Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. – Oprah Winfrey
Thanksgiving is almost here! While it is not a holiday in England, my childhood home, I appreciate this national celebration and the importance of giving thanks and being grateful.
Here are three ways to grow gratitude:
Focus on kindness]]>
The speaker at the podium eyed the audience, took a deep breath and then somberly addressed us with these words: “Ladies, if you do only one thing… Keep your commitments to yourself. Do what you say you are going to do. Always!”
All well and good! However, this admonition may not always apply to exercise advice. Here is an example:
A wellness coach related that a client had agreed to increase her exercise level by going to the gym directly after work. The client found this difficult to do. The moment when she needed to turn into the gym parking lot, she drove on home instead.
The coach’s remedy? “Don’t go to the restroom before leaving work. Instead, stop off at the gym to use the facilities. Once there, you might as well exercise, right?” Even so, the client continued to resist stopping at the gym. The coach concluded that non-compliance showed a lack of willpower. Now guilt was added to a complex emotional mix.
Certainly, expert advice and mentoring can be useful in developing an exercise regimen. Yet reliance on shortcuts and tricks to overcome apparent resistance indicates a yellow flashing light. If you’ve been working with me as your coach, you probably can pick out trouble spots in this "hard love" approach to lifestyle change:]]>
“A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.” … Mahatma Gandhi
I just finished reading “The Power of a Positive No” by William Ury. The author addresses a problem that blocks clear and open communication in all relationships: how to use the tiny two letter word [no] effectively.
According to Ury, the great gift of “no” allows us to create what we want, protect what we value and change what no longer works.
Ury believes that at the heart of the difficulty in saying No is the tension that exists between exercising your power and tending to your relationship. Exercising your power may strain a relationship, whereas tending to your relationship may weaken your power.]]>
A client recently sent me this photo which started me thinking …
I have a love affair with books.
Three bookcases line the walls of my office, our family room has been turned into a library and even the spare room has a floor to ceiling bookcase. I regard books as companions and profoundly respect authors who have devoted their time and energy to expressing their vision.
Can you see the array of health books – dieting, de-stressing, de-cluttering and more? Interesting and useful, they represent just a tiny fraction of what’s available.Google lists 312 million entries for dieting, 6.6 million for clutter control and 245 million entries for stress.
Yet there is a disconnect …]]>
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” … Eleanor Roosevelt
Do you have a moat around your castle?
Typically these castles with their high walls and turrets were built with a huge moat around them as a protection from intruders. It was very effective. Friends were allowed to gain entry over the drawbridge, while foes were barred by the moat.]]>
Our winter vegetable garden is growing lush and bountiful. We have been harvesting swiss chard, kale, asian greens, lettuce and an abundance of herbs. I check the vegetable garden regularly: How is it doing today? Does it need water? Are bugs eating the leaves? Are any of the plants sick? Do they need more compost or mulch?
It occurs to me that to be happy, healthy and whole, I need to do the same for personal wellbeing. I need to check in regularly and ask similar questions. Am I being mindful as I go through the day? How am I feeling? What am I thinking? Do I need more sleep? Have I taken enough time to meditate and to exercise? Am I eating well?
If I don’t check on the vegetable garden for even a few days, the soil dries out, plants begin to wither and insects start taking over. If I don’t check in with myself and take remedial action, I can begin to slip toward unhappiness. Disconnection in body, mind, spirit and emotions does not bring peace and weeds of stress begin to grow.
Have you experienced the bounty of a vegetable garden? I would love to hear your insights on how you tend your personal garden so it grows lush and bountiful year round.]]>
When Bob returned from an organic grocery store he shared this incident.
He found long lines at checkout. Eventually he was next in line. Just as the cashier rang up the sale of the preceding customer, a man holding an unappetizing root in his hand dashed up. He seemed very distraught, so Bob let him go ahead. After handing the root to the cashier, there was an issue with identifying the product and time dragged on.
The customer and the cashier bantered back and forth, while another staff member returned to the bin for a price check, further upsetting those in the queue. Eventually the transaction was completed. When Bob reached the checkout counter, the cashier apologized for the delay, explaining that doctors had given the man only 6 months to live. The special root he purchased was from Asia, and he hoped it might help him live longer.
Bob’s story shifted me into remembering very real blessings. My problems seemed very small in comparison. Can seeing your own situation a little differently today soften your heart toward someone who upset you?
Such is the power of gratitude.]]>
Can you relate to a client’s journey “home”?
Jill [not her real name] had just returned from a week-long cross country visit with her parents. It had triggered conflicting emotions. While she dearly loved her mother, returning to an old environment of being controlled turned her tummy into knots as IBS flared up.
“Now Jill, you ought to ….” “Taste just one bite of this delicious cookie …” “Don’t you remember how much that used to upset your father?”
A typical casualty of these trips was her fitness program – stretching, meditation before breakfast and a walk/jog in the late afternoon. All of this seemed to go up in smoke during her visit home.
Yet the most recent visit had been different. No, she had not been able to meditate or exercise during that week, yet Jill had found the resolve to confront her mother – gently but firmly.]]>
Many of my clients want to make positive and healthy changes in their lives. Yet they say that the single most important barrier they face is “not enough time”.
While that sense of “no time” is a perception, it can seem very real indeed. In reality, any given moment can expand to provide the time you need.
Have you noticed that time really isn’t static at all? It’s more like play dough. You can squeeze it down tight into a little ball or you can stretch it out and expand it – bigger than before.
One problem is that the perception of “no time” comes from not being present to what’s going on inside ourselves.
We know the positives and negatives of too much T.V. watching. While it can be relaxing and de-stressing, it also eats into available time for real self-care.]]>
Riding on the hike and bike path I came across a fallen tree blocking my path. It had been weakened by numerous storms and finally given way.
I picked up my bike and carried it over the trunk. Returning, I repeated the process, stepping over the huge obstacle and found myself thinking, "I'm glad this big old tree didn't fall on someone!"
Others made comments as they neared the fallen tree: A walker said, "Now here is something to make my walk more interesting!" Another said, "Those lazy maintenance people - don't they do their jobs anymore?"
One fallen tree, a neutral event, and three different interpretations.
Isn't that just the way life is too? How often do we project onto situations and circumstances previous experiences and beliefs? Rain is just rain. To a business woman and her family on the beach for one week of the year, rain can be an unwelcome visitor. To a farmer with a field full of parched crops, rain can be a Godsend.]]>
Millie asked me this question when we left the gym. As I thought over possible limitations of getting older, I had a flashback of a woman on a mountain and whose answer would be a definite, “No way!”
We had moved to Houston in the spring, and after a hot, muggy Texas summer we were anxious to return of the mountains and de-stress. The closest mountain wilderness is Big Bend National Park -- our destination.
Excited to see to its acclaimed vistas, we got up before sunrise to begin the South Rim Trial, leading high up into the Chisos Mountains. Eager to reach the highest point, we selected the shortest route from the Basin, though it was steep and rocky. Undaunted by the trail and lifted by an adrenal high, we seemed to fly up the trail.
As we rounded a bend, we encountered an elderly woman steadily climbing up each stone step with the help of hiking poles. Her colorful scarf, white blouse, pants and hat were stunning. Her silver hair looked as though she had stepped out of a beauty salon. We were panting, out of breath, but she was breathing normally.
Our elderly companion shared that she was 80, and that she had been climbing this particular trail for years. Usually a son from Alpine accompanied “Grandma.”]]>
To: Director, Division for Research on Intelligent Life, Galactic Central
From: Earth Saucer #1 Observer
Re: Request permission for Mind Meld]]>
Who can you talk to about self-confidence? Maybe, it’s somebody like “Gwendolyn.” Let me share a little about her…
I arrive at the hotel in Corpus Christi early, to check out the room and technical arrangements for my breakout session. The coordinator had emailed me to expect 25 attendees, tops. So imagine the shock of discovering a cavernous meeting room seating several hundred people. Stage, full screen video, the works.
It’s unexpected. That’s when I hear from Gwendolyn.Yes, Gwendolyn, my twin who lives in my head. At times I hate her. This is one of those times.
“Patricia, you’ve messed up. Again! All set for two dozen people? Hah! Now you have to deliver in a lecture hall! Dummy, why didn’t you read the page about schedule changes?” Things like that.]]>
Aunt Nan is on the other line. She says, “Talk a little louder, honey”. (She doesn't like to wear her hearing aid).So I repeat a question that’s bugging me.
Aunt Nan, did you ever have trouble being assertive?"Land sakes, whatever do you mean?"
It’s not about being in somebody’s face, or about having it all one way.Nan, it’s like this. I went to check on a massage studio that opened last week. The masseuse began with soft music in the background. A warm towel on my back. Effleurage. Every muscle so relaxed.
I sank into that yummy place. Only to be jolted awake by a monologue about a new boyfriend. He’s always late..He didn’t used to…blah, blah.
Nan, I wanted to say Stop talking! I felt so frustrated, because I just wanted the good part to keep on!]]>
If you are like me, it's sometimes hard to appreciate special times, especially when worries intrude.
Surprisingly, help came from a children’s book.
There I was, cycling along the greenbelt. I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful day. The sky a robin’s egg blue and a soft breeze caressing my face – and what occupied my mind? Problems. Thinking about a budget due that week, ruminating on less than happy conversation with a relative, and worrying about a rattling noise from the front end of my car.
The following evening while looking for another book, I happened to glance at our collection of children’s stories tucked away in one of the bookcases. There I found “Whitefoot the Wood Mouse” written by Thornton W. Burgess in 1976.
On the first page he wrote:]]>
Have you encountered coaches who respond to your sharing by asking a series of “Why” questions? This technique is often used to help a client delve into an immediate problem.
I avoid using “Why” questions in coaching. They can take the form of manipulation or judgment. Why equals....Explain yourself!
Alternative to asking "Why?"
A different sort of question can be supportive and constructive. “Are you willing to explore ...”
This approach both honors the client and offers a choice: If she wants to explore options, even a little bit, this type of question can open the door.]]>
On most days, I love to bike along trails near my home, to help stay fit, to process events, and to relax by being in touch with nature.
What to do when something interrupts a routine that satisfies so many needs?
After a particularly exhausting day, I put on my helmet, jumped on my bike and started off. Click, clank from the front wheel. Maybe a bearing needs to be lubed, so I headed back to the house. Rather than giving up on cycling, I grabbed Bob’s bike, adjusted the seat height, and took off for a spin (with his prior okay.)
Do you rely on a specific routine to maintain fitness and/or to manage stress? What happens when that activity is unavailable when you need it? A zumba class is cancelled, the weather turns too nasty for walking, or pool swim lanes are closed?
Here are examples of my back-up plans:]]>