The Secret to Moving Forward

 

In the previous post, I told you about my friend, Sharon*, with the chronically sore wrist and upset stomach; how she’d asked me what I meant exactly by “listen to your body” and “talk to your wrist”. A few weeks later, I followed up with her and hit upon an important key for any kind of healing to work.

Sharon told me how she’d decided to try energetic healing; Reiki being one and another she’d heard about at a conference. She was comfortable with the concept of Reiki, allowing whatever emotional release or images or realizations to come up. The other technique, done over the phone and quick-acting was also touted as clearing blocks from generations of stuck emotions; this she had a harder time believing.

Was it the distance? The speed? The idea of having her great-grandmother’s frustrations lodged in her wrist that caused her to doubt?

It ultimately came down to the fact that she experienced shifts with Reiki and had no “proof” of the other thing working, other than the practitioner saying that she was “done”. Yet, in neither circumstance was there a moment when she consciously “heard” the exact nature of what’s irritating her body, nor a clear solution.

So, she brushed off any effectiveness. During our conversation, though, she kept saying that her stomach and wrist were feeling better, relating it more easily to new meds than anything else she’d tried.

Reminds me of a story that Louise Hay tells in one of her books, about a visually impaired woman who’d recovered her sight after working with Ms. Hay. She walked around for a week saying, “I can’t believe I can see,” and not surprisingly, by the end of the week, she was back to square one.

Like this woman, Sharon doubted the power of the energetic work.

That’s right. It comes down to faith. It comes down to trusting the process, whether you can see the end results or not.

 

Whether health-related or not, this is the same kind of resistance that holds us back when anything new presents itself in our lives. (Read here about the pain of transition.)

You fear the part you can’t see yet – what it’ll be like to live on your own or in a new city; what it’ll be like once your business takes off or your pain is healed. We get so used to how things are now. No matter how much we want them to change, or, no matter how much we feel our world’s coming to an end when the change is unexpected, we have a hard time projecting ourselves into the unknown territory on the other side.

We fear the unknown.

I get it. I was so scared of what splitting up would do to my kids, I was temporarily willing to fold myself back up into the unfulfilled ball I needed to be to stay in that marriage. I was so afraid of walking away from the support and old-slipper comfort of my life in one city, I fleetingly considered ending a second marriage to avoid having to move away.

My friend, in healing her wrist and stomach, will be letting go of the traumatic end to her own marriage. Staying locked in a place of “I have been a victim” has been the driving definition of her life for 8 years. By walking away from it all – by trusting the potential offered to her by her recent energetic sessions, she is saying yes to herself. She is saying yes to a part of herself that she has yet to discover. How exciting!

How scary.

No wonder she’d rather doubt and hold back.

As I learned by following the suggestions of healthcare practitioners over the years, as I learned by embracing life as a divorced mother, as I learned by opening myself to the possibilities of a new city, at a certain point, you have to trust where the road is taking you.

Consider that these changes in your life might be the answers to requests you made of the universe months or even years ago. You never know.

It’s quite possible that in signing up for the energetic work, Sharon was in some way listening to deepest needs.

How and What to Trust.

* When you ask for help, trust that what shows up is what you need in that moment.

When you choose to hire an expert, or read their book, or follow their blog, trust that she has the expertise and experience to get you where you need to go on this leg of the journey. She’s been where you are, she knows how to get you through.

Trust that she holds a vision of what’s possible for you, even if you can’t see it yet.

When you come upon a new experience, trust that is has gifts for you even if you don’t see them in the moment.

* Trust that you are safe.

Trust that your support system (the professionals, your friends, your family, your gods/angels/spirit guides) and your inner knowing all have your back, and will get you through this, no matter how long, no matter how hard.

* Most importantly, trust yourself.

“I can’t…, I don’t believe…, this never works for me,…” these are words of doubt and resistance; they will only become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Trust yourself to stay open to what happens. Even in listening to your own body’s wisdom, trust that wisdom…and trust your body’s capacity to heal.

Trust yourself to use the tools you’ve been offered. In any kind of healing – health, marriage, business, parenting,… – there’s always homework, action to reinforce the lessons and insights. Don’t question the validity of the exercise, simply trust that there’s a reason you’re being told to do something, even if it’s not immediately clear to you.

Trust yourself to do the work.

When you want and need to move forward into the unknown of your life, resistance will rear its fear-drenched head. Take a deep breath and trust.

* not her real name

What has held you back from moving forward with your health and your life? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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How to Stay Focused When Everything’s Falling Apart

 

Life is hectic, there’s no getting around that. It’s not enough that you have to be fully present for work and get meals prepared. To say that you’re overwhelmed by the worry and responsibilities from your world feeling out of control is an understatement.

If someone asks you to make one more decision, you’re sure your brain will actually break.

How can you stay focused on what’s important when you feel it’s your job to keep everyone and everything from falling apart?

Meditation definitely lays the foundation and giving your emotions space of their own helps to clear the cobwebs, but being the cerebral person that I am, I realize I also need to harness my over-thinking mind.

I don’t do sudokus and memorize poems (though as I just turned 50, these may not be such a bad idea). Enriching my mind means mindset, more than my actual thoughts, and then applying it to the practical needs of my day.

Here are two steps to staying focused throughout your day:

1. Embodied Affirmations

The other day, I wrote of affirmations being part of soul nourishment, but as I think more on it, I realize that affirmations are words that emerge from the soul, which you can then digest through your mind and body.

Let me explain.

I’m sure you know that affirmations are statements you repeat to yourself, as a tool for shifting beliefs you hold, by “recording” new messages into your inner monologue. They’ve become part of the mainstream, though get a bad rap when they have no apparent effect.

The power of affirmations comes in the follow through, as part of a more integrated approach to creating lasting change.

It’s not enough to simply say the words to yourself. In order for your mind to actually assimilate them, you have to feel the truth of the words and take action as if they were true. That is, you have to embody the words.

Using affirmations in this way works for health issues, work problems, relationships,… Let’s look at the example of a poor eating habit, such as grazing when your stress & emotions get out of hand.

An affirmation to shift that habit might look like, “I eat only when hungry.” or “I plan meals that nourish me adequately throughout the day.” or “I breathe through pain & stress with ease.” Repeat in the mirror every morning, or when the urge to open the fridge hits, and you can eventually say them in your sleep, that is, without conscious thought. This part is valuable to a certain extent, as the words then drop down into your subconscious, like the coloured beads in Inside Out.

However, if you connect those words to your body, you start to become them…they become a part of who you are.

Ask yourself: What does hunger feel like in my body? How does being adequately nourished feel? What does getting through stress with ease look like?

With the answers to those questions clear in your mind (and body), imagine yourself getting through your day fully nourished and dealing with stress. Now use those sensations: feel the dropped shoulders, the unclenched jaw, the air filling your lungs as you say the words.

Once I started to integrate my own desired mindset shifts with the rest of me, I’ve noticed a change in my attitude that repeating words alone never did for me.

2. Embodied Plan of Action

The next part is to walk the talk.

Ask: What steps can I take to live as such today, even if the urge still strikes to inhale every cookie in the house?

Having said (& felt) the affirmations, take 10 minutes to pay some concrete attention to the actual food you’ll eat through the day. Plan what to defrost or buy, and list what you have available for nutritious snacks when you need a break.

Planning is the perfect way to keep your mind clear for ANY part of your day (some people prefer to do this the night before). Take 10 minutes to go to over the priorities on your list of endless possibilities – the things that you absolutely want to get done by day’s end – work-related, home and personal.

Using the same principal to help make those choices, ask “How do I want to feel in my body at the end of the day?” or “How will I feel tonight knowing X is done?”

Focus-enhancing bonus: Allot a specific amount of time to each task.

Having a set time helps to maintain boundaries, so your mind is free to focus fully on the task at hand, creativity & ideas & efficiency flowing more easily. Using a timer gives you a protected space to function, without the worry of everything outside that container getting in the way.

Give one of these a try – embodied affirmations OR the embodied plans. Come back here after a few days and let us know what shifted for you.  When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time to reassess, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention despite the whirlwind. Next time, I’ll be discussing choices for the kind of breakfast will get you through the day ahead.  (Sign up in the box below so you don’t miss the coming instalments of how you might do the same.)

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Choosing Toxicity

 

Powerful words hit home at just the right time.

Clearing through my desk drawers, I came across “Your Metabolic Journey”, a sublime excerpt from Marc David’s Slow Food. Like any truly wise piece, it strikes a different chord each time I read it.

Going through once again, I paused at this part: “If you invite toxicity into the body then you are asking it into your personal world.” True. Could apply to me. The full impact of how deeply these words were meant for me didn’t show up until a few days later.

A Bad Habit Revealed

I hate to admit this out loud, but I tend to be the shoemaker’s child when it comes to my eating habits. Using the turmoil of a big move as an excuse, that tendency took over and became the beast I’d worked so hard to tame. My food intake was less than exemplary, less than nourishing.

I was eating stuff that I clearly know is bad for me (because of asthma and gallstones and other issues that seem to be cropping up like weeds as I age). I am a much happier girl if I stay away from gluten, dairy, sugar, dark chocolate (I know!), greasy food and alcohol. Yet, I was eating bread and pasta and baked goods constantly. I was adding cheese and creamy sauces to everything.

A Nagging Belief

As part of my inner journey, I recently came face-to-face with a belief I held around punishment necessarily following reward. Call it the Upper Limits Problem (à la Gay & Kathleen Hendricks), or a fear that something bad must follow the good, a loss after a win. I started living in dread that some mysterious shoe would drop because of many positive changes in my life, to the point that I was lying awake, imagining the possibilities in all sorts of permutations from identity theft to brain tumours to multiple forms of destitution.

I’m always on the lookout for when and how certain conditions start in body and mind, so I wracked my brain for the story or memory that would have set that belief in motion. Yet, it didn’t seem to resonate with any of the childhood stuff I’ve rehashed for other juicy info.

How Habits Create Beliefs

A few days later, I woke up to the fact that I was nursing a glass of port while nibbling a bowl of chips into which I’d dumped a pack of Reese’s Pieces.

This wasn’t a party or a special occasion or a rare occurrence. I was having them, the worst foods for my digestive and adrenal health – for the 3rd day in a row – as I supervised homework and got supper started. To be perfectly honest, I’d been eating chips and drinking alcohol more regularly than is good for me these past months, along with my other transgressions.

You see, I’d had a good day, was feeling carefree and I figured, “Why not?” knowing full well I’d likely be suffering in the days to come. This is a pattern with me. Nothing new.

And that’s when Marc David’s words hit me full force. The belief in punishment is not a result of some trauma that happened when I was 3. It’s the result of a current habit I’d let slip into daily routine.

How crazy is that? I’ve been punishing my body as a means of celebration.

How to Turn Awareness into Action

The lesson I’d received went one step deeper the next day when I, yet again, chose a glass of port over herbal tea for my mid-afternoon treat… because it was there.

It seems that becoming aware of the pattern wasn’t enough to get me to stop. It took a much harsher reality to snap me out of it completely.

The 8-year-old daughter of a dear friend has a usually benign condition that, in her case, causes intestinal bleeding. It’s been stable for several years, but has recently come back with a vengeance. The day after my big Aha, she was in surgery for the 2nd time in as many weeks, as 5 doctors performed innovative techniques to stop it once and for all.

This girl was fighting for her life, yet I continued to take my own digestive & healing capacity for granted by clogging them up with the very elements that cause me the most harm.

My good intentions took on a whole other meaning when they weren’t just about me. I needed a cause greater than myself – a Why – to jump-start the humility it took to step fully into the shift.

I’d been praying and sending healing light to my friend, her family, the doctors. It was time I put my prayers into action. …Maybe create a new belief in the process.

The only way I can build trust in the Universe’s inherent goodness, to trust the powers at be to keep me safe when things go well, is to build trust in myself to do the same.

Regardless of how magical the intention behind your thoughts and words, there comes a time when you need to set the wheels in motion with concrete action. If I want to free myself from unnecessary punishment, I need to stop punishing myself unnecessarily.

If I want to enjoy vibrant health, I need to stop the practices which dull that vibration.

A Belief is a Choice

Another thought lands as these realizations swirl through me, mind, body and soul: holding onto a belief or a habit is a choice.

And so I choose to detoxify. Not a full-on diet change, I simply reduce the ways in which I “invite toxicity” into my body.

I choose instead to “invite the sacred into [my] personal world, [so I] will find it inhabiting [my] metabolic world.” (Marc David)

I choose reward over punishment, health over setbacks.

I choose to feed my body, my thoughts, my beliefs according to the person I want to be.

I choose to show myself the Love I want to radiate to the world.

And you know what? Like magic, there’s been no question or struggle about nourishing vs harmful foods ever since.

What about you? Which of your habits perpetuate beliefs you’d rather clear? What awareness have you recently had which now needs action to alter your metabolism and your life?

When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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A Healthy Expression of You

 

I’m so glad I embraced that new tradition of coming up with a Word of the Year. It has so much more staying power and room for possibility, rather than resolutions for things you’ll jump into whole-heartedly for 3 weeks, then let fizzle out and gather dust with those last few Christmas ornaments you keep forgetting to pack away.

For 2015, I chose Trust. It held a place of honour on my first-ever vision board (unless you count my adolescent bedroom wall). It underlay the decisions I made in work and life. It peppered my parenting. Trust allowed me to take a step back from the worried, need-to-control-every-outcome-in-my-life thoughts that spin around my head at 3 am.

A year based on Trust opened the space for more possibility and best of all, those possibilities showed up!

  • As deep connections with new colleagues and clients;
  • As more clients (aka more income);
  • As fewer stress-based knee-jerk reactions when the shit hit the fan;
  • As fewer inner battles around eating “good” food and steering clear of the stuff that does me harm;
  • As professionals trusting me to be the person they needed to flesh out their projects – a reflection of my own trust in having the ability to step up and be that person;
  • As fewer arguments, more ease and fun, with my sons;
  • As a more honest look at who I am and what I want/need.

As magical as the power of commitment to a word is, there’s magic in the discovery of the word in the first place.

How to Choose a Word

There are plenty of business and life coaches around with tools to help you find your word for the coming year. Some of them are based on core feelings, some on core values…or a combination of the two. (If you want a specific reference, let me know and I’ll send you some links.)

In the end, it comes down to being aware of what you say, what you write, which topics draw you in as you read – notice the words and themes that come up often. It’s the way that your soul gently invites you to explore what’s most important for your growth and healing over the next 4 seasons.

This is how it’s transpired for me in the last few weeks:

I’ve given a lot of attention to stepping away from letting the list of shoulds dictate my day, and moving towards decisive action.

Small moments of dishonesty – “white” lies, omissions, denial – mostly to myself – have been coming out of the shadows and tapping me on the shoulder for appraisal.

I noticed ways in which I held myself back from saying what I fully needed to say to a client, in a supervision group, to my child, to my husband. …Or let it out in a passive aggressive way.

I noticed ways in which I shied away from giving all I could have in a situation – food for a pot-luck, donations, gifts.

During an energetic medicine session, my throat became tight at the same time as the practitioner started coughing.

In part it was all about doing over not doing, saying over holding back. But as I sat with it, really let it all sink in as I journaled about it, the word came out loud and clear.

Expression

Perhaps it could be seen as an extension of the trust I built last year. Where trust required a bit more surrender, expression requires a verb. It’s the movement, the action, the saying of the words that come up when I trust myself. Expression is a fully honest manifestation of me – poured forth into a safe container held by people I trust to receive it.

I have a feeling it’ll prove to be the “master class” for what I learned about over the past year. As I prepare to commit to its development through 2016, I recognize it will also come with a more expanded sense of responsibility, as who I am is more openly expressed.

Regardless, I’m already excited about the magic it will create in my health, my relationships and my life.

What do you need more of in 2016? Would finding a theme word help you achieve it? Let’s find out: write your word here and open the possibilities for yourself!

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Should You or Shouldn’t You?

There are days when I feel drained without having done very much.

There are days when I spin in circles, not knowing what to do next.

So many of my clients get stuck by the fact that they know what to eat, but can’t seem to do it.

Writing those sentences, I notice the one thing they have it common is the verb “do”. Taking action, or more to the point, not taking action…and how it drains us mentally and physically.

I sat down the other day to write a talk I’m giving next month on stress and eating. My mind was whirring with ideas: “I should talk about this,…then I should mention that,…oh, then I should teach them about…” Great stuff, but as I wrote, I felt my shoulders, neck and upper arms tightening, like I was being sealed into a shrinking box. Before I knew it, my excitement about the talk had deflated like a pierced balloon, and I gave up my efforts in favour of another piece of that yummy apple cake I’d made.

What should I do next?

Aha!

That’s where our stress is!

Transitions in life (moving, kids, gaining or losing a spouse, or a job,…) – the biggies – are touted as the main source of stress. They are. It’s normal. You cope – sometimes more gracefully than others – and then you settle into the new routine.

Like a car accident or a fall while skiing, where there’s a clear source for the break in your leg, or when some other major shift happens in your life, you understand why your health might be suffering, or why you’re feeling low. With the leg, you go to a doctor and a physio. After you buy a new house, you mourn the loss of the old neighbours, or you get a therapist to help you through the rough patch of a divorce.

Stress becomes more insidious in the way it worms into your regular days without your even noticing.

As if the pressure of being a modern woman isn’t enough – feeling the need to cook like Nigella, run a company like Cheryl Sandberg and look like Angelina, all while hosting intellectually stimulating dinner parties in your Good-Housekeeping-worthy home – you feel the need to push yourself further with a list that could earn you Perfectionist of the Year. And a few mental kicks in the rear to top it off.

Stress isn’t in the long list of things you get done in a day – yes, you get the kids to school and yourself to work, you manage your career and your home, you drive and cook and organize and see clients and teach and manage teams – when you do them with love and intention and joy, these tasks flow from one to the next, until you finally sit – tired, yes, but in an I’ve-have-had-a-good-day kind of way – and enjoy an episode of Bloodline with your husband before bed.

Stress is in the shoulds, or as my client put it the other day, mirroring my own thoughts back to me, “My day is full of oughts”.

“I should eat more kale.”

“I ought to send that email.”

“I ought to call my mother.”

“I shouldn’t drink so much wine.”

“I should get to the gym.”

“I should talk to my husband about….”

“I should remind the kids that…”

And so the day goes, with a litany of to-dos keeping an endless roll-call in your head, along with the running commentary reminding you of the things you didn’t get done. (Easily recognizable with its tell-tale preface, “I should have…/ I shouldn’t have…”)

Stress has a very real impact on your body. (Read more about that here.)

Sometimes that internal pressure builds to the point of snapping at your favourite people or an anxiety attack. Mostly, the stress gets held inside, messing with the balance of your health and your state of mind. Belly fat, blood sugar imbalances, depression, terrible sleep, lumpy boobs, PMS, are some of the countless ways cortisol’s nefarious effects show up in your body.

So, what’s the solution?

“Should” only comes up when there’s no action.

If I think about the To-Do list that sits on my desk, there are definitely items on there that are things I “should” do, maybe because it’s expected or because I heard some expert on the internet say so. Similar thoughts come to mind when planning meals: clients tell me all the time, “I know I should eat more vegetables.”

Yes, you should. However, telling yourself over and over doesn’t actually have any benefit, other than giving you more reason to beat yourself up later on.

Sometimes there’s an item on my list that I know is important, and yet I keep moving it forward from week to week, allowing it to hang over my head. Lately it was a call I had to make. I could literally feel my body sag every time I read it, or transferred it to the following week’s list.

There came a day when I made a conscious decision to get that darned call out of the way. Regardless of the outcome of the conversation, the relief in having actually done the thing was palpable – I felt lighter, happier, motivated to move forward.

That’s the key: make a decision.

The trick to making that key work is in going for it. Fully. “I’ll try to eat more vegetables, get to the gym, start that conversation,…” doesn’t cut it. Yoda was so right: “Do or don’t do, there is no try.”

Maybe the decision will be that you don’t make the call, or that you won’t eat more kale. The important part is that you’ve decided, taken action accordingly and moved on. It’s no longer hooking you with its claws, draining your energy or giving you one more reason to feel badly about yourself.

That’s where I invite you today:

Choose one thing that’s been hanging on in the realm of the shoulds. An email, a new vegetable, a walk around the block, pay your taxes. Whatever.

  1. Notice how the weight of that should feels in your body.
  2. Go and do it.
  3. How do you feel now?

Bonus: Go for one a day and see how you feel by the end of the week.

Masterclass: Every evening for a week, make a list of 3 that will happen the next day.

I’d love to hear your results! When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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