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

Choosing What Not To Do

not to do list don't do list

Most everyone is familiar with the value of having a To Do list where you keep track of the projects and actions you intend to take.  But, have you ever considered creating a Don’t Do list?  Continue reading

How I Let Go of Cable TV

woman cutting cable tv cord

A couple years back I got a great deal on cable TV. It was almost free when I bundled it with my other services.

When the special rate was over, I was astonished at how much the cost went up and decided to research other options. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it, I just couldn’t rationalize paying so much when there were other possibilities.

And so, my TV research adventure began… Continue reading

Slow Down to Get More Done

sign that says Go Slow

My weekly schedule has it’s own little routine.  I generally have the same clients, meetings, and things to accomplish along with some time allotted for projects.  And yet, sometimes I struggle to get it all done, while other weeks flow with ease.  Why is that?  Continue reading

Try These Bedtime Practices for a Peaceful Night’s Sleep

bedtime sleeping woman

 

Over the years, I have learned the value of having a bedtime ritual.  There is something very comforting and calming about doing similar things every night to close out the day.

Bedtime practices also support being able to fall asleep and have a peaceful night’s rest.  When I release the stress of the day my subconscious is free to work on my challenges and questions for me while I sleep, often bringing new answers with the morning.

Here are some bedtime ritual ideas you may want to try:  Continue reading

Fear and Anxiety – How to Make Friends with Your Lizard Brain

fear and anxiety t-rex lizard brain
For some reason I have been hearing the term “lizard brain” a lot this week.  This is a nickname for the part of your brain that deals with survival and creates your fight or flight response.  You may think of it as your own personal freak out zone.  Continue reading

3 Ways to Rewire Your Brain and Feel More Positive

rewire brain be more positive smiley faces

It is easy to fall into the quicksand of negative thinking.  You only need to have two negative thoughts in a row to settle into old remembered patterns that trap and pull you under. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

It’s all about brain grooves.  The grooves are like default settings created by past negative thoughts.  For some of us those grooves are pretty deep.

According to brain scientists and experts in the field of positive psychology, we can reverse this process and rewire our brains by repeatedly feeding them positive input.  It is not easy and will take time, but the rewards are definitely worth it.  Besides, you will be thinking anyway. Why not choose thoughts that will make you feel better?

The following Positivity Practices have supported my clients and I in rewiring our brains.  I bet they can help you, too.

Observe and Record Positive Moments – there are wonderful things happening around us every day that we just don’t pay attention to.  Open your eyes and heart to become more aware and then ground in these moments by recording them in some way.  Once you open to them, you will start finding them everywhere.  Here are some ideas my clients enjoy:

  • Writing daily about what opened your heart or magical moments you experienced
  • Creating a gratitude journal
  • Photographing things you find beautiful or that warm your heart
  • Looking for heart shapes around you as you go through your day

Embrace Positive Input – take a break from news, books, movies, and people that bring you down or feed a negative mindset.  Choose things that lift you up instead:

  • Books or movies that inspire you or make you laugh
  • Happy people
  • Beautiful or fun music – you might enjoy the Grateful song
  • Meditation or prayer
  • Positive visualizations
  • Sign up for daily inspirational emails or fun videos – I enjoy ones from Martha Beck
  • Try affirmations – if you sign up at Mind Movies they will send you 6 affirmation videos that are about 3 minutes long.  They are nicely done and free.

Reverse Your Psychology – when you have a negative mind loop around a specific subject, you can shift it by building evidence that it is not true.  Write at least 3 things daily that are going well in that area.  Don’t just list them.  Anchor them more deeply by writing at least a couple sentences.

  • If you are concerned about money – write three ways money came to you or that you felt abundant
  • If you are worried about health – write about three ways you are healthy or your health is improving
  • If you don’t like your body – write about three ways it serves you or three parts of it you can appreciate

You get the idea …

Shifting out of negative thinking is one of the most empowering gifts you can give yourself and playing with these ideas will help your brain start to create new happier grooves.  Soon you will find yourself walking around the quicksand of negative thinking without getting stuck in it.

Your turn:  What positive thinking practices do you want to bring into your life?  You can respond by commenting below …

 

The Art of Waiting In Line – How I Survived My Visit to the Post Office

people waiting in line

There I was at the post office waiting in line.  I had just walked a few miles up and down hills in my neighborhood and I was covered with a sheen of sweat.  According to my reflection in the window, my hair was standing up on end.  It was one of those lay low times when I was hoping not to be seen and instead I ended up stuck in a long, very slow line, with a lot of angry people.

There were conversations up and down the line full of complaints against the post office, government, and the world in general.  The worst offender was in front of me.  He had a big voice and used it quite effectively.  I knew I didn’t want to listen to negativity while I waited, so I engaged him in a conversation.  When I mentioned that it sounded like he didn’t like being there and I was wondering if he was going to choose to leave, I think I might have upset him.  It was probably my calm and gentle nature that saved me.

I shared with him that when I walked in and saw the line I knew I had a choice and mailing my granddaughter’s birthday gift felt worth staying.  And then, I asked him about his family and shifted the conversation to something more positive.  I did throw in a few coachy moments, though, hoping something might stick and help him feel more positive in the future.

Waiting in line is a choice.  What you do while waiting is also a choice.  It’s really quite simple, but also an art.

Here is how you can up level your waiting experiences.

Evaluate the situation impartially.  What are the facts here?  How long are you likely to wait? How important is the end result to you?  Can you change the situation for the better?

Make a choice.  Either you choose to get in the line or you don’t.  Once the decision is made, stop thinking about it unless you get new information to re-evaluate.

Find ways to make the best of the situation.  Avoid joining in with the complainers.  It will only make you feel bad and lower your energy.

Choose something to do while in line.  The ideas I came up with at the post office included:

  • People watch
  • Sing the national anthem
  • Give my mind an assignment to work on
  • Let it roam
  • Make farting noises
  • Practice mindful meditation
  • Do stretching exercises
  • Engage others in conversation

(It seems I chose the higher road.)

It is easy to resist these moments of inconvenience, yet that very resistance that entices you is the real source of your discomfort. You can actually have fun in line.  Meet great people.  Get things done.  Fantasize.  Or, according to this Huffington Post article, even make it a joyful experience.

The next time you find yourself one of many in a long line, don’t forget that it is a choice you felt had value.  Instead of dwelling on the negative, see it as an adventure and find a way to use the time to your advantage.  Who knows?  Maybe there is someone in that line you are meant to meet or being there is preventing a car accident you might have been in.

What I do know for sure is that developing the art of waiting in line and recognizing it as a choice, feels more peaceful and empowering than any of the other alternatives.

I’m curious.  What are your favorite things to do when while you wait?  You can share in the comments below …

Where to Begin When You Feel Challenged in Multiple Areas of Your Life

woman feeling challenged stressed and overwhelmed

 

When my latest new client first called she was overwhelmed and feeling challenged throughout her life and felt paralyzed.  She had no idea where to begin.  Her marriage was troubled, her job was stressful, she was very busy taking care of other people, and her physical health was declining.

When I asked her how this made her feel, she described feeling exhausted, ashamed, and depressed.  Can you relate?

I think she was surprised when I suggested she start by pulling in and taking care of herself. (She was hoping the first step would be making her husband change.)

I shared with her that when we face multiple challenges, it is important to start at the core.  This is where we have the greatest influence and can start a pattern of success.  For most of us, this core is about self-care and self-nurturing.

When your life feels like a mess, practice the art of pulling in.  Start with yourself.  You are the center of your life and all that happens in it.

Your body is one of your most precious assets and an excellent place to begin your journey. Nurturing your body into health will help you feel stronger, more confident, and energized.

It is from this place that you will be able to connect with the empowered wisdom that will support you in the rest of your life.

This is the path that my client is taking.  Her commitment to making her health a priority is already supporting her both physically and mentally.  She has more energy and feels more positive.  I am supporting her as she works through her life challenges and love witnessing her new confidence in being able to create the life she wants.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember that it all begins with you.  Pull in and take care of yourself.  When you create a foundation of health and well-being, the rest will start to fall into place.

If you would like support in moving through challenges, navigating transitions, or creating a more fulfilling life, I would love to help.

Simply go to the “contact me” page and request a free consultation.

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

stressed woman holding clock

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.

Gratitude, Hearts, Rocks & Inspiration from a Friend

heart shaped rocks

Heart rocks found on my walks.

My friend, Mariette, is a connoisseur of gratitude.  She also has an affinity for hearts and rocks, and she combines these three loves in a way that I find very inspiring.

She started looking for heart shapes and finding them everywhere.  Under the sea, in the sky, hidden in tree branches, and of course, in rocks.   And, every one became a sign that inspired her gratitude.

After hearing her talk about this for a while, I started noticing heart shapes on my morning walks.  It was contagious!  I began to look for them every day and each one lifted my mood and warmed my heart.  They felt like signs of support from the universe.

Over time I could tell my daily practice of honoring these heart-shaped messages was creating a shift within me.  I felt more peaceful, happy, and full of gratitude.  Now, when I am having a rough day, I know that just seeing a heart shape can make me smile.

So, thank you, Mariette, for this gift.

And, for the rest of you,  I encourage you to give this a try.  It’s like free therapy!

You can learn more about Mariette’s work with gratitude here:

Website with free e-book

Gratitude Rocks Facebook group

 

Stop Fighting Your Negative Thoughts and Do This Instead

heart in head

You know that negative thoughts are unhealthy.  Dangerous too.  They  keep you spinning in a false world so that you miss your real life.  They re-wire your brain and personality.  Steal your hope.  And, energetically set you up for making them come true.

After awhile, negative thinking becomes a habit, maybe even an addiction.

When you decide you want to change, you label these thoughts as bad.  You judge them. Resist them.  Fight with them.  And, this battle only feeds them more.

And then, you judge yourself.  Or, just give up.

There is another way.  A more loving way.

Simply return to the present moment and align your head with your heart.

This is how you do it:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Bring to mind  something that warms your heart, like a loved one, cute puppy, or something you are grateful for.  Focus on it.  Feel it.  Savor it.
  3. Repeat as necessary.

At first you may need to repeat this often, but eventually it becomes your new habit.

A few tips:

  • Using the same image for something that warms your heart each time creates an anchor to the present moment and an eventual short cut to get there.
  • If negative thoughts try to interrupt the process, don’t resist them.  Just let them gently float away.
  • Be gentle and loving with yourself as you create this new way of being

Aligning your head and heart in the present moment opens the door to true internal peace and personal power.

What could be better than that?

 

Clear Your Mind and Heart with Free-Form Writing

woman writing

One of the tools I use often and recommend to my clients is a free form style of writing that is like venting on paper. You simply take paper and pen and start writing about what is concerning you.

No rules.  No editing.  You can let the four letter words fly!

This stream of consciousness writing style is a powerful tool for processing the energy of feeling hurt, angry, or fearful.  It brings clarity out of confusion and is a great vehicle for brainstorming.

My clients and I have had some pretty incredible experiences with this tool.  One of them happened to me just the other day.

As I was writing about a challenge in my life, the pen I was using started to run out of ink.  My writing was getting fainter and fainter, seeming to take the issue away with it.  I laughed to myself about the hidden message I was receiving and went to find a new pen. When I came back to my journal, I realized that I felt clear and ready to write a new, more empowering story. 

You never know what is going to happen when writing from your heart and soul.

Confusion, emotions, and conflict can block you from seeing the truth and opportunities before you.  Free-form writing allows you to process what you are feeling and clear out the static in your mind and heart.  It is from this place of inner freedom that answers begin to appear and we can create whole-hearted lives.

From Clutter to Clarity – A Client Story

woman with flowers

My client Carol came to me for support with some big decisions to be made with her upcoming retirement.  She felt unclear and overwhelmed as to what to do.

The situation became even more interesting when during our first call she described her life as “itchy”.  I hadn’t heard that one before, so I asked her to tell me more.  She shared that her home felt like a burden instead of a sanctuary, volunteer work and other obligations were filling up her time, and she didn’t feel like there was space for her in her own life.

No wonder she was having trouble making decisions.

Carol was surprised when I shared that external clutter (things, people, or activities) could be contributing to her feeling of being overwhelmed and blocking the clarity she needed to find her answers.  I could tell that she was doubtful at first, but something inside of her knew it felt right.

So, we created a plan to simplify her life. 

We began with a journey through the things she owned.  While her house was neat and well organized, she had a lot of stuff.  Each week she cleared out an area and sent me before and after pictures.  Her goal was to only keep what was meaningful, beautiful, or used on a regular basis.

After experiencing how great it felt to clear out the first areas, Carol became motivated and moved quickly through her home.  Some areas were easy and others a little more challenging.  Going through her photographs brought back joyous memories and also facilitated healing around the death of her husband.

Before moving on to other areas of her life, we clarified her core values and personal intentions.

This gave her guideposts she could use as she reviewed her calendar and the people in her life.  She was surprised to see how many people were draining her energy and how many things she did out of a sense of obligation.  She started making changes.

Carol says that simplifying her external life gave her that space she craved for herself.

Clearing the clutter brought a sense of peace and clarity into her life.  The answers to her decisions became clearer and clearer as she made space for them to come through.

She decided to sell her larger home and continue her journey of living simply in a smaller space.  Her time is focused on her grandchildren and re-connecting with her love of painting.  She feels like this process of right sizing her life has allowed her to be happy and live whole-heartedly for the first time.

Most people don’t realize that feelings of being overwhelmed, stuck, or indecisive can be related to their physical space.  Clutter is a symptom that can show up in both your environment and your mind.  Clearing one often helps the other.   So, if you are feeling stuck with a decision or project, check your space.  Taking a few moments to de-clutter may be just what you need.

You don’t have to wait until you are challenged.  You can de-clutter your life now as a preventive measure and start experiencing that same peace, calm, and clarity that Carol found.

Cleaning out your junk drawer has just become your new therapy.

If you would like support in resolving a challenge or creating a better life, please feel free to contact me for a consultation.  I would love to talk to you. 

Thank you Carol for allowing me to share your story.

How to Cultivate Inner Peace

 

leaf dipped in water

My friend Marcy and I are creating a retreat for women focused on experiencing and cultivating inner peace.  Our focus on this subject has reminded me how important it is to nurture the peace within us and return to it often.  It is only from that place that we can really experience all life has to offer and the joy it can bring.

If you are like most people on earth today, you may not be feeling very connected to your inner peace.  There is probably a lot on your schedule and even more on your mind.  What you need are some tools that will help you ground in peace fairly quickly and I just happen to have some for you.

Focus on the Present Moment – Easier said than done.  Right?  You might be surprised how simple it is when you practice regularly.  In moments of stress, worry, or dis-ease, try one of these easy strategies for grounding in the moment:

  • Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, focusing on the air moving through you
  • Put your hand over your heart and count each breath you take
  • Bring mindfulness to your movements and what is around you – feel and watch every detail
  • Designate something as an anchor to your present moments, like a specific hand movement, the face of your watch, the veins in your wrist, or anything you can focus on quickly and easily.

Create Daily Peace Practices – when you start and end your day with activities that calm and center you, the time in between will be peaceful as well.  There are unlimited ways to do this and it is important to choose what feels right and you are willing to commit to.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Journaling
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Affirmations
  • Walking in nature
  • Reading meaningful or uplifting material

Live Simply– inner and outer clutter are distracting and complicate our lives.  On some level they keep us on edge all the time.  Creating a physical environment that is peaceful and calm will nurture the same within you.  Take a careful look at your space, calendar, and the people in your life.  It may be time to let some things go.  When you are able to focus on what you love and what is meaningful to you, more peaceful moments will follow.  This isn’t selfish.  When you are in a calm and relaxed state you will be more effective in what you do and present with the ones you love.

Don’t Marinate in Your Upsets – we are all faced with events and people that disturb our peace.  It’s part of living in a world of humans.  When you are triggered, the feeling that comes as a response only lasts about a minute.  The problem is that you keep replaying the story and triggering the feeling over and over again.  The opportunity here is to learn not to keep repeating the story so that you can return to a peaceful state as soon as possible.  Here are some of the strategies you might choose to work with:

  • Give it a minute or two – let the feeling dissipate on its own
  • Any of the tools above for returning to the present moment
  • Ask yourself if being upset is serving you and if not, let it go
  • Move into neutrality by stepping outside of yourself and observing the situation
  • Imagine you are watching what is happening on a movie screen
  • Bring compassion and understanding to all involved, knowing everyone is doing the best they are capable of in that moment

Cultivating inner peace is a gift to yourself and those around you.  It is from this grounded space that you can be your best self and create your best life.  And, it feels sooooo good.

Learn more about the Inner Peace Retreat

Feeling Scattered or Overwhelmed? Try This…

women with puzzle pieces falling away

We all have a lot going on in our lives and it is easy to get caught up in it.  The result may be feeling overwhelmed or like pieces of you are scattered all around.  Some of my clients describe feeling drained, not fully present, or just stressed about all they are trying to do.

The following visualization has supported many of my clients in returning to a more peaceful and empowered state.  I hope it supports you, as well.

  • Find a quiet, peaceful place (if possible)
  • Take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to come into a relaxed state
  • Visualize pieces of yourself scattered around you and maybe even at a distance
  • Form an intention to draw them back in and become whole again
  • Breathe in deeply and as you breathe in visualize the scattered parts returning to you
  • Sit quietly for a few minutes breathing in and out and enjoying the feeling of wholeness

How to Tell When It is Time to End a Friendship

sad women with thumbs down

People are like elevators.  Some lift you up. Some take you down.  And, some keep you trapped in a little box, unable to move at all.

When you consider that the people you surround yourself with influence how you feel and live your life, there are times when it makes sense to hit the emergency button and get off the elevator.  This doesn’t mean that you become reactive and ruthlessly start cutting people out of your life.  We all have ups and downs and no one is perfect

So, how do you know when it’s really time to let someone go?  Start by asking yourself these questions: 

  • Is there a long term pattern of negative behavior or worldview, or is this person going through a challenging time that is temporary?
  • Is your perception of this person or their behavior even true or could it be seen differently?
  • Are you contributing to the situation by jumping in to the negativity with them?  If so, what might happen if you shifted your behavior?
  • Are they a part of a group or family that you value and want to stay connected to?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how much is their negativity impacting you?

Once you have a deeper understanding of the situation, listen within.  What is your heart telling you?   The answers will be there.

And then, your choices become more clear:

  • Keep things as they are
  • Limit your exposure to their energy
  • Have a powerful conversation asking for change
  • Shift your behavior to see what happens
  • Visualize being protected by a white light when you are around them
  • Bless them and move on

Only you can decide whether to stay on their elevator or get off.  Whatever you choose, I encourage you to let your actions and communication be guided by compassion and love for all concerned (including yourself).   This will provide the best possible foundation for an outcome that serves everyone in the long run.

Giving Gifts from the Heart

hand holding out a gift

It’s easy to go a little crazy this time of year looking for the “perfect” gifts for your family and friends, many of which will go unused or be forgotten within a month or two.

Gift giving is not about:

  • Proving your love for someone
  • Maintaining your image
  • Pleasing people to feel accepted
  • The expectations of others

 Gift giving is about:

  • Looking into your heart for what feels right
  • Choosing gifts that have meaning or bring more comfort to someone’s life
  • Matching the gift to the needs of the receiver.  Fancy gifts don’t make sense when someone needs groceries.
  • Value, not money.  A gift certificate for a couple hours babysitting to a harried mom is likely to be appreciated more than the latest thingamajig.
  • Having a plan and working within a budget.  People who truly care about you will not want you to go into debt.
  • The personal touch.  Little extras like words of appreciation or personal references that make it clear your gift was specially chosen for that person.
  • Holding your gift to your heart and infusing it with love before passing it on

Thankful

always something 450

Every Thanksgiving I write a list of at least 100 things I am grateful for.  I decided to start my list a little early this year and this is what I have so far.

I am Thankful for:

  1. My health and the freedom it gives me
  2. My two cats who keep me entertained and loved up
  3. Amazing clients who trust me to guide them and witness their life journeys
  4. Each and every success of my clients, friends, family, and everyone around me
  5. The opportunity to give and receive as a volunteer
  6. All that I am learning from being with my friend in hospice
  7. Finding two amazing communities that feel like soul homes
  8. My friends who are trying to teach me how to receive instead of just giving all the time
  9. The many inspiring books that have come through my life this year
  10. Visits to see my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren who I love deeply

And, this is just the beginning…

What will be on your list this year?