shutterstock_223270786My bed is in my living room, my bathroom supplies are in my study, and my skis are in my kitchen. This is the sort of bizarre house I’ve been living in the past four months. And before you even ask, no, this is most certainly not by choice. It all started when I came home from a relaxing News Year’s weekend away at the beach. I was so proud of myself for having gotten the basement all organized and cleaned up for my Christmas guests, a task I knew I needed to do, but had been dreading for most of 2014. I was just thinking to myself, “Wow, 2015 is going to be great. It feels so nice to come home to such an organized basement.” Instead of walking in to my newly organized basement though, I walked in to a wet, flooded disaster. Well hello 2015!

It turns out that the Universe didn’t think my basement was organized enough. Which in hindsight, it really wasn’t. You see, my idea of an organized basement was hiding all my unorganized stuff. Out of sight out of my mind, that was my basement motto and I thought it was working pretty well. Behind the organized facade, there was still armoires full of clothes and things I hadn’t looked at since I moved in, baskets of old games and photos that were covered in dust, and old shoe boxes full of broken nails and tools that I swore up and down would come in handy some day.

The basement is the foundation of my home. Yes, it stores all my junk and things I can’t bear to part with, but it also stores a lot of memories. It houses paintings that my grandmother had done as a young woman, my grandfather’s antique suit hanger that has a place for coins, my daughters rocking chair and her schoolwork, and somewhere down there is a very sentimental letter from my father. Truth be told, the foundation of my home was still a huge mess, because I couldn’t even find some of these treasures amongst all the stuff before the flood.

It took water bursting in bossily and taking over all four rooms of my basement, countless loads of wet towels through the laundry, and a pricey repair job for me to realize that I had been ignoring the nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to clean this place up for years. I told myself it was good enough to hide the mess and just clean the surface, but this flood damage made me really go back to the drawing board and reevaluate the stuff I was clinging so tightly to. Did I really need or want all these things that were clogging up my home? Were they really adding value and purpose to my life, or were they weighing it down?

My house is my home and my sanctuary. When it’s clean and organized, my life feels clean and organized. Naturally, the basement project decided to march it’s way upstairs and now I’ve got construction projects happening on two floors of my house, but hey, since when do construction projects ever go as planned? Even though my home is not quite there yet, it’s a work in progress and I already feel like it’s heading towards a better place. Soon my bed will be back in my bedroom, my bathroom supplies will actually be in my bathroom, and visitors won’t confuse my kitchen for a ski rental shop. It takes time, patience, and sometimes a natural disaster, but our intuition will catch up to us one way or another. In the end, I finally decided to listen to mine and I haven’t looked back since.

 

10 Tips for Following your Intuition in your Home

  1. When your intuition keeps nudging you, follow it’s impulses. It can save you a lot of heartache.
  2. Don’t avoid the work you need to face, it’ll catch up to you in the end.
  3. Organization takes a lot of work and getting a friend to help makes it so much easier. You can even make a trade.
  4. When in doubt, throw it out.
  5. When you have a box ready for donation, take it away asap. You might be tempted to rethink it and take something out.
  6. Just because you create more storage areas doesn’t mean you need to hold onto stuff you are not really using.
  7. Breath deeply and often. It takes a lot of patience to live in a messy cluttered home, even if there is purpose to it.
  8. Be single minded. When in a remodel and have important work to do, you might want to go elsewhere to do it or create an organized corner in your home where you can focus on your task at hand. Don’t work amongst all the chaos.
  9. This is the time to live in the future and imagine how nice things will look and feel when your remodel is all done and your life and home are more organized than ever.
  10. Choose a contractor with your intuition. Trust that your contractor has your best interest at heart, even if things go much slower than anticipated.

IMG_4311Dreaming of an Australian holiday in 2015. Photo taken somewhere along the Queensland coast. 

I love my life!

How many of us can truthfully say this proclamation to another person, let alone to ourselves?! Most of us are living too small with too much discontent to be able to truthfully say I love my life and really mean it. We settle for the status quo telling ourselves that our lives are good enough. We have a job, money, benefits, a home, a relationship, family, and friends. Perhaps we take a vacation or two each year and we get to do some fun weekend activities every once in awhile. These are all great things, and they’re exactly what we were taught to strive for in life, so why aren’t they always enough?

If we are truly honest with ourselves we might allow ourselves to acknowledge the discontent and unrest that is brewing within us. Allow me let you in on a not so little secret: you’re not alone in feeling this way! When we start noticing how we are feeling throughout our typical day, how often are we in the flow of feeling fabulous and excited to be doing our work and living our lives? When we pay attention to our bodies, do we embrace our spirit’s unhappiness and discord that manifests through annoying symptoms or disease? No, we don’t. We fight these signs and do all we can to alleviate them, perhaps missing their true meaning and message entirely.

So let me ask you: Are you really happy with your job? Does it fulfill you? Does it allow the full expression of who you are meant to be? Are your relationships, friends, and family bringing you the joy and love that you so deeply desire? Do you have the money to have time and financial freedom to live the life you dream of?

In essence, we need to be honest with ourselves and ask ourselves on a regular basis if we love our life. Are we living up to our true potential and expressing ourselves in ways that match what we desire? For most of us the answer is no, we are not. Although we don’t recognize it as such, our spirit is withering away inside of us. Instead of thriving, we’re tolerating and fighting a barrage of discomforts and physical pain and suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia and other stress-related symptoms. In my practice I see so many clients struggling to get on top of their lives that they do not even like, let alone love.

So why do we accept living in disharmony? Why do we settle for the status quo?

Most of us live by our circumstances and not by our dreams. We accept what is right in front of us day by day, year in and year out. I too am a victim of this paradigm and when I am honest with myself, I admit that I am living a much smaller life than my spirit desires.

I cannot say that I love my life as it is right now but I am clear that I definitely want to be able to say this truthfully and with great pride. What exactly it will be or take to achieve is yet to be revealed, but I do know that I am on the journey. Just stating this fact means that I have put my stake in the ground and am claiming that I intend to fulfill my true destiny. I have made the decision to take the more challenging path to find ultimate fulfillment in my life. And now that I’ve said it aloud to everyone reading this, I’ve got a support system to hold me accountable!

My life is good but I know it is not yet what I truly want it to be because I frequently feel the unrest of my spirit. She talks to me in various ways, leaving me a path of signs to let me know that I’m living my life too small and too constricted. I pay attention to my thoughts, feelings, and the outcomes of my day-to-day activities. There is unrest within me and my days are filled with many thoughts of something more out there, something greater waiting for me. If I were to continue to ignore these signs, I would be succumbing to living in discontent and unrest. These bothersome symptoms are my spirit’s way of trying to get me to tune in and realize that something in my life is just not right. I have learned to listen well, now I’m learning to take action.

Health and well-being is more than the absence of disease. In many cases I believe it is spirit’s expression of it’s discourse to find curious ways of making us uncomfortable as a means of trying to get our attention. When we can live in alignment with our spirit we will feel so much happier, more alive and at ease in our bodies. To live in spiritual equilibrium takes great effort, commitment, determination, discipline, diligence and continual follow-through. Are you up for the challenge?

To create a life that serves our true purpose we must pay attention to our  dreams and cultivate the practices that will allow us to achieve them.

All we need to get started is to make a decision to pursue our ‘more’ in life.  Everything in life that we want to achieve takes a decision. Most of the time we act our lives out of habit and routine, but these are not the actions that will change our lives. Deciding to live our lives with purpose and to our soul’s content takes awareness and consciousness and yes, it will definitely be more challenging.

I love my life!

What will it take for you to be able to say that honestly to yourself?

If you are up for the journey please join me in mine to be able to say the most important thing you will ever say to yourself:

I love my life!

Happy Valentine’s Day to You – The Real Love of Your Life!

 

Tips for the Journey of Loving Your Life

  1. Notice what you are noticing.
  2. Pay attention to what you are thinking.
  3. Be honest with yourself – always.
  4. Take time to sit with yourself each day away from the hustle and bustle of life.
  5. Quiet your mind.
  6. Listen to your body and spirit talking to you through body symptoms, ailments, emotions, thoughts, and ideas.
  7. Don’t argue or rationalize with your body and spirit. Accept the messages they are sending you and look for their meaning.
  8. Tune in to when you are contracting and expanding in your day to day activities. These are clues to what is working and not working for your spirit.
  9. Take action on the nudges of desire and steps that are right in front of you. Small continual steps will take you to where you want to go.
  10. Be brave, courageous and determined. Changing our lives takes a lot of these attributes.
  11. Surround yourself with positive people who are happy with their lives.
  12. Keep your thoughts positive.
  13. Believe in your dreams.
  14. Most importantly, believe in yourself.
  15. Trust your spirit. It is totally clear regarding what it is truly important for you and is unwavering in it’s determination to get what it desires.

 

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. Photo of my daughter looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. 

 

Many years ago in the Spring of 1996 in a small gift store in Louisville, Tennessee I saw a beautiful photo taken just after sunset of a silhouetted person on top of a mountain looking out. The caption read:

“Never look back except to gain perspective.”

I wrote about this particular plaque a couple of years ago, but it still resonates with me and I think about it every time a new year comes around. Not only did it capture my attention on a very deep level, but I wish I had bought it and put it in my office as a daily reminder. How often do we focus and dwell on the past and beat ourselves up for what might have been if only we had…? We can spend a lot of wasted time wishing our past was different but the cold hard truth is that we will never be able to go back and change what has already happened.

We are who we are today because of our past, so our best option is to accept what is, embrace and love ourselves as we are, and be grateful to our past experiences for the lessons they have provided. Then it is time to move on.

2014 is complete and now is a great time to review the year and gain perspective on the things that happened and the progress that has been made in life. As I’ve shared in my past two newsletters 2014 was a year of loss, grief, learning, release, and forgiveness for me. 2014 brought me a real sense of recognition that it’s time to move beyond the constricting nature of my past. Looking back at all of this objectively gives me the opportunity to learn from every small detail.

And now the dawning of a new year is upon us. The calendar change into 2015 brings new challenges and opportunities should we be bold enough to claim them and set ourselves up to take action. If you’re not sure what it is that you want, simply pay attention to the reoccurring thoughts that enter your mind. Those thoughts are the answer to what you are yearning to release or to create.

For me, the loss of my mother last year changed so much for me. Although we didn’t have the warm, close, or loving relationship that I always wanted, she did occupy a lot of my brain space for so many years. Now that she has passed on and is a free spirit I feel lighter and able to move on with my life in new ways. After releasing a lot of emotion around my family in 2014 and dealing with some health issues, I now feel driven to get myself organized inside and out. I think this is enough to focus on for 2015. If I take the steps that I envision for this year, I will have made great strides in setting myself up for the rest of my life.

 

Set yourself some goals. Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

 What is it that you’d like to accomplish in 2015? 

What do you want more of?

What do you want to be better at?

What do you need to change in order to experience greater health or fulfillment in life?

 

An easy way to think about what you want to accomplish is to look at the model in my online program: Your Freedom Experience: 10 Steps to Becoming Your Best in Mind, Body and Spirit. This program goes through eight areas of health that need to be in better balance in order to obtain vibrant health and experience greater success in life.

If you make a goal for yourself in each area, your life can improve in so many ways. For example, these are my intentions for myself in 2015:

  • Physical Health: I will become more limber, stretch my physical limitations, and learn to play golf better. I will improve my flexibility with yoga and barre classes and will hit the green even on cold and rainy days!
  • Mental Health: I will withhold judging circumstances and events that at first glimpse seem negative. You never know what greatness can come from a little open mindedness.
  • Emotional Health: I will understand love on a whole new dimension. We think we know what love is but honestly, do we really?
  • Intellectual Health: I am still trying to decide between learning a foreign language or learning to play another instrument.
  • Environmental Health: I will get rid of the stuff that I don’t really need and re-create my home as serene and peaceful. This will allow me more open space for what I truly want.
  • Financial Health: I will seriously start looking at my finances in a way that will support me in my retirement years. Neglecting this aspect of life in my earlier years now forces me to be bold, daring, creative and to stretch my comfort zone.
  • Social Health: I will spend more time in community. There is such richness that comes from meeting new people and from the gathering of friends and family.
  • Spiritual Health: I will meditate more! Even if I have to strap myself to the chair, a few minutes is better than none. Once I get myself there, I actually quite enjoy it.

Once you’ve decided what you want for 2015, then you can make it your objective to live in the present moment. Take it minute by minute, day by day and enjoy the gift of the present. This is a skill that takes practice, but it makes living truly worthwhile.

I wish you a fabulous 2015 with many blessings and lots of love and adventures!

 

Tips for Gaining Perspective, Planning your Future and Living in the Present Moment

  • Take some time for yourself on a regular basis and review your past objectively, looking at it as events without getting caught up in the emotions.
  • While examining your past think about how you would have liked those events to be different. If life events could have been whatever you think you wanted, what would that have looked like and how would you have felt?
  • Look for the learning in everything that comes to you in life. Lessons are dressed in different outfits all the time. For example, having to deal with someone who communicates poorly will give you the opportunity to learn how to communicate better yourself.
  • Determine what will make your life more rich and rewarding. Look for clues that are both obvious and not so obvious. For example, sometimes what we deem negative can actually have a positive aspect in our lives.
  • Set goals regularly. Goals give us something to work towards and accomplishing them brings us great satisfaction.
  • Set your goals so that they stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Be realistic though, for nothing is worse than setting your goals so high that it is not possible to attain them. Defeat is the opposite of what you want!
  • Your goals must be meaningful to you. Determine the ‘why’ of your goals because if something does not hold great value to you, you’ll be less inclined to take action and keep at it.
  • Be well-rounded with your goals. There is no sense in only getting stronger in one area.
  • Leave some space in your life for the unexpected to surprise you. Despite thinking that we know what is best for us, the most amazing gifts often show up out of nowhere taking us on a serendipitous adventure.
  • Practice being in the present moment. Continue to bring yourself back to the right here right now all day. Living in the here and now is one of the most challenging things to do because most of us have a run-away mind. Believe it or not, we do have the ability to control our mind and it is our job to learn how.
  • Find a way to be playful in bringing your mind back to the present. For example, I love horseback riding and I used to envision that I was riding a horse and lassoing my thoughts back to my mind to be in the present moment. To this day when I am teaching my clients to live in the present moment, this is the image that immediately comes to my mind.
  • Be consistent and persistent in your endeavors to live in the now. You will also need to be loving and patient with yourself as you learn how to do this. In time even the most resistant mind will give up its need to be in control. 

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As I think about Thanksgiving this year I have a lot to be grateful for. Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am when I am working long hours, struggling to meet all the demands of my practice, running my home and taking care of myself. After all, self-care takes dedication, focus and commitment! Despite 2014 being a turbulent year filled with death, grief, family turmoil and health issues, I am so grateful for the knowledge and skills I have in turning challenging situations into learning opportunities and positive growth. Because of these skills, my life is  easier and more joyous!

Being able to move through challenging times and process them effectively takes skills and practice. I’ve plenty of both! Each time I was faced with adversity in my life I would work to resolve it in the best way possible. Therapy, coaching, classes, and practice are what have gotten me to where I am today in my personal growth. If I hadn’t done my own work around the many things that had devastated me throughout the past years of my life, I definitely would have been a mess this year. This work has been arduous, painful, and not always pleasant. And to be completely honest it took sheer determination, courage, commitment and dedication to get through it.

Because of all the personal growth work I have done, this past year was different. I am grateful to have rolled with the challenges, faced my feelings, and worked through the ups and downs almost seamlessly. Choosing to go to Brazil for a healing journey was the best decision I could have made to focus on myself, release what needed to be shed, and reset my mindset and emotions. It isn’t often that we can have dedicated time to reconnect with ourselves and focus on what is truly important and it is essential.

As women, it is so easy to get caught up in taking care of everyone and everything else. For those of us in the helping professions this can be even more prominent in our lives. Yet, the challenge of balancing our lives requires us to be devoted to nurturing ourselves. And when we can do this we are stronger, healthier, happier, and life is so much easier. Our happiness with our own self flows through to the work we do with others. Being burned out serves no one; not ourselves or those around us and certainly not our health or well-being.

So as Thanksgiving is the holiday to give thanks, I invite you to focus on what is working in your life. Be grateful for all you have, all you do, and those you serve. Get clear about how you want to show up in life and see how you might already be doing the many things that will lead you to where you want to be. Be grateful for your beautiful body that carries you through life, for your mind that has the capacity and power to think in whatever way you choose, for your emotions that will let you know what is really going on for you, for your intellectual abilities that will allow you to create what you want in life, for the environment in which you thrive, for your financial savviness, for your family and friends who are there to love and support you, and lastly, for your spiritual connection to something that is greater than you – it will encourage and support you in times of need and celebration!

 

Tips for Appreciating your Life this Thanksgiving

1. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for and hang it up somewhere you will see it often.
2. Reach out to your friends and family and let them know the little ways in which you appreciate them.
3. Cherish your traditions this year. Take note of why you do them and why they’re so special.
4. No need to wait for the New Year to start making life changes where they need to happen. Start making small little changes to improve your self-care.
5. Even if the holidays are a challenging time for you, make plans to do some fun activities that will put a more positive spin on this time of year.
6. Use the word no. If there’s a party or activity that just doesn’t serve your personal growth, don’t be afraid to say no.
7. Use the word yes. Try new things this holiday season and seize opportunities when they come your way!
8.  Move your body – any movement is better than none and will help you to feel better about yourself.
9.  As always, breathe deeply. Focus completely on your breath. When you breathe in say, “I am calm and relaxed.” When you breathe out say, “I release all that no longer serves me.” Breathe in again, long and deep, “I let in love and light that fills my body, calming my mind.” Breathing out long and slow, “I am completely and totally at peace in my mind, body and spirit.” Repeat.
10. Give thanks that you have read these tips. At least one of them can be helpful in allowing you to appreciate yourself more and more each day. We truly forget how great we are individually and how powerful we can be collectively.

 

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I haven’t written my newsletter for several months and perhaps you are wondering why. This year has been a challenging one for me. The stress of dealing with family issues that stem from my mother passing, my own health concerns, and developing my work more towards a coaching model was taking it’s toll on my health and well-being.

I am writing from Brazil anticipating two more glorious days before returning home. Most importantly, I have put myself in a place where rest is the most important thing for me to attend to. Beyond doing just about nothing, I’ve found that I have received so much more than I thought possible from being in this energy field. Healing the mind, body and spirit levels brings awareness, release, and transformation.

Outside my window is lush green vegetation where the birds sing and chirp day and night. The sky lights up with lightning, the thunder storms fierce, the rain pours down in sheets strong enough to shower beneath, and then the sun comes out and warms my soul. But what I have been enjoying the most is sitting outside for all my meals and visiting with people from all over the world. This to me is a slice of heaven on earth.

In this place where people come for their own health and healing, they bring with them perceptions of what may or may not happen. Many are skeptics while others are confirmed believers. No matter what country these people have come from, their religious practices, belief systems, or fields of work, I find that on a soul level we are all very similar. We have all come seeking a major life change.

I have seen the expression of our similarities in so many people these past weeks. Faces of despair, anguish, pain and fear, as well as curiosity, serenity, peace, and love. Each of us has come to experience faith, love, and healing and we will all take away exactly what is intended.

Now as people are getting ready to return home they are asking each other: “Did you get what you needed?” We have learned here in Brazil to ask the question this way. Mostly, as humans, we want things for ourselves and so often we don’t get what we think we want. What we want is not synonymous with what we need. In this place of healing we get what we need and this often means that connecting the dots between our head and our heart can be a long journey. We are continually challenged to let go again and again. Acceptance and looking for the meaning of what we receive is the true blessing that takes place here.

When I leave here and reflect back on this beautiful trip, I’ll remember the amazing connections I’ve made with people. I have been fortunate to meet many people who represent and have demonstrated some of the most essential qualities of life. The seven people in this photo have made my trip a very memorable one. We’ve spent many hours over the past couple of weeks just hanging out and getting to know the ins and outs of all our varying lives.

 

The Qualities of Life 

Respect: From a German doctor I saw genuine respect in how kindly he spoke and continually demonstrated this respect by bringing the conversation back to English when people at the dining table broke off with others into their native languages. He also had a great sense of humor and brought many smiles and chuckles to our gatherings.

Laughter: From a French Canadian woman with whom I laughed so hard I nearly cried. I hadn’t laughed so hard in such a long long time. Despite her dealing with insomnia, she was hilarious! She has a clever and humorous invention that I will be sharing with you once she has it fully developed. I was reminded of the importance of laughter in healing – it needs to be at the top of the list!

Positivity: From a fellow American, I saw a brave woman dealing with her own cancer, never mentioning it until she felt close enough to us to share her story. She was ever so careful to use the words all about healing her mind, body and spirit and was deemed to be the most entertaining and humorous one in this group. She is quick witted, dresses to her own beat and rhythm, and has a certain lightness to her being.

Smile: From a young man from Singapore who had recently lost his mother to cancer was still ever-ready with a big smile on his face. When I asked if he always smiled, he told me that sometimes he feels down but in this place and with all these great people, he couldn’t help but smile. What a gift to give someone who might need a little brightness in their day!

Vulnerability: A young Frenchman shared his fears and desires to understand and work with the emotions expressed in his body symptoms. His ability to share his vulnerability was more than touching. Someday he will make a wonderful life partner for someone because when we’re able to share our vulnerabilities, we can experience true intimacy.

Cheerfulness: From a young woman from Switzerland who was always smiling and was so incredibly cheerful from the moment she met the group of us sitting at dinner. Her business is writing songs for people to give to others. Right now her website is in German and when she has it translated I will be sharing it with you. She has a beautiful ability to express herself not only through cheerfulness, but through music and lyrics.

Nurturing: From Sweden was a woman who is a special needs teacher. Her love, patience, and kindness radiates from her. She and I bonded over our similar health issues and our appreciation for the Swedish culture (back in high school my family hosted a student from Sweden who, to this day, is like a sister to me.) She too has a wonderful sense of humor and added to the laughter we all shared.

 

What was most interesting about this eclectic group of seven was how we all gravitated to each other at meal times over the two short weeks we were together. We all had our own issues of grief, health concerns, and personal growth work to do and yet our bond over humor and lightness was so powerful. We never dwelled upon the work that we each came to Brazil to do but rather, chose to connect with each other as we were in that time and place. We were without our pretenses of society and the expectations that come with our work and roles. We just got to be our raw and beautiful selves connecting spirit to spirit and creating an atmosphere of love and acceptance. To me, this is healing on an unconscious level. I hope to carry this all back with me and keep this feeling of peace in my heart for a long long time.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 12.28.52 AM12 Tips for Healing in Mind, Body and Spirit

  • Laugh, laugh, laugh! Find funny movies to watch, read funny books, call a friend and ask them to make you laugh! Spend 20 minutes a day laughing from deep within your belly – and yes, this is a technique you can learn!
  • Surround yourself with positive people. When people are negative, remove yourself from their presence and say something positive to yourself to shift their negative energy.
  • Take time to connect with yourself on a daily basis through meditation, prayer, inspirational reading, listening to your special music, or some other avenue of your choice.
  • Focus on what is working in your life. Is it not true that we tend to focus more on what is not working? Just think about it – there is so much more that is working than not!
  • Reframe what you think is not working. For example, you say: “I don’t have enough money.” You can reframe that by saying; “I am paying my bills and I have food to eat each day. When I am careful with my money I have all that I need to take care of myself.”
  • Be acceptant that what you receive in life is really what you need. What we want and what we get are often two different things.
  • Learn to let stuff go – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We hang onto too much stuff that really is not important. Truly!
  • Be aware and allow yourself to get the learning from everything. Believe it or not, there are no coincidences.
  • Find your community of people who love and support you and encourage you to show up as your best self.
  • Learn tolerance, acceptance, and patience. Be gentle with yourself in this process as these are challenging things to learn.
  • Be kind, respectful, and loving. Practice this in your daily life and forgive yourself when you have an off day. We all are on a continuum regarding mastery.
  • Open your heart more and more each day. This will lead you to true peacefulness and help you to release the fight of life that we all tend to do.
DL_editedThe path you take is the path you choose.

 

With each passing week, my client Sue found herself bombarded by an increasing amount of chaotic symptoms, all stemming from an increasing amount of stress. She felt such a range emotions from small scale irritability, complaining and anger to full blown thoughts of harming her baby. Her angry thoughts started to become more and more obsessive and eventually she began plotting harmful things that should could do to herself and others. Then one day in a momentary flash of rage, she shook her baby. By some stroke of luck, and fortunately before she took it too far, she put her baby down and rushed to the garage to get away from the screaming.

In the garage she found glass bottles in the recycling bin and started throwing them against the garage door, listening to the crashing and shattering with great satisfaction. She guessed that she must have been out there hurtling glass for at least 10 minutes, but it’s all a blur. After taking all her anger out on the garage door, she finally felt a sense of relief and went back inside to find her baby sitting on the living room floor.

As I listened to the unfolding of Sue’s story, I could hear snippets of psychotic thinking in her words; she never thought about the fact that she was neglecting her baby while she was in the garage. Sue did the right thing by releasing her anger, but if she had been more stable, she would have put the baby somewhere safe first. Instead, she was too focused on feeling proud of herself for actively releasing her anger and not hurting her baby. She had seemed so normal the whole time I had known her and now I was worried, wondering if I had missed something all along.

It was clear that we needed to change Sue’s course of treatment, because what we were already doing didn’t seem to be working. My priority was to calm her mind quickly, not just for her own sake but also for the sake and safety of her child. As we discussed the options, adding an anti-psychotic medication seemed like a viable plan. The harmful thoughts that Sue was harboring scared both of us, but the thought of possibly needing to add this kind of medication to her treatment plan scared her even more.

Anti-psychotics certainly have their place in treatment plans, but they can cause all kinds of side effects that most people really don’t want. But when the circumstances are extreme enough, and especially when a baby could be in harm’s way, I am willing to do whatever it takes to prevent the worst case scenario from happening.

Fortunately, Sue was also willing to do whatever it took to get herself back within the realm of healthy functioning. I gave her two options; she could either adhere to a super healthy and highly restrictive diet paired with a vigorous daily exercise regime or start taking anti-psychotic medications. She chose the first option and convinced me that she was capable of sticking to it. I agreed to let Sue try the diet and exercise option, but kept her close on my radar for the possibility of needing to add medication.

A week later Sue reported that she felt fabulous, was doing great, and hadn’t had another angry outburst. She had lost seven pounds and was going strong. Her mind had shifted from the dark, negative and obsessive place she had been to a place of optimism, love and patience.

Sue’s story isn’t uncommon. So many people are placed on medications that they might not even need. Sometimes all that’s required is getting back to the basics and learning to take care of ourselves properly before turning to heavy duty medications. It makes me sad that so many people don’t have the willpower or the resources to take excellent care of themselves and follow through on becoming healthy in mind, body and spirit. It’s easy to say yes to medications and simply add another pill to your daily routine. It’s much harder to find the discipline, drive and determination to take the healthy path in life and completely reinvent your routine.

In our busy world, the convenient way has replaced the healthy way. We have so many commitments and responsibilities that we often forget our most critical responsibility: taking care of ourselves. Finding healthy food on the go can be a real challenge when we don’t have time or aren’t at home to prepare it. It’s awfully tempting to just cruise through the drive-thru on the way home and pick up dinner for the family. When it comes to exercise, so many people fight doing it, even those who enjoy it’s benefits. It is so easy to get side tracked with other priorities that we toss our exercise routine on the back burner and don’t categorize it as a necessity. So many of us are fueling our lives with caffeine, sugar, fast food, computers, television, and phones and at the end of the day it’s all too easy to turn to substances like alcohol, marijuana, anti-anxiety or pain medications, and other drugs for a little relaxation. We all know which choice is easiest, but which choice will help you craft the life you really want for yourself?

I too am challenged by my self-care routine. I work really hard at it and it has become my second job. To succeed I have to pay attention to everything I’m eating and drinking, I need to think ahead for meal planning and create time to prepare my food, and I schedule in my exercise just like I schedule my clients. I track the time at night to make sure I hit the sack at a reasonable hour so that I feel refreshed when my body wakes me up in the early hours of the morning. I feel like I’m continually paying attention to what I am doing and yes, sometimes that gets frustrating, but I’ve come to learn that this is not a burden, it’s just a fact of what it takes to live a healthy life.

Sue’s wakeup call was her choice between heavy medication and a healthy lifestyle. We don’t all need to wait for such an extreme alarm to get our lives on track. We can make that choice today to honor our mind, body and spirit by making ourselves a priority. With diligent practice, saying NO can become just as easy as saying yes and saying NO can leave us feeling proud of ourselves instead of feeling angry and guilty for saying yes to poor choices.

All of my clients tell me they want to be happy. They want to feel good. They want energy. They want their lives to be easy. Having all these things (and more!) takes discipline and requires us to avoid the convenient ways of life. Today is a great day to start practicing saying NO to convenience and YES to health.

 

12 Tips to Feeling Great in Mind, Body and Spirit

  1. Start with the end in mind. Think about how you want to feel day and night.
  2. Getting adequate sleep will determine your outlook on life, your ability to pay attention, and to track what you do and how you do it. So get to bed and get a minimum of 6 1/2 hours sleep each night. Pay attention to your body and how much sleep it needs.
  3. Start your day with something inspirational like a prayer, poem, song or affirmation. Choose one that leads your mind in the direction you want to be headed all day.
  4. Take one minute to connect with yourself in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time and being fully present by becoming one with your breath can do the trick. Connecting with yourself in the morning and several times throughout the day can have a profound effect on keeping you calm, centered and on track with your self-care. If you’re ambitious, doing a daily 15 – 20 minute relaxation or meditation will only add incredible benefits to your life over time.
  5. Get some exercise each day. Vary it up. Remember that stretching, cardio, and muscle strengthening are all important components of your exercise routine.
  6. PAUSE before thinking about what you want to eat. Take a deep breath and connect with yourself. Then ask yourself – what will make my mind, body and spirit feel good? What nutrients do I need for my health and well-being?
  7. Eat slowly, savor your food, and enjoy your meal.
  8. Smile and laugh more! Watch comedies and light-hearted movies.
  9. Avoid the news and heavy or depressing shows right before bed.
  10. Get off the computer two hours before going to bed. Let your mind calm down.
  11. Take some “ME” time each day.
  12. Do something creative and fun each day.

hammock_SnapseedMy daughter Eilise hanging out in Vietnam

School’s out and that means summer is in full swing. The season of barbecues, flip flops, long days, and vacations is upon us and here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re abuzz with anticipation. To me, the promise of summer means living with all my doors and windows open, walking around barefoot, lounging in the sun with a good book and the occasional nap, and of course, lots of outdoor activities. Back when my daughter was in school, I’d plan many summer getaways to go camping, hiking, kayaking, biking and swimming and we spent a lot of time driving around the Pacific Northwest, exploring our own backyard.

One summer when my daughter was eight or nine we rode our bikes around the beautiful Timothy Lake – all 13 miles of it! She was a real trooper as the terrain full of rocks on the trail in the last three miles was torture for her. We laugh about it now and call it character building, because even though it was way beyond her capabilities at that age and skill level, she did it. That’s what travel and adventure is all about – pushing yourself to find new limits and trying things you never thought you would do.

I love to travel – always have and always will. Travel has been so good for me in so many ways; I’ve discovering new things, new places and experienced how other cultures live and thrive. I enjoy testing my limits and challenging myself on my adventures and I’ve been known to be a daredevil a time or two!

Traveling and going on adventures is so important because it gets us out of our routines and schedules. Doing too much of the same thing only breeds habits that may or may not be healthy for us. This summer I’d like to encourage all of you to travel; whether you venture to a nearby lake for a few days of swimming and hiking, or you jet across the globe on a cross-cultural endeavor, take some time to explore and create adventures for yourself.

Throw away all your excuses that you’ve come up with to not travel over the years. Believe me, I’ve used them all myself and not taken opportunities because of them: “It’s too expensive, I don’t have enough time off from work, I wouldn’t know where to go, I don’t know how to speak the language, My family wouldn’t be able to function without me for that long.” I promise you this- every time I’ve found a way to work around my excuse and taken an opportunity to travel and venture out into the world, I’ve never once regretted it. They may not have all been easy or simple to pull off, but when I look back at my adventures I only remember the good things- the interesting and unusual things, the things that challenged me, and the things that took my breath away.

If you’re feeling fearful or doubtful about travel (and you’re not alone in feeling that way), remember that traveling simply cannot be a waste or time or money. Traveling and seeing new places and cultures opens you up to new ideas, possibilities and connections to yourself in so many different ways. Even the negative experiences are character building, just ask my daughter! Humans are curious creatures, we aren’t mean to stay put in one place for too long; If we were, we would be trees.

 

10 Tips for Planning your Summer Travel:

1. Make a list of all the places you’d like to visit. Consider putting them in order of priority or feasibility.

2. Put money away for a trip every week or put a portion of your paycheck into a special travel fund.

3. Make your weekends count! It can be tempting to catch up on work and errands every weekend, but make sure you take a few summer weekends to get out and explore.

4. Do this exercise: On the left side of a piece of paper, make a list of all the excuses you use that stop you from traveling.

5. On the right side of the paper, be honest with yourself and write what the real truth is for each excuse. We often create roadblocks in our minds that can be overcome with the right mindset.

6. Create a vision board for your next trip. Collect pictures and start researching places to stay and things to do to keep yourself motivated to get there.

7. Sign up for Skyscanner alerts – they notify you when airfare prices to your choice destination drop.

8. Start saving money! Consider ways you can cut back on your spending habits like packing your lunch instead of buying it or switch out your car for your bike while the weather’s warm and sunny.

9. Sign up for a credit card that gives you frequent flyer miles as a reward.

10. Focus on expanding your life instead of contracting. Traveling is a wonderful way to do this.

 

743881Last night I went to see the “Stars on Ice” show where the Olympic and world class ice skaters performed. While it was no Olympic performance, it was still an excellent show and great entertainment. What fascinates me most about ice skaters and other athletes is their intense level of discipline they dedicate to their sport. They would never have gotten where they are without an incredible amount of self-discipline.

Self-discipline is one of the key ingredients to our success in life. If we didn’t have self-discipline, we wouldn’t be able to get out of our cozy beds in the morning to get up and get ready for work. Without discipline we can’t make any progress, we can’t succeed in accomplishing our goals and we can’t even keep up with our own self-care.

The opening line of M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Travelled is “All life is discipline.” That is an incredibly true statement. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed we are confronted with thousands of things to do, people and things to take care of (including ourselves), and a multitude of things that seem to show up out of nowhere that demand our time and attention.

When I think of life this way I can feel overwhelmed and disillusioned. Sometimes I get tired of being so disciplined and I rebel. I rebel against taking all my supplements, making healthy meals, exercising, getting to bed on time, and all the hundreds of other tasks that are required of me to stay healthy. It’s so easy to take the short cut, be lazy, rebel and just give up!

There is one thing that I have never skipped out on; I always brush my teeth after breakfast and before bed. I am curious why it is that I can choose to do this one thing day after day, year after year. If only I could do this with all the self-care practices that keep me fit and healthy!

In my self-development and in the work that I do with my clients I am always curious about how life works and what makes us choose certain behaviors and habits over others. I think it is important to know why we do anything. When we know the ‘why’ of our behavior, we have something to work with.

What stops us from being disciplined about our self-care?
What happens when we falter from self-discipline or follow-through on doing what is good for us?
What do we do?
How do we feel?

There are a multitude of reasons why we don’t follow through on our self-care. We have to figure out for ourselves what makes us lose our discipline. What I have noticed for myself is that I rebel. I get tired of doing the same thing day in and day out. Take, for instance, my supplement regimen. I take a lot and I have a system. Most of the time I can follow it and then all of a sudden I get fed up. So I skip out on taking them for that time of the day. Sometimes I take a break for a whole 24 hours, but never more.

What I do is get down on myself and start a tirade of self-deprecating questions like “What’s wrong with you? Why are you being lazy today? Why did you overeat so you feel so full you can’t fit the supplements in? You shouldn’t have eaten so much, you know that’s not good for you.” Blah, blah, blah. I feel guilty and ashamed that I let myself down; I cheated on my health. And then, depending on how bad I feel, I may sabotage myself further and eat more, not exercise because I don’t feel good, etc. I make a lot of excuses for my poor choices.

The cycle is never ending! I do something that isn’t good for me, beat myself up with my negative self-talk, feel bad and guilty, do something else unhealthy, feel worse, say mean and nasty things to myself and the vicious circle continues.

So, what do I do? How do we avoid this cycle of self-abuse? First of all, I catch myself at the first negative comments to myself and I STOP – take a pause. Then, I reframe what I did in a more positive way: “I am so disciplined most of the time with taking my supplements. Surely taking a break every once in awhile is okay. I will get back on track at the next scheduled time for them.”By practicing loving kindness and self-acceptance, I can stop beating myself up and avoid self-sabotaging behavior. It’s very possible to avoid the cycle of self-abuse, it just takes self-discipline.

So the next time your self-discipline takes a turn for the worse, ask yourself these questions and write out what exactly you do. Practice reframing what you did so that you can stop your own vicious cycle.

What stops you from being self-disciplined about _____________?

What do you do?

What do you say to yourself (negative self-talk)?

How do you feel about yourself?

Then, what do you say to yourself?

How do you sabotage yourself?

How do you get out of your cycle of abuse?

 

Tips for Nailing your Self-Discipline

1. Learn to be nice to yourself. You live with yourself 24/7 so why do you want to be mean to yourself?

2. Listen to your negative self-talk. Nail this one because this is the only way to change what you say to yourself.

3. Practice stopping or pausing your critical voice before it continues too long.

4. Tell yourself the truth and reframe your negative self-talk.

5. Create an action statement for what you will do to get back on track and then follow through with that so you don’t continue the cycle.

6. Be compassionate with yourself. No one is perfect.

7. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes.

8. Practice mindfulness and living more in the present moment. It is easier to do everything when we can ‘be here now.’

9. Create a plan for your self-care, work, and life that is do-able so that you set yourself up for success.

10. Breathe deeply and often. Breathing helps us perform and cope better with life.

LaunchingTheJamesCaird2
Launch of the “James Caird”. This photograph was published in the United States in Ernest Shackleton’s book, ‘South’, in 1919. 

 

I have to admit, my DVR is filled with wonderful shows I rarely get around to watching. I’ve been meaning to finish watching OPB’s Chasing Shackleton program for months now, and I finally sat down to watch it a few evenings ago. I love adventure stories, and oh wow, this one sure didn’t disappoint. For those of you who don’t know the story of Ernest Shackleton, he was one of the the bravest, most courageous expedition leaders of all time who led three British Expeditions to the Antarctic. When his ship sank on his 1914 journey, he was faced with the responsibility of the lives of 27 men stranded on an ice floe, 346 miles from the nearest Antarctic station. He had a choice: They could either all perish there on the ice or they could risk the lives of five men to attempt the most perilous journey on earth to reach help and hopefully save them all.

If you haven’t seen Chasing Shackleton, I highly recommend it. The series follows a crew of five intrepid explorers in 2013 led by renowned adventurer, scientist and author Tim Jarvis as they re-create Shackleton’s epic sea-and-land voyage in a replica of the original explorers’ boat, using only the tools and supplies his team used. Watching this incredible expedition made me ponder all the adventures I’ve had in my life, all the adventures I’d like to have in my future, and what I’m doing right now in the present moment to make these adventures happen.

A good many of my great adventures have come from pushing myself and taking a risk. Sometimes I have taken what may seem like stupid risks, but they have never been uncalculated against my perceived abilities. I have the most amazing memories of my great risks, and to this day am still proud of myself for taking them.

I know I want a lot out of my life. As the years clock by I am reminded that my bucket list is still quite long and that I will have to work hard to make adventures happen. Even though adventures don’t come as frequently or as easily as they did in my 20’s, I know that exceptional things can happen when I keep going where many people might stop.

Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? What is it that you truly want in life? Keep your focus on the end results. Consider your own adventures and what risks you took that made them happen. Not all adventures are spontaneous, especially as we get older, but that doesn’t make them any less special or thrilling. Start taking the steps needed to make your next adventure happen. Access your strongest and most dominant character to make your life come alive. Be practical and practice your boldest behavior. And most importantly is to never, ever give up because the most amazing stories can come after what you thought was surely the end.

My risks may not have been of Shackleton proportions, but as long as your risks illicit a strong emotion, whether it’s fear, excitement, or a feeling entirely unexpected, I encourage you to take them. You may surprise yourself at your own abilities.

 

10 Tips for Making Adventures Happen:

1. Make sure you do something(s) in this lifetime that you can be really proud of.

2. If you haven’t done anything adventurous in the past 12 months,  then now is the time to do it. Life is short.

3. Determine what makes you happy and strive to set up your life so you can achieve this.

4. Discover your strengths, write them down and use them to propel you in the direction you want to be going.

5. Find your courage and exercise it regularly.

6. Focus on what you want in life, find pictures of it in magazines or the internet and create a vision board. Hang it up somewhere you’ll see it frequently as a reminder of what you’re working towards.

7. Emulate the qualities of great leaders or people who inspire you until you feel confident in your own abilities.

8. Release negative self-talk and embrace the concept of loving yourself. This is the way to get ahead in life.

9. Who you are today will affect the rest of your life. Make sure you like what you are thinking, saying and doing.

10. Retrain your brain of old patterns and influences by using language that takes you in the direction that you want to be going.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMG_6355_edited_smallWe need more graffiti like this – shocked by the cold at Jo’s Coffee in Austin, Texas.
 
 

 

As we go through different stages of life, Valentine’s Day can have so many different connotations. It can be exciting, waiting to see what your significant other has planned for you, or it can be downright depressing if you find yourself single and alone with a bottle of wine and a box of self-bought chocolates. If you ask me I think kindergartners everywhere have really nailed the holiday: hand-made cut out hearts that they happily hand out to anyone and everyone, with no notion of a deeper meaning.

Whether you participate in Valentine’s Day activities or boycott it altogether, let’s face it, it’s here to stay. I like to think of it as a reminder to practice and show our love every day, both for ourselves and others. In my work I see and hear firsthand how mean and cruel people are to themselves. Putting yourself down and criticizing yourself prevents you from living a happy and full life. If you would never fathom saying or doing something to your best friend, your partner, or the stranger next to you in line at the grocery store, don’t say or do it to yourself! The love you show others starts with the love you show yourself.

Use tomorrow as a starting point and make a special effort to show people that you care about them. But don’t let it start and end tomorrow! Let your love and kindness expand more and more each day. There’s no need to let Valentine’s Day get you down or let it overrun you with high expectations, instead, I encourage you to use this Valentine’s Day as a springboard for daily acts of kindness, love and appreciation.

With Love on This Valentine’s Day!

 

12 Tips for the Best Everyday Gifts: 

1. Practice small random acts of kindness. These will significantly boost your energy and make someone else’s day at the same time. The more good things you do for others, the happier you’ll be!

2. Give the gift of listening: people feel most cared for when they are listened to. Listen with an open heart and mind.
3. Withhold judgment: ask questions to understand others better.
4. Hold back on giving advice: wait for others to ask you for your advice or opinion rather than giving it freely. If you feel you really need to share your perspective then ask permission to do so. 
5. Let others know that you are there for them in a non-critical way.
6. Allow more silent moments: this helps you connect with yourself in a deeper, more meaningful way and will enhance your relationships.
7. Be more present: when we live in the present moment we make better choices for ourselves and those we are responsible for.
8. Practice empathy: putting yourself in another’s shoes can help us expand our understanding and suspend judgement.
9. Stop comparing yourself to others. We often imagine others are doing so much better than we are. The fact is, each of us is on our own path to greatness and that will look different for everyone.
10. Forgiveness: let go of the perceived wrong others have done to you and most importantly, forgive yourself for not fulfilling whatever expectations you may have set for yourself.
11. Invest in yourself. Take time to nurture and care for yourself in small ways every day. Those small changes will add up to big shifts in the outcome of your life.
12. Set 3 do-able goals for yourself to accomplish in the next 3 months. You’ll be amazed how good you’ll feel about yourself when you have accomplished them.

 

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