Friday, August 31, 2012

Flip-flopping or transformation?

In these last few months, with politics front-and-center, we have heard a lot about "flip-flopping." And while I definitely believe that people should be true to whatever beliefs and positions they espouse at the time, I also believe in the possibility of change and transformation.

Do you hold the same beliefs about yourself that you had when you were a young adult? Do you see the world in the same way you did right out of college? I know I don't.

I would hope that as we add to our experience, we grow and change. As we experience more of life, perhaps even tasting failures and mistakes, we come to savor the transformation that is offered within those very situations.

When a politician proudly says he or she hasn't changed in any way in the last 30 years, I don't find that to be an asset. I would hope that person has tasted more of life and has seen and experienced things that have left a profound impression and meant growth and change. I would hope that we're capable of growth and new insights until we take our final breath.

Just as a caterpillar sheds its skin multiple times on its journey to become the beautiful butterfly, so we, too, experience transformation again and again.

I invite you to embrace it. Yes, even embrace change—difficult as it may be initially. Very often, it can offer possibilities and choices we didn't dream possible. I remember being shocked at first when I've heard people say they were grateful for their cancer (or some other illness or devastating situation)—because it had put them on a much different path, one that offered deeper joy and contentment. Now I get it. And I agree.

What is your experience of transformation? I'd love to hear in the Comment box below.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Choice and change

It took me a long time to learn that I didn't have to fight every battle and take on every injustice I faced in the workplace. (And I have to be honest and admit that for an Enneagram 8, that was pretty difficult! We always want to make the world a better place for everyone, and doesn't that mean fighting injustice wherever we find it??!!)

Recently a client admitted to me that she was so much more aware these days of office dysfunction and problems. She also knew that awareness doesn't always need to lead to action. She simply could not take on everything and be the office caretaker or rescuer. It takes too much energy and, generally, it isn't effective anyway.

My client had to choose what she would overlook and/or leave to others—and what she would choose to address or try to change. And once she chose to overlook some things, she needed to find practices that could help her truly let go of them. She has mantras she repeats to herself when she is tempted to jump into a situation. For example: "I will live out of my own container of love and compassion, regardless of others' actions." Sometimes she just needs to take a five-minute walk away from her desk to step back from a situation. You'll find your own methods.

The same is true in relationships, isn't it? We need to pick our battles, to put it in warfare terms that are commonly used. It's a good thing to remember in the workplace and at home—and in organizations and groups to which we belong.

Save your energy for that which you really can change. Don't spend it on the rest. It will only wear you down and make you angry and resentful—not a good place to live!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Today is a gift

"Be here now." Have you heard that statement before?

Most of us spend a lot of time looking backward and also looking forward. We're chewing over the past. Perhaps we are living in the land of Regret. Or maybe we're spending time in Blame, either reflecting on what others have said or done to us or something we have done. At the same time, we're probably worrying about the future. What should we do if this happens? What will we do if he says such-and-such or she does so-and-so?

While it's understandable that we live this way, it really isn't helpful. And it denies us the beauty and freshness of the present moment.

Can you change the past? No. It is what it is. You can accept it, learn from it and let it go.

Can you foretell the future? No. Most times what you and I worry about never materializes, and we've wasted immense energy on it. By the way, being anxious and worrying about the future is quite different from actually planning what you want to do. Dreaming and planning are positive. Worrying is not.

What you and I have is right now. Today. This moment. Stop and notice what's around you right now. What do you see? Smell? What are you feeling? Try to be in the present moment—and appreciate it for what it is. Let's try to live awake and aware. Life can be so much richer when we do.

As Bil Keane ("The Family Circus" cartoonist) said, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present." Enjoy the gift of today! Feel the joy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Face the fear and pain

Today I'm reminded that the only way through something is through it. Not over, under or around it. But through!

Do you have fears, pain, a situation or an obstacle of some type that is preventing you from walking through some door in your life right now? Perhaps you want or need to make changes in some relationship but are afraid to do so. Or have you been downsized or rightsized (or capsized) in your job? Are you facing a health issue that's absolutely terrifying? Maybe you're dealing with grief and loss. It could even be some generalized anxiety and you're not even sure of its source.

I'm right there with you today. And what I have learned in the past, over and over, is that I do best if I quit avoiding the pain or the fear. I do best if I walk right into it and work through it. It isn't easy. It hurts so much. It's a process and doesn't happen overnight. But the "other side" is so much better!

I hope you have a support system of friends and family. Call on them to surround you with care as you face whatever is in front of you. This is a time for all the self-care and care from others that you can gather.

Please contact me if you want to sort through such a time in your life. Together, we'll get you to that "other side" that feels so much better.  Meanwhile, I'm off to make a phone call—to my beloved sister, who's a big part of my support system! And then into the fear I'm feeling right now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

'Bless and release'

Sometimes I chew over something again and again, seemingly unable to let go of it. It might be a fear, it might even be a grudge, or it can be old baggage. Often it involves another person: a friend, loved one, or a colleague of some type.

One amazing coach with whom I worked taught me her method of "Bless and release." I've been using it to good effect ... and I always recommend it to others, too.

When I am carrying a grudge, for example, or angry with someone, I first let myself feel the anger and the emotion of the grudge. And then I bless the person—or the situation—and let go. (If it helps to imagine dumping that grudge or anger into the sea or setting it on fire, do that. Do whatever helps you really shake it off.) Lest you think this is a one-time-only deal, let me assure you that it takes time. It's a process. Typically, I have to repeat the bless and release process many times before I've really let go. Even if you are blessing a person or situation through gritted teeth, don't give up. Just keep blessing. And releasing. Blessing. And releasing.

It is positively freeing to really let go of things that hold us back. And anger, grudges and old baggage really do hold us back. They can feel like the proverbial ball-and-chain as we continue to lug that stuff around.

Let go. Let go some more. And let go again. I invite you to try the "Bless and release" method for yourself. Please contact me if you'd like to talk more about this. I always offer a complimentary, absolutely no-obligation strategy session to anyone who requests it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wonder Woman complex

Do you, like me, have a Wonder Woman costume hanging nearby, ready to grab at any moment? (Or perhaps you're one of the fortunate women who's not plagued with that desire to help and rescue—to caretake everyone around you.)

Yesterday I mentioned that I have a lot on my plate right now. In some of the situations with which I'm dealing, I am so tempted to grab that W.W. costume off my rack, suit up and fly into action. I'm trying very hard to just detach from outcomes and do only what is mine to do, not what is appropriately someone else's. Ever been there?

We women tend to carry lots of responsibility for the well-being of those we love—and sometimes, it seems, for the entire world! It gets pretty heavy. And truth be told, we can barely make the changes we need to make as individuals, much less help others with theirs. It doesn't stop us from trying, though, does it? And when I say this, I don't mean that we don't do the care giving that's appropriate, for example, of our young children or of aging parents. I'm talking about all the other rescuing and over-functioning I do, and perhaps you do, too.

Today I'm thinking that perhaps I should just bury that Wonder Woman costume. Maybe it's time to let go of some responsibility. What do you think? I'd love to hear what you do when you find yourself trying to "save the world."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Short and sweet

I have a lot on my plate right now. I feel anxious and stressed. I'm not sleeping so well. And my "to do" list is growing.

Whew, I'm trying to take some deep breaths—and do what I encourage all of you to do: Practice good self-care and tackle things one small step at a time.

I've just put on some calming classical music, lit my candle and set a cup of coffee on the table beside my glider in my meditation space. I've also taken out my journal, knowing that it always helps me to write my feelings.

This blog is short and sweet ... because my glider, journal and coffee are calling me. I know you'll understand. And I hope you do whatever you need for yourself, too, whenever you feel anxiety and stress rising. Please take care of yourself!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Consistent, small changes

It's not about instant transformation, my Weight Watchers leader tells us each week. It's about making small changes on a consistent basis—and staying with them, even when you don't see a difference immediately.

She's so right about that. Some weeks I'm disappointed in myself for food choices I've made. Other weeks I am proud of them. I am learning (slowly!) to be content either way. After all, I'm human! I know that, over all, I have drastically changed the way I eat and the type of foods I consume. Our leader encourages us to not give up those foods (or drinks) we really enjoy. If we do that, she tells us, we will soon quit the plan because we feel deprived. Our personal eating plan needs to be sustainable.

That's good advice for the rest of life, too. It's not about instant transformation. When we want to make changes in lifestyle, career, relationships or any other part of life, it's far easier to bite off manageable chunks that over time will add up to real transformation. For example, after my divorce when I wanted to build my self-esteem, I started first with stopping the negative self-talk. That took a while. Once I had managed that fairly well, I could move on to affirmations and learning how to talk kindly to myself (as I would to a friend). Then came a deeper look at my attitudes about weight, worth, and, in my case, perfectionism. I didn't climb that mountain in one step. I took several small steps—and am still taking steps, in fact. I consider myself a work-in-progress!

Small changes on a consistent basis: Where do you want to start today?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Staying informed—yet positive

I flipped open my latest copy of Newsweek during lunch one day last week and was captured by a lengthy story on the anxiety Americans feel these days. The article chronicled a long list of negatives from job losses and the economy to the costs of a college education and the fact that college grads can't get jobs to seniors not being able to retire ... and on and on.

By the time I read the entire article, my head was so low it was almost on my plate! The whole thing was pretty depressing. Not one note of hope in the entire piece.

Now I was trained as a journalist and spent more than two decades employed as one before I trained as a life coach and switched careers. I want to keep abreast of news and events in the world. But some days I wonder if I just need to tune it out a bit more. I don't want to hide my head in the sand and ignore reality. But I do want to remain as positive as I can so I feel more emotionally capable of facing whatever comes. Somewhere there's a balance to be struck!

How do you find the balance between staying informed and staying positive and content with life? I'd love to hear how you do that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open those doors

When I trained to become a life coach, I did dozens of sample sessions with friends and relatives. I won't forget my coaching session with my sister. It was delightful to watch her make discoveries.

She told me later that she felt that, with my deep listening and my focused questions, I was "opening doors" for her, one after another. One question opened a door that she walked through. She did some exploring in that space. I asked another question and that opened yet another door. More discovery and exploration. And so on.

I really love the image she described. I have long been enchanted with photographs of doors. I've seen them often at art fairs in the photographic displays. I always wonder what's behind a door. I think of all the possibilities.

I was so excited, and so humbled, to be part of a process that opened doors for my sister. I still am captivated by the image of one doorway after another extending far out ahead of me, with each door opening, one after the other. What possibilities! What an invitation to discovery!

Do you have some doors you'd like to open? Come, explore with me ... and let's help you discover new possibilities for your life, your career, your relationships or wherever you need open doors. Who knows what transformation awaits?!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Warning or example: Which will you be?

My sister always tells me if we can't be an example to others, we'll be a warning! I think it's true, and I've repeated it many times. Many things have served as warnings in my life. And, sad to say, perhaps I've also served as a warning to others from time to time, too.

Many years ago I saw way too many mid-life or older women who were miserably unhappy. Perhaps they were living with regrets rather than gratitude. It could be that they made choices they didn't feel free to undo later. Whatever the reason, I told myself I would do everything possible so I didn't end up like that. I really didn't want to be a bitter, old woman.

Sure, I've had my share of regrets. I've had tough times. Sad times. I've made choices I wish I hadn't. But I realize now that I have begun to live into that state for which I so longed: a place of serenity and contentment.

Does this mean every waking moment is joy-filled? No. Does it mean that I never get sad, angry or down about things? No.

What it means, for me anyway, is that I do the best I can, make the best choices I'm able to make, and try to be OK about living with the results. If I need to tweak something or change a decision and it is reversible, I can do that. I remind myself, if not daily, at least several times a week how many things I have for which I am grateful (I keep a Gratitude Journal to help with that attitude). I try to focus on the positive rather than the negative side of things (and I'd done plenty of complaining in prior years, especially about workplace issues!). More often now, I consider the Serenity Prayer.

Are you aging gracefully? Do you need an attitude change right now? It's never too late.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Fifty is Freedom'

"I'm really not ready to be this age," she told me. "I am having a difficult time dealing with this year's birthday!" One client told me her aging process was dragging her down.

Most of us have one age that really trips us up and gives us pause. For some women it's already at age 30. For others, it's 40 or 50. Still others really can't get past the idea of turning 60. And some women think 70 will make them positively ancient.

Where are you with your aging process? Are you at acceptance? Are you even embracing it?

Author Sue Patton Thoele adopts a new motto for each decade so she can concentrate on the positives rather than the negatives. One such motto was "Fifty is Freedom." She explained that her fifties brought her "the freedom of no longer being chained to 'What will they think?' but instead, 'What do I think?'"

You might want to try Thoele's idea. For example, Forty is Fabulous. Sixty is Serenity. Seventy is Sweet. Before you can find a motto, you'll want to list the joys and freedoms you've gained from living the number of years you already have. We all know about the negatives, about what can happen to the body as we add on years (and perhaps even pounds). But what are the positives you've discovered?

See if you can come to peace with the age you are now or the one you're about to embrace. Life will be so much happier for you—and for everyone who loves you.

Please contact me if you'd like to discuss this or any other issue related to aging, health, career, relationships or other life questions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Expectations and motivation

Expectations. It's so easy to set the bar so high that we sabotage ourselves. It's easy, too, to "should" on ourselves with a long list of difficult expectations. It doesn't matter whether the expectations relate to your career, health, diet, relationships or any other aspect of your life. Unrealistic expectations can be a de-motivator as we weave our way through life's changes.

Maybe you've never had an issue with unrealistic or too-high expectations. I have. And it trips me up every time I do.

When I was Reduced In Force from my job of 22 years, I thought, "I know how to do grief work. I'll do that for a couple weeks, do a ritual of loss, and then I'll be ready to apply for new jobs and create new dreams." Riiiiight!

I made a list of all the losses created by my job loss. I journaled about them. I cried. I prayed. I raged. I shared with friends and family. I created and did a ritual of loss. Then I began applying for new jobs. I even had a second interview for one. When I didn't get that job, I was devastated all over again. Then I realized I had lots more work to do before I was ready for any new dreams. And as I worked with a life coach, I was reminded of what a lengthy process grief can be. Why did I think otherwise?

In time, I felt much more ready for something new. I felt more clear inside, having let go of a good deal of the anger and sadness related to my former job. To this day, I can still feel the sheer joy that filled me when I signed up for my life coach training program! I definitely was ready for my new dream at that point. My heart confirmed it. Change was coming—and with it, transformation.

What expectations are holding you up today? What would you like to do about it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just like a plant

It is dangerously dry here in Illinois. Perhaps it is where you live, too. My lawn is brown and crunchy, and my plants and flowers are just hanging on. And the poor farmers are in desperate straits.

I watered my flowers and plants around the house after dinner tonight. They were all looking pretty sad and seemed to be calling to me: "Help, please help!" After a nice soaking, I was amazed to see how some of them already perked up. They really responded to the nourishment.

Are you any different? I'm not. Sometimes I am not in a good place, for one reason or another, and I may appear to my friends just like my plants did to me: "Help!" Very often, with a sympathetic listening ear, some time and loving attention, I perk up again. My problem is still there. But I feel able to handle it because I've been nurtured and nourished.

I remember the afternoon when I lost my job. As I drove home, absolutely devastated, I called each of my three sons. Of course, they responded with love and affirmations of my worth and value. And they comforted me. Then that night, my dear friend came over with one of my favorite comfort foods: moose-track ice cream.

I still had the same problem: I'd been Reduced In Force. But I had companions on the journey. I had been nourished. It made all the difference—and allowed me to go back to the office the next day to clean out all my files and say goodbyes. Of course, that wasn't the end of the story—and I was blessed to receive lots more nurturing and nourishment in the days ahead. That helped me grieve my losses and eventually, to dream new dreams.

Who and what is nourishing you these days?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Your body can tell you

Sometimes a client will have so much going on in her life that her head is just swimming with details, to-do lists, "shoulds" and questions. I know that feeling.

So when I ask, "Where are you today?" she isn't even sure. It's tough to pinpoint when so much is swirling around. And it's difficult to work on things when focus isn't even possible.

Has that happened to you? Those are the times to pause, breathe deeply for a little while and then check in with different parts of your body. Where are you feeling tension? Your neck? Back? Legs? What is the nature of the tension? Like something pressing down on you? Constricting? Knots in your neck and shoulders? When have you felt that type of stress in that area before? And what did it signal?

Your body knows
Generally, checking in with your body will help you focus on what's happening right at that moment—and tell you what needs attention. Remember to do what you can to slow down your breathing—and to deepen it, too. Often when we're extremely stressed, our breathing is shallow and rapid, causing us to be even more stressed.

Once you focus on what's going on with you in that moment, imagine putting all the other issues in a drawer temporarily so you can deal with what most needs your attention. You can always go back to the drawer to pull out another problem or issue when you're ready to tackle it. Face your stress a little at a time—don't try to take it all in a single bite! And let your body help you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is fear holding you back?

Is fear holding you back from something you'd really like to do? Or from something you know you really need to do?

Perhaps you know one of your relationships isn't working. You are afraid to rock the boat and make changes—or even ask for change. It might be that you need changes in your workplace but don't dare ask. Or you really need to find a new job. Perhaps something in your life requires you to move out beyond your comfort zone. And you are just flat-out scared.

I have been there, that's for sure. And I probably will be again. One thing I find helpful is to treat Fear like a person or separate entity. Face it head-on. Ask Fear some questions. What's so important to you? What's being threatened? What value are you trying to protect? Just keep asking questions and drilling down until you can learn more about what's going on with the fear.

Once you understand more about the nature of the fear, you may well realize that you really will be able to move ahead with what you want or need to do. Facing the fear will reduce it in size and make it more manageable. And understanding it will likely suggest choices to you on how to live with it and still move ahead. It's often said that courage is simply facing the fear and doing what you feared anyway.

If you want help with fears in your life, please contact me for a free, no-obligation strategy session. It's often easier to break through the fear when two people are working on it together.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Know who you are, part II

Yesterday we talked about how helpful the Enneagram is to knowing yourself and being able to make choices based on that self-knowledge. I gave you a couple resources to help you discover which of the nine Enneagram types you are. Today I want to also mention the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

I first took the Myers-Briggs test more than 20 years ago. I will never forget what an aha-moment it was when I discovered my four-letter type and read a description or portrait of that type (I was an ENFJ at that time). I wondered if the person who gave me the test and scored it had been hiding in my house! The portrait really fit in so many ways.

One of the best parts was that I discovered what was natural or "normal" for my type. It helped me quit being so hard on myself for things I didn't do. An ENFJ doesn't like dealing with logic or facts that are unrelated to other people. So when it came to just hard, cold facts, I was bored silly. But tell me how those facts relate to the well-being of others and you've got my attention. So what was the point of beating up on myself for not being good with statistics when what really mattered to me was building relationships and using my gifts to help others?

Gradually over the years, I've moved over into being an INFJ—still very similar. And again, reading a portrait of that type helps me understand my patterns. I recommend you take the test if you haven't done so already. There are some online tests that are based on the Myers-Briggs. If you want to take the real thing, you'll need to see a professional who's been trained. But these online resources will give you a good idea of your type (and then you can Google "ENFJ portrait," for example, to read about your type): Human Metrics and another one called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which is quite similar to Myers-Briggs.

The better you know yourself, the more accepting you become of who you are. And the easier it can be to make choices about becoming the healthiest of your type that you can.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Resources to discover who you are

Yesterday we talked about vulnerability in love relationships, whether that be friendships or family connections. Vulnerability is about being open to others, knowing there's a chance you can get hurt. It's about being willing to ask questions and not always have the answers. Vulnerability is being "susceptible to physical or emotional injury," says an online dictionary. It's about letting people in, opening your heart and risking whatever comes with that.

I'm an Enneagram 8 (variously called "The Challenger," "The Leader," "The Protector" or "The Rock," among other things). An 8's basic fear is of being controlled by others and the 8's basic desire is to determine their own course in life. The Challenger feels that she or he is good if she or he is strong. So I have long struggled with being really vulnerable, even though I'm a completely relational person and easily enter into deep friendships. I keep working on it, though, knowing that the more I share of my weaknesses, the more others will relate to me. I know it'll bring more balance for me, too.

What do you know about yourself? About your friendship or love style? I have found that knowing my Enneagram type (and my Myers-Briggs) helps me understand my behavior and make course corrections that take me to the healthy side of my type. It's a work-in-process, of course. And I get lots of other help along the way: coaching, sometimes counseling, and inspiration and support from family and friends—in addition to guidance from books and workshops.

If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram and determining your type, here are a couple website resources to help you: Eclectic Energies and Enneagram Test. I'd love to hear about your discoveries and what difference it makes for you. Please do contact me if you'd like to work on moving toward the healthy side of your type.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fear and love connected

There's a little bit of fear in all our love relationships, I read somewhere last week. Whaaaaaat?

As I read on, the writer explained, however. In all our relationships, whether friends we love or our partner or children, we experience some type of fear: fear of rejection, fear of being unable to love the other enough, fear of what we will do if that person dies or moves away or somehow is no longer in our life in the same way. Cutting to the chase, our love relationships contain an element of fear because we are vulnerable when we love others. When we love, we open ourselves up to hurt as well. We hurt others, and they hurt us ... no matter how hard we try to not do so.

Once I understood what was being said, I agreed. However, it did make me think that a bit of fear is fine. If those fears threaten to overwhelm us, though, perhaps it's time to examine them and see what we might do to keep things in perspective. Has that happened to you?

If you fear the person, that's another issue altogether. Then it's time to examine the health of the relationship and see what you need to do: seek changes in the relationship or perhaps even leave it. 

Think about your important relationships and see what your fear and vulnerability look like. Do you need to do anything about it, or is everything in proper proportion?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dreaming gets a bad rap

Some of my clients are dreamers. Some are pragmatic. And many are a blend. Where would you place yourself?

What I often find is that the dreamers don't value that part of themselves. I understand why. Our culture seems to highly value pragmatism and "the bottom line" above all else, and dreamers get short shrift. We don't value and thus, don't nurture, people's ability to dream and create long-term visions. And yet, where would this country be without the dreamers, without those who imagined something new and different?

Think of Steve Jobs. Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Or Walt Disney's imaginative mind that gave us fictional characters to enjoy and theme parks in which to play. And women, whose names aren't as well known but whose inventions are just as important: Stephanie Kwolek, who invented Kevlar, and Marion Donovan, who came up with the idea for a disposable diaper. And I'll bet you didn't know that actress Hedy Lamarr was a pioneer in the field of wireless communications with her "Secret Communications System" used to help combat the Nazis in World War II.

Dreamers. Yes, oh, yes, we need them. If you have a side of you that tends toward dreaming, don't lose it. Of course, you need a practical side to make a living (unless you were born an heiress!). But dreams are good. I've heard it said that we don't keep dreams alive; dreams keep us alive. I believe that. Once we lose our dreams—if we don't create new ones—we lose hope. Your dreams don't have to create the next big thing. They are just as important if they help you be all you were created to be.

Nurture the dreamer in you. See where it leads you. Do you need some changes in career, relationships or lifestyle? Dreams and longings are a good place to start.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Can work be fun?

Missy Franklin, 17, won an Olympic gold medal this week in the women's 100-meter backstroke swimming competition. Like all Olympic athletes, she has spent hours and hours training.

Unlike some athletes, however, Franklin believes in having fun with her swimming. Did she want to win? Yes, she was pretty clear about that. But in an interview of her that I saw earlier in the day of competition, she was also very clear about the fact that she wasn't going to stress out about competing and winning. The important thing, she said, was that she was smiling at the end of the day. She wanted swimming to be fun, not just hard work.

I have spent way too many years pushing myself very hard to do my best at work. I'm not saying I regret doing my best in jobs I've held. But I could have held them a little more lightly and still done a very good job. Perhaps I didn't need to be quite so hard on myself. I could have had a little more fun with my jobs. I could have relaxed a tad more.

I'm trying to do that now. I take my work as a coach very seriously. However, I also enjoy doing this so much. And because I want to be in a good zone when I coach my clients, I'm learning to detach from my anxieties and stress, to be more in the flow of conversation during coaching. I'm learning to have fun with it. And, honestly, I think it's opening me up more to be "in the moment" with my clients—open to whatever discoveries might emerge and wherever the path leads.

Do you have fun with how you're spending your days? If not, why? Want to change that? Contact me if you want to talk about this. I offer a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Joy and grief: the odd couple

Starting a new job or career? It's an exciting time, isn't it? It might be the honeymoon period where everything about the new position seems perfect to you. You like your new colleagues. You like your workplace. You like the job description.

Are you also feeling some twinges of sadness? Or fear?

It's natural. If you left another job, or even if you lost your job and had no choice in the matter, there are probably some things you liked about your former situation. Perhaps one part of your former position that you really loved. Or perhaps the lifestyle it afforded you. Joy and grief may seem like an odd couple, but they often can be found together.

If that's your situation, be sure to honor those feelings inside you. Grieve whatever you have lost in your old job—or in the lifestyle you had prior to taking this position.

Several of my clients were surprised that they should feel any grief in the midst of a wonderful, new transition. But grief and joy often come mixed together. Be attentive to whatever you are feeling and find ways to honor those emotions. That will allow you to move forward in a clear and unencumbered way.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

'Live the questions now'

Do you worry about finding just the right answers to your life questions?

Yesterday I mentioned Linda Douty's book How Did I Get to Be 70 When I'm 35 Inside? and quoted a portion that spoke to me. (Another author, Marjory Zoet Bankson, says she'd buy the book for anyone over 50. Actually, I think a person of any age can enjoy the wisdom and humor in this book.)

Douty talks about examining our beliefs, being willing to question and being open to discovery: "... make room for puzzlement and paradox," she says.

"Puzzlement and paradox." That sentiment highlights the growing awareness inside me that, these days, my questions are far more important than the answers. Formulating my questions and living with them just seems essential anymore, and I really am not so concerned about finding the correct answers as I was a decade or two ago. I used to spend hours devouring self-help books in my attempt to find answers. Now my genres of choice are fictional novels and books of inspiration. I don't need to worry about finding answers to life's questions in a book.

If we live our lives in anything approaching awareness, lots of questions will emerge. Why did this happen? What does it mean in the scheme of things? Where am I going? Who am I really? Why am I here? The lessons we learn—and the insights we discover—as we live with the questions are worth the journey! As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, "... try to love the questions themselves.... Live the questions now."