Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remembering 2009

Since we are closing 2009, I thought I'd start a series of questions to help me and hopefully you reflect on this past year. Here's to all the lessons - some learned and some I hope to learn the next time around. And, for the blessings - some apparent and some disguised.

1 My most memorable moment of 2009 was when.... Interesting that when I reflect on this question I can barely reach past last week to find a 'memorable' moment. Does this mean that there weren't any? Absolutely not. It does however, remind me how rapidly things move and change and that what I choose to think about and/or obsess on today will most likely shift in some way by tomorrow and certainly by next week. I would say that the most memorable moment that comes to mind over the past year was when I "knew" that my boyfriend was the "one". I got into my car alone after having coffee with him and said out loud "Really God? Him?" .... and then I smiled because the answer was "YES".

2. The thing I'm most grateful for in 2009 is.... This question makes me realize that I have SO much to be grateful for - far beyond the externals that I regularly take note of (i.e. my health, my friends, Danny, my family, work I love, my home, my car, etc...) What I'm most grateful for over the past year is my willingness to grow. To practice authenticity. To experience being human - falling in love, having my feelings hurt, experiencing pure bliss, feel disappointed, feeling scared, not know the answers and be challenged in many ways..... all without changing the experience with any kind of mind or mood altering substance. Experiencing being human in the raw. And, I owe much of this to all my teachers, mentors, sponsor, coaches, boyfriend and friends that have supported and loved me over the past year. Thank you!

3. The greatest lesson I learned in 2009 was.... There are so many lessons it's hard to pinpoint just one. Every day I believe God is teaching me a new lesson (or at least trying to). These lessons show up in a variety of ways through a variety of sources. That said, if I had to boil it down to the 'greatest' lesson of 2009, I would say that I have come to believe (and live) that anything is possible. That dreams really do come true. Not always in my time (or yours) but they do come to fruition if I will be patient, faithful AND do my part in participating in the process. My lesson is that I am worthy of having my dreams come true - just as YOU are!

4. The thing that I'm most proud of accomplishing in 2009 is.... This question may be the toughest of them all .... I find it much easier to look ahead at what I want to create in the coming days, months or year - not so easy to look back with a pat on the back and an "atta boy". It seems these days nothing is ever really 'finished' - it's all one big process, which makes it hard to feel like any one thing is getting accomplished. That said, I do believe in the importance of and often coach my clients around finding 'something' to acknowledge themselves for on a regular basis. It seems to work as a great confidence and energy booster. So, to honor my own belief I suppose I'd better start drinking my own 'cool-aid'. ; ) So.... I'm proud of allowing myself to fall in love and be vulnerable in a partnership, I'm proud that I've expanded my business by starting a blog, changing my website, working with out-of-state clients and partnering with other coaches, I'm proud that I'm buying a new car by the end of this month that will be all mine and I'm proud that I've run over 3 miles outside for the first time..... to name a few. These are some fun accomplishments to acknowledge myself for - no doubt. However, I think the most important accomplishment over this past year (now that I think about it) has been when I've helped someone to love who they are MORE. That's what truly gives me the most gratification and feeling of 'accomplishment'.

I hope this sparks some thought for you on what you have to remember over this past year.....

More to come - stay tuned.

With love and gratitude,


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time Outs

With the holidays in full swing and Christmas carols chiming on all the favorite radio stations (not to mention all the cafes, restaurants and stores) the calendar is filling quickly with holiday events, leaving little time to c-h-i-l-l out. Just this morning my boyfriend and I were coordinating our December calendar to find that some dates are filled with more than a couple of events to attend. In addition to attending social events, for many there are also holiday family obligations. The holidays can be a joyous occasion to catch up with and celebrate old traditions with loved ones. However, I'm learning that to much of a 'good thing' can also bring a celebratory occasion to a screeching halt. Do you know what I mean? It seems one minute you couldn't be more thrilled to see your loved ones and the next (after too many consecutive hours together) all of your old 'stuff' is coming up and you've reverted into the 14-year-old child who is spouting off a mouthful of venom (only later to be filled with regret) to your cherished family members.

Ok..... well maybe you've healed all of your old childhood wounds .... but 'some' of us are still working on it. ; ) For me, what works best is if I balance the amount of time I spend with loved ones with some downtime for myself. It seems if I make time to recharge my batteries (which, for me is often done through exercise, napping, or talking to some close friends) I am much better equipped to handle old 'stuff'' that may emerge. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and celebrated..... not lamenting over unnesseccery remarks or spats.

A friend of mine once said, "I like to leave on a 'high' note when I'm in social settings." To me, this means know thyself and know when enough is enough. Know when it's time to go or take a 'time out'. Just like children, adults need 'time outs' too. A time-out is time to reflect, regroup and recharge. Which, in my opinion, leads to a much more enjoyable holiday season for all.

Here's a plug for more time-outs .... they're not just for kids anymore. ; )

Much love,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Keeping Your Word....

I've become increasingly aware of how easy it is to break a commitment .... it's as easy as sending a text, leaving an impromptu voice mail or shooting an email (that goes directly to the person's phone) to say you can't make it or that you need to postpone. What did we do when we didn't have such easy access to people? Did we just not show up? Some of us may have gone this route .... but the majority of us showed up. For many of us (myself included) the thought of abandoning a commitment without informing the other person wasn't even a thought. Even if I didn't 'feel' like it or had regrets of making the plan in the first place .... I showed up. It's amazing to think that centuries ago there wasn't even an option to call... people had to rely on one another's word. It was a given that you'd be accountable to your word. Today it seems that many of us keep this 'little pill' in our back pocket.... just in case.

Now, I'm just as guilty as the next person to cancel last minute ..... not necessarily because I like it or approve of it (although on some level I suppose I do, or I wouldn't be doing it) - but because I can. It's a sneaky rationale and practice that has quickly become a habit for myself and many others. There are a ton of rationalizations that my mind will come up with to justify changing an appointment time or postponing a meeting. It's never meant to be disrespectful to the other person. It's a mindset .... and one that I am working on changing. The new mindset I aim to adopt it to stand by my word. When I set an appointment or make a plan, I am committing to stick with what I say. What this means for me is that before committing I need to give some thought to what I'm choosing. I believe it's the impulsive decision making that leads me (and possibly you) to breaking my word.

I do realize there are some days, week and even seasons where it just feels 'hard' to show up. There's a myriad of reasons why - feeling tired, hormonal, physically exhausted, uninspired.... you name it - we all have these periods. Occasionally, these periods call for a 'time-out' to recharge and rest. The difference between deliberately taking time off and not showing up is that one is intentional and clear, the other is murky and can create distrust between you and whoever is counting on you to show up. More important, last minute cancelling and not showing up creates distrust with yourself. Your integrity gets striped and not only do others not know if they can truly count on you, but somewhere deep inside of yourself, you aren't sure if you can count on you.

What I've realized is that even if I think my actions are inconsequential .... they're NOT. People count on me. People count on you. And, even if others 'seem' ok with the cancellation, on some level there is an expectation not being met. And an expectation not being met leads to disappointment. And when this is repeated, trust can be challenging to establish. When there is no trust it is hard to build confidence, self-esteem and integrity. One cannot possibly feel good about themselves when they are continually breaking promises. One way to build credibility and trust with yourself and others is to show up no matter what. What an incredible way to be remembered ..... that others could count on you and trust your word. This is NOT about being perfect, it's about being a man or woman of your word.

Here's to less impulsive yeses and more thoughtful commitments.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Choosing .....

Where are you NOT choosing in your life today? This was the question that my coach proposed to me today. In fact, he gave me a homework assignment to write out all the places in my life that I'm NOT choosing and then told me to make a choice. I was able to recognize through our conversation that by not choosing (holding off, flip flopping, waffling) I am/was keeping myself stuck, in victim mode and very frustrated. My mind will tell me that by not choosing I am keeping my options 'open', but the truth is it minimizes my level commitment and keeps me from obtaining any mastery over one thing (concept or experience).

The example that comes to mind is with exercise. I have been saying I want to run a 1/2 marathon or even a 5K for some time now (possibly even years) yet, I've done nothing to strengthen my running skills. Instead, I do what's comfortable - fast walk, take an aerobics class, take yoga ..... ANYTHING but run. And, if I do run, it's on the treadmill with intermittent walking. There's not a solid dedication and focus on running. I let fear hold me back - telling myself I'm just not 'built' to run or it will hurt too much ... the list goes on as they usually do. It fascinates me how easy it is to talk myself out of following through on something I want for myself AND how great my mind is at convincing me that what it's telling me is the capital "T" truth!

I made my list of the other areas in my life where I'm NOT choosing ..... and was surprised what I found. There were more areas in my life than I'd thought where I saw that I was waffling. And, consequently feeling frustrated by my results. DUH! This is not rocket science yet it is POWERFUL - choosing - then sticking with the choice. So, for today, I am choosing to run at least 3 times per week AND sign up for a 5K by the end of the year.

Do you know where you're NOT making choices in your life? What's stopping you from choosing? And, how is NOT choosing stopping you from being as powerful as you can be?

I dare you to choose!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Work'n it OUT

Do you ever find yourself in such a frenzy about something or someone you think to yourself I need to end this NOW...?! Maybe it's an argument with a loved one, some critical feedback from a boss or a roommate who has once again moved your stuff around.... regardless, it's annoying and it 'feels' like it's just about put you over the edge.

I was recently talking with someone who's in a new marriage, in fact, in her first year of marriage. She was describing how intolerant she has been feeling about her husbands ways - his needing to have the T.V. on first thing in the morning to catch the football game, eating sugar throughout the day (versus three healthy square meals) and having to sleep with X amount of pillows so he is 'perfectly' comfortable at night. As I listened to her I was empathizing, yet also chuckling to myself because of course, I could relate. Somehow as much as I love something or someone, there always seems to come a time when I find something wrong with it or them - things that IRK me. And, it's usually because something isn't being done "MY WAY". I'm especially 'irked' when I believe my way is the RIGHT WAY or the ONLY WAY. It boils down to control - wanting to be in charge.... be the boss.... be the one who is RIGHT. And, of course, I'm not any of those. Furthermore, I have my own ways that, no doubt, could be seen as annoying (and probably are at times). Like being OCD in my cleanliness, having to make the bed a certain way and having to eat at certain times of the day which can be very un-sexy and un-spontaneous.

What I loved about our conversation was that by the end my friend had worked out enough of her initial lioness frustration, that she came back to a place of love and compassion for this man she dearly loves. She was able to recognize that they are both in a time of transition, especially him given that he'd moved to another city to be with her, leaving his long-time community behind. She began to see her side of the equation and recognize her frustrations were largely due to expectations not being met (those damn expectations!).

Through this conversation I was able to see my relationship in hers. I was able to see how the feelings I experience (albeit different circumstances) are similar to hers. I recognize that often I want what I want when I want it ..... as in NOW! And, if I don't get it, I get annoyed. And, that annoyance gets easily escalated if I fail to see my part of the equation and/or the bigger picture. When there is too much focus OVER THERE (i.e. on HIM) - what he's doing, not doing, how he's contributing or the way he's taking care of himself and not enough focus on ME (i.e. the way I'm taking care of MYSELF or the things I'm doing to fulfill myself) there is far too much pressure on 'something' else to make me happy. Which of course, always leads to disappointment and unmet expectations.

Bottom line - people are people are people. We all come from different walks of life with different influences ..... and then, we get into relationship with one another. Is it any wonder that we're going to have differences, frustrations and disappointments? Of course not. Yet, how easy it is to forget this. This is why it's so important to share our stories, our fears, our disappointments, our relationship woes .... because we get to see that it's ALL normal which is an enormous relief.

Relationships of all kinds are up and down and circular and stale and super duper fabulous and ridiculously amazing ..... they're an delicious blend of everything. And, through all the ebbing and flowing we need consistent communication, patience and ultimately a willingness to let go of our expectations. This is what 'work'n it out' is all about .... underneath the anger, the frustration, the annoyances, intolerances...etc..... for most of us there is a tender place that simply wants to give and receive love.

So, here's to sharing more of our stories with one another and lightening UP! We're all human with foibles and imperfections ..... let us laugh at ourselves and fall back in love with the people we truly adore in our lives.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fighting Perfectionism

Ok - so I'm long overdue for a blog ... I've officially started (and stopped) at least 6 blog entries only to talk myself out of sending it out and making it public. I've had a case of the "it's not good enough's" lately - specifically pertaining to my writing. It's funny, I'm starting to understand a bit more about the world of a writer.... it's a bit like meditation. You just have to make a commitment do it no matter what - whether you feel like it or not. For me meditation is sometimes amazing and other times it just is .... blah. The point is that I have to take the action and do it everyday - no matter what. For me, I know that meditation is what grounds me - without it I'm a spinning top (even more of one than I can be WITH meditation). I certainly don't do it perfectly - sometimes my head is obsessed about something, other times I feel fidgety and want to get up and move around.... and then there is that occassional sit when it's absolutely peaceful and calming. It makes it ALL worth while. This is how I'm experiencing writing. I may write several pages - blogs, newsletters, pages to my book and they may be 'average' at best .... and then, there is that one blog entry that knocks it out of the ball park. Its not that that one entry took any more effort, in fact often times it happens that the best writing flows easily, effortlessly and quickly. However, it is because I've banked the other times of sitting, writing and practing..... very imperfectly practicing.

It's funny, I was JUST talking about perfection with a coaching client recently and what an extraordinarily high bar it is to hold for herself (or anyone else for that matter). I've personally struggled with the dis-ease of 'perfection-itis' myself for much of my life - wanting to be thin, beautiful, smart, organized, funny, financially successful - and always thinking that I 'should' be somewhere I wasn't. Over time and with ALOT of help (i.e. self-help books, faith, therapy, twelve-step work and a lot of support from friends) I've let go of having to be 'perfect' in many ways...... however, I am noticing it slipping into my writing. Perfectionism shows up in all sorts of sneaky ways as it's not as overt as it used to be. Where the voice of perfectionism used to say things like "that sounds dumb ... forget it", it now says things like "I've got other things I need to do or I need a break". I'm starting to clue in that that voice is just giving me some lame excuses and distractions so I don't have to sit with the discomfort of imperfect thinking, writing, self-expression. Writing is one place I have to sit down, focus and stay the course. It's very tempting to get up and clean the house, cook food, run errands, get on the phone, etc.... not as comfortable, but much more rewarding to sit, write, think, reflect and produce something that allows me to express myself.

I have a new commitment to you and myself - NO MATTER WHAT I will write twice a week - blog, newsletter or pages to my book no matter if it's great, lame, inspiring, generic, creative, flowing or choppy. It's about the practice - and as a great coach once said to me, "you get good at whatever you practice." I'd like to become great at writing..... so here's to practicing! And my challenge to you is to do that 'thing' that you've been putting off until you're in the 'right mood' or have the 'right thoughts' about .... and just go do it - however imperfect it is - just do it. Wouldn't it be a relief to give yourself permission to be imperfectly human? After all, that is what we are.

Here's to being imperfectly perfect!

Love to you,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Refueling for Success

Lately I've had a case of the "I don't w-a-n-n-a'-s". I haven't felt like putting on nice clothing, I have felt lazy about exerting my brain to think, create and write (hence, a delayed blog!) and I haven't wanted to apologize to my boyfriend, even when it was my fault. I'm not sure what to call this - laziness, apathy, disinterest or just a phase. Recently I was speaking to my coach about a recent vacation I took with my boyfriend to meet each others family. A BIG trip to say the least. Shortly after telling my coach about my vacation, I launched into my agenda for that day's call. After hearing me out, he paused as he always does.... then asked, "and, how are you?" It was at this moment that I realized I'd given myself NO time to even acknowledge how I was doing or process the experience I'd just had. I had returned from my vacation and launched right into the busy-ness of my life. I hadn't taken the time to digest my feelings and the significance of the trip I'd just taken. There were many components to this trip ..... seeing my uncle and cousin who are both struggling through chemo fighting their individual cancer battles, seeing the rest of my family who I only see once a year, bringing a new man home to meet everyone.... for the FIRST TIME EVER and meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time. Given that all this was still swirling around inside of me, all I could say in response to his question was that I felt numb. I had several thoughts and emotions about the experience I'd just had and I was putting them aside to do what I thought I 'should' be doing - working. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my work and feel fortunate to be able to do something that energizes me regularly however, I know today that work must come secondary to personal care or I am of no use to my clients.

Even with this awareness, I noticed I felt a strong attachement to pushng forward and adhering to my agenda that I'd brought to the call with my coach. I recognized that the thought of letting go of work temporarily stirred up fear for me. I feared that if I did not stay engaged with my work and my continual push to grow and learn, I would lose 'it' ...... my mojo, gusto, interest and flow of clients. After expressing this to my coach and exploring the feelings behind this I came to realize that in fact I could not focus on my work in a productive, creative way until I dealt with what was in front of me - a combination of sadness, confusion and exhaustion. I had to trust that I would return to a place (hopefully sooner than later) of desire and clarity regarding my work. So, given that my energy was stuck I decided to take a leap of faith and focus on rest, exercise and connection both with myself and close, trusted friends. I also used (and still use, obviously) writing as a tool to move through the stuckness - very helpful! What I realized is that this was (and I know there will be many more) a time that I needed to focus on refueling my tank. I cannot (nor can you) give away what you do not have. Similarly a car cannot drive without gas in the tank.

What I know is that some days I am ON ... other days, my tank is lower and I need a little more r&r ... it's normal, it's human and it's OK. If you're having one of 'those' days or weeks ..... try something a little different. Rather than forcing yourself to 'push through', give yourself permission to 'refuel'. I'd bet you money you'll be glad you did and much more productive because of it in the long run!

Here's to more naps, massages, personal days and 'time-outs'!


P.S. And, in case your wondering, the self-care is paying off - I'm more productive, more focused and more energized as a result.

Monday, October 5, 2009

To my beloved uncle

If this were it, what would you do? If you were told you had a short time left, how would you spend your time? What would you do differently, if anything? I have asked clients these questions hundreds of times and have mildly thought about them myself..... although, I can't say that I've ever REALLY taken the questions completely serious. I think on some level I want to believe I'm immortal.

Having been with my family for the past week, I am witnessing my beloved uncle who has been a father figure to me my entire life, struggle through his nauseating and grueling chemo treatments, fighting for his life to get one more day with his family and friends. I don't see him these days but once a year because we live on opposite coasts, however, my family, particularly my uncle is very special to me given that I spent my summers here (in Pittsburgh, PA). Growing up with my uncle - laughing at his jokes, watching him adore his children and belt out his favorite country songs as we drove to his favorite fishing spots taught me to be more adventurous and of course, to love fishing! :) I will never forget those days ..... ever.

Holding these memories close and now facing the new reality of my uncles health is quite a shock to my system. I don't know that I've ever witnessed something this profound - seeing someone I love have the life sucked out of them. What was once easily taken for granted - a robust, charismatic, subtly hilarious man.... now, much thinner, quieter and deliberate in how he spends his energy .... since he has much less to expend.

What is hardest, I think, is knowing what to say and do. What I'd most like to do is to wave a magic wand and make it go away - for him, the physical pain and for myself and the rest of the family, the emotional pain and the changing reality of someone so dear to us exiting our lives.

At a family gathering last night where my uncle was present, I couldn't help but stare at him.... watching how his affect has so dramatically changed. He was almost expressionless while we watched an exciting football game (his favorite team). What normally would have elicited whooping and hollering from him, instead got a half smile through his pointed cheekbones and sunken jaw.

No one in my family really knows what to say or do. I kept thinking during the family event last night .....should we be telling him how much we love him or how sorry we are or how much he has meant to us? Or, do we carry on in our crazy, all-over-the-map, family ways? I am stumped. In this area, I feel a bit paralyzed ...... and very ineffective. I am powerless and very humbled by mortality. I'm also afraid to address the elephant in the room (which does not happen too often for me). However, this is a different breed of elephant ... at least to me.

What I was and am most struck by through the pain I experienced in watching my uncle was watching his nieces - all four of them under the age of nine - crawl all over him as if nothing was different (and in their minds, nothing is different). They were calling his name ("Pap Pap") and professing their love for him. It was tender, wonderful and fearless. A true gift to watch. I was admiring their uninhibited love and expression towards my uncle - wanting desperately to do the same yet, felt afraid to do so and instead, in a very adult fashion, hugged my uncle countless times asking him how he was.

To my uncle and others who are reading this, whether you are given a timeline on how much longer you have the privilege to be here or not, the truth is we all only have an absolute time on earth. Please don't waste your time. Take in and give as much love as you possibly can because in the end it really is all we have - love. Money, travels, nice clothes, pretty homes, yachts, the fancy corner office, etc.... doesn't mean all that much in the end. Love on the other hand, means everything and is what stays with people.

To my beloved uncle: I love you. I honor you. I thank you. God bless you!

With love and gratitude,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How good can you stand it?

How often do you let yourself dream? And, when you do, how big are you 'allowed' to imagine your life becoming? Do you hold yourself back from dreaming the 'seemingly impossible' by reminding yourself to be 'realistic'? What IS realistic anyways? I was recently coaching a client on her level of satisfaction with her job - we'd been down this road before and she decided that the best thing to do then was to stay put (she was convinced that this was her only choice EVEN with us exploring other possibilities). This time around she meekly said, "my company makes me feel like a loser." I asked her to explain what that meant.... she went on to say that she never felt enough. There was always more to do and she spent much of her time just trying to keep up. She also said she felt like she was easily replaceable which kept her trying even harder to prove herself.

I was curious about this notion that 'her company' made her feel bad about herself. I had a hunch that this 'feeling' she was experiencing was something that was old ...... a belief that was much deeper than what was happening within her company. When I probed a bit more she revealed that her mother used to get upset when she came home with a 99% instead of a 100% - it was made clear that she was 'missing the mark'. The lasting impact of the disappointment that was displayed to my client was and is that she will not ever be 'enough'.

This feeling of 'not-enoughism' clouds over every choice my client makes. When I ask her about her dreams she is barely able to tell me something she'd love to have, do or achieve without finishing the sentence with a reason why it's not possible, too hard, unrealistic or out of reach. There is usually a "BUT" at the end of the sentence with an excuse to follow. Now, I'm absolutely NOT knocking this client in any way for her way of thinking..... it has been ingrained in her from an early age that she wasn't enough which translates into a variation of "I don't deserve." If you're given a message enough times, you WILL begin to believe it - whether it comes from 'out there' or yourself.... it becomes true. And, in my clients case, it started 'out there' and is now an internal dialogue that prevents my client from letting herself take risks, boldly dream and give herself permission to have what she REALLY wants in her life.

Can you relate? I sure can. Dreaming BIG is not for sissies..... it requires consistent committment to dreaming, visualizing what you want and putting forth action to move you forward.... and, most imporant, believing that you are worthy to have your dreams come true! It's easy to get 'lazy' and accept whatever life sends your way - settling for mediocrity and accepting that this is as good as it will get..... believing that this is as much as you deserve. I ask .....why not dream of achieving the impossible? Why not dream of having that big, beautiful, spaceous kitchen you've always wanted? Ask yourself - who says you can't have it? Is it you or someone else? Who says you can't write a book, become a millionaire or meet the most incredible partner? If there is someone in your life who is telling you that you cannot have these things, then by all means, stop sharing your dreams with them! The ONLY difference between you and the person who has written the book, danced on stage, become the millionaire or married the person they'd always envisioned is that they were committed to their dream. They showed up and took the steps to achieve what they envisioned and SO CAN YOU!!

Remember, 'security' is an attachment to something temporary.... it's actually playing small, not big. People, places and things come and go ..... So, why stay with anything or any person that is not fulfilling one of your dreams or leading you to your next?

Dream the impossible ...... and then watch yourself achieve it.

Here's to a vivid imagination! :)


Monday, September 21, 2009

Developing an 'of course' attitude....

Do you believe that the world you live in is created by you? One of my favorite coaches often says to me that I am the creator of my reality. While this mostly feels like an empowering statement, at times I find it frustrating, particularly when I'm not satisfied with the circumstances of my life. What this statement says to me is that my reality sits with me. If things are not going 'my way', I am responsible (at least to some degree) for my experience.

I was watching the Emmy's last night and the host from the show Survivor (who won an award) said something to the effect of ..... "don't give up on your dreams.... this was a dream of mine, and it's come true." In essence, he created his reality by continuing to believe in his dream. Although, I've probably read and/or heard a variation of this statement a hundred times over, I was profoundly struck by his words. I began to think about my dreams ... some of which have and are coming true and others that to some degree, I've dismissed. I realize that the dreams that have been put on the back burner are those that seem too big, to far away or logistically impossible (at least immediately). I've made a decision (conscious or unconscious) that that dream isn't possible... at least not right now. What a shame!

As I reflect on this I recall having this discussion with a good friend..... why some things are so easy to believe in and others a challenge. For example, I always assume (believe) that I will get a parking space (however big or small this 'dream' is, it never waivers for me) and, of course, I always do! I have also always believed that I would have great friends and again, I do and always have. These are two areas within my life that I've never questioned - ever. I call this an 'of course' attitude - an assumption that something is going to go a certain way .... and it does. As in 'of course' I have a fabulous boyfriend ... why wouldn't I? : )

So, I wonder..... why is it that I have this 'of course' attitude in some areas of my life and an attitude of questioning or doubt in others? Why is it I question whether I'll be able to build a multi-million dollar business but not whether I'll get married someday? I have a good friend and she's the complete opposite..... fretting over not being hitched and doubting it will ever happen, yet, wildly successful professionally. Intriguing ... don't you think?

I propose that developing a stronger belief (or faith) in certain areas of your life is like developing new muscles. There are some muscles that I..... you.... we.... use regularly, without a thought. And, there are other muscles that when used it feels awkward, uncomfortable and even a bit frustrating. I recall when I worked with a personal trainer and some of the exercises were almost impossible in the beginning ....they felt unnatural and challenging.... and so many times I wanted to give up! Often I was sore afterward because I was using a new muscle (or muscles) and was being stretched beyond my comfort zone. In the end, I ALWAYS felt better for a couple reasons - 1) I was stronger. 2) I did something I thought was impossible. And, within a seemingly short time, the exercise was no longer THAT hard ... I did it without too much struggle. So, can this same philosophy not be used for developing faith? I think so.....

There are many ways to develop your muscles of faith..... talk to people who are strong believers and highly positive, go to an inspiring talk, listen to a podcast from someone who pushes you to dream bigger.... these are all great ways to reinforce your muscles getting stronger. And, at the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is make a decision NOT to waiver on achieving and having what you want in your life. Why not adopt an 'of course' attitude? What do you have to lose? Remember, like attracts like - so if you believe something will happen .... most likely IT WILL! So.... what will you decide for today? I'm deciding that today is going to be AMAZING with plenty of new opportunities coming my way!

Here's to becoming more 'muscular'! ; )


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What I've learned this year....

As of yesterday I'm officially 38-years old. It's a strange concept - getting older. While I've been here for 38-years (which is hard to believe) I feel more like 28. Although, that's a fairly subjective statement given that I've no idea what it is 'supposed' to feel like to be 38. Each year on my birthday I take the time to reflect what's happened in the previous year and what I most want in the year ahead. I'm always amazed to see that each year I'm a little wiser, a little more confident in who I am and a little more convicted in what I want moving forward. It signifies that I've not fallen asleep at the wheel. Kudos for staying 'awake'.

This past year I've had some pretty major life changes. Most, if not all have been dreams coming to fruition (it's really true, what you focus on comes to be) and all have been incredible learning opportunities for me. One of the biggest changes, as many of you know, is that I've gone from an "I" to a "we" in a new-ish relationship... which, I'm very excited about! It has been a combination of one or all of these at various times: confusing, challenging, scary, amazing, delightful, blissful and empowering. I am, for the first time beginning to understand why people get scared to commit in a relationship. While I love, love, love the idea of having someone on my team who's committed to sharing his life with me, I also have moments of clenching tightly to staying in control. And, what I've learned is that if I want to remain in control at all times, I wont keep anyone in my life for long. In relationship, I'm learning, there must be a relinquishing of control. There must be a mutual trust and honoring of the other person (i.e. I must trust my boyfriend to manage himself - it's not my job, nor does he want me managing him). There are so many things I could say about my learning/s of being in relationship including the value of consistent communication, biting my tongue more often, giving unconditionally, receiving, being vulnerable, talking about hard things (yes, I'm referring to sex and money!) and so on..... All in all, I wouldn't change or trade this incredible opportunity for anything. I prayed for it and so it came to be. As they say, "Be careful what you ask for...."

I've also made some changes on the career front, again moving from an "I" to a "we". I now have a team of coaches that I work with, support, collaborate and learn from. It's a wonderful gift and at times incredibly challenging as relationships can be. Apparently, my 37th year had a theme - relationships! I have learned the value of working within a team however, I've also learned that decisions can take longer (and often do!), that we don't always agree and that it takes consistent effort to stay connected. Bottom line - relationships take work. They are not for sissies.

The last big and MOST important learning for me this past year has been to relax, slow down and act more strategically. This is still a fairly new concept and practice for me however, I am keenly aware of my pace and the rate at which I make decisions (i.e. quickly = impulsive at times). Not that my decisions haven't been fruitful, many have born great success/s. However, I 'know' that I could be (and am) that much more effective if I am MORE relaxed, thorough and detailed in my process of execution. This isn't always the comfortable route for me, but then is there really ever any comfort in growth .... is that not why it's called growth? It's a stretch and in the moment can feel excruciating ... but in the end like a good stretch, it feels good.

Moving into my 38th year I hope for continued learning (and hopeful that it doesn't come with too much pain ; ), an increased capacity for love and a slower pace of life. I know that life / people will continue to show me exactly what I need to learn in order to grow - it always does. It's really a matter whether I'm willing to stay awake and open to receiving and embracing the lesson. The best news is that even if/when I'm not open to the lesson, life will keep on delivering. So, whatever I didn't get in my 37th year, I'll have another opportunity at 38 and so it goes..... sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly....

Here's to another year of 'graceful' (or not so graceful) learning. ; )


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Managing Expectations

Tonight I had an expectation to spend some quality time with my boyfriend. I'd played out the scene in my mind - we'd have dinner, watch some good 'quality' t.v., chat a bit..... and enjoy each others company. I had deliberately mapped my day so I could be available for this time (fantasy in my mind). And, I had an expectation that he was doing the same. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how I look at it, he didn't map his day in quite the same way and was unavailable for the evening. My initial reaction was of frustration and anger.... mixed in with a lot of disappointment. And, the manifestation of that was being short and curt with him, eager to get off the phone so I could go vent elsewhere.

Thank GOD for girlfriends and gyms - both great places to vent and release energy! It's amazing what talking about a situation will do for me, particularly when I have strong feelings about it. As I'm describing the situation to someone else, such as this one, I begin to see what my truth is under the feelings I'm experiencing .... which, at the time feel like a ball of fire imploding. The truth in this case was that I was sad. With my unmet expectation/s I see that the first place I go emotionally (and this is true in many other cases as well, not just with my boyfriend) is to take it personally. And often, I don't even recognize that's what I've done. I make up that whatever it was that I expected to happen didn't because of something having to do with me. Mostly that's WRONG. Nine out of ten times the reason my expectation wasn't met is because of a choice the other person has made having little or nothing to do with me.

So, I ask how does one (ME!) manage expectations? How do I roll with the punches no matter what life (or my boyfriend) tosses my way? And most important, how do I continue loving with all my heart and soul in the midst of disappointment when every bone in my body wants to lash out?

In this moment the only answer I have for myself is 1. to trust that EVERYTHING happens for a reason (i.e. tonight would be a wonderful night to go to bed early to feel refreshed for my week which would most likely NOT happen if I were to visit with my boyfriend) and 2. communication (i.e. rather than harbor a resentment I believe it would be best to communicate my feelings after they've been processed a bit to share my feelings and thoughts in a 'civilized' manner) Perhaps there are other ways to 'deal' with unmet expectations but I think trust and communication are a great start.

What I know and am realizing more now is that sometimes unmet expectations are really a blessing in disguise. When things don't go a certain way, the aspect that causes me the most grief is that I've held onto how it was 'supposed' to look.... and, unfortunately, when I look long enough at how a thing or person is not what it is or was 'supposed' to be, I've missed the gift of seeing how that thing or person did show up. So, for tonight, my gifts are that my boyfriend was honest with me, that I have more time to write (which I love!) and that I will be in bed early (which I love even more!).

Here's to a great week ahead .... not that I have any expectations!


Monday, August 31, 2009

Don't sweat the small stuff.... and it's all small stuff!

As some of you know, a couple of my relatives that I'm very close with have recently been diagnosed with cancer. Until now, my family for the most part has been in tact and healthy, therefore, I've not yet dealt with the loss of someone very close to me. I've lived under (to a certain degree) the illusion that each of my family members would stay healthy for years to come. In an ideal world this would be wonderful. However, it seems as though this is not the reality and I've got to find a way to be 'with' it. I've got to find a way to accept this is as a reality. The hard part is I don't want to accept that I may never see my uncle again after this year or that he may not be able to come to my wedding or play with my children. I don't want to accept the reality that my uncle who I love so much may not be at our family gatherings next year or the year after. I feel rage. I feel sadness. And I feel an extreme sense of loss.

Recognizing this is a strong possibility - losing one of my favorite family members, has opened my eyes to the preciousness of life. It goes quickly and each moment is so important to cherish. As I write this, I'm aware that this may sound trite and hokey but for the first time I'm actually experiencing first hand this great sense of losing something I really care about and have NO control over. Although, I suppose this is true about everything - isn't it? I will say it's made me more appreciative of the people in my life and for the special moments I am so privileged to share with them.

This situation has made me keenly aware of what I make a priority in my life..... and what impact this has on where I spend my time and with whom. I often (sometimes unconsciously) make work and money the most important thing in my life. While I know absolutely this is NOT what will sustain me or ultimately give me lasting happiness, it's easy to gravitate toward. It's not that I even need to look at these things - work and money - as being negative. This is really more about the energy that I put toward them. How much space they take up in my head and how sometimes I will gravitate toward working rather than spending time with a loved one.

I don't want to wake up one day and wish I'd spent more time with my family, friends or partner because I worked through the weekend. I don't want to wish that I'd made more calls to my family and friends to tell them I love and care about them, because I was 'too busy'. It is easy... very easy for me to 'be' busy. I can fill up my days, nights, weekends and months with busy activity in a matter of minutes. Yes, I am grateful to have options - for this I do feel fortunate. But at the end of it all - running around like a chicken with my head cut off, having no time to deeply connect - I feel empty, cranky and lonely. I do not believe that is why any of us are here.... to work and make money. Yet, the messages that promote this mind-set are all around us. It is what many of us subscribe to - whether we acknowledge it or not. We move fast, we cram more into our already packed schedules and we beat ourselves up at the end of it all because we didn't get 'enough' done. Crazy ... isn't it?

If you just found out you only had a few more months to live .... what would your priorities be? Would it be to pack up your schedule? Would it be to work more? Would it be to travel the world? I think my priorities would be to spend my time with people I love only doing the activities that I truly love doing. Life is short - very short. And how easy it is to forget this. So, here's another reminder to you.... slow down, take time to tell people who are important to you that you love and appreciate them, focus on the quality of your life rather than the quantity of activities keeping you busy....and, as one of my favorite authors wrote, "Don't sweat the small stuff.... and it's all small stuff."

In case I haven't told you lately, YOU rock!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unplugged, Recharged and Re-Oriented

Just back from a fabulous trip to Belize .... one of my favorite vacations yet. Why was this vacation so fantastic? Well, first of all I was with my wonderful boyfriend and when L-O-V-E is in the mix things are always better. Not only did I have great company, I also took this time as an opportunity to really unplug. Aside from a couple "I made it here and am alive and well" emails, I did no work, no phone calls, no blogging.... no nothing. What I did instead was swim, rest, snorkel, bike ride, sight see, eat good food and get plenty of vitamin D. The place we staid had no tv, no radio, no computer ..... no noise period! And while in theory this sounds very zen (people pay BIG bucks to go to noise-less places) it was a bit intimidating. I'm accustomed to having background noise on or around me at almost all times. In fact, more than I'd realized. The quietness created a calmness in me that I only sporadically experience. I also noticed how present I was throughout the vacation. I was really there - not distracted with noise or watching TV while my boyfriend was talking to me. I was there with myself and him.

This experience made me ponder - why is it so difficult for me (and others) to be with silence? Is it because it is more comfortable to be partially distracted? Is it because it's incredibly vulnerable to be in silence with someone else? Is it because I'm insecure that I wont be enough if there isn't some kind of distraction to entertain me/us? Is it because I'm afraid of what I might find about myself/him if there isn't 'something else' to focus on? I think to some extent, all of the above. Apparently, I've been subscribing to these myths for years without realizing it. And, walking through this experience liberated me from these fears (at least temporarily). I realized that the silence actually creates a special intimacy that isn't available with distraction/s. I was present with myself and my boyfriend in ways that I'd not been before.... it was eye-opening and illuminating - in good ways.

Similar to when I clear physical clutter and feel more 'spacious' and light - that is what silence seems to give. Our world seems to condone and promote filling space with 'stuff' - cars, homes, boats, nik-naks, clothing, accessories, etc..... and, it seems we make this 'stuff' to symbolize 'success'. It seems the more stuff I/you have, the more 'successful' you must be. Or maybe this is only the myth that I've made up (although, I suspect that others have or do subscribe to this mindset). I do believe that this myth is sneaky and inconspicuous - some (including myself) am not always aware when I'm 'under the spell' of more stuff = success. What I've become increasingly aware of is that when I have more 'stuff' I seem to be more stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. It's as though my brain cannot contain it all. Too much content = overwhelm.

Just last night I helped a friend re-organize and clear her dining room out. A room that hadn't been evaluated in years. It took 2.5 hours of laborious work, we cleared, cleaned, swept, organized and filled many garbage bags of un-needed 'stuff'. She texted me this morning saying "I LOVE IT". I'm guessing she loved it because she felt space.....space to breathe, let her creativity flow again and watch possibilities open up. Obviously, I'm simplifying this process a bit here - the truth is that it was important that I was there to help her release the 'stuff' that she'd be holding onto - many of which held memories for her and many of which were simply taking up physical space with NO useful purpose but to clog the energy flow. She is now filling up with ideas on how to shift things in other areas of her home. Funny how that happens.... you start to shift the energy in ONE area of your home, your life, you job .... and other energy starts to shift as well.

Whether it's creating physical space OR simply turning down the volume around you, I strongly encourage you to create some space for yourself. As humans we're not meant to have stimulation around us 24/7. We need time to reflect, recharge, unwind, breathe, use our creativity, and feel relaxed in order to keep the energy moving through us, which gives a sense of balance and possibility. So, if you're finding yourself bogged down or feeling heavy about an area of your life - I STRONGLY urge you to take time away from it. Give yourself some space. And I guarantee if you do this you WILL come back in a new 'space' with new insight that wasn't there before.

You definitely do not have to go to Belize to give yourself 'space', but if you have the chance, DO IT! San Pedro Island to be specific..... as Madonna puts it, "La Isla Bonita".

Here's to some breathing room,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Measuring Productivity

One of the 'greatest hits' that plays in my head is that I'm not productive enough. It's a rare occasion when I feel like I've had a 'home run day'. Why is this? How do you measure your level of productivity? Do you keep a check-list of things to do each day....? And, if you accomplish everything does it qualify your day (OR YOU) as productive? I've tried lists to no avail. As a coach, you can imagine .....I've kept lists, charts, dream boards, diaries, journals and so on..... all of which have and continue to keep me focused and moving forward. However, they don't necessarily serve to help me feel productive. That said, I do notice that it's on a much less frequent basis that I take the time to reflect on my accomplishments.... and even when I do I have a committee in my head always ready to chime in with something like "yeah, but.....you haven't done xyz or abc...." Clearly there I have a drive to get *there*, which inevitably keeps me on the hamster wheel, running hard to keep up!

So, I ask, "what is it to be productive?" And, furthermore, how is this to be measured? Actually, the REAL question is "what is it to be enough?" If I truly felt enough, then I believe that this feeling of 'lack' would dissipate. Feeling ill-productive is believing that something is missing - right? So, what's missing?!! A good friend pointed out to me that this nagging sense of feeling unproductive is really negative thinking and fruitless. And, the way to counteract this is to turn it around to gratitude, appreciation and truth (where I really spent my time). I am so accustomed to being hard on myself and holding the bar extremely high, that I fail to see how destructive these thoughts are.... not to mention the enormous amount of energy they suck from me!

I'm sitting at the cafe right now watching all these fabulous people sitting, chatting, laughing, engaging, reading the paper and enjoying themselves. Can this be measured as being 'productive'? My impulse response to this question is no. Although, from a more spiritual perspective and with more thought, I change my mind to believe it IS 'productive'. People - we - I - need time to relax, laugh and enjoy myself because this is how I replenish myself and fuel my 'tank' to keep going. Just like a person cannot workout 24/7 at the gym. There has to be time in between of working out to rest, refuel with food and drink and give the muscle/s time to build. Right? So the time off from exercising is actually equally as productive as the workout itself.

I notice there are some people in my life who are fantastically skilled at resting and taking time out to enjoy themselves. And ironically, these are also the people I know who are very focused and thorough when they are engaged in work. It seems as though my definition of productivity (i.e. constant work and activity) needs to become more expansive and include times of play, creativity and rest. It all matters and it's ALL necessary to achieve my goal/s .... which, at the highest level is to create a balanced, fulfilling life!

And, furthermore, what I *produce* in a day, is NOT the measure of my self worth! OR YOURS!

Mantra for the day: "I am enough, I have enough, I do enough!"


Monday, August 10, 2009

It's a GOOD life

Today I'm keenly aware of the fabulous-ness of my life. Do you ever have these moments where you wonder how you got so lucky to have such a good life? I don't have these all that often because usually I'm stuck someplace in the land of "if only I had that then...." It's really a shame because it really robs me of appreciating how rad my life is today. I have a job that is flexible, (so I got to spend part of today celebrating my boyfriend's 40th b-day!), I have a boyfriend who adores me (and I him - AMEN to that!), I have a family I adore, enough money to allow me to go on fun, fabulous vacations and most important or at least equally important, I have friends that are SECOND TO NONE! Just writing this right now I realize I have NO room to complain or whine about a thing. It's all good. The sad thing is, that just about everyday my mind will tell me something that often convinces me that my life isn't quite as good (as yours or hers or his....). And the crazy thing is that my mind really has my number dialed because it gets me with things that are really convincing to me; most of which are material items. It takes me getting news two days in a row that one of my closest cousins has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and then the following day getting news that her dad, one of my favorite uncles has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That's when I know for sure that life is not about material items - cars, homes, jobs, money, vacations. It's about love.

And how do I know this? Because in both conversations with my family members who were relaying these hard facts to me, all I could think about was how much I loved both of these relatives. Not because they were/are rich or dress savvy or drive a fabulous car, but because of who they are and what they represent in this world. My pocket book doesn't hurt when I think about losing either of these precious people - my heart does!

I'm getting it S-L-O-W-L-Y.... life is about love. Life is about giving, receiving, opening my heart, sharing myself, taking chances on behalf of my heart and most important it's about appreciation. I am beginning to realize just how much I take for granted the way things are - I have what I call an "of course" attitude. An attitude of entititis! Nope, things change... ALL of it - eventually changes.

So... just for today I'm going to appreciate all the goodness in my life. I'm going to savor all my interactions today as if it's the last time I'll speak to that person. This is a mental shift that will take some concerted effort and work - but I'm a firm believer that if I can change my mind, my life will change as a result..... for the better!

Here's to living with appreciation in the moment.

Love, Nikki