2014 Annual Review – The Year of Courage

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

Here it is, my first annual review! Who would have known?!? Although I have only been blogging since March 2014, I am doing this annual review to pause and reflect on 2014 with gratitude. Each year, I spend New Year’s eve reflecting on the past year, reading through my Morning Pages and gratitude journals, assessing how the year went.

I reflect on how I spent my time, the goals I reached, the nagging tasks I never quite seem to touch…

This year, I am following the footsteps of  two of my favorite bloggers James Clear and Chris Guillebeau and posting this annual review. 2014 was an intense year, gutwrenching, liberating and fulfilling year. I had to dig really deep for courage to show up as I really am. It was a rollercoaster and I am grateful for it.  I will answer 3 questions.

1. What went well this year?

2. What didn’t go so well this year?

3. What am I working toward?

So, here I go… #AnnualReview starts now! Whoohoo! Yikes! Oof! Whee!


1. What went well this year? 

a. Showing Up – It all began when I decided I had to see what my life would be like if I lived what I truly believed. What would my life be like if I lived fully aligned with my core ideals?  I couldn’t have predicted what happened in a million years!

I showed up as myself. I had gotten pretty good at hiding in plain sight, dimming my light, hiding my gifts so others would be comfortable. This year, I decided to show up, imperfectly, but show up. Allow my flaws, my light, my smile to be seen. I wrote two articles a week, straight from my heart, not knowing if anyone read them.

Later in the year, I spontaneously began writing haikus… I write one a day… I am still showing up.

b. Connecting – Because I chose to show up as myself, I began attracting my kindreds… I found my tribe wherever I went. This was completely new. I began attending a new church and nearly fell out of my chair each week when the pastor would articulate something I had been mulling for years. I attended World Domination Summit – hosted by Chris Guillebeau and was astonished to find people like me – people interested in changing the world – we broke the Guinness world record for the largest number of people doing a yoga sequence! Whaa? Then, I attended camp GLP (Good Life Project) which had 250 of my kindreds who embraced me as I am and celebrated me for being myself. This year I connected with people I had long admired from afar and met some new mentors – Jonathan Fields, Pamela Slim, Scott Dinsmore, Chris Guillebeau, Brene Brown, Valorie Burton, Karen Walrond, James Clear, Pamela Wible, Dike Drummond, John Lee Dumas, Sally Hogshead, Pat Flynn, Jen Hansard, Jadah Sellner, Kristopher Carter, Jeff Goins…

Yvonne Video Screenshots

c. Training – I got trained as a coach (exec and personal) in positive psychology and got to meet Valorie Burton whose book “Successful women think differently ” was a game changer for me. Then I got trained as a Daring Way Facilitator by Dr. Brene Brown and her team. I quote Brene all the time! Her work on wholeheartedness, vulnerability and connection completely changed my life and how I show up! I also attended Bschool with Marie Forleo, Connect with Anyone by Scott Dinsmore, Revolution U with Jonathan Fields, Platform U with Michael Hyatt, Fizzle with Corbett Barr, Start from Scratch with James Clear…

d. Serving and Starting my life’s mission – Soon after all the training, I began sensing a strong call to serve idealistic individuals who want to make a positive impact in the world, particularly physicians facing the same conditions I did during residency. I have developed a deep passion and compassion for today’s idealistic, mission-driven physician who went into medicine to help people but feels completely compassion fatigued and burned out by the current medical corporate culture. I want to do all I can to reconnect physicians with the sense of idealism that brought them to medicine initially.

e.Clarity – This year, I found the courage to say No to going back to residency. After years of debating, I decided to pay attention to my life. I will serve physicians and will need to have some level of objectivity with the medical culture to do so. This has been a scary decision but the right one.

f. Meeting Oprah – This has been number one on my bucket list for two decades. Those of you who know me, know how significant this is. Oprah has been to me what Maya Angelou was for her. There really are no words to describe what happened and I am not ready to think though it. But My life seriously shifted after this event and I now know for sure that nothing is impossible.


2. What didn’t go well this year

a. Not going all in – Because I have been afraid of success, I have found myself holding back. As the mother of two young children, I find myself concerned that my passion for this work will suck me back into my workaholic ways. I am very intent on balance. I do not want to burn out. So I find myself playing small and not doing all I can.

To address this, I am currently setting up systems in place so I can delegate tasks that do not need my unique attention. If I can delegate out some housekeeping and organizing, and focus on my strengths such as strategizing, connecting and empathizing, I know I will be fine.  Then I can have the bandwidth to connect with the professional organizations, residencies, and medical schools,

b. Finances – The world of entrepreneurship is a new frontier for me. I have been in the bubble of academia for most of my life. So, I was not prepared for the financial storm of entrepreneurship. I have bootstrapped all the way, paying for everything. Hindsight, I should have raised some money – crowdfunded. I know that my work is noble work – I will spend a significant portion of my life helping physicians stay connected to their humanitarian spirit in medicine. And I will have to find a way to get the financial support I need to do so.  And I want to build my coaching client base. So far, because I have been building my foundational support, I have been unavailable for coaching. Now I am.

c. Offerings – I have retreats, workshops, coworking virtual sessions and webinars available. But I haven’t been promoting them because of my foundational support work.

d. Trying to do everything myself – Being a pioneer woman, recovering lone ranger, I am guilty of trying to do everything myself. I write after I put the kids to bed. Delegation is a skill I am determined to master. I am focused on building my support team, so that my infrastructure will withstand the success I know is coming.

e. Wasting time on those who don’t value me – One of my passions is giving people a sense of belonging… So I have a history of being loyal to people who do not deserve my loyalty. I am learning that I am not a “jackass whisperer”. It is not up to me to convince others of what or why I believe. I can state my opinions but I don’t have to waste my time on trying to please people who don’t value me. This year, I am determined to let go of that behavior.

3. What am I working toward in 2015

A. Full Life Integration – Obviously, my whole life has been transformed by this blog. I chose to show up and suddenly, my life has begun evolving. I am working on a solid vision for 2015. I want to live a fully integrated life that allows me to use my medical training, my public health training, my positive psychology training and Daring way facilitation training but also allows me to be musical, poetic and verbally expressive.

b. Finding my home base – It has become obvious that our time in Baltimore is coming to a close. I am looking forward to getting settled in a new city wherever that might be.

c. Building  my team – In order for me to go out into the world and thrive, it is critical for me to have a solid team behind me. I am in the process of building my team. If any of my work on  living your ideals resonates and you would like to be involved, let me know.

d. Blogging from a world view not a niche – I have been blogging “Live Your ideals Project” since March 2014. I am a Renaissance woman with a unique, eclectic background and outlook. I am interested in writing  about other facets of my life through this idealistic, humanitarian, visionary  lens – medicine, music, creativity,  international health, faith,  travel, social justice, immigrant and third culture life, living with ADD,  interracial marriage and parenting and so on.

e. Starting a Revolution of wholehearted thriving idealists – I want this blog to be a safe place, a tribe for individuals who are Tall poppies – those who are idealistic, mission-driven, visionary, who want to make the world a better place, who want to be a part to a world wide wholehearted tribe of individuals who cultivate their lights and celebrate one another for shining their light.

f. Making an abundant living doing what I love and having the opportunity to give generously – In 2015, I will be coaching, facilitating, speaking, writing (articles and a book!) and singing my heart out, inspiring a wholehearted tribe of thriving idealists to live their ideals, thrive in their calling and positively change the world!

So many lessons to share, but it will take a whole year to do so! This is a brief summary of an intense year. How was yours?

What lessons have you learned this year? What went well for you? What didn’t? What are you working on for 2015?

Please share with me!

Happy New Year!

Yvonne Whitelaw writes for Yvonnewhitelaw.com where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”.  By sharing her lessons along the way (through daily haikus and articles every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted thriving idealists like you, to “live your ideals, thrive in your calling and positively change the world.”




Peace (Part 2) – Humility, Non-violence & the Blessed Peacemakers

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

I love the definition of Peace as  “Freedom from or cessation from war or violence.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been obsessing about peace lately.  Especially with respect to non-violence. I wrote a few haikus about it.

Yes, the recent violent protests have really troubled me. I am not sure why they have troubled me so deeply this time. I have always been of the activist bent – having visited the Capitol several times to advocate, lobby and protest for human rights, universal health care, HIV prevention and homeless rights. All have been non-violent exercises, peaceful demonstrations of the second amendment.

But the riots in Ferguson were particularly distressing to me.   The  opportunities for solidarity and unity across racial, class, generations, were nearly erased by those who selfishly decided to take the law into their own hands by destroying personal and public property. Yes, there are valid concerns about injustice, but violence is not the answer.

I have been trying to understand this. How does someone go from peaceful protests to violent destruction?

Pride? Selfishness? Lack (Or Loss) of vision?

MLK Jr. describes Pride as the monster that swallows non-violence. Violence is the language of the frustrated. When you can’t get what you want, it is easy to spiral down into violence.

CS Lewis “humility is not thinking less of your self, it is thinking of your self less.”

I think people resort to violence when they stop thinking about the people they are trying to serve and become fixated on their own personal agenda.

“Blessed are the meek (the humble) for they shall inherit the earth.”  Unfortunately, You don’t get your way by force. Even those who go to war, have to go through a peace treaty and negotiate the terms for peace. All of the time fighting, bloodshed, pain, suffering still culminates in a peace talk. The violent destroy the very earth they seek to inherit.

The humble,  like Stephen Covey described in the 7 habits of highly effective people, “Seek first to understand, than to be understood.”.


Humility is key for non-violence.

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


I really admire non-violence and seek to cultivate it. I am learning however that Non-violence is not only a physical thing. It can be verbal, emotional or even non-verbal…

For example, there is a certain violence in the “silent treatment.” If you’ve ever experienced the “look of daggers”, you might know what I mean too. Oh how someone can slice you up with daggers in their eyes!  Or how with a single voice tone,  someone can make you shrivel up!

Practicing non-violence calls for a deep awareness of every aspect of our lives – our thoughts towards others,  flippant answer, that sarcastic remark, lashing out…

I am becoming aware of how dangerous my speech can be when I am tired, hungry or just sleep deprived. Self-care is key for my being grounded and attentive enough to practice non-violence.

Blessed are the peacemakers – they will be called sons of God. I think about all those who profess their faith yet use God to promote guns. Warmongering, spreading hate, race-baiting… It know that I risk  sounding  judgmental and preachy as I write this but I can’t understand how people use God to promote guns and hatred. I am working on it.

If we really sought to think of the others more, try to understand then try to be understood. Like Gandhi, we will be able to achieve what was deemed impossible.

Peace-making is not a passive thing. Peace making takes guts. A certain fierceness. A willingness to sacrifice, stick one’s neck out.

Peacemaking is described by Wiki as practical conflict transformation – aimed at establishing equitable power relationships so that future conflict is held at bay. This is done by agreeing on ethical decisions, and aims to achieve full reconciliation among the adversaries, and foster a new mutual understanding among all involved. There are usually 2 parties, with a facilitator or mediator.

So what does a peacemaker do when surrounded by those willing to succumb to violence?

Is there a role for force, and peacekeeping, especially in the face of evil, or anarchy? I wonder…
I do think that violence is a matter of intention and manner… domination, or liberation, connection or power play…

The question to ask is what is really going on here?

Gandhi says the greatest force available to humankind is Non-violence. He objected to violence because he said the good it appeared to do was temporary but its evil was permanent.

We should all be peace-makers..

Like MLK says, we must evolve a method for all human conflict – a method that rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. Love is the foundation of such a method. Imagine that!

Approaching all human conflict with love, rejecting revenge, aggression and retaliation. Is this possible? Yes!

As with all the ideals, I expect this to take an intentional cultivation. I am very interested in cultivating this, are you?

Violence is a descending spirial leading nowhere. Id doesn’t solve any problems but multiplies evil and violence in the universe. What  would happen if we really internalized this truth?

I want to cultivate humility, non-violence and peacemaking in every aspect of my life.

Imagine friendships, marriages, businesses, international relations without revenge, aggression or retaliation! That is a concept!

Oh Yvonne, you are too idealistic!

Well, thank you! That’s what I am here for… to help you cultivate your ideals so that life will not rob you of them! )

See you next time!


Cultivating Peace:

1. How would you define humility?

2. In what ways does pride affect your relationships?

3. What role does non-violence play in your life?

4. Are there hidden pockets of violence in your life?

5. In what ways can you be more of a peacemaker?

6. Are you an active practitioner of the 2nd amendment?

7. In what ways can you cultivate peace in your life today?


Humility, Non-violence and Peacemaking go hand in hand in cultivating peace. Take the time to uproot old habits of violence in your life. Love is the bedrock of a peaceful life.  May you find peace in all aspects of your life in 2015. See you Next time!

Yvonne Whitelaw writes for Yvonnewhitelaw.com where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted warriors like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”