The Little Things: What was Your Life Made of This Year?

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“I’m not sure why, but when a person expects something to last forever, they don’t notice the little things. It’s only when the clock is ticking all those little things add up and become bigger.” Shannon Wiersbitzky, What Flowers Remember

As the year winds down I am so acutely aware of each minute that ticks by. I take stock of what the aging year has produced and what hope the New Year holds. I think about what I’ve learned, hoping that I have learned a lot of things. I think about how much better off I am now than one year ago and I don’t mean in terms of money. What I truly mean is in terms of personal growth and life experiences, which to me is so much more than money. It’s the little moments of my life this year that I hope made the biggest impact on my soul and then I think if I can remember all of those little moments maybe they were the big things after all.

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

In the spirit of honoring the year as it takes its final bow out of time I would like to leave you with a few of the moments/memories that have left an imprint on my soul. A trusted colleague calls this his annual review. It’s made up of the very personal good and bad moments that made this year stand tall.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences but never thought to really pay them much heed or perhaps you will take these shared moments and watch for them in the new year or perhaps we are all on the same journey through time sharing similar experiences in our own unique perspective. Whichever way you honor the good and the bad of your life moments I hope you are better for them.

The most recent life moment I absolutely honor with grace and awe is the time spent celebrating my daughter’s birthday. It wasn’t a milestone birthday but it was a celebration of her birth nonetheless and that in itself deserves to make the list of little things.

“So much of life is in the smallness of moments…but they are harder to mark. So we need the grander celebrations and occasions. People like to feel significant.” Ally Condie, Atlantia

Glancing over at the large picture window in my office and stopping everything to go sit in the sunshine streaming through.

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. Just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues

Meeting new people and realizing that their impact on my life, be it good or bad, changed me for the better.

“That’s the ideal meeting…once upon a time, only once, unexpectedly, then never again.” Helen Oyeyemi

Seeing a hummingbird for the first time in my life.

“Some of my old memories feel trapped in amber in my brain, lucid and burning, while others are like the wing beat of a hummingbird, an intangible, ephemeral blur.” Mira Bartok, The Memory Palace

Silently celebrating the day after the first day of winter because for the next 182 days we add one minute of daylight and hope blooms eternal.

“I find it inspiring to actively choose which traditions to celebrate and also come up with new ideas for traditions of my own.” Sara Sheridan

Sitting at my favorite coffee shop enjoying the smell while sipping my green tea and writing. I am not a coffee drinker at all but I love a good, old-fashioned, wrap me in warmth coffee shop.

“A smoke, a book, a cup of coffee. These are the little things that get us through this sometimes weary world and all the rainy days.” R.M. Engelhardt, The Resurrection Waltz Poems R.M. Engelhardt

Window shopping in the winter and seeing all the beautiful colors of the flowers in the flower shop on the most gray, snowy day of the season.

“Somehow, those cold, lifeless winter months had prepared the land for something breathtaking. Something beautiful. Something brimming with life.” Katie Ganshert, Wildflowers from Winter

Laughing so hard when I’m supposed to be as quiet as a mouse. Whether it be at my job at the library as an adult or a teenager sitting in my English class I find that those quiet moments are the ones that really spark my uncontrollable laughter.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Victor Borge

Hearing the perfect song at a time of day when I needed it most.

“Songs remain. They last. The right song can turn an emperor into a laughing-stock, can bring down dynasties. A song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams are gone. That’s the power of songs.” Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

Raising my level of gratitude so much higher than I ever imagined it could go but battling still with moments of unhappiness.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Understanding the lessons in why it’s important to make quality decisions but not yet feeling able to make important decisions in my own life.

“The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Continuing to worry about the same problems year after year and finding it so hard to let it go or finding a solution.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 ― Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version

Thank you for your indulgence with my annual review of the little things. I hope it sparked something inside of you to help you take stock of your life this year and highlight what you want to work on and grow in the New Year.

Call to Action

How possible is it to mine each new day of the new year for little life moments, for the little things that flavor life with its sweetness? That is the call to action for you. Find the little things in each new day of the New Year and see how it changes you for the better.

What went well this year?

What did not go well this year?

Where does growth reside for you in the New Year?

What little things became the big thing after all?

5 Keys to Understanding our Response Ability

 

The dictionary defines the word responsibility as a state or fact of being answerable, accountable, or responsible; of being reliable or dependable; morally right or legally required.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” —Spiderman

In my coaching world responsibility is akin to evolution. If we are in tune with our deepest selves we know when we are facing a crossroads and we also know when that crossroads feels like mud. In order to evolve and grow and become who we want to be we need to face the resistance and hold ourselves accountable/responsible for the decisions we face at the crossroads. The resistance we feel is the one strong emotion we need to make something happen. We tend to lose momentum when we perceive responsibility to be too cumbersome or obligatory.

“The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution, the more resistance you will feel.” – Steven Pressfield

I say play the odds. Welcome the resistance because at that moment you know you are about to learn something very important and essential to your happiness and well-being. What I have learned most in being a life coach is the mirror effect. Holding up a mirror to my clients and leaving them no room to escape or deny their responsibility to their agenda or their life. A client comes to me most often in order for me to help them with a sticking point on their journey through life and I then have the pleasure of holding them accountable/responsible by holding up that mirror so they can see exactly what I see and so much more by showing them their hidden potential that will help them get through to the other side of that sticking point.

Many times I know when responsibility is being evaded simply because the answer to most questions that I ask is in my answer of ”I don’t know.” The “I don’t know” answer is a safe place to hide, a safe place to put off dealing with what we fear facing. We do know the answer to most questions asked about ourselves but at times we feel shame, fear or denial about admitting the truth of ourselves to ourselves much less to other people.

A great way to alleviate the pressure of an “I don’t know” answer is the one thing I am a huge fan of and that is the idea to “let go of the outcome”. It isn’t the outcome that matters as much as the struggle and education to get through the decision making, soul baring, or truth telling process.  By not attaching ourselves to any specific outcome we are free to journey through endless possibilities and learn with an open mind. Your only concern is to take responsibility for the learning and the doing.

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” –Sigmund Freud

Responsibility or rather our ability to respond to all that life throws at us is a major component toward overall happiness. In his recent blog post, “4 Life Lessons That Lead to Happiness, Success and Longevity

Blogger Eric Barker talks about key components toward happiness. One question he researched for his blog post asks, “Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to?” In other words, if you are having a hard time with your response abilities, who can you turn to  help shoulder the process toward your ability to respond to what life is throwing your way?

To see Eric’s full post click here

We all know that feeling irresponsible most of the time feels like a ten ton weight on our shoulders and at times it feels like we are throwing our cares out the window but sooner or later we all have to face the life we designed for ourselves and all that comes with it. So what are we afraid of when we are asked to step up and man up and take up the gauntlet of our responsibilities?

In her book, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life, Eleanor Roosevelt speaks of freedom, strength, courage and confidence. Those are some of my favorite success characteristics by the way.

Here are some ways to live a more responsible kind of life but without the burden that the word responsibility carries. See how much of this list you can embrace and honor and engage of your own Response Ability:

1-      “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I didn’t think I could get through some of the tougher coaching classes that I had to take to get my certification. That led to not fully believing that I could change my career path. What I learned by facing those fears was that I was made of tougher more determined stuff than I ever imagined. Now I know that the next time I have an uphill battle to face, which will always include the responsibilities that go along with plans and pathways toward my own happiness, I can get through it.

2-      “It’s your life but only if you make it so”. There are things I want to accomplish in my every day and my life as a whole. I am the only person that can make that happen. I do believe in divine intervention and I do yield to that higher power but I forge ahead where my thoughts and emotions lead me because they are my inner compass and I know that by not ever trying how am I going to know what I am capable of? I am the only one that can take responsibility for me.

3-      “There is no human being from whom we cannot learn something if we are interested enough to dig deep.” As a life coach I help guide the digging deep process with my clients. They know I am that person they can call at four in the morning to tell their troubles to. It is rewarding to give of myself in that way however it is also easy for me to at times to hide behind helping someone else when I know that I myself need to face a digging process. If I am not willing to do the hard work for myself how can I possibly be successful at helping someone else? I am ever so grateful for all the people put into my life and onto my path to help me dig deep. Each person serves a unique purpose with the strengths they have that help me to become my best self in handling the responsibilities that come along with the life path I’ve chosen. With other people’s help I can help someone else.

4-      “If you can develop the ability to see what you look at, to understand its meaning, to readjust to the information, you can continue to learn and grow.” I always tell my children, “Let’s see what we can see”. Lots of times we are so conditioned to pre-conceive what we will see when we get “there” that we miss a lot of what is actually revealing itself to us. Keep an open mind, let go of the expected outcome. Allow awe and wonder to permeate your mind and thought process. You’ll be amazed at what more there is out there to learn and how much happier you will be for the freedom. Take responsibility for the learning and growing and you’ll be amazed at the things you see around you.

5-      “Love can often be misguided and do as much harm as good, but respect can do only good.”  In his blog post Eric Barker talks about how  love manifests itself through large, active social networks, physical activities that create flow and engagement, giving back to those in need, enjoying your career, and cultivating and nurturing healthy friendships and marriages. When these elements are in play and working well we are taking responsibility for the way we want to live our lives. On the respect side when I take responsibility for my perspective, my actions and my emotions I am showing respect for not only me but for those around me. I am teaching others how to respect me. From that respect love can grow; love of self, love toward others, and love from others. It’s a win-win situation!

So, what is your ability to respond when your life is calling you?

Call to Action

What is the great power/responsibility that you hold in your hands right now?

How does this power/responsibility feel? Is it one of obligation, constraint, guilt, burden or an albatross and if so how can you make it one of accountability, dependability and/or freedom?

How can the truth of who you are handle the duty, care, charge, contract, engagement and importance of this responsibility?

What are you not facing head on right now that you know deep inside is something you can handle but just don’t want to because it is too much work?

What do other people know about you that make them believe in your abilities but you choose to shy away from?

What is the fear?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

OOPS, there it is, OOPS there it goes

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#22: “Happiness, not in another place, but this place, not in another hour, but this hour.”

Walt Whitman

How are you cultivating happiness right this minute?

What about this moment captures a breath of happiness?

When do you give yourself permission to be happy?

         Why not right now………..     Journey On

 

“Fake it ’til you make it…”

fake it 001Whispers from my Wallpaper

 

          Fake it ‘til you make it….

Have you ever heard this phrase? What does it mean to you? I think it takes on different meanings depending on who is applying it. For me it calls to something deep inside, confidence and attitude. It asks me to challenge myself and dare to live “as if…”.

My oldest son is leaving home next month to test his independence and his self-confidence by moving far away from home, away from his safety net, his foundation, his comfort zone. As his mom it is hard for me to come to terms with his decision, but if I step back and put myself in his shoes I can almost taste the excitement of the adventure and feel the energy of ownership of making his own decisions, his own space, and his own time. Who among us doesn’t remember the feeling of wanting to take life into their own hands? He always imagined himself a leader, a doer. He is now faced with faking it ‘til he makes it; to dare and live “as if”; putting on the mask of the person he wants to one day become.

“The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

And boy oh boy is it ever hard work to become yourself. Are you even there yet? Can you remember when you were little and dressing up for Halloween? The costume you chose, whether to be a superhero or a princess? Each costume came with a mask or make-up that allowed you to transform into the idea of who you wanted to be. Can you remember what you felt like once the mask and costume were in place? There was a sort of empowerment, ownership of this imagined you. Maybe grown-ups didn’t really believe who you were imagining yourself to be but you felt encouraged to go on and be your Batman self or your Little Mermaid self. You would never know that the grown-ups could see right through because they always greeted you as if you were the superhero or the princess. You were emotionally invested in the persona. Faking it at a young age gave you the freedom of your imagination and creativity to keep on putting on masks and trying them out as you got older. What stuck? What did you ultimately believe about yourself?

Emotions play a big role in all of our life pursuits. Emotions are our fuel. In his book, Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar writes, “Emotions cause motion; they provide a motive that drives our actions; emotion, motion, motivation are intimately linked.” It is absolutely emotion that is driving my son to seek his independence and declare his abilities to himself and the world. Whenever I try to talk to him about this big step he gets emotional just trying to talk to me. It is emotion that drives the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” It is with emotion that we chose the costumes that we did when we were little. Emotion feeds our determination to conquer whatever we choose to do in life.

I have to wonder what his personal questions were:

1)      What motivates me to consider this move?

2)      What is the opportunity?

3)      Who do I need to be in order to become who I want to be?

The philosopher and founder of American Psychology, William James believed that  ”acting a certain way could make you feel that way.” In the thought processes of “fake it ‘til you make it” that is exactly the case. Hundreds of experiments have proved this theory correct. For example, a Clark University study showed that smiling, whether on purpose or naturally induced, made people feel happier. Try this experiment when you don’t really feel like smiling, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds. Take notice of how you feel during the experiment and at the end. Keep trying it and you will start to believe in the emotional effects of smiling.

Perhaps you are not taking a leap of faith and going out to conquer the world in the way my son has decided to do. Perhaps you are or will be a new college graduate and wondering what now? We live in tough economic times and finding a job in your field of study is not easy. You may and probably will have to take a job way outside of your degree in order to start paying back those student loans. Will you fake it ‘til you make it? Will you have the self-confidence and positive attitude to push forward no matter what? What mask will you choose to wear so that people outwardly will believe in who you are trying to become inwardly, but more so that you will start to believe in who you are trying to become? In every job experience you will have you will always need to ask yourself these questions:

1)      What gives my life a sense of purpose?

2)      What do I enjoy doing?

3)      What am I good at?

Answering these questions might guide you toward a calling or help you get through each phase of your life in general. Staying true to who you are and how you answer these questions will always lead you to doing good work. You might not yet know the answers to these questions because you are about to test them all out in the real world. Fake it ‘til you make it. Try on different masks and costumes until you find what fits.

DO smile always. People are attracted to smiling people.

DO stand up straight and tall and proud whether you feel like it or not. People will believe in your inner strength if they see it outwardly.

DO contribute where and when you can. Talk to people and be part of conversations. Make an effort to believe that you have something to say because you know what, you do have something to say, you do have worth and substance; you are enough.

DO know that you are not alone. There is a world full of people faking it until they make it; practicing to become the person they want to be.

DO know your own strengths. Take time to discover all the great success characteristics about yourself. It will empower you to smile more, stand taller and contribute endlessly.

DON’T hide in corners or find distractions like using your cell phone too often in social situations. Make people see that they matter to you and you will matter to them. People like to feel validated (and so do you).

DON’T gossip. Don’t tell tall tales and don’t talk about others behind their backs.

Dr. Ben-Shahar writes, “Happiness at whatever level, does not require a constant experience of ecstasy nor does it require an unbroken chain of positive emotions. To be happy, we have to feel that, on the whole, whatever sorrow, trials, and tribulations we may encounter, we still experience the joy of being alive.” There was pure joy in wearing those costumes so long ago. There can be joy in allowing life to be the teacher now. Putting on the fake it ‘til you make it mask has a more positive impact on the overall experience.  Despite feeling frustrated or let down by not getting that all important job in your field of study right away, smiling anyway, choosing to take each experience for all it’s worth goes a long way to help you and everyone around you believe that you are right where you should be. I know that my son will have no choice but to fake it ‘til he makes it because as far as the real world is concerned he is a newbie and at the same time doesn’t want his inexperience to shine brighter than his determination.

At the University of Rochester, researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem. Those people that folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered twice as long as the people that did not display any body language. A study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers your willpower. Try some experiments to see if you can empower yourself to get through some tough moments.  Turn your have-to situations into want-to situations by readjusting your confidence and your attitude. Live “as if” this is exactly where you want to be, “as if” you are experiencing exactly what you hoped to experience. How we perceive the work we do, how we perceive the situations we are in matters more than the work or the situation. My son perceives his life’s journey to be in a different location from where he grew up, with different people surrounding him and influencing his perspective. He is approaching this with zest and humor and courage. What more could a mom ask for?

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

What thoughts will you produce? What actions will you take to make your moments uniquely you? Will you smile anyway, will you laugh anyway, and will you allow for gain in the experience? What words will you say to start living “as if…?” What about you will you allow to bear your signature? Fake it ‘til you make it and enjoy the ecstatic experience. Journey On…

 

If you would like to explore how coaching can help move your life forward powerfully and purposefully, email Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Journey On Coaching Services would like to extend condolences to the victims and their families of the tragic Boston Marathon Bombing. I encourage all my clients to give to the American Red Cross or any charity in support of a stronger, happier, healthier America.

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