Living In a Polarized World

polarized positive negative

When I was 15 my family moved to a new neighborhood. For some reason my mom wasn’t happy. She was a good woman who was normally well liked, but while living there she developed contentious relationships with a couple of the neighbors.

Things got pretty ugly and as a typical teenager I felt embarrassed and became angry with my mom. Continue reading

When Someone Upsets You – Remember This

crying little girl, upset upsets

There are some people….   You know what I mean.  They don’t do or say what you think they should and sometimes people get hurt. Maybe even you.  It could be a spouse, relative, politician, or someone you work with.  Just thinking about them makes your stomach clench, your body tighten, and your heart rate go up.

They make your life miserable.  Or, do they?

When someone is irritating you, it is important to remember three things:  Continue reading

At a Loss for Words

Linda and Traci

Linda and Traci after two 10 hour days of driving.

I’ve been quiet. Very quiet. And, I have also been very, very busy.

It has been several weeks since I last posted and I keep waiting for the words to come, but my brain seems to be busy synthesizing all I have experienced. I think it needs time to catch up with my life.

So, maybe I will just start writing and see what happens.

In the last month or so, I have:

  • Sold my house in California
  • Sold or given away more than 1/2 of my possessions
  • Packed what was remaining in a moving pod in 111 degree heat
  • Welcomed my friend Traci who flew in from Tennessee to drive cross country with me
  • Road tripped with Traci from CA to Missouri with my 2 cats in the back seat of the car
  • Worried about my stressed out kitten cats the entire way
  • Experienced the incredible natural beauty of our country including red rock in Utah, mountain vistas in Colorado, and the big sky of Kansas
  • Felt awe at the courage of the pioneers who crossed our country in tiny wagons, often on the same land we were traveling
  • Felt tipsy and giggly after 2 sips of a Margarita on night two of our trip – it was Traci’s fault
  • Drove up to my new little house in Missouri on the evening of day 3
  • Was welcomed with wide open arms by my son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren
  • Took Traci to the airport and cried as she left
  • Started settling into my home

Yep! I’ve been busy. This was a courageous step for me and I couldn’t be happier.

Stay tuned. There is more to come…

The Gift of Heartfelt Letters

lost art of letter writing letters

One of the things I loved about my friend Sybil who recently passed was her love of bringing people together for food  and stimulating conversation.  She loved to listen and bask in the warmth of being surrounded by interesting friends.

As she was losing her ability to speak, she would type letters to us. I came across a few recently and they were full of amusing observations and appreciation for the people around her. I could almost here her chuckling between the lines.

Eventually, she lost her ability to type and the letters she received from friends and family became a new source of joy. She would have me read them to her over and over again.

As time passed and her disease progressed the letters and visits from friends came less often and she felt more isolated. It was hard to watch her lose those connections to the outside world and I realized how valuable a simple letter could be.

Since then I have written several letters from the heart. As I wrote them I would be flooded with memories and appreciation for the person I was writing to. Their responses were incredible. They would cry. I would cry. And, I realized the gifts of those letters were not just for the recipients, but for me as well.

My friend Lynette Smith is a big fan of heartfelt letter writing. At her son’s wedding, he and his bride presented their parents with framed letters of appreciation. Lynette cherishes this gift and it has inspired her mission to get people putting pen to paper again. The cornerstone of this mission is her book: How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special. 

Who can you write a heartfelt letter of appreciation to? I encourage you to give it a try. You will find it is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

 

The Blame Game: Are You Disempowering Yourself?

blame

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.

Related posts:

3 Ways to Feel More Empowered When Facing a Challenge

Clear Your Mind and Heart with Freeform Writing

When Forgiveness Feels Too Hard – Try This 

forgiveness

Forgiveness is not always easy. Even when you know:

  • It’s the right thing to do
  • It will help you feel better and heal
  • It’s purpose is to free you, not them
  • It does not mean that what someone did to hurt you was okay

Sometimes your heart can be so broken or your anger so deep that you just aren’t ready to let it go. 

And then, the judgment against yourself creeps in because you just don’t understand how others can do this noble forgiveness thing when it feels so impossible for you.

This is where I step in. I want you to know that it is okay to honor where you are at. You can’t force forgiveness and you don’t have to forgive in this moment. But, there is something you can do to take some of the heat out of what happened and create a bridge between you and the peace on the other side of forgiving.

Remember – It begins with remembering that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and that means both you and the person who wronged you. You are souls. Children of God. And, this is part of your journey.

Understand – The person who wronged you has a history that brought them to the point of hurting you. What could have gone so wrong in their lives that they would do this? What do you know of them that could lead to understanding how this could happen?

Here’s a hint:

It usually boils down to fear, even if it looks like something else. Unless there is mental illness involved they are probably very afraid of being hurt themselves. Often what people project the loudest out into the world is exactly what they feel least inside. So, the manipulator may be afraid of being controlled. Bullies diminish others because they feel unworthy.  And, the relationship enders or saboteurs may not feel lovable at the core.

Nurture Compassion – Use this understanding to let yourself start feeling compassion for the person who upset you. They are not all evil or bad. When you look through the eyes of their history you will likely see how they have been wronged or hurt or damaged. Can you feel sorry for what they went through? A yes means your compassion is coming through.

When you are able to move through this 3 step process, the peace of forgiveness is not far away. You can go there in your own time. It doesn’t have to be now. But, what you have done already has softened the hold this person had on you so that you can begin your own healing. Forgiveness will come when the time is right.

Quotes about forgiving.

A Process for Healing Bad Memories

CONTACT ME if you would like professional support through a process of forgiveness for something that has happened in your life. I would love to help.

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

What It Feels Like to Become a Grandmother

My Grandkids

Christopher, Thomas, and Becca

Nothing prepared me for what was going to happen when my first grandchild was born. Friends would get these mysterious smiles and say, “Just wait, it will be wonderful.”

And it was. More than wonderful. 

Even though my oldest grandson is about to graduate high school, the moment I first saw him is branded in my heart and mind forever.

Everything fell away in that moment and my heart opened beyond anything I could have imagined. I was experiencing a miracle of life and love.

No more guarding and protecting my heart. No more sitting on the sidelines. I was in! All in! 

The same feelings came forward when his sister and brother were born, but that first time was like a shock to my system because I didn’t know I could love that freely and at such a deep level. I hadn’t realized how big my heart really was.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my son more than anything, but we were separated when he was born because he was premature and didn’t get to experience those first magical moments together. And then, there was all that single parenting struggle that kept me busy and my upbringing in a family that didn’t show affection that held me back. So even though I loved him more than life itself, I didn’t have the skills or freedom to really demonstrate it at the time.

That is why being a grandma is different than being a mom. We are free to just love without the daily stress and worries. We can see things from a broader perspective supported by our years of experience and our only job is to be there fully for these new precious beings that come into our lives.

There is a moment I remember when my grandchildren were young that symbolizes for me what being a grandma is about.  

As I walked into their house one day, they all ran over to hug me at the same time and ended up knocking me down onto the floor. Their parents yelled at them to stop and I remember looking up and trying to figure out why. Because I was in heaven. Pure bliss. Wrestled to the floor with love.

That is what it feels like to become a grandmother.

I guess I am feeling nostalgic because my first grandbaby will be going to college soon, but I will never forget how it felt to become a grandmother for the first time. My heart will never be the same again. And that, is a good thing.

Please feel free to comment on this post. I would love to hear what you have to say about becoming a grandmother.

4 Ways to Attract and Keep Great Relationships

relationships
In my line of work as a Life Coach, I hear a lot about relationships. My clients want to know how to fix broken ones, sustain and grow good ones, and even how to attract them in the first place.

Relationships are a hot topic in the coaching world. At least with my clients they are.

Whether they be friends, family, or romantic partners, the quality of your relationships shape your life. Mutual caring and shared intentions can lift you up, while drama, lack of skill, and disrespect can make your days miserable.

You can’t necessarily change the people around you, but you can show up yourself in ways that honor your relationships and demonstrate how you want to be treated. When you set the bar, other people are more likely to live up to it.

So, here is what I suggest.

Be Yourself: You don’t want to be laying on your death bed surrounded by all the wrong people. And, the only way the right people who will love you for who you are will be able to find you is if you are authentically you. This can be scary. Real scary. Maybe one of the biggest risks you will ever take in your life. And yet, the risk is worth the blessings of a life filled with true love and friendship.

Be Fully Present – Put down the phone, stop watching TV and be with the ones you love. Really be with them. Give them the gift of looking them in the eye and listening deeply to what they have to say. Let them know they are a priority in your life. You may be surprised by all of the magical moments you experience that could have easily passed you by.

Keep Your Agreements – Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yet, my clients talk about broken agreements all the time. Little agreements matter, too If you can’t keep one, let the other person know and renegotiate. It’s as simple as that.

Express Appreciation – In an earlier blog post I shared that I lost someone I loved without ever saying those three little words – I love you. I will always regret keeping those words to myself. Saying a simple thank you or letting the people in your life know how special they are to you is something that should happen daily. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Practicing these principles will lead to relationships that honor everyone involved and that you will want to keep forever. It will be a blessing when you are in your final days to know that you are surrounded by the right people and that your relationships are rich with love and respect.

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

Related posts:

Having Trouble Forgiving? Try This.

How to Tell When it is Time to End a Friendship

How to Cultivate Inner Peace

A Wake Up Call

love heart

Late last night my phone rang.  My friend had come home and found her son dead.

Can you imagine?

I could hear the shock and grief in her voice and it triggered memories of other moments when I had heard those qualities in the voices of myself and people I love.

It was a wake up call for me in more than one way.  I was reminded that:

Everything can change in one moment – we will all experience lifequakes that will shake us to our core.  Our lives will be forever changed and often diminished in ways we could never have imagined.  This is part of our journey here on this earth.

What we can do is live so fully that when our world is shaken or someone leaves us forever we have no regrets.

When I was 22 the man I loved died suddenly in an accident.  I had been so busy protecting my heart that I never told him I loved him.  My fear kept me from saying the words until it was too late.  It took years before I was able to forgive myself and let the regret go. 

Live fully.  Love fully. Go for your dreams.  This is your precious life and every moment of it is a gift.

Be Grateful  – sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it is gone.  Well, maybe on some level we do, but we push back the awareness of it because we have other things on our minds.

When we focus on appreciation and gratitude our lives become richer and more meaningful. We experience things more deeply, recognize blessings when they come, and fill our hearts with love.

This can help us be more resilient when we suffer a loss.  There will be shock.  And, grief. But eventually the love and gratitude will bring balance and guide us through the process of learning to live again.

My heart goes out to my friend and all that she is experiencing right now.  I don’t know why she has been given this as part of her journey on this earth, but I trust that she will be okay.

I can’t save her from the pain or make it all better, but I can be grateful for the wake up call this has offered me and share it with you, hoping that it makes a difference in someone’s life.  Could that someone be you?

 

What Do Life Coaches Really Do?

helping hand

There is still a lot of confusion about what life coaches do.  Even coaches have trouble explaining it.  And, everyone seems to be a coach these days.  How confusing is that?

In general, a professionally qualified life coach will listen carefully and provide support, perspective, guidance, new skills and tools, motivation, accountability, and champion you along the way to your best life.

Who doesn’t want that?

Most clients work with a life coach because they: Continue reading

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.

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.

8 Telltale Signs Someone is Lying to You

Pinocchio's nose growing

When someone lies to you they are more likely to:

  1. Touch their face or scratch their nose
  2. Blink more often than usual
  3. Avoid eye contact
  4. Smile only with their mouth
  5. Seem uncomfortable with pauses in conversation and jump in to fill the gap
  6. Provide more information  than  they are asked for
  7. Look relieved when the subject changes
  8. Have closed body language like crossed arms or have something between you

A Unique Way to Deal with Challenging People

toddler having a tantrum

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
  • 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.

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

Mom: Love and Miracles After Death

picture of Mavis Luke

When my mom passed 21 years ago I loved her deeply, but also felt disconnected from her.  I would have told you it was because of family issues, but the truth was that I was really just stuck in stories and marinating in emotional pain. Continue reading