Where are you From

“The closer you come to knowing that you alone create the world of your experience, the more vital it becomes for you to discover just who is doing the creating.”Eric Micha’el Leventhal

Yup, I admit it proudly. It’s been somewhere between 15-30 days and I have restarted my New Year resolutions at least that many times so far. How about you? My restarts come by way of sitting down to write to you and by way of tackling a new recipe and by way of getting my ass to the gym on cold days that beg me to stay in bed cuddled up under my comfy king size blanket that wraps around me twice and just do absolutely. Nothing. but luxuriate in its warmth.

One of my favorite winter activities is to go through closets. I love going through last year’s clothes and shoes and papers and clutter and get to the end just to feel the unbelievable relief in taking a deep breath knowing I have new space to clutter up again this year. It’s cathartic, it’s rejuvenating, it’s therapy. What can I say, I like the routine of cleaning and purging the old stuff?

So, in my maniacal purging frenzy, I found myself in my daughter’s closet and came across a writing project she did when she was in the 5th grade. It was the start of the new school year and the teacher wanted the students to write about where they come from as a way of getting to know each other. In a prose kind of format my daughter talked about where she comes from in a self-defining kind of way such as her family and how and what we eat, her music, her books, her play time with her neighborhood friends. Of course, I started to cry because she is so far from 10 years old now and man, do I miss her at that age.

As a writer stuck for inspiration, how could I not take a good long look at this project and think to myself where the heck am I from? I have invented and reinvented myself so many times and each time is as authentic and real as the last time and as authentic as the next time I phase away from one persona and bring on the next one. What has changed and what has stayed true about me? What do I continuously go back to and what do I consciously stop myself from doing and remember, oh yeah, that’s something I want to get better at or that’s something I want to put way behind me. And isn’t that all part and parcel of new year’s resolutions? We want to make changes to go from old to new, to go from bad to good or at the very least better? We want to be a shiny new version of an old self. So, in keeping with the theme of the project my daughter had to do, here is the short”ish” version of who I am….(so far):

I am from childhood memories of staying out late during endless summer nights and waiting for mom to call us in for the night knowing full well that “5 more minutes” was the rebuttal.

I am from a family I helped to create and struggle to keep together during this self- discovery phase we are in as individuals now.

I am from outdoor activities that thrill me because it means getting in exercise without feeling like I’m exercising, gardening, volleyball on the beach, biking, hiking and walking trails that allow me dual time to bring my camera and get lost in nature.

I am from baking and cooking that excite my family and friends who wish I would make a career out of it, home sweet home making, celebrating for any reason, and curling up on the couch with a good romance novel and deep mug of green tea or hot apple cider on a cold day.

I am from “mom, where’s my favorite shirt”, “hun, do I have underwear for work tomorrow”, “what’s for dinner”, and no one at the table tonight except me because everyone is working.

I am from a barrage of photo memories mounted on the walls of my home that remind me of the life I had and wondering what lies ahead and my overflowing hope chest still filled with hope for a person I’ve yet to become.

“The bulk of life is discovering who you are—and then reconciling that with who you wish you were.” Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes: Quotes, Thoughts, & a Little Poetry for Every Day of the Year

So, if like me, you are struggling to keep those resolutions afloat, to keep trying to find who you want to be, to keep pushing forward and make those changes that so very much meant so very much only 46 days ago, then try to take some time to think or perhaps write about where you are from in every sense of the idea.

Are you from a collection you started when you were 5, are you from a tree you loved to climb when you were young, are you from a food you absolutely will enjoy until your last breath, are you from an entire generation of people that influenced who you are at this very moment and that is why you are pushing for some. Kind. of change. or leveling up or distance?

Get as real as you can and see what you can see from inside yourself, outside yourself, and the 360 view. If you need a nudge or a sounding board, write to me. I live for this kind of thing.

Call to Action

Here are some questions to help you get started:

  1. So, you want to change the whole but what’s going on with all the parts? What do you want to change on the outside that first needs changing on the inside?
  2. Where is fear showing up? How is fear causing you to do nothing or go backwards?
  3. If you could choose an adjective as your theme word for this year what would it be? How have you started living that word? Does the word need to be adjusted?
  4. There are reasons for everything we do. List 3 top reasons for wanting to make a change in your life and 3 top strategies for making each one happen.

On Your Mark

Ready, Set……Gather

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”

Walt Whitman, Leave of Grass

You are getting ready to take a trip. You are preparing to take a journey that will transform your life if you let it. Gather that which you will absolutely need.

In this third installment of YOU DECIDE I will be talking about the stage of change called Preparation.

“All things are ready, if our minds be so.” – William Shakespeare, Henry V

When you were contemplating changing a behavior there were many steps you took toward the act of thinking about what to change and how to change. The preparation step in changing the problem you want to change “takes you from the decisions you make to the specific steps you take to solve the problem during the action step”, so says the authors of the book, Changing For Good (CFG) (pg. 146 CFG). Soon we will discuss the 4th step on the ladder of change, the action step.

It is very important toward your success to fully engage and not skip over the preparation step.

According to Dr. John Norcross and his book Changeology (CO), he says in his “Prep” stage of change, “There is a tiny exception to the rule of planning/preparing for change: Planning can be unsuccessful when conducted with dysfunctional perfectionism. A fascinating line of recent research suggests that extensive planning can backfire for some perfectionists. For them, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Planning that triggers constant critical self-examination can obstruct progress. There is a solution…. Tame your self-criticism, understand that no plan is perfect, and keep moving forward. If you keep criticizing yourself, add not doing so to your list of resolutions.” (Pg. 85 CO)

“I have learned that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, every day, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw; you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” – C. JoyBell C.

It is encouraged during preparation to continue to re-evaluate yourself and the problem you want to change while at the same time maintaining a feeling of confidence about your decision to change. The preparation step says things like, “Get ready, we are heading out”, “What should I pack for this journey”, “I think I can do this”, “Oh yeah, that is why I wanted to make this trip a success”.

The preparation step looks forward in all ways. “It asks you to focus on finding the most suitable type of action to overcome the problem.” (pg. 146 CFG) “We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” – Thomas Edison

It is a fine line at this step in the changing process to also be feeling ready to take action rather than just prepare. The problem with skipping the preparation step is that we tend to wish that just admitting we have a problem that needs to change would be enough to make that wish a reality. Remember that wishing is not enough to make most things happen. You have to find the energy to back up the wish and that energy creates hope which will lead to success in making anything you want, possible.

“If you are going to make a change, you are going to have to operate from a new belief that says life happens not TO me but FOR me. “ – Tony Robbins

Your old-self needs to imagine the new-self and get a mental picture going of what it will look like when you are working the change steps, what it or you will look like when you are fully engaged and making the changes happen.

You started to draw this mental picture during contemplation but now you are adding colors and roads to take and mapping out where and how you will travel. Hopefully you are going to eliminate unwanted surprises along the way by being mindful of what you pack, how you pack and how you will set out toward your destination. Surprises arise no matter how well we plan but trust in the research you have done, the self-talk you have engaged in, the team you have put together and the outcome you want to achieve.

If you know ahead of time that nothing is perfect and imperfection can be an ally then when the surprises crop up you will be able to handle them.

Now would be a great time to get your juices flowing by making a list of all of the perks of your changes. Here are some questions to get you started. Expand as far out as you can with each answer. Get detailed; get into a great story of your journey here:

What are all of the positive outcomes once my changes are complete?

What will I be capable of accomplishing when I change?

Who will I be free to become?

How will not only my life but the lives around me be better because of these changes?

Keep this list with you wherever you go. It is an important tool you will need to reference from time to time.

“Once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them.” Nelson Mandela

Are you serious?

If this changing thing turns out to be too difficult will you give up?

When you were thinking about changing a problem way back in contemplation did you think this would be easy?

 “Many individuals make personal change a goal but often times the goal gets relegated to a place somewhere between getting a haircut and going shopping. If you attempt to accomplish too much, you will ultimately put off the more difficult tasks that change requires. You must concentrate on making this change task a priority on your to-do list.” (Pg. 151 CFG)

“What I like most about change is that it is a synonym for ‘hope’. If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is ‘I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it’”. – Linda Ellerbee

Don’t forget to track your progress through this step of preparation. According to Dr. John Norcross there is a way to track patterns of the problem you want to change. He suggests taking at least a few days, maybe 5, to learn about the pattern. He encourages you to become a “behavioral detective”. Ask yourself these questions so that your actions steps, when you get to that step, will be understood more clearly:

  1. What times of day are the most problematic?
  2. What are the situations that trigger the problem I want to change?
  3. What are my feelings that trigger the problem?
  4. What rewards am I offering myself that maintain the problem?
  5. What are the delayed consequences of the problem that I typically forget about? (Pg. 90 CO)

If you are looking to understand more about what triggers behaviors that need changing then the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a must read. He not only focuses on the new behavior but he helps you to become aware of the triggers that set off the old behavior.

 

COMMITMENT

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter F. Drucker

Part of the process of preparation is commitment. Part of the commitment process is also known as willpower. Having the deep, unflinching belief that you will succeed no matter what happens along this journey. “When you make such a commitment, it is an act of faith in yourself. Begin by having faith in all you have accomplished during the contemplation step.” (Pg. 152 CFG)

The definition of willpower reads, Noun: Control of one’s impulses and actions; self-control. Words that strengthen willpower are grit, drive, resolution, and resolve. I would offer a more powerful word than all that I have mentioned so far and that word is courage. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to even think about change of any kind.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

I didn’t know that when I thought about finally taking seriously the need to have the surgery. I didn’t realize how courageous I was being in gathering my facts and making a plan, preparing for the surgery despite all of my deep, deep fears. Having courage as my ally was very powerful once I realized I was embracing that value.

I was at a moment where I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be and live a life that seemed out of my mental and physical grasp for so long. “I’ve chosen my life, now I want to start living it.” – Stephanie Meyer, The Twilight Saga. OH YEAH!!

Take a moment and allow yourself to think about the fears surrounding you within the changes you want to make. Think about what courage means to you…..

Where do you feel the fear?

How strong is the fear that it will act as the winner in this battle toward the person you want to be?

When in your life have you shown  willpower or courage toward something that scared you, and you won?

Who was there for you through your fear and through your courage to help you face the battle ahead?

Your hands are shaking, your body is cold, your wits are scattered, your breathing is labored and shallow, what will it take at this exact moment to push through and move forward anyway?

It’s a date.

Just like a date is set for a wedding or possibly a birth or just like a graduation date is set rain or shine, a start date toward your commitment to change is an important preparation step.

Committing to a specific start date drowns out procrastination and jumping the gun of action. When you choose your start date get real about it.

Perhaps there could be significance to the date you choose (see my personal list at the end of this post). Make sure that the date is not too far off from where you are right now. Too much momentum will be lost if you wait too long to get into action.

When I chose the date of my surgery I picked a time that I knew I would be off from my job with enough time afterward to recover adequately. I also made sure that I had just enough time to keep preparing myself for the surgery but not too much time to build so much anxiety that I would definitely cancel the surgery.

 

 

Your Team

“Nobody can achieve success alone. –Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

We touched on this in the contemplation step by thinking about who you choose to be on your support team. As always I offer myself as your cheerleader of support should you need that one extra person or that one person you can count on without any doubt.

Dr. Norcross covers quite admirably the intention of a team for support. He suggests:

“Make a real list now of potential allies. Keep in mind their availability, shared interests with your interests, and their ability to support and not criticize”.

Think about the type of support you want from these allies. Should these Special Forces be good listeners, pep talkers, someone who has already had success in this particular area of your change, or should these allies be neutral to you like that of a coach or trainer or therapist? Those most able to help are who you ultimately want.

Listen to their words when you ask for their help.” Is there hesitancy? Would this person or persons give unwanted advice or encouragement? Can you be honest enough within yourself to politely say “no, but thank you” to those well intentioned people”?

When you have successfully established your list of allies “don’t email them your request and intentions. Make it personal and leave them feeling important. Call on the phone, get together in person, or send a fancy over the top invitation by mail”. Establishing the feeling of specialness and importance toward your allies will help them understand just how precious this request is to you.

Be prepared to answer questions as clearly and precisely as possible. “Let them know the plan of action, how you prepared, why this is important and what you are going to achieve with their help. Two minutes is all you really need”.

One of the questions from your team might be “What can I do to help”? All of the work is really coming from you so just letting them know that their support and willingness to hear what you have to say through the process is the most important thing they can do.

“Be willing and able to offer the same kind of support to your allies as they have been willing to offer to you”.  To see the full list of team building steps please read Changeology by Dr. John Norcross, Ph.D. and find his list on pages 92-96.

 

“One secret of success in lie is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli

At the end of the prep chapter from his book, Changeology, Dr. Norcross lists possible days to set as your beginning or start date. I like his pattern of thinking but I want to get a little creative here and suggest other possible start dates.

Since we are still in the beginning stages of a new year I will offer possible start dates I like and that take you through the month of March. Keep in mind that you can choose to get started any time of day or week or month just because you make it so. Get inspired to find your own wacky or meaningful start date to make these changes in your life so that the dates you choose is that much more memorable and positive:

Your Birthday

Monday

Sunday if you believe that the week actually starts on a Sunday

Graduation Day

First day of any season

January

8: Bubble Bath Day (a great way to start to ease yourself into a change)

13: International Skeptics Day (a great day to prove the naysayers wrong)

24: Compliment Day

25: Opposite Day

February

1: National Freedom Day

7: Start of the Winter Olympics 2014

17: Random Acts of Kindness Day (Be kind to yourself)

22: Be Humble Day

March

3: I Want You To Be Happy Day

16: Everything You Do Is Right Day

20: Proposal Day

30: I am in Control Day 

My Story

I spent 2 more months, February to early April, researching, gathering my plan of attack should I jump ship or follow through, making my list of allies and most of all I did a ton of self-talk.

While making my plans toward the surgery I had also started to be mindful in a big way of my diet. It wasn’t just that I needed the surgery, there was a whole inside/outside image I was trying to achieve and each baby step toward that image was a positive step toward the happiness I wanted so desperately.

By the time the surgery came around I had lost noticeable weight and felt good about the direction I was going. That feeling helped empower me toward not backing out of the surgery. Even with all of that empowerment I was still fearful, nervous, second guessing my decision, I mean after all I have been living 11 years without having the surgery what would be the harm in waiting another year or two?

I think it is very okay to admit to yourself that you still feel fear and doubt while in the midst of preparing to make a change. I think it is normal. The question is, at the very moment of that start date toward change, if you turn back now and give up on making that change that you wanted so badly to make, what kind of person will you feel like? Will you respect yourself? How can anyone respect you if you always back out of what you say you will do? Will you let fear of the unknown always rule the day? What would it feel like to go through with the change and get to the other side?

“As long as we dare to dream and don’t get in the way of ourselves, anything is possible, there is truly no end to where our dreams can take us.” –Hilary Swank

Call to Action

Please take some time to answer all of the questions posed in this post. Only you can know for sure if making any change in your life is what you absolutely want to do. Here is a great website to visit and use to help you get started toward your goal of change. This website helps you to create good habits and all of the information is backed up with scientific research on behavior change.

Professor BJ Fogg teaches at Stanford University where he leads the Persuasion Technology Lab. He also runs the website: http://tinyhabits.com/ This site will help you create new behaviors in your life. On a very small scale I tried his techniques and I can absolutely say that it worked. One of his key strategies toward being successful with any kind of behavioral change is to celebrate your wins. I like the sound of that. Positive reinforcement is always a good thing. Good luck!!

For information about coaching, whether it is in a like-minded group atmosphere or one on one please contact lisa@journeyoncoaching.com or call 203-560-3061. For guidance through contemplation let’s chat for a bit.

For more wisdom wizards please visit her website at www.journeyoncoaching.com  or visit Lisa’s Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/lisazaccagnini/wisdom-wizards/.

Images by bing.com

Here are the 3 books that I recommend reading:

http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Good-Revolutionary-Overcoming-Positively-ebook/dp/B003GYEH2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141403&sr=1-1&keywords=changing+for+good                        

http://www.amazon.com/Changeology-Steps-Realizing-Resolutions-Norcross/dp/B00CAYHN72/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141450&sr=1-3&keywords=changeology

 

     http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400069289/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=boxofcrayons-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1400069289&utm_source=Box+of+Crayons&utm_campaign=ab0e2acbe5-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_74d9eafd37-ab0e2acbe5-70349973

 

 

 

Happy YOU Year

Happy YOU Year….              

Welcome to my first mini-series blog post. In this mini-series I will be guiding you through what it means to change and why we do it, whether it is with purpose or subconsciously. There are 2 books that have inspired me to consider this topic as a mini-series. The first book is called “Changing For Good” (CFG) by Drs. James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., John Norcross, Ph.D., and Carlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D. Together these 3 brilliant minds discuss change theory and give real person examples of how the change process works.

The second book that I found to be an amazing and at times humorous and enlightening read is called “Changeology” (CO) by Dr. John Norcross, Ph.D. Both of these books take the reader through step by step processes in aiding anyone through making significant, stick-to-it changes. My hope is to break down these processes into understandable language that won’t take too long to read through. I am aiming for simplicity even though making changes on any level is anything but simple.

Change is all around us at this time of year; a new year, a new opportunity to start fresh. What does it really mean to change, to revolutionize, to become, to metamorphose?

 

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne WIlliamsom

So to get started take a moment and think about just what changes you want to make in your life. This exercise could take a lifetime to do however I am asking you to think about just one thing. It can be huge like stopping smoking or changing jobs and/or careers or it can be small like cleaning out the attic or dressing differently.

Change happens whether we change something in or about our lives with purpose or we just keep thinking about the changes we want to make but do nothing about it at all. Consider for instance a birthday or a new year or a new week. These changes happen with us or without us being mindful of them. What we do to acknowledge these changes is where the fun begins. Time is the only change that occurs whether we want it to or not. In order to feel connected to time passing we have to somehow harness the power of time. It is an illusion to think that there will always be a later on or a tomorrow. It is important to remember that all we have is this moment. When the moment is gone it is gone forever BUT each moment can be a catalyst toward the next moment. My hope is to inspire you to create your moments and not allow them to pass undetected and unrealized. My hope is to avoid, as much as possible that which creates a feeling of wasting time or of helplessness.

 

We do have some say over our behaviors, thoughts, feelings and actions and that in itself is a harness of time. Moments where we find ourselves feeling stronger, more empowered, healthier, more in tune to our bodies and minds is a way for us to use time to its best advantage.

Throughout each mini-series post I will take a look at the stages of change much like grief having its own stages and I will give you wisdom wizards that will help you think more open-mindedly and hopefully kick-start you toward taking possession of whatever changes you want to create. My wisdom wizards are carefully selected and profound words and phrases of encouragement that will be so thought provoking that hopefully you will be inspired to do just one thing every day toward becoming the person you want to be.

“It can be argued that there are few differences between therapy-change and self-change. All change is self-change and therapy is simply professionally coached self-change.”(pg. 17 CFG)

I am a personal growth professional. I believe that while I know you have the inner power to change what you want about yourself or your thoughts or your feelings, I know how uplifting and powerful it is to work with someone who is completely on your side through the changes you want to make. “When you are trying to motivate yourself appreciate the fact that you are even thinking about making a change. And as you move forward, allow yourself to be good enough.” – Alice Domar

Having that one special person completely and wholeheartedly believe in you, stand with you, hold you to your goal, guide you along the rough roads ahead, is something that is priceless and can make all the difference in making the changes stick for good. Just like a parent helps a toddler learn to walk or to ride a bike so does a life coach help his/her client understand what it will take to get to where he/she wants to be and I will stand with you and behind you every step of the way.

I have found that the one greatest obstacle toward change is that it isn’t easy. We all want everything right now, this instant. To wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and see the body we dream of having, to go to that job that is just right for us, to feel happiness throughout our bodies because we summon it to be so. “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.” – George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones

Change doesn’t work like that although I argue that the very first step in making this change process take hold is to dream and think and believe that it can happen. “Any activity that you initiate to help modify your thinking, feeling or behavior is a change process.” (pg. 25 CFG) Without that deep rooted belief nothing is possible. “Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard fought battles, the goals won with sacrifice, are the ones that matter.” –Aisha Tyler

So the questions that need answering are:

*How hard are you willing to work to get what you want?

*Where in your body do you start to believe that what you want is not only possible but yours for the taking?

*What are the fears you are believing right now that might be preventing you from making the changes you want to make?

As I mentioned earlier, there is great comfort in knowing that you are not alone when it comes to wanting to change something in your life. Whether you seek the help of a support group, a life coach, a close friend, a spouse, or a therapist, just knowing that you are not alone is a huge deep breath of hope.

         It Starts with the First Step

That said, here is the first change stage to start off this mini-series. There are some people that are being asked by friends or loved ones to make changes or are being alerted toward the need to change something in their lives.  Those changes are very much against the way that person wants or chooses to live. In scientific terms this is called the Pre-contemplation stage. We all know that to contemplate something is to think about that something, to reflect, to consider it. In pre-contemplation we are not even close to thinking about anything. We just go along doing what we always do without regard or care for consequences or fall out. We are not necessarily happy in what we are doing but we are certainly not looking to change what we are doing. Pre-contemplation says things like:

*I don’t have a problem.

*I have nothing I want to change in my life.

*The way I am is the way I was meant to be.

*If I have a problem then it’s because it’s in my DNA. It runs in my family. I can’t change.

Words like denial, demoralization, shame, defensive, anger, resistance, depression, low self-respect, and irrational are ways to describe the person who is not even close to being ready to change. People who are not willing to acknowledge that change is needed have an easy time of blaming others for their problems.  It becomes easy to redirect anger toward other people. Everything is someone else’s’ fault. Sometimes change is so hard to consider that the person completely blames themselves for creating the problem. The person feels defeated and low before anything positive can possibly happen. They are not always aware that there is a problem but more so they are helpless and are feeling protected by the safety they find in the self-hate.

 

“Sometimes, though, you make a pact with yourself. I’ll pretend there is nothing wrong if you pretend there is nothing wrong. It is called denial, and it is one of the strongest pacts in the world. Just ask those people who were still drinking champagne while the Titanic went down.” –Neal Shusterman, Dread Locks

Maybe your denial is filled with defiance as well.” I’ll show you, I’ll enjoy my own demise.”

How can a person facing this kind of uphill battle toward change get close to the happiness they want deep down inside? How can a loved one help a person in such denial and low self-respect?

*Increase awareness of the problem. Information is ammunition so that once the obstacles toward happiness are laid out clearly and simply the words can’t be taken back or forgotten. The evidence speaks for itself. Here is where help comes in whether it is in small articles to read, a doctor visit, groups to join or someone to talk to one on one. Choices most of all are catalysts toward awareness and change. Having options to take toward change is very important and empowering. “Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are….each time you let a new ingredient to enter your awareness.”Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life

*Be patient and kind with yourself. Try not to push someone or yourself toward change if you are not completely ready to understand and then take steps toward change. “People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.” –John Porter

“Remember to view yourself and your humanness with a kind heart.” –Elizabeth Berrien, Creative Grieving: A Hip Chick’s Path From Loss to Hope

*Don’t give up. It may take more time than you want it to take but time is your friend and by allowing the time you are helping to create awareness and a safe space to exist in and talk in and time will go a long way toward eventually taking action. “It always seems impossible until you can say, ‘I’m Possible’.” – Coach Lisa

*Build up your army of allies. Who is on your side? Who provides moral support? What foundations exist to help you? “Every success I have ever had or will have in the future comes not solely
from my own ambition and hard work, but also from those that have encouraged,
supported and challenged me. Success is never, ever a one person job.”
–T. S. Tate

“Self-help groups send out a powerful message to isolated pre-contemplators who are embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they have personal problems.” This kind of group says, “You are not the only person going through this problem; our group can help you to accept yourself as a person with an issue/problem and to do the best that you can to change it.” (pg. 101 CFG)

My Story

It took me 11 years to finally get up enough courage and fortitude and health information to stop denying that an operation I needed to have had to be done. For all of that time I spent a good portion of it blaming any outside force I could think of, especially my body, for betraying me. I was angry and in denial that the problem existed at all but in deep denial that the problem would get worse. The rest of the time I was just afraid. I was afraid of hospitals and operations and anesthesia and that feeling of being out of control.

Eleven years is a very long time to take to make a change and champion myself. I had to decide and most of all believe that not only was this operation going to be good for me physically but mentally as well. I think that it is an extreme case of time in this example but it is also a good example of just how long it can take some pre-contemplators to FINALLY get to where they need to be. I had my family and my doctor to support me but most of all I had my mind made up that this was going to be a good change. I’ll save the rest of this story for the change stage that will talk about action and outcome. Stay tuned……..

Call to Action

To help you figure out if you are a pre-contemplator or further along in the stages of change be honest in answering these questions for yourself:

1) I actively look for information to my or any problem I may have.

2) I have someone in my life that listens when I have a need to talk about my problems.

3) I find that the world around me is changing in ways that make it easier for me to change.

4) I know when I am resistant to help from anyone.

5) Whenever something negative happens to me it is rarely because of something I did to cause that negative occurrence.

These are yes and no questions but you may find that a maybe or an answer of not quite fits better. These questions are designed to help start to create awareness so try to think of specific situations that each question could apply to and write about that situation. See if you can read where you can honestly take responsibility for some of the negative fallout. Owning your part of the story of any helpless feeling is a great first step toward change.

 

Here are the 2 books that I recommend reading:

http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Good-Revolutionary-Overcoming-Positively-ebook/dp/B003GYEH2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141403&sr=1-1&keywords=changing+for+good

  www.amazon.com/Changeology-Steps-Realizing-Resolutions-Norcross/dp/B00CAYHN72/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141450&sr=1-3&keywords=changeology

 For information about coaching, whether it is in a like-minded group atmosphere or one on one please contact lisa@journeyoncoaching.com or call 203-560-3061. For more wisdom wizards please visit her website at www.journeyoncoaching.com  or visit Lisa’s Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/lisazaccagnini/wisdom-wizards/.

**Images by Bing.com

*Call to Action questions from Changing for Good 

4 Ways to help you gain perspective

railroaddailydose

4 ways to help you gain perspective….

How a move to new office space created better perspective in everything.

Have you ever been stuck in a particular way of thinking or seeing the world around you? Have you ever wished for clarity or for a way to approach a situation differently?

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”—Marianne Williamson

This happens to me all the time. I get that heavy feeling inside of my chest when I know I am stuck in my head and in my own perspective. It’s hard sometimes to ask for someone else’s point of view because you know for sure it will be counter to your own. It’s also hard when you know that changing perspective will mean letting go of what is familiar, that right or wrong your way of thinking is the only way you know and are comfortable handling.

Is it such a bad thing to take a different approach, to look with a new point of view?

For a while now I have been contemplating changing where my office is located in my home. I have been sharing office space with my husband for well over 8 years now and for a while we had also set up a small area in this small office so that the kids could have their own “office” space for school work. You can imagine how crowded our space felt on school nights with the gang all working together.

As I have been making my career transition I knew the day would come that I would need to have more office space to allow for me to have my clients meet with me in person, to sit and feel welcome and safe and comfortable.

Recently that day came. I got a call to meet with a client in person and I suddenly really needed to separate our offices and so I finally put my idea of MY office space into reality and made the move. Let me just say right now that I will never share office space again. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I love being in their space 24/7 but honestly, I love my new space. I love the entire room I am in. We call it the fireplace room because, yep, you guessed it, the fireplace is the main focal point of the room. It is a bright area due to the room having the most windows, and it is cheerful and roomy and I am slowly creating the space to be cozy for my clients as well as my family. I love the new perspective I have now with the view from my windows of the front of the house and now also the back of the house.

I feel more creative all of a sudden. I find that I want to be in my new office all the time. I get more respect from my family because I have this established space. I decorated the space to accommodate my clients and I feel more professional toward my new career and it just seems like my family treats me with more professionalism.

Today I was working on my latest blog post and heard a noise at the back window. I turned and saw a bird hanging on to the window screen. I would have missed that sight completely if I was still in my old office space and I suddenly felt so grateful for the chance to see something I never would have seen before. My new space not only changed my feelings inside of myself but it changed my physical perspective on the small world around me. The sight of the bird on the window made me take a deep breath and just stop, for one minute and be grateful for the little things.

It may not seem like much to change furniture around in a room or to change the sheets on the bed or to just look out a window you have looked out of a million times before but what is amazing about all those “routine” things is that TODAY your perspective is different. Today you get to smell the freshly washed sheet smell, today you get to sit in a new position in the same old room, today you get to look out of that window and realize that yesterday you didn’t get to see that Cardinal bird sit on the tree branch and how amazing the red Cardinal bird looks against the deep green on the leaves of the tree. In a few short weeks those leaves will start to change and that deep green won’t be back again for another year.

Maybe you can’t change a room around but you can still change your perspective. All it takes is a bit of practice. Ask yourself a few questions:

1)      What do I want to get clear on?

2)      How can I look at this situation from a different angle?

3)      What are the possibilities if I just let go of this way of thinking or seeing?

Here are 4 ways that might help you gain perspective:

1)      Visualize. Take a piece of paper and crayons or markers or a pen and draw what you see in your mind. Taking your thoughts out of your head and making them come to life on paper or through a design program in your computer help to get your juices flowing toward deeper understanding of your need, your excitement, and your objective. Perhaps creating a scrapbook from old magazine cutouts that allow you to actually choose the pieces of the design or idea you are visualizing would help make it more real. Perhaps saying it out loud or writing it in a journal would help you get clear on what exactly you want to accomplish.

2)      Ask for another point of view. Maybe you would benefit from talking to someone about your perspective? Are you really stuck in an old way of seeing or thinking about a situation? Perhaps a partner, friend, coach, or parent might be able to help you get clear on what perspective to take.

3)      Physically walk around the situation. Getting physical is a great way to help your perspective get more laser focused. Go for a walk either through the space or the idea. Lay out your drawing and walk around the drawing. When I was thinking about which room would be best for my own office space I had to establish what my goal was, why I needed the new space and then where and how to make it happen. I walked through the room I was thinking of using many times before I settled on just where to put my desk, my computer printer/copier, my sitting area, etc. Taking my visualization ideas and mapping out my space physically helped not only in creating excitement but also in the eventual move into the new space. It took no time at all to get the room ready because I had done the preliminary work through visualizing and mapping.

4)      Don’t wait too long. The longer you wait to change your perspective the more you risk feeling like the change in perspective is out of reach. I knew eventually I would move my office and I also knew it would happen when the time was right but waiting so long left me feeling a bit hopeless that maybe I was being silly or selfish to want to change. Don’t wait. If your insides are ready for a fresh point of view then make the change. Had I changed my office perspective sooner who knows what would have happened to my creativity? Now that I am in my new space I feel so relaxed and open to possibilities. I am now visualizing new perspectives to give this space and what that will do for my clients. I am looking at how much more this new space can say about me.

After this amazing new office move I knew I needed to tackle one more room change. My husband and I had wanted to change the furniture around in our bedroom for many years but we had been putting it off because the room design we had in mind would force us to lose the headboard of our bed by moving the bed under the large double window. My old way of thinking was that we paid good money for that headboard it should not be put away in a closet, and besides, which closet had the most room to house the headboard? That one stuck perspective prevented us from doing anything new in that room for a very long time.

I was so changed and charged from creating my office space that I decided one Sunday morning to take my son and my husband upstairs and change the bedroom furniture around. For too long I knew exactly what I wanted to do with a new room design and so we did it. We took off the headboard.

What was I so afraid of?

Our bedroom looks like a hotel room now. We have a lot more walking space, we have a room that is not dominated by the bed and we have been sleeping better. The room makes sense now and I wish we had not waited so long to change our perspective.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” –Anais Nin

If we can change our perspective, even just a little bit, if we can be open to possibilities just a touch, what will our new perspective bring to our lives, ourselves? Journey On…..

Lisa is a career and life coach. She has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book, A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger. If you would like to explore how coaching can help you please write to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com to set up a free 30 minute coaching consultation

 

How to make a change and mean it

butterfly

Change is a comin’….How to get ready and mean it

“When you are trying to motivate yourself, first, appreciate the fact that you are even thinking about making a change and then as you move forward, allow yourself to be good enough.” Alice Domar

Is there something happening right now, in this moment that is making you aware that a change needs to happen sooner rather than later? Get out a piece of paper and a pen and let’s get to work on that change.

1)      Select a behavior or situation you genuinely want to change. This needs to be about you alone. It should not involve anyone else. Start to write about the change you want to make. Include every thought you have. No judgments.

2)      You should be able to track your progress. This can be done with a daily journal or on a calendar designated specifically for tracking this change or with the guidance of a helping professional.

3)      Your goal toward this change has to be real. Losing 30lbs. in 90 days is more of a fantasy than a resolute goal.

4)       Make friends with time. Create a vision board that outlines a 3 month plan, a 6 month plan and a one year plan. What would you like to have accomplished by each marker?

5)      The change has to be within your control as do the steps you take toward that change. If your desired change involves other people helping you then you lose a good portion of the control you need. Emotional support is all you will need from anyone. The rest is up to you.

6)      State your desired goal using positive language. Instead of saying what you want to change state how you will go about making your change; small steps you can do every day toward your desired outcome.*

“You have to speak your dream out loud.”– Kelly Corrigan

One year ago I was beyond fed up with the job I was in and wanted to make a career change. I was nervous because change in itself is not something I have ever been friends with but my need to get out of what I was doing was stronger than my fear of change. I quietly began to research where I might belong based on my likes and dislikes. I was still nervous at this point to tell anyone what I was thinking or feeling.

Once I saw myself in a career fit I went about writing down all the steps I would need to take to get me to where I wanted to be. I’ll admit that there were some steps I was against doing and afraid to do but I kept telling myself that anything worth having is worth working hard for. I didn’t put the pressure of a time frame on myself only in so far as I knew I didn’t want to wait to start. My emotional level toward making this change was very strong and very passionate.

I kept my passion level high and my determination level higher. The very first thing I needed to do was address the fear I was feeling around making this big change so I began by writing about why I wanted to make this career change. My “why” became my motto. The next thing I needed to do was to get important people in my life on board with my career change so that I had the emotional support I needed. I talked to my family about why I wanted to make this change. Hearing myself talk out loud was very important because it made the dream real and it got me the input and support I ultimately needed. I then had to deal with my inner critic who is a genius at always telling me that I was not good at making changes and that I was going to fail miserably. I kept asking myself, “so what?” until the fear became manageable and my inner critic had nothing left to throw at me. Once I started to feel strength toward my fear and my inner critic I knew I was ready to get started on my to-do list of steps toward my goal.

I worked those steps diligently and got a little thrill each time I got to check off an action step that I completed. Before I knew what was happening I had accomplished a lot more than I originally set out to do.

It is one year later and it has been quite an adventure. I had lots of encouragement along the way and lots of moments that could have brought me to my knees in defeat but I kept saying those two words, “so what” and in the end all the hard work was done by only me and I used my “disasters” as learning opportunities.

I can happily, powerfully and encouragingly say that I have accomplished most of the steps on my original to-do list and am working on a new list right now. I will never let my to-do list be empty. There are lingering steps I still need to take toward my original goal but I know without a doubt that I will get there and go beyond. As each to-do step was taken I could feel my confidence building and could feel how empowering those accomplishments made me feel. There are times even now when I feel impatient but I find that I am thoroughly enjoying the learning process and even more so enjoying all the new people in my life.

Recently I read an article written by a man who had gotten into a very bad car accident and died. He wrote the article from what he remembered of his death, what he thought about most of all at the moment he knew he died and of being brought back to life. It was a fascinating and surreal story; it gave me goose bumps. He left his reading audience with three questions that honestly, deeply resonated with me for which I now have made a permanent part of my wallpaper.  Whenever you are thinking about making a change, whether by choice or out of necessity keep these ideas with you as a guide post:

1)      Am I passionate? This speaks to all the reasons you do anything in your life. Are the things you do driven by passion toward your actions and goals?

2)      Am I productive? This speaks to how you get your passionate actions done. Are the steps you are taking toward your goal, toward what holds your interests, productive steps or wasting time kind of steps? Is there true purpose for your actions?

3)      Am I making a difference? This speaks to how what you do, what you want to do will impact others. We are all here to serve each other in some way. Even if your goal is to lose weight, how do you think your story will impact someone else? What difference will your weight loss make beyond your own health and well-being?  In most cases you will see that you are not alone in what you are going through. The difference is in the fact that it is you who is going through it and therefore your story should be shared.

“The defining characteristic of every successful person I have met? They have passion.” –Dr. Phil

*From the book, “Changeology” by Dr. John C. Norcross, PhD.

Lisa is a career and life coach. She has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book, A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger. If you would like to explore how coaching can help you please write to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com to set up a free 30 minute coaching consultation.

Metamorphosis

Whispers from my Wallpaper

Metamorphosis

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On my very white, unpainted wall behind my desk top computer, surrounding my children’s elementary school art, rests taped rectangles and squares in myriad colors of inspirational and motivational words, phrases and quotes that resonate with me in a deep, personal, spiritually uplifting way. It is my wallpaper. It greets me every morning and whispers to me throughout my day.

Call it a mid-life crisis, or whatever crazy notion you can relate it to but I started thinking about all of these whispers of hope and empowerment that greet me every day and how I could start living the words, how could I start making all of these magical streams of consciousness apply to my life? Maybe it is the change of seasons affecting me but I had a need to transform, to change, a shedding of old skin, a metamorphosis. This need for change really started back in 2012 when so much of my life seemed to be at a precipice. I wanted to redesign my life, adapt it to the changes that were taking place all around me and within me.  So how was I going to start my metamorphosis and keep my spirits up and feel like I could move in a forward motion?

A few months ago I made up my mind to set out to metamorphose myself. I began with my wallpaper whispers yes, but I also asked myself some tough questions:

1)      What makes me come alive?

2)      What are the obstacles holding me back?

3)      What are the possibilities?

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering because it is familiar.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

When I first read the above words I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was one thing to know deep inside that I was unhappy but it was another thing entirely to see that someone had actually articulated the exact reason why I was staying unhappy. For many years I hated myself for feeling what I assumed was helpless unhappiness and yet when I read this quote I was comforted to realize that if my feelings were on paper then I was not alone in how I felt.

What would it take for me to break free of whatever “suffering” I was going through? What changes needed to take place in order for me to stop suffering?

The season of winter is a good example of using time to create a metamorphosis; to create a cocoon. Winter is hard. It keeps us coiled up like a snake trying to stay warm, to horde food and wood for those harsh, cold days ahead. Winter is lifeless on the outside and it’s quiet. Winter brings its own kind of suffering that we acclimate ourselves to. We hunker down, dig in and wait for it to end. However, winter is also reflective and it rejuvenates us and makes us contemplative if we allow ourselves to be. How can we use this down time to our advantage? We need some kind of cocoon we can hide in, contemplate in, and transform in so that when we emerge we will be a shiny, new person.

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“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”

Thank you so much Mr. Henri Bergson. You have given me my banner, my high flying metamorphosis flag to anchor in the ground of my new soil in which I can sow and grow. I allowed these words to whisper to me, wash over and through me and to push me.

I wanted to choose to courageously change and exist and find meaning to my life. I know I am changing all the time just by existing, every day that I am allowed to get up and start anew. My body ages; that is my significant outward change. However, a consequence to change is the development of maturity. If I never learn anything then my maturity is stunted but I know I am learning every day so therefore I am maturing not only in my body but in my mind. As my mind matures so does my creativity, my courage, my perspective, my authenticity, my perseverance, my gratitude, and my spirituality. This is true for you too, no matter what kind of change you are seeking. I realized that if I expand a bit further on this thought then the thought becomes like a road map for change and helps me set a course for whatever my mind can dream up.

On March 20, 2013 at 7:45am the spring equinox occurred. Not much to see in the way of a seasonal occurrence; most northern states ushered in the new season with snow. Winter prefers its suffering; it is afraid of the rejection by the masses to yield itself to the warmth and the longer sunshine filled days and the hope that spring brings, but it knows its time is coming to an end. While the darkness of winter grips us in its quiet, lifeless hold, the promise of spring creates a natural metamorphosis that takes place inside the earth, the trees, inside human beings. There is a co-evolution going on as we begin to emerge from winter to spring. According to www.morning-earth.org, “Co-evolution is the process in which species slowly transform together toward a mutual fit. Evolution is mutual, and it takes place in communities or groups.”

We are all familiar with the caterpillar that changes into a beautiful butterfly through the scientific process of metamorphosis. Similarly our own lives mimic nature in so many ways. One way is in how we are collectively ready to let go of the “suffering” of winter and step into the individualism and the welcoming hope of spring. We successfully adapt to the change of seasons. We are ready for our renewal, ready to blossom like the flowers.

I wanted to bloom like never before; I wanted to take a leap of faith. I was tired of watching my life from the side lines and not risking getting fully involved. I had reached a saturation point with my fear, my unhappiness, my negative frame of mind and my idleness.

Author and researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky refers to our saturation point as our set point. In her book the “How of Happiness” she talks at length about her research which suggests that we all have a happiness set point. No matter how happy we are we will level out to our set point; the happiness high doesn’t last forever. I took this idea and flipped it around, realizing that I had reached my unhappiness, my loneliness and my negative frame of mind set point.

Each of us must take a leap of faith to courageously walk into the new season of our lives full of hope and strength and energy to make the most of ourselves, for ourselves and for the world while the world starts to feel open and full of promise.

What did your winter metamorphosis yield? Are you ready to answer the tough questions? Are you ready to finally say YES or NO and declare your own happiness? Will you hold on to familiar suffering for fear of the unknown happiness you could have by letting go? Will you choose your natural, evolutionary right to change and see what you are made of, where will your journey take you…..will you take a leap of faith? Journey on……

lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Are you really ready for the new year?

When December 1st hits I feel like every tick of the clock is amplified because with the end of the month comes the end of the year, perhaps the end of a decade or a century. Every day ends, every month ends but the end of December is somehow more significant. Conversely the monumental end of the month of December also brings the enormous beginning of a fresh and hopeful new year, a renewed commitment to old and new goals and old and new resolutions.

Resolutions are in the air. What are resolutions anyway? Promises we try to make to ourselves to do something different or better than ever before. Isn’t that the premise of change?

Whether graduating from school, going off to college, switching career paths, dieting or turning a new age, the word “change” is the main ingredient. For most of us change is very scary and hard to start; goals are hard to set. If we are lucky enough to get started on a change, on obtaining an elusive goal, it is even harder to continue and see it through. For some of us change is exciting, exhilarating. The path toward success with any type of change is our perspective about the change and our attitude throughout the change. The idea of “different” has most of us envious of those who accomplish their changes, meeting their goals and/or running for the hills when thought about in terms of ourselves.

Amy Wrzesniewski, a researcher at Yale University, came up with the term “job crafting” for individuals who completely enjoyed their jobs but they were also making little changes that made their job more enjoyable. In terms of life changes at this time of year I suggest “life crafting”. To put it simply, doing small things, taking baby steps to make your life more rewarding. People can change but at what cost? Change is a shift in identity. We can play with our identities and imagine many possibilities for our lives. Think about someone you know who has made a change, big or small. How did that person seem to behave through the change and as a result of changing? How did you feel in your reaction to that persons change? Now, think about yourself as you are today and in one year from today. If everything about the changes you want to make has gone as well as could be hoped for…

1-      What would the person you hoped to become look like?

2-      What would the changed life feel like?

3-      What is something small that you can do right now to take steps toward that better, resolute, changed life?

Making resolutions, promises to ourselves to change what we don’t like or increase power to what is already working is vital to our well-being. In support for our natural desire to change Robert –Biswas Diener says, “Goals are future-oriented benchmarks that help us organize our behavior. By establishing goals, both large and small, we establish a gauge for success, a guide for making decisions, and a target to move toward. In the absence of goals we tend to flounder.”

According to Jeremy McCarthy of psychologyofwellbeing.com, there are 10 strategies for accomplishing change, goals, and greatness.

1-      Know that change is possible.

2-      Know that change is not easy.

3-      Keep your eye on the prize BUT know that there will be hurdles to overcome.

4-      Don’t focus only on the goal, the change or only on the hurdles. Find a balance of foucs.

5-      Want the changes you seek. For example, “What would make me want to lose weight? “What would make me want to do more exercises? “What would make me want to stick to my goals for change?

6-      What is the smallest, easiest step to take that you know you can’t fail? For example if writing a book is one of your goals, try writing one sentence per day and before you know it you’ll have the makings of your book. It’s a step that there can be no excuses attached to.

7-      Recognize that there will be setbacks and plan for them. For example, IF I want to go to the gym to exercise after work and a colleague asks me to go to happy hour after work THEN I will either meet up with that colleague after my work out or get up early the next morning to go to the gym.

8-      Strengthen your will power. This can be done through meditation or personal challenges to test your resilience.

9-      Dig in and keep going. Persevere. Work hard to achieve your end result.

10-   Know when to let goals go. Sometimes, but rarely, will you realize that the path you are taking toward your change, toward your goal is not the right path. Be flexible enough to recognize that signs of a bad plan and be open enough to change course, change the plan but not give up on the idea of where you want to go.

In this new year that is fast approaching I wish you strength, perseverance and open mindedness toward your changes, your goals and your resolutions. Happy New Year!!!