All Shall Be Well

Take care of yourself.

Get outside.

Move your body. 

Spend time just being with yourself, listening, accepting, loving.

Have a pet? They will listen to your sorrows, keep your secrets and teach you that you are perfect exactly as is. 

Pick one thing that has been on your mind for awhile, rubbing like a pebble in your shoe. Take care of it. Take time, but do not belabor it. Think of it as a gift to yourself, and to the universe. Appreciate the giving, and the receiving.

Question your “shoulds”. Why is it important? Is it important? Would you benefit from a break from each other?

Watch a sappy movie- or even better, have a sappy conversation with someone you love. (Cats count.)

Know you are an amazing, worthy, lovable, perfect, unique being. This is always true, even when you can’t see it yourself. 

Be open to inspiration. There is a treasure trove out there. Here, click this link; I will share this sweet song with you:

All Shall Be Well

…so we can’t get it wrong

I think about my friend Allie, and I have to smile. 

Her voice, her laugh, her wit; her creativity and intelligence; the depth of her love and loyalty for friends and family; her commitment to the kids she works with.

There is no one else in the world like Allie.

When I think further, I realize that last statement is true of everyone I know, and in fact of everyone. There is no one that is exactly like anyone else.

What to make of this? The undeniable truth that each human being is absolutely unique. And in fact so is every living being, human or otherwise. 

It seems to me an everyday miracle.

An amazing truth that implies unlimited possibility of life expression.

To me it says 

  • the basis of our world- the natural/spiritual world we are part of- is variety, difference, creativity, expansion
  • all of us have our own part to play 
  • all beings are completely and exactly perfect
  • our life is ours to live, so we can’t get it wrong

And you, what does it say to you?

I. Confessions of a Harried Mom

When I had my first kid, in my twenties, I didn’t have much of a filter. I said what came to mind and mopped up any messes later.

When I had my second kid I was in my thirties, and I had learned my lesson. Or had I? I didn’t want to be a mean mom. I had learned enough to (usually) hold my tongue when I was angry or frustrated. But I hadn’t learned what to do with those unlaunched, unkind thoughts. 

Those thoughts like:

You should know this by now.

Why do you make it so hard?

Can’t you see I’m doing something right now? 

I was surprised when this second son said to me, years later: You do this passive aggressive thing, Mom.

But it makes sense to me now, looking back. There must have been tons of times when I didn’t actually say unkind words out loud to him, but the irritation behind the words would find their way out through my tone of voice or the look on my face. 

So what is the solution? Moms are human. Even the loviest moms get irritated and impatient sometimes. What can we do with those grumpy thoughts that rise up unbidden? 

Turns out, there is a lot you can do. 

So this is gonna be a three-parter. Check back to this space for upcoming parts II and III:

II. Some Really Good Things To Know

III. What’s a Mom to Actually Do?

The Perfect Excuse

Cool, rainy morning in May in the Pacific Northwest. I went out to let the chickens out and open up the hoop house in the vegetable garden. My morning visit to check on all the residents, fauna and flora. 

A quick check, as my plan was to go into town for the (somewhat dreaded) weekly grocery and errand trip. 

The warm temperatures of late spring and the soaking rain had conspired to turn our garden beds into little jungles. I had been ignoring the signs but this was getting ridiculous. Stout thistles marched boldly through swiss chard and mustard greens. Horsetail weaved it’s way through rows of radishes, kale and lettuce. 

The trays of plant starts in the hoop house clearly needed to be transplanted into the ground, preferably last week.Yesterday it had been too warm to transplant them. Today would be perfect! I thought. But first, the weeds! Got to get those weeds out. I plunged my garden knife into the moist earth and made piles of weeds. Perfect weeding weather! I thought.

My husband came out to check on me. “Here you are! out in the rain? I thought you were going into town,” he said. “Well, it’s perfect for weeding and planting stuff out, right now,” I said, through the combined drizzle from the sky and the rim of my hat.

I peeled myself away from the weeding and went into the hoop house to see what I could plant. The little basil starts could tuck between each of the tomato plants, cilantro between the tomatillos. Satisfying, looks great! What else? Sunflower, batchelor buttons and chervil starts had been getting ignored in the rush to get vegetables into the ground, so I found places to fit them into the ends of beds, and along the fence to the orchard. 

What else? I checked the little clock I keep in the garden shed. Two hours had gone by! I headed back to the house, peeled off my wet outer layers and wiped some mud off my face. Now in dry clothes, I gathered up face mask and shopping list, keys and purse. I looked around the house, snug and dry, everything outside the windows blurred by rain.  

“Hmmm… what a perfect day to stay inside,” I thought. “I could bake bread, make some soup…”

Gratitude: When the Mind Balks

Giving thanks. Appreciating. Looking for goodness. Amplifying the best in every being, every thing with our attention. 

Seeking to find value even in the difficult, the awkward, the painful.

A wonderful attitude to practice now and any time.

And if your mind balks, your heart clenches tight, your inner dialogue is “but, but, but…” at all the talk of gratitude: that is where you are right now. It’s okay. You’re human and human beings get sad, feel anger, feel pain. We can’t always reach gratitude from where we are standing.

Can I say, though: be your own best friend. Try not to use Thanksgiving and gratitude that you can’t feel right now as an excuse to beat yourself up, or to beat up others. Do yourself that favor, if you can.

Be curious about what is going on in your brain. Curious and open and compassionate. About your life. About what you are thinking, and feeling.

Can you be okay with where you are right now, okay with the difficult, the awkward, the painful? 

Perhaps you can give yourself this gift.

Thanksgiving Planning (hold the Martha Stewart)

Do you have a college student coming home for Thanksgiving?

Are you making big plans for the holiday?

Are you thinking everything should be extra perfect for this special homecoming?

It might seem really important to plan the perfect homecoming Thanksgiving celebration to welcome your child home… but can I throw out a few things to consider?

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most highly traveled times of the year, and that the weather can be unpredictable and changeable in late November. Whether flying, driving, or coming home by bus or train, there can be delays, cancellations, missed connections, heavy traffic, and difficult road conditions.

Emotions may be running high: kids homesick, parents missing kids. You may not have seen each other in a couple of months. Many first year college students are also keen to see their high school friends who will also be home for the holiday. 

Family traditions for Thanksgiving often include elaborate and lengthy cooking plans, large family gatherings, extra leaves in the dining table, tablecloths and candles.

All this happens in a very short time window, potentially made shorter by travel glitches.

You might look for ways to simplify this year: the menu, the guest list, the preparations.

But more importantly, you might consider all the above factors I mentioned in this way:

Here is what is NOT within your control:

Things. Other people. What they do and say and think. How they feel. Weather. Traffic. Sometimes: how the turkey turns out, or the pumpkin pie.

Here is what IS within your control:

How you respond. What you think, and how you therefore feel. What you value. How you act. How flexible or open you are or aren’t. How much humor you can find in life. How much of life you welcome and embrace. How much you allow everybody to be who they are. How much love and compassion you created for yourself and others.

Your Thanksgiving planning? See it as a perfect opportunity, like every other moment in your life, to practice how you want to live your life. 

Throw Out the Rules and Roles… and Get Real

She should text me back.

I’m his mother; he should treat me with respect.

He should take out the garbage (without being asked.)

Does this sound like you? If so, like most of humanity, you have manuals for the people in your life. A manual is an instruction guide we have for others that we are often unaware we have- it just seems obvious, true, and just, well: duh!

Like: kids should respect and appreciate their parents, pick up their socks, not lie or sneak around, and of course, text their moms back within the hour. Husbands should be emotionally available, know when their wife is upset (and ask the right questions, but not offer advice), mow the lawn, change the smoke detector batteries, and of course, take out the garbage. Obvious, right?

Let me just ask: do you like it when other people have rules for you? Even if you like to have dinner ready by 6:30 every night, don’t you want it to come from your own personal ideals and free choice, rather than another person’s rule for you?

When we feel responsible for meeting another person’s needs, and they feel responsible for meeting ours… especially when the rules are unspoken and assumed, not deemed mentionable let alone negotiable… the result is often manipulation, effort to control each other, and a lot of resentment. 

What if we allowed others to decide for themselves what they were willing and able to do?  Each be responsible for meeting our own needs. Ultimately we have no control over others’ behavior, so when we tie our satisfaction or happiness to their actions, we give away our power to feel good and to take care of what is important to us.

Clearly in relationships, in families, in households, we have many overlapping interests and goals. We all want chores to get done, bills to get paid, to have food to eat, for life to run smoothly. We generally want to help each other, and do our part. We want to feel appreciated and cared for. 

Conversations- that include listening as well as talking- lay a foundation for relationships that honor all parties. Negotiating in good faith, working things out, giving and taking, looking for solutions that all can live with. Being open and accepting, avoiding blame and judgement, even when things don’t “go our way.” (Tip: There is always more than one way.)

Conversations and openness allow us to be real with each other. To learn about ourselves and each other. To practice kindness, accountability, fluidity, responsibility, allowance and communication in very concrete ways.

Rules and roles don’t. “Shoulds” and “musts” don’t. 

So start noticing whether you have a manual for others’ behavior, and how it affects your relationships with them. Consider throwing your manuals out. Some advice though: don’t expect others to throw theirs out. Instead, just begin a conversation, listen, be curious, and see what you learn.

Thanks, Coach!

I was like a little kid who was mad at the world, kicking at the dirt. Throwing rocks. Finding excuses, pointing fingers, resenting others who I thought had achieved what I wanted so badly.

I was talking to my life coach; she listened for awhile, and asked questions. 

I told her I was about to give up, to walk away from a goal I’d been working toward for two years. It wasn’t happening the way I thought it should. I thought I should be further along. 

As we talked and I answered her questions I realized that underneath my resentment and blame were some very painful thoughts: 

I must not have what it takes to succeed. 

I’m not smart enough, I don’t have enough grit, 

I’m not disciplined enough.

You know that feeling, like a dam breaking, that tells you when you hit on something? The dam broke when I uncovered those thoughts. (Read: lots of tears.) It felt terrible. I felt heartbroken. If I believed those thoughts were true I would have to give up something that I loved, something that represented to me my highest self.

By lashing out at the world, I had been avoiding looking inward.

But when I did look, after the waterworks subsided, I realized that I didn’t believe those disturbing thoughts. Or maybe a little, but certainly not completely. I knew I had learned and accomplished and created so much already. I was well on my way toward my goal… just maybe not as fast as I had expected. 

What is the truth here? Neither: all these are subjective thoughts, opinions I could have about myself.

But let’s look at what happens when I choose to believe, even if unconsciously, that I must not have what it takes to succeed- not enough smarts, determination and discipline. I feel terrible, heartbroken. And then, fueled by that feeling: I blame and resent others, look for excuses, don’t work to figure out the hard stuff I need to master, I avoid coaching myself on my thoughts, and I want to give up. Basically, I kick dirt and throw rocks. 

Can you guess what the result of all that is? The result that originated with my “not good enough” thought? I am not using all I have- all my smarts, determination and discipline- that I need to succeed.

Now that is something I have complete control over! And it starts with choosing different thoughts.

What if instead, I consciously think these thoughts? I’m well on my way. I’m learning and growing every day. I’m creating something new, something valuable, out of my love, vision and dedication.

Change is HARD!

This is for all you moms and dads of college freshmen out there that are struggling with the reality of a newly vacated nest. I work with empty nest parents as a life coach. It is fall, school has started and I am hearing this ALOT: 

That change is HARD. 

And they don’t know if they can do it. 

I totally know it feels hard to you right now. I certainly believe you when you say how hard it feels. I launched two sons from childhood into adulthood and it was painful each time.

But. I do want to remind you of something. You can just take what I am about to say, set it down gently next to all the struggly feelings, and glance at it every so often. When you’re ready.

It is this: you have raised a child. Maybe several. In any case, you have raised at least one child to the brink of adulthood. You, my friend, know all about CHANGE. You are an expert at it. You have been living in a sea of change ever since the BIG change happened to you- when you became a parent.

From that point on it was a constant in your life. And you adapted to every one of those changes.

You have changed how you live your life, your identity, your values, how you spend your time, how you make decisions. Over and over again.

You have adapted to having a baby, to having a toddler, to being the parent of a kindergartener… okay, you see where I am going with this. Perhaps, at some of these big changes, you had thoughts like these:

“aww! I’m losing my sweet little baby/my funny little guy/my little buddy…”

“it’ll never be the same again when s/he starts walking/eating solid food/talking/going to school/doing long arithmetic/using the telephone/driving…”

You felt apprehension, maybe sadness or wistfulness. Somehow, you got through all those changes that were going to mean the end of some comfortable place with your child that was familiar and wonderful. 

What ended up happening? Yes, having your kid start kindergarten meant less time at home together, but dang! Weren’t they just so cute? Wasn’t it so fun when they made new friends? Wasn’t it super interesting to watch them learn new things and evolve and develop? And that played out when they started grade school, middle school, and high school. That apprehension, that change, that getting used to it and finding enjoyment and comfort in the new place.

I know this change is big; it’s different. In a way. And in another way, it is one more step on a path you all have been on for quite some time now. A path of constant change that brings new life, new things to be interested in. New ways to be together, to learn about each other, to enjoy the new stuff that comes of it.

So don’t forget: you are an old hand at this. You are a BOSS at change. It can feel really hard, but you have shown yourself over and over, you can do hard things. And find comfort and enjoyment on the other side. 

And for now, feel all that you feel. Embrace all the emotions. There is no need to rush anything. But remember that nothing has gone wrong here: it is fall once again, and the seasons, and the years, continue to come.

Climbs Mountains, One Step at a Time

Yesterday, I flew back to Seattle from Dallas, my mind buzzing from all I’d just experienced at The Life Coach School’s Mastermind for certified coaches. 

How will I apply that inspiration in my coaching, in my business, in my life? I thought about my resistance to learning the technology and business aspects of my coaching practice. Could I coach myself on my beliefs, move from “why does this have to be so hard and frustrating?” to “I’m going to figure each piece out, one by one, and own every bit of my business”? Could I embrace the challenge, work diligently, celebrate each bit of mastery? Cut the drama, stop whining, and get out of my own way?

For the first few hours of the flight I thought and wrote and dozed a bit.

As we neared Seattle the folks sitting next to windows raised the shades. We were flying right above a thick layer of white, with other big billowing clouds along the horizon. All whites and grays, everything in motion. The clouds beneath us shifted and opened up in spots, revealing the city below us. Farther off the sun broke through and lit up a section of clouds… so beautiful and mesmerizing, such constant flowing movement. 

I turned and saw that the young man in the seat next to me was also awed by the beauty out the window. We started talking. A firefighter and paramedic in Austin, he was taking a little time off to do some hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. He’d backpacked various sections of the PCT before. He wasn’t bothered that rain was forecasted for his hiking vacation. He told me that he had changed his plans a little: his family was worried about him heading into the wilderness alone, so he decided to rent a car, drive from trail head to trailhead, and do day trips this time.

Here is what struck me: he was going to a whole lot of trouble and expense to quietly take on some tough mountains. Alone and in the rain. With no attitude about adjusting his plans for his family or the cold rainy weather. Friendly and open, curious about my trip to his home state, about life coaching and living in Washington.

No drama. Does hard things. Chose a career of service to those in distress. Chooses to challenge himself physically and mentally in his free time. Climbs mountains, one step at a time.

Taylor, thank you for showing up in the seat next to me, embodying qualities to aspire to. Happy trails to you!