On The House!

I am really good at saying NO to this free offer and that free course. I generally like to keep my life simple, and minimize the inputs coming at me. I’m a big unsubscriber.

But recently…

I was talking to a friend who mentioned a meditation teacher and author she liked, and I jotted the name down. I looked up the teacher, really liked her and was drawn to her approach. I clicked a button and signed up for a free five day course.

Around the same time, I heard from a friend who I’d met at a dance class years ago. She wanted to let me know that this dance studio now has a subscription website of classes, and the first month is free.

Then I found myself signing up for a friend’s coaching webinar on “loving your ugly,” a class  for therapists and coaches on the importance of working with a client’s hope, and a course on running Facebook ads. The first two were great, and the ad course is coming up…

I started my day dancing goofily and joyfully around the living room. I am about to listen to a talk on joy and gratitude, with a guided meditation, and then head to bed.

I am loving this. And feeling gratitude for all these good folks sharing their wisdom and expertise with the rest of us. 

Here is what I’m thinking: I have that one last course coming up, and then I will be running new, amazingly effective ads for my coaching program. 

Now seems like a great time to put out an offer for free coaching to all of you, before I am deluged with all those new clients.

My coaching practice focuses on empty nest moms and those working to improve their relationships with their grown kids. In reality, I work with clients on anything and everything getting in their way of doing and being all they want, and feeling great about their life.

How I see it: your challenges are unique to you- so your solutions and the path to them will be uniquely yours as well. My role is to help you uncover that path. We solve your specific problems, and do so in a way that opens you up to yourself in so many ways.

So, my free offer to you: three coaching sessions, on the house. No bullshit, no sales pitch. From anywhere, as long as you have a computer or phone. Schedule now, before the deluge. Offer good until I pull it! 

Update September 7, 2020: Happy Labor Day All! Thank you to all who responded to this offer for On The House coaching. This offer has now ended. Back to regular programming: schedule a free 30 minute consultation and let’s talk about where you’re at, where you want to be, and how we can get you there! Schedule Now

Sante!

Many of us are letting ourselves fall into two camps around the covid pandemic: science, anti-science. Health, economy. Left, right. Safety, freedom. Fear, obliviousness.

Who among us believes there is one scientific point of view? One measure of safety? Freedom without responsibility? Who believes there is one right, irrefutable answer to everything, for everyone?

Our national conversation about health seems to have narrowed to whether we wear a mask, whether we isolate ourselves. Whether we are on the side of safety or liberty.

Lest we get caught up in divisiveness, blame and fear… here are a few voices reminding us that our health and well being is in our own hands… and in our own head and heart. 

Dr. Fernando Vega:

My more pressing concern regarding the impact of COVID on our health is the emotional burden carried from fear and anger in response to the virus and decisions to contain the pandemic. In my experience that burden carries a far greater cost to our health. The damage from the physiologic changes, including death, from COVID impacting our aggregate community pales in contrast to the damage from physiologic changes caused by isolation, confusion and reactivity amongst us. Shortened lives, stolen happiness is a direct consequence of a disturbed mind. Whatever numbers that are presented to us about morbidity, mortality or subsequent impairments are just numbers. It is up to each of us to interpret what they mean or follow the advice of who we trust. When others have a different interpretation and subsequent behavior it often elicits fear and anger, food for the disturbed mind. I invite each one of us to examine the impact that burden has on our well-being and consider strategies to maintain that well-being. Very little is worth compromising that. Maybe nothing is worth compromising our own well-being.

Dr. Zach Bush:

Nurture yourself and those you love

Get great sleep

Get as much outdoor activity and exercise as you can

Find a few minutes every day to be outside in the freshest air and sunlight you can find.

Stay well hydrated 

Don’t watch the news

A morning glance at the headlines will be enough to keep you abreast of the hysteria, and perhaps some real facts once in a while. 

Eat real food with good company

Choose foods that nourish you. Grow your own whenever possible and choose food that is regeneratively grown. Remember, the most important element of any meal is who is sitting at your table, not what is on it.

Avoid or reduce alcohol to one glass daily

Be fully present in the moment and reduce inputs that degrade your immune system.

Pursue a creative outlet for at least 10 minutes a day

Find joy in the opportunity to create.

Replace processed and sugary options with freshly grown immunity boosting fruit and vegetables.

Laugh often

Challenge yourself to be a kid again and feel the joy in your daily experience.

Now back to me. In addition to all of the above, in my opinion? 

Wear a mask out in public! It is a minuscule sacrifice of personal freedom for a huge public health benefit. 

Avoid those you don’t feel safe or comfortable around. However, ditch the fear, drop the blame, let go the righteous indignation.

Keep connected to those you love and like and find fun. Just don’t put those lovely people and yourself at unnecessary risk. Duh. 

For Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd…

I care about our world, about people. I want to stay in touch and connected. I am a life coach. I have committed to writing and posting a blog every Sunday. To the weekly challenge of coming up with an idea that someone might find helpful, interesting, uplifting, educational, and developing it into something coherent.

But this week I am steeping myself in other people’s thoughts, in images of racial violence in our country. Of injustice, of anger, of standing up to say enough. 

I am listening and learning. Facing my own complacency and my privilege in being born white and middle class. Sitting with my own unexamined, internalized racism. Shedding a lot of tears. 

There is so much I do not know, will never know about what it is to be black in America. But I am listening and reading and learning.

Perfect Takes Practice

I have recently begun sending out a weekly email missive called “Monday Morning Muse.” I ended last Monday’s with this:

“My wish for all of you this week: practice embracing exactly where you are in your life; practice seeing it as perfect. I’ll be practicing this too.

What does this mean to me?

It means practicing accepting myself as I am. Not judging or comparing myself to others. Not apologizing or hiding.It means not wishing my life were different than it is. Not thinking: it’s not fair, it’s too hard.
It means being present, without regret or worry.
It means owning my life, not blaming others or circumstances.
It means being compassionate with myself.

Does this mean I accept everything as is, and don’t try to change or improve anything?

Not at all. It means that when I find myself dissatisfied or frustrated, I try to understand what the issue is and what I want to think or do differently to have a better outcome in future. And then appreciate what I got out of the experience.

And between the frustration and the attempt to understand and appreciate, I may have a meltdown and pitch a fit. I may regret, worry, blame, judge, think everything is too hard and not fair. 

Because this is a practice. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, some I want to believe and some I don’t. So I choose to practice believing and acting on the ideas I to aspire to. That fit my understanding of how the world works. Of how I want to live and be in the world.

And my meltdown is just another opportunity to embrace myself where I am, and practice compassion.

What do you aspire to believe in, to embody in your life? How do you practice it? What does it mean to you?

Turning a Page

I’m watching my son walk into his future… I just feel floored with grief… left behind without a significant project to occupy myself… my emotions are all over the map… honoring my kids amazingness… my son doesn’t appreciate me- or is it that he’s just not needing me?

These are some of the things my clients have said, as they talked about their kids leaving home for college this fall.

It’s a tender time, a tumultuous time, a time of great change. Change in all their lives: the parents, and the children who are stepping off into independence and adulthood.

I’d like to ask all who find themselves at this point in your family life: how are you doing? what are you thinking? what does this change mean for you and your life? for your parenting role?

I’d like to say to you: as you say your goodbyes and return to your now-quieter home: enjoy everything about this that you can, and be easy with yourself in all the places it feels hard or sad or lonely. 

This is what being human, and being a human in love, sometimes feels like. 

Know that you can choose to allow your emotions, and move toward, rather than avoid or resist them. 

What does that look like? Take time to sit with your feelings, feel them in your body, accept them without judgement. Nothing needs fixing, nothing has gone wrong, this is part of your journey.

When you can, when you are ready to turn the page, practice choosing thoughts that feel positive and empowering. About yourself, about your kids, about your future, about your kids’ future. About all of your amazingness…

Red Flag for Overwhelm!

So much to do. Right!?! It’s OVERWHELMING. That’s the next red flag emotion I want to talk about, and let me tell you how appropriate that is!

It’s June and we are way behind on the garden. I haven’t gotten around to getting basil started, and half the garden is over run with horsetail. There are so many things going on- music, potlucks, friends coming and going. My niece and her adorable family of five are arriving soon. Got to finish weed whacking. The chicken coop needs a good cleaning out and the bedding straw replaced. I have several coaching clients weekly, and have added a book study group to my schedule. Zumba classes and walks with friends keep me sane and moving my body- not negotiable. We’re planning a trip to visit our older son, and always happy to see our youngest and his girlfriend, spend time with them. And if anyone is noticing, this is my 30th blogpost in as many days; I may need a month to recover and catch up on lost sleep. Do I even need to mention the house and the laundry and the grocery shopping and cooking?

While none of these are terrible things, it seems to me like there are a LOT of them, and I have been feeling overwhelmed for awhile… but then my husband’s appendix up and went funky on him two weeks ago. Two days off island to the hospital for the two of us, and a six inch tummy scar and weeks of recuperation time for him.

Yes, yes, he is fine, staples came out today. But what about ME? I’ve lost a lot of help that I count on, and gained a patient to boot.

So yeah, I can relate to overwhelm. But I have come a long way in figuring out what makes it worse, what makes it better. Getting lots of coaching and training, learning and studying this stuff, has changed the way I deal with it now. (Mostly.)

I know you have your own life, your own problems, your own reasons for feeling overwhelmed.  Here’s what I’d like to share that you might find useful: doing what I did above, recounting every detail, lingering on how much there is to do and bemoaning ever catching up… is not helpful.

Fanning the flames of overwhelm in ourselves tends to lead us in either of two general directions:

  1. avoidance, giving up, throwing in the towel, binge watching tv shows, binge eating, over drinking, etc. And you know what that means: not getting shit done.  And, tummy aches, extra weight, hangovers, guilt, etc. on top of that. Do I need to add, feeling bad about ourselves?
  2. manic spurts of overwork, pushing ourselves to unsafe or unhealthy actions, resentment, competitive busyness, general bitchiness. Pulled muscles, lack of sleep, under par eating habits. Feeling resentment at others, the world, and at our lot in life.

Neither really seem very attractive. So, what is the alternative? What can we do that is healthier for us? I guess there is no one big reveal here, but just a lot of little things that can add up to a lot more sanity and peace in one’s life. Herewith:

  1. remind yourself often that this is your life, and you get to live it the way you see fit. (then do that.)
  2. quit caring what other people think.
  3. quit trying to control others, or worrying about them. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t help, and it wastes your time.
  4. make to do lists and prioritize (if that helps you)
  5. look for things that can be done less often, only when things start to smell bad, or not at all
  6. look for humor everywhere; crack yourself up whenever possible
  7. ask yourself what you can learn from this (whatever this is at that moment)
  8. minimize drama in your life
  9. pay attention to your thoughts and feelings; and learn how to coach yourself
  10. look for ways to enjoy whatever you are doing
  11. aim for being fully present with whatever you’re doing
  12. listen to interesting, funny, heartwarming podcasts when washing dishes or folding laundry (yeah, okay, advice doesn’t have to be consistent- see #11.)
  13. learn new stuff. think new thoughts. this can be done while brushing teeth.
  14. break big jobs into manageable tasks
  15. look for ways to streamline systems, minimize effort
  16. loosen your expectations and standards about some things, e.g.:
    1. people are more important than things
    2. sheets don’t have to be changed every week
    3. dandelions are good for the bees

17. be kind to yourself

Keep ’em Coming: Next Red Flag is for Self Doubt

For those inclined toward self doubt, decision making can be a veritable festival of self flagellation.

When the question comes down to THIS or THAT, and you still can’t decide which one, just take a stab at it! If one option were obviously a bad, stupid, ridiculous choice, you’d know it.

So, pick one, and then decide to have your own back. Decide to make it work. Line up with it. Do everything you need to do to support your decision. Do not waste time thinking “but what about…?”

Be you own best cheerleader and friend. Do not indulge in SELF DOUBT. There is no upside to that one, I am telling you.

You get to decide how you think about everything, and everything definitely includes yourself, your intelligence, your ability to follow through on a direction you choose.

Make an agreement with yourself: “I’ll put all of me behind this option for a week, for a month, for however long seems apropos to the situation. Then, we’ll talk, me and me. We’ll sit down together and assess the situation. Make a course correction if we decide to.”

Because then, you will be in a position to have learned something new. You’ll know more. You’ll have experience. You’ll have clarity.

And you will have practiced having your own back. Being your own best friend. Stick a red flag on self doubt, and put an end to self flagellation.

Dance For All We Do Not Know

Thursday. Zumba class 8 am. Entering a little late I almost bumped into a little sprite of a girl who had apparently come with her grandmother. Our class generally consists of several women, one or two men, and all about 50-70 years old.

But it’s June, and kids are let loose, families travel and little girls get to go to dance class with their grandmas.

I took up my familiar spot near the front so I could see Alyson, our instructor and all-around inspiration in life.

We began the first song, warming up, letting the music fill our limbs as we moved through the dance steps. In the big mirrors behind Alyson, I could see grandma and Little Sprite at the back of the room. Grandma was moving with everyone else but Little Sprite stood stock still, near her.

Throughout the first few songs I checked back to see: Grandma still dancing along. Sprite still standing there. Hard to tell, what that look was on her face: mortification, determination? This was the worst moment in her life, but she wasn’t giving up.

Oh! the feelings: of being eight years old, of feeling stuck and not knowing how to go forward or backward, of wanting and not wanting, of feeling so unexpectedly alone, of feeling the impossibility of life.

I glanced away quickly, to give Little Sprite her space and to bring myself back to being 60 years old, in this place, doing what I love, feeling such freedom, abandon, and joy. And now, with tenderness as well, for the little girl at the back of the room, for the little girl in me.

Eyes front, I danced then for all of us.  I danced for possibility, spirit, love, and for all we do not know.

Weather We Feel (or Not)

Emotions are where we live: they are the color, the tone of our lives. Like the weather, they can be mild, stormy, and everything in between.

Let’s look at what a feeling or emotion is. First, let’s distinguish it from a sensation. Sensations like hunger, cold, exhaustion and physical pain are completely OF the body- they start there and are experienced there.

An emotion starts in the brain- we have a thought- and that thought generates an energetic/vibrational response, which is experienced in our body as emotion.

Different thoughts generate different emotions.

Like weather patterns, emotions have life spans. They come over us, they move through, expend their energy, and are gone. That is, they do IF we allow them to. When negative or uncomfortable emotions arise in us, we often don’t.

In my last few posts I’ve written about ways many of us tend to deal with negative or uncomfortable emotions:

we AVOID feeling them, by keeping busy or distracting ourself with tv, food, drink, shopping, etc.  Another avoidance technique is creating or focusing on drama in our life or elsewhere. (Politics anyone?)

we RESIST them by pushing them below the surface of our awareness. This is like holding a ball under water: the emotion is now under pressure. This of course requires effort, while causing additional stress because who knows when it is going to pop out!

we REACT to negative emotions by outwardly lashing out, which has the likelihood of creating an additional layer of drama, problems and more negative emotions.

In all of the above, we don’t actually ALLOW ourselves to experience our negative emotion.

Why not?

We don’t want to feel DISCOMFORT.

We may be afraid the negative emotion will OVERWHELM us.

We don’t want to FACE whatever might come out of acknowledging that feeling.

But are these reasons reasonable?

When we avoid, resist or react to a negative emotion, we create discomfort for ourself with unconscious behavior, unnecessary effort and tension,  and the likelihood of complicating our lives with drama and more problems. All this, and the negative emotion is still there, dogging our steps, nipping at our heels.

When we allow the negative emotion to flow through us, it is true: we will feel the discomfort of anger, frustration, sadness. But if we understand it for what it is- an energetic, vibrational, physical response to a thought we are thinking- we can know that we are not in any real danger. It’s a feeling in our body. Uncomfortable, but that is all it is.

And, it will pass: knowing that the emotion has a natural life span reassures us that we will not be stuck in anger, in sadness, forever.

Yes, allowing ourselves to fully experience the uncomfortable emotion may indeed reveal it’s origin to us. What was I thinking that caused my disappointment? What thought flooded me with anger or regret? And then, what do I do with this information?

You then have the opportunity- gift or burden- to see into your thoughts and beliefs. To look at how your life is going. To examine your behavior, your choices.

Gift or burden? You decide.

Ocean and Motion

We live in the sea of our emotions.

Each in our own personal em-ocean.

The forces that pull at the moon also pull at us, and create a rhythm of ebb and flow.

The air above, constantly moving and mixing, ripples our surface, churns our depths.

The lay of the ocean bed beneath us, a pebble thrown, a fish leaping.

How do we learn to float,

to keep off the rocks,

and when to drift,

when to reach out our limbs to propel ourself away,

or toward?