Many of you know I recently crossed a milestone birthday—I entered the decade of 60. Somehow in my world view it is an accomplishment not a setback or something to hide. Actually I am grateful. Grateful to be alive considering all the ridiculous things I did in my mis-spent youth. Grateful to have family & friends that have enriched my life so much. And grateful most of all for the ongoing relationships that enhance my moments whether I am with someone or thinking of someone.
I just practiced two minutes of self-care. Your reading those words may have taken less time, but I’m betting those words caused you to smile either because you know you’re one of my people or my words have caused you to remember someone or something that you’re grateful for too.
We hear a lot about self-care these days and my challenge to myself this month is meant to be for all of us in some way. I know the areas I need to grow in because I have done a lot of work learning who I am and how God has wired me. What I don’t always acknowledge is what I already know and practice. That’s because those things are unconscious now. I don’t have to think about them. I just do them. I guess you can call them habits.
There is a great book titled The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
In it he breaks it all down. I know not all of you like to read non-fiction. I get that. So I’ll give you the cliff notes version: it’s harder to break a habit than it is to start a habit.
If you focus only on what you don’t like or want to do, that is all you see or think about. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop doing X? Or why can’t I think differently about X? Those thoughts become the focus and if you’re like most people, your next thought is one of internal shame: “I’m such a ___________” “I’ll never ______________” or “I’ll always be ______________”.
Does this sound at familiar?The reason embracing self-care is such a big deal is true care for your self fills you up to be fully present to others. Click To Tweet
When you have some undercurrent of dissatisfaction about your life it leaks out in your interactions with others. You think you’re hiding that you’re tired or you’re irritation at being asked again to do something for your kids school (isn’t there anybody else who can do this?) or fill in the blank with what just popped in your head. You can’t hide the dissatisfaction. It leaks out. Others feel it or dissatisfaction comes out as snapping at your husband, children, friends, co-workers, grocery clerks or road rage.
Unmet needs and unmet expectations are toxic to your soul. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. That’s truth.
What’s the cure? Becoming a driven perfectionist? Nope. How do I know? I’ve tried it. And failed miserably countless times.
The cure is found in process. And embracing self-care is the main part of the process.
Because it’s a process, we need to take ourselves back to being childlike. Not childish. Childlike.
Wonder at how things work. Curiosity about who you truly are; not the one who performs for others’ expectations or for a paycheck, but who you ARE. Being childlike includes being eager to try new things, even if it doesn’t work the first time; try it again.
The childlike trust in the idea that things will be okay because there is Someone Bigger Who is taking care of your real needs. I think this is what Jesus is talking about when He said we must be like a child to enter the Kingdom (Matthew 18:3)
So for the rest of the month of November I’m challenging myself to enter this childlike space to try new things. I’m sharing and asking you to join me because 1) I love company and 2) I know I’m not alone. 3) We all have things that we’re good at but NO ONE is good at ALL THE THINGS. Except Jesus.
And Yes Jesus is Better in my life than all the rest. I won’t get too Jesus-y on you but I will say this Truth: we all have been wired with eternity in our hearts and bear the imago Dei whether we acknowledge Him as such or not. That is the basis of the human need for spirituality. You’re hardwired that way. How you seek to fulfill that need may remain to be seen. I’ll share what I’ve learned along the Way because that’s part of how He’s wired me. It’s true that caring for your soul is a huge part of embracing self-care.
Here is my very general outline for the days ahead. I want to learn at least as much from you as I share, so please share your tips, strengths, knowledge and struggles. Cuz that’s what I’m going to do. Along the Way we can encourage each other as we practice embracing self-care.
Halloween is history, but the candy’s not.
Anyone else groan when you saw Christmas decor displays in August?
If we live our lives at the pace advertising dictates we’ll be into 2018 without having taken a breath!
I want to do something counter cultural. I want to focus on embracing self-care for the next 30 Days. I want to see if there are ways I can slow down, look around, acknowledge and appreciate creation, books, food and most of all people.
I know a lot of us come up against the No Time for Me monster. Or maybe you do ok with taking care of yourself but have people who lob criticism at you for making time for self-care. Either way those are extremes and I believe there is a middle ground. My goal with this personal challenge is to find that middle space and try to walk it everyday.
Where do we start?
Step 1: Define what self-care is
According to Raphailia Michael, MA in her article on psychcentral.com :
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.
Step 2: Define what it is not
Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. As Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”
Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well. That is, if I don’t take enough care of myself, I won’t be in the place to give to my loved ones either.
In a few words, self-care is the key to living a balanced life
As a coach I hear many women trying to find balance between all the competing voices. Something I’ve come to realize is that we will be searching forever.
Balance isn’t the goal. But it is a direction that can inform our choices. Balance itself isn’t bad.We don’t have control over all the things to achieve balance. We can only influence our thoughts, perspectives & actions. Click To Tweet
Even when hormones start raging and you don’t make sense to yourself or anybody else, if you’ve developed a few self-care practices you can minimize those out of control-I’m going to kill someone-feelings.
Developing small daily practices that help body, mind and spirit learn to relax, experience joy, rest & peace AS WELL AS work hard are truly the goals.
I’m giving myself a pass as a way of taking the first step. I am going to TRY to do these things and if I don’t one day, I’m going to BE NICE to myself and try again the next day. That’s called GRACE.
I’m trying to develop important safe guards for taking care of me. I don’t want anyone to wait until they’re 60 to start figuring this out. So while I’m learning & practicing I want to invite you to come along.
For the next 30 days, I’m going to challenge myself to make time to practice self-care DAILY. I’ll share encouragement to try these ideas and ask you for your ideas too.
We can do this! Bring along a friend. Ask for accountability. That’s what I’m doing by inviting you to take this challenge with me. It will be fun and informative. Cuz that’s just how I roll!
I turned 60 just twelve days ago. I didn’t wail or moan. I’m thrilled to be here, to live fully and continue to connect the dots of the life I’ve lived thus far with the life that awaits. That includes owning the hard parts of my story.
Too many times to count I’ve shared a piece of my story with a group of women only to be met with blank stares. In my youth there was no acknowledgement of date rape. If something like that happened it was the girl’s fault somehow. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I ever heard the term. When I heard it I remembered my suppressed experience with a wave of painful shame. Women have not only stared at me blankly but have also been extremely hurtful with a trite phrase like “well at least you didn’t get pregnant” or “are you sure you weren’t asking for it by _________” (fill in the blank with flirting, dressing a certain way, going with him to his Frat house bedroom to ‘pick up something’) The blank stares and the judging comments have kept me from fully owning this part of my life, wrapping myself in the lie of shame that says
You deserved it.
Women have been used and abused far too many times. Men are not the only abusers. Women have perpetuated the shame by our own discomfort with someone’s experience of assault or rape. We fear it could happen to us.
Crazy thing is, until we are willing to say what is, own our story and draw a boundary saying NO MORE, women will continue to be oppressed. Click To Tweet
How do we make those hard changes? One choice at a time.
I chose to work with an amazing counselor who used the tool of EMDR to help me work through my experiences. As a Christ follower, she invited me to connect the dots between my broken, used and abused life and my belief in the healing power of the Holy Spirit. What transpired was a miracle simply stated.
And the healing continues. This weekend as I was thinking about the growing number of women who are sharing their story of sexual assault, through the #MeToo hashtag, I had another memory resurface that didn’t involve actual physical sexual abuse to me but was behavior along the lines of Harvey Weinstein that I witnessed.
Three years after my date rape, at the young age of 22, I was working with a school district that provided in home tutors for their high school students who weren’t able to attend regular classes for various reasons. It was a great job, lots of flexibility, going to students’ homes, encouraging them in their school work. I loved it! Except for the man who oversaw the program. He gave me the willies.
He openly flirted with each of the young women who were tutors (funny, there weren’t any male tutors) and I tried to laugh his advances off. One particular event came to mind this weekend and with the memory came a lot of repressed emotion. We all met at a restaurant in San Diego for happy hour one Friday afternoon. During the chips and beer and conversation I caught a glimpse of our boss groping one of the other young women. Because I hadn’t dealt with the rape trauma, his behavior literally made me sick. I excused myself, running to the bathroom where I tossed my chips & beer. I was so shocked by my reaction that I left the gathering.
I hadn’t thought of that incident in 38 years until reading of others’ stories on social media.
Whether you are an abuse survivor or a witness to others’ trauma, this kind of abuse gets into your mind and soul. I can only encourage you to tell someone of your experience, get in touch with a good counselor and work through the darkness hidden away. Those memories can be painful to revisit but once they are brought into the Light they no longer have the power to imprison you.
I truly believe that the abundant life that Christ invites us into is one of a soul set free from shame. He willingly suffered the “shame of the Cross”, Scripture tells us, that we might have new life through Him.
I’m not a counselor; as a Coach I help clients look at where they are and where they want to be. Together we plot a course to span the gap between current reality and future reality. I’m the person you want to work with for the ‘Now What Do I DO?’
First action step: Own Your Story. Share with someone. Yes it is a risk. But your story matters.
Today I celebrate the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first craft to orbit the earth. History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched their beach ball sized satellite. It’s also the day I was born.
The race for space framed my early years; as did the Cold War and duck & cover drills, the Vietnam War, the anti-Vietnam War protests, the Civil Rights movement, hippies and all the music of the 60s.
Ironically all the areas I thought our country had grown are now reverting to when I was 10. I’m not going to wax political but I do want to speak Hope over all you generous readers. I’m here to tell you that what you’re personally going through, what we as a country are facing, are circumstances of vital importance, and yet, as my Texan born Gramma said,
This too shall pass.
Sometimes I didn’t get it when she said that because I wanted to see change immediately. Like waiting for the ice cream man to come down the street. Waiting has not been my strong suit. But now that I’m *ahem* older, I understand her perspective more. Working through waiting is still challenging.
But today I’m celebrating being 60 years old with nothing to prove and nothing to fear but tons to share.
Encouragement. Hope. Empathy. Understanding. Compassion. Humor. Tears. Chocolate Recipes. But most of all, help for finding a Way forward.
This is the face of 60.
No wait! That’s my Halloween costume. This is the face of 60!
I like to have fun. At Disney especially, but those stories are for another time.
I’ve walked through a lot of hard things in these 60 years. Things that I pray NO ONE has to experience. And yet some still do. And the wounds can trip you up, make you feel not enough or broken or stuck. I’m here to hold out a hand, to say, You can do hard things and we can do them together.
I am a coach because I care. I want you to be able to let go of the things that hold you back and lean in toward the life you are here on earth to live. I now live the life of the woman I needed in my life when I was in my 20s. And 30s. And 40s. And I want to be that woman for you so you can have the freedom to skip through the challenges facing you and live in freedom. Every day.Freedom is possible. It can be your reality. Click To Tweet
This life is a journey, not a to do list of obligations (alright there ARE obligations but that’s not all life is!) Sometimes we lose sight of the good if the hard is overwhelming. Sometimes we get tripped up by expectations from others or even by our own high expectations of ourselves. And sometimes we get stuck and can’t find a way forward or choose to stay stuck because it feels comfortable for the moment. (The comfortable place you’re in will change if you’re really living your life. Just sayin’)
Along the Way I’ve learned the best and most challenging thing to do is face the hard stuff and move through instead of avoid. I’ve learned the Gift of vulnerability and taking the risk to be who I am as God made me. The more I’ve let go of expectations, perfectionism and fear and leaned in toward how I’m made the more freedom I experience.
Good news. YOU CAN TOO.
I want to offer you a gift if you’re interested. Yes, it’s my birthday but I want to offer you a chance to find out what it’s like to coach with me. As a gift. For FREE.
Yes that’s right. Free. My first session is always complimentary, but I’m talking about more than once free.
Curious? Want to try out working with me as a coach? I’m offering you three 50 minute sessions free, if you contact me this week, October 4 – 11, 2017.
Happy Birthday from me to you. That’s what Sputnik has to do with you!
I’ve been quiet on my blog for almost a year. Every time I thought about writing, I drew a blank. I’ve been feeling like I’m not enough: not good enough, thin enough, skilled enough, fill in the blank enough. I couldn’t see a way out of my feelings. I’ve been stuck.
There’s a saying in the coaching world that informs my thinking. It goes like this: You can’t coach someone beyond where you have gone yourself. I realized I had gotten stuck in my own life. How ironic, right? I’m a coach to others in many areas but I was stuck and hindered from moving forward in my personal and professional growth.
Being Stuck (is a road block but not the Biggest Roadblock)
Like most humans I was stuck and didn’t know it for awhile until I began to notice that how I was acting and living became uncomfortable for me. Something wasn’t working right in my life. I felt it but didn’t know what or why, but I knew I didn’t want to continue living out of this place of discontent and discomfort.
I recognize I possess a unique combination of traits and have developed skills that reinforce those traits. I am very introspective. I think a lot about my thinking, actions, past experiences and how all those affect my present. That’s not the norm for most people. I’ve developed skills to analyze and categorize in order to make informed decisions and make changes when necessary. I know that’s not how everyone moves through the world. But that’s how I do it. And for the most part, these traits and skills have served me well.
I realized I needed to get my act together and deal with some stuff. I’m not a masochist so like most of us, I can avoid facing hard things through all the ways: eating, drinking, shopping, television, social media scrolling and lots of other distractions. But there comes an end to those things and often the end isn’t pretty. So I took myself by the shoulders and said Snap Out of It!
A little backstory: I’m a huge fan of personality and temperament inventories. I appreciate the data that can help me & others see how we’re wired and how those data points can help us know ourselves better. I’m a fan because I have experienced the benefit myself. I’m still learning and growing and hope to be for the rest of my life. Living the coach approach helps me recognize when I’m stuck and how to take action to move forward.
As an ENFJ I look at the world through the lens of values and connections. I’m wired for personal growth and development. I also have an interesting Strengths profile; empathy, relator, learner, restorative and activator are my top five strength themes. As a high D and slightly higher I on the DiSC profile I am a person who influences the culture. So with all this awareness and action oriented data points, what was keeping me from continuing to move forward in my career and life pursuits?
Mindset. (It’s the Biggest Roadblock to Staying on Track)
Imagine you’re driving along a windy mountain road, as you come around a blind curve you see a huge boulder in your way blocking the road in both directions. You can’t go forward. Turning around will be challenging. For the moment you’re stuck.
A fixed mindset is like that. We don’t see possibilities. Instead we see all the reasons why we can’t move forward. And just like the analogy of the boulder, you need outside help to continue in the same direction on the road. I was telling myself, ‘I am not enough’. I began believing that ‘I am not enough’. My self-limiting beliefs were expressing the doubt I hid deep inside, the doubt that says things like “Did God really say …?”
What I truly believe is that God is sovereign over all. Including my stuck places. And He gives me grace rather than the shame of the voice in my head.
The way that I apply the coach approach to life is to connect the dots of work, life & faith. And I was missing the dot of faith. I’ve spent the last year chipping away at the boulder in my way. Only recently did I realize I was taking that boulder on all by myself without including the power of God in me. The lightbulb went on after this long waiting period.Life can be like that; slow imperceptible movement, then, WHAM! The Way forward is clear! Click To Tweet
Are you sensing discomfort in your work or life? Have you forgotten the dot of faith? Working with a coach to develop awareness and action-steps can help you connect the dots in your work, life & faith. My first session with clients is a complimentary discovery session. Call or email me to schedule an appointment. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Did you know that not everyone spends time thinking about habits they want to change? I was shocked to find this out! I thought, ‘maybe these people are in denial’. Or ‘maybe they’ve already arrived at perfection’. Then the thought ‘what’s wrong with me?’ began to surface. Why do I care so much about my habits?
Which are you? Obsessed with changing habits or not aware that habits are a thing? Perhaps somewhere in between? Wherever you find yourself, there is great power in habit.
Many people who come to me for coaching are aware of an area they want to change but experience a sense of being stuck; not sure how to start the change process they’re desiring. Those I’ve been fortunate to work with I encourage with the truth
If you have a growing awareness about an area you want to change in your life, that can be enough to get you moving. Identifying what’s in the way of moving forward, and deciding what the first action step needs to be, often leads us to identifying and dealing with habits. Sometimes it’s our habits that keep us from enacting lasting change.
Two years ago I read a fascinating book titled, The Power of Habit, written by Charles Duhigg. In his first book, Duhigg a business journalist, tells stories to help those of us who are non-scientific types understand how and why habits are formed, how habits can be changed and he shares elements of scientific research regarding habits of individuals, companies and societies.
Humans are wired for developing habits. Eating and sleeping are two habits that the human body can’t function well without for very long; what, when, where and how are ways over which individuals have influence on those basic habits. I loved learning about how habit formation occurs but even more powerful is the knowledge of steps that can lead to lasting change.
I’m going to presume you have faced an area in life where you’d like to make changes. What if you can identify what are the 4 parts of your habit and that changing one of the parts could change the habit? Of course there is more to it than just the knowing, but in The Power of Habit you can learn how to identify the parts of your habit and how to effect lasting change.
What is a habit you’ve been struggling to change?
Come to Me
All who are weary and burdened
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you
and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
When was the last time you made time to take a nap? Go for a walk? Said no to one more thing on your calendar?
One of the easiest things to overlook when developing margin is self-care. Short term neglect may not have a strong impact but long term neglect will cost you. Self-care takes many forms: simply getting more sleep, regular exercise, managing money wisely. clearing your desk. Your health, your emotional well being, your financial security all can be at risk without attention.
One element of self-care that I believe is an essential to my entire well-being is care for my soul.
I had to give myself permission to invest time in soul care instead of getting up and starting my day’s to do list. Getting up to have coffee with Jesus didn’t happen consistently until our youngest was 3 years old. I was definitely hit and miss before that. Now 18 years later, this is such a regular pattern of my days that I can’t imagine a different way of starting the day. Even when traveling, I make time to begin the day in thankfulness, reading a portion of Scripture and allowing it to roll around in my mind.
This practice of spiritual margin has changed me. Sure I lost a few minutes of sleep at first. Yes there were days when littles were sick and my time was interrupted. Even the thought of “my time” has changed; I recognize time as a non-renewable resource that I have the privilege of stewarding each day.
In the book Margin, Dr. Swenson raises the point that establishing margin in four areas of life: physical, emotional, financial and spiritual can relieve stress and maintain your health and well being.
When my husband and I read this book we recognized some areas that we had already established margin and some that needed work. How we had come to grips with the family calendar was an area of success.
Margin in time management meant guarding “white space” on the calendar. The Hubster identified his need for open space on the calendar early in our marriage; not having every waking minute of every day obligated was vital. He also needed one Saturday each month without anything on the calendar. At first I thought these requests were ridiculous and excessive. I’m an extrovert. He’s an introvert. He’s also a P on the Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory so he needs discretionary time with options galore. I’m a J who likes to have things to look forward to; no plans feels depressing to me. After 25 years of marriage we have arrived at many accommodating behaviors but all of them revolve around leaving margin of time for travel, creating things, rest, and whatever needs doing. White space on the calendar is our way of guarding margin in time.Time is not “our time” or “my time”. Time is a gift from God. How we use it is our gift back to Him. Click To Tweet
Another area always in need of ongoing attention is financial margin. I don’t know how it’s possible to plan, save, prepare and flow with all that life throws our way financially. Establishing margin and guarding it has been the most difficult challenge in our lives. It’s also a huge source of stress in our culture. We hear that the car we drive or the phone we use or the house we live in or the clothes we wear all need to be replaced annually. Perhaps it’s the house you live in that “needs” updating. Or your children going to the best pre-school to get into the best college! Money is the key to any one of these ideas and the only answer is MORE!!
Or is it?
What if we sit down and evaluate what is fiscally sound? Maybe this is the first step to determining ‘how much is enough’ margin?
We’ve had lots of those conversations over the years and still do. The concept of financial margin has been the most fluid and slippery as our family grew, then grew up, then went to college and are nearly all independent (one is still in college). We have developed a saying in response to me and then the kids saying “I need” this.
Need is a very strong word.
Stopping and evaluating what our are needs and what are our “wants” has helped us make financial margin a reality where it didn’t exist. These are hard considerations but when I ask myself hard questions I find my needs are few where my wants are many.
Taming the want monster is also an ongoing area of self-care!
Spiritual, Physical, Emotional and Financial Margin. Ideas that were new have now become a regular part of life. Our stress is less and our margins are wider. Whew! It was worth the push back and changes that we had to make.
What about these ideas appeals to you?
What do you want to ignore?
Fall has just begun in the US. It is a season known for change. Schools, weather gets cooler, leaves change color and fall, baseball and football overlap, Daylight Savings ends, days are shorter, so many changes. But what season are you in?
Frantic? High stress job?
Busy? Kids, work, relationships, aging parents?
Do you feel like this place looks?
When I found myself in the middle of the “soccer mom” season I discovered the solution to all my problems. I found the solution within the pages of a book with a one word title:
Dr. Richard Swenson discovered from his medical practice that his patients were suffering from a common disease; one that couldn’t be fixed by a pill or orange juice. It was stress. His prescription? Create more margin in your life.
Say No more to opportunities that take time away from your priorities.
Guard open space on the calendar as a commitment to each other and yourself.
Make time to care for your soul.
Get outdoors daily.
Create a financial budget and stick to it.
Create a daily/weekly/monthly time budget and stick to it.
I found that creating wider margins in these four areas: financial, physical, emotional and spiritual, made all the difference in my sanity as a wife & mom. Wider margins also gave me more discretionary time to be with God and with friends. These changes didn’t happen in our family overnight. And we still ebb and flow with what area needs greatest focus.
The beauty of creating margin is that you determine how wide they need to be for your season of life. If an area isn’t working well, you already have a sense of it. If an area is going smoothly then apply an old saying: “If if ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
As you Lean Into Change with me this month, I’ll be asking some coaching questions for you to explore. Here are 3 to get you started:
When you look at the list above, what is one area that you already feel you have a sense of wide margin?
What is one area that speaks to you the most as an area to widen your margins?
As we go through this month and Lean Into Change, what can you commit to re-prioritizing as a time budget item?
(I am an Amazon affiliate; if you choose to purchase this book from the link above, I will receive financial compensation)
How have you spent your Sunday?
Perhaps you had to work outside the home. Or perhaps you work on Sundays in ministry. Maybe you spent your day outdoors and away from home.
Wherever you are today this invitation is for you.
Come to Me
It’s easy to forget this simple, beautiful soul-filling invitation when life is so full.
Jesus simply invites us to Come.
In this series of Lean Into Change, I invite you to try a new way of responding to this millennial old invitation.
Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas is a book I have truly loved reading and exploring the suggestions of age old ways of connecting with God. Within his book there is an inventory at the end of each chapter to help you determine with what pathway(s) you most resonate. The wonderful folks at North Point Church have made the inventory available free online with permission from the Zondervan publishing house.
Sacred Pathways takes about 10 minutes to complete. You’ll see your scored responses right away; giving you potentially new ideas for better connection with your Creator.
Perhaps over the next 31 days you may take the risk to change up the way you respond to Jesus and His invitation. I’ll be unpacking the rest of this passage in the days ahead.
What is your response to this simple invitation: Come to Me?
How have you connected best with God in the past?
Have you ever engaged with Sacred Pathways? If so, what have you learned? What changes have you implemented as a result?