Monday, March 31, 2014

You are incredible!

I saw a most amazing and touching ad last week in a Facebook link. The ad was done for Australian Weight Watchers and didn't rely on the use of celebrities as American ads typically do. Click the link to see it for yourself.

This is all about reaching your own potential—not someone else's idea of what you should be. It's called "Awaken your incredible" and is all about the possibilities that were there from the day you were born. The ad encourages you to find the person you are at your core, realizing that as you faced all of life's challenges in the intervening years, you most likely lost touch with that person and those possibilities. Yes, oh, yes. That's easy to do.

As inspiring as it might be to see how much weight Jennifer Hudson or Jessica Simpson have lost, that really isn't the point. What's right for you? For me? What's my potential? What do I even want to do about that?

I really like the focus of this ad. Again, it's about our own authenticity—not about doing what was authentic or right for someone else, as inspiring as that may be.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Finding purpose

Why are you here? Or as Jungian analyst, psychiatrist and author Jean Shinoda Bolen puts it, "What's your assignment [here on earth]?" Recently a friend of mine invited two other friends and me to reflect on what our purpose is. We'll meet again next month to see what we're thinking about this question. This should be a fascinating journey.

Pretty deep, huh? And yet, what good questions. What an important life question.

These questions are about more than our job or career path. They're about more than our relationships. They cut to the very essence of our being. And they can ground us deeply in authenticity if we really spend time reflecting on them. This is not about being who you were expected to be, being who anyone else wanted you to be nor about just being pushed along by the waves of life and doing what you've always done.

These questions—and my friend's invitation to me—offer a chance to pause and reflect. If I'm on the path that seems right for me, are there any tweaks I want or need to do? If I'm not authentic to what feels like my calling or vocation, how do I make a shift? What needs to change? And if I'm not at all sure what my purpose it, how do I discover that?

Mystic and author Jan Phillips quotes from the Kabbalah (esoteric Jewish teachings that seek to define the nature and purpose of existence, among other things) and says, "We receive the light, then we impart the light. Thus we repair the world." If this is so, I want to think about how I "impart the light" I've received—and how what I do might be healing to others and the world.

If you want to discuss what your purpose might be, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation strategy session.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time to play

Have you ever watched little children at play? They are so engaged, so creative and so utterly joyful. Their imaginations are just amazing! Everything is possible for them.

What happens to us as we age? We lose so much of that imagination, pure joy, creativity, spontaneity. We get deadly serious about everything. We don't play anymore, because, as we know, that's a complete waste of time! Right? Or is it?

Of course, we do have to be adults. We have to support ourselves and often, families as well. We can't be quite as carefree as little children. But do we really have to leave behind all the playful and fun parts of life? What if we let go of some of those restricting ideas?

I am a fairly intense and serious person. But as I age, I'm trying to add a bit more play and spontaneity back into my life. My grandchildren have been great at helping me do that, I must admit. However, I want to play not only when I'm with them but also when I'm alone or with other adults. I want to engage my imagination more. Stop automatically saying, "No, I can't do that. No, I'm too old for that. That's too silly. Or impossible." Let go, Sonia, let go!

How about you? What do you do to spur your imagination? To play and totally engage your creative side? Don't neglect that part of you. I'm guessing there's still a little child inside you that would love to come out and play!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Out of energy?

Burnout. Have you ever experienced it? I have had several clients who have, and I won't say it's epidemic. But I will say lots of people are experiencing it these days. Whatever word you want to use, it amounts to being depleted, fried, completely exhausted with absolutely few to no reserves left on which to draw. Are you irritable? Having no fun at all? Craving more sleep—and dreading morning when you have to get up and face the day?

If that describes you, please do something about it before you end up sick or in the hospital. Your car will not run when the gas tank is empty. You cannot draw water from a well that's gone dry. You are no different. When you are just dry inside and have nothing more to give, it's time for a refill. It's time for some restorative therapy. Way past time, actually!

In her book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, Joan Borysenko describes her own descent into burnout and gives practical steps that she used to recover. I highly recommend this book.

One of the things she advises is to reach out for social support, which, she says "strengthens immunity, releases feel-good hormones, helps protect cardiovascular health, and keeps the ship of life afloat." Using whatever methods you can, she advises learning to be compassionate to yourself. Kristin Neff has done work on self-compassion, and Borysenko also has done a CD Meditations for Courage and Compassion.  She has also set up a Facebook page on burnout where several people gather to discuss their experience of it and what they've done to recover.

Love yourself. Put yourself first for a change. Try meditation, yoga, exercise, more sleep, healthy eating or whatever things will feed and nurture you. Learn how to say "no" and engage in self-care. Find whatever works for you, knowing that each of us is unique and responds to different therapy. I invite you, too, to contact me should you wish to discuss this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Life 'bites' sometimes

So I got really depressing news Sunday afternoon about what I owe in both state and federal taxes this year—that despite already paying a substantial amount in federal taxes by withholding and quarterly payments. Ouch, that was news I hadn't expected. My tax preparer was so surprised that she ran the numbers again a couple times, too.

So what was I to do? Wail and gnash my teeth! Throw a bit of a Pity Party, for starters. I let my fiance pamper me, and I complained about it all to my sons.

But once the Pity Party was over, I set about learning what my options were. Once I learned my options, reviewed them in depth and selected the least onerous one, I engaged in some reflection time. And, of course, that's when it was time to switch back into gratitude mode. That reflection time was really time well spent!

I still have my health. I didn't receive a devastating diagnosis and am not dealing with a life-threatening illness. I have people whom I love and who love me. I have a home, food and clothes. And I have so much more. In a few months, the pain of this will be behind me. Really, it isn't even the worst thing that's ever happened to me.

It is, however, just another reminder to me of what I said in yesterday's blog: to live in gratitude, we must acknowledge and grieve losses (this felt like a huge loss to me) and also celebrate successes. I couldn't get back to living in gratitude until I'd really felt the sting of "losing" that money to taxes! Truly, life does bite sometimes.

Monday, March 24, 2014

2 tips to help focus on gratitude

Living a life of gratitude requires us to be as open and clear inside as we can. If we are to focus on our blessings and live in gratitude daily, it helps if we:

Acknowledge and grieve our losses, both large and small. Often we think of loss only as the big things: death of a loved one, job loss, divorce or a devastating medical diagnosis, for example. But we have multiple losses regularly: things such as friends moving away, the limitations of aging (I can't do the same things I did 20 or 30 years ago!), even the growth and development of kids and grandkids (a positive thing and yet it also includes some loss as they need us less and need peers and friends more), and even the changing of seasons when the one we're leaving behind is our favorite. At the very least, acknowledge these losses. And sometimes, you may need to talk them over with a friend, a therapist or even a life coach. Other times, you may need to have a pity party or just spend time crying. Maybe journaling about the loss will help you. Or perhaps you need some type of ritual to bring closure (a funeral is a ritual).

Celebrate successes, both large and small. Perhaps you've changed a bad habit. Or you've lost weight. Maybe you've finished a difficult project. Achieved another milestone in your career. Broken through some barriers in a relationship. Take the time to celebrate in a way that helps you notice all your blessings. Treat yourself to a night out, a movie, a new scarf. Celebrate with someone you love. Celebrate alone. Whatever floats your boat.

When you regularly grieve losses and let go—and when you regularly celebrate successes, you become much more aware of things in and around you. When your awareness has been ratcheted up, you are more tuned in to gratitude. Count your blessings and be grateful for all you have (including the opportunity to learn new things through experiences that at the time may not be what you wanted!).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Come alive!

Despite occasional temperature dips and even snow showers, spring really does seem to be in the air where I live. The air just smells different. Some of the bravest little plants are poking their heads out of the ground and sprouting green. Winter is keeping a hard grip on us this year, but I have hope that soon trees and plants will really green up and come alive. And so will I! I absolutely love spring and watching things burst forth with color and new life.

Because of that, perhaps, a quote in Brene Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are really resonated deeply with me. Brown says it comes from theologian Howard Thurman: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Isn't that wonderful? Can you imagine this world if everyone were able to ask what makes them come alive—and then pursue that? We would have a world with far happier people. Most likely, there would be less violence and no wars. Imagine the wonderful, positive energy all around us.

As it is, a high percentage of people hate their jobs. Many feel overworked, under-appreciated and underpaid. And that's those who have jobs. Many stay in bad relationships and bad jobs because they don't feel they have a choice. And I get it; some people really do have far fewer choices than others.

It's fun to dream about a world populated with people who have truly come alive and who are doing what they love to do. It's not within our power to make that happen for everyone on the planet. But here's the deal: You and I do have a choice about many things in our lives. Is there something you want to change about your life now? Something that would really make you come alive? What one step can you take today to move toward that? I'm guessing even taking one step toward that dream will make you come alive in a new way. Go for it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Circles and wisdom

My favorite shape is a circle. It most definitely is not a pyramid.

Why is that? A circle speaks to me of equality. Infinity. Connection. Wholeness. And even though a circle may seem closed to some people, I see it as permeable. I see the circle opening to let in new things—new information, new ideas, new friends, new dreams. When people stand in a circle, there's always room for more.

A pyramid, on the other hand, reminds me of hierarchy. Someone's at the top. Lots of people are at the bottom. And your getting to the top depends on there being lots of others at the bottom, supporting you, as it were. I've been in enough organizations where hierarchy rules. And I'm not convinced it's working.

My leadership style was (and still is) collaborative. I see each one of us as having pieces of wisdom. When we put all our pieces together, so much more is possible. A synergy is created when we all throw our wisdom and ideas into the pot, stir them up and see what bubbles up. Usually wisdom emerges that we could not have imagined when we worked alone as individuals. That's why I love teamwork. I like to motivate and encourage others to do their best, be their best. That is totally win/win for me. 

As a coach, that's my style, too. I don't have the answers to your life questions. That would be extremely arrogant on my part. But I can ask you questions, throw out new ways of seeing things, question your assumptions, and help you find those answers. Here's what I believe: Deep down we each have what it takes to work through our life questions. My job as a coach is to help you access your wisdom, feelings, thoughts, ideas and dreams so you can get unstuck and find the solutions for which you long.

Contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session if you'd like to try coaching.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Loving: It's complicated

Can doing good things for others actually have a negative side?

Yesterday I read this in one of my daily readings: "... the life of a caretaker is as addictive as the life of an alcoholic. Here the intoxication is the emotional relief that temporarily comes when answering a loved one's need." It's not the first time I've heard that. But I had to stop and think about that a while. The words definitely caught my attention. I'm still thinking!

And then Mark Nepo in his The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have said, "Though it never lasts, in the moment of answering someone's need, we feel loved. While much good can come from this, especially for those the caretaker attends, the care itself becomes a drink by which we briefly numb a worthlessness that won't go away unless constantly doused by another shot of self-sacrifice."

Then Nepo asks us to reflect on people whom we meet more than halfway. He asks us to imagine them loving us if we did nothing—and imagine loving ourselves if we did nothing.

I am sure he's not saying that doing good for others is always similar to the drink for an alcoholic—but more that he's wanting us to think about what we need (and get) from our caretaking. Often our giving to others is a mixed bag: a gift of love to them as well as a fulfillment of some need for us. It's often both/and. Nothing wrong with that. It's just important to be aware of it.

Hmmm, lots for me to think about here. Since so much of our living and loving is complicated, this can get pretty tangled. But it's worth some reflection, especially for high achievers and doers like me! How about you? Does it contain any wisdom for you?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lighten your load

Forgiveness. It really doesn't change what happened in the past, does it? However, it profoundly affects what can happen in the future.

What's done is done. That cannot be changed. How you see it and remember it can change—or at least the emotional charge of it can change. And you will be changed if you forgive or are forgiven. That's perhaps the most important part of it all. You will change. 

Carrying around the emotional load either of having been wronged by someone or of having wronged someone yourself is a heavy burden. It can feel like carrying a 500-pound gorilla on your back all day every day. So how can you even measure the relief of putting down that burden?! It's an incredible "lightness of being." It's a wonderful way to lose weight!

In addition to the lighter burden, you no doubt will have learned lessons from the experience itself and from the act of forgiveness as well—lessons that may change how you do things in the future. So in many ways, forgiveness expands the possibilities in your future.

Some time ago when I finally forgave someone for hurtful things they'd said to me in the past, I felt much lighter and freer. In addition, I learned some lessons about conversations with those I love: about asking direct questions rather than assuming I knew what was meant by a comment, about when to simply let comments roll off my shoulders because they weren't meant to hurt me so much as they were a reflection of the pain of the other person, and similar lessons.

Is there someone you need to forgive today? Or do you need to ask someone else to forgive you? Don't put it off. You'll feel so much lighter today. And the experience will expand your future, too.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Soup & love

Last week my two oldest grandsons needed some TLC. They had each experienced dental surgery and had all four wisdom teeth extracted on the same day. Their mouths and jaws ached for a few days. Eating was limited to soup and soft foods. They were home from school and work, nursing their aches and pains.

So one day I drove through the latest Chicago snow to their house to make one of my homemade soups and give them some TLC. I was struck by the fact that, no matter how old we are nor how independent we want to be, we all savor that TLC and special attention from those who love us. My grandsons are older teens, they're much taller than I am, and I know they seem themselves as strong and perhaps invincible. But they were hurting and it wasn't just the homemade soup they enjoyed. They liked the extra care and loving.

When I mentioned what I'd done to other friends, some said they'd love to have a grandma who did that. And it occurred to me that we're never, ever too old for grandmas. In fact, there have been times in my life (and some not so very long ago!) when I have longed to climb into my mom's or grandma's lap (both are dead now) and be hugged and told, "There, there, now, it'll all be OK." Do we really outgrow such needs?

Perhaps it's good for us to remember this as we deal with one another: Be gentle. We each have things going on in our lives and could use some extra love and TLC from time to time. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Presence: What a gift

Several things in my life recently have reminded me of the power of presence.

I have had times in my life when a difficult relationship or a miserable office situation simply ground me down. I needed to have close family and friends who would listen me (and love me) through it. I didn't necessarily want nor need advice. I wanted to be validated for what I felt, and I wanted to be heard. In short, I wanted the power of presence—the presence of those in my close inner circle.

Have you experienced that, too? And have you ever had a time when you described a difficult situation to a close friend and that friend had all sorts of advice on what you should and shouldn't do? And it was absolutely the wrong thing, even if the intent was nothing but good? Most often, you and I aren't looking for advice or solutions when we share experiences and our feelings about them. If we do want advice or ideas, you and I know how to ask for that. If we don't ask, chances are pretty great we simply want to be heard. So it's good for us to remember that when others come to us with their tales of woe. Listen, listen, listen. Remember, just being present to your friend or family member is a gift. Validating their experience and feelings is a huge gift. Often that's all it takes for any of us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again!

And remember: The words "listen" and "silent" have the exact same letters. To really listen to someone else requires us to be silent. And to be silent means to listen with our ears—and our hearts. 

The power of presence—it's an amazing gift.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We do have choices

Choice. It's a powerful thing, isn't it? But perhaps you don't always feel you have a choice about things. Certainly, there's much that happens in our lives about which we have no choice. Stuff just happens. You and I do have choices, however, in how we respond to experiences and situations. It doesn't always feel as though we do. But we do.

Yesterday we talked about our emotional energy system. When we are aware of our feelings, we do have a choice as to what we do with them. Feelings just are. They aren't good or bad. They just happen without conscious thought. What is conscious, however, is what we do with those feelings. We have choices when we're angry with someone, for example. Are we going to yell at that person? Are we going to strike out, as we may have done as small children? Are we going to give that person the "cold shoulder"? Or are we going to hit the pause button and think about the safest and most effective way to deal with that anger? How might we express it? Do we need to talk over with the person how we feel? Will that help? Can we do it calmly, without judgment and in a way that moves us (and them) forward? Or is it something with which we need to deal on our own because it's really about our own issue?

Choices. It's important to realize we do have personal power to make choices. And it's important to think those choices through. What's safe? What's helpful? What won't damage someone else—or me? Stop responding automatically to feelings—and be conscious about next moves. It's so much better for relationships. It's so much better for our own health. It's not always easy. I struggle with good responses and choices. We all do. But it's worth thinking about and trying to make conscious—and good—choices.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Emotions as energy

Recently I heard an excellent educational presentation on managing our emotional (or energy) systems. The presenter told us how powerful this system was, saying our emotional system is essentially our personal GPS. It's our guide, and we need to pay attention to it.

I was struck by the way the presenter underscored the importance of finding safe ways to express and release our emotions—safe, meaning ways that don't hurt ourselves or others and that are legal. She said that when we ignore our emotions and stuff them down, we block our energy. If you picture your emotional energy as an electrical system, for example, you want to keep the energy flowing, right? You don't want the system to short out.

That image helps me to see the importance of staying in touch with what I'm feeling and being sure I do find safe expression for those emotions I feel, whether it's love, fear, anger or sorrow. I want to stay clean and clear. I want to keep the energy flowing.

I'm human, however. And that means I don't always do what's good for me. So when I feel sluggish from energy blockages or when I feel frozen by fear, I know it's time to stop. Stop and take a good look at what's really going on inside me. Is there something I need to grieve? Something I fear? Something about which I'm angry? What can I do to safely express those emotions? Pound a pillow? Shake my fists or arms about (not at someone else, of course)? Journal my thoughts about it and then find a form of exercise that physically gets it all out? Whatever safely gets the energy flowing again—that's what I need to do.

What do you do when you feel blocked or frozen?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Never too late to dream

Because I so like Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea and its wisdom on aging, love, solitude and contentment, I just had to read The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. I hadn't even heard of this book until a friend told me recently. This story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life is historical fiction, so the timeline and many details are historical.

There was so much I didn't know about the woman who had married Charles Lindbergh. She stayed in the background during much of their married life so not much was written about her. She was an accomplished aviator and navigator herself, but many of us hadn't known that. She had married her hero, Lucky Lindy, and was content to walk in his shadow for much of their married life. However, there's an interesting point in the book where Anne's mother is dying. Anne told her mother that she was her hero. But her mother adamantly told her to stop looking for heroes (knowing she'd married her hero, too). "Only the weak need heroes and heroes need those around them to remain weak. You're not weak," her mother told her.

As Anne pondered those words, recognizing the truth of them, she kept working—both on her manuscript for Gift from the Sea and on her marriage, or the definition of her marriage. Up until that time her marriage had been defined by Charles. He set the tone and made all decisions. After her mother's words, her prayer for their marriage was that it would be one of two equals. "With separate—but equally valid—views of the world; shared goggles no more, but looking at the same scenery, at the same time," as the book says.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh found her voice in later life—and we are fortunate that she shared so many of her life learnings in Gift from the Sea. She found her own passions later in life, too, even while she recognized both the gifts and trials of marriage to such a larger-than-life hero. It isn't too late! Do you have something waiting to be expressed? A dream waiting to be brought to life? Some gift that's as yet unopened?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Passion & need come together

Last week my AAUW branch's monthly program featured a woman who turned a passion for self-defense and martial arts into a non-profit organization that empowers at-risk girls and women and gives them self-protection tools in a culture that doesn't favor them.

Belle Staurowsky is founder, lead instructor and executive director for the Green Tara Project, which teaches underprivileged, marginalized and impoverished females in India how to be psychologically and physically strong. For years Staurowsky had followed her dream in pursuing martial arts competitions. When she learned about the terrible scourge of human trafficking—the coercion, kidnapping and enslavement of vulnerable children and women—she saw the possibility of her passion and the world's need coming together. Now through her organization, she's trained hundreds of rescued and at-risk girls in self-defense and has also trained staff at other non-profit organizations to become self-defense teachers. Not only can these girls better defend against attack but their newly gained self-esteem keeps them from the victim stance that perpetrators often look for.

I am always inspired by those who follow their dreams and passions—and when I see them take those passions out into the world to help at-risk populations, I'm really thrilled and inspired. Staurowsky is doing amazing work—and on a shoestring. She's fighting a Goliath, since human trafficking generates $32 billion annually (half from industrialized nations such as our own). And the number of humans sold across international borders is thought to be between 600,000 and 800,000 each year. Of that number, 70 percent are female and 50 percent are children.

Perhaps you can't be a Belle Staurowsky. But you may have a passion that could fill a need in your community, country or across the globe. What might be calling for your help today?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Life, change and flow

More and more I like to think of life as a process. I like to picture life unfolding. For me the images those terms bring have a flow to them much like a river moving along inevitably toward its destination. Sometimes that river meanders. Sometimes it rushes along. Often it works its way around tree limbs, rocks or other obstacles in its path. No matter, it finds its way to where it needs to be.

When I was much younger, I believed more in plans and schedules, and it seems that I worked hard to make things fit into those orderly plans and schedules. Now I am more comfortable with the flow of life and with things unfolding as they need to. Not that I still don't make plans—and often even think that's the way things will go! It's just that I'm more open now to just enjoying the journey. Changes don't throw me off balance in the same way they once did. I like to think that I'm more able to flex now with life events much as skyscrapers of more recent vintage move and sway slightly with high winds but still stay well grounded and in place.

I remember a poster I saw years ago that showed a winding path and contained the words, "Life is a journey, not a destination." Indeed.

I don't know what my tomorrows might contain. I can plan. I can imagine. But I don't know. And so I just have to let things unfold as they will—and be open to possibilities.  And most important, I can be OK with not knowing what's around the next bend. How about you? What images work best for you? Can you let go and allow life to unfold?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blessings, not years, matter

I just wrote on a birthday card I'm sending to someone I know and love, and the message is one I've heard before. Somehow this morning it resonated even more deeply: "Measure your birthdays in blessings, not years."

That would be a different approach, wouldn't it? Really, what do the years matter when it comes down to it? Do you ever feel any different the day after your birthday because of that changed number? I don't either. In fact, my oldest grandson turned 19 last Saturday. So when I talked with him on Sunday, I asked whether he felt any different being 19 than he had at 18. "No, Grandma, I don't," he answered. I was pretty certain that's what he'd say.

But to look back over our years of life and count up all the blessings—now that's humbling and astounding! The more years you live, the more blessings you have. So now the challenge is to really notice them. Be aware of them. And then be thankful for them.

That gives new meaning to the idea of aging gratefully! I'm going to carry this idea with me for a while: "Measure your birthdays in blessings, not years." I think it could make a difference in how I live each day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Make each day count

Jane Fonda has it right. When she was asked in a Today show interview this week about the fact that she cries more easily these days and whether that meant she was sad to be the age she is, she made it very clear that she likes the age she is. She said she cries because things move her, and she cries because she's happy, too. She was asked if she thinks a lot about her mortality. Yes, she said, but that isn't depressing. Rather, it makes her think more about how she wants to spend her time. It keeps her awake and aware. It keeps her present to the people and experiences around her, she said.

Yes, oh, yes! I totally agree. I'm extremely aware that I have more years behind me than I have ahead of me. I'm not sad about that. Like Fonda, I want to be proactive about the choices I make in how I spend whatever years remain. I want to spend time with people I love. I want to make my life count. I want to be aware of things around me and inside me. I want to live a life of joy and serenity.

As much as is possible, I want to focus on the positives in my life and in the world. That can be a challenge at times, no doubt about it. But it's so worth doing. I'm happier when I do, and everyone around me is happier then, too. It's all about attitude.

Make every day count. Live your life with passion—and do those things that are important for you. Don't let the passing of years make you sad. And don't be caught sleepwalking through life. Rather, do as the saying goes: "Dance as though no one is watching you. Sing as though no one is listening."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Asking for help

This past weekend I gave a presentation on exploring the secrets of contentment at a women's retreat. Knowing these women were leaving busy and stress-filled lives to attend the retreat, I perhaps took on more responsibility for the outcome than I should have: I so wanted each woman to get what she needed from my presentation. I wanted each woman to go home well fed mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I forgot that I was responsible for the effort, not the outcome!

In any case, a situation the night before my talk prevented me from getting much sleep. That increased my anxiety level, so that morning I asked a few of my friends in attendance to pray and add their moral support as I gave my presentation. I've admitted in my blogs before that asking for help doesn't come easily for me. I always think to myself: Come on, Sonia, you can do this. Put on your Big Girl Panties and just do it! I'm learning, slowly but surely, to be more vulnerable and to retire my Wonder Woman cape!

These friends sat right up in the front where I could see them and gain energy from them. One of the women I'd asked for help made a fitting comment aloud during my talk, and it was just the right thing. It opened the door for a bit of give-and-take in my presentation, and it put me directly "in the moment." As a result of that moral support and that open door, my presentation had more of an easy flow and I was able to take a few short side trips from my prepared text so that I could respond to vibes I picked up from the women in attendance.

Another lesson learned: Sonia, ask for help. Let others support and help. And stay aware and in the present moment. What do you need to learn? Have you had opportunities lately to learn some lessons? Opportunities come in a variety of ways. Stay awake and aware to them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Be kind to yourself

Ever beat up on yourself? Give yourself negative internal messages? Say things to yourself you wouldn't dream of saying to a dear friend?

Yes, most of us have done that at one time or another. Some of us more than one time or another. I used to do quite a bit of that. And then I got into a program after my divorce that helped women really move on with their lives post-divorce. One of the things that program addressed was the type of internal messages we gave ourselves. We were each encouraged to find a way to pay attention to what we said to ourselves if we goofed up or did something poorly.

My method was to envision a stop sign going up inside my head every time I said something unkind to myself. That worked for me. I've had others say the stop-sign idea doesn't work for them. That's fine. Just find whatever works for you. Do whatever helps you to really notice those times when you treat yourself badly and say unkind things to yourself.

Obviously, the next step is to stop doing and saying those things. And further, to replace those messages with affirming and loving ones. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. After all, you are the one person with whom you'll spend the most time throughout your lifetime. So it's essential that you become your own friend. And make your self-talk something you would say to a friend.

If you don't do so already, make today the day you start being kind to yourself. Self-care and self-love are good things. The joy and happiness that brings you will ripple out into the world. Isn't that the kind of imprint you want to leave?