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Archive for October, 2009

Priorities

Where are you on your priority list? I am noticing that while I aspire to have myself at the top of my Priority List, that I keep slipping out of the top spot. Last evening, while working with one of my clients I asked her to list her top five priorities. Her response: my kids, my partner, my mom, work, ME. My answer: Well at least you made the top five!

ME FIRST – is that possible? Is it necessary? Think about it. When you and I don’t put ourselves first, what are the consequences. You might say there aren’t any. Think again. Here is what I have noticed. When I slip off my priority list, and top spot, I stop feeling good about me. When I don’t feel good about me, I get cranky (as well as other things I prefer not to disclose!), I am out of rhythm with the world around me. Sound familiar or am I alone?

What to do? Don’t make it arduous, make it easy. I am learning that a simple 10 minutes/day can make all the difference. That’s less than 1% of your day. A time to close your eyes, take a deep breath, consider your day and reflect on your intentions. This alone shifts your energy and allows you to be more present with yourself and others.

Care to join me? Where are you on your priority list?

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Fear of Falling

I have a fear of falling. Am I only now just realizing this? I have known for a long time, yet whenever the reality pokes up its head, I manage to push it away. I have taken the time to examine my fears – again and again and again – inside and out, top and bottom, Freudian and Jungian. I have always been able to name a fear, usually settling for the success/failure one. It seems to be the  motherlode. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dwell here, I am only an occasional visitor.

This morning however, I decided to use the quiet of a Stowe morning to gift myself with some additional wisdom and did an ‘Osho Zen Card Spread’ for myself. Lots of things came up for examination including the Trust card with a picture of a figure in free fall. There it was, wham, lurking under the layers of all the historical stuff, the big fear, FALLING. I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. A year ago as I hung to the top of a telephone pole I had climbed trying to complete the ascent for one of my Beyond Courage activities, I had an entire conversation with my mother (she had long been deceased), about falling. I won the battle after lengthy clinging. It led me to wonder how many times I have failed because I was afraid of falling.

Falling takes on many forms – both real and metaphorical. As an adult, as well as I child, I have fallen easily – up stairs, down stairs, on ice in winter, pulling out stubborn  weeds in summer. I have learned to laugh too, a lot, for I am ridiculous! No doubt my fear of falling has contributed to the frequency over the years. NO MORE! I want to attract something else.

And then there is life, the metaphorical falls – where does this manifest I am wondering? I have to work at patience and trust all the time, trusting my intentions and that my life is unfolding perfectly. But I resist and I recognize this in itself is a from of this old fear. What if I lost control? OMG – will I fall on my face? And even if I did, would it matter? SIGH!

Okay let’s reframe this – the antedote to falling is flying. WeHoo! Evidently I have known this for a while. The logo for our company is a flying heart. DAH! I have a finely tuned Bucket List which includes skydiving as one of the most important next things to do – scheduled for my 60th birthday.

Yes, and, why am I waiting? What if skydiving is the thing I need to do everyday, to allow myself to simply fly into life, trusting my Personal Guidance System and my intuition, allowing my dreams to manifest. Free of Fear, full of Life – what would that be like? I am tired of the old fears and so here is my declaration to you, publicly on my BLOG, today I begin trusting my life and my higher power fully, today I accept the offers that show up along the path knowing they are guided by my intentions and my clarity of purpose. I embrace my love of flying and of free fall. Feel free to remind me should I lose my focus!

Who wants to fly with me?

Until next time…

Betty

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We arrived in Stowe, Vermont late Sunday afternoon to a place familiar to us – a time share which we have owned for over a decade. In recent years, since we have moved to rural Ontario, we have come here lass frequently. This year I insisted we come. Jim and I are tired, good tired mind you, yet in need of a hiatus from what has been a fully engaged time of our life.

In many ways, it is another form of our perfect work, as the quiet of this mountain hamlet is allowing us time for reflection. Oh yes, that – mindfulness, checking in with our souls if you will.

In the mornings, before waking fully to the day, I am asking myself, “Where am I? What is important? What’s next?” and filing the answers in my intentions.

I am reading the Witch of Montebello by Paulo Coehlo. His books resemble ME FIRST journeys, of taking a look at the inner landscape and learning to live in the empty space.

Just before stopping at the local coffee house to check e-mail (this is hard to escape even on vacation), we went trekking to see some of the local waterfalls and take a few photos. Most of the leaves have fallen and the earth is a massive patchwork quilt of green, gold and crimson. Despite the absence of foliage, the air is fresh, the scent of those same leaves lingering in the air. Water rushes beneath our feet, to some unknown destination, reminding me that it is the journey of life that is truly important, not where I will land in the end.

I am grateful for the breath this time is offering us. I am grateful to ‘BE’.

Until Next time…

Betty

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A ME FIRST Celebration

The Upper Hudson Highlands is a lesser known area of New York State. Whenever I mention the region to native New Yorkers, especially those from ‘The City’, a blank stare of ‘where the heck is that’ shadows across their face. Interesting how we can know so little about our own back yard, as the ‘Highlands’ are a short one hour train ride from the Big Apple.

Our friends Lynn and Norm live in Garrison, a train stop located on the Hudson River directly across from West Point. Sail boats cruise by on those leisurely summer days circled by the occasional faster moving craft. The area is known for its steep rolling hills, heavily forested and steeped in history dating back to the days of the 13 colonies. We have visited there now on a half dozen occasions, in all four seasons. 

Part of the attraction is a place which has become a second home to us, a log cabin nestled into a rocky outcropping on Old Albany Post Road, a former stage coach route. This of course is where Lynn and Norm reside. It is hard to believe we met them only 3 short years ago while on an Alaskan Cruise. Have you noticed that when you are older, the people you meet seem familiar to you and that the friendships that form are more authentic? That’s what the four of us share. 

Yesterday, October 17th was Lynn and Norm’s 11th wedding anniversary. That is one of the reasons why we are here – to celebrate.

The invitation was initiated by another friend however, one of my coaching colleagues Janet Wise. A few weeks ago, Janet and I had connected, and as so often happens on our coaching conversations, began to discuss what’s next. She shared that she was about to turn 50 and that she had not decided how she wanted to celebrate this occasion. It needed to be special, something unusual. We brainstormed and an idea was born, seeded by our conversation about the launch of ME FIRST. 

“I’ll have a ME FIRST luncheon,” she announced, “and invite those women who have significantly influenced my life. And, I’ll gift them each with a copy of ME FIRST. How cool would that be?” I was both shocked and pleased – what a way to honor your friends and what a gift to me. ‘Will you come she asked?” I think she expected me to say no, after all NYC is a 7 hour drive. But how could I refuse?

Jim and I arrived at Grand Central Station 11 am Saturday morning. The day was damp and cold, rain spitting around us. We stopped for a Starbuck’s fix and while in the coffee shop, shared a few attractionCARDS with other patrons. As a result we met an air line hostess who flew with British Airways and was on a layover.

We entered the Roger Smith Hotel, corner of Lexington and 47th at noon. Janet was setting up the room. A small army of helpers responded to her directions, placing flowers, candles, and coat racks in key locations. It was a symphony of focused activity.

As 12:30 approached women of all ages began to filter into the room, her mother and aunts, all in the early eighties, colleagues and friends from various phases of Janet’s adult life, high school friends whom she had lost touch with and re-located through Facebook, and a bevy of nieces and of course her daughter – a multi-generational tapestry of amazing women.

I don’t think that the choices Janet had made for celebrating her 50th birthday really occurred to me until that moment. I had been asked to briefly entertain this group with the ME FIRST message as part of a Janet’s special day. I was filled with gratitude for this opportunity and for Janet. I was humbled by the presence of these women who had influenced her life and continue to do so. I was in admiration of Janet’s clarity regarding what she wanted for her special day; how she chose to put herself first in that moment and offer every other woman in the room the opportunity of considering this message for themselves.

This was an act of selfness, allowing Janet to be clear about what she wanted and to take the actions that would support her desires as well as a most unselfish act, in her decision to give the gift of ME FIRST to her friends.

As I approach a significant landmark birthday in 2010, I want to carry this message with me. Janet has been an amazing role model and teacher for me these last few weeks. And how cool, really cool was the idea of using her birthday celebration in such a unique way – the seed of a new way to be – ME FIRST!

Until next time…

Betty

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Take Back the Night!

Late this afternoon I joined a group of women and one fella, our local MP, the evening for the Take Back the Night Walk. I decided not to participate in the walk itself as I felt pressed to get home and start packing for our trip to NYC and Vermont tomorrow. I had been asked to kick off the walk with a brief talk, more of a ‘rallying cry’, so to speak.

I woke up this early morning wondering how I would approach this, wondering what would be meaningful to this crowd of which I had so little knowledge. These invitations are usually a challenge. I take the request to participate and to speak seriously as I want to impart the perfect message for those attending. With some reflection, and I believe a little guidance from my higher power, the answer came to me.

This event is for the survivors of sexual abuse. Statistics suggest the 2 out of every 3 women are sexually abused during their life time. Isn’t that staggering? “Take Back the Night’ is at least a positive intention to over come sexual abuse and I wanted to build on this theme.

For those who have experienced abuse there are two choices, to allow the abuse to rule you or for you to take charge and live your life large anyway. At least that’s how I see it. The rallying cry – I am powerful beyond measure! I love myself unconditionally! I am worthy of being loved, respected and honored by others. I step into my own POWER! I take back the night! This is what I led the crowd in after speaking briefly about fueling our personal power with positive, affirming self-talk.

I watched the walkers leave the school where we had gathered, a police escort with their cars flashing their lights, flanking the participants. They turned off Augustus onto Second Street, a sea of feet moving slowly toward the center of town. Several women from Cornwall Island, who had arrived late, drummed softly, as rattles and other noise makers interrupted the drum’s rhythm. A large black and white banner led the parade, with Take Back the Night emblazoned across it’s width; a French banner pulled up the rear. I paused before I turned the corner to head home, waving to the passing crowd. They didn’t see me – I was now invisible.

Until next time…

Betty

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Happy Thanksgiving

In our Canadian tradition of celebrating this year’s harvest, I want to consider all the seeds I planted and nurtured this past year and to celebrate my harvest. ME FIRST – If I Should Wake Before I Die was finally birthed, the seeds for this planted many years ago, and watered and weeded along the way. I am thankful for this journey just as I am in gratitude for the opportuntiy to share it forward with the book, speaking engagements, coaching and retreats. I am grateful for those who cross my path everyday and have the ME FIRST conversation with me. I am grateful for my husband Jim, my family and my clients.

Let your life shine – assess your gratitudes today and share it with those around you and here if you wish. I am listening for your words…

Happy Thanksgiving,
Betty

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It is difficult to ignore the SIGNS which appear this time of the year. They are numerous. The multi-tone greens of summer changing to tangerine, crimson and gold, making even the most boring country road an artist’s palette. Overhead, V’s of geese head southward, the Canada’s sounding impatient with their incessant honking while the Snow’s glide across the sky with muted encouragement. All of these SIGNS suggest the end of one season and the beginning of a new one. They lead us into our Canadian tradition of Thanksgiving, that time each year when we pause to express gratitude for the abundance for the year’s harvest. For most of us, this time of year also serves to remind us of the abundance in our life.

It is also the season when I imagine the ‘what if’s” of life. What if we could pause to see the abundance in our life everyday, applying the lessons of the Thanksgiving tradition in a more conscious way?

There is ample evidence that what you give your attention to expands. The same is true of gratitude. When you adopt an attitude of gratitude, your focus shifts from whatever may be troubling you at that moment to a more positive and optimistic viewpoint. On even the darkest, rainy days of any season, it takes only a second to make the day feel lighter – a simple memory and acknowledgement of the wonderful things that have crossed your path that day.

Typically, we as humans have the nasty habit of focusing on the less than positive things in our life, failing to see what is right versus what is wrong. Unfortunately this contributes to your sense of being overwhelmed, perhaps over worked. It is a spirit-depleting habit. I am proposing to you that it is time to shift. Just as those green leaves of summer change into their colorful fall attire, make a commitment to do the same with your attitude, shifting from one of complaint, worry and anxiety to one of abundance and gratitude.

So how do you start? In her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach suggested the idea of a Gratitude Journal. This requires a little discipline even though it is simple, as the book suggests, taking the time each day to record those things that occurred during your day for which you are grateful. For example today I am grateful because Jim (my husband) is sleeping in and I have the office to myself, the Vet just called to tell me that my cat Max is recovering from an infection, and I have a full day of coaching clients ahead of me.

You could say, well these things just happen anyway, why bother being grateful for them? The answer – recognizing and reminding myself that even these ordinary events are, in their own way extraordinary, makes me feel better. Plus this seems to be a far better choice than reminding myself that it is raining outside, again, the gardens are not ready for winter, and the weekend is looking gloomy. Whew! Sorry I had to share that, and as you read both versions of my day at this moment, which one made you feel better?

Noting all of these daily doings in a journal is not necessary, the goal is simply create a habit of noticing. My favorite practice is actually a gratitude circle. Just before dinner, no matter who is seated at our table, I ask each person to share something they are grateful for in that moment. This is something Jim and I do daily. I am always impressed with what comes up. If we don’t have dinner together, we ask each other just before we fall asleep. I love the idea of drifting off to my dream world in an attitude of gratitude.

All of this to say, if you want to feel better everyday, you have options. The one I recommend is a quick review of your day choosing those things that make you feel positive and upbeat – a project completed at work, a beautiful sunrise, a flock of geese crossing the sky, a kiss and a hug from your seven year old, a luncheon with your colleagues where you laughed heartfully. Your energy grows where your focus goes. Begin a new habit this weekend, a practice of gratitude. Consider sharing this with your family, especially your children. Make a commitment to try it for twenty-one days and notice what happens.

Until next time….

Betty

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