Facing Life’s Hills.

I stand at the bottom of the hill on a sunny May morning, determined to show up like the runner I say I am…but find myself faced with the usual demons. Not another hill. Please. It’s too hot. It’s too long. I am too thirsty. I don’t know if I have the energy to make it to the top. And then finally…maybe I can just use the hill as a walk break.

Maybe. Or maybe all those stories I have come to believe as ‘true’ are based on historical emotions I have come to believe about myself, yet have little to do with what is in fact ‘true’.

What I have witnessed is that our body is capable of much more than we think it is and that our limitations are often self imposed. That’s right, we put our own restrictions in place and then declare them to be true! Like when we say we can’t and then not surprisingly, can’t.

I tested it out with this hill that clearly felt out of reach for me. Instead of buying into my temporary truth, I inhaled deeply to do an internal scan: Heart rate steady, check! Legs warm, check! Head in the game, check! The only thing left to do was adjust my music to support my can-do attitude, and one final exhale.

I knew what to do. I needed to keep my eyes low, my stride small and steady, and one step at a time, get up the hill. Simple. My goal was to focus on the music in my ears, my steady footsteps and the 10 feet of pavement right in front of me. The top of the hill was not the focus for the moment, only each step that would get me there.

Before I knew it, my heart was pounding and I was at the top of the hill…feeling accomplished that I had conquered it and it had not conquered me!

How often are you presented with challenges in your life that defeat you before you even begin the climb? Maybe you are so focused on the view at the top, that you are unable to focus on the steps it will take to get there.

Life is all about your mindset. If you change your mind, you can change your life.

Let’s do this.
http://www.GellerCoaching.com

You Might Be Right…

There comes a time (sometimes more than once) when the stars align in a completely different way due to unforeseen circumstances and you notice a significant shift. Your feet seem to step lighter, the ground feels more absorbent, and the air around seems to be clear. It is in that very moment that you can barely hear your own ego, and suddenly you hear your own voice whisper, “You may be right.”

And for once in your life, you are not talking to yourself. Well, yes, you are, but you are not referring to yourself in being right…again.

After many years of the most challenging life events I have ever had, though clearly not the worst there are to have…I have a sense of clarity I cannot ever recall having. I suppose it is not that surprising. Maybe after you have been stripped of the things you have always ‘known’, what’s left…is true vulnerability.

I am not quite sure what exactly got me to this point since I have been deeply working on myself for the past year and a half, but I know for sure there has been a shift. Not only in the way I see myself, but in the way I see others.

I can see today that what I hear coming at me is actually my perception of what is being given to me, that has first gone through years of being alive. Years of being engaged in meaningful relationships. Some great, some not so much. But all have left me with emotions in regards to how I perceive the present, how I perceive the future and how I perceive my life. That’s a lot of filtering.

It reminds me of the time I put a contact into my eye that already had a contact in it. That’s right. Two contacts in one eye. Now, if you are not a contact wearer, you might think, ‘now that would give you amazing vision!’ Right? Like if you held your eye to a magnifying glass.

But no, that is not what happens at all. It does not give you better vision. It does not provide even more clarity. What it gives you is a murky version of life. And since I did not realize what I had done, my brain tried desperately to make sense of what it could and could not see. Trying desperately to convince me that I had not in fact just gone blind…

If you wear contacts you might be thinking, ‘Well of course you can’t see better if you force your eyes to see through filters not meant for your eyes.’ However, I wrestled with vision for several minutes before panicking that I had just double dosed my eyes and wondered if my eyes had suddenly seen enough and had called it quits.

This is actually quite similar to what happens in our listening. Based on our emotions surrounding this person, this event, this thing, filters cloud our thinking and hearing. While we can hear the words coming at us, we may not necessarily be hearing what is said, but may be picking up on what we think someone is thinking. We may in fact be interpreting what is not being said. Or we may have already decided how we are going to respond before it is even heard, so therefore don’t listen at all. Either way, how we respond gets filtered through millions of past events and feelings and this simple conversation ends up being anything but simple.

It becomes what my eyes experienced, trying to see through a double dose of contacts and not providing an ounce of clarity or truth.

In addition to speaking from a place other than now, whoever you are speaking to will also respond from that far away place. It is then that the whole conversation becomes one hot mess.

So how do we have conversations not masked by previous emotions?
Here are some simple tips:

1- Create an intention. Are you trying to set the record straight? Are you hoping for clarity? Or do you genuinely just want to hear what someone has to say? Design it, commit to it and then set it in motion.

2 – Clean your slate. Come to the table and pretend that your slate has been cleared. Remind yourself that the past has no bearing on this present moment.

3 – Leave your ego at the door. Yes, I know that you know and you want them to know too. However, if you come to the table with that perspective, you might as well call it a day before you even get there. The truth is that you might or might not be right, but more importantly, in order to fully hear what someone is saying to you, you will need to stand in the place, that maybe…just maybe…you don’t know.

4 – Listen. Listen like it’s the first time you are hearing this person speak and then no matter how you are feeling, repeat after me: “You might be right.” Even if you are certain they are not right. Even if you are positive that you are the one that is right. Let it go. Create space for what is possible in the land of the unknown. You will be amazed at the possibility of what comes next. Trust me…

On the Other Side of Chaos.

I couldn’t have known there was another side to the chaos that had transpired in my life, because I wasn’t fully aware of the chaos that had begun to surround me. I did know that my life had straddled itself in an endless spin that left me feeling dizzy on most days, and that it seemed an explosion of some sort was inevitable, but knowing just wasn’t enough. Because when you are in it, you don’t really know. You don’t know much of anything at all. You don’t know if it is temporary or permanent. You don’t know if you can control it in one way or the other. You don’t even know if you are contributing to it by simply being in it. And you don’t know how to make it stop. All you do know is a persistent feeling of overwhelm and despair.

Yet in the depths of real chaos, sometimes someone becomes just strong enough, or weak enough, that the whole thing blows up. It becomes not just chaos but a sort of madness that stirs the whole pot so intensely that it explodes. Pieces fly everywhere without real certainty of how it ever stood as one. A million pieces, representing your life, scatter all around unrecognizably…no sense of order, no sense of love, no sense of self. Just pieces, fragments of life with no place to go.

It is only then that darkness becomes so blinding you instinctually head for the light. You cannot see it, you cannot hear it, or feel it, but you know that you cannot stay where you are. That remaining in this one spot is no longer an option and that you must move with certainty forward and pray for light and solid ground. With your heart pounding, you just keep moving. There is no guarantee about what awaits around the corner, but it doesn’t matter. You just keep moving, knowing that whatever is next, will be better…safer…than this.

Sometimes the walk in the dark lasts only a few hours, yet can last for days or months, but you just keep going because there are suddenly no other choices.

Until one day, while feeling the sun brightly on your face, the quiet somehow catches you by surprise. It is only then that you acknowledge the peace that radiates from a place within that you did not know was available. It is then that you know you have found the light. That you have walked far enough away, that there are no more scattered broken pieces you once called life. No more darkness. That the quiet is not necessarily what is or is not around you, but what lies within you.

unnamed

It is only then that you are able to see and feel the other side of chaos that you often denied. It is only then that you can experience quiet and peace in a way that soothes your heart and soul. It is only then that you can hear your own voice, not what you have been lead to believe about yourself. Because on the other side of chaos, you will find yourself. As each layer slowly peels away, shedding off all the protective layers you once needed…you will find yourself raw and vulnerable. You will find the actual root of who you are. Not the names that someone once gave you…but who you actually are.

You will find beauty and strength, from the inside out. Courage and love, with an intense desire to do good in this world and a willingness, to do whatever it takes to have the life you want and deserve.  Only then will you notice the circle that has filled in around you, with people who support, accept, love and feel grateful for who you are…not who they want you to be.     On the other side of chaos…you will find you. A very happy you.

Velcro Doesn’t Foster Independence.

It amazes me that something as simple as Velcro sneakers can actually makes things harder, but they can!

velcro shoes

Wait, what? If my child is struggling with tying his shoes, making every departure one giant meltdown, Velcro has to be a better option. I mean, that is what they were designed for, right? Well, technically they probably were created to ease stress, but with a high price tag.

You are familiar with the scenario: It is time for school, the outfit has been out on the floor since the kiss goodnight, breakfast is done, and now it’s time to get out the door.

With cute little sneakers in hand, your 5-year-old proudly slides his feet into his shoes and then begins to grasp the shoe laces ever so carefully as you whisper, “one bunny ear, two bunny ear…”

You can feel your heart race a bit as you witness his third attempt and you can see his confidence begin to wane. Your confidence in his ability, along with your concerns of being late begin to collide. You picture the tantrum from the morning before and do your best to give one last pep talk.

“Be patient, honey. Over, under, around and through…” you say calmly feeling the pounding in your chest.

“I can’t do it!?” He screams. “I cant! I hate these shoes! I’m not going to school…”

And so it begins. Another morning of upset. You then do what you do. You help out. You explain how hard this task is and how it will get easier over time. Then you tie his shoes, acknowledging that you can tie them tighter anyway. He feels happy, and so do you. Yet as it keeps happening over and over each morning, you offer less and less time for him to try, until you eventually begin to tie them the second he has his feet in the shoes.

What could possibly be the harm in that? Eventually everyone learns to tie their shoes…dont they?

The harm actually has little to do with the shoe-tying meltdown. The larger problem we are contributing to is keeping our children from experiencing discomfort. While we believe in our hearts we are helping, we are continuously robbing them of their ability to manage discomfort. We are single-handedly stealing their opportunity to man handle things that don’t feel right. And in the large scheme of life as we know it, we are contributing to a society of emerging adults that do not know how to get themselves out of uncomfortable situations because we have been doing it for them. While that help comes from a yearning to make their life easier, we are actually trying to avoid our own discomfort by helping them to avoid theirs.

The large problem lies right there.

We must know what discomfort feels like in order to be successful adults. We must experience it simply so we can experience the triumph that comes along with lifting ourselves up. While we want to convince ourselves that this is how we show our love, this is not a loving gesture at all. In fact, doing things for others that they can do for themselves simply robs them of their opportunity for success.

It starts with a simple act of ‘over, under, around and through….’ and leads to dangerous times of isolation and peer pressure and days of now what am I supposed to do? The discomfort our children/emerging adults experience when we are not around, can lead to feelings of desperation and hopelessness. These feelings can contribute to the yearning to tune-out, possibly leading to addictive behaviors that allow them to not feel disappointment or fears. It can lead to feelings of failure and disconnect and can perpetuate a hidden downward spiral.

One emerging adult client I worked with shared his experience of overwhelm and stress he felt in college and turned to alcohol and drugs to mask all that he could not cope with. When I asked him if he ever thought about trying to quit his addictive behaviors, he said simply, “there was no reason to think about quitting…it was the darkest hole I had ever been in and knew I was never getting out.”

Fortunately, he was given a second chance with many months of recovery. But all are not as fortunate. The crisis is real. And while as parents we do not cause our children’s depression, isolation or addictive behaviors, we can contribute by continuing to push them further in that dark hole by doing for them. Or we can begin to actually help, by allowing them the success they are capable of and deserve.

So, the next time you are unsure of whether your help is helpful or hurtful, ask yourself this question: Is this something that they are capable of doing themselves? Because if it is, let them. Take a few extra breathes. Be mindful that their discomfort is just like yours and that life is never about how we fall, but how we learn to dust off and get back up.

Want to really foster independence? Skip the velcro.

Motherhood. When Giving is not Loving.

There were many things in my life I didn’t understand right way. There were things I had to study for, take notes on, research and then even start over again before being able to really comprehend it. But being a mother, was not one of those things. Not to say I didn’t do my research, but once my babies were in my arms, I barely remembered the things I had read about. What I knew was a deep love that did not need comprehending. It did not need definitions or explanations.

I will never forget the way my first-born son looked deep into my eyes, as if he could see into my soul. I will never forget feeling like he oddly understood it. Like he was saying, “okay, so you are the one that will always keep me safe.” That look like he too understood…that our eyes meeting, and our souls connecting was all this journey was going to need. Maybe he knew more than I️ did.

fullsizeoutput_1a4c<<<<<<<<<
nt I had gone from pregnant, to mom and knew that my job from here forward was simply to love and protect this one sweet angel, which then turned into two sweet angels. I remember constantly thinking, "I will always keep you safe.”

False. We cannot always keep our children safe, nor is that always our job. So what is our job?

It is only recently that I have been able to transform that word into responsibility and only recently that I have been able to ask myself, ‘what is my responsibility?

I never thought of myself as an average mom. I didn't just become a mom, I had an amazing love for my babies that could not be described. I had a yearning to care for, love, and give to them in a way I had never experienced. It wasn’t that I️ thought they couldn’t do for themselves, but was more about the overwhelming joy I got from giving. Whether it was folding their clothes just so, baking the goodies that warmed their hearts (or at least made them smile broadly) or making their lunches just so…was about me. It was how I showed my love for them. It was what I created as the thing that reminded them every day how much they were loved.

So what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing actually.

When your child can't tie his shoes, you tie them. When your child is too young to use the stove, you cook his meals. When your child isn't tall enough to reach the washer, you wash his clothes. But at some point our definition of being mom gets confusing, and our purpose gets convoluted. The way we give becomes defined by the actual things we give or do…for them.

Giving, is not necessarily loving.

When your 7-year-old comes home and says he needs crayons for school, you get them. That is being a responsible parent. That is not love, though, that is responsibility. When your 20-year-old comes home and says he needs red pens for class and you run out to the store while he sits in front of the tv, that is not love. That is giving, but a different kind of giving. That kind of giving actually robs your child of ‘responsibility’. It crossed the line of helping into enabling.

Helping is doing for others when they cannot do it for themselves. Enabling is doing for others when they are capable of doing for themselves. Enabling – that which hijacks another’s opportunity for success. Ugh!

The first time I heard that I felt sick to my stomach. My brain began to scroll the hundreds of things a day that I had done for family members, that I felt were done simply to show my undying love for them. I was certain that giving was loving. I mean, if I wasn’t giving, then how would they know I loved them?

That is the million dollar question. For myself, what I have learned is that my constant giving was not as selfless as I once had thought. It seemed that if I was giving to others before giving to myself, then I was being selfless. That is what motherhood is all about, isn’t it? Apparently not.

Apparently if we are doing this motherhood thing the way it should be done, in a way that produces 18 year olds that are self-sufficient, independent and successful, then we should be working our way out of a job. What?! Trust me, that was never a part of my vocabulary. I wanted to be ‘mommy’ forever. I loved the job, the title, the satisfaction and pure joy it gave me. There was nothing more rewarding than this…Until, that is, I was forced to look at the aftermath of what I had created.

I was forced to look at how my constant doing was robbing the very beings in my family of their own independence. Stealing their opportunity for success. Convincing them without words that my way was not only better, but that perhaps they weren’t even capable at all without my help.

Neither of those things were true. I never believed my way was the best or only way and always knew they were capable of success without my help.

So why was I️ doing things they were capable of handling on their own? Why was I️ doing those things before they even asked for help? Why was my go-to always, “Oh, don’t worry…I’ll get it.”

Simple. It was how I showed my undying love. Right? Well…no. It wasn’t about that at all. Instead, although I didn’t know it at the time, it was really about me and my desire to feel needed. I mean, if I didn’t do for them, then why would they need me? Seems simple and harmless but actually has some negative consequences. Ones that keep our emerging adults from learning what to do with feelings of discomfort. Ones that keep our emerging adults from learning what to do in the face of challenges. Ones that keep our emerging adults dependent upon us…just the opposite of our hopes and dreams for them.

Motherhood is hard for sure, but finding a balance between helping and enabling is where the rubber meets the road. You can do this. Just keep asking the question: Am I helping because they are unable, or am I stealing their opportunity for success?

If you keep practicing, you will soon be able to see which kinds of giving gestures are simply acts of love…that which build strong family love and success.

In the Face of the Unknown.

We think that life is all about what we know. Where we have been and where we are now. Who we have been with and who are with now. But really, life’s true meaning comes from the unknown and can be found in the depths of the silence.

Sound simple? No, it isn’t simple at all. As a matter of fact, if you have been a specialist in analyzing your life like I have, it is very hard to even get to that space of quiet. The kind of quiet where you own head isn’t filling you with opinions on nearly everything. The kind of quiet that allows you to simply hear the sound of your own heart beating.

Some people can get there by learning how to meditate, or perhaps reading many books on the topic, but sometimes you are able to get there after the storm in your life has been so great, so overwhelming, that the only thing left to do…is be silent.

That place, is my most favorite place of all. This, is where I sit today.

unnamed

Today I chose not to rush out to the gym like I usually do on Sundays. Instead, I chose to start this beautiful Sunday in the quiet. I took the dog for his usual long walk, leaving my phone at home to silence the calls and music, made a cup of coffee and grabbed my laptop. I opened my blog folder trying to recall when the last blog rolled off my fingertips and my shoulders began to release, settling deeply into my new couch.

 

With the cool breeze gently blowing in my window, and the scent of a candle sweetly filling the air, I began to breathe deeply, open to the possibility of new thoughts. I begin to create a space separate from the people, places, and things in my past and instead, fill the space with thoughts about this moment.

As the sun shines in the window and I feel gifted in a way that cannot be explained. I am acutely aware of the stillness of this moment, even with my fingers antsy to move on the keys and am overwhelmed with the wholeness deep within my body.

I do a slow and steady internal scan of my body and notice for the first time in months, how complete I feel. How settled I even feel on the couch, without my mind and body yearning to get to get up and go.

In this moment, as the sun shines in on my stillness, warming me from the outside in, I know I have arrived. Yet I also know that it is in only in the space of all the things that I did not know would occur in my life, that I have actually been given my life. And that actually being open to the unexpected parts of life is where the real work begins.

In the space of the unknown I could see clearly that losing my mother and nearly losing my son, did not break me, but instead rebuilt a fiery strength within me that cannot be taken. And with that strength, I had the courage to walk away from relationships not meant for me. It was only in the space of the unknown, that I could see that leaving painful relationships did not create a feeling of more loss, but instead a gratefulness of life. It was only in the space of the unknown that I was able to see that I am worthy of kindness and love and cannot tolerate anything less than that.

It is in this sun-filled moment, that I am given the gift of life in a way that I did not know was possible. But do now.

Order a copy of my book: Own your Now. 

Exhausted. Yet Still…Can’t Sleep.

It’s hard to believe how true that is, isn’t it?

It is 9pm. You are on the couch and dozing off. You can barely keep your eyes open but are too tired to get up to go to bed. So so tired. As a matter of fact, you are so tired that you convince yourself to watch the rest of the TV show, just so you don’t have to get up.

Yet at 10pm, once settled into bed, you suddenly don’t feel that tired. And it is then that you begin to worry that this might be another sleepless night.

can't sleep

So what’s going on? Why is it so hard to fall asleep, when all day you feel so tired?

There can be many factors that disrupt people’s sleep, even some that need medical attention, but first let’s go back to the basics.

1 – Caffeine intake. If you are a person that drinks more than one cup of coffee per day, make sure that your last cup is not later than 1pm. Surprisingly, even caffeine as early in the day as 2pm can disrupt a normal nights’ sleep.

2 – Sugar intake. Be mindful about what you are eating for dessert and how close to bedtime you are eating it. If ice cream and cookies are your favorite sweet treats, trying having it right after dinner. In addition, end the night with some berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) and you will be able to lower your glucose level, which will also help you sleep.

3 – Exercise. If you work late into the night and are forcing yourself to workout at 9 or 10pm, reconsider this habit. While exercise is helpful in having a good nights’ sleep, too late at night or too close to hitting the sheets will also disrupt your sleep patterns. Instead, try getting up earlier. Waking up an hour earlier in the morning will still allow you to get more sleep at night.

4 – Closing System. Do you physically shut the door on your workday? Do you know when you’re officially closed and the day is done? Or are you checking emails right until the lights go off?

If you do not have a closing system, creating one is easy and should be done immediately (and every day!). Most people, especially those that travel or have their own business, have difficulty letting their day turn off. This feeling of still being ‘on’ is highly disruptive to normal sleep patterns. Here is how you create a Closing System.

  • Choose a closing time. Then stick to it!
  • At that time, give yourself 15 – 30 minutes to shut down. Move all the things that weren’t done today to a day when you are able to complete them.
  • Fill in all tasks for tomorrow.
  • Spend five minutes checking the rest of the week to see if anything needs to be changed, added or taken away.
  • Spend 10 minutes responding to any emails that are time sensitive, move others into folders, delete those that belong in the trash and flag important ones that need to be taken care of in the morning.

5. Quiet Rituals. Create a quiet bedtime ritual. If you are always falling asleep to the sound of the TV, or the sight of your emails, design something different. Commit to a 15-minute quiet ritual as the last thing you do each night.

  • Read a book that is not about work, but instead might allow you to escape reality for a few minutes.
  • Play yoga or classical music and meditate.
  • Find a free guided meditation app that can be played on your phone.
  • Journal. Using a blank journal or notebook paper, take out a pen and start writing. It can be thoughts you have about your day, things you want to remember for the following day or anything that comes to mind. But make sure it is pen and paper, not on the computer. Once on the computer it is much too tempting to check social media, emails, etc.

6. Go to Sleep. Lastly, go to sleep when you are tired. Even if it seems too early, do it anyway. It is better to get into bed before you are too tired to begin your quiet rituals, then to not be able to sleep at all.

In order to create change…you will have to do things differently. And tonight, let’s try on sleeping!