relationship

Ask Linda: What do I do if others won’t change?

Photo compliments of eastbrooklyn.com

Photo compliments of eastbrooklyn.com

Q: I would love to switch to a whole food, plant-based diet but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get my family on board. How did you handle that?

 

A:  This is a question I get a lot lately.

 

My children are adults and on their own so I only cook for my husband, Mike, and myself.

 

When I told Mike I was thinking about giving up meat and dairy, he was supportive. He also made it clear that he had no intention of following suit.

 

I have a tendency to rebel when something is pushed on me so I knew better that to fight him on this.

 

We made a deal that I would still cook meat for him and not judge or guilt him when he ate cheese or his nightly bowl of ice cream. He agreed to try the food I made for myself.

 

He was also supportive by asking me to share what I was learning in my CHIP classes.

 

We were both shocked to learn that not only is there more cholesterol in chicken than there is in beef  but that our liver produces all we need. We do not need to ingest any additional cholesterol to survive!

 

At that point, Mike was eating at least 2 eggs for breakfast most days.

 

Even though this alarmed me, I said nothing.

 

One day, he said, “Dear, I think I would like to cut down on the number of eggs I’m eating. Could we maybe find something more healthy for me to eat for breakfast? But it has to taste good.”

 

Music to my ears!

 

The first hot cereal we tried was a miss.

Breakfast in the 1000 Islands

Breakfast in the 1000 Islands

Then we tried a hot cornmeal cereal that has dates, lemon zest and pumpkin pie spice (see photo above). That was a winner for both of us!

 

Now, most mornings, he has the cereal topped with berries. And he loves it!

 

He has also started snacking on raisins and peanuts instead of cheese.

 

Most of the food I make for myself, he enjoys. There have even been times when I’ve had to ask him not to eat all of my food.

 

If I was constantly preaching, trying to guilt or push him to change his diet, this probably would have gone a completely different direction.

 

Just like it had to be my choice to change, I have to give him the space to make his own choices.

 

As a coach, it’s not my job to tell my clients what I think they should do. We all need to choose and own our choices.

 

Giving others the space to make their own choices can be challenging. Especially when we think we know what’s right for them.

Courtesy of RunForYourSole.com

Courtesy of RunForYourSole.com

 There are times when we learn best by making our own mistakes. And sometimes the mistakes that others think we are making turn out to be the best decisions ever.

 

And if I judge others for not following what I’m doing, then they will likely do the same to me.

 

It’s not up to us to police the world. It’s up to us to do what we think is right and allow others to do the same.

 

Good luck with your new lifestyle!

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…

Changing The World One Step At A Time

 

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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.

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!

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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

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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.

Stop The Drama

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How many times have you let yourself be taken advantage of or sucked into someone else’s drama just because you didn’t want to come off as cold or worse, the “b” word?

This was the case with a client who was wondering how to deal with someone in their life who was being self-destructive. She stated that her friend was not only hurting themselves but those around them.  Many of their family and friends had gotten so irritated or resentful with how her friend was behaving they stopped having contact with them.

My client didn’t want that to happen to her but she could feel the irritation and resentment beginning to creep in. She did not want to lose the friendship they had built over the years but she also knew she needed to honor herself.

There are two things we can do so that we don’t feel taken advantage of and get sucked into other people’s drama.

  1. Put a “hedge of protection” around you. In order to not take on the other person’s emotions or negativity, putting up this barrier protects us. But we also have to make it so that our love and compassion can pass through the hedge to them. This is not a physical barrier of any kind it is simply a mental awareness that if we are down in the muck and mire with them then we are no good to anyone.
  2.  Surrender. This does not mean to give up. It means hand them over to their higher power. They are on their path and we are not responsible for the choices they make. Don’t try to change them. If someone is a danger to themselves or others, then by all means, contact the authorities, get them professional help.  However, it is not your job to “fix” someone else’s life. You are there to love and support them if they want it but be sure they are driving their life, not you.

A few years ago, I had a friend who often wouldn’t show up when we had made plans. I loved her and I knew this was not her but this was  her pattern. Connection was something she struggled with.

This pattern led other people in her life to get angry and stop contacting her. I could feel that beginning with me as well. I realized I could not change her so I knew I had to be the one to change.

I told her that I was not going to show up for any meeting with her unless she confirmed with me the day before. A few times we had a date planned and when I didn’t hear from her, I simply sent her a text telling her that I would not be there and that when she wanted to try again, just let me know.

Because of this, I was able to let go of my resentment and not feel taken advantage of. I chose to honor myself as well as my friend. We now have a great relationship and she lets me know when she can’t make our coffee dates.

What relationships have left you feeling resentful, taken advantage of or gotten sucked into the drama?  Right now, how can you practice surrendering and putting up your hedge of protection with those people?

 

The Most Important Thing To Remember

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(Cousin Gini & me)

Last week I attended a memorial service for a distant relative. Gertrude was a cousin of my father’s. She and her husband had 6 children and one of them, Gini, was my age.

Growing up, I remember they would come to our house or we would go to their house occasionally. Because they lived an hour away, we didn’t see them often.

I decided I would take my mom to the memorial service so I could see my cousins, all of whom I hadn’t seen since I was a little girl.

We arrived at the small Baptist church, went in and found a seat.

My mom knew some of the people but I remembered very few.

I saw a woman with the same dress that I had bought a few weeks ago and had almost worn that day. I was glad I didn’t wear it.

I looked at the crowd of people gathering and wondered which of these women was Gini. I tried to remember the times she and I spent together but not many memories popped up.

I have a terrible memory when it comes to my childhood. My husband, on the other hand, remembers every detail practically from the day he was born. It’s a bit maddening!

I couldn’t remember the details of us playing together but I could remember the fun we had.  And I did remember I loved Gini.

Growing up with 3 brothers, I always wanted a sister.  I remember thinking that I had finally found my sister!

I also remember how sad I was when we had to leave each other. Although we lived an hour apart, we might as well have been on opposite ends of the earth. I remember the heartbreak not knowing when I would see her again.

Toward the end of the service, Gertrude’s six children got up to sing. That’s when I realized who Gini was. I could see the beautiful bright-eyed girl that I used to play with.

After the service, Gini was standing in the vestibule of the church. I wasn’t sure if she would remember me but I walked up and told her who I was.

She grabbed me and hugged me and said that she had thought about me as well.

I told her that I didn’t remember the details of us being together but I did remember how much I loved her.

To my surprise, she said that’s what she remembered and we stood there crying.

Then I told her that she was wearing the same dress that I had bought just a few weeks earlier.

Yes, Gini was the woman!  And at that moment, I wished I had worn it!

Even though we still live about an hour away from each other, we have vowed to get reacquainted.

I am looking forward to rekindling our friendship. A love like that never dies, it just waits for us to fan the flame.

Who do you love that you have lost touch with? Look them up and reconnect.

I bet they would love to hear from you!

 

Chutzpah & Heart

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I sat listening to a friend who was recounting a meltdown she had recently. Someone had pushed her buttons and suddenly, she found herself saying things she never thought she was capable of.

Afterwards she felt such regret and said, “This is not who I want to be.”

It became clear that her automatic reaction when triggered was to fight. She had developed that survival instinct as a little girl and it’s still there even though she’s an adult.

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means “shameless audacity.” I think of it as having guts, nerve or backbone.

I think this woman has chutzpah. And not all of us do.

There are those whose first reaction is to run away when there is confrontation. I fall into this category.

However, when I avoid the uncomfortable situation or person, I end up feeling defeated. My confidence and self-esteem take a hit.

A few years ago, the leader of an organization was continually putting me down. Even though they stepped over the line, I lacked the chutzpah to say, “I won’t be treated this way.”

Because I am a person who chooses to lead with my heart, I mistakenly viewed standing up for myself as being arrogant.  But each time I backed down, I felt weak and like I dishonored myself.  This was not who I wanted to be.

I had heart and not enough chutzpah. My friend had chutzpah and not enough heart.

Chutzpah by itself can come across as arrogant or mean. Heart alone can be viewed as weakness and a doormat.

The sweet spot lies where we have both heart AND chutzpah (heartzpah?! :). It’s not easy to find that place, it takes practice.

For fighters, it means forcing yourself to take a time out before you start saying things you’ll regret.

For those of us who take flight, it means giving yourself permission to stand your ground.

I think Brené Brown said it best, “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink back. Just stand your sacred ground.”

It can be scary and uncomfortable as we practice something new. But that’s where our growth lies, in those scary, uncomfortable places. And there is great joy  and peace of mind  knowing that you can handle anything or anyone who crosses your path.

In order to be the person you want to be, what do you need to practice more of, chutzpah or heart?