Author Archives: Nancy

Authentic Relationships

Where is that book, “How to Have a Perfect Relationship?”  There must be some instructions, a handbook, a formula…  I tried for years to re-create the myths of my youth, but I simply couldn’t get that “Leave It To Beaver,” myth of the 1950’s to come out right for me!

Outside The Box

What if there are no maps for successful relationship?  Or no two maps alike?  What happens when we break the mold, question tradition, toss out the shoulds? Why not let the past be history and create a brand new vision of a shared life — a life of purpose and contribution to one another and to the world. This vision of relationship may or may not look familiar.  It is unique to each of us, and as fluid and open to inspiration, growth and change as we are.  It is outside the box, possibly different from what we always imagined, and it is courageously creative!

The crafting of this kind of consciously designed, shared life calls first for self-knowledge:  What do I believe in?  What values serve as my compass?  What am I passionate about?  What must I accomplish in this lifetime in order to have few or no regrets?  What’s fun?  What scares me?  What are my strengths and weaknesses?  What brings me aliveness and joy?  What supports me in being the best I can be?  From the basis of this individual self-awareness, a life together can be designed, or re-designed, to reflect the mutual respect, support and celebration of one another’s full self-expression in the relationship, the family, and in the world.

Fertile Soil

I’m constantly in awe of how brave my clients are.  Just a glimmer of the possibility that it’s okay, even imperative, to create truly authentic relationship touches into a deep knowing, a longing, that once awakened, can and does, accomplish anything.  It really is possible, and thrilling, to step outside of the box of the known and create, or re-create a relationship that is dynamic, fun, and sustaining, and that provides the fertile soil for an ever-deepening union and fully expressed lives.

This challenging and important relationship work is beautifully affirmed by a wedding ceremony, commitment or re-commitment ceremony, that reflects a shared vision and an intentional, designed life.  Brave new relationships in this uncertain world are greatly strengthened when held in the love and support of family, friends and community.

Be Still and Know…

On New Year’s Day I gave myself the gift of a day of silence.  By this I mean a day of not speaking; which, for me, is a big departure from my usual day where I work and maintain many relationships on the telephone. I talk a lot!

It took some effort to protect this day as there were events and invitations that were hard to miss.  Once I had the inspiration, though, I was a little surprised at how deeply I longed for it; to start off the New Year in silence. I wanted the relief of it, the space and time to simply befriend myself and rest in the quiet.

There were people around me at various times throughout the day so I carried an index card that said, “I’m observing a day of silence — Happy New Year” to show those who might notice my silence.  I confess that I wrote “a grande extra hot cappuccino, please” on the back for my trip to Starbucks!  Last week I again saw the lovely young woman who waited on me that day and she shared that my day of silence had inspired her, too.

The Sactuary Within

Now I want more.  A day, a week or an hour a day, some time designated as my Sabbath; time to visit the sanctuary inside my own skin, my own heart.  Giving myself that day of silence has me look more deeply at the benefit of experiencing connectedness.  It really is possible to step out of the fray, no matter what the fray is, and connect with the place within myself where I can just listen and hear that ancient memory that knows that I am all right, that I have always been all right, and that I will always be all right.

Most religious traditions or spiritual practices include some form of listening for succor, guidance or answered prayer.  Over 25 years ago I made the decision to live my life by allowing myself to be led by a power greater than my own best thinking. This came as a result of getting my PhD from the School of Hard Knocks!  I already had a kinetic awareness of what my energy wanted to move toward, or away from, and I had come to trust my heart’s desires (vs. acting out of fear, avoidance, addictions, etc.)

I realized that the very guidance that I was seeking was right here within me and I was probably not going to get a booming voice or a burning bush!  That still small voice comes to me as a thought, an idea, followed by a movement of energy, sometimes subtle, sometimes a resounding “Yes” or “Not that!”

The Wisdom Within

Over the years of my Life Coaching practice I have learned to recognize that expansion or contraction in my client’s voices, what their heart really wants to say yes or no to, and to help them learn to hear their own wisdom.  One exercise that helps tune into this energy is to think of something that you really, unequivocally love.  Close your eyes and slowly say “I love _________,” (that thing) at least ten times, really feeling your love for this person or thing.  Then stop, keep your eyes closed and spend a moment feeling the truth of this statement in your body.  Now, with your eyes still closed, slowly say the exact opposite at least ten times, i.e., “I hate ____________,” (that same thing you really love).  Now stop, and with your eyes still closed, experience the feeling in your body when you are telling yourself a lie.   That’s it!

I have come to identify that expansion, that movement of energy toward something; that feeling of juiciness, relief or excitement; my true heart’s desire, as Divine Guidance.  In my own 62 years, and in the lives of hundreds of clients I have coached over the past fifteen years, I see over and over that steps taken with this awareness inevitably become a path that is in itself fulfilling as it moves toward visions and goals.  This is how the journey or the process comes home to a sense of deep satisfaction in the moment, the now.  Every step or misstep, problem or solution, becomes another opportunity to remember to return to the inspiration within us, our visceral connection with something greater than ourselves.  Whatever name we call It, it is a connection that we can trust; an ever present sense of purpose.

The Confidence Within

I just started to write these are hard, scary times, and I experienced a big “No!”  I don’t want to say that; there is more than enough of that news in every quarter.  What I really want to say is that no matter what, there is always inspiration, grace and guidance within us, available every moment.  In that moment, we can know peace, andwe can take action in trust and confidence.  The trick is to learn to listen, to create some time out of the fray, and “be still and know…”

Antidotes for Anxiety

We are standing on shaky ground… It appears that the foundational structures that we have believed and trusted in are crumbling before our very eyes.  It remains to be seen what history will reveal about this time, but right now the collective feelings of shock, insecurity and fear are palpable in every one I talk to, everywhere I go.

The following four antidotes for anxiety have helped many of my clients navigate particularly stressful times in their lives.  It is my hope that these simple tools will help relieve your anxiety and promote positive and productive responses to this difficult time.

Be Present

When you feel threatened, it is natural to want to do something, anything, to get out of the feeling – and right away!  Many a misstep has arisen from not being able to tolerate the discomfort of anxiety or fear.  It is important to pause before reacting and distinguish what you are feeling.  Name the feeling, “fear (or whatever) is here,” and be willing to make a space for it, not to resist it, no matter how scary and uncomfortable it may be.

Feelings are usually connected to thoughts, but are a distinct visceral experience (i.e., we feel them). The adrenaline rush that accompanies a fight or flight response is a good example.  Pausing to notice that you are feeling as if your life is threatened makes it possible to observe the feeling, rather that being consumed by it.  That alone will help lower your anxiety response.

In fact, you will find that when you lean in toward a feeling, it will most often dissolve.  Only then you can notice that even though something scared you, your life is probably not at stake in this moment. You can look around, take a breath, take stock…  “What information do I need?”  “Where can I get it?”  “What help do I need?”  “Where can I get it?”  The trick is to first be present to your self and to sort out your emotional response from the facts.  Then you will be able to respond to the actual events at hand with thoughtful, measured action.

Take Action

Action is one of the most powerful antidotes for anxiety, but not re-action or a rush to solution which actually feeds fear. If you don’t know what to do first, or next, you need more information or more help.  That’s your next step. One small, intelligent step will reinforce your momentum and feeling of empowerment.  Depending upon how overwhelming the big picture might feel I often have clients pull their focus back to one day at a time, or one hour; sometimes just the next 15 minutes.  You can manage just about anything for 15 minutes and that will break through the paralysis of fear and build your confidence, one next right step at a time.

Accepting that you may not know what is going to happen, how exactly this is going to work out, is very challenging for most people. Being fully present in the moment and trusting that the step you are taking now will provide information, learning and guidance for the next right step, and the next, requires faith that a power greater than your self is managing the outcome.  Trusting the process is a potent antidote for anxiety; it raises you up spiritually and leads to enlightening and enlightened results.

Self-Care

The inclination to let your personal self-care habits and practices slide during times of stress, especially financial stress, is not unusual.  However, the antidote for anxiety is to step up whatever activities are self-care to you: exercise, meditation, movies, reading, massage, being with friends, adequate rest, healthy food – whatever it is that supports your body, mind and spirit.  Being good to your self is to your mind what endorphins are to your body.  Besides, your unconscious actually needs time like this to work behind the scenes.  Make spaces for those flashes of inspiration.

Also, resist the (understandable) temptation to “hunker down,” turn inward or isolate.  Events that threaten your sense of security often stimulate unresolved emotions from the past.  It is also a prime time for those self-saboteur voices to strike up the “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Chorus.”  If you find yourself stuck in panic or obsessively worrying, it is important to reach out for help to sort it out.

In any event, finding an objective person to help you see problems from a different perspective, to strategize outside of the box, and to support you in planning and taking action, will reduce your anxiety and expand your solutions.  It is also useful to get help with learning how to communicate about problematic or frightening issues with family and friends, while still managing your stress, and theirs.  Seeking assistance is a sound, strategic action.  Bottom line… self care is getting the help you need.

Gratitude

As elementary as it seems, in shaky times, it is easy to stop noticing what is going right.  No matter what, you can look around you right now and find something that evokes your gratitude. Keeping a Gratitude Journal (the practice of recording five things that you are grateful for everyday), when done over time, will change the lens through which you see your world.  Simple things such as a smile from a stranger, a good meal or an opportunity to be kind or helpful work just as well as more obvious blessings.

Gratitude is magnetic and will attract more good to you.  Gratitude is a high vibration and when you join with it, you experience your self as more than your circumstances and conditions.  Gratitude will help you have a sound night’s sleep and a new sense of possibilities upon awakening It is awesome (in the true sense of the word) how quickly and completely gratitude antidotes anxiety, one moment at a time.