8 Valuable Lists Everyone Should Have

notebook coffee pen to make lists list

My clients will tell you that I like lists. I use them for organization and to bring forward information in a simple and clear manner. My clients don’t do them all the time, but when they do it is usually to support them in an area they are working on.  There are however, some lists that I believe everyone should have:

  • Your top 5 core values
  • Lifetime successes and winning moments
  • Positive qualities and personal skills you possess
  • What you are grateful for
  • Intentions, goals, and next steps
  • Emergency resources and contact information
  • Location of your passwords, will, accounts, and other important papers
  • Things you love about your spouse or people that upset you (to read when you need to remember)

Your Turn: What lists do you think we all should have?

Email me if you would like a free exercise on how to identify your core values: linda@lifecoachlinda.com

Photo courtesy of S. Allen

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The Four Agreements – Simple & Powerful Tools for Life

Four Agreements Book

Every year about this time I revisit The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. Some years I even lead classes about them. They are simple, yet powerful tools that can help you:

  • Feel less reactive, hurt, or upset
  • Improve your relationships
  • Let go of limiting beliefs
  • Feel more peaceful and empowered
  • Become more grounded when facing the business of the holidays

Continue reading

6 Simple Steps to Self Confidence & Self Trust

kid in super hero costume confident confidence

Confidence and self-esteem are based on a foundation of being able to trust yourself. When you know that you will take care of your own needs, you will feel safe enough to move confidently into the world.

This may feel hard or impossible in some moments, but it doesn’t need to.

Simply practice the following steps to increase self trust and the confidence that you desire will naturally follow. Continue reading

How to Stay Calm When Stretching Your Comfort Zone

woman hiding - stepping out of comfort zone

I recently was a guest on a radio show and was a little nervous about it. So, I wrote up a few notes and set them in front of me as the interview started. What happened next was a little strange. My left eye became blurry and I couldn’t read. My notes were useless and I knew I had to “wing it”. I was definitely out of my comfort zone and fear started telling me to run.

When comfort zones are stretched, fear will start chattering about staying safe. “Don’t do that. They may not like you. It’s too big a risk. Why put yourself out there? I can keep you safe if you don’t do it.”

If we let that voice of fear control us, we stay stuck and play small. Without building new skills and meeting new people we miss out on the possibilities before us and will eventually regret not living our lives fully. 

Comfort zones are flexible and meant to grow. I knew this in that moment before my radio interview and even though I felt like running, I faced my fear, stayed calm, and did it anyway. Here is how you can too.

Recognize fear for what it is. Your fears want to keep you safe, but they are often over reactive. They were installed when you were younger and less able to take care of yourself. So, when you are afraid of meeting someone new the risk may be low, but your fear is still operating from the point of view of the 5 year old who was made fun of at school.

Fear doesn’t realize you have grown and developed new skills. It is a gut reaction that wants to protect you at all costs. Even if that protection hurts you in other ways.

Breathe deeply, and relax your face, neck, and shoulders.

Focus on other people or being of service. Take your mind off yourself and make the experience about the other people involved. How can you make them more comfortable? What can you ask them about themselves? How can you leave the situation better than it was when you entered it?  Fear is self-absorbed and focusing on other things can help shift you out of it.

Trust your inner self and speak from the heart.  This is what I did on that radio show when I couldn’t read my notes. I had to answer from my heart and experience.  By doing so, my interview was much more powerful than it would have been if I had used the notes. Trust yourself. You have everything you need inside of you.

Look for humor in the situation. When you look through an observer’s fly on the wall perspective things can seem quite amusing. Funny things happen when you stretch your comfort zone…

I remember being nervous about speaking before a group of people I didn’t know. When I went to the restroom before going on stage the water from the sink splashed over the front of my pants leaving very obvious water spots. For a moment, I just wanted to escape, but instead I went on stage and the first thing I did was make a joke about being attacked by their sink. It was a great ice breaker and the presentation went over well.

Humor can help you and the people around you feel lighter in stressful situations.

Make friends with your fear. Fear is not your enemy. It only wants what is best for you. It’s just a little over protective. So, have a conversation with it. Thank it for warning you. Let it know you’ve got things covered. And, ask it to help you in another way, like standing in the wings and cheering you on. You might be surprised how well it listens.

If fear is keeping you locked into your comfort zone and you would like the support of a professional life coach, I would love to talk to you. You can connect with me here.

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Fear, Love, and Scaredy Cat Joey

Fear, Love & Scaredy-Cat Joey

my cat Joey

This is Joey, my little scaredy cat.  He is on constant high alert and can disappear at the speed of light, running to his safety zone under my bed. His latest scary thing is the air coming from the vents when the air conditioner comes on.

Recently, I noticed that his anxiety was getting worse. He was spending entire days under the bed and had a constant look of panic when he was downstairs. It was breaking my heart.

So, I decided to immerse him in love therapy. Every chance I had, I would pet and love on him. He took to it well and soon he was following me around everywhere I went and I was totally covered in cat fur 24 hours a day. His confidence grew. His anxiety dissipated.  And, he became an active member of the family again.

I have heard that fear is the opposite of love. So, is it also possible that love is the antidote to being fearful? 

What would happen if we learned to focus on loving ourselves through our scary experiences? Love the experiences? And, even love fear itself?

It wouldn’t hurt to try.  Shall we?

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The Simple Truth about Fear, Worry, and Anxiety

Shift Out of Fear in 3 Quick and Easy Steps

How to Stay Calm When Stretching Your Comfort Zone

Letting Go of Stuff

Letting go of stuff - releasing clutter life coach linda

The Shipping Cube with What I Decided to Take

While preparing for my move to Missouri, I decided to sell or give away more than 1/2 of my stuff. For some people this may not have been a big deal, but I lived simply and didn’t have much to begin with.

It was interesting observing how my thoughts about the things in my life shifted as my move date neared. It seemed to come in layers:

The Garage Sale – At this point I was still invested in the value of my things. After all, I was going to sell stuff and get money in return. I felt like I was being bold in my choices of what to include, not realizing this was only the beginning.

The Remains – When the garage sale was over I was faced with leftover items that I still thought were worth selling. I was very uncomfortable with the idea of just leaving things that I could get money for. This started a period of offering items in my city Facebook group and Craigslist. Some sold. Some didn’t.

Giving – And then, I just let the attachments go. This opened the door to my favorite part of the process, giving things away.  And, not just little things. I would go through my house each day and find more and more stuff to give. I fell in love with giving and it made it much easier to release what I owned. It was also a lot of fun.

Leaving – The buyer of my house had said that I could leave things and didn’t have to clean the house. At first, the idea of doing this was appalling to me. But, when the 100 degree heat wave arrived on my last week, I could only do so much. Packing and loading under the blistering sun was getting to me and making me dizzy. So, when I said goodbye to my house, there were still some things left behind. I feel sure they will find good homes. Everything I was taking to my new life was packed into a 6′ by 7′ pod to be shipped to my new home.

Wanting Less – As I am unpacking and settling into my new home I am being very careful about what I invite in. Surprisingly, I will have even more to give away. Some things just don’t fit my new home or life. Maybe living without them for a couple weeks diminished their importance in my mind. Whatever the reason, they feel like clutter and I just don’t want them anymore.

Balancing with More – I love simplicity, but am not sure I am a minimalist. I have made some purchases recently for my new lifestyle, a new washer and dryer and yard maintenance items like a weed wacker. I also plan on bringing in a new sofa that fits with the colors in my new home. What is different is that I am being very careful about what I bring in. I only want things that I use regularly or love. And, I don’t want very many of them.

Moving provided me with the opportunity for a fresh start. I have empty closets and cupboards with only a few items. Everything is organized and makes sense. (Well, almost everything. I haven’t got to the office yet.) I even have an extra bedroom that I don’t know what I will do with. The one thing I’m sure of is that it won’t become a junk room full of stuff.

My experience of letting go has revealed how tightly I held onto stuff that really wasn’t that meaningful to me. I was also attached to the idea of getting a return on what I thought was valuable. It was only when I let go and began to give things away that I felt truly authentic, peaceful, and was able to have fun with the process.

Even without a lot (although I had more than I thought) I was being smothered and controlled by my things. In the simple living movement about 20 years ago there was a slogan that said, “Don’t Stuffocate!”  I think I get it now.

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All images:© 2017 Linda Luke

The Blame Game: Are You Disempowering Yourself?

blame woman pointing finger and blaming someone else

It is true that people do yucky things. And, there are probably times in your life when you were truly a victim, but it is what you do afterward that matters most.

When you let yourself fall into the trap of blaming others and believing that people or your environment have conspired against you, you are disempowering yourself and embracing the role of a victim.

Living as a victim can be very seductive because it is a great excuse. People won’t expect a lot from you.  You can play small, avoid risks, and sometimes not even have to work as hard as everyone else.  It may even feel good because you get sympathy or attract attention.

I know, because I spent years rehashing the many ways I was a victim as a child and young adult. I was an expert at playing the victim role. I took it on as my identity as if that was all I was and all I could ever be.

The truth is though, that when you play the blame game you limit yourself, play small, and give your power away.  You will attract the wrong people and the wrong things into your life.  And, you will know somewhere deep in your heart that you are not being your best self or living to your full potential.

Even when you are sure that someone took action against you, blaming is not the answer.  Your true power is in forgiveness, accepting responsibility for your life, and moving forward into the life you were meant to live.

Don’t let blame become the center of your life. Delete blaming words from your vocabulary and focus instead on all you have to be grateful for. There are people loving and supporting you at this very moment. Why do you want to give your life over to those who don’t? Leave it behind. Move forward. And, know that you are so much more than whatever someone once did to you.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say.

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Two Little Words that Can Make or Break You

word I am ceramic princess with star

There are times when I hear myself or my clients or my friends say things like: I am confused. I am tired. I am sick. I am sad. I am overwhelmed. I bet you hear those words come out of your own mouth too.

Well, they simply aren’t true!

You may FEEL tired or sick or sad or whatever is going on at the time, but it is not who you are.

When you continuously reinforce those self-limiting labels by saying them over and over again, you program yourself into believing they are true.

So, use the words “I am” very carefully. They may be small, but carry incredible power.

And, if you want to know who you really are:

Sit in a quiet place with pen and paper and start writing, “I am …”  Fill in the blank with whatever pops into your head. Keep writing until there is nothing left and you have reached the deepest truth. What most people find is that the first answers tend to be negative or superficial and the last connect with the more powerful spiritual truth of who they really are.

This exercise can be extremely grounding and also works well as a meditation where you simply say the words instead of writing them down. You may want to keep what you have written available for those times when you feel low and need to be reminded who you really are.

I am. You are.

You are not tired or overwhelmed.

You are wise. You are beautiful. You are powerful. You are love.

And, that is the truth!

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How to Discover and Prevent Hidden Money Leaks

money leaks princess piggy bank

Money is a touchy topic. Having money brings a sense of security and safety and allows us to keep up appearances so we feel more acceptable in the world around us. We can use it to look good and feel good, or even comfort ourselves when we are feeling low.

And yet, most of us feel some level of shame around it, even when we handle our money well.

Either we don’t feel we have enough or we judge ourselves for how we spend what we do have.

Feeling peaceful about money comes from using it in a way that is in alignment with your values and making conscious choices when you spend. It comes from finding the sweet spot between thrift and giving occasional gifts to yourself.

It is about discovering and preventing unconscious money leaks.

What usually happens though is that we get all fired up by someone’s expert marketing or something someone said and our mind convinces us that we “need” to buy things. Not necessarily big things. The little things add up too.

And in the end. we find ourselves with a lot of stuff we didn’t really need and probably don’t use.

How much could you have saved last year if you avoided these extra purchases? Let’s find out.

Get a notepad and pen and walk through your house listing everything you have purchased in the last year that:

  • You don’t wear regularly
  • Doesn’t bring value to your life
  • Are not using
  • You don’t really like
  • Forgot you even bought it
  • Didn’t live up to your expectations
  • You could have gotten free, like books from the library

Look in your closets, drawers, and on your shelves. You might be surprised what you find. When you have your list, go through and estimate how much money you spent on each item and then total them up.

Shocking isn’t it?  Keep in mind that this is meant to open your eyes to new opportunities for saving money and no self-judgment is allowed. Everyone has money leaks.

The first step to changing our habits is awareness and just imagine how much money you can save this year by shifting this pattern. Make a new commitment to using your money in ways that do not allow advertisers or the people next door to run your financial life.

What about the things you bought last year? They have become clutter and don’t belong in your home. Selling or donating them can help you anchor what you have learned and reinforce your new decision to play with money in a way that is in alignment with your values and goals.

If you would like the support of an experienced professional life coach to help you improve your relationship with money and take control of your finances contact me (Linda) to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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Letting Go of Stuff

How to Keep Your Goals and Resolutions Alive

girl with goals resolutions dreams

We are a few weeks into the New Year which for many is when the excitement about goals starts to wear off and motivation falters.

How can you keep your goals and resolutions alive?

Stay connected to your emotional “why”:
Write about why your goal is important to you.

  • What blessings will it bring to your life?
  • What will it feel like when that happens?
  • Who will you have become in the process?
  • Why is it worth what it will take to get there?

Create a clear picture of why your goal is meaningful and keep what you have written at hand for those moments when you need to be reminded of how powerful your goal really is.

Keep your motivation high by taking a couple minutes each morning to visualize yourself in that moment when your goal becomes reality. See yourself smiling, laughing, and glowing with success.  Fell the feelings of wonder, pride, and gratitude coming up inside of you. Staying connected to this visual and emotional vision will dramatically increase your possibility of success.

Prepare ahead for moments when you feel tempted to go rogue or get too stuck to move forward:

  • Make a list of your goals, intentions, or resolutions
  • For each one, list the things that could throw you off track
  • Come up with one or two solutions for each of the challenges that might come up.

Now you have a plan ready to be implemented when needed.

Motivation can falter, but you can keep your goals alive with a strong commitment and tools like these. If you would like more tools, support, or accountability through coaching, please feel free to contact me. I can help.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say.

You might also enjoy this related article by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits: Instead of Goals or Resolutions, Try Creating Rules

6 Proven Ways to Reduce Anxiety

nervousness social anxiety girl

 

For some reason, anxiety has been a big subject with my coaching clients this week.  Maybe it is the time of year or something in the air, but it seems like a lot of people are feeling anxious.

That makes it the perfect time to share some of my strategies for stopping anxiety in it’s tracks.

4 Count Breathing – With the exception of real emergencies, anxiety is usually about something that may happen in the future or a reaction to something you already experienced. Focusing on your breathing brings you back to the peaceful present moment.  And, since your mind can only focus on one thing at a time, counting blocks out the thoughts that feed your anxious moments. It goes like this:

Take a deep breath in as you slowly count to 4

Hold your breath for a count of 4

Breathe out slowly to the count of 4

Pause before your next breath to the count of 4 

Challenge Your Anxiety – Most of what worries you never really happens.  It is probably not even true.  Your mind just takes you on a wild ride of creative bad scenarios.  I know mine sure does.  When this happens, ask yourself the following questions to bring your focus back into reality:

  • Can I be absolutely sure what I am anxious about will really happen?
  • Could I be blowing this out of proportion?
  • Am I really in danger right now?
  • Is what you are feeling temporary?
  • Do I really need to put my body into a fight or flight response now?
  • What are the facts?  What is the truth?
  • How would it feel to let this go and remember that I will be okay?

Give It To God – Many of the things that cause anxiety are not in your control.  So, what would happen if you just let the Big Guy handle them?  Let him know you are going to put the issue in his hands and will check in with him after a certain period of time.  And then, set the issue out of your mind until it is time to check in.  It is amazing how well this can work.

I give my concerns over to God every night before I go to sleep.  This not only allows for a good night of rest, but can be an excellent preventive measure in the battle with anxiety.  I often wake up with the worrisome situation being resolved or the solutions given to me. Sometimes, I just no longer care as it has lost it’s power over me.

Make Friends with It – Anxiety can feel like a big, powerful thing that has control over you, but that is just not true.  Many things that trigger anxious thoughts were installed in us when we were little and vulnerable and everything felt more powerful than it was.

When you see anxiety for what it really is you can relate to it in a different way.  Even make friends with it.  Some of my clients give their anxiety names like Minnie Mouse, Cookie Monster, or Jumpy George. Doing this facilitates seeing it in a different, less controlling way.

When it shows up, talk to it.  Thank it for offering to help and let it know that you are all grown up now and have things under control.  Have a nice little chat with your new friend and then give him a new assignment, like Protector of Peace or Facilitator of Fun.

Audit Your Input – What you put into your mind and body can contribute to either peace or anxiety.  I am often surprised when clients who drink a lot of caffeine or energy drinks don’t realize that this can contribute to their feeling anxious. You can cultivate more peace within by drinking calming teas and allowing your body and mind to work at their normal capacity.

Another way you can set yourself up for feeling tense and worried is by reading or watching movies and shows that are full of violence or tense energy, especially before bed.  If these are your preferred forms of entertainment give yourself a cushion between them and your bed time to let your body and mind calm down. Even better than that, switch to more peaceful, fun, or meaningful entertainment.  I once read that our bodies react to violence we watch or read as if it is really happening. Do you really want to put yourself through that?

Practice Peaceful Habits – Creating habits and practices that support your calm and well-being can lead to an anxiety free life.  Let go of what no longer serves you and bring in people and things that feed your soul.  Many of my clients find that simplifying their lives by de-cluttering and learning to say no make a big difference.  Others, will swear that exercise, art, meditation, prayer, yoga, or music have minimized the anxiety in their lives. Find what works for you and make a commitment to doing it regularly.

These tool have proven successful for my clients and myself.  I am confident that they can help you too.  Go ahead, give them a try.  You will find more peace when you do.

If you would like coaching support to deal with the anxiety in your life, I would love to help.  Contact Me

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How to Reconnect with Your Happy, Playful Inner Child

happy playful little girl inner child

I have a friend who everyone seems to love. She is of a mature age (trying to be polite here) and lives life in a responsible way. What makes her stand out, though is her penchant for wearing pink, sparkly high top sneakers. Everywhere. Even business meetings and church. She says they make her happy and remind her to sparkle. I’ve noticed that they also make the people around her smile.

My friend has tapped into her playful inner child.

I want what she has. She seems to feel lighter and happier than the rest of us. More care free. And, her sparkliness invites adventure, fun, and friendships into her life.

It’s easy to forget what it feels like to play. As an adult you have responsibilities and expectations to live up to. You are probably so busy doing what you think you have to do that you don’t even remember you have all that joy within. But, don’t worry. You inner child will never give up on you.

You can reconnect with her again through: Continue reading

How Wayne Dyer Saved My Life

Wayne Dyer

Yesterday, I watched Wayne Dyer with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday and as usual felt inspired by what he had to say. Later in the day I learned he had passed on, or as he would say – left his human body behind.

Since then memories have been coming forward of how his words have touched my life over the years. He is the one I credit with starting my journey toward healing and becoming who I am today.  Continue reading

How a Little Yellow Lamborghini Taught Me to Stop Comparing Myself to Others

yellow lamborghini

Someone in my neighborhood is driving a snazzy yellow Lamborghini. You can’t help but notice it, especially when they keep revving the engine when stopped at lights.

I may not be a big car person, but the sleek lines and deep rumble of that engine were calling out to me.  Continue reading

Suffering is Optional

suffering angel statue

Things happen in life that cause pain and are hard to understand.  This is true.

When they happen it is important to allow yourself to feel your feelings, which often include sadness, anger, or loss.  When you allow your feelings to process, you will be able to heal and eventually move forward.  Continue reading

Too Busy? It’s Time to Spring Clean Your Schedule

too busy woman checking watch

One of the common concerns that my clients talk about is not having enough time.  They are working very hard and feeling very, very busy.  We often discover that they are operating in a time warp that is not based in reality.

Here is a process that will help you evaluate your relationship with time and begin to use it wisely:

1. Start by exploring and writing down what you value most in life.  Common core values include things like family, success, happiness, service, inner peace, religious beliefs, or love.  (Contact me if you would like a free list of sample values to work with.)

2. Make a list of all of the things that you spend time on or that call for your attention. (Appointments, meetings, things you do for your children, work, connecting with others, playing on Facebook, watching TV, organizations you belong to, housework, and more)  When it feels complete, take a moment to look over your list.  How does it make you feel?

3. Now, for the fun part.  Cross off everything on the list.  Everything! (Do it in a way that you can still see what was written beneath.) You do not “have to” do any of these things. Take a moment to absorb this.   It’s a clean sweep.  There is nothing left on your schedule or to do list.

4. Set an intention for creating a stress-free schedule that will serve you and your life.

5. Create a new list that only includes things that are in alignment with your values and supports the life you want to create.   Be careful not to add everything back.  This is your priority list.  Everything else is an option to plug in only if it feels meaningful, is in alignment, and you have plenty of time.  There is one exception.  If you have not included time for yourself on the list, please add it now.

6. Double check the list for illusions like the ones below:

  • Keeping you and your children busy with multiple after school activities may seem in alignment with your family values, but could really be limiting your special times together.
  • Spending a lot of time working on a website or marketing in social media may seem like a necessary use of your time, but it could be preventing you from getting out and connecting with potential clients.

7. Review your new list.  It should be much, much shorter than the original and feel in alignment with who you are and what you want.  It should feel more peaceful and leave space for spontaneity and magic.

8. Plug your new list into your schedule.

Now, doesn’t that feel better?

Don’t forget to leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.

A Unique Way to Deal with Challenging People

challenging people couple fighting

When you are feeling challenged and frustrated by people around you, changing how you see them can make all the difference.  You can adjust your view of people, events, or things to make them seem more or less powerful and make it easier, even entertaining, to be around them.

Just imagine what would happen if you visualized the troubling person in front of you as a:

  • 2 year old having a tantrum
  • Cartoon character
  • Hologram
  • Character in a fairy tale or myth
  • Naked
  • Animal in the zoo
  • Mouse sized version of themselves with a little squeaky voice

You can flip the view and use this idea in a loving way that brings forward compassion for the other person, by seeing them as:

  • The beautiful baby or child they once were
  • A hissing cat or barking dog that is afraid and really just wants to be loved

Visualizing words flashing on their foreheads like hurt, afraid, insecure, or sad, can also help you feel more understanding and diminish the impact their actions have on you.

The most powerful way to view yourself and the people around you is to remember that we are all souls.  Our souls are perfect, but they get covered up by our fears, pain, and reactions to the things that happen in our lives.  Remembering the true nature of the troubled and troublesome people around you can support you in interacting in a more comfortable and loving way.

LifeQuakes and Earthquakes: Are You Prepared?

woman on shaking ground balancing earthquakes lifequakes

I have to admit that even after living in California my entire life this last earthquake scared me.  It was 5.1 and the epicenter was near my home.  This is the first time I have had to clean up broken glass and things that fell off shelves and I am very grateful that it wasn’t worse.

But, it got me thinking.  We all experience quakes in our lives – being laid off, a shaken marriage, death or illness, and even those smaller aftershocks like an argument or project gone wrong. Continue reading