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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!

    The Antidote to Stress, Scared and Stuck

    Well Being

    We are constantly bombarded by news and lately much of it has been disturbing.

    We hear news of people all over the world acting out on their worst instincts. There’s news about the coming election that has many afraid for our country and its relationships with countries around the world. And, of course, there’s been plenty of news about violence and tragedy right in our own back yards.

    It’s been so overwhelming, that it’s created an atmosphere of fear and even hopelessness for many of us, and I was struck by just how close to home all this bad news is when I attended my water aerobics class recently.

    Our beloved teacher was late to class and when she finally arrived and told us that she had been pulled over by a policeman for speeding on her way to teach our class, she burst into tears.

    You see, she is a person of color and although she was quick to say that the policeman was a perfect gentleman and had followed all the rules, she also shared that she was afraid for her life.

    The fact that a fear that serious was part of this scenario is horrible and, unfortunately, it speaks to the reality of what’s happening in our world right now.

    I’ve heard so many friends and clients talk recently about experiencing anxiety, stress or a sense of stuckness; about feeling drained, uninspired or just plain numb. I can’t help but notice the connection between what’s happening “out there” and what’s happening “in here” – in our minds, bodies and souls.

    Of course, I’m not saying that we all don’t feel these things regardless of what’s happening in the world. But right now, it’s intensified – so, how do we cope?

    When it seems as though the positive energy of life has been sucked away, it’s important to think about exactly what that positive energy was.

    Often, it’s joy.

    In truth, we need to be able to find joy in the midst of our concern for others, our fear for the future and our own day-to-day worries. We need to realize that focusing on joy can bring us the balance, strength and clarity we need to evaluate what is causing us discomfort. We especially need to understand that when “out there” is chaotic and even crazy, that’s the time we need focus on joy even more.

    But what is joy exactly? Is joy the same thing as happiness? And how do we find (and keep) joy in our lives – especially right now?

    We’ll be talking a lot about joy over the next few weeks and I hope you’ll join this important conversation.

    Bringing joy into our lives is essential for our wellbeing. Spend a day with me exploring joy at my Accelerate Your Joy workshop on Saturday, Oct 1st. Right now, you can even bring a friend for free – find out more and register here.

    Accelerate Your Joy Button

     

    Is There Support When You Mention Divorce?

    I was speaking with someone today who was sharing the feeling of being scared while talking about separating from her husband. She did have trepidation about separation and divorce but what really frightened her was the response she was getting from the people around her to the potential dissolution of marriage. The responses were so strongly negative and unsupportive, that she thought that they must be afraid of something.

    She was excited that I had started a private Facebook group to discuss a new way to deal with divorce because she said that people forget about “that part.” When I asked what she meant, she said that people forget about the part leading up to separation or divorce; that people forget that the individuals involved need support. The story she was telling me highlighted that bystanders will often express their own opinions instead of listening.

    It’s sad that when someone is looking for support in the fragile moments of making the huge decision to explore the dissolution of a marriage that what shows up is fear or judgment by others.

    The world of divorce is often fraught with so much negativity one can’t see the forest for the trees. The potential outcome is often the focus so people forget how important all the steps in the process are. If friends and family are only focused on the outcome, the couple may feel like they are floundering in a sink or swim effort during the early stages of decision-making.

    It’s easy to forget how shocking it can be when someone says something out of the blue that’s a real zinger and knocks you off balance. Listening to her was an important reminder that a good support system is critical.

    Much of my work is with people who are in the process of making the decision to separate or divorce or those who have already made the decision and my job is guiding them through more positive ways to approach their situation. Part of this involves talking about the people in their lives who have a lot to say about the dissolution of marriage – whether it’s sharing war stories or giving advice or offering words of approval or disapproval. Since they are not part of the couple, their situation may not apply.

    I am so involved in the arena of giving those divorcing the support they need that I can forget how many people don’t reach out for professional support, or how many people go ahead with this very difficult life change without the support of their family or friends, simply because of how their family and friends may feel about divorce in general.

    I don’t think anyone goes down the road of divorce lightly. If someone has gotten to the point of deciding to leave a relationship for a period time or has made the decision alone or with their spouse to end the union, they are jumping into the unknown. To take that leap there is, most often, a very good reason. How great it would be if co-workers, friends and family members could remain neutral or supportive.

    Often people who are making a major life decision do find that it is a bit frightening to those around them. In the case of divorce, the observer may be afraid they will have to take sides or be involved in the “fight” in some way. They may be afraid for the person or the couple’s children because so many divorces are antagonistic. They may remember their own break ups or their parent’s break ups. They find themselves looking at their own relationships and sometimes they become afraid for themselves.

    Dissolution of marriage is a tricky process. It shakes the foundations of many belief systems.

    But maybe it is more important to recognize that all people deserve to be in relationships that are healthy for them and sometimes it just isn’t so.

    My heart went out to the person who felt she had to do this on her own. It was clear she had good reason to make this difficult decision. I hope that those around her help strengthen her resolve or simply stand by her side without judgment.

    It’s Spring! Use this Season as Your Guide for Inspired Next Steps

    Nature is our teacher. All we have to do to see how to proceed in life is watch what’s happening outside our windows.

    Let’s send up new shoots. Get rid of the old dried up leaves and twigs. Open a fresh eye on the world. Let the still small voice that knows there is something emerging get a bit louder.

    All of us feel a bit dug under sometimes. I know sometimes I feel like there is so much to do I don’t know where to start and so I feel inundated. That’s when I take a fresh look at what is happening in my life, what is happening around me, where I am putting my focus and what I want to do next and why I want to do it.

    We are multifaceted beings, so underlying the tasks we are doing are the thoughts and feelings we have about those tasks.

    • What do the tasks mean to us? 
    • What importance do they hold in our lives? 
    • What are the benefits or the drawbacks? 
    • Are they essential or can they be removed from the list? 

    Sometimes it is good to sort all that out.  Sometimes sorting it out isn’t necessary. That is for you to decide.

    What does matter is taking a moment to breathe.

    Take stock of all that is happening; what you are feeling emotionally and physically; what you are thinking… and see if there is a need for or room for a different point of view or a different course of action.

    Often a change in focus opens up a completely different feeling about what comes next. We may have a new idea that allows the energy (e.g. your thoughts and emotions) to take a different route that helps you see possibility in a new way. Sometimes it means you have a new view on what already exists and sometimes it means you will make a change.  It may be as simple as cleaning out your sock drawer to help you  be and feel more organized.

    The idea is to stop and actually be mindful of what is going on inside and out. It gives you a fresh start.

    I find that any one thing I do that organizes my space or my thoughts helps me move to the next task with a different openness in my breath, openness in my thoughts, and a clarity about the next action.

    It is sometimes a surprise, but when we start re-organizing that which is around us, we begin to start a process within ourselves that opens doors to freshness; we see, hear and smell in the spring.

    Let’s take advantage of this powerful seasonal energy to take a deep breath and proceed with fresh hope and a new view.

    Spring is the ideal time to take the next step to accelerate YOUR next step.

    Choose the inspired life you want to live.