Friday, December 26, 2008

Coping with Post Christmas Blues?

Are you feeling it? Did you wake up as I did, thinking of all the things that make me feel sad or guilty? Why does Christmas happen this way so unrelentlessly every year? Despite my best intentions to have no expectations, I end up feeling some kind of remorse or sadness.

Today I felt a little guilty over my Christmas spending and my Christmas consuming of all goodies available to me yesterday. I had the intention to spend less this year but allowed myself to go over a bit. My overspending my budget for my son then resulted in me wondering if I'd spent enough on my daughter. And round and round I go. Top this off with the chaos of having my sister, her husband and their 6 kids for dinner last night, plus my niece and her two kids and my pregnant daughter with emotions running high over everything. Add to that the fact that my son traveled from southern California to be home for Christmas, something I've been anticipating, and in two days time he'll be leaving again. A recipe for sadness for me.

Is it because of the enormous build up that is difficult to avoid no matter what? Is it the culmination of all the Christmases of my past that leaves me wanting every year to make this one "perfect"? Oh gosh I gave that word up long ago. I'm a recovering perfectionist and yet I think underlying my feelings somewhere deep is that desire to create the cozy experience for all of those around me, which only leaves me feeling sad when it's over, because it can never be all of that.

It is a day after all, and an opportunity to share love with those I care about. My inner wisdom led me to take a walk this morning to sort things through. I said my gratitudes out loud while walking and realized how much any sadness I was feeling was a part of the past -- it's over, gone and I am missing this current moment in allowing these negative feelings to run me today. I have my son here today. My daughter has a healthy baby on the way. I have a large, loud crazy family with lots of loud kids, but we had fun yesterday. I may have spent more than I planned, but I know I will be OK, and all will be provided to me.

Really, when it comes down to it, the Beatles were so right -- all we need is love and I do have that abundantly.

May your post Christmas day be filled with gratitude of what you have, and what you look forward to in the new year. May you find peace in this present moment, right here right now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Letting Go of 2008

A thought just occured to me. I find myself recognizing often the things I need to let go of. Letting go is an ongoing process and when I get stuck it's because I'm not letting go of something. This afternoon I was frustrated with computer and technical stuff around my blog and website. I worked and worked at the technical issues of getting my blog site to look exactly how I want it to look. I became more frustrated and tired and realized I needed to let go and let it be. It was not worth it.

There is always something I can let go of. Right now I have some piles of paper in my office. The piles represent stuff I'm not letting go of, stuff that needs to move into a neater home. Maybe you are not letting go of an idea or belief about yourself or another person. All this got me thinking of the continuous process of letting go and that I'd like to offer the opportunity for anyone who wants to let go of something(s) as we leave 2008 to do so in a supportive environment.

I am proposing a Winter Solstice Letting Go Virtual Retreat. I will provide some ideas, journal prompts, a guided visualization and group coaching to support you in letting go and allow you the space to do so. Come prepared to really let go of some stuff that is no longer serving you.

Letting Go Group Coaching Call Sunday December 21, 2008 8:00 pm-9:00 pm PST. Post your interest or email me to get the call-in info. $20.00

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Finding Meaning in Christmas

"All grown-ups were once children. (But few of them remember it.)"
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Have you allowed yourself to be a kid, or even remember what it feels like? Why do children love Christmas so much? It's the magic, the wonder, the surprises, the happy relatives who show up, not just the gifts.

I was just remembering what my children loved about Christmas. Yes, they got excited about what they wanted and what they hoped Santa would bring. But they also were excited about the family who would all gather at our home, the mashed potatoes and gravy, the way my son would play guitar with his uncles and my daughter would get to reconnect with all her cousins.

I watched an old home video on Thanksgiving of my daughter at age "6 and 3/4" on Christmas. I'm videotaping her and asking her questions. When I asked if she had anything else she wanted to say, she said "yes, I'm really wondering how Santa comes down our chimney, and how he gets all the gifts to all the kids on Christmas eve. He must be pretty special." It was such a treat for me to watch her, hear her voice and see that wonderment on her face. That is the childlike quality I'm talking about -- having that curiosity about life, marveling at it and accepting the gift that it is in all it's glory.

I'd like to invite you to look at life this month through the eyes of your inner child. Allow yourself to experience the joys of this season through the lens of that childlike wonder and acceptance of all the good and joy that is there for you. I believe we have much to learn from listening to that child that still dwells within us and he or she needs to come out and play from time to time.

What is your inner child wanting or needing right now? What small act would feel good? Building a snowman? Baking cookies? Creating something by drawing or writing just for fun? No "shoulds" here, only what feels good. Try it, and let me know what comes up for you.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A new Day to be Grateful

Well Thanksgiving is officially past for 2008, although you may still be enjoying leftovers. I want to continue to focus on gratitude, especially as we go forward into the holiday season. With Black Friday and the holiday frenzy beginning, I want to stay with the feelings of being happy for what I have.

Many people in my family have adopted the less is more attitude and the more economic ways of dealing with Christmas. We will be exhanging something hand made -- food, a poem, something of ourselves not store bought. I asked my sweetie if we could forego presents to each other this year and instead treat ourselves to time together -- a special night out, or other date-like gift is more what I am wanting. I keep thinking of that song - "All I want for Christmas is you".

I am truly blessed -- blessed by the family I have - sisters who I love and feel so connected to; two kids who I think the world of; a son-in-law who is a mother's dream of sweet, kind and loving to my daughter; my first grandchild growing in my daughter's womb; my sweetie who cares for me so much, as well as his family; all my friends and the clients who I admire so much.

I am truly grateful for all I have and feel the need for nothing more with the exception of perhaps more time in every day to enjoy it all!

With gratitude and blessings to you ~

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gratitude When it's a struggle

Ever have one of those days when it feels hard to feel grateful? When you feel like you really need to feel grateful for what you have because you are stuck in that place of not feeling happy? I was in one of those places this morning, feeling like things were not the way I wanted them to be, not feeling happy about it and questioning the stability of my relationship.

I struggle with finding enough time for my sweetie. It feels like our lives get busy, we have hectic schedules and we have little that we do together that we both enjoy that makes us feel connected. Consequently, I really relish the times we can spend together with a common goal and objective. Something we were supposed to do together today turned out to be a solo event for me and I wasn't happy about it. There was a bump in the road where I was feeling in need of that connection time and he wasn't providing it, which made me feel disappointed, angry and sad. I went to that place of "this isn't working, this is bad".

Good thing I did almost immediately know that what I needed to do was go to my place of gratitude. I started thinking about how I was happy to be going to this function, with or without him, and that I knew I was going to have a good time. I got myself into the place of looking forward to the people I would be with and how it would be and knew it would be fun. I was grateful for what we do have together and yes, I could within a fairly short period of time let go of the sadness and disappointment I had been feeling about our relationship.

This is not always that easy to do and sometimes I rest in my place of unrest, unhappy and discontented for awhile before remembering that I really want to be happy and live happy. I thought this was the universe's way of giving me a great reminder, to appreciate what is working and is good in my life.

Glass half full.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Midlife and miserable?

I hate to say that, but many of us, myself included, reach "midlife", wherever that is, and wonder if this is really the life we wanted to choose. The conveyor belt of life is moving on and here we sit, settling for the life we are "supposed" to have. We can feel stuck and miserable. What to do?

It's hard to know what to do if you don't really know what you want. And it's hard to know what you want if you don't know who you are. You see we have to peel through many layers to find what is really true for us. To use a seasonal analogy, it's hard to see the path ahead when it is covered by seasons of leaves. Getting down to the basics is first.

There are many ways of discovering more about yourself so that you might begin to know who you are and what you want. During this time please don't beat yourself up about what you "should" do. This is a time to re-discover yourself and that takes time and patience. First and foremost is acknowledging the feelings as you go.

Because November is the month I have declared for my business to be Gratitude month, I'm going to suggest this practice as step one of discovering more fully who you are and what you want. If you have not had a practice of gratitude, begin by setting aside a time each day when you can focus on your gratitudes. This can be either first thing in the morning or the last thing at night. I like to do mine at the end of the day. I keep my gratitude journal next to the bed so I can recount all the things I am glad for at the end of the day.

It's good to aim for at least 5 as a goal, while you can certainly keep going if you feel inclined. What I notice about mine, is I can go back through all the months of the year and see the patterns of things I was grateful for as well as track my growth through the year. It is a wonderful self-growth tool not to mention the positive benefits to your outlook on life.

There is always something to feel grateful for (think of Pollyanna and the Glad Game) and it's powerful to focus on that which is good especially when so much of what we hear these days is aimed at what is wrong and bad.

My gratitudes for today:

1. Money in my bank account.

2. Meaningful work that I love

3. Time today for creativity and art -- working on my 'values collages'

4. Lunch with my sister and daughter. I asked them to each share their "Good News of the Day" - more gratitude in action!

5. Some lovely vegetables in my refrigerator which means I'm going to go cook a yummy dinner. I'm thinking some roasted beets and carrots. ;)

What are you grateful for today?

Coach Cindie

Monday, November 10, 2008

Checking in on the Gratitude

Ok well it's been 9 days of gratitude since I began this little month of upping the attitude of gratitude? Anyone out there been playing with this idea along with me? Have you noticed anything different about life?

I am remembering to do it twice a day and before I eat even if it's just to say thanks for all hands that made this food possible to get to my mouth. I've also created some gratitude cards, little mini collages of things that convey my gratitude. It does feel lighter and more fun to me to live with that attitude.

If you'd like some help boosting your gratitude quotient - here's a couple ideas:

1. pick one of your senses each day to discover gratitude. For instance if I choose smell, then as I'm taking my morning walk I am grateful for the crisp fall smell, the smell of my cats when I snuggle them, the smell of my morning coffee, the smell of a candle. You get the picture.

2. set your watch to go off at some appointed time every day - 3 times per day, hourly, whatever, and let that be your reminder to focus on something you feel grateful for in that moment.

3. make sure you surround yourself with grateful people; they will rub off on you.

I hope you are discovering some new things as you travel the gratitude trail. Please share how it's going for you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Honoring my authentic self with Gratitude

Here it is, November and I am ready to accept the challenge I have put in motion - to be in gratitude in a bigger way than ever before. So how did my gratitude show up today and how did I express it?

Well, I started my morning by deciding I needed to be true to myself, to express some resentment I had been building toward my sweetie, so I did, we had "The Talk" and I ended this uncomfortable discussion by sharing with him my gratitude idea and asking if he'd like to engage in this meaningful act along with me. He agreed! Today there were several times when things were tight for one reason or another we looked at each other and said - "I'm grateful..."

I am grateful that my underlying core value is to be true to myself, to be authentic, even when it is hard to do. I'm getting so much better at it too. I am grateful I am standing up for myself more and more, asking for what I need no matter what.

I feel grateful that even though my Retreat Hike was rained out today, and I was disappointed, that it meant I got to spend the day with my daughter. I enjoyed her company so much, just sitting and talking, preparing lunch together, cleaning up, looking at videos online of fetuses (she's 15 weeks pregnant). It was a day I would not have had, if I hadn't cancelled the hike.

Is it possible to just fall more and more deeply in love with your pets? Well I feel that happening in my life. We have a weiner dog and two male cats, all of whom are getting older. My orange boy is the most lovable feline. He just looks at me and purrs. It's enchanting. As lovable as he is though, he is picky about being touched and is not a lap boy. Until last night as he climbed into my lap and fell asleep. I felt so grateful that as he is aging he wants to be closer to me, and grateful that I could take the time to sit and do nothing, so that I can enjoy him while I can.

Those are my noticings of today. I felt good overall today and found unique and enlightening ways to be in gratitude which also honored me and my needs.

Are you on board with me? Let me know your thoughts on being in gratitude and my 30 day challenge.

Friday, October 31, 2008

November Gratitude Challenge

I am a big believer in the power of expressing gratitude, how it can shift our thinking, change our feelings, make miracles occur. I have kept gratitude journals with regularity during different points of my life.

I love Thanksgiving and the opportunity it brings for deliberate focus on being in gratitude. For the month of November I am calling for a challenge to anyone who wants to take it on, to take on a daily practice of gratitude. Many people already practice gratitude -- writing in a journal at night or in the morning, itemizing 5 things they feel grateful for. If this is the case for you, I say great and invite you to pump it up. Find other ways that you can be in deliberate gratitude everyday. Perhaps this means you involve other people in your life in the practice. Perhaps you create a space in your home -- an alter of sorts, where you can add slips of paper with gratitudes, actual objects or pictures of people. What other creative ways can you come up with to express your gratitude?

I came across a great website focused on giving This site focuses on giving something every day this month. You could choose to do that as an additional show of gratitude.

If you are not currently participating in some kind of deliberate gratitude, then I encourage you to start one this month. 30 days to see what a difference it might make in your life. What have you got to lose? Try it out this month and then let me know. Post to this blog what you notice. What shifts for you? What outcomes show up? I will be posting my own awarenesses, and invite all of you to do the same. Let's encourage each other on this magnificent ride which can only lead to our collective better good.

I'm going to get the ball rolling on this November launch a day early by sharing a few things I've noticed today where I spoke a quiet "thank you":

1. Pomegranates - what a fun fruit. I hadn't had one in awhile and yes, they are messy, but those little seeds taste crunchy, kind of tart and sweet and what a beautiful bright red.

2. a sweet coaching session with my original buddy coach. I coached her on a topic but really we were two friends sharing and I loved hearing her stories and catching up. I love her and can't wait to meet her someday.

3. the seasons that have changed before my eyes out my office window today -- we started with rain, followed by sunshine, some clearing in the sky and now at 83 degrees we have a light wind, and the trees rustling which is a beautiful dance for me to watch.

4. my pets. My orange kitty Willy was right there looking for me this morning as I came down to get coffee, waiting to love me with his eyes big as saucers looking like Puss in Boots from Shrek. My wiener dog nosing up to me as I did my yoga on the floor, wanting to be near, her nose edging under my arm to pet her.

5. Talking to my daughter on the phone everyday. I am so grateful to be so close to her at this time in her life, grateful for the healthy baby growing in her womb - 15 weeks along!

OK, come November 1st, want to take on the challenge?

In search of Authentic Self

I think we hear a lot about finding one's authentic self. Unless you have been in that position, of feeling like you are not sure who you are or what you want, this phrase doesn't really resonate for you. If you have been in this place, you know the power of those two words.

About 10 years ago, I was married, and on the brink of divorce. I knew I wasn't happy, but really wasn't sure why. When I would ask myself what I wanted, I felt so confused. I knew I wanted to be happy, but how could I do that? What did I need to do? I wanted my kids to be happy too which meant I couldn't get divorced. Then of course there was my husband. I really felt sorry for him for the grief I was causing. I felt so lost and unsure, turning to my friends and ultimately a therapist to help me figure out what I wanted.

What I discovered as I pulled back the layers, were little bits and pieces of me. Apparently it hadn't been OK for me to display these parts of myself. I thought as a mom, employee, wife, etc I had to be a certain way, mostly in order for all of them to be happy. The more I did this, the less I knew who I was or wanted, until I came to the place where I couldn't remember, hence the confusion.

Fast forward 10 years, over five years with my therapist, 4 years with a 12 step program and lots of classes and education, including all of my coach training, have brought me to a much greater understanding of who I am. Yet this searching for, and craving to hold onto my authentic self does not go away. I still feel lost sometimes, unsure what to do, able to see the possibilities in going either way as well as how certain people would be happier if I went one way vs another. When I feel myself feeling confused, I know it is time to come back to my place of authenticity, to reconnect with Cindie at her core and what she is wanting and needing.

I know you might be thinking well yeah, but how? And what do I do about those people counting on me to do X and I want to do Y? To this I say (and believe me, following my own advice is my own personal challenge) take time to be alone and quiet, to be with only your own thoughts and more importantly feelings. When I get in my head and analyze things I am usually thinking about what I should do and trying to be the way I imagine I should be in that particular role. If I can take quiet time for myself -- write, talk out loud or work with my own coach, I can get to the heart of what I am feeling. And the truth is, I need to do this on a regular basis. It helps keep me feeling more ME.

What are some ways you stay connected to yourself? I go hiking or walking and have a conversation while I'm moving. I try to meditate regularly. I listen to what my inner voice is saying and not just listen but pay attention.

Wishing you peace on your path...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Self Care Friday

One of the great things about being a coach, is that I am constantly learning and growing as I coach myself. I noticed yesterday that I was losing my "juice", not feeling very inspired, even though I had spent the day doing something I enjoyed - planning out my hiking retreat for November 1 and planning the next hike. I love doing this and it was a good day. At the end of the day however I did not feel motivated. My honey was not feeling inspiring to me, as he is in a funk about the market, and I felt kind of numb by the time I went to bed. I recognized it was up to me to pull myself out and re-focus my perspective.

This morning what I realized is that I have not been practicing what I preach about adequate self care and life balance and I was feeling the effects. I have been so focused on my business - my coaching and retreats, I have not focused much attention on myself and my needs or my relationship. This doesn't feel good - duh!

So I am proclaiming today Self Care Friday and invite you to do the same if you are so inclinned. I am going to take a bath (first time in a very long time) instead of a shower as soon as I'm done with a client call. After that, I'm scheduling a long overdue hair cut and maybe even see if I can get a massage today. Fortunately my sweet daughter gave me a coupon for these services, so I'm feeling the extra joy and gratitude of using a gift. Wow, I can't wait to see how I will feel at the end of today! I'm excited and pumped up already!

Don't get too focused on your goals and forget the number one goal - taking care of YOU.

Blessings and happy weekend.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Being Aware and Mindful

I love hiking and being outdoors. While I really love beautiful places I've never seen, and trails to hike that remind me of being a kid and exploring, I am also happy just walking outside in my neighborhood. There is something about taking the time to be outside and observe what is there, that takes me off the hamster wheel of doing doing doing. Instead of noticing my email alert telling me I have a new email, I can notice flocks of birds flying in formation, notice the songs they sing, notice the wild turkeys that show up where I live. In giving myself the time to notice these little things outside myself, I can also notice what happens inside myself - the thoughts and the 'monkey mind' disappear and my planning mind has an opportunity to take over.

I think walking, just the forward movement allows my planning mind to help me move forward too. I sort through things and come up with the most amazing and creative ideas!

Yesterday as I was out walking while the wind was blowing fiercely, I was thinking of the metaphor of life that presented to me -- circumstances can make me feel like I'm being pushed against and I might need to struggle a bit to push back, but I won't get pushed over, I will keep walking and I can stand strong inside my own strength.

Just some things to ponder. This weekend if you feel stuck in a problem, frustrated or just bored, take a walk outside and see what you notice. See what messages nature might provide for you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dealing with Stress in Turbulent Times

I'm pretty sure no matter who you are, what your business/job might be, or what your "portfolio" looks like, it's hard not to get a bit stressed with what is going on right now. That is all we hear on the news and all that the papers have to offer. I don't get the paper anymore, but on my walk this morning, walking past one on a driveway I saw the headline, something about "country seized with fear". Oh my gosh I thought, is that ever a way to create your reality NOT based on what I want my reality to be. The reality is, the more we focus on what is wrong, the more that is what we notice, and the more we are plugged into the ugly feelings and the more that is what we get. You Law of Attraction student got that right?

I know we need to take care of ourselves financially and be prudent and smart. But the more this fear grips us as a nation, the more that is what we will have and live in -- FEAR

So here are my tips for dealing with this hard to avoid stuff.

1. Take care of yourself. That should always be number 1 on your list. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself economically, whatever that may be. Consult someone who you trust on issues related to your financial picture if it will make you feel better. Do what you need to do. Then LET IT GO.

2. Limit the exposure you have to the news - papers, news on TV and discussions with people in your life. I like to listen to NPR while driving. It gives me the highlights, as well as some good in depth news, but there is variety, and it's not all what's wrong or bad. I don't generally watch the news on TV -- the debates lately, but that's it. I don't need the constant droning in my brain about all that is bad. Inform yourself, and then focus your attention elsewhere.

3. With regard to limiting discussions with people in your life, just notice when people are going on with the "isn't it awful?" dialog. It is easy to get caught up in this dialog and not good for you. Notice how you start to become angry or worried and tense up as the conversation escalates. When you notice this and your response to it, change the subject to something more pleasant or walk away. This behavior doesn't mean we are avoiding reality. It means we are choosing to focus on what is working while handling what isn't quiety.

4. Find time for fun. Getting worried about money or other concerns robs us of our ability to be our natural fun and playful selves . We need time for fun, alone or with others. Do something that makes you feel good everyday. Read a funny book. Watch a funny movie. Laugh with friends. Dance. Watch kittens, puppies or little children playing. They haven't forgotten how to have fun.

5. Breathe. Take time to be still. If we are always going and moving and doing, we don't have time to relax and find our center, that place where we can connect with our authentic self and remember who we are. A few minutes of stillness everyday does wonders.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Transitioning through life's stuck places

It's October and here in California it's barely starting to feel like fall. The leaves are turning colors that make me say ahhh...In the park behind our house so many leaves have fallen off the trees that I find myself wanting to go back there and run through the leaves, pick them up and throw them in the air, stomp on them and hear them crunch, roll in them. Sound fun? It does to me, but I was kind of hoping for a small child or at least equally child-like adult to do it with me so that children playing back there don't feel afraid of what that white haired lady is up to.

I love fall, and really, when I think of it, I always feel ready to welcome the new season. I look forward to the joys that each season offers and feel ready for it when it comes. Why can't I be quite that way when it comes to changes in my life? I know that fall must occur to make room for winter, which while it is cold and wet and not my favorite season, there is also a wonderful depth to it, the darkness of winter that allows us to go within, to be more still and to nurture ourselves and others. While I may miss the warmth of summer, I don't think, "gee is fall really the right choice? Shouldn't we go back to summer when things were warm and sunny?"

There is a holding onto that occurs with life changes. We look back, and say - should I have done that? Was that really the right/best choice? I want to be able to welcome the seasons of my life in the same way I welcome nature's seasons, to look at my changes and transitions and say, yes, I am ready and welcoming of this new phase of my life, bring it on. To let go completely of the old and embrace the new with open arms feels empowering, yet I know it is hard.

I have written here before about my challenges with letting go of my "children". Heck they are 23 and 26, hardly children but letting go of them has meant some suffering on my part. I think what it has taken for me is redefinning my relationships with them and experiencing them blossoming into something so much richer and wonderful. I know much of my looking back with sadness was the regret -- how I might have spent more time with them, worked less, been more patient, etc etc. I have learned to forgive myself; my children did. In fact, hearing them talk about their childhoods, they have happy memories, and feel they were parented well. What more could a parent want?

Now I can embrace what is now, no looking back but only looking forward in these ever evolving relationships I have with them. What seemed impossible only a few years ago is now reality. They have created their own lives as happy and independent adults. Watching them move through their lives with such integrity and maturity is so amazing and I will take that wonderful new season for them. Yes the summer of their lives was fun and cute, but this new season they are in -- is so awesome, and I am so proud of them. I can look forward to metaphorically playing in those leaves with them as they mature and share their experiences with me in a whole new way. I'm ready

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Can it be almost October?

I was shocked when I went to my blog this morning and realized June was my last post! Yikes. Where did the time go? Obviously I have been busy, distracted, thinking of other things and I was amazed that 3 mos have gone by.

As they say, time flies whether you are paying attention or not. Or is it time flies whether you're having fun or not? I think either one would work. I don't really want time to fly though. I want to be mindful and savor every minute. On the post 50 side of life, every moment becomes so precious.

How can I remind myself of this? How can I live this principal? One way is by practicing mindfulness in all my activities. I've been taking the time in the morning and before bed to type up my script for the day (morning) and my gratitude for the day (night). This has helped me to stay focused, knowing what I want for my day and then acknowledging all the wonderful things that occured at day's end. This technique has kept me focused and mindful and more joyous. When I would just wake up and not consciously focus on what I would do that day, my day evolved without me as creator. I could potentially become more victim than hero of my day's events.

I highly recommend beginning your day with some planning -- not so much of what you are going to do, but how you are going to feel all day. Think about what you have ahead of you, whether it's chores, work, or play and imagine yourself doing the things you will do feeling good. This ensures a happy outlook at the beginning of the day which typically brings about a happy day.

In the meantime, enjoy fall. It's creeping by. Enjoy each flavorful day for whatever it brings you.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Finding Peace

I am seeking peace about a couple of issues in my life. I noticed that today, Sunday, I am feeling what I would call depressed about both of these issues and sad. I felt as if I wanted to cry. I'm not real clear on the reasons for my emotional angst, but I have felt it before on Sundays. Maybe I have too much and too many expectations for my life, for what I do with my time. On Sundays when the day stretches out endlessly before me, I can become overcome with the shortness of time, of the zipping by of my weekend, of how much I didn't do that I wanted to do. Unfortunately, if I have nothing planned for the day, it feels even worse. All I can see ahead of me are the things that need to be done, that I didn't do yet, those things I don't really want to do or I am reluctant to begin, or for heaven's sake I would have done them already.

Is this malaise? Lethargy? It certainly feels joy-less. I am doing what I can to center myself and see if I can change my mood. I will share with you what I have done, in case you ever find yourself in a similar position.

Yoga. Yup. Pretty basic but I cannot tell you how much better I feel after doing an hour. For one thing it gets me focused on something else, something outside my head, something that moves my body, stretches me and forces me to endure poses that are challenging.

I feel accomplished at the end. Believe me, I am not bendy and I do yoga in a pretty rudimentary fashion. So I feel proud and good having moved my body in ways that make my limbs stretch, my muscles flex.

My brain has disengaged from the chatter about my "issues" and focused instead on breathing, my heart, my focus for my practice.

One does not have to do yoga in order to reap these benefits. A walk outside works the same results, or a bike ride or meditation. The point is to move your body, to take your focus off of what is scooting around in your head, the "monkey mind", and feel that sense of peace that comes from just simply breathing.

Let me know what works for you to find peace. Peace. Be. Still.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Developing Focus and Structure

Do you suffer as I do from that feeling of wasting a day or a specific block of time? I find myself with a free day ahead of me and my planning mind immediately decides all the things I'm going to do. Unfortunately, my basic nature of wanting to do everything means I can potentially spend the day flitting from this thing to that thing and never feel I accomplished much of anything. This activity is much like my other activity of being online and bouncing from one website to another reading interesting information, but wasting gobs of time. Today I am on a path of being Mindful, and I'm saying that with a capital letter!

I am sharing with you here my steps I followed to remain focused on my goals>

1. Decide you are going to spend a day or an afternoon mindfully selecting your activities. I made this decision this morning when I realized how many "free" days (meaning no appointments) I squander on the Internet and essentially being distracted. I decided I needed to really listen within, and not react to every 'bright shiny object'.

2. Sit someplace quiet, close your eyes and placing your hand on your heart ask -- what do I really really want to do next? I actually did this after making my list of things I wanted and needed to do today. I mindfully asked myself this question and listened to what came up. I had "clean off desk top" "do yoga" "be creative and write in your blog". I felt I was at choice and in charge of my day rather than at it's mercy.

3. Once you have written the items down, decide how long you will do each one. I used a timer because it really helps me stay focused to hear that tick, tick tick! Giving myself 15 minutes to clean off my desk meant I was decisive and deliberate and not likely to get side-tracked checking email. Instead of an endless amount of time, I had a deadline. I guess I work well with a deadline!

4. Be good to yourself and allow for spontaneity. In my initial listing of items, I included "fun" and "free time". After I had finished a few tasks, a friend called to invite me to go see a movie. Well there was fun and free time all in one! Of course I went and had a great time.

5. Congratulate yourself on what you did accomplish. I checked off and crossed off each item which made me feel accomplished. At the end of the day of course there were more items, but they will carry over or they just were'nt that important. I know I was being truthful to my needs and I felt good about my day.

What I realized today is how easily I can be distracted! And I'm starting to appreciate how much of this behavior is my avoidance of things I feel afraid to do. Now I don't mean some huge scary fear, but that deep-seated fear that I'm not really good enough; I'm not worthy of the good that could come to me by doing these things. What if I had to really burst through my barriers and just get out there and SHINE!! How would that be? A little scary? Yes, I think sometimes it is to me. So I don't get started when I really want to, or I water the plants, have a snack, email a friend. OK things to do, but I'm allowing myself distraction rather than the joy that comes from completion by way of focus and awareness.

Overall, I felt on task. Then when life happened I was also able to go with the flow. mantra right now, to be in the flow.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Balance and Mindfulness

I have been making an effort to be mindful in my life, waking up as Eckhart Tolle says to The Power of Now. Being present as much as possible to what is happening with me, right now, helps me be more in touch with how I feel, teaches me who I am, gives me tools for knowing what steps to take next, because I am paying attention to the details.

I was discussing this with my sweetie this morning after listening to Tolle's newest book A New Earth. Is being mindful and present something one strives to do 24/7? If so, how does one manage all the pieces of life? If I am focused right now on this, then what happens to all the other pieces of my life? I believe that since we are multi-faceted Beings, then we are capable of being present to the totality of our lives, being present to what is in the broader perspective and so can manage them all on a rotating basis.

After this discussion I took my morning walk. I noticed things I hadn't noticed before, even though I've walked this path many many times. Some were things that were always there, a stone paved walk in someone's yard, the shape and form of a tree in another. Some were new and specific to this walk such as the wild turkeys who often show up on the golf course. At one point I glimpsed them in a backyard and said hello to them. On my way back they were walking the street in front of me, four of them gobbling along. They made me laugh. Was I totally mindful and present in every moment of my 50 minute walk? No, at times I was thinking of something I was going to do when I got home, at times I was noticing the sidewalk in front of me.

I believe as in many things, and as I have blogged about before, it is about balance. If I am mindful for the most part in things I do, say and think, I will be able to be the mindful observer of my life, ever seeing and feeling where to make adjustments, ever aware of my feelings, and ever alive and tuned in to what is happening in my life. Contrarily, going about my tasks on auto pilot, full of things to be done with no awareness of what is happening around me or in me, I have lost my sense of self.

Here are some thoughts for becoming more aware and mindful in your daily life.

1. Find a practice to do every day that gets you into a mindful state. You can take a walk and focus on being mindful of your thoughts, mindful of what you see, mindful of what you hear, or doing yoga or some other practice.

2. Practice doing an ordinary activity you do every day in a mindful way, such as eating. Ask yourself what you are wanting to eat and fix yourself that meal with love. Get creative with it and don't stop until you hit "yummy"! This morning I mixed chopped apples with granola, cinnamon and brown sugar and warmed it up. Focus on eating each bite with mindfulness of what you taste, what you feel. I tasted the warm, sweet cinnamony apples, with some crunch from the granola. I felt warmed, nourished and realized how much I like eating different tastes and textures together.

3. Be mindful and present when communicating with people, whether on the phone or in person. It's so easy to get distracted and it's normal. If you notice that you are, pull yourself back to the conversation. It's interesting to notice how much more I get from conversations when I'm focusing in that manner and I think my loved ones feel more heard.

4. Use this tool when you feel overwhelmed: take a moment to sit quietly, breathe gently and be present. I have started making a list in the morning of my To Do items. Just writing it down takes it out of the buzzy place in my brain and puts it in the do-able place on my list. Then I challenge myself to accomplish 3. (Don't put down something like clean out the garage, but do-able- in -the- day tasks). I reward myself after doing them by taking time out to talk with my sweetie, read or some other fun! (very important!) activity.

5. Remember there is no right way or wrong way to do this (or anything else as far as I'm concerned!) Practicing an awareness of the concept is a great place to start and none of us will ever be perfect at it. It's a journey, and it's supposed to be fun.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm Blogging as Fast as I Can!

Do you ever feel like that? That life is a series of doing things as fast as you can so you can scurry on to the next thing that you need to do as fast as you can, in order to get on to the next, ..... Oh yeah. It's hard trying to juggle all those pieces of our lives, getting things done and still feeling as if we are connected to the people we care about. It takes lots of time and energy. And I didn't even mention taking time for you or keeping a connection with yourself!

We all have those slices of our Life pie--home, work, school, kids, extended family, friends, outside interests, church, whatever you have going on. Keeping all of those slices rotating and taking care of the hottest one in any given moment, does create a very un-serene feeling of hurry, hurry, hurry. I don't like that feeling and it certainly contributes to things being lost or tasks being forgotten or done haphazardly, not to mention feeling exhausted.

What to do? Can't slow down the churning of the earth and the movement of time. But we can prioritize and pick and choose what we focus our time and energy on so that we feel productive but also whole.

As a Coach, I focus on the wellness aspect and the totality of my client's life-- where are they in or out of balance? You can do this for yourself by taking a piece paper and drawing a circle. Create about 8 pie slices in the circle. Now label each slice as the different aspects of your life: Friendship, work/career, adventure/romance, health, spirituality, Thoughts/intellectual/emotional development. You get the picture - the aspects of life that you ideally want. Now see how much you are feeling filled in each of those areas and shade in with a color crayon or pencil each one to the extent you feel fulfilled. Look at your life pie and see where you are directing most of your time, attention and energy. Now how can you shift just a little bit so that you can give an area that is lacking a bit more attention? Think one small step. No drastic changes, baby steps.

I know this feels scary. I find myself routinely giving much of my time to my my coaching and my retreats, because I love it so much and it is so important to me. Then I realize I've not spent quality time with my partner, and I know I need to slow down, stop, get off the treadmill and give a little more to my relationship.

The truth is I know I can't be a good Coach if I'm not balanced and being a good partner too. Likewise, I can't be a good mom if I'm not giving time to myself and my self-care and nourishment too. You see these pieces of you and your life are all connected and one affects the next and if the pie is skewed too much to one side, the whole suffers. I can't get to be a better coach by spending excessive amounts of time and energy on my practice as much as I could be a better coach by keeping my entire Life pie in balance and giving some equal time to all the slices.

Do yourself a favor and if you have that "fast as I can feeling", slow down, look at what piece of you wants attention. If you need support, encouragement or structure and strategizing in this area, please let me know. It's what I love to do.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Had a Dream

I don't often remember my dreams. Sometimes a snippet will stay with me. Sometimes I will remember a feeling from my dream later during the day. But I don't often have dreams with much detail stay with me come morning. This morning I awoke at 4:30 with a dream of intensity burning within me. A dream so intense I knew I needed to record it.

I know during the dream I was with my daughter. We were doing things together which I remember included taking pictures, going places. At the end, just before I woke up, I was shutting a door, a front door of a house and I believe it was the house my children grew up in. It was night. The house was empty. The street was quiet. And as I shut this door, just as my daughter and I were about to leave, I could hear the sound of my son's voice, the sound of his voice at about age 8, talking in his chirpy little boy voice, out there on the street. It struck me in that moment as I shut the door that it was the voice of a ghost.

And then I woke up, and felt an incredible sadness. I lay there pondering the meaning of the dream and why that voice, lilting over the street with the wind, should feel so sad. I thought of their childhoods -- my daughter and son, now 23 and 25. I asked - what are you telling me dream? What message is here for me to unravel? My mind went to pieces of their growing up years, arguments, assigning of chores, but also rides in the car with one of them, and oh yes, thank you for this memory -- laying in bed at night with each of them, reading a story and talking about things that mattered to them in that moment. My heart broke remembering these, and I started to cry, and then I started sobbing.

This would appear to be even more of this endless journey of letting go. I know I cannot bring back their childhoods, or create a happier childhood for them now. Oh the things I wish I could of, would have done. I do believe I was and am a good mom and that I did the best I could. I am not an empty nester mom who has no life, who has lived through her children vicariously and now has no existence outside of them. No, I have a full life and yet this part remains ever painful -- it truly was over in the blink of an eye. And now I miss them.

I think this dream is especially poignant as I wrestle with my children's grownup issues and try to distance myself from their issues and trust them to travel on their journeys the best they can. I was reminded of a saying I heard that sometimes you have to jump off a cliff and learn to build wings on the way down. At the bottom will be enough love to cushion the fall and loved ones who will bring bandaids, tissue and love. Well dear ones, this morning I know that I must let my children jump off those cliffs, and trust and know that they will build wings on the way down and I will be there at the bottom, always with bandaids, tissue and plenty of love.

Friday, February 1, 2008

February is the Time for Love

So Ok, yes, Hallmark has decided this is the month for us to send Valentine's to our loved ones. But really is that so bad? Focusing on love, what a great thing to focus on. It increases the amount of love we feel, and what we put out there, comes back to us 10 fold. Here is my list of things I love, and I invite you to add to the list. What do you love? Oh and by the way, these are in no particular order - just the random thoughts as they come through my head.

1. Writing this blog, writing my newsletter. It's fun.
2. Chocolte mint popcorn from Trader Joe's. I have a serious addiction to it.
3. Clean sheets on my bed.
4. How happy my pets are to see me when I come home. The sound of my cats purring. My dog grunting happily as she licks my ear.
5. A really good night's sleep. Heaven.
6. Walking in the early morning with a full moon. Quiet. Dark. My thoughts alone.
7. Talking to my kids on the phone, hearing how their lives are, saying "I love you".
8. Holding my yoga poses so I feel so "in the moment".
9. My office. I am surrounded by things I love - Books, pictures of my loved ones, retreat supplies, cards from clients, coaching materials. All things I love.
10. Having a deep and tender conversation with my sweetie, when I feel my heart turn a flip flop.
11. Time to really LAUGH out loud with my girl friends. I'm talking laughing until you cry.
12. The bliss of a warm bath, with my ears under the water so I hear my own heart beat.

That's a good start. What you got????

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Another Goodbye

The Borders in my neighborhood is closing. It's in a large mall and according to one of the clerks I spoke to, their rent is high and they are not making enough money. I was over there last night - my second evening foray since I discovered their January 19 closing date. Many signs everywhere saying "25% off", "last chance" "75% off". Many empty shelves. I felt somewhat like a looter, slightly evil for walking the aisles, using their misfortune to grab a bargain for myself. I feel bad for Borders. Clearly I think of the store as more friend than a place to shop.

There are several reasons for this:

1) I am a bookaholic and no thank you I don't need a 12 step program or to recover. I love books. I am very very happy to wander in a bookstore for hours. It's rich. It takes me to different worlds in a manner of moments as I flip pages. I have always loved to 'retreat' by reading books.

2) I used to work at a Borders. I'm not talking 'put myself through college' employment, I'm talking recently. When I came to the point in my life when I recognized something needed to change in my career, I started exploring what made me happy. I had always harbored a secret fantasy of owning a bookstore. I ordered a book on owning your own bookstore and explored that option. One day online I randomly applied for a job at the Borders in my town. They called me and hired me!! This was when I was also working full time as a paralegal in a lawfirm that was constantly in trial. I worked my 'day job' at the lawfirm then scooted down to Borders to work the evening shift and close the store. I feel crazily proud of this dot on my resume. I was working with kids the same age of my kids and they really liked me. I walked the store with my Borders badge saying to myself (giddily I might add) I can't believe I work here!! I had so much joy helping customers find books. Since I have bought and read so many myself I did know where they were and could tell them - "yes, that is a great book, and you should also read this one".

3) It hurts my sense of community that a store like Borders cannot survive. I don't know what to attribute it to but I'm guessing Barnes & Noble being across the street - and mind you I play no favorites - I love all book stores - could be a factor. The accessibililty and affordability of Amazon and the internet could be another. Hey, I am probably one of Amazon books' best customers. What is not to love? I buy them used, they bring them to my house for a fraction of the cost of going out to the store to buy them. So while I am contributing to it, I feel a little sad that real bookstores, where people go out and walk amongst books, sometimes running into a friend there, having coffee, talking with the clerks about books, could be becoming a thing of the past. Is the internet creating less community on a physical level? Don't need to get too deep, I'm just noticing my feelings.

I'm going back there today. There's a couple CDs I'd like so I'll see if they are there and marked down. Again, the feeling of profiting from someone's loss. All the employees are out jobs. One told me how sad it felt to him as he really likes working there and the people he works with. Again, this is part of the cycle of life, the inevitability of change. And, change isn't usually comfy cozy.