Archive for December, 2010

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year… some changes and a freebie

Last day of the year.  I’d love to write something deep and profound today (or okay, how about thoughtful and uplifting? That may be more within my range) but I’m not exactly feeling it.  I have some wonderful plans I’m eager to get on with- but I do have promises I’d like to fulfill first.

 So, I assume you’ve noticed the new look.  Maybe you’ve noticed the new tagline.  Maybe you’ve even noticed my slight change of focus and the new page tab up above.

 I began this blog intending my writing to be attachment parenting based ideas for mothers (and dads) to explore their lives as whole beings- while still being a parent.  I think what I’m writing now still applies in that context, but to be honest, I was feeling that twisting everything into being about life with children wasn’t authentic to me.  I am a mom and that is a part of me that will continue to be represented, however the ideas that are coming through my pen lately aren’t specific to parents.  They’re applicable to anyone.

 So, from here on out I’m writing what I am inspired to write.  It may be parenting related, it may be about living in freedom, and it will surely be about freeing ourselves from assumptions, thoughts and beliefs that aren’t serving us.  It will be about living joyfully and accepting ourselves completely, whoever we are and whatever roles we fill.  And it may be about integrating those roles in our lives.  I may also discover more things I’m compelled to write about.  I’ll write what I need to write, because I know that desire is there for a reason beyond myself.  I’ll write more about the new tagline after the new year. 

 What I’m also launching today is my life coaching practice.  I’ve been training with Martha Beck and her wonderful, amazing, master certified coaches since September.  It’s been a truly wonderful experience and I absolutely love everything I’m learning and doing with the program.  But it’s time for me to step out and make use of all that I’ve learned, practiced, will continue to learn.  Thankfully it comes to me more easily and joyfully than just about anything I’ve ever experienced (hmmm…I think I can compare it to reading- which I find absolutely effortless and joyful!).  You’ll notice there’s a “life coaching” tab at the top of the page.  There is where you’ll find some more of my thoughts about coaching and find out how you can work with me for 8 sessions with no cost.  A freebie.  A really cool one, if I say so myself.  And I great way to start the new year, with support for living the life of your dreams. 

 Now I’ve got my favorite man asking me out to lunch and to go shopping- so I’ll leave you with wishes for a very happy and fulfilling new year.  I look forward to serving you,

 Lesley

 ps.  today’s photo is the vision board I created at the start of my training when it was suggested as a way of defining what we wanted to create in our lives and coaching practices – I love seeing it everyday as a reminder of where I am going

Advertisements
December 30, 2010

The gap between the sofa cushions

When I came to my notebook to write today, I was feeling rather scattered and depleted.  So I decided meditate briefly, to quiet the buzz of my scattered thoughts, refill my well of peace, and to see what would rise to the surface.  The phrase that popped into my head was “the space between desire and action”.  I think of this space like the gap between sofa cushions.  It’s where we tend to lose the small bits that make up the whole of our selves, where we lose our dreams.  Everyone has dreams and desires, but how many of us fall into that gap where we see only the darkness, think it’s too hard to get out and never take action towards what we want our lives to be?

 In that gap between desire and action we are living among thoughts and ideas that we’ve come to believe- but are the ones that limit us and create feelings of hopelessness.  These beliefs tell us how much safer we are to not take action, and how likely we are to fail if we do.  What we forget is that the world outside this little hidden place isn’t as scary and unfamiliar as it seems when you can only see a small slice of it.  That big place outside is nothing more or less than where life takes place.  It takes action to get there. But those thoughts and beliefs swirl and make noise and keep you distracted so you can’t think of what your first step could be.  They say “It’s too hard”, “Don’t bother”, “You’re not good enough” and “But you’re safe here!”  Luckily there are some things we can do to get out of that gap.

 The first is to take action anyway.  Stop thinking, just do it.  I love this most when it’s the action I can’t not take, but it does also work to say to those thoughts, with determination, “Yep, I hear you.  But I’m doing this anyway”.   I admire the people who seem to only need this approach.  I’m not one of them.  The second way out is to look at and listen to the cacophony of thoughts and beliefs and pick out just one.  Then look at it.  Ask it why.  Ask yourself if it’s true.  Step outside of it and see if it’s serving you or if it’s holding you back.  One thought at a time you can turn them into the rungs of a ladder into action. 

 There are so many approaches to this practice of examining our thoughts, this process of inquiry.  I’ve written about some of them before- The Work of Byron Katie and Self-coaching 101- but one thing I’ve learned over this past year is the value of reaching out and getting the help of someone well versed with these processes and with working on thoughts.  For me this was a life coach.  A life coach, from my experiences acting as both a client and a coach, can help you pick a single thought from the swirl of many that are creating the distracting background noise in your life.  A coach can walk you through your inquiry process- figuratively holding your hand as you look into the impact this thought has on your life and gently keeping your focus within the process.  My own tendency is to distract myself, particularly when I’m looking at a thought that has a strong hold on me, and turn to the nearest shiny object or fall back into a loop of my story so that I remain stuck.  A coach can gently, or sometimes firmly and lovingly, say “let’s set that aside for now and come back to it later after you’ve finished exploring THIS thought”. 

 The results of this process have varied from instantaneous “WOW!  I never thought of it that way!” to getting only tiny, almost unrecognizable shifts, that with continued exploration of a thought and it’s many companions and shape-shifter forms, looking from many angles, lead to the experience of a larger shift.  Those are the ones I find most life changing- when I can’t see movement from one day to the next, but over time find there’s been a complete change.  It’s like a force of nature. 

 Honestly, I didn’t know when I started writing this that it would end up being about coaching, but it’s wonderful that it did.  Tomorrow’s post will be more about coaching and I will be making a very limited offer to my readers, friends and family.  But it will not be entirely about coaching.  It is also about some shifts I am making in my writing focus, and changes to make your experience as a reader more enjoyable and valuable, regardless of your interest in life coaching.

 With love to you all,

Lesley

December 29, 2010

Respecting darkness

Some poor choices today brought me a bit closer to this subject than I like, however most fortunately  I wrote this a few days ago.  I’m making this post late for that reason, but also because I was busy making up for lost sleep, cooking delicious belgian waffles, helping look up hints for Lego Harry Potter, and making sure we had toilet paper.  And, well, eating too much leftover candy…

Enjoy, comment, share, subscribe… another post tomorrow, but especially don’t forget to check in on Friday!

With the darkest part of the year just behind us, I want to reflect on loving and accepting the darkness within ourselves.  I’m surprised to see how little this is addressed, seeing how even the most optimistic among us at least occasionally have a rough day, or an experience that challenges our positive outlook.  And even more so, seeing how many people seem to go through life with a distinct desire, or a persistent habit, of focusing on the negative- to always find what is wrong, rather than what is right.  There was a time in my life when I actually felt pride in being a pessimist.  I thought “I might not be happy, but at least I’m aware”.  It surely wasn’t the happiest period of my life, but it also wasn’t the worst. 

 I’ve always respected darkness, and for a long period of my life I respected the dark and heavy places within myself.  This was during my pessimist period, but it was also partially during a time when darkness seemed inevitable to me.  I was a minor and didn’t yet have the freedom to fully choose my direction or my everyday activities (which are what move us in a direction).  I accepted what came out of that- I was angry and I expressed it in what I hoped were creative and productive ways.  I developed a place within myself where I honored the anger and lack of freedom- my own and that of others.  Being highly empathic, I picked up on others’ frustrations- and believe me, many of theirs were much more difficult to bear than my own- and I held them, saw them, and recognized their rightness and their beauty.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I recognized the rightness and beauty of the dark places within us where there is pain and anger and fear.

 Fast forward fifteen years or so to a life where I was no longer denied the freedom of self-determination simply for being young.  This was a life that was nearly everything I’d ever dreamed; an incredibly supportive and loving husband, 3 beautiful, healthy, unique, wonderful children, and the financial resources to allow us to live a bit more than modestly while I stayed home with the kids to support their curiosity, empowerment and freedom.   Here I was with everything I always wanted, yet struggling against my dark places- mostly pain and fear, but also some anger.  Most of it was old, some of it newer, and almost all of it aimed at myself.  What right did I have- a woman of freedom, intelligence, good fortune and privilege- to be entertaining any of these dark feelings, or to even possess dark places within myself?  My life should have been all positive energy, gratitude, light and love, right?  I had no right to darkness in my world full of freedom, love and comfort.

 But there it was, all the same.  *This* was the worst time in my life.  So I did what I could to make it go away.  I numbed- with food, with distractions (Zuma, anyone?), even with complaints and blame- reaching outside myself to look for the solution to make the darkness go away.  It didn’t work.  As I came to learn from my experience, and recently found words for in the brilliant work of Brene Brown, a shame researcher, numbing can’t be done selectively.  When we numb our pain, fear and shame we also numb our delight, excitement, interest and gratefulness.

 So, what to do with that darkness?  We all have some of it.  Some of us, at times, carry it around like a dark cloud or the weight of the world, like Atlas.  Oh boy, have I done that.  I think I was a frequent, long term visitor to that place with the t-shirts to prove it (you know, the ones that are the size of a child’s tent, covered in stains and dotted with holes?).  And we carry this weight and try to pretend we’re not standing in the cold rain being crushed to death as we smile and look for the positive.  We already know that doesn’t help.  So, alternatives?

 I suggest that we find the place I did when I was an angry teen- the place where we recognize that as much as we’d like to *not* feel those feelings, they’re there.  They won’t go away until we honor their presence and give them our love and respect.  Those dark places hold energy and power that we can use to draw ourselves out from under the clouds.

 I’m not suggesting that it’s good to repeat our stories ad nauseum- usually that’s a way of avoidance through blame (ie. complaining).  I’m also not saying we should act out these feelings and dark thoughts.  If one is feeling any serious urge to act harmfully or violently towards another living being, self included, that’s where some professional psychological help is vital.  But we can feel, honor and express our fear, our pain and our anger in ways that release the energy and free us.  I think everyone may be different here, but I’ve found much of this release through physical activity, music, art and occasionally a good hard cry.  (Any other suggestions?).Once the energy is released we can recognize the beauty and importance of our darkness- giving it the love and respect it deserves as our strongest and most effective guidance system, showing us that somewhere we are numbing or suppressing or hiding from vital parts of ourselves.  Then we can turn towards the light of what is calling us forward. 

 In both darkness and light,

Lesley

December 28, 2010

The power of a single word

So, I’ve actually managed to post for 2 days in a row…and tomorrows post is written as well.  Friday is approaching swiftly.  Hopefully I’ll have a few of my changes completed by then and I will be letting you know about my next steps.  For now, enjoy, and feel free to share with others through the links at the bottom.  Thanks!

For the past several years I’ve been following the blog of Christine Kane- who is both a coach and a singer/songwriter.  The first time I visited her blog was about 3 years ago, when an online friend sent a link about choosing a Word of the Year (and definitely check out the posts there too!).  The idea, in my not very eloquent synopsis, is that rather than choose a resolution for the new year, to choose a word.  A single word- just one- that encompasses our hopes and dreams and goals for the year.  Resolutions tend to be dropped as soon as we stray from them.  A word is not an ultimatum or an all or nothing proposal.  It’s simply an idea that we can carry with us throughout the year to remind ourselves of our intentions. 

 So I’ve done this ever since that time.  Okay, the first year I couldn’t pick one word.  I picked 3, and I can’t remember what they were.  It was fun, but not particularly transformative.  The second year I chose “self-respect”- as I had realized that this was something that I hadn’t been giving myself.  I can’t say that word changed my life dramatically that year, but from where I am now, I believe it was the beginning of my current path.  Had I not chosen to focus on self-respect, I don’t know if I’d have reached any approximation of self-love, self-worth, or self-esteem.  Or self-trust.  And those things have been incredibly transformative in my life. 

 Last year, I chose the word “rise”.  This had multiple meanings for me (and ah, that’s what I love so much about words…).  It brings to mind the sayings “Rise and Shine”, “Rise Above” and after experiencing it this year I’d add “Rise Into”.  My desire was to meet the world and my life as wholly and authentically as possible.  It was also to face obstacles and challenges from a place of empowerment and strength.  And what it ultimately led to was my claiming my life for myself, claiming my truth for myself, and rising into who I am and what I am called to offer to the world. 

 This year has certainly had challenges, fear and loss.  It has also had excitement, joy and beauty.  I chose my word looking towards my first semester of nursing clinicals, about which I was petrified.  I emerged from that with a great deal of confidence and a love of the people, the science and the nurturing of nursing.  But my year also started with the  great loss of an amazing friend- who was also the mother of my daughter’s best friend.  As much as it was an honor to be part of her life, it was an honor to be part of her death.  And I learned much about rising to a place of loving and honoring who someone was while accepting their departure from our lives.  And the year moved on.  In the summer I challenged myself to rise into my life and find my truth.  I made an investment in myself to get some coaching and rise above my self imposed limitations.  I joined Christine Kane’s 7 week Uplevel program, choosing to face my eating disorder and support my body’s strength and health.  I ended up drastically changing my life as I discovered that as much as I loved nursing, the path I was on was not supporting my life, but draining it.  This was not the time.  There were other things I needed to do right now.  The fall arrived on a wave of joy, where I was rising beyond any expectation I’d ever had before, and then crashed with another loss.  My uncle, a vibrant, creative force in my life and the world, was found dead.  Again, it was an occasion to rise- to find out what I had to learn from this sudden loss and from the life that was no longer being lived.  I still feel the sadness of the losses of this year, but I know there is much to be inspired by in the lives of those who are gone. 

 I had no idea how much I would hold onto my word in 2010, how much it would serve me, and point me towards love and joy and healing.  “Rise” was the perfect word for me this year.  And did I ever live it, in ways I’d never have imagined 365 days ago. 

 For the coming year, I’ve decided on the word “immerse” (there were 2 runners up, but I’ll set them to the side… there is such power in the choosing).  I am walking into 2011 ready to plunge myself into my joy and my wholeness, and fully face my fears.  I will remind myself when I’m holding myself back that my intention is to jump in and engage my whole self in my experiences, to absorb all I can from them and see where it takes me.  And I will dedicate myself to serving others with whatever skills and gifts I develop- because what could be more fulfilling than that? 

 I invite you to join me in choosing a word to live and see where it goes. 

May you learn and thrive in this year and the years to come,

Lesley

December 27, 2010

If I had one wish

Be the star cookie man!Just a quick note to mention that I’m finishing up this year with daily blog posts, making some updates and changes, AND a big announcement and opportunity on Friday.  Subscribers will get this announcement first- so if you’re curious go ahead and subscribe. 

And Happy Birthday, Mom!

———————————————————————

“If I had one wish this holiday season…” – Steve Martin

 Okay, so I’ve now proven that I’m truly scarred by a lifetime of SNL viewing.  And my one wish has nothing to do with singing children, swiss bank accounts, all encompassing power, revenge or orgasms.  If I’ve lost you here, I can only hope to catch you up with a youtube clip

I have a holiday tradition of wrapping gifts while watching movies.  I love this time alone.  I love making my gifts look beautiful.  And I love holiday movies.  My favorite gift wrapping movies for the past few years have been Love Actually and The Holiday- because they are ones the rest of my family scoffs at as “chick flicks”, which results in them somehow being magically repelled from my presence for a couple of hours.  Brilliant.   

As I watched and wrapped this year, I noticed something I hadn’t consciously noticed in the past.  At some point in the story line, the characters are overtaken with the urge to do something unusual.  Something that’s out of character.  Something bold and daring.  Even something that everyone else thinks is completely nuts.  Or that actually is kind of insane.  And they don’t have the urge to do these things simply for the expected result.  They have the urge to do these things because they can’t *not* do them. 

 This is the magic in these holiday movies- watching the characters being overtaken with a completely illogical urge to follow their hearts.  They become unflinchingly honest.  They admit to their mistakes. They panic and nearly back out.  They say “What the hell am I doing?” then do it anyway.  You get the sense that the result is irrelevant.  They seem to be saying “Hey, this may work out, and it might not.  But the only thing worse than it not working out is not taking the chance”

 There really is something like magic in that feeling.  Just following your heart, or your inner being, or your essential self.  Just doing what feels perfectly right.  It might be a little crazy.  It might be a little scary.  Or it might be a lot of both.  But it feels absolutely and perfectly right. 

 That is my one wish this holiday season.  That everyone, myself included, live a life of heart inspired action.  To experience that wild-excited-scary feeling and to follow through, knowing that the thing much worse than an unexpected or unwanted result is to not have taken the leap of faith at all.  I wish this for individual moments, this season, and for the new year to come. 

 A somewhat belated happy holidays and a very, very happy new year to all.

Lesley

December 3, 2010

Joy: the most important ingredient

This week I’d like to send you over to my friend Scott Noelle’s website to read his Thanksgiving message (then come back!).  It was particularly timely for me last week, as I spent a part of Thanksgiving day feeling anything but thankful.  My 10yo was screaming, my 6yo was attempting to create havoc in response, my 15yo walked in and began making snarky commentary, my dh was cleaning violently, and I was thinking (among other things that I’d rather not mention) that I’d be lucky to ever get around to cooking the meal that I didn’t really want to cook in the first place.  Glad I didn’t invite you to dinner?  Indeed, life here is not always sunshine, unicorns and rainbows.  However, by the end of the day all was well.  We had a pretty nice Thanksgiving.  I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had one that was just as nice, though perhaps with a bit less drama.

 Here in the U.S., we’ve officially kicked off the winter holiday season.  Some people enjoy this time, others don’t, but it seems to me that being overstressed, overbooked, overindulged and overwhelmed from late November into the New Year is almost a cliché.  We have fond memories of holidays past when we were happy and relaxed, joyfully anticipating visiting with people we love, eating delicious foods, giving and receiving surprises from one another.  Then we do everything we can to try to recreate these past experiences.  Sometimes it even works!  But the efforts involved also seem to create the stress, full schedules, poor self-care and overwhelm.  It’s like we’re caught in a system of intermittent positive reinforcement- continuing to do things we don’t enjoy out of hope that we’ll have moments we do enjoy.  Kind of crazy isn’t it?

 So, this year I’ve decided that I want to live an actual season of joy.  You can join me if you like.  Every tradition, commitment, or obligation I come across as I move through the next month will be evaluated with the following questions-

 Do I want to do this? Why?

 Last Thursday, I didn’t much feel like making a Thanksgiving dinner.  I had it planned.  I had all the food here in the kitchen.  But I was feeling pretty burnt out on cooking in general and with tensions running high the last thing I thought I wanted to do was make an elaborate meal.  And around here, more than a main dish and a side dish is an elaborate meal.  But I’ve learned from some incredibly wise people that I have the ability to change my attitude about a situation, and that my attitude generally sets the tone for my entire family.  So, I retreated to my bedroom and began to examine my feelings about everything that was happening and my contributions to the stress. 

 I’m going to step aside here to mention this is not a “blame myself” moment.  I am very aware that I am not responsible for the feelings or actions of my family members.  I also know that blaming is not transformative.  Blame, whether aimed at yourself or others, keeps things stuck right where they are.  I also know that there is nothing I can change except what is within myself, and know that when I take responsibility for my contributions to a situation- my confrontational statements to my husband and my lack of willingness to stop and listen to my older daughter’s frustration and my younger daughter’s distress- I can look at whatever painful thoughts fueled those actions and decide whether or not those thoughts are serving me.

 In my examination of my thoughts,  I eventually came back to “Do I want to do this?” and “Why?”.  After considering for a bit, I decided that since we needed to eat *something*, and this meal was planned and required fairly little preparation (comparative to a usual Turkey Day feast) that I actually wanted to go ahead and cook it.  I truly had been looking forward to the meal.  I also realized that mostly I was doing this big meal because it is TRADITIONAL and something I’ve enjoyed in the past.  But the fact is, I’ve never actually enjoyed preparing a large meal alone- what I’ve enjoyed is preparing a delicious dish or two (usually in advance) and spending a day in the company of people I love.  Frantically cleaning in order to be able to cook a meal I wasn’t truly interested in cooking was separating me from the loved ones who were right here in my home and I was preventing myself from connecting with them in a meaningful way because I was focused on “having a nice Thanksgiving”- which in reality was just the outward trappings of our usual traditions. 

 To wrap up what turns into a very boring story- I made dinner.  My husband made the mashed potatoes.  My 6yo got very excited about the meal and decided to set the table.  We ended the day with pie, courtesy of Mrs. Smith and Marie Callender, and laughter.  I ended up feeling love and gratitude for my family, and for the knowledge that joy is the most important ingredient in any holiday. 

 So, as we move into the December holiday season I am not dreading any activity that is to come- but I know that if I find myself in a place of dread I am free to decide- “Do I want to do this?”  And ask myself “Why?”.

 And next Thanksgiving, I might just make reservations.

 Feel free to add your experiences in the comments! 

 Joyfully yours,

Lesley

%d bloggers like this: