Thursday, December 31, 2009

As The New Year Turns

This time of year naturally calls for the juxtaposition of both looking forward and looking backward. In looking back I find I have learned a number of important (at least to me) things. Here is a sample:

If you want your partner to treat you in a loving way, start by doing the same for them.

If they aren't giving you something you want or need, find a way to give it to yourself. Better yet, find a way to give what you crave to your partner.

Always pay more more attention to the things people do, than to what they say.

Try loving what is. What is perfect about the things that bother you most?

Live every moment fully. Don't waste time worrying about what you may or may not have tomorrow. Look around and appreciate today.

Try being instead of becoming. How wonderful are you right now without needed to become anything else?

If we consider the idea that we are entitled to nothing in this world, then every thing we have is a miracle and source of gratitude.

When you keep digging deeper, you excavate more @#$%, and leave room for more joy.

Growing your hair out takes a long time. So does growing your soul.

Everything is magic. There is enough magic for all of us.

I love you all.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gift of Gratitude

Keeping a gratitude journal has been a regular part of my spiritual program for many years. I have found that writing down five things I am grateful for each day, has changed my life. Instead of everything being about "having what I want," I now find myself "wanting what I have."

I've noticed that this can be a life saver for relationships. For instance, I have been known to complain about wanting more romance in my marriage. Many of my friends are the same way. They might say something like, "I just wish he would take me out, buy me little gifts, bring me flowers," and so on. What I have learned is that many of these guys actually do incredibly romantic and loving things that go completely unnoticed by their mates. When I mention this, these same friends wonder if I am really talking about their partners. So let me write a gratitude list for some of the things my husband does to give you an idea of what I am talking about:
  • I am grateful that when I get out of bed each morning, there is a cup waiting for me in front of the coffee pot.
  • I am grateful that he never goes to bed without kissing me goodnight.
  • I am grateful that he takes me out for breakfast almost every weekend.
  • I am grateful that he loves catching and cooking salmon for me, and to top it off he picks wild blackberries, and insists on making the pie himself.
  • I am grateful that he is trying to find Buzz Lightyear pajamas on EBay as I write this, for our littlest grandson.

For men romance is often more about actions than words. It can be found in the things they do everyday to keep you safe and happy. What does your partner do for you that gets taken for granted? Try writing a gratitude list for the many ways they show their love that isn't about jewelry and flowers. See if you can see the everyday ways their love is given to you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,


Monday, September 28, 2009

New Growth?

I am growing out my hair. Yeah, so what! Well for the last ten years or so there has been this dilemma. To dye or not to dye. Since my early thirties, there has been these creeping silver strands which have slowly infiltrated my brown hair. (Keep reading there will be a self growth analogy here eventually, I promise.)

First, I tried highlights, because I thought if I added lighter patches, the grey would blend in. Well after a while, I just looked washed out! So, about a year ago, I decided to go for the full dye job. My natural color of medium to dark brown was back. At first, I loved it. I felt younger and liked the way I looked in the mirror. But the more I covered up the reality of my own hair, the dryer and coarser it got.

Meanwhile, over this year, I have to admit I have been working hard on growing out my life. (See, I told you I'd get there!) When I finished Master Coach training, I had a plan for where I was going to go, and lord help anyone who got in my way. Then something happened that derailed me. It forced me to work on myself once again. You see, I was still at some level following the path that others had decided for me. Because I loved them, and wanted their approval, I mistakenly believed that we would continue to work and grow together and all would be right with the world. What I missed was that was not really where I wanted to go. To be my most authentic self, I needed to be willing to grow, and let my roots show, and allow the tender new growth space to develop.

Now I am feeling more me, and more on track than I've felt all year. There is no one but me deciding who I am, or what I should do with my life, and it feels damn good. The new growth is getting stronger and feeling more right every day. And so is my hair.

I was due for a color a few weeks ago, and my hairdresser was out of town. I was frustrated because my roots were showing, and I wasn't sure about the color coming out of my head! But by the time, I could see her, I just asked her to cut off the old dead ends. Now my healthy new growth, in my own beautiful color is coming through. I can't wait until the last of the dye is gone, and I can enjoy the beauty I see in just being me.

Talk with you soon,


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spoons and Fish and Trophies!

I should warn you now, that I am not sure where this post is going to go! I have been spending a lot of time with my husband this summer and I have been noticing some interesting things.

First, spoons. In the drawer in my kitchen where we keep the silverware, there is a silent battle of spoons going on. You see, I believe this drawer works best a certain way. There is only enough slots for the regular size flatware, and so I put the larger serving size spoons behind the slotted organizer. This works for me, and when I cook, I want it that way.

Now, my sweetie for some unknown reason, likes to put the spoons on the side of the organizer, where they get jammed in and hard to pull out. When I go to get a spoon and find those he has placed on the side, I pull them out and put them in the back! And then the next time I go to get a spoon, guess where they are? You got it, back on the side. The funny thing is, I think this is quite hilarious. Neither of us ever mentions the "spoon issue." We just quietly wage the next battle. We each chalk up a point on our side of the Male vs Female scorecard and move on!

Today I was reorganizing my office. I like to think of this as my office because I work from home and that's where I work. However, my partner rightfully believes it is his office as well. In truth it started out that way, and his computer and files are also in there. Recently, I bought a new chair and huge bookcase for the office. My daughter came over and we spent four hours assembling the bookcase. The bookcase is so tall that I needed to take down a couple of pictures, and move my husband's prized stuffed bass.

While I was reorganizing, I put my beautifully framed degrees from two well know universities atop the bookcase, along with my Martha Beck Master Coach award. I asked my spouse where we should rehang the stuffed bass. I thought it would look good high up on the vaulted wall across from his other prized possession, his father's huge rack of deer horns. Then my love informed me that the bass needed to be down on the wall, because after all, why would he have a plaque attached showing how large this fish was, if people couldn't read it. We looked around and found a spot that showed this off well.

What I love about all this is the joy I find in embracing the differences between us. How many times in the past did I want to make my partner think like I did? Or wanted him to understand me! Now I realize that it is an honor to have a partner who is just who he is, and who accepts me for just who I am (well except maybe for the spoons)!

I'd love to hear how things work in your household!


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Empty Elevator

There is a saying that goes something like this, "When everyone you run into is an asshole, you need to look in the mirror!" Well lately everyone hasn't been an asshole, but they have sure been frustrating me!

This is actually unusual for me. For the last ten years or so I have worked hard at living a serene and even sometimes a zen like life. I felt a lot of gratitude for what I had, I gave others room to make mistakes, and grow, and be who they were. I even felt pretty cool with myself, and that old Inner Lizard of mine, was napping most of the time.

That is until recently. As you can tell by some of my previous posts, I have been going through a transition in thought, in who I am, in where I want to go. I have been learning a lot about what that means, and I am finding that I am becoming more fearful of the future. Why, because the other people around me aren't necessarily coming along with me! I am taking my new self into the realms I have always traveled, and the people there are simply being who they have always been. Why is this bugging me? Let me paint a picture of one of these episodes:

I have a group of women who I travel to Southern Oregon with each June. We go to a luncheon, river raft, jet boat, hang out and usually have a good time. There is always a certain amount of drama during the trip! Whenever you get 10-12 women of various ages and backgrounds together, it is hard to make decisions, and keep your own priorities straight without offending others. For several years, I have been struggling with this trip, because this group tends toward co-dependency, and occasionally one or two people hijack the trip. This is important, I knew this before the trip. However, I somehow thought that this year would be different. The definition of insanity, Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

I do have some enjoyment in the river and the things we do, but the rest is torture. I don't want to live in the drama anymore. So what do I do, I get upset, take things personally, and blame others! It feels easier to do that, than to acknowledge the truth. The truth is, I have changed and this trip doesn't work for me anymore.

This is the empty elevator that Martha Beck talks about in Steering by Starlight. When we change and grow and become more of who we are, we sometimes find ourselves alone, without our usual companions. Along with the truth that I am moving on a different path than some of those close to me, comes the pain of that loss. I am grieving some of these changes, and the anger and frustration is part of that grief. When we fight change, it is harder. Acknowledging who I am, and being willing to walk into that pain and grief will get me a lot farther than frustration, anger and blaming others. So I am turning the rudder of my life to move into the fire, and with that I will end up going downstream, and getting back to that peaceful life I cherish.

Care to come along? If not, I wish you well on your path to where you need to go.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Don't They Just Behave the Way I Want Them To?

You may think that because I am a Life Coach, and since one of my specialties is relationship coaching, that I don't go through periods of discontent or wishing my partner would change! I am fessing up right now that this is not true and that I am very capable of falling back into old ideas, and wanting things to be different than they are.

For instance a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling like I was carrying the weight of our relationship on my shoulders. I decided that what I really needed to do was sit my husband down, let him know what I needed, and set him straight. Now being a life coach, I do know that how I am feeling is not about the other person, it is about my thinking. Before moving forward with my plan to get him on board with my ideas for how things should be done, I realized I might want to look at my own thoughts.

My brain was saying things like, "if he would just do more of this," and "if he would just behave more like that........I would be happier." Next I looked at how I was behaving when I believed these thoughts. What I saw was that I was not doing any of the things I wanted my husband to do! And when I was thinking he should be doing more, I was behaving resentfully towards him! I began to wonder what would happen if I behaved the way I wanted him to. So, I did just that. I stopped expecting him to be more loving and helpful, and I began being more loving and helpful towards him. Before I knew it, I was feeling better, and happier in my relationship!

So here's the moral of the story: Before you start telling others how they should behave, consider what it is you want. See if you can give that to yourself, and the other person. Notice how much better you feel!

If my husband only knew how often I didn't have to tell him what to do!

Until next time,


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Everything is Changing and That's Okay

The fourth square of the Change Cycle, is called The Promised Land. This refers to the times in our lives when we have went through the fog and difficult times of square one, the dreaming and adventure of square two, and the hard work of square three, and reach the shores of success in square four.

So then how is it possible that the mantra for square four is Everything is Changing and That's Okay? Well you see the dirty little secret is this. The four squares of the change cycle repeat themselves many times throughout our lives. Sometimes they even repeat themselves completely while you are traversing any one of the separate squares. I know!! This is not what I thought I wanted either. Let me explain why.

We live in a society that places a lot of emphasis on getting somewhere, and an even greater emphasis on the idea that we will be happy when we achieve whatever it was that we were striving for. However, the truth is that we are often disappointed when we get there, and aren't as happy as we think we should be. Then before we know it we fall back into the soup of square one and start all over again.

I'd like to propose a different course. What if instead of believing and thinking that we will be happy when we get to square four, we simply enjoy life and be present and authentic in every square? Hard to do? Maybe. Let's look at one of the most common examples of the change cycle all over the world, the four seasons. I like to ask people, what time of year is their favorite. Many people say spring because of the beautiful flowers, and the new growth, and the opening of new possibilities and ideas. Others immediately choose summer, because they love the sun and the playtime, and the chance to vacation. For me, my favorite time is the fall. I love the colors, and the crispness in the air, and the feeling of stepping back and drawing in for the winter. My son in law loves the winter. He loves all the things you can do in the snow.

Everyone I ask has a favorite and least favorite time of the year. The same is true for the change cycle. Some people love dreaming, some people like implementing, and some even like when they need to go deep and deal with emotions. As I have been moving through the change cycle over the last six months or so, I have tried to stay present and enjoy each part of it, without a thought about what to do in the end. This has been difficult because it goes against what I have been taught early in life. What I have found though, is that is can be very satisfying. I have enjoyed digging deeper into my old thoughts and beliefs, and became willing to be open to pain as well as joy. I have loved the dreaming and scheming (this is my favorite square of the change cycle), I have loved the hard work, although that is not always easy, and now I am sitting back and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

Even as I write this, I can see that there is another change and more cycles to come. So I am doing what I can to stay present here and now, and to welcome all that is yet to come. Care to join me?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back to the Relationship Realm for a Moment

I know that I have been blogging more about change and my own personal stuff of late, but I think it is time to fess up!! I have been struggling a bit with my relationship. Now don't go screaming out the door or anything, my marriage is fine, but it has growing pains occasionally.

What's happening is this. My husband got laid off from his job about four months ago. Yeah, I know, it sucks! Now financially we are good. He is getting unemployment and has some other resources, and my business couldn't be better. The issues are closer to home than that. You see, I work at home. This is my place of employment. I am my own boss, and I love my job. But there is this guy who seems to think he lives here, and at this very moment is in the living room watching a basketball game.

Can you see the problem? I now see why my neighbor, when her husband retired last year, immediately went out and got a job! We have talked about this, and he has tried to make himself scarce as much as possible and stay out of the office while I am working. He has had to put up with a lot of playing golf, and going fishing, and other tough sacrifices, to stay out of my hair. The problem really is not my husband. It's me!

You see I want it both ways! I don't want him around while I am working. In fact I want him to be out there working himself. I know that he thinks he's doing me a favor when he spends the day golfing, but I don't see it that way. So here's the deal. I have to work on me. Yep, back to that old standard. It is all about me.

Here is one of the thoughts I need to work on:

  • My security is threatened if he isn't working.

  • Is this true? No, we are actually doing well. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.

  • How do I react when I think this thought? I get resentful and want him to fix it, even though he is doing all he can to find work and to keep busy around here. This makes things tense and uncomfortable for both of us.

  • Who would I be without this thought? I would maybe go watch my college basketball team play in the playoffs right next to him. I would enjoy having more time with him and be more willing to play more myself.

  • Turnarounds: My security is not threatened by my husband not working. My security is threatened by my thoughts about him not working. I am secure within myself.

Okay, got a basketball game to watch!

Until next time,


Thursday, March 5, 2009

This is Much Worse Than I Expected and That's Okay

I spent the whole month of February of dreaming and scheming. I told you! I love Square Two and would gladly build castles in the air to live in, and never come down.
What happened though, is after a while of dreaming and scheming things began to interfere and my dreams started to become reality. I wanted to do more speaking engagements, and the energy whipped through the universe, and I landed my first paid speaking gig. Then a radio program asked me to be on their show! Can you believe this stuff really happens? You begin dreaming and envisioning and creating vision boards and all of a sudden, "Holy Cow," it works.
Anyway, this threw me directly into Square Three. Martha Beck calls Square Three "The Hero's Saga." The reason for this is that often when your dreams come true, or you get what you asked for, then you begin a period of hard work. Now I like hard work as much as the next girl, but I have to be honest, I sometimes still prefer the dreamland!
So here's what happened. I began working very hard to get ready for these precious engagements. Then a lot of people decided they want life coaching right now. I got so busy I hit the wall. The wall is the mantra for Square Three, and that is This is much worse than I expected and that's okay.
The part of this mantra that is the most important of all is "that's okay." Sometimes I get bored with hard work. I forget how enjoyable it can be. The reason I forget is that I along with a lot of other people have developed a taste for instant gratification. We want what we want, when we want it. Just take a look at the current economic crisis to see what I am talking about. A lot of people, myself included, thought we could keep building on dreams that were based more on instant gratification, than anything real.
It's made me look back a little at how I managed before I was successful, and how I lived when there weren't options like credit cards and home equity in my life. What I did was work hard and focus on the joy of the work. I would play hard too. The thing is, I would do both things, work and play, with what was available to me at the time and that worked just fine.
So that's my plan here in Square Three. I will work hard. If something doesn't work and I am met with failure, I will explore other ways of doing what I want. I will work on my thoughts every day and remind myself that this is okay. Life is sometimes harder than we think. Sometimes it's easier than we think. Either way is okay.
I will talk with you all soon. Gotta go, work to do!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

There Are No Rules, And That's Okay!

Let's see. A couple of weeks ago I promised to talk with you the next week, about Square Two. There was just one little problem with that. I wasn't there! To be able to talk about where you are in the change cycle, it helps to be there!
So now a couple of weeks, and a lot of personal work and insight later, I am glimpsing Square Two. Life tends to be like the picture to the left. The road ahead appears straight, but ultimately there are always curves ahead. When you are moving into square two, you often find yourself changing things in your life. You might color your hair, or cut it all off. You might paint a room, or redecorate the whole house. Ideas begin to pop up about adventures you are considering, new careers seem plausible, and for some, a complete revamping of their whole life, flashes before there eyes.
One sign that I have been moving into Square Two is that I went shopping for light bulbs and came home with paint to color the walls of my guest room. Another sign is that I suddenly want to rewrite the novel I finished in November, and I am loving the creativity of my work.
Often people are better at some squares than others. Even though Square One is confusing and hard for some, there are those who enjoy the fog and seem to feed off of the continued pain and drama. For me, I really love Square Two! The mantra for this square, which Martha Beck talks about in Finding Your Own North Star, is There are no rules, and that's okay. This is the war cry of people like me, those Aquarius's who want to change the world, discover the answer, and traverse the wonders of the world on foot! It can be a lot of fun and is such a creative place that I could just set up housekeeping and stay for good.
If fact, right now I'm moving in. I've brought my books and computer, and all the material to create, and hopefully I will remember to come back to earth now and then and check in on my family and my business.
If any of you out there read this post, leave me a comment, so I will have to come back to ground to answer it.
Asta la vista,

Friday, January 9, 2009

I Don't Know Where the Hell I'm Going and That's Okay!

I saw this picture and it reminded me of the "summer of my discontent." That was the summer about eighteen years ago where I was the closest I've ever come to wanting to give up. Believe me I am one stubborn woman and I have been through a lot, but I would hang on for dear life to outmoded ways, men, and bad habits, like they were a lifeline.

That summer my marriage was falling apart, my mother had died the January before, and I had no clue how I was going to make it. I had this vision of sitting on the porch of a mental institution somewhere, wearing a bathrobe, and doing absolutely nothing. Occasionally someone kind would stop by and bring me a cup of tea and that was the whole of my vision.

"Why am I bringing this up now," you ask? I am bringing it up because what I am describing above was Square One of the Change Cycle. The mantra for Square One, (according to Martha Beck in Finding Your Own North Star) is "I don't know what the hell is going on, and that's okay."

This last week or two, I have been visiting Square One again. It is a much mellower, less dramatic Square One, but it is Square One. This often happens when things change in our lives. It can be brought on by changes at work, national disasters, new relationships, and completion of goals. Anything that makes us question what we want and where we are going, can push us into Square One.

My visit this time is due to an amazing year! I became a Master Coach. I traveled a lot and had miraculous experiences. I began making a lot more money. I learned so much about myself that at this point I am wondering how much more to learn could there possibly be! What I forgot to do along the way was stop at a few crucial points and breathe and soak in my experiences. I just kept plunging into new territory and eventually found myself doing some work that I didn't love. I didn't hate it, but it did not resonate with me. My stubborn streak is still there and it took someone else deciding that it wasn't working for me, to make me willing to quit.

Again, I know you are probably wondering why I am telling you this! I am telling you this because this is the way life works. For all of us there are times when life happens, good or bad, up or down, and we find ourselves wondering where to go next. When you find yourself in Square One, there are some things you can do to help.

  1. Be kind to yourself. Make sure you practice good self care. Don't forget to eat, sleep, and excercise.
  2. Don't make huge changes or decisions if at all possible. Take baby steps. This is a time for slow easy moves.
  3. Take time to be still and listen to your heart and body. They can tell you when you are ready to move ahead.
  4. Seek support and guidance from friends and family. If you need more help than that, contact a Life Coach or Counselor.
  5. Remember that you have survived, even thrived, through change before and will again.

I began listening to my own advice and can report that I am feeling much better about where I am. I am beginning to feel the excitement and creativity of Square Two. If you are wondering what that is about, I will write more next week.

Right now, I think I need a cup of tea!