View Post

2015 Message From Full Circle

Happy New Year! I wanted to send warm wishes to you on this very cold and raw New England day. I hope wherever you are you’re feeling cozy and content. It’s been a rainy winter here – good weather for fires in the fireplace and sipping hot tea.

I also wanted to update you on some news from Full Circle Coaching. 2015 brings more focus to what I love to do most in my work: support and guide other wholehearted practitioners to stay connected and buoyed. This includes coaches, therapists, artists, nurses, spiritual leaders, teachers and practitioners of the healing arts. One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned through my work with The Daring Way™ is that without our own health and sense of inner peace, we struggle to support our clients, students, our families and friends.

What does that look like? Sometimes that means creating very real boundaries around care taking. It can mean letting go of the impulse to save, serve and over-extend. It can also mean the addition of phrases to our repertoire like “So what?” “No” and “I’m sorry”. In some cases it can mean digging very deep to understand that impulse. You’d be surprised to learn the origin of your own desire to give. I absolutely love watching someone who is a gifted helping professional learn to take care of themselves through self-compassion, reflection and love. It really is the definition of empowerment.

Through my coaching and the work of The Daring Way™ I’ve supported hundreds of professional caregivers and I’m so excited to be offering more programs for this group during 2015. Perhaps you will find a little something here that speaks to you or someone else you know in these fields.

My first event is A Daring Way™ Webinar for Practitioners in March. I’ll be co-facilitating this one with my friend and colleague Beth Franchini, LPC, also a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Consultant. Read more about it on the Events page.

Wishing you a year of joy & fulfillment,

Joan

View Post

Naughty or Nice?

Not that kind of naughty! But I am feeling a little rebellious around setting nice goals and intentions for the coming year. As a coach I should be all over that (there’s that should again). In that vein I decided to write this piece instead of “2015 Intentions for Wholehearted Living”. It’s not that I don’t think intention setting isn’t a lovely way to welcome the New Year, but may I suggest an alternative perspective?

If I could inspire you to do one thing, it would be to own your place in this world – to speak up, fight for causes and your beliefs, not to stand on ceremony or avoid conflict. It would be to spend a little cash on the vacation you’ve been dreaming-of or treat yourself to a Thai massage. I’m talking about doing more of what you love and stretching your inner comfort zone – however that looks for you.

If there’s one personal intention I’d like to set, it’s to continue showing up as Me. Or should I say, with more of me. Not the responsible, professional, upstanding version. I want to share the funny, rebellious, wisecracking Me. Also, the Me that inspires others to slow down, to pay attention to what lights them up and to speak kindly to themselves. I suppose writing this piece is my first step in that direction.

We often set intentions for the New Year that reflect the shoulds of our culture. We commit to weight loss and exercise programs, not because we love the idea of getting to the gym more often or that we desperately miss hot yoga class, but because of the value this culture places on youth and size. I often hear my solo-preneur clients talk about how they need to create more programs and social media campaigns. Not because they feel called to do so, but because they compare their productivity to what they perceive others are doing online; which leads me of one of my favorite Brené Brown quotes: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Yep!

And while we’re on the subject of naughty, why not consider more intimacy in 2015? Yea, that kind of naughty! More physical intimacy with your partner and/or more emotional intimacy with the people you love. More focus on what you really desire for the coming year and less on what’s expected of you.

So tell me, What’s your vision of naughty for 2015? PLEASE, I beg you not to say you plan to take your business to the next level.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday and a New Year filled with your deepest desires!

Intentionally yours,

Joan

photo:  nina weinberg doran

View Post

Gratitude and Joy: Guidepost #4

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. I said goodbye to a very dear 4-legged friend. As many of you know, my horse Corvallis has been a close companion, teacher and dear friend. Our connection mirrored the best of relationships with highs, lows, tears and laughter. As anyone who has owned horses knows, there often comes a time when the needs of the horse no longer align with ours and vice versa. At this point the most loving action we can take is to find a new companion and situation that’s the right fit. That was the easy part.

I have to be honest: it feels difficult to cultivate, let alone write about gratitude and joy, yet this is Guidepost # 4: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy by Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark. Perhaps then, it’s the perfect time to do just that:

Saying goodbye or moving-on from a relationship that no longer serves us is ultimately an act of self-compassion. However, no matter how “right” the decision is, it also elicits grief – our emotional reaction to loss. Making the hard decision to let go can also leave us feeling fearful – Am I doing the right thing? Will I be left with regret? Will I ever find what I’m looking for? This is the risk we take when we choose to engage in relationship: loss, pain and heartbreak. So, where in the midst of this grief can we find joy and gratitude? I believe it’s in honoring our willingness to step into the relationship in the first place and recognizing all that we’ve learned from it.

With a bit of distance from the actual “goodbye”, I have been reminiscing with friends and family about Corvallis’s rather large personality. That alone has been joyful. Along with his antics and quirky behavior, Corvallis taught me many lessons, all of which I am forever grateful. To name a few:

  • Patience
  • Loyalty
  • Connection
  • Boundaries
  • Reciprocity

Brené Brown and other mindfulness practitioners say the practice of gratitude is the pathway to joy. If this is so, and I believe it is; then it’s a worthy practice indeed. I still miss my buddy Corvallis – the idea is not to push those feelings away. There is no substitute for deep connection, and for me there’s no question that it’s worth the risk. With each relationship we grow, and along with the work brings tremendous joy. How fortunate I have been to reap the gifts of our connection.

This lovely piece on Gratitude by addictions therapist Melody Beattie spoke to me. I hope you enjoy it:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

For more on cultivating gratitude, please visit these links:

Unstuck: Live Better Everyday:  http://unstuckcommunity.tumblr.com/post/68074479298/why-gratitude-makes-life-better-40-ways-to-get

Spiritual Health: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/cultivating-gratitude-practice

6 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/12/28/6-ways-to-cultivate-gratitude/

Of course, I would love to hear your comments on this post. What is your experience of the relationship between gratitude and joy?

Thank you for sharing!

With my whole heart,

Joan

 

View Post

Resiliency: Guidepost #3

Join me on my front porch for another chat and glass of iced sun tea.  I want to tell you more about the stuff that keeps our hearts pumping and the juices flowing.

I’m sure you know people who grew up with, or experienced tremendous hardship and pain yet still manage to create productive, joyful and meaningful lives. What is that thing they have? You know, they make lemonade and their glass is always half full?

That thing is the desired outcome of Guidepost #3 – Letting go of Numbing & Powerlessness: Cultivating A Resilient Spirit

There are a few common ways in which we deal with hardship. Some people are born with a resilient constitution; they have an internal strength and a vision that drives them forward in spite of enormous roadblocks. Others struggle valiantly to make sense of their misfortune; they seek support and reach out for answers. Their hard work often pays off, and personal growth becomes a source of strength and a value. Some people lean toward catastrophizing (I’m not even sure if that’s a word) and adopting a victim perspective that often keeps them stuck. Lastly, as a culture, the easiest go-to form of dealing with pain and anxiety is to numb-out. This can be in moderation or a full-blown addiction; as a society we numb-out by using alcohol, technology, drugs, food, shopping or sex.

There’s no right or wrong way to deal with hardship or fear. We do the best we can. What I know from personal experience is when we run from pain by numbing-out, it stays in our bodies on a cellular level and lingers in our subconscious.  This month’s news headlines have been frightening at best: Tragedy in Ferguson, MO, war in the Middle East, Ebola in West Africa. When we reach for the ice cream, the credit card or the wine in response to difficult news, we are running from our fear and emotional pain. Who wouldn’t?

Like all of the steps toward wholehearted living, with practice we can cultivate resiliency.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Acknowledge the common humanity – Reach out to others because they’re also afraid. You are not alone in your experience. Your words and actions will create safety and community: There is power in numbers.
  • Breathe – When you are overwhelmed or anxious it’s important to ground yourself. Your breathe is always with you and available for focus. Feel your feet on the floor beneath you and take a few deep breaths.
  • Take a break from social media – This is an antidote to almost any cultural, political and societal unrest. I’m not suggesting you should put your head in the sand, but you can take a break from the commentary, videos and banter that seems to ramp up the stress around the news.
  • Take stock in your accomplishments – There is nothing more inspiring than noting the hard work you’ve done – personal, career-related or physical. Give yourself the recognition you deserve, and it will propel you to continue.

Coincidentally, Brené Brown also posted a blog piece on a similar topic last week. Take a look to see what the author of The Guideposts For Wholehearted Living has to say.

Wishing you a resilient, whole heart.

Joan

Check out my EVENTS page to learn about fall workshops and webinars!

photo:  nina weinberg doran

View Post

Self-compassion: Guidepost #2

This is the 2nd entry in a series based on Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts For Wholehearted Living. To learn more about Wholehearted Living and my workshop offerings, Link HERE!

Come sit, we need to talk. If you were with me on my porch this afternoon, I’d offer you an iced tea, and then I’d share some important lessons. It’s especially significant in lieu of that “stuck” feeling you’ve been having.

Remember that great business idea we talked about? The 5K you’ve been training-for, and the blog you’ve been planning to start? Let me guess –  your idea isn’t fully fleshed-out, you’re insecure about your writing, and you may need to walk for part of the race. Sound familiar?

Meet Guidepost #2: Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism

Perfectionism can, but doesn’t always look like a tidy house or flawless penmanship. It sometimes shows-up as procrastination or self-sabotage. Perfectionism is BIG, and if you know it personally, you know how powerful it is. It can be paralyzing or keep you flying just under the radar. Perfectionism is fear of shame, ridicule and ultimately, disconnection – a bit of a conundrum when (as Brené Brown says) “Humans are hard-wired for connection”.

The scary thing about putting ourselves out there creatively, intellectually or in relationship is that we risk being seen, really seen – with our foibles, flaws and naiveté. When we stay safe and comfortable we avoid the pain or possibility of criticism, judgment or rejection. We stay safe and we stay stuck.

Since our culture prides itself on a workhorse ethic with little value placed on rest and play, phrases like “never let ‘em see you sweat” are common household mantras. I interpret that phrase to also mean: Never let ‘em see you cry, struggle or make a mistake. That’s a tough row to hoe since we operate from both our brains and our emotions. No wonder you have so much fear around stepping outside the box.

How DO you develop the courage to show up with new ideas or make changes in the face of such harsh criticism? Researcher Brené Brown, Ph.D. and self-compassion expert Kristin Neff, Ph.D. would say… For God’s sake, give yourself a break (perhaps they’d say it a bit more gently)! Instead of speaking in judgment of yourself, “If I mess-up, I’ll never live it down”, try substituting with “This may suck, but I’ll get through it”. When you practice a little self-compassion, you ease up on the self-criticism. When you love yourself enough to go for it, the opinions of others begin to loose their power.

Easier said than done, right? Here’s the good news – Wholehearted Living is not a static fix or a cure. It’s a way of life that requires tending-to, and it’s made up of practices. Self- Compassion is one of those practices. There are tons of resources on the net, books and Ted Talks on the subject of self-compassion. If you are new to the concept, try a couple of the following suggestions.

5 Steps For Cultivating Self-Compassion:

  1. Spend time with those who genuinely celebrate your successes and your failures: You know who “your people” are! They’re the friends and loved-ones you call when you feel like crap. They have your back, and there’s no judgment or shame. They know just what makes you tick.
  2. Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation: Dr. Kristin Neff has a wonderful website with resources and guided meditation recordings. Explore this lovely site: http://www.self-compassion.org
  3. Make self-care a priority: Whatever makes you feel good, do it more often. Cook a delicious meal and savor every bite, take a bath, get a massage. Take a break from care taking and re-connect with what feels good to you!
  4. Move your body: Our bodies hold so much tension, and what’s more loving than giving yourself the gift of relaxation? Going for a run or taking a class is a release for some, but we get tremendous benefit from simple, non-structured movement as well. Take a walk in nature or around your neighborhood. Spend time grooming, walking or playing with your pets. Stretch or do yoga. Dance in your kitchen!
  5. Be in-service to your community. Sometimes the best gift to you can be helping others. Volunteer at a food pantry, school, CSA or animal shelter. Plan your next vacation to combine service and travel/sightseeing.

If you’re in the Boston area, practice the ultimate act of self-compassion – Sign up for my 8-Week workshop: Wholehearted Living – The Daring Way™. Link HERE for more information.

PLEASE, leave a comment! I’d love to know your thoughts, struggles and successes with perfectionism.

With Loving Kindness,

Joan

photo credit: © Nina Weinberg Doran

 

View Post

Authenticity: Guidepost #1

This is the first of a series based on Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts For Wholehearted Living. To learn more about wholehearted living, check out my previous blogpost. Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Guidepost # 1 – Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What Others Think I can’t think of a bigger waste of time, yet we all do it – worry about what others think.  There are varying degrees of worry, but whatever we imagine someone else is thinking is pure projection, as there’s absolutely no way to know. “They think I’m a bitch!  They think I’m a fraud!  He hates me. She thinks I’m an idiot….” Sound familiar? Some of this is developmental.  It’s common thinking for adolescents who have yet to figure out their values and who they really are. But I’ve noticed that literature for personal growth workshops and trainings (for adults), marketing campaigns and designer goods tout “authenticity” like it’s a lost art.  Have we really strayed so far from our true selves that we need the “experts” to show us the way?

What does it means to be authentic? A bit of research on the origin of the term “authenticity” revealed that philosophers (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Descartes, etc.) have been studying the concept for centuries. A very broad definition references authenticity as having “authorship” of one’s own life. The Wiki definition: In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authenticity_(philosophy)

To me, authenticity looks like this: It’s catching a child in a moment of un self-consciousness – talking to themselves, dancing or skipping alone or with a friend, playing make believe, or exploring in nature. As adults we’ve learned to accommodate to the expectations of society but we also develop inhibitions and self-conscious behavior as we look for approval from others. For many who have grown-up under the judgmental and critical eyes of parents, peers, schoolteachers and co-workers, the price paid for looking cool is losing sight-of and/or even forgetting how to access their creative and playful selves.

The first step on the journey toward Wholehearted Living is to create awareness around the moments we practice self-conscious choice over our own desires. It’s not easy to let go of what others think, especially if it’s been your go-to behavior. But what would it look like to just make room for more of what lies beneath the adult veneer? When we take the time to indulge our creative/expressive/un-self-conscious selves, we access what really matters… to us. What goes through your mind when you imagine making room for one of these:

• Try a new sport

• Paint, draw, write, sculpt

• Sing

• Speak your mind

• Ask someone out

• Go back to work or school

• Dye your hair

• Change careers

• Try a musical instrument

If you weren’t concerned about blowing your cool, what’s one thing you would do or try?  What would it mean to simply share your desire in a comment right here?  I’d love to know.

Wishing you… you,

Joan

To learn more about Brené Brown’s Guideposts For Wholehearted Living or enroll in a Daring Way™ Workshop this fall, please browse my site or visit the events page.  Stay tuned for Guidepost # 2 – Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism

photo credit – © nina weinberg-doran