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Election Aftermath

In the election this week, the popular vote was split down the middle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

 

We have seen Trump supporters cheering and Hillary supporters crying.

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Photo courtesy Getty Images

 

I have friends and family who are Trump supporters. I know them to be good people and they truly believe that he is the answer to get this country back on track.

 

I also have friends and family who are Hillary supporters. They are also good people who feel the country is on the right track and they believe Donald Trump will derail it.

 

Our country is truly divided right now but it’s not the first time.

 

According to Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton, this has been the case in America since its inception. Even the founding fathers didn’t agree on everything.

 

That’s what makes our country great.

 

Photo courtesy of Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Photo courtesy of Matt Rourke/AP Photo

We are allowed the freedom to debate our beliefs and ideas.

 

But who’s right and who’s wrong? They are both right and wrong.

 

No one person or group has the right to push their ideology on others. I know I get angry and resentful the minute someone tells me how I should be living my life.

 

All of us, not just our representatives, need to start listening to each other. We need to stop talking, get our anger in check and start trying to understand our fellow human beings. Especially those whose opinions are different than ours.

 

I believe we are more alike than we are different.

 

Most of us want to make a decent living, have access to affordable healthcare, raise our families in a safe environment, and enjoy the freedoms that this country was founded on.

 

And, each side has a different idea of how to get there.

 

The founders of this country knew that compromise needed to be part of the solution. The art of compromise is that neither party walks away totally happy but they are each able to live with the deal at hand.

 

Hamilton the musical is based on Ron Chernow's book by the same name

Hamilton the musical is based on Ron Chernow’s book

 

One of those deals is what landed our capitol in Washington DC.

 

Try this today, stop talking and be curious about someone who is different than you. Ask questions and listen, really listen.

 

Practice looking for common ground and for a way to create a win-win.

 

This is how we make our relationships, work places and nation great!

Stopping The Violence

Photo credit beatricebiologist.com

Photo credit beatricebiologist.com

With the rash of shootings and violence going on in the Rochester area, our country and around the world, it’s hard not to be scared these days.

 

Living in a small town, it’s easy to turn off the TV and say “I don’t want to think about this because it doesn’t effect me.”

 

Or “I’ll just ignore it and it will go away.”

 

Or even, “I don’t want to think about this because there is nothing I can do.”

 

However, I know I need to do something, but what?

 

According to an expert on peace and nonviolence, Arun Gandhi, “The world is what we have made it. If we change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves begins with changing our language and methods of communication.”

 

Arun learned from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, that violence occurs everywhere. We may think we live in a world where violence can’t touch us if we only focus on physical violence. I know I feel pretty safe in my neighborhood and in most places I travel.

 

Photo credit frombulliedtobrilliant.com

Photo credit frombulliedtobrilliant.com

 

However, Arun Gandhi states in Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, that there is a more insidious form of violence, “passive” violence.

 

This takes the form of speaking to or treating others disrespectfully, name calling, bullying, even eye rolling.

 

Any act where it causes an emotional hurt is an act of “passive” violence.

 

For example, a nasty or hurtful Tweet or post. Mocking someone’s appearance. Rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid.

 

I remember being picked on as kid and complaining to my mom. Her advice was to just ignore it and the kids will stop. She was right but it took a while. I can still feel the anger and frustration I felt sitting in silence on the bus as some boys told me how fat and ugly I was.

 

And it doesn’t just happen to us as kids. Fast forward 35 years and there I am again, sitting in a boardroom having insults thrown at me by a superior.

 

The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is BS!

 

Gandhi explained that “passive violence ultimately generated anger in the victim who, as an individual or as a member of a collective, responded violently. In other words, it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence.”

 

With all of the hate speech and negativity being thrown around in the political arena, there has been plenty of fuel being added to the fire lately.

 

Could it be helping to create the homegrown violence in our country? I believe 100% YES!

 

We all need to get: Words are powerful.

 

What we are doing is NOT working. The answer is not more police. The answer is not meeting violence with violence.

 

“Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion, and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.”  Arun Gandhi

 

It is not our job to try and fix what everyone else is doing. It is our job to be sure WE are doing the right thing.

 

What can you do to stop passive violence?
~ Stop, take a breath and think before you speak, act or respond to someone.
~ Ask yourself, “How can I respond with kindness and respect?” (Sometimes the best response is no response)
~ Give yourself permission to take a time out, if needed. Step away, collect yourself and then go back to “How can I respond with kindness and respect?”

 

In my case, I had to leave the toxic situation I was in. Fortunately, I had the love and support of my family and friends and a great therapist to help me sort through the anger, hurt and betrayal I felt. Not everyone has the support or tools to handle those difficult feelings.

 

Courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Photo credit keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Imagine what would be possible if we all practiced treating others with kindness and respect.

 

I try and meet each person with kindness and respect because I know how it feels when met with the opposite. And most times, people return the favor.

 

Kindness and respect creates connection and makes for a much more peaceful and productive world.

 

When it is not returned, I give myself permission to take myself out of the toxic space.  I practice choosing to “go high when others go low” (Thank you Michelle Obama!).

 

We will only stop the out of control violence in our world by knowing that what we say and how we treat others matters just as much as physically injuring someone.

 

We CAN make a difference. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

Go to MK Gandhi Center for Nonviolence for more information.

Also read Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, to learn more about nonviolent communication.

Dealing With My Inner Critic

Inner critic

Thanks to all those who have shared with me either through Facebook or in person, what has come up for you as a result of me sharing my weight loss journey.

I’m grateful for the honesty and for the opportunity to know that we are in this together.

 

Here’s my update:

 

-I have been consistent with my exercise, running or walking 2.5 to 4 miles at least every other day.
-I have drastically reduced my consumption of sugar, flour and meat.
-I have increased the number of vegetables and fruit I eat.
-I am down 9 lbs.

 

I even went to NYC for a few days and was able to come home without having gained any weight.

 

I’m glad I’m writing all of this down because the voice in my head has been very active lately and this is how it has been going:

 

Me: “I lost 9 lbs!”
Voice in my head: “You need to cut down even more so you will lose more, faster. Stop eating sweets and snacks all together, you shouldn’t be eating any of that stuff anyway if you’re really serious about losing weight.”
Me: “But I’m ok with how it’s going…”
VIMH: “You’re not doing good enough! Look at those people on Facebook who are posting pictures of all the weight they’ve lost. And you’ve only lost a measly 9 lbs.! You have at least another 15 lbs. to lose! You might as well give up now, you know you don’t have the willpower and besides wouldn’t some peanut M & M’s taste real good right now, but you can’t have them because you need to lose weight…”

 

And on and on and on!

Photo courtesy www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Photo courtesy www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Needless to say these thoughts caused a downward spiral as I let them take control.

 

This felt so familiar.

 

I could feel that sense of wanting to give up, feeling helpless and hopeless, the feeling that I can never be happy eating food that was good for me and that I will never lose AND keep this weight off.

 

The next step of this pattern is letting myself have cake to celebrate a birthday, after all it was just one small piece. Then it’s having ice cream 3 nights in a row just because I wanted it.

 

Suddenly I felt terrible. And I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt bloated.

 

I felt old. I know I’m getting older but I have never felt old.

 

Suddenly I realized I had lost track of why I wanted to lose weight in the first place.

 

After reading Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started setting my goals with the idea that it is not the goal I’m actually after, it’s the feeling I will have once I reach that goal.

Posted on my office wall, my vision, how I will feel when I achieve this vision and what I can do to feel those feelings NOW!

Posted on my office wall: my vision, how I will feel when I achieve this vision and what I can do to feel those feelings NOW!

 

Since then, I have not only reached my goals but I have actually enjoyed getting there.

 

The reason I want to lose weight is because I want to FEEL better! I want to feel confident and empowered.

 

I noticed that when I eat good healthy foods that is exactly how I feel, confident and empowered both physically and psychologically.

 

When I binge on cookies, candy, chips and cake, I feel better, temporarily. Then comes a wave of regret and the after effects of all those carbs which includes mental fogginess, bloating and the path to diabetes.

 

I’m eating healthy whole foods again. I have more mental clarity and feel happier.

 

I also like going to bed just a little bit hungry. I sleep better and seem to dream more, which I love!

 

A lower number on the scale is just a result. The real reason I want to lose weight is to feel happier, more powerful and confident. And I can achieve that right now just by the food choices I make.

 

How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight? What can you do right now to connect to that feeling?

 

Uncomfortably Numb

My Favorite Novocaine

My Favorite Novocaine

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to a client, “Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just want to be expressed…”

I’ve wasted so much time numbing myself with food because I didn’t want to deal with certain thoughts and emotions.

I use food to help me relax and even celebrate making it through the day. It’s as if it helps me take a deep breath and relax.

Of course, I know better.

When I am in my “I can eat anything I want whenever I want” mode, it isn’t long before I’m numbing my anger, shame, sadness, frustration, boredom, overwhelm etc… and packing on the LB’s.

Then I use even more food to try and feel better. It’s a set up for disaster.

The thing about numbing emotions is that we can’t pick and choose which ones to numb.

When we numb one emotion, we numb them all.

We numb our emotions with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping or today’s most popular numbing activity, being crazy-busy.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “…research taught me that there’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light… We can’t make a list of all of the “bad” emotions and say, “I’m going to numb these” and then make a list of the positive emotions and say, “I’m going to fully engage in these!”

When I numb myself with food, alcohol or busyness, I feel like my world is painted gray.

It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t really enjoy what I’m eating because if everything I eat is special then nothing is special. Do you get what I mean?

As soon I stopped using food to numb my feelings and dull my thoughts, I began to feel and hear everything that I didn’t want to deal with. It was uncomfortable but I survived.

I started by not judging myself. I began meditating again so I could practice separating who I know myself to be from the thoughts in my head.

Choosing to run away from my thoughts and feelings, comes at a cost.

India Arie’s song, Break The Shell, talks about this. She says, “life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt…” because “we have a choice to live or truly be alive…”

In order to truly be alive, I have to break the shell that I put up to keep the pain away.

Lat Saturday night, we went to a dinner party and the food was amazing! I ate everything I wanted, even a bite of the homemade ooey-gooey, chocolatey, butter and sugar-filled Paula Deen brownies that our hostess made.

I took a bite and savored it. Did I want more?

Hell yes! But I knew that another bite was not going to taste as good as that first bite.

I have a ways to go before I reach my goal but I’m learning that overcoming my issue with food and my weight (and any other issue) starts with looking at what’s going on inside of me, not judging it.  Then I can give myself permission to feel it all.

What is your favorite way to numb yourself?  What is it you’re not allowing yourself to feel?

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!

Inspiration Point

IMG_0381I’ve recently changed the name of my blog to Inspiration Point. For those of you who remember the TV show Happy Days, Inspiration Point was where the kids would go to “make out.”

I’ve decided that I want this space to be a place of inspiration and inspiration can come from many different places and look like many different things.

So I will not only be posting some of my thoughts via blog posts but I will also be posting whatever/whoever inspires me.

Keep an eye open for what inspires you and feel free to share it in the comments below.

And speaking of eyes, how do you like these cupcakes?! I found them at my cousin’s baby shower and thought they were so cute and clever!

IMG_0382I am always inspired by the creativity of those who can take simple things like Oreos and M & M’s and turn them into something amazing!

What creative things have you seen recently that inspired you?

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

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.