Loading...
Jan 03

Note: The following interview first appeared on my blog, Stepping Stones: http://www.wellnessjourneys.com/blog as part of a series of inspirational interviews featuring people who have overcome adversity in their lives. I hope this interview with author and speaker Dan L. Hays helps light your way, as you travel your own life journey.

What follows is our interview:

EHB: Dan, I read your book, Freedom’s Just Another Word, and was inspired by your journey, and the way in which you were able to overcome so much of what happened to you in your childhood. Could you tell readers a little bit about the book and what inspired you to write it?

DLH: The book is a memoir set in Houston, Texas in 1987. It is about healing, and hope, and forgiveness. As the book opens, my life was spinning out of control, and I didn’t know why. I realized I was walking around with many of the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but didn’t have a traumatic event that I could connect it all to. As that was happening, my Dad died. In my struggle to deal with his death, I got back a buried memory about a violent incident with my Dad that made things begin to make sense.

EHB: What would you say helped you the most in terms of recovering from the abuse you dealt with when you were young?

DLH: For me it was a combination of things – I used a number of tools. Therapy was very helpful, both individual and group. I became involved with a 12 step program for people who had grown up with alcoholism, which was an incredible help. Particularly the 12 steps themselves, because they offered a spiritual solution. But a big component was a walk of faith, in being led to confront those dark events that had ruled my life since childhood.

EHB: As a survivor of rape and child sexual abuse I know that there can be many dark nights of the soul. What kept YOU going during those dark times?

DLH: My faith in God kept me going and kept me safe through those many dark nights of the soul, and enabled me to see the light on the other side.

EHB: You’ve mentioned that some readers said your book provides a sort of roadmap for people on their journey of healing from PTSD and all sorts of abuse. Could you explain what you mean by that?

DLH: In the second half of the book, I went through a number of healing experiences, some therapeutic, some a part of the journey of faith, that other people have told me they use as a template for how to get past their own abuse issues. I was really surprised by that, and very gratified. It turns out that people whose abuse was nothing like mine drew from the book, mainly by applying the healing exercises to their own experience. People have reported using some of the techniques I tried, most of which had been recommended by therapists or wise mentors.

EHB: I know you have some other projects in the works, including a couple of books and some radio shows. Could you tell us about those and how you feel they can help people?

DLH: Healing was a process that took place over several years, that wouldn’t all fit in one book. I have several books planned to share other parts of my journey. I think they will help put it in perspective for people that it’s not a quick fix solution. The radio spots are called Minute to Freedom. They are brief thoughts or insights from my road to healing, and people have said they get a lot of hope and insight from them.

EHB: In what way does all of this work you’re doing benefit you, personally?

DLH: It’s like they say, you don’t get it until you give it away. In sharing with others about my journey, it helps me see where I was and where I am now with a much greater clarity.

EHB: You’ve mentioned that you’ve done some mentoring with people who have been abused and/or have PTSD. Could you explain how you work with these people?

DLH: Mostly I share my experience – much of which is the things I describe in Freedom’s Just Another Word. I talk about how things opened up for me when I was flat on my back, and became willing to try things I normally would not try. Then I describe some of those things, if it seems appropriate in the conversation. Healing exercises, inner child work, letting go ceremonies, things like that.

EHB: Where do you hope all of the work you’re doing will lead you?

DLH: When I started dealing with the abuse issues, I felt pretty hopeless, like I was doomed to a life of unhappiness and frustration. For others who might be in a similar situation, I would like to be able to share the message that there is the hope of healing – there is a way to get beyond the effects of abuse.


Dan L. Hays is an author and speaker who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. You can learn more about him, and how to buy his book, at his website, http://www.danlhays.com


 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to ShareWIK.com.

 

Are you dealing with a challenging life transition? Or are you a survivor of abuse who wants to thrive, rather than simply survive? If so, I’d love to help out.

Visit my website at http://ellen-brown.com/  to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Jan 31

In our culture, death is personified as a stealthy stalker, to be avoided at all costs. So it’s no wonder that many of us hate thinking about death, let alone making friends with this dark and devious character. But what if we COULD make friends with death, or at least make peace with this final life transitions?

For some inexplicable reason, I’ve always been fascinated by the topic of death, and since my beloved father-in-law recently died after suffering from Alzheimer’s and terminal cancer, the topic has definitely been on my mind, lately. 

So I was excited when my recently offered a workshop on yoga and death.  What was even more inspiring was that the room was packed with people interested in learning about the topic. When our instructor opened up the workshop by telling us she was going to talk about making friends with death, I was SO THERE.  Sometimes it’s just refreshing to hear someone talk about a topic that so few people can stand to discuss.

I won’t attempt to cover the finer points of the workshop here, but one of the biggest takeaways for me was this: making friends with death is a choice. If we live our lives in the present moment, in an honest, giving, gentle way that’s in service to other people, we’ll have fewer regrets and less trepidation about death when the end is near. And if we come to know who we truly are and become more evolved, spiritually speaking, we will face this final transition with far less fear.

I don’t mean to oversimplify this topic or imply that anyone SHOULD feel this way or that about death. I, personally, just like the idea of talking about death and making peace with this final life transition, since we’re all going to die at some point --whether we like it or not.

While I don’t plan to die anytime soon, I’ve had friends and relatives who have lost their lives to terminal illnesses, heart attacks and auto accidents when they were in their prime. So I know there are no guarantees that I’ll live a long life …

For me, making friends with death is a process, and part of that journey involves exploration and reflection. Toward that end, I recently, began reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a classic spiritual text packed with inspiring stories and nuggets of wisdom.

I imagine that that exploration might take awhile. So far, I’m still thinking about inviting death to the proverbial party.

While I’d like to believe that if I were diagnosed with a terminal disease tomorrow I’d handle it with grace, I truthfully have no idea how I’d react. Maybe I’d be as terrified as the next person, fighting for my life even after all medical solutions had been exhausted.

But I hope not. When my time comes, I hope I can let go and be grateful for leading a rich and fulfilling life. Not perfect. Not without its flaws. But pretty darn good!

So how about YOU? When you think about death, what thoughts or feelings emerge for you?

How has the death of a friend or loved one changed your perspective on death?

How would you approach life differently, if you were to make friends with death?

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Are you dealing with a serious illness, the death of a loved one, or another life transition? If so, I’d love to help you navigate this challenging transition. Visit my website at http://ellen-brown.com/ to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to ShareWIK.com.

 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Feb 14

Our lives are constantly changing. Yet, oddly enough, rather than embracing change, we often resist it. That’s true of my clients, whether they’re dealing with job loss or a serious illness, or any life transition, for that matter. And it’s certainly true of me, sometimes.

Recently, I was reminded of that fact, when I watched, with sadness, as the golden autumn leaves in our backyard twirled their way to the ground.

But why was I so sad? I mean, it’s still autumn. Plenty of leaves remain on the trees, and that crisp autumn scent I love continues to permeate the air. Technically, winter won’t be ushered in for another two months. But with each leaf that falls and every cool night, I’m reminded that the end is near.

As much as I’d like to embrace change, sometimes I cling to the things I love. But when I do, I miss out on the opportunities right in front of me. So, I’m sad that winter is coming, but winter isn’t even here yet.

When I see the words laid out on the page, I realize how silly it sounds to concern myself with a season that hasn’t even arrived yet. Why not enjoy autumn while it’s still here?

Perhaps the great spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, says it best: “All you really need to do is accept this moment fully. You are then at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself.” His advice isn’t always easy to put into practice. Yet it rings true, whether our goal is to accept the coming of winter, the loss of a job, or a serious illness.

Acceptance, of course, is a process, and I certainly don’t mean to equate the ending of autumn with the loss of a loved one. As a coach, I never hurry acceptance along. Because grieving our losses is SO important.

But the longer we resist accepting what is, the longer we feel the pain and the harder it is to enjoy what we DO have in our lives.

We always have a choice about whether to resist or go with the flow. So I can choose to resist the coming of winter until the first spring flowers sprout from the ground. But if I do, I’ll miss out on autumn and winter, and all the beauty that the seasons have to offer, and I won’t be living in the present moment. Enjoying what is.

The truth is winter is NOT my favorite season. I’m not a fan of the biting cold or bundling up. And driving in the snow? Well, given the choice, I’d rather pass, if you don’t mind!

But I DO enjoy watching the snowflakes gliding their way through the air, on their journey to places unknown.  And when I don’t have to trek across town, I enjoy curling up by the window, with a good book, taking in the glitter of a nice ice storm.

I also like the quiet of winter. The way it invites us to travel inward and be still, like the stately sycamore in our front yard.

But before I get ahead of myself, I’m going to stop thinking about winter and enjoy autumn. Because as I look out my office window, the leaves on the Maple are glowing. And our yard is a gorgeous masterpiece, flecked with gold and orange, crimson and sienna.

Yes, today, I’m going to enjoy what is. Because all I have is the present moment.

How do you deal with change?

What might you be resisting in YOUR life?

How does that resistance affect you?

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Are you recovering from job loss or dealing with the death of a loved one? Or are you struggling with another life transition? If so, I’d love to support on your new life journey. Visit my website at  http://ellen-brown.com/ to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to ShareWIK.com.

 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

 

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2010

May 23

When I’m dealing with a life challenge, whether it’s transitioning into a new career or dealing with a loved one who has a serious illness, it’s so important for me to surround myself with great sources of inspiration. And I guess I’m not alone, because many of my clients say they reach for a little inspiration, to lift them out of the muck, when they’re facing tough times.

While inspiration can be found in so many different places (I’ll discuss some other resources in my next post), I’m a big believer in inspirational quotes, because they offer us comfort and hope, without requiring us to spend a cent. Some of my clients say they like to hang inspirational quotes around their homes during difficult times, because the sayings fuel them with positive, rather than negative, energy.

One of my favorite quotes is simply this: “this too shall pass.” To me, it’s such an important message, because when we’re dealing with a tough situation, we sometimes feel hopeless and may even tell ourselves that what we’re facing will never improve. But that simply isn’t true, because change is inevitable, and nothing stays the same forever, whether that’s our health, our relationships, our jobs or our feelings.

So, if you’re dealing with job loss or the loss of a loved one or a parent who has Alzheimer’s Disease, or any type of life challenge, consider searching out some inspirational quotes. While they’re hardly a panacea, they may just provide you with the boost you need.

Listed below are some of my favorite inspirational quotes, as well as some websites that feature quotes on a variety of topics. Find some that resonate with you and try posting a few in conspicuous places around your home. And see if they don’t offer you a little lift when you’re feeling down.

Some of My Favorite Inspirational Quotes

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” –- Moliere

“Happiness doesn't depend on what we have, but it does depend on how we feel toward what we have." -- William Dempster Hoard

“All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.” -- Henry David Thoreau

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." -- Helen Keller

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.” --Rabindranath Tagore

“Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart.” -- Myla Kabat-Zinn

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” -- Kenji Miyazawa

“The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it.” -- Rona Barrett

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.” –- Rilke

“God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them.” --John Aughey

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do." -- Confucius

Possible Sources for Inspirational Quotes

The Quote Garden

http://www.quotegarden.com/

Inspiration for Change

http://www.heartsandminds.org/quotes/quotes.htm

The Quotations Page

http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/

Thinkexist.com

http://en.thinkexist.com/topics/

So what are YOUR favorite inspirational quotes?

How have inspirational quotes helped you as you’ve moved through difficult life challenges?

Are you dealing with a challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://ellen-brown.com/ to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.


Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach based in Cleveland, Ohio and a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com.  


Note: in my next post, I will look at other sources of inspiration that can help propel you forward on your life journey.


 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

 

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Jun 20

When we’re dealing with difficult life transitions like job loss or the death of a loved one, it’s not uncommon for us to focus a little too much on the past and the future. We may ruminate about the day our supervisor delivered the bad news. Or we may obsess about how we’re going to make ends meet without the help of our life partner.


Experiencing these feelings is natural, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest that we try to bury them. But there’s something to be said for balance and bringing ourselves back to the present moment, and being with “what is” today. At a workshop I recently attended on Complicated Grief, the featured speaker, a grief counselor for the Hospice of the Western Reserve, highlighted that point.


The presenter talked about how people who are faced with the sudden death of a loved one, experience a great deal of pain, and need to learn how to live with the pain, rather than pushing it away or self medicating themselves with alcohol or drugs. She recommended a number of helpful strategies, including staying in the present moment, which she said helps ground us in our current reality and is the key to bringing more joy into our lives.


What she described really resonated with me and surprised me.  While I’ve been practicing the art of living in the present moment (sometimes known as mindfulness) for years, with the help of books by great spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh, I hadn’t really thought about the connection she was discussing. I hadn’t really considered how we often live more in the past and future, when we’re navigating difficult life transitions. But it’s true, and I’ve certainly witnessed that tendency in myself and in many of my coaching clients.


It’s understandable that many of us feel anxious and in pain when we focus on our regrets about the past and our fears of the future. But when we shift our attention back to the here and now, and listen, really listen to the Robin singing just outside our window or allow ourselves to savor the delicious meal set before us, we often feel more peaceful and happy.


By the way, I’m not suggesting that mindfulness is a happy pill. But it can be a helpful tool to have in your toolbox. So, if you’re dealing with a difficult transition and notice yourself slipping into the past or future a little too often, you may want to try this exercise to help you return to the present moment:


Take a few deep breaths, noticing the rise and fall of your belly. Feel your feet against the floor. Look around you. Notice what you see. Reach out and touch something and notice how it feels.  Become aware of the sounds around you. You’re now in the present moment.

Please keep in mind that learning to live in the present moment is a process, so be gentle with yourself, when you notice your mind drifting. Then take a deep breath and bring yourself back to the here and now.


If you’re going through a tough time, in what way would it be helpful for you to live in the here and now more often?


How has mindfulness helped you in your life?



I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.



Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

Ellen H. Brown is a certified professional coach based in Cleveland, Ohio.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jul 19

Have you ever noticed how your limiting beliefs sometimes stop you from pursuing new opportunities? I consider myself pretty open-minded, but I recently noticed how my OWN limiting beliefs were holding me back.


Luckily it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world. For months, my husband, Jeff -- who is also my web developer and SEO guy all rolled into one -- had been nudging me to start a Facebook Fan Page. But I scoffed at the idea. Facebook is okay. But I’ve never been a huge, fan, no pun intended.


When I hang out on Facebook, I often feel like I’m killing time. Yacking about useless stuff. So when I considered the idea of sinking more time into something I didn’t really enjoy, the thought wasn’t all that appealing.


Then, the other day, we were working on updating my website, and Jeff said he’d read that Facebook was visited more frequently than Google and that having a Facebook Fan Page could really help with search engine optimization.


“Hey, why don’t we set up a Fan Page NOW?” he said. “It won’t take much time at all.” The idea, admittedly, didn’t excite me. But if it wasn’t going to take that much time and might help me connect with people and improve my Google rankings, I thought “why not.”

I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was to set up the initial page (please join me here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ellen-Brown-Certified-Professional-Coach/347591665890 )


Even better? Before I knew it, I was actually having fun dreaming up new content to create and different ways I could connect with people dealing with difficult life transitions.


Though my page is still in its embryonic stages, I’m excited about my new venture and the endless possibilities to reach out to people and create a sense of community.


When I think about how much I resisted creating a fan page, how I was practically kicking and screaming until the very end, it makes me smile.


Resistance is a funny thing. We may have some pre-conceived ideas about people or places or things, but when we let go of those beliefs and move beyond that resistance and take a leap of faith, we’re often pleasantly surprised.


What do you think?


I’d love to hear what you have to say about how our limiting beliefs hold us back. Please leave a comment here, on ShareWIK.



Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.


In the meantime, please join me on my new Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ellen-Brown-Certified-Professional-Coach/347591665890  And while you’re there, please join in the conversations on the discussion boards. I hope to see you there soon!


Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Aug 01

It was a frosty day in mid December, when I spotted it across the backyard: a purple petunia fluttering in the wind.


At first, I thought my eyes must have been deceiving me. I mean how could a petunia possibly survive in the snow? But there it was, rising out of a sliver of soil between two patio bricks, just waiting to be discovered.


Earlier that year, I’d planted petunias in the backyard in a riot of colors. But they were gone, with the first frost, or so I thought. Now I was shocked to see that lone petunia sitting pretty, surrounded by a dusting of snow.


Even more surprising was the fact that I noticed it at all. At the time, I was so consumed with the memories of child sexual abuse that were flooding my consciousness that I was often “there” in body but not so much in spirit.


As I bent down to touch the delicate flower, I was struck by its hardiness. Delicate, yes, but tough too. Its double ruffles refusing to wilt or fade.


Later that evening, as I described the purple petunia to my husband, he smiled. That purple petunia and I had something in common, he said. It was small and delicate yes. Yet tough, too, refusing to shrink or die. Not a victim or even a survivor. But a spirited warrior.


It’s been more than a decade since I discovered that flower, but through the years, as I’ve traveled my healing journey, I’ve never forgotten that purple petunia. Back then, that flower gave me hope and strength. And on days when my world seemed shaken beyond recognition, I was able to recall that image of the miracle flower. Delicate and fragile. Strong and determined. Unwilling to call it quits.

When we’re going through a tough time, whether we’re healing from abuse or grieving the death of a loved one, there are always signs of hope along the way.


Though they may be difficult to see, they are there, I assure you. But you need to slow down and take the time to notice. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a deep breath and looking around and becoming aware of whatever you can see or smell or touch.


Because when we’re able to become present and notice what’s right in front of us, instead of getting lost in our thoughts, we can see the signs of hope and healing all around us. Signs that remind us that we are strong and resilient and on the right path.


What signs of hope and strength have you noticed when you’ve dealt with a difficult life transition?



Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.


In the meantime, please join me on my new Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ellen-Brown-Certified-Professional-Coach/347591665890  And while you’re there, please join in the conversations on the discussion boards. I hope to see you there soon!


Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Aug 29

When you’re dealing with a difficult life transition, such as divorce or job loss, do you sometimes beat yourself up because you can’t seem to  “get over it and move on?” Many of my clients fall into that familiar pattern, and I’ve certainly done the same from time to time. The problem is that scolding ourselves only makes matters worse.


Such was the case with my client, Josh (not his real name), a young and talented attorney who was laid off during the economic downturn. Josh had solid credentials, a great resume, and a gentle presence that made him a delight to be around. But Josh had been out of work for nearly nine months, and he had begun to see that long lapse as a character flaw. Sometimes, in our sessions, he would berate himself for being out of work, which only made him feel worse. That, in itself made it harder for Josh to sell himself in his job interviews. Over time, I helped him see that treating himself more gently was actually more helpful than beating himself up.


But it wasn’t easy, because Josh was like many of us who believe that a swift kick in the you know where is the best motivating force in helping us move forward. And why not? That belief is instilled in us by parents and coaches and bosses who tell us to “just buck up” or “stop your bellyaching” or “quit your complaining and get on with your life.” But comments like these only heap on the shame and shame, while sometimes paralyzing, is rarely motivating.


To me, the best medicine for dealing with a difficult transition is to be gentler with yourself. Why? Because when you’re going through a transition, you’re already in a compromised state. You may be feeling sad or angry or scared. Or you may be confused about what your future holds. When you’re navigating this rocky terrain, what you need is a best friend who’s cheering you on. Not a bully, threatening to knock you down.


If you’re wondering how you could be gentler with yourself, for starters, you could:


·      ---Stop yelling at yourself and treat yourself with the same love and respect that you’d show a good friend


·      ---Allow yourself to “be” with your feelings instead of pushing them away. This will allow your feelings to move through you in a natural way, instead of getting stuck.


·      ---Remind yourself of your strengths and successes everyday


·      ---Counteract your negative self talk, such as “I’m a loser” with positive messages you believe (e.g. “I’m a valuable employee”)


·      ---Take some time to reflect on your new circumstances through journaling, meditation, or spending time in nature


·      ---Balance out this tough time with enjoyable activities – in whatever form that takes for you


·      ---Remember that  nothing lasts forever and “this too shall pass.”


So, do you tend to beat yourself up, or are you able to treat yourself with gentleness when you’re going through a difficult transition?


What keeps you from treating yourself more gently?


I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.

Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.


If you’d like to hear more about the benefits of being gentle with yourself, check out one of our recent episodes of Dialogues with Dignity, in which we discuss that very topic: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dialogueswithdignity/2010/08/05/being-gentle-versus-working-hard

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Sep 12

The natural world has always been a sanctuary for me, particularly in tough times: a sacred place to let go and recharge.


Perhaps the renowned writer and environmentalist, Rachel Carson, put it best when she said, “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrain of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after the winter.”


I find these repeated refrains in nature, these absolute guarantees, so comforting. They remind me that the dawn will always come and that gray clouds will eventually give way to sunny skies.


Yet as comforting as these natural patterns are, I sometimes forget about how important it is for me to spend time in nature, and that’s what happened recently, when my Mom died. I was feeling incredibly out of sorts, but didn’t question it because I was grieving after all, and it’s “normal” to be out of sorts when you’ve lost someone you love.


Then one day, I received a flyer in the mail for a retreat. It was an invitation to spend a day in nature doing absolutely nothing, and my heart did a happy dance – a little flutter flop. My heart was saying “yes please. Me, me.” So I signed up. And it was just what my heart desired: a day immersed in the beauty and music of nature.


I should tell you that one of my favorite things in the world is to wander around in nature, touching this leaf and that flower, giving my eyes and fingers free rein to explore the shapes and colors and textures. Basking in the beauty of it all like a child.


That day, as I set out on the windy path through the woods, with its lacey hemlocks and moss-covered ledges, I knew where I wanted to end up. I wanted to set up camp on one of the ledges and look up into the green summer canopy and just be.


After spreading out a blanket I’d carried with me, I laid down on one of the cool ledges, looking up into the trees. As I settled in for the day, all the worries that kept my mind churning slowly drifted away until it was just me and my breath and the wind in the trees. After awhile, I felt a warmth wash over me. An ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I was home. Returned to the earth. At one with all creatures and plants.


I laid there watching the light weaving in and out of the leaves and the clouds shape shifting through the sky. It was a feast for the eyes --lush and sumptuous and healing. I felt blessed to be spending time in this sacred place. Blessed to be alive.


On that day, I was reminded again of the healing power of nature. Because no matter what we’re going through, no matter how difficult life seems, the natural world is always waiting for us with its sweet embrace. Soothing us with its melodies. Reminding us that life is constantly changing and this too shall pass.


So what does YOUR sanctuary look like? Is it someplace in nature, or an entirely different setting? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment, here, on ShareWIK.


Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.


Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Sep 26

Do you ever feel like you’re just getting by in life? Surviving, rather than thriving?


I certainly felt that way many years ago, and recently I “sat down” with my friends, Dan Hays and Stash Serafin, to discuss the topic of thriving (opposed to surviving) on our Blog Talk Radio show, Dialogues with Dignity.


After our radio show, I started thinking about how I’d been able to thrive after spending many years merely surviving. Because it wasn’t quite clear to me, and there certainly wasn’t some magical line I crossed over from victim to survivor to thriver, while I was healing from child sexual abuse. Yet somehow I DID transcend my past. So I started thinking about how I’d made that shift.


And what I arrived at is this: though I’ve found many tools for thriving along the way, one of the biggest “tools” was just allowing myself to feel my feelings. So, after my memories of sexual abuse bubbled to the surface, I spent several years processing my feelings around those memories. I cried. I raged. I told and retold my “story” countless times to therapists and groups and even to total strangers, at one point, I’m embarrassed to admit.  Until I was sick and tired of that story.  Bored of telling it, bored of hearing it, and sick of blaming others for the circumstances of my life.


I can’t remember if the boredom set in gradually or not. But I do remember attending a healing workshop one day, years ago, and hearing myself , once more, relate the story of how I had been abused in great detail.  Then, something shifted inside, and it suddenly felt as though my “true self” was witnessing the whole scene from a distance. I heard a voice inside say, “Oh brother. Not again. This is sooooo boooorring….”


It was as though I couldn’t stand describing myself that way anymore. There was no denying that I had been abused. There was no denying that the abuse affected me in profound ways. But on that day, something shifted in me, and I refused to think of myself in that small and limiting way. While it was convenient for me to blame others—including my mother – for hurting me and “ruining my life,” doing so was keeping me stuck.  I’d allowed my story to keep me down in the dark abyss of despair. And I was tired of living down there. It was familiar, yes, but oh so dreary and oppressive.

That day, I felt a growing warmth in my belly, swirling and pulsing.  Hopeful and powerful. Urging me forward.


On that day, I promised myself that I’d never again use my “survivor label” as a badge of honor. I was a survivor, yes, but so much more than that, and I was tired of defining myself by that label. Tired of blaming the people in my life who had hurt me when I was young for my problems today. That day, I made a promise to myself to stop defining myself by what happened to me in my childhood and to take responsibility for my life. So I could thrive.


So, how about YOU? Are you surviving rather than thriving? Or have you found a way to thrive?  I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment, here, on ShareWIK.


If you’d like to hear more about the benefits of thriving, check out one of our recent episodes of Dialogues with Dignity, in which we discuss that very topic: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dialogueswithdignity/2010/08/19/thriving-with-dignity


Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Oct 11

Lately, I’ve been hankering to try something new. To experiment. To explore. To get out more. This all makes perfect sense since I haven’t had much time or energy to play in the past year, a year that began with the slow decline and death of my father-in-law last August and ended with the passing of my mom in July.



During that time, I didn’t have much energy or a whole lot of time to get out and have fun.  But today, while I am still grieving my losses, I’ve noticed a stirring within to try something new. And it feels kind of exciting. Like the way it felt years ago in the fall, when school started, and the air smelled crisp and full of possibilities.


Thankfully, life is serendipitous, so when I started thinking about how it would be nice to get out more, a friend of mine told me about a new book club that’s forming next month. I also heard about a study group that’s centered around the spiritual teachings of Eckhart Tolle and his book, The Power of Now. Though my husband and I have only attended the group a few times, we already feel at home there.


I don’t pretend to be “over” the loss of my loved ones, and I still carry plenty of Kleenex for those weepy moments that seem to spring out of nowhere, when I hear a sad song or smell a familiar scent of perfume that reminds me of my mom. But I’m feeling more hopeful and energetic. And ready to try something new. And for that I’m grateful.


How about YOU? Have you found it helpful to try something new when you’re dealing with loss?


I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK!


Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to find out how coaching can help you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.


Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Nov 07

Several years ago, when I was writing an article about heart disease in women, each of the women I interviewed pleaded with me at the end of our conversation. “If you ever notice symptoms like these, please don’t wait like I did,” they begged. “Get it checked out.” 


After promising to do as they said, I filed the information away in my mind and moved onto the next thing.


Then a few weeks ago, it happened. Seemingly out of nowhere, I started feeling a dull pain in my chest, and felt strangely fatigued and short of breath.


Suddenly, I started flashing back to my conversations with those women, remembering the symptoms they’d described, including shortness of breath, nausea, pain between the shoulder blades, and fatigue. Each had fluffed off their symptoms, because they hadn’t wanted to “make a big fuss,” they told me. And one woman waited so long before heading to the emergency room that she almost didn’t live to talk about it.


At first, I explained away my symptoms, just as the other women had done. I was tired because I was grieving the loss of my Mom. I felt discomfort in my chest because I was lifting weights that were a little too heavy. And my shortness of breath? Well, I HAD gained a few pounds lately. Surely that was the reason I was huffing and puffing up the stairs.


But then I remembered my promise: don’t wait like they did; get my symptoms checked out.


Thankfully, at the time, I was participating in a bereavement group, in which our facilitator kept emphasizing the importance of staying healthy when grieving the loss of a loved one. Because of the fact that grief can be tough on the body, he told us it’s important to keep up with health screenings and tune into what our bodies are trying to tell us.


So a few days later I was on the phone, explaining my symptoms to a triage nurse, and since there was no sense in sugar coating it, I mentioned that there’s a strong incidence of heart disease in my family.


It’s funny how the proverbial “sirens” go off when a 50 year-old woman with a family history of heart disease calls in. So that very next day I was at the Cleveland Clinic, talking to a young internist, whose eyebrows shot up like a cartoon character when I told him that my Dad had his first heart attack at the age of 57, and my Mom was in her 60s when she required quadruple bypass surgery.


The doctor ordered an EKG and a chest X-ray STAT. Thankfully, both turned out “beautifully,” as he put it, so beautifully, in fact, that I thought I was going to be able to weasel out of having an echocardiogram which seemed a bit over the top. But no, I still had to have the echo, he said, though he decided against putting me on the treadmill for a stress test after my EKG turned out so well.


In the meantime, my doctor ordered a big batch of blood tests, including one that measured cholesterol levels. The tests all turned out “great,” he told me a few days later.

But the results of the echo still remained a mystery.


A couple days later, I received the happy news that my echocardiogram was “normal” and my heart was in good shape, and boy was I ever relieved. I almost dropped the phone, while I was doing a little happy dance, as I spoke with one of the nurses in my doctor’s office.


The shortness of breath, it turned out, was due to being a bit overweight, so now, I just have to lose a little weight, which seems like nothing in the grand scheme of things. At least I don’t have heart disease!


So thankfully, my story has a happy ending. But take it from me, and the three women I interviewed years ago. If you’re experiencing the symptoms I described, or some other symptoms that may indicate heart disease, please have them checked out. And if you’re dealing with any kind of loss, it’s so important to keep up with your health screenings and seek medical attention, if you notice any troubling changes in your health.



I’d love to hear what you have to say about the ideas in this blog post. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.


Are you dealing with a challenging life transition? If so, please subscribe to my blog, Stepping Stones, for tips on dealing with tough times: http://ellen-brown.com/blog

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

 

Nov 22

They say that grieving is a lonely process, and if you’re grieving the death of a loved one, you may feel all alone with your feelings. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are support groups that you can join in your community and online, and people there who will understand what you’re going through.


I recently found that to be true, when I participated in a bereavement group through the Hospice of the Western Reserve (http://www.hospicewr.org/), after my Mom died. Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of support groups and often encourage coaching clients to do the same. That’s because there is something comforting about being in the company of people who are traveling a similar path. There is an unspoken understanding, an invisible bond.


In any case, this wonderful bereavement group was a sanctuary away from the bustle of everyday life, a place where it was OK to be where we were at in our healing process, where no one judged us for our tears or our anger or our sense of relief. Groups like these are quite a gift in our crazy busy culture, which is all about hurrying up and getting “over” our grief.


It was a comfort to be embraced by this circle of new friends, where no one asked “aren’t you over that yet?” or told me “you should feel grateful that your mother is finally at peace.” It was a place where we could share our stories and our ways of coping or choose, instead, to rest in our silence. It was also a comfortable venue to learn about the process of grief, and test drive different tools to help us heal.


I tell you all this, in case you, too, are grieving a loss. Because, whether you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, job loss, or the decline of your health, you don’t have to go it alone.  If you need a little help, consider joining a bereavement group or a job club or a support group for people dealing with serious diseases such as cancer or diabetes.


And never forget that reaching out for help is strength, not a weakness!


So how about YOU? How have support groups helped you? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.com.


Are you dealing with a challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Dec 06

If you’re grieving the death of a loved one or the loss of your job, the holidays may be anything but the hap hap happiest time of the year. In fact, depending on your circumstances, the holidays may be the most dreaded time of the year. 


You may even feel like there’s something wrong with you for not “being in the holiday spirit,” if you don’t feel like going to the company holiday party this year (if you have a job) or heading over to Aunt Irma’s for a big Christmas dinner. And that’s understandable since we certainly have some bizarre expectations in our culture about people being especially joyful during the holidays.


But the truth is there isn’t anything wrong with you for not being in the holiday spirit. You’re going through a tough time, and you can’t be expected to flip a switch and be happy on someone else’s timetable.


It’s natural to feel sad during the holidays if you’re dealing with any sort of loss, because the holidays bring up memories of how things used to be, whether you’re missing a loved one who recently died or longing for the way your life used to be before you were laid off from your job.


Instead of berating yourself for not feeling happy enough, consider cutting yourself some slack. If you’re not sure how to do that, here are six tips for navigating the holidays this year, during this difficult time in your life:


Embrace Your Feelings – Instead of staying insanely busy during the holidays to keep your feelings at arm’s length, give yourself the time and space to experience and release your feelings. Though our culture leads us to believe that there are “good feelings” --such as joy that should be seen and heard -- and “bad feelings” -- such as sadness and anger -- that are better pushed aside, when we stuff our feelings they often come seeping out in inappropriate ways. But when we lean into our feelings, they move through us like a river, cleansing and healing us. So if you’re feeling sad, go ahead, and have a good cry. And if you’re like some of the clients I’ve coached who are worried that if they open up the proverbial floodgates they’ll never stop crying, not to worry. It’s not going to happen. I promise. Crying is healthy and healing, and I don’t know about you, but when I allow myself to have a good cry, I always feel better.

 

Reach Out – If you know the holidays are going to be painful this year, because you’re missing a loved one who’s died, create a list of friends and family members who you can reach out to when you’re feeling down. The key is to find loved ones who are supportive rather than directive. There are plenty of people you can turn to who will tell you that you should “be over” the death of your Dad or grateful that you lost your job because you hated it anyhow. But what you’re looking for is people who will let you express your feelings without judging you or dispensing advice. I truly believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give and receive, during the holiday season (and everyday of the year) is the gift of listening without judgment. It is priceless.


Treat Yourself Gently and Generously – Sometimes we can be so mean and stingy with ourselves. But now, more than ever, we need to treat ourselves with gentleness and generosity. So become aware of how you’re talking to yourself. Are you building yourself up or tearing yourself down with your self talk? Are telling yourself that you’re a “bad Mom” because you’re too emotionally drained to do everything you typically do for the holidays this year? Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a close friend: with compassion and gentleness. And while you’re at it, why not do something nice for yourself this holiday season, whether that means getting a massage or taking yourself for a long walk in the woods or springing for a tasty dinner at a new restaurant that you’ve been meaning to try out? It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming (though it could be). I often challenge clients to weave some fun into their lives everyday, and that’s especially the case during the holidays. So I encourage YOU to do the same.


Tickle Your Funny Bone – When we’re dealing with loss, life can seem so heavy, so adding a little levity can go a long way. And let’s face it: laughing just feels good. If you need more reasons to add laughter to your life, consider this: studies show that humor has some serious healing powers. It can reduce stress, boost our immune system, increase our threshold for pain, and shift our perspective in an instant. Since humor is a very personal thing, I wouldn’t presume to prescribe a generic list of yucks. But you might want to find some funny movies to watch, catch up on your favorite sitcoms, and look for the humor in everyday life. I’m told that You Tube has a whole genre of cat videos that will have you rolling on the floor.


Count Your Blessings – Though it may sound counter intuitive to look at what you’re thankful for, when you’re going through a tough time, it really does work. Keeping a gratitude journal or just writing down what you’re thankful for when you’re having a particularly difficult day, helps balance out the negatives with the positives. The trick is to tune into your feelings as you’re writing your list, so you can feel the shift that takes place. I’m always amazed at the lift I feel, when I take the time to acknowledge and express my gratitude.


Remember That You’re in Charge – If you’re like many people, you may feel as though you HAVE TO do everything you’ve always done during holidays, whether you’re grieving or not. So in your mind, there’s no question you have to send out holiday cards, bake the cookies, and host the big family dinner. But the choice is yours. You can change things up. Try out new traditions. Get other family members involved, instead of going it alone. And you can even cut yourself some slack and choose NOT to attend some holiday parties. If you’re the family perfectionist who’s always gunning for another gold star, maybe this is an opportunity to give someone else a chance to help out. Of course, can still choose to handle everything yourself, as always. But just know that the choice is yours.


If you’re dealing with loss this holiday season, what are YOU doing to make it easier on yourself? I’d love to hear what you have to say about this post. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Jan 16

A few weeks ago, my friend, Linda (not her real name), emailed me to see if I had time to talk. She’d recently made the difficult decision to transfer her beloved father into a “memory unit” in a nursing facility, and she was struggling, not so much with her decision, but with all the emotions that were bubbling up inside her, as she watched her father, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, slip away a little bit more everyday.


“It so sad to watch,” she said. “It feels like I’m grieving, even though he’s still alive.”


I could so relate to what she was describing because my beloved father-in-law, John, who died about a year and a half ago, also had Alzheimer’s disease and we, too, had made the painful decision to transfer him into a special memory care unit after he continued to decline week after week after week. At first, we bristled at the idea. That is, until John began wandering so much he couldn’t be trusted to stay in his room at night; until he no longer remembered how to feed himself and no longer knew our names.


Watching this man I loved slip away day by day by day was heartbreaking, and the feelings that welled up inside me were so mixed and conflicted, sometimes it felt as though my head was going to explode. I missed talking with him and kidding around with him, and I was angry he’d been taken from us, yet not fully taken.


Then there were the truly squirmy feelings, the ones I didn’t want to admit to anyone. I wished God would free John from his suffering—both for his sake and for ours. And I was secretly grateful that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, because at least he wouldn’t have to suffer too much longer. But then I’d feel guilty for feeling that way, so around and around my feelings would spin. Sometimes, the big mash of feelings seemed like too much to bear.

What my friend, Linda, and I were experiencing is known as anticipatory grief.  It is the rollercoaster of emotions you feel as you lose a loved one bit by bit, before the person actually dies.


Coincidentally, I had learned about anticipatory grief many months before, when I was taking a professional development course (for people who work with clients dealing with loss), through The Hospice of the Western Reserve (http://www.hospicewr.org/). Although we often think about grief as something we experience after a friend or relative dies (or after a divorce), if we have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another terminal illness such as cancer, we often experience great waves of grief long before the person has actually died. They are still here on earth with us, yet we are grieving their slow slipping away ...


When I told my friend, Linda, about anticipatory grief, she, understandably, wanted to know, “So how do I deal with THAT?”


Unfortunately, there aren’t any simple solutions for dealing with this painful process. Though, having been there, I have a few suggestions, which I passed along to my friend, and which I’ll pass along to you, if you too are dealing with anticipatory grief.


So here are 5 Tips for dealing with the Tilt-A-Whirl emotions of anticipatory grief: 


·      Remind yourself that you’re not alone – As crazy and painful as it may feel to be grieving the loss of your loved one before he or she dies, I assure you it is “normal” and you’re not alone in what you’re feeling. The range of feelings you experience may be all over the place. So don’t beat yourself up for feeling a certain way. Whether you’re feeling angry or sad or helpless or guilty or relieved, you’re entitled to your feelings, whatever they may be.

 

·      Find healthy outlets for your feelings --  You may feel as though you need to be “strong” for your children or parents or other relatives, but bottling up your feelings will make you feel worse in the long-run. So avoid stuffing your feelings and explore ways of dealing with them. Try talking to a friend who has a reputation for being a good listener or writing out your feelings in a notebook. Journaling is a great way to release your feelings, and it’s easy and inexpensive. Not sure where to start? Consider these simple prompts: I’m feeling _________ right now. Or when I think of (fill in the name of your loved one), I feel ______________ Once you’ve filled in the blanks, keep writing and see where it takes you. Don’t censor yourself or let your inner critic hold you back. Just write what comes to mind, without editing for punctuation or grammar. The idea is to find some healthy outlets that work for you, whether you find it helpful to express your feelings through writing or art or by pummeling a punching bag.

 

 

·      Treat yourself with gentleness and kindness – Whether you’re caring for your loved one at home or you’re visiting him or her in a nursing facility, it is often stressful. So be sure to take care of yourself. If you don’t you’ll be headed for burn out, and that won’t be helpful for you or your loved one. So, as much as you may be inclined to skip your regular exercise routine or cancel a night out with your friends, do everyone a favor and don’t. Try to do at least one nice thing for yourself everyday. It doesn’t have to be anything involved; it could be taking a bath at the end of the day or taking a fifteen minute walk in the park after work or settling down with a great book for a half hour before you turn out the lights for the night. If you want to treat yourself to more than one “fun thing” a day, all the better. The point is that you need to recharge daily. Running on empty isn’t an option.

 

·      Join a support group – These days, there are all sorts of support groups, both in-person and online. The Alzheimer’s Association, for one, (http://www.alz.org/index.asp) offers a variety of wonderful support groups and programs that help caregivers and other family members deal with the emotional ups and downs of the disease. I’m a big fan of support groups because they can help you process your feelings, and feel less alone with your problems, and that, in itself can be a great comfort.

 

 

·      Seek out professional help –- We all need a little extra help, sometimes. So don’t hesitate to reach out to a certified coach or a counselor or therapist.  And remember that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness!


Have you grieved the loss of a loved one before he or she has died? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience and what helped you through this difficult time in your life. Please leave a comment, here on ShareWIK.com.  

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  



For more Ellen Brown columns, click here



©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC
Jan 30

After my Mom died, the littlest things seemed to set me off. A woman in her 70s singing off key. A beautiful set of silver candlesticks that my mother would have loved. A redhead in the grocery store who could have been cast as my Mom’s identical twin. Suddenly, there I was, out in public, tears streaming down my cheeks thinking oh no, not Niagra Falls again!


Although I’m a big believer in the healing power of tears and feeling our feelings rather than suppressing them, as I was standing there in the frozen foods section with tears in my eyes, I suddenly wished I was one of the stoic ones. Strong.  Graceful. And most importantly, dry-eyed.

A couple times, when I’ve been moved to tears in public for some random reason, I felt so embarrassed that I actually mumbled a little apology. 


“Sorry I’m so emotional,” I’d say to a total stranger, as though I’d committed a mortal sin. Or, “Forgive my tears.”


Afterward, I’d wonder why was I so embarrassed. After all, crying is a natural, involuntary response, and studies have even shown that crying is good for our health, because it releases toxic stress hormones from our body.


Yet in our culture, crying is considered a big no-no, especially when it comes to a public display of tears. Even when we let it all hang out, in private in the company of friends, we may be greeted with a not so supportive response. “Don’t cry,” our friends might say. “Or, aren’t you over that yet?” Though their comments may be well-intended, what we often hear on the receiving end is “please don’t cry because your tears make me uncomfortable.”


Sometimes I get annoyed by our cultural intolerance for tears, and I think maybe we could start a “literacy” campaign on the merits of crying by printing up some T-shirts with messages like “Crying Does a Body Good” Or “Crying is Cool” or  “Show Some Tears.” Or “Have a Good Cry On Me.” Okay, so maybe the campaign wouldn’t make that much of an impact but at least it might be thought provoking …


Because the thing is that people are terrified of tears – their own and others’.  I can’t begin to tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who say they are petrified that if they start crying they’ll never stop. That once the proverbial floodgates swing open, there will be an endless torrent – a veritable tsunami of tears. Although I assure them their crying jag will eventually end, often leaving them with a sense of release and relief, many still look a little skeptical. As in, do you ACTUALLY expect me to believe that? While I certainly don’t pretend that crying is a cure for all that ails us, I do believe that having a good cry can be cleansing and healing, sometimes.


So, if I’ve convinced you to give crying a try but the tears just won’t come, here’s an idea: something one of my clients, whose husband died a few months ago,  does to release her pent up emotions. In the morning, she puts on her husband’s favorite music and cries and cries until she is all cried out. She says the process has been tremendously helpful in grieving the loss of her husband.  I know other people who experience a similar effect by watching a good tearjerker of a movie, and I’d suggest some titles that might move YOU to tears. But we’re all so different, and what works for me, may not have the same effect on you. So, I suggest that you experiment and see what types of music or movies or memories do the trick for you. Then, after you’ve had a good cry, see if you don’t feel a little bit lighter.


How do YOU feel about crying or witnessing others who shed an abundance of tears? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment, here on ShareWIK.com.

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  


For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Feb 12
Do you need to be seriously ill in order to give yourself permission to rest and relax? If so, you’re hardly alone. In our culture, where being crazy busy is often worn as a badge of honor, many of us believe that “rest” is a dirty four-letter word.

Years ago, I bought into that theory. In order to give myself permission to rest, I’d have to have the flu, preferably with a fever and the chills. Like many people, I grew up in a family where being busy was a positive attribute and resting was equated with being a big fat slug. Resting was acceptable when you were seriously ill, but otherwise it was best to keep on moving.

Later, that message was reinforced in Corporate America, where the equation, seemed pretty simple: crazy busy = increased productivity and profits. For a short time, I worked at a company that pushed that equation to the limit. It was a place where no one seemingly took sick days even when they were seriously ill, and though we received generous vacation benefits, few people dared to take time off. When I quietly inquired about what was up with that, I was told that employees were scared that if they took a vacation, their jobs wouldn’t be waiting for them when they returned. Thankfully, I didn’t stay at that company too long!

Of course, even when you’re outside the realm of Corporate America and self-employed, that “keep moving” mantra can keep playing in the background. Recently, I noticed that happening. Even on days when I was totally exhausted, I kept thinking, ‘I really should be working more. I really should be marketing my business more. I really should be doing, well, more of everything.’

Then, I received a timely email from my friend, Kim Vazquez, an author and highly intuitive spiritual counselor, who had been thinking about me and wondering how I was doing. Actually, I said, I was feeling quite exhausted, though I was still trying to stay as busy as possible, thank you very much for asking.

Kim could relate, she said, because she, too, had been feeling exhausted, but had been reluctant to take time out to rest. In the end, however, she had been forced do so, after finding herself depleted of energy.

Her message caused me to stop and reflect. Though I am fine, physically, I have been through a great deal in the past couple years with the death of my mom and father-in-law. There is no denying that the past couple of years – though they have been filled with growth and even miraculous moments – have been exhausting. The truth is that dealing with loss – of a job, loved one or marriage –
can leave you quite beat. I often remind my coaching clients of that when they ask me why in the world they are feeling so worn down.

Maybe what I needed right now, Kim suggested, was some good old-fashioned rest. If Kim’s suggestion wasn’t enough to get me thinking about taking it easier, there was our upcoming Blog Talk Radio show, Dialogues with Dignity, titled “Rest is not a dirty Four Letter Word". Nothing like a big clunk on the head to act as a wake up call.

And I DO believe that these serendipitous knocks on the door were a wake up call. I believe our bodies talk to us, and when we don’t listen, illness often follows.

In his book, The Power of Now, spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle sums it up this way: “Your physical energy,” he says, “is …  subject to cycles. It cannot always be at a peak. There will be times of low as well as high energy. There will be periods when you are highly active and creative, but there may also be times when everything seems stagnant, when it seems that you are not getting anywhere, not achieving anything … Many illnesses are created through fighting against the cycles of low energy, which are vital for regeneration.”

I have witnessed those peaks and valleys in my own life and in the lives of loved ones. I know that the trick is to notice when we’re in a low energy cycle and to listen to the wisdom of our bodies, preferably before disease takes root.

But I digress …

I agreed with Kim that I needed to rest more so I could heal from all the loss I’d experienced. The problem was that I wasn’t sure what “rest” might look like. It’s not as though I had a fever and the chills or some serious disease that required me to be confined to bed. I was just tired and needed to rejuvenate.

So after a little reflection, here’s what I decided would help me take it easier:

·      Let go of my plans for supercharging my coaching business right now and focus on the work that’s right in front of me.
·      Be selective about saying “yes” to new business opportunities that come my way.
·      Make time for activities that I find rejuvenating, such as spending time in nature, reading and hanging out with friends.
·      Give myself permission to say “no” to social activities and other plans that are destined to be draining.
·      Schedule “down time” into each day.
·      Listen to my body; if it tells me I need to sleep more or skip my workout one day, heed its advice.
·      Plan a fun and restful vacation.
·      Remind myself that rest ultimately leads to increased energy and productivity.

Although there are days I forget that rest is NOT a dirty four-letter word and fall back into familiar patterns of busyness for the sake of busyness, I am definitely on the road to recovery -- recovery from being a busy body, that is.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe I need to take a nap.

Do YOU believe that rest is a dirty four-letter word? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.com

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC
Feb 28

In my last ShareWIK post, I talked about how we sometimes need to give ourselves permission to rest.  But as one of my coaching clients pointed out, sometimes it isn’t about getting more rest: it’s about finding ways to feel less overwhelmed. Good point!

 

If you’re like many of my coaching clients, you may feel overwhelmed when life “becomes” crazy busy. While we can’t always control the circumstances in our life, the one thing we can control is the way we respond to the stressful situations in our life. So, whether you’re a single mom who’s caring for an aging parent, or a busy professional who’s launching a job search after being laid-off, you can find ways to manage stress, so you feel more peaceful and less overwhelmed. And the great part is that when we feel more peaceful, we are often more energetic and productive in all aspects of our life.

 

Listed below are five tips to deal with that nagging sense of overwhelm when it strikes:

 

1)   Make a List – Sometimes, when our lives feel out of control it’s because we’re worried about all the things we have to do today, tomorrow and next month, rather than focusing on what has to happen right now. But when these random tasks are swishing around in our mind, it can become distracting and overwhelming. So next time you feel that way, make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish. By doing so, you’ll be able to see, in black and white what needs to be done, and you will be freeing your mind of all the senseless chatter that often drains us of energy.

 

2)   First Things First – Once you’ve created your list of tasks, decide what needs to be completed first. Assign a deadline to each task. Some due dates will be obvious, But others will be less so. Determine what needs to be done today. Not tomorrow or the next day, but today. Write down this list on a separate piece of paper. By prioritizing your life, you will see (literally) that everything doesn’t have to be completed immediately. That, in itself, helps many people feel less stressed.

 

3)   Take Life One Minute at a Time – I’ve always thought the AA principle of taking one day at a time is a great one. Even better is this: take life one minute at a time. What I mean by this is to be in the present moment, without thinking about what you did earlier in the day or what you’re going to be doing later this evening. Just be where you are, and do what you’re doing right now. Regardless of what you’re doing, focus on the process rather than the outcome. When you notice that you’re worried about the future or fretting about the past, bring yourself back to the present moment by taking a deep cleansing breath. And remember not to beat yourself up for losing track of the present moment. You’re learning a new practice, which takes time.

 

4)   Yes, You Can – Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed, it’s because we keep feeding ourselves not-so-helpful messages like “I’m never going to get this done” or “I’m an idiot for agreeing to do this.” Yet when you keep repeating that tape over and over again, it can make you feel hopeless and out of control. Instead, when you catch yourself doing this, stop the tape and change the message to a positive mantra or affirmation. Instead of saying “I’ll never get this done,” try saying this:  “I have every confidence I can finish this project by the end of the week.”  Better yet, personalize your mantra so it’s a perfect fit for you. When you repeat your affirmation, and feel it in your very being, your chances for achieving your goal are much greater.

 

5)   Remember to Breathe – When your whirlwind of thoughts picks up again, and you begin feeling like your life is out of control, take a deep, cleansing breath. Breathe in through your nose and observe your breath as it travels up into your abdomen and your chest, and into your throat. Watch it again as it descends from your throat, into your chest and back down into your abdomen. Continue this practice for as long as it’s helpful and comfortable. By doing so, you will be quieting your mind and relaxing your muscles.

 

What, in your life, causes you to feel most overwhelmed?

 

How would your life be different if you felt more peaceful and less overwhelmed?

 

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on ShareWIK.com.

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here
.

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

home | sitemapfaq | columnists | members | discussions | groups | videos | press | advertise | contact us | estore | share your story | topics | calendar

Search ShareWIK

Loading

Facebook




Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Enter email below to receive our free eNewsletter
For Email Newsletters you can trust

Twitter

Latest Columns

The Grass Is Greener Right Here
With her trademark wisdom, humor and honesty, Diana Keough provides a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.

Ben KaminSpirit Behind the News
Ben Kamin is one of America's best-known rabbis, a multi-cultural spiritualist, New York Times Op-ed contributor, national columnist, and the author of seven books on human values. His kids, however, are not that impressed.

I Kid You Not
With a self-deprecating sense of humor, a dash of Midwest sarcasm, and candid honesty, award-winning freelance writer Kristine muses on life in a chaotic household. Spoiler Alert: her teen, tweens and dog don’t find her even mildly amusing.

Susanne KatzSecond Life
After divorce, a death, a mid-life crisis, or just growing up and changing, baby boomers are learning to reinvent themselves, have fun and find satisfaction. Look out kids…it’s a new world out there!
Class Notes: Special Needs
Learn from the journey of Jacque Digieso who was given a challenge and a blessing with her son, who has special needs.

What's Eating You?
Dina Zeckhausen, Ph.D. on food, weight, body image and raising resilient kids.

Steve Powell
Steve is an experienced facilitator, practitioner, communicator and proven leader with over 25-years in experience in human factors education and teamwork training.
Living On Purpose
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
rWorld
Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
Teacher Feature
School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

Latest Activity

posted a new blog entry Are You Up for the Job of Caregiver?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry When does Sex End?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Obesity brings on a variety of health issues.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Getting the marriage license.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Praying for Theo.
4 years ago