What did you Expect?

IMG00061My co-host and wonderful new friend, Melissa Heisler and I welcomed a group of five (5) women for our Relax and Recharge Retreat this past weekend.

We had talked about our hopes and plans for the retreat and created an outline to guide us as well as letting the participants know what to expect. That plan pretty much flew right out the window, and it was to the benefit of all of us.

Everyone came for their own reason and of course, those reasons and personal stories will remain confidential. What I found most interesting though was that all of the participants had desires and intentions in common, even if they were not aware of these desires and intentions went they registered for the event.

The weekend seemed to fly. Bonds were quickly and firmly established. Some ladies slept in, getting some much needed and well-earned rest. Others spent those early hours in quiet talk. We walked for miles while we shared precious stories, sometimes all of us together, other times one on one. There was the opportunity for Psych-K and Reiki and we all participated in guided meditation, taking our own private journeys in our mind while listening to our souls. We even spent some time creating our own vision boards. And do these ladies have vision! Each vision board was of course very different from the others. Another step toward creating the future that each is bringing about in her own life.

We ate well, nurturing our bodies while we nurtured our souls. It was a weekend of discovery and remembering. Recalling the laughter and pure joy of youth and simple pleasures. Life coaching went on almost constantly, and some of it was even offered by the coaches; Melissa and me. The support and positive suggestions offered by each of these women to one another was heartwarming and genuine. They were positive, supportive and kind, most of all they were right on point, time and again. Tears flowed, but there was also laughter. So much joy, I can hear it even now.

Can you bend spoons? Me too! But Melissa shared this skill in a whole new way. Instead of using force to bend the spoon, she taught how to make the spoon pliable and easy to bend by using your heart and mind. Love that! And yes, it worked. I was smart enough to buy some extra spoons from the accommodating diner down the road or I suspect I would be looking for new spoons for my lake home even now. They bent easily and it was just so cool to see the looks of amazement and happiness of the faces of the amazing ladies. They were always powerful but now they realized it in a whole new way. Very exciting stuff!

While it was our original plan to include Reiki, Psych-K, meditation, life coaching, etc., we soon realized that the schedule was not important at all. The days and nights unfolded perfectly. It’s pretty tough to ask for more than that.

I’m grateful to each of these women for sharing and participating. I’m also grateful to them for reminding me of a powerful lesson. I had certain expectations and plans when Melissa and I were putting all of this together. And while I still believe it’s important to have expectations and plans, I was gently and wonderfully reminded that it’s very important to let go of expectations when something much better comes along.

I wish you a week where your expectations are not only met but exceeded in surprising and most fabulous ways.

Namaste,

Sandy

Thank You Honored Veterans

S3000001I want to say a most sincere and profound Thank You to each and every one of our American veterans.

These incredible men and women put each and every one of us before themselves. They do it because they believe in every cell of their being that it is the right thing to do. And so they serve.

Young and not so young. I have the great privilege of knowing many of these people personally. Many in my family have served in various branches of our military. Some for a few years, others have made this service their career. All have been changed by the experience, each and every one have them have said that it has made them better people. Well, I’m not in a position to judge that, I suspect these folks were always of outstanding character.

Some of the young who are currently serving spent quite a lot of time in my home as they were growing up. It’s always a pleasure to see them when they visit. They are unfailingly modest and grateful. Let me repeat that, they are grateful to our country for the opportunity to serve. Wow, that is amazing. I don’t hear bragging from them, they share stories of the people they have met, the places they have been. There is a quiet pride and dignity in the squaring of their shoulders as they salute, shake hands or hug those who have served before them. These men and women undoubtedly represent the very best of what America has to offer and does offer to the world.

Now I’ve got to be honest, I’m possibly a bit biased. One of my sons, Bill spent six years in the US Air Force. He speaks about his time serving in terms of what he learned, and the incredible bonds he forged with others who served with him. In many ways he is closer to some of those men than most of us will ever be able to imagine. We missed him around here while he was serving far away from home, but always understood that he considered what he was doing to be necessary and valuable. To Billy, I offer not only gratitude and respect of a citizen but also the pride and love of a mom.

Each and every one of these veterans is someone’s son or daughter. Many have husbands or wives, some have children. Each has left home, leaving family and friends to serve our country. Personally, I make no distinction between those who serve at home in the United States and those who have gone to far away places. They wear the uniform with pride and I am proud to salute each and every one of them.

To all of our American veterans, from all era’s, please know that I think of each and every one of you with pride and I offer you my most sincere thanks.

With love and appreciation,                                                                                                                                                        Sandy

A Good Deed

DSC01004I’ve posted about this before, but every time I think about it I become very excited, so I thought I’d share with you.

Our mother’s taught us that we should be nice to others because it’s the right thing to do; I tried to teach my kids the very same thing. I remember from time to time one of my boys would ask why they should help out their brother, what was in it for them? Well, I was the grown-up in the house, so in the most gentle, loving manner, I could muster I would calmly explain that what was in it for them was the opportunity to sleep inside the house that night and with any luck the next night as well! I tried hard to be a generous and helpful mom.

I wish I had known then what I know now. It turns out that every time we do something kind for someone else, from helping them find their shoes to untying them from the railroad track just before the speeding train arrives, raises our serotonin levels. In short, it makes us feel good. Here’s where it gets even better. You would probably expect the formerly tied up on the track person to feel pretty good about the new situation. But guess what, you will too! That’s right not only are you doing just what your mama told you to do (rest assured, Mom’s feeling pretty good at the moment now as well) but your serotonin levels go up just as a result of your doing the right thing. Hot dog, you’ve got to love that. But wait, it gets even better!

This is not just a win/win for both the good deed doer and the good deed recipient, but it turns out that anyone witnessing the event also experiences a rise in serotonin. How cool is that? That explains why I felt so good when I would watch one of my boys help the other to build a snow fort. They thought they were simply doing it to protect their corner of the yard from the opponents on the other side of the yard, and in truth, that’s what they were doing. But they undoubtedly felt good as a result of the kindness, their brothers felt good and I now realize that this act in full view of the neighbors probably made them smile and feel just a bit better as well.

Now the life coach in me realizes that even if I didn’t intellectually understand this all those years ago that I probably intuitive understood it and that others probably do as well. But how cool is it that we now actually know intellectually what we felt all along?

I’ve had conversations with other Reiki people about this from another angle. For instance, while I give myself Reiki frequently I most feel the wonderful effects of Reiki when I am offering it to another. That is definite motivation to be sharing Reiki with anyone and everyone who is open to the experience. It just feels good and makes me happy.

What to do with this information? Perhaps just knowing it is enough to make you smile and feel good. You might share the info with others and hopefully motivate them to do an extra  kindness.

In truth, I don’t care just what the motivation was that made my little boys help one another out from time to time. They did and clearly, they got something from the experience as they are all now adults who don’t hesitate to assist others cheerfully. I feel better just having that knowledge.

I wish you a fabulous week, offering, receiving and observing kindness and good deeds.

Namaste,                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandy

Gratitude and Blessings

S3000001-714952It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the United States. Some will look at this weekend as an opportunity to have a picnic, BBQ or long camping weekend. I’m definitely one of those who look at this long weekend as an opportunity to relax, kick back and get together with others for a cook out.

But that’s not what it’s about, at least to my mind. Memorial Day for me is an opportunity to remember all who have served our country. And it becomes very personal.

Like many of you I have an abundance of family who have served in one branch of the military or another. My grandfather was Army, my father was Army, father-in-law Navy, I could go on and on about the uncles and cousins in various branches of the military. Thinking of each of these people puts a face to the sacrifices that come to mind.

Most of all when I think about service, I think about so many of the little boys and girls who grew up in my neighborhood and have gone on to serve.

The beautiful girl from across the street is making a successful career out of protecting the rest of us with the Air Force. The sweet, blond boy from down the block is one of our amazing Navy Seals. The ‘Dennis the Menace’ of our neighborhood, with the infectious grin and a million plots to carry out is serving with the Army. One of the boys is this very week finishing his paperwork to complete his stint with the Marines. At the same time, a boy who is so close to our family that we consider him another son is planning his send-off party as he looks forward to becoming a proud member of the Air Force in October. Of course, there’s the little boy who grew up in my house, right here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My son Billy spent six years in the Air Force, serving as Special Forces.

As an adult, when I think of my grandparents, uncles, cousins and even the friends who are my own age who have served our country it seems completely logical, appropriate and something that I deeply appreciate and understand.

Different, more complicated emotions surface when I think about the boys and girls who I have watched grow up, go on to take up a position to protect me and mine. These kids used to eat cookies in my kitchen, come to me for a hug when their feelings were hurt and offer bone crushing hugs when they were happy. I know in every cell of my being that each and every one of these kids went into service for all of what I consider to be the right reasons.

I knew each of these kids well before they left for service. They spent long hours talking with their parents, veterans who have served for years and reservists who continue to serve. None of them went into service with their eyes closed.

As they have come back to Milwaukee over the years I have been pleased to see that the twinkle is still in the eye, the grins still flash quickly and each one of them is willing to play at the drop of a hat. But it’s also easy to see that these kids have become strong men and women. They take responsibilities more seriously than many others of their age. They make decisions quickly and surely. Each and every one of them is a confident, competent individual. Their experiences have added shadows to their eyes, a few premature wrinkles on a few and definitely a bit more weight to their shoulders.

I know that each and every one of them has trained for events that I don’t even like to consider. Most of them have seen the ugliest side of humanity, which may well be why they offer a bit more compassion than some. My own son served a year in South Korea, followed by three tours in Iraq. I know it wasn’t easy for him to be so far away from family and friends. But I also know that he made strong bonds that will last a lifetime, many of those bonds much stronger than those with any family could ever be, because of their common experiences. He watched good friends die and he also watched a country begin to rebuild itself.

What I notice about these fine men and women is that they are the people I want in my life forever. Not one of them has ever made excuses for mistakes that have been made; instead they take responsibility and make a plan to move forward. Some of them may well suffer for years or longer with post traumatic stress syndrome. But I have never heard one of them express regret for their service. They joined voluntarily and they have served with excellence and pride.

To each and every one of the men and women who has served this wonderful country throughout the years, I offer my most sincere gratitude. I send blessings to all of you and your families. I salute you.

This Memorial Day I will be taking time to offer thanks and to think about all of those who have offered their time and their very lives so that I could have a long weekend with family, friends and BBQ. They must never be forgotten.

With love and gratitude,
Sandy

Thanks Indy!

Indy in deep thought.
Indy in deep thought.

If you’ve ever read my blog before, or have taken a walk through my website, you probably know quite a bit about me. You know that I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beautiful but brrrrrrrr cold today. You know that I’m a holistic life coach, that I believe it’s impossible to compartmentalize our lives all that much. And you probably know that I live with a dog. Not just a dog, but a DOG. Indiana, who was named for the movie character Indiana Jones, is a very good representative of the boxer breed. He’s a very pretty boy, with a wonderful smooshy face that actually smiles when he’s happy. Energetic, friendly, playful and loving, he’s also lazy, sweet, cuddly and communicates his happiness or disappointment very clearly. It turns out that Indy also teaches me, on an almost daily basis.

Recently a friend of mine visited. Along with her came her wonderful vizslas. Her boy is named Tugger and her sweet little girl is Max. Now Tugger and Max had never been to my home before, so while they were enthusiastic to go somewhere new they were also a bit shy about meeting a new friend in a new home. Indy was just beside himself. He’s usually very exuberant about meeting new dogs and while generally polite, has been known to offer a few boxer punches to get the play going. Apparently this time, Indy was able to understand the caution of his guests. What followed was very interesting and once again reminded me of some very clear lessons.

All of the dogs went into the backyard. Max and Tugger began exploring but ignoring Indy. Meanwhile Indy went into serious play mode. In the doggy world, it’s polite to ask another dog to play and then to wait for a response. This is what an exuberant Indiana did. He ran all around Tugger and Max, he offered play bows and then waited at a polite distance for a response. Indy tossed his toys their way and did everything he could to entice a game of chase or wrestling. Meanwhile, Max and Tugger became more comfortable with the yard and house. They got closer to Indy but didn’t engage in play. Eventually, all three dogs came into the house and settled into naps in the same room.

Why did I tell you all of this? Besides telling you that I’m very pleased about my Indiana showing good doggy manners, I also think that the dogs were demonstrating very clear lessons. Indy was offering friendship and playtime, he even offered his toys. Max and Tugger were a bit shy but still friendly and very polite. They did not snarl or growl, they simply told Indy that they weren’t quite ready for that kind of closeness. None of them took it personally! For me, that was the lesson. It sounds simple enough, but it can be quite hard to learn and even harder to actually practice.

Here we go, life coach lesson time. Don’t take anything personally. When Indy made the offer to play it was not accepted by Max or Tugger. That didn’t have anything to do with Indiana personally; it had to do with their not being familiar with the house, yard or Indy. Indy didn’t take it as a personal rebuff; he simply understood that they had their own stuff to work through. Wow! It sounds simple enough, but it’s really huge. Did you ever say hello to someone who didn’t respond? Or who didn’t respond in a friendly manner? It’s tough sometimes to remember that we have no idea what’s going on in that person’s life at the moment. Maybe they have a problem that they can’t shake, maybe they simply didn’t hear. We don’t know. At the same time, if we take it personally, we might have our feelings hurt and we could become angry or sad. Why? It had nothing to do with us personally. When we are able to realize that what others say and do has nothing to do with us, that it really is all about them, going through day to day interactions becomes much easier.

So, next time you are in the grocery store and someone is rude or unfriendly, try not to take it personally or to respond in kind. Keep in mind that that person may have something heavy on their mind and let it go. You’ll feel better and you will not have done anything to make the other person’s day worse, you may well have helped them to feel slightly better in your neutral or kind manner.

That’s it. Once again Indy and his new pals reminded me of a very simple yet very powerful lesson. Don’t take anything personally. Thanks, Indy, Tugger and Max, I really appreciate it.

Wishing you a fabulous day filled with simple, sweet reminders of this lesson.

Namaste,
Sandy

Goals, Plans and Dreams

Do you have goals? What do you hope to accomplish? Where do you intend to go? What are your dreams?

I encourage you to take some serious time to think about these questions. After all, how can you possible work out a strategy for achieving goals if you don’t know what they are? I encourage you to shoot for the moon, truly. Sit down with a piece of paper and pen, or at your computer, whatever works for you. Jot down every desire, everything you dream of doing, everything you hope and intend to be, everywhere you plan to go, all that you intend to bring into your life. Brainstorm. Write it all down. You might be very surprised at some of the things you discover about yourself.

A few months ago I decided to make a vision board. I really thought this would be a very simple process. I’m a grown woman after all; I have a pretty darned good idea what I want, where I want to go, etc. And so I sat down thinking I’d have this done in very short order. Not so much. It took me half of forever. I used magazines, newspapers, etc.

The idea was to cut out pictures, words and phrases that appealed to me. This helped me to focus and define my goals and dreams. Then, using a glue stick, apply these pictures, words and phrases to my posterboard, creating my vision board.

The first evening it took hours. For some reason almost none of the pictures spoke to me at all, however words felt as though they were practically jumping off of the pages at me. I found many words describing feelings, thoughts and ideas that truly spoke to me. I cut them out and glued them to vision board. It took me hours. The next day, I felt a need to go back to my vision board. I pulled out the magazines again, but now the pictures seemed to speak to me, not the words at all. I found myself pulled again and again to pictures of water of all sorts, gardens of many types, etc. I let instinct guide me and I truly enjoyed putting my vision board together.

What does a vision board have to do with goals? Well, my vision board was about the places I intend to go, the gardens I intend to have, etc. My intentions are my goals. It’s been proven again and again that we are much more likely to reach our goals if we write them down and place them somewhere that we can see them daily. A vision board can be a list of goals, pictures, or whatever speaks to you. I encourage you to make one soon, or 15 if that’s better for you!

A few days ago I was chatting with a client about vision boards and realized that I need to work on a new one. Except that now I don’t want one board. I want or perhaps more correctly, I need to make several. One is about travel, the trips that I intend to take. Another is about the home that I intend to live in; a third is about personal health and fitness. I think you get the idea.

I would encourage you to set some goals, really allow yourself to think as big as your heart will allow. Imagine yourself accomplishing these goals, think about how you will feel when you achieve them and enjoy the feeling. Get excited! Then write them down, draw them, take photos, cut out pictures, whatever speaks to you. Put them on one or more vision boards and keep this board somewhere that you are able to focus on it for at least 5 minutes a day. Keep it somewhere that you are able to see it frequently. Read the words aloud and allow yourself to feel the excitement that you know you will feel as you drive that amazing car (if a new car is one of your goals), smell the fragrances, feel the elation, hear the sounds, really immerse yourself totally in the success that you intend to experience.

The fact is that we are much more likely to achieve that which we are able to visualize, feel and experience in our hearts. So give it a shot.

Wishing you a fabulous time as you discover all of your goals, plans and dreams.

Namaste,
Sandy