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Flexibility and Rigidity: Finding the Right Balance

Ok, I am not sure if this is something others struggle with, but this is a top struggle for me.  How do I find a balance between flexibility and rigidity? Let me explain. I struggle with how much structure to have in my life, when to say yes and when to say no, when to be spontaneous and when to stick to the plan. Like in yoga and other exercise, there needs to be balance between a flexibility and strength (rigidity). If it is too flexible then it is hard to control movements and if it is too strong, it can be hard to move. As a coach, I try to help my clients create structure but also allow for fun and opportunities to go with the flow. But for me personally, I can be overly rigid or overly flexible, the magic is in the balance and I constantly struggle to find that magic.

I was just listening to a TED talk on the radio where the speaker was talking about the benefits of daydreaming. Daydreaming is the epitome of flexibility. It allows for the opportunity to be creative and let our mind wander. But we can’t daydream all day. Do we need to create a structure for daydreaming? Is that the answer, combining rigidity and flexibility?

My junior year of college I let rigidity get out of control and it has haunted me ever since.  I will do anything to avoid falling into that pit again. One could say I have rigidity PTSD. My eating bordered on disordered where I counted everything I put in my mouth and my weight was phenomenal! I had a strict studying schedule and I had my highest GPA ever! But I was no fun to be with and I was a walking stress case. I may have had great numbers on the scale and on my report card, but the reality is that was one of the worst years of my life.

But I also can go the other way where I am so flexible I lose my sense of self. As a middle child, I am used to being the diplomat. Balancing the extremes of my siblings out. My parents are balanced when they are combined. My dad is rigid and my mom is flexible and together they are balanced. But how do you find the balance in one person at one time?

I really don’t know, but I have put a few systems in place that are helping me work towards that balance. Please, if you see me being too rigid or too flexible do not throw this blog in my face. I am not claiming to have conquered this. I am a work in progress just like the rest of you.

Find a program that matches your personality

My husband and I are in the midst of our third round of the Whole30. If left to my own devices I would gain 20 pounds a year. Now that my metabolism has slowed, I need to be more rigid, but I have to be careful not be disordered. I have a daughter and my goal in life is to role model healthy eating without focusing on calories and the scale or the size of my clothes. Doing the Whole30, where you are not allowed to weigh yourself or count calories, is the perfect balance for me and I can do it whenever I need to be more mindful. And even better, my husband and I do it together, so it has been great for our relationship. Whenever I go too far on the “rigid” side, my husband reminds me that the founders of the Whole30 are divorced, so I should chill out for our marriage’s sake.

Create a balanced schedule

When I was studying positive psychology we learned about the idea of SPIRE. It stands for: Spirituality, Physical, Intelligence, Relational and Emotional. The idea is to make sure each of these five areas is accounted for in your life and to notice if they are out of balance. I use the color coding in my Google calendar to help me manage this: Yellow for workouts, green for work, blue for social, light purple for business development/learning, and then each of my kids have a color as well so I can keep track of their schedules. If I am in balance, my calendar should look like a rainbow. But here I must be flexible too—some weeks are more devoted to one area than another. I guess the goal is balance in these areas over the course of a month rather than over a day or a week.

Create spontaneous rituals

My daydreaming time is every morning. I wake up at 5:45 every single morning (even weekends) to sit with a cup of coffee and do my writing pages (see The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron to learn more). During these 45 minutes, I am free to write or not write whatever I want. Sometimes I write To Do lists. Sometimes I contemplate life. Sometimes I remember my dreams from the night before or I write my dreams for the future. THERE ARE NO RULES.  The only rule is that I sit and write. To me this is the perfect balance of flexibility and rigidity and it has been a life changing ritual for me. Not everyone likes the morning, not everyone likes to write. Find a spontaneous ritual that works for you.

Cater to your introversion/extroversion to a point

 Over my 47 years of life, I have become more and more aware of my introversion and it has made me so much happier. I know that I cannot have too much social in one week. In contrast, my husband, an extravert, needs a certain amount of social for his mental health. Determine what is right for you and figure out how rigid or flexible you need to be. Saying no to social engagements has been hugely empowering for me, but sometimes I need to chill out and go with the flow here. Again the magical balance sometimes eludes me, but I keep trying and improving.

Saying yes or no

A lot of people and animals rely on me. Sometimes I have planned to take the dog on a long walk and she is not in the mood. Or she wants to go for a long walk and I have only allotted time for a 15-minute walk. This can turn into an existential crisis for me. Do I force the dog to do my bidding or do I accommodate her? I am obsessed with my dog so this is not an easy decision.  I was recently asked to be on a committee that seemed interesting. Do I participate? Is now the time? What do I have to give up to participate? Will I feel FOMO (fear of missing out) if I say no?  I have got to think others don’t agonize like I do in these circumstances.  But if you do, I feel your pain. Life is determined by our choices and sometimes I find choices fraught with competing demands. I try to help my clients have self-compassion in these situations where there is no right answer but you have to just make the best choice for you in that moment.

Overall, I feel I am working towards finding my balance. I have started my own business and I have designed a schedule that works for my personality, energy and availability. I love having the balance between being a mom, a coach, a business owner and a writer. I make time for naps, exercise, volunteerism and reading as well as for my family. Finding balance is WORK.  But for me it is worth it. I would love to hear tricks you use to achieve balance in your life!

 

 

 

 

 

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Listening to my Pain

The new book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And The Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari, has had a strong impact on me. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I am always looking for solutions. This book took a different approach from what I usually read and is a worthy companion to the multitude of other books addressing anxiety and depression. One area he writes about is how our pain is important. Our pain tells us something and we should listen to it rather than stifle it.

The book opens up with a story about when the author was in Vietnam.  He had eaten a toxic apple and begins violently vomiting. When he gets to a doctor, the doctor tells him   that the vomiting saved him. Had he stopped the vomiting, he would have died. The doctor told him, “You need your nausea. It is a message. It will tell us what is wrong with you.” This thesis continues throughout the book. How can we allow the pain to last long enough to diagnose the problem? Often stifling the pain merely masks the symptom and does not allow us to dig deeper.

Hari argues that depression and anxiety may be very appropriate reactions to what we are experiencing in our life and changing our circumstances might be exactly what we need to address our feelings. He identifies seven Reconnections we need in our society to help heal the rising number of people suffering from depression and anxiety. “Reconnecting with Other People” is number one on his list. As an introvert, I struggle with this. I happily take advantage of all technology that allows me to live in my quiet space—amazon instead of shopping, texting instead of talking, social media instead of group events. So I was concerned. Were all introverts doomed?

But an experience I had last week clarified things for me. I realized how I could maintain my introversion and still enhance my reconnection with other people. Last week I had horrible cramps. During that time of the month, I usually try to slow down and be extra kind to myself, but that day was just a busy day and there was nothing I could about it.  I was making dinner and was about to grab an Advil to deal with the pain. At that same moment, my husband walked into the house. I thought about the book and decided to listen to my pain. Sure I could take an Advil and keep moving at a crazy pace, but what I really needed was to lie down on the couch and give myself a break. Then, I thought about the idea of reconnecting with other people. I asked my husband, who had literally just walked in from a long day at work, to please jump in and take over making dinner so I could put my feet up. He did and I was able to relax  knowing that dinner was now in his capable hands. My pain alerted me to what my body needed. I needed rest. And it also allowed me to reconnect with my husband. I revealed my vulnerability and he did not dismiss it instead he validated my need and helped me.  I don’t have to go to parties or shopping malls to connect. I just need to reach out when I need it and feel heard.

When reflecting back on my life, I realize some of the most beautiful memories are when I reached out and allowed people to help me with my pain. When my kids were little, I lived in a community where we all helped each other. We were a bunch of exhausted moms who had little help.  We created playgroups, watched each other’s kids and kept each other company. Being a new mom can be incredibly lonely. Somehow we were lucky enough to turn our pain into a wonderful and supportive community.

Listening to our pain rather than covering it up is a valuable tool to help direct our choices. What is your pain telling you and are there ways to dig deep and make changes to the root of the problem rather than covering the pain? Finding community that works for my personality is an effective way for me to address my anxiety and is a priority for me going forward. As I take another step towards my 50th birthday and adapt to parenting teenagers, my village needs have changed. But I plan to make an effort to reach out to others and get the help I need whenever I need to ease the pain.

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The Junior Year Journey

Being a parent of a junior in high school is not easy. As we know life seems to move faster with each year. But when junior year comes along, life pushes the pedal to the metal. As someone who always drives the speed limit and avoids all fast amusement park rides like the plague, I am holding on for dear life. Talking about college, visiting colleges, prepping for ACT/SAT, prepping for the drivers test, AP classes and the overarching awareness that life as I have known it for 17 years is about to change is tough and I need to figure out how to handle it.

I am not someone who avoids change. I have enjoyed watching my kids get older. I love seeing their independence grow. I did not cry when my kids marched off to kindergarten. I was so very excited for them. I embraced their bat/bar mitzvah year with joy and excitement. Therefore, I am a bit thrown for a loop with how much this year is toying with my emotions.

All I can do is try to control what I can control. If life is moving too fast in one domain, I can try to slow down in others. If I am feeling extra vulnerable, then I need to create a life that helps me feel secure. What can I do to help myself survive and maybe even thrive during this time?

This is my plan I am putting into place and I hope it helps others think about how they can adapt when times are tough.

Wake up earlier

If life is going to fast, I need more time to gently enter my day. By waking up 15 minutes earlier, writing in my journal and connecting to myself, I am stronger and better able to deal with the tornado of my day.

Go to bed earlier

I am diligent about getting into bed as early as possible. I am trying to honor my sleep cycle and if I am getting up earlier I must go to bed earlier. If I am overtired, I do not have the strength to deal with the topsy turvy emotions I feel.

Honor my introversion

One of the indicators of being an introvert is that we can feel depleted by social interactions while social interactions energize extroverts. To protect my energy, I have to say no to invitations. I feel uncomfortable about this sometimes, but it is what I need to do to protect my already vulnerable foundation at this time.

Meditate

Meditation teaches us how to notice what is going on without judgment. Having this more sophisticated awareness of my thoughts and emotions allows me to deal with them in a more reasonable way. I am learning to accept what I feel, challenge what is not true and treat myself more gently.

Spend time just the four of us

My sadness around our family changing is best addressed by appreciating what is here right now. We have prioritized being together as a family more than ever and my daughter, despite her busier schedule, has been game. Being together at a restaurant or watching sitcoms and movies or just laughing and teasing each other during car rides is grounding and seems to slow things down temporarily.

Imagine a fabulous future

Being around friends who have been through this is powerful. Reading blogs like Grown and Flown is life saving. Imagining our future with my husband can be exciting and freeing. Life will go on when my kids move on. I have a new business, a wonderful husband and the most amazing dog that is not going off to college luckily. I have friends and family and hobbies and goals and the next phase will be wonderful.

Adapting to change is a life skill that we must embrace since change is inevitable, but I can be kind to myself in the process.

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Surviving a Tough Time With Your Adolescent

In all likelihood one or all of our kids will go through a tough time at some point during the adolescent years. They may have a hard adjustment to a new school, new teacher, a best friend may move on, a first love may break up or he or she may just feel unsettled. Hormones kick in and kids develop at very different rates, so puberty can be a time of much confusion and uncertainty. Parenting a child who is having a hard time can be a particularly lonely time even though we are in very good company. Privacy can feel paramount at this time due to your child’s preferences or your own feelings of embarrassment or insecurity. Below are things I have done personally to help myself and my child deal with a difficult time.

Find a cheerleader

Is there someone who thinks your kids are great no matter what? My mom serves this role for me. She reminds me of how awesome my kids are and having lived through it all before, she knows how short this window of time is in the scheme of things. A little perspective and unconditional love can go a long way.

What makes your child happy?

Now is the time to give your child a little extra TLC. Make sure you child has an opportunity to just be a kid. Does your child have a favorite restaurant, meal for dinner, can you watch a favorite movie as a family, bake together, play a family board game, go to skyzone and jump around? Get your kid away from social media and foster connection with people who accept them for who they are.

Get out of town

Sometimes you have to give your kid some real distance from the stress. Go visit his favorite cousin who lives in a different town, plan a quick getaway with the immediate family, or hang out with old friends who no longer live in town. Give your child an opportunity to disconnect from the challenges of every day life and refill his or her bucket. This builds resilience and coping skills.

Seek out grounded and sensitive friends

 This is not the time to talk to the exaggerators, over reactors or the completely clueless.  You need someone who will respond gently as you reveal this vulnerability. Find someone who won’t exacerbate the issue or ignore it. It is a really delicate balance, which is why it can be such a lonely time. This is an excellent time to rely on an already established relationship with a therapist or to start going to one.

Self-Care

Caring for an unhappy child can be emotionally draining. Be sure to fill your own bucket by taking some time to restore. What energizes you? Do you need time to sit and read, exercise, talk to a best friend, go for a walk, get a massage? Do what you need so you can be extra sensitive and patient for your child. And know in your heart that this too shall pass.

Follow to the Experts

I recommend any of the books below:

Wendy Mogel: Blessing of the B- and Blessing of the Skinned Knee

Julie Lythcott-Haims: How to Raise an Adult

Lisa Damour Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood

Get your child help

We all need to know our limitations. Sometimes our kids need to speak with someone besides us. There are many wonderful people who can help your child. Obviously a therapist is ideal as they have the experience and background to provide effective tools. Other options are other adults like aunts, uncles, other family members, older cousins or family friends. Really anyone who is mature and cares about your child can help. A school guidance counselor can sometimes be a helpful ally as well.

Home is where the heart is

Family can be a source of strength and support even while our kids seemingly want to move away from us. Creating a home that is supportive, welcoming and loving can go a long way to help. Taking life a little less seriously can remind our kids that everything is temporary and things will get better. A happy home can give the whole family strength, including you as you tackle this challenging time.

Adolescence is tough–we know because we have been there. It is challenging as kids grow emotionally and physically. And as the saying goes “we are only as happy as our most unhappy child”, it can be a very difficult time for you. The more we can do to help our children laugh and experience joy the better able they will be able to survive this time and the better you will be as well.

I know there are lots of creative ideas out there that resourceful parents have uncovered. Please share any tools you have used to survive this time in your life.

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Create Space in 2018

“Create the Space to Let Life Happen” is the motto on my 2018 planner designed by Ashley Staum, owner of “She Plans.” A planner, when used proactively, can be a tool for freedom. The freedom to grow, stretch and create is a goal for many of us and with a little planning we can create those opportunities in 2018. Growth requires empty space: time for spontaneity, time for rest, time for connection—to ourselves and to others. We cannot develop brilliant ideas without time. We cannot be true to ourselves without reflection. But we need to be intentional about these things. Before you fill your 2018 calendar with obligations, prioritize time to just daydream (remember the good ole days when we would do that?). Here are my tips:

 

Reserve time on your calendar

On my Google calendar I color code everything. I have a color for my work, for my play, for each child and for my workouts. This allows me to be sure I am making time for what is important to me and that no one color dominates my life. My daughter’s high school has a brilliant program. They reserve 2.5 hours for the students every Monday and they call it Genius Block. This is time students can pursue their dreams, take learning to the next level or just relax. We should all build Genius Blocks into our life and fill it however it makes sense. Pick a color and start to book time to do what you need/want and don’t even allow yourself to question it. You deserve it and our world can definitely use a few more geniuses.

Create space in your body

Lauren, my awesome personal trainer, has taught me that unless you have space in your body, you will not be able to build muscle safely. Stretching is an integral part of our sessions and is supposed to be an integral part of my daily schedule (I am working on that). Let me tell you, taking time to stretch and take care of my body has led to me being stronger than I have ever been. It turns out that not getting injured is an effective way to be healthier. Take time to develop space in your body through stretching, yoga, massage, whatever you can do to show your body some love. It will thank you for it.

Create Space in your mind:

  • David Allen, creator of Getting Things Done a work-life management system, says “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Allen has a five step plan for getting things done and the very first one is called Capture, where you literally dump anything and everything out of your brain onto paper (or a computer organizing system). Once you have emptied everything out of your brain, you can begin to figure things out. Holding stuff in your brain to remember wastes precious resources and can cause unnecessary stress. So as you prep for 2018, begin to capture everything you hold in your brain into some sort of system either paper or digital.
  • Use mindfulness to single-task. The more we focus on one thing at a time the more space we have in our brain to dedicate to that one task. Think of a garden hose. When you spray the water in lots of directions, the pressure is distributed and diluted, but when you allow the hose to go in one direction only, it can be powerful. Our mind works the same way. When our mind is going into a million directions, it is diluted. Your life deserves your full attention. Engage your mindfulness skills to hone your attention on one thing and enhance the quality (and most probably the quantity) of your work.

Magically make more time appear

In the movie Sully about the Miracle on the Hudson, it is clear that one of the reasons the simulator could not accurately reflect what the human pilots did was because computer simulators do not need to take up time making decisions. Decision-making takes time and energy. One secret to creating extra time is to build in habits that you do without thinking. Imagine how much wasted time you would have if you had to decide to brush your teeth every day. If you create habits in your life, you gain that extra time to do things that actually make you happy. Just like you make your coffee without thinking (or at least I do), create other habits that keep you on track and free up some of that decision making time.

Create space in your physical environment

Rachel Jones, a joyful space specialist and founder of NourishingMinimalism.com, explains that clutter creates anxiety and wastes time. She offers a clearing clutter challenge to get rid of 2018 items in 2018 and she even offers a motivational chart to help us track. I plan to do this challenge. If it will help limit the amount of time I spend looking for my glasses every day, the happier everyone in my family will be!

These are just a few ideas about how to make space in 2018. Experiment and have fun with it. Simply being proactive rather than reactive is a great place to start. I would love to learn how you build more space into your life. Check out my worksheet to help you play with these ideas. To a happy, healthy and free 2018!

 

 

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Flywheel Breakthrough: Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

I have been going to Flywheel religiously two days a week for several years. Flywheel is a spin class where you ride a stationary bike to music with an instructor leading the way. I love the dark space where I zone out and ride to the beat. The music fills me and I get taken away on a journey each class. During class you accrue a score based on your effort (a calculation based on resistance and speed). I somehow get the same score every… single… class. For a while I tried to increase my score by saying to myself before class: “work harder!” Not surprisingly that was ineffective. Finally, I took matters into my own hand and planned how to increase my score ahead of time. As they say “nothing changes if nothing changes.” So I decided to do things differently. I made a plan before class and implemented it and immediately got a score 15 points higher than my regular score (an increase of 6%). I used the same methods that I give my clients when they are working towards a goal and it worked. Below is an outline of my plan which can be applied to all of our goals:

Ask

I had the opportunity to chat with an instructor after class a few weeks ago and I finally revealed my frustration. Why couldn’t I increase my score? He suggested a technique to use. He explained that I should focus on my speed rather than my resistance. In other words when I ignore the teacher’s instruction, ignore the resistance, but follow the speed. Hmmm, this had never occurred to me. I guess there is a method to this madness!

Breathe

OK, I know I am a yoga instructor so you would think breathing would be obvious, but it wasn’t. I needed to use my breathing to help me. Sometimes I would panic and breathe too fast and shallow. I needed to take some deep breaths to help me along. By connecting with my breath, I was able to stabilize my mind and get back on track.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

As a student of the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I have learned that procrastination is just a form of fear. So I asked myself what I was afraid of? Why couldn’t I push past my number? What was holding me back? I uncovered the fear: the fear of being uncomfortable, the fear of getting hurt and the fear of pushing too hard. I knew I had to move past these fears if I wanted to progress.

Take it One Step at a Time

As a coach I tell my clients to create bite sized chunks when pursuing the goal. It can be intimidating to think about the big goal, so instead we should break it down into smaller goals. Spin classes include approximately a dozen songs per class. I decided to focus on one song at a time. I made a mini-goal for each song. I did not allow myself to think about three songs in the future; I just focused on the present song. How was I feeling right then? Could I add resistance, could I add speed? Was I working at the right pace for myself right now?

Self-Compassion

How was I talking to myself throughout class? Was I being kind or was I beating myself up? I promised myself I would say supportive things like “if you need a break after this song, you can take it.” This helped me not panic when I was giving it my all during a song and worrying about whether I would be able to keep up with this pace during the whole class. Knowing I would listen to my body and take care of myself, I was able to increase my productivity. Self-compassion helped reduce my fear.

Be Proactive

It took me a couple years, but I finally decided to be intentional about the class. I wasn’t ready to make a change until I was ready. For the first couple years maybe I was just trying to create a routine for myself where I actually showed up to class. But one day I was ready to take my workout to the next level and when that happened I made a plan. If we want to make a change in our life, we need to give it the respect it deserves by asking questions and making changes.

Lesson learned. When it is time to make a change, be intentional, methodical and kind. We don’t need to excel at everything we do, but when it is time to make a change, go for it!

 

 

 

 

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10 Tips for an Awesome Summer- You Got This!

It’s June, time to think about your summer. Ever notice how Labor Day comes and you look back on your summer with regret—all the things you hoped to do did not happen. Let’s change that now! Get out your calendar and PLAN for the following activities. Make your summer count. Try new things, take advantage of the warm weather and longer days, enjoy the slower pace and create new traditions and memories. Go through the 10 suggestions below with an open heart and an adventurous spirit. Just Do It!

  1. Step out of character: the same way kids pretend to be someone else and “start fresh” at summer camp, we can have an opportunity to act out of character over the summer too. Mixing things up and acting out of character can teach you a lot about yourself and who knows what opportunities it can open up?
  • Do you prefer adventure? Take up gardening
  • Are you a homebody? Go campingcareer coaching
  • Are you always the boss? Be a participant and not a leader of an activity
  • Do you avoid attention? Sing karaoke….sober
  • Do you wear a lot of makeup? Go natural
  • Do you wear only tans and beiges? Add some color
  • Do you only consider it exercise if you’re pouring with sweat? Try restorative or yin yoga
  • Hate to sweat? Try a spin class or warm yoga
  • Are you impulsive and fast moving? Start writing in a journal and meditating
  • Do you overanalyze everything? Make a quick decision and take on the mantra “fail fast”
  1. Experiment with the plethora of fresh fruits and veggies summer has to offer and try some nutritious foods you usually overlook.
  2. Take advantage of the longer days to take a walk with your spouse, kids or friends at dusk and enjoy the companionship and cooler weather.
  3. Get dirty. Garden, walk around barefoot, paint, hike, bake. Do whatever you need Life coachto make a mess and enjoy it!
  4. Connect with old friends. Summer can make us sentimental. When feeling nostalgic, act on it rather than wallow in it. Call, email, text or even snail-mail an old friend. It is never too late.
  5. Find your inner athlete—even if you have to search really, really hard. Join a tennis clinic, play on your neighborhood softball team, run a 5k, hike a local trail, bike on vacation, participate in a master swim class, play Frisbee or kadima, do cartwheels, or just go back to #3 and walk
  6. Invite friends and neighbors over to grill. No need to set up a fancy table. Burgers, hotdogs and beer can be an easy way to entertain without the pressure. Paper plates and no cooking pans can make clean up a snap.
  7. Throw things out!! A cluttered house can feel even more claustrophobic in the heat. Spend a few moments every day or pick one day a week to clear out the clutter. As my husband tries to tell me “the garbage can be your friend”.
  8. Read a juicy book or watch a juicy show. Put away the non-fiction and the news and read or watch something that is pure bliss. A whodunit, romance, fantasy, whatever your preference, indulge!wellness coach
  9. Create a new family tradition. Game night, Friday night dinner with friends, put together a 1000 piece puzzle, have a ping pong tournament, take a trip to the beach, whatever you need to do to share something special and make it an ongoing memory.

So… what’s your plan? Share your priorities in the comments section, announce them to your friends, put them in INK into your calendar and make things happen. As Sheryl Sandberg says “YGT”—You Got This!

To learn more about my Summer Goals workshops or my 1-on-1 coaching, email me at  or visit my website.

 

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How to Slow Down Time

I am 45 going on 46. I am at the start of midlife. This is the time many people start saying they wish they had a magic wand to slow things down, which I totally understand. Not only do I want to slow down my kids growing older, I want to slow everything down.

Fortunately, we do have a magic wand. We have the power to slow things down, and we all know this intellectually. Slowing down is hard because life pushes us along at a brisk pace. If we want to slow down, there are no short cuts. Being present in life is hard work and requires constant vigilance. I am going to share with you some ways I am learning to be more present so that I can savor this time.

Connect with your Teenager

Do you know who Murr, Joe, Sal and Q are? Well I do, and let me tell you, it is not something I would typically brag about. These are four best friends who have created a popular TV show called Impractical Jokers where they all have the best time embarrassing each other. My 13-year-old son loves this show and was completely insulted when I couldWellness Coaching not tell the four guys apart. Considering the fact that my son strung the most words together when discussing this show, I decided I better hop on the bandwagon. Now, when he watches the show, I watch it with him and savor the joy of watching him laugh until he cries. I have learned who all the characters are and can engage in somewhat “intelligent” conversations with him about it.

Connect with your Elders

I love being around people who are older. Not only does it make me feel young, but I am comforted knowing that they have insights to share. I know that they have been around the block and have experiences I have yet to have.

I will never forget the time my parents slept over when my kids were still little. My dad was reading a book to my son and my mom was reading a book to my daughter. Rather than surreptitiously skipping pages in the book in order to finish it faster so bedtime would arrive more quickly (as I was guilty of doing), they were slowing things down. They were life coachingmaking the bedtime story process take longer! It was astounding to me. My parents were living in an alternate universe where their sole purpose in life was to savor their grandchildren.

Earlier this week, my mother-in-law and 16-year-old daughter had a 15-minute conversation about The Odyssey and Macbeth. I had no idea my daughter could talk about literature with such depth. It took someone older who was savoring time with her granddaughter to create the environment for this sort of conversation. I saw what was possible if I slowed down.

Stop Rushing

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to get over my desire to be exactly on time to things. I was like Goldilocks, I didn’t want to be too early and I didn’t want to be too late; I wanted to be exactly on time. Well as we all know, this goal is impossibLife Coachingle. My blood pressure was rising several times a day as I attempted to be exactly on time. Now, I have decided to leave 15 minutes earlier than necessary. For example, if it takes 15 minutes to get somewhere, I leave a half hour before I need to be there. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me. Often, I do encounter detours, construction, or other delays on the way, and I relax and listen to my music without panic. The less you have to rush in your life, the more you can slow down and enjoy the moment. When rushing, life is a blur. When taking your time, you can actually see the colors and details around you. You can BE in the moment. Which is a magical way to slow down time.

Connect with yourself

While I love Flywheel, I disagree their motto “Never Coast”. Ok, fine, during their 45-minute class you can “never coast” but please leave that motto at the door. Any productivity book you read (and I have read dozens) tells you to try to make your life easier. The more systems, rituals and habits you have in place, the easier it is for you to get the job done and Life Coachingthe more access you have to creativity and connection. Think about it, if you are riding a bike, when is the time when you can take in the beauty of your surroundings? When you are coasting of course. Otherwise you are pushing hard to get up hill or flying downhill. My question for those who are always pushing or flying is –what are you pushing your way to? What are you flying away from? What is wrong with coasting and being present?

So, you may ask, how do I slow down and connect with myself when life is so busy? Introduce these activities into your life—and do only the activity—no multitasking!

  • Take a bath
  • Do slow yoga
  • GardenLife Coaching
  • Take a walk
  • Learn to knit
  • Complete a puzzle
  • Meditate
  • Breathe
  • Dance
  • Color or Draw
  • Bake

Be a rebel. Throw off the fitbit for a nature walk. Watch stupid shows with your kids. Post about the awesome 200-piece puzzle you just completed. Let’s change the norm from busyness to presence. OK, gotta run (just kidding …).

0

Moving Beyond My Comfort Zone

 

One of my favorite signs from the Women’s March in DC was “Introvert by Nature, Protester by Need”. Based on the reaction among the crowd, It was clear to me that many other people identified with this sign as well. How does an introvert, who hates crowds, push oneself to attend a march with hundreds of thousands of people? How do we help ourselves push outside of our comfort zone?

As a coach, I often help my clients move outside of their comfort zone. It is common for our goals to be outside our comfort zone—which is exactly why it can be difficult to attain them. So how do we move outside our comfort zone without going into Unknown-1full panic mode?

The best way to deal with discomfort is to understand what causes our discomfort, anticipate and prepare for those triggers and find healthy coping alternatives. Most importantly, we need to continue to step out of our comfort zone!

  1. Pay Attention

First you must identify when you are uncomfortable. How does this feel in your body? How does it affect your thoughts and your behaviors? Then, ask yourself what emotion you are feeling. Is it fear, sadness, uncertainty, anger, frustration or something else? Be sure that the emotion you are identifying is the primary emotion. For instance, you may feel embarrassed as your primary emotion yet it presents itself as anger. This can be confusing. We think we are angry but we are actually embarrassed. Digging deep enough to find your primary emotion is hard work and requires some truth telling and self-awareness. Just like with toddlers, meltdowns are usually the result of a primary emotion like exhaustion or frustration or envy. The anger (or secondary emotion) exhibited is merely the way the primary emotion is being expressed.

  1. Identify your crutches

life coachingDo you grab your phone whenever you have a moment of boredom, too much time to think or when you are in an intimidating situation? Do you reach for a cookie? Do you bite your nails? These are self-soothing techniques, but it does not allow you to really work through your feelings and better understand yourself.

  1. Create space between yourself and your crutch

In order to grow and learn how to regulate your emotions, you must identify your crutches and then make space between you and your crutch. Sitting in your discomfort is, for lack of a better word, uncomfortable. Leave your phone in your purse, walk out of the kitchen, put your hands in your pocket.

  1. Engage your curiosity

Meet your discomfort with curiosity. Why are you feeling uncomfortable? What is your primary emotion? What are some other ways you could help regulate these primary emotions? For instance, if you are at a party with lots of people you find intimidating, don’t grab your phone and start scrolling through Facebook. Instead ask yourself “Why do these people intimidate me?” “Is there someone in this room whom I find less intimidating?” If yes, go find that person. Observe the people in the room; is there anything you can learn about them or yourself? How can you be present even though it is uncomfortable?

  1. Find a healthy alternative to your crutch

As an introvert, attending the DC March required me to step out of my comfort zone. During the march, I utilized coping mechanisms to help me. I noticed the calm of the people around me and found comfort in the collective emotion of pride, enthusiasm and solidarity. I held my daughter’s hand. I took deep breaths when I needed to reconnect with life coachingmyself. I moved when I felt claustrophobic to a more open space. I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone to attend the march, but I did what I needed to make it manageable.

  1. Anticipate and prepare for moments of discomfort

There are also ways to anticipate discomfort and help yourself before you feel uncomfortable. For instance, I knew I was going to feel nervous at the march, so I followed the safety advice thatLife coaching was provided by the organizers of the march. I may have been overly cautious, but I knew these efforts would help keep me calm during the march. Planning ahead is a productive way to help with emotional regulation both before and during the event.

What are ways you self regulate when stepping out of your comfort zone? I would love to hear your strategies. We all have moments we are uncomfortable –it is a universally human condition. So embrace it, prepare for it, be present in it, learn from it and feel proud of your courage to step into it.

Contact me for more information about stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals.

11

Body Image: Let’s Change the Conversation

How many times have you said or heard the following: “You look great! Have you lost weight?” Over my 45 years I have said and heard the following way more times than I can count. I have translated that sentence like this: You have lost weight -> you look great->you are happy. In other words you are thin=you are happy.

My junior year of college I had lost a bunch of weight. Other students loved to bask in the glow of my thinness and they would ask me “How did you do it?” and then they would listen attentively like I was the Dalai Lama. In my typical candidness I would answer, “I didn’t eat”. I did not say it with pride, I simply told the truth. And everyone would just nod in sad recognition. We were all enslaved to the thin ideal.

This past year in an effort to lose 10 pounds I had recently gained, I pulled out my back twice doing exercise that was not healthy for my body. I teach yoga and tell my students every class to listen to their body. Yet it is the hardest lesson I have had for myself.

So why, even though I have so much evidence to the contrary do I still have this thin=happy mindset? What do I need to do to move on?

Losing weight has become such a “should” in my life that my brain has created a huge neural life coachingpathway around that. Beauty in general is seen as an achievement; something you attain. Like most women, my relationship with weight and body image and beauty is so heavy, so loaded and so full of suffering.

I participated in a 10 month Certificate in Positive Psychology program, and I just returned home from a weeklong immersion with the other 150 participants. Many brilliant people spoke. The stories that were shared were incredibly powerful and I have never felt so much truth and love in one place. Interestingly, the two stories that had the most profound impact on me highlighted the issue of weight.

One woman had made a promise to herself and out loud to the group 10 months ago that she would come back much thinner. I remember my heart breaking at the time as the entire room erupted in applause for her. Yes, Positive Psychology embraces the mind/body connection and the importance of taking care of our body, but once again even in this safe space losing weight was considered a virtue. The woman came back this time and announced her “failure” to lose the weight. However, life coachingthankfully, her best friend reminded her of her magnificence and she decided she was going to focus on that beauty instead. Yes!

Another woman presented the poetry she wrote throughout the year. She said, I may never feel thin and beautiful, but I can create my own form of beauty through poetry. A truth was revealed to me. We can interpret our own beauty through kindness, authenticity, truth and courage.

In my Positive Psychology program we learned about Deceptive Brain Messages or (DBMs). Jeffrey Schwartz, MD & Rebecca Gladding, MD, outline the idea of DBMs in their book You Are Not Your Brain. DBMs are messages our brain tells us that are inaccurate but that we have been telling ourselves so many times we believe them. For instance you might say that you are not smart, unworthy of love, or not good enough at your job. Perhaps you were told these messages by others and then took them on as your own or you created these ideas from the media. Whatever the source, Schwartz has recommendations about how to alter these messages. Based on the most up to date brain research, we are learning that we can change our brain. Thinking new thoughts can create new neural pathways. Incredibly, we can change our brain throughout our life, not just during our childhood.

wellness coachingI simply need to change my thinking around my weight and beauty to create new neural pathways. This is my new challenge. Because the thing is, I am happy. The main thing that brings me down is when I start to focus on weight and external beauty. So now, when I think about my weight I am going to focus on my truth and authenticity. When I think about external beauty I am going to create new thoughts around my kindness and compassion. I am going to reshape my brain to be an empowering machine where health and happiness are defined by me.

I ask you. If you see me, please do not look me up and down and remark on my weight. Instead, you can learn about my happiness by a more accurate investigation. Ask me what book I am reading now and watch me light up with excitement. Ask me how my family is doing and I will share our challenges and successes. Ask me about what I do for fun, or about my career. Connect with me in an authentic and honest way and that will bring us both happiness.