© COPYRIGHT 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. * Mountain photo by Cecilia Mortenson ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide/CAAL2aspiremountainjourneys.com
photo by Julie Herrmannsdoerfer
How could this thought NOT be on my mind, after hosting a retreat by that name this last weekend?
My heart is still singing because of the amazing women who gathered together from all corners of the planet: New York, California, Beirut, Austria, and from all over Italy. They came together to remember what makes their hearts sing, to support each other, to look deeply within, to acknowledge their fears, to move forward despite them, to laugh, to cry, to play, to grow, but mostly to connect. To connect with each other on a deep level, to be vulnerable and feel safe in doing so. To love and be loved.
I am using this forum to say thank you. Thank you to Merci Miglino, for co-hosting the retreat with me. For her wisdom and humor.
And to all my friends who supported me before, during and after the retreat.
And to all the Wild Women who participated in the retreat.
I could not have done it without all of you!
I am humbled and honored and my heart is simply singing (at high volume, opera style!)
Thank you. Grazie. Danke schoen. Merci.
One of my clients recently started her session by announcing, “I am in crisis mode.” She followed this up with, “Nothing works” and continued to talk about what she called her “sordid story” and finally announced “I am afraid of the unknown.” Whew! She had a lot going on in her head that day.
Once she had had the chance to simply vent for a bit, I invited her to notice her choice of words:
Then I asked her how she felt when she said those words. Literally, physically, how she felt.
Answer: “not good.”
So I asked her how she would like to feel.
Answer: “good – I want to feel good.”
Then I asked her what “good” meant to her.
Answer: “When I feel good, I feel like I can make things happen. I feel powerful, positive and energetic.”
So I asked her how she could rephrase what she had just said, so she could feel “powerful, positive and energetic.” After a good bit of thought and reflection, this is what she came up with:
Then I asked her how she felt when she said those words.
Answer: “Good! I feel powerful – like I have a choice!”
We always have the choice of what we say to ourselves (and others).
I truly believe that, as the Buddha said, "The Mind is the source of all Happiness and Unhappiness."
So, for the next week, I invite you to simply be aware of how you are feeling. Then notice the thoughts behind how you are feeling.
If you are feeling good, what are the thoughts that caused you to feel good? And if you are not feeling good, what thoughts caused those feelings to arise? Don't judge yourself. Simply take note of your thoughts.
Awareness is the first step to creating the life you truly desire.
And you can always choose the thoughts that make you feel good and empower you!
As many of you who follow my blog know, I’ve worked a lot in restaurants. And to me, they are a great analogy for life.
Today as I was pondering what to write about, it occurred to me that we often complain that things didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to. But did we actually put in our order? I mean, if you go out for breakfast, you look at the menu and place your order with the waiter, right? You don’t go in and say “just bring me whatever you want,” do you? Of course you don’t!
But so often in life, that is exactly what we do! We just wait and see what happens, and then complain about it! Be honest with yourself. How did you get into the job you have right now? Most likely, you started out in a position that sounded pretty good at the time, and then as time passed, you were offered a promotion, or maybe a different job description and you simply accepted it and continued to go to work, like you always have. But are you happy with your work? Or is it just sort of “ok”? Or maybe you actually dread going to work!
How did this happen?
It happened because most of us have never taken the time to define what is valuable to us. Maybe we love being outdoors, but instead are “stuck” working in an office with fluorescent lighting. Or we love children and instead are working with adults.
And as for our strengths – are you using your strengths at work? Perhaps you are a very social person and would be great at PR, but instead are “stuck” behind a desk. Or you really suck at technology and have to be at the computer all day long!
What if you decided to find work that utilized your strengths and reflected your most important values? Maybe you love the outdoors and want to protect the environment for future generations, are super social and hate being in an office environment? This describes a real friend of mine who is now in charge of fundraising events for WWF, being social and also helping the environment!
But if you don’t know what YOU want first, how can you possibly pick something on the menu of “life” and hope to enjoy it?!
When you go to the restaurant, it’s good to know you want breakfast, and it’s good to know you know you want eggs…
But a word of advice when it comes to knowing what you want: don’t be TOO specific!
You want breakfast and you want eggs, but maybe the Chef has a special you never even dreamed of that is sooo much better than plain old bacon and eggs! (like my friend who ended up at WWF – she KNEW she wanted to do something that reflected her love of the environment and utilized her social skills, but had no idea what that looked like, and then “happened” to hear about the job at WWF.)
So, know the essence of what you want out of life, based on your strengths and values, and be sure to “order” what you want (I want to protect the environment and utilize my social skills), but then leave a little room for the Universe to be creative.
The Chef’s Special is usually MUCH better than what you had in mind!
So I leave you with this question:
On the menu of life, are you game to try the Chef’s Special?
Often, people ask me what coaching is.
Rather than answer that question myself, I’d like to quote a client, who spent just ONE hour with me:
“I've been in therapy for a while, and it's become an essential part of how I go through life. With therapy you learn that you can't get that much out of a one-hour session; its benefit reveals itself after many sessions, often after years. So, what could just one hour of Coaching provide?
Well, let me tell you, I was so surprised at how much I got out of it. I felt that my view on the situation we dealt with was thrown out of the window, and like a boomerang, came back and hit me in the face with a new point of view. It was a very pleasant breath of fresh air! I felt so enlightened and, the key word we found: empowered! I can now see that even for someone in therapy, Coaching could definitely be complimentary.
And as for you: a great listener, I instantly got the feeling you understood and knew my mindset (better than me!). You asked fascinating questions which unravelled my thoughts and, you helped me come to my own conclusion and realize I had the answer all along. I will definitely be recommending you as a Coach! Thank you for helping me empower myself.”
I am constantly amazed at the process of coaching! Every session is completely different. Most people have never really been listened to in such a deep way, and in such a safe space. Nor have they had their own thoughts reflected back to them, so they can really hear themselves. The questions I ask are never the same – they come from listening and being completely present with the person in front of me.
And as for the topics of the sessions: it is as varied as the personalities of the people I spend time with! But if there is one common denominator, it is this:
People who want to be coached, want to make their lives extraordinary!
They no longer accept “that’s just the way it is.” I won’t say they are fearless (nobody is), but they are willing to confront their fears, to step out of their comfort zone and discover for themselves, what makes them truly happy, make a plan, follow through and DO it!
My clients are my heroes! So now my question for you today is:
To be, or not to be? (coached!)
That’s what came to me during my meditation this morning. So much for empty mind! But I find that sometimes during meditation, even when I do have thoughts, I don’t attach to them like I would otherwise. I simply notice them, make a sort of “mental note” during my meditation and return to that thought later.
So, here I am: what does that mean to me? “Something’s gotta give” – something MUST change. That’s what I get. But what?
Let’s look. What’s missing for me to be happy? First thought: financial security. I am growing a business right now, so I don’t have much income. That’s pretty scary at times. But the alternative is even scarier. What is the alternative? Financial security but no creativity - doing something I don’t necessarily love, but that pays the bills. So what is more important to me? Creativity, obviously! That’s what I have chosen my entire life – creativity over financial security.
I see now that I have created a conflicting belief around this: I can EITHER have financial security OR I can have creativity. I can’t have both. And you know what?
I have been enormously successful at fulfilling this belief of mine!
Any time I have pursued my creative side, I have not made much money, even though I really enjoyed what I was doing for a time. Eventually though, the financial stress took the fun away, and I would pursue something else that would give me financial security. And guess what happened? Again, I was “happy” for a bit, with a steady income, but eventually I would again succumb to my longtime friend: BOREDOM! I missed my creative side!
So I am back at that point again – indulging my creative side – and allowing my financial side to atrophy.
But this time I have decided “Something’s gotta give! “
This time, I CHOOSE to believe I can be creative, help people, have fun, AND have financial security.
So, What’s gotta give? My belief that creativity and abundance don’t mix!
Your turn?! - What’s “gotta give” for YOU to be truly happy?
Photo Credit: www.fserpent.com
Remember when you were a kid and got bored (as usual) and went to bug your mom with “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!” My mom always used to say the same thing. “Go play make believe.”
It worked every time!
At least for me…I got to be Batman. My poor brother always had to be Robin! The point is, in my 6 year old mind, I really WAS Batman! I had a Batmobile with all those cool gadgets on it and I was saving Gotham city from all the bad guys!
I still play make believe.
WHAT?! - Just stay with me here for a minute here.
When you’re a grown-up (that part is always questionable too) you call it “creative visualization” (I call it “creative inspiration!) But really – it’s playing make believe! And it’s fun. It makes you feel good.
And that’s the point. When we feel good, we’re happy. Here’s an interesting fact, our bodies function better when we are happy. We are healthier. Mentally too – we have a better attitude in general, when we practice creative visualization.
Why is that? Because when we play make believe, anything is possible. We have super powers. All our dreams come true!
Here’s another interesting fact: your body does not know the difference between make believe and reality. That’s right. You understood correctly. That’s why stress is so common. When you lose your keys in the morning and you’re going to be late for work and run all over the house looking for them, your body thinks you are running away from a lion – it goes into “flight or fight” mode. Your heart rate goes up, you get a hit of adrenalin so you can run faster and you might even start to sweat. Not healthy.
So the next time you lose your keys, just stop for a second, and calmly remind yourself that this is not a real emergency. Then WALK around the house and find your keys.
Now let’s get back to playing make believe. What about our minds? On some level, they know the difference between make believe and reality, but we give our minds permission to let the creative side go wild for a certain amount of time. We shut down the analytical, “nay-saying” side of the brain, for that certain amount of time.
After all, it’s just make believe!
Or is it?
Our bodies don’t know the difference between reality and make believe.
Why should the Universe?
And why is it called “make believe?” anyway? I’ll give you a hint:
It’s to “make (you) believe” that anything is possible!
So, I leave you with this question: Do you wanna play make believe?
Photo credit: Red Tail Hawk by Pierre LeClerc Photography
I love hawks. There is something about them that is so inspiring and magestic. There is one that lives in the gulch where I walk every day. At least he hangs out there a lot. Or should I say ABOVE the gulch, since I usually see him catching the updrafts, circling endlessly, soaring higher and higher and screeching out his joy! It moves me every time I hear him. I instinctively look up to search for him. And I admit it, I am more than a little jealous of his effortless flight, soaring ever higher until he disappears into the reflection of the sun. I want to do that too! Soar effortlessly, looking down on the earth, from his bird’s eye view. What a perspective he must have! Looking down and seeing everything from so high up – he can see so much more than I can from down here.
But I had a different experience last week. It had been raining for a few days and the air was completely still – no wind at all. I was on my daily walk near the gulch when I heard “my” hawk screech. Instinctively, I looked up and searched the sky. I couldn’t see him, despite the fact that there was no sun to blind me. It was cloudy. So where was he? Then, to my surprise, he swooped down from a tree near me, gliding downwards into the gulch. I watched him until he landed in a tree, far below me. I continued on my walk, which eventually brought me to the bottom of the gulch and again, to my surprise, there he was, in the same tree I’d seen him land in. When he saw me, he took off again, but this time, he flew UP the gulch. And I could see how much effort it took. With no drafts to lift him, he had to work hard to fly up the gulch and he eventually landed in a tree not too far from where he had started.
For some reason, this reminded me of a client I have, who had been saying that she felt “stuck”. She couldn’t move forward. She was just so tired and disappointed in herself that she wasn’t “making progress.” After seeing this hawk, who instinctively knew not to try to fly when there was no updraft, but to rest instead, I asked her, “What if you are not stuck, but just resting?” It opened up a whole new possibility for her to be gentle with herself. To give herself a break. To allow herself to rest for a bit and reflect before she moved forward again.
When we are resting and being gentle with ourselves, we have a different perspective than when we are pushing and in constant movement.
Sometimes, we need to rest before we can soar again – just like the wise hawk!
photo credit: dj-The Killer
Those are words none of us ever wants to hear. And the choice is obvious! We’d give them our wallet, our watch, our car, hell - we’d give them our CLOTHES too if they wanted them!! No question, right? Our loved ones, our friends, just being alive to see the next sunrise – those are the things that would flash before our eyes in that split second. Not our money or that designer watch. None of that would matter. We would choose LIFE.
So, why don’t we do that in our everyday lives? Why do we so often choose money over what really matters to us?
We are working so hard for all the “right” reasons:
But what is missing in the list above? It probably looks pretty much like your list, doesn’t it? But what’s missing? – you are. What about you?
We are so wrapped up in our work, so committed to doing what we are supposed to do, to making that almighty paycheck, that we lose sight of what really matters to us…until something happens. Unfortunately, often, that “something” is not good: a death in the family, someone dear losing their job suddenly, someone else divorcing after years of marriage. It stops us short and forces us to look at our lives.
It’s then that we see what really matters:
So how do I answer the question, “your money or your life?”
“I refuse to choose!”
I want both. It doesn’t have to be one or the other! I don’t need a catastrophic event to make me stop and reflect. I opt to stop NOW and look at my life and what really matters to me and consciously make the time to nurture those needs. I can still make money and provide for the family (because that is one of my needs too.) But I know that one of the ways I provide for them is to BE with them, laugh with them, play with them and in doing so,
I take care of myself.
So how about you? Your money or your life? - Or BOTH…
You know when your partner has that pensive look on his/her face – that far away look – not vacant, exactly – but not present either. Have you ever asked, “What are you thinking about?” What response did you get? I’ll bet I can guess – “Nothing.”
Now let me ask you how often you are actually thinking about “nothing.”
I’ve been meditating regularly for at least 4 years now and I can promise you I have not reached that level of “empty mind” in my meditation practice! In fact, it seems like I instantly have MORE thoughts, the minute I sit down to meditate!
Why is that? Perhaps because when we sit still for a minute, we become aware of what is going on inside us. All those thoughts, fighting for our attention! Whereas normally, we distract ourselves with outside activities: “to do” lists, work, kids, school – anything we can think of to distract ourselves from those thoughts! Why is that? Because they are often thoughts we don’t like:
What if we just stopped for a minute and literally watched our thoughts scroll down in our minds eye, like the credits after a movie? You know, when you are looking for the name of the composer because you loved the music so much? Or the name of the director? Do you actually read and absorb all the other information as the credits scroll down? No – you don’t – you simply pick out the credit you want.
It’s the same thing with your thoughts. Just let them scroll down – you don’t have to engage with the ones you don’t like- the ones that don’t serve you. Just notice them, and let them go. And choose the ones you want. The ones that do serve you.
Yes, you can choose the thoughts that make you feel good and help you create the life you desire.
This is not something I came up with, by the way. The idea has been around for a while now:
“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.” – Buddha (563 BCE – 483 BCE)
After my last post, one of my readers, Fabio, commented that it seems my revelations often happen at 3 am. He offered not only this observation, but also a question:
What resources do I access at 3 am that I don’t seem to have access to at other times of the day? Great question!
What first popped into my head is the fact that when I wake up at 3 am, I am usually “worried” about something. In other words, my gremlins come out at night! During the day, when I am active, I can distract myself from these critters. If I stay busy enough, I don’t have to think about my problems. But at night, my troubles seem to multiply, growing bigger and morphing into insurmountable mountains. At first, anyway. And what I do at night, that I don’t allow myself to do during the day, is let these thoughts run wild. At first it’s a little scary. These problems just seem so huge. My mind races with all the arguments for and against possible solutions. This goes on for hours sometimes (usually 3 hours, to be precise). And then what happens? I’m exhausted and my mind has seemingly exhausted all the possibilities (the same old possibilities I always come up with – none of which resonates or feels right!)
Then what happens? I am so mentally exhausted at that point, that I literally cannot entertain the same thoughts anymore. Finally, I enter that delicious space, just before succumbing to sleep, which allows my subconscious to surface. The “real me” comes out, so to speak. Not all the “shoulds” and “wanna be’s” and judgements and labels. ME – my essence – “the observer” behind the thoughts immerges. “I” come out to play. And just like any kid, I state very clearly what I want!
“I get to be Batman. You’re Robin.”
No cow-towing, no compromising, just pure innocent intention.
I want ___________!
The solution is always so obvious and simple.
So, the next time you can’t sleep because of all those conflicting thoughts reeling in your head, just wait. Don’t resist the process. Be patient. It may take some time. Just listen and eventually,
YOU will come out to play!
If you're ready to go from bored to bodacious, you've come to the right place!