How Do I Love Thee…?

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach… “

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet easily comes to mind when I am feeling loved and loving. For me she expresses that expansive sense of exhilaration that I enjoy particularly in new love. I certainly felt that way last spring as I went past fear to engage in a romantic relationship.

Hearts in Harmony

The man I was dating was about to leave for an extended period of time. I wanted him to remember our connection so I wrote him lots of love notes and gave them him to enjoy while he was gone.  In them, I shared how he helped me be more compassionate, fun-loving and appreciative. Writing the notes reminded we of all of the ‘sweet comforts’ as we called them that he brought to my life.

Writing to him was made even easier because I attended a Power of Appreciation workshop lead by a fellow coach Andrea Scott. Andrea suggested that we write down what we liked and what we loved about the person that we wanted to focus on and what qualities they reflect that we admire. We were given 20 minutes to complete the task. Time flew by so fast that by the end of the 20 minutes I still had more to say.

Ultimately I gained a great deal from that exercise myself! What I learned was how deeply I felt as I went to my heart to express myself. I also realized what a loving person I am.

Thanks to this experience I reinforced CORE connections that nurture and strengthen my resilience.

What do you like, love and most admire about someone very close to you?

What do you like, love and most admire about yourself?

Take time out with a cup of tea or a glass of wine to relax and reflex on these questions, and you will reap the rewards.

Express your love and share your experience via a comment.

Celebration, Connection and Collaboration

Family can be the best of things or the worst of things. Last weekend it was definitely the best of things as my brother, his wife and I packed three major family-oriented events into one weekend.  The first was a birthday celebration for my brother.  We enjoyed more laughter in four hours than I generally get in three days. What a joy it was to see 8 seniors cajoling, comforting and celebrating each other’s successes. These 60 somethings have known each other for 30 years!  They have shared heart break and satisfaction as they have raised children and overcome loss. They are there for each other when it is most needed.

One of the highlights of that night was the gift my brother received of a handmade light mocha brown cap made of alpaca fleece with ear flaps and a bill. The most unique and touching aspect of the cap was that it was woven with fleece from Gen, my brother’s beloved standard poodle who had died a few months before.  After many groomings my brother had sent Jen’s shorn fleece to his talented fabric artist friend. She saved the fleece for a special occasion, and this was it. For all, this was an evidence of the care, collaboration and creativity that has helped bind this group together.

The other two major events were a day spent tracing family roots and hours on Sunday spent introducing two grandnephews to Utah’s new Museum of Natural History. Part of the magic of the weekend was that several things were anticipated and planned for which built in excitement for each event as it unfolded. The trip to the Museum of Natural History stimulated all of the senses as eyes were treated to handsome, overarching architecture specifically designed to show nature’s magnificent secrets whether it was the resilience of the ant colony or the grandeur of a Brontosaurus. Children and adults could watch water or wind erode the land, or smell a magnolia know to exist during the earliest tropical periods of Utah’s history.

What have you done recently to renew your connection with family and friends?

What aspect of those experiences was most rewarding to you?

When your get-up and go is gone

Muddled, befuddled and all out of gas. My heart was aching, too. It was past time to leave my engagement with a major client, and I was having a hard time letting go. I had “left my finger in the dike” way too long, hoping that the financials of the organization would improve. However, they didn’t and I did not have the skills, insight or energy to turn things around. I left my role, and felt lost for about a year after that. Resilient I was not.

That event is one of the reasons for my deep interest in resilience. Our fortunes can change given external circumstances, however how I respond to those circumstances makes all the difference in how quickly I get back to “normal” or, better still, a new norm that energies and inspires me. Why did I stay under adverse conditions so long? One of the reasons was because I so wanted to turn things around! A second reason was that I was out-of-touch with my current reality. I was drained energetically, financially and emotionally.

What I Learned: Current reality can be illusive when we so want a certain outcome and have heavily invested in it. Once we accept current reality, and from a spiritual perspective, surrender to it, then we have much more leverage to change our situation. When I allow ourselves to be in work environments, relationships and careers that continually drain our energy, we are headed for a “wake up call!”

How can you tune into current reality? Here are some tips:

  1. Am I energized each day going to work? Meeting a friend? Being in a relationship?
  2. If the answer is no, how long has this energy drain been going on?
  3. What does the energy drain feel like?
  4. What are the costs of this drain?
  5. Once you tune into the facts, then you can begin to look at alternatives.

If you find yourself with a major energy drain and would like support in assessing its impact and what’s next, call 425-646-8170.

EYES WIDE OPEN – A Call for Resilience

During my first visit with the eye surgeon he said, “It’s important to operate this month.” Over the last year my vision was failing so slowly that I chocked it up to aging.  Then, this fall when I couldn’t thread a needle or easily read spreadsheets, I suspected something far more serious. As it turned out I had a condition that deteriorates the retina and, thus, sight.  The good news is that within two weeks of that first visit I had surgery and my SIGHT in that eye significantly improved. Thank you, Dr. Francis! What a gift!

In the last year I have had several challenges such as the sight problem and these experiences have heightened my interest in resilience.  The economic and political times we are living in also sharpens my interest in how we as members of a society come together to be more resilient. So this year I commit to becoming more resilient than ever before, and I will share my learnings with you in this blog.

Resilience for me is the ability to bounce back from challenges, re-center myself and do what it takes to bring myself to a place of stability to move forward once again. I want to experience vitality, joy, and connection, and I believe resilience can help me have these. Some of my intentions for this exploration are that I will learn more about:

=What gives and takes away energy

=How to tune into natural internal warning systems

=Ways to be more creative with my current resources

=How to strengthen my CORE* for greater resilience

=Using my strengths for natural resilience.

I believe we are indeed part of the whole and that our growth can contribute to others.  Thus, I welcome your sharing what you are learning about being resilient, too.

Until the next time:

What have you learned from a recent challenge that has strengthened your resilience?

Letting in the Light

Letting in the Light

We’ve just marked the Spring Equinox, a joyous event after a dark, damp northwest winter. 
With happy expectancy of increased daylight every day, I’m energized to let more light into other parts of my life.

 

As I opened my curtains to let in the sunshine, I noticed accumulated dust and useless and worn out things that I am curious why I have kept.  I found myself ready to clean house and let go of anything that doesn’t delight me.

I remember visiting a colleague’s home several years ago.  When I arrived she announced her new policy.  “For every new thing that comes into the house, I will let go of something.” As I looked around her home and saw stacks of magazines and “extra” knickknacks; I understood why.  If you leave the faucet of “stuff*” running, your tub will soon overflow.

 Marketers, well-intentioned friends and colleagues can give us things that we really don’t want or need.  If I am not alert about this, I allow them to come in.  Somehow getting them out of my house takes more energy than letting them in.  Because I don’t want to be a source of clutter, I intend to be mindful about what material things I give to others. (Instead of “stuff” I like to give experiences like a ticket to the symphony, gift certificates, or take a friend to lunch.)

One of the best ways to kickstart myself into action is to work with a pro. I love having one of my favorite “decluttering specialists” come by monthly for a few hours.  Penni (PenniMarvel@aol.com)  is a wiz at making me feel greater ease and confidence in letting go.  For her, letting in the light is an art form. The result is that with her presence I can slim down or eliminate stacks, files, etc. about two to three times faster. By the time she leaves I feel much lighter and my work and living space are more comfortable and attractive. 

When we let in the light, we are announcing that we want change and we will be supported!

How will you let in more light this week?

Who could support you in being successful?

 

 

Stoking the Embers

The hospital room was stiflingly silent. My brother, Gaylord, had just been taken away to the operating room. Less than 24 hours before he had a heart attack and now the physicians felt the best option was surgery, a three-way bypass. Gaylord, his wife and sons, our parents, and I all wondered what this means.  Will he make it through this and what will the quality of his life be if he does?

Fortunately the operation went well, and Gaylord began to make life style changes. In addition to reducing fat, salt and sugar, he got a dog, a standard poodle named Genieve, who was a great incentive to get outside for long walks.

These changes helped, but it took eleven years before he was ready to let go of the primary stressor in his life.  He decided to retire.  He was willing to begin defining himself in new ways.

His first month after his decision was filled with delight at the thought of sleeping in, calling the shots on what he wanted to be working on versus multi-million dollar projects for others, taking trips with his wife to be with friends, and perhaps going to Europe. He even imagined he might get back to an old passion painting.

As Gaylord’s retirement date loomed, he began to have doubts. Maybe he wasn’t ready yet.  Then the man who was to succeed him died in a car accident forcing Gay to postpone his retirement by a month until a replacement could be found. But this strengthened his resolve.  He’d had his wake-up call, life’s too short.

Even though it was a month later than planned, Gaylord embarked on his new life the way he’d tackled client projects for so many years.  He signed up for a painting class, took his wife Dixie to several art shows, and he carved out hours each week when he would paint.  Most importantly he kept his commitment to himself as seriously as he would a commitment to a client.

Two months later Gaylord was a different man.  There was no trace of regret; he had an entirely new attitude about this time in his life.  He calls it “wonderment!”  He gets up early each morning filled with wonder about what he will discover.  With his camera he catches the sun rising over the Wasatch Mountains the pinks and light glow illuminating the dark folds of the mountains.  He finds a scarlet Amaryllis breaking into bloom on the kitchen table, and captures its translucent beauty. He begins taking pictures of those around him.  All these photos are displayed on his work board the next day, and within a day or two one is becoming a watercolor.  Gaylord has indeed re-engaged in his passions and his life is on a whole new trajectory. Friends have remarked that he looks healthy and happy.

Gaylord has gone from a man boxed in by his job-title and the familiar comfort it provided, to a place where he is free to choose again what he wants his life to look like.  We can’t wait for first show.

What embers of a by-gone passion are waiting for you to stoke back into a fire?

What must you let go of to make room for this passion (allow it to breathe)?

Workshop Coming Up on March 11

Turning Points at Midlife and Beyond

Women Connecting

Midlife presents us with new options.  Whether we greet them with fear and trepidation or an expectation of a new adventure will impact the quality of what unfolds for us.  Listening to the Divine Discontent that has been beneath the surface for years can provide insight and energy for embarking on this important life passage with conscious choice.

Join other women, committed to enjoying the fruits of their fifties and sixties and making choices that take us outside the boxes that we and others have created for ourselves. This experiential workshop will leave you with fresh approaches for creating your future.

Workshop Leader:  Sandra Jones, guide Navigating Act III for Soul Satisfaction

To sign up, go to:  http://web.mac.com/womanspiritcenter/WomanSpirit_Center/Turning_Points.html

Have questions? Call Sandra at 425-646-8170.

Filling Our Lamps

Having just escaped the severe symptoms of a cold this week, and knowing several other women who were not so lucky, I recommend that you take a few moments to bask in the wisdom of this short video.

Take a few moments to watch this movie, for all the women who light up our world.

Yes, there is a short commercial at the end, and you may want to take advantage of it!

How will you fill your lamp this week?

Brainpower versus Braindrain

No sooner had I written the blog post on boosting brainpower than I realized that my short-term memory was sputtering.  I was overly zealous in taking on new, promising opportunities and not considering what I already had on my plate. I found myself with too much to do and not enough time – the perfect conditions for a brain freeze.

No kidding, stress does muffle the wonderful access we have to a rapid firing, effective brain.  You may have felt stress grab you by the throat as you gave your first speech or seize your stomach as you sat for a professional exam and your fear just deep-sixed the answers that you could readily recite just hours before. 

Here are three ways* to prevent or recover from a braindrain:

1.  Dial down stress, dial up meditation

Prolonged stress or anger damages brain cells.  On the other hand, relaxation produces a feeling of well-being.

a.   Take a few minutes throughout the day to breathe deeply, notice the impact it has on your body.  This is especially useful if you practice it before you need it!

b.  Here’s a 6 minute meditation that can whet your appetite for further relaxation. http://stressremedy.com/RelaxNow/HomePage

Easy Access

 2.       Minimize Distractions

In case you’re still thinking that multitasking is the way to go, research suggests otherwise.  When neurons are over-stimulated brain cells die.  So,

a.  When doing anything, be present and concentrate on the task at hand.

b.  Turn off your cell phone, iPod, email, TV, and radio news so that your brain can focus on one thing at a time and your brain’s performance will accelerate.

 3.       Stay Socially Connected

 When we stay connected we are also taking positive action for our brains.  Studies show that when we isolate ourselves, dementia is more likely to occur.  So, if your social connections are few, join a book club which meets in person or take a class that will get you interacting with others.  Both planning and participating in social activities contribute to healthy brain cell production and create new neural pathways.

When I had the stress build-up last week, I finally had the presence to call a friend.  With her help I got clear how I was letting the achiever part of me override my desire for love, affection and deeper connection.  Ahhh, what a welcome invitation it was to get out of my head and into the world!  The result was a wonderful, relaxing and meaningful connection.

The beauty of paying attention to and responding to our deepest desires is that doing so can naturally contribute to our brain’s thriving, particularly if we let go of the behaviors that result in braindrain.

*Factual source: “Sustain Your Brain” an article in Natural Health, June 2009.

Four Ways to Boost Your Brain Power in 2011

If you are committed to a quality of life, you are committed to your brain’s health.  So, no matter what your goals may be for this year, it makes mega sense to give your brain a boost.  Truth is there are at least 7 ways to significantly boost your brain power* so, I will describe these 7 boosters in two blog posts.  The solutions are simple, perhaps not always easy, and they are simple.

No doubt for some time you may have quipped when you’ve misplaced your keys, having a senior moment.  The hard facts are that after 40 the brain begins to deteriorate.  However, there are plenty of ways to stay mentally sharp into old age.  Here are four:

1.  Eat a Mediterranean Diet Smart Plate

  • Fill HALF your plate with leafy green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, fruits – particularly berries.
  • Fill one FOURTH of your plate with whole grains brown rice, beans, chick peas, whole grain breads and pasta.
  • Fill the last FOURTH of your plate with broiled or poached fish (salmon tops the list), tofu or boned chicken breast.
  • Things to reduce in your eating plan dairy, meat.
  • Replace butter with olive oil

    Healthy Salad

 2.Keep your blood sugar levels below 140  mg/dL reduce processed foods and foods high in sugar

  • Even slightly raised blood sugar levels (240-200 mg/dL) can be the precursor to diabetes and damage the brain.
  • Eat the Mediterraen-style meals suggested above leaving out processed foods, starchy foods and foods high in sugar.  Check-out the levels of sugar in your processed foods, desserts, just about everything!
  • Omit sugary drinks.

 3.Exercise increase the amount of oxygen your brain and body draws in and releases

  • Exercise pumps blood, nutrients, oxygen into the brain increasing its volume.
  •  Exercise protects against cell death and encourages growth of new brain cells.
  • Pick your favorite aerobic exercise:

Indoors: swimming, treadmill, rowing machine, stationary biking, dancing, martial arts, jog in place

Outdoors: Running, jogging, swimming, biking, Nordic or downhill skiing, kayaking

4.Read or Surf the Net

The more stimulating the activity, the more your brain gets out of it.  So, roll off the couch and surf the net, it takes a number of complex brain processes to do a search.  Play a word or strategy game with yourself or a friend, join a book club, read and apply what you learn, take up a craft (build model airplanes or create scrapbooks or cards, etc).

Select one of these to focus on in the next few weeks and notice the impact, and share it! I’m curious how I can up the level of my exercise so that it is aerobic. What’s your choice?

Three additional brain boosters will come in my next post.

*Factual source: Sustain Your Brain an article in Natural Health, June 2009.

Open to Gifts…Beyond the Packaging

 This is indeed the season of gifting, and you probably have your short list for Santa.  I invite you to pause and take a look at gifts from a spiritual perspective.  The whole idea of giving and receiving may take on deeper and richer meaning.  Here is the wisdom of a 15th century poet,  Fra Giovani:

“There is nothing I can give you

which you have not;

but there is much, very much that

 while I can not give it,  you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts

find rest in today.  Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden

In this present instant.  Take peace!

 The gloom of the world is but a shadow.

Behind it, yet within reach, is joy.

There is a radiance and glory n the darkness, could we but see,

and to see, we have only to look, I beseech you to look.

 

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by

their covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy, or hard.

Remove the covering and you will find beneath it

a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.

 

Welcome it, grasp it and you touch the angel’s hand

that brings it to you.  Everything we call a trial, a sorrow,

or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there.

The gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.

Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys.

They, too, conceal livening gifts.

And so this time I greet you,

not quite as the world sends greetings but with

profound esteem and with the prayer that for you

now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee.”

And so, I offer this gift…

PEACE, JOY and LOVE in this season of hope and possibility.

Sandra