which leads to referrals and more terrific work. Consider how you could shift your focus to attracting your ideal clients.

Kristan Browne is a garden designer who has utilized her knowledge and experience to help/coach/support those in the landscape industry. Take a peek at her web site or email her for more information. 
Read more about the Garden of the Week .