Tuesday, December 20, 2016

5 STEPS TO CHRISTMAS BLISS



Want to feel bliss at Christmas time like my baby Isla?

I was talking to a friend yesterday who said "I just don't understand why I don't feel that peaceful feeling at Christmas. Instead I just feel stressed?" I know why! Because traditionally as women we do EVERYTHING to prepare for Christmas. We plan, buy and wrap the gifts, plan the dinners, buy the food for the dinners, prepare the dinners, clean the house, make special Christmas treats, plan and make gifts for neighbours, teachers, and write and send all the Christmas cards. If you are reading this and feeling tired already...you should! It's exhausting! 

Is it a surprise that come Christmas morning we are exhausted? 

Add on this the extra stress of how we're going to pay for all of it, family dynamics, lack of sleep, and sugar crashing and we are on a train to Christmas contention. So now that I've reviewed all the tough stuff about Christmas. Are we doomed to a holiday season of stress and exhaustion or can Christmas really be blissful? 

I've got some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that it is possible to feel bliss this time of year and feel more connected with the people you love than ever before. The bad news is that it takes some work to do it and some letting go of the idea that Christmas needs to be perfect. What is Christmas can be perfectly imperfect? What if there can be moments of calm and peace amidst the chaos of holiday business around us? 

What are some of the ways I have found helpful to create Christmas bliss & avoid all the things that can steal our holidays? These are a couple of ways we have simplified the season in our family and it has made a big difference in helping us to enjoy the holidays more. These steps don't mean that everything is perfect but they do make the holiday season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and more meaningful to our family. 

Here are the 5 steps to Christmas bliss that will get you there.

5 STEPS TO CHRISTMAS BLISS

1. SIMPLIFY THE SEASON


One of the the things we do is buy less gifts.  I know…sounds crazy right?  We have just found that when we stick to buying our kids 1-3 gifts for our kids, they enjoy them more. We also found that when we make sure the gifts fit into our budget, we can truly enjoy Christmas. One year I had an epifany when our kids drawers were so full that we could not close them while we were trying to jam in their new christmas clothes in. I realized that sometimes our kids are given second hand clothes and toys that look just like new. I also realized that when we buy a toy for them, they are not interested in the box and 50 billion twist ties holding the toy in place. 

So why not set aside toys or clothes all year that look new and give them as Christmas gifts or buy gifts at a garage sale or from Craigslist? One year we bought a kids blowup waterslide that had been used once and was worth $600 new for $50 from a garage sale for our daughter's gift and it was the best gift everWe are being greener on our pocketbook and greener on the environment. Does that mean we never buy new gifts? No...there are some things that just need to be new but we are resourceful with the gifts we give. 

Another thing we do that might sound really insane so hold onto your Christmas cap is that we don't buy gifts for our partner.  I know that might sound grinchy but over the years we found that we just weren’t getting the joy we desired from opening sweaters and nick-nacs for each other.  So rather than buy each other gifts, my husband Andy and I have a "super Christmas date". What’s a super Christmas date you might be thinking.  Well it is something extra special that we decide on together to celebrate Christmas…over the years it has varied from going on a one night mini vacation, going shopping together after Christmas or going for an extra fancy dinner or a sleigh ride.  Anything that is really special that we would not normally do on a date night.  That way we have more bright futures…Christmas and our super Christmas date after Christmas.   

2. REMEMBER THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS


Another thing we do as a family is talk about what this holiday season truly means and plan how we can honor the true spirit of Christmas. Some ways we have done that is by collecting food for the food bank, talking about the gifts we can give to our Creator, planning exciting things to do as a family and searching for ways we can help the people around us. I know that each family is unique and what works for our family may not work for others so the important thing is to find what works best for you and your family. This year one of the things we are doing is an advent calendar that reminds of how we can follow Christ's example this holiday season and serve those around us.

3. YOUR PRESENCE IS THE BEST PRESENT


Instead of having our focus on stuff at Christmas, we focus on things we can do together as a family. We have all sorts of awesome traditions that we do. Infact we have an advent calendar that is a large Christmas moose...you heard right...a Christmas moose with material pockets that we put ideas of all the fun things we can do and how we can serve others each day during the holdiays. These range from making cookies to bringing a neighbour a dinner. We also have some yearly traditions that we look forward to all year like our anual Christmas Scavenger Hunt. This is where we invite our friends anfamily to join us in a bunch of awesome activities as we race to see who can finish the hunt fastest. One of my favorite memories is of my mom sledding down a hill on a piece of cardboard during the scavenger hunt!

Let go of perfection! The holidays do not need to be perfect. All families have ups and downs and if you know that sometimes the holdays get messy and there will be times when everyone is not smiling in the Christmas photo, you will have a much better time of things!
 

4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF


SLEEP

State is everything. It is how we see the world and how we experience our family and events that happen. There are a couple things we can do that are pivitol in managing our state of mind. The first is that we need to get enough sleep. I know it can be particularly difficult during the holidays but if we are really going to enjoy them, we need sleep! There have been studies done that show if we are suffering from lack of sleep we have the same judgement as someone who is intoxicated

NUTRITION

Another one that is critical is to have good nutrition. We don't need the sugar crashes robbing us of our happy holiday memories! 
So with all this delicious sugary temptations around how are we supposed to enjoy the holidays when we are so hopped up on sugar that our state of mind is constantly crashing?  What is the answer?  Is it to completely avoid sugar and when a friendly neighbor knocks on your door with a fresh batch of sugar cookies to slam the door and throw there cookies in their face?  Um no I’m not saying that at all…that wouldn’t be the spirit of Christmas now would it!  What I’m suggesting is to be aware of the sugar crash that happens after we gobble up those yummy holiday treats, find healthier alternatives (I have a healthy raw chocolate peppermint cookie recipe that is awesome) and if we do indulge on the sweet treats just eat them in moderation and if possible towards the end of the evening so kids and grown ups can be in bed drifting off to sleep during the crash rather than saying mean things to each other.  

EXERCISE

It is critical for us to move our bodies to manage our state of mind. The cool thing about this is that we can do it in whatever way works best for us. Whether that means going for a walk, running, yoga...anything that gets your body moving! Let's offset some of those yummy and not so good for us treats we are going to induldge in by making in a priority to keep moving our bodies this holiday season. Most importantly though when we move our body we feel happier, it pumps in great feeling endorphins that make us love our family more! So take your kids for a walk or sledding or just do yoga in your living room...do whatever it takes to move your body! 
  

5. SERVE

There is something special about the holidays that help us to reach beyond ourselves and think of those who are struggling and who don't have the things they need. There is a spirit of community and coming together to serve those around us. I know that when I have focused on serving those around me, especially during this busy season, that it when I can experience true joy and the spirit of Christmas is tangible. Service can. be in so many different forms. It may be complimenting someone, or telling someone you love them, or going to visit a person who is sick. It is absolutely anything that uplifts another. There is a Quaker Proverb that says "Thee life me, I'll life thee, and we'll ascend together eternally." When we uplift another, we are also uplifted and strengthened and given the gift of peace. 

DIGGING DEEP

Okay so now you are armed with knowledge about the holiday stealers that are lurking about trying to take away your holiday fun and you know the 5 steps to Chistmas bliss. Now it's time to make a plan so that you can use this information to create the holdiay season that you want. It doesn't have to be perfect but I promise using these things will make it better than you can imagaine. It will take some work on your part though. Are you committed to creating a holiday season that is less stress and more fun? Are you willing to let go of some past expectations and beliefs that you have had about what the holdiays "should" be? Are you willing to do what it takes to put yourself first in a happy, healthy, productive way so you can be the person you want to be for those you love? If you answered yes to any of those questions then you are ready so let's begin! 
    1. So what is 1 thing you can do to simplify the season this year?
    2. What does Christmas mean to you and how can you make sure that meaning is central to your holidays? 
    3. What family traditions can you create this year that will create happy memories for your family?
    4. What is something you can do daily to take even better care of yourself by getting enough sleep, having great nutrition or getting exercise?   

      I know that doing these things has made a makes a huge difference in helping us love the holidays again. I know that as find ways to avoid the holiday stealers and find more ways to be even more present and create a simplified holiday season, you will feel more peace, joy and happiness this Christmas. I wish you and your family all the love and happiness that your heart can hold this holiday season.  

      Much love,
      Connie

      Friday, November 18, 2016

      3 STEPS TO RELATIONSHIPS GREATNESS



      In my last post we explored what bonding is, what gets in the way of us feeling bonded and how we respond when we do not feel connected with the people we love most (HOW WE CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE ). Now that we understand these things, we need to dive in a little deeper to discover what causes us to be disconnected with the people we love the most and what we can do to reconnect when this happens.

      OVERVIEW OF BONDING

      A quick review of bonding is that we need to feel bonded to those closest to us, especially our partner. Research has shown that this bonding is critical to our emotional and physical health. Dr. Sue Johnson is a leading expert in attachment and she indicates that when we do not feel bonded to our partner, our brain physically responds with a flight or flight response and we experience a feeling of panic and fear that our partner will leave us or that they don’t have our back. This break in bonding happens when we have a bonding injury. A bonding injury is basically when an incident occurs in the relationship that causes us to feel disconnected or abandoned in the relationship and causes a feeling of panic. Bonding injuries can be caused by the intentional or unintentional actions of our partner. When a bonding injury happens, we respond in one of three ways:

      Anxious - looks for reassurance from their partner that the relationship is okay
      Avoidant - retreats from the danger by distancing themselves from the relationships
      Securely attached - feeling safe and secure in the relationship and knowing the other person has your back

      These ways of responding are patterns that we have developed in childhood and carry with us into our adult relationships. These patterns are not fixed though and we can change them if we have a partner that is attentive, responsive and engaged.

      Okay so now that we have refreshed our mind about the principles about bonding, lets dive in a deeper about how attachment injuries occur, how we can create them unintentionally, and how we recover from them.


      BONDING INJURIES

      Our bonding style comes out when there is a bonding injury. A bonding injury happens when we say or do something that creates emotional distress with our partner. Often bonding injuries happen by accident when we say or do something that hits an emotional sore spot with the other person. An emotional sore spot happens when we have a painful experience caused from our partner or someone else that we are emotionally sensitive about. When our partner accidentally hits that emotional sore spot, we react automatically. It is not a logic response but it is experienced in a very real way.

      I remember one time Andy had committed to spending time with me but life got busy and he forgot about his commitment. I was finishing tidying up the kitchen and when I went to him to spend time together, he was asleep. I knew that he did not mean to fall asleep but that did not stop me from feeling frustrated and disappointed. When he woke up hours later I was angry with him and we had a fight. I had a sore spot from years ago when he would sometimes promise to spend time with me and then we would train kung fu instead. After realizing this was a raw spot for me and telling him about it, Andy told me that he didn’t mean to fall asleep and that he wished I would have woke him up because he was disappointed too that we did not get to spend time together. When I realized my raw spot and shared it with him, it helped both him and I to understand what was going on for me and why I was reacting in that way. I helped us to come closer together and become even more connected than before.

      HOW TO GET AND STAY BONDED


      The goal is for us to get and stay securely bonded with the person we love the most. This is critical because when we are securely bonded, we feel emotionally secure in our relationship, we feel less stress physically and we experience greater overall physical health. Securing bonding has even been associated with having fewer heart attacks and relapses of heart conditions.

      Dr. Sue Johnson shared in her book Hold Me Tight that “In Cleveland, researchers at Case Western Reserve University asked men with a history of angina and high blood pressure, “Does your wife show her love?” Those who answered “No” suffered almost twice as many angina episodes during the next five years as did those who replied “Yes.” Women’s hearts are affected, too. Women who view their marriages as strained and have regular hostile interactions with their partners are more likely to have significantly elevated blood pressure and higher levels of stress hormones compared with women in happy marriages. Yet another study found that women who had had a heart attack stood a threefold higher risk of having another if there was discord in their marriage. In men and women with congestive heart failure, the state of the patient’s marriage is as good a predictor of survival after four years as the severity of the symptoms and degree of impairment, concludes Jim Coyne, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.”

      So being securely attached is good for our heart…literally! So if it is so important for this secure bonding to happen, how do we achieve it in our relationships? There are 3 steps to bonding that will not only help us get securely bonded but will help us to stay there even after a bonding injury.

      3 STEPS TO BONDING
      1. Lead with vulnerability
      2. Share what you are most afraid of
      3. Ask for what you need from your partner to feel safe & loved (be specific)

      Lead with vulnerability means that you share how you are feeling with your partner in an open and loving way. Share what you are most afraid of means to share how you are afraid of being left alone or your partner does not have your back. Ask for what you need from your partner to feel safe and loved means to ask for what you want your partner to do.

      So often we want our partner to change but we do not ask them specifically for what we want. How can they possibly know what to do when we are not specific about what we want them to do? I remember talking to this woman once who had been married for a long time. She was frustrated at her partner because he didn’t spend time with her and spent all his time on an activity that he enjoyed. When I asked her what she would like him to do she responded with “I don’t know”. How can he do what she wants him to do if she doesn’t know what she wants him to do and is not able to ask for it? 

      PRINCIPLES IN ACTION

      Here is an example of how the 3 steps of bonding works in real life. One time I was talking to Andy and his mom about the research surrounding a health risk I was concerned about. As I sited the research, Andy chimed in that the research was unreliable and that it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know that, after all he had a masters degree and was not trained how to understand research. Now I know that my loving husband was not implying that I am stupid but he rubbed a sore spot of mine. I am sensitive about not having my masters degree and sometimes feel that he is more intelligent than I am because he remembers information that I don't remember. So when he made the comment, even though he didn’t mean it like this, what I heard is “it’s not your fault you’re stupid” and that created a bonding injury. I went off my to room feeling hurt. Andy came in after me and although he knew I was upset, he didn’t understand why. This caused him to be afraid of the disconnection between us so he began to reconnect with me using the 3 steps of bonding. He said that he could feel the disconnection and was worried that he had done something wrong to hurt me.

      Lead with vulnerability - He shared that he didn’t know what he did wrong but he was sorry for whatever it was.

      Share what you are most afraid of - He shared that the disconnection caused him to feel panic about our relationship and a fear of being not good enough.

      Ask for what he need - He asked for what he needed by saying that he needed me to tell him what he had done and how I was feeling.

      This reaching out by him caused my heart to soften and I reached back with the 3 steps to bonding.

      Lead with vulnerability - I told him that I was feeling hurt by his comment about me not understanding the research and that I was sensitive about it because I don’t have a masters degree.

      Share what you are most afraid of - I shared that I was afraid that he thought I was stupid because of that.

      Ask for what you need - I asked him for what I need by reassuring me that he respects me. He responded with my feelings in a loving way and held me.

      It doesn’t always happen that both partners use the 3 steps to bonding but in our case at that moment it worked for us both to use it. My heart was softened by Andy being vulnerable and that created space for me to use the 3 steps to bonding as well. After doing this, we were connected again and closer than we were before.

      DIGGING DEEP

      Now that you understand the basics of bonding, know what can get in the way of us staying bonded with our partners, have an awareness of bonding injuries and sore spots and know the 3 steps of bonding, you are prepared to be even more connected with the people you love. This is a preparation that will require action on your part though. In this busy world of a million things to do and competing pulls for our attention at every turn, we as women need to commit to creating a connected and bonded relationship. I believe that women often lead the way in relationships and as they make changes and move forward, their partners see that change and are inspired to change in their own time. I see this so often as a Master Coach. So often women will come to a life changing Master Your Power Within event for the first time on their own. They express that they are concerned about coming to the event without their partner because they need things to improve in their relationship. So the women, out of a desire to do all it takes to change and filled with pure grit and courage, come to the event.

      Then they change.

      They create real results in their lives of feeling happier, more calm, more supportive of their partner and family and more able to create financial results and their partner sees it. Soon after, their partner notices the changes they are making and a desire to change within themselves grows.

      The question is will you be a leader in your own life?

      Will you be willing to search for and become aware when a bonding injury happen or will you just let it pass you by because it’s easier than rocking the boat of your relationship equilibrium?

      Will you settle for the status quo of dissatisfaction and frustration with your partner or will you create real bonding with sometimes tough and vulnerable conversations?

      You are reading this so I know you are determined to create real results in your life. I know that you are not willing to settle for the status quo of dissatisfaction and regret. I know that you are willing to fight for who you love.

      The time begins now.

      The step you will take is to implement what you have learned. To look for patterns of disconnection in your relationship, to gain an awareness of when there is a bonding break and your reaction to it and to use the 3 steps to get close again with the person you love the most. If you need some support in getting started click here for a free session with a Master Coach. We will do whatever it takes to support you in achieving greatness in your relationship.

      I promise you that as you do this you will feel more supported and loved by your partner. You will see them in a new light, a light of potential and hope. You will gain a deeper understanding of yourself and them and you will begin to fall in love with them all over again. I know that as you take these courageous steps you will be supported by your Creator and that you will receive inspiration about how to be even closer with your partner. You will receive an added measure of grace.

      I know these things are true and I am excited for you to embark on this journey of discovery and connection. The safest place to be in this world is in the loving open arms of the person we love most when we are truly connected.

      Thursday, November 10, 2016

      HOW WE CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE



      For years I could not understand why sometimes I felt so close and loved by my husband, while other times he could hurt me so deeply and send me into a frenzy of frustration and bitterness. What was the difference between those times? I have come to understand that the only difference between the times of feeling close with the people we love most or feeling distant is our level of bonding. I came to this conclusion through the incredible work of Dr. Sue Johnson in her books “Love Sense” and “Hold Me Tight” and I came to these truths through the exploration and discovery of my own life and relationships. 

      Why is it important to be bonded to the people we love the most? A great deal of research has been done about the link between the level of bonding in relationships and our mental and physical health. In one study, University of California "analyzed data on 1500 middle class folks who were born around 1910 in California. the voluminous records traced their lives over eight decades until their deaths, detailing their experiences and habits through prosperity, the Great Depression, and two world wars. The notations included everything from the happiness of their parents' marriage to their career choice to the "number or books they had in their home. Physiologist Howard Friedman concluded that medical advances play a minor role in extending life span. Most people who live to old age do not do so because they have beaten cancer, heart disease, depression, or diabetes," he says. "Instead, the long-lived avoid serious ailments altogether through a series of steps that rely on long-lasting, meaningful connections with others. In other words, you can "eat special organic and gluten free foods, gulp down multivitamins, get yourself to the gym, and meditate into a stress-free zone, but the best tonic for staying healthy and happy into old age is probably toning up your relationship." Sue Johnson

      Now that we understand that it is critical for us to have a bonded connection with the people we love the most, we need to understand how we get disconnected so we know how to get connected again. You see, there is one common thing that happens in all relationships at some point. We mess up. We say the wrong thing, or look at the person in the wrong way and as a result the other person reacts and distance comes between us. So what happens in those moments? As Dr. Johnson describes, a bonding (attachment) injury occurs. A bonding injury is basically when we intentionally or unintentionally do something that causes one partner to feel betrayed or abandoned and creates a feeling of panic in that person and feeling of emotional disconnection in the relationship.  It is part of the human condition that this will happen with the people we love the most and the good news is that it is not permanent.

      When a bonding injury happens, we have to understand that it creates a physical feeling that we are unsafe. Research has shown that when we a bonding injury happens in our relationships, it affects our brain in the same way as if we were being chased by a tiger. When there is a bonding injury in the relationship we emotionally feel unsafe and our brains responds as if we are in mortal danger. It is critical that we understand this because it is not a logical thing. When we are disconnected from those we love, we feel fear and panic that we will be left alone or that they do not have our back.

      If we are to know what do to to heal a bonding injury and regain the closeness we once had or create the connection we desire, we first must understand how we respond when a bonding injury happens. There are three main ways that we deal with bonding injuries. We tend to gravitate towards one of these bonding styles.

      We all have a bonding style that we naturally gravitate towards. Our style of bonding is created in childhood with the people we were closest to, such as our parents. If we had a parent that was unpredictable or uncertain we could have responded with an anxious bonding style by checking to know if they will be there & if they love us. Or we could have responded to the same situation by retreating by going to our bedroom when there was fighting to avoid conflict. The bonding style we developed as children are not good or bad. They simply were the ways that we coped with the people we most loved and how we maintained emotional safety. In fact, these styles are a form of resilience.

      Styles of Bonding

      Anxious - looks for reassurance from their partner that the relationship is okay
      Avoidant - retreats from the danger by withdrawing or distancing themselves from the relationships
      Securely attached - feels safe and secure in the relationship and knows the other person has their back

      The challenge happens when we continue to use our same default bonding style in our adult relationships with our partner. Let me give you an example. As a child I felt that I was sometimes unseen and unheard. I was an emotional child with parents who (although I love and respect very much) did not always know what to do with my emotions and would withdraw from me when I was “too emotional.” So I learned to deal with the situation using an anxious bonding style. I would protest their withdrawals with angry outbursts that were really asking “will you be there for me?” The challenge came in my marriage with Andy when I continued the same pattern of bonding with him. When he would withdraw from me, I would respond by reaching out in a protest or criticism and blame seeking a reaction by saying something like “what are you doing?” in a critical tone. What I really wanted to know was “are you there for me?” As you can imagine, reaching out to him in a critical way did not bring us closer together and did not get my needs met.

      The good news is that although we gravitate towards one bonding style, we can change this pattern by creating new ways of interacting within our current relationships. We can start out as being anxiously attached or avoidant but with a loving, connected partner we can change to become securely attached. We might slip back to some of our old habits of bonding occasionally when crisis hits but that’s normal. The goal here is not to be perfect but it is rather to know there will be bonding injuries and to gain the skills and knowledge needed to build a securely attached relationship.

      Principles in Action

      So how does this play out in real relationships? Let me tell you a story. I recall a time when I was upset about the loss of my grandmother. I was sitting on the floor crying and Andy walked into the room. He had his earphones in and he was on a mission to find something so he did not see my on the floor crying. He walked right past me. Even though I knew that he likely did not see me upset and I knew that he loves me very much and that if he did see me upset he would’ve stopped to comfort me, all this logic did not sink into how I felt. I was hurt. I started having thoughts about “why could he be so thoughtless and he doesn’t care about me”. Rather than tell him how I was feeling and ask him for what I needed, I criticized him. I walked into the kitchen and noticing he had not cleaned it like he said he would, I began an argument about the untidy kitchen. I was reaching out in an ineffective and confrontational way. In terms of bonding, I was anxiously attached and saying “if you loved me you would have cleaned the kitchen” even though what I really was feeling was “If you loved me you would hold me right now because I’m feeling sad.” As my protest was critical in nature, Andy reacted by becoming defensive and shutting down. A cool feeling came into our kitchen as he began to clean the kitchen angrily and became inaccessible by putting his ear phones in to listen to a book. He was dealing with the our disconnection by being avoidant and distancing himself from the conflict. I felt shut out.

      A few minutes of anger and frustration passed until we both realized what we were doing. He stopped what he was doing, turned to me and with a softness in his voice said “I love you and I just want to be close to you.” I could feel the anger that was around my heart start to dissipate and I broke down crying saying “I’m just hurt. I was sad about my grandma and was in the other room crying when you walked right by me and didn’t notice me.” He looked at me concerned and responded “I didn’t see you there. I’m so sorry. What do you need? Do you want a hug?” With that invitation, I leaned towards him and melted in his arms. All the hurt and frustration melted away and we were bonded again.

      Digging Deep

      Now that you understand bonding and what gets in the way of us feeling close with the people you love, how are these patterns affecting your life. One of the best ways you can take this information and apply it into your life is through exploration. If you desire more connection in your life, I encourage you to ask the following questions.

      Which bonding style do you gravitate towards?
      How is the way you are reacting in your relationships impacting you?
      Do you want more out of the relationships in your life and to feel more connection and love?

      Of all the things we can devote our time to learning about and improving, we need to make our relationship happiness our highest priority. After all, societies succeed and fail based on relationships. Families are healed and broken by relationships. Our hearts soar and shatter because of relationships. Our connections with the people we love the most are the foundation of our happiness, our sense of security and love in this world.

      So you are at a turning point right here and right now. Your destiny is in front of you. Will you fight for your relationships? Will you be willing to learn about your patterns in relationships and seek to change them to more loving patterns? Will you improve your relationships, heal past patterns that hurt the people you love, and create a future of love with the ones you hold most dear?

      I promise you that as you do this, you will be lifted and guided. I know that relationships are not only important to you but important to our Creator. As you seek His guidance and take steps forward to improve your relationships, he will life and strengthen you and give you inspiration about what to do. As we work on and strengthen our relationships with the people closest to us, we not only strengthen our family but we strengthen future generations, our community, and the world.

      I look forward to continuing this journey with you as next time we will dive into the specific steps we can take to become bonded even after feeling disconnected. I know that as we understand bonding and know what to do to be connected with the people we love the most, we can experience a joy that is beyond anything else in this life. There is no safer place in the world that in the arms of the one who loves you most when you are securely bonded. My goal is to help you get there.

      Tuesday, October 18, 2016

      OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION



      If you are a living, breathing human being…which I can safely bet you are if you are reading this, then you sometimes procrastinate. It is something that we all do. In fact it is in our very nature to push anything unpleasant to the future. If it is in our very nature to do this, then what’s the big deal right? We’ll do it someday. Sounds like reasonable logic, however most often someday never comes. I have never seen a day in the week, month or year marked someday. As Marvin Ashton put it, "procrastination is an unwholesome blend of doubt and delay.” So guess the real question we need to ask ourselves so that we understand the impact of such delay is to take a look at what procrastination is exactly and what in fact we are delaying.

      The oxford dictionary defines Procrastination as “The action of delaying or postponing something.” So what exactly are we delaying? We are putting off our goals and dreams for a later time that may never come. The things we want most in this life but are afraid of trying to achieve. So what do we lose when we procrastinate? We can run out of time, lose blessings that we would have had, lose opportunities and lose direction from our Creator. To illustrate how this works, let me tell you a story.

      Principles in Action
      I recall reading about a man, let’s call him Dan who struggled with addiction. He was an upstanding member of the community with a wife and children. As he gave into his addiction, he began to lose that which mattered most to him. His wife left him, he couldn’t visit with his children, he lost his job and eventually he became homeless. Now that is not the end of this man’s story. Eventually he realized all that he was losing in his life and turned it all around. He sought help for his addiction and went into recovery, obtained a job again and returned to actively being involved in his children’s lives and the community.

      He was speaking one day in front of a group of youth and the person introducing asked the audience to look at the man I described above. They were asked if they could tell that the successful, contributing member of the community standing in front of them was once homeless and lost. The person introducing him went on to describe that because of the Creator and his hard work, the man standing in from of them was a changed person and that through these things he moved on from his mistakes to become the successful person he is today. Following the meeting, Dan pulled aside the person who introduced him in private. Dan spoke to him in a soft but stern voice. He said "I wish you would have told them one more thing". The man looked at Dan with a questioning look as Dan described “you told them that  once I turned to my Creator and worked hard to get my life back, things worked out of me. However what you didn’t tell them is that no matter how hard I worked and how much I pleaded with my Creator, I could not get back the things I loved most which I had lost. You see, I turned my life around but my I still did not have my wife and children living with me. The Creator could not restore the blessings I could have had if I had turned my life around earlier.”

      I tell you that story because it is true with all of us. When we procrastinate we lose blessings that we could have had. So if procrastination is such a dangerous thing, why on earth would we put ourselves through it? Well there is a mindset that goes a long with procrastination that lulls us into believing it is the best option. This mindset is empowered by a serious of thoughts that our logical mind can hold onto and justify delay. If we are not aware of this procrastination thinking, we will fall prey to it. So let’s look at what are the thoughts that empower procrastination.

      The thoughts that empower procrastination are:
          •    It’s too hard
          •    It’s too late
          •    I have no need to...
          •    The task appears impossible
          •    I doubt my worthiness
          •    I’ll wait for roadblocks to be removed
          •    I’ll wait for the problem to go away
          •    I don’t have enough…time, money, ability

      As you read that list, did you notice any of the procrastination thinking that you listen to? How are they holding you back from your goals?

      Cycle to Creating Results
      So now that we really understand the impact of these thoughts, we need to understand how change occurs. Our thoughts not only impact our ability to create change in our lives, it is critical. There is Cycle to Creating Results that exists. If we are not aware of this cycle will will not understand how to create real change in our lives. We will run the risk of missing an essential step towards change and feel frustrated and confused as to why we are not able to effectively reach our goals.

      Desire - How it works is that in order for us to change anything in our lives, we must first have a desire to change. For example, we are not going to run a marathon if we have no desire to go running!

      Thoughts - Then our thoughts need to support the change we want to make. If we are constantly telling ourselves that we cannot do it, that will become true.

      Plan - Next we need to plan how we are going to make the change we want. I remember one time I was training to run a half marathon and I thought I was right on track with my goals, until I looked at the distance I was actually running and compared it with the distance I would need to run to complete the race. They were two very different numbers and it took planning to reach my goal.

      Action - The next step is to take action! We will not make change simply by thinking about it or planning it. This seems pretty basic but I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I have met over the course of my work as a trainer that have spend years just planning to start their business but not actually starting it!

      Be Valiant - The next step is being valiant. That means when we fall down, or forget, or procrastinate (which we will at times), we just get back up and try again.

      The most incredible thing about this cycle is that it aligns with the law of momentum. What I mean by that is that more we go through this cycle on a particular goal we have, the more momentum we have towards reaching that goal. Our desires increased as we take action, we realize that we actually can do it and it becomes easier for us to do it!

      Straightway to Action

      So in order for us to avoid the destruction that is caused by procrastination and move towards the goals and dreams we have, we must take straightway action. Marvin Ashton defines straightway as “straightway is an action word, it means immediately, without delay or hesitation." There is a 5 step process that I have found that is bullet proof when taking straightway action. It is one that will help to move us forward predictably even when the task at hand is one that we are afraid of, don’t want to do or just feel like we don’t have enough resources for. If we follow these steps we will be able to move closer towards what we want to accomplish.



      5 Steps to Straightway Action
          1.    Alignment - We need to be following the true principles of our Creator that we know about. This allows us to receive spiritual help in our endeavors. For example if we know that we need to thank the Creator everyday, we better be doing that!
          2.    Self Discipline - Do the small, consistent, daily tasks necessary to accomplish your goal
          3.    Accept Responsibility - Know that it is your responsibility to accomplish what you desire in this life and take the steps necessary to do it!
          4.    Faith - Ask the Creator for help in accomplishing your task & have trust that He can help you
          5.    Be Valiant - Be willing to get back up and try again

      When we take straightway action and take small, consistent steps towards our goals we receive a great deal of blessings from the Creator. We are given an added measure of strength, courage, wisdom, help from above, joy and the ability to create lasting and meaningful change. Will will be able to achieve things that we didn’t know were possible as we are lifted and strengthened by our Creator.

      Principles in Action
      One time I received a tax form that I needed to fill out. I really don’t like filling out tax forms. I don’t know what it is about tax forms but they kind of freak me out. I worry that I will fill them out wrong or that I will need a ton of information to dig up that I either don’t have or don’t know where to find and so I procrastinate filling it out. I put off filling out this form for months. I even printed it out several times and after carefully shuffling it from place to place to avoid actually completing it, I lost it and needed to reprint it.

      Finally the deadline for completing the form was upon me and so I grabbed the paper and reluctantly began filling in the blanks of the form. I picked a time to work on the form everyday until I was completed and followed through on working on it every day. I was surprised to find that once I actually put pen to paper I filled out the form in 5 minutes. That’s right, I sheepishly admit that it literally took me 5 minutes to fill out the form after months of procrastination.

      Digging Deep
      Where are you procrastinating in your own life? We all have a decision to make when it comes to taking action on the things we want to accomplish in this life. Time will pass in our lives whether we take action on our dreams or not. I remember when Andy was contemplating completing his Masters Degree and although he could have easily procrastinated on this and said he will do it on a “someday” that will never come or he could do it now. He taught me a true principle about procrastination when he said to me “4 years are going to pass whether I work on my masters degree or not”.

      So what do you want to accomplish in this life?

      What are you willing to do to accomplish it?

      Will you let the minutia of life get in the way of your dreams or will you fight everyday for what you most want?

      Will you do the disciplined, difficult daily decisions to achieve your dreams? Will you follow through when it’s raining, when you feel like crap, when you just don’t want to?

      Will you be valiant? Will you get back up and try again when you don’t have enough…time, money, patience, faith.

      Will your life pass before your eyes and allow your dreams to go with it or will you be a warrior and fight for your dreams?

      I promise that if you make the decision now to begin to take straightway action towards your goals, you will receive help from above. You will be lifted, strengthened, inspired about the next step to take. You have been put at this place, in this life for a reason. The Creator is aware of you and wants to help you achieve your full potential. You have important to do in this life. Take a step in the direction towards worthy goals and you will be able to achieve more than you thought possible. Take a step towards your potential, your goals and your dreams.

      The decision is yours and only yours to make. The time is right now, today, straightway.

      Friday, September 23, 2016

      LESSONS FROM GRANDMA




      My grandmother Millie Massie passed away recently and I had the opportunity to be with her during the last few weeks of her life before she moved on from this life. I have reflected on my grandmother's life and the lessons she has taught me through the way she lived. Today I would like to honour her by sharing those lessons with you.

      In the process of seeking for lessons in my grandmother's life, I had the opportunity to interview some of the people who loved her most. These conversations helped the story of her life unfold just a little more.  There was a pattern that emerged, a set of 5 key principles of how to live a joyful life that she embodied and taught me through the way she lived. I will share these principles today.

      Before we explore the principles my Grandma taught me, I would like to share who my grandmother is. I say "is" because although her physical body is no longer with me, her spirit very much is. When I asked people to describe my grandma in 2 words, I was surprised to find that many people used similar words to describe her. So who is Millie Massie? She is gentle, a good friend, fun, big hearted, caring, strong, full of life, generous, strong willed, competitive, family oriented, honest, patient and selfless. 

      These are the qualities that empowered her to teach us the 5 key principles through the way she lived. These principles have helped to shape me into who I am today. What are the key principles that my grandmother taught and lived? Lets begin with a story. 

      Love One Another 
       
      I remember walking up the front walkway to my grandma’s house, ringing the doorbell and seeing her beautiful face coming towards me through the window on the porch door. She opened the door and with arms open wide gave me the biggest hug and began to pick up and cuddle my children who scampered into her home. She had a tea party all set up for us because somehow no matter the time of day, there was always a plate of cakes and cookies on a lace table cloth and the smell of freshly brewed tea filled the air. We had barely entered her dining room when she slipped off to a side bedroom and returned with a bag full of children’s kitchen toys. My children quickly emptied the bag onto the floor and soon were bringing us culinary creations as grandma happily played along. There was always however one intruder in our picnic fun. You see this bag of children’s toys was composed of 99% kitchen toys and 1% pretend cockroach. Those odds sound pretty good however it came with a catch. You see, we never knew where that pretend cockroach was or where he would end up. We started to call him Bob the bug and Bob had a propensity for showing up in the most unusual places. Places like Grandma’s tea cup. There was more than a few times when poor grandma had a bit of a jump when Bob took her by surprise. We would all laugh at the game and my daughter Zoe would stay busy searching for the next place to hide Bob.

      Why do I tell you that story? I tell you this story because grandma had a way of making whoever she was with feel special. She was fun to be around and her home was a welcome place with laughter and stories and always delicious treats. The first principle my grandmother taught me was to love one another. She lived this principle in everything she did. 

      In my family as in all families there has been contentions that has surfaced over the years. Whenever I would visit my grandma her reaction to these family tiffs were always the same. She would say “family is family.” That is how she was. She was the one who would attend the wedding of the estranged family member and call the family member that no one else was talking to. She patiently waited for people and unconditionally loved them. 
      Be generous

      The second principle my grandmother taught was to be generous. She was generous in time, money, and spirit. Millie was the kind of person who always was collecting something to help someone. She was the family depot to drop off clothes, pop can tabs, soup labels and toilet paper rolls because she knew of someone who could use them. Grandma was constantly donating baking for bake sales and she volunteered countless hours at the Cross Cancer Clinic and the Veterans Home. 

      My grandma spent her time looking for ways to make the world around her better for the people she knew and those she didn’t. 

      Live life fully

      The third principle Millie taught is to live life fully. If Millie wanted something she would make it happen. She travelled the world from Hawaii to Paris and everywhere in between. As a young girl I was inspired by her courage to travel by herself and so I set my sights on journeys of my own. 

      Grandma lived life full on. This is a story that reveals just how full of life my grandmother was. You see, her niece Wendy had invited a nice chap to be her date at Joyce’s wedding. During the butterfly song, Wendy passed her unsuspecting date to my grandmother.  He linked arms with Grandma and as she began to spin him around he could not have known what was about to happen. You see, my grandmother is a slight woman and just by looking at her, one cannot accurately assess the shear power that is within her. As she spun this unsuspecting young man around and then released him, she sent this poor boy flying across the dance floor.  He ended up sliding across the floor on his bottom. They all laughed and continued the dance and I'm willing to bet that the poor boy found a new dance partner!

      Faith

      The fourth principle Millie taught us was to have faith. My grandma knew God and loved him. She knew there was something waiting for her beyond this life. I know that too. I know that my grandmother is no longer in pain. I know that God is real and that he loves her and us. I know that she is with him now and that she is happy. My grandma talked about her faith and what she believed happens when we die.  The faith she had strengthened her throughout her life. I recall seeing my grandma weeks before she passed away. Her body was weak from the sickness she was fighting but her spirit was strong. I laid on the bed beside her and looked into her beautiful blue eyes. She reached out and touched my face. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she knew she was about to pass through the veil soon. I asked her if she was scared and she replied “no. If it must be then it must be.” She had a peaceful look across her face and I kissed her forehead. She had a determination and strength that pulsed within her and kept her going even when it defied medical explanation.   She was surrounded by many of the people she loved right until it was time for her to pass away from this life and move onto the next part of her journey.  

      Perseverance 

      The fifth principle that Millie lived was perseverance. Millie did not have an easy life but she made the best of it and found joy and love within the best and worst moments. She lost many people she loved over the years. She found love three times but unfortunately they all passed away. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for her to lose her companions. Millie also lost her daughter Jeannette and son Jim. These losses were devastating to her. Yet somehow she managed to leave her heart open to continue to be loving and find joy in her life. Russell M Nelson said that “mourning is the deepest expression of pure love, The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.” My grandma lived this principle.

      The lessons that Millie taught through her lived life was to (1) Love one another, (2) Be generous, (3) To live life fully, (4) To have faith, and (5) To persevere.  My grandma epitomized these principle.

      In this life each of us will lose people that we love. I've pondered how can we grieve peacefully when we  long for more time with the people we love, how can we leave our hearts still open to loving, laughing, and honouring their life and the lessons they taught us? I believe that the path to do this is through remembering them and the lessons they taught us by living those principles. I know that as I continue to honour my grandmothers legacy by loving one another; by being generous with my time, talents and resources; by living fully; by having faith; and by persevering her spirit is carried forward through my life.

      When we truly look at the impact of the people we love, we see the law of compounding in action. Their example of how they live their life teaches us how we can live ours and all the people whose lives they have ever touched during their time in this world. My grandmother's example has shown me how to love more, live more and serve more. 

      In the last days that my grandmother was with me I asked her what her best advice is.  My grandma thought for a moment and then gently said “be true to yourself and take care of your family.” I will take your advice Grandma and will live the principles that you taught and lived. Until we meet again, know that I love you, I will remember you and that you touched my heart with your life.

      Friday, September 9, 2016

      SELF DOUBT


      Self Doubt

      There is something that lies in wait within us that when we allow it to run free, it can tear down our ability to reach our goals. It is so insidious that we barely see it in our lives and yet the effects of it on us can be so great. The difficult thing about it is that no one else can tangibly see it, a doctor cannot remove it, and we cannot look in the mirror and with surety say “there it is”. Yet it is within all of us at some time or another. What am I talking about? I am referring to self doubt. The belief in ourselves and what we can accomplish is one of the most basic and yet critical components to what we are actually able to achieve. However, it is in our very nature to have self doubt. Everyone in this entire world has it to some degree or another. Although it is in our nature to have it, we also have the ability to overcome it. That is what we will talk about today, the 4 steps to overcoming self doubt so that we can be set free to work towards achieving what we desire. 

      To understand self doubt we need to understand how exactly it stops us. There is a challenge to overcoming self doubt and if we don’t know it exists, that not only stops us from overcoming it but makes it so we don’t even know it is there. This is the challenge of the self doubt wall. You see when we allow self doubt to enter our mind by entertaining the self doubt thoughts and allowing them to stay, it is as though a wall begins to form in front of us. All the negative thoughts about ourselves like “I can’t do this”, “I’m stupid”, “how could I have screwed up again” accumulate and block our ability to move forward. They keep us stuck in the dangerous place of inaction. When we understand this though we can move forward even thought these negative thoughts that accumulate into a self doubt wall are before us. There is something we can do to overcome the wall of self doubt. This thing will allow us to leap over the wall towards our goals. We can use something called rigor to overcome our self doubt. To be able to use rigor we must first understand what it is. Rigor is the ability to do something even though it is difficult. It is the will within us to move forward even though we don’t want to, we don’t know how, we can’t see how it will work out. It is our willingness to try anyways. In this life rigor is required to jump over the walls of our own self doubt. When we are in action we do not have time to ask if we can do it or not. You see, as Brandon Broadwater says “people will take you as seriously as you take yourself.” How seriously we take ourselves lies within our ability to see over our self doubt to our full potential and our willingness to reach for that potential even when we are not sure how. 


      There are times in this journey however when we will be met with uncertainty. We may at times try and fail. We may feel discouraged about our efforts that are not working as quickly as we want them to. We may feel alone in our trying to succeed. We may feel like it’s not worth the effort. In those moments we must understand something. We must understand this principle because that discouragement that we feel can either drag us down to the depths of inactivity or despair or move us forward. It can steal our dreams or empower us to light a force within us that is so great that it can overcome anything put in our path. To underhand this principle I will share with you a quote by Neil A. Maxwell. He said “discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.” So lets not allow the absence of courage to enter our lives and our dreams. Let’s not delay finding the courage within us to powerfully move forward and take the next step towards what we desire to achieve. There is courage that lies within you. More courage and ability that you can possibly imagine. It is waiting. It is waiting to be set free in the small consistent actions that you will take towards what you desire. So take a step. 

      I promised at the beginning of this discussion of self doubt to share with your the 4 steps to overcoming self doubt. I am a woman of my word. The four steps to overcoming self doubt when you follow them will allow you to overcome discouragement and the wall of self doubt. It will light the courage that lies within you and help you to find the rigor you need to succeed. It will allow your creator to work with you and help you along your path. So here they are:

      4 Steps to Overcoming Self Doubt
      1. Alignment to Higher Law Principles
      2. Manage your state of mind
      3. Serve those around you
      4. Stay in growth 

      Now that we know what the 4 Steps to Overcoming Self Doubt are let’s pull them apart a little so we can truly underhand them. Alignment to Higher Laws really means following the Higher Law Principles you know are true. So for example if you know that it is a true principle to start your day by talking to your Creator and saying thank you, alignment means that you do it. 

      Manage your state of mind means doing what it takes to not entertain negative thoughts about yourself that leads to self doubt. An example of this might be that when you notice a negative thought, don’t beat yourself up about it, just ask a question that helps you feel good. An example of this might be “what do I do well?” or “what am I grateful for?” Shifting our focus allows us to shift our thoughts, feelings and actions.

      Serving those around us is critical to overcoming self doubt because when we are in the service of others, we get a breather from our own problems. We don’t have time for self doubt when we are engaged in the act of lifting another.

      Staying in growth means allowing yourself to try and sometimes fail. Making it okay for your to learn lessons and discover what you can do even when you are not sure how to do it at first. It is only through trial and error that we can grow. Give yourself space to fall down. Just get back up, brush yourself off and know that you are in the incredible act of becoming more. 

      Principles in action
      I once took on the task of organizing an event that I had never done before. I was flying in an international speaker and had two other well known speakers to an event that I was the sole organizer for. The only issue was that I had no idea how to do it. I had never organized an event like that before. I was a stay at home mom most of the time and was working part time in my business. In the space between dropping off my daughter at preschool and picking her up again less that 2 hours later was my only time to work on this daunting project. I recall thinking so many times “I can’t do this” and “what if no one comes.” Sometimes the hardest thing I would accomplish in my tiny blocks of work was to overcome these thoughts of self doubt. To make matters worse,  I was having a really hard time accomplishing the task. About two weeks before the event I had a grand total of 14 people registered for my auditorium sized room. I was panicked. How would I possibly be able to pull off this event when I was already proving that I couldn’t do it? My self doubt became louder. I eventually got to a point of no return. A point when I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own but that maybe the Creator knew how I could do it and could help me. I began to use the 4 steps to overcoming self doubt that I leaned at the Master Your Power Within event and things began to shift. How did I use these steps? I made sure that before I called anyone I talked to my Creator first and gave up my self doubt, insecurity and fears. I managed my state by getting up out of my chair and doing my move (something I learned at the Master Your Power Within event to drastically change my state of mind). I focused on how I could truly serve the person I was talking to and asked the Creator for help to do so. I stayed in growth by being willing to fail and fall down and realizing that although it was not comfortable, it is an important part of growth. 

      Doing these 4 steps changed everything and allowed me to go from having 12 people registered for the event to a place where the event was completely packed within a 2 week period. What changed? I changed. Even though I didn’t know how to do it, even though I was scared and unsure, even though I had self doubts I did it anyways. I took the next step, did the next right thing, got up when I fell flat on my face. You see we cannot be paralyzed by the walls of doubt when we are busy in action. Momentum disempowers self doubt. 

      Let’s Make Sure We’ve Got it
      • Self doubt can stop us from getting started towards our goals
      • When we entertain self doubt it acts like a barrier in front of us
      • We can use rigor to overcome self doubt by taking action even when we don’t know how it will work out
      • 4 Steps to Overcoming Self Doubt
        1. Alignment to Higher Law Principles
        2. Manage your state of mind
        3. Serve those around you
        4. Stay in growth 

      Digging Deep
      Now that we have uncovered some of the truths about self doubt, you have a decision to make, will you apply what you know unto yourself? Will you take a look within yourself to find the areas of self doubt that are blocking you from reaching your full potential? What if the very thing you don’t feel like you can do is the very thing that the Creator is waiting for you do to, needs you to do? Will you put off your destiny for later or will you move forward courageously right now? You can start by asking yourself the following questions.
      • what is one thing you feel like you need to do but worry that you might fail at?
        1. Alignment to Higher Law Principles - ask the Creator for help daily with the task you want to do
        2. Manage your state of mind - set a time everyday to work on the task you want to do and before you start the task get up and move your body (walk outside, deep breath, do jumping jacks, anything to get you moving)
        3. Serve those around you - ask the Creator “who can I serve today” and take action to help that person (helping those around you cheerfully will give you increased capacity and energy)
        4. Stay in growth - when you fail, just get back up and try again fast

      I know you are reading this for a reason. There is something that you have been inspired to do or a goal that you desire. It is waiting for you and the increased capacity and potential that it will bring to your life. Don’t delay for an unknown someday. There is no day on the calendar marked someday. The time is now, today, straightway without delay. This is your moment so take it. 

      Connie