Archive for April, 2009

bulb2 I’m rethinking life balance.

That’s mainly because of late, I don’t seem to have much.  Now that’s a scary admission for a coach!

Now don’t get me wrong….it’s not that I don’t have much of a personal life, it’s that my personal life and my professional one seem to be merging.  While I do have friends outside the realm of the personal development and coaching world, more of my friends come from “my tribe” and we have great fun working and playing together.  Swapping book ideas, sharing tidbits gleaned from workshops and webinars. Learning from each other.  Learning the ins and outs of social media together.  Swapping YouTube videos of Susan Boyle and The Big Mind.

And that’s not the only place life has merged.  The three to four conferences I attend or put on each year, plus the additional ones of my aforementioned colleagues/friends that I am invited to speak at or attend, have become increasingly personal.  More a reunion of friends and meeting new folks of the tribe than work.

I can be as eager to speak to clients and work on projects with my colleagues (I rarely do any project alone anymore…it’s much more fun with a friend) as I am to go to the movies or have lunch with a local friend.  It’s no longer work vs play.

What I am moving towards is the idea that there is a higher ideal than work-life balance, and that’s to work-life integration.  And sometimes that may be “off-balanced”, as it is right now where I am in the countdown days to my annual Conversation Among Masters conference, finishing up an ebook on Creating Your Life Plan, planning fund raising activities for my non-profit, and a wild (yes wild, in addition to wide) variety of other activities I’m involved in.  So I’m juggling faster than usual as a few deadlines approach.  But it’s grand.

And I’m still looking forward to dinner and a movie with friends this weekend. Perhaps some extreme self-care as well.


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I am not my mother!

Don’t get me wrong. My mom is great…in fact, she’s one of the smartest people I know. But my mom is a button pusher. She nags, nudges, judges and pokes in an effort to elicit information and the behavioral changes (that of my children, my husband, and me) she wants. She is anti going out to dinner (she believes all food not cooked from scratch is unhealthy), anti going out to bars (she puts alcohol and Sweet and Lo…which she calls the “pink poison”…in the same category) and she is skeptical of any activities she deems frivolous, non-intelligent, or unhealthy (and she deems many activities as unhealthy.) Of course there’s a lot  she’s in favor of..music, dancing, talk radio, MSNBC, but I digress.

I am nothing like that. So why do my children treat me like I am?

As someone who came of age in the sixties, I am pretty liberal in my views about life. I encourage my children to do the things that make them happy.  I believe it’s important for them to enjoy themselves, have a social life, take trips, act like young people. I don’t judge. I offer suggestions with no attachment that they will take them (although sometimes they do, and that’s gratifying to a mother.)

But my children have blocked me on Facebook.

Well, perhaps not exactly blocked me…after several years of invisibility I have recently been granted the “privilege” of being allowed to see their partial profiles. Oh joy. I keep wondering what they don’t want me to see? I know them well enough to know that they are not posting anything scandalous. So what are they protecting themselves (or me) from? It’s quite puzzling.

I know they read my posts. (I’ve fully allowed them a view into my life.  😉 In fact, my daughter complained the other day that I was posting too many updates (I had just turned on my Twitter feed…something she didn’t recognize because she doesn’t Tweet.) But I have nothing to read on theirs.  Come on kids…[Love you!] let me in.

So…if you’re reading this…and you’re one of their friends…since they won’t tell me, will you?  What’s the big deal?

Or if you’ve done the same to your mom…your very cool mom…why?

I really want to know.

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When we lose someone dear to us, as a client recently did when her sister and a friend’s husband both died within a short while of each other, one of the ways we grieve is to share memories of them.  In her case, it also fell to her to deliver a eulogy for each, and the resultant memories of experiences and of the essence of the person proved to be quite cathartic, and yes…celebratory.

When we remember or eulogize a person, we dig deep into our souls to share what that person meant to us.

But why wait?

Why not share how you feel with the people in your life right now?  Let them know what they mean to you.  Share the stories that make you light up inside.  And tell them that they’ve made a difference in your life.

You’ll feel great.  And you will make their day…probably their month.

What are you waiting for…go…share.  Now.

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MSN, in conjunction with Stress Awareness Month, is offering people free and healthy tips and tools on how to help manage and reduce their stress levels.  In their press release they quote an American Psychological Association report “Stress in America,”  which indicates that ‘ “nearly half of Americans report that their stress level has increased over the past year, with as many as 30 percent rating their average stress level as extreme.* Specifically, eight out of 10 Americans listed money and the economy — 81 percent and 80 percent, respectively — as the main source of their stress.’  http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2009/apr09/04-06StressAwarenessPR.mspx?rss_fdn=Press%20Releases

If you find it difficult to manage your stress effectively it’s almost 100% certain, that you’re not putting yourself at the top of your to-do list nor grounded in the present.  Whether you’re worried about the state of the world or the worry is closer to home and you’re worried about every day life, here are some simple steps to maintaining your balance and your sanity.

  1. Get your biggest stressors out of the way.  If there are things on your plate that are creating stress, the tendency is to avoid them.  Instead, face them head on, and get them over with.  That will open the flood gates of productivity and get you moving, while at the same time freeing you from what you were tolerating.
  2. Don’t hold it in.  Often when we share what’s bothering us with others, whether it’s to vent, share the lighter side of it, or just to get a different point of view, we can shift our framework around what is causing the stress, and thereby eliminate it or at least minimize it.  I encourage my clients to call me when they need a three minute vent.  You may not have a coach, but it’s likely that you have a willing family member or friend who will be happy to listen to a brief vent.  (Just don’t let the vent go on too long, or you’ll be programming yourself for dissatisfaction rather than releasing it.)
  3. Surround yourself with supportive and interesting people.  It’s important to have people in your life that are positive, interesting, nonjudgmental, and there for you. Why interesting?  Because when you have interesting people in your life, you’re less likely to feel stuck and bored, and less likely to dwell on negative thoughts as well.  

If you don’t have that in your life now, or you don’t have an abundance of supportive and interesting relationships, set about creating a community that supports you. Reach out or deepen those relationships that nourish you and allow you to grow. Raise your standards and let go of those relationships that drain you or harm you. Surround yourself with people that nourish you in mind and spirit.
  4. Create rituals.  Whether it’s a glass of wine before dinner, a cup of chamomile tea while watching your favorite reality TV show, or riding your bike to your favorite park at the same time each day, a consistent ritual has a calming effect.
  5. Learn to say “no”. Learning to say “no” to tasks, requests or social obligations will go a long way towards making life more stress free.  Even go so far as to consider unburdening yourself from things you have already committed to that don’t serve you personally or professionally.  It’s okay to change your mind.  And “no” is a complete sentence…don’t feel the need to explain.  

Don’t create unrealistic demands on yourself. What can you start saying, “no” to in your life?  Saying “no” is a skill that can be developed. You have the power to choose so start taking a proactive approach to your life.
  6. Try Yoga breathing when you feel stress taking its toll.  Deep breathing provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the body to release endorphins.  Sit comfortably in your chair. Start by taking a few deep breaths, and then stop. Let your hands just rest on your lap. Inhale slowly and deeply for six seconds. Don’t breathe out immediately; instead hold the breath for four seconds. Exhale slowly for six seconds. Repeat several times.
  7. Be present to the now.  When you’re engaged in an activity, don’t be thinking about all the other things you should be doing.  When you’re with people you love, really be there with them – not 80% there and 20% back at work!  Plan something you can look forward to every evening with your partner or friends and be totally present for it – and that means something more than wolfing down your dinner and positioning yourself in front of the TV!

Of course there are many other stress alleviators…listening to music, exercising, being in nature, making love.  The point is that you have to take action, rather than allowing yourself to be stuck in your head.  So what are you waiting for…go do something about it.

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