Posts Tagged ‘Life Balance’

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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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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Someone I know asked a really tough question the other day.  They were angry about someone who had hurt a child being allowed access to tv, computers and learning while in jail.  The comment was something along the lines of ‘how do they deserve that?’.

The story was disturbing, but the question she asked remained in my head for a long time.  She mentioned that she tries to have compassion for others in her daily life but can’t see how or why she ought to have any for someone who willfully hurts children.  She really just wanted them to feel the pain that they had inflicted.

That’s a tough one.  I had to take some time to think about that because I too struggled with the idea about whether ‘bad’ people deserve our compassion. 

This is what I have come to realize.

There is a difference between an expectation of justice and one of compassion.  At first, I thought perhaps I ought to feel compassion for a soul who is so twisted and tormented as to think harming a child (or any living creature for that matter) is okay.  I imagine that most of these people are mentally ill, or have been abused themselves.  What their life has brought them that led up to a horrible act might be worth my compassion.

But I have trouble there, as the majority of people who do bad things know they are doing harm and do it anyway.  It doesn’t resolve my issues for those who steal or destroy or even discriminate.  Those too are pretty awful crimes but do not always come from a mentally ill person. 

So while we might start there…we must look deeper I think.

What is compassion really? It is defined as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.  It should come from a place of love.  How do you love a person like this though? You do so, simply because they are a creature on this earth as are we all. Should we deny them their humanity because of the way their life turned out? 

Consider if this was your child.  Would you stop loving them? Of course not.  Love doesn’t work that way.  You may not like them or their choices, you may even choose to remove them from your life but you never truly stop caring.

When someone does us – or someone we care for – wrong we have an emotional reaction that can be explosive.  We want to punish and extract vengeance.  We feel quite justified in this emotion and it is only natural I think.  Compassion is what drives us to believe people can change and be rehabilitated. 

Never has it been expected that having compassion for all creatures also means approval for all their actions.  This idea of compassion does not supersede the idea of justice.  It doesn’t mean allowing someone who is dangerous to wander the world either.   But it means whomever is meting out this justice does so with a mindset that is able to see that everyone is suffering in their own way.  Compassion ought to be the companion of justice.

When we fail to see the human being behind someone committing violence, then we add to the violence ourselves.  Perhaps compassion, like forgiveness, is really more for us than for the perpetrator?  We show compassion, not because others are or are not compassionate, but because we are a loving and compassionate person…period.

Is it easy to cultivate a compassionate mind for those who we see as ‘evil’?  No, it really isn’t.  But it is important to realize that compassion is an understanding of what it means to be an imperfect, flawed human being.

I’m still working this through in my mind and I’d love to hear your respectful thoughts on this.

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Please raise your hand if this applies to you.  If thing are going too well,  how many of start to get nervous?

C’mon now..don’t be shy. I know I’m not the only one.  And it’s no longer being blamed on my being a Libra either! 

Life has a way of ebbs and flows that I used to think had to even out somewhere.  So in my mind if something good happened that meant something equally bad was going to also appear to ‘even’ out things.

Crazy right?

Maybe, but I don’t think I was or am alone.   There is a reason we have sayings like ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ right?  Or the idea of ‘walking a tight rope”.  It seems the idea of Life Balance may be a little off.

Why on earth do we assume that we can’t simply have an overall happy life with a few blips along the way?  Instead we prefer to think that the world is out to ‘get’ us, that we will be victims of something or other if we don’t worry enough and be vigilant. 

Boy oh boy does this suck the life right out of us. 

Have you ever stopped to think that this might be true only because we make it so?  I have noticed that there is a limit to what is acceptable happiness.  Kind of like a glass ceiling of sorts and if we get to close to feeling just blissfully happy we start to pull away from it. 

Holy Crap….as a society as we afraid of being too happy???

We worry about being too happy, we worry about being depressed, we worry, worry, worry!  Heck we even talk about how worried we are as if it is the thing to be doing. 

I wonder, how uncomfortable would it feel for you to reply to the question “how are you?” with “I’m really quite happy and joyful”?   But we are all perfectly okay with replying to the same question with “oh my goodness I feel awful” or “okay I guess” or “I’ve had better days”.  

We are all so accepting of everyone being miserable that we are hardly concerned when someone tells us they are.  This is concerning. How will we ever hear a cry for help is all we hear is this sort of thing?

Why is one socially okay but not the other? Is it a misery loves company sort of thing?  Hmmm.

I know that my thoughts create my reality and I know my thoughts become my words and actions.  SO perhaps what we need to do is start allowing the positives, the blessings to be what we say and do. 

It’s time to make being happy the normal, and being down in the dumps unusual. 

So, I’m going to try a little experiment and I hope you join me.  For the next week or so I’m only going to talk about how great things are and I won’t be awkward about feeling good.  I am going to share how blessed I feel, how grateful I am for what I have in my life rather than complain I don’t have everything perfect (yet).  I’m going to cheer and celebrate when something good happens and downplay the not-so-good.  You know..the reverse of what most of us do now.

I want to see how others react.  Will they be uncomfortable, annoyed or join me in my positive thinking? 

What do you think? Will you help me with this experiment?

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Let’s face it…we all have stress.  I know I sure do.

Sometimes, we simply have a situation like a job interview, sometimes it’s just been a busy and overwhelming day, and occasionally we are dealing with a situation over time that causes the stress to last and for days of overwhelm bleed into one another, until we start to forget how to be relaxed!

Long drawn out stress or constant stress can really do a number on you.  It affects your sleep (hello 3 am!) , your body (ugh..belly fat!) and your moods.  It decreases your focus and concentration.  Prolonged stress can affect your desire to do things you normally enjoy (going out, hobbies, sex).  It makes you fatigued and more inclined to get and stay sick.  Oh, and it causes wrinkles…yuck!

My point?  You have to do something to alleviate the stress in your body and mind or you will be unhealthy.

Many of the tips below can apply to all different types of stress, although I’d perhaps wait to exercise til after your job interview.  😉

Stress busting tips.

1.  Exercise.  Many of the chemicals and hormones released from our stress reaction comes from the old response called fight or flight.  Back in the day we needed this to boost our ability to survive encounters with the not-so-friendly environment.  Now, we usually can’t run away nor physically challenge that which is giving us stress.  At least not without medical or police intervention.  The best way to get rid of this type of stress is to exercise. 

2. Being Mindful.  Pay attention to how you are feeling emotionally and how your body is reacting.  Are you tensing up the muscles in your neck?  Is your stomach twisting in knots?  Are you getting angry and moody?  Being mindful comes without judgment, it is simply accepting and exploring how your body is reacting and how you are feeling breath by breath.

Before you can do anything about your stress you need to look at it, know it and acknowledge it.  Sometimes this alone can help bring the stress value down a little.

3. Choose how you react.  If you have been paying attention to my blog for a while you know I strongly believe in choice. We are in command and we get to choose how we life this life.  Sure, sometimes our emotions are very strong and we need to feel these before we can move through them; but we don’t have to let them dictate how we react to life. 

We choose what we think about.  I am a huge advocate of living from Gratitude.  Try blessing a situation and focusing on the things you do have to be grateful for and see how your stress decreases.  Focusing on what stresses you out all of the time only serves to build it up.

4. Make a plan.  This is one of my favourite things to do when I have a very stressful situation.  The way a plan might look will depend upon your needs and the situation of course, but I find putting it down on paper incredibly releasing.  Sometimes we feel we just dont’ know what to do or how to do it.  The act of creating a plan itself gives us a feeling of taking control and that is an important step. 

It also organizes our thoughts and gets them out of the circling stress ball we create in our heads.  It’s been my experience as well that once we take an objective look at things they are rarely so hopeless or scary as we first thought.  Consider trying a brainstorming session, a step by step plan, mind map or simply letting your feelings flow out onto the paper.

5. Take a break from it all.  Yup. Turn off the phone, tv, computer and do something else that will give you a mental and physical break from what is stressing you out.  Go dancing, read a favourite book, hike a trail, volunteer…whatever gets you a break.  You need to let yourself have these times off or you will burn out.

6. Find support.  Depending on your needs you might look for a friend to listen or you might want to seek professional help to sort it out.  People…we are not meant to go through this life alone.  Stop martyr-ing yourself and allow others to give you a hand up.  Ideas?  Try your doctor, online groups, friends, or even a Coach.

7. Have a laugh.  There is no rule book for life. Therefore, there is no rule that just because life is handing you some crappy cards you  must be miserable everywhere and in every aspect of your life.  Put your worries in time out and find the joyful gifts you have been given; laugh when things are funny, smile because you still can. 

8. Meditate and/or deep breathing exercises.  Not everyone feels super comfortable with meditating, and sometimes it isn’t really viable.  Still, it is a practice I really urge you to pick up.  Can’t or not sure? Try some deep breathing exercises.  These are  milder version of meditation and in a wonderful twist of events breathing is done everywhere and so you can also do these types of exercises just about anywhere! 

What do you do to help reduce stress in your life?  Everyone has their own tricks and tips. Please share yours!

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I am going to bet you know someone like my friend..umm..let’s call him Jack (not his real name).  Jack is a good guy over all but he does have some quirks that sort of drive me batty. 

Oops, not this Jack

The first one of course is the BEST one (yes…that IS sarcasm.  Excellent job.)  Jack will literally tell you that he is awesome..often. 

He actually once told me while I was studying for my Coaching Certification the he doesn’t need to worry about personal growth because…go on, I know you want to guess first… yup! Because he’s already good.  He actually told me with a straight face, that he doesn’t need any.  By any he means growth.  I pointed out that need and want are two very different things and Jack just laughed.

Oh Jack!

As I said, Jack is a decent guy overall but he’s missing out on a few skills that would make him live a much happier life.  He just doesn’t want to admit it.  Arrogance isn’t a pretty trait, nor is it a helpful one.  However, empathy is (hint Jack!).

Either way, it got me to thinking about what makes up a good set of skills for a healthy mindset and disposition.  I am not so much concerned with what will not help you along in life because to be honest I think there are more than enough articles on that if you are so inclined.  One things that frustrated me as a teacher and an adult is there are so many ‘do nots’ but so few ‘do this instead’. 

Without alternative, positive suggestions we leave people in a lurch with nowhere to go.  That’s a crappy way to coach I think so I started working on what aspects of ourselves we should be strengthening. 

What do you think of the first 5?

1. Metacognition.  Or more simply put, becoming aware of your own thoughts, feelings, actions and effects on others.   I like to also refer to it as taking the time to think about what your thinking.  After all your thoughts make up who you are and create your life.

2. Be Curious.  Start by asking questions to your self about how do you know that?  Being curious will start taking apart the layers of ‘stuff’ others have given you and begin to expose your truer, inner light.  Posing questions will bring you further into exploring depth rather than accepting what you hear as truth.  This will allow you to also change your thinking.  Too often we just accept what is around us as ‘the way it is’ but it isn’t the way it necessarily has to be now is it?

3. Living from Wonder.  This goes along nicely with #2 because when you are in awe of life, the world and all its glorious complexities it’s much easier to become intrigued by it. Real living involves participating not just sitting by the sidelines watching.  Enjoy the mysteries presented to you and delight in trying to figure them out. 

4. Persist.  There is a saying I saw not long ago that says something along the lines of “if you are tired of starting over; stop quitting”.  I see this so often in many aspects of my life.  So many people suffer a misstep, setback or failure and throw their hands up and let go of the whole idea or dream.   We need to really practice becoming focussed and believe it is wise to continue even in the face of difficulties.  Not to say their isn’t a time to let things go but I think that many jump too quickly to that end.

5. Laugh with your belly This one is mainly for the adults.  Kids already have this one down!  Really, if you need to get a handle on this idea that we need to laugh more, and let go of this rigid, fancy-pants ideal of how we should act then find an 8-year-old.  When you find them, put them in charge of the fun for a while.  You’ll get it! Life is full of the unexpected, of whimsical joys; let them in!  Let them fill your soul up because otherwise, what is the point? 

Next post will share a few more but I’d love to hear your thoughts on these five. 

  • Which do you think is the most important?
  • Which one do you feel you need to work on?

Many warm blessings;




PS. Don’t forget to RSVP for the Coffee with Soul tele seminar!  First seminar is coming up soon and we’re starting off with a bang!

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Inhale blessings, Exhale gratitude.

Do you meditate?  I have only begun my journey into this.  It’s been oh..just over a year I guess since I started looking at this seriously.

There is some real scientific evidence that supports the healing that takes place while you meditate.  When you begin to heal your mind and soul, your body follows suit.  Stress, pain, fatigue all improve.  I am living proof of this.  The pills the doctors used to give me barely helped and had wicked side effects.   Thank goodness I’m stubborn and have some friends in my life who support me and encouraged me to follow my  heart.

Now I don’t want to drag up my old story. Most of you know all about my car accident and how it took my out of commission for close to two years.  My recovery had been slow.  It picked up a lot of speed when I started to listen to my body and follow my gut.

Meditation was a big part of that.

Now many of you think of meditation as something for enlightened monks to do in a temple…or something the teachers talk about at the end of yoga right?  Not at all true.  It’s not as easy to find a good teacher for mediation I think because it’s very personal. 

I lost count of the ways I tried to follow.   Many of these techniques don’t work for me.  I get fidgety, I get bored or I just don’t connect to anything.  I thought perhaps I was not suited or unable…gosh. Perhaps I couldn’t BE enlightened any further! (Don’t laugh! I really wondered about that).

What I discovered in this journey so far is, like many things, we have to find our own way.   Learning from others is how we get started, but not how we are going to finish. 

Think of it this way.  Have you ever seen a figure off in the distance and know exactly who it was by the way they were walking?  You don’t even realize you are doing this, you just know that is your friend Bob right?    We all learn to walk in roughly the same way, but we all put our own character and life into it and our way of walking becomes strictly our own.

This is what I liken to learning about our deeper self.  We start off following a structure laid out by someone else.  Soon we have to learn to make it our own so it connects, so it is familiar and so it works.  Meditation is included in this.

Me?  I focus on my breathing.  I start at my toes and experience every part of my body; one by one.  Then, I breathe in with blessings, out with gratitude.  For me, my mediation revolves around being grateful.  Perhaps it will evolve but for now it is a beautiful awakening of my spirit. I will talk a little more about how it has made a difference in my next post.

Tell me about your experiences with meditation.


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