Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You as a 'process'

There have been times in my life when I saw myself as a victim and felt helpless to really change the situation. I wish now I would have seen things differently for I might have had more choices than I imagined.

Recently I learned about two ways we can view ourselves. One is as a character in a narrative, a role. The other is seeing ourselves as a process (a work-in-progress, as it were). In the narrative, we are filling a role; and as a result, tend to see everything through the same filter. Perhaps it's as a victim. Or perhaps it's as a strong, I-can-take-on-anything person. Either way, we keep playing the same role no matter what happens to us. The situation changes. We don't.

In the other view, we allow for the possibility of change; and we have more choices. If I am free to fully let in the changes that occur regularly in my life—and to look at those changes as possibilities rather than obstacles—so much more choice is allowed. Can you see the difference?

In that second view, change can actually be welcome. Often we fear change, and yet it's a regular occurrence in all our lives.

I want to see myself as a process—a more dynamic view of myself in life. I don't want to play the same role over and over until I die. How about you? What are you going to choose?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pity-Party Days

Yesterday was one of those Pity-Party Days. Ever have one of those? I didn't sleep well, so that wasn't a good start. A series of things had occurred that, on their own, wouldn't have bothered me so much—but strung together, became the makings of my party! I hate when that happens. Sometimes I can stop the party before it begins. But yesterday I wasn't so successful.

Came my beloved sister to the rescue, however. She and I Skype frequently (it's one of our joys these days when we're not employed outside our homes!), and we did so yesterday. Cheryl is just plain good for my soul. She is not only sister but dear friend. We often refer to ourselves as "womb-mates" for even though we weren't twins, we did have the same source. Once I had talked with her about my mood and the Pity Party that was in progress, things shifted. I felt ever so much better by the time we hung up much later. She's a good listener—and encourager.

I knew that would happen. One of my favorite resources in the stress tool kit I use is "talking with a friend." When I'm really stressed—or just downcast about things piling up in my life, I think about what things help me most: a walk in nature, time on the treadmill or other exercise, journaling, talking with someone, meditation, going to a movie, to name just a few. Do you have a tool kit? What are your favorite stress relievers?

If you have signed up on my website for my free monthly ezine (and three free gifts), you should have received my November e-newsletter this morning. The topic is stress and resources to reduce that stress. If you haven't yet signed up, please do so on any page of my website where you see the "three free gifts" or "subscribe to our mailing list" signs. I don't send extra mailings, and I don't give your name and email to anyone else. And please tell me if there are ezine topics you'd like to see me discuss. I would love to hear your suggestions.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The long view on relationships

I love this quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke: "A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them—they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship."

Do you sometimes obsess over a recent conversation, whether it's one with your partner, friend or perhaps your child? You chew the words over and over, growing more upset with each chewing! Yes, I've done that more than I care to admit, too.

It's always good to keep Rilke's words in mind, though. The words and conversation need to be held in context with the whole of your relationship with that person. If those words really are symptomatic of the relationship, then perhaps it's time for you to decide what to do about that. Is this relationship one that's healthy for you? One you want to keep? Does it need some major work or minor tweaking?

If, however, the conversation seems to be a fluke (perhaps the other person was having a bad day or misspoke—or you might even have misunderstood), consider it in the full context of your relationship. When the words were hurtful—even if on the whole, your relationship is good—they still need to be discussed with the other. But the conversation might look entirely different when you think about other things that person says or does.

It's so easy to react rather than respond to words we don't like. Take your time. Consider your response based on your relationship and history. Then proceed carefully and thoughtfully.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Live in gratitude

We recently stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast where the hosts paid great attention to detail and offered special touches that made our stay even more wonderful than we had imagined it might be.

After we returned home, I found the bed and breakfast's Facebook page and wrote a thank you and a recommendation to others. In pure frustration, I had done just the opposite a few years ago when a restaurant gave us the most awful experience we've had: outrageous treatment by the maitre d' when we entered, terrible service, bad food and finally, not bringing our bill for 20 minutes after we asked for it. I expressed my dissatisfaction that night, wrote an email, left a comment on the website and put more comments on the restaurant Facebook page. All to no avail.

I, of course, had been hoping for some acknowledgement that they had failed me. And in the case of the B and B, we had received beyond our expectations. So why wouldn't I express my gratitude?

Living in gratitude is good for everyone. As Linda Douty says in her delightful book, How Did I Get to Be 70 When I'm 35 Inside?, "... grateful people live more fruitful and happy lives; thanksgiving unleashes positive hormones into our bodies; immune systems are boosted by optimistic emotions; relationships blossom when nurtured by appreciation. You name it—gratitude helps it." Not only is it good for those on the receiving end, obviously it's good for you and for me to express the gratitude.

Start looking today for those things you appreciate. Make a list each day. Tell those around you how much you appreciate them. You'll feel so much better!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What keeps you grounded?

So many people in my life have had difficult experiences recently and now find themselves in that place of wanting to regain equilibrium or groundedness. Some life situations really throw us off our stride and simply sap us. It's all we can do to just keep going and do what's needed each day.

What helps you get your groove back when such things occur? Do you need to get back into your routine and restore structure to your life? Are you the type who needs solitude and a calmer life style to regain your centeredness? Or are you best served when you can sit with your partner or best friend and debrief? Do you recover best in the company of others?

It's so important to know yourself and your style. It's equally important to be sure you get what you need. Good self-care is always important. But during times of high stress, self-care takes on even more importance. What often happens, of course, is that we're so stressed that we don't think about self-care. It's so often the first thing to go. Be attentive to that phenomenon, though. Find those things you really need to get your groove back. And take the time to do them.

Please contact me if you'd like to talk about a stressful situation and how you can get back on track again. It's not always easy to find that center-point of well-being again. But it is possible—even if your life now involves a "new normal."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Smell the roses

I like the word "savor." It's my word for 2012, the one I keep in front of me as often as possible so I can be intentional about it. Among its Merriam-Webster definitions are: "to taste or smell with pleasure" and "to delight in."

"With pleasure." "Delight." Ah, yes, that invokes joy inside me. I'm discovering many ways to savor this year. I savor time with those I love. I savor my connections with family and friends. I savor sunny and mild autumn days, replete with trees garbed in various hues of red, orange, yellow and gold—days such as we just enjoyed this past weekend (at least here in Illinois). I savor the tastes and textures of my food. I savor the scent of my new brown sugar and fig body wash. I savor time in my glider with my coffee most mornings; I didn't have much of that when I worked outside my home full-time.

So many things to enjoy, to savor. Do I take time to do this all the time? I wish I could say "Yes, I do." It wouldn't be true, though. Some days I rush through life, not much noticing what's around me. More and more, however, I want to "smell the roses." I want to savor what's around me. I want to live life awake and aware rather than sleepwalking through it.

We all have times in our life when all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Insofar as it's possible for you, however, I encourage you to slow down just enough so you can notice what's around you. Notice yourself, too: your body, your feelings, your thoughts. Be present for your life. And take the time to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, scents—and the beauty all around you.

Savor. It's a good word. I may just have to keep it as my word for 2013, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Contagion and choice

What a difference it made in my whole day! It's what we call the ripple effect.

I was in the grocery check-out line and in my usual hurry (I inherited my father's nature, and he operated at two speeds: run fast or rest!). However, the woman at the check-out counter, while efficient, wasn't about to opt just for speed. Clearly, she was also into relationships. I usually am, too—though I confess that sometimes in a business transaction, I'm more focused on getting in and getting out.

"I just love your earrings," said the cashier. I reached up to feel my earrings, forgetting which ones I had on that day. "Thank you," I said, adding, "I just love the color purple." (Since I had on purple jeans and a purple top, that might have been an unnecessary comment!)

"Oh, I love purple, too," said the cashier. "It's my absolute favorite color." And we had a brief one- or two-minute conversation as she finished up my transaction.

I left the store with a smile on my face. That little exchange made the difference in my day. I was jazzed by that brief connection we had made. I smiled because it's the kind of thing we women so often do. I've had men tell me, in fact, that they just don't understand how we women can walk up to complete strangers and comment on their clothing or how good they look in something. I don't know how we can. I just know it happens. Often. And I know I love that we can do that.

So I left the store in a good frame of mind, and I was more open and friendly to others I met as I ran the rest of my errands. In other words, I was putting good energy out into the world around me. It's contagious, isn't it? And it's a choice. We can be positive and be open to others, ready with a smile or a friendly comment. Or we can focus totally on the work at hand and ignore the people around us, looking unapproachable or perhaps even sullen. So what choice will you make today?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bye-bye, Superwoman

A few months ago I blogged about my Wonder Woman costume, wondering if it was time to bury it. I just read an entry in The Woman's Book of Courage by Sue Patton Thoele telling about a bright red card on her refrigerator saying, "Superwoman doesn't live here anymore." Thoele says it was a reminder to her that she didn't need to be everything to everybody.

"When we do too much, take on too much responsibility, or overcommit ourselves, we end up being resentful and exhausted," Thoele writes. That follows well with what we discussed in these blogs last week. You are really the only one who can take care of yourself and your needs. And being "overtired, angry, depressed, or feeling used" because you're caring for everyone else and not yourself isn't helpful, Thoele says. She's so right.

If you need reminders, the book author recommends these two mantras, "I take care of myself" and "Superwoman doesn't live here anymore." You might place those on post-it notes around your house.

We women can't "have it all" and we don't need to "be all things to everyone," either. Let go of those heavy expectations. Say goodbye to Superwoman!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Goals bring hope

Setting goals is a life-affirming activity, isn't it? No matter what your state, you can have goals. In fact, I remember a powerful presentation by a woman who suffered a bout of severe depression. She said it had been so disabling that she found it nearly impossible to get out of bed each morning. She felt enveloped in darkness day after day. She was immobilized.

At one point during this "dark night of the soul," her only goal was to get out of bed for a while each morning. And each day she did so, she gave herself credit for meeting her goal. It was huge to her. That success allowed her to create other goals, seemingly small to others but large to her.

Even as we approach life's end, we can set small and attainable goals. Perhaps we can promise ourselves to express our gratitude to those we love for what they've added to our life. Or we can vow to make those days the best they can be for ourselves and those around us.

No matter where we are in life, it's important to set goals and create dreams and visions. It affirms that we are still engaged with life and still have some hope—even if that hope is so slender and fragile as it was for the woman with severe depression.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

'Plant your own garden'

Yesterday I blogged about both looking after your own needs and meeting those of the people around you. It's a both/and proposition. As women, it's often meeting our own that perplexes us most.

A poem from Veronica A. Shoffstall comes to mind. Perhaps you've read it. In "After a While," she writes: "After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much so plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."

I know I'll date myself by saying this—but what also comes to my mind is the idea I heard so much when I was a young woman: When you meet that special someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, you will complete one another. I don't hear that much anymore, so I hope the idea is dead. Frankly, I see each of us humans as being whole and complete. We were created whole, not as some puzzle part that needs the other puzzle piece to function properly. You certainly can "plant your own garden" and "decorate your own soul" rather than waiting for someone else to do that. You can identify your own needs and be responsible for seeing that they are met.

That doesn't mean, however, that your life partner won't bring out things in you and won't complement you and enrich your life. It just means you are responsible for your life.

Would you like coaching help in apprehending this concept? It's one on which we as women sometimes get hung up. And there's nothing wrong with admitting you need some help working it out. Please contact me if you want to discuss this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Balancing needs: Is it others' vs. yours?

I recently had a client who always put herself and her needs last. Everyone else in her life claimed priority. She was at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to time, attention and meeting needs. We worked on that, starting with her seeing herself as even deserving to have things she wanted.

I've been there myself. When I began living on my own again, after years of focusing on a husband and children, I was so unaccustomed to even thinking about what I needed and wanted that I felt guilty for even doing so. It took me quite a while to realize the degree to which that created deep resentments inside me. It was time to think about what I wanted—and to state my needs clearly.

If you say what you need, you don't always automatically get it. It's pretty much guaranteed, however, that you won't get what you need if you aren't even aware of it and never say it! And you'll most likely find yourself with a short fuse when you continue to give to others.

This is another one of those both/and situations. Life isn't about you getting what you want and need all the time at the expense of everyone around you. And it surely isn't about you giving everyone else what they want and putting yourself last either. Try to find the balance in your life. It's about both giving and receiving.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Openness in relationships

Do you face your problems head-on? Or do you do what I still do sometimes (even though I know better) and try to work around them? What's the result?

Yup. Whenever I try to take a circular and indirect approach to an issue I need to address (often out of some fear or another), it often doesn't really settle the situation. I miss the mark because I haven't gone straight for it. I've acted from my risk-averse side and not been willing to be direct. The results most often are unsatisfactory.

Years ago I had a smart, witty, compassionate, fun friend whose companionship I enjoyed. However, she wanted so much more of me and my time than I could give—or wanted to give—to any one friend. She seemed so needy. I didn't know how to have "the conversation" with her, though, so I just said "No" more and more often to invitations to do things with her. Eventually, our contact diminished and eventually was lost. I always have regretted that I didn't find some way to be more honest and direct about our friendship. I might have learned a lot in the process, and perhaps she would have, too. We might even have tweaked and maintained the friendship! The way I handled it felt pretty ragged and messy.

Having said that, I know there are some things that are terribly uncomfortable to say within the context of any relationship. But openness and honesty (with tact and love, of course) feel better to me these days. What's been your experience with relationships and openness? Have you had difficulty being assertive, too? How did you handle it? Some of my clients are trying to learn how to say what they need. And, as with so much in life, it's a work-in-progress in my life, too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A time for sadness, a time for joy

Rose Kennedy reportedly said, "Birds sing after a storm" when a reporter asked how she could possibly keep going in the face of so much tragedy in her life.

There is a time for weeping and a time for joy. When your life events take you into sadness and even despair, it's important to know that you will not stay there forever. You will want to do the necessary grieving and processing, knowing that the time for joy will come.

Sometimes you get lost in the grieving process, however, and need help getting out. That's when you need the help of family and friends to gently pull you back into life's joy and hope again. It's OK to lean on others. It's taken me longer than most to learn that, no doubt because of my Enneagram 8 personality!

When I was knee-deep in my divorce process, I used most of my energy to be there for my three sons in whatever ways I could. I had little or no energy left for my friends—or really for my own healing. It was as though I went into a deep hole and pulled the cover over the top. I had some people in my life, thankfully, who didn't let me stay there. One couple kept calling, stopping by to visit and also sending notes of care to me. Even though they sometimes felt that I was either ignoring or rejecting them, they didn't give up on me. How grateful I am for that! My sister did the same through her phone calls.

One day I felt myself come alive again. I noticed the birds singing, just as Rose Kennedy said. And I knew that life would be good again—and that I couldn't do it all by myself.

Do you want some help from family and friends? Don't be afraid to ask. And please contact me if you could use some coaching, too. There is nothing that says you have to go it alone. And remember, birds really do sing after a storm!

Friday, October 12, 2012


My oldest grandson, a high school senior, was busy early this fall completing college applications. As part of that process, he wrote an essay on what he's learned from years of working in the family business.

Now I'm a proud grandma just as some of you are, and I think my grandkids are smart and amazing. But I admit that I was quite impressed at some of the things Spencer has already learned. One of those insights really jumped out at me because I saw several examples of the opposite during my years in various workplaces. Spencer wrote that "being a leader isn't about giving orders, but rather about earning the respect of those you're charged to lead and being willing to do anything you tell someone else to do." He wrote about respecting everyone who came to their family business for service, whether it be a company CEO or a taxi driver. Yes, oh, yes!

Spencer is right on. And Aretha Franklin was right when she sang her famous song about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, wasn't she? Respect is so essential in relationships, whether those are with workplace colleagues, customers, friends or family members. It begins with us respecting one another and respecting ourselves! It includes both earning the respect of others and also insisting on it. In other words, our self-image needs to be strong enough that we do not accept disrespect from other people. We do teach others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves—and by how we treat others, too. And we do need to be willing to do what we're asking others to do. Thanks, Spencer, for the good reminders!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Focus on possibilities

New beginnings, promise, possibilities. All those elements were so obviously a part of my lovely niece  Carmen's wedding last weekend. Weddings are so much fun, aren't they? Filled with all the hope of young love, the couple exude joy and happiness. They have no idea what's ahead for them. They just know that they love each other and enjoy being together. Life is great right now, and they are bursting with hope and the promise of good things to come.

Even if we have many years under our belts, we, too, can appropriate that same hope and promise. We do not know what's ahead for us, either. We may think we do. Or we may fear some things based on family history and other facts or ideas. But we really do not know.

So what if we decide to live in hope rather than fear? What if we focus on the good things we have right now in this moment rather than on any bad things we think could come our way? Might life be more joyful if we focus on the promise and possibilities? 

I'm going to let the contagious hope, joy and possibility of last weekend infuse me. Somehow I think it will bring me more serenity and happiness. Do you need an infusion of it for yourself, too?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life's difficult lessons

A friend told me about a life-changing event that was devastating at the time. He admitted that, as awful as it was when he lived through it, he would never be who he is today without that having happened. He also would not be doing something he absolutely loves and which he feels is such a perfect fit had that event not occurred.

I have had at least two of those events in my life, too. Certainly my divorce qualifies—as does the time I was Reduced In Force from my job of 22 years. Now many years after my divorce and a few years after my job loss, I can see the difference both those things have made in who I am today and in what I am doing—not to mention how I do what I do! I learned a lot through them.

Do I wish to relive the years following either one of those tough times? No. But can I claim the growth that occurred because of them. I can also know that the scars from those and other difficult life experiences are part of who I am. And that's not a bad thing.

We don't need to embrace awful life circumstances and have a "bring it on" attitude. We also don't need to cower in the face of such situations nor deny or bury them once they're behind us. There is the middle ground of seeking the life lessons and change that can come from such events. That just might make all the difference in how we respond to life changes, both as they're happening and afterward.

What's been your experience? Are you willing to share it with us in the Comment box below?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall colors and aging

Last week as my fiance and I drove from Chicago to Minneapolis for my niece's wedding, we were treated to vibrant and beautiful fall colors along the way. I love fall and its colors, the lovely Indian summer days and the crisp, sunny days without mosquitoes!

As we drove, I recalled having made that same drive many years ago but later in the fall when the bright colors were gone and trees sported leaves that were more of a dull rust color. I had never enjoyed trees at that stage before, always having been drawn to the brighter colors of early fall. For some reason, on that trip, however, I saw the beauty in the less intense colors, too. It reminded me of the seasons of our lives: As we move through the fall of our lives and near the winter, perhaps we don't shine quite so brightly as we used to do. But we still have a particular and very special beauty.

I have often noticed older women who have a contented, serene demeanor—and thought that they are like the rust-colored trees and have a unique beauty that comes from being comfortable in their own bodies, knowing that they can survive all manner of hardships and life events, knowing who they are and not needing approval from others to carry their self-esteem. Isn't that beautiful?

Each season has its own beauty. Just so, each season of our lives has its own unique beauty. I want to remember that as I continue to move through my life seasons. I want a positive attitude about my aging process.

Are you feeling that? Or have you come up against an obstacle that prevents you from embracing the age you are now? That can easily happen. If you'd like to talk about it, please contact me for a complimentary and absolutely no-obligation strategy session. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Feel the joy!

I love celebrations. And I've just experienced so many of them: Last week I helped my fiance celebrate a significant birthday, and I celebrated my only niece's lovely wedding. On the day she was married, my youngest son turned 39 and his youngest child (the grandchild I saw being born a year ago!) turned one. I had been in Phoenix a couple weeks earlier to celebrate both those birthdays, knowing his family was unable to attend the wedding. The day after the wedding we had another family birthday: one of my wonderful daughters-in-law.

What fun all these family times are! These occasions are good times to focus on the gratitude I feel for the special people in my life. They are times to savor and enjoy each relationship and every occasion we get to spend together (even when they bunch up as they did last week!).  And they surely are times to tell those I love just how much they do mean to me.

It's all too easy to move through our all-too-busy lives without stopping to feel the gratitude, to savor the relationships and the times together, and to speak our love. Sometimes it's as though we are sleepwalking through life just trying to keep moving and get it all done. Maybe it's time to smell the roses, to live awake and aware.

Today: Take time to breathe deeply. Focus on the gratitude. Celebrate the big events—and the small ones. Feel the joy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

'I'm on your side'

Yesterday I blogged about women and the myth of perfectionism and "having it all." Today I want to focus on one of the pieces I mentioned: women supporting one another in our choices. Or more to the point, not supporting one another.

I saw way too much of it in the workplace—women sabotaging one another and vying for the attention and approval of some male figure with power. Women cutting one another down. Once when I was in the running for a position never before held by a woman, I was dismayed to discover that some of my greatest detractors were women—including some whom I thought were friends. And some of my most helpful supporters were men.

I've heard the lack of support and sabotage at work in the debates between work-outside-the-home moms and stay-at-home moms, too.

And I ask the Rodney King question: Can't we all just get along? Aren't we on the same side: the side of all humanity?

I've also seen the best of what we women do: We tend and befriend. We build each other up. We support each other. We are there when our sisters need us, whether it's a shoulder to cry on, a high-five when we celebrate an achievement, or lending a hand when a friend is in over her head. That's the part I really like. And it's the part in which I want to focus my energies and passion.

Just so you know, I'm on your side—no matter what choices you have made. How about you?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Women and perfection

I recently read a fascinating article in Newsweek magazine titled"American Women Have It Wrong." It attempts to move beyond the myth of women "having it all," a topic about which I wrote a blog in July.

The author of this article, Deborah Spar (president of Barnard College), says that men must help if the "women's problem" is ever to be solved. And by women's problem, she refers to women trying to work a 60-hour-week and also spend a 40-hour-week doing family care: housework, child care, and shopping. In other words, "having it all." She says, "If women want to have both families and jobs; if they want, even, to have fast-paced jobs without children or fast-paced children without jobs, something has to give." Her concern is that modern women are falling for the myth involved in the quest for perfection: trying to be perfect wives, moms, employees and perfect everythings!

Spar acknowledges that many husbands and fathers are stepping up to the plate more than ever before. Even so, she cites statistics that women devote 40 hours a week to family care while men spend 21. Men don't always know "how to make the right changes," she says, and women "are scared of raising the topic of gender with men, thinking it will brand them as radicals or troublemakers...."

She doesn't let us as women off the hook either: Women also need to work together, she says. "Rather than supporting other women, we tend to attack instead, arguing endlessly over who is raising better children and getting less sleep." We've all heard the debates between stay-at-home moms (who are working moms, by the way!) and moms who work outside the home. That's not helpful. We need to support one another in our choices.

Hmmmm, it's all good food for thought. I've raised my three sons already, though I try to be as active as possible in engaging with my grandchildren. But I do care deeply about how the world is for my daughters-in-law and how it will be for my granddaughters—as well as for millions or women around the globe. There must be a way that we can create a world that's better for all: women, men and children. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Letting go of an emotional charge

Several days ago a friend was part of a meeting in which one of the participants threw a tantrum (not pretty in children and most certainly not pretty in adults!) and stormed out. My friend was really upset afterward and needed to debrief and process.

He wanted to let go of the emotional charge he now carried around the situation—but knew he couldn't until he'd talked it over a bit. Once we had talked about it, he said he was going to follow a piece of advice he'd heard from someone else: "Don't let that person steal your day." In other words, my friend wasn't going to let the tantrum-thrower ruin his whole day. My friend didn't want to focus all his energies and his whole day on this other person's bad behavior. He wanted to let go of his emotions surrounding the situation. Great idea!

It reminded me about those times when I've let someone else's behavior ruin my day. It really has never gotten me anywhere that I really wanted to be. One of my past work situations included a lot of days where that happened. So I wrote a few mantras on the back of my business cards and carried them in my purse so I could take them out and read them as many times during the day as I needed to be reminded: Don't let the behavior of others change my behavior. One of my mantras was: "I will live out of my own container of love and compassion, regardless of others' actions." Another was: "I choose not to place my self-esteem in the hands of another person."

I really like the piece of advice my friend got, though: "Don't  let that person steal your day." The image I get from those words is so provocative. I'm going to carry that one in my mind! What works for you?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Savor the moment

"The trouble with the way we go about life is that we usually try to take on too much of it at once. Is the present moment a good one for you? Then why are you so riled up about ones yet to come? Enjoy."

I just read this as part of my inspirational morning reading today (by author Joan Chittister in Living Well). It really resonated with me, unfortunately, because I sometimes let that happen. The present is a good moment. But instead of enjoying it, I'm busy worrying about something that's coming down the pike in several days or weeks. Or fretting over something I did yesterday or last week. Why, oh why, do I do that???

My fiance and I join with two very dear friends of ours every New Year's Eve to celebrate the past year and also the possibilities ahead in the new year. We do a ritual that includes looking back at the good and bad of the past year, what we've learned, how we've grown, etc. And it gives us the opportunity to look at the year ahead and imagine what possibilities it holds as well as what resistances we might bring into that year—sharing with each other what we see. We finish the ritual by each selecting a word or very short phrase that we hope might characterize the coming year, and we each write that word on a stone. My stone sits on the end table beside my glider so I can see it daily during my quiet time. For 2012 I chose the word "savor" because of the very thing Chittister mentioned: I wanted to spend less time worrying about the past or the future and more time savoring what is right now.

Do you enjoy the present moment? Or are you too busy looking at the past or the future to enjoy life right now? It's not too late to make a change and bring your awareness to the present.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Focus on the positive

"Believe" is the theme for Weight Watchers these days. Its website and materials show a confident Jennifer Hudson moving forward accompanied by "believe" in large letters. Those large letters themselves are composed of several words or snippets of words, such as: confidence, love you, strength, healthier, hope, smile, stronger, achieve, and dream, just to name a few. (Just for fun, Google the Weight Watchers website and see for yourself after you've read this blog.)

Just seeing Hudson in motion with a confident smile on her face and the word "believe" across her image makes me feel more positive. And when I look closely at the smaller words that comprise the large word "believe," I sit up straighter and feel the energy surging through me.

What an impact words and images can project! Knowing that's true, what can you do today to pump up the confidence you feel? What can you do to be energized and more positive? It really does begin with a decision—decide today that you'll focus on the positive in your life.

No doubt, you have problems, perhaps even pain, whether physical or psychic. We all have things in our lives that aren't easy. And there are times when we absolutely have to focus on them and deal with them. We also know that whatever we focus on grows larger. So when possible, I invite you to focus on the positive in your life. Feel the gratitude. Believe. In yourself. In others. In God or whatever you call your Higher Power. And just for fun, put some of those words above (smile, confidence, dream, etc.) on post-it notes and place them where you'll see them often. Do you feel empowered just thinking about it?