Planting Happiness in the Mud

“Last November, I had been moving that bag of tulip bulbs for weeks, shifting them here, setting them there. They were giving me the evil eye.”
In our coaching conversations, I like to begin our time together with clients sharing “What went well” in the last couple of weeks — ‘What are your wins, victories or good news’. A paper bag glowing with the evil eye? I couldn’t wait to hear how that was good news!

“I had brought that bag of bulbs home with me a month ago, and it was dawning on me that they were not going to get planted, and what a waste that would be. I’d feel badly about a project that didn’t happen. The flower bulbs would rot. Shame would set in.

It was a dark, cold November night when I decided that would not be the case. I parked my car in the yard, turned on the lights, and planted 100 tulip bulbs. I didn’t know what wild haphazard

Garden Before
Garden Before

flower garden was going to appear in the spring. I was muddy and exhausted, and felt a little crazy when I finished. But in the morning, I felt victorious. And now, it’s May, and I get to look at this!” We looked admiringly at the pictures again. I asked a coaching question, “What did you learn from this
experience?”

She said, “The thing that puts me off a thing, is thinking it has to be perfect. Perfect conditions, perfect timing, perfect me. What I learned is, just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The ‘doing’ is enough. That, and delayed   gratification is wonderful,when it’s a long row of tulips in my yard.”

In sharing the story with me, I saw a shift in her, midway through the telling. She understood then, that this story was meaningful to her. It had a difference. An adventure and version of herself she doesn’t usually acknowledge. I think stories are powerful. The ones we tell to ourself and the ones we relate to others about ourself, they reveal our deepest beliefs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Garden After
Garden After

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Tips to a New Mindset in 10 Seconds

Re-Framing the Picture: Spring Back to Optimism

The sun was gloriously spilling through my kitchen window this week, with the Vernal Equinox, the angle of light announced that winter was passing and spring was slipping in. I was sipping my morning coffee, drinking in the sunshine. Sitting with this glow, my eyes began to see all the new dirt that had accumulated. The blizzards left grit on the windows.The cobwebs I hadn’t been able to see in the gloom of winter. My good mood began to fade, and within seconds I had shifted my viewpoint from the hope of spring to ‘when am I going to find time to clean?’ From drinking in the sunshine to slipping down the muddy slope of anxiety and ill-humor. Yes, I am a human being, and that’s what I do. How about you?

This is a simple example, but it has larger implications. Because of this: It is what is at work underneath the slipping down (that’s how I envision it) that is important to reflect on. What are the beliefs you have hidden there (not immediately obvious to you)? Those hidden beliefs are what are at work, deflating your positive desires …….

A thought might come up in your mind, “I want to take that class that sounds so interesting.” Then, the next thought, “But I can’t, the kids need me to make dinner for them.” bursting the hope. ‘What’s underneath that? “No one else can do it, I’m the only one. I come last.”

OR

“It’s time I took that trip to Hawaii I’ve always wanted to take.” Next thought, “But I can’t, Mom’s going through some stuff, and may need care soon, I can’t leave now.” What’s underneath that? “I won’t be a responsible daughter if I take care of myself.” You get the picture. A slipping down, from hope to gloom in a swift moment.

Here is what you can do instead.
1. Pay attention — be aware of your thinking.
2. Ask yourself, ‘Is this really true?”
3. Dig deeper — what are my beliefs below the surface?
4. Give yourself permission to return to the positive — to honor your desires.
5. Know you are human, and give yourself credit.

Practice the process. And let love and joy slide in.

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6 Essential Tools For Accomplishing Your Next Project or Your Big Dream

Do you find yourself having great intentions? But then have difficulty following through? There have been moments in the past when I knew I wanted something different, but I didn’t know either how to go about it, or completely stalled with overwhelm when road blocks popped up. Then I quit. It was a shame.

I didn’t have the proper tools to give me traction. From my work with people, and by researching the conditions for success, I have discovered that there are six essential ‘tools’ necessary for accomplishing anything.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 15.26.56

Number 1) Make your goal specific. You have to have a destination in mind. This might seem simplistically silly to point out, but by defining your goal you bring it more sharply into focus. It is the difference between saying “I want my life to be different”, to defining what “different’ means to you. To create a focus you need your goal to be specific. ‘Different’ could mean more adventure. Then the next question is —What does ‘more adventure’ mean? Trying out a dating website? Applying for a promotion that involves more travel? Taking tango lessons? You write the definitions.

Number 2) Chunk it down. Research shows that when goals are broken down into smaller steps, there is a greater chance for success. This works for large or small goals — from trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro to flossing your teeth.

Number 3) Include chocolate. Research also shows that we human beings follow through more often when there are small rewards built into the activity. If you want to begin a regular exercise routine, you might link that with a reward, say, watching a favorite tv show on your IPAD while running on a treadmill or begin exercising with a friend.

Number 4) Build a supportive network. By telling others of your intentions, you raise the chances of success for yourself.  Enlist positive supportive people by asking them to cheer you on. If you expect push back from your family around your intended goal, help them see how your success could impact them positively too. Sometimes your family or friends can feel threatened by any changes that might be coming. Accept this, and surround yourself instead with others who want your best self to shine. This is a role I frequently play in coaching. My clients tell me they do so much more because of the support our coaching relationship provides.

Number 5) Accountability. This goes hand in hand with a supportive circle. Studies have shown (and my own experience with people underscores) the power of accountability. When people have an accountability partner, they actually follow through and do far more than they would have otherwise. This too, is part of my job as a coach. When choosing someone to serve this role, pick someone you can count on to consistently show up to ask you how you are doing in regards to your goal and to give you positive feedback. And if you didn’t do what you said you would, to care about the ‘why not’. Importantly, your accountability partner should have no agenda of their own.

Number 6) Reframe Missteps. Speed bumps and road blocks are part of the process, as I have learned from personal experience! Expect them. Plan for them. And learn from them. Make a commitment to yourself that you will see this through. By knowing that ‘failing’ is a part of every new endeavor, and framing the ‘failure’ instead as a learning opportunity, you avoid beating up on yourself and quitting. (Shame and low morale follow blame – both not conducive to growth.) Be kind to yourself. You will be richer for it.

I love being on this path with you. Let me know your thoughts!

Warmly,

Deborah

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Welcome and Entertain Them All

(Back in the day), college hopeful high school students chose to take foreign language classes. I chose not to. I had heard they were hard. Don’t walk through that door. Upper class students, who I knew were smart, didn’t always get an A in such classes. Hard work that garnered a C grade didn’t seem to make sense to me. Now I know, from the perspective of maturity, that challenging myself to take harder classes where I would not be ‘perfect’ would have had its own rewards. It is the homework of the brave.

Screenshot 2015-01-12 16.11.11

As part of the coaching process, my clients answer year-end questions. I begin with, “What were your greatest challenges of the past year? The next question is “What were your greatest achievements of last year?” The answers sometimes surprise them. Most often, the responses are identical. In doing my own personal review of 2014, my greatest challenges were caring for my parents as they were dying (they passed away within two months of each other). What was my greatest achievement? The lessons I learned through loving and caring for them through that process. There were times I wanted to uncheck the box “responsible adult daughter”, I will admit that to you. If that act would have released me from the pain and discombobulated feelings. The moments when I was not my best self. When I revealed petty emotions, overwhelming grief, and critical words. If, by unchecking that box, I could have remained “perfect”, untouched. But to remain “perfect” would have limited the scope of the messy experience of loving people through to the very end and learning the lessons of dying and death. That’s an achievement worth hanging around for I think. Perfect didn’t have a place in the vocabulary of a richer life.

In telling me their stories of challenge and achievement, I see over and over again, the resilience of people. All the people I meet who have crushing work loads or difficult relationships or sadness and loss in the past, shape their experience to be transformative. In connecting with strength, and riding that wild boat through to the other side, I see them reap great rewards.

I would love to hear about your challenges of the past year. Your achievements. Please share so the rest of us can learn.

Rumi wrote a poem, The Guest House, that describes the lesson, creatively illustrated by artist Ellie Cross. Get it Here > The Guest House

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Happy Inchoate Year!

Happy Inchoate Year ???    Inchoate is such a funny word. It means not yet fully developed, just begun. It can also mean the amorphous nature or messiness of something in its initial stages. 2015 is all of these things  — a year ripe with possibilities. What will it be for you?

Wishing you a perpetual flow of joy filled moments ~
Work that you enjoy ~
Satisfying relationships ~
And juicy anticipation of good things to come!

Sending much love,

Deborah

Safety + Risk = A Well Seasoned Life

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

In dry dock, a ship is refurbished, updated, and repaired. Rust is blasted away, or rotting wood cut out and replaced with fresh strong panels. Several coats of marine grade paint are applied, another step in helping the boat remain seaworthy. Supplies are replenished. Safety gear checked. All these things are vital to the purpose of the ship. But, they are not what the ship is about. Screenshot 2014-09-18 22.04.05

What is a ship’s purpose? To sail out into the world to fulfill it’s mission. There are times when you need to pull into dry dock, make some adjustments. Revisit the navigation charts after strong winds have pulled you off course. Fix the damage done by vicious storms, or anchor in the bay just because you want a new coat of paint and a rest. The theme is the same. These things are important, but they are not what you are about. You are about fulfilling your purpose.

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

Harbors are safe. Free of demands, free of risk. Once we leave the harbor, the waters are unpredictable. We might be tempted to stay safely anchored firmly to the dock. Do you really want to be chained to an anchor? Risk and change are a way of life. Just try standing still in the rapidly moving stream of life. It is ultimately much more dangerous than swimming toward a more promising future.

A few thoughts on pushing fear aside to move toward change (risk).

– Stock your tool kit. What do you need to begin? Number 1 is a good support structure. Thinking you can or have to do everything yourself will make the risk overwhelming.

– Develop a positive attitude about yourself. You have already survived many ups and downs in your life, right? You’re smart. You’re adaptable. You’re good at facing challenges. Engrave this on your mirror.

– Embrace the process. Remain open to the knowledge that it won’t all be smooth sailing. Flexibility in your expectations is your watch word.

Be willing to let difficult moments, failures and perceived failures be your teacher. Can you do that? Can you untie the ropes and venture out? What do you need to pack to make your boat seaworthy so you can take the plunge? Spice, variety and adventure make for a well seasoned life.

Bon Voyage,Screenshot 2014-09-22 10.15.48

Deborah