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Archive for July, 2017

Summer Holidays Good for the Soul

 

I am slowly feeling re-energized and have been reminded how important it is to take time off for Summer holidays!

Recently, and totally unconsciously, I got back on the treadmill, albeit, a ‘health’ treadmill. I over did ‘life’ by over scheduling and even though it was all activities I love, my energy was depleted.

Life coaches should know better, right?

Now, I feel my energy returning after days of being on the water, rocked to sleep by gentle waves.

I’ve also re-committed to my loving kindness meditation practice which was very easy to do with just two of us on the boat, however, was worried I would have a challenge as numbers on the boat swelled recently with the addition of one of my daughters and my grandson.

These are two people I love dearly, so the loving kindness is actually flowing! No need for worry.

I’m fortunate to live in an area of the world that is breathtakingly gorgeous. Being in Nature, taking long forest walks, beach walks, attending local Farmers Markets, kayaking, these activities spell Summer to me. I can feel by engaging in these summertime activities that I’m slowly beginning to ‘regreen’ the dry and parched areas inside.

While I may at times yearn to live in a perpetual summer holiday, feeling nourished and re-energized allows me to return to daily life.

Wisdom About Our Weird Everyday Lives

Rock Statue

Weird and Everyday

Words of Wisdom from Pema Chodron

Pleasurable vacation time gives an ‘interrupt’ to ordinary life, which allows our inner wisdom to break free. I find that some of my best ideas and intuition about life changes arrive during times in nature.

The following quote from Pema Chodron, in her wisdom, really speaks to me.

 

Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom,

available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives.’

 

~ Pema Chodron from ‘When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times’

Enjoy your wonderful day!

in peace & mindfulness

namaste,

Zoey

 

3 Life Coaching Tips to Help Identify Your Personal Values

Personal Values

Clear Values

Clear Values from Chaos

One of the positive outcomes of going through a time of trouble, dissonance or chaos is that a time of chaos often precipitates a re-evaluation of personal values.

Values are the essence of who we are. Values are principles that you hold to be of worth in your life. Values are those things considered right, worthwhile, and desirable – the basis of guiding principles and standards. Examples of values are: honesty, integrity, freedom, community, social responsibility, authenticity etc. ‘Crystal values’ are those values that are so important that if not present in your life will cause your life to shatter. Think of what would happen if you dropped a crystal ball. ‘Rubber values’ are those values that you can drop for awhile with no problem and will come bouncing back when necessary. Think of what happens when you drop a rubber ball.

Getting really clear on the values that are most important to you, will give you a framework for making decisions, taking forward movement and assessing dissonance in your life.
Let me tell you about a client of mine. Carol had identified that she held ‘social responsibility’ and ‘respect for nature’ as very strong values. She found out that the company she was working for was pumping toxic waste into the local watershed. She decided that she could no longer work for that company and in fact, felt she needed to report the company for the poor environmental business practices. In spite of the fact that being unemployed was not attractive, Carol stayed true to her clear values and resigned. While she had to deal with some short- term financial issues, this decision was worth it to her as she gained so much in the areas of self-honoring and self respect.

Is how you live your life in sync with your personal values? If it is, you likely feel great, in balance and fulfilled. If how you are living your life is out of sync with your values, you may feel discontented, frustrated and not all there, kind of like you are living someone else’s life.

Use these Life coaching tips to give yourself the time to gain or re-gain clarity about your values and how you use your values in your life:

3 Life Coaching Tips to help determine your values:

1. Set aside about 30 minutes and first create a list of value words and then ponder and identify which ones are your crystal values and rubber values.  Most people find that they have about 4 crystal values and about 4-6 rubber values. Let me know if you need help with this exercise!
2. Think of a chaotic time in your life and ask yourself what role values or ‘values out of sync’ played in the chaos.
3. Acknowledge and honour yourself for Doug this exercise. It may seem simple, however having clear values is a foundational Life practice.Treat yourself to something special for doing this exercise with flowers, a candle lit bath, a new yummy book, or something totally unexpected.

Although gaining clarity on your values and how you use them is already a huge gift to yourself, it strengthens your commitment to live by your values if you also add in the treat!

 

 

Book Club: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Seldom do I read a book that captures my heart and imagination in the way of The Shadow of the Wind. 

I read it as a multilayered, multifaceted love story with all elements of the ‘human condition’, set in post war Barcelona, Spain.

As my quest is to read all  the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, it is not surprising that I found The Shadow of the Wind well written and compelling. What surprised and intrigued me was the depth of character development and insight into the yearning of a great love.

In my personal ‘book club’, The Shadow of the Wind ranks in my top 10 favourite fiction books of all time.

3 Life Coaching Tips to Deepen Self Awareness

Health Tips

Life Coaching Tips

I am currently re-reading ‘Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao’ by Wayne Dyer for my morning meditation and just read the 11th verse of the Tao, which in this translation, goes like this:

Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
it is on the hole in the center that
the use of the cart hinges.

Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Carve fine doors and windows,
but the room is useful in its emptiness.

The usefulness of what is
depends on what is not.

I was reminded about some of the previous self-care posts and life coaching tips where I talked about the idea of one’s personal centre and being ‘grounded and anchored’.  This verse of the Tao, adds in the additional concept of ‘emptiness’, how valuable the emptiness can be and in fact how powerful ‘nothingness’ is. This idea feeds into the intersection of ‘being and doing’ and how in our culture, we are very focused on ‘doing’ and are valued for doing lots. It might be fun to explore the theme of ‘being’, your inner self, your personal emptiness, presence and essence.

I would like to offer some definitions in the spirit of creating shared language and common understanding. These definitions are adapted from the Merriam Webster on line dictionary.

Presence: the bearing, carriage, or air of a person; especially stately or distinguished bearing, a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness, something (as a spirit) felt or believed to be present.

Essence: the most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person.

Personal Presence & Essence: the above as related to ones self.

The self-care coaching tips are designed for you to feel your way into your emptiness, to explore your personal presence and viscerally experience this.

3 Life Coaching Tips for Self Awareness

1.Re-read the verse above. Using the metaphor of the wheel, spokes and the power of the empty middle, apply this to you, your being, your presence, your essence. Consider the emptiness of the hub, what is in the emptiness, how does it feel to just sit for a moment in your emptiness? Write out what you notice or feel with this exercise, put some words down about your being, presence and essence.

2.Choose a friend who you know cares about you deeply and you feel will be honest and caring in her response and ask her to describe your essence or personal presence.Consider if this feels right for you. Play around with the idea of your essence and presence and tweak what you have already written if necessary. You should now have a short statement about yourself.

3.And now, on the lighter side, see if you can do a ‘180 degree day’ sometime this week. This is a day that you do everything 180 degrees differently all day. If you a very responsible employee, you may take a day off for no reason, or you may wish to eat dessert for breakfast, or exercise in the evening rather than the morning. Just shake it up abit!

These life coaching tips will help you explore ‘what you are not’ and hence will help you to know yourself better and get a sense of your presence and essence.

 

Loving Kindness Meditation

Loving Kindness Meditation

Family Love

Loving Kindness Meditation: 3 Easy Steps

I first learned about ‘loving kindness meditation’ when I read the book “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield. My friend Victoria Pawlowski recommended the book and Victoria and another friend, Carolena Ranger have gone on to found ‘The Center for Compassion Inspired Health’ which incorporate the tenets of loving kindness meditation and self compassion.

Reading “A Path With Heart” was life changing as it was with the reading that I started a daily meditation practice. I found the way Jack Kornfield writes about meditation clear and heartfelt.

For myself, the most effortless way to evoke the feeling of love and good intentions is to bring to ‘mind and heart’ my children when they were little and my grandson Madz. Thinking of Madz never fails to bring a smile to my face and crack my heart wide open. I can then include myself and a wide variety of others in my best intentions for good health, happiness and a life filled with peacefulness and ease.

You can try it for yourself with these three easy steps:

1. Sit comfortably in a quiet space. Take 3 deep in and out breaths.
2. Bring to mind a person, animal or environment that evokes feelings of love.
3. From the ‘feeling place’ of love send out to yourself and others wishes and intentions for good health, contentment, peace, a life well lived.

While this is a very simplistic, basic model, it gives a taste for what can be incorporated easily into one’s life. In addition to Jack Kornfield’s fabulous book, there are other wonderful books to help you with your practice. Another one I would highly recommend is “Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness” by Sharon Salzberg

Why practice Loving Kindness Meditation? In addition to the obvious real time blissful feelings one experiences, research conducted by Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina found that folks who had done 7 weeks of loving-kindness meditation experienced a significant increase in positive emotions, personal resources and good health.

Like any new behaviour, practicing helps, so try to set aside 10-20 minutes every day for your meditation practice.

Dreams | Inspirational Quote of the Day

Dreams

dream catcher

Dreams …

If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”

– book title by Kristine K. Stevens

 

It is very easy to think that dreams are for younger people and I’ll admit, when I read this quote, I get a bit of a knot in the pit of my stomach, perhaps as I’m comfortably ensconced in midlife.

However, current research on neuroplasticity and maintaining cognitive function clearly shows that learning new skills, having new experiences or generally working that gray matter is a very very good idea.

So, it’s time to brush off the ‘virtual vision board’ and start imagining this next phase of life albeit with dreams not quite as edgy as previously held. And fun too!

Many folks get caught up on semantics and in my life coaching practice, I find that if I ask ‘what are your dreams’ rather than ‘what are your goals’, there is a completely different response and almost a relaxing into the answer with a sense of ‘joie de vivre’.

In addition to my family, I have a dear friend I travel with and we are currently planning a trip slightly more ‘exotic’ than usual. Traveling with her is like having my personal life coach continually by my side, even so, this next trip feels a little scary. Great I say!

I’ll have time to ponder and plan as we embark on our annual sailing holiday soon. Hmmm, I wonder what ‘dreams’ I’ll return with!

Life Coaching Tip:

Allow yourself some downtime to ‘just dream’ with no restrictions and ‘as if anything was possible’. It might be fun to see what you come up with! There are many ways to do this, no wrong ways and most require no structure and lots of white space. It might be fun to keep a journal just for your ‘life dreams’ and add pictures, quotes and ideas as these spontaneously arise. If this is a new concept for you or one you haven’t engaged in since childhood, it might help to ‘chunk’ your life into categories and ‘dream’ within a category. Have fun with this and catch some great dreams along the way!

 

Life Balance 3 Tips to Improve Your Holistic Health

Building on the theme from recent posts about summer energy, poetry and living in alignment with nature and her cycles, let’s weave in some of the teachings of the Tao Te Ching as a foundational theme in creating life balance.

Being brought up in a Western family spiritually grounded in Christianity, I wasn’t exposed to the Tao until my 30’s while on a spiritual quest following a family crisis. Do you find that crises often lead to spiritual growth? It was after reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel that I decided to go deeper with the learning about the Tao. This may be a funny way to deepen learning, ie from a very enjoyable novel, however it worked for me! Since that time, the books that have helped my western mind understand the Tao have been ‘The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu’ translated by Brian Browne Walker, ‘Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life: Living The Wisdom of the Tao’ by Wayne Dyer and ‘A Thousand Names For Joy: Living in Harmony With The Way Things Are’ by Byron Katie.

Byron Katie’s book I found to be particularly powerful.

As a life coach and executive/leadership coach, the women I work with are often challenged to find a balance or equilibrium between making conscious and strategic changes on the one hand and allowing the gentle flow of life on the other hand. Another way to describe this dynamic is seeing the balance between striving towards change and being drawn towards your future. The Tao seems to be very helpful for the second part of this equation. The Tao reminds us that life is like water, it resides in the low places, over time it carves out deep valleys and can move mountains, and it is hard to grasp. I have found that the more I try to figure the Tao out, the more complex it becomes and if I allow my entire self to be open to it, I ‘grasp’ it more easily. So, the life balance learning is about honouring the Tao of life and the Tao of you.

Life Balance Tips Using the Tao, remember the second part of the equation above, :

1. Read something about the Tao Te Ching, you can pick one of the books above or simply do a quick search on the internet.

2. Ask yourself how your life is or isn’t like the Tao?

3. One of the dominant themes of the Tao is about water and flow, spend lots of time in the water (for fun) and ask yourself what you feel drawn towards? Interesting imagery is to imagine that ‘life’ is a gently flowing river and you are floating down in a beautiful kayak, can it truly be this effortless? Might you run up into a log jam or two? Might the current of the river move you beyond it? Play with this image and sink into the energy of the Tao to bring more balance to your life.

3 Self Care Tips to Enhance Your Life

Happy and free

Do you ever find your self wondering exactly what does ‘self care’ mean? In my life coaching practice,  when discussing self care, I have many women ask me, “but isn’t it selfish to put myself first”? I like to ‘unpack’ and ‘repack’ the meaning of ‘self care’ together with my clients. My thinking about self care has been informed by the writing of Pema Chodron, Buddhist Nun and teacher.
In previous posts, I have included the phrases ‘motherly love’ and ‘compassion towards yourself’ as capturing the essence of self-care! Another word that fits into this discussion is “maitri”. Maitri is a Sanskrit word often translated as unconditional friendship with oneself. As mentioned, I first heard the word ‘maitri’ in the writings of Pema Chodron.

 

What strikes me is that as we can develop ‘unconditional friendship’ with ourselves, we bring compassion and a gentleness into our ‘self-care’ practice. Starting from gentleness and respect allows life to flow forth in quite a different way than striving towards the completion of projects. This is the practice of self compassion and anchors our lives in quite a different way. You can learn more about self compassion through the Center for Compassion Inspired Health.

 

So, explore the practice of unconditional friendship and self compassion with yourself and from a soft and gentle place, experiment with the following :

 

Self Care Tips:

1. Explore the concept of friendship, and consider if you hold yourself to a higher and different standard than you hold your friends ie are you more critical of yourself than you are of your friends?

2. Be extra gentle with yourself and notice when this is easy or difficult.

3. Mark the changing of the seasons in some way. You may wish to buy a new journal or prepare your garden or design another ritual that helps you say good bye to the season ending and ‘hello’ to the season on it’s way in or, if you are in an equinox, notice the uniqueness of the season.

 

“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in beauty and joy each day.”

 

– Native American Proverb

Inspirational Quote Your Wild and Precious Life

Summer Flowers

Wild and Precious Flowers

One of my favourite poets is Mary Oliver and on this summer day her fabulous poem is a luscious read. I can actually hear the grasshoppers and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin while reading. As a life coach, I particularly love the last sentence about ‘your wild and precious life’ as it is a wonderfully inspiring quote and a great coaching question … :

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

By Mary Oliver

If you feel so inspired, try out some of these summer self care tips to enhance and elevate your ‘wild and precious life!

 

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