Wrapping Up The Year

Now that we are almost done wrapping the presents, I have started to think about wrapping up the year.  Most people have some kind of ritual or tradition of saying farewell to the year. During December, I offer my clients the opportunity to recap this year using The YAHOO/BOO HOO/AH-HAH list. (Try saying that 3 times fast.)

Under the YAHOO, we look at accomplishments, what you are most proud of, and any other items to celebrate; BOO HOO – goals not achieved, regrets, disappointments and any sad moments; AH-HAHs – key learnings or lessons this year offered.

Then my clients create a personal ritual for closing out the year.  Once that is complete, we tackle setting intentions for the next year.

How will you wrap up 2009?

New Holiday Tradition: Looking Forward to the Obstacles

We had a delightful Thanksgiving sleeping in, enjoying the outdoors, and of course, EATING! We especially relished our new holiday tradition: a post-dinner obstacle course in which family and friends gather in the basement and devise a course incorporating physical challenges such as leaping over couches (see photo of my son, James) crawling under tables and jumping rope; feats of manual dexterity (dropping bamboo skewers into a small glass); and tests of memory (how many times do I rock in the chair?)

Young and old look forward to the “race.”  My children start planning for it long before the adults plan the dinner menu. Everyone is engaged, whether by running the course, being a timer or commentator, or cheerleading.

Of course, this tradition got me thinking…

In planning our post dinner fun, everyone looks forward to creating a challenging set of obstacles and seeing how each person masters those challenges.  How could we bring that excited anticipation to the challenges and obstacles in our own lives?  Who enthusiastically cheers us on when we stumble?

Of course, part of the fun of the event is the competition. We are racing against the clock and each other but there is never a clear winner.  The goal seems to be to do your best and have fun at the same time.  What if we approached our lives with the same friendly competition and intention to do our best?

One more thing that adds to the delight: Nobody gets bent out of shape about the impromptu changes that happen as we run the course (like one of the spectators deliberately stepping into someone’s path). We laugh and admire the contestant’s ability to adapt on the fly.  How can we playfully handle the unexpected in our lives?

We are already making plans for next year. Would you like to join us?

Mary

Calgon Take Me Away!

It is the middle of the night.  The moon is shining bright.  I can’t sleep tight.
My mind is full and it isn’t visions of sugar plums dancing inside of my head. It is that never ending TO DO list caving in on me:

  • Buy Groceries
  • Send Holiday cards
  • Balance the books
  • Deadlines this week
  • Piles of email
  • Kids’ homework
  • OMG – I forgot to get my blog ready for tomorrow!

“CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!”  ;-D

I think I need a retreat.  Thank goodness my FREE Teleclass this week features the delightful, down-to-earth Retreat Coach, Michelle Burns. She is going to lead us in a mini-retreat to reconnect, get grounded, and BREATH.  There is still time to register HERE.  Michelle is absolutely passionate about this crucial tool for success.   I am happily anticipating this hour of playful reflection and conversation.  Hope you can join the fun and respite.

Living with your Crabasaurus

Some days I am irritable, crabby and grumpy – a downright Crabasaurus. I notice it more often this time of year. It could be because the schedule at our house is extremely busy with work, school, music lessons, workshops, sports, meetings, volunteer commitments, etc. It could be because it gets so dark so early this time of year. It could be because I am not getting enough sleep.

Regardless of the reason, my typical reaction is to chide myself, “I have nothing to be crabby about. I have a nice home in a safe neighborhood. I have 3 healthy happy kids and a devoted loving husband. I have work that I love….” That litany of judgments doesn’t help at all. It just makes me even CRABBIER!

So I have been experimenting with making room for the Crabasaurus – including it, welcoming it instead of ignoring it or trying to push it away.

One immediate effect of including it – a huge sigh of relief. I literally breathe easier. I don’t have to DO anything – just be in this moment. Another interesting result – I notice an increase in compassion and tenderness toward myself. I am a normal human being just trying to do my best and sometimes that means I am grumpy.

My 3 kids just came home from school. From the sounds of it, I might have 3 hungry little Crabasaurs on my hands. I guess I’ll have to make more room at the dinner table.

Fierce Kindness

Last week, KINDNESS was the theme at the yoga studio where I take classes – Good Life Yoga. We dedicate our practice each day to kindness and each time we moved into a pose, there was an offering of kindness – to ourselves, to the people in our life, or to the world. At one point, as we were struggling a bit with downward facing dog, our amazing and wise teacher, Amber, encouraged us to be fiercely kind. No wishy washy Midwestern nicey-nice energy to come into the pose but full power, all organic muscle energy working towards kindness (and holding the pose).

Whoa – what an interesting and challenging combination. What does it mean to be fiercely kind? It is easy for me to imagine and practice being fiercely protective or fiercely loyal. But I never considered fierce kindness.

What would be possible if I brought fierce intensity to being kind?

What would the world be like if we all took a stand to be deeply and intensely kind at some point each day?

I think I found my growing edge for this week. How about you? How will you experiment with fierce kindness?

INTUITION – It’s what you know, really know.

Last week I got the chance to play with some very wise women in my FREE monthly teleclass. We tackled the topic of INTUITION – what is it, how are we aware of it and what happens when we disregard it!

Here is what we came up with…

Intuition is that deep sense of knowing that we can’t quite explain. Everyone has it – just like everyone has a mind of their own. Sometimes we very good at listening to the wisdom our intuition offers. Sometimes we actually talk ourselves out of listening to our intuition.

Intuition sends information through a variety channels:
• It can be that unexplained feeling that you just can’t shake.
• It can be a vivid image or symbol that appears out of nowhere.
• It can be a persistent thought that doesn’t go away.
• It can speak to you though physical sensations – a backache, a pain in the neck.
• For some it speaks in vivid dreams or visions.

Intuition is always right – however, our interpretation of the signals our intuition sends isn’t always accurate. How often have you found yourself saying – “I knew it! I knew something was up. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.”

When your intuition nudges you this week, get curious. Discover what you know, without knowing how you know it!

Staying Calm in the Midst of the H1N1 Storm

The sickness season is upon us here in the Midwest. Companies are dealing with a higher number of absentee workers; plenty of students are missing school due to illness.
Fear and anxiety about H1N1 (aka Swine Flu) is running rampant in my community.  It is the talk of the parents on the soccer field, the coworkers around the water cooler, and the people in line at the grocery store.

I don’t hear much in the media or in casual conversation that helps to promote calm and courage in the face of the predicament that this virus has created.

What is keeping you calm?  I hate to admit it but I find myself coming back to 2 trite clichés…

BE PREPARED:  Have a back up plan for work and childcare.  Make sure the food shelves at home are well stocked. Fill the medicine cabinet with an extra supply of pain relievers and fever reducers.

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER:  All the prevention tips I read boil down to things that my mother has been telling me for years!  Does this sound familiar to you?
•    Wash your hands often
•    Keep your hands off your face — Don’t put your fingers in your nose or mouth
•    Cover your sneeze and cough
•    Take your vitamins
•    Gargle twice a day with warm salt water or Listerine ®
•    Drink warm liquids (Chicken Soup anyone?)
•    Get plenty of sleep
•    Blow (or clean out) your nose at least once a day
•    If you get sick – STAY HOME!

How are you keeping a cool head this season?

Listening To Your Heart

Last week we pointed our listening skills at the possibilities that come alive in our marvelous mind. Our minds often keep us so busy that we don’t take the time to listen to other sources of wisdom that live within us, that can inspire us to grow. This week, let’s turn our attention to our hearts and see what we find.

Ready? Here we go. Sit up straight, close your eyes and take some nice easy breaths. Bring your attention to that warm, open place in the middle of your chest.

Let your awareness linger here and notice….
• What sensations do you become aware of?

• What is the energy of this place?

• What images come to mind (yes, you can use your mind but don’t let it carry you away)?

• What feelings do you notice?

• What is your heart’s desire?

Take some time to jot down what you discovered in this brief journey to your heart’s wisdom. How can this wisdom inspire and guide you each day?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

With heartfelt appreciation,
Mary

Listening Inward

You know how you keep certain go-to ingredients stocked in your pantry or fridge? With three active children, milk, bread and peanut butter are always on my list!

From a coaching perspective, feeding our growing edge is easier when we have a handy supply of “life skills.” My list includes:
• Being present
• Asking for help
• Dreaming
• Playing
• Luxuriating

Today’s focus: Listening
LISTENING TO YOURSELF is the first skill to develop for your success. The easiest way to begin is to turn your attention to your mind. Because of the gift of imagination, our mind is the host of our dreams, our hopes, and our visions for the future. There are so many fabulous resources here! It’s important to access them—but first you have to quiet down to listen past the everyday inner “chatter” of to-do lists, errands, work meetings, kids’ schedules and the interesting thing you heard on NPR!

When you pause to tune in to your busy mind, you may also discover that monster that lurks in the land of your mind – The Gremlin! According to my friend Rick Carson, the Gremlin is that narrator in your head who wants to make you miserable!
WOW! There is so much to learn here. When was the last time you stopped to take note of all the busy happenings in that brainy brain of yours? What is in that marvelous mind that feeds your growing edge? Or stops it?!

Listening is such a biggie, you will be reading more about it here at The Growing Edge!
Next time – LISTENING TO YOUR HEART. Stay tuned!

The Paradox of Accountability in Coaching

In my 15 years of experience, I’ve found that most of my clients come to coaching knowing there is opportunity for growth in their lives, but being uncertain how to make the most of it. They are completely capable of moving toward growth on their own, but they hire a coach because it streamlines and speeds up the process. Holding clients accountable to follow through on what they say they want is a big part of a coach’s role.

For example, in every coaching conversation, the client decides what specific steps they will take to move toward their goals. A client who is focusing on improving her physical fitness might commit to joining a fitness club, finding a running partner, and keeping a food journal. She agrees to report back during our next call what steps she did take and what she learned. Such external accountability works—good leaders use it all the time to motivate others to productivity.

Still, sometimes people don’t do everything on their list, and sometimes they do nothing on their list. Some might call that failure. I call it INFORMATION!

Surprised?

In fact, it might sound like a paradox, but more learning comes out of what doesn’t work. In other words, failure is an essential part of the formula for success. Think of it as fodder for the compost pile. Compost takes our peelings, our castoffs, what we can’t use and turns it into rich soil. You might say failure feeds our growing edge. What are you willing to fail at today?