Posts In: life coaching

yachats-sunset

“Continually striving for the highs, we will probably find that they elude us, and we will feel compelled to climb to steeper and steeper plateaus. We enjoy the thrill of the highest mountain, but dislike roaming around in the endless valleys below. Instead, we could be seeking out the endless plain of harmony.” Devi, Nischala Joy. ( 2007). The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Most years my partner and I take time in January to evaluate our businesses, acknowledging successes and progress and learning from things that didn’t go according to plan. And there are always things that don’t go according to plan. This year we rented a house at the Oregon coast for a week. In between the business stuff we relaxed, practiced yoga, took hikes, and walked on the beach.

Our rental, across the road from the Pacific Ocean, was hugged from behind by a section of the coast range belonging to the National Forest. A nature sandwich. The massive hill behind the house called me. I felt compelled to hike it. What view would await me? What would be on the other side?

The next afternoon, after some time working on my website, I was ready to climb that hill. At first I followed a nicely maintained path on the property. Then I veered up onto a deer trail. The long fronds of the ferns, taller than my 5 feet 3 inches, crisscrossed the path from either side obscuring what little of a path there was. Luna, my 11-year old pooch, and I followed the trail north as it gently angled upward through old growth fir, salal, deer fern, and elderberry. When the path ended, I bushwhacked up the hill. I’d repeatedly find a deer trail, reach a drop off too steep to scale, then backtrack and try a different route.

After an hour I realized we were losing light. I could see the top of the hill. So close, yet at the rate we’d been hiking I knew it would take at least another 30-40 minutes to reach the summit. I really wanted to get to the top. Partly it was the principle. The top was where I was headed and that’s where I wanted to go. Plus I was really curious. I’d hiked in the coastal range a number of times. But I’d never hiked up to get a view. Did the forest continue? Or were there people living up there? I wanted to know.

I knew we weren’t “lost” because I could see the Pacific Ocean with the sun starting to set. But I also knew without a flashlight or a definite route it was foolhardy not to turn around. I started the journey back heading south along the ridge, looking for an obvious place to cut downhill. I followed what appeared to be a horse trail (the horse manure was my clue) for awhile, but that path continued south and I needed to head downhill. I began the bushwhacking process again, harder in the diminishing light. I wasn’t wearing my contacts making the low light even harder to navigate.

At one point I was getting closer to the house, but couldn’t find a place to descend. Each possibility looked too dangerous. I finally found what looked like a deer trail, but I couldn’t really see the path because of the dense growth. I stepped out in faith (or desperation) and quickly realized there was nothing under my feet. I slid a short distance as some friendly trees grabbed me and held me suspended. Luna, not wanting to be left behind, sailed over my shoulder and landed six feet below in the cushion of forest decay. When she looked back up at me I wasn’t sure which of us felt more surprised about our descent. Unharmed, she waited patiently while I used the support of the trees and my best butt sliding technique to make it safely down with only a minor scratch from some blackberries.

I realized even during the hike that this pattern of focusing on an outcome, of assuming the payoff is at the top of the hill resembled a pattern I exhibit in my life and business. Yet every step up the hill I marveled–at the old growth firs with rotted caverns big enough for me to step inside, at the pacific tree frog with skin the color of a green parakeet, at the thrill of being in an ancient forest while hearing the roar of the ocean. I know, I know. It’s about the journey, not the destination. But here I was “destinationing” again.

The next morning I read this passage from by Nischala Joy Devi.

“Continually striving for the highs, we will probably find that they elude us, and we will feel compelled to climb to steeper and steeper plateaus. We enjoy the thrill of the highest mountain, but dislike roaming around in the endless valleys below. Instead, we could be seeking out the endless plain of harmony.

Oh universe, you have such a sense of humor.

My Takeaways

  1. I’m never really lost. True on my hike and true in my life. If I get quiet and listen inward, I find clarity. I find the way.
  2. Even when there isn’t a clear path, if I pause and take stock of where I am, I can find my next step.
  3. I don’t have to have the entire journey mapped out. I only need to have a general idea of where I want to go.
  4. Trust that, even when the landing is a bit rocky, I am supported and will be okay.
  5. Enjoy the journey. The top of the hill is probably actually similar to where I am right now. And journey, ah the journey. So many joys along the way.

And you? Do you relate to this pattern? Or do you find other patterns messing with your happiness or your success? Coaching can be a great way to help you tease out your patterns and move with clarity toward your goals. If you’re interested in learning more you can set up a free consult here.

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27 Vegetables

January 7, 2018
veggie salad

In November when I listened to a message from my Mom asking me to call as soon as possible I figured my 89-year-old father was back in the hospital. I was shocked when she told me that my healthy 62-year-old brother fell, was slurring his words, and had been admitted to the hospital. A few days later my recently retired, laid back, lean and fit brother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. My family reeled.

I’m a helper. Wellness has been a big part of my life personally and professionally for years. I went to work figuring out how I could help. My offers to fly back to the Midwest were turned down. Pat, a nurse and my sister-in-law’s, sister drove over for moral support during the surgery. Not much else was needed while my brother spent a month in the hospital and rehab recovering and regaining strength, mobility, and speech. I went to work researching. One of the great resources I found was the book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber.

The author was a 30-something doc when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Servan’s oncologist offered no info when asked about supportive dietary changes Dr. Servan could make. So he got to work researching the topic as if his life depended on it because, in fact, it did. His book is the result of that research as well as his experience plus that of his clients.

27 Vegetables

One of the bits of research he mentions is that women with the gene marker for breast cancer lived longer if they consumed at least 27 different fruits and vegetables per week. I love fruits and veggies and eat a variety every week. But I doubted that I made it to the magic 27. I decided to set myself a challenge to get to that level.

I started to keep a list in my note app on my phone. The first week my count was 28! I happy to say it wasn’t hard at all. But I wouldn’t have eaten that much variety if I weren’t focusing on it.

Here’s my list from week one.

  1. Arugula
  2. Onion
  3. Garlic
  4. Ginger
  5. Romaine
  6. Spinach
  7. Chard
  8. Mushrooms (not technically a fruit or vegetable, but I’m counting it. Hey, it’s my list.)
  9. Carrots
  10. Brussels sprouts
  11. Avocado
  12. Apple
  13. Boysenberry
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet potato
  16. Celery
  17. Peppers
  18. Beets
  19. Blueberries
  20. Peaches
  21. Cabbage
  22. Persimmon
  23. Kale
  24. Artichoke hearts
  25. Dates
  26. Rutabaga
  27. Parsnip
  28. Lime

Will I maintain that? I don’t know. I want this variety in my diet to become a habit. I do eat an assortment of fruit and vegetables already, but I also have my regular “dining companions.” I don’t want to count what I’m eating every week because I know that wouldn’t be sustainable for me. But keeping the concept in mind, I believe, will help. And maybe I’ll periodically try counting.

Here are a few of my strategies for getting an array of produce into my diet.

  1. When at the grocery store I fill up my cart with produce first. It leaves less room for other stuff.
  2. I keep my usual, easy-to-prepare standards on hand at all times. Apples and berries for my smoothies, lettuce for salads and smoothies, always carrots. Plus I like to keep a few jarred veggies and frozen fruits on hand so even when I return from a trip too late to stop at the grocery store I have something to eat. My staples are fermented veggies (carrots, beets, and ginger are one of my favorites,) sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts in the veggie department and frozen berries for my fruit needs.
  3. Peruse the seasonal specials. I’ll go for a pomegranate, lemon cucumbers, or a persimmon when they’re in season.
  4. I choose dishes that easily let me include multiple veggies and fruits. My morning green smoothie usually includes 1-3 types of fruit. Maybe an apple or a cup of mixed berries. Then I add mixed greens. I love knowing that it’s early in the day and I’ve already ingested at least 3 different plants. Salads, soups, casseroles are other good options for mixing it up.
  5. Kathy Abascal, author of The Abascal Way, a book about how to quiet inflammation, suggests that at least 50% of breakfast and 2/3 of every other meal and snack should come from fruit and vegetables. I’ve found that a helpful guideline to follow.
  6. Grow your own. My friend Allison grows much of her own produce. The images she posts on Facebook of veggie friendly meals make my mouth water. Because I live in the woods AND have goats growing my own produce has been a challenge here. But I’m a regular at the farmer’s market and I keep thinking I’ll sign up for one of the many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) in my area. In other words, there are lots of options
  7. Gather your veggies. I’ve been a forager since high school. In advanced biology my final project was camping for a weekend and only eating food I gathered from the woods. Yesterday I gathered some dock leaves and nibbled on violet blossoms, chickweed, and blackberry shoots all while doing yard work. DON’T do this unless you know what you’re doing. Learn a few plants and make sure you’re gathering from a place that doesn’t spray. Don’t over harvest and make sure you have permission. Those “weeds” will add variety and freshness to your diet.

Do you want to take the 27 fruit/veg challenge? Share your tips and struggles here.

 

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Aging: The Inside Story

August 3, 2016
beautiful-older-woman

I saw an ad today for a “beauty” system that looked like a torture device. Picture a tiny paint roller with fine needles projecting from the surface. When you roll the device over your face the needles penetrate your skin. The fine print says “No known negative side effects.” I guess pain isn’t considered a side effect. Granted I haven’t tried it, but it sure looks like it would be painful.

I went onto YouTube to listen to reviews expecting to see people screaming in agony as they “beautified” themselves. The first reviewer I watched mentioned she had put a numbing cream on her face for 25 minutes before use. She said not to be afraid of the device. I’m afraid of anything that requires me to use numbing cream.

The theory behind the roller is that it “might” stimulate the production of collagen, reduce wrinkles, cellulite, etc. The holes it puts in your face also help you absorb serums and creams better.

Looking for Youth in all the Wrong Places

What strikes me about this (and many other beauty treatments that are uncomfortable, expensive, and potentially dangerous) is the amount of focus on trying to look younger on the outside. I’ve known people that forgot about their “inside” life because they were so focused on the external.

I’m all for looking vital and healthy. I would love to have the same skin I had when I was 30. But I’m not 30. I’m 59 and happily counting. (There are more senior discounts in my future.) While I want to look vital and healthy and make choices that help me with that, I’m much more interested in FEELING vital and healthy.

Everyone makes his or her own choices about how much time and energy (and what type of time and energy) they want to put into looking “good.” And we also get to make up our minds about what we think looks good. We don’t all love purple hair, tartan plaid, or pearls. Thank goodness for that because it makes people watching much more interesting.

But there’s something disturbing to me about the hunt for pseudo youth. Dying your hair back to its original shade does not, after all, make you that age again. I believe it’s possible to do things like laser treatments, Botox, hair dye, even torture devices for your face because you love yourself and love looking your best. If getting your butt Botoxed makes you feel great then Botox away. But I think it’s equally possible (maybe more likely?) that many women are rolling torture devices over their faces because they don’t like who they see in the mirror. They don’t like the changes that aging can bring.

Embracing Change

You are changing. We all change. We don’t expect the tree we plant as a sapling to look the same in five years. We don’t expect our toddlers to stay the same or the oak tree to keep its leaves all year. Change is part of the beauty of life.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love all the changes I see in my body. I don’t obsess about aging and I’m grateful that I’ve very healthy—no medications, no arthritis, no high blood pressure. I don’t mind that my hair is gray because it’s thick and healthy. BUT I would love to have fewer lines and tauter skin on my face. I WANT to love all the changes including those lines. I’m working on that. My goals are to 1) accept the changes 2) love myself and 3) look and FEEL as vital and healthy as possible.

I do, however, love some of the changes that have come with age and maturing. I love that I’m more direct than when I was 25. I love that I don’t fall into victim mode anymore. I love that I don’t drink alcohol. It saves money and calories and I feel better. I love the community of friends I’ve gathered over the years. I love that I’m strong.

Being Edith-like

Cousin-EdithI’ve had the good fortune to have some outstanding role models for vital aging in my life. My
grandfather’s cousin Edith stands out. Edith lived to 108 years young. She lived independently until the last few months of her life. The year she turned 100 she was invited to be the Grand Marshall in her community’s annual Arkalalah celebration (yes, that’s really the name.) She walked to the DMV to renew her driver’s license so she could drive her 1950 Chevy, the only car she ever owned, in the parade. Not only did she get her driver’s license for the event, but also she bought a stylish modern dress that I would have been happy to wear at the time and I was in my early 30’s.

But Edith didn’t look 30. While her erect posture and lively movements belied her 100 years, she looked like an older woman. That didn’t seem to bother her. She was able to garden, take daily walks, play bridge, live on her own, and participate in a book group. She stayed active mentally and physically throughout her life. I never heard her complain about saggy skin, gray hair, or achy joints. She was far too busy for that. Maybe far too happy would be a better description. She once said she realized she could choose to be miserable or happy. She chose happy.

The theme of my coaching and retreat work is living a life of purpose well. Spending time trying to rewind time or focusing on what you don’t like about yourself takes time away from living that well life of purpose. I want to invite you to a life as rich, full, and happy as cousin Edith’s for as long as you live.

Your Vital Aging Challenge

1.    What do you value about your aging or maturing process?

2.    What about your maturing process do you want to learn to embrace or accept?

Here’s what I would love: Share your answer to #1 here. I think if we all start celebrating the wisdom of maturing instead of fighting against aging we’ll have more energy for what matters to us. The world will be a better place. And if you share here we can all celebrate each other’s awesomeness. Ready to join me?

wedding

Do you ever struggle with making a decision? You just don’t like any of the options. Seems likeyour choices are to do nothing or pick a solution that you’re not in love with.

Speaking of love I got married on June 22, which means I’ve been doing some wedding planning. When I say “wedding” don’t think church, large crowds, or white gowns. Think backyard, a couple of guests, and yoga pants. My partner and I have lived together for 15 years. But when it became legal for us to marry in Oregon we decided to it was time.

But Not Urgent.

There wasn’t a deadline. We’re not having a baby, we already live together, and there wasn’t any family pressure. But my sister was scheduled to visit from Washington D.C. so it seemed like the perfect time.

Bridezilla?wedding

Of course planning big weddings with mucho decisions about caterers, bridal parties, dove releases, and champagne toasts create big stress. But you wouldn’t think a teeny weeny wedding would create any decision making stress. Especially a wedding where you can wear yoga pants.

But it did. You have to understand that my partner and I are very different people. If it were up to her she would gone to the courthouse and been done with it. She wanted to marry me. She didn’t necessarily want others involved.

I, on the other hand, wanted witnesses. My community is really important to me. I knew I wouldn’t be inviting 100 of my closest friends. But I wanted someone there.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, NOT

One of the advantages of a non-traditional relationship is that we don’t have traditional roles. I’ve seen plenty of relationships where the bride decides what the wedding will be like with some to little input from the groom.

Not so when you have two opinionated women. In our relationship when it comes to important decisions (or decisions we care about like which rug to buy) we wait until we have a choice with which we’re both happy. As you can imagine there is often a waiting period. Sometimes a long waiting period. But interestingly enough we always find a perfect choice whether it’s a wedding or rug.

How about your “wedding?”

I bet you have a decision you need to make. Maybe it’s a fun one like where to go on vacation. Will it be Tahiti, Seattle, or Kokomo, Indiana? So many possibilities…

Or maybe you’ve been putting off a decision like how you’re going to loose weight. It seems so overwhelming. So many choices and you’re afraid they’ll all involve deprivation.

When I work with my coaching clients I sometimes hear angst when there isn’t a clear decision. The conversation goes something like this. “I know I don’t want to stay where I am, but I don’t know where I want to go.”

Or “Where I am isn’t quite right, but I don’t like any of the other options.”

“Where I am” can be a physical location, a job, a health status, a relationship… If you’re stalling on a decision does that make you a procrastinator? What if it just isn’t time to make a decision? What if by waiting you allow the perfect choice time to show up?

To decide or not to decide

One of the great things about consciously tabling a decision until more data becomes available is that your stress gets reduced. Allow that potential decision to perch on your shoulder and it takes energy every day. But when you stick it in a box in a closet and promise to come back to it you can focus more freely on what’s at hand.

Your Assignment

Pick one decision that you know you’ve been needing or wanting to make. Got it? Now feel into whether it’s time to make the decision or park it.

Notice how you feel with each option. Does deciding feel better? How about waiting? And if you’re waiting what do you need to know to make the decision?

I’d love to hear what you decided and how you feel about it here.

running shoes

Since 1988 Nike’s Just Do It slogan has been adding zeros to Nike’s bottom line. No one can argue that it’s a great tagline for them. Well known, easy to remember, and inspiring to athletes and coach potatoes alike.

Even though it’s served Nike well, I don’t think it’s a great tagline for how to “do life.” Honestly, I only take issue with three parts of it: just, do, and it.

Wait a Minute

Who am I to argue with the genius of a large ad agency that represents clients like Facebook and Coke Cola? Who am I to argue with a slogan that has been inspiring the masses to buy shoes (and socks and sunglasses and water bottles…) for 27 years?

The phrase sells shoes. I’m not interested in selling shoes. I’m interested in connecting people to their most inspired (and inspiring) life. I don’t recommend “Just Do It” as the best way to get there.

Being “Just”

Just, among its definitions, means “actually or really.” In other words “really” do it.

As opposed to dreaming, thinking about doing it, talking about why you can’t do it, having a snack, calling a friend, filing your nails, browsing Facebook, having another snack…

Sometimes we need that kick in the butt to get off our butts and make our “it” happen. Sometimes action IS what’s required. But when we jump to the assumption that “just” doing is the answer when we haven’t even figured out the question, we’re premature in our process. I see people pushing, busy, busy, busy, doing stuff day after day, yet not feel successful.

“Just” marginalizes what needs to happen, as if doing or not doing was the only problem. As in, if you just did “it” life would be wonderful. If you just got out and ran (wearing Nike’s, of course) you would be healthier, heck maybe even an Olympian.

But if this is something worth doing, if this is the thing you feel called to do, then your “it” deserves more focus and intention than a dismissive “just.”

Do, Be, Do, Be, Do?

So what about the “do” part? Taking action is at some point essential. But it must be preceded with some “being,” that place where divine inspiration comes in, where ideas gestate. Maybe some taking stock, some listening and sometimes even some waiting.

It’s okay, even necessary to take some time before doing. There’s your timing. And there’s divine timing. Sometimes we need to make ready. Sometimes the universe needs to line things up. If you’ve ever pushed, worked, and plodded to make something happen only to feel frustrated as the project ground to a halt, then you may not have laid your groundwork. It also might not be the “right” time. No amount of “just doing” will unblock the logjam.

The “just do it” attitude implies that it’s all up to you. That there isn’t a greater power at work here. But there is.

That “Just Do It” stuff can keep you busy all day. What about right action? To have right action you must first have inner awareness. You must listen. You must wait for a puff of divine inspiration to blow your way.

Sometimes the most fearless thing you can do is wait. Don’t confuse making excuses, distraction or your delay tactics with waiting for right timing.

When is the time for doing? Good question. It goes back to the awareness piece. You’ll feel clear. You’ll feel excited about your next step.

Here’s the really cool thing. When you’re not pushing yourself to “just do it,” when you’ve waited for that inspiration, for knowing, then you don’t have to push. You want to move. And move you do.

Your “It”

Before you do “it,” you have to figure out what your “it” is. Tricky territory. Sometimes we go after an “it” that belongs to our parents, a boss, or our culture. To live an inspired life you must have a taste of what your “it” is. Doesn’t work if you’re driving to someone else’s it.

Sometimes the bravest thing to do is to go on an inner expedition to find your “it.” It takes space. It takes quiet. It takes commitment.

Your brain is a valuable resource. It usually remembers your address, your route home, your favorite brand of tennis shoes, be they Nike or other. But your brain isn’t always the best place to source your “it.”

Better Places to Check for Your “It.”

Try your heart, a repository of wisdom of what moves and motivates you. Gosh, maybe you’ll be so moved that you won’t need a catchy slogan to inspire you to action.

Trust your gut. Those twitchy, slippery ever-present feelings sandwiched between yesterday’s pizza and your morning corn flakes can inform you about what matters to YOU.

You may have to build your awareness muscles. If you haven’t been listening you have to relearn/learn those skills. But do 15 awareness crunches a day and pretty soon you’ll find yourself with flat awareness muscles. And looking proud, balancing right on top, you might just find your “it.”

Be patient. You’ll know it’s yours because you’ll feel a sense of excitement coupled with a feeling of “this is it.”

Your “it” calls you for a reason. It helps you to heal, to grow. It helps you to offer your gifts to the world, to have more joy. And in order to be up to speed with your “it” you probably need to do some inner work. You might need to shift some beliefs.

I know “Just Do It” is much simpler than my process. My tagline would suck. Something like “Know what you want. Get aligned with it. Wait for inspiration and then act.” I won’t be selling many shoes with that baby. It probably won’t turn you into a world-class athlete either. But you might just have more success and be happier in the process too.

Do you know what your “it” is? I’d love for you to share it here.

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