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  • Create Aliveness in the Holiday Season

    The most transformative moments in our lives are those moments when all of a sudden something important is illuminated.

    When we have those big Aha’s!

    The trigger could be a simple or profound insight, or a life changing event – like a birth or a death, a marriage or a divorce – or the trigger could even be an experience like the one we might have standing on top of a mountain for the first time.

    What we are feeling is ALIVENESS!

    And it is in these trigger moments, good or bad, that we actually are the most alive. We feel a certain type of energy in the air. We feel the skin on our body and the beating of our heart. We feel totally connected.  We are present in the moment. It’s electric – it’s what some call a peak experience. Because in those moments and during those life events we know we are really HERE! It’s visceral!

    And that’s just it, we feel these peak experiences so intensely because, during them, we are smack dab in the middle of the power of life.

    What’s happening the rest of the time?

    We’re still alive, of course, doing our thing, going through the motions, perhaps even fairly consciously.

    But what if every moment in our lives or at least lots more of them felt just as electric as a peak experience? What if we were fully tuned in far more of the time? What if we could have that heightened “electricity-in-the-air experience” all the time?

    I remember when my son was born. We were given a book titled “On the Day You Were Born”. It showed every aspect of nature, on our own planet earth, and our own planet in motion with everything else –  the entire universe. And all of it was welcoming our baby into life … into the world, into the motion of everything … into the flow.

    It was such an exciting feeling to see these connections so clearly in that pivotal moment.  We are all part of the flow. We ARE the flow.

    Everything is connected, and everyone affects all things at all times.

    Those momentous peak experiences simply remind us of this fact. But in reality, we are always in the flow. And even more, we are directing it all the time.

    We just don’t know it or notice it.

    But here’s the thing:

    We DO have the ability to be present to that connection daily. And WOW! What an opportunity that is.

    To wake up, grab our life force and really show up in our lives. No matter what we are doing. To take off the filters that cloud our connection and, with the intention of being fully present, step into the aliveness of the moment.

    And intention is all it takes to begin to learn how to feel that aliveness every day and to learn how to keep that feeling going.

    Here are some simple ways to practice …

    Right now, as you’re listening to me, notice if your brain has taken you to the next item on your to-do list, taken you away from being where you actually are in this very moment. Are you here? Or are you thinking about what’s next? Or what happened earlier today?

    In order to be present in this moment, I’d like you to do a quick experiment. First, find your feet. And put all of your attention/concentration in your feet. Feel them. I’m doing it too. Second, Feel your feet connected to the floor or ground. And now BREATHE … breathe all the way into your feet … and, as you do, feel your breath move through the rest of your body.

    Perfect! Thank you for doing that with me. You are now in your body. And once you are in your body you are on the road to being present.

    The more you breathe into your feet and feel that you are actually connected to the earth, the more the rest of your body will start to show up too. Because what you are doing is taking your energy and attention out of your head and bringing it home into your physicality – into your physical being … into the present moment. And it only takes a minute.

    Once we are in our bodies we can really see where we are. Our focus is fully on what is around us, our vision is zeroed in on the now.

    Our culture makes multi-tasking seem attractive, but when we are doing one thing and thinking about another, or doing multiple things at once, it’s pretty hard to breathe and be in your body … and, therefore, it’s difficult to truly feel alive or to simply enjoy the present experience of being fully engaged in a task.

    To build on the exercise we just did and help you become even more present, walk around the room you are in or, if you are outside, even better.

    First connect to your feet, take a breath and walk slowly forward. As you do, feel your footsteps … the bottoms of your feet connecting to and releasing their connection with the floor or earth. Then, as you walk, begin to name aloud or silently to yourself every object or being you see, taking each in fully.

    Really notice what is around, you …

    The lamp with the burlap shade, the wooden table, the striped cat, the woman with the red coat, the mirror with the gilded frame, the crazy patterned pillow, the tree fallen in the path.

    With every object or being you name as you walk, you will become more and more present to the moment, more and more grounded … feeling more and more alive.

    For those of you who feel anxious from time to time – this exercise alone is a great anxiety reducer. Again, just a few minutes spent doing this exercise will make a world of difference.

    We’ve all heard the phrase, “stop and smell the roses.” And most of us take that saying as a caution to slow down, to take the time to enjoy life, to stop doing too much. It might be just the ticket.

    It’s good advice at times… and it may sound a lot like what I’m talking about – but it’s not.

    And perhaps it’s not the most helpful advice for today’s fast-paced world or in times of real stress.

    We need to realize that at whatever speed we’re moving, no matter what is happening – good or bad – and regardless of how much we have on our plates, we can and need to be fully present and we want to feel fully alive.

    Aliveness has nothing to do with stopping. It has nothing to do with how much we have going on. If we stop to smell the roses, we might not actually be smelling them if we’re thinking about what we have to do next.

    And in fact, sometimes the most alive we feel is when we’re moving at lightning speed …

    As long as we stay in the present.

    So, don’t stop and smell roses … instead learn how to get into the present regardless of how fast you’re moving or what is happening (and yes you may need to slow down to do that at first), but after you practice and learn it …

    Move fast, move slow, do a lot, do a little, take breaks, get back to it … and through it all … BE PRESENT … LIVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE IN THAT ZONE – fully connected, fully in the flow, fully alive.

     

    The Challenges of College Drop-Off When You’re Separated or Divorced

    Divorced or separated parents faced special challenges at college drop-off time

    The school year is beginning. For some, it’s the first time they are taking their now much more grown up kid(s) to college – and for separated, divorced or single parents, the experience can present additional challenges.

    My husband and I separated when my son was entering his Sophomore year of High School. We chose that time to keep the stress low during his Junior and Senior year when the intensity typically goes up and college prep is in full force.

    Fast-forward a couple of years to college drop off time when parent couples with college-age children prepare for the move-in, shop for swag, eat out and begin the separation process from their child. Except by then I was divorced – no longer part of a couple.

    Whether your child is ready and excited to be free or is having anxiety about being away at school (primarily a freshman experience), there are always challenges during this life transition. But it can be even harder for the divorced or separated parent who is surrounded by united, happy families and who has no one to hang out with while their kid is making his or her great escape.

    Of course, the student is doing exactly what they should be doing and the job of the parent is to simply support them, no questions asked. But yikes! It can feel like your separation all over again and with a capitol S.

    So, what can the single parent do?

    If you have a good relationship with your ex-partner, you can still choose to go through the experience together – especially the first time. My ex-spouse and I did participate in parent’s weekend together the first year and it worked out great.

    Yet there’s no question that being on your own through this experience can be really tough. In fact, you’re likely to feel everything from excitement to loneliness and from pride to resentment (possibly not enough “thank you’s” for all the effort you are putting in) even in a single day. Because in the moments of changing roles, of shifting from being a hands-on parent to being a hands-off parent, lots of mixed emotions can arise that are similar to the roller coaster of emotions that often go hand in hand with divorce or separation. Emotions that have you questioning your role: How will I matter in the future? Or, what will our relationship be like going forward?

    I’m here to say that these questions do get worked out with a bit of consciousness, conversation and observation

    Here are some tips for divorced or separated parents that might help during those anxious and lonely college drop-off moments  – and if you’ve already dropped off this year, I hope you’ll share your own tips in the comments section:

    1. Find a great place to stay where you feel at home and can go hang out when you are at loose ends. And don’t forget that often there are lots of helpers at a university to assist new parents or even a parent list-serve you can join.
    2. Figure out if there are other parents you may know who may be dropping off at the same school and make plans to connect for a meal or coffee when the kids are otherwise occupied.
    3. See if you have any friends near the university. Often parents think they will not have a free moment and don’t reach out, but free moments will become more and more frequent if you take your kid to school in later years. So, reach out now.
    4. Go to an event on your own and meet other parents.
    5. Plan on attending at least one parent-child event so you can better understand the landscape and connect with other parents. It always feels better to be in community.
    6. Schedule a few specific times to see your child during the move-in process and possibly after, including when you’ll say good-bye before you head home.
    7. Most importantly, know when it is time to go and cut the cord. Just because you’re divorced or separated doesn’t mean  alone. You will always be your kid’s parent.

     

    Hope this helps and have a happy school year!