Let Me Hear your Body Talk!

8/28/19

Our bodies have wisdom within them. They house memories and events, pleasures and traumas, hopes and hurts and only when we’re paying attention do our bodies reveal their intimate wisdom. 

It shows up in strange ways, as a pinch in the neck that we write off as too much computer time, or a strain in a joint (that we cannot recall injuring) that manifests, maybe just to get our attention. The body doesn’t often have a voice – although you can give it one – so it takes other tactics to slow us down, call us (literally) to our senses, and ask of us what it so deeply wants and needs.

My body is asking a lot of me this week.  I had a minor surgical procedure on Monday and here it is Wednesday, and my foot still wants special attention!  It wants to be elevated (or else it throbs).  It wants to be medicated (or else it stings), and it wants to be iced (or else it swells) – so, noisy little appendage that it is, it gets what it wants! 

My shoulder hasn’t been so fortunate as my foot.  It was screaming at me last week and I tried very hard to ignore it.  That is, until in preparation for Monday’s procedure, I went to a restorative yoga and Thai massage class where I became very clear that my shoulder had every right to ask for it’s due.  After all, it was complaining about all the weight I’ve been shouldering this summer!  Bodies seem to like puns.

Finally in taking the class, I gave it what it needed most, rest and passive movement and stretching.  This week, it is feeling much better.  It also talked to me (no, don’t lock me up, it is a Guided Imagery technique to talk to our bodies!) and what it had to say was noteworthy – “I can shoulder a lot, but you’ve got to stop stressing about money all the time!” Interesting conversation – especially with a body part.

So, while I haven’t given up “stressing” completely (although it would be an excellent pursuit), I have let go of a lot of money-worry that simply can’t be fixed by thinking about the problem!  And, I am pleased to report, my shoulder is doing much better!

What’s your body telling you?  Have you taken the time to listen to it? Are you thinking that all the pain and grief are just “empty complaints” or might you be willing to learn what the wisdom of your body actually has to say?

Let me know if you need a translator. I’m pretty good at helping the body have a voice. Yours might have amazing things to tell you, that you can only learn by tuning into your inner wisdom and your body’s sacred knowledge of who you are and what you need.

Disappointment, it happens.

8/21/19

Some wise person once said: “Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” That’s my new mantra for the week.  I hit a big bump in the road this week and it felt like a major disappointment for my business life. 

I had an expectation, “This is great, it will continue to flourish!” – and then it stopped.  A client I thought I’d serve for years cut the contract short and is no longer using my services.  I’m sad. I’m disappointed. But, I’m not heart-broken.  It isn’t the end of our friendship, just this business arrangement.  Perhaps we’ll have other business arrangements in the future.

For now, however I need to get back on my horse and ride into the future of whatever is next!  I’m taking a course this summer that reminds its learners we must BE, then DO, then HAVE, and in that order.  Most of us clamor to HAVE (money, success, prosperity) so we can do all we long to do and be who we hope to be. 

But the course says, our path must be exactly the opposite; First BE who we want to be (or become).  For me, the intention I’ve set for who I want to be is simply this,

I am a powerful woman whose business endeavors flourish.  I am touching the lives of people daily and serving as a teacher, guide and coach.  I am actively writing, speaking, teaching, coaching and earning more money than even my most ambitious goals.  Life is good, it is rich, it is bountiful and I am grateful for all its abundance!”

Who do you aspire to be (or become)? Are you ready to declare that intention? 

Are you prepared to DO the work that your intention inspires and demands?  Only then, can we expect that the rest of life will rally to our aid, support our dreams and help us realize our deepest ambitions!

Put it out there, do the work and watch what comes!

Thursday is National Relaxation Day!

This raises the age-old question, “How do you relax?” And, whether that’s being asked rhetorically by someone too busy to even imagine relaxing or by a client who genuinely wants to learn some skills for relaxation, it is a question worth contemplating here!

How do you relax?  Of course I can think of dozens of ways to relax but, to go to the heart of the issue in our busy Western do-driven culture, the question behind the question is really, “How do you give yourself permission to relax?”

That’s a tougher nut to crack when it comes to busy schedules, the clamoring of many stakeholders in our lives who all have expectations of us, and then, there’s that inner critic who’s fast to say, “You don’t have time for relaxing!”

So, how do you relax? I would offer a three-pronged approach:

  1. First, make it a planned activity – put relaxation on your calendar!
  2. Second, let others know you’re doing it – share the fact that you build relaxation into your life with those who matter so they feel less comfortable interrupting your “special” time!
  3. Third, audit your life – meaning, look back at what you’ve planned and what you’ve actually done with your time.  Did you take that walk around the lake on the day you planned to? Maybe it rained, did you substituted something else relaxing – or did you abandon relaxation for that day?

These aren’t tough tools to learn, we use them for everything else we want to accomplish in life. So why is it so foreign to employ them for planned relaxation?  Do we still feel guilt for imagining ourselves as people who need self-care? Okay, that a whole other blog.

For today, since tomorrow, National Relaxation Day, is coming up fast, PLEASE put something on your calendar that will feel to YOU like relaxation and do all you can to keep that promise to yourself that you deserve a break in the relentless “doing” of life to simply experience life as a human being!

ASK and you shall receive!

8/7/2019

For any of you who follow my blog every week, you’ll remember that last week I wrote about asking for what we need, with the assuring phrase that making such requests increases the probability of securing a positive response.  Well, this week, allow me to offer you a reassuring update.

Last seek I asked specifically for three things I need. . .

  1. A financially secure, spiritually balanced tenant for the apartment – don’t look now, but I have an apartment showing for someone who seems to fill that request precisely next Tuesday!
  2. Someone to help with Jack when I have a minor surgery later this summer – a girlfriend responded to that request and is taking the afternoon off to assist us!
  3. An exercise partner (here, in Eden Prairie) – okay, nothing to report here, but I have to admit, I haven’t been to the Eden Prairie Community Center in a while which might explain why I have not met this person yet!

So, what do you make of this?  Seven days, 2 out of 3 requests fulfilled.  I think it is amazing odds.  And, I also think it is proof that we often short-change our success and happiness by simply hiding out and failing to admit we have needs; We forget to ASK.

This week, I’m asking all of you – do you have what you need?  Do you have all the friends, money, relationships, tools, supports, access and feedback you need for your life and business to succeed? 

If not, have you ASKED for what you need? Or are you still hoping that the folks around you will become clairvoyant and read your mind? 

Or worse, are you reciting your list of deficits in your head so that your brain cannot imagine a life without difficulties?  When your imagery is built on negative thoughts, “I can’t…” or “I’ll never…” your brain assumes you are correct and stops seeking out answers and resources to the challenges you’re encountering.

This week, I’m asking for even more. . .Here’s my fresh list – can you be part of my universe of solutions?

  1. I need more companions to fill Jack’s days – like someone who would regularly take him to coffee at the Senior’s Center (there’s a Friday morning Men’s Coffee event there).
  2. I need paid speaking engagements – maybe about my book, Self-care Strategies for Family Caregivers, — maybe on other topics, it doesn’t matter what the topic, I need paid events!
  3. I need someone to help me organize the hall bedroom that has become an over-sized closet for clutter.  It needs to become a functional space, and I believe I need help to get that done!

Well, I’m putting these out to all of you and to the Universe at large – we’ll see what happens between this Wednesday and next Wednesday! I’m trusting the process to help me enact the change I most desire!

Ask for What you Need, it Increases the Probability you’ll Get it!

7-31-2019

I learned that saying decades ago from a friend and a nurse who also taught me, “What you Think About, you Bring About.”  A wise woman, to be sure!

Like most people, I forget (or don’t want) to ask for what I need.  Simply admitting that I have needs makes me look vulnerable, and probably I’m concerned about looking week and not having it “all together” in front of other people.  It’s a common difficulty we human’s face. 

But today I’m going to practice asking for what I need more boldly.  I’m having a marvelous summer and for a 2-month-old business, Co-Create 4 Life is doing remarkably well (although we have a lot of work to do to meet the goals I’ve set for the business!). 

Currently, my needs are more personal than work-related. So, here’s what I need right now, in the middle of summer, 2019. . .

What do you “need” in your life?  Are you willing to boldly put your requests out there so the Universe can respond to you?  Are you willing to be vulnerable enough to risk looking “needy” when you’d rather appear completely “pulled together?”

Today I’m ready. Will you join me?

Having Emotions vs. Emotions Having You. . .

7-24-2019

Lately, I find myself in a whirlwind of emotions, seemingly driven by the circumstances of life – except they’re not. Let me offer some examples:

  • I’m furious at the cat I love because she’s begun christening the new carpet (it just doesn’t smell right to her!).
  • I’m frustrated with my sluggish learning curve to master several software applications critical to my current work.
  • I’m upset that the 10 pounds I’ve gained this year seem unwilling to separate from my life – damn them!

But, here’s the thing, my emotional state and focus and my consumption with my own distress arise not from the cat, the lack of learning or the weight gain, they arise from the story I tell myself!

Here’s how the story goes. . .

  • The cat is making my life difficult, it costs me time, money, effort to clean up after her and she may ultimately destroy my new carpet! It’s the cat’s fault!  I should consider getting rid of the cat!
  • My livelihood depends on being a fast learner – if I don’t learn these things quickly, my client will doubt my reliability and capacity to serve their needs – I could lose my income through this incompetence!
  • My weight gain is a reflection of my stress and my failure to manage it! It’s embarrassing to have gained back what I’ve worked so hard to shed in 2016.  I feel ashamed of myself!

Think of it, I create conclusions based on the nonsense that is my interpretation of what’s going on!  Essentially, my emotions “have me” in their grips!

But what if I were to imagine it all differently? What would my conclusions be? What would my emotional state reflect?

Here’s another way to imagine what’s going on. . .

  • The cat is being a cat. I love that cat and in spite of her recent behavior, I’m keeping the cat. We’ll get through the mess and in a month or so, it won’t matter.
  • The software is new to me, I’ll figure it out. No one is complaining. In a month, I’ll have mastered the tasks that seem so complex right now!
  • The 10 pounds come and go – it is time for me to focus my choices both in diet and activity on helping them (once again) depart. I can do this by year’s end.

How we feel is very much the result of the story we tell ourselves – the meaning we impute to the experiences and people we encounter.  If I change my story, I can change my emotional state. Won’t you join me in re-framing YOUR experience by imagining you’re perfectly competent to deal with whatever life sends your way?

You can shut off the chatter-channel that wants you to focus on what’s wrong by simply changing your mind about how you’ll interpret the experiences of your life. It is a choice.

Creating Order

7/17/2019

I’ve aspired to the idea that creating order is an essential part of enjoying life. At the same time, the actual creation of order has frequently eluded me. I think of myself as a well-organized person (although, compared to the level of skill my husband used to demonstrate in that area, my skills are minimal!) who can take on any project and keep its many parts in order. 

To illustrate this point, I’ve just joined a client in pursuit of their company’s reclamation of “order” and I am just the consultant to help them achieve the improvements they’re after – again, if it is WORK related, I’m the order-creation queen.

What do I mean by “order” – well, it is the concept behind all those popular books out right now on keeping your life uncluttered and orderly. . .

  • One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good  – by Regina Leeds
  • Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life — by Peter Walsh
  • Unclutter Your Life in One Week — by Erin Rooney Doland
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing — by Marie Kondo

I aspire to all that, and yet, when you enter my home, you see no evidence of that aspiration!  It is one of those “life changes” that THIS coach still needs to work on! And, I do believe it is an aspiration that, once realized, could indeed improve my life!

I think that is the key distinction in understanding my dissonance in this area – when it comes to WORK, I’m very organized. When it comes to the rest of my life – things are much more random!  And, isn’t it the Book of Wisdom that reminds us, “We teach that which we most need to learn?”

What’s your aspiration? What do you long to change in your life and behavior that remains a struggle for you? Have you thought that maybe (just maybe) working through all that with a life or health coach could be a valuable place to start?

For me, it is definitely on my list of topics to discuss with MY coach! I doubt that it is a life-skill I’ll master either by reading a book or by wishing for it.  It is, I believe, a pursuit worth discussing and one which will be transformative in my life once it is achieved!

This life-change will require that I conquer my fear, “What if I throw that out and I need it later?” inspired by my depression-era parents. And, it will require that I address my limiting beliefs, “But having a back-up colander is important, isn’t it?” inspired by my life-long search for things that aren’t in their rightful place!

Join me, won’t you? Name your aspiration and find a way to move toward the marvelous life improvement it will afford you once you master the change!

Stories worth remembering. . .

7/10/2019

Last night I attended an event at the Quatrefoil Library in Minneapolis in which community writers shared their essays that reflected their memories and primogeniture from the age of AIDS.  In particular, they were remembering the year, 1981, the year we identified the virus at the root of the AIDS epidemic.  Each of the writers had been touched in some way by that virus and its aftermath. Most were old enough to have lived through the “Age of AIDS” but there were also younger gay people who spoke to the continued marginalization, the ongoing issues their community members face just finding their way to be themselves.

1981 brought a lot of things to our attention beside the identification of a virus.  America’s Iran Hostage Crisis ended, Anwar Sadat, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president of Egypt was assassinated, the Space Shuttle Columbia took its first flights and we heard the word, internet, for the first time when Microsoft released their MS-DOS operating system. Also that year, Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, The Prince of Wales. It was a busy year.

The evening at Quatrefoil took me back to my own experiences in the early eighties. I did not arrive in the Twin Cities until 1985, and by then, the AIDS epidemic was in full swing.  I found myself drawn to the overwhelming needs that I saw in my new community.  I worked for the Ramsey County AIDS roster as a public health nurse. I volunteered for the AIDS Project when it was just an answering machine in a closet. And later, I helped to establish the AIDS Emergency Fund, Every Penny Counts, to financially assist PWAs (People with AIDS) meet basic needs.

My own “stories” from the early 80s came to mind.  Some of the names the writers mentioned were men that I remembered too.  It was good to be reminded of those days – not because they were good times, but because they were life-altering times.  The events we all experienced during the Age of AIDS changed us, and the world around us, forever.

I remember being invited to address an audience of family caregivers, over 100 people arrived, ready to listen to the nurse who would teach them how to manage the home-care needs of the people they loved, the people who were dying in front of them, from a disease we barely understood. I had not, at that time, ever been a family caregiver, but I knew the home-care routines they’d need to adopt and those things I could teach them.

Now, I see myself immersed in the awareness of how being a family caregiver changes us – and being one myself – and I realize that the writers in front of me last evening are still carrying the burden, the pain, the residual grief that defined the whole of their lives nearly forty years ago.  Caregiving changes you. It moves you outside yourself and brings out the best (and often the worst) in the family member who carries out this work.

We often define family too narrowly.  Back in the eighties, I learned about family of origin and about family of choice.  The people we love most, even if we share no blood or DNA ties, are our most beloved family members – with them, we share our heart. 

Who do you include in your family of choice? How are you showing up for them? What do they need from you? What do they provide for you? How can we be our best selves, especially when care is called for?

Manifesting my life. . .

7/3/2019

What does it mean to “manifest” or attract the things you desire?  You may have read The Secret or be familiar with the Law of Attraction.  These are explanations for that state of affairs in which the energy we put out into the world magnifies itself and returns to us in a similar fashion.  Put out love and kindness, get love and kindness in return.  Most folks call it Karma.

Recently, a whole bunch of amazingly good things have come into my life – large and small – some have been brought by people (old friends and new acquaintances) others by organizations, still others have seemed to simply “show up” on my doorstep.  Here are just some of those good things. . .

  • The apartment in the lower level has been cleaned, painted, re-carpeted and cleansed & I believe I have a buyer ($100) for the used furniture making room for more fresh energy there!
  • I was offered the perfect part-time job that will start later this summer (just as the State’s Unemployment Insurance evaporates).  I will provide services as a  project coordinator and work-flow manager – exactly what I wanted as I launch a business of my own!
  • An abstract I submitted for Nursing Education Research Conference 2020, “What Prompts Nurses to Introduce Integrative Approaches to Care?,” (based on a research project done while at Fairview) has been selected for an oral presentation; Conference is in Washington, DC from March 26 to 28, 2020.
  • The book (I’ve worked on for a year) is fully drafted and off to peer-reviewers. It is due to be sent to the publisher early in August. We just selected cover art (which looks surprisingly like my new business card!).
  • I’m being considered as a speaker for an event at Ebenezer (Fairview) in the fall.
  • I’m being considered as a speaker for the Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group in October.
  • As I’ve written here before, I’ve found a web-master (high school/college student extraordinaire!)
  • I’ve learned that I can rent (pretty cheaply) rooms at the Senior Center and at the Eden Prairie Community Center for both my school needs (coaching) and for community presentations.  I’m a little nervous but, my intuition is saying I should book some “getting to know you” sessions with my community to introduce the ideas of self-care for family caregivers and the benefits of health coaching.

My question is – am I manifesting these things?

I don’t want to get in my own way here, but I am a little uncertain about what differentiates manifestation from the fruits of diligent, hard work!?!  It feels like a lot has come quickly – so, it’s hard to know where the hard work stops (having done all it can) and the manifestation begins!  I don’t know the answer, but I am increasingly a believer that what we put out into the world returns to us, magnified and with abundance!

What gets YOUR juices flowing?

6/26/2019

What gets my juices flowing is to imagine that my efforts may genuinely benefit someone else.  I’m a caregiver at heart and always have been.  It was good social-preparation for becoming a nurse ages ago and it serves me well today in the role of “helper” of any kind. 

This week I got a jolt of energy when a colleague returned my call and set up a time for us to meet.  He is a wizard at his craft – hospice care – and he has exactly what I need (inside his head) to help me finish the book I’ve been writing.  I heard him speak last winter and I knew then that his way of understanding how we (humans) react and respond in grief was precisely what my readers need to hear.

Later this week, I’ll sit down with him and “pick his brain” so to speak, so that I can translate his years of wisdom in the field of death and dying into practical tools that my readers can understand and use.  It will be an amazing conversation, I’m sure! 

This book has been a labor of love for nearly a year now.  I know it has the capacity to help other people – caregivers – deal with the common stressors that plague us when we take on the caregiving responsibilities for someone we love. The book cannot be an “everything you need to know about. . .” sort of book, but it can be a starting place for people who are stuck. 

Many caregivers experience their role as one of obligation – “I have to do this!” That sense of obligation itself can add to the burden they feel.  Add to that the tendency to want to do everything (even caregiving) perfectly, and you have a recipe for stress and strain that would wear down any one of us!  Those are the folks I want to help.  First with my book, Self-care Strategies for Family Caregivers, and later with my coaching practice.

What gets your juices flowing? Maybe like me, it is helping someone else.  Maybe it is something else entirely. Be sure to figure out what it is because, getting your juices flowing and keeping your juices flowing (for a lifetime) is what life is all about – getting ourselves up each day, so we can go out and be juicy!