Taking Up Space: Going to the Edges

Taking Up Space: Going to the Edges

Right now I am coaching almost all women, all who desire to lose weight, whether the goal is 5 or 75 pounds. They echo each other:

I want to feel good in my clothes.

I want to feel confident in my appearance.

I want to have more energy.

I want to keep up with my children, my job, my life.

I want to take up space in a way that feels right and good.

No one has actually said that last one, but it’s what I hear them all saying. We all want to matter, to feel like we are doing what we want to be doing.  We all want to feel like we have the confidence we need to live the life we have been given.  Continue reading “Taking Up Space: Going to the Edges”

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Why To Embrace Wildness

Why To Embrace Wildness

Henry David Thoreau once wrote the words, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Though Thoreau lived in his cabin on the shores of Walden Pond many years ago, those words hold a deep truth. Wildness can mean so many different things to so many different people, but whatever it means to myriad humans across the globe, I have found embracing wildness to provide healing, inspiration, introspection and reason to explore. I have found wildness to be a foundation from which to do my work in the world, and I have found wildness to drive my choices as I tap into the potential of life on this beautiful earth. I have found wildness reason to cultivate community and exist in the world in a way that aligns with beauty and truth.

Here are 10 more reasons to embrace wildness, in all its forms, in the months to come. Because you just never know how making some little changes to your way of being might contribute to the healing of the planet. Continue reading “Why To Embrace Wildness”

The Gift of Presence: Even When the Going Gets Tough

The Gift of Presence: Even When the Going Gets Tough

When you work in healthcare, whether it’s in a fitness center, in customer service, in management, in coaching, as a physician, a nurse or administrative assistant, you are reminded, on a regular basis, that life is hard for people.  People are stressed out, people are managing chronic conditions, people have financial issues, people are grieving, people are angry, people are unsure.  People are also happy, satisfied, healthy, and thriving, but folks tend to their struggles before they share their joys.  Interacting with humanity, especially when it comes to something as intimate as one’s health and wellbeing, is messy and unpredictable no matter how hard we try to make it into a program or round out the edges or meet our outcomes goals.   So often we have the urge to swoop in to offer a solution, to look at the numbers and provide a suggestion, or to give advice based on what we see…

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Weaving With Invisible Thread

Weaving With Invisible Thread

The first person I called after four weeks of training to be a corporate health coach was a gentleman named *Charlie.  The appointment was at 7pm on a Tuesday in April, and I had literally all day to prepare and worry about how it would go.  When the witching hour finally rolled around, I dialed the phone, had my paper at the ready to take notes and half hoped that he wouldn’t answer.  He did answer, and at the end of the conversation, he had a goal to play basketball once a week and eat one less serving of pasta when spaghetti was on the table for dinner.  (No easy feat when one is Italian and spaghetti rules the meal plan.)  And I knew that he had a six year old daughter going through treatment for leukemia and that he felt powerless in the face of something so important that was outside of his control.  In twenty minutes I learned what made this person who I’d probably never meet get up in the morning and what drove him to take care of himself.  I learned about some of his challenges, and I learned of his struggles to stay on track.  I asked him what his vision of a healthy life was, and he told me it was to be his best self so he could give his daughter the dad she deserved.  Most of his story I’ll never know, and he didn’t have to tell me the parts that he did.  But he chose to share, and I chose to listen, and now our stories will forever be intertwined. Continue reading “Weaving With Invisible Thread”

Mindfulness In A Culture That Invites Distraction

Mindfulness In A Culture That Invites Distraction

In wellness and life coaching, a fair amount of time is spent thinking and talking about “mindfulness,” or a state of active, open attention on the present, which includes observing thoughts and feelings from a distance without passing judgment. In our first world, corporate-driven culture, it’s something that is perhaps easy to talk and think about and harder to put into practice – after all, who has time to be mindful on a regular basis in the midst of to do lists, meetings, and the myriad of other items that punctuate our work days? Isn’t multitasking the only way to get everything done on time?  We need to make a profit!  Meet the bottom line!  Make that person happy!  And that one! And it all has to be efficient and productive!  Plus, if we don’t judge what’s going on during the day, how will we convey what we think is right?

Well, we might argue that when we practice being present and mindful in the moments as they pass, we do our jobs better and leave our work feeling grounded, instead of frazzled. We can have confidence that we didn’t miss something important due to trying to do everything at once, even if we didn’t get to the entire list. We can put our energy into the thing that’s right in front of us, and we can let things go when letting them go is going to serve best. We can stand witness to the events of the day that we can’t control, and we can take comfort in the fact that we did our very best to impact the world around us in a positive way.  Even if we have to let a few dollars go in the process.

I few months ago I sent a message to a client-one who’s been active and engaged in her process, and thus ready to put some energy into thinking about the questions posed to her about being more mindful. This was her response when I inquired about how her mindfulness practice was coming along:

Mindfulness has put me in better touch with my feelings. It’s making me more aware of my surroundings, especially regarding the senses (smell, touch, sound, etc.). I identify many more blessings and have taken the time to appreciate them. I enjoy journaling my observances. The journal was a great suggestion you gave me.

I am realizing that multi-tasking is not the way to go in most instances. I feel less stressed when I focus on one task at a time. When I reflect on what I completed, I feel I am accomplishing more each day. It feels great to pause and acknowledge what I’ve done instead of just moving on to the next thing for a continuous chain of to-dos’s which leaves me feeling depleted.

Mindfulness is definitely a new habit that I need more practice at in order to break through the old ways of thinking and doing things. It’s been like a new aerobics class or yoga position that is challenging to keep up with or to do at all until I gain conditioning, but it feels great to learn a new way that is so beneficial for me mentally and emotionally.

So as you go about your work days in the months to come, remember to allow yourself to stay present in what’s happening right now. Because after all, right now is the only moment that we can ever truly grasp.

Living Through Strengths

Living Through Strengths

Performance reviews. Assessments. Evaluations. The dreaded annual review. Most of us have run into some kind of quality assurance technique while employed in the American workforce, or at least know someone who has.

Evaluations are a regular part of life at my place of employment and something that I am very used to by now. Typically I get good scores and the evaluation includes plenty of praise and positive acknowledgement, along with whatever constructive criticism is appropriate to the work that is being evaluated.

Usually I can look through the evaluation form, note what needs to be noted, and move on. I can accept feedback when needed, use it appropriately, and in turn notice the strengths of others and acknowledge them along the way. I do pretty well, really.

Most days, doing pretty well is enough. But sometimes I get the feeling that there is something missing. That I could still do better. That enough isn’t actually satisfactory. That if I’m not constantly evaluating how I’m doing and striving for something better, there’s something wrong. That in acknowledging others, my voice gets tired and there’s not much left for acknowledging myself.

Even though I can plainly see the strengths in others and even verbalize them regularly, I don’t always notice and acknowledge them in myself. I have a tendency to want acknowledgement but brush it off when it arrives.

I crave being recognized for doing well but hardly know how to react when that craving is satisfied.

When I receive feedback—even when it’s positive—my default reaction is usually set to “how could I do this better?” It’s easy to get stuck inside the idea that there’s always room for improvement, and then turn a blind eye to what has already been improved or what doesn’t need to be.

There is nothing wrong with striving to better one’s self, growing professionally, building skills, or figuring out how to be more effective at what we choose to spend our time doing. But I think that sometimes we spend all of our time figuring out how to better ourselves, how to grow professionally, how to build even better skills, or how to be even more effective.

We get so caught up in growing and getting better that we forget to honor the life we have right now.

I know I get caught up in our culture’s mantra of “more, better, faster” more often than I care to admit.

What if I could take my usually positive outlook and mold it into a way of being that sets my default to accepting wherever I am in my job, or my relationships, or my life situation? What if I could celebrate what is?

What if I could put the focus on the strengths and gifts that I have—like being able to see the good in a challenging situation, or finding the joy that hides under anxiety, or baking a really good loaf of bread, or always knowing where the keys are—and then accept whatever comes from that focus?

What if we all focused on what we already excel at, or what we have bettered already, instead of that thing we feel is a weakness that needs fixing?

Perhaps the intent to celebrate the perfection that we already are would allow us to evolve into a collective that is founded on acceptance and peace and less focused on longing.

Maybe accepting the perfection that lies beneath our struggles can help move us into a space beyond what we think is possible—a space that knows no limits and a space that is simply enough. Period.

Seeking to grow and building on knowledge and presence of being invites excellence by creating space for that excellence to exist and thrive. But perhaps we cannot expand without first truly seeing ourselves as complete.

It could be that the excellence I invite by way of acceptance is different from what I have been taught to strive for over the years. It could be that “living my strengths” means moving slower, or pushing forward less. It could mean resisting the urge to try to be something I’m not. It could mean listening to understand more and listening to respond less.

I think it also means stopping to notice the beauty of a pebble in the rain, or hearing the gentle rustle of leaves when the wind changes direction, or feeling the warmth of the sun after the fog lifts.

It means looking into the eyes of someone different and seeing truth reflected back.

It means accepting ourselves as whole and complete, and letting that acceptance grow into our own version of perfection.

I could say there is no such thing as a perfect life and that there is always room for improvement and growth. I think I’d be right.

I could say that every life is perfect if allowed to be. And I think I’d still be right.

Living through strengths is not easy. But living through our strengths sets us up to find our unique version of perfection.  Accepting whatever that perfections looks like reminds us that we are enough.

Read the original posting at Tiny Buddha.

Living well through small steps.

Living well through small steps.

Do you live well?

It might take a moment to decide how to answer that.  Most of the time, I feel like I do live well.  For me, living well means finding a way to be true to the things that I value most: leading a life of simplicity, being satisfied with enough, embracing the natural world and empowering those whose paths intersect with my own.   It means being able to adapt to the misfortunes and troubles of a human life, living fully in each moment, and holding a sense of joy at my center.   Resiliency, along with a joyful presence, allows me to be fully alive, fully engaged in my every day, and fully able to be the person I am called to be.

Caring for myself, creation and others allows me to live as whole person – mind, body and spirit.  Wellness is multi-dimensional and requires alignment of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual bodies.  Finding our balance between these areas helps us to live fully: As a joyful, resilient people that can achieve wholeness in the midst of a sometimes broken world.

What is most important to you in regards to your wellbeing?  What might you need to do differently to keep working toward being your best self, full of joyful presence and living well?

The following questions can be helpful in figuring out a plan to move forward toward making optimal wellbeing a reality:

1)      What’s working now in my health and wellbeing?

It can be tempting to go straight to what feels wrong with your lifestyle, or what isn’t working right now.  As you begin thinking about what you might want to do differently, take some time to reflect on and acknowledge what you are doing well already.

2)      What’s my vision for change?  What is making change important?

Identify what is causing you to desire something different in the first place.  It is one thing to say, “I want to lose weight.”  It is another to say, “I am at a healthy weight and have a renewed sense of self, increased my energy and am able to participate fully in my life with confidence and ease.”  When you figure out what is making you want to do something differently, your choices are fueled by inspiration, and your intent becomes reality.

3)      What strengths can I bring to my change process?

Everyone has unique qualities and strengths – think about what you do well and what allows you to be successful.  Maybe you have a knack for remembering people’s names and thrive on challenges.  Maybe you are detail oriented and like structure.  Maybe you are an empathetic listener and need alone time to think.  Whatever makes you you is something that can be identified and drawn on to set the stage for success.  When you know what you do well, you have a foundation on which to build.

4)      What are my greatest challenges to changing, and how can I work around them?

Most of us have things that get in the way of moving forward with our desired changes.  Make a list of the challenges that might get in the way and identify possible ways to work around them.  There are no wrong or crazy ideas.

5)      What are my first priorities for change?

Figure out what needs to come first.   Maybe you want to lose weight to increase your energy, but you aren’t sleeping well at night and tend to stay up too late which makes choosing healthy food and getting any exercise that much more challenging.   Perhaps your first priority will be to avoid screen time after 9pm and spend your last waking hour in dim lighting, doing something peaceful to ensure a refreshing night’s rest.  Getting to the root issue is essential to lasting success.

6)      How ready, confident and committed am I to taking the first steps toward my vision?

Setting realistic goals and backing up those goals with firm commitment is a cornerstone of moving in the direction you wish to go.  Do whatever it takes to build confidence in yourself, even if it means starting with a 5 minute walk, once a week, or smiling at the person stuck in traffic next to you.  Every success has to start somewhere.

7)      What will I do this week?

It’s up to you.  No one else can decide what you need to live well, and no one can live for you.  What are you going to do for your precious self, as you awaken to your own abundance through taking small steps?

Remember that no success is too small to acknowledge and celebrate.  Joy is on your side, so you should be, too.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver