Saturday, September 26, 2009

Look Closely: Pictures from a Beach Week

My husband upload the pictures for my blog yesterday so I could post it today while I'm working in the hospital. I think it's funny that I want to document a beach trip and I only have one picture that shows a scene of sand and surf! (Look closely or you may miss it!)

Friends took more pictures from the actual beach and promise to send them to me, and as soon as I get them, I'll post them here!

Do you remember pics of my son and his best friend from last year's California trip? Well, this year they came to our coast to be with us!

Our friends' 7 year-old daughter is amazing. She has many gifts - one of them is rolling with the energy of 2 very spirited 4 year-old boys!

There was so much love in the house!

My friend and I are planning to collaborate on a blog for Midwife for Your Life. She is an amazing mama and writer. I am SO excited!

One day we had a super-groovy afternoon dance party!

Okay, I don't want you to miss it! Here is the one pic that actually documents we were at the beach! (Not sure why it is turned sideways (like the other one above) and I'll try to fix it when I get home tomorrow.)

My husband is helping our son fly a kite by himself for the first time. Beach pleasures don't get much better!

Love, love, love my girls!

This week I'm rejoicing in the memories of a lovely week with family and friends (at the beach)!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Article in Verve!

Yesterday was the first Sunday since the beginning of the year that I missed a "What I'm rejoicing in this week" post.

You see, "rejoice" is my word-of-the-year and I wanted to document it by coming here weekly. It seems that I had a little too much to rejoice about yesterday to write about it!

We just got back from a glorious week at the beach with family and friends (photos to come soon!), I just hosted my first wildly successful Women's Wisdom Mastermind Group, and my "American Midwife in Mexico" article came out in Verve magazine!

You can read the article here.

So, again, this week I'm rejoicing in...too much rejoicing! (If there is such a thing as too much rejoicing!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

War Buddies

One of my coaching clients is haunted by the memory of a former partner. She wonders how she allowed such a “bad” relationship to go on for so long. Of course she did the best she could with the awareness she had at the time. But now she has 20/20 hindsight.

We’ve all been in her shoes. We wish we could’ve been more conscious, more able to act on the signs that things were not going well, and avoided the “bad” thing that happened. But when we focus on the past, we ignore the clarity that is available to us right now, and the insight that can help guide us to an even better place.

That shift in focus from the past to the present to the future takes some effort. Blaming the other person is much easier, of course. And we can also pretend that we were duped or unconscious the whole time. But we are much more likely to find peace—as well as some benefit from the experience—if we withhold this kind of judgment.

So if you’re looking back on a bad experience or relationship and blaming yourself or someone else, try this instead. Rather than looking at the person with whom you had the conflict as the enemy, try to look at him as an old war buddy. You shared a tough time, but you got through it. You did your best under hazardous conditions, and now you can recount your “war stories” without any remorse that things should have been different. Just accept that they happened and simply move on.

Do you feel some resistance to letting this person — a partner, friend, family member, or even a past you — off so easily? Then perhaps consider that when you choose to forgive someone whose behavior hurt you, you do yourself a huge favor. Someone once said that holding on to resentment is like eating rat poison and hoping the rat will die. You could release the hurt, anger and sense of betrayal not because the person “deserves” it, but because you will feel better when you do. If forgiveness is out of reach right now, then just don’t think about it. Refuse to think or talk about what happened until you can look at the topic with some equanimity. The less you return to the painful memories, the sooner that time will come.

I’m not saying you should condone the behavior that hurt you. And I’m certainly not saying you should jump back in the foxhole with your old war buddy. I’m just saying that when you can accept what happened—which means, more than anything else, that you understand that what happened truly did happen in a past you can’t change—then you’ll start to move on. And where are you going? You are moving forward on the path in front of you, right here, right now. Just start moving. And forget about figuring out what happened in the past “so as not to repeat it.” You don’t even have to feel like you “learned a lesson” or you got a “gift” from a relationship, or even any new skills or tools. You just have to start paying attention right now.

But how can you be sure that history won’t repeat itself? Again, the answer is simple, and lays the past to rest by keeping you in the present. Just learn to notice when things are out of balance in your life. And how will you know? There's a built in signal that will always let you know when things are out of balance. It's called stress. You want to take your awareness of the stressful feeling and try to find the stressful thought that is creating it. From there try to identify a thought that feels better. It may take some practice, but you will get better at it.

And when you consistently engage in the practice of identifying your stressful, negative thoughts and find alternative, better-feeling thoughts research shows that you are creating new neural pathways that will lead to long lasting benefits, like decreased anxiety and depression, and increased satisfaction and happiness. Bottom line: you will change, and as a consequence your world will change for the better, too.

Not everyone gets to make a new world. But people who want to put their past behind them have a golden opportunity to do so. And that is a gift. You can thank your old war buddy for it the next time you see him.

This week I'm rejoicing in the launch of my new eZine, Special Delivery! Sign up for your FREE weekly subscription – delivered straight to your email inbox every Tuesday!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Your Einstein Time

One of my coaching clients wrote to me this week about the issue she finds most challenging in her life. She is the mother of a 2 year-old spirited child and the effort of meeting his needs, her husband’s, her own and those of the household often leaves her exhausted. She asked for some suggestions to address her situation.

She is a devoted mother and experiences great joy in caring for her son. The thing is, she also wants to carve out more time for herself and other pursuits, particularly meaningful and lucrative work. I think there are many mamas who are in the same boat. I know I was. Fortunately I successfully navigated those choppy waters and found my way to my own Lake Placid. From my current vantage point, I can happily offer suggestions.

But first a little backstory: When my son, Finn, was 7 months old I was at the end of my rope. I was juggling work as a nurse-midwife, the needs of my still-nursing-through-the-night child (who, in fact, would never sleep unless he was literally attached), and all the other aspects of my full life. I felt like I was not even on the list.

I knew this couldn’t go on. So I set the intention of finding someone to help me and my husband care for our child, believing that would help me get my needs met. I wanted to find that proverbial “village” that would help me raise our child, and I was especially interested in someone who could care for him and love him like a grandmother. We found exactly what we were looking for—more on that in a minute—and I know I became happier and more productive as a result.

So my suggestion to my client (based on what had worked for me) was to find someone who can help care for her child for a couple of hours most days of the week. This someone could be a student who comes after school or even a neighbor. Will this cost money? Probably. But even when money was tight in our household, we never questioned the value of paying someone to care for Finn so that we were able to get a break from his care and attend to our own needs. In fact, we sometimes skimped in other areas (beans and rice, anyone?) so that we had the money to pay for childcare. And that is what I suggested to my client, and would recommend to anyone in the same situation.

Even if you are not doing "work for money" during this time, this will be your creative time, your “Einstein time.” I call it “Einstein time” because Albert Einstein appreciated the value of “soft” thinking. He would, of course, spend hours poring over calculations and theorizing over problems. But he would also sometimes set aside the problem and redirect his attention to something enjoyable and relaxing. He found that during these pleasurable pursuits his unconscious mind would go on thinking about the challenge and surprise him with a breakthrough insight or innovation at the time when he least expected it.

So in the case of my client, who wants to have work that is fulfilling and lucrative in addition to being a mama, I suggested that she start by carving out time for herself to do that work (even though she doesn’t have it yet).But even having this free time only leaves my client’s problems half-solved. Fortunately, though, we can turn to Einstein again for advice on how to make it the rest of the way.

So how can she find lucrative work that she can fit in around all the other demands on her time? Well, as Einstein once said, You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.” I always act from the belief that everyone can get their needs met if they allow themselves to be open to novel ways of thinking. If, even after you’ve set aside not-thinking-about-the-problem-la-la-la-la time, your unconscious mind seems to be moving at a glacial pace to solve it, there is another route you can take: simply asking a variety of other people for ideas allows myriad solutions to present themselves quite easily.

This is actually how my husband and I found our childcare provider. Shortly after I set the intention to find the best one I could, my husband and I were sitting in a local bakery. I saw a woman filling out a job application, so I turned to my husband and said, "She obviously wants a job. Maybe she could take care of Finn. Do you think it would be strange if I went up to her and asked her if she could help us?" My husband said, "Yes it would be strange, but I’m sure you’ll do it anyway." I did and - four years later - she has been Finn's beloved "abuela" (Spanish for grandmother) ever since.

You see, like Einstein, you are looking for “different thinking” that will help solve your problem. And researchers at the University of Zurich have developed a technique that will help you structure the process of turning to others for advice when you’re stumped by a challenge. They call this technique “the idea basket,” and it can be a powerful way to solve your problems. Here’s what you do: Imagine that there is a basket in front of you and that you are going to fill it with suggestions from your friends, family members, even acquaintances - basically anyone with whom you could possibly strike up a conversation.

Begin by making a list of the situations, circumstances and triggers which are challenging you at the moment. Then ask as many people as you can to come up with for ways to respond. Try to get ideas from people in as many different social groups as possible. Ask your favorite co-worker, but also approach your hair stylist, your child’s soccer coach, your 20-year-old babysitter—even complete strangers at your local bakery!

This week I'm rejoicing in novel solutions to sticky issues - and everyone getting their needs met!