Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Myth of Work-Life Balance

I absolutely love this short video on the myth of work-life balance .  What is so true and compelling is the fact that once we make the decision to have a certain degree of work-life balance, we have to be willing to change the definition of success.  It may not mean the salary, title, position, etc. as defined by mass consciousness and the 3-D world.  This is when courage and the willingness to be different and go against the grain come in handy. 

I hope that we have what it takes to change the world of course, by changing ourselves first!


Questions to Ponder:

1) Do you have work-life balance?  How?

2) When did you ever have work-life balance?  What were you doing and why is it different now?

3) What would a typical day be like if you had work-life balance?

If you are at a point in your life where work-life balance seems unachievable and you know that if you don't change, something terrible might happen, you might want to consider spiritual life coaching.  Spiritual coaching is a process where together we question the rules by which you live and you decide if you want to continue living according to them.  Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation to decide if you'd like to be coached by me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When Force Doesn't Work

I’ve been busy with my hands and my ears lately.  In fact, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the time to write on my blog.  Writing is a form of speaking and I guess I haven’t had much to say.  My self- expression has taken the form of preparing meals, wrapping presents, rearranging furniture, arranging flowers, etc.   When I have not been doing that, I have been listening to my clients sharing their frustrations and fears. 

Last weekend, I facilitated a workshop on the topic of the rewards and challenges of being a professional bi-cultural woman.  Most of the women had experienced either first hand or second hand (through their parents’ experiences) challenges prior to their education and success.  In fact, the driving force behind their accomplishments was the lack that their families had experienced.  Determined to not experience the hardship of their families, they were pushed to excel to create a better life for themselves and their children.

This type of determination is what most successes in the material and physical world are made of.  What feels wrong is when the drive or push becomes a meaningless compulsion out of habit.  And it always ends up that way, when we keep on pushing because we think it is the way.  Not only isn’t it fun to be pushy, but it stops producing or produces the wrong results.  Many times, our forceful ways are misinterpreted or we might get pushed back. 

When we are programmed to push and force things to happen, even after a defeat, we get right back up ready for the next battle.  This attitude may have been rewarded in athletics or at war, but at work or in life, it is not looked upon that way.  This is when the unraveling occurs.  What used to work, what you either learned from someone or taught yourself is no longer true.  So, how must you be?

Questions to Ponder:
1)    If you find yourself in a situation where nothing that used to work works anymore, what do you do?
2)    What are some things that you used to tell yourself when you were younger and now, you wonder if they are true?
3)    When have you pushed or forced something to happen?  And how did it turn out?

Spiritual life coaching is a process where you are allowed and encouraged to question all belief systems that no longer serve you.  Through this type of coaching, you will re-create your own reality where you live by your own inner values expressing them, and finding more meaning in the smallest of things.  If you are interested in learning more about spiritual life coaching with me, please contact me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Are You Feeding On?

This post is written with Professional Bi-cultural women in mind.  The “she” in the article is anyone and everyone I have coached.

I keep on ending up where I started with my coaching conversations.  It goes something like this: “so what do you really want?”  Rarely do I get a straight answer.  Most of the time she goes on explaining something that happened or is happening, hoping that I can infer what it is that she wants.  I’ll listen and go back to the same question.  She gets frustrated, she says she doesn’t know, or she comes up with another story.

We walk together to the same place, the place we started.  Sometimes I am the provocateur, sometimes a teacher, a companion, a friend, and most of the time she knows that I have walked in those exact same steps.  She trusts that I won’t belittle the pain, frustration or exhaustion she is feeling.  In fact, I won’t even pretend to take it away.  She knows that I honor her journey, her choices, and her experience.  I have nothing to gain or lose regardless of what she does or doesn’t do.
 
We sometimes gently and other times, not so gently investigate her food source.  What has she been feeding on I ask.  Sometimes it is an old memory, the way things used to be, a fantasy, or a dream.  Sometimes it is her work, she likes being busy, it numbs the feelings.  Sometimes it is her children or her family.  Sometimes it is an ex-husband who just won’t go away.  Sometimes it is worry about the future, what will happen to her or her children.  Sometimes it is the fear of the “what ifs”, her ending up in a situation she had worked so hard not to end up in.  Sometimes it is her addiction to control and to perfect.  Sometimes it is the drama in her life, her work, or on TV.  And sometimes it is food, when she isn’t even hungry.
 
Once we know what she is really hungry for, then we ask the question again: what do you really want?  From this place, abstaining from the junk she really doesn’t want to be feeding on anymore, she can go within and embrace who she truly is and then the real journey begins. 

This is why I love what I do.  I get to walk with amazing women who inspire me with their courage, honesty and a desire to change every day. 

Questions to Ponder:
1)    What have you been feeding on?
2)    What are you really hungry for?
3)    How will you know you’ve found what you’ve really wanted?

Spiritual life coaching is a process that helps clarify your real wants and desires in life.  Without the filters and feeding tubes, you can now make conscious choices about where you want to go and how you want to get there.  If you’d like to investigate if spiritual life coaching might help you on your journey, please contact me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inner and Outer Values

As a bi-cultural woman I shouldn’t be surprised that most of my clients are other professional bi-cultural women.  I have observed what I’d like to call a challenge of inner vs. outer values.  This is not limited to bi-cultural women, but they are the ones who have brought this to my attention.

I’d like to think of inner values as those we’ve had for what may seem forever.  For example, take Jane, when asked, “What are your top 3 values?”  She mentions: freedom, courage, and justice.  Based on my interactions with her, it was obvious that honesty was high up there.  So I asked her why she didn’t choose honesty, and she was puzzled herself.  She said, “I guess it’s just the way I am, so I don’t even think about it”.   Inner values are those you don’t have to think about, they are part of who you inherently are.  You would possess and express those values regardless of your circumstances.  You might not even notice it in someone else unless of course they weren’t.  But, that’s another discussion.

Jane is a bi-cultural woman who is a first generation American.  Her parents moved to the U.S. when she was only 10.  She had to quickly adapt to a new environment, language, etc.  She had to go through being the new kid in school, the new kid who dressed and spoke differently.  She had to adjust quickly and learn to be tough so she could survive the challenge of being the different one.  She developed the outer values of freedom, courage and justice during this time and she has applied it in her life and career since.
 
Outer values are developed through challenges and difficult situations that provide the right circumstances.  Whether these were always Jane’s values and had been sitting in a dormant state until she moved to another country, we’ll never know and is irrelevant to this discussion.
Outer values are the ones my clients use to navigate through life and challenges.  It’s what is at the top of their mind, and consciousness.  It’s what they rely on when things go wrong.  Ironically, it is also what they struggle with. 

For example, Jane’s outer value of freedom is something she talks about all the time.  She sees herself free from what other people think, not afraid to push the envelope, a daring to be different quality.  However, in her professional life, she is very careful with how she presents herself.  She appears to those she works with as a very professional and conservative person.  Freedom is a selected value that she uses when she wants to, it is not an inherent inner value.  She likes to please authority, and her bosses.  However, if something goes wrong at work, if her bosses expect her to lie for example, and her inner value is honesty, she will use freedom, her outer value to get out of that situation.  This of course comes across to her bosses as something unexpected.  They might even think of her as someone impulsive or erratic because they never saw it coming.  When we don’t express all of our values consistently, we can be misunderstood.

What if Jane felt truly free?  What if she showed up at work the same way she shows up with her friends or family?  What if she allowed her creativity and unconventionality to be expressed at work?  Would she still use freedom as a crutch to rely on when things got bad?  Or would freedom be something she’d be known for like her honesty? 

I’d like to think of our outer values as opportunities for development or conversion into inner values.  It takes practice, a mirror and a coach to help us strengthen and consistently use those values so that they become part of our inner or core self if we so choose.

Questions to Ponder:
1)    What are your top 3 inner values?
2)    What are your top 3 outer values?
3)    When do you use your outer values and with whom?

Spiritual life coaching is a client driven process where you can explore your values and determine how you express them in your life and/or work.  If you are interested in learning about how you could be consistently in congruence with your own values, please contact me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Attention vs. Acceptance

This post is related to the previous post and regarding women waking up.  The women I work with are all high achieving professionals who are tired of playing the same games and achieving the same small results.  They are highly productive doers who refuse to do what others tell them to when it doesn’t make sense to do so.   In fact, they are here to change the way business is done.  They are intelligent women, engaged in whatever it is they do and understand how things work and are frustrated about how it just doesn’t make sense anymore.   Their engagement is a result of their attention.  They have attended to their accomplishments and broken with tradition either in their own family units, their ancestral lines, cultural norms, or society in general in order to get here. 

In the pauses that they take with me, we often speak of acceptance.  It is a new concept for them as it was and is for me.  Acceptance embodies a sense of non-doing which seems like the unnatural result of what one would expect if you are being highly attentive and engaged.  In other words, if I care, I must do something.  Caring and doing seem to go hand in hand.  Acceptance does not deny caring, in fact, it is the purest form of caring.  It is caring but not taking the responsibility for the object of your caring.

Acceptance is caring plus trust.

For example, if as a parent you are involved with your child’s education, you send them to the best schools you can afford, you help create an environment that is conducive to doing their school work, you encourage them and help them when they ask for it, you talk to their teachers, etc.  But ultimately, their success in school is up to them.  In fact, if you try to do more than provide the right environment and be interested, it can back fire.  Kids do not appreciate overly involved parents and need independence and to know that they are trusted.  This is an example of acceptance.   If the kid is not interested in doing well or is not pushing himself hard enough, you cannot beat it into him.  You accept.  Or do you?

An inauthentic form of acceptance is an act filled with empty words.  Our demeanor and attitude reflects our level of acceptance.

Sometimes we hide our egos in the guise of responsibility.  We claim that we are responsible for our children, our schools, our community and our country.  And really the motivating factor for our actions is always our ego.  It is about how we want to look or be perceived.  I want to be a good parent.  I want to be better than my parents.  I want to be there for my kids.  I want to offer my kids what I didn’t have growing up.  These enter our consciousness and all they are, are justifications for trying to control a situation that seems to be out of control. 

Acceptance is about allowing.  Can we allow our children to become who they want to be, even if that person is not someone we like or approve of?  Funny thing is , they don’t really know what they want.  So, can we allow them to be someone that they do not quite understand?  Can we live with that level of uncertainty when it comes to our most treasured assets, our children? 

Peace of mind is achieved with a healthy balance of “being” and “doing” that is sourced from “being”.  In other words, when you allow and accept, you pay attention and now can take action if needed.  When you show up being responsible for only you and to only yourself, you are a role model to others.  Your motivation for doing anything is not for control or for correction, but because it brings you joy.  And what better to model than that!

Questions to Ponder:
1)    When and what do you accept and allow?
2)    Who and what are you responsible for?
3)    What does the term acceptance mean to you?

If you are a highly accomplished professional and are finding yourself tired, hopeless, and disappointed in the quality of your life, your relationships, and the sacrifices you’ve had to make for your career, you might consider spiritual life coaching to connect with the bigger picture of your life in a safe, non-judgmental space.  If you would like to learn more about spiritual life coaching with me, please contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Awakening Women

I work with and encounter professional women in their late thirties into their early fifties.  Many are going through huge transitions, some are getting the itch to make a change, and others are just plain dissatisfied but don't know how to go about making the tough decisions.  I call them awakening women.  They are waking up from the dream of a life they have created but does not fit them anymore.  There are many of us and no, we are not crazy, hormonal, or imbalanced.  This is not just a phase, it is very real and is crying out for our attention.  We are finally stirred to wake up. 

Here is my top 10 list of signs of women waking up:

1.  They are taking all kinds of inventories (past friends, boyfriends, jobs, places they've lived, etc.)
2.  They consider or dream about running away
3.  They are overwhelmed by all the activity and expectations by others in their lives
4.  They are reading self-help and spiritual books, taking yoga and meditation classes, going to a therapist or a coach
5.  They start hanging out with their girlfriends more often
6.  They fantasize about a simpler life
7.  They tell themselves they have to do this for a few more years and then they'll do what they're really passionate about
8.  They realize most conversations bore them and they are not engaged in the day to day part of their lives
9.  They realize they are not fully satisfied with having it all
10.  They wonder what happened to the person they were years ago


Questions to Ponder:
1)  Do any of the signs above ring a bell for you?  Do you have signs of your own you'd like to share?
2)  How are you responding to your awakening?
3)  What gets in the way of expressing who you really are?

I would like to spend more time writing about this topic because I believe it is a huge opportunity for women to finally listen to the voice of their own soul and to create the life they consciously choose.  If you are tired of all the work you have done and continue to do, the struggle, the juggling, the stress, and have started to wonder about your own mortality and what your life is all about, you might consider spiritual life coachingSpiritual life coaching is a an open-ended process where you, the client decide what you want and with clarity and conscious choice move through obstacles that have held you back.  If you'd like to hear more and are ready to take the next step, contact me for a 30 minute phone consultation. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Perils of Multitasking

Nervous and apologetic , she was almost trembling as she spoke while scanning the room with her eyes.  I don’t think she was aware of how obvious it was.  She fumbled into her purse looking frantically for her keys while continuing with the conversation and scanning the room.  She stood up ready for us to leave and I was a bit worried that she might trip over something.  In fact, as distracted as she seemed, she warned me about the waiter who was coming my way.  I left her feeling exhausted and glad to be by myself wondering how she really felt.

This is the portrait of an extreme multi-tasker.  Her nervousness was probably part of her personality, but the distraction and lack of focus, yet total focus on everything else are what extreme multi-taskers are all about. They tend to over-commit and won’t say no to anyone.  They stay up into all hours of the night to get the job done.  They are a boss’s delight.  They keep their family’s appointments and make sure everyone’s needs are met.  They tend to neglect their own needs and desires.  With time, they forget they have any.

An extreme multi-tasker is on a path of self-destruction.  The destruction takes the form of a health crisis, failure of her marriage, or an accident.  Some use this time-out to regroup and change their ways, some don’t know how, so even though, their intentions are to change, they fall back into their old ways.  And some don’t know that anything needs to change at all, so they carry on as usual.
 
Extreme multi-taskers live life as if they have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 20 all by themselves 24/7 every day.   Even the  calm multi-taskers become victims of stress, distraction and even alienation from others.  After all, who wants to be around someone who is always looking around for something else to do or take care of, and ignore the person they happen to be with.

Multitasking has become such a norm that if you do not admit that you are doing it, you are looked upon as lazy, incompetent, slow, or stupid.  The truth is no one is really multitasking.  If you zoom into what is actually happening, you will see that any one person can only do one thing at a time.  You may have many pots on the stove’s burners but at any one time, your attention is only on one pot.
 
I am all for the spirit of multitasking.  That means, I am all for preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 20 by myself, but I am not fooled into thinking that I can have all 4 burners going at once with the turkey in one oven and a pie in the other while making a salad and serving drinks.  That is not happening and cannot happen without something burning, getting over cooked, under cooked, or missing an ingredient!  You’ve heard of the texting while driving phenomenon, that’s a perfect example of why multitasking doesn’t work. 

So, why do we multitask?  We are expected to, we think we can, there’s a lot to do, others do it and so can we, etc.
 
Questions to Ponder:

1)    When and why do you multitask?  Does it work for you?  Has it ever not worked?
2)    Do you feel like you are giving a task or a project sufficient attention when you are multitasking?  Do you ever worry about the things you may have over looked?
3)    Do you wish you didn’t have to multitask?  If you didn’t have to, what would your life or work be like?

If you are stressed out by all the demands of your life and feel like you cannot multitask any more without crashing out, you may want to talk to a spiritual life coachSpiritual life coaching is a process where you, the client is in the driver’s seat at all times, determining where you’d like to go focusing on the goal you share with your spiritual life coach, CHANGE.  If you’d like to talk this over with me, please contact me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why People Stay Busy

I recently had a conversation with someone who had left the corporate world but had decided to get back in.  She was asking me if I had missed “it”.  When I inquired further, I began to understand the “it” she was referring to.  The addictive “it” was the busyness and passed down sense of purpose and identity that is the gift of going to work for a big corporation. 

She said she had missed not being busy, having a place to go every day, having her day planned out already, etc.  I had to agree that I missed some of “it” too.  And yet, I don’t think I could go back to living like that.

During our conversation she explained that as stressful as it was, it was easier in so many other ways.  And I started to see the parallels between what she was saying and busyness in general.  I admit not everyone feels that way about going to work, but ask anyone who hasn’t had to do it for a while, after the pay check, the part they miss the most is the “it” I have described below.
 
Here is the “it” as I see it.  I have summarized it as my top ten reasons why people stay busy.

1.    They feel important when they have things to do
2.    They are addicted to being busy
3.    It is accepted and encouraged that being busy is a good thing (cultural norm)
4.    It helps them feel like they are doing something and are needed
5.    It doesn’t give them time to think about what really matters
6.    It keeps them from getting bored
7.    It provides an excuse for everything they are not doing
8.    It makes the day go by faster
9.    It helps keep insanity, drama, and stress alive and in control
10.    It numbs the pain of whatever might have caused some pain in their life

I could go on and on, but I am blessed not to be busy in that way anymore.

Questions to ponder:

1)     Do you like being busy?  If so, what is the best thing about it?
2)    Can you remember a time when you were completely satisfied and fulfilled and were not busy?  What were you doing?
3)    What kind of busy do you like and enjoy?

Maybe you don’t have any idea what you need and are torn by the idea that being busy might not have served you well, even though you thought it was the way to be.  If you’d like to explore spiritual life coaching and how it might help you re-assess where you are and how you’d like to live, do not hesitate to contact me

Friday, September 24, 2010

Detachment

This morning I was out early with my dog.  It was still dark.  Patiently waiting for him to do his business, I heard crackling sounds in the woods behind our house.  I listened carefully trying to figure out what it was.  Finally, after an acorn fell right in front of me, I realized that the crackling was the sound of acorns falling off the trees.  We have lived here for over 7 years and I must admit, I had never heard the acorns hitting the branches and popping onto the ground before.

What was different today? 

I was quiet.  It was early and I had just woken up with no thoughts in my head but to take the dog out.  I was not being impatient with him, hoping he’d get done quickly, so we could go back in.  I was not planning my day and going over all the details.  I was just there, quiet in the back yard.  I was still and the acorns were loud! 

I wondered how many other times had I not heard the noises outside too overwhelmed with the noises inside.

I came in comforted.  In a strange way it was comforting knowing that life was happening out there without my interference.  I was not needed in any way.  Soon the leaves will change color and start falling and I may or may not hear all of that and it won’t matter, because life goes on, change happens, and I am not needed.
 
There might have been a time when this thought would have disturbed me.  These days, it is a blessing to be able to get quiet enough to hear the sounds of life without getting personal about it.  It does not mean I am getting old, it isn’t about me.  It does not mean I am going crazy, it isn’t about me.  In fact, this understanding that none of it is about me, gives me great comfort and joy.
 
It gets better: it isn’t about me and it has never been about me!  I love this.  This is detachment.  This is the moment in yoga when everything stops and you feel wonderful.  This is the moment in meditation when you are fully present and it is all so effortless.  And I got here while my dog was doing his doo doo in the grass two steps away from me!  I guess the path to enlightenment is different for all of us…

Questions to Ponder:
1.     Have you ever been amazed at the ordinary things (a leaf, the shape of a branch, the sound of birds, etc.) when out in nature?  How long does the sense of wonder last?
2.    What does detachment mean to you? 
3.    Imagine a situation where you are involved in some kind of human drama, what would happen if you believed that it had nothing to do with you?

Spiritual life coaching is about learning skills like detachment in order to live a more satisfying and fulfilling life.  If you’d like to learn more about how spiritual life coaching can help enhance your well being and reduce stress in your life, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I work with people on all different kinds of paths with ultimately the same goal.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Keeps Us Together

They were in their 80s.  One of them still is.  The other one passed away.  They were married to each other for 58 years.  He was the warm one, sweet as can be and always smiling.  She was serious and somewhat austere.  Or so they seemed to the rest of us.  

If I had known them 20 years ago, I would have wondered why or how they had stayed married for so long.  They seemed so different from one another.  I don’t do that anymore, not just because I know enough to know that I don’t know anything about what people are really like just by observing them from a distance.

I know that relationships change, people change, life changes people.  I know that what keeps two people willingly and happily together for 58 years is something deeper and more important than their personalities, circumstances, upbringing, and even love for each other.  These things can help or hinder their bond, and can be used as an excuse to break up their reasons for staying together, but ultimately it is something more intangible that keeps them together for that long.

There is a certain amount of wisdom that naturally flows into us as we age.  This wisdom is not pushy or forceful, it is a gentle guest that is invited when we stop fighting life.  When we listen to it and embrace it, we start seeing things differently.  When we go beyond what annoys us about the other person, and stop nit picking and focusing on what we want for us, life opens up. 

The concepts of happiness and peace change with that as well.  We realize that it was never about the other person.  We recognize that the source of true contentment is in us, not somewhere out there, in someone else, in a relationship, in a job, in our children, in a house, etc.

We stop burdening others with our own dissatisfaction and expectations and start really living for a change.  Life becomes bigger than us and our problems.

I’d like to think that this is what kept them together for 58 years.  I’d like to think that when two wise people finally recognize what truly matters, they only embrace and appreciate each other’s wisdom and let go of all the other small matters.

Questions To Ponder:
1)     Think about a meaningful relationship of yours that has lasted the test of time.  What makes you still want to hang out or be with that person?
2)    Has your relationship changed over time?  How?
3)    How have the changes in you helped or hindered your relationship?

Spiritual life coaching is an open-ended process that begins and ends where YOU need it to.  Maybe the concept of maintaining or staying in a long-term relationship keeps you from moving forward in your life, or maybe it is something altogether different.  If you’d like to learn more about spiritual life coaching, I would be happy to talk to you.  Email or call me now and find out how we can work together to help you feel more satisfied and happy in your relationships.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Opposites Together

I’ve been watching the US Open Tennis Tournament for the past few weeks and am amazed at the talent, strength, and athleticism of the players, not to mention their dedication and desire to win.  During an especially close match, I catch myself choosing one player over the other.  Inevitably, when I do this, I am disappointed if the player I wanted to win, does not, and I usually pick the underdog, so I am usually disappointed!

At times, I have not picked a winner or a player.  I have stayed the unbiased observer.  I have taken in the intensity of both players, enjoyed the back and forth of the game without any expectations, and at the end, found myself having a richer and more profound experience.  No, it is not the same as the excitement and high that follows when your player wins, but it doesn’t have the disappointment of defeat either.  In fact, it is not about winning or losing, it is about the opportunity to participate as an observer of this fantastic opportunity to watch two extraordinary humans who have dedicated their whole life to this one moment, battle it out.  It becomes so much more than tennis.

When we live in duality always taking one side or the other, we invite drama in.  Drama is fun, but it can burn you up and like a sugary treat, it doesn’t really satisfy you in the long run.  Furthermore, it blinds you to other possibilities.  It does not allow for you to participate in other aspects, understand the other side, or know anything other than your own opinion. 

Life is truly a brilliant mosaic made up of so many shapes, colors, and angles, and none of it is wrong or right.  It is how they all play together.  If we could just step back, become the observer, and watch without expectation or attachment.

(This post was inspired by a beautiful poem I recently read, called Fire by Judy Sorum Brown)

Fire

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs packed in too tight
can squelch a fire, can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water can.

So building fire
requires tending in a special way,
attention to the wood
as well as to the spaces in between,
so fire can catch, can grow, can breathe,
can build its energy and warmth
which we so need in order
to survive the cold.

We need to practice building open spaces
just as clearly as we learn
to pile on the logs.
It’s fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible,
let it develop in the way that’s
possible when we lay logs in just the way
the fire wants to go.

Then we can watch it as it leaps and plays,
burns down and then flames up in unexpected way.
Then we need only lay a log on it from time to time.
Then it has life all of its own,
a beauty that emerges
not where logs are but where spaces can invite the flames
to burn, to form exquisite
patterns of their own,
their beauty possible
simply because the space is there,
an opening in which flame
that knows just how it wants
to burn can find its way.

Questions to ponder:
1)    Have you ever been the observer in your own life?  If so, when and how did it feel?
2)    Is there drama in your life?  How do you handle drama?

Try this experiment: if you are in a super busy and crazy place like an airport or stuck in rush hour traffic, detach from your reasons for being there (traveling, etc.) and just become an observer as if you have nowhere to go, but be there.  What happens when you do this?

Take some time to think this over or ponder with a friend.  If you feel the need to talk with a spiritual life coach, email or call me and we can discuss what you are afraid to give up when you become the observer in your own life.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Journey

This has been a summer of road trips.  My husband and I have discovered that we actually prefer traveling by car on our vacations.  It has been less stressful and liberating when you can go when you want to and take as many pieces of luggage as your car can handle without paying those pesky airline fees.  Your destination is where you decide at the last minute and you can see what is around the corner, and even stop to take pictures. 

What I found enlightening is the transition from one state or location to another.  You get such a better feel for the Midwest for example vs. the high paced life of the East Coast.  And when you are gradually going through the transition by car, you can actually appreciate it more.  When you are not focused on why isn’t the plane taxiing to your gate already, you notice the kinds of vegetation, the hills and valleys and even the pace of life.

This summer, I enjoyed getting to our destinations. 

Looking at life from the same perspective, I can feel the same way about the journey as I do about the destination.  These days, the destination is becoming more and more blurry.  The journey on the other hand is palpable and immediate.  It includes all the ups and downs, boredom, excitement, and everything in between.  If life was just a series of destinations without the transitions in between, it would be kind of scary not to mention incredibly hard to handle. 

Transitions or journeys give us the opportunity to adjust, absorb, and truly experience the destination.  In other words, it is what life is all about.  When I hear my clients who are going through a tough divorce wish themselves into another relationship as quickly as possible, it is as if they are not honoring the journey.

 As difficult as a transition such as divorce can be, it is the opportunity to celebrate a good decision, make a change, say no to victimhood, and even appreciate what you have learned.  Just like the road trip, if you are focused on the pain to go away or familiarity to set in (by jumping into a new relationship), it is like the kids in the back seat repeatedly asking if we are there yet. 

Pain and suffering are real only to those who are focused on the destination.

If life was just about the destination, then it would be a fast paced movie with the highlights being points that got us closer to the end which is inevitably, death.  I am trying not to rush through life so I can get closer to death.  These days, I am enjoying and accepting every moment including all the so-called flaws and imperfections, so I can finally live.  I just wish I knew what I know now 20 years ago!

Questions to Ponder:
1)    What area of your life do you find yourself focused on the destination?  What is so uncomfortable about the journey?
2)    What was a perfect event in your life?  Which moment in that event was the perfect one?  What made it perfect?
3)    If you still think it is all about the destination, what are your perfect or ideal destinations in life?  Start from the beginning and list the destinations.  Now, how do you plan on going from point A to point B?

Spiritual life coaching is a journey to help the client dismantle stuck old beliefs that just don’t work any more.  It is a client driven process where you decide what area you’d like to focus on.  If you are not sure how to get unstuck or could use my support, please contact me for a conversation that might help you find the journey you want to take.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Being Good

Have you ever noticed how obsessed we are with the concept of good? We use the word all the time, we greet people with a "good morning" and end the conversation with "have a good day" or "goodbye". We tell our babies how good they are, or the dog how good he’s been after doing his business outside.

Goodness naturally spills into righteousness. Doing good work becomes doing the right thing. Being responsible is a good thing. We want our children to be good and work hard and be responsible adults. It’s all about being good.

Does anyone teach their children to do bad things? They probably do, but I guess they do it thinking it is the right thing. This is where it gets messy. What is good to someone may not be to someone else. What I may think of as healthy affection towards my baby, might come across as spoiling him to someone who thinks you need to be stern with children so they grow up being humble and do good. This is all tied to being good.

In fact, I am going so far as saying that we have built lives out of our obsession with being and doing good. This obsession at times feels like a prison. Its walls are so thick that we can’t see what’s going on outside. We have barricaded ourselves in our prison cell with what we think is good and sometimes it gets stifling and claustrophobic.

Feelings of unworthiness also can come out of that same prison. When bad things happen or when what you try so hard to achieve does not, then you go into your unworthiness corner. It happened or did not happen because I was not good enough.

Other belief systems that stem from this obsession with goodness include: competitiveness (I have to be even better or I have to be the best), righteousness (X is good, Y is bad), rule of life (if I do good, good will come to me), criticism (not good), perfectionism (not good enough), justice (if you do bad things, you’ll be punished), etc. It seems that everything we’ve been taught has been about being good.

I would not be writing this article, if our belief in goodness was all that we needed to navigate through lives that have been hit hard by loss, and unprecedented bad times. I am reminded of the conversation I had with a previously religious person who believed her father was a saint and had done nothing but good to drop dead just when he retired and finally had some money to live a comfortable life. She was angry at God, the same God who her father had prayed to daily and gone to church for every Sunday. She could not understand or forgive God. Being good had not earned her father any points on earth. So, why bother being good?

It all comes down to choice. If someone told us, “do good only because you want to, not for any other reason” then it wouldn’t become a prison. Better yet, if someone told us, “do whatever you want, it doesn’t matter”, then what would we choose to do? When I tell myself that, I tend to freeze. It is as if, nothing makes sense anymore. And I am reminded that what supposedly made sense, was just what I had believed in, that goodness mattered.

Today, I believe that goodness matters. It matters to me. I don’t try to be good for any reason other than it feels good. When it stops feeling good, when it becomes an obligation, a judgment, a heavy responsibility or burden, is when I stop doing what I believed to be good. It makes sense: the moment it stops feeling good, it isn’t good anymore!

I am learning to navigate the world of shifting realities, endless potentials, and softly held beliefs gingerly and with eyes wide open…

Questions to Ponder:
1) What is one belief that you have held on to most of your life? How did it become yours?
2) How has it served you?
3) Are you willing to give it up? Why?

Take some time to think this over or ponder with a friend. If you feel the need to talk with a spiritual life coach, email or call me and we can discuss what your beliefs mean to you or where you might be feeling stuck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Entitlement

I used to think that people who had a strong sense of entitlement were also infused with a huge ego.  Recent encounters with more people who behave as if the world and all of its other occupants are here to serve them, has lead me to believe that what they are actually inflicted with is a very narrow vision that together with a huge ego, can run over others like a tank.

When you think that you and your needs or desires are at the center of the world, then naturally everyone else is here to serve you. 

I’ve seen this in the case of my teenage son, and as teenagers go, it seems that they have this type of vision in common to some degree or another.  As a parent, by teaching him about the world and showing him as much of it as I can and inviting him to read about places and lives he knows nothing about, I hope that it will expand his view.  With this expansion of his narrow vision, hopefully he will be cured of his sense of entitlement.

But what about adults who behave this way?  It is more common than you think.  You probably know quite a few.  And then there is the accepted form of entitlement that most businesses practice.  From the entitled guests at your house who think they can do what they do in their own home at yours without asking if they can, to tele-marketers who call at night asking what your mortgage rate is,  everyone thinks they can have a piece of you.  And they can, unless you decide that you won’t play that game.

These days we also have the soft and gentle entitlement gurus.  That would be the salespeople who have obtained your phone number or email and keep on infusing you with messages, advertising, and special deals on all kinds of things that you just didn’t know you needed.  They act as if they are entitled to your time, your inbox,  and hopefully your money.

Hence, the young clerk at the cash register of the local store where you are buying an over-priced t-shirt made in a developing country for pennies, feels entitled to ask you in a loud voice so everyone can hear: your address please, your phone number, and your email, etc.  And when or if you say, I don’t like to give out all of this information, I just want to buy this t-shirt,  they look at you like you have horns on your head.  In fact, you look like you are being rude! 

When you say no to the entitled of this world, they don’t like it and it is highly probable that they will try to make you look like the bad guy. It is a great strategy and it works for them.  However, if you’ve had enough, you no longer want to be stepped on or even gently be pecked at, you can politely remove yourself from all those email lists and refuse to give out information or even say no to anyone who wants a piece of you.

It can be done without drama (you don’t have to slide out of a plane or yell out any expletives).  It is called reclaiming your own power.  And when you do, you’ll feel wonderful.

Points and questions to ponder:

1)    Take some time to observe your life and your interactions with others.  Do you mostly approach life and people as if they are there for your needs?  Examine the way you treat service people (waiters, sales clerks, etc.), do you treat them like they are someone to go through to get to what you want (dinner, your dry cleaning, etc.)?  Do you pretend to be interested in them to develop a relationship, so you can do business with them later on? Are you ever really interested in connecting with the people you come across in life?

2)    Have you ever been taken advantage of by someone else?  How did that make you feel?  What did you do about it?  How would you have like to have behaved?  What will you do the next time someone tries to feed off of you? 

3)    When and whom do you say no to?


If you are ready to reclaim your own power in all areas of your life, and think that you might need some help, contact me so we can talk and you can determine if a spiritual life coach could help you on your journey of empowerment.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Excuses

During a recent conversation with someone, I was once again reminded of how often we use excuses for not addressing the real cause of our true dissatisfaction.  She was expressing her regret at not getting a good education when she was younger.  She continued with how she would have been able to have a better job, make more money, etc.  I stopped her in her tracks and asked, “and what would that give you?”  She looked at me like I was crazy, “well isn’t that enough?  A good job with a good salary?”

So often we blame our outer circumstances for our unhappiness.  There are a good number of people with an education, a good job with a good salary who are dissatisfied with life.  For someone who does not have much or comes from a place of hard work and not having much growing up, it seems like a dream come true.

It is so easy to rationalize our dissatisfaction.  I am unhappy because I don’t have X, or if I had Y, I’d be happy.  Such simplifications at best keep people motivated to go for more, and at worst makes them envious of those who have what they don’t.  Either way, it keeps them on a linear path of the object they are missing, close to achieving it or far away with no hope of getting there.  Such obsessions become part of their narrative and the way they look at life and interpret whatever is happening.

We all look out into the world through our own lens.  The more hardship we experience the thicker the lens gets.  At some point we cannot see without our glasses.  What if we looked at this example differently?

Imagine you have perfect vision and then something happens in your life or you have to live with a difficult situation, you start wearing glasses because you can only see what you think you want to see with those glasses.  Every opinion you form, every judgment you pass, every pain you endure becomes another layer between you and reality.  In time, what you think you see isn’t even close to the real thing.
 
If you find yourself making up excuses for what you are missing in your life or blaming others, or different circumstances for what you are experiencing, it is time to stop.  Take off your glasses and see what is really there.  You might find that the story you’ve been repeating in your own head was just that, a story, an old and irrelevant story.


It is time to step out of your story and start living!

Questions to ponder:
1)    What is the tape you keep on replaying in your head when you are dissatisfied with something?
2)    What is it that you think you need in order to be happy?
3)    Have you ever been completely satisfied?  What did it feel like?  How could you feel that way again?

Spiritual life coaching is an open-ended process that begins and ends where YOU need it to.  Maybe you hang on to excuses in a way that keeps you from moving forward in your life, or maybe it’s something altogether different.  Either way, if you think you could benefit from working with a spiritual life coach, contact me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Optimism, Pessimism, and Reality

Are you one of  those people who appears to be looking at the glass as being half full or half empty?  The analogy of the half full or half empty glass is a funny one.  Either way, it does not change the reality of the situation. 

Typically, the person seeing it as half empty is described as being negative.  However, the person’s expectation might be for the glass to be full, so they are concerned about it not being the way they’d like it to be.  If you look at it this way, they are actually being positive. 

On the other hand, the one seeing it as the glass being half full, is perceived to be happy with a half full glass.  Does this imply that they never expected it to be full? 

Whatever your tendency might be (to be excited about whatever is happening or focused on what did not happen), the reality of the situation has not been affected by your tendencies. 

If you are setting goals for yourself and then looking back to see if you accomplished them, what happens?

Do you focus on what got done, embellish the facts and skip the part that didn’t happen?  Do you beat yourself up for what you did not accomplish?  Or do you objectively look at the whole picture and focus on what got done, what didn’t, and why?
 
Reality is never affected by our tendencies.  Our own personalities and moods are affected by them. 

If you approach every situation with the goal of keeping it real, you can be an objective attendee in your own life without the unnecessary drama.  So, the next time someone asks you if the glass is half full or half empty, just say, “oh who cares how I see it, it is what it is” and then move on.  That will give them something to talk about…

Questions To Ponder:
1)    How does your optimism or pessimism affect reality?
2)    What is reality?
3)    How would you like to approach life?

Take some time to think this over or ponder with a friend.  If you would like to speak with a spiritual life coach, email or call me and we can discuss how your attitude can affect your life or where you may be feeling stuck.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Surrender To Peace

While having lunch with an old friend today, our conversations lead to moments in life when we folded over and just gave up.  Laughing, we both agreed that in our younger days, we would have never given up or surrendered.  Our dog has to have surgery on his knee soon, and I am feeling helpless, not knowing if this is the right decision and I find myself once again in a state of surrender I remember being in before.
 
There was the time when my new born son had to have surgery and as they rolled him away into the operating room, I gave up and surrendered to something greater than the both of us.  Then there was the time when my daughter had to get stitches on her cut eyebrow and even though the surgeon kept reassuring me that she wasn’t feeling any pain, she kept screaming, I surrendered as I sat there holding her and attempting to calm her down.  There was the time when my father died and I felt lost, helpless, not knowing what to do, I surrendered and gave up trying to figure out what to do.
 
In all of these moments, I gave in to something much bigger than me or the situation I had found us in.

Looking back at all of these moments, what stands out is a great sense of peace that over took my mind and comforted my breaking heart each and every time. 

I can’t help but wonder why we wait for a calamity or something close to our heart to be ripped apart to surrender.  Surrender works when you don’t have the answers, when you have tried everything you could and still don’t know what to do, or why it happened, etc.
  
I wonder if we can access that peace that is beyond our human understanding in every moment of every day.  Is it always there and we are just too busy, thinking and doing our lives away to notice it?  Is it waiting for us to call out to it, to make itself accessible?  Or is it just patiently hanging out with us while we anesthetize ourselves with busyness and drama and then one instant when something doesn’t work out as planned and we get disconnected from our regularly scheduled programming, we bump into it and like an old friend we get reacquainted again and wonder why we haven’t kept in touch?

Whatever the case may be, I know that after all that you could do has been done, it is time to surrender. 

Surrender is not a sign of defeat, it is a request for help.  The term surrender is not one of my favorites, in fact, I remember a time in my younger days when I hated that word.  I would never surrender I thought. Surrender to what?  I thought I knew all the answers.
 
Life’s bumps and bruises have gifted me with a new appreciation for the concept of surrender.  I don’t have to know what I surrender to, I just need to know that I don’t know all the answers and that’s ok.  I need to know that it is ok to make what might seem to be a mistake from time to time.
 
It is ok to give up.  It is ok to ask for help.  It is ok.  All is well. In fact, it has always been and will always be ok.  There is a wisdom greater than what is in our heads that if we get quiet enough, we can tap into.  That is what true surrender means to me.  It is about stepping out of ego and into spirit.

Questions to ponder:

1)    What does surrender mean to you?
2)    Are you comfortable with the idea of surrendering?
3)    Have you ever surrendered?  What did it feel like?  What was the outcome?

Spiritual life coaching is an open-ended process that begins and ends where YOU need it to.  Maybe the concept of surrender is an issue that keeps you from moving forward in your life, or maybe it’s something altogether different.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Inner or Outer Change?

The kind of change most people have learned to handle is outer change.  Outer change is like changing a job or a house, you are still the same person at your new job, you are taking your old stuff to your new house.  So, what has changed?  A different order of activities, new faces, new name on your paycheck, new address your bills are being delivered to, etc.  Under normal circumstances, we can handle these kinds of changes because we are equipped with the tools to organize our outer lives.  Even if we don’t like the new boss or the new neighbors, we think we know how to deal with them.

Sooner or later, the same issues creep up.  The new job starts out fresh and then once you learn the ropes and get to know the people, you start seeing parallels between this and the old job.  You start having the same old feelings, the same itch and dissatisfaction.  You immediately start evaluating and re-evaluating the situation and think of ways to either change things or leave for greener pastures.  And the cycle will repeat itself.
 
They come back, the beliefs.  They come back to remind you of how important they are.  They come back to take hold of you.  They come back for you to recognize who is really in charge.  When you let them be in charge, when you become their follower and believer, you are comforted.  All is in order once again.  The place you were uncomfortably hanging out at, where you thought you could change the belief, or let it go completely without replacing it with anything else, no longer exists.  You are not wobbly and fearful anymore.  All is as it had been before.  You are safely held in place.  This is when you think and experience life as one outer change after another.

If however, you take any opportunity for outer change as an opportunity for inner change, then things will get interesting!  That is when you find yourself in the uncomfortable hanging out place mentioned earlier.  Inner change is not comfortable.  It is not familiar; it is not validated by anyone or anything out there.  Inner change is lonely.  Inner change is uncertain.  Inner change is not easy and that is why most people won’t go through it voluntarily.  Why would they want to, when they have all of their old beliefs supporting, comforting, and defending their old self, or the way things used to be.

Life’s biggest transitions are opportunities for inner and outer change. Unfortunately, they are usually involuntary and feel like they have been done to us (e.g., loss of a job, loss of a loved one, divorce, etc.).  The truth of the matter is that if they hadn’t happened, we would not have made the changes that would guide us towards living a more fulfilling life.  Hanging on to our stories and beliefs is a safe and cowardly way of living.  For some it is the only way they know how.  If you are still reading this article, chances are you are not one of them.  You are ready for inner change.  You are ready for living a different life.  Listen to the voice that has lead you here and take action, get help, there are lots of resources waiting for you to declare your readiness and make the choice for deep inner change.  Congratulations!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Now What?

So, I am spiritual, now what?  Sometime in the process of awakening, you are faced with the question of now what do I do?  I know better, I understand that there is something out there or in here, wherever, that I am connected to, how does this knowledge help me?  And that is precisely where the issue lies.  If you find yourself swimming or drowning in this question, you are still in your head.  The moment it starts shifting from a brain-based knowledge to an experience-based knowledge is when you stop asking the question: now what?

We all know better, yet we still make the same mistakes, we fall for temptations and forget what really matters in life.  This is a perfect example of how just knowing something doesn’t mean you are going to act accordingly.
 
If you’ve read all the books and gone to all the workshops and you are still in a place where you feel stuck, it is time to put the learning into your experience.  Where in your body do you feel the knowledge and if you say I don’t feel anything, that’s further evidence that you are stuck in your thoughts or in your head.

True learning is not just about mental analysis.  If you want to know if you have truly learned something, you may want to ask yourself what happened in your life in the past 3-5 months that mirrored what you have learned?  True and complete learning is about integration and melding for shifts in consciousness to occur.



To help you get un-stuck, please ponder these questions: If nothing seems to be moving, where exactly do you think or feel you are stuck?  If you were un-stuck, what would that feel or look like?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is This Equality?

As a professional and educated woman born in the 60s in a country where men and women were by no means considered equal, I have spent a great deal of effort and hard work in creating first a career and then a life where I felt I was not less than a man in any way.  I didn’t do any of it, with a suit of armor or an anti-male agenda, but in the spirit of “I would love to be able to …” and without knowing that there might still be some obstacles in my path.  Having immigrated to the U.S. in the 80s, I thought I had arrived.  No one could tell me I couldn’t achieve something.  I was fully unaware of what is commonly referred to as a glass ceiling.

Today, as a mother of both a boy and a girl, I am constantly re-evaluating my perception of the issues facing men and women.  Last week, I went as a chaperone on a camping trip with my son and six of his friends.  We all had a blast.  The other two parents like me were mesmerized by what we learned about our sons.  Seven boys with seven very distinct and different personalities managed to get along just fine.  They were harsh with each other at times, yet they laughed about it, they teased each other, and then everything was ok.  They were together, one unit with their individualities intact.  Laying in the tent that night, listening to their juvenile and loud conversations blasting out from their tents into ours, I realized that I would not be so relaxed if I ever did this with my daughter and six of her friends.  I closed my eyes and imagined what that would be like, and all I could think of was drama.

We as girls first and then women create drama, usually because we are sensitive and we are concerned with fairness.  Everything is about things being fair, equal, right, etc.  When we perceive that there is an injustice somewhere (someone isn’t being nice, we didn’t get our fair share, the wrong person was promoted, etc.), we go into crisis mode.  Sure, we probably are correct in our assessment, but what we lost during all of that analysis was a lot of fun, peace, and harmony.

Having said that, whether it be sexual harassment law suits, diversity initiatives, women’s rights, etc., I do believe that all of our discontent and our expression of our discontent, is what has created a more even playing field when it comes to gender issues.  And we have all those strong willed, courageous, and passionate women who came before us to thank for all that we have today.  However, I think the struggle and fighting has created a consciousness that is not serving us or our daughters anymore.  I see 10-14 year old girls asserting themselves in ways that makes their mothers shudder.  The media and pop culture doesn’t help parents either.  Finding clothes that aren’t suggestive or inappropriate for a 12 year old girl seems like a huge task.
 
Speaking to parents of boys only, I realized how concerned they are about the boy-girl relationships as they mature and while they are still under our roofs.  My son is going to his first dance and he and his friends are sure that they don’t have to do anything, they just show up and the girls will be asking them to dance.  At first, I found this role reversal entertaining, until I thought about the ramifications of it as they get older.  In fact, I am seeing men in their twenties who do not know how to communicate with a woman and of course, all the technological advancements have made it that much easier to not really communicate.  In other words, have we as women created a culture where men don’t know how to treat us?

Is this what we fought for?  All that work was done, so we could become one of the “guys” and the guys could become more passive?  Are we the ones who are confused about who we are and what we want and hence we are confusing the men?  I don’t have the answers to all of these questions, but as a mother of both a boy and a girl, I am concerned about both of them and who their role models are and how they will be as adults.  And perhaps I am overly concerned about nothing, especially when I look at what is happening to women in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Analyze This

My scientific education taught me to value the so-called power of analysis.  The corporate world taught me the concept of analysis paralysis, when the data didn’t provide a compelling reason to move in any specific direction.  Of course, in that world, the decision was made by certain people who had their own agendas and the analysis was either misunderstood or ignored to prove a point or another.  Today in medicine most physicians will agree that in certain treatments, it is hard to predict what will happen with any given patient.  There is an expected outcome based on past data from lots of people and then there is what might happen in the now with a specific patient.  Even a dermatologist treating acne will give you the data and let you know that you might fall into the two to five percent of the population that the medication would be ineffective in.  Yet, as patients we hear what we want which is, “give me the pill that will fix this problem” and we walk out either hoping that we don’t fall into the small percentage that the drug didn’t work in or we didn’t even hear the doctor, because we were too obsessed with getting fixed.

ACIM (Chapter 11, V. The “Dynamics” of the Ego, v. 13, P. 205) states: “The appreciation of wholeness comes only through acceptance, for to analyze means to break down or to separate out.  The attempt to understand totality by breaking it down is clearly the characteristically contradictory approach of the ego to everything.  The ego believes that power, understanding and truth lie in separation, and to establish this belief it must attack.  Unaware that the belief cannot be established, and obsessed with the conviction that separation is salvation, the ego attacks everything it perceives by breaking it into small disconnected parts, without meaningful relationships and therefore without meaning.” 

I am using the example of medicine or science to demonstrate the separation that ACIM talks about.  The same concept can be applied to all areas of our lives.  Our need to understand and over-simplify by breaking down into pieces has gotten us to become overly myopic and we’re missing the big picture, hence the need for holistic therapies, yoga, spiritual coaching, etc.  And then there are so many who are disinterested in understanding their disease or dysfunction or even take responsibility for healing.  They put their trust in the doctors, the drugs, the whole system to fix them so they can go about their business as usual.  This lack of curiosity feeds into so many things including the consciousness of separation.
 
I have had to learn the hard way to change my attitude towards getting things “fixed”.   I have been so myopic that all I ever did was put out fires and fix what seemed to have been broken.  That was the mode I operated on and I was quite good at it.  It all changed when I couldn’t put out all the fires or when nothing was ever solved by my putting out the fires.  In fact, it seemed that for every small fire I put out, there would be bigger ones coming at me or worse yet, no one appreciated the fires I had put out.  In other words, I had to change my attitude and realize that what I was doing and the way I was going about my business no longer served me, if it ever had.  I had to step back and look at the big picture.  That is what the term “spiritual” means to me.  It is about seeing what is from the biggest perspective possible and with all of the connections to everything else.  Unfortunately or fortunately life is not one small incident disconnected and disjointed standing all alone, it is indefinable in every sense of the word.  It includes everything.  If I hear the news before I step out of the house, and if that news happens to be about some massive oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, I can know for sure that I will have a headache, feel sad, be impatient, etc.  So, how can I say that an event that does not affect me directly cannot make me feel sick.  Now, if I go to the doctor demanding that she fix this headache I’ve had for a week now without her knowing about the times that my head ache comes and what I was doing when it happened, etc. she might not know what is causing my pain.  She might order a whole bunch of diagnostic tests, pain killers, etc.  Does that sound like a sound approach to treatment?

What happens when we see ourselves as connected, is the failure of the need to blame.  It also places the responsibility for whatever it is we are looking for, on us.  We are no longer looking for a quick fix, a pill, a partner, a job, etc. to fix the problem.  In fact, when we do it consistently, it takes away the need to look at the situation as a problem.  The spiritual in spiritual life coaching is about the practice of observing ourselves as connected to all of life and from that perspective making any changes that we would like to experience.
 
Questions to ponder:
1)    What or when do you see yourself as separate from all that is?
2)    What do you try to do when you feel separate?
3)    When have you felt connected with all that is? What was that like?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Box In The Basement

My husband was looking through an old box from the basement for something his uncle had given him when he graduated from high school. I heard him chuckling and calling my name and insisting that I have to see “this”. “This” was an old photograph of me and a bunch of letters I had written to him back then. I don’t know how to explain this encounter I had with the old or should I say, young me. She looked so fresh, young and na├»ve. She was pretty and new. I hadn’t thought about her at all. In fact, I had forgotten her. She reminded me of the look of our new kitchen when we first built our house. Today, the cabinets are dinged and a little chipped, worn out, and yet every scratch mark or ding reminds me of an event or a meal prepared. Similar to my kitchen cabinets, my face today reminds me of all the events it has encountered or survived. The battle marks are reminders of a life well lived through many firsts, accomplishments, disappointments, fears, hopes, lessons, and hardships. Perhaps the face of the past, is prettier to look at, but like a raw fruit, it merely represents the potential of a ripe one and ask anyone who has had an unripe pear, it does not taste good. Yet the fear of going past our prime or turning brown as in the case of the pear, keeps us fighting to stay or look young. Reading the letters I had written back then, I realized that the person who wrote them all those years ago, is still amazingly close to who I am today with the exception of a sense of wonderment at what tomorrow has to bring. The only real difference between us is the fact that I have lost that sense of wonder. After all, I know who I married, how many kids I had, where I lived, what I did, etc. The big surprise gifts of life have already been opened, and the surprises at this point of our lives tend to either be the not-so-good ones or the ones that involve our younger loved ones, in other words, it is seeing life through their younger eyes. So, what if the surprise party is over? The after party can be even more interesting if we are willing to let go of what we think a party should be like.

In the same box were some pictures of the two of us together. Amazingly, even though he looked younger too, I think he looks better now than he did back then. I realized that, men tend to be that way. They age more gracefully as it is said. But then perhaps it has nothing to do with aging and the physiology of it all that shows up as the lines and sagging stuff that jiggles at times. What if men look more interesting with age, because they become more interesting as men? Growing up is valued in men. And what about women? Do we just get older and all that is left is the outer shell that no longer looks like it used to? Interestingly enough, character actors in Hollywood, like Meryl Streep still make movies. It’s the sexy, pretty women of 10 years ago well known for primarily their outer gifts, who are cast aside despite multiple plastic surgeries to retain their youthful look. That tells me that there is a market even in Hollywood for interesting women of a certain age. And if that is the case in the entertainment business, then it is certainly possible for the rest of the world.

So, my question to me and all of us women who are getting older is “what do you value the most about yourself?” And if your answer is anything other than a specific body part, then the next question is “how often do you embrace what you value?” How we show up is a consequence of what we believe to be true. If we look at ourselves as has beens, then the world will see us the same way. As always is the case, it involves inner work. In order to change mass consciousness, we have to change ourselves. If we value the journey and accept the bruises and tolls it has taken on our physical selves, yet see ourselves as better, more self-expressed, self-fulfilled and even lovelier than we used to be, then the world will receive us the same way. Are we ready for the after party not expecting it to be like the party? Are we ready to embrace this moment and the person that we are right now without all the “should haves”, “would haves”, and “only ifs”? I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Getting Unstuck

In my spiritual life coaching work, I typically meet people who are stuck.  They are stuck in their jobs or relationships, or just generally feel a sense of not moving as fast as they’d like to.  During conversations, it becomes clear that they are blaming the situation on an outside factor.  The outside factor is a bad boss, a lousy work place, a terrible partner, the economy, lack of education or opportunities, etc.  So, the attention is always on some problem out there.  My job is to shift the focus from the client’s outside to the client’s inside.  This shift inevitably pushes deeply held belief systems to change.  And that’s when the real work begins.

In the introduction to Chapter 24 of A Course In Miracles, it says: "To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold.  Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning.  No belief is neutral.  Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make.  For a decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe."  In other words, the decision to stay at a job you hate, leave a marriage you worked so hard to save,  and even the decision to just go with the flow of whatever is happening or not happening, is based on your beliefs.
 
If you focus on the outside event and make decisions at the effect level, you may temporarily get rid of the current problem, but chances are they are going to show up again in a different form.  In fact, I believe that we are all blessed with opportunities that keep on coming until we finally wake up and make the necessary changes.  So, take the example of staying at a job you hate because of whatever reason you think is real (e.g., the economy, what if the job I want does not exist, I’ve tried and haven’t been able to find another job, etc.), if you don’t take this as an opportunity to change, you will have other chances.  You might find out that your new neighbors who just moved in are really loud, have late night loud parties every weekend,  and happen to have a dog that barks non-stop early in the morning.  This opportunity provides for you to feel the feeling of being stuck, because you seem to choose to experience it.  If you still choose to ignore the flashing neon signs, you might even find an illness or incurable health problem that echoes the feeling of being stuck, and on and on are the opportunities.
 
Being stuck is a symptom of hitting the wall built by your own beliefs.  You have several choices, you can get up, forget about the wall or pretend it isn’t there and run into it again and again, you can stay away from the wall and close your eyes and suffer quietly, or you can first scream at the wall and declare that you are going to bring it down and call your spiritual life coach for an appointment to change the belief that is holding you back.  I strongly recommend the last choice!  When you learn how to dismantle the beliefs that get you stuck, you are bound to live a conscious life making conscious choices and inevitably creating what you consciously want instead of putting up with what you don’t.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why It’s Great to Be A Mother

Beyond the obvious or those discussed or advertised over and over again, there are reasons why mothers universally find the experience of motherhood like no other. Those are the reasons we might write about in our private diaries or talk about over coffee with a close friend. This coming Sunday (May 9th) is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and as a mother I’d like to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there in the trenches of motherhood! I also wanted to share my top ten list of why motherhood has enhanced my experience of life. I hope you have your own list to remind you of this wonderful opportunity and gift of experience. You might get cards or gifts of appreciation this Sunday, but ultimately, we all need to honor ourselves for our own choices and being a mom is a choice.
Here we go:
1. Nothing, absolutely nothing can facilitate the practice of selflessness as effectively as being a mother
2. Facing the responsibility of being a role model every day pushes me to be a better person
3. I don’t need a mirror anymore, my kids reflect back to me (the good and the bad!)
4. Witnessing my children’s accomplishments, joy, and self-expression
5. Witnessing my children’s failures, pains and disappointments pushes me to practice detachment, discernment and compassion
6. Experiencing the extremes of being the worlds’ best mom and the worst in a matter of minutes helps in the practice of detachment
7. Awareness of my own limitations
8. When someone else observes the same amazing thing I see in my child and tells me about it
9. Nothing, absolutely nothing is as effective in getting me to not give up as remembering that my children are counting on me
10. I learn to take criticism on a regular basis and smile knowing that one day my children will too!

Enjoy your very special weekend and if you are so inclined, leave a few of your own reasons here on this post!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Disagreement Is a Gift

I’ve been observing and analyzing the anatomy of a problem. Listening to people talk about their problems, it seems that they can be placed into two general buckets: 1) being left out, and 2) being treated with disrespect. No matter how I look at it, it never seems to be disagreement. People don’t complain about someone because they disagree with them. It’s what happens as a result of the disagreement and sometimes it doesn’t even have anything to do with disagreement. If you can talk about your disagreement openly and respectfully, you might even start seeing things differently.

The best place to practice this is in a group with a common mission or goal. This could be some organization you belong to, your church, or your work. Whenever a group gets together, there are going to be differences of opinion because there are going to be differences of experience. And that’s a good thing.

But, how are those disagreements handled? Do you openly talk and discuss your differences with respect? Are you willing to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see from their perspective? Can you compromise or negotiate? In some situations, when there is a hierarchy and members of the group have seen or perceived that if they disagree with the person in charge, they are put aside or worse, fired, they learn to not voice their disagreements. So, what happens to those disagreements? They don’t go away. They fester and grow into resentments, a counter culture of passive or sometimes not-so-passive resistance which will definitely affect morale and work. Everyone loses when disagreements are not handled with a positive and cooperative attitude.

I’d like to go a bit further and say that disagreements should not only be handled positively, but sought after systematically. Disagreements can be the source of new ideas, innovations, creativity, and expansion. Only after we have seen something from all possible angles can we then add to or truly improve it and in that way, a disagreement is a good thing.

Questions:
1) What was the last issue that caused you hurt feelings or got you mad? What was the source of the problem?
2) How did you handle it?
3) How would you have liked to have handled it?
4) What might you try next time something like it happens again?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Condemnation Is Small Thinking

This past weekend I had the good fortune of attending a conference where the key note speaker was the best-selling author, Michael Port. Michael’s latest book is “The Think Big Manifesto” and it is an amazing read. Reading the book made me think about when and how I think small. In fact, as Michael states, it is something that he himself struggles with. We have been thinking small forever and breaking that cycle requires some work. The world and what’s happening in it is a great place to start thinking big.

Take for example something recent that I have been struggling with and that is the situation in China and how the Chinese authorities have handled the recent earthquake (based on what we here in the West have heard about it). I feel terrible about the victims and cannot fathom why your own government would stand by idly and watch your people die or refuse to help. If this story is true, it is indeed a terrible situation. Me as the observer has different choices in how I engage in this story. I could easily react and condemn the government and victimize the Tibetan Chinese people. Or I could accept the fact that first of all I don’t know all the facts here. I am not familiar with the history of the region, I don’t live there and there might be other factors playing in this. Yes, I still feel terrible about the victims of this catastrophe, but I am not adding fuel to the negative emotions. If I care enough, I can do something constructive about it. When you become part of the solution or you spend time thinking about a solution, you are thinking big. In addition, thinking big and always coming up with solutions feels good. No one wants to be angry, feel defeated or useless, yet we still feel these emotions when we fall into the trap of condemnation. In fact, we define and judge it to the point of joining it at its root cause of becoming part of the problem. It becomes a dead end or worse yet, a perpetuating negative place we find ourselves whenever we feed into that feeling of victimization by talking about it, etc.

So whether it is something that is happening at work or someone you feel anger towards, stop in your tracks. Ask yourself how you could be part of the solution to this problem. If it is something that is evoking strong emotions in you, then it is worth spending the time to find a big answer. If you can’t think of a solution, then walk away with your blessings. And I mean, truly walk away. Following in the footsteps of Michael Port, I invite all of us to start thinking big about everything. Let’s let go of our small thinking and we can begin by noticing when we condemn and what we condemn. Awareness is the key to change and I know I am going to be on the look-out for any self-righteous condemnation that pollutes the big thinking potentials the world is hungry for.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Are The Voices Telling You?

When my daughter was younger, she’d tell me “you’re not the boss of me” when I’d tell her to do her chores, or anything she didn’t want to do. I wish I had asked her then who her boss was. Who indeed is the boss of anyone? Who do we listen to, who runs our life?

For some it is their jobs, because they get up at a certain time, dress accordingly, arrange for babysitters, to accommodate their schedule, etc. They go to work, behave a certain way and do their work and come back at a certain time to be home with their families. Depending on the job, the mood they’re in, the time they go to bed, their conversations at the dinner table, etc. might still be around the job. So, in this scenario, the job is in charge at all times or most of the time. For those looking for another job, it might be the same story, “getting a job” is in charge at all times. For a stay at home mom, it is probably her kids and their needs. Every conversation, every appointment, every interaction is indeed under the umbrella of her kids. You might say, well of course it is that way when you have a family and kids. Ok, so what about our younger years, when we were 20 years old. Who is the boss of a 20 year old? For the most part, getting an education or going to college seems to be the answer. But what is the education for? Again, it is to have opportunities, to get a good job. So, in the end it is about getting a job and making money and providing for yourself and your family, if you have one.

In fact, for the most part, all of our belief systems were created to support this goal. The system is so tight, that even when you get there (get the job and the family and the financial security) you either don’t realize it, and keep on trying to work harder for the eventuality of losing it all or for having even more, or you become hypnotized by what you have and find other ways to entertain yourself to get rid of the boredom. The system is so strong that getting out of it might seem impossible. I see it as the horse pulling a carriage. It might seem that the horse has a goal and a destination, but it is indeed being driven by its driver that the horse cannot even see because of his blinders. Perhaps the horse can hear the driver’s voice and feel the pulling of the reigns, but it is not in charge.

Are you tired of being pulled and pushed and told to do things or go places that you might not want to? Are you searching for your own true voice and wonder what if anything it might tell you or ask of you? Are you afraid of what it might be like if it was really silent? If you said yes to any of these questions, congratulations! You are waking up and you are not alone. You are having a spiritual crisis and a spiritual life coach can help if you’d like to be supported on your amazing journey of self-mastery.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letting Go

When a child learns to walk, she sometimes falls and gets up again, over and over again until she stops falling. Yet, we never talk about or think about the falling. With our eyes focused on our goals we keep that image and keep on moving. Yet moving towards a goal involves taking detours, getting lost, and sometimes even changing the destination. Once again, this flexibility is not taught enough. Getting to the original destination is celebrated and acknowledged; losing your way is not. Falling in love is cheered on while falling out of love is judged to not be ok, especially if a marriage or a commitment is involved.

It is all of these beliefs that define our experiences in life. We have defined and controlled every thought and action. In fact, it was handed over to us by our parents, our schools, our leaders, the media, etc. We repeat each belief in our words, thoughts and actions and perpetuate them. We hand them off to the future generations. They become solid, impenetrable, and assumed to be truths.

Something goes “wrong”, we lose a job, a house, a partner, and those beliefs do not comfort or support us. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to do with anything going wrong. You wake up one day and decide you don’t like your life, your partner, your job, your house, etc. You decide to make a change, but your beliefs do not support your decision. What do you do?

Many do nothing, they keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, they lie to themselves and pretend that everything is ok or that this is life, you can’t have everything (convince themselves by repeating more beliefs). Some people make the changes anyway. In the process, they alienate some, worse yet, they alienate themselves, they feel guilty for going against their beliefs and try their best somehow to make up for what they see as a wrong turn. In other words, even though, they’ve gone through the motion of making the change, they don’t believe that they did the appropriate thing, and so they suffer. This kind of change is not sustainable and certainly not pleasant.

Real, sustainable and deeply satisfying change can only happen when you truly let go of old beliefs. These beliefs are only half truths anyway. The child who learned to walk did so despite falling, yet falling was part of her experience and denying it or ignoring it did not make it go away. We are so afraid of even suggesting the possibility of the opposite of that which we hope to achieve as if such thoughts do not exist or have power over us. It reminds me of an old aunt I had who refused to utter the word cancer in case she contracted it! Life is full of a spectrum of experiences, good, bad and everything in between. Holding on to the positive end of the spectrum electrifies the negative side, that’s how duality functions. If we are truly interested in going beyond duality, we have to be willing to experience the whole spectrum without resistance. We have to let go of our judgments and beliefs. Simple, but not easy!

What are some beliefs you are willing to let go of? What if there was no right or wrong? How will you live an expanding life outside of duality?