Friday, January 31, 2014

Seeger: What's inside needs expression

"We Shall Overcome." "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" "If I Had a Hammer." Folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, who died Monday, left behind songs that had a huge impact for social change of all kinds and that still resonate today. They carry simple but profound messages.

From what I read about his life, he simply couldn't keep from singing. The songs were in him and needed to come out. Although he had planned to be a journalist, it was his love of music that won out and carried him through life. And we are the beneficiaries. In 2009 he said that his job was "to show folks there's a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet."

What's inside you that simply needs expression? Do you still have something that you dream of doing? Do you have words or songs that need to come out? Something that could make a difference, if not to the world, at least to one or two people in your life?

What holds you back from sharing your gifts with the world—or with those right around you? You and I may not be Pete Seeger. But we each have talents and gifts that are important and helpful to our families, friends, communities and the world. And no matter what stage of life you find yourself in right now, there's likely something left to say or do, some "song" still inside you that's just waiting to emerge.

Go for it! Just look at the power of one voice, one life.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sharing and caring are good for health

Yesterday I blogged about the effects on us when we reach out to others and do things to make others happy. It increases our happiness.

Turns out that there might be even more benefits. I just read a little item in AARP The Magazine that said not only do people who volunteer live longer but our bodies might know this "on a molecular level."

The article said, "The specific type of happiness you derive from pursuing a greater purpose positively influences the genes in your immune system." This comes from research; and lead researcher Steven W. Cole, Ph.D., professor of medicine at UCLA, says, "People whose happiness comes primarily from doing good for others, rather than from hedonistic self-satisfaction, show a much more favorable gene profile, with less inflammation and better antibody and antiviral activity."

The article said that this can mean investing time with our grandchildren or things about which we care. How we choose to reach out and serve doesn't need to be grandiose.

So who knew there were actual health benefits? Helping others and sharing our time and our talents makes us happy, too; and that's a good thing. So if it makes us healthier as well, that's just frosting on the cake, isn't it?

What are some of your favorite ways of reaching out to others? Be sure to make time for them even if your schedule seems too busy. You'll be so glad you did.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happiness overflows

I've heard it said that reaching out to others is one of the best ways to be happy and joyful. Social activist, writer and feminist Rose Pastor Stokes once said, "Fill the cup of happiness for others, and there will be enough overflowing to fill yours to the brim."

So much emphasis today is put on looking out for Number One. Just check out advertisements for any number of products. Many if not most of them speak to our selfish desires, greed, desire for success or other things focused on Number One. It's a rare ad that promotes thinking of others. Several months ago, however, I did see one that promoted random acts of kindness and paying it forward. I'm embarrassed that I can't recall now what was being advertised. But the ad showed a good deed being done to someone, and that person doing a good one for someone else, with each person doing the same—paying it forward. I always had a good feeling inside after watching that ad. Believe me, ads generally don't generate good feelings inside me!

Anyway, back to filling the cup of happiness for others. When I do something that brings joy to another, I feel so happy myself. It puts a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. I feel more open-hearted and generous the rest of the day. And often the things you and I do to fill that cup for others don't even cost us or take much time. Sometimes it's opening a door, helping someone carry something to their car, or even just giving a smile or kind word to a stranger.

Let's look for chances to fill those cups. What might our world look like if more of us did this?  Can't you just see all those overflowing cups?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Courage and fear—the connection

Courage. It's something for which we all long. Have you ever berated yourself for not standing up to someone who treated you disrespectfully or put you down? Or for not standing up to someone who was mistreating or making fun of someone else in your presence? Or who spoke dismissively of something you hold dear? We want to be courageous and true to ourselves and our beliefs.

As Sister Joan Chittister says in her book Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, "Courage is the counterpart of honesty. It counts character more important than acceptance. ... Courage also implies our willingness to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. It requires that we learn to accept our limitations and to live within our boundaries."

And here's the part that stopped me and really caused me to reflect: "Courage is not the lost part of ourselves; it is the hidden part of ourselves that only fear can energize. Fear is not the opposite of courage. Fear is the catalyst of courage."

It's not the opposite of courage—it's the catalyst! I'm not sure I'd really thought of it in that way before. But it is true. When we face our fears, whether it's the fear of not being accepted by someone if we speak up in defense of another or in defense of our beliefs or whether it's fear of moving ahead with a dream, we discover our courage. Fear truly is the catalyst. Fear can energize. And that tells me that my fears aren't necessarily a bad thing. It's what I do with my fear that either holds me back or offers possibilities for me.

I'd love to hear what you think in the Comment box below.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Are you stress-hardy?

In her book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, Joan Borysenko talks about the "stress-hardy personality," based on psychologist Suzanne Kobasa's work.

Kobasa describes three essential characteristics of a stress-hardy personality:

Control. This is "the inclination to believe and act as if you can influence the events of your life," an element she says creates resilience. Such people also "take responsibility for their own part in whatever is happening."

Challenge. Kobasa says such people understand that "change is the only constant in life." Individuals who do so "are realists who anticipate stressful events and are therefore more prepared for their occurrence," she says.

Commitment. This is based "on an inner sense of self-respect that shows up as the willingness to participate meaningfully in every aspect of life, adding value to work, personal relationships, and the community at large." She calls this a "passionate involvement with life."

If you feel burned out now or ever have felt it, I highly recommend this book. Borysenko is honest and transparent about her own journey through burnout and gives practical tips on moving past it. And the good news about Kobasa's work is that she stresses that people can learn how to be more stress-hardy. It's not a matter of being born with those characteristics. You can make a choice to become more resilient and more resistant to the effects of stress.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Share life learnings

A recent article on the site listed seven crippling parental behaviors. My sons are grown already, but I'm actively engaged in the lives of my nine grandchildren. And the advice in the article really applies to more than parenting.

One of the seven behaviors is: "We don't share our past mistakes." That is an extremely important point in parenting. Children need to know that we made mistakes, too, and hear how it affected us. It can help them as they negotiate their own challenges. It also makes us more approachable as adults.

Beyond the parenting realm, however, that's good advice. When we share with others about things that haven't worked well in our lives, we become more human and more authentic. And others can see themselves in our story—and feel the freedom to also be real, human and authentic. Since we all wear one or more masks a lot of the time, it's liberating to take them off with at least a few people in our lives. And when we do, we invite others to also experience the freedom of removing their masks.

It is at those times of our lives that we can experience more creative solutions both for the issues in our individual lives but also for the problems that face us all as a community and society. And we can feel free from the burden of perfectionism. We can learn from each other's mistakes and life lessons, too. Many times I've discovered a solution to something in my life as I've listened to someone else's story. And who knows what doors you might open for someone when you become vulnerable and authentic as well?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Live with passion

Just a couple days ago I saw the James Dean quote, "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." It resonated so deeply with me—not just for my own life but because of the variety of issues raised by my coaching clients.

Dreams are so essential. I know I've said before in my blogs that we don't so much keep dreams alive as dreams keep us alive. Dreams are great motivators and bring such pleasure to our lives. And when a dream dies, it's extremely important to grieve it, let it go—and then create a new dream. No matter how old you and I get, we'll want to have a dream or two in our back pocket.

And living life with passion and staying awake and aware for it—oh, yes! That also is important. Have there been times in your life when you've felt so down in the dumps and down in the mouth, and you know your reactions to others reflect that? It doesn't feel very good on the inside, does it? And it surely isn't fun for others to be around either.

How much joy we feel when we really engage with life, the good and the bad of it, the joys and the sorrows.  We feel more alive and authentic. We connect more deeply with others. And I firmly believe that we have more energy and creativity to find resolution to those issues that might be plaguing us when we live awake and aware.

If there are changes you need to make in your life in order to wake up and feel more engaged with life, I invite you to start today. Just know you're worth it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An attitude of forgiveness

Yesterday my blog was about Dr. Martin Luther King and dreams. Today I want to shine a light on one of his quotes: "Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude."

Forgiveness isn't always easy. But it is so powerful—and mostly so for the forgiver. When you and I forgive others, we are the ones released from the weight and burden of hatred and anger. As Booker T. Washington put it, "I will allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him." That really speaks about an attitude, not just an act, doesn't it? Our souls shrink up when filled with hate, anger and suspicion. And the opposite is true: We are opened up inside when it's love, forgiveness and compassion that motivate us.

Theologian and author Frederick Buechner also put it well: "Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."

Wow, those are potent words. And there's not much I need to add to any of these quotes. There's plenty of food for thought in them. I know I still (and always) have more forgiving and letting go to do. How about you?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dreams: One step at a time

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. Every year that day provides us with so many things on which to reflect: race relations, non-violent protests, having dreams and pursuing them, the impact of one person on society and so much more.

Each one of those is important and deserves time and attention. Today I want to pull out the idea of dreams and their pursuit.

What are your dreams right now? For yourself? For your community and the larger society? Globally?

The dreams you and I have for ourselves may seem more attainable than global dreams. And yet, even there, we get stalled out and immobilized at times. It doesn't matter whether your dreams are for yourself—your career, a relationship, a new way of living and being, better managing an illness—or whether they're for society or the entire globe. Either way, dreams are fulfilled one step at a time. One simple step at a time.

How can you break down any of your dreams into simple steps? If a dream seems impossible to break into several small steps, just think of one action you can take today—one action—that will move you closer to that dream. Success in that one action will propel you into another small step. And another. Just think of how wonderful that will feel!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Accentuate the positive

Recently a friend used a term with which I wasn't familiar: conversation wrangler. She had only recently heard of this herself.

Here's how my friend described the idea: You know how you often are in conversations in which everyone is complaining (lately, it certainly could be about the weather!) and every comment is negative? It begins to just drag you down after a while. Then suddenly you realize that you could change the tone of the entire conversation. You really could.

Gradually, you wrangle the conversation out of the black hole into which it's descended—and begin to steer it toward something more positive. You can do this gradually so that the person who started it won't feel she or he is being chided or shamed.

I've been sucked into such conversations often. Sometimes, I'm embarrassed to say, I've initiated them. So don't hear me saying that it's never appropriate to say a negative word about something that's happened in your life. There are some situations and experiences for which it really is difficult to find a positive spin.

However, if you find yourself just piling on when someone makes a negative comment about someone else or something around you, take the challenge: Be a conversation wrangler. You and I know that we can change the tone of our day by the way we see things: the cup half full or half empty. And what we focus on grows larger. If we focus on the negatives in our lives, that's what we'll see. But if we look for the blessings, we'll see more of them.

I'm going to try to hang onto this term and do more of it in my life. I really like the idea. What do you think? Is it worth becoming a wrangler?


Friday, January 17, 2014

Celebrate you

Are you one of those people who is hard on yourself? Who makes a small mistake and thinks she's a failure? Who doesn't stop to celebrate all the things you do right—and do well—in a given day but who obsesses on the one or two small things you wish you'd have done better?

Would you like to stop doing self-criticism and develop a bit of self-compassion? For some great information on self-compassion, I invite you to check out the website of Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher who is doing lots of good work in that area. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

I also encourage you to try something to exercise your affirmation muscles and increase your self-compassion. At the end of each day, make it a point to write down (or just think about, although writing down is better because then you have a collection of positives you can actually see) one or two things you did that day about which you feel really good. Perhaps you made a wise decision about something that had been plaguing you. Or you did something you didn't think you could do. Or finished a project that was extremely difficult. Or perhaps you made it through a very difficult day. Stop and celebrate those things. Make note of them. Affirm yourself and pat yourself on the back. Contrary to what some of us learned in childhood, there really is nothing wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back!

Even though three compliments can easily get obscured by one small criticism, doing these affirmations and celebrations at the end of every day can, over time, help you see that you do things well. You are not a failure or a screw-up. There is much to celebrate. Self-compassion just makes sense!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prepare for flight

One of my Christmas gifts was a lovely desk calendar called "Seize the Day" with a wise quotation each day. Last week as I tore off the previous day's page, I was delighted to see this quote: "When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly." The quote is attributed to poet and author Patrick Overton.

Filled with hope, this saying reminds me of what my life coach told me as I worked through the death of dreams and began creating new ones after my job loss. I told her that, although I liked the work I did, there were many things about my former work environment I didn't like—but even so, I was really devastated and hurt to have been Reduced In Force. I'll never forget what she said: "Sonia, I think you should try to be grateful for your [former] boss for kicking you out of the next because you're learning to fly on the way down."

I wasn't so sure after I lost my job that there was anything solid on which to land. I was filled with fears of all kinds. But my coach reminded me that, in fact, I was "learning to fly on the way down." She pointed out that I was doing my grief work, I was retooling, and I was beginning to create an entirely new dream—one built on my passion and natural abilities. And she was right. I did learn to fly, and now I absolutely love what I'm doing.

Are you stepping out into any darkness or unknown? If you don't see the solid ground, prepare for flight! Reach out to others who will gladly help you on that journey. And if you want to talk about this with me, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary strategy session.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Women share wisdom

Have you heard of The Third Metric women's conferences? Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program co-hosted the first such conference last summer and are continuing that work with three events this spring. The two women (and a long lineup of speakers) are interested in defining success in a new way. So far the two metrics to measure success have been money and power. These two women have opened a conversation to seek a third metric.

Brzezinski and Huffington are particularly interested in changing workplaces because they see the current work-till-you-drop-then-get-out-of-the-way working environments killing people. Not only is this work culture not working for women, it's not working for men either. These women seek a definition of success "that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder, empathy, and the ability to give back."

So many good quotes emerged from presenters at the first conference. One I especially liked was from Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive and refers to the pressure we women put on ourselves and that's been put on us as well: "I hate the phrase 'having it all'—no one has it all, and trying to is the surest way to make yourself feel like a failure. I try to think of it as 'having what matters.' What matters to me right now are my family and my work."

And Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior said: "The important thing to remember is it's not about balance; it's about integration ... really focus on making sure you're integrating all four aspects of your work, your family, your community and yourself. And it's not about trying to spend equal amounts of time on everything you do each day on each of these things, but making sure you're paying attention to all the things that make it up as a whole human being."

I don't know about you, but I intend to follow this conversation. I think these women are on the right track. And the more we share our questions and our wisdom, the more transformation we can bring about.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Keeping our balance

I always wonder how Hollywood stars and others manage their lives and careers when they go from obscurity to stardom. All that adulation and fame cannot be easy to handle.

The other day I saw a TV interview of Oscar Isaac, the Guatemalan-born star of the movie Inside Llewyn Davis. He discussed his own early attempts at becoming a musician and talked about his bit roles in other movies. He said when you start out, you take any role you can to get your foot in the door. Of course. I was impressed with his humanity and his humility as he spoke.

But when one of the panel asked him how he managed his new success and all the phone calls he must now be getting for good movie parts, I was especially impressed with his answer. He said, "I can't expect too much." He meant that he wanted to manage his expectations and not let them get out of control.

Ah, yes, there we are again with that word: expectations. It's a real trick to expect enough so that we can push ourselves beyond our comfort zones at times—and yet not have such high expectations that we're constantly depressed when they're not met. Where is the balance?

The balance shifts for you from time to time, depending on so many factors including what stage of life you're in and what the issue is. The balance also is very different from one person to another. Find where you are most comfortable, with just enough tension to keep you alive and passionate about life and also keep you happy and satisfied with your life.

Monday, January 13, 2014

'Shake it off'

I like the advice baseball coaches often give to players after they've fumbled the ball or struck out: Shake it off.

This is important advice for you and me, too. How often have you said to yourself after making a mistake, "You stupid idiot, what did you do that for? What's the matter with you?" And how does that make you feel? Does that help you go forward with a positive attitude? Hardly. Would you say that to your best friend? Not likely.

How much better to simply shake it off. Let it go. Remember that you're human, and mistakes are normal. Generally, the things we goof up on are not life-threatening.

At Weight Watchers meetings, we're told that if we've had a particularly bad day (or week or month), it's important to just let it go, shake it off, and move on. Don't obsess over what's in the past. Just move on to the present and future. You and I can't change the past anyway. All we can change is what we do right now and in the future.

That's as important in all of life as it is when it comes to weight loss—or baseball! So practice letting go and moving ahead. After all, life is about progress and not perfection.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What's on your 'list'?

Have you looked at your "bucket list" lately? Or don't you have one yet? Perhaps this is the time to make a list of those big things you really want to do or see while you still can.

And at the start of this new year, if you have such a list, it's a good time to see if there's something on it whose time has come. You might want to make plans now for that trip of a lifetime. Or get a business plan going for that dream you've had in your back pocket for years. Or go visit that friend you've wanted to see for the last several years.

If you aren't into Really Big Plans, you might be one of those who would do better with a "thimble list" of smaller dreams and wishes.

I have a thimble list, and it hangs on my office wall. Actually, I hadn't consulted it in a little while. So earlier this week when I noticed it again, I saw a couple things I wanted to do: read a just-for-fun book (not my book club novel and not reading that helps me with my coaching practice) during the daytime without guilt and take an occasional nap.

I haven't done either yet—but both are definitely on my mind for the next several days. And I plan to do both. I can just imagine the pleasure and joy already. As they say, anticipation is a big part of the experience.

What's on your list, either the Really Big List or the Thimble List? Pick something that will bring you joy. And just do it. It will make your work so much more enjoyable too, whether you work in an office somewhere or at home or whether you're retired. There's nothing wrong with having fun and adding joy to our days. If not now, when?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sharing shores up self-image

Bullying is such an issue for children these days, from elementary school all the way through college—and beyond, for that matter. As we know, it has taken on nearly epidemic proportions and been the cause of more than one suicide. This is beyond tragic!

I wasn't bullied during my school years. But I surely experienced my share of the proverbial girl cliques. A tiny group of grade school girls somehow became the self-appointed queens of our class, and each day they seemed to rotate who was "in" and who was "out" of the group. So it was that some days I was acceptable, and on other days I was not on the approved list! I found it hurtful and experienced its effects to my self-esteem and self-image for many years.

My sister and I have talked often about this through the years. But I confess it isn't something I have mentioned much to other women. Now I'm beginning to understand that this was more common than I ever dreamed. I have read articles and books by successful women who mention this same phenomenon. And recently I read something that struck a chord: The power of such experiences is greatly reduced when we talk about them with others. Yes, oh yes. Silence and secrecy give more power to hurt us.

And here's the thing: That grade-school behavior didn't just stay in grade school. I've also seen it play out in workplaces, strangely enough. Again, however, the power gets sucked out of the experience when we can share openly with others about such behaviors. It is then that we realize the behavior says more about the instigators. It helps to know this—and it helps to know that we're not alone.

Whatever (or whoever) it is that's making you feel small, less than or unworthy, one of the most important things to remember is that you'll feel better by just talking it over with someone you trust. You'll gain perspective, strength and creative help with responses.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Play—and recover wonder

We've had so much snow in the Chicago area lately. I know we're not alone in that. Where my youngest son's family lives (they've just moved from Phoenix to the high desert area of Oregon), they don't have piles of snow. So when I recently sent an iPhone photo of the snow outside my front door, my 7-year-old granddaughter wanted to come visit me and make a snow woman with me. Her first thought was of play!

You just know my thoughts were not about play as the snow continued to fall for days! Of course, I thought about all the inconvenience and about how little I like winter. (I did think about the beauty at those times when I was able to stay inside and just look out on the beautiful snow-covered pines in my back yard, however.)

Where do we lose that sense of play and wonder? Or when? Of course, because we are now responsible adults, everything can't be about making snow angels and snow women or men. Somehow, though, I wonder if it's possible to hang onto some of that sense? Does it all have to be about practicality and responsibility? Can it be both/and rather than either/or?

What do you think? How do you find a balance for that in your life?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A coin has two sides

Things aren't always what they appear to be, are they? And often, there's a flip side to everything as well. I've mentioned before in my blogs that my being intuitive and sensitive to what others are feeling has its flip side of me being sensitive to what others say and think about me, too.

Lately I've done lots of thinking about my desire to be more vulnerable as I age. I realize that what has served me well for so many years of living alone and for all the years that I worked in a patriarchal workplace really doesn't serve me well at all in my attempts to live in a more wholistic way. What do I mean by that?

After my divorce, I learned to be fairly self-sufficient. I had to. My workplace honed that to a fine skill. And I was proud of that self-sufficiency, for good or ill. Mostly, it was good, I think. But now I realize to a much greater degree how important it is to rely on others. I believe that we all are made for connection—and are at our best when we employ (and enjoy) the give-and-take of relationships with others. That means I not only give to others; I need to learn to receive from them, too. That means I don't always have to be in "leap-tall-building" mode. It means I can be open, at least with some of the people close to me, about my struggles as well as my strengths. I can actually admit to struggles and not feel like a failure. As a recovering perfectionist, that's not easy. But, oh, I think it's definitely worth working on. I see some transformation ahead! It's all about being more authentic and real.

What in your life has a flip side that could use some examination? Or some tweaking? 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gratitude is sometimes a stretch

Today it's extremely cold where I live. In fact, it's near record-breaking cold. I'm not crazy about this kind of weather since I feel cold most of the winter even without the temperatures dipping like this.

I'm trying hard to not complain about the cold. Well, perhaps I'm complaining a little bit. OK, yes, maybe even more than a little bit.

I'm also aware that you and I can create the conditions for happiness and well-being to exist and thrive. Happiness doesn't just settle into our souls to stay because we wish it were so. One of the foundational pieces for happiness and well-being is gratitude. I know what a difference it makes in my day when I begin it by thinking of three to five things for which I'm grateful—I start out on a positive note, and it's easier to stay with a positive focus. And when I rush into my day without doing that, my focus is different.

So today I'm thinking about the things for which I'm grateful: a home, a furnace that works, power that's still on despite the winter snow storms that have gone through the Midwest, and the warm clothes I can wear in layers to stay warm and cozy, to name a few.

Sometimes gratitude is a stretch because things aren't as we wish them do be. And cold weather (when I have a warm home) is a pretty minor annoyance on the scale of life experiences. However, if you and I can look for the blessings, we'll definitely see even more of them and experience that well-being that sometimes seems so elusive. What's on your gratitude list today?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Being angry is exhausting

This week I saw the new movie Philomena. It's the true story of an Irish woman named Philomena Lee who as a teenager gave birth to a son out of wedlock. The movie chronicles her journey to find this son, who was taken from her when he was just a toddler. She had lived with that heartbreak while searching in vain for him through the years.

I was particularly struck by her ability to accept and to forgive. At one point, she tells the journalist who assists in her search that he is a very angry man. He agrees. And he does have many reasons to be. (Anger often is justified!) Philomena's response to him is so simple but profound: "It must be so exhausting."

Yes, it is extremely exhausting to keep on being angry, isn't it? Forgiveness is hard work, too, but it's also freeing. It frees us to move on. It frees up our energy for other things. And it doesn't keep us emotionally attached to whoever or whatever hurt us in the first place.

Now as another year begins, it's a good time to look at what you and I might let go and who we may need to forgive. Let's let go. Forgive. Free up our energy so we can lose the cocoons and truly fly free as the beautiful butterflies we are!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Facing retirement?

Of my clients who have faced retirement, they reflect a broad range of attitudes in that transition, I've noticed.

Some people have absolutely no idea what they will do in retirement—and like the idea of possibilities and openness involved in not yet being locked into something. They want to spend time exploring ideas, but first they want to take some down time from a hectic work schedule. Others know exactly what they're going to do and have something lined up, whether a part-time job or some volunteering opportunity. Still others are totally depressed and anxious about the whole process. And everything in between.

If you are thinking about retirement or have just embarked on that stage of life, remember to take some time to grieve whatever losses you feel about your work years and your career. That's a necessary first step before moving on to the next new thing.

If you are unsure about how you will fill retirement hours, try to be OK with the uncertainty. Just be for a while. Let ideas bubble up inside. Remember back to what absorbed you as a child. What did you just love to do? Is there some dream you've long held that you might fulfill now? Try different things. But unless you need a part-time job for financial reasons, don't feel compelled to rush into anything. Take your time to research and explore options. And take your time to simply enjoy a different pace of life. It's really OK to do that. Don't forget to sprinkle in some self-care!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Change and transition

What's ahead for you in this new year? The truth is, you and I really have no idea, do we? We may have made plans and have some idea of what could be ahead. But then we know about the best-laid plans, too. And we can't possibly know what all the year will contain.

It's not that we shouldn't make plans. It's more than we should stay flexible and open to change and transition. It just makes our journey so much less stressful. At times it can turn our journey into a real adventure.

I just received a notice that my primary care physician is leaving the practice. I've enjoyed her care for many years now so didn't really like hearing the news. However, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't the most traumatic change I've faced. And the possibility exists that I will like whoever becomes my new primary care physician equally well—or perhaps even better. So I'm trying to keep an open mind and stay flexible as face this transition.

Are there changes ahead for you that awaken your fears? What will you do to face them? I invite you to contact me if you'd like to discuss change, fears and transition.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year! Fasten your seat belt and be ready for the adventure.