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Archive for April, 2013

With the sounds, sights and smells of spring appearing all around me, the urge to purge has also arrived. It’s that time of year for spring cleaning. This year I am also resting with the question, what would it be like to spring clean my life, not just the house or the garden?

With some contemplation on this theme, the following spring cleaning tips have emerged.

  1. The Great D & C: I am not referring to a surgical procedure here, rather the desire to simply dust and clean. Doesn’t it feel like there are a few dust bunnies in the corners of your mind and a few dirty floors where you allowed yourself to be a bit of a doormat?

Time to change that and get out the scrubbers and the dust mop. Your Strategy – consciously dust out the corners and release any conversations, left over arguments, less than perfect interactions with others, worry and self-criticism and sweep them into the dustbin. Remember it is only stuff, dust. The beautiful you lies underneath and you want to shine yourself up and prepare for all the amazing things you are about to attract and manifest.

  1. The Great Purge: You can start this process physically by visiting the closets and cupboards in your house. As you  survey the contents, ask yourself what you no longer need or require. When it comes to your clothes, release anything that has not been worn for the last year, anything which does not have the WOW! Factor, anything torn, used or abused.

Now apply the same principles to your closet of thoughts. Release any thoughts, usually sourced from your inner critic, that no longer serve you, which are worn and torn, don’t fit anymore and are seriously out of date. By the way, most of your inner critic’s messages are out of date, born of some voice from the past who certainly does not deserve any air time. Finally, any thought that does not have the WOW! Factor, that does not lift you up or support you, is destined for the garbage bin.

  1. The Great Forgiving: I have through the years made a number of clothing purchases which were outrageous to say the least. Once home and in my closet, I have asked myself, “What were you thinking?” Okay I wasn’t! It is in these moments that I have learned to forgive my momentary lapse in judgment.

The same rule applies to other life choices, whether this has been a decision about work, friendship, family or whatever. Forgiveness always  starts with self-first, to those places where you have set the standard for yourself so high that you could not possibly meet it, to the places where you have disappointed yourself and possibly others, to those      occasions where you have been angry and judgmental of yourself.

Let it go! Live by the rule that you are perfect just as you are and that you have done your best. The ’best’ is a moving target, one that gets better every day with the many life lessons you experience and the accrued wisdom that accompanies these lessons. Learn to look to the present moment, what is happening and who you are being today. Consider who you are becoming. Create the space for yourself to continue to grow and learn by forgiving yourself of all the sins you think you have committed. And when you forgive yourself, forgiving others is a lot easier.

  1. Manage Space: Once you have purged, dusted and cleaned, there will be more space in your life. You have released all that no longer serves you. The next step, and perhaps
    just as critical as releasing, is replacing. Once space is created, do not leave it vacant as that allows backwash, a return of all that you are choosing to let go of.

Replacing means becoming very clear regarding what you are choosing for your life. For example, and easy, effortless and unconditional loving relationship with yourself, replacing the messages from your inner critic. Or an openness to receive all that is in your highest good, whether this is in terms of relationships, your work, or opportunities to grow and expand. I call this Clarity, being clear about what      you want in your life and making the choices that lift you up.

Spring has arrived providing you with an opportunity to clean up anything that is currently less than perfect. Do not fall prey to the belief that this is not possible. It’s all about choice, you choosing what is perfect for YOU. Invite your friends to join you and create a spring cleaning extravaganza.

I look forward to seeing you on the other side, all shiny and sparkly and fueled by all the possibilities that show up when you give them the space that they need!

Betty Healey

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In the wake of the devastating attack on one of the most prestigious races in North America, the Boston Marathon, I am choosing to focus on an inspiring lessons rather than the devastation.

If you have watched the images of the explosions you will have noticed that one of the runners fell down from the impact of the explosion, just before reaching the finish line. The runner’s name is Bill Iffrig, a 78 year old gentleman from Washington state who was completing his 3rd Boston marathon.

In his own words Bill described the impact of the blast, a shockwave which turned his legs into noodles. Although dazed, he recovered, and once back on his feet was determined to finish the race. Imagine, despite the devastation around him and being literally knocked off his feet, he decided to finish the race.

This is an inspiration for me – I hope it is for you as well. Never mind that Bill is 78, never mind that he was dazed and pummeled by the blast, he still had the drive and the focus to finish the race. That takes courage and purpose, a lesson which I believe all of us can learn from.

In watching CNN today (yes I admit I tuned in), much of the focus was on the fear such an incident creates and how people go on. The truth – you choose to finish the race.

There are so many things that get in the way, that can keep you from fulfilling your dreams or living your life as you choose it to be. As a life coach and ME FIRST facilitator, I see the casualties every day, the symptoms of a ‘life unlived’.

Fear is the biggest foe, whether it is the fear created by an incident such as that experienced in Boston yesterday, or a fear that is much more subtle and simply whittles away at your self-confidence.

In her book I Will not Die an Unlived Life, author Dawna Markova describes fear as passion without breath. Fear, she suggests, takes our breath away and for all the wrong reasons. Markova goes on to say that to be fully alive, the only choice you have is to move closer to what it is you fear rather than veering away from it. When you veer away, you can’t finish the race.

Each of you have a race you want to win, whether this is a project that beckons to be finished, a desire that remains unfulfilled, a relationship that needs healing, or  a journey that keeps calling to you. Stop and consider your life for a moment and ask the question, ‘What is left undone for me to finish?”

In sitting with one of my coaching clients this morning, the complaint that was voiced was what to DO and who to BE next. There is a common malaise that I am witnessing which related to too many projects on the go, too few ever brought to completion. The race is never finished.

Completion is important. It leads to a sense of fulfillment; you experience a sense of success. Success breeds self-esteem which in turn builds self-confidence.

When you have too many balls in the air, too many incomplete projects, your fall into overwhelm. Overwhelm is a state where your energies are scattered, where priorities are unclear and where there is no strategy or direction for moving forward.  The only way to shift or change this is to simply stop, choose one project, put everything else in the ‘parking lot’, move forward with that one project and bring it to completion. Finish the race. Once completed, you can celebrate your accomplishment and move on to the next project.

I call this breaking life into chewable chunks. I am certainly guilty of occasionally biting off more than I can chew, and I easily fall into overwhelm. The only strategy is to simplify, to understand that I don’t have to give up anything but that I do need to put some things in the parking lot for another time. And like you, I do love the feeling that comes with completing something. I like to finish the race.

Thank you Bill Iffrig for the lesson.  As we all send our blessings for healing to those who suffered loss and injury in yesterday’s race, we can also be grateful to the unsung heroes like Bill who teach us valuable lessons for our own life.

Whatever your race may be, I invite you to commit to finishing the race. Make your life count for something. Do it for yourself first and remember that when you make this choice, you are also serving others.

And live by these words from Dawna Markova:

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I chose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Until Next time

Betty Healey

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Please welcome guest blogger Jean Benedict Raffa, Ed.D., author of Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace With Ourselves, Each Other, and the World. Since making peace with oneself is one of my interests and an important part of what I teach, I am delighted to have Jean contribute to The roadSIGNS Coach.

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We all have a shadow composed of everything we don’t want to know about ourselves. If you want to grow as a person you need to come to terms with it, because if you don’t it will create problems for you in your work and relationships. But how do you do that? Here’s a handy guide for recognizing your dark shadow.

Step 1: Notice Symptoms:  Each shadow is a complex of tangled attitudes, emotions, thoughts and responses you habitually have to a certain type of situation. You’ve lived with this uncomfortable inner environment for so long that you just don’t notice it coming until it’s too late and the storm is upon you. So your first goal is to notice when something has been stirred up such that your mood, energy, body language, emotions or thoughts are no longer within your comfort zone, and then figure out why this happened. Here’s an example of how this process might look.

Your first clue :  Body language: You woke up feeling good this morning. You made your coffee, skimmed through your favorite parts of the paper, started the crossword puzzle. After a while you sigh and prop your chin in your hands. You realize your shoulders are sagged over the table, you’ve put your pencil down, and you don’t feel like finishing the crossword puzzle. What’s going on here?  You love doing the crossword puzzle.

Your second clue: Uncomfortable feelings: You notice you’re feeling a bit low. In fact, you’re feeling sad, ashamed, and disgusted with yourself. And maybe a bit sorry for yourself. Why?

Your third clue: Negative self-talk: You ask yourself what you were thinking about while you were working on the puzzle: “I’m a terrible friend. I should have called Mary right away when I heard she was ill. I never think to help others. I’m so self-absorbed and selfish. And my work on my latest project is laughable!  I was so proud of my idea and thought I was so smart. And now I hate it! Why was I so stupid to think it was good? I’ll never be any good at this kind of work. What’s wrong with me?  Am I lazy?  Or just stupid?”  Where did those thoughts come from?

Step 2: Locate the trigger:  You re-trace your steps. Oh, yes.  You were reading the advice column and a lady wrote complaining that she was sick and no one from work called to find out what was wrong or offer to help. The columnist wondered if she was making an effort to be friendly at work. That’s when you started feeling guilty. One thought led to another and soon you were beating yourself up about all sorts of things.

Step 3: Analyze your response:  Obviously you’re a very sensitive and well-intentioned person who wants to be kind to people and do good work, but something in you sabotages your efforts and well-being. That one little comment in the paper led to a spate of self-criticism about your character, work skills, and thinking ability. Do you see how you jumped from reading the advice column to criticizing yourself to feeling sad and dejected?  If you go to work that way you’re not going to have the energy or desire to be friendly or do your best. So if you can recognize the symptoms of your shadow you can de-fuse it before it takes control of you by giving it a name, like “Critical Bully,” asking it to back off and give you a break, and then forgiving yourself for being human.

The good news is that everyone also has “bright” shadow of which they’re unaware. This is composed of their soul’s true, healthy, undeveloped potential. Why would someone not develop their bright shadow?  Because they learned early in life that the way to stay safe and comfortable was to hide parts of themselves.

For example, some families encourage interest in creative pursuits like music, drama, drawing or writing, while others see these things as “putting on airs” or “only for sissies,” or “a waste of time and you’ll never make any money at it!” Many find being smart and aspiring to college admirable. Others might call you a “nerd,” or accuse you of “trying to rise above yourself,” or of thinking “you’re better than everyone else!”

Psychologist Margaret Paul wrote on Huffington Post, “When I was growing up, my parents made it very clear that feelings were to be avoided. I heard homilies such as “don’t cry over spilled milk,” or “I’ll give you something to cry about.” When I was upset or crying, I was ignored or sent to my room. The only difficult feeling that seemed to be allowed was my mother’s anger — but not mine. The only feeling I was allowed was ‘happy.’ Not only did I learn never to share any feelings other than ‘happy’ with my parents, I also learned to stay in my head and disconnect from my feelings. It was the only sensible way to cope with life in my home.”

As long as we disconnect from our feelings we won’t find our bright shadow. To “follow your bliss” you have to feel it! Until you do, you’ll project it onto others, and that can become problematic. For example, we might over-idealize someone with a gift or talent we’ve repressed, then reject them when they disappoint us by being as human as everyone else. Other problems arise when we repress genuine strengths and obsess over unfulfilling substitutes. For example, maybe we were criticized as a child for being too proud and bossy, so we repressed our natural leadership qualities and tried to act humble all the time. Not only does this waste a lot of energy, but it can birth resentment, self-righteousness, and a sense of superiority.

Here’s a trick to discovering your bright shadow.  Make a list of five people you deeply admire, known or unknown, real or fictional. Beside each name note their qualities that you most like.  Re-read your list knowing that these qualities are undeveloped aspects of your bright shadow which you have projected onto these people. They really are, you know. So ask yourself what steps you can take to develop these qualities in yourself, and then…take them.

Jean-Raffa-Headshot

Jean Raffa is an author, speaker and workshop leader. Her newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace With Ourselves, Each Other, and the World, is a product of 19 years of research and writing about psychological integration as a spiritual path to evolving consciousness. It recently received the 2013 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for best non-fiction book by an individual in secular media who communicates religious issues, values and themes with professionalism and fairness, and encourages understanding between faith groups on a national level.  You can find more about Jean’s books at her website, www.jeanraffa.com. Matrignosis, her blog about inner wisdom, is at www.jeanraffa.wordpress.com.

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The last week of March I travelled to Edmonton and Calgary. I was fortunate that my schedule gave be two nights in Calgary which allowed me to enjoy two morning walks along the Bow River Walk, part of the TransCanada Trail.

Travelling can be taxing. What I once considered to be enjoyable has become a mélange of new hotels every day, long taxi drives to and from airports, and then the airport itself. I remember the days when getting on an airplane were pleasurable – yes, I remember Wardair! These days it is check-in via a machine, drop off your bag, jump into a line for the security check, take off your jacket, belt, shoes – virtually undress, then pull yourself together again. The entire process, if you’re lucky, takes less than one hour. Where has the pleasure of flying gone?

Likewise to be an employee in an airport has also lost its luster. Airline personnel are more disgruntled. It’s as if the entire system has been dehumanized. This requires a strategy!

A few years ago Jim and I created attractionCARDS, a box of 88 inspiring and attractive messages. We decided this would be a way of changing our interaction with others as we travel. At every opportunity along the way, we offer people a card. Occasionally I am given a look of skepticism to which I respond, “it’s like a fortune cookie without the calories”. That said, the recipient, upon reading the message, always smiles. More importantly, when they read the message, which is always stated in the ‘I’ voice (Example: I acknowledge the greatness of who I am every day!) we experience a shift in their energy.

Jim and I have had numerous examples through our travels. In Chicago, which has to be one of the busiest airports and one where you inevitably are delayed, tension always runs high. As we were exchanging our tickets, because our flight had been cancelled, we were greeted by a lovely man who dealt with us with great caution. Many flights had been cancelled that day. Before beginning our negotiations with him, we offered him a card. He read it, looked at us, tears welling in his eyes and said “Thank you – you have made my day”. He then made ours by searching for the best possible connection for us.

Minutes later we sat down for lunch. The waitress, who was rushing around like the proverbial headless chicken, threw the menus at us. Now we see this as a challenge so when she took our order, we offered her a card. She barely looked at it and scowled at us. About 30 minutes later she came over to our table to thank us and have a conversation. The message it seems landed.

These are but two of many examples. These days I gift cards wherever I go: meetings with clients, grocery stores, my favorite coffee shop, people standing in line, banks, meetings, you name it. My boldness has no limits. The reception is amazing.

Years ago a friend of mine Dawna Markova was co-author on a series of books entitled Random Acts of Kindness. The books addressed those little deeds you do every day for someone else simply because you want to and offered suggestions and stories. This is what attractionCARDS offer me – an opportunity to offer someone an uplifting message that will lift their spirits, and in lifting their spirits lift the world just a little bit.

kindness

One of my favorite stores is Talbots and the best one I know is located in the upper Hudson Highlands just outside Coldwater, New York. For a few seasons Jim and I were so well know there that the staff would greet us and wait for their card, their message of the day, and then show the ones they had drawn previously to us. They were stored on the screens of their computers. Message: you cannot take for granted what a simple act of kindness will do or the meaning the other person will derive from it.

My belief is that each person will pull the message that is perfect for them at that moment in time, and that despite only being a few inspiring words, it will have a meaning beyond what I will know. I trust this implicitly – that’s why they are called attractionCARDS.

Whether you use cards such as these to gift forward or simply engage in other random acts of kindness, you lift spirits and in a subtle yet influential way, you contribute to making the world a better place. Here is my call to action to each of you – let’s work together to change the world. Let’s prove the media wrong and focus on the good in the world, in others and in ourselves. Let’s find opportunities every day to lift the spirits of others through random acts of kindness. The result – you will be inspired as well.

 

Until next time…

 

Betty Healey

Note: attractionCARDS can be ordered at http://www.roadSIGNS.ca

 

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