What Are the Ashes All About?

You are dust, and to dust you shall return. Genesis 2:7

Today, many Christians throughout the world are celebrating Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by exercising spiritual discipline such as fasting, repentance, or study. Ash Wednesday has been observed since the tenth century. 

Some denominations place ashes in the form of the cross on parishioners’ foreheads. Ashes are an ancient symbol reminding humans that they are of dust and will return to dust. Through the ashes, we remember our humanity as well as who we are and who we can become. 

Affirmation: I affirm those who exercise their faith. 

Coaching questions: If you’re a Christian, what does the season of Lent mean to you? If you are not a Christian, I hope this information expanded your understanding of the Lenten season. 

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Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash

Building Your Resiliency Muscle

The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. Robert Jordan, American author

Whether you’re recovering from the loss of your mother or another loved one, it’s times like these you must draw on your ability to be resilient. Resiliency is the capacity to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or extreme stress. I found daughters who demonstrated resilience generally had these six traits in common. In addition, many resilient daughters called on their faith in God to sustain them.

1. The ability to sustain supportive relationships with family and friends.

2. A strong self-image and confidence in their strengths.

3. The ability to accept change as a part of living and didn’t see crisis as     insurmountable. 

4. Good communication and problem solving skills.

5. Practiced healthy self care.

6. Built on their past experiences and trusted that what they had survived made them stronger.

Another way to build resiliency is to anticipate difficult times like holidays, birthdays, THE anniversary, weddings. Acknowledging your feelings of sadness during these special times will help you move forward. 

Affirmation: I am resilient.

Coaching questions: If you’re just learning to flex your resiliency muscle, what traits do you need to work on? What will you do today to build resiliency for the future?

The Rock

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Corrie Ten Boom, Dutch watchmaker who helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust and was imprisoned.

In a time of grief or despair, trusting in God can give us hope and a positive sense of expectancy. 

When my late husband died suddenly from a heart attack ten months after we were married, I affirmed out loud to a couple of hundred people that God was my rock and I would be ok…and I was/am. I didn’t feel ok at the time but faith isn’t based on how we feel. We have choices….hope or despair. 

If you’ve lost or given up on your faith, I encourage you to take another look. Inner peace follows the choice of hope and faith.

Affirmation: I have faith in God.

Coaching questions: What/who is the rock in your life? If this is a time of despair and hopelessness for you, what’s one step you can take to regain a sense of inner peace? 

Four Keys to Greater Happiness

The happiest people in the world have a few characteristics in common: they create strong social networks, have a sense of purpose, are usually generous and have faith. The Blue Zones newsletter

There are two Blue Zones books and studies. One is about the longest-lived people in the world, the other is a study of the happiest. The formula discovered in their extensive research on happy people the world over seems simple…have friends, purpose, a generous spirit, and faith. As we search for happiness in more money to buy more stuff or have more experiences or greater leisure, we may be missing the point. 

We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Whatever our economic background, age, or circumstance, we can embrace the principles proven to bring us greater happiness. 

Affirmation: I know how to create happiness in my life.

Coaching questions: Do you have friends, purpose, a generous spirit and faith? What element needs to be stronger for you to have greater happiness in your life?

IMG_3986I’m in a happy place with friends.

Lost But Not Gone

The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me. Oprah Winfrey

As difficult as it is to lose a mother to death or Alzheimer’s, I have found, in talking with motherless daughters, that being abandoned by a mother is the most difficult loss of all. Abandonment means there are unresolved issues and questions like, “Was I not good enough?” “Was I not lovable enough?” For those of us who are mothers, we find it difficult to understand how a mother can abandon her children….just think how the child, now an adult, feels!

One abandoned daughter said to me, “It would have been easier if she would have died. Her leaving us broke us.” Another abandoned daughter, Carol, offered this advice, “You are not alone. Trust in God to fill the empty place in your heart. No person can fill this hole…not stuff, not your husband, not your children. Everything has a purpose and we are made to glorify our Creator. We can find joy…even in unfavorable circumstances.”

Carol sums up, “We have free will to choose anger and resentment, loneliness and low self esteem or, faith, strength, joy and purpose in our lives.” 

Affirmation: I am not alone.

Coaching questions: How have your life experiences made you more empathetic? Think of a specific example.