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  • That Crazy Gratitude

    It’s Thanksgiving. Yes, a time on the calendar we can depend on. A time that reminds us that we are still here living our lives, even if everything feels topsy turvy, stressful or downright scary at times. We are all looking for some peace, a bit of joy, a way to feel into this new normal while folks are waiting to get back to normal.

    It’s hard to say what back to normal will look like but what we can say is how amazingly resilient we humans are. Imagine being able to find simple things, people, products, even time, to be grateful for. Gratitude is the way forward. I was blown away when I restarted my gratitude mornings how much each day became lighter. How positive I could be in the face of frightening or disappointing news. How centered I could become by simply recognizing the beauty of a flower, a kind gesture, a great meal, a dear friend.

    Here are some tips to find the spark of gratitude in your life:

      1. Wake up and say “I am grateful for my new day” a sentence filled with possibility.
      2. If you are in a relationship, notice that person’s presence as a gift in your life. It’s easy to notice the annoyances but what do they bring to your life?
      3. Notice where you are putting your attention. If there is a situation that is bothersome, or troubling find the good in it and find a way to take action to change the rest. (One step at a time if it’s a big one)
      4. Declare your intention for having a great day.
      5. Thank someone in your life or in your day, for something.
      6. Give! Tell someone you care, give a compliment, send flowers, be love and you will feel grateful you made someone else’s day.
      7. Make a list of 3 things you are grateful for each morning and notice the bounty you may have missed.
      8. Thank a good friend or special family member for being in your life.

     

    Happiest Thanksgiving to all.  May you spend it in a way that brings you peace and joy.

    With love,

    Liz

    Whose Voice Is It Anyway?

    I was so lucky when my friend Dave said “Who says you’re not good enough?!?”

    That was many years ago. Needless to say, our conversation blew my mind. He was actually asking who I was listening to in my head and questioning whether it was really my voice!
    I had never thought it wasn’t my voice. After all, it was in my head.

    I had been complaining about a work situation, my social life, etc. But really my situation was fine. It was how I was feeling about it, and what I was believing about both the situation and myself that was the problem. “Not good enough.” “Not Good Enough.” “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

    Those words—in their varying intensities at various moments—were affecting my life. Those words… not good enough… created other unhelpful thoughts as well. I would struggle with something I knew I was fully capable of doing but feeling I couldn’t do. I would express doubt and need good friends to help me see myself accurately, or I would give myself a good talking to so that I could proceed.

    What a struggle! Where did this contradiction come from?

    It was so exciting to imagine—and then recognize—that what I believed was my own internal voice was actually one that I co-opted from teachers, parents, or disheartening situations. The self-criticism came from messages I received growing up.

    Why is it easier to hold on to the negative messages than the positive?

    My experience as a psychotherapist and coach is that we tend to feel the impact of negative messages more deeply because they often catch us off guard or conflict with our self-perception. Unconsciously, we internalize these negative inputs more than we should.

    That was what I had been doing. That self-talk had become a habit and a belief system. It was so incredibly freeing to realize that I could evaluate each of those questionable thoughts.

    First, I became curious about when and where I had heard that message. Then I began to evaluate and decide whether I agreed with the message.

    That gave me the agency to choose! Did I believe it? Was the thought really true? Did the negative message evolve over time? Was it a real representation of the real me? If not, I wasn’t born with it. Did I want that message to be mine?

    Mostly, that negative talk is not true. It comes from hurt, unkind words, and moments when we have not been at our best. If you aren’t happy with some of the self-talk/self-doubt/self-critical messages that you are experiencing, try to be a detective and begin choosing which messages to listen to. Sometimes it helps to talk to a good friend, or a professional (like a life coach or a therapist) to sort it out if you get stuck.

    Bottom line: The time has come to choose. Choose to allow you to be you – fully and freely -without restriction!

    Have a comment or a question? I would love to hear your thoughts!

    In the meantime, choose you!

    Liz

    Remembering How to Fight and Win

    I was struck by the speech Queen Elizabeth made a few days ago to her country about this time we are living through: The COVID-19 war.

    She said, “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge…and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterize this country.”

    Toward the end of her speech she spoke about the world coming together and doing what can be done to defeat this common enemy, knowing that we succeeded in accomplishing this because we all joined in a global effort.

    She also said, ““We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return…We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

    You can access the video of her full speech and a New York Times article by clicking here.

    Much has been said in our country about bravery, about fear, about people moving past fear to do their jobs. Our heroic hospital and healthcare workers showing us what a sense of duty to something greater than ourselves actually means today.

    Stoicism and solidarity.

    Unless or until we are in the thick of it, solidarity can seem quite quiet and even private. It is only when people are clapping or cheering for the helpers at a certain time every day that it becomes a shared experience of hope.

    This is important because while news reports give us important information, headlines also trigger anxiety and it helps to remember you are not standing alone: neighbor in support of neighbor, family member in support of family member, communities in support of businesses and businesses in support of community.

    Right now, we are in fact, finding togetherness even when alone.

    I love the Queen’s speech because it recalled an earlier time when people were expected to use their self-discipline to reach a collective goal or to overcome a hardship. Back then we recognized the importance of our interdependence. Our survival depended on it.

    My mother-in-law was a Londoner who came of age during WWII. There was no ego in doing what had to be done but there was pride in the doing.

    She, as did many people of her generation, found herself in the thick of the unspeakable. Doing what she could to assist or survive.

    For them, it was bombs or persecution. The enemy was quite loud and visible. For us, it is more silent and at times illusive, but we do know what it is.

    We need to be sure that we use our wits, think of each other as well as ourselves, find the light at the end of the tunnel and, like the people of an earlier generation, never give up hope.

    In short, we must build the muscles we need to thrive in an ever-changing world. This means not becoming our own enemy. Not submitting to apocalyptic thinking.

    It is we who will decide what our world will look like going forward. It is we who will decide what kind of family, community, country we want to participate in.

    While for a time we will be physically alone, we have the ability like never before to maintain connection and to make these decisions together.

    It’s not that these ideas or ideals related to our collective power are new. But what is being highlighted now is that we must use those muscles–our collective strength–wholeheartedly and differently.

    It can be as simple as having a good attitude rather than one of complaint. Taking our fears and turning them into courage to face another minute, hour, day, in uncertain and, at times, life threatening circumstances.

    Now is the time to draw on the strength that has always been there, ready and waiting to be called into action.

    Our creativity–our ability to think outside the box–will keep us focused on doing the best we can to make sure our businesses, jobs and relationships thrive. And choosing heart-opening ways to solve differences will help us succeed.

    It will all make us more productive and stronger when this crisis is over.

    We are seeing now that we have a readiness to do things differently and the capacity required for creating new solutions. There is always an answer when we believe in ourselves and in our collaborators.

    In fact, belief in self and in our family members, friends, fellow workers and communities has always been the exact ingredients needed for accomplishing our most treasured dreams.

    The Queen was correct: this virus and the weaknesses it has created or exposed, such as leadership, the economy, the environment and more, will be fixed globally. But only if we understand the lesson we’re being presented with; only if we come to truly understand and embrace working together.

    This was only the fifth time in her 68-year reign that the Queen addressed her nation other than at Christmas. She reminded us that we are made of stronger stuff.

    Let’s take heed. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can get to it–but only together.


    Source and to purchase:  Coronavirus Collective: Messages of Love, Light and Hope
    by Jeffrey Holst, JIllian Sidoti, et al. | May 2, 2020

    Please check out the other authors and topics on Amazon.

    100% of the proceeds will be donated to a selection of charitable organizations that together are helping to feed the hungry, provide fresh water to the impoverished, protect the innocent from the devastating effects of human trafficking, and spread their message of hope and light to the world.

    Braver Than I Knew

    “I am one.” “I am one!” I am one with the wind!” My heart shouted. Suddenly a hand on my elbow. 

    “I have a gun,” he said in a low tone. “Keep walking.”

    I was headed home from an after-school program and feeling so alive. It was 6:30 pm. November. I was 12. 

    I was in a good, well lit, neighborhood near Central Park. 

    I calculated: just one avenue to cross and three-fourths of a block and I’ll be at my building. In my head: A gun, a gun, a gun, okay keep walking. I can pull away at the right moment.

    It didn’t work. We passed a doorman and I mouthed the word, “Help!” 

     “Have a good time kids,” was all he said.

    I was shocked. That doorman saw me playing outside just the other day. Was he out of his mind? I was 12 and looked at it; the gunman looked about 17.

    We crossed the street. The Central Park side of 5th Ave. I told him how ugly I was, how my father was a cop, how my parents would come looking for me. It was clear he didn’t want money. I had just learned what rape was that year when my cousin and I had snuck away from a family gathering to read True Confessions magazines.

    Sometimes even terrifying information comes at exactly the right time. I knew that if we walked into the park entrance I was done for. I had to find a way to talk him out of whatever he wanted.

    It was kind of like being in a car wreck. Everything slows down but moves super-fast at the same time. I kept talking to him about how he could do better than me, that I had a friend who would really like him, that I had my period, that my parents would find me in a matter of minutes.

    Steps away from the park entrance he inexplicably turned us around. We began walking back to the crosswalk near my building. It had begun to rain. He pushed me up against a car. Whoever invented dresses that zipped up the front unfortunately never thought of this situation. He began to feel around. I had long before left my body. I was totally in my head. How do I escape?

    Then he kissed me on the lips, and I came back to myself and screamed. 

    “I have a knife,” he said. 

    And then I knew he had nothing, and I knew I would get away. I must have kept screaming because he zipped my dress up all the way to my throat and ran like crazy. Suddenly I noticed that I was still holding my schoolbooks in one hand.

    Someone had been sitting in a car nearby the whole time. When he saw the guy run, he got out of his car and asked if he could help saying, “Get in.” 

    ARE YOU CRAZY?!?, I thought and took off across the street almost getting hit by a bunch of cars. I got home and called my parents who were at their Tuesday night get-together with friends and said, “I really think you should come home.” Well, that sounded ridiculous until I said, “I wasn’t raped but…”

    So, I was brave. I didn’t crumble. I got away by using my wits and finally my screaming voice. What if I had screamed at the beginning? I never thought about those “what ifs” until I started writing this. It doesn’t matter. I managed to escape.

    The terror that continued within me was relentless for quite a long time. More powerful in some ways than the moments I spent trying to get away. I refused to go anywhere on my own for a year. Eventually, I found a different kind of bravery: Taking baby steps.

    Each time I did something on my own was a test. Would I be safe in the world?

    When people are afraid it really helps to look at actual facts. Not what we think could happen, but what did. Then slowly take one step at a time toward health. It also helps to talk. 

    At the time though counseling was taboo and my parents, as well-educated and loving as they were, didn’t understand how counseling would help in this situation. No one talked about this kind of thing back then.

    Most importantly, know you have inner strength. That even in the aftermath of the most traumatic experiences, you have the strength you don’t even know you have. 

    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.

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