Linda Heeler

FORGIVE ME NOT

"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
 —  Mark Twain
I was recently involved in a conversation of a group of women who live together and we heard how two of the women broke a rule of the house. Consequently, all of the residents were penalized.
It was very easy to empathize with the women who had followed the rules and were angry with this decision.  One of the women who had broken the rules said she had learned her lesson and that it would not happen again.
A couple of the women were angry and had no compassion for those who had broken the rules.  For them, I threw out the possibility of forgiveness.  It was met with a quick and fervent “Hell no!”  It seemed that since they were suffering, they wanted the offenders to suffer by not forgiving them.
Someone stated she didn’t particularly care for the word “forgiveness.”  I asked her what forgiveness meant to her.  
Her response was that it seemed to let the offender off the hook.  
I get what she’s talking about.  When someone says “I’m sorry”  I automatically say “it’s ok.”   
But is it really enough to say “I’m sorry?”   Are we then expected to say, “it’s ok”  and just let it go?
What about those people who refuse to admit they’ve done anything wrong?  Should we forgive them? Who is forgiveness really for?
Rather than rely on my interpretation of the word forgive, I went to the dictionary.  
“Forgive- to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw or mistake.”
Was it as simple as that?  Was it as complicated as that?  Just stop feeling angry or resentful? 
This definition says nothing about the other person making amends or even admitting wrong doing.  Forgiveness is simply a choice on the part of the forgiver.  Simple but not easy.
 And why do we choose to hold on to our anger and resentment?
I once had a friend that I decided had done me wrong.  I held on to my anger and resentment for years.  Funny thing is, she went on about her life as I was “punishing” her with my non-forgiveness.  Truthfully, the only one who suffered was me. 
Finally, I had to face the fact that what I really wanted was to be right and for her to be wrong.  And I wanted the world to see this too.  I was happy in my own miserable righteousness.  
Then I realized that the only one I was hurting was me. I finally forgave her (and myself), let go of my anger and resentment and we patched up our friendship.
When we are unforgiving with others we are usually just as unforgiving with ourselves.  This has been the case for me.  
I want to be “right”  so whenever I have judged myself as wrong or bad, I find it very difficult to forgive myself.
The Bible teaches that we should forgive those who wrong us 70 x7 times.  I believe this means that we are to try our best to choose to be open, accepting and loving each time we encounter experiences that trigger our anger and resentment. Even with ourselves.
We can choose to be “right” and hold a grudge. However, forgiveness is a sweet fragrance that releases our anger, resentment and righteousness. Its scent fills our hearts and spirits with love and compassion and sets us free.
 

Power Through Pain

I was diagnosed with shingles around Thanksgiving. While the blisters have long since gone, it is taking longer for the pain to completely dissipate. My doctor informed me that I could have residual pain for up to a year. (For more information about shingles go to http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/shingles-topic-overview)

While I would not wish this illness on anyone, it brought some lessons that have been life changing.

Because I had shingles over the holidays, I told myself that I would hunker down and take good care of myself. My plan was that when the first week in January came, I would get back to work and my normal routine. However, my body had something else in mind.

I found that even though the pain had lessened and I was able to take less pain medication, my stamina was low. I was fatigued by 3pm and even if I took a nap, I was exhausted by 7pm.

I was frustrated and wondered what was wrong with me. After all, I “should” be better by now because I had taken good care of myself. Right?

My mind was full of useless internal (and some external) whining. I was thinking about how this wasn’t fair… I was afraid because I needed to get back to work because money doesn’t grow on trees… I began thinking that my family probably thinks I’m a slacker and I just need to suck it up…yada, yada, yada…

Suddenly I could hear Eckhart Tolle’s words ringing in my ears. What if I totally accepted how I felt each moment, no stories, no pity party, no internal dialogue? What if there was no place I needed to be? What if I was exactly where I “should” be?

For that day, I decided to clear my head of all the “shoulds” and judgments. I simply did what I could and what felt right.

And here’s what happened, I connected with a colleague and a friend on the phone, created a good portion of a workshop, ate a delicious and nourishing breakfast and lunch, washed, folded and put away a load of laundry, dusted and vacuumed the living room, showered and wrote this.

As soon as the pressure to be somewhere else was gone, I was free to be exactly where I was. I realized that a lot of my fatigue was caused by me not accepting how I was feeling.

I also realized this is how I do life, I fight it. I worry about what others think. I’m always trying to figure out what will make those around me happy. I battle between what I want to do and what I feel I “should” do. It’s a constant fight, no wonder I’m tired.

By accepting what is, there is nothing to push against. And by listening to my own inner wisdom, I empower myself and rely less on the approval of others. As a consequence, it frees up a lot of mental and physical energy.

Needless to say, this feels great. And this way of being has to be more conducive to healing.
It’s clear this is something that’s simple and powerful but not always easy. And I will continue to practice.

Heart (Core Value #2)

When we talk about love we think about the heart. We talk about our hearts being “full of love.” When we get hurt by someone we say they “broke my heart.” The heart is our symbol of love and the bridge between our human form of love and divine love.

What is love really? We talk about it as a noun, a thing. Or it can be a verb, you know, to be “in love.”

But most people think of love as a feeling. This can be tricky because we don’t always “feel” like we love someone, even someone that we know deep down we do, like our parents, siblings, spouse or our children.

I remember as a kid hating it when my parents were angry with me. I interpreted their anger as they didn’t love me. Primarily because when I was angry, I couldn’t “feel” the love for that person. It was confusing for me.

This effected how I dealt with my children. If you ask them even now, they both would tell you that when I would get angry, I would say, “even though I’m angry with you I still love you.”

As a human, I have a tough time with love because it may be a noun but I can’t touch, taste, smell or see it. So I’m stuck with my own interpretation.

The Bible says that God is love. The Course In Miracles says that the only thing that is real is love.

God is the embodiment of pure love and is not human. It is virtually impossible for us as humans to comprehend that love. I believe when we access that part of ourselves that is willing to sacrifice our happiness, comfort, safety and ultimately our lives for someone else, that’s the closest we come to understanding that divine love.

I believe that love is an energy to which we are all connected. We get to choose, however, whether to tap into it. I have experienced this.

There was once someone that I just did not feel like I loved them. I remember that it caused me pain because I thought that I should love this person because it was someone I was very close to. I remember getting down on my knees and praying every morning pretending to lift this person up to God. I knew that God loved them even when I couldn’t. Then I would pray to have my heart open so that I could see that person as God sees them and love them as God loves them.

I don’t remember exactly how long it took but I suddenly noticed that I was enjoying being around them and one day, I truly “felt” love for them. I argue that the love was always there, I just had some ego and fear in the way.

This brings me back to my core value of heart. What it means to me is that from a business standpoint whoever does business with my company will be accepted and loved; the good, the bad and the ugly. That doesn’t mean I will choose to work with everyone however it does mean that everyone will be treated as what they are: divine love.

I believe each of us is this divine love. There are some of us that reflect that love back to us more readily. Those are the ones we love easily. I believe those we have a hard time being with are also divine love, we just have a harder time seeing it because there are egos and/or fear in the way (both theirs and ours). With those, we have the power to stop there or we can keep going, get down on our knees and ask for divine love to heal the relationship.

If we are truly all divine love, it means we are all one. What would the world be like if we were all willing to see and accept each other for the love we are even if our hearts didn’t “feel” it? If I do it for you, will you do it for me? Maybe this is what “heaven” is all about.

A Foundation of Trust

I have been taking a look at what my core values are for my business and I thought it would be a difficult task. But what I found was it was fun. And it was very clear what my number 1 core value was: trust.
 
For me, trust is non-negotiable. If I don’t trust you or you me, then I believe there is no foundation for a deep relationship let alone being able to do business with one another.
 
As a coach, my clients have to trust me to uphold strict confidentiality. No one wants to worry whether the intimate details they share with me will end up on Facebook or as fodder for conversation at a networking event.  
 
Having come from the dental world, I am practiced at not sharing.  My family has gotten used to asking me only, “how was your day?” to which I usually reply either “good”  or “interesting.”  They know better than to ask anything beyond that.
 
As a friend or family member, nothing hurts worse than knowing you have betrayed someone’s trust.  We have all felt that sting.  We know how difficult it can be to learn to trust someone again after that happens.  And I know that there have been times when I’ve begged to be forgiven.  It takes time, understanding and forgiveness to mend the relationship. 
 
My clients must also trust that I care about them and have their best interest at heart.  There are times when it is my job to say something the client may not want to hear.  I have actually had clients threaten to hang up on me during a session because of something I pointed out to them.  However, once they calmed down, most were able to see what I was pointing to and have even thanked me for having the guts to say it.
 
We may need to do the same with the people we love.  We have to trust the relationship and love we have that we can say the difficult thing and be with whatever reaction shows up. 
 
I also must trust the clients I work with.  I must trust that they will empower me as their coach. That they will not just quit but stay in the conversation and trust that there is gold at the end of the process.
 
I must trust that my loved ones will trust me to love them and always have their backs.
 
I also need to trust myself.  I need to trust that I have what I need to provide value to each of my clients and to the people I love. And that if I find that things are not working out for the benefit of all, I need to trust myself to make the situation right. 
 
For example, if a client is not making progress, I need to trust that I will not just continue to work with them but refer them to another coach or even a therapist, if necessary.  In the case of a friend or family member,  I need to be able to back off and give them space along with love and acceptance.
 
And last but certainly not least, I need to have faith.  Faith is a form of trust.  A trust that everything will work out.  Trust that there is a higher being whose power I can call on whenever needed.
 
Trust is not something that I need just in my business, it is something I need in life.  These 3 aspects of trust: with myself, with others and with God, create the foundation for my life. To me this is my most important core value.
 

Finding Our Value(s)

 

My New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to make this my best year ever by reaching and impacting as many people’s lives as possible.  In order to do that, I am committed to everyone having the best year ever.   My aim is to spread the word about what coaching is and have as many people as possible experience the power of it.
 
I then realized that I needed a different focus for my business.  Actually I needed to start treating it like a business.  Since business is not my primary language, I decided I would need some help from an expert. In walked Vicki James from Stand Out Results.
 
One of the first things Vicki had me do was distinguish my core values for my business.  A few years ago, I put together a workshop based around identifying the participants values and then had them write a personal mission statement for the organization for which they were volunteering.
 
I had identified my values then but I decided to start from scratch particularly to see if my values were different for my business than personally. 
 
I began by going online and finding a list of 300 values.  I read through the list and wrote down any that resonated with me.  This left me with a list of 38 values.
 
I then picked out the ones that had the most energy for me.  The first was easy.  Trust had the most pull for me.  I went on to list 7 more.  I then realized that the other 30 that I had listed could be put into one of the first eight categories.
 
I got to take a close look at what I value, not my mom or dad, my husband or kids, my coach, my friends or the world.  
 
I found myself having fun with this exercise and really owning my values.  It made me take a look at not only what I value but also who I want be in life.
 
I thought that Vicki would be pleased with the work I had done and she was.  However, she asked me to narrow my list even further,  down to 5 core values for my business. With Vicki’s assistance, I was able to do that.  
 
Consider doing this exercise for yourself.  What do you value most personally or for your business?  Are they the same? 
 
Google “list of values” and write down what speaks to you.  Then narrow that list till you get the 5-6 values that say what’s really important to you.  
 
Are you living your life according to your core values?  If not, how’s it going?  What would life be like for you if you did?  What would be a simple action you could take today to honor what you value in life?
 
In upcoming blogs, I will take you through what I discovered to be my 5 core values for my business and what each means to me.  
 
Please share what comes up for you here or go to my Linda Heeler Coaching Facebook page.  I look forward to hearing from you! 
 

A Legacy of Love

The world lost a bright light two weeks ago.  A twenty-four year old young man who changed the world in the short time he was here.
 
Blair was a young man who grew up with my daughter Amanda.  We come from a small town of about 7000 people and their class graduated about 70 kids.  This made for a close knit community not only for the kids but for the parents as well.
 
Blair was a soccer and baseball player, played the trumpet, sang in an acappella group in college and was a virtuoso on the piano.  But I remember him best as a member, along with my daughter, on our school’s championship swim team.
 
I fondly remember the swim meets, team dinners and especially the team parties we held in our basement.  The kids would come over right after practice and play pool & ping pong, eat pizza, watch movies and laugh.  Our basement would smell of chlorine and be filled with residual joy for days after.
 
During regular season, the boys on the team had a tradition of growing their hair out.  Then when sectionals came, there would be a “shave” party.  That’s where everyone would gather and the boys would shave their heads.  All this in the hopes to “shave” seconds off their best time.
 
Blair was known for his long, flowing main of red hair and his piercing blue eyes.  To me, it just seemed unnatural for him to be walking around bald.  
 
Blair was beginning his life having graduated from college and now working at an  architectural firm in Washington DC.  He was making a difference in the world.
 
His father told stories of Blair’s kindness and generosity and his sense of humor.  Stories that we would never have known had this tragedy not occurred.
 
When my son, Spencer, heard of Blair’s death, he said he was so sorry as he always knew him to be a good person.  Not one person could remember him saying a bad thing about someone else.
 
After Blair’s funeral and many tears, my daughter and I sat alone quietly trying to make sense of this loss to the world.  I told her quite simply that there is no answer to the question “why.” 
 
She was grateful for all of the goodness and kindness that Blair had brought to so many lives.  She remarked that it was such a loss for those whose lives he would have impacted in the future.  We thought that life would have been so much better for so many if Blair were still here and we mourned that loss as well.
 
We decided that if each of us were just a little more kind, compassionate and generous maybe we could honor Blair and make the world a little bit better place.  Maybe not the world it would have been if Blair was here but a better place nonetheless.
 
So I challenge all of us, in honor of those we’ve lost, to be a little kinder, a little more compassionate and generous with each other.  This won’t bring back those we’ve lost or make up for the goodness they would have brought but it may inspire others to do so as well.  In my opinion, this is Blair’s legacy.
 

A Course in Power

I felt moved to pick up my Course in Miracles book recently and "happened" to open to this passage."Nothing can hurt me unless I give it the power to do so. For I give power as the laws of this world interpret giving-as I give I lose. It is not up to me to give power at all. Power is of God, given by Him & reawakened by the Holy Spirit, Who knows that as I give I gain. He gives no power to sin, & 
therefore it has none; nor to its results as this world sees them-sickness & death & misery & pain." ~ A Course in Miracles P. 408

Recently, I viewed someone in my life as a bully and made them wrong for how they were treating me. I made them into a bad person and I wanted someone to come and rescue me.

What I couldn’t see is that I handed over my power. After reading this passage, I understand that my interpretation of the situation was completely untrue. And that this pattern of giving my power away to others has been going on for years.

Everyday I see many people deal with “sickness & death & misery & pain.” And everyday, I see many who choose to receive the power that is “of God.” From that connection to God (or insert your word for the Divine; Life, Universe, Spirit etc), sickness, misery, death and pain have no power and cannot hurt us.

When we realize this, we then live our lives from our true power and usually end up inspiring others to do the same. Robin Roberts is a wonderful example of this. And so are many of you!

Let’s practice accepting and living our true power!

Be Bold – Save a Life!

During my coach training, the leaders of our program urged us to say the thing that will get us fired.  When I first heard this, I was horrified.  You see, I was always the “nice” one.  I prided myself that no one could get to me.  No matter how anyone reacted, whether it be anger or arrogance, I would be “nice.”

Then it was pointed out that my “niceness” was simply a manipulation.  At first, I became incredulous.  How could they say such a thing?!  Me, manipulative?!  Never!

Once I calmed down and took a look, I realized they were right.  I used my “niceness” to get what I wanted and to make myself feel better than those who couldn’t control their egos or their temper.  Wow, was that a wake up call!

From that one powerful reflection, I also realized that if I was always “nice” with my clients, I wouldn’t be providing them with the best coaching I could offer.  I would only be getting my need to be liked met.

I began practicing saying the bold thing everywhere.

I recently had a friend call me out of the blue and tell me that she needed me to come and be with her because she could not breathe.  I immediately suggested we call 911 but she was resistant.  She finally agreed and I met the ambulance at her house.

It turned out that she was having a panic attack and from what I understand, they really can make you feel like you’re going to die.  I ended up taking her to be checked out by her doctor and they said that she was physically okay.

My friend, Kelly (not her real name), had been self destructive in the past and had cut herself off from her friends, me included.  I always told her that I would be there if she needed me.  And that morning, I had been. And Kelly was extremely grateful.

However, I found myself telling her that she got lucky that morning.  I travel for work and am out of town on occasion and I sometimes have early morning client calls.  I told her that I am not always able to drop everything to come and be with her.

I reflected her self destructive pattern and I told her that I cannot make her live.  I told her that I would be heartbroken,  that I would carry my love for her in my heart forever should she die but my life will go on.  I couldn’t believe these words were coming out of my mouth.

Her reaction was to give me the biggest bear hug and thank me.  She said she felt free in that moment because of my honesty.

We met a couple of weeks later and Kelly thanked me again.  She said she finally realized that it was up to her whether she lived or died and it was her choice what kind of life she lived.  She thanked me for my boldness because she said it saved her life!

So consider the practice of saying the bold thing.  Yes, you may have to apologize and clean things up with some.  With others, you may change their life forever.  And who knows, you may even save a life!

START SINGING!

I remember a children’s song from long ago and the lyrics went something like this:
Sing! Sing a song!
Sing out loud, sing out strong!
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough 
for anyone else to hear.
Just sing! Sing a song!
The message in this song is one we teach our children- be yourself, live your life the way you want and don’t worry what other’s judgments may be.
We teach our children this but are we living and modeling this message?
At church, a few months ago, I happened to sit in front of a young woman visiting our congregation.  When it came time for the first hymn, she burst into song.  She had a loud, bold and beautiful voice.
I noticed, however, she did not hit every note perfectly in tune.  I might not have ever noticed the notes that were out of tune had she not been singing out “loud and strong.”
I caught myself starting to judge her for being so loud and not “getting it right.”  I quickly noticed my judgment and I decided, instead, to relish in all the notes this woman sang. 
After the service, I turned to her and told her what a beautiful voice she had.  She apologized for not hitting every note and stated she had not sung in quite a while and was not familiar with the hymns.
I realized that this woman could have hidden her gift because she was afraid of not being perfect or getting it right.  She could have been stuck in her fear of judgment, ridicule or scorn.  Instead, she chose to sing out loud.
How many of us live our lives hiding our gifts because we’re afraid of what others will think?  And if we’re truly honest , who’s judgment is it that’s holding us back from what we want?
It’s usually us.  And, truth be told, most people are so caught up in worrying about what others are thinking about them, they don’t have time to worry about anyone else!
So what’s the song you’d like to sing out loud, sing out strong?!  Let’s start singing and not worry if it’s good enough to sing, let’s just sing!

Coincidence? I Think Not!

About 3 years ago, I read the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.  It was one of Oprah’s book club selections.  This book was so powerful for me that I knew I had to talk to others about it despite my fear of being in a room full of strangers.

I went back to Oprah’s website and found a book club in Rochester.  I was so scared to go to the first meeting, I took a friend with me.

This group of people became a very important part of my life every Wednesday evening as we read each chapter and discussed how the concepts translated in each of our lives.  And little did I know what a profound effect each of those people would have on my life as we spent those evenings together for over a year.

I met my best friend, Darcie, in that group.  The facilitator of the group was a life coach and it was, in no small part, because of him, that I chose to become a life coach.  Another member and current friend, Luz, recommended her life coach to me when I decided that I wanted to work with a coach to decide if I wanted to be one.  That led me to Gregg and Accomplishment Coaching.

I graduated from the AC training program in New York in July 2010.  I have a whole new group of friends and colleagues all over the country.  And now Luz is going through the training as well.  Is all this a coincidence?  I don’t think so.

I believe that when we put ourselves out there in spite of our fear, the universe conspires to bring us what we want even if we don’t know what it is that we want.  I knew I was looking for something in my life but I wasn’t sure what it was.  Looking back, I couldn’t have planned this journey any better.

I now look at life differently.  Not wondering why things happen the way they do but having wonder at the way life happens.  What do you see about your journey called life?