Great Expectations (Not!)

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“When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be.”

     --Mandy Hale

 This wonderful quote by Mandy Hale neatly sums up how we often make our lives more difficult and frustrating when we have unrealistic expectations. The key words and phrases here are “should,” “free,” and “what you think.”

 The word “should” often shows up in the speech of someone who is pushing too hard. Surprisingly, a simple exercise like paying attention to the words we use can help us see how we are causing ourselves unnecessary stress. Common examples are “I should get back to work” or “I should cancel my exercise and work late.” When we push too hard, we experience more stress, perform less efficiently, set ourselves up for disappointment, and can make ourselves ill.

The first thing to realize about expectations is that they come from two places, the most apparent being from other people, but we can also place expectations on ourselves. Those self-imposed expectations are sometimes the hardest to sense. However, they may be easier to tackle because you are working on something you can control—your own thoughts and feelings. Many of us have a tendency to be too harsh and expect far too much from ourselves. Being hard on ourselves started early for both me and for my husband because we were raised by over-achieving parents. In fact, I call myself a ‘recovering perfectionist’ these days. As young kids, we absorbed our parents strong work ethic and pushed ourselves quite hard. It can be difficult to see that tendency in ourselves because we are simply doing what we watched others do. It isn’t just from our parents; these messages also come from our schools and society. It is no wonder that many of us in the United States are driven to an unhealthy degree. There is nothing wrong with the concept of having big goals and working hard, but most of us err on the side of going overboard. As in all areas of life, finding the appropriate balance is the key to a happier and more fulfilling life.

In effect, we become our own worst critic when we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. I often like to remind my clients that our minds continually create a constant “chatter” of thoughts. Shockingly, it is estimated that we think 60,000-70,000 thoughts a day, with the majority of them being negative, and usually untrue. If we listen to and actually believe these thoughts, they can undermine our energy, productivity, and confidence.

 But since we are the ones applying the pressure on ourselves, we alone are responsible for it and can make changes to regain a proper balance in our lives. The solution is giving ourselves permission to let go of some of that pressure, reconsider our priorities, and remember to nourish ALL of our needs. Exercise, prayer and meditation, time in nature, family time, connecting with our support network, and just having fun are all just as essential as our work. We cannot survive without these balancing activities, and we can achieve our goals much easier with kindness and self-compassion. All these self-care practices are part of my larger mission supporting others to love, respect, and take good care of their mind and body. It is difficult to truly feel deep love and respect for others if we do not feel love in our hearts for ourselves.

 Perhaps more difficult is when the expectations are placed upon us by someone else. The playing field becomes a bit more muddled because of their involvement. Most of the time it is quite easy to see when others are placing their expectations on us. Once again, it is wise to stay on the lookout for that darn keyword “should”. Whether a phrase “you should…” is stated directly or indirectly, if we find that the expectation is unreasonable, or something we do not want to do, it is up to us to consider our boundaries. We may not have good boundaries for fear of speaking up and upsetting the other party. Or perhaps we have boundaries, but we have not made them clear to the other person involved. If we do not speak up, we shouldn’t be surprised that we are not being respected or understood. There are many resources to help learn how to set and maintain proper boundaries, and working with a good coach is one of them.

 Worse still are the uncommunicated expectations others place upon us. These are insidious because they are not clearly stated, but they often lie in wait like land mines. When we do not conform to the expectation, suddenly the explosion of blame and resentment can catch us completely unaware. After all, how can we know what someone else considers to be the right thing for us to do, or share our feelings about it, if we are kept completely in the dark? It is really important to realize that these expectations reveal far more about them, and their need to control, than they do about us.

 So how do we become “free” of these chains of other people’s unshared expectations? By gently explaining to the other person how damaging these uncommunicated expectations can be to a relationship. We need to emphasize that they need to be upfront and honest with us if they require something from us. Another option is for the other party to realize that trying to control another person never works, and simply let go of their attachment to what they think needs to happen. Often when we do this we find things flow the way they are supposed to and usually have a positive outcome. If all else fails, taking an honest look at who you invite into your life can be very powerful. If your goal is to be the best version of yourself without placing expectations and judgements on others, only allow like-minded, positive, peaceful people into your life.

 If we decide that we need to respond to a judgement or expectation, it is much cleaner if we do not react emotionally. Take time to pause, take a few deep breaths, and calmly decide how you want to respond. When we react, we tend to speak unkindly with too much emotion. Much better is to consider the entire situation and do so with love, kindness, and respect. In doing so you can reduce the unrealistic expectations others have for us, and create more space in the relationship for compassion, understanding and love in the relationship.

 Many people do not realize that we have far more power than we give ourselves credit for. Be easy on yourself; life is more of a marathon than a sprint. Take away needless expectations, and start appreciating what you have. Know who you are and what is important to you, including your boundaries. Aim to live your life so that you are true to your own needs and values, while being respectful of those around you. Find a proper and sustainable balance. When we release ourselves from our hurts and resentments, it makes forgiving others easier. Doing these things will always make your life journey more comfortable and fulfilling.

 When you are able to manage your mind by being aware of “what you think”, and substitute positive and uplifting thoughts, you will be a much freer and happier human being. I have always liked Wayne Dyer’s quote, which seems quite fitting for this topic, as he encouraged us to not get caught up in what others think of us: “What other people think of me is none of my business. One of the highest places you can get to is being independent of the good opinions of other people.”

Conquering our Fears

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Fear. It is a very small word but for many of us, it takes up a disproportionate amount of weight in our lives. We are susceptible to fear because it was an important and useful element in our evolutionary history that kept us out of harm’s way. But its role in our modern world is different, where it is less likely that there is a tiger chasing us. As a result, our reflexive responses from our lizard brain tends to fire too often and too loudly. The result can be feeling constrained, and at times, overwhelmed, by our fears.

Being held back by our fears is not normal or healthy, but unfortunately it is a fact of life for so many of us. When we are held hostage by our fears it can be very difficult to feel happy, or achieve the goals we have set out for ourselves. If you are finding it difficult to accomplish something that you want to do or if you cannot make a needed change in your life, fear may be the culprit. Thankfully for all of us there are solutions to move past our fears. With courage, and through a process of analysis, we can get to the root of our fears and eliminate them.

Please review my seven steps below on how to conquer your fear, which I put together recently when I was dealing with needing to have a closed MRI done of my brain. My claustrophobia, which had always been in the background became a real concern as I prepared for this procedure. You may find it helpful to incorporate these into your life the next time an unnecessary fear has you by the throat.

It is well worth the effort to do conquer our fears. As a result, we feel less stress and anxiety. We are more present and feel more joy. We feel more empowered to make positive changes in our life. We have more freedom to enjoy our passions and fulfill our purpose here on this earth. 

7 Steps to Conquering Your Fear  

1.  Become aware of your fear when it comes up. We all know when we are feeling fearful, and each of us have our own unique ways of recognizing it. Some people feel it as a racing heart, sweaty palms, a sense of being off center, or a sick feeling in their stomach. Achieving awareness of what your body feels when it is afraid is the first step.

2.  Feel your feelings, even if they scare you. Only if you understand them can you get to the other side of them. Are you feeling frustrated, scared, angry, anxious, or depressed? Ask yourself why. Work through your feelings. Then, pivot to the opposite side and recognize what feels good to you. By doing what lights you up, you move towards joy, love, connection, inspiration, and excitement.

3.  Get clear on what the fear really is for you. Peel away the onion layers of your fear to get a deeper understanding of what’s in the center. In my case my fear of the closed MRI ended up being a fear of my own premature death. I recommend the help and support of a coach or therapist to assist in this process.

4.  Set an Intention to choose love every time your fear comes up. Step back from your situation to get a fresh perspective—if you are not dealing with a life and death issue, you are probably overthinking and over worrying.

5.  Establish a daily calming practice for a few minutes a day of living in the present through meditation, prayer or time in nature. Go to a happy place in your mind that gives you peace: a beach, garden, mountain, river, or waterfall.

6.  Visualize your Support team surrounding you. Feel the love they give you and receive it. You are safe and loved.

7.  Find Your Peace and Serenity. Let go of any fear and surrender to love.

By using these seven steps you can minimize the hold irrational fear has over you and maximize the joy and fulfillment that we all deserve.

You deserve it--This is your time!

Taking Time to Smell the Roses

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Self-care is essential for our health and wellbeing. It is not indulging, or being selfish.”

Focus on who you are as a human being versus a human doing with a to-do list.”--Kelley Wolfe

Last month I wrote about the dangers of trying to do too much. I suggested that we all experiment with changing our focus from “doing” and instead, move the emphasis to simply “being.” I am curious how that experience was for you? Were you successful in spending more time relaxing, and did you open yourself up to more creativity and fun? I really hope so because one month later, this is still your time!

When we are stressed from working too much we have trouble concentrating, are less productive, and make more mistakes. The more we try to juggle tasks, the less efficient we become at keeping all of the balls in the air. Our creativity suffers, and we have a harder time seeing potential options, opportunities, and solutions. We have more of a tendency to procrastinate, and we can make impulsive decisions without enough consideration. We burn out. Our happiness decreases, and we can be more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Too often we compensate, not by doing what we know to be the right things (eating well, exercising, time in nature, meditating), but by doing activities that make our situation worse such as eating, drinking, and watching television. But there are far better ways to relax. To guarantee that we get enough rest it is imperative to remember that if we don’t set good, appropriate boundaries, it can be too easy to spend our time overworking.

I often find inspiration for my practice in Nature; recently I encountered three wonderful examples of setting boundaries. Because the desert heat here in Tucson has really ramped up this month, two different reptiles have made their annual appearance. In recent weeks, I have come across a desert tortoise as well as a large lizard called a Gila monster. Both leave their burrows for only a short while during the summer after spending most of the year resting. They are some of the most successful reptiles in terms of their survival because of this simple practice. Native cultures view them as wise and spiritual beings which carry good omens. They are unusual to see, move slowly yet methodically, and can cover a surprisingly large amount of ground. Perhaps it is because they rest for such long periods of time before briefly coming out into the world.

A third animal to grace my world has been a mother bobcat and her two adorable newly born kittens. We had started seeing this feline repeatedly a few months ago when we had baby quail in our backyard, and she showed a remarkable amount of perseverance by continually re-entering our lush property after being encouraged to leave to protect the newborn quail. My husband wondered if she might be guarding a food source or thinking of starting a family. And indeed, as we recently discovered, it was the latter. We could only get quick glances at the kittens because they were small and stayed very close to momma, well hidden in our tropical garden. The bobcat family stayed for almost a week and then headed on their way, but two days ago we spotted her again in our backyard so we are on high alert now watching and waiting.

The common characteristic shared by all three animals is that they have very firm boundaries. A tortoise will simply retract into its shell when it is threatened. Their hard top and bottom shells ensure that they remain safe from the dangers of the world. The Gila monster’s strikingly vivid orange color advertises that it has a potent poison in its bite, so most animals and humans know to admire them only from afar. Momma bobcat was able to articulate her boundaries to us very clearly…she simply vocalized a low growl whenever we got too close when watering or trying to catch a photograph. There was no confusion there. “Back off” was her message. She and her offspring needed privacy, and Momma bobcat needed her rest after giving birth and nursing her young ones.

We can be inspired by the examples in Nature and we can adopt similar approaches to make our boundaries clear so that we can rest, recharge, and restore ourselves. Below is a list of suggestions regarding taking time to yourself, to smell the fragrant roses outside right your door. Naturally, it starts with the very important concept of boundaries.

·      Have, and maintain, your boundaries.

·      Be clear and aligned by prioritizing what’s most important to you. 

·      Live one day at a time and have faith and patience.

·      Create a safe cocoon and nurture yourself with comforting things.

·      Spend a few minutes each day in the quiet of Nature.

·      Meditate 5-15 minutes a day.

·      Give yourself permission to take time to rest, be quiet and just stare out the window.               Focus on your breath and feeling at peace.

·      Move your body every day.

·      Be aware and open to get past your places of resistance. Challenge your negative and               untrue thoughts. Get out of your own way.

·      Cut back on your expectations, especially of yourself.

·      Stay healthy by eating foods that are good for you, and getting a good quality night’s               rest of about 8 hours each night.

·      Take a nightly lavender Epsom salt bath, light some candles, and play soft, soothing music.

I encourage you to choose one of these “turtle steps” to try each week so you can get some much-needed rest. Remember that the drive to constantly work and achieve has been instilled in us from an early age by our parents, schooling, and culture. Self-care is essential, and is definitely not being self-indulgent or selfish. It is the only way to maintain a balance in our life and stay healthy and happy. Keep in mind, as I can attest to this year, if you don’t make a conscious effort to rest and recharge, life has a way of making you rest by throwing a roadblock your way so you have to slow down and rest.

Consider the examples of the desert tortoise and bobcat. Pull into your shell or softly growl if needed. Take the time you need to rest and embrace Nature’s nectar and bliss. There is nothing like the smell of a fragrant rose, gardenia, or plumeria to lift your spirits. Remember: This is your time.

"To truly flourish, you have to pay attention to your body, taking care of it and meeting its needs." --Christiane Northrup, M.D.

“When I go too fast, life finds a way to hit the brakes, such as stopping me at red lights when I’m rushing to work or dosing me with a cold when life gets too busy. Have a closer look at your experience. Does life ever make you stop and smell the roses?” --Leigh Ann Kittell

This is YOUR Time

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“Somewhere along the way we've gotten the message that the more we struggle and the more we suffer, the more valuable we will become and the more successful we'll eventually be. And so, we overwork ourselves, overschedule ourselves, and become "busier than thou" because we think there's some sort of prize on the other side of the pain we cause ourselves. And you know what? There's no prize. All you get from suffering is more suffering.” Kate Northrup, Money, A Love Story

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about something our culture does not encourage us to discuss. This subject is the opposite of the work, and overwork, that is pushed so hard by our culture these days. It is the concept of “rest”, which is very foreign to many of us. Rest is essential to recharge to have the energy to get through our busy work days, or the healing that needs to happen after the diagnosis of an illness or after experiencing a major trauma. Rest is also an important part of the restful sleep we need each night to keep our body and immune system running well.

If I was to ask how life is going for you, I am guessing that many of you would answer with a response like “busy!” or “crazy!” or “non-stop!” After all, our western society is very focused on staying busy and productive; the message we receive is that we are our job. Our culture values achievement, progress, and promotions. It tells us that our self-worth is inexorably tied to how hard we work, our job title, and salary.

We start getting the lessons early in our life when it is made clear what we are expected to do for the family, whether it is helping out with a meal, raking leaves in the yard, or getting good grades. However, the pressure to overwork is not just from our bosses, parents, and schools, but also from ourselves. This is often because the cultural expectations have been communicated so well that we often don’t realize we are the ones doing the pushing, which can create an endless cycle of overworking.

Technology was promoted as the mechanism to do more work with less manpower, and it was supposed to simplify our lives and save us time. Yet our technology seems to have created an entirely new set of problems. We all have experienced the 24/7 expectations that email, cell phones, and our social media demand. Even though technology is promoted as saving us time and increasing efficiency, the demands can take a significant toll on the quality of our lives. Ultimately, we never truly feel like we are “off” from work because work is just a call or a click away. Work always has a way of finding us if we let it.

What does all this overworking give us? Stress. We are stressed physically, mentally, and spiritually. And that has many ramifications. Every aspect of our lives can be affected negatively by stress, from our relationships, to our work, and to our health. As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest health consequences from being overworked and stressed is that our sleep is affected. Sleep is one of the most important elements for our health; when we don’t get enough or if it is poor quality, our minds and our bodies suffer. Poor sleep can compromise our immune system, which makes us more prone to illness.

When is it acceptable in our culture to take a rest? The messages we get are very mixed, so it is no wonder that we are confused and we generally err on the side of doing too much work. However, if we are often the ones responsible for pushing ourselves, with increased awareness we can realize that we have the power to make decisions to change the balance in favor of more rest.

To take this a step further, what happens when we recognize that we must rest, due to situations beyond our control, such as an illness or an automobile accident? I currently find myself in that situation; I know rest is imperative to heal physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a “go getter” and a solo entrepreneur, I initially resisted cutting back on my schedule and resting because of my cultural upbringing.

Not too far into this new journey I found myself at a bookstore when one of the thousands of books nearly leapt off the bookshelf to get my attention. It was called The Way of Rest, Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love, by Jeff Foster. I opened it and was spellbound. This inspiring and eye-opening book has been a big part of transforming my thinking to accept where I am and find the good in it. Here are a couple examples of Jeff’s wisdom:

"Stop pushing for answers right now. Allow everything to rest right now. Take a sacred pause. Allow questions to remain unanswered, for now. Allow space for yourself to breathe today."

“Don’t skip to the next step. There may be gifts in this present step.”  

In my work with Seeking Serenity Coaching, my clients tend to be women who come to me stressed out, overworked, and overwhelmed. They have this sinking feeling that the life they thought they’d have has passed them by, and they have forgotten what’s important to them, and what having fun is. In moments of quiet desperation, they find themselves saying “There must be more to life”.

I support and inspire my clients to reconnect to lost parts of themselves so they can get the rest they need, have fun, and feel whole again.  I encourage them to become more aware of when they are pushing too hard and where their lives are out of balance. I help them develop and embrace their resiliency and inner peace so they can feel calm inside no matter what chaos is happening outside. By taking “turtle” steps toward healthy self-care habits and by using mindfulness tools their stress begins to recede. In this process, they move closer to spending more time doing what makes them happy and fulfilled, which allows them to achieve the life they have envisioned and dreamt of. As a result of our time together, they feel healthier, more resilient, and peaceful. They soon see that life has much more meaning, and they are excited to get out of bed to see what the new day will bring. As their life coach, I find watching their transformation incredibly heart-warming, inspiring, and meaningful. I love what I do!

Tune in next month when I will share some of my favorite stress relief advice and tips—just in time for the incredible months of summer! In the meantime, I encourage you to let go of the compulsion to overwork and overdo. Stop focusing on “doing” and move your focus to “being.”  Rest. Take a nap. As you spend more time relaxing, open yourself to creativity and fun. The sky is the limit. This is your time.

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

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Well, perhaps not in all parts of the country, but it certainly has sprung here in sunny Tucson. The Sonoran Desert is a unique environment with animals and plants that are not seen anywhere else in the world. I like to tell my friends that “we live in a zoo”, and the entire panorama is especially vibrant in the spring. Our backyard and beyond is the perfect example where we can see bobcats, coyotes, owls, jackrabbits, and other desert critters.

The vibrant and colorful bougainvillea are showing us that the occasional winter frosts are a thing of the past. The cacti are producing gorgeous blossoms and we have hummingbirds sipping from our flowers all day long. Our potted plants are filled with the sound of doves sitting on clutches of spotted eggs. The cardinals are chirping as they set up a nursery in our fan palms. Perhaps best of all, the intoxicating scent of the orange blossoms fills the air. My husband and I love these few weeks the best because of that exotic, floral gift. Of course, I see many connections between that natural world and my Seeking Serenity Life Coaching practice.

Each new season reminds us of the cycle that is life. Each season has a special set of lessons for us.  This time of year, I like to emphasize the theme of renewal. Nature renews itself as winter retreats. Everything is suddenly alive. The bright green foliage looks healthy because the heat of the summer has not yet arrived. Everywhere you look you will find Nature’s call for growth being answered. Take a look inside your heart to see how your life can mirror the world outside. You too can be renewed this spring by shaking off those winter doldrums. Let your goals and dreams take root. Sprout new thoughts and projects just as the trees sprout tender new leaves. Nourish them with a good watering of optimism and enthusiasm. A positive mindset works wonders.

I encourage you to take a fresh look at your life and reassess your priorities. What worked for you in the winter might hold you back now. Clean up the clutter in your mind and in your home by letting go of what is no longer needed, while keeping what resonates and has meaning for you. Let those uninhibited, creative ideas blossom.

The strongest message I receive as springtime revisits our world is the one I most want to share with you: GO OUTSIDE and step into nature! Take the time to leave the confines of your home and office that sheltered you all winter. The spaces that were safe and warm a few months ago can feel restrictive now. Look with fresh eyes at the spring out your window. The outdoors can be incredibly refreshing and motivating.

This is a perfect time to assess your health, and to set goals to improve it, such as making the commitment to move your body more. Go for walks and bicycle rides. Take a hike someplace you have never been. Kick off those shoes and socks and experience how your feet feel on the warm earth and the cool, green grass. Look and listen for the messages spring has for you. Take them to heart. Take a chance, try something new, and let that fertile mind of yours blossom. Enjoy the scents and the sounds of your incredible life. This is your time.

 “Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.”

                                       -- Sarah Ban Breathrach

“Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s Party!’”

                                       --Robin Williams

Life Changing

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As many of you know, I lost three family members in 2016. This was incredibly impactful on me as I realized in my pain how short our lives are, and that we truly do not know how long our time on earth will be. I was also very unhappy in my corporate job. I knew that sitting in my office at my computer or in the constant daily meetings was not utilizing my best skills and talents. It was draining me. I crave deep connection with people and I was drowning in the culture that did not value that. I took some time to work through the confusion and quagmire of my thoughts and feelings, and used it as an opportunity to thoughtfully consider “If this job is not the right fit for me, what is?” I assessed my skills, talents and passions, and began the process of developing new goals, dreams, and a vision away from the corporate culture. I began to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Spring forward to 2017 when I took three leaps of faith: to leave that corporate job, jump into my 15-year dream of being a life coach, and most recently, to launch my nature photography website and business. I opened myself up to what opportunities felt aligned with where I was heading, and signed up and attended them. This last year has been the most transformative, expansive and life altering time of my entire life.

On the topic of life changing events, last week I attended an incredibly powerful Women’s Entrepreneur Retreat called “Powerhouse Florida” run by a powerhouse in her own right, Amy Yamada. I was with a small, intimate group of remarkable women. Surprisingly, the rest of the women were from a completely different coaching community than the one I had been in, yet we found ourselves together in that incredibly beautiful place called Captiva Island. Have I mentioned that I am a big believer in “timing is everything” and that there are no coincidences in this life?

My training prior to this retreat from Martha Beck, Brooke Castillo, Susan Hyatt, and Robbins-Madanes, had been strategically focused in terms of learning coaching skills and tools, while the training of the other retreat attendees has been business results oriented. I am proud and honored to be an integral team member in both of these professional communities. It was fascinating for me to witness less focus on the diverse coaching strategies we can use with our clients, and more emphasis on intentions, commitments, and action to get results. The results that many of my fellow retreat attendees have accomplished, especially the ones who have been running their businesses for a few years, have been nothing short of remarkable, and is what I dream about for my businesses. We came together at this point in our lives to learn from the riches of each other’s experiences, and share what lights us up and what is possible. We left this retreat with a clearer and more defined vision of the exciting future ahead for each of us.

I find myself pondering the changes I have gone through and where my journey is heading. I have learned the importance of turning my back on what does not work or resonate for me, and how good it feels when I am moving toward what feels right. The leaps of faith I took last year were far from easy steps to take. Like all of us, I have had many years of conditioning by family, culture, and society to conform to a very structured and defined way of being. Our culture places too much value on overworking and overdoing. An impressive title and a big paycheck are the goal of too many people. Instead, my focus is on who we intrinsically are and the good that we can do to help others be happier and healthier.

Those traditionally accepted ways of “climbing the ladder” were never my goal, intent, or interest. What was important to me was being an integral part of a cohesive team with a great mission. I wanted to make a difference. However, my team was often undermined by a leadership culture where politics ruled.

At this time in my life I recognize that I am looking for something deeper and richer to anchor me. My soul longs for more and is finding it. In surrendering what does not serve me and pursuing with an open heart what I am yearning for, I am lighter and freer. I am being guided much more by what I have to contribute in pure loving and compassionate service.

So many people in our culture are experiencing stress at an extreme level and are feeling completely overwhelmed. Life seems to go faster every year, and the technology that was supposed to save us time and simplify our lives has actually had the opposite effect. We are feeling more disconnected than ever from our bodies, and we are cut off from how to best to feed and maintain it. Too often we let our approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, most of which are negative self-talk and totally untrue, guide us in our daily feelings and actions. We have also been cut off from our spirit (often called our essential self, or soul). Our culture does not teach us positive ways to cope with the chaos all around us, so we often get caught up in overdoing, whether it is with work, food, alcohol, shopping, or watching TV for endless hours.

That is where I know I can make a difference. Life coaching is my calling.  As a life coach I provide a safe, respectful, and serene space to support the needs and desires of my clients. I partner with them to identify the areas where they are feeling the greatest need for stress relief, and we work together so they can live healthier, happier and more peaceful lives. By doing so we have been able to break through roadblocks and witness miracles happening.

Our time on this earth may be short, but there is hope. The solutions my clients seek are inside of them and have been all along. They are treasures waiting to be discovered, unearthed, and brought into the light of day. Our intuition has been trying to tell us that there is a better way that is much truer to who we are and what is ultimately best for us. The world needs what each of us have to offer, and together we will discover what that encompasses. We deserve happiness, and we are always happiest when we follow our heart.

 

What are You Taking A Stand For?

Hello friends from Seeking Serenity Coaching and Kelley Wolfe Photography! I wanted to share a fun stretch challenge I was given this month!

I have an upcoming and very exciting Women’s Entrepreneurship Retreat, and as preparation I was given a challenge to create and deliver a Facebook video on the topic of “What Am I Taking A Stand For?” I am grateful for the opportunity to share what inspires and lights me up. 

Many of you know that I lost three family members in 2016, and last year took three leaps of faith: quitting my corporate job, and launching my Life Coaching and Nature Photography businesses. As a life coach I am passionate about providing support to my clients in navigating the stressors in their life so they can feel more hope, freedom and peace. I believe in cultivating deep connections with my clients based on respect, kindness and compassion. As interconnected human beings, it is vital we feel listened to, heard, understood, and appreciated. By asking thought provoking questions and listening deeply to their responses I learn how satisfied and fulfilled my clients are in their current life, what they feel is missing, and what their greatest dreams and desires are.

I often find that people have lost track of their ‘essential’ self, which is the uniqueness we are born with, due to trauma or socialization by culture and family expectations. It is incredibly painful to be split off from who we really are and it can feel like we are living two lives—the one we feel we ‘have’ to live to pay the bills and the one our heart and dreams tell us we want to be living. I encourage and inspire my clients to reclaim their essential self by connecting to their mind, body and spirit, as well as listening to and trusting their intuition, in order to live more balanced and happier lives.

As a Nature Photographer, I am passionate about sharing the incredible depth and beauty of nature. My website has photos of wild horses, hummingbirds, forest scenes, sunsets and other fun images from my travels. I would be honored if you’d check out my nature photos at www.kelleywolfephotography.com.

I’m curious what moves in you when you hear the question “What Are You Taking A Stand For?”, and hope this has inspires you to ponder this important question in your life.

I appreciate your time and interest, and wish you an awesome day!

"Your Health is Your Wealth"

Happy 2018! As a life coach I help my clients create the changes they desire in order to live healthier and happier lives. Today I am transitioning this blog to highlight and provide insight into the work I do as a weight loss coach, which is another area I focus on with my clients. I help my clients understand that self-care is the foundation for good health, energy and vitality. The term ‘self-care’ refers to being in tune and responsive to your own health needs, and as a coach I partner with you as you know best what your needs are. Because we are now in January of this New Year, when so many are working on their New Year’s resolutions, it feels like the perfect time to discuss this topic.

I am a strong believer that we must be our own health care advocates. The reality is that our health care system, government, and employers do not do this; it is up to us to address how to best improve our health and lives. Most importantly, we need to prioritize daily exercise, restful sleep and eating the right foods. These three points often have the greatest impact on our health, happiness and longevity. Our self-care routines affect every aspect of our lives, from our job, our relationships, how energetic we feel, and how much we can embrace, achieve and embrace each day we are here on earth.

 I encourage you to do an assessment of your current self-care habits, identify what results you desire, and then craft a realistic plan to get you these results. Ask yourself the following questions:

·      What areas of your life do you feel the need for more time and nurturing?

·      Would you like to lose the pounds that have crept in while you were too busy running on the treadmill of life?

·      Do you crave more time in nature?

·      Do you love the idea of turning all electronics off for the weekend but have no clue how to even begin?

·      Do you need to stick up for yourself and what matters most to you by setting some new boundaries?

·      Would more quiet time and meditation time help you gain more control in your life?

·      Are you sleeping soundly for a good 7 or 8 hours a night, and wake up feeling rested? Or, do you feel tired and need caffeine to keep you going during the day?

·      Do you listen to your favorite music to relax and calm you down when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

If any of these resonate with you, partnering with a life coach in 2018 will help you make the changes you desire in your life. It is amazing and empowering to see how even small ‘turtle steps’ of change can create the positive momentum necessary to be healthier, happier and more confident.

Our incredibly sweet and bright 80-year old neighbor, before she moved to Texas to be closer to her daughter, had a favorite saying which I think of often. When talking about health issues she would say “Your health is your wealth.” What she meant was it does not matter how much money we have, because if we are not healthy, we cannot enjoy the fruits of our labor. Self-care is a very important component to weight loss and feeling healthier. Always remember, you deserve the best life has to offer, and you can achieve your dreams.

Happy 2018!!!

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What a year 2017 was! The loss of three of my family members in 2016 was profound for me. I realized that there are no guarantees in life and because we never know how much time we have left on this earth, I was motivated to take some major leaps of faith. In the spring I quit my corporate job to return to being an entrepreneur again, a world I had sorely missed. I realized my 15-year goal of becoming a Life Coach and because I want to help others find the peace that we all need in our lives I named it Seeking Serenity Coaching. In addition, last month my nature photography site (www.kelleywolfephotography.com) went live with ready to order photographs for your home or office of awe inspiring sunsets, forest scenes, a Hawaiian sea turtle, flowers in bloom, butterflies, and wild horses, with more being added as they are created.  

In 2017 I had life changing experiences, made deep heartfelt connections with an incredible support network of friends who I feel like I have known all my life, and loved partnering in each and every journey with my amazing clients. I was fortunate to travel to really fun places for conferences and family time (San Luis Obispo, two conferences in Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Hawaii, two trips to Portland, Ohio, Wyoming, Disneyland, and explorations around my breathtaking state of Arizona).

I think it is important for us all to focus on one or two motivational ideas each year. My two key words for 2017 were “Healing” (personal) and “Courage” (professional). For 2018, my themes are “Health” and “Deep Connection.”

I am forever grateful to my husband and closest friends and family for their understanding, encouragement, and support for my big leaps. I am beyond excited to see what 2018 brings for us all!! I am always open and delighted to connect with you, so feel free to email me at kelleywolfecoaching@gmail.com. Happy New Year!

Turtle Steps

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In my last blog I mentioned that in the completely integrated web of Nature, everything has its place and its purpose. In that entry, our wonderful Sheltie named Indie, short for Indiana Jones, was the focus.  In this one I discuss the beloved sea turtle or, as it is known in the Hawaiian language, Honu.

Since it is a reptile, the sea turtle lineage goes back about 300 million years. In a unique twist, after emerging from the sea and fully adapting to life on land, sea turtles evolved to go back to the sea. This caused them to develop a refined set of adaptions and skills so they could harness the best of both worlds.

Sea turtles are excellent navigators because they have special traits which allow them to be sensitive to the position of the sun, water temperature, and wave direction. They also have an internal magnetic compass in their brain so they can determine their exact location, which is essential because they migrate great distances to feed and to lay their eggs. In fact, when they are born they imprint on the local magnetic field so that when they are mature they can return to the same beach to lay their eggs.

The Hawaiians and Polynesians have a very special relationship with Honu. They see turtles as a symbol of longevity, good luck, and wisdom. Legend has it that it was the turtle that guided the Polynesians to the Pacific islands that became their home. They believe that turtles can be a guardian spirit for people.

Many native cultures have the concept of a “spirit animal” (or “power animal”).  They believe that spirit animals can teach us important life lessons, improve our lives, and protect us. We can choose our own spirit animal but often they seem to choose us. The Zuni people of the southwestern United States had the most evolved spirit animal lore. Through their ceremonies each person finds his or her spirit animal, and the inherent qualities and attributes of the animal are transferred to the owner.

It probably is no surprise that my spirit animal is the Hawaiian green sea turtle (in Hawaiian the turtle guardian spirit is called “Aumakua.”) During my visits to the islands I am enchanted by their grace, quiet beauty, and their enjoyment of life. I am also intrigued by their persistence and endurance. I have spent many blissful hours photographing them, and the photo above of a Hawaiian sea turtle coming up for air is one of my all-time favorites. To Hawaiians the sea turtle represents long life and wisdom, and we have much to learn from them.

Turtles seem to know that wherever they are is where they are meant to be. They don’t fight the current, but rather, move with the flow and use the tides and waves to their advantage. Their nature is to explore and find an even better patch of algae or a quiet lagoon to rest. They seem to let the pressures of the world flow right off their backs.

When sea turtles are lost or pushed off course, they don’t worry. They enjoy what the environment has to offer. When they need to get closer to home they tune into the quiet center of their mind, read the signs, and sense the magnetic fields. When the surface is rocked by the weather they dive to the bottom and quietly wait out the storm. I had no idea that they can even sleep underwater. In fact, turtles can hold their breath from anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours!

As previously mentioned, perhaps their most amazing feat is the ability to be on land as well as the sea. When they are too chilled in the water or need to escape predators, they haul themselves out onto the warm sand and experience the benefits of land. That flexibility is another admirable example for all of us.

All of these qualities and lessons are applicable for us at any time of the year, but are especially useful to us during the upcoming Christmas season. During this holiday we are assaulted daily by commercials imploring us to spend our money, and the true messages of Christmas can get drowned out by all of the noise.

However, like the sea turtle, we too have the ability to retreat to a quieter place. If we follow their example we too can thrive in any environment, be more resilient, and deal with anything life throws our way. We can look within and rediscover the simple joys of the Season and share the goodwill with our closest loved ones.

It is wise for us to remember that these gifts of wisdom from our spirit animals come with responsibilities. Our friends need our protection. They require appropriate wild places so that they can flourish, reproduce, and be what Nature intended them to be. They give so much to us, and we need to return the favor by ensuring that our future generations can experience them in the wild.

My Christmas wish for you is that you will take in these insights and carve out some much needed time in Nature, find a few minutes of peace of mind away from the chaos, and go with the flow.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays my dear friends! Happy New Year--2018 is going to be another awesome and inspirational year!!