Salute to Parents

Working parents, stay-at-home parents, new parents, … Today’s message is for each of you who is raising one or more young persons with intention in the midst of our over-filled lives. Know this: you are attempting the most challenging task there is! It is also the most vital to our society and the most rewarding.

What has me writing this to you now?

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A Season of Moments

The calendar says that it is springtime in the northern hemisphere. Spring usually brings images of new life popping up from the ground, buds turning to leaves on the trees, and in colder climates, people reappearing outside their homes.

Something I notice about spring here in Wisconsin is this: if I am too busy, I miss it. One day the ground is barren; the next time I look, the plants are 5″ tall. Sometimes those 5″ come in a single day! If I blink I miss it. Yet, if I watch long enough, I just might see them growing.

What do you miss in your busyness?
What must you refuse to see in order to “get it all done”?

Continue reading A Season of Moments

I Listen Well …

Yesterday I wrote about the space:

The Space

and encouraged those of us who are struggling and overwhelmed during this time of extreme stress to pause and be with the silence “between” and to listen in the space.

Today I share a bit about listening. In our country, in the world, in our communities, in our relationships … people are craving to be heard. There is no doubt about that. Yet, in our craving to be heard, many of us are speaking without listening. We are speaking with words, with emotion and with action. Sometimes, it’s powerful and helpful. Sometimes, it is noise or worse, very damaging.

Each one of us needs to expand on and to practice deep listening skills. We can begin with yesterday’s message that suggests we listen within, to our own heart and soul. Then, listen outside of ourselves. Listen without needing to respond. Listen without personalizing the message, interpreting according to our understanding and planning our comeback. Listen. Listen with every part of our beings. Feel the truth of the other’s message.

What if each of us were to do more listening than speaking today?

As a life coach, listening is one of five core qualities inherent in good coaching. We listen at levels deeper than the average person but everyone can expand their listening muscle. Read the lyrics below. Notice where you find yourself on the listening scale. Are you at level one? Do you already practice skills associated with level two or three?

I Listen Well

Do you listen to the body, hear the message in the breath?
Do you sense the energy that either flows or now is trapped?
Do you find that deep within you know a truth that’s not been said?
Or do you just to words respond and listen with your head?

And after you have heard your client to the point of pause,
it’s time for you from deep within to engage in your response.
And then be sure to listen to the impact! Stay tuned in!
For now is not the time to wonder what you’d do instead!

Listening at level one I’m hearing everything you’ve done.
And I respond, “You won’t believe –
I’ve done the same and more you see!”
I’m listening at level one.

Listening at level two there’s really only me and you.
We’re in a bubble and I sense
all that you say and don’t express!
I’m listening at level two.

Listening at level three the whole wide world I sense and see.
The force field is alive!
My intuition knows: I let it guide!
I’m listening at level three.

I clarify, articulate. And metaphorically I state:
suggest a meta-view and I acknowledge what I see in you!

I listen to the body, hear the message in the breath.
I sense the energy that either flows or now is trapped.
I find that deep within I know a truth that’s not been said.
I listen now beyond the words and use more than my head.

And after I have heard my client to the point of pause,
I naturally from deep within engage in my response.
Aware with eyes, ears, mind and heart; with taste and yes, with smell…
I do not miss the moment; as a coach I listen well!

What one way will you expand your listening today?
What will you listen to that you have previously ignored?

What do you notice when deep listening precedes your response?

What’s really here now?

Recently I wrote about shifting things up, practicing an “opposite”, consciously acting in ways contrary to our default behavior and then noticing the impact.

A World of Opposites …

Many of our defaults, our habits, while limiting, are relatively harmless. There is one in particular, I believe, that is especially harmful to the very essence of who we are as human beings, to the heart and soul of humanity.

What is it?

It is the habit of assuming, of mindlessly interacting with others, of moving through our lives with our personal agenda, timetable, priorities at the forefront and totally missing the reality of what stands before us: an emotional, spiritual and physical human being having a totally unique moment. We say “Hi. How are you?” and don’t wait for answer. We make assumptions about what “they” think or what’s important to them or what’s really going on based on past experience. We don’t deeply observe who is here now or listen openly with care to the words being said and the emotion with which they are spoken.

Instead, we proceed thoughtlessly with our personal agenda for the moment, often missing the unspoken meaning of what we’ve heard or even ignoring it because it doesn’t fit with our “plan”.

Unfortunately, this occurs most often in the relationships which are familiar and important: our children, our partner, our best friend. These are the very people we have the most contact with. These are the heart and soul of humanity in our circle of influence.

What would our world be like if each of us was noticed, seen,
heard and loved for who we are?

Think about your primary relationships for a moment. Who really sees and hears and loves YOU? What does that feel like?

Today, consider slowing down, opening up, and being fully present to the people in your life. Drop all assumptions. Give them the gift of connection, of being seen and heard and loved for who they are NOW.

What does real connection feel like?
What’s possible from here?

When my choice impacts you …

Challenges Ahead

How are you when the decision you face holds the potential for major impact on those around you? Perhaps it’s  the decision to divorce or change jobs or move far away from family. Likely you don’t make these decisions lightly. But do you:

  • Build a case your head why the current situation (or the people in it) is bad and you have to run the other direction?
  • Worry about what they will think and how they will feel and perhaps ignore the voice in your gut that knows what you need?
  • Get stuck in thinking and rethinking and trying to figure out how to make it good for everyone involved?

Here’s the hard truth. There will most likely be folks who dislike your actions, are negatively impacted by your choices, who think you have betrayed them. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot fix or take care of them. Period. Plus, they have the power to choose how they respond, how they feel, how they react to your choice.

The next time you face a major decision, try this out:

  1. Ask yourself: If no one else was impacted, what is my truth here? What is my gut telling me to do?
  2. Try on other scenarios. What does it feel like in you to go against your gut? What regrets might you hold if you chose one of these?
  3. Separate your feelings from your gut knowing. Take time to be with your own sadness or discomfort, dis-ease or fear. Acknowledge how you feel and know that feelings are meant to guide us. They may be a warning suggesting we stay put. They may be a challenge inviting us to move forward through our fear.
  4. Take time to be aware of how you think others will be impacted. Then know that you could be wrong! Also, consider seeing them as strong and capable of taking care of themselves, perhaps even expanding into more of who they can be in your absence.
  5. Know who your safe others are, persons who can be objective and who care about you, and bounce ideas off of them. You alone, however, make the final decision and must be responsible for your impact.

If, after all of this, your decision is one with major impact, let your compassionate, wise, loving, caring self be gentle but firm in the message delivery. Speak your truth clearly yet honestly, honoring yourself and the other. Be open to the impact but don’t take it personally. Caring for others doesn’t mean we never disappoint them or do things which cause them to feel anger or hurt or fear. If we really care, we see them as fully empowered to move through their emotions, getting the support they need, and growing through the situation.

No one said a life which includes deeply caring about others as well as ourselves was going to be easy. In fact, it can be one of the most courageous things we’ll ever do! Yet, I wonder:

Is there really any other way?