“The Best Gift I Give Myself”

The ways to be moved these days are endless. We no longer need to resort to the book we pick up or the speaker we schedule to hear. Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest are full of inspiring nuggets. U-tube is inundated with challenging TED talks. So what makes a person move from being challenged to actually taking steps to make change become a reality? What causes one to not just be momentarily inspired but actually allow it to transform them?  

Harvard Research studies on accountability show your likelihood of doing something is:

10% When you hear an idea 

25% When you consciously decide to adopt an idea

40% When you decide when you will do it

50% When you plan how you will do it

65% When you write it down and commit to someone else that you will do it

85% When you have accountability appointment

 

I like that accountability is what makes us most likely to succeed with the change we want to see. It is a reminder that we need community and that we are much successful when we are connected to others than we are alone. I used to look at accountability as a negative thing, as though someone was checking in to catch every mistake or error. This mindset about accountability hardly allowed me to receive its benefits. I would be quick to share only what was positive and any mistakes or missteps from my intended desire were carefully hidden away. I have come to see that answering to someone else is the best gift I can give myself. It is what propels me to that which I say I want. Sharing not only my successes but also my missteps is what allows me to feel connected to others, to share in our shared humanity; the shared struggles of being human.  Sharing the mistakes with a trustworthy support system is what allows me to process the learning that can come from the incident. 

 

What inspiration or challenge are you still waiting to see become a reality in your life?  Next week’s blog will take a deeper look at that last 15% that keeps individuals from really experiencing the changes they desire. 

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Keeping watch of the “Web”

This morning I was sitting on the deck enjoying a cup of tea. The cool gentle breeze and the small, yellowing Locust tree leaves twisting and twirling to the ground let me know that fall is just around the corner. Then, a spider caught my attention on the other end of the deck. It had spun a giant web from the rim of the rain spout to the light post on the edge of the deck. Two small Locust leaves had fallen and gotten stuck in the web.  I went over to examine closer and watched as the spider pulled the leaves off the web and tossed them to the ground. The spider then left the web and scurried back up to hide under the rain spout keeping close watch of its web.  That web is so much like my mind with all the many thoughts it catches in a day. I had to ask myself, am I diligent like that little spider to keep close watch and eradicate the negative, limiting or fear based thoughts that drop into my mind? How many thoughts go unnoticed and are left to distract and keep the good thoughts that I need from entering my mind? I’ve found a simple little practice, that I like to call “Daily Check-in,” helpful in becoming aware of my thoughts. I simply take a minute or two several times a day, to check in and ask myself, “how is my environment, what am I feeling emotionally and what am I thinking about?” This simple act, practiced regularly, has helped me become more quickly aware of thoughts coming into my head that are not serving me. When I become aware; I can make a choice to rid the thought from the web of my mind. How about you, are you aware of the thoughts that are not serving you? 

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Beautiful Oops

Beautiful Oops

I bought this great little book called “Beautiful OOPS!” by Barney Saltzberg for my nephew Nathanael. It’s all about creating beautiful things out of a spill, a tear, a hole, a smudge, a smear, a stain and a bent or crumpled paper. The last line of the book is “When you think you have made a mistake think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.” It is so incredibly well done. Saltzberg is a genius to teach kids such valuable lessons in such a creative and interesting way. Where was he when I was growing up? It would have saved me all those years of needing to be a perfectionist and allowed me to enjoy life a bit more. I love that he is teaching children that mistakes and accidents are not something to beat yourself up for but rather there can be a greater gift in it and to stay open to the surprise gift that we would not have happened upon, had we not made the mistake.

What I love the most about the book is that it teaches an adult concept to children in an easy, simple and unforgettable way. It teaches children to reframe situations. When we use the eyes of our hearts to look at situations there are multiple ways of looking at it. This applies to everything in life. In any given challenge there are at least two options or opportunities and in most cases many more. When I hear someone say, “I didn’t have any other options” I just want to scream, “Stand on your head, get a new view, or meet with some friends who can bring fresh new ideas.” Each of us possesses an immense resource of creative energy that barely gets expended in a lifetime.

At one point in my marriage, I got fixated on a negative trait I saw in my husband. Before I knew it, I found myself sliding down a slippery slope and all his weaknesses became my focus. After a few weeks of finding myself miserable from my own thoughts, I knew I needed an overhaul in my thinking. I decided to turn it all on its head for fresh new perspective. I started to see how this particular trait was actually a gift to me and to others. Being able to see it in a new light soon had my attitude turned around and a deeper new appreciation for the wonderful gift I have been given.

What problem or challenge has you feeling stuck, challenged, or frustrated? How might you reframe your situation?

Here is a link to the book if you want to check it out or purchase it for a special little someone in your life.
http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=paustorefr-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=076115728X&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr”

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The only thing harder than letting go….

The only thing harder than letting go….

“The only thing harder than letting go is hanging on.” I found theses lyrics by Lori McKenna to be so true for me this summer. I decided that I wanted to focus on “letting go” for the month of July. There was the tangible letting go of old clothes, books, medicine, tea cups, kitchen gadgets, Christmas cards, files, paint and garden pots. My practical and reasonable mind would at times try to override my gut with that little voice of reason; “but someday you may need or want that”. In the moments of letting go it felt like a tug of war and that “hanging on” might win. That clever voice of reason is just not that smart though. It seems to forget that many of the things I had not touched for years and most likely would not touch in another 5 years, but in the meantime would take up space or need cleaned. The freedom gained from letting those things go made it difficult for me to even recall what all I had gotten rid of.

There was also the conscious letting go of old beliefs, thought patterns and behaviors. One deeply buried belief came bubbling up to the surface as I gave attention to its faint little voice; my thoughts! It’s amazing the myriad of ways we can keep those beliefs at bay despite their continual attempts to get our attention and allow us to find freedom. As an elementary and junior high student, I struggled with feeling like I was not good enough. I thought I had long put that issue to rest, but realized I had simply learned to ignore it, by pouring myself into my work, so as not to feel it.

Once I started giving attention to my thoughts that allowed me to see my real belief, I needed to take a look at my actions that supported that belief. There was the need to do everything with perfection. This also meant not letting my vulnerability show. I would not ask for help or support until I was in dire need and then be resentful or frustrated that no one picked up on my need for help. I even got really good at not even realizing that I was resentful or frustrated. Like my belief that I was not good enough, I repressed these feelings too. After all “good” girls did not have those feelings. This new awareness left me feeling very uncomfortable with what I saw. Everything within wanted to put the lid back on and stuff it all away for another day, or even a year or better yet ten years! I knew that if I truly wanted to feel free from hanging on to this old baggage, I needed to be willing to face it all, even the supporting behaviors, and choose to radically abandon; let go of the old ways of being.

We choose whether or not we will be free. Paul Darcy in her book Gift of the Red Bird says that “freedom demands not that we have nothing, but rather that there is nothing we cannot give up.” Is there an excuse, reason, justification, or rationalization you are playing tug of war with? What might be behind those justifications that are asking to be let go of?

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Are you a Leader?

TIME’s annual issue of “The 100 Most Influential People” came out this past week. I always enjoy reading the biographies of the different individuals who make the list. Some I am familiar with; others I had not heard of. Being a curious individual I find it fascinating to see what other people are passionate about. Across the board, the one thing that rings true for each individual featured is their ability to stay true to themselves and their passion no matter what the cost. They are willing to embrace the risk and uncertainty and follow their dream.

The tendency is to look at these individuals as leaders and compare ourselves to them. Because we are not anywhere close to where those individuals are, our ego wants us to believe that we are not actually leaders and settle back into our ordinary lives. With time, my perspective has changed. I believe anyone who influences is a leader. I also believe that everyone impacts other people. Therefore, we are all leaders! We lead by our demeanor, attitude, actions, lack of actions and the words we speak or don’t speak. We are always being observed by others which makes us influential whether we want to be or not. There are times when leaders follow what others do and say and times when we are the one being followed. The question should not be who is a leader and who is not a leader but rather, what makes a great leader?

What makes a leader worth following?  Answering that question would take much more time than most people are willing to spend reading this article.  However, I would like to highlight a few traits I noticed in the individuals featured in TIME. Great leaders have vision. They recognize the power of choice and that everything is a choice. Subsequently, they choose their beliefs, their thoughts, their words, and their actions intentionally. They align their actions with their core values and the things they are most passionate about; the things they are willing to spend their time, energy and money on. Great Leaders are not immune to feelings of insecurity but they are not controlled by them. They acknowledge their insecurity, choose courage and take actions on that which makes them feel insecure knowing new experiences build confidence. Great Leaders are willing to be transparent and vulnerable because they know it will build creditability and they will gain support for their vision.

Now I know firsthand what it feels like to be an individual that did not have vision and was easily influenced by others. As a highly sensitive individual in management I used to look around me and wonder why I didn’t have the type of energy like so many other managers around me. I would act like I had it together by working all kinds of extra hours just to get the job done.  Then I would be frustrated with feeling like I didn’t have a life outside of work and wonder why my relationship with my husband was such a struggle. I clearly did not know what my core values were and so my energy was directed in all the wrong places. Thus, I always felt like there was never enough time.

After many years of struggle, I finally came to a place where I was willing to face my insecurities, learn to know myself, and align my actions with my core values. This meant being very courageous and choosing very consciously to leave a high paying job in order to align myself with the way I am wired and gifted. It has been a journey of waking up to myself that has left me feeling fully ALIVE.

When was the last time you did a check-in with yourself? Do you feel vibrant and glad to be alive or does your energy feel drained? Do you feel frazzled by trying to do it all the way that others around you do it? Are you ready for that to be different? Are you ready to come home to your core and be the leader of yourself?

Call to Action:

Stop – Carve out a short block of time to check-in with yourself.

Assess – Where are you following other people’s influence?

Know – Yourself. What are you really good at? What are you not so good at? What you are passionate about? What do you believe in? What would you be willing to die for?

Implement – Changes. What needs to altered to be more aligned with who you are at the core?

Get – Support! Don’t try to go it alone. Very seldom does an individual achieve the kind of change they desire in isolation. If this article resonates with you I would love to hear from you. Email me at Lynelle@pausetorefresh.com . Put “looking for support” in the subject line and we will schedule a time to talk.

During our one on one conversation we’ll get clear about what’s going on, decide what’s in your way, and determine how you can best be supported with your next step.

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Are you Curious?

Curiosity is the first very first ingredient I start with in having a really heart felt conversation with my husband. It hasn’t always been this way.

Have you ever tried to express your very vulnerable self with your spouse only to feel even more frustrated for having shared in the first place?

If so you are not alone! Being a highly sensitive individual I spent so many years shielding and protecting myself from any type of judgments and criticism. I would often end up not sharing anything at all, choosing to just deal with my feelings internally. The trouble with this is that these emotions would back up in the body leaving me feeling tense and stressed. Eventually they would come erupting up when I finally could no longer deal with it on my own. My husband unfortunately was the one to bear the brunt of this unproductive way of dealing with my emotions. This would then set off responses in him that left me feeling even more hurt and misunderstood. This became a cyclical pattern that would then have me going back to clamming up and not sharing my feelings, needs or desires. Eventually I started sharing less and less with my husband claiming I could not trust him with my feelings. This led to us growing further and further apart. There was a time when it felt more like living with a roommate than my partner.

I was certain that it was my husband that needed to change; I didn’t have these same issues with my close girlfriends after all. I could share anything with them and always felt heard and understood. At first I just chalked it up to men being wired so very different from women. It took me a very long time before I was able to see that I often projected my pain and hurt onto my spouse. I simply had not learned how to have a healthy and constructive conversation about my feelings, needs and desires. Can you relate to this?

But the good news is that it is possible to have a really vibrant, loving and engaging relationship with your spouse where you can be very vulnerable and still feel really seen heard and understood. Everything has changed for my husband and I and it can be different for you too. The very first place that I start is with what I like to call “curiosity energy”. Curiosity puts me in the right head and heart space and takes me out of “me” thoughts and moves me into “we” thoughts. Curiosity is like sitting down to read a good book, or to watch a great movie. I don’t tell the book what I want it to say, but rather I open myself up to the adventure that will enfold before me. I bring that same curiosity to my conversations with my husband. It’s an amazing first little ingredient.

Do you want this too? Are you ready to re-experience your spouse as your best friend?

If this resonates with you I would love to hear from you.

Email me at Lynelle@pausetorefresh.com and we will schedule a time to connect.

During the one on one conversation we’ll get clear about what’s going on, what’s in your way, and how you can best be supported with your next step.

 

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Your Ticket to Freedom and Joy

Image“The only thing harder than letting go is hanging on” – Lori McKenna

My focus for today is on letting go. What emotions coming rushing to the surface for you when I mention that? Are they positive or negative? Some of you may have quickly jumped to the remembering the loss of a loved one, the disappointment of cancelled plans, not being picked for the promotion or a broken relationship. Others might have struggled to remember the bag of clothes you took to the second hand store, the book you gave to a co-worker or the money you invested in a new vehicle. The truth is we are all letting go of many things every day. We let go of sleep when we wake. We let go of the warm refreshing shower after we feel clean. We let go of work when we leave the office. We let go of thinking when we lay our heads on the pillow each night. Our bodies let go of our meals, each breathe, dead skin, and toxins. Letting go is as much a part of our nature as receiving is. We don’t even enter this thing we call life without letting go of the warmth, safety and protection of the womb. Nature also demonstrates this letting go. The ocean lets it’s power go only to receive it again.  The trees give up their leaves to receive a new batch in the spring and the sun gives way for darkness. Letting go is a natural part of all life.

Far too often letting go is regarded as a hard and difficult task. We fear letting go of a loved one in death, for fear that to do so, is to forget all the wonderful memories that were created with the individual. We fear letting go of a good paying job when we are bored or feeling frustrated. We fear letting go of our grip on a dream that hasn’t yet been realized. It is our clinging that causes us to suffer. We cling to the past, our rights, our perceptions, our excuses, our beliefs, our judgments, our regrets, our shame and our desire to be right. We struggle because we hang on for all it’s worth to security, certainty and control. The tighter we grip the more we suffer. Our anguish and misery are only relieved when we release the things we are holding most tightly to. Loosening our grip allows us to be free. We choose whether or not we will be free. Paula D’Arcy says it so well in her book the Gift of the Red Bird; “Freedom demands not that we “have” nothing, but rather that there is nothing we cannot give up.” Letting go is necessary if we want to experience freedom and a joyous life.  

Each “letting go” creates space for something new. We love new. We love a new pair of shoes, a new hairdo, a new vacation and a new experience. Why do we love new things so much? The new is what allows for growth in our lives. We do not have the capacity to enjoy new growth in our lives without letting go of attachment to something.  We move on from first grade to make space for all we will learn in second grade. We let go of the books we outgrow, the clothes we tire of and the routines that leave us feeling stuck. Letting go is necessary if we want to grow and experience vibrant, thriving lives. Are you looking to experience new growth or freedom in your life?

Call to action:

1.) Identify where your struggle is. What is causing the tension in your life?  What do you no longer want to feel?  What do you no longer want to experience?

2.) Decide what you want to feel and experience in place of your pain and anguish.

3.) Choose to let go so that you can create the space to receive what it is that you do want to experience and feel.

4.) Stay the course. Letting go can be a process, especially with long held beliefs and habits.

5.) Be supported! Don’t try to go it alone.  Letting go is most often a progression that involves many layers of letting go and is best accomplished in a supportive community.

That’s why I created the “Letting Go: Your ticket to Freedom and Joy” workshop. In this seven week course we will learn to:

Week 1 – Let go of “should” and perfection to make space for possibilities and meaningful work.

Week 2 – Let go of limiting beliefs to create room for expansion, growth and transformation.

Week 3 Let go of control, excuses and blaming others to reclaim our power and experience laughter, delight and joy.

Week 4Let go of shame, secrecy and what people think of us, to become authentic, transparent individuals which leads to deeper connections and a supportive community.

Week 5 Let go of critical judgments of self and others to develop sincere compassion and empathy.

Week 6Let go of security and the need for certainty to create space for adventure, exploration, play and a deeper sense of trust and following your inner guidance. 

Week 7 – Let go of scarcity and the never enough mentality and enjoy the abundance you are surrounded in.

Each participant will learn creative ways of moving beyond their limitations while creating an individualized action plan for creating sustainable changes.

Here is your link to register:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/letting-go-your-ticket-to-freedom-and-joy-tickets-10497043941

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Highly Sensitive Individuals Make Great Leaders.

Have you ever wondered why some leaders seem to have a natural following without much effort on their part and others are always wielding their position of authority just to maintain their leadership? Why is this? To answer this question, we first need to look at a few of the qualities of great leaders.

Great leaders are deep thinkers who have clearly thought through their beliefs and intentions.  They know why they do what they do. This allows them to be straight forward and clearly articulate their perspectives from a place of conviction. People naturally resonate with these types of individuals and choose to follow them because of their own connection to the beliefs and ideas being presented.

Great leaders also genuinely care for others and are in tune to the needs and desires of those around them. They show they care and demonstrate respect to all persons and roles. They are not looking to build their own ego but rather will do what is needed to serve the greater good.

Great leaders are excellent listeners. They not only listen with their ears, but also with their eyes and heart. They don’t presume to know what matters to others. Rather, they listen for the message that is often buried beneath the actual words. They have learned to listen first and then speak. This enables them to form deeper relationships with those they interact with.

The traits I just mentioned are innate qualities of the highly sensitive individual. These are not traits that highly sensitive people need to work at developing. They are just naturally wired to be perceptive, intuitive and empathetic. If this is the case, why is it that we don’t see more great leaders out in the world we find ourselves in? Why is it that so many highly sensitive individuals stay in hiding rather than letting their positive influence impact the world in powerful ways?

As a highly sensitive individual myself,  I would like to suggest that our ability to feel very deeply, which allows us to be great leaders; is also what allows us to be intensely hurt, to the point where we can go into hiding to protect ourselves from further pain. Many highly sensitive individuals prefer to feel a sense of protection and security rather than be open, transparent, vulnerable and possibly experience intense feelings from interacting with others. We end up placing ourselves in the cages of our own making. These cages actually cause us more pain and the ache of isolation. I know all too well the agony of separation.  But it doesn’t have to be an either/or approach for the highly sensitive person. It is possible to be a fully vibrant, thriving and interactive highly sensitive individual influencing others in truly positive and powerful ways. 

The journey of liberation for the highly sensitive individual begins with fully accepting all of your unique and special qualities that make you highly sensitive, as gifts that are needed in society. It includes putting systems and structures in place to help you maintain your energy so that it does not get depleted. It also involves embracing your passions and fully living them out. Then, you just naturally express yourself in ways that have others looking to you as a leader to bring about positive change in the world.

Have you struggled with feeling really vibrant as a highly sensitive person? Email me at Lynelle@pausetorefresh.com . I would love to continue the conversation with you.  

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“Love Changes Everything”

“It is largely great love and great suffering that create spiritual listening and larger seeing.” – Richard Rohr

I found these words by Richard to be quite true in my life in 2013. The year started with the death of a very close girlfriend who had battled cancer for 9 years and spent the last four and a half months of her life confined to a bed and unable to walk. Our times together in those last few months really taught me that when we strip away all the things we think we need and can’t live without there really is only one thing that is needed and that is love. The simple act of being wheeled outside for the sun to kiss her skin, or watching a paper white bloom, or having a cup of tea in a “teacup” brought her so much joy. Opening the heart to fully receive the one thing we need, always produces joy.

That loss was followed by the death of a very special aunt, MaryEllen, who was very much like a grandmother to me. She had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world. She always called out more in me then I could see in myself.  I was so blessed to have taken a trip to Virginia to visit her just two weeks prior to her death. Her parting words to me were “this was good medicine for my soul and will last me for a very long time.” I never would have guessed it would be my final exchange, and it truly was good medicine for my soul too and one to sustain me through so many losses.  

Finally, I lost a very dear client who partnered with me to be intentional about her end of life plans. It was a very rare opportunity and one of the most beautiful experiences I will have ever been privileged to experience. It was so inspiring to journey with someone who so clearly knew who she was at her core, that she demonstrated fully living and fully dying simultaneously. She so clearly knew that her illness did not define who she was and she also knew the power of the here and now – and the peace that is always available in the moment.

I not only believe that great love and great suffering create spiritual listening and larger seeing, but I have experienced first-hand how they have the power to radically change and transform individuals. I had spent most of 2012 feeling really stuck and frustrated in my business which seemed to also be playing out in other aspects of my life. But that all changed in 2013; the year of continually having my heart ripped open. I was fortunate to find a great business coach to journey with and experience first-hand the power of radical love. Through our work together I came to see how I had been living with a deep seated belief that to be seen was to be hurt and to be heard was to be corrected. Being willing to fully look these beliefs square on was difficult and embarrassing to say the lease. It was really hard to see that this effected my every day actions in hundreds of ways. Seeing all the ways that I had remained hidden and played small in the face of those who were dying was a bit sobering. The hardest thing to recognize was putting my business on “hold” under the “excuse” of caring for a dying friend.  In truth it didn’t need to be “either /or” but rather there was room for “both/and”. But owning it in the presence of really great love has truly shifted so many things for me, from the things I now don’t hesitate to say, to the choices I make, to the ways that I now spend money.  Love, really great love, always changes things.

So as a way to honor the courage of those that I lost in 2013, I am choosing to embrace courage for 2014. I am choosing Courage to fully be myself, courage to be seen, courage to be heard and courage to recognize and press through every resistance that arises to get me to return to my old ways of being.

Are you feeling stuck in a particular area of your life?  Do you know something has to change but you don’t even know where to start? Consider exploring how coaching might support you in mining for the gold of your circumstance. To schedule a complimentary exploratory session contact me at Lynelle@pausetorefresh.com

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“Permission to Be You”

“Permission to Be You”

What month gets completely turned upside down from every other month of the year? June, July and August may feel a bit turned upside down to a mother whose children are off school for the summer; but before one knows it they have settled into a new rhythm and way of life. In December however, everything gets swirled around differently. It’s like being on a merry-go-round when all the surroundings look and feel different because of the speed at which you and everyone else move. There is the indoor decorating, tree trimming, gift buying, hanging outdoor lights, holiday baking, card sending, meal planning, food prepping, waiting in lines, looking for parking spots, holiday parties, gift wrapping, pictures with Santa, advent activities, Christmas programs, holiday parades, and Christmas recitals all thrown into the pot of the normal part of doing life.

Why do we do this? I challenge you to stop right now and ask yourself why you do what you do in December. I challenge you not to evaluate it as a whole, but each and every activity you add to your schedule or to do list. If your answer is “that’s what you’re supposed to do”, “that’s what the neighbors do” or “that’s what we did when I grew up” those answers simply tell me that you have given your authenticity away to another. I want to give you permission to stop doing those activities until you have a more compelling reason why. How freeing is that? Far too often we don’t really know why we do what we do, let alone know what we truly want. This does not just apply to December but to all of life. I see it all too often in my work with individuals who wonder why they are exhausted.

There is nothing like a life altering event to bring questions like “why am I doing this” to the forefront of a person’s thinking. Twelve years ago on Christmas Eve, my mother-in-law moved on from her physical body. There was very little of the traditional Christmas activity that year between daily visits to the hospital and working. What we had that year was time together. The following year my husband was not really in the mood for celebrating or doing many of the activities that are traditionally associated with Christmas. Instead, it became a reflective season of really asking ourselves why we do what we do in December. There was no Christmas tree, cookie baking, or card sending that year. We found ourselves gravitating towards more thoughtful ways of “being” around the holidays. Two years after my mother-in-law’s death the Christmas tree found new meaning and purpose for us. We were inspired to pack the tree with pictures of all our friends and relatives both near and far and those no longer living. It became a sort of bridge to continue our grateful mindset into the holiday season.

What might you need to bring a fresh new perspective to this holiday season? Evaluating every Christmas activity from a different way of looking at things just might add some new sparkle into your life. Think of all the creative ideas that might come from assessing your Christmas routines. Maybe it’s expressing your love to others through a mailed greeting in the bleak of winter around Valentine’s Day, or blessing the mail carrier or neighbors with a goody at Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear how you creatively and intentionally live your life in December. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Heart Wide Open

We have officially entered the month when individuals choose to give special attention to what they are grateful for. I’ve seen quite a wide span in the few days since the month began. Everything from one’s spouse, family, home, friends and pets, to laughter, flannel sheets, clean drinking water, bluebirds, the ability to rake the leaves, and joy.  I personally love the ones that are a bit different and not the typical ones that come instantly when asked. It tells me that person lives life full with their heart wide open.

So where does an attitude of gratitude begin? It starts when we get out of our heads and into our hearts and keep it peeled wide open. I can certainly cook up a number of things that I am grateful for from my thinking brain, but the ones that come from my heart, move and change me. They are the ones that inspire me to a random act of kindness, to lite up my face with a smile, to give to the stranger in passing, to well up with tears, or to choose joy in the midst of a difficult situation.

The way to move gratitude from the head to the heart is to develop mindfulness; being present in the moment. We develop mindfulness when we allow our 5 senses to take in sights, smells, sounds, tastes along with physical feelings and evoke a feeling or emotion in our hearts. Focusing on the breath is another way to bring us back to the present moment and a place of gratitude.  Gratitude that spills over from the heart is not possible when we are thinking about the future or the past, rather it is a response of the present moment. This is not to say that we don’t need our heads, for it is only through our thinking minds that we can make plans for the future and learn from the past. The heart on the other hand is what allows us to be present and fully enjoy life.

Living an abundant life is really about balancing our thinking and processing minds with our feeling and sensing hearts. How about you? Do you find yourself more anxious than you would like to be? Do your plans and activities drain you of energy and keep you from true gratitude spilling out of your heart? Email me at info@pausetorefresh.com for a complimentary 1 to 1 session to learn how you can move from overwhelm to overflow.

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Harvest of the Heart

I like this time of year in my garden. October is when I take stock of what I liked and disliked in the garden the past year. I then go to work designing what I want the garden to look and feel like next year. I uproot some plants to divide so that I can have more of a special long blooming flower in other parts of the garden. There are some plants that will simply take over and hide another special plant if they are not uprooted, divided and half or it given away. I also send some plants to the compost pile that no longer are the right color or texture.  I am always considering what blooms when and making sure that I have continuous color throughout the entire garden from mid-February to November.

Crafting my garden in October prepares me for November when I take stock of my personal life. November is typically the month when we reflect on the bounty and the abundance of the harvest and give thanks. It is also the time when I like to evaluate what the personal gifts were from the past year.  What were my highlights, breakthroughs, aha moments? What worked well or supported me the past year? What do I want to continue into the next year? It is a way of gathering in my non tangible personal harvest to give thanks; a harvest of the heart.

It is also the time when I assess what isn’t working.  What hasn’t been serving me and what needs to change? I start by envisioning what I do want to see, feel and experience in the new year much the way I do with my garden.  I think this activity pairs well with giving thanks. It is equally important to give thanks for not only the good things in our lives but also the challenges. It is the tough things that actually propel us to make changes that then lead us to make modifications, expand and grow so that we can experience a more vibrant and full life. Giving thanks for the difficult things allows me to open up my heart to see how the Divine wants to co-create with me.

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What are you creating?

When was the last time you created something? So often we think of creating as making something concrete or tangible like a sweater, a piece of furniture, a decoration, a garden or a home. The truth of the matter is we are creating all day. We create the environments that we are in, we create our relationships and our attitudes; all things that we can’t really see or physically grasp but we can feel.

Last week I pointed out that we are intending all the time whether we are conscious of it or not. All creations begin with the seed of an intention. Intentions are those things we want to feel or experience. So how does an intention play into creating a sweater? If we are the type to sit down and knit a sweater we may not be conscious of our intentions, but with a little detective work, they can soon be discovered. Possibly I want to feel generous and able to give a piece of myself to a friend for a birthday. Maybe I want to feel a sense of diligence, perseverance and completion of a project. Perhaps I want to feel restful and give my brain a rest from all the details of the day and knitting is a way to let it all go. Whatever the reason, there is no right or wrong intention, because it is what comes from the heart.

How does this play out in the creation of non-tangibles?  If I want to experience a loving and joy filled day then I need to be conscious of that intention. If I am not conscious of that intention my subconscious will do the creating based on well-worn neural pathways, much like a worn path through the grass.  If I am not aware of my intention then the very first time I get cut off in traffic, or a co-worker is complaining about her husband, I may experience my joy seeping right out of me without me ever noticing. If however, I am conscious of my intentions, I can make a choice in those joy sapping moments to respond in healthy ways so as to maintain my cheerful energy. It’s conscious creating! I like to think of my intentions as prayers. This perspective allows me to join with Spirit to co-create.

What do you want to consciously create today? What do you intend to feel and experience? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel to share in the comments section below.

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Living Intentionally: All Day

Have you ever met someone who seems to experience one bad thing after another? All you want for them is to get a much needed break, a moment of grace. Maybe you have experienced it yourself. On the flip side, have you ever met someone who seems to always get the breaks, and things always seem to go well for them? Most of us probably feel like we are somewhere between the two, at times we feel things are going as we desire and then we have moments when we experience frustrations. So why is that? There can be many factors that play into this.  One thing that very heavily influences our life experiences is a very simple thing called intentions.  Most times we are not even aware of them. 

Last week I mentioned that Intention is what comes from within. It is what our heart wants to feel and experience. I like to think of intentions as little prayers I offer in the moment. “I don’t want to feel overwhelmed, I want to feel focused, energetic and joy in being able to serve.”

The truth is we are intending all the time. When it is unconscious it tends to be negative. When intending is something conscious, it is always positive. Have you ever met someone who consciously chooses to be frustrated, challenged and stuck in traffic? Have you ever met someone who consciously says I want to feel exhausted, inferior, trapped, or fearful? No! On the contrary, we are wired to feel love, gentleness, joy, peace, expansive, and energetic. We run into problems when we allow our subconscious to rule our conscious mind with memories of past experiences. Let’s say I have a meeting scheduled with an individual that I previously had a challenge with. I may subconsciously approach the meeting believing that it will be a challenge again. Chances are I will approach the interaction with my previous approach and experience a similar reaction. If, on the other hand, I set a conscious intention to not feel frustration, tension, anger and needing or wanting to get my own agenda; but rather to feel a sense of collaboration, trust, openness and a win/win result, I will have a totally different experience. By offering up the simple little conscious intention or prayer, I allow room for the Spirit to work and move in and through me to receive the results I desire.

When offering up my intention, I like to first start by stating what I don’t want to experience before expressing what I do want to experience. This allows me to acknowledge any fears and unbelief so that I can choose to activate faith. If I say that I want to feel and experience openness, trust, and collaboration, but I do not acknowledge that I fear anger, tension and heated discussions, I leave room for that seed of doubt and fear to continue to grow. God cannot act on our desire when we still hold a limiting belief or fear.  

Intending consciously is so very simple and really only takes a minute or two. It is as simple as getting clear on:

  • What is it I don’t want to feel or experience?
  • What is it I do want to feel and experience?
  • What do I want the other person(s) to feel and experience?

For so little investment of time and energy why wouldn’t we get intentional before every little thing we do? What one small area could you start bringing your conscious intention to?

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