Thursday, May 31, 2012

Say "Hello" to fears

If we are honest with ourselves, we would all admit to acting out of our fears at times. Do you recognize those times when your fears are in control?

Sometimes I know right away that it's happening. Other times I have to stop and ask, "So just why am I feeling and acting this way right now?" And it may take a while to locate and name the fear. And once in a while if the fear is deep-seated, it may take longer to recognize.

In any case, it always is helpful to identify the fear, acknowledge it, name it and face it. Doing so always takes power away from the fear and frees you to make real choices about how to proceed.

Acting from our own personal power rather than the power of our fears is always so much more energizing and liberating.

Take a look today: Do you notice any fears holding you back? Say "Hello" to them and ask what's the worst that can happen. Feel the fear—and move forward anyway! You'll be so glad you did.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Build on what's right with your life

What's right with your life today?

It's good to stop and take stock from time to time to see how you're feeling about where you are. How are your relationships? Your career? Are you feeling good about your health and your weight?

Start with what's right—and build on that. It's essential that we acknowledge, and celebrate, the good and the positive in our lives. And not just the biggies. Notice and celebrate everything that's good about your life.

I always remind my clients to celebrate each small success, each positive action. Doing so gives you energy to keep moving in healthy directions. And it helps motivate you to make any necessary changes.

What changes do you want to make? Break those down into small actionable steps. And start with one step today.

At the end of each day, take time to reflect on (or write in a journal or notebook) those things that are right, those things for which you're grateful. When you pay attention to your life, you might be surprised at how much about it is right!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The more-so years

I have a friend whose mother calls the years after age 50 or 60 the "more-so" years. She says that whatever we have been all our lives, we'll be that and more when we get older.

So if you tend to be negative and bitter, you'll just be even more bitter and negative as you age. If you have spent your life being a martyr, you'll just be more of one in your later years.

And if you've been resilient and positive, you will be even more so as you age.

So, is that good news or bad news to you? And do you agree with the theory?

If you believe it's true and don't like what you see in yourself, it's never too late to make changes. Though change can be difficult, it isn't impossible—especially with help from your friends and even with some coaching.

Create a vision for who and what you want to be in your later years. Then decide what steps you will take to get there. If you want an accountability partner for making these changes, please contact me. We'll start with an absolutely no-obligation, complimentary strategy session.

Take charge of your life today. Become the person you want. It is possible.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Is 'thin' your goal?

I heard it years ago when I attended Weight Watchers. I saw it again in their materials the other day.

"Nothing tastes as good as thin," it says.

I wonder. I know what they're trying to say. The taste of no food is quite so good that it can trump the feeling of being thin. And I really do support what Weight Watchers tries to do: get women (and men) to eat well in a sustainable fashion. It's not about dieting. It's about changes in eating habits.

But I would change the wording: Nothing tastes as good as healthy. I'm not sure we should necessarily aspire to "thin." I personally resist the societal messages that place value on us as women according to our dress size or a perfect hour-glass figure. You and I are so much more than that. Our value comes from who we are, not how we look.

I can sign on to wanting to be healthy, however. I want to keep my health as long as is possible. I feel better when I eat well and exercise. That's what will inspire me: Nothing tastes as good as healthy.

I'd love to hear your reactions. How do you respond to all the advertising urging us to be thin?

Friday, May 25, 2012

5 questions to ask about your relationships

We all have relationship problems from time to time. It might be with our children—or with our significant other or partner. Lots of times the issues arise in our friendships or in our workplace with colleagues.

Sometimes you need to make a choice about whether or not you wish to keep a relationship. Is this a friendship you need to drop? Is your marriage completely broken? Such decisions require a lot of thought and soul-searching.

Other relationship issues, however, might benefit from asking yourself 5 questions:

• Am I expecting perfection when what I really want is simply to enjoy what is possible?

• What do I want from this relationship?

• And what do I give to it?

• If I didn't have this relationship in my life, what would I miss?

• What am I willing to do to keep it in my life? (Remember: You cannot change anyone but yourself.)

Sometimes we simply need to be realistic about what is possible. Always we need to look at our part in the relationship dance.

Please share with us in the Comment box what you have learned about relationships through the years. I'd love to hear.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ratchet up your self-esteem

Do you hold back when you're in a group? Do you do more listening than talking even when you're in a familiar group of people? Do you feel out of your comfort zone in most social settings? And do you think your opinion isn't worth very much?

Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem are far more common than you might think. Both self-esteem and self-confidence can be seen on a continuum. While you might not be at the far end of the continuum registering total lack of either one, you may wish to move up a notch or two toward a healthier feeling about yourself.

Many people don't see their value. And many think that if others knew who and what they really were, others wouldn't want them as friends or employees. Seldom are you born with a healthy self-image. You can feel better about yourself. It is possible.

You do not have to live forever with a low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. There's another more joyful and more powerful way to live your life! Contact me today for an absolutely no-obligation, complimentary strategy session to see how you can live in that joyful place!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Believing is seeing

Yesterday I mentioned the book Everyday Sacred: A Woman's Journey Home by Sue Bender. I just read something in it today that reminded me of a new twist on an old cliche that I'd heard years ago.

Bender wrote, "If you believe, you begin to look. And you begin to see what has been there all the time."

Years ago I heard an Episcopal priest take the cliche "Seeing is believing" and turn it around. He preached on the theme "Believing is seeing."

That's exactly what Bender seems to be saying. Once you believe something, you can see things you might have missed before. Or when you believe something, that belief affects how you see things.

For example, if you believe that people are intrinsically good, you will see a person that way (until proven wrong) and undoubtedly draw out the best in that person. You have heard stories about young children whose teachers thought them incapable of learning much. Of course, the students lived up to the expectations, right? Then along came a teacher who believed in the student. And suddenly, things changed. The child blossomed and grew.

What in your life could be changed today if you adjusted your belief about something?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Small changes add up

Do you look for big miracles, big changes? Me too. I think I overlook a lot of the small things in life.

My women's study group at church is discussing Sue Bender's Everyday Sacred: A Woman's Journey Home. Today I read, "I wanted a big miracle .... Instead, to my surprise, I began to discover the power of small things." Later on the same page, Bender writes, "Small changes in behavior, attitude, feelings, can, like the little pebbles, add up to another kind of miracle. Small miracles do build up and they can last."

I like that. It's so true. When clients tell me their dreams and goals, I ask them to break them down into bite-sized pieces. What can you do today to move toward your dream? What one or two things can you change this week that will get you closer to your goals?

Small things do add up. After all, one doesn't climb Mt. Everest in one giant step.

Even a small change in outlook and attitude can help. If you are typically a glass-half-empty type of person, rather than try turn yourself overnight into a glass-half-full person, why not simply try to end each day just finding one or two positive things about your day? You will have more chance for success by doing it gradually than by making such a huge shift.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Joy and sadness intertwined

Have you changed jobs recently? Or done an entire career change? Remember to tend to your grieving!

What?! I can hear you asking, "Did you say grieving?" Yes, I did. Even when we make our own decision, we can feel a sense of loss for whatever we're leaving behind. Saying "Hello" to something most often means saying "Goodbye" to something else. So even if you're headed for your Dream Job, there just might be things you'll miss about your old job.

Unemployment is not fun. But even that can offer some things you'll miss when you return to work: more time with your family and friends or time to catch up on sleep.

Think about what you're leaving behind. Grieve it. Let it go.  And then move on with gratitude and excitement to the next stage of your life. You'll feel better about it all if you've acknowledged any grief that is hiding around the edges of your joy!

Share your experience of realizing that sadness can be part of the joy of any new stage. What did you do? How did you deal with it and move on? I'd love to hear from you in the Comment box below.

Friday, May 18, 2012

'Listening Is an Act of Love'

I'm writing an article for a women's magazine on listening and hearing. As is so often true for writers, I'm learning more than I suspect the readers will.

How often do you feel really heard? And how are you at listening, really listening, to others?

Because we have so many messages coming at us every day, we have to employ selective hearing. It would be silly to listen as deeply to a commercial as to our child or partner. The trick is to tune out those unimportant things and still be able to be present in a real way to those we care about. It's all about being awake and aware. It's about paying attention.

National Public Radio often airs recorded stories of ordinary people in a format called StoryCorps. This oral history project features stories recorded by a husband and wife, a grandson and grandfather, partners, siblings and all sorts of other combinations. They tell their stories to each other or tell their shared story. One of the stated purposes of the project is to teach the art of listening. A book by Dave Isay, the project's founder, is titled Listening Is an Act of Love.

If listening truly is a way to show love, what are you doing today to be sure you really hear those around you? And how can you help others in your life know you want to be heard?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 questions to help you find your passion

If you are asking the question "What do I want to do (or be) when I grow up?" here are are three other questions that might shed some light for you. If they don't give you definitive answers, they can at least get you started on the journey.

1) When you were a young child, what did you always think you would do? Those early years can tell us a lot about ourselves. They represent our character and personality before we were programmed by society and other life forces. Think about the things you absolutely loved doing then, too—and those you really didn't like.

2) What do you want to do when you retire? Is there some passion you're longing to express but always thought you needed to wait until retirement? Is there any reason you need to wait?

3) What do you want to do before you die? You may find clues to your yearnings and passions by exploring a bucket list or even a thimble list (the smaller things in life you want to do before it's too late).

Dreaming is good. So even if your responses don't seem practical, develop them and write them down. You can worry about practicality after you get several ideas on the table and once you create your action plan to get where you want to go.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So what?

Several clients in the past have shared deep pain about their past job experiences. I have heard a sense of failure, loss of self-esteem and confidence, and a lack of hope moving forward.

These experiences are very real for those who shared them. The burn-out and damaged self-image do need to be addressed. You can't simply talk yourself out of them.

However, it is helpful to realize that these feelings aren't the entire truth. Author Paula D'Arcy tells the story of sharing her trials and heartbreaks with a wise mentor. After hearing her outpouring, he asked her: "So what?"

Rather than being offended by those two words, she sensed in his eyes and his attitude the deep love and caring. D'Arcy realized that what he really was saying to her was, "Don't get lost there. It's not who you are. Those are experiences you've had. That's all. You're the self who lived through them. Know her."

Good advice. Wise words. A string of what you consider failures or hurtful job experiences is not who you are. Those are experiences you've had. Now, what's the rest of the story? Who are you and what are your gifts? Go with that—and at the same time, do what you need to do to handle the burn-out and self-image issues.

Let's get you moving forward—if you resonate with this post. I invite you to contact me today to schedule a no-obligation, complimentary consultation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Giving your power away

Yesterday we talked about feeling valued and appreciated.

Do you ever feel that you give away some of your personal power by allowing the opinions of others (especially in the workplace) to define you? I have done that more than I care to admit.

I like what another of my favorite authors Paula D'Arcy says in her book A New Set of Eyes: "I remember their seeming power, then, to validate and sometimes define me. I recall longing for their approval. But it is clear to me from this perspective that they had no power at all. The only power they had was given to them by me. It seems an incredible irony. My freedom was never wrested from me. I handed it out in large and small pieces."

Check it out in your life today: Are others defining you? Do you take what others seem to think of you as the truth? Does it create your self-image? What's your part in this dance? And how can you take back your personal power?

Awareness is the first step. Stop—when you notice that your self-image is being formed by others. Ask—is what others think or say really the truth about you. Reframe—affirm for yourself who and what you really are.

If this has become a real issue for you, I invite you to contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary consultation to discover tools for change.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Feeling valued

Do you feel valued and appreciated in your job?

I can't tell you how many women (and men) tell me they feel overworked, underpaid and totally undercut and undervalued in their jobs. It's a pretty common theme these days. Perhaps it's always been. The net effect of all that is that if you change jobs or lose your job and start a new career search, you begin with lower self-esteem and self-confidence. You may also begin from a position of burn-out.

If you are in a position to switch jobs or careers and really need to do so, I encourage you to move forward. Many of you cannot do that, however. You need that job, no matter how you are treated.

If that is your situation, what can you do to improve things? Even if the only thing you can do is change your attitude, that can become a game-changer. Do whatever you can to nourish your spirit outside of the workplace so you have the energy to face your job every day. Don't forget about self-care. It's often the first thing to go when you reach burn-out.

If you feel fed and nurtured outside your job, you can bring that positive energy and outlook into your workplace. Even if it has no effect on others, it will make you happier. And sometimes, that does have a ripple effect. In one of my former workplaces, I felt I had to do so much self-care just to stay positive and upbeat. It didn't end up changing the workplace, not much anyway. But it did change me.

How do you deal with these issues in your job? Do you have some tips to share with the rest of us? Please do so in the Comment box below.

Friday, May 11, 2012

'This one wild and precious life'

Are you where you want to be?

As you do a quick review of your life right now, are you satisfied? Do you like the relationships you have, and do they nurture you? Are you happy in your career choice and the job you have now?

If you want to make changes, now is a good time to create an action plan. First, flesh out where you want to be. What would that life look like? How would you feel? Then create a plan to move toward that dream.

Perhaps you only want to tweak things as they are now. Or perhaps you desire dramatic change. Either way, it helps to draw the picture in your mind of where you want to go—and then, step by step, think about how you will get there.

Face obstacles honestly
It also helps to be honest about the obstacles you'll face, whether external or internal. Sometimes the biggest hurdles are those in your mind. That's OK. It's normal. Don't let that hold you back.

The words of one of my favorite poets Mary Oliver often propel me forward: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

What a good question. It is precious. And we have this one life—let's be sure we live it!

Please contact me if you want to strategize about changes and dreams. I have needed help along the way (and still do), and I love helping other women pursue their dreams, too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's good about anger?

Have you been taught, as I was, that anger in a woman is unattractive and should be avoided at all costs? It's been said that men get to have anger as an emotion, and women get to have sadness.

What I have learned through my life experience, however, is that there can be an upside to anger. A dear friend of mine, Martha O. Adams, in her book of poetry titled Peeling the Rind included a line that struck me when I first read it 12 years ago and that lives with me still: "Mine the gold in anger."

Gold in anger? Yes, there is an energy in anger that can be mined and used. Am I recommending you go around angry all the time? Of course not. What I have learned—and do recommend, however—is to notice when you are really angry about something. See what that anger is telling you: Is there some injustice that needs to be righted? Do you need to change something in your life? Change a relationship, or get out of it? Switch jobs or careers? Speak up about something? Use the energy in your anger to propel you to make the necessary change—to find your voice. Then let go of the anger.

Don't carry the anger
It's not wise to carry around the anger. Accumulated anger becomes a huge weight not unlike a ball-and-chain on your ankle. But to do as my friend Martha suggests and "mine the gold" in it can move you forward.

Author Sue Patton Thoele in The Woman's Book of Confidence also advises: "We women, with fires burning deeply in our hearts over the ills in our world, country, community, and in our own homes, have the ability to be a revolutionary force to be reckoned with as we fight for love, personal freedom, and an awareness of the connectedness of all persons and things."

Tend to any anger you feel today. See what it's telling you. Use its energy. Then let go. See how good you'll feel!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where will you go?

I hear a lot these days about "encore careers" and new life after retirement from long-standing careers. Women have so many interests and such long to-do lists that I'm not sure we ever really do retire. And that's just fine. But I love the idea of seeing retirement as a time to follow your passion, to pursue dreams you may never have been able to consider before.

When syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman retired, here's what she said in her final column:

"The phrase that kept running through my head as I considered this next step was: 'I'm letting myself go.' Yes ... I can see the illustration: out of shape, lazy, slovenly, the very worst things you can whisper about a woman of a certain age. But I love the idea of reclaiming that phrase. After all, where will you go when you let yourself go? To let this question fill the free space between deadlines in my life has been quite liberating. It suggests the freedom that can fuel this journey."

Isn't that a totally different view of "letting yourself go"? How liberating! Where will you go when you let yourself go? For what do you long? What's your passion? Do you dare to follow it? Can you build a career or a life that contains it?

Go for it! At least see what it might take to pursue your dreams (and you don't have to wait until retirement). I would love to help you to do just that. Contact me today for an absolutely no-obligation, complimentary strategy session to see where you can go when you "let yourself go".

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Balanced or grounded?

You hear a lot these days about a life being in balance. Is balance something for which you strive? Dozens of books have been written about balance. I've written several blogs on the topic, for that matter.

Lately I've been wondering whether balance is the right concept, though. The term can imply that there is a place at which you'll arrive where things are all evened out: Your personal and professional sides will be lived out in a proper ratio. Your social, emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual aspects will each have the proper amount of attention and care.

Perhaps that isn't what you strive for so much as it is a feeling of groundedness—of being centered. Is what you want really that perfect ratio between each aspect of your life? (Perhaps it is.) Or is it that you would like that feeling of equanimity and calm that you are somehow holding it all together as best you can? Perhaps not perfectly. But the best you can. You feel grounded and centered, knowing that you can manage what comes your way (always with a little help from your family, friends or coach, of course!).

Do you feel grounded in your own wisdom and your ability to cope? If you don't, what would it take for you to feel that way? What are the obstacles?

If this is a topic you'd like to explore, I invite you to contact me for an absolutely no-obligation, complimentary strategy session. If it's a topic about which you feel confident, I'd love to hear your ideas in the Comment box below.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Finding hope

I recently had a conversation with a woman struggling to choose between what she thought were two quite different career paths. During the course of our talks together over a few weeks' time, she did lots of hard work and reflecting. I asked questions to help her look at her situation in new ways. Events occurred that seemingly came out of the blue for her, too.

The bottom line? She is beginning to see ways that she can combine the best of both worlds into a career path. She is doing both/and thinking. She feels hope now—and a sense of excitement and focus that wasn't there before is settling into her bones.

Isn't it amazing what a difference a day or a week or a month can make? What a difference it makes when two people focus completely on what's happening in the one person's life! That's what I love about being coached by someone else. And that's what I find powerful about the privilege of coaching others. It is extremely exciting to see the shift that can occur—and the possibilities that emerge. It's rewarding to watch hope grow and to see either/or thinking replaced by both/and.

For what do you yearn today? What stands in the way? What do you have to do to get there? I'd love to be part of your journey if you think coaching might help you get from where you are to where you really long to be.

Please contact me today for an absolutely no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Let's get you on your way!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A fight inside you

Are you a cup-half-full or a cup-half-empty person? Typically positive or negative? You are who and what you are for a variety of reasons. I am, too. Many influences shape us.

That said, I still believe in trying to live from a more positive stance, even if I can't be that way 100 percent of the time.

Ever since I heard what's said to be a Cherokee story several years ago, I've had it hanging on my office wall or tried to keep it in mind. The story goes like this: A grandfather was talking with his grandson one day. He said, "A war is going on inside me. It's a terrible fight between two wolves."

The grandson was alarmed and asked more about it. The grandfather continued: "One wolf is angry—he is envy, greed, selfishness, arrogance, hatred, self-pity and other negative qualities. The other wolf is beautiful and friendly, loving, compassionate, honest, grateful, peaceful and other positive qualities."

The grandson continued listening intently, and his grandfather said, "This same fight is going on inside you and all human beings, too."

This really got the young boy's attention. "But which wolf will win, Grandfather?"

To which the grandfather responded, "The wolf you feed."

Ah, yes, how true. Which wolf are you feeding today?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Be here now

I just came across something a friend sent me in a 2005 email. I have no idea who wrote this but the words really struck me today. And I'm guessing they'll speak to many of you, too.

"There is enormous power in this moment. The more fully you experience what is here right now, the more that power is available to you.

"Are you angry or bitter, disappointed or resentful about what has happened in the past? Then much of the power of this moment will be out of your reach.

"Are you anxious and worried about something that may or may not happen in the future? Then you will miss out on the opportunity to create real and lasting value from this powerful moment you are in.

"Imagine that everything you are, everything you know, everything you care about, is focused into this very moment. And feel the enormous power of what you can, right here and now, do with it all.

"Rise above the murky fog of what could have been and what someday might or might not come to pass. Focus the whole of your being on what is, and on the overflowing abundant opportunities this moment presents to you.

"There is great and wonderful power in this very moment, in who you are, in where you are right now. See it, be it, and let yourself live it fully."

So let go of old disappointments, stop living like the caterpillar. Prepare to live in this moment you've been given. And soar—like the beautiful butterfly you were meant to be!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The learning curve

It seems I have to keep learning the same lesson over and over—the one about just going with the flow when my day is nothing like I'd planned. And the one about asking for help.

Now that my coaching website has officially launched, the web designer has turned over to me the "care and feeding" of the site. Mind you, I'm a journalist/writer-turned-coach. I'm not a techie, though I can certainly find my way around the web. So I have a steep learning curve right now. And that might be an understatement! I'm learning about auto responders, mail merge and a million other new things.

Today (I'm writing this on Monday) I had planned to spend time becoming familiar with the scheduling calendar you can find on my my website Calendar page. I need to learn how to block out unavailable times for those no-obligation, complimentary strategy sessions I offer.

First, though, I thought I'd just dash off some of the week's daily blogs and prepare my May ezine for delivery tomorrow. Of course, very little went right. By early afternoon I was at the point of tearing my hair out. Well, not literally. But you get the picture.

Time to stop and take some deep breaths. And put out a cry for help to my wise and faithful web designer (Karin at Graddy Solutions). Sadly, though, I spent a good share of my day trying one thing and another before I called for help. Sometimes trial and error is a good way to learn. Today probably wasn't the best day for that.

So if you have trouble with anything on my website (such as leaving comments), please don't be embarrassed to ask for help. And do tell me if something isn't working for you. Believe me, I'll understand. Been there, done that. And I will probably be there again!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Still learning ... after all these years

I have three daughters-in-law whom I really love—strong and feisty women! Caring and delightful women. Women who successfully blend careers with mothering and strong marriages. Although I know they have their moments of doubt, too, I look at them and think how unlike them I was at their age.

I was unsure of myself, lacked a healthy self-image and didn't take time for self-care. I dieted to try fit the image of what young mothers should be. I worried far too much about what others thought.

It's been a long process to get to this stage of life and liberation! I know now how important self-care is. I also know that a healthy self-image doesn't mean I am vain. There was so much to learn in these past years. And I still have much more to learn. I hope I will keep learning until I take my final breath.

How grateful I am for all those women who have been teachers in my life, and that includes authors, poets and other artists who inspire me to be the best I can be. And it definitely includes my three daughters-in-law, who are also my teachers as I learn things I didn't learn coming up in a different time.

Who have been some of your life teachers? I'd love to have a conversation in the Comment area below. (You can click on "Anonymous" when it asks your identity if you'd like. Some people have been confused by that choice.)