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

Are You Comfortable with Your Role in Life?

DSC01073IMG00029Once again, an animal in my life is making me think outside of the box. Thanks Duke.

I’ve written about Duke before. He is a most handsome, good-natured boxer. A big dog who is living with us temporarily. Originally Duke was adopted by our son Jeff in LA. Jeff grew up with boxers and really wanted one of these loving dogs to live with him. Long story short, he adopted Duke and quickly bonded. However, Duke was far too stressed to be able to stay in LA. This urban environment that Jeff loved and thrived in was overwhelming and even unhealthy for Duke. So, Jeff made arrangements for Duke to go live with his elder brother Bill and his wife Felicia in Texas. This was in June and circumstances would not allow Bill and Felicia to have Duke live with them until mid-September. Jeff knew that Duke was suffering in LA so he drove the devoted dog to Milwaukee to stay with us in the interim.

Indy, our boxer welcomed Duke immediately and the two began to teach this life coach of very important lessons. Duke was incredibly stressed when he arrived, so while he was trying to adjust to yet another move and a new family I offered him Reiki on a regular basis. It didn’t take long for Duke to bond to me. Unfortunately, it was a nervous bond. Separation anxiety was clearly still a huge issue for this boy.

One evening while speaking on the phone to Jeff we were discussing Duke again, of course. I was concerned because it’s clear that Duke’s anxiety levels rise and fall despite the calm environment that we endeavor to provide. I know that the Reiki is helping him, but I still was concerned about incidents here and there. During our chat, Jeff once again brought up the behaviorist that he had consulted in LA. It turns out that this behaviorist felt that Duke was suffering from confusion about his role in the family. He thought he was the ‘alpha’ dog and was trying desperately to fill that role even though it was very clear that he didn’t want that role at all.

Suddenly so much began to make sense, the alpha dog in a pack has an awesome amount of responsibility. Remember to Duke, Indy, John and I were his pack as we are the family he is living with. If this theory is correct, Duke feels that he needs to provide food for us, it is his responsibility to protect us and to lead wherever we go. His role in life is to be the leader. Holy cats! No wonder the poor boy is stressed!

Now, I’ve lived with boxers for most of my adult life. They are a powerful, energetic, intelligent breed and they absolutely delight in being active members of the family. As I’m not a terribly large woman, I’ve always known that I needed to work with these wonderful animals to gain their cooperation and trust as we all live together. Brute force sure wasn’t going to work and when we had small children it was simply not a physical possibility anyway. Because of this, I’ve always worked with my dogs to understand our relationship with one another, establishing a comfortable hierarchy and working to maintain it. I won’t pretend that I never made mistakes, I’ve made plenty and I’ve tried hard to learn from them. Here was an opportunity to learn a bit more.

It’s our guess that Duke is somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. I can’t undo his history but I can hope to provide a better future for him. So, I got hold of the Jan Fennell book ‘The Dog Listener’ and began reading it again. I appreciate and value her methods. She is always gentle but firm with dogs. She writes of simple methods which communicate in dog language. Letting the animals know what is expected and offering praise when those expectations are met. Hey! Ms. Fennell is a life coach for dogs! I had used this book to teach me several years ago and I remember well that Indy was for quite some time the most well-behaved dog I had ever known. With chagrin, I realized that I had let many of these simple patterns change, with the result that Indy felt his role in the family or pack change. He has become barkier and his cooperation with house guests is not as reliable as it had been in the past. Uh oh. And I was responsible.

Well, if a coaching client came to me with this dilemma I wouldn’t spend time berating the lapse, what good would that do? Instead, I think it’s important to acknowledge that a change has taken place, recognize the reason for that change if at all possible and find a way to get back on course. So I decided to listen to my own coaching. I immediately began to institute the simple bonding techniques taught in Ms. Fennell’s book. Very easy methods brought immediate change. Within less than a day, I saw both dogs calm. They are being asked quietly to sit and wait to be released before they go in or out of the door. Easy, they both know the rule, I’m simply asking them to cooperate and they are. I eat a small morsel which comes from the counter next to their feed dishes before they are fed, without talking or looking at either of the dogs. They are asked to sit before I put their bowls down. Again, they wait for a very brief time before I release them to eat. When the somewhat inevitable barking starts, I go into the room where the boys are, thank them quietly for the announcement and then simply stand between them and whatever they are barking at. Within a few seconds, they quiet and we then walk into another room together.

They are learning that their roles are shifting. They are not responsible for the feeding, protecting or leading of this family. That responsibility belongs to the humans in this family. As a result, Duke is noticeably calmer. I know he’s not ‘fixed’, there is much to do in the future and it will be very important for him to be with a family that is dedicated to maintaining their roles. A family that has time to spend with Duke playing, training and exercising. He will likely always be susceptible to separation anxiety so it is important that he be with people who are dedicated to making his life as stress-free as possible. A regular routine, someone home quite a lot, etc.

How does this translate to people? I bet you thought I would never get to this point, didn’t you? Well, it’s very simple really. It’s my belief that we sometimes ask ourselves to fill a role that simply does not feel right for us. When we do this it’s a bit like trying to fit that square peg into the round hole, you might be able to force it eventually, but it’s not a good fit overall. In the family, we need to know what our responsibilities are; this helps the relationship with the other family members to be more pleasant and rewarding. When children know what parents expect of them and the parents are consistent, pleasant and firm, children are more likely to understand their role, what is expected and precisely what sort of response they will receive from their parents. The roles are clear and it makes it easier for everyone to understand their role.

In the workplace, we need to know who is in charge, what our job responsibilities are and just what is expected of us. When we fulfill that role satisfactorily, we are rewarded. The satisfaction of a job well done, respect and appreciation of our professional superiors and peers, and of course a paycheck.

Now, this is, of course, an incredible simplification. Animals and people are much more complicated than this short article could ever describe. Still, we have to start somewhere. I like to start at the beginning, it’s easier for me. This means a few basics. Self-care; I will continue to take care of myself well so that I am more likely to be in the frame of mind to be fair and friendly to the humans and animals in my life. This includes Reiki, exercise, etc. I think of the simple methods that I am using with the dogs as life coaching for them and myself. It helps me to remember that it’s important that we all remain positive, calm and appreciative of positive results.

This week I encourage you to think about the role that you have taken on, is it a good fit? If not, what can you shift in your life so that you are more comfortable? When we are comfortable, we tend to be much happier. When we are happier, we bring about better results, which makes us more comfortable. And so we move forward, learning, enjoying and evolving a bit every day.

Namaste,
Sandy

Life Coaching Basics

Life coaching is not about therapy, consulting, counseling, or advice. It is basically a process that addresses business successes, personal projects, transitions and general conditions among others, especially in the clients personal life and profession by putting efforts on the current situation, discovering the barriers, challenges and selecting the course of action in order to make life be how you would like it to be.

Life coaching involves the coach and the client and the relationship between the two of them, giving all the power to the client. It is believed that one knows the answers to every single question or problem he or she may be facing in his or her life, though the answers may be hidden or concealed. As a life coach, my skills revolve around knowing the right questions to ask a client, being equipped with helpful tools and techniques that empower you to get to the answers that you already have within yourself.

One may ask, why work with a life coach? What each and every person dreams of is success, achievement, happiness, and joy. Working with a life coach assists the clients to uncover their own blocks so that they are better able to manifest and allow the life they truly want to live.

As a holistic life coach, I assist individuals in identifying and setting the goals that he or she really wants without basing them on others interests. My role as the coach is to assist clients in clarifying their personal values in order to attain something better when it comes to setting the goals. Remember that when the goals are based on the things that the client value most, they become more naturally motivated.

As your life coach, I’m with you for every step. As a client, you will learn to forgive your past mistakes and see them instead as valuable lessons. We are going to work together to focus on your very best self.

For this week, I wish you focus and balance in your life. Please feel free to send me an email or give me a call for your free life coaching consultation.

Namaste,
Sandy

The Shack

I read a wonderful book the other day. It had been recommended and even loaned to me by one of my favorite life coaching clients. ‘The Shack’ by Wm. Paul Young spoke to me on many levels.

As a life coach, I encourage clients to acknowledge and appreciate their faith, if they do indeed believe in a higher power. This book tells the true story of a man who lived through a brutal childhood. Later he married and had children, settling into a wonderful if somewhat ordinary life. God, as he knew him, was pretty unavailable and not someone he felt that he could count on. Tragically this man experienced a horror that is every parent’s nightmare. Sometime later, this man is invited up to a place referred simply as the shack. During his time at the shack, his life changed forever.

I’m not going to tell you too much more because I do not believe I can do the story justice.

Reading this book helped me to deal with many questions. Maybe predictably, it prompted many more questions as well. Most of all it reminded me of the connection I feel with my God and reminded me that it doesn’t have to be all that complicated. It’s really pretty straightforward, a relationship of love and trust. Beginning, middle, and end.

Why do I feel the need to share this with you? Because I think we all need something that we believe in and depend upon. For me, this is my faith. Life coaching and Reiki have both helped me to become much clearer about my faith. Each has helped me to eliminate some of the junk that I always associated with faith. For me, this process has been simple yet incredibly profound.

I encourage both life coaching and Reiki clients to take a bit of time each day to meditate. Time to simply be. When I do this it helps me to clear my mind and open my heart to ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes these thoughts and feelings are new to me. Often they are old thoughts or emotions that I had sort of shelved in the past. Now when I give them a bit of time, they are more easily dealt with, as I simply ponder them from a detached point of view. I’m not consistent about meditating every day at a certain time or place, but I expect to get better about it with time. I know that it has served me well and I absolutely appreciate that fact.

For today I hope that you are able to take a few minutes to spend all by yourself in peace and quiet. Not thinking, just being. I hope that this will help you to find a bit of peace and guidance.

For a very good read which just may change your life, I strongly recommend reading ‘The Shack’. I know I’ll be buying several copies and keeping them on my lending bookshelf. This book is too important not to share, which is why I just shared with you.

Namaste,
Sandy

Peace at Last

My father died on Friday, December 29, 2006. It was much more painful than I expected.  

My father and mother divorced when I was very young. My mom soon married again to the man who raised me, the man I have always considered and referred to me as my dad.

I was raised to respect and care for my father. While I grew up in Wisconsin he lived and worked in Louisiana. Generally, I saw him once a year, though sometimes it was less often. He made regular phone calls while I was growing up and I’m sure he did the best he could to build a relationship. But as you might expect it was never as close as I somehow thought it should be and always hoped it would become.

I grew up, married and had a family of my own. My father continued to call fairly regularly and to visit when he would be in the area. As he had been raised in northern Wisconsin he made visits to the Milwaukee area most years.

This was always a tough relationship, looking back I think it was tough for both of us. There’s no doubt that I could have and should have tried harder on my end. I always thought that he could have and probably should have tried more as well. Sadly, when I think about it now, I realize that I had no idea how to bring about the relationship I desired or if I even knew what I wanted. I always just sort of felt that there was something missing. Frankly, I don’t know even now if he was satisfied with the way things were either, or if he thought there should be more as well.

My father’s two younger brothers died a few years before him. After their deaths, I had the strong feeling that he was much more aware of his mortality. He definitely made more of an effort to connect with me and my grown children than he ever had before. He spent a few weeks at a time in Wisconsin and made much more of an effort to connect. While I appreciated this effort, and we had some very good times, the truth is that it was often very strained. Still, it was progress.

The phone call came in September of 2006. My father told me that he had terminal cancer. I knew it was now or never. We kept in touch much more frequently and I drove down to Louisiana to spend a few weeks with him. I’m so glad that I did. Still, in the manner of people who have full hearts but do not feel comfortable expressing their emotions to one another, we left much unsaid.

When I learned of his death I thought that I would be able to close that particular chapter of my life. We had cared about one another, but truly not known each other as well as we probably could have. I really believed that it would be a matter of shedding some quiet tears and saying goodbye. Wrong.

What I found out was that I cared much more deeply than I knew. I relived and experienced feelings of loss and grief from my childhood on. I thought about the experiences that we had missed out on, the fact that he hadn’t attended my wedding and had never held any of my children when they were babies. I had to acknowledge the anger and resentment that I had felt at never feeling like I was a priority in his life. I had to acknowledge these feelings and allow myself to truly feel them before I was able to let them go. Of course, that meant that I also had to acknowledge my feelings of shame and guilt, I had to honestly take ownership of my part in this relationship. The finger pointing and blame game was not acceptable anymore. It was important to acknowledge and apologize for not making my feelings clear to him while he was still here.

Reiki helped me so much as I went through this process. After I went through the blame and anger I was finally able to acknowledge that someplace deep inside I had always known that my father really did love me very deeply. He simply did not demonstrate it in the manner I had somehow expected. Receiving Reiki on a regular basis and practicing life coaching skills helped me to move into a place of love and forgiveness, for both of us. To be honest, it took an awful lot of thinking about him, praying and meditating to be sure that he was aware now in the afterlife that I had always had very deep affection for him as well. Eventually, I was able to come to a place of peace.

So, here I am. More than two and a half years later I am now able to think about my father and smile. The bitterness, anger, and hurt needed to be allowed, acknowledged and finally released. Now there are the feelings of forgiveness and acceptance for both of us. There is the acknowledgment that few people live storybook lives where emotions and feelings are demonstrated to the expectation and satisfaction of all involved. Most of us feel that others should say or do things in a different manner to be most effective, but emotions and feelings are complicated and the should of, could of is irrelevant in the end. That’s just life.

I have no doubt that some of these feelings will resurface from time to time. Occasions of one sort or another may make me think about the way things actually happened or the way I wish they had been. But now they are much easier for me to deal with. I realize that while we both had our shortcomings, we actually did the very best that we could at the time. I have no way of knowing what was in his mind or heart in the past, but I am sure and always have been sure that he only wanted the best for me. That makes memories and resurfacing emotions much easier to allow and to move through with love, forgiveness, and blessings.

For me, it’s very important to remember that my memory is selective at best. My thoughts and emotions at the moment have always colored my memories and they always will. I can’t change the past, so I choose to appreciate and be grateful for the lessons I have learned. I choose to live in the moment. At the moment I choose to feel good. I choose to forgive myself and others. I choose to love. I choose peace at last.

I wish you a day of forgiving and allowing yourself to be forgiven. I wish you a day of love and blessings. I wish you a day of peace.

Warmly,
Sandy

Frustration

DSCF0524The theory is that as a holistic life coach and Reiki master, I won’t experience frustration. Yeah, right.

There is a situation with someone in my family that could easily drive me nuts. The particulars are not really all that important. Regarding most issues, I only add my thoughts if they are solicited. This is really a hard and fast rule regarding my children, especially since they are all grown and have every right to make their own decisions. When I keep my opinion to myself until it’s actually asked for, they give it more weight, take it more seriously and actually ask for it quite often.

So, why am I having such a hard time keeping my yap shut this time? This person is simply dragging his feet, refusing to act on a matter that could affect his finances for the rest of his life, and not in a good way. It’s not that he doesn’t have options, he does and they are readily available. He’s simply not taking any action.

If I were my own life coaching client how would I handle this as my coach? Well, I’d probably start by asking a few direct questions.

Q – What is it that you think you can resolve by constantly bringing up this
situation.
A – I would like to motivate him to take positive steps toward resolving this
situation.
Q – Do you have the ability to change the outcome of this situation?
A – No
Q – Is it your responsibility to handle this situation?
A – No
Q – Have you expressed your concern in a calm, rational manner to the person
involved?
A – Yes
Q – What is likely to be the affect on your relationship if you keep bringing this
up this subject?
A – He will stop asking for my advice regarding other situations.
Q – In general, is he responsible? Does he handle his finances and other ‘grown up’
responsibilities well?
A – Yes, he’s generally very responsible.

That last one just wrapped up the question and answer session done for me. The fact is that he is a generally responsible young man, and even if he weren’t, my forcing my opinion on him will not assist him to learn more responsibility.

The truth is that I am the one bringing on my own frustration. I have explored options with him, shown him the benefits and the drawbacks, now it’s up to him to make the decision that is right for him.

I truly have no way of knowing what is in his mind and heart. And it’s none of my business even if I did. It’s time to trust, back off and relax. Sometimes we need to allow others to make mistakes on their own. If he makes a mistake regarding this situation it will be something that he has to deal with, but it may well prevent him from making a much larger mistake in the future.

So, having worked through this, I feel the frustration melting away. I will trust him to make the right decision for his highest good. I have asked him if he minds my sending Reiki to him to help him to make the decision that will serve him the best and then let it go. He’s agreed and I feel as though I am doing what I can to assist him without interfering.

Truly, that’s the only option I have anyway.

My wish for you is that you are able to take positive action steps to change situations that are yours to change. And that you are able to relinquish those that were never yours to begin with.

Warmly,
Sandy

This Life Coach Needs People!

I’m a pretty social person, my husband, however, not so much. Oh, he’s a great guy and he enjoys being with family and friends, but frankly, he gets pretty much all of his social needs met by spending time with our grown kids, the occasional outing with friends and spending those 24 hours shifts with the guys at the firehouse. 

As for me, I need people! I need to work, see, talk to, play with and generally interact with many more people. Much of my daily life is handled on the telephone, and while I appreciate and enjoy this very much, I also have an absolute need to spend time being in the actual physical proximity of other people.

So, I do a couple of things. I attend business networking groups, I’ve joined a book club (I love to read!), I take my dog for lots of walks or to the dog park where I am sure to meet people with similar interests. I go to Curves, a gym for women, it’s chatty and friendly, and I get to fit in the dreaded work-out while I’m having a great time getting to know the other women. Having lunch or seeing a movie with a dear friend is always fun. It’s not unusual at all for me to call a friend or one of my boys to invite them to just come over and hang out; we might have a meal together or simply enjoy a glass of wine outside by the fire.

Years ago, this was a bit more difficult for me. My husband works as a firefighter and that often meant that he was gone. Most of the time I appreciate and enjoy my alone time, but sometimes I need that social contact. For me that meant getting involved in‚ oh, so many things. When my boys were younger, I not only took them to Scouts, I got very involved. It was a great way to get to know the other boys and their families that my boys were interacting with. And it was fun being a leader for so many years. The same with school, I participated in many activities. As my sons got older my social activities revolved around them less and less. Yahoo! It was time for me to be a grown up again. It’s been terrific finding my own interests, Reiki, Life Coaching, Hypnosis, etc. and participating in things that I truly enjoy.

Now, keep in mind I mentioned earlier that my husband would rather spend most of his time with me. That’s fine… when he’s around.  I spend a great deal of time with him, he compromises by doing a few social activities with me and I compromise by doing most of my socializing during his work days. Of course I do spend some time doing my own thing when he’s home, but with each of us doing just a bit of bending it works very well.

So, the life coach in me wants to turn this into a lesson. You didn’t think I was just rambling on, did you? Early on I discovered that I had much more need for social outlets than my sweet husband. We talked about it and decided that the most positive and satisfying way to work this out was just the solution I have already described. That was the action part, in case you missed it. There is no way that my husband can fulfill all of my social needs and for me to drag him everywhere would make both of us miserable. So, our solution is a positive for both of us.

Wishing you the fabulous joys of as much or as little social activity as is right for you.

Namaste,
Sandy

A Little Help From Your Friends

It’s important to surround yourself with people who are supportive of your goals, whatever those goals may be. If you want to drop a few pounds, you would be wise to avoid people who exist solely on potato chips and sweets. You know that would be setting yourself up to fail, so you simply don’t do it.

Look around you for your own life coach. This could be your spouse, parent, child, friend, someone you know from the workplace, etc. The key is to be sure that this person sees your goal in the same light and is completely supportive, positive and reassuring.

This is also a great opportunity to connect with someone you may want to get to know better or simply spend more time with. If you are trying to lose those couple of pounds, perhaps a co-worker would like to spend part of lunch time walking. Or taking a bike ride every evening with your child. If you find that person who is also trying to accomplish the same goal you have taken your first step. Keep this time spent together positive. When this time is upbeat you will find yourself looking forward to the activity, making it much more likely that you will continue the activity. Share with your friend or ‘coach’ exactly what you are trying to accomplish and be sure that you are an inspiring, positive coach for your partner as well.

There’s nothing we can’t accomplish if we have the right attitude and surround ourselves with people who share the same vision.

Wishing you a fabulous day as you discover the wonderful coaches already in your life.

Namaste,
Sandy