Changes

Optimistic. Happy. Excited. Those are some of the words I would use if asked how I feel about life these days. I realize that there are big changes going on everywhere. Many people are losing their jobs and we are told many times a day that times are tough. We are in a crisis. Things have not been this dire in years. But that’s just not the way I feel.

I find myself turning off the television and radio and simply ignoring most of the newspaper. It’s not that I’m hiding my head in the sand to avoid reality, it’s just that I’m selective about which reality I want to immerse myself in. The truth is that I’m happy and healthy and so are most of the people that I know. Some have lost their jobs and yes, many have tightened their belts and had to make substantial changes in their lifestyles. What does that mean? It simply means change. Change is neither good nor bad on its own, but it does offer options to us.

It seems that many large businesses are closing or paring down. At the same time, many small businesses are healthier than ever.

Many of the people I know, friends and clients are entrepreneurs, others work for small businesses. Most of these people acknowledge that the way they do business has changed substantially, but most of them are enjoying abundance and prosperity at a level that is not being described in the media. Why? Because scary is more dramatic, it sells better. The truth is that I’m not likely to watch the news if I think the announcer is only going to talk about the fact that the businesses operated just fine today. All the children showed up on time, healthy and happy for school and all is generally A-okay all over town.

We get excited, all worked up about bad news. It motivates us to get out there and save someone or something. That’s great! Now let’s get just as excited about the good news.

I have to say that life is changing for me, personally and professionally. Particularly this time of year I find that I really enjoy the changes. I deliberately make changes in the house from rearranging items to changing colors. It elevates my mood and helps me to get ready for the holiday season and colder weather.

What can you do to learn to flow with the inevitable changes that life brings? I suggest a few things. First and foremost I encourage you to simply turn off negative messages whenever possible. That may mean only listening to the television or radio news long enough to hear about the weather and sports. Better yet, why not read a newspaper and select which articles you want to read. That way you have control over what messages you are receiving and when. If you find yourself surrounded by negative people, either change the subject or simply excuse yourself as soon as possible. Refuse to add to the conversation when gossip starts.

Another of my favorite tools is color. Most of us react very strongly to color whether we realize it or not. Wear colors that make you feel happy. Surround yourself with these colors if at all possible. I don’t mean that you have to refurbish entire rooms, adding pillows, candles or even flowers can bring in colors which have a dramatic effect on your mood.

Music is another powerful tonic to gloomy days. Most of us have a favorite song or CD, listening to it always puts us in a good mood, so put it on whenever you have the opportunity.

Of course, I add Reiki, it always helps me to regain my focus and balance and to relieve the stress in my life.

Making a list of the things I’m grateful for, the blessings in my life remind me that while my life may be unfolding in a way that was not originally part of my plans, I always have much to be grateful. This always helps my mood.

It’s important to be sure to use good self-care when going through stressful change. It can help to balance the emotions and of course things like eating right and exercising not only keep you healthy but make you stronger in mind and body to handle whatever is happening, hopefully in a more positive manner. The holistic life coach in me just couldn’t wrap this up without getting in a plug for self-care.

Change is inevitable. Some changes will be tougher to get through, but I know we will do better if we stick together and work together to make the outcome positive for all. In short, the outcome is not pre-destined, we have options. Arm yourself with a few tools for tough situations and know how to lighten up your tough days. We can and will get through these changes and more will come. Exciting isn’t it?

Wishing you a fabulous week of changes.

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

Ear Flapping

DSC01051Duke is our foster dog. A big, sweet boxer he was adopted by our son Jeff and they set off to live happily together in Los Angeles. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Duke is simply not a hustle and bustle sort of guy. L.A. stressed him to bits, so Jeff made arrangements for him to go to Texas to live with our eldest son Bill and his lovely wife Felicia. Unfortunately, they are not able to welcome him into their home for a few months yet, so Duke has come to brighten up our lives for a few months. Sounded like a plan.

So, Duke arrived in Milwaukee to the absolute delight of our permanent resident boxer, Indy. They got along from day one and Duke has begun settling in. Then we started to really get to know him. While Duke is good-natured and sweet, communicating was something of a problem. He had no signal that it was time to go outside, he would just wait until one of us opened the door and follow us outside. Okay as far as it went, but we were worried that he was not having all of his needs met.

Then one morning, at the very silly time of around 5 am I heard this odd sound. It sounded as though someone was slapping a leather chamois, very, very quickly and it was happening right by my head. Huh? Well, I have gotten used to opening my eyes every morning to the sweet expression of Duke staring at me with his golden eyes. This morning he wasn’t staring at me. He was flipping his head from side to side with amazing speed and it was creating this very loud flapping sound. It actually made me laugh because it was so strange and loud. So I got out of bed. The moment my feet hit the floor, Duke took off at a run. He needed to go outside and he had just found the way to tell me! Good boy Duke!

Now I was tickled that Duke had learned to communicate this very basic need to me. My hope is that the Reiki he is getting every day, along with simply getting to know him better and encouraging his trust is helping him to feel confident expressing himself in new ways. At least new ways for him. The life coach in me is tickled beyond belief by this bit of progress. Communication can take time, it can be a tricky process and it’s one of the things that I work on with most life coaching clients on an ongoing basis.

The progress continues. Duke has now decided that ear flapping worked so well to signal the need to go outside first thing in the morning, it now also means that he is starving and needs food immediately, please. Okay, Duke, okay. I get it.

Duke only uses this signal first thing in the morning. He prefers around 5 am or so. I’m going to continue to coach him by responding to his request in a positive manner. Hopefully, as time goes on we will be able to understand each other at other times. There’s no doubt in my mind that Duke is communicating with me, telling me when he wants outside when he wants his ears scratched, etc. While I’m picking up some of these signals, I’m not understanding all of them, yet.

We’ll continue to work together, my new buddy Duke and me. He’s a very good student, watching Indy and our interaction all of the time. Clearly, he has his own style of communication and it’s my intention to understand him a bit better each day.

Really, this same event is unfolding in our lives on a regular basis. The dynamics of our relationships change and our way of communicating evolves. What worked yesterday may not work today. What works for one person may not work for another. I believe the key is continually keeping a positive attitude, making it clear that there is an intention to understand and communicate. Be aware of what our facial expression, body posture, and tone of voice are saying to our companions. These are all direct forms of communication and we are using them constantly.

As for me and Duke, I’m sort of hoping that he’ll decide he likes to sleep in, something around 5:30 or 6 would be swell. But at the moment, I’m not going to do anything to discourage our new understanding. He’s a sweet boy and I’m very happy that we are beginning to understand one another.

I wish you a fabulous day of clear communication with everyone in your life.

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

Saying Good-bye

I spent time with a friend of mine today, I’ll call her Cindy. Cindy’s mother is dying, Cindy knows it, her mother knows it and the doctors confirm it.

As I chatted with Cindy it was clear to me that she is at peace with the situation. Now don’t get me wrong, Cindy loves her mother and expressed her feeling that sixty-seven is simply too young to expect her mother to die. On the other hand, she told me that she feels her mother is done with life. Recently she has expressed as much, she misses her son who died very young, most of her dear friends have passed and with the exception of her beloved husband, most of her relatives near her age have passed away as well. She misses them dreadfully and feels as though she is simply done with what she was supposed to do here in this life. She’s not depressed; she’s just ready to move on. The disease that is ravaging her body is simply the vehicle that is taking her on this final journey.

Cindy is determined that her mother enjoy the time she has left. Cindy has learned so much from her mother. She was a loving, fun mom to grow up with and has become a trusted friend to the adult Cindy. She showed Cindy that it was possible to not only love her husband but that it was possible to like him and to enjoy being his friend. And now she is teaching Cindy that it is possible to die with grace, dignity, and joy.

Unfortunately, Cindy is getting a bit of flak from some people. Apparently, there are those who have hinted that Cindy is doing something wrong because she is not crying, wailing constantly and pushing her mother to accept painful treatments that will extend her life, but not improve or even preserve the quality of what is left of her life. So, Cindy asked me for my point of view.

Oh boy. It was time to not only think and feel as Cindy’s friend but to think this through as the holistic life coach and Reiki master that Cindy knows I am. So, we continued to talk. I asked her how she was dealing with all of this. She told me that she is definitely heartbroken to be saying goodbye to her mother, but that she is saving the tears and grieving for her time with her husband and a few trusted friends. She’s not stuffing her feelings or denying them, simply expressing them to those who know and love her best. Because her mother is determined to enjoy the time left, Cindy is determined to enjoy it with her. She’s told her and will continue to tell her how much she loves her, has enjoyed being her daughter and they talk about the fun they’ve had together. They laugh, tell stories and simply spend time together being happy. Cindy has made it clear to visitors that her mother has requested the time remaining be happy and so she has asked visitors to honor those wishes, in fact, she’s insisting on just that. She’s taking special care of her father, again honoring her mother’s wishes and doing what she simply feels is right.

The truth is that both Cindy and her mother are at peace. Her mother is getting ready to meet her God and Cindy is very appreciative of the opportunity to spend this time with her before she passes, she’s now learning how to say goodbye to loved ones and to die with grace, dignity, and joy.

Before I left, I gave Cindy a long hug, told her that I would pray for her, her mother and all of her family and friends and I thanked her. While Cindy is learning one more lesson from her mother, she is teaching many of the rest of us as well.

I hope that if I’m ever faced with a similar situation that I am able to move through it with the same peaceful heart, love, and gratitude that is demonstrated by Cindy and her mother.

This week, I wish you all the opportunity to express your love and gratitude for the special friends and relatives in your life. I am grateful to Cindy and I thank her for the lesson of love and gratitude.

Namaste,
Sandy

Justice

One of my favorite authors is Don Miguel Ruiz. His book ‘The Four Agreements’ is a quick and easy read, only about 140 pages, but I think it’s deceptively simple. In fact, I think it’s quite profound. I read this book often, however, I find that when I listen to it on audio-book I notice and appreciate it in a whole new way.

Yesterday I was driving up to the lake and listening to this book once again. What struck me was what he had to say about justice. Let me put this into my own words and of course give you my point of view. Basically, he says that if there was justice regarding people, once we have made a mistake we would own it and move on. There would be no lingering guilt and no on-going recriminations. Wow, what a concept!

The truth is that my dog gets it. When I’m in a bad mood and he makes me a bit crazy I sometimes slip and shout at him. As soon as I realize what I’ve done and I apologize, offer him a snuggle and a rub behind the ears, Indy forgives me completely. He doesn’t bring it up every time I’m crabby, he doesn’t remind me that I was snotty next time he wants a treat and I don’t offer it up quick enough. In short, I hurt his feelings, I apologized, and Indy forgave. Nice.

The problem is that as humans we seem to operate with a different set of rules. When someone hurts us we bring it up again and again. Sometimes verbally, sometimes intentionally, often just by thinking about it and being cautious with the offender long after the offense. As a holistic life coach, I think it’s really important to remember that any time I choose to hold this offense against someone, it affects me as well. For justice to be served at its best, after an offense is committed and apology accepted, the offense would be forgotten. Not just forgiven but actually forgotten.

If my husband has come home late, caused me to worry I might well be angry. However, after he has apologized and I say he is forgiven neither of us is served well by my reminding him the next day to come home on time to avoid my wrath. All that happens then is that he is on edge and I’m all ready to get upset again. Of course, this is the most simplistic example, but the point is the same regarding justice at any level. We do not forgive simply for the sake of the offender, but for the sake of the offended as well. If I’m living with the thought of something that was done to me, rehashing, again and again, I’m letting that offense color my entire life. By the same token, even if the punishment was meted out, every time I bring up the offense I am punishing the offender again and again. Never letting it go, never allowing either of us to move on in a healthy and productive way.

Of course, I recommend that you read the book. This subject and many others are addressed in detail and put much better than I ever could. Just the same, I wanted to share my thoughts. Let’s make an effort to not only forgive, but to truly forgive. We’ll all be much healthier and happier for the effort.

Wishing you a fabulous day, filled with forgiveness and justice.

Namaste,
Sandy