Sunday, March 7, 2010

Are You Intentional?

Sometimes themes and lessons get presented to us numerous times before we get the message and do something different. This time the message for me is about being intentional. It’s so easy to cruise through my day on autopilot, automatically doing the next thing on my to-do list.

It’s not that those days are bad – hey, I have a great life, including a wonderful husband, two awesome kids, great friends, a loving extended family, a career that I enjoy, a house that stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and a cute, goofy dog. So in no way am I complaining about my life.

What I’m saying is that I believe I can make a great life even better if I take the time to focus on what I’m doing and pay attention to my mood and energy as I do it. For example, before I meet on Mondays with friends who are exploring spiritual ideas, I can take a moment to visualize each of them and imagine the very best outcome of our discussion for each of us. And as I imagine Katelyn coming home Friday night to celebrate my birthday (!) I can focus on the kind of interaction that I want us to have – positive, loving, and authentic, and recognize the actions I can take to make that happen.

Setting an intention for a task or interaction is as easy as knowing what you want and stating it as though it’s already true. As I wait for Katelyn to arrive home, I can picture her beautiful face and say to myself, “I am enjoying a meaningful, loving conversation with my daughter”. Then if she comes in the door feeling out of sorts from her drive home in rush-hour traffic, I can maintain my positive mood, making it easier for her to let go of her negative one. In other words, by making my desire for the situation conscious, I can affect the interaction in a positive way.

Being intentional about our actions and interactions also makes them more meaningful. It helps keep us present in each moment, instead of worrying about the future or regretting the past.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Have You Heard From God Lately?

I’m a big fan of the cancelled ABC series, “Eli Stone”. For those of you who never saw it during it’s short life on prime time television, it’s the story of a high powered attorney in a large San Francisco law firm, who begins to have hallucinations (or divine visions, depending on your perspective). Turns out he has a brain aneurysm like the one his father died from years earlier. His attempt to make sense of his visions (including George Michael singing ‘You Gotta Have Faith” on Eli’s dining room table) leads him to an acupuncturist who believes that Eli is a modern day prophet, and that the visions are God’s way of telling Eli which cases to take. The acupuncturist suggests to Eli that everything has two explanations, scientific and divine, and that we get to choose which we operate from.

So how does that sit with you? I know my daughter, the biology major, has total confidence in science and things that can be seen or proven in an experiment. While I wouldn’t deny the important contributions science has made, I also believe in things that can’t be seen with our eyes, or even a microscope.

What if God speaks to us through science and through ‘supernatural’ means? What happens if we choose to look for inspiration everywhere? Can we combine our intuitive awareness with logical, rational facts and data? Can we hear God speak to us through dreams and investigations?

I’m reminded of Albert Einstein’s quote “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. How do you choose to live?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What is Your Body Trying to Tell You?

Many of you know that my daughter, Katelyn, was in the hospital for two nights recently. She got hold of whatever virus was going around Maryville Campus, and it wouldn’t let go of her. Her wonderful roommates got her to the ER and stayed with her, even after I got there, and of course, eventually ended up with the same digestive symptoms that Katelyn and most of the campus had to endure. Thankfully, none of her roommates had to be admitted to the hospital, though one of them did stay in the ER until the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, besides expressing my gratitude in print to Katelyn’s roomies, this Full Circle E-zine is about connecting emotional components to physical symptoms (mine, not Katelyn’s). Because it turns out that even though I managed to avoid the gastrointestinal distress that she suffered, once she was feeling better and back at school, my body started talking to me about the experience.

You might call this divine intervention since I have recently restructured my coaching practice to help people look at their health from a holistic perspective that considers mind, body, and spirit to be a unified entity. (Or you might call it God having a good laugh by asking me to look at my own life first). Whatever we call it, I thought you might be interested in some of the insights I’ve had thrown into my lap by taking this holistic look at myself.

So the recent symptoms I’ve experienced include dizziness, sadness, and a little bit of muddled thinking (or a lot, depending on whom you listen to). These symptoms make sense in a holistic sense when you consider where I am in my life. I’ve been taking care of Katelyn while she heals and really enjoying having her home. A big part of my identity is as a mother to two of the most wonderful kids on earth. But this fall, John will leave for UTC and Katelyn will begin her ‘real’ life as an adult (hopefully in veterinarian school). Where does that leave me? Dizzy, sad, and muddled.

It’s definitely a time for new beginnings, which can leave us off-balance, shaky, lightheaded, in other words, dizzy. And you want to talk about sad? That one’s a no-brainer. Despite being excited and proud about the new stages of my kids’ lives, knowing that the old stage of dependence is finally ending definitely leaves me feeling a little poignant. Sadly, the muddled thinking may just be a sign of the stage of life that I’m in myself, not a reflection of where the kids are!

What to do with these holistic connections? Well, obviously they are great real life examples for my clients to learn from. But they also point me to a better understanding of where I am right now in the present, which is all we really have. I’m in the midst of a wonderful transition that leaves me dizzy, sad, and muddled, but also provides new opportunities for me to express myself and my calling in the world. Amen to that!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Do You Have a Theme?

I had an experience at the beginning of this new year that motivated me to decide on a personal theme for the year. Without boring you with all the details, let’s just say there was an event and as I reacted to the event, it became obvious that said event had evoked emotions and defensiveness way beyond what was to be expected. So I had to take a look at myself and see if I could figure out why I responded so strongly. (Don’t ya hate when that happens?!)

What I learned was that instead of accepting what had occurred and moving on to be present to the next moment in my life, I had created a story in my head about what the event meant, what other people were thinking, and what it all said about me. Whew! What a lot of meaning I was putting into one little event.

Luckily I realized what I was doing pretty quickly and made the choice to do something different. And in the process I understood that, while it’s human nature to create stories to give meaning to life’s events, it doesn’t always serve us well to do so.

I decided to work on letting go of creating stories. So my theme for 2010 is to accept the events that occur in my life simply as events that occurred. Sure I’ll have emotional responses to them, but I can stop there, process the feelings, and move on to the next moment in my life.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What Will You Do With Your New Year?

I know that everywhere you turn this time of year, you’re reading or hearing about ‘a brand new decade’ or ‘how to make this the best year of your life’ or other resolution-oriented themes. And there’s nothing wrong with taking time at the beginning of the year to look at where you’ve been and where you want to go.

But what if we also took some time to appreciate ourselves just the way we are? What if decided that we would begin 2010 in glorious love with ourselves? It sounds paradoxical, but it’s true that to make lasting changes in our selves, our bodies, our lives, we have to start from a place of acceptance. We have to accept every inch, every wrinkle, every personality quirk, every thing that we think makes us imperfect and unloveable. The truth is that when we love ourselves exactly as we are, accepting the good with the flaws, we create the energy necessary to understand which changes we want to make, while still allowing for our imperfections.

So take some time this week to think about 2010 in terms of how you can show yourself a little love - nice hot baths with music and aromatherapy? Long walks with the pooch? Positive self-talk? A phone call to an old friend you haven’t heard from in a while? Keeping to an eight-hour work day?

This kind of self love is not narcissism. It’s a recognition that you have a Calling on this Earth, and to fulfill it, you have to start with being your best self, which means loving YOU just the way you are.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Ok, seems I have just a little more to say about gratitude. Yes, I do have, and use, spellcheck. ‘Thanksliving’ is correct. It’s a concept that is becoming popular, in part because wise women like my friend, Marcia Walker, Life Coach Extraordinaire, are looking at their lives and asking themselves, “Whazzzup?” aka “How can I create a more joyful life?”

The frequent answer that Marcia and others come up with is to accept the people and circumstances in their lives EXACTLY as they are, and then take it one step further and be grateful for those people and circumstances.

It does not mean ignoring the bad things that are obviously a part of our world (such as war, injustice, violence, hunger - need I go on?). It means seeing things realistically and being grateful anyway. The gratitude comes from a reservoir of compassion that lives inside of us, not as a reaction to conditions outside of us.

Certainly there are conditions that we recognize as intolerable and not worthy of our gratitude. But instead of focusing on these things beyond doing what we can to change them, Thanksliving requires us to search within for reasons to be grateful. I’m not saying this is easy! I am saying that the more you make it a habit to look for opportunities to be grateful, the happier you will be.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What Are You Grateful For?

This morning at Parkway Presbyterian we had an All Saints Day service to commemorate our loved ones who have passed on. While our wonderful minister, Liz Peterson, read the list of names the congregation had compiled, I and a member of the much younger generation lit a candle for each name. It was a beautiful ritual for remembering and honoring our family and friends who have dropped their bodies.

It’s also a great way to begin the month in which we in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. And this year I’d like to encourage you to celebrate the holiday all month, with an intentional expression of gratitude each day.

Gratitude is one of the highest vibrations that we can experience, along with love and forgiveness. When we consciously focus on all that we have to be grateful for, we are automatically in that higher vibration, and in a better place to make plans and take action.

So here are some ideas for keeping your awareness in gratitude during this month of Thanksgiving:

*Keep a gratitude journal-this is an obvious one, but bears reminding. Write down five things that you are grateful for each day.

*Write a brief note to someone who has made a difference in you life. It might be a family member, teacher, friend, co-worker, the person who delivers your newspaper, or the barista who makes your perfect cup of coffee every morning. Write to someone different each day for the whole month.

*Create a gratitude notebook for your family. Decorate it and leave it in a conspicuous place where everyone can write something they’re grateful for any time they pass it. Read the entries out loud during the Thanksgiving meal.

*Leave thank you notes in your spouse’s and children’s lunch boxes or backpacks.

*Pick someone each day to spend a few moments thinking about and visualize them surrounded by God’s love, thanking God for putting them in your life.

*Give a gift to someone different each day. It doesn’t have to be a material gift. It can be your attention, a special breakfast, a love note, a smile. Find strangers to be the recipients of some of these gifts. For example pay for the order of the car behind you in line at Starbuck’s. One time when I did this it was a state trooper-I plan to bring that up if I’m ever pulled over for an alleged traffic violation - lol!

Be creative and find ways to express your gratitude to yourself, your family and friends, and God. You will feel better and better every time you do it!