Happy (almost) Halloween

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween. Unknown

I think it’s interesting that Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland. Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, the evening before All Saints’ Day. In ancient times November first was the new year. 

During the Celtic festival, it was believed the souls of those who had died returned to visit their homes, and those who had died during the year journeyed to the otherworld. Masks were worn to avoid being recognized by ghosts and it’s in those ways that witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons became associated with the day. 

When large numbers of immigrants entered the U.S., particularly the Irish, they brought Halloween with them. This year I’ll be Trick or Treating with my, partially Polish and Italian, grandkids; a rare occurrence these days. I’m so excited!

Affirmation: I embrace our rich history and the cute kids who love this holiday.

Coaching question/request: What traditions did your ancestors bring with them? Enjoy your Halloween!

My granddaughter, Marcella, is ready for Halloween (the bunny was recently adopted to his forever home).

Are You Savoring the Moments of Your Life?

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author

Living in the moment makes people happier because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future. As Mark Twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

I believe, however, that savoring the moments of our lives doesn’t come naturally. Our society asks us to rush ahead, plan for the future, strive for the gold ring. To live our lives to the fullest, we need to learn the art of savoring by choosing a moment to savor everyday.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California at Riverside and author of The How of Happiness, explains. “(Savoring) usually involves your senses. This could be while you’re eating a pastry, taking a shower, or basking in the sun. You could be savoring a success or savoring music.” 

Affirmation: I will take a few moments each day to savor what I normally rush through or take no notice of.

Coaching question: How will you tweak your life so you don’t miss the precious, unplanned-for moments?

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash 

It’s Not Too Late To Build A Better Brain

The brain remains plastic throughout life and can rewire itself in response to your experiences. Sanjay Gupta, MD

Think you’re an “old dog” who can’t learn new tricks? Think again! 

Up to the mid-1990s, we believed that brain cells died over time, never to be replaced. Sanjay Gupta, MD, author of “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age,” says, “Now we know differently. The brain remains plastic throughout life and can rewire itself in response to your experiences.”

In other words, mentally challenging yourself creates new neurons and neural connections. Always wanted to take ballet lessons, learn how to speak Spanish, play the piano, or write a novel? It’s never too late. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth the effort—you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and build a better brain!

Affirmation: I will challenge myself to learn something new.

Coaching questions: Is there anything you’d like to learn or experience? What’s holding you back? Imagine yourself mastering a new skill.

Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash 

Finally Honoring The Real First Americans

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so the when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. Cherokee wisdom

My Great-aunt Lillian, a Register Nurse, cared for many individuals in a tribe of Native Americans in Nebraska who were suffering from an outbreak of measles. As a thank you, they gave her a beautiful pair of ankle-high, deerskin moccasins. Years later, my dad and I made a plaque to which we attached the moccasins. It reads, “Do not judge your fellow Indian until you’ve walked many miles in his moccasins.” I was brought up to honor those words. I still own this family treasure.

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday celebrating and honoring Native American peoples, their rich histories, cultures, and contributions.

“For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures,” President Biden wrote in the proclamation. “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.” 

Affirmation: The fabric of America is stronger when we tell the truth about our history. 

Coaching questions: What were you taught about Indigenous People and their cultures? Is it accurate? How do you know? 

Living A Meaningful Life When Our Bodies Decline

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. Helen Keller, author

Dr. Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, estimated that the ability to define your life’s meaning adds to your life expectancy. His study found that individuals who had something meaningful to get up for in the morning, lived longer and were sharper than those who did not.

Sometimes our goals have to change with our abilities. Quilting may replace time spent rigorously weeding a garden. Teaching active children may step aside as you write your memoir. I’m reminded of Helen Keller and Stephen Hawking. Physical challenges need never be a factor as we define ourselves, live meaningful lives, or contribute to society. 

Affirmation: I will find ways to live a meaningful life.

Coaching question: What will you do to continue to live a meaningful life as you age? 

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash 

Looking To Have More Joy In Your Life?

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. Rabindranath Tagore, author

Perhaps you’ve worked through much of your grief and you’re hoping to regain more joy in your life but have found it to be elusive. 

If this is true for you, here are a few ways you might look for joy: 

—Check out who’s in your corner. If you want to rediscover joy, it’s important to have supportive people around you. Friends and family who have empathy but won’t coax you back onto the “ain’t it awful” train. Friends who will encourage you to move in a positive direction.

—Reach out and help others. Those times when we are joyless and in need emotional support are the times when helping others will mean the most. It sounds counterintuitive but it works.

—Get rid of the “shoulds” in your life. Do what you want to do, be who you want to be. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop beating yourself up. Be kind and gentle with yourself and you’ll be rewarded.

—Have an attitude of gratitude. You might feel less than grateful about the circumstances of your life. However, finding something for which you can be grateful everyday will help you return to feelings of satisfaction, joy, and peace.

Affirmation: I will find joy in my life.

Coaching questions: How might you find more joy in your life? What has worked in the past? What’s one thing you’re grateful for?

Reframing our stories

Reframing is a term from cognitive psychotherapy which simply means seeing something in a new way, in a new context, with a new frame around it. Elaine Aron, author

At a recent, online, author event, I spoke with a woman who had lost her mother as a child. Now, in mid-life, she’s losing her precious step-mother to Alzheimer’s. 

She and her sister are devastated by the prospect of losing two, beloved mothers. Their attitude, however, is keeping them positive and strong. She said, “We tell each other how lucky we’ve been to have two mothers who loved us so much. Our sadness comes from an abundance of love.”

Affirmation: I will reframe my life experiences. 

Coaching question: What message do you need to reframe? 

Are you feeling stress, envy, or jealously? Sometimes it’s hard to tell

Is it possible that the stress you’re feeling is actually envy? Kristin Neff, PhD, co-author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook writes, “Envy is an unconscious defense mechanism against a threat to our self-esteem.”

Since, according to Dr. Neff, envy is unconscious, it can be difficult to detect. “Envy frequently masquerades as stress, sadness, anger, jealousy, or resentment.” Social media is a fertile breeding ground for envy which, if left unchecked, can be a destructive force.

Envy is different from jealously. Jealousy typically involves a fear that someone will take something from us, while envy is coveting something that belongs to someone else.

Affirmation: I will learn to differentiate and understand my feelings.

Coaching question: What helps you understand what you’re feeling? How does knowing help you move on?

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash 

How do you deflect unsolicited advice?

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman and social reformer

Advice is one of those things we like to give but, rarely, like to receive. Here are a couple of ideas on how to deflect unwanted advice.

—If the advice is unwanted, there’s no need to explain why their idea won’t work or why you don’t want to do it. Instead, take the focus off yourself and switch it to the person who’s giving the advice. 

—Be genuinely inquisitive. Say something like, “So tell me more about that? Why do you think that’s a good idea for me?” 

—To draw the conversation to a close you might say, “I appreciate that you want to help me. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet but I’ll consider your advice.” 

—When you approach advice with curiosity, you make the advice-giver feel respected. And, you never know, as you dig deeper, you might find a useful nugget. 

—As you show appreciation, the advice itself becomes less important than the fact that you’ve acknowledged their effort to be helpful out of their concern for you.

Affirmation: I can respectfully deflect unwanted advice. 

Coaching questions: What kind of unwanted advice do you receive? How do you handle it? How might you handle unwanted advice with more respect?

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash 

KINDNESS BEGETS KINDNESS–THANK THE KIND CANADIANS

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Three years ago, I spent 9/11 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and learned that forty aircraft carrying 8,000 passengers were diverted to Halifax Stanfield International Airport after the attacks. By evening, all 8,000 had a bed in which to sleep. Halifax accepted the greatest number of aircraft of any airport and was the first major airport to have all diverted flights back in the air. This city of kind Canadians opened their hearts and homes in a time of need. 

In Halifax Narrows, on December 6, 1917, two cargo ships collided causing a massive explosion (the largest prior to the atomic bomb) that killed 2,000 people and injured 9,000. The town was demolished. Our kilt-wearing, Scottish guide told us about the generous response of Americans who sent trains with supplies, building materials, and personnel to help. He said, “On 9/11, we were honored to have the opportunity to return the kindness we had been shown by Americans so many years earlier.” And so it goes…kindness begetting kindness.

Affirmation: I am kind.

Coaching question: In what way are you part of the circle of kindness? 

Photo by Ian Haywood Bacon on Unsplash