Period or Ellipsis?

Facts can be funny things. Some are truly universal. The sun is hot! Yep, that’s true for you and me as well. But other facts are not necessarily true for both you and me… unless they are. Oh boy, here we go already.

For instance. I read and hear many experts give guidelines of what to say to someone who is grieving They frequently also offer very specific guidelines about what not to say to someone who is experiencing grief. I appreciate and find value in these guidelines, but what if they are not helpful for everyone? Is it possible that what feels supportive for one may not be for another? Put on your pondering cap, and feel your way through.

Mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned. Life is like that. I try to remember that when something shares a fact as hard and fast, it is because to them it is indeed true. Period. End of sentence. I get that, but I also have found that hearing or reading some of these truths or what felt like rules to me was not always helpful but was in fact often confusing and even painful as I considered that if experts were telling me one thing and I was feeling different clearly the conclusion was that I was wrong. I was hurting in the wrong way. I was taking comfort from the wrong things. I was grieving and healing all wrong!

Wow, this was less than helpful. Very quickly, I began to read and listen in a new way. When someone would share a truth, a fact and end their sentence with a period, I would find myself hearing or imagine seeing an ellipsis… this gave me the freedom to find my own way. And to know that what is true for me, what is factual for me, may be different than it is for another.

Period. For me, this means non-negotiable, no flexibility, written in stone.
Ellipsis… ahhhh, what if this is true for some and not for others? This felt more supportive, more open to walking the path in my own way.

So if you hear me say something and it sounds like a fact, please know that it is factual for me. If it doesn’t sound or feel right for you, go ahead and add that ellipsis… and ask yourself, what if things look or feel different for me?

You and I are all walking this our own path of grief into healing. Even while we walk together, sometimes hand in hand, we continue to have our own unique experience.

Namaste,
Sandy

Grief and Healing. What do the Words Mean to You?

I only speak one verbal language, English of the American variety. The truth is that I looooove words! I find language, the nuances, the various ways that we use words to express a variety of meanings to be absolutely fascinating.

Something that I realize more and more is that phrases and words may not mean the same thing to you and me. While I find some words or phrases to be helpful others may find them hurtful. The reverse is also true.

For example, the phrase ‘You never get over it.’ I’ve been assured by more than one rather brilliant professional with all of the appropriate letters after their names that assures me they are licensed counselors, that phrase is true. Hands down, no discussion, it’s true for everyone who is experiencing grief due to death.

Each time I explained that I find the phrase absolutely terrifying! For me, it feels as though I am being told that I will suffer, hurt and never laugh again and that neither will anyone of those I love who have also experienced grief.  Ever. It feels final. A bit like being shackled and tossed to the back of a dark cave. As I said, a horrible feeling – for me.

At the same time, I realize full well that many are comforted by that phrase as they are reminded that it’s perfectly natural to have difficult moments, hours or even days long after the one they love has died.

The same phrase, but very different responses.

I often read websites or books that tell us what to say and what not to say to someone we are endeavoring to support through grief. As I read those books and those websites, I greatly appreciate the kind assistance that is offered. At the same time, again and again, I find myself wanting to suggest that those are not hard and fast rules. What feels good today may be painful tomorrow… or not.

* Forgiveness
* Healing
* Life after death

To offer just a few. I know how each feels for me, what the meaning is for me. At the same time, I am very aware that they may land differently for you.

I offer this thought, or perhaps a suggested exercise. When you are speaking about your own grief or with someone about theirs, ask how these phrases and words feel to them. Discuss what feels helpful for you and be open to hearing what is true for them in their own experience.

Yes, we share a common language. But the most helpful conversations are when we feel welcome and supported to understand one another.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

Healing – It can be Messy Stuff

When I think about grief, particularly as it’s associated with the death of someone we love; I find that it’s really easy for me to think of it as a static thing, maybe a closet of sorts. Something that simply exists as the result of a loss. This makes sense because we experience pain and sorrow when we lose someone to death.

This line of thinking causes a shift within my being. Grief goes from being static, which to me can be overwhelming, to something that is fluid. This means that it can move, shift and evolve. Even typing that out, I feel lightness within my being.

I was thinking about this recently. Hubby and I were out walking one early evening. As I admired the beautiful yards and watched the kids playing outdoors, I completely forgot to watch my feet and where they were being placed on the sidewalk. As a consequence, my face met that sidewalk and no, the result wasn’t pretty. My sunglasses broke and cut my forehead. Lots of blood, which seemed to really impress the little boy who lived there. He was pretty adorable.

A short trip to the local Urgent Care got the cut glued up in no time and I was quickly on the road to healing.

Here’s the thing, healing didn’t mean that the wound immediately went away. Nope, instead, my face swelled pretty impressively. I got headaches with too much movement for a few days which caused me to sleep more than usual and to rest. Which my body needed for effective healing.

No, grieving and healing are not always pretty. I think of the tears I’ve shed as a result of grief and the truth is that it was loud, snotty and possibly a wee bit horrifying for anyone who might see me. I’m not a pretty crier, I would not be filmed for a dramatic role in a movie. Messy indeed, but it gets the job done.

Sometimes we are less than kind to those who are trying to support us. Or we misunderstand what someone is trying to express. It can take time and work to sort this out, but it’s worth it.

Grieving and healing are messy. Plain and simple. We may become fatigued, we may be cranky, we may have needs that we have difficulty explaining. All natural, normal, human parts of this process.

I like to think of it as a messy closet. Imagine having a closet jam-packed with thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We can think of this closet as grief. That static something that I referred to earlier. It can take an enormous amount of courage to open that closet door, but it’s a very important first step.

One by one, taking items out of that closet. There may be experiences, emotions, memories scattered all about, but that’s just fine. It’s part of the process.

For a moment, or however long you need, hold them each. Feeling and acknowledging each and every one allows them to begin to release their charge. We then can decide if they go back into the closet or if it’s time to let them go. No right or wrong, simply progress. If we decide to hold on to them, we may well find that they are a bit lighter, they don’t take up as much space in our closet. The extra space is now occupied by a wee bit of healing.

Yes, healing is a messy business. No doubt about it. This line of thinking causes a shift within my being as it reminds me that it’s okay to grieve I the way that’s right for me. Grief shifts from being static, which to me can be overwhelming, to something that is fluid. This means that it can move and evolve. This is where healing happens.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

 

 

Self-Care, Yes, it Matters

If we’ve worked together for anything, you’ve heard me suggest… encourage… alright, I nag about self-care! Because it matters so very much. Self-care is right at the top of the list as far as I’m concerned.

Why? Because if you are not taking good care of you, you cannot possibly take care of anyone or anything else.

What does self-care mean? It means something different to all of us and it’s quite likely that it may mean something different this evening than it does at this moment. Put as simply as possible, it’s giving yourself permission to do what you need most at this moment.

For example, a cup of coffee and a stroll around the yard in the very wee hours of the morning is excellent self-care for me. The coffee feels warm in my hands even while the morning dew refreshes my feet. Taking a peek at plants as they are opening up, some showing off brand new blooms put me in a very excited and at the same time very tranquil frame of mind. It’s good for me.

Later, I pretty much need a walk. On nice days, I may need a couple. Walking, stretching my legs calms me and reminds me that I am strong and capable.

As the day winds down, I almost always feel a strong longing to spend time in the bathtub. It may be 10 minutes or an hour. Here’s the thing, it truly is a very intense feeling, my body and body are telling me to carve out time to spend in the water. I always feel like my very soul craves being near water and whenever possible, in the water.

Other days, self-care means checking off boxes that are on my list. Maybe cutting the grass or cleaning the house. Please, please, please let it be cutting the grass and not cleaning the house! 🙂

It might be realizing that concerns or worry are money related. The act of acknowledging and understanding what is prompting this feeling helps to find a solution. Perhaps cutting an expense or picking up a few extra hours at work. Also, excellent self-care if the feeling within you is good.

The very process of discernment, what is mine and what can/should I delegate? Making those decisions are excellent self-care as this brings around a calm which relieves stress.

It’s absolutely, completely, entirely alright to ask for support! We can’t do everything for everyone all of the time. It’s a gift to others as well as ourselves to ask for and allow support and caring. To share a hug, a meal or a conversation.

Self-care is about treating yourself with at least as much kindness, compassion and courtesy as you would a stranger.

Notice what your body is telling you, is it being nurtured with healthy food in the right proportions? Hear what your heart is saying to you. Are your thoughts and feeling being expressed in safe and healthy ways?

Excellent self-care is not any one thing. It is many small things. It’s making yourself a priority. After all, there’s only one like you. I know this to be true because I heard it from Mr. Rogers.

“Taking care is one way to show your love. Another way is letting people take good care of you when you need it.”
― Fred Rogers

Namaste,
Sandy

Your Feelings are Valid!

What you feel matters. It is important that your feelings, your emotions are acknowledged, accepted and respected as valid. Because they are valid.

Far too often we think about and even label emotions or feelings as negative or positive. I don’t feel that’s accurate at all. I think of emotions are sign-posts or indicators of what is happening inside of us. They tell us where we are in any given moment.

Here’s one way of looking at this. Pulling out a map of the United States, perhaps I am quite determined to walk my path until I arrive in Olympia, Washington. Sounds just fine, doesn’t it? I hear things are pretty swell in that area.

Without knowing where I am currently, I have no clear way of discerning that direction that I would prefer to walk. Now to be clear, there is no right or wrong way to get there! Perhaps I would walk north for a while, taking long rests along the mountains and appreciating the solitude. The steps to take and the direction to move is always a very personal decision. However, if I don’t know where I am beginning, I will only hope to arrive at Olympia, Washington. I won’t have any way to know if I am getting closer, circling around the edges or even if I’m smack in the middle of the place – unless there is a sign, an indicator which tells me where I am.

That’s what our emotions do for us. They indicate our mood and tell us what we need. Anger, resentment, and frustration deserve every bit as much awareness, acknowledgment, and respect as happy and content.

Knowing what these indicators help us to use safe, healthy, effective strategies. Sometimes there’s nothing to be done except acknowledge and support. There are most definitely times that the best we and those who love us can do is to simply breathe together. To know that it is okay to feel the way that we do. For as long as we need to. It’s okay, we’ll take steps when we’re ready. And our emotions will indicate that to us as well.

Human beings are amazingly intricate, fabulously multi-faceted beings. As such we are capable of an incredible range of emotions. I encourage you to close your eyes for a moment and really notice what you are feeling. Let go of any judgment, simply notice… acknowledge and know that whatever you are feeling is a sign-post for you.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

A Life Well Lived

He completed his earthly journey 5 years ago. But this isn’t about his death, this is about the life that he lived so very well. 

My dad, or as you may have known him, Art Raith entered the world in November of 1942. I’ve heard an awful lot of stories of his exploits as he was growing up, mostly good, always enthusiastic. I think if I had to use one word to describe him, that might be it. My dad had enthusiasm about just about everything.

Many memories have been surfacing recently, mostly silly or fun times. Like when he would come home from work with a fist full of kites early March. Determined that whether or not there was snow on the ground, March was the time of year for flying kites. So, he would put them together, my mom could always be counted on to find fabric to make the perfect tail. Then we would all head over to the neighborhood park to get these things in the air. So funny to watch this big man run across the grass holding on to the kite while yelling at one of us to ‘give it more line!’. Oh my gosh, it was fabulous! Inevitably at least one kite would wind up in a tree, but that too was part of the fun.

Remembering him setting up a bale of hay in the basement when we got bows and arrows for Christmas so that we wouldn’t have to go outside in the cold right away. Watching him with my own boys years later. Oh my gosh, it made me crazy sometimes! My boys could come in the house carrying a partially eaten sandwich and their Grandpa would simply pretend there was nothing in their hand. He would begin by asking them if their mom had fed the anything that day, or would they like for him to make them something special? You can guess what their enthusiastic response was each time.

We argued just like all families. He scolded or yelled, and boy, he knew the most impressive curse words. He controlled the television, sports were on endlessly. We talked about books, he was always interested in what each of us was thinking, doing, planning and he was more than happy to share his opinions. He loved to cook and was amazing. I bet all of us have a favorite or two. I easily recall the endlessly long games of Monopoly… what I wouldn’t give to play another game today. The long hours spent in the yard, doing nothing at all. Long and short, we all knew that we were loved. Without question. You knew you were loved.

So today, my heart is full. Gratitude and love have filled in all of the corners. And I’m remembering Pop. The picture that most often comes to mind for me is the one that I have shared. I swear he looks like a 6’1″ leprechaun. Pretty much perfect.

Today, I’m hoping that you take a few moments to think about someone you love, whether they are still with you on this planet or in spirit. Feel that love, go ahead and share it.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

 

 

Empathy, Compassion, Support

Empathy – the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

Compassion – sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. 

Thank goodness for those who surround us with compassion! It’s so helpful to know that there are those who care about us who are not empathetic; they don’t personally know our pain but care about us deeply. That’s compassion.

Support – to hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking or slipping.

Ahhh, perhaps the key is to interact with others who are able to provide empathy or/and compassion combined with support.

Traveling the journey of grief into healing is not something easily done alone. When someone offers us empathy, it makes a huge difference. Having the experience of someone looking us in the eye and saying ‘Yes, I get it. I truly know what you are going through.’ Offers comfort as it relieves a bit of pressure. The sufferer understands that they are not alone; others have felt this pain as well. Validating the thoughts and feelings, allowing the sufferer to be witnessed, to be heard.

When it turns out that the person cares about our feelings, we experience the healing of compassion. Our pain matters, someone cares enough to reach out and let us know that they are here for us.

Support. Hearing that others have been through similar pain is not enough. Knowing that others care about our pain is not enough. Combined with support. The open arms offering warm hugs. The card that reminds us we are not forgotten. The written, spoken or silently communicated message that ‘I care’ means so much that there is no way to express it adequately.

Not everyone will offer empathy. Thank goodness, not everyone has suffered the same pain. Not everyone is wired to offer compassion. Some simply are not able to broaden their mind and heart to want to alleviate pain. However, nearly everyone is willing and able to offer support.

Perhaps we would benefit from learning how to ask for the support that we want and need. No doubt, it is a very difficult thing for some to ask while asking comes as easily as breathing for others.  When we are in pain if we already have difficulty asking for support it becomes even more cumbersome, perhaps overwhelming. At that time, when it is most needed, those people may well not have the support that they truly need.

Each and everyone one of us has experienced pain in our lives. If we are able to remember how it feels to feel alone, even abandoned it may well prompt us to be sure that no one else ever feels alone. On the other hand, if we have experienced strong, loving support; I hope that encourages us to share that support with those that we care about.

Everyone deserves empathy, compassion, and support. It changes the way we feel when we are in pain, reminding us that we are not alone. Likewise, these feelings change our experience when we are able to reach out to someone who is hurting. Well worth considering.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

 

Group Coaching

Group Coaching

Have you ever heard the expression “There is great strength in numbers”? It’s true!

Here are a few benefits to group coaching:

  • As your coach, I will always help you to hold the focus on the goals which are important to you.
  • You will find support and motivation from others as you connect with others in your group.
  • You will learn, grow and be inspired as you share stories and wisdom with one another.
  • You will benefit from accountability and watch your ‘to-do’ items move to the ‘done’ column.
  • Group celebration! You celebrate your success with the people who truly care about you.
  • You grow and move forward with a professional coach at a very affordable fee.

Weekly, Thursday mornings, 7–9 am
$100 per month, that’s only $25 per coaching session!

The adventure begins Thursday, November 3rd  –  Register Now!

To register visit the website: http://www.sandywalden.com/coaching/business-coaching.php or call Sandy to reserve your spot 414-378-8764

This group is forming now, space will be limited so if you are ready to begin living the life you know you desire, register today.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. Blue Jay – Terrific Life Coaches!

I’m always amazed at the adventure that is waiting right outside my door. 

Up here at the lake, Indy doesn’t have quite the freedom he does in Milwaukee. As the yard isn’t fenced in and I don’t want to encourage him to seek his own adventure, he is on a rope when he’s outside. A few days ago, he was out sniffing around under the apple tree. As I watched, a couple of blue jays became incredibly agitated. One stayed up in the branches of the tree while the other began swooping closer and closer to Indy. Both were beyond chirping, but screeching louder and louder. Sweet old Indiana was oblivious, so after just a short time I coaxed him away. I saw a nest up in the tree and assumed that was what all the ruckus was about.

Fast forward a couple of days. John was walking outside and heard a high-pitched chirping near the tree. As he got closer he realized that there was a pair of baby jays huddled together on one side of the tree, and a lone baby bird on the other side, at the base of the tree. Again, Mr. and Mrs. Jay came screeching in, swooping and screaming, telling John in no uncertain terms that they wanted him outta there! John respectfully backed away.

Here’s where I want to talk about why I see Mr. and Mrs. Jay as fabulous life coaches. You knew I’d get to it at some point and I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer. 🙂 You see, I Googled baby blue jays because I was worried about the itty bitty birds. I learned that once they have their feathers they do indeed leave the nest and begin living on the ground. They continue to be fed and as we saw so clearly, protected by their parents. How awesome, delightful and terrifying is this?

Mr. and Mrs. Jay are trusting their off-spring to grow in the way that is best for them, that’s what a good life coach does as well. Mr. and Mrs. Jay are there, but in the background until needed. Your life coach is there for you, in the way you prefer, when you prefer. Mr. and Mrs. Jay are trusting that their offspring will learn to eat, fly and protect themselves, because they know they have the necessary instincts and that they are capable of learning as they grow. Their goal is to be independent and strong. You also have the ability to determine your goal and to move into it in the time and manner which is right for you. These baby birds are just like me and they are just like you.

When we work together, it’s not about me telling you what you should do, how you should behave, or what direction you should move. Oh no-no sirree! My job is to know that you have the ability and instincts already. However, I am ready, willing and very excited to coax you along; and cheer you long and loud when you leave your own nest. I suspect that’s what Mr. and Mrs. Jay did to get the babes out of the nest. I will ask you questions and we will talk, this is a cooperative effort after all. When you make a move that leads you toward your intended destination I will cheer for you. I don’t think I can reproduce the interesting sounds that come out of the blue jays, but I suspect that’s truly for the best anyhow.

Once again, I’m grateful for the lesson. Mr. and Mrs. Blue Jay have released the ‘shoulds’, trusting in the instincts and growing abilities of their off-spring. I will do my best to follow their example.

This week I encourage you to find your own backyard adventure. What is the lesson? Allow yourself to be inspired!

Namaste,

Sandy

 

Life Coaching and Accountability

Once again I have to say how incredibly grateful I am to my clients, they’re simply the best.

Temporary State Fair tattoo to show off my improving biceps.

A few months ago I realized that each and every one of my holistic life coaching clients was an athlete to one degree or another. Hmmm, the odds of that seemed a bit extreme but there you have it. At the same time I had been becoming more and more aware that I was not nearly as physically fit as I had been in the past. This my friends is called a clue!

One day I received an email from a friend of mine telling me about a great deal on a physical fitness boot camp being offered. Uh oh, another hint from the Universe. I decided that maybe I ought to pay attention so I signed up for the boot camp.

The truth is that I really do not like to exercise in a gym. I walk a lot with my good boxer buddy Indy but I was not looking forward to this boot camp. Oh, did I mention that the starting time for boot camp is 5:30 am and that it is 30 miles away from my home. This means getting up at 4 am to go and do something that I have told myself for the longest time that I truly dislike.

Maybe this needed a bit more thought; after all, I had only invested $40. so backing out wouldn’t crush me financially. However, I knew I would be deeply disappointed in myself if I did back out. So, once again thinking about the fact that all of my life coaching clients were athletes, I decided to share my trepidation with them. That’s just what I did. I contacted each and every one of those amazingly fit coaching clients and told them that they were part of the inspiration that drove me to this desperate act. I also asked each life coaching client if they would care to turn the tables, would they hold me accountable for my intentions as I held them accountable for the plans they made during their coaching sessions.

The response didn’t surprise me at all, but it did thoroughly warm my heart. Each and every one of my amazing coaching clients enthusiastically agreed to hold my feet to the fire. Okay, they were kinder than that, but I needed to know that I was going to be asked about this process and how I was handling it.

This accountability has been incredibly important to me. One particular morning I awoke earlier than normal, around 3 am. Polished off a pot of coffee, did a bit of work and got very comfy in my chair. It was rainy outside and generally yucky. It most definitely felt like a good morning to spend curled up in my chair, drink more coffee and read a book until it was time for my first client meeting. And then I thought about those holistic life coaching clients of mine, I knew they would ask about boot camp. I knew I would not be judged for deciding to stay at home, but I also know that I would be supported and cheered if I actually tied up my sneakers and did the work. Needless to say, that accountability did its job. I have great attendance and know I’ll finish the program. In fact, I’ve signed up for another boot camp when this one is completed. My clients are already helping me to set new goals.

That’s very much how the holistic life coaching process works when clients come to me. Thoughts are expanded upon, fears are examined and aspirations are encouraged. Accountability is very important. I always encourage my clients to take steps that they plan and ask them about their results. There is no brow beating if they have not completed their intended course, instead, we take a look at the decision-making process and the client determines if it’s time for another attempt or if an alternate route is preferred. Knowing that I am going to ask, prompts many a coaching client to take a step outside of their comfort zone. That is how progress is made.

Thanking my Higher Power for the clues and my clients for holding me accountable, I will keep at this process to regain strength and flexibility. For the record, the Divine clearly has a sense of humor. In the time since I made the commitment to this boot camp, not one of my new holistic life coaching clients is an athlete. I guess the message has been received and it’s okay to move on. Makes me smile.

I encourage you to share your intentions, goals, and aspirations with someone you trust. If you give them permission to support and encourage you, you will likely find progress much easier. Accountability is a wonderful thing.

Namaste,
Sandy