I believe in silence.

I am grateful for quiet, as it often goes hand in hand with what my mother paired it with, when after ‘too much’ of 4 rambunctious children she would declare, “ I need some peace and quiet!”  Outside we were sent, and though I was not seeking quietude I would find it sitting on the limb of a tree I had climbed. Amidst the leaves, feeling nearer to the clouds, not intending or thinking about anything other than the joy of being in the tree, I would feel almost as if I were the tree.
    I knew it in the swing our neighbor, Mr. Mongold carved out of an old tire, hung from a high branch that made for this perfect wide expansive quality of  movement, which made me feel free, light, tranquil with only the backdrop of an almost noiseless small town.
    My childhood invited, encouraged, made space for this. To stop ‘constructive’ living, and do nothing but be present to, listen to ‘silence-filled’ moments.
    Adulthood, on the other hand, seemed to frown upon this. It prided productive, profitable, accomplishing, which frankly I took to just fine as my natural style is more active, a  completed ‘to do’ list , and usually thinking of what else needs to be done. As I strove to make a life, it was fairly easy for me to loose sight of my childhood practice of hearing the inner music of my heartbeat, my breath, my sighs, of listening to  birds, the rustling of the wind, or soundless clouds.
    It became apparent, however,  that a ramped up externally stimulated busy life fueled by stimulants was not serving me well. I felt hollow inside. Now don’t get me wrong, I had many rich opportunities, and significant  achievements. But without nourishment of my soul, I felt internal hunger.
    In our revved up world, where everyday life is invaded by technology, I believe it is imperative that I defend my need for peace and quiet. In a time where I fear we have mistaken outer stimulation for spiritual intensity, I stand firm for silence. When I look around and see so many feeling so spent I, like my mother  think, ‘lets all go outside and get some peace and quiet’.
    For it is in the pause, the deep breath, a moment of letting go, of doing nothing ’productive’ that I shift to a deeper inner reality which I believe is the source of inspiration, solutions, self awareness, fulfillment, and tranquility.
    Thus daily, I stop. Stop everything I am doing, engaged with, and deliberately, consciously assume a quiet, receptive, listening state with no agenda, no music, no cell phone, no external connections. It is a practice, a commitment, a kind of naked vulnerability, which nourishes my soul with the food that feeds it: silence. The nourishment that grows me, and helps me digest the experience of life.
    Ironically, I find a brief hush actually often allows me to work smarter, not harder, for I will find a new idea, an inspiration, a creative twist for how to do something better when I let it go, even for a few moments, or  I take a step back from it all.
    In the quiet, sometimes I encounter my mind sifting through my problems, and struggles. If so, I naturally allow myself to turn them in the direction of God.  In the comfort and presence of Spirit I seek guidance. In this silence, which allows the larger Reality to enter into my awareness, I allow myself to receive instruction.  The silence helps me to bring myself into contact with a world beyond me.
     I believe in silence. Like air, water, and food, I believe it is a basic human need.  For me, I believe the way out of the stresses, strains, and struggles of these times is quiet.

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Don't Believe Everything Your Mind Thinks

   It has been a hard year. 
   My coaching perspective and skills have served me well, which made me ponder how beneficial it would be for all of us to know some coaching basics.
   Let me share one with you called, 'spreading of alternatives'
Stress easily creates a feeling of being stuck. It is as if overwhelm freezes us in an attempt to stop the feeling of being overloaded. Compounding this problem, the brain then tends to do what we tell it not to do when in a state of stress overwhelm. You know, you tell yourself, 'don't eat the bowl of ice cream', and then it is the very thing you end up doing because the brain isn't hearing don't.
   Spread the alternatives. Have a conversation with yourself. Lay out the alternatives, ideas, solutions, the things your could/want to do. Have a detailed conversation on paper, or as an active internal dialogue. Argue, make a case for, challenge all the thoughts, justifications, 'what ifs' that are keeping you stuck, worried, or uncertain. Do it with gracious truthfulness that acknowledges feelings, but confront resistant so as to discover/uncover why you can, and what is a better way.
   Do you believe everything someone else says or tells you? I hope not. So why would you believe everything your brain tells you? Everything needs clarification, discernment, a fact check.
   This is what good coaches do all the time. They remind their 'players' of what they want, what they can do, why they are doing it, and how to do it better. They move them beyond feelings of fear, and 'I can't'.
   For each and every obstacle that comes up have a 'spreading the alternatives' conversation, and win it!

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Think Out From

    Filled with colorful ‘to do’ sticky notes, the homemade black board’s silver lettered title read, “Iona’s stress board”. This fun adornment in her homey kitchen caught my attention the minute my eyes glanced at it.

    After a  cup of tea and catch up conversation about each others lives, I complemented Iona on her cute ‘stress board’, but then enthusiastically suggested she change the title.

    “What do you mean,” she inquired.
    “Think about it,” I replied. “How many times a day are you telling yourself that you are stressed? Do you really want to drill that perception of yourself so deeply into your mind?”

     I then suggested she call it something like: Iona’s got it board, or Iona’s on top of things board, or Iona’s handling it board.

    A flash of insightful recognition came to her face. She rushed over to a nearby drawer, drew out an eraser and silver marker, and quickly re-named it, “Iona’s got it board”.

    “Thank you,” she said. “I’ve got it!”

    It is so easy to think of ourselves and the stuff of our lives in negative terms because what we are dealing with often feels negative, stressful, difficult, and or frustrating.

    A corrective caution: don’t let problems slip into being the basis or definition of life.

    Life’s foundation is a spiritual reality of goodness. So let us remember to think out from that. Doing so can allow us to frame and re-frame to a positive, can-do perspective.
We can think of ourselves at ‘got it’ gals rather than ‘stressed out moms’.

    Good roots in good soil yield beautiful flowerings.

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“Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative”

    Whenever I engaged in one of those personal growth activities that entailed recalling early memories, negative experiences often first came to my mind. It always baffled me as I didn’t think of myself as having had a bad childhood.

    Why was it that times of disappointment, getting into trouble, or being frightened were at the front of the line? What is the reason for this easy focus on the negative, of being keenly aware of what we are not, for guilt or shame to be the loudest voice in our heads, for discouragement to take over?

    I don’t know.

    Regardless of the reason, one thing my study of life coaching and years of ministry have taught me is the vital importance of deliberate focus on the positive.

    Be it
        • Expectant prayer that Jesus taught. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark11:24

        •  Afformations. Check out Noah St John’s book, “The Book Of Afformations: Discovering the Missing Piece to Abundant Health, Wealth, Love, and Happiness”

        • Crafting ‘Perfect Life Elements’ as designed by Thomas Leonard, the ‘father’ of life coaching in his perfect life program.

        • Writing down one’s Definite Major Purpose as taught by Napoleon Hill in his classic text, “Think and Grow Rich“.

              the principle is the same: clearly know, articulate, express, and focus on the good you are, and that you want for yourself and others.

    It is a discipline. It is to take control of one’s thoughts, rather than let them run in default mode of all the things wrong with you, your life, or the world.

    It has taken me years of practice with various techniques and strategies to make progress on this internal, often unconscious stuff. I would love to share my favorites with you in a coaching session to help you start the new year off right!

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Have a Hunch

My mother never taught me about intuition. She made a passing reference to it once when my best friend and I were pressing her and my friend’s mother to answer our burning question of how we were to know the right person to marry. “Oh you just know” was their answer.

    My daughter Claire has been exploring intuition lately. We have had several conversations, she has read many books, and I've  encourage her to practice her inner listening, trusting, and knowing. It is an education I had to come by slowly on my own, not easily.

    A technique I have been sharing with Claire is this: instead of focusing on fear/anxiety, let yourself be intuitive. When and if she feels fear, I encourage her to lean into it by trusting that she will know exactly what to do about the fear. It may mean to leave some place immediately, to study more for an exam, to go here, do this, not say that, etc.

    We tend to be paralyzed by fear, or to dismiss it thinking it is silly, that we shouldn’t be feeling it, often pushing it aside.

    If we learn that the sixth sense is a valuable legitimate way of know, we can utilize it in all situations: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Intuition is often the basis of  creative breakthroughs, discoveries, or transformations. Einstein put it this way, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

    Just like we don’t master math, writing, or tennis skills by wanting them, neither do we master intuitive skills by wanting them. They have to be studied, practiced, honed. There will be mistakes, wrong answers, a learning curve, just like in Algebra class. It is as Claire smilingly quotes her 9th grade horticulture teacher, “Kill a thousand plants and you become a good horticulturist, and I think I am almost there.”

    I invite you to delve into the world of knowing from the inside. Read about it (one of Claire’s favorite books: ‘The Gift of Fear’ by Gavin De Becker) practice it, and celebrate your wins when you follow your hunches, respond to your quick ready insights, inklings, and instincts!

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