If You Had Five More Minutes . . . What Would You Say?

It’s been four months since my mom died and that question keeps coming up over and over in my head.  

“If I had five more minutes with my mom, what would I say?”

I’m not sure why I’ve limited myself to five minutes, but I’d guess it has something to do with the bargaining we do when someone we love so dearly, passes.

If you’ve lost someone, maybe you understand this routine: you lay down at night, shut the light and play the scenario in your head over and over. “What would I tell her? What might she say to me?” Each time I picture it, there’s a sense of urgency – like I know that five minutes just won’t be enough. And like many of our conversations when she was still here, we dive into the topic of my kids. I know she’d want to know about them – I tell her how well they’re doing, that they’ve adjusted to their new school and a new environment, that my son is now taller than me and that I’m white knuckling through teaching my daughter to drive. I assure her that I’m fine and that my sister and I are closer than we’ve ever been. And of course I tell her about our new dog Indie – she’d love Indie. I hold her hand (which I loved) and tell her it’s all good – it’s just not the same without her. Often I cry. Often I feel that void I’m told never goes away. Rarely, though do I feel the comfort I am seeking.

Have you ever noticed that you play out scenarios like these to find some comfort or get something out you weren’t able to before? 

With any kind of loss – whether it’s divorce, death, or simple separation – it’s natural to play out these scenarios. Sometimes you do it just to get some anger out. Sometimes it’s a chance to have a conversation you wish you had. You’ve heard people say it too: “if only I had five minutes . . . “

The thing is, though, those five minutes usually aren’t helpful for healing because they are full of bargaining or what if’s. They’re usually an expression of what you wish might be different now – a return of a loved one, a relationship that no longer is. They usually take you further away from acceptance of what really is – closing the door to new opportunity. 

And that’s what some of my conversations were with my mom. They were a fantasy that ultimately left me a little empty. So, that’s when it dawned on me that instead of holding onto those five minutes as a way to recapture what was – what if I used those five minutes as a daily practice to connect with my mom in a different way?

Instead of trying to fill a void, what if simply “talking” to my mom became a daily practice?

I know that might sound a little crazy, but bear with me.

When someone you love is suddenly gone – for whatever reason – it leaves a space. You might try filling it with things, staying busy or with other people – and that often backfires. Because the truth is you’re still holding on to what you miss. Imagine instead of wishing for more – giving yourself daily permission to “talk” to the person you lost. That might mean you allow for daily conversation by writing a letter, talking out loud in the car while driving or even looking at pictures and “talking” to them.

It gives you the permission to release anything your holding onto and instead of treating those five minutes as precious – you put time back on your side.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’d do anything to have my mom back. But, what this practice has done for me is that it’s given me my mom back in more of a fun way. As she pointed out before she passed, no matter whether she was here or not, I would still hear her. Understanding that, has allowed me to laugh or even roll my eyes, knowing what she’d say or think. It has allowed me to more freely love her without as much pain. It has allowed me to finally free my writer’s block and be vulnerable again.

And that is what it can do for you.

If you’re holding on somewhere or wish you just had five minutes – let yourself have that conversation. Again and again. Don’t limit your time.  Give yourself permission to find joy and laughter or release any regret or anger that you might feel. The key is not to treat those five minutes like that’s all that’s left – but to remember there’s enough time to say all that needs to be said.


Are you ready to feel happier? Learn practices to overcome loss or grief? Please join me for my FREE Happy is a Verb Coaching call on October 24th. Choose from one of two call times. Click here to join now!

 

 

Are Your Beliefs (Unknowingly) Perpetuating the Double Standard?

There is a double standard for women.

I know that’s not a surprise – especially if you’re a woman whose been judged for her determination, capabilities and standards. But, let’s just admit that we all– and I mean men and women – have a double standard for what we expect from women (guys don’t tune out just yet, I promise this isn’t about pointing fingers).

If you’ve watched the news lately, you can’t help but wonder if we’ve taken a step backwards. From the constant Hillary bashing to Trump’s insane rants against Fox News reporter Megan Kelly or Cruz’s powerful wife, the message feels consistent: if you’re a strong-minded, gifted woman in a position of some power – you’re a bitch or a liar or untrustworthy. And while it’s easy to point fingers at the media, the establishment or men like Trump – I started wondering if I am seeing all of this in my outside world, how is my inside world (what I think about me or other women) helping perpetuate the Double Standard?

The other day I was having a discussion with another woman, when she blurted out “that I must be used to having my own way.” I stopped mid sentence and felt genuinely confused. You see I’ve heard that before. From men that I’ve dated or people that I’ve worked with in my former life as a lawyer, I’ve heard people say that I tend to like things my way. At this point in my life, I recognize it’s not a compliment.

So, it got me thinking . . . especially when another woman I respected said it to me – would the same thing be said to a guy? And even if it would be said, would he care?

The reality is that I do like to get what I want – I set boundaries and am unafraid of saying what I believe is right. And sometimes, what I want might be unpopular. So what? Well, as women we’ve been trained to be people pleasers – we’re part of a team. And if you go against that team, you’re automatically an outsider.

When I was told I must be used to having my own way, I can legitimately say it hurt. I felt misunderstood, judged and confused. My immediate reaction was to make things right. I felt myself become defensive and ready to protect my position. I’ll even admit I wanted to tell her to go to hell. But luckily, I took a breath  . . . and that’s when it dawned on me, like so many other women my beliefs were about to perpetuate and give power to the Double Standard.

As women, we often buy into the Double Standard. We believe we always have to place our own needs behind the desire to get along and go along. We even judge other women who put themselves first and don’t sacrifice everything for the “greater good.” For some reason too, we think it’s bad to want to set boundaries or get our own way. We become afraid that people won’t like us if we stand up for ourselves or say no. We then end up second guessing every step and wondering what we really should do.

Why? Well, simply put – we are driven by our beliefs. Some of us believe our voice isn’t powerful, that it isn’t good to be a bitch or that people won’t like us if we don’t stand up for ourselves. And while it’s awesome that women know how to be team players – it becomes negative when we sacrifice ourselves or use it to judge ourselves (or others). Think of all the times you said yes to something, only later to become resentful and angry that you violated your own wisdom.

Our beliefs can be especially tricky – they often show up as truths.

We should be nice to other people. We should sacrifice ourselves for our children. We should not be lie. All these statements may contain some sense of truth for us – but, in reality, they’re just opinions. Every time we say we or someone else “should” do something, it’s a signal to us that there is some belief driving our statement. Maybe the underlying belief is that you won’t be a good mom, it’s bad to say no or that you’ll end up alone. Whatever the belief, if we are unaware of it – the belief can drive our actions, to then become reactions.

When I looked at the Double Standard and how it keeps coming up in my mind, I recognize that the only way the Double Standard really has power is if I myself keep perpetuating it. Every time I criticize another woman for being brash or not being a team player, it’s because I believe she needs to be a certain way. I am the Double Standard. The same goes for my own criticism of myself for being someone who likes to get her way. I am the Double Standard. In even making someone else wrong for saying it to me – I am the Double Standard.

It is only when we begin to question our beliefs, release our need to hold on to them and adopt new empowering ones that we can respond clearly rather than react emotionally. Instead of believing that any of us should be anything, we can begin to remind ourselves to release judgment and respond from a different place. And when we do, it is amazing how negativity crumbles and possibility opens.  

How do you perpetuate the Double Standard?

And what are the beliefs that drive you to do so? What might it look like if you let go of that belief or shifted it even slightly?

I want to invite you to begin to shift all your limiting beliefs! I've created a special worksheet to help you get started.

Download my FREE Happy is a Verb: Stop Shoulding on Yourself” Worksheet. Every time we tell ourselves we should or have to be something, we keep ourselves stuck, disappointed and held back. Begin to free yourself and live more confidently and happily. Click here to begin now!

 

These 5 Beliefs Are Holding You Back From the Life You Want

Whether you are aware of it or not, the thing that stands between you and an amazing life, are your beliefs.

Even if you might want to blame your circumstances, an ex or your work – the thing that is keeping you down . . . is really you. And even though that might be painful or uncomfortable to hear, I promise that’s really great news because once we realize we’re in the driver’s seat, it becomes easier to let go of what is no longer working.

A belief – especially one that is limiting or keeping us from doing the things we want – is something you’re deeply committed to. It’s your way of looking at the world or opinions that you’ve accumulated that make up you. We hold onto our beliefs mostly because we believe that without them, we don’t really know who we are.

Half of the time, though, we’re unaware that the beliefs we hold near and dear, are also the ones bringing us down and holding us back from what we most want. Only when we’re willing to open up and look at what’s really driving us, do we have an opportunity to make real changes.

In my own personal experience – both as a captive of my beliefs and as a life coach, I’ve learned that despite our unique circumstances – we all carry really similar beliefs that hold us back.

Which of these limiting beliefs are driving you?

(1) What’s Out There Is Scarier than What I Have Now.

Everything in your life is conspiring to keep you safe – but how good do you feel? If you want things to be different, you have to shake it up. Whether it's our jobs or a relationship that is no longer working, many of stay way past our expiration date because the devil we know seems easier to live with than the devil we don’t. The truth is that the unknown terrifies us – but if we could only get over that fear, what awaits us might be the glory we’ve been looking for our whole life.

Just think back to how many times you’ve said to yourself, if only I hadn’t waited. What should scare us more than the unknown is the thought of doing exactly what we’re doing right now for another day, week, month or year.  Imagine if nothing changes what might your life look like?

(2) I’m Not Good Enough.

Ugh. How many of us feel that way on a daily basis. We look around and think everyone else has their sh—together. “Everyone seems to know what they want or able to get the things they need . . . except me.” We buy into our stories that we aren’t educated enough, pretty enough, young enough or rich enough to live the lives we’ve dreamed of. So much so that after years of disappointments, we simply settle.

Not feeling good enough keeps us from asking for a raise or even what we want from our spouse. It might even stop us from returning a dish that was incorrectly prepared at a restaurant because – after all – who are we to bother anyone. And even though we may not verbalize it, the belief that we’re not good enough comes out loud and clear and lets the world know that we should be treated exactly that way.

(3) I’m Stupid.

This one held me back for years!! We can all remember the shame of getting something wrong in grammar school. Someone would point or laugh at our mistake and that was it – we decided we were stupid. And without being aware of it, once we formed that belief we decided that it’s safer not to try or to live quietly under the radar.

For others of us, maybe our fear of being called stupid drives us to be overachievers – collecting our A’s, degrees and accolades so no one can ever call us stupid. We may not be happy working so hard, but certainly we can’t be called stupid. And it can be that insidious. We might not even be aware that the reason we have to be all these things is because we’re still that little boy or girl afraid of being laughed at.

(4) Nothing is Going to Change – So Why Bother?

I’m often asked by clients, “Can someone really change?” Or I’m told, “I’m who I am and that’s not going to change.” We don’t really recognize that statement is a limiting belief. We think that we’re merely expressing our experience and that someone telling us that change is possible is selling us something. Occasionally our negative past experiences cause us to put our guard up – thinking that if we hope in the possibility or something different, we’re going to get hurt.

That belief – that nothing is going to change is also rooted in a belief that we’re never going to get what we want. We don’t trust the Universe to meet our needs or give us what we want, so we become defeated. We give up – whether it is with our physical appearance, career or personal life, our belief holds us back from living our life fully.

(5) I’m Unlovable.

Even if you are currently in a relationship – the belief that you’re unlovable might be keeping you from having the relationship you want. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we bring into our life the exact circumstances necessary to show us our beliefs. Our unlovable self might test our partner’s commitment to the relationship or consistently demand that he or she show us affection. We might even pick relationships with others who have trouble with commitment – just to prove we’re unlovable.

Most of this is unconscious, because on the outside, we tell others that we want to be loved and have good relationships. Yet, each time we either self-sabotage or live a life full of drama. And until we free ourselves of our belief, we are destined to live a life of unfulfilled hopes and expectations.

So, what now?

As I said, the good news is that once we are aware of our beliefs, we can learn to shift them. The first step is to become aware of all of the ways we get in our own way and stop pointing fingers at others or our circumstances. If we can see that our unconscious limiting beliefs are running the show, we can bring them into the light and consciously choose to behave differently – changing our patterns and finally living the life we say we want.

To help you break free from the beliefs and patterns, I would love to share with you my Happy is a Verb Cheat Sheet - 7 Simple Practices to Live Happier NOW! Simply sign up below and begin to feel empowered, more peaceful and happier today

When you sign up, you will be added to my subscriber list, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

How to Use Your Divorce To Kick-start Your Happiness

Divorce becomes a holy moment when you choose to use it as a catalyst for having an extraordinary life.” Debbie Ford

If you’re facing divorce, you’ve probably heard it already. The well-meaning friends who say you are “better off”, “you’re going to be just fine” or don’t worry, you’ll “find someone new.” And right now, you probably don’t want to hear that. You want to scream at the top of your lungs, stop the feelings of pain and shame and maybe even rip out your soon-to-be exes’ heart. You wonder how on earth is this my life?

Yeah, I know. I remember that feeling.

Even though it's been over ten years since I sat in your shoes, when people told me that it was all going to be ok, all I could think was you have no idea how low I feel right now. You have no idea how scared I am and what a big loser I feel like right now. I couldn’t see beyond my pain and I didn’t really know where to begin to pick up my pieces.

Part of what got me into coaching people through divorce was that I took the long road out and want it to be different for you. Divorce can be a way to kick-start a happier life – a better you. You just have to be willing to see it. I couldn’t get out of my own way. I lived in fear, in worry and self-sabotage for several years after my divorce.

Instead of working on myself and using my divorce as a launching pad to the next me, I bought into my story that I was now broken. I felt like a total pariah and a failure. And because of that, everything around me seemed to mirror that back. I was angry, insecure and lonely – wondering if I would end up alone the rest of my life.

All that took a toll. I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be, I was unhappy and definitely not the confident person I portrayed on the outside.

What turned my life around was a willingness to be honest with myself.

If you want to kickstart your future, it begins with feeling what you don’t want to feel, so that you can heal. You’ve got to be honest that the pain and the fear isn’t working. Sure it might feel good to blame your ex, but it isn’t going to give you the life you want. And neither is feeling guilty.

When you begin to accept that your life isn’t ok or even might be crumbling around you, that’s when things can turn around. It was that willingness that finally led me to my freedom.

Rather than seeing your divorce as a loss, perhaps greet it like you would an unexpected friend. Begin to look for your divorce gifts; see how the little seeds of wisdom can open up the door to real change.

It doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen. Your life will be better.

As Debbie Ford taught me, you can choose to use your divorce as a way to live a life beyond your dreams. It begins with that simple choice. 

To further support you along your path, here are a few things I have seen help countless clients kick-start their own journeys back to happiness:

(1) STOP THE FEAR. The best way to do this is get educated. Understand the divorce process, your options and possible outcomes. Dive in and get to know your finances, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Before hiring your lawyer make sure their "divorce" philosophy aligns with your personal goals -  get to know them as well as you did your wedding planner.

(2) GET ORGANIZED AND GET SUPPORT. Friends may tell you it’s time to pull yourself together. And they’re right. The swirl of emotion and constant ups and downs of divorce can make that nearly impossible. Decide to work with someone (a friend, coach or therapist) who will help you bypass the fear during this difficult time and help you can get organized. The more organized you can be about your legal matters, your daily life and your new future, the more quickly your fear can subside and you can feel more hopeful about your future.

(3) HEAL YOUR HEART. Once you know it’s going to be ok – or at least that you’ll have a roof over your head, you can look for your wedding gifts. Each relationship carries some wisdom, gift and opportunity for you to be even better than you were before. To live the life of your dreams. It’s important that you learn to love yourself fully before you move on and build your future. This is the time to dive in with a therapist or coach and really use what happened to understand yourself better.


To further support you in your process, I am including a copy of my Top Five Goal Setting Tips For Divorce.

And from now until February 15th, I am offering a 20% discount on all of my divorce education and coaching services when you mention the discount. For more information on working with me, click here.


Want an Amazing New Year? Review First, Then Resolve!

It’s that time of year where we shut the door on another year and look hopefully to the next.

Whether you make formal resolutions or not, most of us can’t help but whisper solemn promises to ourselves to do better in 2016. I know that I personally started thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions a few weeks ago – mapping out my health regimen, work goals and personal desires.

And while the New Year is always a good time to examine your vision and goals, what dawned on me was that all too often our desire to create resolutions has more to do with sweeping away our disappointments of the prior year than making real and lasting change. Like many of you, my past year was filled with highs and lows, amazing moments and devastating disappointments. My family faced serious health issues, unmet goals and changes galore. I would say that overall, we weathered the unexpected difficulties amazingly well, but by early December I could still feel the exhaustion from the year weighing on me - so much so that I felt the pull of 2016 calling to me like a beacon of light promising only sunshine, unicorns and rainbows.

But, rather than being lulled by the false promises of a new year, I realized that if I wanted to make 2016 my most amazing year yet, it would take more than just shutting the door and making new resolutions.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all carry our past with us into our present and future unless and until we make peace with it. Like shutting the door to a messy room – we may not see the mess for a while, but inevitably, we know it's there and we have to tackle the mess in order to clear it out.

So, I decided to dive in and see what 2015 held for me to see. Turns out, that like any other mess, there were surprise treasures to be found when we are willing to look. Sure, there was fear and anger and disappointment, but there was also a willingness to embrace my weakness and ask for help. I can remember always being told that I was so strong, but 2015 taught me that unless I embraced my weakness, my strength would run out. I also learned that out of tragedy, your family relationships can strengthen, especially when you let go of judgment and simply choose to love and understand. There were moments of fun and laughter and bravery that I never recognized because I was too busy simply following my passion. There was also a newfound patience that I have NEVER EVER exhibited before. And yes, although I was still absolutely type A and neurotic – looking back on my year with reflection allowed me to love my neurotic self more and really see what ways I wanted to grow.

As I sat in review of what happened and who I was this past year, I realized that most of us make resolutions from the vantage point of our most flawed selves – we decide what we did wrong and then set out to make resolutions to change those parts of ourselves.

Honestly, that is why most of our resolutions fail – because when we can’t see the gifts in our pain, our loss or our failures they inevitably pop back up until we learn our lessons or claim our gifts. When you do a year in review (looking for the gifts), it is almost impossible to be so harsh. You instead gain a new perspective that allows you to bring forward the parts of yourself that have grown and that will give you the courage to face whatever comes and make your next year, your best.

How to Do A Year End Review

Begin by looking at this past year and write out all the high points, even the seemingly small stuff. Maybe you worked out most every week, took a fun family vacation or made a new friend. Spend at least 10 to 15 minutes writing out all of the joyful moments of the past year. Be sure to focus on your own personal joy or high points rather than those of others.

For each difficulty that you faced, identify one good thing that resulted from that difficulty. Really focus on the gifts that you received despite the difficult circumstances. Also, identify one quality that you can see in yourself that helped you get through or overcome that difficulty. If you can’t identify one, decide what quality you might want to develop this upcoming year that could help you grow and tackle any future obstacles.

Identify the relationships and people that were supportive this past year. Spend time reflecting upon the people and the types of relationships that you want to carry forward into this year.

And lastly, celebrate yourself. Even if you feel like you didn’t show up fully in 2015, choose to spend a few minutes celebrating all that you are in this moment.

Happy New Year - xo Linda

For more on resolutions, Read This Week’s FREE Weekly Path to Peace

Why YOU are the last person you spend money on

Have you noticed that when it comes to spending money on anything – especially your well being, you are the last person you will spend money on?

I can remember the first time I called to find out about life coaching and even though I was so excited about the opportunity to coach, I inevitably heard that little voice creep into my head. The one that says, ‘you can’t afford this’ or ‘now is not the time.’ I spent years listening to that voice – the one that told me that it would be selfish, stupid, and extravagant to spend money in this way. For years I chose to listen to that voice and suffer through life rather than invest in me.

In fact, it was as if my life was just ok enough so that I couldn’t bring myself to spend money on making my life better.

I would tell myself I can’t go to that workshop or hire a coach because with two kids and a mortgage, that was “wasting money” on me. The funny thing is that when I look at reality, there was a ton of money that I wasted - on my bad habits, on a great pair of jeans, and on countless stupid little things that I just couldn’t live without at the time. The truth was that spending money on myself all at once was what I couldn’t bring myself to do. Even though all of my little expenses added up – my desire to spend money on myself in one sitting had a cutoff. The reason?

It ultimately boiled down to this: I didn’t value myself enough.

And when it comes down to thinking about ourselves, most of us don’t believe that our well being is a good enough investment. Even if I told you that I would offer a 100% money-back guarantee that your life improve as a result of doing my 10 week coaching program and I were to offer you a 50% discount, over half of you out there would still tell me you don’t have the funds to be coached. It’s only natural – most of us can’t bear to make our well being a priority. We make everything and everyone else around us more important than we are. It isn’t until our lives are literally crumbling around us that we finally dig in and take the step we have known – deep down – will positively impact our lives.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way – why should you wait until you’re down on your knees begging for relief?

You don’t. The truth is that you are fabulous and deserve to put your wellbeing first. Looking back now, after I finally pulled the trigger and paid for coaching (and became a coach myself), I laugh at how many excuses I came up with. I kept looking at the financial cost, but never understood that the financial cost was minimal when compared to the emotional cost – the cost that repeating bad habits, feeling angry and beating myself up had on me and my family. I thought that by putting off taking care of myself that I was only hurting me. I was actually hurting my kids more because all they ever saw was an unhappy and tired mom.

In the end, I finally reached the tipping point – the point where staying stuck was no longer going to work. And it fascinating, when you get to that point of despair, money doesn’t seem to be an obstacle. Because at that point, our lives are so out of control or worn down that we choose to get help because it will benefit those around us – it is only then that the ends justify the means. The truth, though, is that we really can’t afford to wait until our lives are unraveling.

Instead, we have to begin valuing our self-care a little more each day.

This week I would like to invite you to step into valuing your wellbeing. Whether that means signing up for a free consultation, a coaching package, joining a book study or buying a wellness book, taking the first step can create the ripple effect that allows you to change your life. 

If you are ready to sign up for a FREE coaching session, click below and schedule a time with me today.

P.S. Most life coaches I know love what they do, passionately. They know that coaching will change your life dramatically. How? Because they have probably seen amazing results themselves – and I promise you they aren’t unique. Even more importantly so many of us offer payment plans or if asked, might reduce our hourly rate a bit because we want you too to experience what we know is possible. 

Are you living in Integrity?

Integrity-2.jpg

If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” Les Brown

I’d like to think of myself as someone who lives her life with integrity.

I do what I say and say what I do. Well – almost. Like all of us, I like to cheat – I will drink a little too much wine with friends, indulge in chocolate or stay in bed when I promised myself to go exercise. I tell myself “It’s just this once”, “I deserve this” or “No one needs to know.” Yeah, right. And in the short-term nothing happens. The world keeps on spinning, the sun rises and my life goes on as normal. It’s all normal, that is, until I look at my vision board and see that some of the things that I want the most are just not being reached. It’s not because I don’t work hard or go after my goals, it’s because I am out of integrity with myself and what I say I want.

A little over a week ago I attended a workshop that helped me come face-to-face with my imposter.

I had no idea she was even there – but after looking honestly at my life, there was no denying that I was out of integrity and that I was hiding – not only from the world, but from myself. Like so many of us, I wake up everyday and think of all the things that are wrong with me. From the moment my feet hit the ground, I judge and criticize not only how I look, but also how I behave or what I have achieved today, this week or this lifetime. I say mean things to myself that I would never say my worst enemy. And while no one can hear us beating ourselves up, it starts to show up in our outside world in our compromised health, strained personal relationships and even falling short of our desired goals.

And even though I am someone who spend time nurturing myself, eating right, and setting healthy boundaries – what I discovered this weekend is that none of that matters if I am not living my 100% truth. I am not saying that means you can never have a glass of wine with friend again – but you can no longer use wine or watch TV or whatever else to stop you from chasing what it is you most want. Most of us aren’t even aware at how much we numb or run away from discomfort. We simply continue on autopilot and move further and further away from what we want. But, if we begin to look at our outer world and see that we aren’t getting everything we want – maybe, just maybe – it’s time to look at our inner world and see how we might be out of sync.

The reality is that so many of us our cheating ourselves when we buy into our excuses or waste time beating ourselves up.

Imagine instead if we devoted that time to being kind to ourselves or working on our goals. And sure, we do deserve a break now and again, but we want to be honest with ourselves and see if it is a break or if we are acting out of fear, disappointment or some other hidden driver that sabotages our goals. I know that now that I have met my imposter, it is impossible to ignore her. And that doesn’t mean that I punish myself – it means that I take the time to ask the right question as my teacher Debbie Ford would say – “Will this choice move me closer to my goal or further away from it.”

This week, I want to invite you to look inside and see all the different ways you might be cheating yourself.

Begin simply by examining the different areas of your life and seeing where you are living at less than 100%. What are the excuses you use to keep yourself small or not reach your goals? How do you sabotage yourself? What activities do you engage in that numb you from your feelings?

Once you have uncovered where you are out of integrity, set a goal to do one thing to help you step more fully into alignment with who you want to be. Start small – it all begins with baby steps – and make sure your goal is realistic. As you begin to make changes internally, it is important to notice too what begins to change in your outer world as well!

xo - Linda

Want to learn more about how to use the Right Questions to change your perspective at any moment? Sign up for a FREE consultation today. 

The Person You Most Need to Forgive? You (so you can really be happy)

I have learned that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, everyday, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself, “that’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” C. JoyBell C.

Most of us realize that the person we need to forgive the most in order to live our lives completely happy is ourselves.

Yet, we don’t really understand that the things we most need to forgive ourselves for are not so much our past actions – but who we are in the world. Sure, maybe we were mean to someone in our past or feel guilty about the way we treated a friend or partner, but deep down the thing that holds us back is the grudge we carry against ourselves for not being who we think we should be.

There is a saying that when we point our finger in blame at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves.

And if you think about it, even when we blame others for the condition of our lives, deep down we are also blaming ourselves. Maybe we blame ourselves for not being loving, worthy or loveable. Or perhaps we blame ourselves for being mean, too much like our mothers or not being enough like our sibling. It might even be that we blame ourselves for not meeting the other person’s expectations of us – or even our own. And while we may be aware of our own self-loathing on some level, we are not likely aware that these are the things we most need to forgive ourselves for in order to live the life we most want.

I recently was reminded of this when I found myself over-the-top angry with someone in my life. I was aware that the anger was eating me up, but couldn't let go of the blame and resentment I had toward them. I began thinking about forgiveness and ultimately realized that if I wanted to be free of my anger, I had to forgive them. But, at the same time, I recognized that I wouldn’t be complete until I too decided to forgive myself - the reality was that even though I was mad at this individual for not fulfilling their promise to me –underneath it, I was really mad at myself for not being able to do the task on my own. I felt inadequate and helpless. I was beating myself up underneath it all – and that was just making me feel worse. It was in that moment that I recognized that to experience complete forgiveness, I had to work on forgiving myself for my own perceived shortcomings. Indeed, if I expected to find compassion for the person I was upset with, it would have to begin with me having compassion for myself.

After all, how can we expect to feel fully happy and benefit from forgiving another if we continue to hold grudges against who we are?

Once we are able to accept ourselves, our flaws, our shortcomings and release ourselves from the bonds of our negative recriminations, we can truly begin to see the humanity and gifts others bring into our life. Forgiveness is ultimately the process of letting go of anything that might stand in the way of living the life we most want to create. If we are always holding onto negative grudges – especially against ourselves – how can we expect to step boldly into a future filled with joy and peace. How can we expect to feel loved even if we don’t love and forgive ourselves? Once we completely forgive ourselves for who we are, we find that we can finally step into our true, authentic selves.

In an effort to always treat happy as a verb, I invite you this week to step into forgiveness of yourself and imagine how being able to forgive yourself completely might help you achieve what you are most searching for in your life now?

xo - Linda


Forgiveness is one of the key things we work on in coaching. If you are ready to forgive, I am ready to help you release all the grudges and resentments that are keeping you from living the life you most want. Sign up for a session today!

Why "Why" Is Robbing You of Your Happiness

At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people we will become.” Leo Babauta

It is one of the first questions we learn.

“Why, mommy?” we ask as toddlers – wanting to know, understand and see how we fit into the world around us. And while it might have served us in finding our place in the world early on, “why” can be one of the more debilitating questions we can ask ourselves. When you train to become a life coach (at least my training), the first question they tell you to avoid is “why”. As an attorney, that seemed so foreign to me because “why” was always a big part of figuring out my case or telling my story to the jury. And while I have stayed away from that question in my coaching out of respect and a basic understanding that it was just an invitation for engaging in our gloomy stories, it finally hit me this week how much that question can really keep us stuck, feeling like a victim or blaming others for our situation. This week, I sadly learned that a woman that I had the pleasure of spending three fun evenings with over the last five years died suddenly. She was 44 – my age. She was full of life, fun, loved by so many, inviting and had a killer smile that warmed up the coldest space. She had so much to live for and so much more life to live. The only words that came to mind were “it’s just so unfair.”

Often when we experience a loss, a death, a breakup or dissatisfaction we ask, “Why. Why did this happen?” As a believer that there exists a bigger truth than we can see – a universal hand – a plan, I have often tried to explain tragedy in terms of trusting the Universe or believing in something we can’t see. Maybe, we say, “it was just her time”, or “this will lead to something better”.

But, the reality is that sometimes we just have no explanation.

As a mentor once shared with me, sometimes things happen and while we may look for a bigger explanation to make sense of out of it, there is nothing that will ease our pain. When we ask why, what we are doing is looking for someone to blame and that ultimately leads to anger, frustration, or feeling like a victim. The more we ask why, the harder it is for us to receive the gifts of our current circumstances. All we can feel is pain and disappointment, leaving no room for happiness to return.

The truth is, bad things happen. Bad things happen to good people. And while it may be inevitable that we feel the unfairness or ask the why, understand that repeatedly looking for the “reason” behind our circumstances will merely leave us stuck exactly where we are.

Instead, we may want to ask ourselves “how can I use this circumstance to empower me?” or “what can I learn from this circumstance” or “what is the wisdom or lesson available to me now?”

Each of these questions enables us to move forward and open a door to where everything we want awaits us: prosperity, love, peace and yes, happiness. And despite the injustice of it all may remain in the form of pain, we gain access to something bigger – an opportunity to grow and evolve.

When I look back over this past week, I am deeply saddened by unimaginable loss, but am also awestruck at the lessons and legacy one person can leave behind for all of us to carry. Instead of asking why, when I asked what is the lesson or wisdom available, I discovered that a simple smile can really change lives. I learned that opening your heart and extending your hand to someone else is never forgotten and can make a difference that affects more lives than you can even see. Instead of spiraling into an unanswerable question, I found myself rising up to the occasion this past week – wanting to be better and embody the qualities this beautiful woman so generously shared with others. I smiled more at others. I shared how I feel and I tried to help where I could. I also learned to embrace more deeply my own unique qualities and focus on the things that make me happy. And while the lesson of “why” resulted from something terribly tragic, it is important to remember that even when we deal with the small stuff, “why” can really rob us from our destiny and our right to be happy.

So, as you travel forward this week (and beyond), simply notice when and how you fall into the spiral of “why”.

Each time you become aware of your internal dialog, simply shift and ask yourself any of the following questions:

  • What lesson or wisdom is available for me from this circumstance?
  • How can I look at this differently?
  • How can I use this circumstance to empower or change me?
  • What am I willing to do differently now? 

As someone recently shared with me, each time we find possibility in the dark, we allow the canvas of opportunity and possibility to be cleared for something new. 

xo - Linda


Are you ready to find your happiness? 

Sometimes, happiness feels just beyond our reach. I know, I lived so much of my life feeling like happiness belonged to others, was just around the corner or had to be deserved. But, it doesn't have to be that way. Happiness is all of our right. If you are ready to make a real change toward long lasting happiness, join me for a free discovery session!

If you sign up for a free discovery session before July 15th, you will be eligible to receive an Additional FREE Session when you sign up for any of my coaching packages before August 1st!

Six common happiness types. Which one are you?

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln

Why does meditation improve happiness for some and others can’t stand sitting still for five minutes? Or why some find it easier to enjoy the simple things in life, no matter what?

Call it our belief or approach, but we all view happiness through a particular lens that determines how much (and what kind of) happiness we seek and receive in the present moment; our happiness type. Most of us are unaware of our “happiness type”, but how we show up in our lives – or how happy we feel in this present moment – may be dictated by our type.

The one thing we all have in common – regardless of our type is that most of us believe that happiness lives outside of us, so we end up chasing it in the “things” of life instead of cultivating it within. I started identifying the various “happiness types” after reading countless books, studying and interviewing people about how they view happiness in the hope that a greater understanding will lead us all to find more happiness.

Studies say that 50% of our happiness is based upon our genetic makeup, 10 to 20% on our environment and that remaining 30 to 40% can be the difference between genuine and fleeting happiness. The key to improved happiness begins with understanding the beliefs, views and attitudes we hold about happiness, so that we can consciously become choose new behaviors and actions that align with our long term goals.

The types:

Snow White. We all know the song.  “Some day my prince will come . . . and off to his castle we’ll go, to be happy forever, I know . . . someday when my dreams come true.”

So many of us (myself included) put off being happy until Someday. The Snow White in all of us buys into the fallacies that if we do all of the right things, meet our handsome prince (or princess), get the right job, get the perfect body and settle into our “castle”, happiness will automatically follow. The problem for all of us Snow Whiter’s is that when we get all those things, happiness feels fleeting and maybe even a little disappointing – leading us only to keep seeking happiness in our next hurdle.

Veruca Salt. “I want it now!” Yeah, you know who you are. Happiness is something to be found in the moment, in action, in the people you are with, the food you are eating and the wine you are drinking. Veruca Salt is the pleasure seeker who doesn’t see the sense in putting off happiness and instead, lines up to be first in line for the adventure. And while Veruca may seem as if she’s in the moment, happiness is still something to be found in “doing”. Instead of being a state of mind that can be achieved, for all of us Veruca’s, happiness is still something that is outside of us and found only in life’s moments.

Eeyore. Although most of us don’t want to admit it, there is likely a little Eeyore in all of us. So many of us think that happiness belongs to others or we don’t even believe that happiness is possible or probable. We tend to stay stuck in our lives and approach changes that will make us happy with a “why bother” attitude. For the Eeyore type, happiness always feels elusive – like a mountain stands between us and the happiness we so desire.

Aunt Ginny. We all know an Aunt Ginny. She is always doing things for others. It makes her happy (she says) but, Ginny doesn’t really remember what makes her happy. She has spent years doing everything for everyone else that her own happiness feels like a distant memory. In many ways, doing things for others has been a way that Ginny doesn’t even have to deal with her own unhappiness. She keeps herself from even thinking about it by doing what she can to bring others joy.

The Former Quarterback. Stuck in the past, the former quarterback believes that his best days are over. Like Snow White, he finds his happiness in somewhere else – in events long gone by, in his former physique or in the stories of the good old days. Worn out and disappointed, the former quarterback can’t see how his life now or the future will ever be as glorious as his old football days. He often tries to re-create it or ends up hiding from the world in destructive ways. He can often relate to Eeyore and feels dejected in his efforts to find happiness in his life.

Buddha: Ah, Buddha. The ideal. If you are already here, you are one enlightened person (and I need to hang out with you). Although many of Buddha’s teachings can be seen as saying that suffering is at the root of all life, the reality is that Buddha’s real focus is on developing a higher consciousness and mindful practice so that personal and inner happiness can be achieved. Buddha types focus on an inner happiness that isn’t derived from external pleasures or drives. It is about connecting with a purpose and a genuine happiness that transcends physical achievements and possessions.

So, are you one type, a few?

We might even tend to be one type of happiness seeker at one point in our life, only to change with age or different life events.

And while we may like aspects of our happiness type (it’s good to want to help others, right?) we all want to begin to take the steps to develop Buddha’s internal happiness, so that when we have to deal with the “yuck” of life, we can feel stronger. We can know that whatever suffering or disappointment we face, that happiness is at our core.

This week, I invite you to explore your happiness type and ways that you search for happiness outside of yourself. Begin to take steps to bring more personal happiness into your world now. Take a daily walk, start a gratitude journal, find three positive things about yourself, spend time with friends or read a self-improvement book. No matter what your type, the little steps make a big difference.

Ready for more specific tips based on your happiness type? Schedule a fifteen-minute call with me or simply e-mail me at linda@lindamperry.com with your happiness type and I will send you tips to help improve your happiness now!

xo - Linda

Spirituality doesn't always have to be woo-woo

In order to experience everyday spirituality, we need to remember that we are spiritual beings spending some time in a human body.” Barbara de Angelis

Have you ever wondered, what is the goal of spirituality and personal development?

Am I supposed to never ever be bothered by anything again? Will I walk around in a blissful state all of the time? If I embrace spirituality will people think I am weird?

I can remember when I first started looking into concepts of spirituality and personal development, it seemed to me that I would no longer be able to feel, cry or carry depth of emotion – and that kind of turned me off. I wondered, “Am I going to be some sort of emotional zombie who is destined to discard their normal life, never enjoy drinking wine, hanging out with my friends and some of the finer things in life? Do I have to completely give up who I am now? Um, no thanks.”

I had a lot of preconceived notions – or maybe misconceptions – but, the fact that I knew that I wasn’t genuinely happy, kept me searching for a better way. What I have discovered through all my “research” is that the goal of spirituality and personal development – for me, at least – is freedom.

Freedom to be and live the way I have always wanted to live.

In becoming more “spiritual”, I can assure you, feelings such as anger, sadness and even frustration all still exist. The difference is that now that I understand and embrace ALL of my emotions, instead of having my emotions run me, I now get to choose how I want to show up and how to let go of my mistakes. The reality is that most of us forget we are human. We are going to make mistakes – we are going to scream, cry, screw up and say stupid things. That is just the fact. It’s just that we want to do less of the things that cause us to beat ourselves up or put ourselves in situations that don’t serve us.

Recently, someone told me that screaming at someone was not spiritual. And sure, it probably doesn’t fit the definition of how I want to show up on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean I am not spiritual or on a divine path. What it means is that I am human and that I lost it. The key to personal development is what do you do with those human moments?

The old me might have beat myself up for days, hid in shame, stuffing down all those feelings and moving forward – only waiting for it to show up on a different day. The new me gets to see moments where I “lose it” as an opportunity. I ask myself now – “What did that moment teach me? What am I here to learn from that?”

Spirituality is also an opportunity to look at how, even though you may not have delivered the message the way you wanted, you still stood up for yourself.

Or perhaps, you get to love your humanness more and treat yourself with compassion for the mistakes you made. In the end, spirituality is about growth – it is about taking practical steps each and every day to simply do better than the day before.  It isn’t about building a spiritual persona, because, after all, isn’t that about just putting on another mask we show the world?

It’s about owning all of ourselves and choosing how we want to show up today. True spirituality comes when we take each moment and apply all the lessons we have learned so we can live more strongly and happily.

This week, I want to invite you to step into practical spirituality.

If the goal of spirituality is freedom – or happiness or peace or whatever resonates with you – what do you need to do this week to step more boldly into that space?

If you are holding onto anger, what is a healthy way you can express that anger? Would it serve you to write a letter, box, run, or clean your house (yeah – some people process anger that way)? Do you need to write out the lessons from your past mistakes? Maybe you need to be honest with yourself about your fears, judgments or beliefs? Whatever you choose, the key is to take one real step in the direction in owning your emotions and learning from them . . . practical spirituality.

Ready for more? Sign up for your free discovery session!

Are you still waiting for happiness to arrive?

Happiness doesn’t come at the end. Happiness comes first.” Jeff Olson

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by two separate individuals who wanted to share with me that they had read my end of 2014 blog. I am always happy to hear from people who read my work – especially if they find something helpful for their lives. But this time, both kindhearted people reached out to share with me that it sounded as if I had had a terrible 2014 and wanted to know if I was ok. Wait, what? Did I hear that right? I will admit when I heard the question (both times), that I was taken aback because by the time I wrote that blog, I already extracted all the lessons, gifts and wisdom of 2014 and had moved forward with my life – happily.

But, as I sat a little longer with the question they asked, I was reminded of one of the most important lessons I had come to embrace and understand during my difficult past year; happiness doesn’t come at the end, it comes first. More than anything else, all of us want to be happy. Yet, all too often we think of happiness as something we achieve only after we have crossed some threshold – whether it is getting married, having children, having money or perhaps losing 15 pounds. We put off being happy and instead focus on what is wrong with our lives or what might be missing. We keep hoping that happiness will be our reward for a life lived well.

Unfortunately, happiness doesn’t work that way. Life will always bring us unexpected events and difficult times. The key is what we choose to do with those events that determine how much happiness will fill our lives. If we decide that the events of our lives mean that we are somehow undeserving, punished or unlucky, the more likely we are to be consumed by negative thoughts and sadness. We tend to spiral downward and believe that happiness is something others only get to experience. If we recognize, however, that happiness is an inside job – that we are each responsible for maintaining our own happiness first, we can more readily accept the circumstances of our lives and move forward.

So, what does that really mean? It means that each day we must ensure that we do the things necessary to guard our happiness. It includes monitoring our thoughts, our language, our activities and habits. Rather than engaging in conversations that bash others or allow our thoughts to center on negative events, we must seek out things for which we are grateful. We have to make choices that support our well being including exercise, meditation or reading books that inspire us. It also means stopping to see the gifts that the events of our lives seek to bring us. As the author, Jeff Olson says in his writings, rather than focus on doing those things for our personal development, focus on them as a way to bring more happiness in our lives. Putting happiness first means not waiting for the waves to stop crashing, but instead find the joy, beauty and peace right where you are.

And while it is not always easy, putting happiness first really does work. Each day we make countless choices – imagine how different your life could look a year from now if you simply made each choice focus on your happiness. Would you spend time worrying? Would you reach out to your spouse or partner with a random act of kindness? Stop nagging? Eat right? Laugh more? Go to the gym even when you are tired? Yes, because all of those things bring the happiness you have been putting off for someday, squarely into your present.

And the happier you can make yourself in your daily life, the more likely you will be to achieve all the things you have been waiting to happen that you thought would make you happy. More than anything, that is what last year taught me. Regardless of what was happening around me, I chose to be happy every day. I did all the things I knew would make me truly happy and have found that all the things I want, can more easily unfold.

Instead of waiting to be happy then, begin today. Focus the next twenty-eight days on adding at least one habit or practice that will bring happiness to your day. Whether it is beginning a new meditation practice, walking or finding five things to be grateful for daily, commit to adding just one thing that you know will increase your happiness quotient. And although you may not feel it immediately, stick with it and see how differently you feel at the end of your twenty-eight days. Rate how happy you feel today on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very unhappy and 10 being extremely happy. After adopting your one habit or practice for the full 28 days, rate your happiness again on the same scale – most likely you will see that even small changes can change how happy you feel in the long run!

With Love,

  Linda

How Gratitude Opened the Door to My Life Lessons

Happiness is the experience of living every moment with love, grace and gratitude.” Denis Waitley

As this year comes to a close, it is only natural for all of us to look back and judge the year we had. We decide whether it was good or bad and hope, either way, that next year will be better. For me, 2014 was one hell of a difficult year. When I first thought about writing this blog (about a month ago), I was squarely in the camp that 2014 was a bad year and that I was ready to bid it good riddance – I couldn’t get a word down on paper. But, as I sat in reflection of this past year, a different picture slowly began to emerge.

There is no doubt that at various points this year I felt what so many of us feel in a bad year: helpless, weak, hopeless, angry, and heartbreaking pain. But, most of all, I felt powerless. At any other point in my life, I think that the events might have done me in – and truly, no one would fault me if I decided to crawl up into a ball and not come out of my room. However, this year taught me all about walking my walk and talking my talk. As I share with others, difficult times are a great opportunity for growth and life lessons. We can either choose to extract those lessons or move on – waiting for the lesson to reappear in a different form (and incurring more pain).

This year, I chose to look and see what all the pain had to offer me. What I discovered was that 2014 was my year! If I hadn’t experienced difficulty this year (and being open to see the lessons), I would never have discovered that the thing that held me back the most – that feeling of being powerless - was the key to my finally feeling whole. The goal of our lives is not to push down parts of ourselves, but to embrace all of who we are. I had long rejected feeling powerless and was thus, controlled by it.

The second I was able to receive that lesson, so much for me changed. There was suddenly gratitude where there had been pain and understanding of all the lessons I had missed before. I was able to look at my past year and see far more good than anything else. And even though this may sound hokey for some – the reality is that when we step into our pain and look at it that is what is possible for all of us. We can take the lessons and shift our perspective because the pain we went through has purpose – it is there to take us to our next level. We no longer have to be weighed down by labels of good or bad because we know that there is always something positive to take away, even from our darkest hour.

For me, my lesson this year was to lean fully into powerless so that I could discover my true power. It leaves me filled with gratitude for all that 2014 brought. I also have shifted what I expect for 2015. No longer do I wish for the freedom from pain, but simply the grace to be open to whatever comes. That doesn’t mean I will stop doing the things I need to make the next year the best year ever, it just means being open to having an amazing year, no matter what may come my way.

As you look back on your year this week, rather than close the book on anything “bad” that occurred, I invite you to reflect back with gratitude. What were the lessons of 2014? How can you use each dark moment to make your next year even bigger? If you journal, now putting down on paper all the life lessons can help you look back as a reminder of the growth you had. Appreciate all that came and I wish you the grace to live an even more open 2015!

With Love,

Linda

 

What's Your Life's Purpose?

You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.” Steve Maraboli

I am a believer that when something repeatedly shows up in your life, it is time to pay attention. Over the last couple of weeks, the question of ‘what’s your life’s purpose?’ keeps coming up. Most recently, my friend and fellow coach, Nancy Levin wrote about this topic – she asked herself and her readers, what have you come to do in this life. After reading her blog, I decided it was time to sit down and see: did I clearly hold my own life’s purpose in view and how can I help others find theirs?

I know that so many of us struggle with this idea. What am I here to do and how do I know when I have found the answer? And even when we think we have found it, the universe sometimes places hurdle after hurdle in our way. We get defeated, think we were wrong and go back to living a safe life – one that may meet our basic life needs but feels empty, as if we are marking time. Or perhaps, we couch our life’s purpose in terms of what we think we should do; we say to ourselves our life’s purpose is to go to school, get a job, earn a living and support our family. That may be how we end up living our lives, but I only would ask, does it light you up and motivate you? If not, maybe it’s time – like it was for me, to assess (or reassess) what is it that I am here to do.

As a child of immigrant parents, I thought concepts such purpose and life’s calling were first world luxuries. But, looking back, even my parents, who believe in hard work and living life according to a strict set of rules, are great examples of the difference between living your life’s purpose and doing what you should do. My parents were both doctors – but for my mom, being a doctor really was her true life’s purpose. You could see it in the way she cared for her patients, her focus and her passion. Her patients loved her too – I would constantly hear from them how wonderful she was – and she was (is). For my mom it wasn’t a career – it was that deep stirring that wouldn’t let go. It was that voice that said no matter what hurdles exist (and there were hurdles), this is where I am going.

I remember for years being envious of that kind of self-knowledge. I fought so hard to figure out what I wanted and how I could make a difference. But for years, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find my purpose. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the gift of a life’s purpose is that no matter how hard you try to find it, it ultimately has a way of finding you – you just have to listen. You have to give yourself permission to drop all notions of what you should be doing and courageously listen to your heart’s calling. You can’t demand it to show up, force it or work hard to make it fit. You only need to allow it to show up as that soft voice that tells you ‘Do this, even if you might fail.’

As I sat in front of my blank sheet of paper, I was reminded that even when we believe we know our purpose, everyday life sometimes gets in the way of us realizing it or seeing it clearly. I recognized that even though I know my life has led me to the work I love today, sitting down and becoming clear on my purpose helps not only affirm where I am, but how I create my tomorrow. So, here is what I now know stronger than before:

My purpose is to:

  • Coach and guide people through difficult times so they can get to where they want to go – consciously and faster than if they did it on their own.
  • Help others give themselves permission to let go of who they once were, so they could become what they might be, not what they should be.
  • Connect with others through my words so that I may inspire and empower them to make the changes they so desire in their life.
  • Fail and lead others (by example) to embrace and love their failures so they may find true success.
  • Show my family, friends, clients and people I am lucky enough to meet, what it means to stand in possibility and live a life beyond your dreams.

This week, listen to your life’s purpose. Find a quiet place and spend at least 20 minutes journaling about what it is you know to be your life’s purpose. Allow yourself to hear that soft voice and let yourself write whatever comes out without censoring yourself.

When you have completed your list, go back over the list and cross out any of the things that you have written because you thought you should be doing something or because it sounded good. For the next week, let yourself be guided by your purpose in all your choices, thoughts and beliefs.

And obviously, since one of my purposes is guiding others to get where they want to go faster, if you want some help in getting to your life's purpose, contact me for a free one-hour consultation to get started!

With love and purpose,

Linda

What is Life Coaching Anyway?

I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Anonymous

One of the things I loved about being an attorney was when I said what I did, people understood my work and it came with a certain amount of prestige. I had great stories too that made me sound cool and important. But, underneath it all, being a lawyer was really a cover for me – I could hide my insecurities, my unhappiness and that feeling that something was missing.

Several years ago, before I was introduced to my current work, I was what most would consider a realist, totally left brained and definitely not woo-woo. I was, however, tired. Tired of feeling like something was always missing in my life. So after several years of following the work of best-selling author and teacher, Debbie Ford from the sidelines, I decided that I was ready to explore her work in depth and see what changes I could make. In some ways, I came to her work out of desperation because I realized that I really needed to make a change in my life if I was ever going to experience real happiness. Plus, the things that she talked about: releasing limiting beliefs, using crisis as a catalyst for change, having all the answers inside of us and lasting transformation, all sounded like things I wanted or needed in my life!

And although maybe some of it sounded too good to be true, what I learned about life coaching can be summed up this way: it is hard, takes a lot of personal commitment and a willingness to be honest and open. But, it is definitely worth it. Life coaching changed my life in ways I would never have imagined. I strengthened the relationship with my children and my now husband, I forgave my father for things I blame him for, I learned to really care and like myself, and most importantly I found my purpose in this work. I found too that it worked not just for me, but for anyone willing to commit to themselves and to real change.

The reason that coaching works is simple: although many of us may be well intentioned and well meaning, we don’t get to where we want in our lives because some thought or belief that we have carried for a lifetime stands in our way. Whether it is in our work or personal life, we are our own worst enemies in sabotaging what we most want out of life. Unlike therapy, though, coaching focuses on the future and allows the client to be his or her own agent of change. It focuses on providing the client with tools or life skills that not only build upon one another, but also help create clear goals to follow. Coaching too is limited in time; it is about facing temporary life challenges and moving forward with our lives.

Admittedly, when it comes down to it, I think that knowing this had a limited time and investment was one of the reasons I finally decided to dive into coaching. I had wanted to attend one of Debbie Ford’s workshops for years – but what stopped me is that I never thought I was worth the investment. So many of us are afraid to spend money on bettering ourselves because we are afraid it won’t work or that we aren’t worth the expense (especially when our children, spouse/partner or parents might need it). When I saw that the investment was limited, I could justify it and say, “If it doesn’t work, then I have only lost X dollars.”

The funny thing was that the core belief that I wasn’t worth it (or had to justify it) was exactly the reason that coaching was a benefit. Many people don’t realize that the belief that we are not worth it stops us from getting the help we need and from living the life we say we want. Coaching helps people change that belief (and others) so they can see possibilities where they did not before. It also helps identify and release any number of other things that stop us from having what we say we want so we can move forward in a very new and powerful way.

In short, coaching helps remove all of the things that stop us from living the life of our dreams. So, even though people don't always understand what it is that I do, I can say that I am still helping people - just this time they might be happier to hear me than they might have when I was an attorney.

For more information on all of my services including life coaching, divorce planning and mediation, please visit my Coaching Services Pages.

Why Fear is Really Your Friend.

Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow.” – Steve Pavlina

While sitting in my office the other morning, I was debating with my daughter over text whether she had to take the bus to her appointment across town or if she was allowed to cancel. I insisted she needed to go and then the texts abruptly ended with, “I dislike u so much, I dislike u very, very much.” Sound familiar to anyone?

Now, some may excuse this behavior as being typical for a defiant 14 year-old girl or perhaps you are in the camp that says that she was disrespectful and you would never let your daughter talk to you this way. But rather than labeling her defiant or disrespectful, what I learned is that my daughter was reacting from a place of fear and that she had no coping skills to deal with what for her, was overwhelming and paralyzing fear about riding the bus to an unfamiliar part of Chicago.

Watching my teenage daughter has indeed been an interesting lesson in fear. Generally, I would say she has no fear – I have watched her jump off of a 20 foot cliff into water, leave home for camp at the age of 9 without blinking and is she is actively pursuing a career in dance (despite picking up ballet much later than her peers). There really isn’t much she won’t do – until she is afraid. And like so many of us, when she is faced with fear, all rational thought shuts down. She immediately makes fear – and me – her enemy. And unless you alleviate the discomfort of fear immediately, you get a text or a verbal assault like the one above.

As parents, I believe so many of us are always balancing the job of leading by example, protecting, setting healthy boundaries and pushing our kids out of the nest so they can learn to face life with confidence. I know personally, I battle with what is the right way – do I shield her from the discomfort or go all out and tell her to sink or swim? In this instance, my instinct was to send her out into the world and tell her that her fears were ridiculous. And while I did try that route, she resisted. So, instead, I told her to go talk to her step-father and ask him to help her out since he was at home. Yup – you read that right, I pushed it off on him. Why? Because, just like my daughter, I was afraid.

It turns out, her fear made me uncomfortable and afraid that I couldn’t come up with a good solution that met my one need to have her grow and face the world and my other need to protect and understand her. I was afraid that I would make the wrong choice – one would mean I was coddling her and the other would mean she would be angry with me (like I was with my parents) for pushing her too hard to face her fears.

In the moments after I pushed off my problem to my husband, I became acutely aware that what drove our morning battle was both of our fears. In that awareness, it suddenly became less important to make her face her fear and instead to share with her how we both made fear our enemy that morning instead of letting it be the compass to show us where we needed to grow. Fear in my daughter’s circumstance was an opportunity to learn how to clearly express fears with vulnerability and honesty while my lesson was - well, my lesson was the same. Had we both been able to do that, the solution might have become apparent (as it obviously was for my husband who solved the problem right away).

Fear truly can be a compass to show us the areas where we need to grow. If we let fear be a guide rather than an enemy, we are less likely to freeze, run away or have others solve our problems because we can approach our reactions (and those of others) with compassion, understanding and opportunity.

This week, I invite you to look at fear as a compass to show you where need to grow. Do you automatically lash out, shut down or walk away in response to fear? How do you react when you are faced with something that scares you?

Rather than making the thing we fear a do-or-die proposition, see if there is a way you can look at the fear as an invitation to grow. Do you need to identify small steps you can take that will bring you closer to doing the activity? Do you need to ask someone for help? What is one way you can move toward the fear with growth rather than with anger and rejection? Take that step today and see how you can view your fear and others’ differently.

With Love,

Linda

Do you know what it means to be your authentic self?

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – C.G. Jung Browse any self-help aisle of a bookstore or on-line book retailer and undoubtedly you will see expressions such as “Become your authentic self!” or “Love your authentic self.” As a coach, I invite people to discover their true self in order to create lasting peace. But, over the last several weeks, each time I have heard or used “authentic self” I have wondered do I really understand what that means – and am I being authentic?

When you look up the term “authentic self”, it is generally defined as the opposite of our ego created self. It is the person we are created to be; the person we are when we don’t care what others think of us. It sounds wonderful, but during times of struggle or feeling stuck, the idea of an authentic self sounds as elusive as winning the lottery. Becoming who we were meant to be falls to the bottom of the list when we are simply trying to keep up with the daily demands of life such as paying bills, caring for our children or parents and sleep is a distant memory.

But, what I realized over the last several weeks (perhaps years) is that when we discover our authenticity, living with the demands of our life becomes easier; we make better choices, feel more confidence and joy and complain less. In looking at whether I understood this idea and seeing if I was really being me, I had to start with the simple question of who am I? What I discovered is that I answered that question like many of us do – by defining what I do rather than who I am. I heard myself say I am a wife, mother, coach, friend and daughter.

All of those things are merely expressions of my authentic self. Who I am instead is a culmination of a variety of things: my skills, attitudes, beliefs, talents and understanding. It is also being able to express all of those things without fear, doubt, manipulation, caring what others think, conformity or pleasing others. My authentic self is who I am when I share a moment with my husband, when I honestly share my mistakes with my friends, when I let go of judgments and expectations, put down my super woman cape, hug my children and stand in humility – knowing I don’t have all the answers and must lean on a power higher than me. Authenticity means knowing that I am truly valued no matter what I do in a day.

As I look at my own life, I realize that it takes courage to express authentically and also to understand the things that keep me from being me. Like each one of us, I still hide behind things that keep me from my truest expression. I am definitely not immune to guilt, shame, fear or pride – but do realize that just as the things that I do don’t define me, neither do the things that keep me from expressing myself. Our authentic self is always there. It does not need to be created, but simply uncovered and expressed. And when we give ourselves the gift of expressing who we really are, we really do feel more peace and lasting happiness!

Peace Practice: Today I invite you to express your authentic self!

  • Begin by asking the question, “Who am I?” Make sure you define who you are not by what you doing, but what you love, believe, understand and express through your talents.
  • Notice too, when am I not my authentic self? Identify times that you beat yourself up for your actions, done something simply to please others, or held yourself back because you are afraid what others might think of you.
  • Today let go of at least one habit or action that keeps you from expressing yourself and notice how you feel when you honor whom you really are!

Love from my authentic self,

Linda 

It Takes One Person to Change The World

All I want to do is change the world.” - W. Clement Stone

It takes only one person to change the world.

How many times have you heard that saying and glossed over it, thinking that one person wasn’t you? We all know that it is true that it only takes one person: think of Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Ghandi or Rosa Parks. Yet, we often forget that we too can be that one person.

Not only can we be that one person, we don’t even need the act to be grand in order to affect genuine change. Recently I attended a conference in Denver where I saw my friend, Nancy Levin launch her book at a workshop attended by thousands. After leading the group through an exercise from the book, she invited people to get up on stage and share their experience. A woman took the stage and, with her voice shaking, shared a heart-wrenching tale of domestic abuse, losing herself and custody of her young child.

As she spoke with tears flowing, I recalled that I saw this same woman several months before in New York. She was sharing the same story, but when I saw her in New York I also witnessed her beautiful singing voice. In that moment, I could remember thinking that when she sang, all of the shame that accompanied the story, melted away. When she sang, she transformed the room into silence – almost as if we did not want to miss a note.

At the end of Nancy’s workshop, I felt compelled to find that woman. I am not exactly sure what I said, but I know that I shared that she was inspiring both for bravely sharing her story and her beautiful voice. She nodded and walked away, leaving me suddenly unsure if I had done the right thing.

Months later, I responded to a post on Facebook from a networking group. I didn’t recognize the person who wrote the post, but immediately got a message asking if I was the woman in Denver who came up to her after Nancy’s workshop. It turns out that it was the same woman and she had been hoping to find me just to share that by coming up to her, that I helped her embrace her own vulnerability and the power of just being her.

In that moment, I was struck by how such a simple and natural gesture of reaching out to someone else could affect real change. And the change was not only for her, but for me too. She helped me really see that if we just allow ourselves to connect with other people so much can open up for both parties. Rakale (who has given me permission to use her name) also changes the world by sharing her beautiful music – as she says, just by being her.

In the end, we each can make a difference – no matter how small we may think it is the ripple effect may be beyond any expectation.

Peace Practice Today I invite you to change the world.

  • Either intentionally, or organically, allow yourself to see how you can be the change you want to see in the world. It can be as simple as sharing a smile, a thank you, or bravely putting out into the world something you have been working on. Set the intention to make a difference and then simply let it go.

Post Script: Before printing this, I asked Rakale to take a look at what I wrote. She shared with me that she was now being coached and said that Debbie Ford was her hero! As many of you know I am a Ford Institute trained coach and also know Debbie’s work changed my life. Without her, Partners in Peace would never exist. As I said, it just takes one person to change the world!

With love,

Linda

Embracing Selfish for Self-Care

“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” Audre Lorde

Beyond making sure that I get enough sleep, eat broccoli, and work out on a regular basis, the idea of nurturing and caring for myself always seemed self-indulgent and selfish. During my childhood, I got the message that caring for others was paramount to care of one’s self. Not only were my parents, physicians whose careers focused on helping others, they were also immigrants from the former Yugoslavia raised after WWII. They grew up in an environment where meeting daily physical needs were a challenge, so self-care meant simple survival. When it came to their children, my parents were amazing at making sure I always had enough and would receive a great education, but when it came to self-care, things like sleeping in, getting massages and leaving the dishes when you were tired, those were the things people on TV did and deemed indulgent.

As an adult, I really believed that I had made strides in in embracing self-care because I could actually get massages and manicures without guilt. However, recently I realized that if I really wanted to embrace self-care and commit to it as an act of survival, it would mean more than simply allowing myself time to feel pretty and relaxed. In order to really own self-care and free myself from the shackles of my judgment of selfish, I would have to begin seeing myself as worthy of ‘me time’ without justification or rationalization.

In the past, I made an unspoken agreement with myself that if I could find value in something, that spending time on it was ok. For example, several years ago I picked up running. I decided that running was something that I would do just for me and even set the goal of running at least one half marathon a year. I reasoned that this selfish act was ok because I could justify it. After all, it would be good for my kids to see me, at age 39, try something new and conquer my fears.

I honestly wasn’t even conscious that I had made this agreement with myself until recently when an opportunity came up to spend a weekend going to a conference in Denver that I had long wanted to go to. Although my schedule was clear, I found myself scouring the conference schedule for reasons that would make my trip valuable. Would the speakers enrich my coaching business? Would the event somehow help me in my parenting? What would I learn that I could carry forward? I was intent on finding a reason to justify my self-care but wasn’t really aware that underneath it all, I thought it would be selfish of me to go just because I wanted to go. It wasn’t until I went to book my plane ticket and couldn’t pull the trigger that I realized what I was doing – what I had been doing all along. I was making sure that before I took care of myself, there had to be a good enough reason for me to do so.

It was in that moment that I understood that I had to go to Denver – just because. I realized that while I might not get anything out of it other than pure joy and happiness – that was enough. I realized something we all need to realize. We are all worthy of real self-care. In fact, if we really want to survive, which, for me now includes feeling empowered, having purpose and serving others, we have to take the time to find ways to honor ourselves.

This week, I invite you to stretch your self-care muscle and see in what way you can practice a new level of care you have never tried. See what you might be able to do for yourself – just because.

With love,

Linda

How Are You?

"Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open." -Rumi True transformation lies in facing our troubles. So, why then, do we all spend so much time running from our problems and hiding them? Recently I was reading the book Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser’s wonderful book about using difficult times to help us grow, and once again came upon the great poet Rumi’s simple but profound words. Calling it the Open Secret, Rumi often writes about how we all spend our lives hiding behind the simple secret that we are not perfect.

Instead of facing our troubles or turning to others in our moment of weakness, we hide and pray that no one will see that underneath the organized and happy face we show the world that we are messy: that we might scream at our kids too much, that we are worried about paying our bills, that we suffer from panic and anxiety or that our marriages are falling apart. When asked the simple question, “how are you?” we don’t even stop to think about it, we automatically answer “fine”, hoping that the other person won’t see through our facade.

I know that for me personally, through each heartbreak, difficulty or sadness, I have experienced dread when hearing that simple question: “how are you?” With a tightening of my throat, I reach for the mask of perfection and smile, hoping no one will see that deep down I am anything but fine. In that moment, instead of reaching for help, we forget that we all have troubles and we all know we have troubles. In the moment it seems easier to hide than look directly at our pain.

I remember when my ex-husband and I first separated and were going through our divorce, it was difficult for me to go to my kids’ school and face my friends and other parents. My children were still very young at the time and I remember feeling that by going through a divorce I had been exposed as a failure. It was almost as if no matter what else I did, I was branded by the words “failure”, “bad mom”, or “loser”. I would take extra care to look pulled together because I thought if only I could look perfect, no one would notice that I was ashamed, suffering or feeling like my life (and that of my children) didn’t measure up to everyone else’s seemingly perfect picture. It literally felt like I was holding my breath until the moment I could walk out of school again and just let go.

Although I kept up appearances, hiding never really made me feel better. In fact, I felt worse because I kept measuring myself against some fantasy life I thought everyone else was living. Instead of realizing that we all share in troubles and shame, I hid and suffered in my separation. I was really afraid that if I looked at what I was hiding, that I would suddenly become all of those awful things. But, in reality, had I only been willing to share my pain, I might have learned that while your shame may not be the same as mine, we all have something we are afraid to share.Debbie Ford wrote that “...even though we are all uniquely different in our outer expression, we are very much the same in our inner world.”

It took me many years after my divorce to really realize what she said is true. I came by it only through the willingness of others to share their pain with me. In those moments of pure vulnerability, I understood the key to the Open Secret was that we don’t need to act like we are alone. We need to embrace the gifts of our troubles, share them openly and without shame and in turn give permission to others do to the same.

For me, sharing my secrets has led to not only embracing my fears, but to a career where I help guide people back to their voice. The doors that open are truly endless. This week, Partners in Peace would love to invite you to share your Secrets. Whether you reach out to a friend, a stranger or the two of us, take the first step in facing whatever troubles you so that might experience peace and open a new door.

With love and peace,

Linda