change

Breaking The (Food) Rules

Here's one of the few photos of me. Notice me trying to hide behind the kids.

Here’s one of the few photos of me. Notice me trying to hide behind the kids.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to take a hard look at my relationship with food. It was time to figure out how to eat without it turning into an internal emotional battle.

I stopped following my “food rules” and noticed the thoughts that ensued:

“What am I doing???”
“I am going to lose control and end up weighing 300lbs!”
“Everyone is going to see that I’ve gained weight and judge me for it.”
“People will think I’m lazy and a loser.”
“Ok, I can do this for the holidays but as soon as they’re over I’m going on a strict diet.”
“I can NOT permit myself to eat any cookies, meatballs, crab dip (insert any food that is not a raw vegetable here).”

After the holidays were over, it turned into:

“OMG! I gained 10 lbs! I’m fat!”
“I look terrible and I need to lose weight!”
“My family loves me no matter what size I am.  Who am I kidding, they’re probably as disgusted with me as I am!”
“I just want to hide out at home.”
“I can’t buy any new clothes until I lose weight.”

There they were. The thoughts that have come out of my longtime struggle with food, weight and body image. And I know exactly where these thoughts were created.

They came from people in my past who thought they were being cute by calling me pleasingly plump when I was in that awkward stage right before puberty hit. And the words of the boys on the school bus who knew exactly the right buttons to push by calling me fat and ugly.

As with the many attempts before, I knew if I put myself on a diet, eating or fitness plan it was doomed to fail because I was not doing it for the right reason. I would be losing weight because I was afraid of what others thought, not because it was something I wanted.

Then I thought, “What if these thoughts aren’t true?  What if I wasn’t a loser or lazy? What if I’m just me, not what I look like?”

So I asked myself the question, “Who do I know myself to be?” (A question I often ask my clients)

I know myself to be: kind, funny, smart, generous, loving, strong…

Does the size or shape of my body change any of that?

No! Hell NO!

If someone judges me or doesn’t like me for the size or shape of my body, it hurts. But quite honestly, they are not someone I would choose to be friends with anyway.

By replacing negative thoughts of my body with positive ones about the whole me, it not only made it easier to walk into a room full of people, I felt gratitude for the body that has brought me through 54 years and carried and birthed two healthy children.

I would love to say that the angels sang and my eating habits were suddenly transformed.

That didn’t happen. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I inherited my dad’s muscular build and not my mom’s thin beautiful legs. And, I’m likely addicted to carbs.

I have also learned to listen to the shouting in my head rather than pushing it down and hoping it goes away. Now I ask myself, “What am I really looking for these cookies or this bag of peanut M & M’s to do for me?”

I have learned I like the way I feel when I eat healthy, whole foods rather than processed, sugar laden food.

It would be easy but miserable to go back to my automatic routine of forcing myself through a diet, losing weight, keeping it off for a while, rebelling against the diet and then regaining the weight.

Right now, I’m in an unknown space and it’s really uncomfortable. I don’t know what’s around the corner but I do know I am committed to breaking up this pattern of self-abuse.

Are you struggling with the same thing? What are you doing to break through your old patterns? Let me know I’m not alone.

I’ll keep you posted…

Follow Your Bliss & Enjoy The Journey

Me following my bliss in Rome 2007

Following my bliss in Rome 2007

I recently received a Facebook friend request from a woman I had met through networking when I first became a coach. I hadn’t spoken to her in a couple of years and I was excited to connect.

The next thought that ran through my head was to invite her to like my business Facebook page. Suddenly I felt a wave of embarrassment mixed with shame and guilt. You see, I am not real consistent with posting on Facebook, particularly on my business page.

I go in waves of posting memes, quotes, thoughts etc.on Facebook and Twitter because the “experts” say that my business needs to have a social media presence.  I’m sure it’s true because people a lot smarter than me say it’s true.

I believe what I offer makes a difference in people’s lives and the reason I’m posting is because I want to help or inspire someone.

But frankly, I suck at it. And to be perfectly honest, there are times when I hate it. I feel disingenuous when I’m simply trying to find something to post just to say I posted.

This year my intention is to “follow my bliss and enjoy the journey.”

“Follow your bliss” is a shorter version of the quote by Joseph Campbell “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

According to the Joseph Campbell Foundation website:

“Joseph Campbell was a life-long student and teacher of the human spirit and mythology… individuals who searched within themselves and their societies to identify the need about which they were passionate. He called this burning need that they sought to fulfill their bliss..”

Coaching is my bliss. I love being a space of trust, authenticity and acceptance not only with my clients but with my family, friends, even strangers.

I try to bring that to my relationship with myself although that has proven to be quite a challenge especially when it comes to my weight and food. (More on that on that at a later time)

The definition of bliss is perfect happiness; great joy: a state of spiritual blessedness, typically reached after death.

Bliss in Sardinia

Sardinia 2006

My intention for 2016 of “follow my bliss and enjoy the journey” was born from wanting to experience great joy now. Not when my business was successful, the kids were happy and my husband and I were retired and traveling the world or after I die.

I’ve spent too many years chasing my bliss and being miserable.

I’m tired of receiving emails touting the formula that will bring a million dollars.  I have spent way too much time and money on plans, strategies and coaches who promised me if I did what they said to do, I would make tons of money.

None of these fit with my values and integrity and all I ended up with was regret and an even emptier bank account.

Well, not true. I also got a valuable lesson:  Listen to and do what feels right for me. Do not rely on someone or something outside of me for answers.

Don’t be surprised if you see intermittent posts from me on Facebook, Twitter or even this blog. And know that when I do post it will be because I’m following my bliss and enjoying every step!

What is your bliss? Let me know, post a comment and let’s keep in touch!

Does Everyone Need A Coach?

Women-in-black-blouse-Question-Mark-e1424352397536-300x241
During a recent conversation with a coach, I was asked if I thought that coaches should have a coach.  I told her all the reasons why, in my opinion, it was a necessity for coaches to be coached.

Then she asked me if I thought everyone should have a coach. I told her that I believed that if someone was happy and fulfilled with their life then they didn’t really need a coach.

She did not like that answer.

She stated that she believed everyone should have a coach. That everyone could stand to work on their health, their career, their relationships, some aspect of their life.

This point of view can be typical of a new coach who is trying to save the world one person at a time.  Or a coach who is frustrated that their coaching practice is not growing as fast as they would like. (Been there, done that)

While I believe that everyone could benefit from a coach, I do not believe that everyone should be coached.

Coaching is about trying to figure out what’s stopping you from achieving what you want in life. Then it’s about getting into action so you generate results; lasting results.

Coaching does not work unless the client is willing to do the work and it requires commitment.

comfort-zone
Clients are asked to question and challenge their fear, self-judgements and limiting beliefs. It can be uncomfortable and scary as they step outside their comfort zone.

Many clients come to me because they are feeling stuck and hopeless and are tired of it. They are ready to jump in and do what they have to to transform their lives.

I have transformed my life from a woman who was terrified of social situations to someone who now relishes walking into a room full of strangers.

The fear is still there but now when I’m doing something outside my comfort zone, it turns into excitement.

Coaching is not something you have to do. You are the only one who can decide if and when you are ready.  You can only change your life if you are open and willing to commit to it.

Is now the time?
maxresdefault

I have written a free 17 page e-book entitled, “What Is Coaching?”

In it, you will learn the difference between coaching, consulting and counseling, what training and certification a coach needs and the difference between a life coach, health coach, business coach etc. and more.

This book will not only help you decide whether coaching is right for you but gives you tips on how to find the right coach for you.

To receive your free PDF, simply enter your name and email address below.


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Pets Who Inspire

IMG_0240(Julie and I having some fun in the sun)

I am often inspired not only by people but by animals as well. This week I want to share with you a human who uses her dog to inspire people.

I’d like you to meet Julie. She and I met about ten years ago when we worked together. She was someone with whom I felt an instant connection.  Even after we no longer worked together, we kept in touch.

What inspires me most about Julie is her spirit. She has a certain kind of joy and energy that lights up any room she walks into.

Although Julie has suffered her share of trials and tribulations, you would never know it to meet her. She always has a smile and a word of encouragement for anyone she meets.

One thing that strengthened our bond was our mutual love for animals. We’re always sharing funny stories about our pets.

Julie talked about writing a blog that tells of the adventures she has with her dog, Cocoa. She told me about the blogs that she followed and that she would really like to be able to inspire others. She also talked about the good she could do by spotlighting animal rescues and just bringing animal lovers together.

Good news! Julie recently pulled the trigger and started sharing her stories. Take a look at Julie and Cocoa’s fun here at CocoaBeanAdventures.com.

IMG_2039

I can’t imagine my life without animals. I have told my kids that if they ever have to put me in a home, to please find one that has a resident dog or cat or one that allows them to bring their dogs or cats to visit.

The two animals who currently let us live with them are our daughter’s cats, our grand kitties, Olivia and Cocoa (yes, another Cocoa).

Olivia and Cocoa came out of an abusive situation. Olivia dealt with the abuse by lashing out and fighting. When she first came to live with us, she was so angry, I was sure she might try to kill us in our sleep!

Cocoa was the opposite. She was extremely timid and found safety hiding behind the dryer. It took months for her to let us near her and even longer before we could touch her.

We allowed both of them to be who they were and did not push ourselves on them.  There were many days that I would just look at them and tell them they were good kitties and that I loved them so much.

Slowly they began to mellow until one day, Olivia allowed us to pet her without fear of losing a hand. And we were ecstatic on the day that Cocoa jumped into my husband’s lap. What a sweet sound to hear this little kitty purr for the first time!

Olivia still has an attitude but she has turned into a loving, gentle cat.

IMG_0064(Olivia chilling out)

And now Cocoa spends most evenings purring in my lap.

IMG_0007

(Cocoa loves being a lap cat even without a lap!)

These two kitties have taught me that patience plus love heals even the deepest wounds.

Who are the people and the animals who inspire you? What have they taught you?

Changing The World One Step At A Time

 

12166771_10153666178446552_356617224_n

This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine​.

Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.

Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.

Thank you to Brenda Steffon​, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.

Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired

 

Planting The Seed of Intention

 

By creating an intention, we plant a seed for how we want things to go whether it is a conversation, a relationship, a new year or a vacation. It helps point us in the direction of who we want or need to be in order to create that intention.

If we are going to be having a difficult conversation or event, creating an intention can help alleviate anxiety and set a positive tone for the interaction.

Here are a few easy steps to creating an intention:

1.   Begin by answering the question, “What am I looking to come away with at the end?”  Write your answers down and be specific.

For example: Janet has an important meeting coming up with her boss, who has not always been a fan of hers. What she wrote was, “I want to come out of the meeting having her understand my position and knowing that I want the best for her, the company and myself.”

2.  Now ask yourself, “If I was successful at that, what would that provide?”  Write down a list of words that come to mind.

Janet imagined being successful in her conversation with her boss and asked herself, “What would that provide?”  Her list looked like this: understanding, harmony, cooperation, partnership, unity, discovery, trust, abundance, peace.

3. Look at your list of words and see which one or two resonate with you. Don’t worry if you think no one else will understand. Choose the one that feels right to you. If none of them feels right, then go back and begin again, making sure you have answered each question honestly.

In this example, Janet chose “unity” and “abundance” for her intention in the conversation with her boss. Because she planted this seed of intention (unity and abundance), she was able to let go of the negative thoughts and anxiety and felt more confident as she walked into the meeting.

Now it’s your turn. Where would you like to create an intention? Don’t worry about getting it perfect or right. It is yours and it can’t be wrong. If you get stuck, put it down and pick it up again later.

Once you have your intention, write it down and post it somewhere you can see it or carry it in your pocket. If you are creating the intention for an event, remind yourself of your intention before you go in. Then when you come out, check in, did you create the intention?

If you did, great! If you didn’t, ask yourself, what had it go the way that it did? Learn from it and try again.

Before you know it, you will be planting seeds of intention all the time and everywhere. Chances are you will sprout more purposeful actions and a life of possibilities.

Women Inspiring Change Retreat

frustrated-woman-at-computer

*THIS RETREAT IS SOLD OUT! IF YOU DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THIS ONE, CHECK BACK FOR WHEN THE NEXT REGISTRATION OPENS UP.*

Join us on August 23rd, for this full-day retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life.
Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.

Located on 135-acres, the beautiful and serene Chapin Mill Retreat Center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination.

During this day long retreat, you will:

  • be led through exercises designed to uncover what’s keeping you from making lasting positive change
  • discover who you really are and how to use this to create transformative change
  • learn and practice yoga asana (movement) appropriate for everybody, and pranayama (intentional breath work) in order to manage stress and harness optimal energy
  • explore stillness and deep relaxation to refresh and revitalize yourself
  • uncover what foods are keeping you addicted and hijacking your weight loss efforts
  • get tips on how improving your digestion can lead to weight loss and increased energy
  • learn how to make smoothies and juices that taste great, are easy to make and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine

Imagine a safe and welcoming place where you can get your questions answered and learn simple, effective ways to create a body and life you will love! You will also be served a delicious and nutritious breakfast, lunch and filling snacks throughout the day. Enjoy superfood smoothies (demos and recipes just for you), delightful salads, yummy detox juices, homemade almond cherry bliss protein bars and other great snacks to keep you fueled all day.
Our Retreat facilitators are:
Linda Heeler, Professional Certified Coach, Meet Linda
Christine Porter, Certified Health + Wellness Coach, Meet Christine
Mary Aman, Master Yoga Instructor, Meet Mary
These women will bring their talents and expertise to guide you as you begin your journey toward positive change in your life.
Cost for this day long retreat is $247
Registration closes on August 18th.
To register, go to PeaceAndPear.com

Understanding Your Money Mindset

Its Raining Money

Have you ever thought about your relationship to money? I say relationship because we all have a story about money.

I grew up thinking we were poor. There never seemed to be enough money for what I wanted.

Now mind you, I never went without food, decent clothing, anything really. But as a kid, I wanted certain things, as all kids do.

There never seemed to be enough when I wanted things like candy or a toy. I didn’t get an allowance so I would ask my parents for money when I wanted something. The answer was sometimes yes, but most of the time, no. Sounds normal, right?

But as a kid, I made up the story that I couldn’t have those things because we were poor. And my mind took it one step further down the victim trail to, “I can’t have what I want but my brothers always get what they want.”

What my mind failed to realize is that my brothers are 5 and 6 years older than me. They worked on a local farm or at the 5 & 10 store and earned their own money so they could buy what they wanted.

But my mind was determined to hold onto this scarcity mentality.

Fast forward to adulthood. I perpetuated this story by putting all of my families needs above my own. The kids needed new school clothes, ok.  My husband wanted to go on his annual fishing trip, of course.

But when I even had the thought of spending any money on myself, my mind immediately went to, “No! You can’t have what you want! Remember, there isn’t enough for you!”

So I became resentful.

When I had enough of my resentment, I would just go and buy what I wanted. Then, guilt set in.

I felt so much guilt from spending anything on myself, I would sometimes not tell my husband what I bought. I thought he certainly wouldn’t understand spending $40 on a tube of face cream.

That left me feeling dishonest and like I was stealing from my family.

I knew I needed to break this pattern of behavior before I could really welcome any amount of abundance into my life.

My best friend, a former financial broker, suggested that in order to break through this, I simply needed some mad money.  A certain amount of money each week, I could call my own.

My mad money was mine to do with what I wanted. I could burn it, give it away, buy a bunch of little things or save it for something bigger.

This made so much sense to me and immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders. I know this sounds crazy but this “allowance,” so to speak, opened up possibilities for me to not only get what I wanted but to give up the destructive pattern of guilt and resentment.

By releasing the emotional tie it had on me, I no longer let money control my life.

Now I’m rewriting my money story from a perspective of abundance and having all of my needs met. Even if it’s candy!

What is your “money mindset?”  What would you like your relationship to money to be? What is something you can do today to begin a shift toward your new “money mindset?”

Be Selfish!

04_Harried-Stafford-with-blissful-daughter-Natalia-

How many times have you said, I’ll take care of myself after I make sure everyone else is taken care of? Sounds familiar, right?

Problem is, there usually isn’t anything left and we end up worn out and stressed out.

If you’ve done any flying, you know that the flight attendants tell those who are traveling with children, that in case of loss of pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask first, then help the children (and others) with theirs.

They know that we will likely run out of oxygen before we can help too many if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

It is selfish NOT to put on our mask first. We aren’t any good to anyone if we are lying passed out on the floor.

This brings up a point I hear a lot from women. They feel “selfish” if they spend any time or money on themselves.

The word selfish means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”

I assert that it is selfish for us to NOT take care of ourselves.

But what does being selfish look like? We have to trust that we will not go off the rails, say the heck with everyone else and end up “lacking consideration for others.”

I am not saying that you should put ALL of your needs in front of others. I am saying that there needs to be a mix.

For example, I knew a woman who could not afford to hire a sitter so she could go for a run or out to lunch with friends. So she scheduled time for herself  when her husband could watch the kids. She also found another woman who was in the same boat and they took turns watching each others kids so they could each have some time to themselves.

We need to take the stigma out of taking care of ourselves not only for us but for our daughters. If they see us harried and exhausted then they will likely follow in our footsteps or feel guilty if they decide to take care of themselves.

The message they are getting is that in order to be a good worker, mother or wife they must sacrifice themselves and their well being.

I don’t know about you but that scares me! I want my daughter to do and be better than me but the main thing is I want her to be happy, not exhausted!

If we all took a few minutes to be “selfish” each day, we could lower our stress and increase our health and well being.

Take a look at how you are feeling. Are you refreshed and engaged and looking forward to the day? Or are you exhausted and just getting by?

What needs aren’t being met? Do you need more sleep? To eat better food? More exercise? Time in nature or to read?

Commit right now to giving yourself something that you have not been allowing yourself and see how you show up afterward. I bet you are happier.

Imagine the impact that will have not only on you but on your relationships with our co-workers, families and friends. Don’t you deserve that?

Ready to take charge of your life? Join me for a retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life. 

Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.

Enjoy this all-day retreat on August 23rd, 2015 at the beautiful and serene Chapin Mills Retreat Center. Located in Batavia, NY on 135-acres, this country retreat center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination. 

For more information and to register go to www.PeaceAndPear.com.

 

 

The Secret To Happiness? Be Sad

Inside-Out-Q&A-Joy-Sadness

I hear  people saying that in order to be happy, we just need to do positive affirmations and let go of negativity. I say the exact opposite.

In order to be happy, be sad. Let me explain.

The new movie Inside Out is geared towards children but I think it’s a movie everyone should see, adults included.

Without giving too much away, the movie focuses on a little girl named Reilly and how she deals with her emotions. There are characters that represent the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.

In the beginning of the movie, each time Sadness tries to take over, Joy is there to push her away.

I did this for years.

I tried everything to make sadness go away because I thought something was wrong with me if I wasn’t happy all the time. I tried pushing it down, denying it, resisting it. I tried talking myself out of it by doing positive affirmations.

You’ve heard the saying “What we resist, persists?”  That is exactly what happened.

Before I knew it, I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed.

There were times when I felt like a deep dark hole was opening up and swallowing me. All I wanted to do was check out of life and sleep.

Then, after a while, I would begin to feel better and come out of it. (Those who have that hole swallow them up and don’t come out,  need to seek professional help)

When we resist feeling any emotion, it causes a reaction.

Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, compiled data that showed we cannot numb one emotion without numbing all of our emotions.

Basically, by not allowing ourselves to feel and process our sadness, we are not able to experience true joy.

In our society, it often seems unacceptable to express sadness. We can feel we need to put on a happy face and act like we’ve got it all together.

When we do that, our sadness festers and ends up coming out in other ways. It can manifest itself as depression, illness or destructive behavior such as addiction.

Or we could have an outburst and explode when we have reached our limit.

However, by acknowledging and experiencing our emotions and talking to an empathetic person, we will find that sadness or any emotion leaves as fast as it came.

This is what happened to little Reilly. Once she allowed herself to talk to her parents about her sadness, it opened the door to true connection as well as letting Joy once again be a part of her life.

The real lesson here is that emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. We all have them and all they simply want is to be expressed.

What about those positive affirmations? It is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect ourselves to be happy all the time. If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, then we can use positive affirmations or gratitude to reconnect with hope and faith.  That way we won’t end up wallowing in negativity.

What emotion are you currently not allowing yourself to experience? Who is your go-to person when you need empathy?

If you are open to it, practice allowing difficult feelings, share with an empathy buddy and see what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at how much happier you will be when you allow your emotions to just be.