Have you ever renovated or remodeled your home on your own? Or dreamed of doing so? If you’re like me, you’ve thought of a million ideas, from new kitchen countertops to new wall color to new flooring. Maybe you even add a few new throw pillows or artwork.
These actions brighten your home, or make it cozier, or make it feel fresher and different. And these are things you can absolutely do on your own and it feels amazing!
But (and if you’ve done home improvement projects, you’ll be nodding your head), it also comes with feelings of…
• Where do I even start?
• What are all of my options?
• Are these decisions wise?
• Will this turn out the way I hope it will?
I recently renovated and moved to a new house, and let me tell you—I was struck by how stuck I felt. I had all these feelings I listed above. And then I hired an interior designer.
I never would have thought about removing walls. Would I have thought about the small details, like outlet covers or heating grates? Would rearranging the kitchen be more conducive to the way I cook? Do I need extra storage for certain things? It wasn’t until I was asked questions about what I wanted to experience visually and physically that my vision became clear and I started to know precisely what my home should look like.
Interior designers are experts. They’ve studied their craft. They have experience. They know how to guide people. They know the options available. Their job is to see that you are a satisfied customer.
Life coaches can help you in the same way.
Just as you could do home improvements on your own, you can do life improvements on your own. You can change your diet. You can start saving money. You can ask for a raise. These things can absolutely be positive steps in your life.
But imagine you have an expert to help you, such as a life coach. An expert in their field. Someone who has studied their craft. Someone who guides people and can show you the options available. Someone to ask you what you want to experience and help you clarify your vision and design your plan. Just like creating a new structure, life coaches can help you to think about new ways of being; to help your brain begin working in new ways. And you’ll have someone to stand by you and help you get it done.
If you want to make changes, such as new paint or a new throw pillow, you definitely should! It feels good and it’s easy to do.
But if you want to transform your home, you should consider consulting the experts.
“We live, in fact, in an age starved for solitude.” -C.S. Lewis
Today it takes a conscious effort to be in solitude, with noise and interruption swarming around us… emails, text messages, social media posts, meetings and obligations, and all the countless new intrusions from technology.
These intrusions keep us from taking the deep dive to where reserves of inspiration live within us. Ergonomists say information overload distracts and clutters our thinking. The only way to achieve clarity is to seek out moments of solitude. All the great leaders in history sought clarity, creativity, emotional balance, and courage via solitude.
No matter who you are—a parent, a CEO, a celebrity, a teacher, a neurosurgeon—you must seek regular intervals of solitude. It is essential to self-awareness. In order to lead and inspire others, you have to lead and be inspired yourself.
Constant connection to intrusions, such as phone alerts, deaden the mind and soul. Part of the solution is simply to unplug; to make yourself inaccessible. This is not the norm, and you will feel uncomfortable at first. You might perhaps try for small amounts of time first until you get used to being inaccessible. The other part is just being aware of what is lost inside. What thoughts are swimming around that you never have time to consider, or to even let materialize? What is inside of you that deserves examination?
Solitude is where things in your subconscious take form and become tangible. It allows you to access intuition. I love this quote from Jim Collins: “To engage in disciplined action first requires disciplined thought, and disciplined thought requires people who have the discipline to create quiet time for reflection. The net results is not doing more, but doing less. ‘Stop doing’ lists reflect great discipline more than ever-expanding to-do lists of frenetic activity.”
And here’s one of Warren Buffett’s best phrases: “Inactivity can be very intelligent behavior.”
So take some quiet time. Engage with this suggestion and commit to the hard work of time alone. It might feel like an indulgence, or maybe even a waste of your precious time at first—but through regular periods of solitude for reflection and self-examination, you will be amazed at the benefits you receive.
A great follow up resource: A book by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin: Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude.
In May I attended a Wild Women Retreat Through the Eyes of The Horse, facilitated by Dragonfly Healing and Harmony Hills Natural Horse Facility. Every year I pick a retreat where I can rest, reflect and re-evaluate.
I need to identify where I am going, and if I am asking the right questions. And, most of all, I go to reset my nervous system. Our guides were Corinna Stevenson, Dragon Healing B, Ed. MATP- Ecopsychology, and Kari Bowser, B.A., Licensed Parelli Professional, two-star.
Over two and a half days, we were shown the “fox walk,” experienced clearing-the-mind meditation, and how to choose a sit spot, showing us that when you slow down your mind gets quieter.
Once quiet we were invited to ask and journal about the following questions…
Great questions, right? How often are we reacting to life instead of responding to the insights revealed in asking those questions?
Once we completed this reflection exercise, we came back to the circle for debriefing and sharing. The conversation around grief was very impactful.
“Grief sits on the pedestal of Beauty. You have grief because you care deeply about something. Beauty and grief are sisters,” says Corinna Stevenson. How wonderful to embrace grief—something we generally associate with misery and pain—in such an insightful way.
Next, Kari invited us to walk through the Harmony Hill’s herd without disturbing the herd’s energy… asking permission, stopping to check in with our own energy-reset to match the herd. How often we only have our own agenda. It is a true gift to connect with the big, beautiful creatures by asking, setting boundaries, and being curious.
Corinna shared “The School of Lost Boarders 4 Shield Model,” (http://schooloflostborders.
Our parting gift, made by the facilitators, were bracelets created from hairs gifted from each horse, as reminders of the weekend, which exceeded my expectations. The clean food that was served gave us a mega-dose of vitality and sustenance, and the love and nurturing connections (people /horses) and environment were beautiful and meaningful.
One takeaway that I would like to pass on is The Sensory Nature Experience: it helps you to Get Out of Your Mind and Come to Your Senses. We use our senses to interface with the physical world, and our minds get so entangled that we are often regurgitating the same old thoughts and patterns, which keep us from living a whole life.
To begin find a perfect Sit Spot, find a place that is close, in nature, is safe and is alone. Begin by becoming present, breathe, and think about the exchange of oxygen from the plants and giving back the carbon dioxide.
Next see with the eyes of an owl, softening and expanding to your peripheral vision. What do you notice?
Now close your eyes and switch to hear with the ears of a deer. What do you hear with the right ear? And what do you hear with the left ear? What sounds are they? What direction are they coming from? Are you able to filter out some sounds and focus on others?
Opening your eyes, touch like a raccoon and feel objects around you and the earth. Ask permission for you to share space. Touch your body. What does it feel like? Are there any messages?
Next let your sense of smell and taste come forth. Open your mouth and take in a full breath of air. Smell the air. Does is smell fragrant, earthy, or something else?
After a short pause, shift your awareness to being “observed by nature, observed by the soul of the world,” as Corinna Stevenson says. Is it communicating with you? Does the wildlife nearby sense your presence? What is the history of the landscape? What does opening to this idea do to your awareness?
I chose to leave you with this condensed version of Corinna’s teaching: in no way is it given here with such sacredness and reverence as when she delivered it. This simple exercise truly does get you out of your mind and back to your senses.
As a life coach, I continue to learn and grow. One of the top needle-movers for me was Alison Armstrong and her understanding of men and women. Here is one point that will help you elevate yourself and those around you.
Men and women need to understand each other. Our differences are valuable. “We really were meant to shore up each other’s weaknesses,” says communication expert Alison Armstrong. One of the main differences Armstrong discusses is diffuse awareness verses single-focused awareness.
It is women’s diffuse awareness that causes the multitasking women are famous for. We watch TV and knit a sweater, we drive and plan our day, or we’re on the phone while checking email. Diffuse awareness even affects our vision. Women have “scan vision,” which enables us to enter a room and scan for an item. Imagine how useful this was to our ancestors as they scanned a meadow for edible food.
Our male ancestors navigated the world differently. Instead of scan vision, they employed hunting strategies, which included being single-focused. Men (hunters) had to focus on one thing to catch their pretty. Their vision allowed them to cast a spear with remarkable accuracy, but their strengths weren’t in finding a needle in a haystack.
Men might screen out everything irrelevant to the task at hand—even their partner. When this happens, try to remember men are wired to focus on one task at a time. Likewise, if you are multitasking when communicating with your partner, he may feel you aren’t paying attention to him or that you’re choosing a task over him
Perhaps it is time to rethink New Years’ resolutions. Why? Because it works against our natural rhythm. Winter is the cycle of resting. Spring is the time to dive into action or start something new. You have the natural rhythm supporting you, everything is waking up, the sap is running… you naturally feel more alive and awake.
No matter what you’d like to change or achieve, the secrets to success are the same…
#1. Get clear. As specifically as possible, decide want you want. The more clear you are on what you want to have in your life, the more likely you are to achieve it.
#2. Get perspective. Most people don’t tell anyone what they want or what they are struggling with. Because of that, they don’t get an outside perspective.
#3. Get support. Very few people achieve anything great alone. Sports stars have teammates and coaches, humanitarians have whole organizations, and you have a support system, too. Use them!
Check out my new program, perfect for SPRING— the time of reawakening and life!
A week ago, I posted the question, “What’s the one change you could make that would give you more peace and calm?” I want to dive a little deeper so that you can understand the importance of this question.
Think about today. Did you wake up thinking about all the tasks you need to accomplish today? You have to get the laundry done, pay a few bills, get that project done at work, return phone calls and emails, check your kids’ homework… the list goes on and on. When do you get to be in the moment? When do you get to spend time focusing on joy? Or when do you have time to think about your goals and dreams?
Most of us live a very busy and reactive lifestyle. This keeps our sympathetic nervous system—also known as fight or flight—always on. Research shows this causes disease in our bodies, including anxiety and high blood pressure. We constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed. Instead of being able to plan or set goals, or to sit back and enjoy the present, we’re continually reacting to immediate issues and forced into a survival mindset instead of a thriving mindset.
Wouldn’t it be great to consciously switch to our parasympathetic system—also known as rest and digest—for a sense of peace and calm? Wouldn’t you rather have a holistic sense of being?
I like to take time out of my busy life to slow down and get plugged back into my well being by sitting in a field with my horses. Few experiences give me that sense of peace and calm. This allows me to feel like I am living a life worth living.
What change would you make to bring you peace?
(Guest post submitted by J. Maier)
Many people my age go abroad to get to know themselves and to find out who they are. When my gap-year started, I was pretty sure I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted. Another thing I knew was that I definitely didn’t want to be like that.
I thought I am self-confident but shy, I need a plan for everything, couldn’t let things go their own way and, like my friends always say, I’m a stone without feelings.
Well… after already four months of being away from home, I can be still a stone and I do still love having plans for everything, but I learned two big things.
The first one is that my plans might not work out, but there is a reason why and my situation will be a lot better if I don’t stick to them just because they were my plans. I throw them away and guess what – I got some great opportunities. In my case, I was supposed to be in Canada for almost a whole year with a two month break in Jamaica and Cuba. Now I will be in Canada three times, in Jamaica and Cuba for two months, in South Africa for a couple months, and a few days at home in Germany. I experienced so many different things I wasn’t expecting at all. Stuff like milking cows, flying with a cat, being a bridesmaid, travelling so much, getting to know such great people, having a massage and so on.
The massage brings me to another point. I think travelling helps people to be on their own, but looking for and maybe even after myself means other things for me as well. For example having a massage; 90 minutes time for yourself, not doing or thinking about anything. It gives you a break in your daily routine and makes you enjoying life a bit more and being aware of your own body.
What I’m actually trying to say is, in the beginning I said I am self-confident but shy. Well, now I know I am definitely self-confident but I know as well that I’m definitely not shy. Angela’s coaching gave me another view on myself. I discovered what I thought is shyness is actually just the way I am. I will talk only when I have to say something and this might be pretty rare. So I can sit in a group of people without saying anything for hours but that doesn’t mean I’m not brave enough to say something. I just don’t want to say anything.
If there exist four different types of people, I am Type 4. I’m not talking a lot, my movements are straight and I have strict ways of seeing the world. For people who don’t know me I seem to be arrogant and close-mouthed and not really welcoming, but that’s just how I look like. Not what I am. But accepted this now and guess what… I learned to accept who I am.
So don’t go travelling to find out who you are. You know it already, you just have to accept it and learn more about yourself. Angela gave me great advice how to listen to myself and how to be aware of my personality. And the most important thing is to feel good with it and being proud of it. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should stop working on yourself. For example, as I said, I’m going backpacking in Jamaica and Cuba and I haven’t planned anything but the first hostel and the flights. That a huge step for me because it drives me crazy not to know what’s going on, but I’m sure I will grow with it and maybe I am a bit more relaxed later on. But even if this is not the case, I did something which is not my nature, and that’s already a big step forward. So feel free to go out of your comfort zone and grow. Because you can’t say, “I’m not able to do that,” unless you tried it.
So stop looking somewhere in the big world for something which is already in and around you.
If you find yourself always searching for a new book from the same authors, the same section of the bookstore, or rereading your favorites off your shelf at home, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but you might be missing out on some amazing reads. Consider joining a book club as one of your 2017 New Year’s resolutions. Book clubs expose you to reading material you may not have read otherwise, which gives you the opportunity to expand your mind and experience new authors, new genres, and new ideas.
Besides giving yourself exposure to new books, adding a community aspect to an otherwise solitary activity allows you to learn about others’ experiences and how they look at the world because of those experiences. Maybe you cheered Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester on throughout the novel, but another person had an interesting reason not to. Or maybe you absolutely hate a book that someone absolutely loves. Listening to others’ differing viewpoints gives you a chance to think critically, strengthen or reconsider your viewpoint, and it’s just kind of fun! Regularly getting together with a great group of people talking about books can be a blast—add some food and wine and let yourself have fun and laugh together.
My last book club selection was The 5 Languages of Love by Dr. Gary Chapman. I would highly recommend it; it could save your relationships or make the good ones even better. Dr. Chapman tells us that everyone has a “love tank” and many people have empty love tanks because they don’t know how to express how they feel about each other in ways that the other person understands. This is because everyone has a preferred Love Language, and you need to figure out what yours is, and what others’ are, in order to effectively communicate how you care for and love each other. Dr. Chapman says that love is a choice; find your partner’s love language style, then choose to show love to your partner in that way. I now use this book as a guide to all my other relationships and clients. Our next book is Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer.
So, how do you join a book club? Here are a few ideas:
Are you already involved in a book club? Share your experiences in the comments section of this post!
From moment to moment, we are in different states; they could be a state of reflection, a state of joy, a state of being engaged. Unfortunately, many of us are in the habit of being in the state of indifference, or a state of being distracted. We just go through the motions. We nod and uh-huh to our kids as we check our phones. We zone out in meetings. We hand a cup of coffee to our partner and don’t even look him or her in the eye. And they just grunt, “Thanks.”
Pat Parelli says, “Take the time it takes so it takes less time,” meaning doing something properly, such as really listening and connecting with someone, will yield more positive results rather than “faking it” or “doing something half-heartedly.”
And your relationships won’t be so much work in the long run, if you start them off right.
My friend, Julia, prompted this message. She is visiting from Germany and works on our dairy farm. We both love horses. I watched her feed the horses, and instead of just dumping the feed into the tubs, she waited until the horses listened and pleasantly engaged with her, rather than blowing her off, rude or grumpy. She just waited a little bit until she got a more pleasant and wanted response. Did it take a little more time? Sure. But her experience was better. What if we all took a little more time to create a state of being present and in the moment? If we took a few more moments to focus on what’s in front of us?
You can’t just show up and expect anything worthwhile without making an investment. Showing up engaged gives life to your experiences and relationships. Being present, or in the “now,” is a state worth creating.