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Archive for the ‘Inspiration / Motivation’ Category

“I Should…”

“I should  _________________________.”

How do you fill in the blank?  Got a long list of stuff that you “should” do?  Yeah, me too, but I am ever so careful to keep my awareness of that word on high!  When you hear (or think), “You should (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah),” don’t you get the sense that someone’s index finger is pointing at you, like you’re being accused of something?

“Guilty as charged!”

The same kind of feeling happens when you do that to yourself.  Sometimes it’s referred to as “shoulding” on yourself.  You’ve taken over where those authorities in your life left off!  You’ve internalized those authority figures.

Now, not all of that internalizing is necessarily a bad thing.  You need your conscience to guide your decisions.  But you don’t need “shoulds”!

Look at the difference in these two statements.

“I should ________________.”

vs.

“I want _________________.”

Small difference in words but HUGE difference not only in outcome, but in how you feel about yourself!  “I should _______________” implies that you haven’t done whatever it is and don’t really want to.  Right?

“I want _________________” puts you back in charge, raises your awareness of what’s really going on with you and is more empowering and choiceful!  With “I should _______________”, there is only one correct answer, right?  And that answer is not something that you want to do!

Turn it around for yourself!

Instead of “I should _____________________”,

USE “I want ________________________.”

Make it a game.  See how many times you can catch yourself saying, “I should ________________.”  You’ll be amazed at the frequency when you first start noticing your “should” thinking!  And, whenever you can, turn it around for yourself by changing it to, “I want _______________.”  It is so different.  It truly is like night and day both in how you’ll feel and in the increase in clarity and focus, which can help you get more done!  It’s an excellent way of reminding yourself that you really are responsible for your life after all!

If you’d like the support of a coach who intimately understands this issue and can give you the support and structure you need to be more effective in this area, contact me.  It is such a joy to be a part of you creating a lighter spirit for yourself!

Here are the ways you can contact me.

1) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

2) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

3) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

Your Gifts

I don’t know if it’s the hot, humid days sucking the energy out of me or just a temporary dry spell of creativity, but for whatever the reason, I have been met with procrastination and internal resistance when I have attempted to write an article or post of some kind.  I thought that maybe conceding defeat to a week already skipped, I might be ready to write again this week.  Apparently not.

So here it is Friday, and I was bound and determined to share something with you.  Because nothing had particularly shifted for me in the way of generating any new ideas, I began to get either panicky or creative and thought, “Hmmm, what might I already have written that might be helpful?”  Fortunately, I thought of something almost immediately.  Not sure why, but I was very grateful, instead of continuing to panic.

It’s something I wrote several years ago that I considered worth keeping.  It’s called “Your Gifts”.  At a time when I am feeling rather empty, remembering this poem is reassuring.  See if you might find some reassurance or even inspiration in it for you as well.

Your Gifts

So many gifts
Never received
Because never given.
Darkness, duty, fear or frenzy
Cloaks each gift
Meant to be shared, meant to be given.
Some don’t even recognize
The gifts they carry.
Others do but are stopped short
By too many obstacles:
Time, fear, guilt, embarrassment,
Shame, self-consciousness, preconceptions.

But the worst obstacle, perhaps,
Is separation —
Thinking we are all
Separate, disconnected beings,
Caught up in our own little worlds,
Afraid of reaching out,
Feeling it’s all too much,
Not appreciating the importance
Of connecting
Through the gifts carried.

Share your gifts.
Do what is required
To remove each obstacle,
One by one.
Or go around, or over, or through.

You are greater than your obstacles
Big as life though they may seem.
Do what is required.
It is essential
For sanity, for health, for peace,
Both yours and others’.

Remove each obstacle.
Do not hesitate
To ask for help when needed.
For not doing so can become
Just another obstacle.
Do not hesitate
To trust
That it is good, it is right
To share the gifts you carry.
It is always right.

You will know
When
To share your gifts
How
To share your gifts,
With whom
To share your gifts.

Share your gifts.
You need the blessing
As much as others need
Your gifts.

Christine Cloutier-Weddle

Caring for Yourself by Pursuing Your Passion

As I watched a mesmerizing performance by Missouri Contemporary Ballet a couple of years ago, tears came to my eyes.  Tears?  Why tears?  I experienced the simultaneous feelings of total bliss and deep sadness.  The bliss was very easy to understand because I love dance.  I love watching dance, and I have always loved to dance (although performing, for me, has been mixed because of the anxiety that goes with it.)  On the flip side, the sadness was in response to the loss I felt from not having had any dance in my life for the previous few years.  I hadn’t been to any performances, and I hadn’t danced or taken any classes for a long time.  What grief I felt as I watched those dancers, yet I also felt uplifted and joyful.  No wonder I felt so strange as I watched them move their bodies in exquisite turns, leaps and contortions of strength and flexibility!  Such total immersion I felt in the experience of witnessing those dancers perform.

Ballet Classes For Adults!

The dear friend sitting next to me at the performance noticed how strongly I responded and showed me the back page of the program, which advertised ballet classes for adults.  BALLET CLASSES FOR ADULTS???  I nearly jumped with joy as much as I was in disbelief at the idea.  Really??  I could take a ballet class?  But, would they really let me in when they discovered that I wasn’t a young 20 or even 30-something?  I had to find out.

I called the number and got the information I needed and found myself taking ballet again — many, many years since I had last taken as a child.  After my first class, because I worked so hard to do everything as well as I could and because my body had only faint memories of my childhood classes, I was literally almost unable to walk out without my legs buckling because they were so sore.  I burst into tears when I got in my car and wondered if I would be able to continue.

Hope For The Journey

That was two years ago.  Not only am I now taking two ballet classes each week, I have also ventured into a tap class, which is delightfully fun yet also quite challenging for me, and I am considering adding a class in modern dance.  That last one might push my schedule to its limits, but time will tell.  I love each class.  Sometimes I leave feeling frustrated that I have not been able to learn steps more quickly or that I am not as strong or flexible as I want to be.  But I work with what I have — the age I am, the body I have, and whatever my physical gifts or limitations may be, not to mention the focus and memory that is required!

What Is Your Passion?

As is apparent, my passion is dance, and it is crystal clear to me that pursuing my passion has given me energy,  joy and confidence.  It has become such an essential part of my self-care, not only to go to performances, but also to participate in dance by dancing!  There is a life force and an engagement and a focus that comes from participating in what you love to do.  For me, it is dance.  What is it for you?  What is it that calls to you?  What is it that intrigues you?  What is it that makes you smile, or perhaps makes you cry because it has been missing?

Fitting In One More Thing

I wondered how I would find the time or the money to pursue dance classes.  As much as I wanted to try it out (although with a bit of nervousness about whether I could really do it), it felt rather indulgent and even frivolous to proceed.  It also seemed on the edge of overwhelming to add one more thing to my schedule.  But I also knew in my heart of hearts that it was the right thing to do.  I took the next step and made a phone call, even though I wasn’t really sure how it would all work out.

The amazing thing is that adding something that you are passionate about can create more joy.  And through that joy, the challenges and stress of life become a bit easier to handle.  Perhaps we gain a bit of perspective.  Perhaps we actually get better at coping with things.  I don’t really know.  What I do know is that life improves.

Put something joyful in your life.

Start small.  Make a phone call.  Do some research online to get more information.  Talk to someone who can tell you more.  Write down several ideas you have about it.  Let yourself dream, and also take some kind of action!  You may find that your life begins to improve in unexpected ways.  Your joy is an important part of self-care.  Taking care of ourselves is more than just eating well, exercising and sleeping enough.  It is also about including in your life the things that matter to you and that are important to you.

Let yourself matter enough to include joy!

A Teenager Can Motivate You Towards Self-Care…

Well, well, well…  Look at these thoughts I scribbled down a few weeks ago for a draft of an article.  How ironic that today they are a perfect reminder of what I need to do to get back to a steadier place of self-care, so that I am giving myself a decent chance to be other than a crazed parent of a teenager!  Here’s what I wrote.

“The wonderful thing about self-care is that it builds on itself.  Progress in eating healthier food helps you feel better.  Getting enough sleep allows you to feel more rested and be more focused.  De-cluttering and getting organized can not only give you a sense of relief but also more energy and clarity.  And engaging in stress-management or relaxation practices has positive physical, mental and emotional benefits!”

By giving you an intimate look at my current state of self-care, you may be inspired to look at your own self-care and maybe even consider making a small, doable change that can have that positive domino effect!

This week I’m focusing on the nutritional part of my current self-care checklist.

Am I eating mostly nutritious foods?

Well, I am on both sides of the fence on this one.

  • Fruit?  I do love and eat fruit on a reasonably consistent basis.  Check.
  • Veggies?  Well, I love and eat spinach and tomatoes frequently and throw in other veggies here and there, but I am sure that I am not eating the recommended three servings of a variety of veggies most days.  Maybe half a check.
  • Whole grains?  I love the Nine Grain bread that one of our local restaurants makes.  I also buy whole wheat bread.  But I also love English muffins, the plain old white kind.  Maybe three-quarters of a check.
  • Dairy?  Probably only drinking a cup of milk a day.  I do love cheese, however.  Good for dairy requirements but not so good for low-fat fare.   I take Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to round out this category.  Close enough to a check.
  • Protein?  I love deli turkey, tuna and smoked salmon.  So far so good.  Also love sausage and bacon.  Good for protein.  Not so good for the high fat content.  Love beans also.  They help to add some substance to this category, plus beans are great for getting in some fiber!  Some days I skimp on the protein, but overall I do OK.  Giving myself a check here.
  • Fat?  Oops!  Probably more than I need.  Love half-and-half in my coffee.  Also love margarine on my toast and lots of mayo on my sandwiches and in my tuna salad.  Also love peanut butter and nuts, which are called good fats because of their high nutritional content.  This is a category for careful attention and for flexibility.  If I’ve had a ton of margarine at breakfast, then, instead of tuna salad with lots of mayo at lunch, it’s better to go for a spinach salad with mandarin oranges and a few walnuts for lunch, which I also love!
  • Fat and Sugar?  It’s not actually a category per se, but it seems important to mention if I’m taking an honest inventory, right?  I love chocolate.  And I love an occasional cookie.  For some reason, I have developed a particular love for chocolate-covered cherries lately.  Depending on the day, I may eat none of these, or I may indulge in a few cookies or chocolate-covered cherries.  It’s not really a category to check or not, but to be aware of and notice what’s going on if I’m indulging too much or too frequently.

Overall, I’m doing reasonably well in the nutrition area.  I do need to be watchful of the fat and sugar combos and also be careful to eat small healthy snacks in between meals so I don’t get too hungry or tired or spacey from not having the energy I need to function at my best!  I love dried fruit and nuts or a single serving of yogurt for those snack times.  Delicious, and I feel better!

What Works For Me

For this part of “beefing up” my self-care, I’m doing OK.  It could be argued that I’m doing really well, or it could be argued that I’m doing terribly.  That’s OK.  It’s all a matter of perspective.   At this point in my life, I know what kind of eating makes a difference in my energy and mood.  For me, I always do better if I add food, rather than attempting to tell myself that I can’t have this or that.  Denying myself particular foods only results in me craving them more.  If I am really determined to banish a particular food from my diet, that’s a whole different ball of wax.  For now, I am interested in balance and making small changes that can add up to a big difference, like making sure that I have nuts and dried fruit on hand to eat between meals so that my energy stays more steady.

Then I have a chance to use that steadiness to be a calmer, loving parent.

Next week we’ll peek into a different area of my self-care to see how I’m doing and decide whether another small change might be helpful.  Then you can use those questions to determine how you’re doing with your self-care!

Getting Things Done?

When it comes to getting things done, how do you proceed?  Do you take the “eat-the-biggest-frog-first” approach and do the biggest or most difficult thing first?  For some people, that approach can work very well.  The idea is that by tackling the “biggest frog” first, you not only get that project done, but you also free up the energy that you might have spent thinking or worrying about getting it done.  If this idea appeals to you or works for you, go for it.  Use it to get those items on your to-do list checked off!

Moving With The Flow

However, if that has not worked so well for you (or has not worked at all), there is another, completely opposite approach which can be equally effective for getting things done.  It’s the idea of “the path of least resistance.”  As the name implies, you move with the flow, not against it.  I have known about and appreciated this idea for some time now because it fits for me philosophically.  However, I attribute a better understanding and more practical use of it to Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office.  I participated in a class she offers called “The Wish Kit” in which she guided us to create not only a vision for, but also the initial steps to creating an office or studio or workspace that works for us and even nurtures and inspires us.  (Please check out the link if this sounds intriguing at all.  It’s very reasonably priced!)

Path Of Least Resistance

In “the path of least resistance” approach, the idea is to generate energy and build momentum for what you want to accomplish.  Instead of going for the “big frog,” you begin with the task or project that has the most appeal, that sounds like the most fun and/or is the easiest.

“What?”  You may say, “That won’t work!  I’ll just do easy stuff and won’t get the hard stuff done.”  Perhaps.  However, the brilliance behind this approach is that it tends to clear the way so that you can get stuff done!  Doing the easy or even the fun task has a way of lightening our mood and increasing our energy, thus creating a better environment to do those very tasks that we may be putting off or even dreading.  This approach is like oiling a rusty or squeaky part in our home.  The part becomes smoother and easier to move.  And we often feel an “Ahhhhh” sense of relief.  Using the path of least resistance allows our own process to move more smoothly and easily.

Let It Be Easy!

Next time, instead of gritting your teeth and pushing through something, why not give this approach a try?  Purposefully decide to experiment with this way of getting things done.  Pick something that you’d like to do, something that you want to do, something that is easy to do, then notice if you feel less stuck or if you have more energy or your thinking becomes clearer.  Any and all of those results are possible.  It is a tried-and-true approach!

Kiss Your Monster On The Nose

Then you are in a more effective position to “kiss your monster on the nose.”  (Doesn’t that sound preferable to eating a big frog????)  If you think about “kissing your monster on the nose,” it has a sense of peace and resolution to it, not a sense of having to “gear yourself up for battle.”  Kissing your monster on the nose may just be a matter of breaking down the project in front of you into the tasks or steps that will allow you to accomplish it.  It may be that you just haven’t stopped to take the time to think through what may be involved or that you need to do some research to get more information for what’s in front of you.  You want to make sure that you have the necessary information and resources you need to accomplish your task or project!

If you think about being your own best friend, you want to encourage yourself with positive motivation as much as you can instead of forcing yourself or giving yourself grief when what you’re doing isn’t working!  And, aside from being a “kinder, gentler way,” the path of least resistance is very effective!  You do get done what you’re wanting to get done, but you go about it in perhaps a very different way.

If you’ve been looking for an approach to increase your productivity without being mean to yourself, give this one a try.  You may very well be surprised at how incredibly effective it is!

Motivation for Change: Part 3

No discussion of change would be complete without your vision for change.  Your vision for change is what pulls you forward, is what motivates and inspires you to make the changes needed for that vision to become reality.  If your vision is lackluster or ho-hum or just not that compelling, what is there to pull you forward?  There isn’t anything to pull you forward!  That’s why having a powerful vision is so essential to the process of change!  If your goal is “I want to lose some weight,” and your vision doesn’t include how wonderful you will look and feel in your “new” body, then how do you expect yourself to make the changes needed to accomplish this?

Our brain LOVES pictures and is very sensory.  The more you can use your senses to determine how this change will look, feel, sound, taste, or even smell, the better because you are solidifying what it IS that you want for your brain to go to work on, in essence to be your ally!  You want to have as clear a mental picture as possible about what that change will be like!  You want to have a feeling of excitement and energy about this change.  Create a picture (in your mind or on paper) that stirs some energy and excitement for you.  Doing a collage or a “dream board” or something that helps you see and feel the change you want can create the energy and excitement that you want to have for your goal.

However, what we inadvertently tend to do is focus on how much we don’t like the way it is now, perhaps thinking that we will goad ourselves into doing “better”.  As human and as understandable as that is, it backfires on us because our focus is on the wrong picture!  Be really conscientious about redirecting your focus when you notice yourself heading down that path.  Refocus on what you DO want and where you DO want to be and how you DO want this part of your life to be!  That’s where the mental picture or collage you have created become so important.  It is very difficult to “just say no” when there is nothing to say, “YES!” to.  Because we’re human, we do head down the path of what we don’t want.  That’s OK.  Don’t berate yourself.  Just gently say, “Oh, there I go again heading down that path I don’t want to go down.”  Then you can turn yourself toward the vision that you DO have for yourself, your mental picture and/or your collage, and really let yourself soak that in.  By doing so, you effectively add power and energy to what you DO want because you are consciously choosing that and reinforcing that for your brain and for yourself.

Give yourself one of the resources you need for change, a vision that pulls you forward with a clear mental picture that you just might want to create a collage for.  Why not?  What do you have to lose (except some extra pounds or clutter or too much of whatever you may have!)

Motivation for Change: Part 2

I jumped right into the meatiness of this topic in Part 1, but by doing so, I got a bit ahead of myself.  Before you look at making changes and creating a SMART goal for yourself to increase the chances of successfully meeting your goal, first you want to see what you already have on your plate!  Is your plate already so full that the food is falling off the edges (like at Thanksgiving)?  Is there anything to which you can say, “No thank you”?  Are you wanting to keep everything that is already on your plate and add more?  Are you (perchance) attempting to bite off more than you can chew?

If your plate is full and you then add something else to it, what might happen?  Does food begin to drop off the edges?  Hmmmm.  Does this sound like a plan destined to fail in some way?  Perhaps you will be successful with your new goal, but chances are that something else is going to fall off your plate.  Or, you manage to keep everything on your plate, but you wonder why you’re not having much success with your new goal.

It is just too much! Call a halt! Stop! You don’t want to neglect yourself, your loved ones, your work or some other part of your life that is important because you are attempting to cram too much into too small a space!  How can you come back to some balance?

Stopping.  Stepping back.  Assessing.  “OK, exactly what is it that I have on my plate?”  It may have been awhile since you really looked.  Sometimes life can feel like it’s going faster than we can keep up.  That is when it is most important to do what is counterintuitive and stop.  Just stop.  The urgency of it all is causing you to think you can’t, but you can indeed and must find a way to stop.  Then take a few slow, deep breaths.  Now look at your plate.  Not with judgment or harshness or criticism.  Just with neutrality and curiosity.  Like you are looking at it for the first time.  “Hmmm.  How interesting.  I have three rolls, a huge piece of steak, no veggies, a tiny serving of fruit and two desserts.  Hmmm.  Isn’t that interesting?”  Not, “Oh my gosh!  My nutrition has gone down the toilet, and there’s no hope for me!”  That is not the kind of gentle assessing I’m talking about.  You are observing your plate (like a scientist studying something) so you can see what is what, what you have plenty of, what you might want more of, and what you could do without, perhaps to make room for something more!

All of this is really a way of stopping to appreciate all that you do.  It’s recognizing that you probably take care of and accomplish more that you give yourself credit for.  I’ll bet that, in some way, somehow, you are taking yourself for granted.  We don’t like it when other people take us for granted, do we?  But look at that; we’re guilty of the same thing!  Instead of taking yourself for granted, try this out.  Step 1.  Write down every single thing you accomplished today.  If you are really diligent about recording what you did, you will have a much longer list than you thought you would have.  Yes, making the bed counts.  Doing the dishes counts.  Running an errand counts.  Completing the paperwork counts.  Feeding the dog counts.  Going for a walk around the block counts.  It ALL counts.  Write it all down.  Step 2.  Give yourself a pat on the back or a high-five or a “Way to go!” for all that you did do today.  Right now is not the time to be concerned with what you thought you “should have” done or what you didn’t do.  Keep your focus on all that you did do.  Because you did a lot.  And you deserve credit and appreciation.  So give yourself some!

From this place of appreciation, you are in a much better position to make good decisions and see if there is any room at all for something new.  Without first assessing how things are now and giving credit where credit is due, it becomes very difficult to make changes, much less to feel motivated to make changes!

Give yourself those gifts: 1)stopping, 2)assessing, 3)appreciating.  By doing so, you are more prepared to move forward into the possibility of change.

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