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The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out, for if you want the kernel, you must break the shell.
When the pandemic struck, we moved to protect ourselves. Health and government authorities encouraged us to shelter in place, wears masks, and stay socially distanced. Our lives became shuttered. We dug deep and hunkered down or we erected walls to protect ourselves from the external and emotional pain we were experiencing. Our bunkers and our walls became a protective shell.
The phenomenon of shell building is nothing new. We’ve all created protective shells at one time or another in our lives. But the pandemic has spurred so many questions, reflections, and insights on our lives and values that it’s time to question the wisdom of continuing to protect our shells. Many will understandably choose to stay in the relative safety of their shells. Others will pretend that they have no shell at all and act as if they are returning to a pre-pandemic world. Only a few will embrace the wisdom of Meister Eckhart and embrace the courage to break their protective shells and live into new patterns and new directions.
As always, the choice is ours. But if you are ready to crack open your shell and explore new ways of living, I am ready to walk that journey with you.
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“Resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fail, you hurt. You fall. But you keep going.”
The Pandemic has put me out of sorts and has hampered my productivity recently. I know people who have fallen down yet gotten up, still others who have been hurt but have found healing. Unfortunately, I also know people who have not been able to get up or heal. What makes some people more resilient than others? What are the traits that give us the strength and courage to keep going?
Research suggests that resilient people share similar traits:
But in the end, we recognize resilience within ourselves and others when we see it. I would love hear stories of how you or those close to you have handled difficult situations in the past. Understanding how we managed challenges in the past can offer insights on unlocking resilience today. By sharing our stories, we gain strength and understanding. And if you want to take that one step further to find the key to your own resiliency, I’m here to help.
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Turning the Page
“A world of possibilities awaits you. Keep turning the page.”
January is a time of reflection. The news media bombards us with exhortations to make resolutions for the new year. Employers tell us to set new goals and develop action plans to achieve them that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-oriented. But this sometimes feels impossible; we are just stuck.
But what if Oprah Winfrey is right? What if a world of possibilities awaits us if we simply turn the page? Do you want more time with family? Do you crave a greater sense of accomplishment and purpose in your career? Are you clinging to a path that no longer provides the fulfillment and joy you deserve? If not, maybe it’s time to turn the page.
If the past two years have shown us anything, it’s that many changes in life are forced upon us. Now is the perfect time to embrace possibilities and make changes of our own choosing. If you would like to explore these possibilities and turn the page to create the next chapter of your life, call me for a free coaching session. We can get there together.
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“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”
Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea
From the moment we arise in the morning, we are faced with a barrage of decisions. Many decisions, like what to wear or what to have for breakfast, are largely made on autopilot. Other decisions, like organizing your day to juggle competing needs and responsibilities, require more conscious effort. Finally, there are those seemingly momentous or life-changing decisions, like which house to buy or what career to follow. These are the most difficult to make because they seem more permanent. When I coach with people, they often feel paralyzed making life-changing decision because they think there’s no turning back. They convince themselves that these decisions are irrevocable. Not so!
Even the most momentous decisions are not set in concrete. You can change your mind. And even if past indecision means some opportunities pass you by, you can still go in new, life-giving directions today. In fact, there may be even more interesting options available.
If you feel stuck and unable to move, call me for a free coaching session. Together, we’ll get you moving forward again.
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Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity.
We have only this moment, sparkling
Like a star in our hand and
Melting like a snowflake.
~Marie Beyon Ray
The stark reality is that life is fleeting—it can melt away like a snowflake in the palm of your hand. During the last year and a half, have you wondered whether you were living your best life? Is the journey you are on the one you want to continue? Or do you wish, in the words of Robert Frost, you had taken the road less travelled?
If so, this is the time to question past choices, think deeply about new possibilities, and seek counsel toward new horizons. Creating the life of your dreams, one that fulfills your life purpose, begins by undertaking a new journey. The road may seem daunting, but as Lao Tzu wisely notes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
When you are ready to take that step and learn how to turn your dreams into reality, contact me for a complimentary coaching session. I’m here to walk with you every step of the way.
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In a society that focuses on what’s wrong with people, Donald Clifton, the former chairman of Gallup, asks instead: “What would happen if we studied what is right with people?” Gallup is more than a company that conducts polls, they are a driving force in the field of strengths development. Over three decades, Gallup interviewed more than two million people in a variety of professions to determine their strengths. An additional four decades were spent studying the “best of the best” in their respective professions. From this research Gallup developed an instrument to identify one’s top five talents through an instrument called the Clifton StrengthsFinder. Here are three takeaways from this study:
- Top achievers fully recognize their talents and develop them into strengths.
- Top achievers apply their strengths in roles that suit them.
- Top achievers invent ways to apply their strengths in order to achieve.
The application of this knowledge to career planning is profound. When you are aware of your strengths, you can identify areas that would be good career choices. Is this job one which will allow you to use your strengths? Is it an environment where you will thrive?
You can use this knowledge to describe your strengths in a resume, and use the job description to show that you can perform the activities required. You will be able to paint a picture of who you are, what you can do, and how you have used your strengths in the past to accomplish your goals.
Use this knowledge to describe your strengths in an interview. When an interviewer asks you to say something about yourself, you will have a language to answer with specificity. Instead of saying “I’m good with people.” You can say, “I have the ability to sense what people are feeling and then to articulate it. I have the ability to help people reach consensus.”
If you would like to discover your strengths, enhance your life, and receive coaching during this Pandemic and tough job market, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hearing this verse always arouses my skepticism. What makes a person attribute their peace to God, much less give them assurance that it will protect their hearts and minds? I have had conversations with people about finding contentment in life while they continued to strive to meet their goals. And I have observed that many people never seem content—content with what they have while knowing that others have more. This is not my issue. I know others have more and I am good with it. But such contentment is different from my experience of peace.
Peace to me is knowing all will be well, even when some of the things I want are missing, even when my world and the global world are in turmoil. Peace is knowing that something or someone greater than I is there surrounding me with the knowledge that I am not alone.
So why is this passage speaking to me now? After a period in my life when I thought things were going right, they suddenly seemed to be going wrong. Yet, I realized I was at peace. How did this happen I asked myself? Self didn’t answer. My mind told me much needed to occur before I could be at peace. However, I was at peace. When did this happen? How did that happen? Had the peace of God actually guarded my heart and mind? My skepticism arose at that thought.
Reflecting back, I realized that after a conversation with a friend about food sufficiency I found myself at peace. I recognized how fortunate that I was. In spite of what I thought was a financial downturn for me, I did not have to worry about food or a place to live. All would be well. I have pondered why this is so. Was it because I realized that I really had so much?
In the past, I have said I gave my problems to God in prayer, but instead of trusting God I tried to solve them myself. I have always pushed back against people who base their sense of peace on the assurance that God will take care of their every need. Surely, this so-called peace is untethered to how the world works. I believe that God is there to comfort, and walk with us through the rough patches, not keep us from harm or want. As I thought through this, I have come to realize that peace came not from any conversation about food, but from rejecting the idea that I could do it alone. I needed to trust God’s love. Once I did, all was well with my soul. I found a place of comfort and peace. I still struggle with this realization. But at least I struggle in peace.
I have friends who are in this together with me. They are the ones who will drop everything and talk, walk, cry with me, even while socially distanced on a retaining wall. They are the ones who are willing to share a bottle of wine, even while keeping their distance at the pool. They are the one who Zoom with me, even when I don’t feel my appearance is “Zoom ready.” My “We are in this together” friends listen to my pain without critique or judgment. In our conversations, they have taught me to give and receive grace amidst the risks we each take to stay connected.
When as a young woman, I went through a divorce while separated from my family by over 1,600 miles. My grandmother, who was so old-school she didn’t even use the word “divorce,” sent me a letter with a poem that made the miles between us vanish. The poem contained a line I have always remembered: “Love may come and love may go, but friends are the sunshine of life.”
Even though we are all doing this pandemic in different ways, the most important thing for me is to cherish and hold close my friends, for they are the sunshine of my life. Who are your “We are in this together” friends? My hope is that you too find the sunshine of life in these friends, as they walk beside you on this pandemic journey.
Is it possible that we don’t want to admit this is a really painful and hard experience?
During a recent conversation, I heard: “I’m not really doing okay, but everybody else says they’re fine.” I took a deep breath and realized I had said that exact thing to him earlier in the conversation. Truthfully, I wasn’t doing fine either. After I admitted that, we had an authentic conversation around our challenges. Why is it so hard for us to say, “I’m not doing well,” during this pandemic? Many of us are in pain. Many more are lonely and scared. Even more of us are depressed. Why is it so hard to be honest with each other?
Each day I read articles and watch television segments on the wonderful things people are doing, how we are really connecting while sheltering in place. Some describe how they are connecting by calling someone each day, which of course is a nice thing to do. I also have reached out to people I haven’t talked to in a long time. While these people were happy to know that I had thought of them, the conversation never left the surface. When I tried to talk about the pain of this pandemic experience, it often made them uncomfortable.
I recently read an article on toxic positivity. Natalie Dattilo, a clinical psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says too much positivity is toxic. Well intentioned comments like “It will be fine” or “It could be worse” can be damaging as they stigmatize acknowledging the depth of our pain and struggles.
I am usually a positive person. In fact, positivity is one of my top ten strengths according to Gallup’s Strength Finder assessment. But I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my spirits up in a landscape where honest discussions of pain are almost nonexistent. Finding and maintaining emotional health during this pandemic will require us to find ways to move beyond superficiality and stock responses of “I’m fine” when we are clearly not. God knows we are not fine. Maybe it’s okay if others do too.