My First Big Storm in Small Town Missouri

storm

My son and daughter-in-law’s van after the storm

Just when I thought my transition from Southern California to a small town in Missouri was moving along gracefully, Mother Nature sent a welcome committee to test my commitment.

We were hit by a storm with 70 mph winds while I was still unpacking. It was the worst storm in decades and left most of our town (including me) without power for a couple days.

Sounds bad, right?

Not as much as you would think. There was a moment when I was standing in the middle of the street after hearing some of my roof shingles were found in someone’s yard and felt totally lost. My cell phone was not working. My landline, wifi, and everything in my home was electric and had no juice. I didn’t know what to do.

But, not for long.

A man I had never met before offered to help. He borrowed a tarp from one of my neighbors and nailed it to my roof. I had a rescuer. Can’t remember that ever happening to me before. A few days later he came back and replaced the shingles and wouldn’t even let me pay him for the work.

I was impressed with how quickly people came together to help each other. Chain saws were in action within minutes of the storm passing and every one worked together without regard to who owned what tree or property.

People here are resilient.  And, I learned I am too.

Without electricity I couldn’t cook, get water from my refrigerator, boil tap water if needed, and my new tankless hot water heater didn’t work.  Someone showed up at my door with a case of bottled water, which was a blessing since the stores were shut down. But mostly, I simply did what needed to be done.

I felt calm and capable, like the rest of the people in this town.

My search for wifi the second day so I could work was fruitless, so I let go of my attachment to getting work done. When something like this storm happens, you do what you can and accept what you can’t. I guess the serenity prayer would work well in times like these.

You might be surprised to hear that I am grateful for the experience of this storm. I now have a sense of how well I can adapt and accept situations outside of my control.  I also learned who my neighbors really are. No one complained. They just took action.  And, I am proud to live in a place where people take pride in their town and come together in times of need.

Photo of my son’s car at the top was taken by my daughter-in-law, Alexis Hudson.

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Should You Be Seeking Your Life Purpose?

woman living life purpose

As a coach, I hear a lot of people talking about trying to figure out what their life purpose is. For many, not feeling they know it is a source of great angst and leaves them feeling like they are living their lives all wrong.  They feel guilty and ashamed that they are not doing this one great thing because they can’t figure it out. And, that makes them feel like a failure

My clients are often surprised when I share my thoughts on life purpose with them.

I believe it’s okay to play with purpose, but not let seeking it rule you. You can take quizzes and read books that help you connect with your values, natural gifts and what you enjoy, but that doesn’t always lead to knowing your purpose in this world.

You may also hear that if you just do what you love, you will be living on purpose. Supposedly, money will follow, but I am not so sure it always works out that way. Sometimes we need to do things we don’t love to take care of ourselves and loved ones.

I’m not usually a naysayer, but I’ve seen people get obsessed with this idea of purpose and shame themselves if they think they are not in alignment with it.

There is a more peaceful way.

Realize that your life purpose is not always a big, grand thing. It could be a series of little tiny moments where you start a butterfly effect without even knowing. It could be within arms reach within your family or the work you are already doing. Or, it could be a simple smile you give someone that lifts them up to do what they are meant to do in the world.

Don’t let this idea of purpose keep you stuck or control you. If you don’t have a sense of it, just live your life consciously. Follow your heart and intuition with each small decision you make and eventually you will end up in the right place.

Actually, I believe you are already there.

Seeking purpose takes you out of your life and present moments. It can distract you from the things that are most meaningful and cause you to overlook the very thing you are looking for.

It’s not big, its simple. Purpose is about living a life of alignment and making choices based on your inner knowing. It’s not something you seek. It is always there guiding you from within. And, you don’t need to know it’s name, shape, or form.

It’s time to take the pressure off and just live in a way that feels meaningful. You are always on purpose whether you know it or not.

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The Gift of Writing Letters from the Heart

pen paper writing letters letter writing

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 loved writing letters to us. I came across a few of them 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 write or type her own letters, and the ones she received from others 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 been writing letters from the heart. As I write them I am flooded with memories and appreciation for the person I am writing to. Their responses are incredible. They cry. I 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 writing letters from the heart. 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.

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Simple Abundance

Simple Abundance book

I was going through some books this morning that I have gathered over the years and came across one by Sarah Ban Breathnach called, Simple Abundance.  I let the pages fall open where they would and saw this:

“When we cherish our dream and invest love, creative energy, perseverance, and passion for ourselves, we will achieve authentic success.”

Well said, Sarah.

This lovely book is based on her 6 principles of simple abundance:

  • Gratitude
  • Simplicity
  • Order
  • Harmony
  • Beauty
  • Joy

Just saying them brings peace to my heart.

I think I am going to spend some time with this book again. Apparently, it still has more to teach me.

The Power of the Pause and How It Can Empower Your Life

woman taking a break pause

Things move pretty fast in our world these days and that means we are moving fast too.  In order to keep, up we may feel we have to act and respond quickly to what is before us.  And, that can be a problem.

We end up reacting to what is happening in the moment.  We react instead of respond, and we do it without taking time to check within for what we really, really, really want.

Hitting the pause button and taking a moment to connect with your values and intuition allows you to act in ways that are more in alignment with your heart and soul.

Here are some ways that you can integrate the power of the pause into your life:

  • When you are craving unhealthy foods
  • When you want to lash out or react to something someone says or does
  • Taking time to gather your thoughts so you can communicate clearly and concisely
  • Making choices that are aligned with your core values and dreams
  • Pausing and setting an intention for what you are about to do
  • When you feel tired, sad, or upset and need to center yourself to be more effective
  • Taking time to question limiting beliefs that are making you fearful or keeping you stuck
  • When you want to spend money in a way that is not in alignment with your financial goals
  • When you feel tempted to do anything that you might wish you hadn’t later 

The power of the pause allows you to operate from the core of who you are and consciously create the life and relationships you desire.  And… it can prevent a whole lot of regrets…

Where in your life can you benefit from using the power of the pause?

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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 Integrate Gratitude More Deeply Into Your Life

gratitude

Gratitude. It feels warm and fuzzy, but is powerful enough to rewire your brain. It is my go to strategy when feeling a lack of abundance and can literally change how you feel about life.

The trick is to stay tapped into it and let it integrate through your body, mind, and soul.

I used to have my clients write 5 things they are grateful for every day in order to connect with this thankful energy, but over time the practice began to feel stale.  It became just another thing to do and the feeling connection to gratitude was lost.

Mixing things up helps.

  • Looking for hearts, signs, or synchronicities
  • Taking pictures of things we find beautiful
  • Spending time in nature
  • Fostering awareness of magical moments in daily life

All of these are great tools to spark a practice of thankfulness, but they only work when you take the time to really feel and fully integrate them.

In order to ground yourself in the warm, fuzzy, life is amazing, miracles happen, anything is possible energy of gratitude you must sit with it, give it your full attention, and let it fill your heart.

A gratitude practice is not something you do, it is something you feel.

When you let the awareness of blessings touch every moment of your life, you open the door to a life full of miracles.

My personal gratitude practice may look different from day to day. Yesterday, I was mesmerized by clouds and took a lot of pictures. The day before it was a meditation on all the special people in my life. And, as I write these words today, my heart is full of love and gratitude for all of you.

The one thing I do consistently as I lay my head on the pillow each night is to review my day with an open heart.  I savor the day’s blessings, let go of what does not serve me, and thank God for all I have received.

No matter what is happening in your life, you have much to be grateful for, too. I invite you to focus on the gifts in your days and let them lift you up and fill your heart. It can be life changing.

A Quick Solution to Being Stuck in Dilemma

woman stuck in dilemma questioning

 

Back in the old days, when I worked as an employee, I had a boss that would often get stuck when facing a decision. The voices fighting for each option in his head would keep his mind spinning and paralyze him at the same time.

Sound familiar? It happens to me too.

My former employer would keep talking to me about whatever the issue was, but just could not move forward.  He was knee deep in dilemma.

Until I found the magic question. Continue reading

What Do Life Coaches Really Do?

 

life coach life coaching holding a flower

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

3 Ways to Feel More Empowered When Facing a Challenge

woman overcoming challenge obstacle

When something or someone challenges us it is easy to get stuck in the idea that things should be different. Really stuck.

You can tell when this happens because you will find yourself marinating in a yucky, heavy feeling. You might hear yourself complaining, comparing, blaming, or asking, Why? Why? Why?

This is your victim mentality showing up and it is the opposite of being empowered.

When you recognize that you have fallen into the victim trap, you can make a choice to face the situation in a more positive and effective way. Here is how: Continue reading

How to Bring More Joy and Well-Being into Your Life

woman feeling joy and well-being

When I was studying spiritual psychology, one of our assignments was to create and follow a weekly action plan for bringing more joy and well-being into our lives. To be honest, I wasn’t really excited about the idea. It was just one more thing I had to do.

Being the little rule follower that I am, I actually followed through on the assignment and started creating moments designed to invite in joy and well-being. After a few months, it became a habit and I noticed that I felt more positive and, dare I say, even happy.  Really? Me? Continue reading

When to Let Go of Trying To Figure Things Out

answers

Persistence comes in handy. Without it I never would have the success I have today or even have figured out what was wrong with my printer this morning.

I’ve used persistence to help find answers when they were elusive and often felt inspired by Marie Forleo’s message that “everything is figureoutable”.

But then, something happened that made me realize choosing not to try and figure things out can also be an empowering choice.  Here’s how it went down: Continue reading

Rocks: A Story of Finding Beauty on the Other Side of Resistance

rocks balanced on each other

 

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 All images:© 2017 Linda Luke

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.

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

8 Telltale Signs Someone is Lying to You

lying pinocchio telling lies

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

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.