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
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 …
When I first moved into my house I felt sure one of the first things I would do would be remove the landscaping rocks that filled the planting areas. I envisioned soft, rich earth I could dig my hands into and a yard filled with home grown vegetables and beautiful plants and flowers.
When spring came that first year, I was fired up and ready to get rid of the rocks. I started digging, but soon discovered they were everywhere and had infiltrated deep into the soil. I gave up after digging down a couple feet and finding no end to them. The next year, with a renewed sense of motivation, I tried again. This time, I dug as deep as 3 feet in one area only to find the soil was still full of rocks.
I started to hate those rocks and may have even said a few four letter words, which is very unusual for me.
The third year, I decided to stop resisting and simply accept them. I even bought more rocks to replenish areas where they had grown thin on top. Potted plants and succulents became my new garden style.
And then, something strange happened.
While out on my morning walks, I started to be drawn to rocks along the path. I was intrigued by their shapes and felt compelled to take some of them home. I didn’t understand what was going on, but trusted my instincts.
One day, I sat down with the pile of rocks I had gathered and started balancing them on each other. I became mesmerized by their shapes and how they fit together in magical ways. The results were both interesting and beautiful. I had come full circle. Instead of resisting rocks, I now loved them.
Because of this experience, when I find myself resisting something, I remember the potential for beauty and transformation that can come when I let the resistance go.
And, because it can happen for me, I know it can happen for you, too. Are you willing to let go of resistance and find out what magic is waiting on the other side?
This was first posted on my old blog in 2014 as part of a blog challenge about teachable moments.
Photo: rock sculptures in my yard
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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
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
I admit it. Last Sunday I found myself spending 3 hours of my life at Kohls, all because of a 30% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket. It wasn’t that I needed anything. I was just looking for something to buy so I could feel good about getting a discount. And, I wasn’t alone. I ran into friends there doing the same thing.
These stores have it down to a science. They do research and stuff to figure out how to pull us in. And, it works.
When I checked out, tired and frustrated from trying on lots of clothes that made me look fat, the sweet young man pointed out that I spent about $20, and saved $75. He looked at me like I was the smartest person in the world. And then, for some unknown reason, he gave me a $10 off coupon that can only be used next week. I just wanted to kick him.
It’s not only advertising and stores we need to look out for. There are endless ways we can become shopping zombies.
I have a client who came to me because she felt stressed and dissatisfied with her life. She had set goals to make friends in her new community and felt more people were falling away than sticking around. In our first conversation, I noticed the word Groupon came up a lot.
She thought she could use Groupon opportunities to meet new people and make friends. What really happened was that she became so busy with her special offers she didn’t have time for the new people in her life. When deadlines approached her stress levels would rise and she would find herself canceling time with new friends to use her expiring discounts. Eventually, they gave up on her as she fell deeper and deeper into Groupon addiction without even realizing what was happening.
How are we to live within our means and in alignment with our values when we are being constantly programmed to become shopping zombies?
Staying tuned in to your highest self, what you value most, and your financial goals will serve you well. Chances are, it’s not shiny new objects you really want, but something deeper and more meaningful. This focus on values will support you in making conscious choices and putting shopping strategies in place, like the following ones that have worked for my clients:
- Read your intentions and goals before going to the store.
- Create a list and stick to it.
- Rate what you want on a scale of 1 to 10. If it is not an 8 or above, don’t get it.
- Walk away and sleep on it. Chances are you won’t want it as much the next day.
- Avoid malls and online shopping sites.
- Ask yourself if what you want will bring meaning to your life or fulfill a current need?
- Set a time limit for being in the store.
- Give yourself a set amount of cash each month and don’t use your credit cards.
- Put a note on your credit card reminding you of your goals.
- Learn to say “no” to your children. Spending money does not equal love.
- Don’t live in scarcity. Plan for small treats.
- Freeze your credit card
- Create a 30 day wait list for things you think you want to buy
- Know what you have. You may already own something that is similar or will work.
Shopping is not a bad thing unless you are spending more than you earn or stepping out of alignment with your goals and values.
We all deserve something new once in a while. But, when you get that guilty feeling in the pit of your stomach or like me, find yourself wasting entire afternoons looking for something to buy, chances are you are experiencing Shopping Zombie Syndrome and it’s time to come alive again.
I would love to hear what shopping strategies you use. Please feel free to share by commenting below.
When someone lies to you they are more likely to:
- Touch their face or scratch their nose
- Blink more often than usual
- Avoid eye contact
- Smile only with their mouth
- Seem uncomfortable with pauses in conversation and jump in to fill the gap
- Provide more information than they are asked for
- Look relieved when the subject changes
- Have closed body language like crossed arms or have something between you
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
- Character in a fairy tale or myth
- 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.
My friend, Sybil, has a disease called CBGD and has been living in a guest home for a few years. Her disease has frozen her body and taken away her ability to communicate and care for herself. And yet, she is still my friend.
Witnessing this part of her life has been an interesting experience for me. For the most part, I have been surprised how much I enjoy visiting her and there have also been times when I feel like my heart is breaking. She has modeled pure grace and I love that the last word she can speak clearly and often is the word, “yes”. It speaks to who she really is and how she has lived her life.
Sybil’s journey is also a learning experience for me and I would like to share some of the lessons and reminders that have come my way because of it.
Live each day fully – we never know how much time we have or when things might suddenly change. This may be the best year of your life or the last time you get to do something you really enjoy. Approach your days with awareness and appreciation because each one is truly a gift.
Trying to understand “why” is a waste of time – sometimes things just don’t make sense. Why is my friend who loved to travel and have compelling conversations sitting in a wheelchair unable to move or speak day after day after day? What could God possibly have in mind? I have learned to accept that it is not for me to know the answer to this question.
My life is truly blessed – it is so easy to get upset about little things like bad hair days, computers that don’t work, and other challenges that come along, but visiting Sybil puts my life in perspective very quickly and reminds me just how blessed I am. I can move, take care of myself, talk, drive, read, and even swallow easily. She reminds me to be grateful for all of these, and more.
Sometimes being loving is all you can do – most of the time, now that we can’t have conversations, I read to my friend. But, it’s really about just showing up and being there. I believe in the power of love and when that is all I can offer, I know that it will be enough.
(Thank you Sybil for saying yes to my sharing this story.)
Years ago I went through a time period when I was feeling sad and I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. It had happened gradually without my realizing what was going on. My days felt hard and my heart was heavy.
And then, one evening I was sitting on my couch watching TV and began to cry. I realized this was becoming a pattern and that is when it hit me. I cried when I watched the animal rescue show every evening that featured starving, abused animals in desperate situations.
My choice of “entertainment” was impacting how I felt in a big way.
There are many ways that our small choices can influence our moods, feelings, and level of hope about the world. In many cases the descent into negativity happens so gradually we are not even aware of it.
Taking the following steps will help you reset your life and start to feel positive again:
I’ve been to a lot of seminars over the years. Some were great, some were okay, and some of them made me feel uncomfortable. The ones I didn’t like usually involved pressure to buy, sell, or do something in order to be accepted.
It’s interesting to watch these charismatic seminar leaders in action. They make a lot of money doing this. They build momentum and get people fired up. They create a sense of urgency, use peer pressure, and sometimes shaming language:
- If you don’t buy this you don’t have what it takes.
- You can’t succeed without us. We know better than you.
- It would be really stupid to let this opportunity slip away.
- You won’t belong if you don’t do this.
The people in our lives may use similar methods to control us. They can use our fears and feelings of unworthiness to their advantage. And sometimes, we are so caught up in it that we don’t even realize what is happening. Continue reading
There are times in our lives when we all have continued doing things that no longer served us. Sometimes we just wonder about it. Is what I am doing working for me? Should I make a change? Sometimes we feel stuck. Why does nothing happen when I try so hard?
The following process is a quick and easy way to evaluate how effective your strategies are and decide how you want to move forward. Simply ask yourself these 6 questions: Continue reading
These strategies have worked for my clients over and over again. They can work for you, too. Continue reading
Recently, I presented a program about strategies for dealing with stress to employees at a local insurance office. One of the things that became clear is that most people think of stress as something big, powerful, and overwhelming, that controls them.
Not true. Continue reading
I may be a love and peace kind of girl, but I do believe in consequences for actions that are harmful to others. It used to bother me that I put a lot of energy into judging the people who hurt me or committed crimes against others, and then, I had a thought …… Continue reading
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