Thursday, January 31, 2013

Listening, really listening

How's your hearing these days? I'm not talking about whether you need hearing aids. I'm thinking about your listening ability.

Because I'm a coach, that's a topic I think about a lot. It's my job to listen deeply—to hear the words my clients use and also to hear the feelings beneath the words. It's my desire to hear what my clients say and to hear what they're not saying. Both are important.

It's not just as a coach that I see the importance of listening and hearing, though. I want to listen well to those I love and to all those with whom I come into contact. That means not thinking about what I want to say next when someone else is talking. It means setting aside preconceptions of what the other person is saying or what I think that person means. It means asking questions if I'm not sure about the content or meaning. It means remembering the proportion of ears to mouth: one mouth, two ears! And it means keeping in mind that the two words, listen and silent, both have the very same letters. Somehow that's informative for me: I need to be silent if I want to really listen to another.

See what difference it might make in your relationships if you really stop to hear what others are saying to you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keeping balance

I have always been deeply upset by injustice in the world. And I've been fairly outspoken in naming it and fighting it in the last few decades.

As I age, however, I had hoped that I could step off my soapbox a bit more often and become that calm, serene woman I so long to be. I don't want to stop caring about sexism, racism, classism and the other isms I've written about and spoken out against through the years. I just wanted to pass the baton to others to be the activists so I could get more in touch with the contemplative Sonia.

What I'm finding, however, is that this is easier said than done. When I hear something on the news about injustice, I'm right there again—the mother bear ready to fight for her cubs!

I'm reminded, once again, of that tightrope we walk every day as we try to balance different aspects of ourselves. Perhaps you want to learn to speak up for yourself more often. Or you want to tone things down and do a better job of listening to others. Where's the balance?

Or perhaps you want to find the balance between being and doing? So much in life calls out for balance. What do you need to tend to today so your life feels in balance?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anticipation: Positive or negative?

Anticipation really can work for you or against you. It can be a positive or a negative.

It's been said that anticipation is half the pleasure of an experience. It really can be a wonderful prelude to a delightful event—bringing pleasure and enchantment before a thing really occurs and adding to the event itself.

Or it can rob you of today. It can build up your expectations way beyond what the event itself can deliver, thus ending in your disappointment.

What's the difference?

Minimize the time you spend living in the future. If you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about upcoming events and experiences, you are likely robbing yourself of the full experience of the present. Enjoy today. Savor what you experience right now. Tomorrow you won't have that opportunity.

Keep your expectations realistic. Don't set yourself up for disappointment by thinking it'll be an absolutely perfect experience. Expecting perfection generally ends in disappointment.

Let anticipation work for you. Feel the joy of your life today. And give yourself moments to delight in what's coming. Keep a perspective and realistic balance between the two.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's no fun being stuck

I kept replaying the same tapes. "But I wasn't ready to leave my job yet." "I still have energy to do more." "This was so unfair." While many of the things running through my mind were true, these thoughts weren't getting me anywhere. I had just been Reduced in Force. Lost my job of 22 years. After a few months, I was simply stuck.

At some point, I got tired of my stuckness. If I was tired of it, I'm sure people around me were, too! It's no fun to be in that place ... and it's also difficult to watch someone you love be there, too.

It was time to move on. I applied for several jobs, and nothing worked out. Then I remembered that I'd been keeping a "Dreams Journal" for several years—a place to write down things I wanted to do someday. This journal wasn't for the dreams that filled my sleeping hours but for those that expressed my passions. Hmmmm, what had I long thought about doing and not pursued because I still was engaged in my journalism career? I had quite a list.

As I worked with the ideas in my Dreams Journal and talked in depth with a life coach, a new dream began to form. I journaled. I talked with my coach, with family and with friends. I did lots of grieving and letting go. I buried my old dream and gave birth to my new dream: a coaching practice of my own. I will never forget the joy that flooded my being the day I signed up to take my training to become certified as a life coach! That told me everything: This really was the right dream for me now.

I was unstuck and ready to roll again. My wheels were back on the track. Have yours gotten off the track? Do you feel stuck about some life question or another? Stuck in a job? Stuck in a bad relationship or stuck not knowing how to make it a healthier one? Stuck in creating new dreams? Let's get you off and running again! Contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Aging beautifully

"My grandson told me I had a wattle," one woman said laughingly, "but he loves me and I know he didn't mean it to be hurtful." Another woman said she'd earned her brown spots and wrinkles and had no plans to change them. Yet another advised keeping a sense of humor about the entire aging process.

My 6-year-old granddaughter loves to play with my loose skin and run her fingers over the raised blue veins in my hands. "Grandma Sonia, you're old," she told me once, simply making an observation. Yes, compared to her—and even compared to her parents, I am old! She's right. Not as old as I hope to be, certainly. But old to her. Yet she knows I'm always ready to get down on the floor and play with her or go to the park and run or swing like a young girl.

What's your attitude toward your aging process? Have you made friends with your aging body? With any of the sags or wrinkles that might appear? With a hair or two in brand new places?

Self-love is important. And I totally agree with the woman who advised keeping a sense of humor about aging. As you age, you have a wonderful opportunity to focus on healthy living—on caring for yourself, eating well, getting plenty of sleep, practicing gratitude, focusing on the positive, letting go of negativity and regret, forgiving more (yourself and others), following your passion and, yes, even creating new dreams!

What's more beautiful than that? Forget the wrinkles, the brown spots, the bad neck, the body parts following the pull of gravity. Focus on your health and on cultivating deep inner joy. Need some help doing that? Contact me—and let's talk!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hope for the past

Do you steal from your present by spending time in regret over the past? Or by worrying about the future?

I frequently have to remind myself: Let go, Sonia, let go. Let go of regrets for any past experiences or behavior. And let go of obsessive worry about what tomorrow might bring!

I recently read "Thanks, Robert Frost" by poet David Ray where these words, among others, appear:

"Do you have hope for the future?
Someone asked Robert Frost toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished ...."

I like that. I really like it. Hope for the past—what a fascinating concept. Yes, it's important that we let the past be what it was, let ourselves be what "we had to be" rather than what we wished we would have been. I remember at some point coming to terms with the younger Sonia and my younger former husband and forgiving them both for not being able to make their marriage work. There was no point to carrying anger either at him or at myself for something long in the past, for something that now could not be changed.

Let go. Forgive yourself. Give yourself the gift of today, fully and completely fresh and new. Savor today. Make of it what seems best to you right now. Stay awake and aware so you don't miss the opportunities embedded in today. Seize them. Keep alive your hope for the future ... and your hope for the past!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Focus on what's important to you

On the recommendation of a friend, I got a book from the library that I like after just the first chapter. I'm reading The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka. The author began with a big life question: Is this all there is? That question led her to huge life changes—and to writing this book. I resonate with so much of what I can see lies ahead for me in her book.

For example, here are some of the catchy reminders Susanka includes in her book to keep us on task when aligning our lives with what matters most to us:

• "The only way to change the world is to change yourself.
• "Live into the questions.
• "Everything's a reflection.
• "The world is not out there; the world is in you.
• "All there is, is you.
• "Never underestimate the personality.
• "Be in your doing.
• "Follow the synchronicities.
• "Ask, and you shall receive.
• "Life is the experiencing of the experience.
• "We can truly become human beings rather than human doings."

We could say a lot about each one of those reminders. But really, they speak for themselves. Ponder them. Make them your own. Meditate on them. Add to them your own wisdom and reminders. Share with us below, if you're so moved.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding common ground

Yesterday with the ceremony and festivities surrounding President Obama's second inauguration, I was reminded of the importance of times when we put aside our differences and simply celebrate our commonalities.

So often these days we decry the incivility and the partisanship that seems more intense than ever. Is it worse than it ever was? Or are we making more of it and thus it seems worse? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that we each have a part to play in bringing more civility into this world.

It all takes me back to the questions I asked on January 3 in my blog: Are you a peacemaker? And what does it mean to be a peacemaker? These are some of my big life questions.

If there is to be peace in our world, in our society, in our communities, in our families, it is up to each of us. "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." It isn't realistic to just point our fingers at others—at our leaders at any level or anyone else—and expect them to create peace if we aren't willing ourselves to live in a way that finds common ground.

I'm continuing to think about what I need to do to be a peacemaker. When I disagree with someone and we're on completely different sides of an issue, can I stay in the conversation long enough to find a third way, to find that common ground? I want to be open, I want to listen better, I want to be about peacemaking. That doesn't mean I give up my integrity and go whichever way the wind blows. I can stand by my most important beliefs and yet listen to others as they clarify theirs.

How do you seek common ground? How do you see peacemaking?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Walking the highwire

Walking the tightrope or highwire: What does that have to do with how you and I live our lives? I think there just might be some parallels.

Last week I blogged about balance and transformation. So much of life really is about balance. As I said last Friday, you and I try to balance caring for others with self-care. You and I balance maintaining a positive attitude with being honest and real about the problems and concerns we face, knowing that being a Pollyanna has its drawbacks and so does being Negative Nellie! You and I try to balance work and play, knowing that too much of either isn't healthy. And that's just a start.

I just read about those who walk tightropes or highwires. They need to be sure to keep their center of mass directly over their base of support. In other words, they must shift most of their weight directly over whatever it is that holds them up (arms or legs, for example).

Hmmmm, what might that mean for you and me? What "holds you up"? Where do you find your support? What's your foundation? Without thinking about it extensively, I would say my foundation is built on several things: my faith; my sense of humor; the love I share with my family, fiance and close friends; a positive attitude; and the deep-seated desire to find new life and transformation in the adversities I face.

That being the case, I need to be sure I do not wander out over the edges of that foundation. If I think I can go it alone, for example, and not use those resources I have in my dear family and close friends, I'm asking for trouble. I'm fooling myself. If I think I can shed my faith and my sense of humor (with great thanks to my parents for that legacy!) and still get through the tough things that come my way, I'm kidding myself. I need to stay firmly grounded in that which has sustained me in the past and will sustain me into whatever future I have.

How about you? What sustains you? What grounds you? If you'd like to explore this further and see how it relates to your present circumstance, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary strategy session.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Stories that inspire

I am so inspired! I just read the story of Edith Sundby outsmarting stage IV cancer, living five years beyond what she was told she could and not just living but thriving. Her story appears in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of AARP: The Magazine.

Sundby says that it takes several different things to survive a disease that keeps coming back in different parts of her body—and to thrive. There is no magic bullet. She credits so many things. "It's not just yoga, prayer, chemotherapy, the doctor, nor thinking positive thoughts," she says. Certainly, those are important to her healing, she will admit. But she knows it's much more, too.

This brave woman also says that she is so aware of even the smallest blessings in her life. "With cancer, life takes on new awareness. Everything becomes more precious—our time, family, friends, faith and even work. Cancer has allowed me to make peace."

Sundby says she fights to stay alive "not because I fear death but because I love life." She is thankful for every day of life and adds, "... I'm alive today, this minute. And that's pretty much what we all have—this day, this moment." Yes, oh, yes!

Can you see why I'm inspired after reading her story? The stories of others can inspire us and spur us on to our own moments of transformation. They aren't always as dramatic as Edith Sundby's. But they are still real and meaningful. Look around you today. Who inspires you? What stories make you want to keep trying and keep going? What in your own story reminds you that you've experienced transformation before and you will again? Whatever you face, you do have what it takes to walk that journey—especially if you don't try to do it all alone.

Let's share our stories. They really do make a difference. To others. And to us!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A balancing act for women

Keep your eyes wide open and stay alert to surprising opportunities that cross your path. That's what I blogged about yesterday when I referenced a book by Hoda Kotb—Ten Years Later: People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives. That was the message Kotb gave in a TV interview I saw on Monday.

Yesterday I saw Kotb interviewed on another morning news show. This time when asked what the takeaway was as she looked at the six lives who had been transformed, she said it was that those six people were thinking about others in their desire to survive and thrive. They wanted to overcome their difficulties because of family members or someone else who was counting on them. So not only is transformation about staying open and alert but it's about looking outside ourselves.

And that's a balancing act, especially for women, isn't it? Sometimes we tend to spend so much time and energy caring for others that we neglect ourselves. Self-care isn't even on our screen at times.

Kotb is right: Our lives are much happier, and we are more open to those transformational moments when we have that broader vision that includes others. Yet, we need to get filled up ourselves, too. Self-care is important—and is not a selfish act. We can't keep pouring out for others from an empty pitcher.

Balance. I find it to be a constant challenge, one that's regularly in need of rebalancing. Sometimes you may feel you have just the right balance in your life. Then something gets off kilter, and you have to make some changes: drop this volunteer activity or add that one, try a yoga class or join a book club, whatever will help you regain your equilibrium.

How do you find the balance? Please share below what works for you. I'd love to know!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

With eyes wide open

Have you faced something in your life that made you wonder how you would make it through the next 10 minutes, much less the next 10 years? And later, you discovered the transformation that came through that horrible situation?

Yesterday I heard an interview with Hoda Kotb, who wrote Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives. She interviewed six people who had daunting situations to face from an abusive marriage and obesity to being out of work and raising small children alone. Those she interviewed not only survived, she said, but found transformed lives through their adversity.

Kotb said the key is: Keep your eyes open, stay awake, watch for those surprising opportunities that can arise in the midst of something absolutely awful. She said that was the theme that ran through the stories of those she interviewed.

It's a good reminder to me. It's easy to become focused on what's right in front of me rather than keeping my eyes wide open and my view panoramic. But what a difference it can make.

I haven't read Kotb's book yet but I am intrigued. I care a lot about transformation—I know, you can tell that if you read the rest of my website! I have noticed in my life that I've learned far more through my adverse experiences than through my successes. My moments of transformation have come through those tough times—job loss, divorce and other losses of various kinds.

Do you need to switch your viewing lens from portrait to panorama so you can really notice what's out there on the horizon waiting for you? Widen your focus and see what difference it might make. Be aware of opportunities to grow, change and really transform your life. Let that butterfly inside emerge and soar!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mentors and models

Are you a mentor for someone?

Before you shake your head "No," think about it for a minute. Being a mentor doesn't have to be a formal arrangement, although sometimes it is. Just as often, it simply means that you have one or more women in your life (and they may be younger but not necessarily) who see you as having gone where they are going. They look to you as a role model or guide.

After I had broken one glass ceiling in a former workplace and was attempting to break an even bigger one (it felt like a concrete ceiling, to be honest!), I had a couple people who served as mentors to me. They gave me tips and ideas, things they'd learned as they came up through the ranks. They even helped me think about what to wear for the Big Interview! Even though I didn't break that ceiling after two attempts, I still learned a lot about leadership from those mentors.

Just as important in my life, however, have been those mentors and role models I've had informally. I still have several. And while formally I'm a mentor to a high school student, it's very possible that I am one for other women—and don't even know it. No doubt you are, too.

One of my dear friends often tells me that it's important to her to have female friends of all ages: some who are older and have gone before her to light the way and others who are younger who remind her of where she has been (and who, no doubt, see her as a mentor and role model).

Does it change anything you say or do if you see yourself as a mentor? I see mentoring as a wonderful way to use even more fully that which we have learned, some of it the hard way! It's a wonderful way to extend and share wisdom. What experiences have you had with mentors and mentoring? Please share with us in the Comment box so we can gain from your insights. Thank you!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dress size, diets, exercise & all that jazz

This is the time of year when millions are thinking about diets, losing weight, exercise regimens—and, oh, yes, dress size. Have you vowed that you absolutely, positively are not going to buy the next size of clothes? You are determined that you'll lose weight this time. And keep it off.

I have been there and done that so many times. Honestly, I don't even want to know how many pounds I've gained, lost, regained, and lost again through the years. I don't want to know. And I don't want to dwell on it. I have beat myself up mentally through the years because of it. I'm not going to do that anymore.

For one thing, I am not thinking about dieting any longer. Instead, I am thinking of eating in a healthy and sustainable way for the rest of my life. Several months ago I returned to Weight Watchers where I am learning to eat in a way that still allows me to have those foods (and wine) that I enjoy, with occasional special treats—and in a way that gives me more energy and makes me feel healthier. I had even been a lifetime member years ago, but I didn't see those food choices as a lifetime choice. Big mistake. Since last April I have lost the weight I wanted (even more, in fact) and I want to keep it this way. I got rid of all the clothes that were too large so going back into them wouldn't even be an option.

It doesn't have to be Weight Watchers. It can be any eating plan that encourages portion control and healthy eating—but doesn't deprive you of things you enjoy. If you feel deprived, soon enough you'll move on and leave that food plan behind. And put that lost weight (and more) back on again.

Perhaps food isn't your issue. It may be something else in your life for which you need to develop a sustainable plan that takes into account how you operate, what you like and don't like. Whatever it is, I encourage you to create a plan that works for you, not a one-size-fits-all plan. Work with what you've got and with your likes and dislikes. Be good to yourself. And believe in yourself!

Friday, January 11, 2013

3 aids to focus attention

Do you have trouble focusing? Are you one of those creative types whose mind flashes ideas with the speed of popcorn popping over a hot fire? You just can't stop to focus on the one thing you need to get done to reach your goals. You have too many other thoughts and ideas floating around. You want to bring your awareness to the one important thing—to your goal or the small step that is part of reaching your goal.

Several of my clients have told me it's one of the things they find helpful about our coaching work: I help them focus so they can take one step at a time to get to whatever goal they have set. It's hard work to focus when your creative side keeps producing wonderful and intriguing ideas. And I always tell my clients to not stifle that wonderful creative spirit. It's a gift. But as with so many of our gifts and talents, it has a flip side. And that side needs some help once in a while if you're going to get where you want to be!

May I suggest 3 things that might help you focus when your head is spinning?

Get physical. Often when you go for a brisk walk, get on the treadmill, jump rope or do something that gets you down into your body, your mind can relax and let go of all those swirling thoughts for a while. That can help clear your head so you can return to the task at hand with more focus.

Pay attention to your breathing. Breathe deeply, pushing out your stomach on the inhale to let in as much air as possible, and deflating it as you exhale, letting out all the air you can. Concentrate on your breathing for 5 or 10 minutes. When you really let yourself concentrate on your breathing, you won't be thinking of other things.

Make a quick-and-dirty list of all the things floating around in your head. Once you've written them down on paper, you don't feel the need to keep noodling them in your head. You can let go.

What else works for you? If you have some tried-and-true tricks for focus, please share them. Lack of focus can strike all of us at one time or another. And for some people, it can be a real issue.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Want that midlife zest?

Are you wondering where that midlife zest is? Why some say, "Life begins at 40" (or 50 or 60)? Or why they say, "The best is yet to come"?

If you aren't feeling any of that zest—and want to—ask yourself a couple of questions:

• What gives me joy?

• What am I doing to nourish good things in my life?

• What am I doing to bring light and joy into the world? (In bringing it to others, we feel it ourselves.)

If, instead, you are upset about the age you are, the health issues you face, the loss of capacity you had when you were younger, and other realities of your age, consider whether you may simply need some attitude adjustment. Sometimes it's a matter of seeing the cup half full rather than half empty. It could be a matter of focus (knowing that what we focus on gets larger); you might be looking at what's missing in your life rather than on what's there! Accentuate the positive.

You don't have to miss out on the good stuff! It's there waiting for you. What do you need to do to feel the joy? Take a small step today that will make a difference. Then take another. And another. That's how change and transformation happen—one small step at a time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stuck? The answers often are inside.

I know lots of people who are stuck. Stuck in careers they hate. Stuck in relationships that aren't going anywhere, no longer nurture, or actually are harmful to them. Stuck in some never-never land in transition, unsure what's ahead. And more. There are many types of "stuckness" and many reasons for being stuck.

I've been there, too. I know it's absolutely awful. If you get stuck long enough, you can end up believing that you'll never be anywhere else. You can lose hope. And it all chips away at any remaining shreds of self-esteem.

I also know that there is much to learn in a stuck time. If you're in that position now, what might your "stuckness" be telling you? Is it time to leave a job or relationship? Or is it time to change things up in a relationship or job? Is it time for some good ol' self-care? Or is it time to do some dreaming about what might be? For going back to remember what once gave you joy?

What was happening before you felt stuck? What would you like to see happen once you move out of the cocoon or stuck place? If you don't know, that's OK. Sometimes we really don't know what the next move could or should be. If that's where you find yourself, please contact me for a complimentary strategy session. It can be extremely helpful to have an objective outsider (a coach) ask you questions you might not have framed for yourself. The answers often are inside you. You are sometimes too close to them to see them (we often overlook or dismiss our own wisdom).

Let's get you back on the rails again—feeling the joy and savoring each day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Change can bring delight

Change. It's something we all too often resist, isn't it? Sometimes there's a positive side, though. Some changes even bring delight and joy!

I just spent a weekend staying with one of my granddaughters so her parents could have a weekend getaway. She turned 12 on January 3, so we got to celebrate her birthday and do lots of fun grandma-granddaughter things. I absolutely love those times together!

I thought a lot afterward about the changes. When Olivia was a little girl, I loved reading to her, rocking her and cuddling with her, and getting down on the floor to play with her. Then she entered her early grade school years and could read books to me. Our play looked different during those years, too. Now as she moves from girl to young adult, I'm aware of even more change. Her interests are so different now. Of course. And we talk more adult-to-adult (she's an only child so relates easily to adults). She teaches me volley-ball moves when we play outside. We love to play Bananagrams and word games. We love to watch Harry Potter movies together. We enjoy spa times and shopping together. We both love clothes and jewelry so like to pick those out together.

As I have with each of my nine grandchildren, I'm enjoying each stage of Olivia's life. Each age offers something new and delightful. When I look back on old photographs, I recall with a little nostalgia those days of her infancy and her toddler years. But I wouldn't change a thing! I love my times with the young adult Olivia and really look forward to all that is to come as I have a ringside seat to watch her growth and development from girl to woman!

Monday, January 7, 2013

No one-size-fits-all solution

Several of my friends and many of my clients are considering new career directions. Unsure of what to pursue, they're casting about for focus and direction.

As I listen to them share their stories, I am again made aware of the differences in how we each operate. Some clients (and friends) do best starting with the Big Picture: drawing up a macro life vision and then pulling out from that the smaller pieces that are absolute necessities for whatever path they choose. Then from there, they narrow it even further into small steps and goals. When one goal is met, they set another. And another.

Others begin with the small steps because that's how they work best. They don't do well working with the Big Picture—and sometimes can't even imagine such a vision. They start with the smaller pieces of things they'd like to have in a career. What are the non-negotiables? What do I need? What do I want? And then they work on broadening the vision once they have several small steps.

What's important is that you know your own style. What works best for you? You don't need to fit into someone else's problem-solving framework. Go with what works best for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution or structure to follow. Understand—and appreciate—your individual style. It's not good or bad. It just is what it is: your style!

If you have any sort of transition issue, whether career, relationship, health or other, and you would like some help sorting through all the pieces, please contact me for an absolutely no-obligation, complimentary phone strategy session (or if you live near me and prefer, we can set up a face-to-face session).

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tough old birds get scared, too

Life coaches need coaches, too! I've worked with several different coaches—and know I will do so again. For it seems we all have times when we just need someone objective with whom to talk about things we face or issues swirling about in our minds. We need an outside accountability partner.

In a lengthy conversation with my sister a couple days ago, I talked in depth about my desire to feel comfortable showing more vulnerability (I love having a sister as friend because she "knew me when" and I don't have to explain all my experiences!). When we finished talking, I had more clarity about things and I jokingly told her, "I'll need to send you a check because you just did a wonderful job of coaching me!" Talking it over and having her ask questions I might not have thought of really helped me.

And here's the thing: So much of my life, I've been the one with the answers. The strong one. I'm the Enneagram 8, for goodness' sake! (If you aren't familiar with the Enneagram and its nine types, I really recommend it. It's a pretty amazing tool for self-discovery and for understanding those close to you as well.) I learned when I was quite young to be strong and to not admit to not knowing things. As with many things, it is both blessing and curse. It has meant I've been able to survive—and thrive—in the 27 years since my divorce. It meant I was able to survive—and, yes, even thrive—in a sexist workplace for years. But it also can get in the way in close relationships. And sometimes I just wish others understood that inside this "tough old bird" shell, there's also a scared little bird.

Before I can expect others to understand that, however, I need to find ways to really connect those two birds! I want to be both/and. I'm not one or the other. I'm both—and at the same time. Even when I am strong and certain on the outside, there's that scared Sonia inside wondering whether she really will be OK. So in 2013 I want to move toward even greater wholeness. I don't want to lose "strong Sonia." I just want her to let "scared Sonia" have her say, too!

Whoa, I'm feeling pretty vulnerable to put all this out there. But I think it's a step in the right direction. Thank you, dear sis, for encouraging me on this life journey! You would make a good life coach!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Are you a peacemaker?

Are you a peacemaker? And what does it mean to be a peacemaker?

That's a question I've thought about these last few days. During the holiday season, I heard a lot about "peace on earth" and "let peace begin with me," etc. And then I read in this week's lesson for my women's Bible study group the question above: What does it mean to be a peacemaker? It's one of those bigger life questions that has lots of implications.

What would that look like in my life? What would I have to change to become a peacemaker? I don't have the answer to that question yet. But I do want to let it keep swirling in my mind because I think it just might be a valuable thing about which to think in this new year. So much around me (and in me, for that matter!) shouts "conflict." Isn't it what we hear in the media so much these days? Conflicts in Congress. Conflicts in communities. In families. And at times do you, like me, feel conflicted about something you want to do? Or about something you have done? It appears there's no shortage of conflict (to say nothing about all-out war, which we see all around the globe).

Though I don't have "the answer" to the question, I do have some thoughts. More often, I will need to let go of my attachment to outcomes. I will need to do less jumping to conclusions (sometimes it's the only form of exercise I get!!) and repeat to myself more often: "It is what it is." I need to be faithful to my self-care because when I feel good about myself, I am able to be far more open and loving to others. I need to cultivate a gracious spirit. I need to stop any negative internal messages and focus more on feeling good about my life—who I am, what I've done, and what I am doing. I need to tend to relationships. Are there any that need repairing? Forgiveness? Reconciliation? And I need to remember that we're all on a different journey. No one else's will look just  like mine. And vice versa.

What are your thoughts on what it means to be a peacemaker? I would love to hear them. Please consider adding them in the Comment box below.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Life in the rear-view mirror

It's best to spend most of your time living in the present—and, of course, some planning what's coming next. But at this time of year, when we pass from one year into the next, a little time looking in the rear-view mirror is good, too.

Take some time to look back over the past year and ask yourself which events stand out for you. What did you learn from them? How have you been changed by those events and by your response to them? What attitudes and resources do you want to carry forward into this new year? Are there things you need to leave behind? Friends? Old messages? Do you need to leave a job that's just dragging you down to the point that nothing you do to fill yourself up can counteract its negative effects?

This is a good time to look back—and look ahead. It will make the present ever so much better if you've reflected on what has happened and what you learned from it and if you have some intention about what might or should happen and how you will approach it. As always, it's good to plan what's ahead, knowing that things can be changed and you'll need to remain flexible. After all, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Still, it's good to make the plans. But make them in a way that takes into account how you have changed because of last year's events and experiences.

Perhaps you can set aside some time this weekend to do a review of 2012 and anticipate 2013. Once that's done, you can focus more clearly on right now, this moment!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Turn the page

What kind of a year was 2012 for you? For many of you, it was a mixed bag: some good and some not so good. I have friends for whom it was an awful year, and they are glad to put it behind them. Still others have found it to be a year of joy and fulfillment.

Now it's time to literally turn the page—turn that calendar page to a new year. Don't you just love opening your new calendar and seeing all the blank spaces? Imagine all the possibilities!

Make this year the one where you fill in the spaces with intention. Make choices about how to schedule your days and weeks—choices that are life-giving for you and those you love. Be sure to schedule in some fun. And good self-care times.

Happy New Year! And if you're on my monthly ezine mailing list, do check your inbox for ways to get the most from 2013. (I don't sell my list, and I only send you an ezine once a month.)