Listen To Your Heart

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of On Death And Dying

Helping a daughter move forward after the death or abandonment of her mother feels like part of my mission in this world. My mother lost her mother when she was three, I lost mine when I was eight. 

Using what I’ve learned about our losses to make a difference in the life of another by writing about it feels like important, heart-felt work. And, believe me, it is work. Although I published a small book about 17 years ago, I’m glad I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started down this path. Sometimes ignorance is bliss but, ignorant or not, doing what your heart tells you to do always works out in the end.

Affirmation: I listen to my heart.

Coaching questions: What is your heart telling you to do? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What’s a step you’re willing to take toward realizing your dream….no matter the cost?

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Benefits of a COVID-19 Diary

Regular writing can bolster the immune system, help you recover from traumatic events more successfully and ease stress and depression. Professor James Pennebaker, from the University of Texas in Austin

Soon after I sequestered myself to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, I started a COVID-19 Diary. Inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, at first I thought of the diary as a historical document and a remembrance for my great-grandchildren. However, I soon discovered the immediate personal benefits of expressing my frustrations, fears, victories, and disappointments.

Research by Professor Pennebaker and others suggest that those who regularly write in a journal or diary have a more vigorous antibody response to bacteria and viruses and produce less cortisol, a stress hormone. I can’t prove any reduction in stress or increased antibodies but I do know that expressing my thoughts in a diary has a calming affect on me as I clear my mind of negativity. I also use my diary to track progress on my soon-to-be-published book. It helps me stay focused and reminds me that I am making progress even if it feels slow. 

Affirmation: I will continue to write in my diary.

Coaching questions request: What would it be like to start your own COVID-19 Diary? What are the possible benefits? Write about your feelings, activities, circumstances every couple of days for a week. Let me know how this exercise works for you. 

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Be A Champion For Mental Health Awareness

A diagnosis has been enough without being burdened by secrecy and shame. Jane Pauley, television journalist who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Although we have made progress in our understanding, treatment, and acceptance of mental illness, we still have a long way to go. When any other organ is diseased or distressed, there is sympathy, understanding, and readily available treatment.

When the brain is diseased or distressed we frequently say, “Just get over it.” Or “You seem fine to me.” Sometimes, we think less of a person because they think or act in a way that is unclear to us. We need to champion those professionals and organizations that serve the misunderstood, unrecognized, and under-treated.

Affirmation: I acknowledge and champion those with mental disabilities and disease.

Coaching questions: How can you help a friend with mental illness come out from under the mantel of secrecy and shame? If you’re deeply depressed, suspect you’re bipolar, or have other possible mental health challenges, what’s keeping you from seeking professional help? 

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Photo by Hailey wright on Unsplash

Accessing Your Risk

Risk: A situation that exposes you to danger, potential for uncontrolled loss of something you value, and intentional interaction with uncertainty. Google

If feels like all of these definitions apply to the world in which we live right now. While risk may be in the context of risking your life, it can also mean risking the danger of living in fear. Both concepts are worth exploring as we evaluate our choices in how much risk of exposure we are willing to experience in this new world of COVID-19. 

How you evaluate risk is very personal. As you look at the facts and talk to those you trust, consider your personal vulnerability and the risk-factor of others in your circle. I’ve found that there are no black and white choices. I’m basing my decisions on science and statistics. However, I will have to make choices that may feel somewhat risky as I come out of my cocoon. You will too. In the end, trust your common sense and intuition. 

Affirmation: I trust science, my common sense and intuition.

Coaching questions: How vulnerable are you and those in your inner circle to the negative affects of contracting COVID-19? On what will you base your decision on how to approach this new world? No matter what you decide, what are the risks?

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Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

You’re Not As Alone As You Thought

We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel.’  You’re not as alone as you thought. John Steinbeck, author

Sunday was the first anniversary of the death of the lovely lady in this photo who died of Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Her story, her daughter’s story, and her mother’s story are in my soon-to-be-released book, Mom’s Gone, Now What? What a difficult two days for these precious ladies. A first Mother’s Day followed by the first anniversary of death. But I know them to be strong women, I heard their strength in their voices and I see it in their actions. They were brave enough to tell their stories even at the height of their despair. 

One thing I know for sure is that telling stories to a trusted person helps us feel less lonesome, as Steinbeck says, as it helps us move forward after challenging life events. As a friend listens, nods, understands, and perhaps, relates to our story, we feel validated. We begin to understand how our experience was not only meaningful to us but also to another person. 

Affirmation: I will be a listener. 

Coaching questions: To whom can you tell your story? What difference will it make?

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Embracing Gratitude On A Difficult Day

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie, author

Today, Mother’s Day in the U.S., will be difficult for many women especially in the era of COVID-19 when families are apart. Even in normal times, Mother’s Day is frequently challenging for women who have lost their mothers, are estranged from their mothers, have no children but wish they did, and those who have lost a child. I’m thinking of you all. 

Today will be sad for me as well but gratitude will help me cope. I’m grateful for the friendly smile I inherited from my mom, I’m grateful for my wonderful family, I’m grateful for my good health and, even though it’s a day for mothers, I am grateful for having had an amazing dad.

Affirmation: Naming all that I’m grateful for has cheered me.

Coaching questions: What helps you feel grateful on a difficult day? What difference can you make in someone else’s day today?

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A Great Time To Give!

Compassion is even more powerful than courage. Sure, with courage you can conquer a world – but only with compassion can you heal and rebuild it. Rasheed Ogunlaru, author

GivingTuesday, the groundbreaking global generosity movement, announced #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity, set to take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

If you’re able, consider giving to causes like food pantries, children’s advocacy groups, shelters, or other organizations working to help the people who need it the most right now. 

Affirmation: I will give to https://ourdailybreadfoodpantry.networkforgood.com

(If you wish to see your dollar go far, consider donating to this food pantry on Tuesday when your money will be matched. I know the people who run this not-for-profit and can vouch that they are completely reliable. All money goes to the program run by volunteers.)

Coaching question: If you’re able, how will you respond to GivingTuesdayNow?

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Photo by Wilfried Santer on Unsplash