Glorious softness. Choosing the right armor.
There is something so lovely about forgiveness.
Living in this world, it is a given that we will be injured in some way.
We come with soft bodies and a need for vulnerability when we are born.
This continues and we harden.
We consciously or unconsciously react to our environments by developing armor and scales and protection against the harsh realities of this life.
Too cold, put on a sweater. Too hot, cool water.
Too loud, muffle the sound. Too quiet, is there such a thing?
Our nervous system does a great job of telling us when the world is too much physically.
It also does a great job of telling us when it is too much emotionally or energetically.
But are we listening?
The ache in our chest, the weariness in our bones, the urge to crawl into bed and hide.
When we practice tuning into our emotional intelligence and attend to our energy, we learn to feel the signs of overwhelm sooner and pro-actively and protectively.
One of the fastest, most effective ways, to give our emotional softness a gentle hug is through forgiveness.
Forgiveness to ourselves for being soft.
Forgiveness for others for their sharpness in hurting us.
Forgiveness for not having all the answers all the time.
Forgiveness for trying something new and discovering it isn't a fit - yet, or ever - and that's okay!
Forgiveness for trying to love in the best way we know how and it not being understood.
Forgiveness doesn't mean stop trying to protect your soft.
It might mean using different armor with better functionality.
Forgiveness for choosing the armor that was close at hand rather than the armor that fits beautifully and works best.
Forgiveness isn't enabling harm. It is a boundary against harm.
Forgiveness is a grace that we give ourselves, not the other person.
We free ourselves from their sharp. We hug our soft.
Forgiveness of others allows us room to tend to our soft and frees them to focus on them.
It removes our focus on them and returns it to tending our hearts and bodies.
I wish everyone could have a space where their soft is nurtured.
I wish the world would be a safe space for all our soft to co-exist in proper fierceness and to thrive!
I picture forgiveness as a cutting the chain that binds us to someone or something. I get my mental bolt-cutters and snip the links.
I am free from that weight.
May your soft be nourished.
Is it time for Self-care?
Let's get down to work.
Part of showing up regularly to our goals is muddling through the noise and bother.
Of finding a way through the "I can't" and the "It will never happen".
Making excuses is not an action step.
Pushing forward towards our goal by taking steps, even teeny tiny ones (especially teeny tiny ones), is what we celebrate.
Showing up to tend to pull weeds daily results in a beautiful garden.
At Life Coach Online, when we talk about showing up, we mean being present.
Are you an active participant in your life, or are you letting life happen to you.
Pause for a minute and read that sentence again, can you spot the inaccuracy? Hello black-and-white thinking!
It isn't an all-or-nothing approach.
It isn't a pass or fail situation.
It is your life, and it will have moments of aware and moments of present and moments of autopilot and moments of distracted.
You can carve your way through the jungle of unknown through as many paths as it takes to get to your destination.
You can try one way today and another tomorrow if it feels more successful.
The point is to keep intentionally showing up to cultivate your goal.
The practice of showing up is really the practice of being a mindful presence. And of owning your actions.
Do you avoid working because it is too uncomfortable - that's okay! IF you are choosing that.
There will be days that feel impossible, that's okay!
Make a plan in advance with micro-steps that you can take when you are stuck.
Eventually, the micro-steps will add up to giant leaps! (Trust me!)
When you find yourself being distracted and avoiding work (actively or inactively), it DOES mean something.
You don't have to be in active growth mode all the time (how exhausting!).
We want sustainable habits. And balance.
Both of those require self-care.
Next time you catch yourself struggling with a task or growth opportunity, ask:
Am I choosing to distract in this moment, or is my body signalling a need for self-care.
We are trained to ignore or body's needs in society (especially as women!).
Work longer! Push through the pain! Sacrifice yourself for your family, your career, your school, your literally-any-obligation.
Here, you get to choose.
How are you going to handle those moments?
Is that societal script serving you in some way (it can and does occasionally!).
Keep what works for you and WITH you and reframe the rest.
You are awesome and are worthy of care.
So, make your excuses, but do it with ownership!
Take time to honour your need for care and attention.
Build micro-habits into your daily rhythm and trust that, in time, you will get to your goal! And with self-care, you are more likely to get there in one piece.
Very much love,
A chat about Accountability
A few weeks ago, I wrote about giving ourselves permission.
About the need to be flexible in challenging life circumstances.
That occasionally it is necessary to change what our path to success looks like in the short term.
It was one of my first posts, it's neat to look back at the developing voice.
When we develop a plan, it can feel like we are declaring to the universe, "Here I am and here is what I am going to do!".
In making that statement, we can feel powerful and purposeful.
And that feels great! Who doesn't love knowing how and why they are striving towards what they want?
We start out all full of intentions with a shiny way forward!
Yes! We've got this!
But then life.
Cold and flu season, allergy season, raising-children season, bought a new puppy season, co-worker broke their arm and you have to pull more weight season, and the hits just keep on coming.
Sometimes it is as simple as you are out of milk and can't make a good cup of tea that can feel like nuclear holocaust!!!.
This is where we move beyond intentions.
When we accept that flexibility keeps us moving towards our desired outcome, we allow room for greater growth.
Permission allows us to create a gentler way forward.
It allows us to use our strengths as they are meant to be used in coordination with reality.
Since our gifts and talents are unique, our path needs to also be unique to bring our special offering to the world.
Along with permission for flexibility, there is another important factor that leads to productivity: Accountability.
Accountability is a way through the feeling that life is pulling you off track.
When the world seems overwhelming (you really wanted that cup of tea), accountability keeps you in motion.
Without accountability, the way forward is just a way static.
Our unique path can be sustainable and lovely, but it won't grow by itself.
There needs to be action steps.
They can be teeny tiny steps (which, in times of stress, often feel like mountains), but they are steps.
Accountability holds us to motion.
How do you build accountability into your plan?
At Life Coach Online, when we work together, we individualize accountability in our sessions. But I will give you a peek at what I do.
What does a coach do to stay accountable?
Personally, I also have a coach who challenges me to keep producing.
I also have accountability people in my life (thanks!) to whom I report my awesomeness and struggles. This check in keeps my way forward active.
They hold me to my intentions. They celebrate the motion.
I also love making lists (type-A deliciousness).
Who doesn't love pretty stationary?
There is something so satisfying in crossing off a to-do item.
I have a special list compiled for compromised days, when flexibility is necessary and even getting out of bed is celebrated (huzzah!).
As a product of my generation, I work well with external praise so I reward myself for steps taken (like a gold star for adults. A+ Andrea).
Those are my first-line accountability steps.
What does accountability look like for you?
How do you best keep moving forward when life gets tough?
Leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.
Wishing you a beautiful week forward,
Making friends with a cowboy.
A dear reader asked if I would write about today's topic. Today's topic is dear to my heart.
Why is it that so many strong, fierce, accomplished women (and men) struggle with really owning their awesomeness? (my words, not hers)
Why do these amazing conquerors of adversity still have to work to stay positive?
Well folks, it's partly due to our dear friend, Negativity Bias. (I always picture a cowboy sauntering in saying, "Howdy!".)
Our brains are magnificent, but come with a nifty feature that evolved out of the need for survival, but often gets in the way of enjoyment.
Our ancestors may have needed at some point to be hyper-aware of threats in order to survive. Noticing the threats allowed for survival.
But now they mostly just bring a wee bit of heartache and stress.
Thanks Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-(insert more great here)-grand-Mom! I appreciate living!
As survival-promoting the reminders of threat are, I would like to get back to drinking tea and knowing I'm awesome instead of focusing on the not-yet-there aspects of my life.
So today, we are going to cover some tips on how to move Negativity Bias along on his not-so-merry way. Yee-haw!
I find that personifying negative traits is a handy way to remember that it isn't all by choice and that sometimes biology isn't self-serving.
The handsome cowboy in the picture above is a nice visitor sometimes, but only on my terms and boundaries. We're big on consent at Life Coach Online.
So, here we go!
Top tips for taming Negativity Bias!
1. Notice and acknowledge.
"Howdy NB, I see you would like to visit."
Assess if it is a good time to be visiting with potential threats.
If convenient, then set a timer, he sometimes likes to overstay his welcome.
If inconvenient, then extend a thank you for calling, and send him on his merry way.
2. Shift focus intentionally.
If we notice that NB has arrived and is starting to take his boots off to come in, we can remind him it isn't a good time, and chat with the door closing as he puts his boots back on.
As with setting any boundary in our lives, this takes practice.
We can shut the door kindly, turn the lock and go about making our own solo cup of tea of empowerment (actual tea making highly recommended).
Shift the focus to what is serving you.
Grab a pen and write a quick list of grateful moments.
Or groceries. Or anything.
Do 10 burpees (HAHAHAHAHAHA, or think of doing 10 burpees and laugh).
The point here is to thank NB for coming to visit, but that entertaining is not in the cards today.
3. Practice positivity!
I want you to train your brain sponge to soak up the positive moments.
Bathe in the kindness of an experience.
Not only do negative moments get more attention, they also form long term memories faster.* This is why we remember the negative events of our lives with more power than the positive ones.
So, this is where the fun training part comes in! (and no burpees!).
When you notice NB coming to town, and shift your attention intentionally, find a positive moment - past, present, pleasant anything.
I want you to soak up that moment.
Picture it fully - what did it look like, smell like, (taste like?).
How proud you were. How empowered you felt. How awesome you are.
How that even teeny-tiny moment was beautiful.
I want you to train your brain sponge to soak up the positive moments.
Bathe in the kindness of an experience.
As we practice this, our brain forms the connections that serve us in the now in our present awesomeness.
So lovelies, let's thank our brains for being kind enough to strive for safety and survival. And intentionally choose to use that feature as a tool to learn and grow and build resilience.
Thank you for being a warrior of growth.
*Please note, I haven't done extensive research into this area.
I don't have a psychology degree. BUT if anyone would like to pay my tuition, I would most happily LOVE to get one! I'd be AMAZING at that!
Even when you "Can't Even".
Well lovelies, it's the start of a new week.
That positive huzzah was a big step for me.
Still in full Dragon Protocol here and feel fragile.
Still showing up though! So there is cause for celebration!
This blog isn't going to write itself. And I love being here with you!
As life coaching is a beautiful way to support growth through every aspect of life, I strive to be real with you. Unforeseen challenges in life are not an excuse to stop working. It is a chance to create a new way of functioning as we navigate through the present realities.
If I were pretending everything is easy and sunshine, I would be doing you a disservice. But we can weather the stormy changes together!
Even a seasoned pro at using the tools has to continue to use them in times of hardship. Some weeks, life reminds you that it is a struggle. And that's okay.
Usually, we already know what to do, or we can grab new resources.
We put in work, and gain new tools, and find a way forward.
Then we can bask in the glorious gentleness and ease of that work coming to fruition. (If it only worked that smoothly all the time!)
Occasionally, the difficult weeks line up one after the other because of life events that are beyond your control (such as grief and wretchedness).
Aside from using different tools, it is important to not stress about the down episodes because they pass just like the positive moments.
Using the tools we discuss in this blog, and implement in the sessions, is not a guarantee that positivity will reign. Just like the hard times, positivity is transitory too. We can use the low moments to create space for a greater appreciation of the positive times. And build resilience and empathy.
Resilience is a badass feature of every strong person that I know.
We all have experiences that we have risen from the ashes and been reborn a fiercer version. So let's move through these challenges, knowing that this rebirth is going to be well earned and full of awesomeness!
You, my friend, are magnificent and are doing the best you can with the tools you have. And it is glorious.
You wouldn't be reading a life coach's blog unless you had the awareness that life is something to grow through.
I am proud of your growth. And grateful that you are here.
Let's look for ways this week that we can be a little more gentle with ourselves in regards to the time needed to move through the low moments.
Inspiration and motivation will return when we give them space to enter.
And part of that space, is kindness to self.
So you are having a hard week, big deal. Let's work it!
What IS a big deal is how you treat yourself through it.
Your thoughts matter.
If I could, I would give you a little glittery blue dragon figure to live in your mind's eye. This dragon (named Awesome) reminds you that you are worthy and that you are doing your best.
Actually, it would reward your "best". Doing your "best" isn't important. Sometimes a sleepy half-assed attempt is good enough. Heck, sometimes even standing is super-hard. This dragon celebrates it all! Party times!
Sometimes you might not want to do much of anything, or feel overwhelmed by the hard work, and there is NO SHAME in that.
This is a shame free space.
We are all learning how to be our fiercest selves. And shame is not invited.
Your efforts, at whatever level you can bring them, are enough.
You are working this hard road towards self love in a society that actively promotes otherwise.
Here, we have a community of accepting your awesomeness and rooting out what doesn't serve you. Slay queen!
So, here's to a new week of beautiful possibilities. Let's give ourselves permission to show up as is, and give permission to our minds to stop fighting for perfect. Remember, simply starting is enough. Bring it back to basics.
Let's do this!
Very much love,
Sitting with discomfort.
I am back.
Thank you for being patient with me!
I was practicing my dragon protocol to gather internal resources.
Today, I want to add balance to my last post.
In Coping with Grief, I recommended entertaining appropriately as a point of self care. In talking about using distraction as a tool, I forgot to include its necessary counterpart: sitting with discomfort.
As we practice mindful distraction for our painful realities, we also need to bring balance back in with mindful attention to our present reality.
If we self-soothe too often and without balance, we do ourselves a disservice.
We need to sit with discomfort and bring our attention back to our body and our present.
This can sound daunting, but it is meant as a kindness to your self.
It is necessary to move through hard times.
An important point about sitting with discomfort is that when you do, you are only mindful and not engaging. The purpose is to identify where the body is, and not to dive into why the body is.
The reason you are grieving is irrelevant. This is just about noticing.
It doesn't involve thinking. It involves being.
The process looks something like this:
1. Find a comfortable place to exist.
Sit, lie down, stand, just be safe and cozy.
You can change position if you need to.
This isn't a limiting space. There is no wrong way to do it.
2. Become aware of your breathing.
The goal is not to change anything.
Just bring your awareness to however you are breathing.
As you attune to your breath, expand your awareness in any way you feel called in your body. Use any adjectives you feel called to mind.
Temperature, mood, colour, weather, feelings, light, smells, etc.
Think of this yourself as a scientist gathering data.
There isn't any wrong data, it just is.
4. Gratitude and go.
When you have gathered the data you feel like gathering, thank your body for working with you through this time.
There is no wrong way to do this.
There isn't a higher level to attain here.
It is simple data collection.
We check social media 80 million times a day (made up statistic).
This is the physical equivalent of checking into our body.
As we repeat this exercise, we begin to notice trends (where we store our stress, for example).
The trends are either serving us, or counter to what we want in our lives.
We have the power to change how we move through life, but can actually do something about it if we have the appropriate data.
It is important to note that if we discover an non-serving trend, that there isn't anything bad or shameful or wrong with us.
Our body did the best it could with the tools it was given.
We can re-program our system, but it works best if we have the appropriate data. Let's all be honest. It is much easier to self-soothe than sit.
So I have a challenge!
Every time you go on social media, set a timer and record the time spent.
Then spend an equal amount of time just checking in with yourself.
You are awesome and worth spending time with.
Thank you for spending time with me.