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Archive for December, 2012

I hear a lot of new clients or friends who get upset when I talk about being in control of your own life.  Like, really upset.

In fact, one person very recently called me out on it pretty harshly.  I’m okay with that.  I’ve found the blessing in this. When someone calls you out on your beliefs it can cause you to really look deeply at them and in this case bring about a strengthening of them and a deeper understanding.

The problem is one I totally get …because they are right.  Completely right.  You see, they were upset because I said that people create their life with their actions and thoughts.  This person slammed down the point that life happens and we can’t control what others do to us and around us.  “Look all the people who lost their houses, jobs and had their life crumble” He said.  “You’re blaming THEM?” 

Ouch. He was angry at me with righteous indignation on his part with the understanding that he had.  I kind of admired him for that actually.  A real stand-up guy if you think about it.

However, there was a part of this idea that he was missing

While he was totally right – we can’t often control the experiences we have in life.  We might lose our job and income through no fault of our own.  Accidents happen (tell me about it!) that can destroy our life as we know it, and so on.  However, we can control how we experience those circumstances.  We ultimately choose our reactions.  Oh sure sometimes we have immediate reactions that are based more on baser emotions, but we can calm ourselves or feed that fire.

I know people who allow petty annoyances to create a huge amount of chaos in their life.  I also know people who have had great tragedy befall them who have chosen to create something positive out of it. 

You can choose to let life happen TO you, or you can take the controls and begin to create a life that reflects who you are and who you want to be.

So let me be clear here.  You may not be able to control WHAT experiences you have in life – but you can control HOW you experience them. 

In this coming New Year I want you to consider that. This is a fresh year that can allow us a perfect time to begin to make shifts to bring about a happier, more vibrant life.  Will you join me in taking the controls back in your life?  I think it’s time we all understand we are responsible for our own happiness and quite capable of creating it.

 

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(I know this is a bit early but the message is timely and important to hear – thanks for your understanding of my little deviation from my regular Tues/Fri post)

That title is no mistake. I am asking you to let go of some of your own crap and simply be present, not A present, to your family this year.

Too often we get caught up in all there is to do at this time of year. I am as guilty of it as anyone.  I love to host dinners and parties for my loved ones but once the day came I was a freakin mess!

No kidding.

It was stress.  It made me grumpy and frustrated and annoyed with those who were messing stuff up.  Not the guests…people who were ‘helping me.  And then guess what? I’d get ticked off that I was doing all the work and everyone had disappeared.  Well, looking back I dont’ think I’d want to be with me either.  I wasn’t exactly very jolly.  This was a pattern of behaviour I had learned from watching my parent.  I didn’t much like it as a kid, and I didn’t like it in ME as an adult

So I spent some time looking deeper within myself to figure out what the problem really was.  vic017

Self Worth.

Shoot, that thing is everywhere isn’t it?

Truth is I had learned somewhere along the line that things needed to be perfect for everyone else or I felt that I’d be deemed ‘unworthy’. 

Not an easy truth to throw out with the trash. It sort of permeated every part of my life.  Still, I had to start somewhere right? The holidays were a huge source of this stress so it seem brilliant to begin there.

So I stopped trying to be perfect.  Okay..mostly.  But I can deal with the fall out much better if I’m not and I did let go of the control I felt before.  In doing so I allowed myself to be present in the moments I was missing out on before.

The holidays are NOT about busting your budgets, running yourself ragged or wearing yourself out.  No one should be feeling that way unless they are getting paid a HUGE salary.  Last I checked I didn’t get a dime for making all that food or searching out and buying all those gifts or even gift wrapping them.

Those things should be done with love and laughter.  Share the load.  You deserve to be immersed in the joyful celebrations too.  So I say gather everyone up and let them know you expect some pitching in.  I always recommend letting them know what jobs need to be done and asking which they are signing up for rather than assigning duties. 

Put on some rocking Christmas tunes, (try Grooveshark and everyone can pick a few!)  sing a long while you wash the pots and clean up the wrapping paper.  Have some FUN.  Then when all the chores are done be sure to have another type of gathering. Once full of love, gratitude and celebration.

A gratitude circle is a wonderful way to end the day.  I actually used to do this to promote harmony in my classroom.   Each person says something they are grateful for about another person.  In the family I think it would be lovely to have them say what they are grateful for with each member.  Bit of advice though; let them know in advance because putting someone on the spot is just hard on many folks.  I would allow notes even!

My big point is this…the holidays create so many joyous and warm memories that we can hold onto in tougher times.  Be mindful to be part of creating those memories. Slow the day down and be present in the moments that matter.

Many Blessing for Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah and all the other beautiful celebration going on you may be part of .

Warm hot chocolate hugs,

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A little bit of a deviation from my usual sort of posts…kind of.  Winter Solstice.  It is a day of contemplation and celebration in my house. 

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Winter Solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20 and December 23. For a long time my understanding of Winter Solstice was simply that it was the day with the smallest amount of daylight hours.  When I was younger there was always something about the seasonal changes that drew me.  The Winter Solstice was especially so.  I just knew my heart and soul  got a bit lighter and more joyful.

Imagine my surprise when I got a bit older and I discovered there was far more to it and for many people it was a day of real celebration.

The December solstice has played an important role the lives of many people in ancient times. Solstice observances were held by virtually every culture in the world. Solstice rites were practiced among such diverse groups as Native South Americans, Celts, Persians, Orientals, and Africans.

To this day, the world is still influenced by the many traditions linked to the observance of the December solstice. Just take a few moment to google some of the more commonly known Christmas Traditions like the Christmas Tree, mistletoe and even the date chosen to celebrate the birth!  As things evolve they seem to stay the same…but that is a topic for a whole series of posts!

evergreen3Many people are talking about the Mayans predictions for this year. The day the world will ‘end’.   Those who are in the know realize that this doesn’t mean the world will end by being destroyed and annihilated. It means it will be ending this cycle and beginning anew.

This year, many believe the Solstice will mark not only a return of the longer daylight hours, but the beginning of a whole new phase of human consciousness and usher in a new era of positively. 

I think I have already seen the signs that the worlds collective consciousness has begun to shift and it makes me incredibly happy and hopeful.  I plan to stand in my truth and let my light shine brighter than ever. 

To those who want to create a movement for peace, unity and love;  this is our time.

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Self Love or Self care is probably not what a lot of you think it is.  Many people confuse it with the concept of pampering. 

I am thrilled that the idea of self care is really catching on and becoming more mainstream. I think it’s really important that we learn to love ourselves in this society.

We can’t create important change in the world and make positive shifts, if we are self loathing!  However I think this is the perfect time of year to point out that there is a differentbliss between self love and pampering ourselves!

Why this time of year? Well we indulge a lot over the holidays don’t we? Sweets, rich foods, alcohol, spending money…and the list goes on. What I’ve noticed is a number of people are using this idea of self-care as a reason to over-indulge. C’mon…have you ever said “oh well I deserve it!”? That is not self care…this is excusing poor choices. 

Pampering is when you indulge yourself with treats or whatever that you wouldn’t normally do.  You give in to your desires and whims.   There is not really anything wrong with pampering yourself once in a while either, but know that it isn’t the same thing.  And know that you can be smart about your pampering as well, saving up for a day at the spa is smart.  Running your credit card to max with no way to pay it off..not so smart!  Have a rich dessert at the Christmas feast is fine…acting like the holidays last ALL of December and eating like that every day isn’t so fine.

However, Self love is when you do things that reinforce the idea that you are important and you matter. Self love is about reducing stress, improving your mind and body’s state and health. It’s a commitment to you. So, while that glass of wine might make you feel good for the moment, it really doesn’t have lasting effects.  Things like scheduling time for you to meditate,  or go for a recharging, quiet walk, read a favorite book, take some time…make you as much of a priority as everything else.  This way you can more easily be present and pleasant!

Over the holidays some self care is important. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. An extra long bath, yoga, cup of tea by the fire, or quiet dog walk will do. Time to take care of you, is time well spent.

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Every single person on this Earth has expectations and assumptions.  We kind of have to in order to manage to get through life without losing our minds. 

Think about it..we assume that the guy in the other car will stop for the red light on his side so we just buzz on through the green.  But we also have assumptions about our expectations.

Mind spinning yet?

We know what we feel and desire in our heart of hearts.  But we often assume that who we are in our truest form won’t be accepted by others.  Many of us wear many masks and hide our dreams because of what we think is expected of us. 

And we won’t break out of these roles because we fear losing our friends and even family.

So we remain, unhappy, hidden and our greatest gifts – our light – is dimmed and shuttered.

If you step back over here with me to look at this a bit differently I’d like to point out of couple of problems with this line of thinking.

First, you were not put here on this Earth to be small, dim or hidden.  You have a light within you that is a gift, and you do it such a disservice by closing the shutters up tight because someone out there may not like it.  You were meant to shine!

Which brings me to my next thought.  Not everyone is going to like you – that is a given in life.  That’s okay.  Simply bless those people and move on.  However, consider this.  If no one knows who you truly are and they only see this facade – then in all truth – no one really likes or  loves you because they don’t know you.  They might like the person you are projecting, but that isn’t YOU.

You can’t lose what you don’t actually have I’m afraid.  Truly if you think everyone likes you then that is a huge hint you aren’t being your truest self.  You are playing roles to make others happy.  I mean c’mon…even the best of us have people who dislike them!

When you allow yourself to shine, to be you in all your quirky ways, then others who will love you for those very things can find you.  Until then you are just an actor on stage and people are simply loving your role…not you.

Imagine what and who you are missing.  Imagine the peace and joy of releasing all that misery and self-condemnation and allowing yourself to grow into the beautiful being you were alway meant to be. 

It’s okay to love you.  In fact, I’m betting most people you already know will love you too if you are brave enough to give them that chance.  You’ll be surprised at what happens.  Take off the masks – live free.

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Can I share with you something that has caused a huge shift in my world lately?  And it’s been a long time coming.

I finally let my heart break.  It’s been showing signs of cracking and on the verge for a long, long time.  I just refused to let it happen.   I’d just patch it up with some story I’d tell myself, or excuse or simply ignore things.  For a while…ignoring it did feel like bliss – kind of.  But band aids are not meant to last forever.broken

Let me explain.

To start with, I don’t exactly have the most supportive family.  Do I worry about saying that on my blog…not really.  They don’t read it.

Do they love me?  Oh I’m certain of it.  Overall they are good people.  But supportive – not so much.  It’s not that they come around telling me my dreams are fools gold or outright mock me or anything.  They simply gloss over and carry on with the status quo.  No interest, no questions and no cheering.

beautiful mistakesMy own amazing coach has suggested looking at it from a different perspective – theirs.  Ouch – she got me there.  So I explored that.

I think perhaps my reaching for big dreams and lofty goals is uncomfortable for them.  They shun what they don’t understand.  Change is scary and even painful at times. I’ve learned the hard way to embrace that because I know at the other end is growth and joy.  Until you know that, it’s hard to look at changing what is comfortable without a reason to.  I have rarely followed the way that others do things.  I suppose that certainly could lead to a disconnect.

Still, I think you can support and lift up someone without understanding what they have on their vision board…or the fact they have a vision board.

Okay..big breath…big share.  I used to wonder – and often – what was wrong with me?  Something had to be wrong with ME for the people in my life to not want to know me or cheer me on.  Many time I thought that to have someone yell at me, call me foolish or mock me would almost have been preferable to this feeling of being invisible and unimportant.  Self blame seemed the logical choice.  I struggled with that for a very long time.  With my family of origin I still see it rear its ugly head at times.  Old habits die hard right?  I am working on it and get better every day.

So, here’s the thing.  An ‘event’ happened very recently that shook me hard.  I had to face it.  It wasn’t me, not alone anyway.  I participated in a dynamic that was dysfunctional.  Because it was from my family of origin, admitting that set me back and was really, really hard.   It was difficult and painful just to admit that this.  I really resisted saying it to myself and definitely to anyone else.  I felt disloyal and selfish; I also felt used and hurt.   Quite a mix of emotions to have to deal with.

It took some time (and some very good counsel) to realize that facts are what they are.  What has happened, happened.  It wasn’t about fault or blame or anger to realize that the relationship was unhealthy.

But boy, it still hurts like crazy.   I was up late one evening, sipping some tea and just listening to the fire and the rain on the window when I realized I had to let go.   I had to allow my heart to break from this in order to start figuring out how to put it back together. I also realized I had to give myself permission.

It’s hard to do that because I know that there is a huge lake of painful tears to go through first.  Standing on the edge of that keeps me from feeling the full brunt of it.   I also had a lot of anger about those hurts that I’d been ignoring as it simmered. Keeping a lid on it won’t heal it though.  Courage is what I needed to give myself permission to let it happen.angerofthepast

I’d love to say I’m all better and I’ve dealt with it and that I’m good.  Nope, this is a long history of pinpricks that have created a deeper wound then I even knew.  It won’t heal over night.

However, I can say I survived the initial cracking open and looking at the hurt.  I felt it, I allowed it and now I’ve put it away again until I am strong enough to do some more work with it.

Life is a process of learning lessons and some are wonderful and beautiful.  Some are painful and harsh, but will ultimately lead us to wonderful and beautiful if we can allow it.

It may be hard to believe but I am grateful that I had the courage to allow my heart to break.  I have learned not only am I stronger than I realized, but I am in charge of my own happiness.  I can keep the thunderclouds at bay but until I learn to dance in the rain the sun will not be able to shine.

For now, I’m just going to keep on dancing.

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This December has snuck up on me a little bit.  I mean…I knew it was coming.  I haven’t lost my mind completely…it’s around here somewhere.

Still, I personally have had a number of huge milestones in my life that I’ve been dealing with and putting to bed (so to speak). 

This Monday saw the tail end of a really, really big one but that’s not my point (and you know I tend to get going on tangents..I”m working on it!)  My point is holy moly look at that date!

21 days lift til Christmas and all I have done is hang my sad, tired wreath on the door.  I have a beautiful plan in my head for a new one that really reflects my personality but truly by theHolidayStress time I get it done it should be ready for next year!

In all honesty, it’s not that bad for me.  My list is small and I love the shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, baking and decorating.  LOVE it.  I may even be at home with my fur-family Christmas Day and I’m okay with that.  I love those guys and hiking on that day is spectacular because everyone else is busy, busy, busy!   So Mr. Charlie Bear gets to run off leash on the trails.  When I lived on the East Coast I often went snow hiking and it was awesome.

For others though, the holidays brings other emotions.  Stress, fear, worry and exhaustion.

I have a friend who was volunteered to host not one but TWO dinners.  She isn’t really up for it physically, but doesn’t want to risk disappointing other people.  She is a beautiful soul and a people pleaser.  The problem is, like many out there (Ladies especially…listen up) she pleases others at the expense of her own health and happiness.  Not cool!  I love my friend…she is like a second mother to me and I want her to be joyful, not upset.

I have been thinking of how to help her and in turn realized that a lot of people worry about disappointing others over the holidays and just about kill themselves to do it.  They break themselves mentally, emotionally, physically and with their budget.  That’s not fair! Everyone should be able to enjoy the blessings of time with family, the love in giving and joy in gratitude without despairing. 

I have some ideas (shocking I know!) on how to make the holidays better for everyone…and I do mean EVERYONE.  Yes, that includes you people pleaser.  You can enjoy making others happy without having to punish yourself in the process.

Putting First things FirstFirst of all we need to be realistic in our expectations of what we can do and what we are willing to do.  For a select few hosting many dinners would be like striking gold!  For others one is more than enough.  Being realistic about our family, our events and our … well everything and putting it in perspective first will help us from getting sucked in to deeply and having a melt down.

Learn to say No, but thanks!  Honestly, this has got to be one of the hardest things for people to learn to do.  Listen up…every request has 3 possible responses.  1 – yes, 2- no, 3 – not sure I’ll get back to you (which flies back to 1 & 2 eventually).  All are perfectly okay and perfectly reasonable responses.  Stop assuming that people will only love or like you if you use #1.  It just isn’t the reality of life.  People are more likely to be fine with it if you are calm and collected when you say no to a request.  Stop squirming..it’s better to be honest upfront then try to wiggle out of it later or be miserable.

If you do find yourself feeling a bit over your head – ask for help.  It’s been my personal experience that when you ask – people respond.   When you don’t ask, they don’t know you need help.  Trust me, most people aren’t ignoring you or your situation.  They just don’t know what you know….so tell them.  

The key?  Be specific and polite.  Yelling “why won’t you help me?” isn’t going to cut it.  Asking “can you take out the garbage” nicely is almost certain to get that garbage outta there.  Yes it would be nice if magically those loved ones around you can see into your head and just ‘know’ what needs to be done but until then….just get over it and ask.

Make it easier on yourself.  Seriously, if you are having 20 people over for dinner or a party and the thought of the pile of dishes waiting for you later is upsetting you..screw it and use disposable (and recycled of course) plates.  Or see above…ask for help cleaning up.  Make dinner a potluck for all the sides.  Gifts can be wrapped at the store or put in gift bags from the dollar store.  Planning ahead a little can really help reduce the pressure and work for you.

Let it go.  So what if my new wreath idea doesn’t get done til next year.  That’s not a really big deal in the larger scheme of things.  What does matter?  What memories will I want to take with me from the holidays?  5 years from now I’ll remember laughing and feasting with my loved ones, I most likely won’t recall what brand of wine I was drinking or if the decorations were exact and perfect.   You deserve the time to celebrate with everyone else, the other stuff is just trimmings.  Take that time! 

Find your joy and hold it.  Anything else is just gravy! (pun intended!)

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