Did you know that research shows offering ourselves a warm, safe touch activates the release of oxytocin—the hormone that is the brain’s direct and immediate antidote to the stress hormone cortisol! So take a moment for a bit of self-love today. Happy Valentine's Day!
As 2020 kicks into gear, I invite you to look back on 2019 and set intentions for the year to come. Take a bit of time to sit with the questions below and set some choices in action for the new year!
Ah, it's that time of year!
As the calendar year comes to an end, it naturally tugs on us to reflect on the year, take stock, and think about what we long for in the new year. The season also often means time with family, which can mean both joys & challenges, all in the context of a host of societal expectations & pressures - and a busyness that can be overwhelming. My wishes for you during this season are for a deeper, more mindful presence (instead of presents) & a series of simple joys that truly feed your heart and your soul. Does your heart long for these things? I know mine does. How might you claim them for yourself during this complex season?
First - get into your body to become more fully present.
We spend a lot of time in our thinking brains - mulling over things that happened in the past, planning our "to do" lists - cut off from the present moment right in front of us. One way to become more fully present - meaning aware of & attuned to this "here now" moment - is to take the time to become more aware of our bodies & the information they have for us. This doesn't need to mean starting a full meditation practice! It can be as simple as pausing during the day a taking a few deep breaths & the sense of "dropping down" into your body & taking in the physical sensations. What are you feet feeling? Your knees & hips? What sensations are there in your back? Are you holding any tension in your hands, shoulders, neck, jaw, tongue, & the muscles in your face? Just check in, become aware, get grounded in the physical sensations that exist in your body, breathe - and then just notice what you notice. Just being in the body will give you a more centered place from which to operate - even if just for a few moments. Try doing this several times a day & see what it offers to you.
Second - open up to simple moments of joy.
In addition to mindful awareness of the body, try using your other senses to open up to spot simple moments of joy. Joy is about feeling good - a burst of positive emotion - right now, in this moment. It can be the taste of a holiday treat on your tongue & in your mouth. The sound of a cherished holiday song or the voice of a loved one. A smell that evokes a sense of pleasure. A burst of color or sparkling lights in holiday decorations. Whatever it is for you - when you have a moment that makes you smile, feel warm or grounded or loved - pause, really notice it, spot it as joy - and then take it in, fully. Embrace it & soak it in - revel in it! If that resonates with you, check out Ingrid Fetell Lee's evocative TED talk on "where joy hides & how to find it."
And finally, turn down the volume on that inner critic.
We've all got them - those negative voices that tell us we aren't measuring up in some way. These critical voices can be amplified during the holiday season by our own expectations for what the season should be like, as well as external pressures. Practice noticing those voices & purposefully turning down their volume. Set them aside & instead offer yourself some self-compassion. Want some help with that? This lovely post from Mindful magazine offers some practices for self-compassion during the holidays.
My wish for you in this holiday season is that you move through it from a place of mindfulness, grounded in the body. Choose to turn down those inner critics & pump up the volume of the simple joys that surround you! I wish you all the best of the holiday season and the coming new year.
Have I the courage to change today?
Are you thinking about coaching? Seeking greater resiliency & a sense of being more intentional about how you live your life & as a leader? Interested in making a change in your life & wondering how coaching might support you? Yay! Congratulations on noticing that you are craving change & on seeking support on the journey!
If you've landed on my website & are wondering about whether I might be a good coaching "fit" for you - the list below offers a bit of a "taste test." I have a set of 8 bottom line, non-negotiables in my coaching style. These are fundamental not only to my coaching, but who I am & how I show up - in coaching, in relationships, as a leader, & in life. So try them on for size & see how they land with you!
1. Co-creating an intentional relationship
How many opportunities do we get to create relationships where the design of the relationship is co-created & explicit? Well, in coaching, that's a foundational component. From the very first session, we will talk about what we both need to make this relationship as powerful as possible. That can be as tactical as whether I'm allowed to swear or not during sessions (yes, I have a fondness for the f*$& and sh&# words) to bigger requests we make of each other about how we want to show up. That mutual co-design is on-going, with frequent check-ins during the time that we work together. I find it to be great playground to build a set of skills for explicitly designing all the relationships in my life!
2. Be here . . . now
Humans spend a lot of time thinking about the past (re-telling ourselves both happy & hard stories) or the future (doing things like worrying & planning). During coaching, I will focus us on being together this present moment (which is really the only moment we have, right?). This means I'll ask you questions like "what is here now? what are you feeling now? what is going on on your side of this conversation right now? what just shifted for you?" We'll also do some check-in & mindfulness exercises to get us both centered in the here-and-now moment.
3. Get into the body
Boy, we can spend a lot of time in our heads - our busy, busy thinking brains. And our bodies are more than just vehicles to carry those busy brains around in the world. Our bodies have so much information to share with us, and yet we have often completely tuned them out. The brain is actually a part of a larger somatic system, with input & information flowing in. As a former dancer, I know that my body experience shapes my life, and I'm much happier & aware when I listen to my body. In coaching, I will be explicit about getting you in touch with your body & getting curious about the information it has for you. So be ready for me to ask you to get up, move around, shift physically, get into the body, & share what's going on there. My commitment to you is that we will never just sit and talk talk talk talk talk about your topic. You can do that with loved ones and friends. With me - you're going to get into your body, so get ready!
4. Yep, we're going to talk about feelings
We are constantly in a feeling state - whether we are aware of it or not. Feelings come to & through us constantly. When we resist or avoid them, we can get all tangled up in the activity of avoiding them - when all we really need to do is notice, acknowledge, & accept them, allowing them to flow through us. Just like getting aware of your body's input, we're going to get super curious about what you are feeling - in the current moment. This means I will ask you things like "what are you feeling right now? what is the emotion underneath that statement? what's coming up for your emotionally right now?"
5. Metaphor as a way in
We all have ruts & routines in terms of the stories we tell ourselves. In coaching, we'll use metaphors, images, & creativity to break out of those routines to open up new ways of being & acting. I know this can be a bit uncomfortable for those of us who are right-brained analytic folks . . . and we can acknowledge that discomfort & still be in a space that is a little more free-flowing, imaginative, & playful. This means I'll ask you things like "what is an image or a metaphor that captures that for you? if this were a book you are writing, what's the name of this chapter? if you are standing on a path, what's the environment like around you? what's the weather pattern that best describes this situation for you? if you see yourself in your mind's eye in that moment, what comes up for you?" The unexpectedness of your in-the-moment answers can open up all kinds of new learning.
6. Weird moments of intuition
Yeah, this is bit of a weird one. Part of my work as a coach is to remain open to a wider set of information and impulses, beyond our conversation. I know, it sounds a bit northern California "woo woo" - and yet, I also know with absolutely certainty that it happens, is there, & is a vital part of me as a coach. I will frequently blurt out things that are popping up on my side of the conversation - images, words, physical sensations, things I'm hearing or observing in the environment around me or you - and asking you if they mean anything to you. Sometimes it will mean something to you & open up a new area of learning - and sometimes it won't bring up anything for you & then pushing off that fact will take us in a new direction. So get ready to get a little weird!
7. Exploring, not explaining
We all have narratives that we tell ourselves & others about what has happened, is happening, or will happen in our lives. Sometimes these stories include a lot of details. As a human being, I'm interested in the details of your stories. But as your coach, I'm laser-focused on listening for your deeper understanding of what you are experiencing, learning, choosing, doing, & how you are being in the world. For that purpose, I just don't need the details . . . is it enough that you know them! My job is to ensure that the focus of our time together is your exploration of your life. I'm listening to make sure you are exploring your experience (not explaining a situation to me). If I think you have drifted into explaining, I'm going to intrude & move us back to exploration. (And of course, going back to #1, if you disagree with me because you were exploring or you need me to know the details to keeping moving, then you get to say so, & we'll unpack that, together!)
8. And above all else . . . let's get curious
This is, without question, the absolutely most important piece of my coaching style. I am deeply, insatiably, relentlessly curious about you, your experience, what is important to you, your journey, & what you are longing for in your life. My invitation to you is that you also become similarly relentlessly curious about yourself & the topography of your life. To use a metaphor (back to #5 above), I think about coaching as if you & I are exploring a breathtakingly beautiful cave together. There are gorgeous rock formations, hidden pools, jewels and veins of minerals, & even treasure chests to discover and unpack. We're both holding lanterns or flashlights & shining a light on different aspects of the cave. We get to be adventurous explorers - uncovering more & more each session about what makes you the unique, precious, remarkable YOU that you are - and then what you want more of in your life. The more you understand about the cave of you, the more informed choices you can make in all aspects of & situations in your life.
Wait, you might be saying - I just want help working out more often, preparing for my next conversation with my board chair, thinking strategically about my role at my organization or how to rebuild my relationship with a loved one, or how to find a new job that is more fulfilling. Of course! All of us come to coaching with specific goals, changes that we are seeking, & tactical life topics to explore. If you choose me as your coach, we will absolutely do that.
At the same time, we will also be focused on increasing your curiosity about & awareness of your own lived experience. What is your purpose in life, articulating a north star that guides you & your decisions? What is important to you, naming a set of values that are unique to you & make life more robust and satisfying? Where do you sabotage yourself, spotting the inner critics that try to cut you down, make you live smaller than your true potential? Who are you when you are your best, wisest, biggest self? And how do you take responsibility for living the life you crave?
Now you might be noticing that any (or all!) of my fundamentals might not be the right match for you. If so, that's great awareness - congrats! That just means I'm probably not the right coach for you. I recommend searching for another coach on the Co-Active Training Institute website or through the International Coach Federation online search for a credentialed coach.
If you are feeling cautiously intrigued (I love the curiosity!) or a full on "yes please," I'm happy to offer you a complimentary 30-minute sample session to try out a quick burst of coaching, & then we can both decide whether we are a good fit. Just contact me through the form on this website, and we can schedule a time to connect! Thank you!