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Archive for April, 2013

so-what-is-joy-anywayWhat is joy?  The online dictionary defines it as “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness”.

This is not how I would have defined joy.  I think it’s so much more than that.  It reaches far deeper than just feeling  happy.

Happiness, in my view is a reaction to events that are unfolding or remembered.  It is a wonderful feeling.  Just as sadness is a reaction to events.  These are emotional responses.

I think of joy as more of an attitude and a way we can approach life.

Joy is what we have when we learn to find the good in all things.  When we live in gratitude, we cultivate joy.

Joy comes from the wisdom to know the difference between what matters and what can be released back to the universe.

A few years ago I learned how joy can be found even in the midst of the worst experiences.  Actually I should scrap that…it isn’t found, in all truth it is really brought with you because it comes from deep within us.

Someone very close to me passed away quite suddenly.  I had never experienced such incredible depths of pain in my life.  The emptiness, loss and grief were almost too much to handle.  And yet, I was in such gratitude for the time we did have together, the lessons taught, the love freely given.  It was then I realized that the reason the loss hurt so much was because of all that I had been blessed with.

There was joy in that.

When you hold joy in your heart it’s much easier to be grateful and to live in the present.   There were times when I was physically unable to work due to a car accident that I wasn’t sure how I would eat.  Sometimes people asked me how I could still have such a good attitude towards life.

The truth is I think we all have to head down our own roads and along the way we are going to have some dark nights.  I heard someone say that we all take a trip down the rabbit hole at some point and I kind of love that expression.

You have choice just like Alice did when she went down the rabbit hole and had to wander in Wonderland.  She had many times when the choice was to do nothing and stay stuck, or eat the cookie and see what happens.

I think when you approach life with an attitude of joy, you would eat the cookie.  You realize life happens and there is a lot of opportunity to experiment with it if you only have some faith in yourself and in that the world is essentially a good place with lots of wonderful people in it.

Joyful people talk and act differently.  They approach everything they do with a positive attitude, even the hard things. They build people up rather than tear them down and speak in an uplifting way.  They live from a place of love rather than fear.

You see ‘joy’ is within us.  It’s a choice, a lifestyle even.  When we take our trip down the rabbit hole, we bring it with us and we only have to choose to embrace it.  This is why some people can find peace even among chaos.

It’s my thinking that being able to hold joy in your heart is a sort of wisdom; a deeper understanding of the connectedness of life and all that is in it.

What would it mean for you to make a commitment to choosing to live with an attitude of joy?

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The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I actually had to go look at my date book to see how long its been because I’ve been SO caught up in my classes, peer calls, studying, listening to tele-classes and more that it seems like I’ve been doing this forever.

That also might be, because I think I have been doing this forever.  Maybe not with the skill level I’m developing now but I think it’s always been part of who I am to be a coach.

One of my clients this week, stopped me for a moment and asked me how long I’d been doing this…I actually asked him ‘doing what?’.  He said that he figured I  must have been coaching a long time – gosh I wish I could remember the exact words he said but it really caught me by surprise. Basically he was paying me a complement in regards to how well the session was going for him.

We jumped right back into his coaching session and carried on but later when I was reflecting I got a real buzz from that one little comment.  Amazing what an off hand comment or thought can do for and to us isn’t it?

I see other people who just so naturally do their jobs that they don’t realize how incredible it is to the rest of us.

A very good friend of mine confided that in the back of her mind she keeps waiting for someone to call her out on the fact that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing.  She’s a teacher of emerging readers and I personally have witnessed her working miracles with all the love and patience you can imagine.  She instinctively knows how to reach kids who are struggling and inspire kids who are excelling.

She has no idea how many people wish they could figure out how to do that.  She was shocked to hear me say that to her.

You see, it’s so natural that she thinks everyone has the ability, like she does.  While she has developed it and honed it through self learning, workshops, and practice there is an internal instinct that has always been there.  One that isn’t learned in the workshop or books.

You too have natural abilities that you don’t even realize are amazing because they simply come so easily to you.  It’s a challenge to recognize these for what they are because to you they seem so simple.  So this week I’m challenging you to ask others what they think you do really well.  I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised and maybe even a bit shocked at what they say.

Take it in and appreciate these gifts that are yours to use with ease.

Blessings,

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Sometimes we get to decide to make a change, sometimes change gets to ‘surprise’ us. Interestingly enough the strain on us often isn’t much different as we try to come to grips with what’s happening.

There is a perception out there in the big world that change is bad. That bad things happen when things change. Even when change is for the better we talk about having to ‘let go’ and ‘move on’ with such a sad feeling.

I’ve been the victim of unexpected change (so to speak) myself. Many times over but some things certainly stand out. I’ve also been the agent of change in my life and realize that even that isn’t easy.

The thing about change is it isn’t comfortable and it takes effort and energy – even when it’s something we really want. I’m sure I’m not the only one that gets really excited about some new project or and then gets those nervous butterflies just before taking that first step? You know where your inner voice says “whoa there, you crazy?”

Why is that? What is it about change that makes us resist it so much? Be it a small blip or a sea of change – what’s the real problem? After all it hasn’t killed us yet right?Jim_Rohn_Quote_Change

Change at its basic level brings with it a sense of chaos, of lack of control. We humans love to think that we are in control of everything that’s going on in our lives. Aren’t we cute that way?

Change shakes up that feeling of control and understanding. I mean if life is a game we play (of sorts) change is someone modifying the rules without telling us what they are and still expecting us to play and win.

No matter it’s going to happen and continue to happen to us, for us and around us. We will continue to create change for ourselves and learn and grow. For some people it’s an effort they don’t want to make but I think the Universe only gives you so long to start making the changes for yourself before it does it for you to move you along in your life.

That is what we do and how life it set up right?  It’s also how we get stuck isn’t it?

I think we have to learn to flip our view of change; embrace not knowing and be curious about the chaos rather than fear it.  We need to step up and simply accept change for what it is – a part of life, hidden opportunities and possibilities.  Stare that change right in the face and move with it rather than fight it.  We have to start remembering that life gets better with change if we let it.

When we get to move on we can choose how to respond to that.  Have you ever heard the Dr. Seuss quote “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”?

My acceptance of the lesson on change came when I was struggling to deal with the after effects of my car accident and having to realize that I would never be the same person. In the later stages of healing I had someone ask the question “couldn’t that be a good thing?” I never realized that this struggle, the changes could be a gift that I simply needed to accept.

Things had changed. I had changed.  There is no doubt to that.  I was already on a path to where I am today but in fact, I was resisting it.  I wanted to move but was stuck in so many levels of fear and confusion over the how and the what and of course…the why.

This accident forced me to face many of the things I thought were holding me back.  At some point, I realized that even though it was a very difficult time and it brought about many unexpected, painful changes – it also brought opportunity.  It brought me to a place where I could step into my own light.  I healed more than just my physical body through this and I think the Universe felt the need to push me forward.  So while I don’t love thinking about what happened and how painful it was, I do often feel a sense of gratitude because it brought me so far and gave me as much as it took away.

Life is short and too many of us live as if we have another back up one stored away somewhere.  We don’t.  I firmly believe that when we learn to embrace the chaos in change and show up with love we will finally move forward into the life we really want to be living.

Learn to breathe, give yourself some time to adjust and keep dreaming your dreams.

 

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Have you taken a good hard look at an acorn? They actually quite small aren’t they? I mean it’s a good size meal for a squirrel I guess but even those furry guys can handle a couple at a time.

In fact, my dog likes to knock them around at the park as if they were some sort of naturally occurring super ball. Yup, they bounce pretty good, but they roll really fast so that’s exciting. It’s cute when he tosses them up in the air and catches them.

But take a closer look. They have a pretty hard, smooth brown shell that is really quite lovely with an almost cute little cap.acorn-oak-nut

Now look up and around…you see that big tree they came from? Take a moment to really let it sink in that this little acorn has all the potential in the world to grow to those heights. Really kind of amazing isn’t it?

This is what your faith in yourself can be like.

For those of us who’ve been hurt, rejected and broken our faith in who we are can seem shattered and non-existent. But it’s not. It’s in every one of us; it might feel hidden or in hibernation but it’s there.

OAKtreeKind of like the potential for amazing things is hidden inside that little acorn.  Nurture that acorn just a little and it will burst forth with all the determination you could imagine to grow and thrive into a giant, towering oak.  This little acorn doesn’t even recognize its final goal, it just knows the next step is to take the chance and break through the shell it’s been protected by for so long.

You can do that too.  Look, a little faith in your hidden acorns; your faith in your own gifts and potential, can go a long way to starting to allow yourself to grow and thrive.  To peek through that crack in your shell to see that the sun is shining.

But like acorns these little nuggets of faith need to be nurtured.  They need to be brought out into the light, allowed to feel the rain and grow some roots.  And just like the acorn, this is a fragile process at first.  One that need gentleness, care and time.    You need to stretch and reach for the sun.

We have all the potential to thrive and grow into something even more amazing than we are today.  And like the acorn it takes persistence!

Find your little acorn of faith.  What can you do today to nurture it?  What little ways can you begin to starting to grow your own potential?  Little steps, small goals can add up to be quite an amazing thing don’t you agree?

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I don’t usually comment on things that are in the news but today I felt a need to.  There have been a lot of horrible things happen in our history. There has always been someone who thinks that hurting others is not only okay but somehow justified. Those who come to life full of anger, hate and cruelty.

And then, there are those who have stepped up into their own light and said no that darkness. Those who refused to allow it to seep any further and in fact push it back.

The number of these folks is growing and this shows me that the shift I believe is coming to our global consciousness is doing its work.

We have been taught to respond to the violence of others with righteous retribution. Vengeance, retaliation – all in the name of justice. While I do think that those who commit such cowardly crimes as the bombs that went off during the Boston Marathon need to be brought to answer for their crimes, I think on a bigger scale we need not answer this with a call for more hate, anger and violence.

We’ve done that many, many times before and how’s that working for us? We might throw a band aide on things but nothing really changes.

What if, instead of focussing on ‘getting them back’ – we focussed on how to mend the hearts and souls of those hurt. We instead recognize that compassion will trump hate any day of the week.  What if we looked to and supported the helpers rather than the war mongers?  We spread love and light instead of more anger and darkness?helpers

Really, do you think that the average person wants to go to war? I don’t. I think no matter what country you’re in, what religion you are, most of us simply want to love our families, live our lives in peace and in a way that makes sense to us.

The puzzle piece that is missing is the human race is so damn afraid of differences. Why is so hard to see that there isn’t one right path, every one gets there just a little bit differently.  Someone else’s differences do not impede your ability to find your own way.

I remember trying to explain to a small child the differences between two religions. I can’t even remember what they were to be honest but I do remember his reaction. A light suddenly came into his eyes and he said oh! it’s like how I call my mom ‘Mom’, but my dad calls her Helen and my cousin calls her Aunty but she is still my Mom.

In his own simple way he did get it. We are all heading to the same end, it really doesn’t matter what we call it, how we pray or where we do it. As long as we aren’t hurting any one or anything why does it really matter? How is it MY responsibility to force my way of thinking on anyone.

Really, do you seriously believe that one person, or one group has the entire truth of it all and everyone else is simply wrong? I think it’s incredible arrogant for any one group to believe they have it all figured out like that.

We need to learn to be accepting of difference and make that the new normal.

We need to begin to live with love and compassion first. Go out into the world and spread your light, share your love and practice compassion. Let’s make the light in this world brighter and brighter so that the darkness that lurks can no longer show it’s face.

Blessings to all, especially to those who are waking up to face the grim reality in Boston. Thanks and blessings to all those first responders and those who risked their own selves to help others.

As Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

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Hey, remember back when you were a kid and $5 or $10 dollars seemed like a freakin fortune? Imagine getting that excited now for what can’t even buy a meal deal at McDonald’s. Do they still call them that? Hmmm, I might be dating myself quite a bit with this post.kidmoney

Or how about when you first graduated from high school. Yes, for some of us this was a while ago. I remember thinking that one day I’ll have a job that pays me a whopping $35,000 or even $40,000! I’ll be rich!

Mind you I also thought renting an apartment would show how ‘grown up’ and sophisticated I was. *Ahem…I may have been misled on that too.

The thing is it’s all about perspective. $5 to me now doesn’t seem like it would go very far and I have no qualms about handing it to a homeless person or to a kid collecting for charity. But, to that homeless person it might be the difference between eating today or not. It might mean being outside all night or having enough to buy a coffee to sit in that all night diner during the darkest and coldest part of the night.

Perspective is everything.

Our version of success comes from our perspective. For my high school self success meant graduating from university as a certified teacher. That was it, my everything. For other people I know, success meant their babies were born healthy.

It’s all about perspective.

So how can we know when we actually successful? Well lovelies…you have to decide what that means for YOU. Just like I talk about in my book Building your Beautiful Light, you can’t keep leaning on the expectation of society and expect to be fulfilled and happy. Society tends to skew things and generalize things and ignore personalities and well…that fact that life happens.

And then, you have to stand in that truth. If making $40,000, but being home when your kids are done school is success then love that. Someone somewhere is also striving for that success. If speaking your message through writing a book is that makes a difference in lives is your idea of success – get typing! Love it, LIVE it.

Remember you can’t compare because no one has the same perspective as you do. That is one of the more complex parts of life and also one of the more beautiful.

One last thing, just like when you grew up and realized that $5 won’t get you much in the grown up world don’t be afraid to allow your perspective to change when need be. I was successful in that I because a teacher, worked as a teacher and loved being a teacher.  At some point my perspective changed and I wanted something else.  Which is why I’m now Coaching.  Oh and that homeless man may one day get a job and a home. When this happens his perspective will change and he might one day realize that $5 is easy to give away too.

Blessings
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I think there is some assumptions about meditation made by those who’ve never experienced it. Let me tell you first off that you don’t’ have to dress in robes, or have a gong or burn incense.

Yes, you CAN do those things if you like, but you don’t need to by any means.

You can meditate exactly where you are, dressed as you are, right now.  You can stand, sit in a chair, lie down…in fact I find it rather meditative to be on the elliptical at the gym.  Yes…pj’s work too. In fact I often do my meditations in my pj’s as I like to meditate just before sleep.  Some folks like to meditate almost as soon as they wake up…which I also do in a way.

You see, the key to this is simply that meditation is as personal as anything else in your life.  What works for one person may not cut it for another.

I once tried to meditate by looking into a flame of a candle.  Drove me nuts.  It just didn’t work for me and I couldn’t understand how others found it helpful at all.  A fire in a fireplace maybe, but the candle just didn’t do it.  However, a friend of mine recalls doing this and she loved it.  She didn’t realize that this was a form of meditation and was really excited because sitting quietly trying to focus was hard for her ADD brain to handle.

I, however, found that meditative music worked wonders for me. Celtic meditative music in particular soothes my soul.  It gives my wandering mind something to focus on that connects deep within my spirit.  I understand that this type of music has a higher vibration that helps us also vibrate and that level.  I find it helps me settle into my self and when it fades out to silence I am able to sit more easily with that silence and focus on my breath.

meditation_Sep081For some (myself included) it can also be helpful to have ambient sounds in the background to keep from being distracted by sudden noises.  I live in a condo and a noise from the garden or the hallway can rip me out of a meditative state very suddenly.  I have an app on my phone that plays bird songs, rushing river, rain etc. called Relax Melodies.  Very helpful at times.   I have a very easy time meditating when I can hear the ocean lapping against the shore.  Assuming of course my dog doesn’t decide to go for a swim and then shake right next to me.  🙂

It took me some time to realize what worked for me.  It was a process and I am grateful for all the online guided meditations that are now out there that helped me get deeper.  I expect as my meditation muscles get stronger I will add to what can work for me.  I already find myself able to do short mediations out in the ‘real’ world when need be to calm myself or regain focus and energy.

Many ask “So why should I even bother to try to find a way to meditate that works for me?”

Easy answer? —> Meditation improves your  health and well-being. 

Several clinical studies have documented specific ways that meditating may help people stay healthier, improve mental focus and find better emotional control and connection with their emotions.  It increases your ability to be mindful even when not in the midst of meditation.

Some studies even show that the brain of someone who meditates may be physically different from someone who does not.

“A   study in 2005 by Sara Lazar, Ph.D., an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, worked to find out which parts of the brain came into play when a person practices mindfulness and meditation. Her study included 20 people who meditate regularly and 20 who do not.

The findings were amazing. The brain region called the cortex, which is associated with attention, sensory awareness and emotional processing, was thicker in those who meditated. In fact, people who meditated were discovered to have brains that grew thicker in direct correlation with how often they meditated.  The findings suggest that meditation can actually change the structure of the brain.

Meditation is a lot like playing a sport or going to the gym.  You will struggle a bit at the start, you’ll have to find what works for you and you will have good days and bad days with it. As you get more in tune with yourself you will be stronger and better at it.

We spend a crazy amount of our time and energy focused on the external world.  Our jobs, cars, bills, family…the list goes on.   Meditation allows us to explore our inner world and workings.  In turn it gives us more to offer our external world and puts all of that into perspective.

I also believe that this is a time you can focus healing energy on your heart, soul and body.  When I began to meditate regularly I found my body healed much quicker after my car accident.  I had less pain and more ability to focus on getting better.  I give a lot of credit to my practice with meditation for the decreasing pain and increasing mental focus and energy.

During meditation you can hear your true spirit and this is something far too many of us are missing out on.  I found my path to coaching when I was able to listen deeply to where my spirit wanted to go.

I love the expression that meditation charges up my ‘spiritual batteries’.  If you let your batteries run dry you have less to give your family, your job or your hobbies.  Less for life.  You need to nurture your spirit as it is the space you live in. It’s what you bring to your life and to other in it.

This is why I meditate.  This is why I struggle through those tough days where my brain just doesn’t want to settle down.  I heard it said somewhere that during times I am too busy to meditate, I need to meditate more.  Even the act of meditating imperfectly brings about some benefits of stress reduction, focus and calm.  Be kind to yourself as you get started and remember that everyone was once a beginner.

It is a practice and I will continue to practice.  Will you?

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