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  • 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 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 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.

    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.