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February Events – Relax & Enjoy

Relaxing Cat

Cats Make Excellent Relaxation Coaches!

Just SHOW UP and SHINE!

You are invited to join us for one or all of our upcoming February events, which you can find on Meetup.com or just RSVP through Facebook!  Some events are free, others are $5-15 per person.  All events are here to help you focus on YOU!

Here’s what’s coming up over the next few weeks…

Complete Life Coaching: Connect, Collaborate, Create

Greenville, SC
1,849 Awesome People

This is a group for people who desire living life beyond just surviving.  The group is hosted by professional coaches who work with people who are interested in THRIVING: in t…

Next Meetup

RestShop Series – RELAX

Saturday, Feb 17, 2018, 3:00 PM
6 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

February begins our new “RestShop” Series, which are all events intended for you to enjoy through relaxation, renewal, restoration, and quiet focus.  We’re hosting Gentle Yoga, meditation time, tea time with focused conversations on manifesting your visions, group coaching around creating ABUNDANCE in your life, and more.  We are excited to bring people together for the purpose of making time to dream, and for taking time to turn our dreams into reality!

Featured February events include two awesome opportunities in just one weekend! 

Ally Karge, RYT 200

Ally Karge, RYT 200

On Saturday, 2/17/18 from 3pm – 4:45pm we will host our first Gentle Yoga + Meditation Class.  This is a class for ALL yoga levels, and there will be modifications taught so that anyone of any age can receive the healing benefits of yoga.

We will finish yoga about 4:15.  The extra 1/2 hour is for tea + talk time to get to know each other a little better, if you wish.

RestShop Series – RELAX

Saturday, Feb 17, 2018, 3:00 PM

Complete Life Coaching – GTP offices & studios
1801 Rutherford Rd. Greenville , SC

6 Awesome People Attending

We all work so much, even when we’re “off work”, so CLC created a RestShop Series to help you slow down and relax… This one is all about RELAXATION! Gentle Yoga with Ally, RYT 200 + Golden Light Guided Meditation with Vicy, MA, BCC *All ages and all levels of practice welcome & encouraged. Modifications for chair yoga will be available.* Even if …

Check out this Meetup →

The Abounding River GameAnd then on Sunday, 2/18/18 from 3pm – 5pm, we will be facilitating an afternoon game of The Abounding River, which is meant to inspire, ignite, and renew impassioned ideas and goals!

RestShop Series – ABUNDANCE

Sunday, Feb 18, 2018, 3:00 PM

Location details are available to members only.

7 Awesome People Attending

We all work so much, even when we’re “off work”, so CLC created a RestShop Series to help you slow down and relax… This one is all about ABUNDANCE!Please join us for an afternoon of discovering abundance, joy, gratitude, and love in your life as we group play The Abounding River game and enjoy abundance-manifesting sharing and conversation. Faci…

Check out this Meetup →

Got questions?  Give us a call or text (864) 918-2914.

Ready to jump into coaching right now?  Call or text today to set up a one-on-one appointment.  We coach clients around the world, but we see them in person in Greenville, SC.

Body + Mind + Soul Workout

by Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA, BCC, Certified Concept2/UCanRow2 Indoor Rowing Instructor

Rowing Machine and Yoga Mats - Creative Workouts for People with ADHDI am a professional life coach who specializes in transformational and integrative coaching methods, so I am all about living more authentically by embracing all aspects of yourself as thoroughly as possible.  By leaning on your strengths and values, while being aware of your weaknesses and triggers, you feel more whole and complete as you move through the world.  When you move through the world from a place of feeling whole and complete, it’s possible to be more vulnerable, open, and compassionate towards others because you’re actively working to embrace all your “stuff” instead of just the shiny bits. This year, all my intentions of what to cultivate more of in my life and experience can be summed up in three words:  health, wealth, and travel.  I know that part of the foundation of my intent is making fitness a priority even more than ever now because “fit over forty” is more challenging than fit under forty.  I have also developed a keen awareness that keeping my mind sharp is equally important for my overall health, whether we’re talking physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  I also know that none of these aspects is separate from the others, so I’m constantly seeking ways to integrate instead of compartmentalize.

On the inside looking out

On the inside looking out.

It’s the end of January and I live on the side of a mountain. It’s been raining for almost 48 hours straight and it’s cold, gray, foggy and soggy.  Many of my clients and friends experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and the older I get, the more I feel this affect as well.  My point is that even with the best of intentions, sometimes the motivation is hard to muster.  This rainy Sunday afternoon, though, I had an idea that felt so energizing that it motivated me to get up off the couch, turn off the Hulu, turn on some music (I chose my Pandora Madonna station today), pull out my erg (oh, Concept2 ergie, how I appreciate you!), and unroll my yoga mats.  I pulled up my InsightTimer app and made a 40 minute pre-set with a 5 minute warm-up, and set up bells at every 5 minute increment. I set up a pen and paper with two short prompts written on them for intervals #4 and #8.  I decided that I would be kind and compassionate towards the ADHD aspects of me that get a little frustrated with long haul workouts when it’s really all I kind do to light any kind of fire in me to work out.  I pushed start on the timer and off I rowed!

I started off slowly, just loosening up and warming up all the big muscles in the legs, abs, back, arms very loose and barely doing anything.  I did some short stroke drills:  legs, body, arms, arms, body, legs.  Woof! Mee-oww… Work! Rest. Rest.  That sort of thing, honing in on the rhythm of the rowing stroke while I was reminded that everybody wants to rule the world.  (What a great 80s song that seems to always roll through my Madonna station.) When that first bell rang, I picked up the pace and decided to find a stroke that felt like a bit too much to keep up for five full minutes, and then I backed off just a tiny bit from there and rowed hard for 5 solid minutes.  By then, I was feeling excited and also thinking that a good downward facing dog and ujjayi breathing was coming up right in time!

Spending the next five minutes on my yoga mat gave me some great breath work and allowed me to find all the tight spots in my hips, shoulders, and back that the erg had heated up so nicely for me.  Pigeon pose was exceptionally good during this brief yoga interval.  Ding!  Back to the erg for another round…  I repeated a similar hard row, but this time I felt more open, free, and joyful!  I could close my eyes, listen to the rain pattering on the roof, and feel a sense of swing over smooth water on a beautiful lake.  It was perfect.  My stroke felt strong, tall, and smooth.  I highly recommend visualization work while your muscles burn with lactic acid – it sure does help pass the time.  And those 5 minutes flew – ding!

Automatic writing with a word promptThis time I stood up, took a few sips of water, in between sips of nice solid air after rowing at a hard pace for those brief perfect-seeming minutes.  Nodding approval at the ~1150-meter distance covered over that flowing row time, I took a seat at the table that had the pen and paper.  “Ease – what would cultivating ease in all experiences of life look and feel like?”  (Thanks, Danielle LaPorte, as that was inspired directly from a Fire Starter Sessions group on Facebook from earlier this week.) To my surprise, all kinds of things came pouring out of my pen: open heart; looseness in my body – especially at my shoulders, around my heart, in my belly; pushing only with energy of mind; calmness and clarity in my thoughts; sense of rightness in the 8-fold-path sense; CHOICE not by default or leftovers or last standing standards but CHOICE by discernment of specific desire; abundance always; no clenching or tightening – only joy and laughter, even over challenges, through tears and the endless clouds of grief and pain that are part of being human; ease does not equal easy;  ease is a felt-sense inside – attainable through muscle memory and conscious awareness; freedom – love – joy.

I then repeated the 5 minute HIIT intervals, with a high energy Vinyasa flow piece my next time around on the yoga mat, and writing on the prompt “working at a distance” as I drank water and finished up the workout with my blood pumping hard and my pen writing furiously.  Even more poured out than before, and this time, I walked away with some really specific actions to take towards goals that I set at the beginning of the year, connected to those highest intentions for my 2018 experience.  I discovered that a physical workout that includes my 3 big habit-based strengths – rowing, yoga, and writing – I could get motivated to get my workout on and also tap into my own soul or higher consciousness or empowered self or God consciousness to get answers to the nagging question that always swirls around goals:  how do I get there?

Give it a try! (Quick start instructions below) Or create your own multi-aspect workout that includes whatever your strengths are!  I can’t wait to try this one out during swim season!

Mind + Body + Soul Rowing Workout

Vicy is a Concept2 / UCanRow2 Certified Indoor Rowing Instructor5 minutes – warm up row
5 minutes – row at a fast “cruise pace”
5 minutes – yoga (breathing and stretching) on a yoga mat
Suggestions:  downward facing dog until your breath slows and ujjayi breath comes easily, lower down through plank pose all the way to mat, stretch up into cobra three times, back up to downard dog.  Walk the dog, do some hip openers.  Then walk up into a long hold on a forward fold, stretching out and continuing ujjayi.  Repeat this or add lunges as time permits.
5 minutes – row a little faster, right on the edge of your pacing being unsustainable – “transport pace” in 2k race terminology
5 minutes – write for 5 minutes on unlined paper or line paper turned sideways on a pre-selected single word or phrase
Repeat!

Stretch for at least 5 minutes after the work out – all major muscle groups, including hands, wrists, and fingers.

Are you feeling too unmotivated or just plain stuck in general to get off the couch? Reach out to us and make an appointment for an initial coaching consultation call.  All you need is a phone to accomplish your first step.  Call or text 864-918-2914 or email info@completelifecoaching.com today.

Easy Instant Chili – Fast, Healthy, YUM

Instant Chili Instapot Instant Pot Pressure Cooker RecipeSometimes life gets so full of tasks and deadlines you suddenly find yourself HUNGRY.  Hungry, and also totally unprepared to feed yourself.  I found myself in this very moment on a recent winter afternoon.  I’d been working “behind the scenes” all day on the tedious parts of owning a business, including starting on the annual taxes task, so I seriously needed some real food fast.  I LOVE to cook, and since I was on day 26 of a Whole30 January reset, my meal needed to be Paleo and compliant with the Whole30 rules.

“Chili would be amazing,” I thought.  35 minutes later, I had a “slow cooked” bowl of chili on the table to tuck into!  It was love at first bite, and I was so impressed with the dish I had to quickly retrace my steps and jot down how I made it happen to share!

Also, when I’m hungry I’m too ADHD to follow a recipe, so even though I am an instant pot cooking rookie, I just make up my recipes with what I know I have on hand.  Every single one has been totally edible, and a couple of them magical, so I recommend using your own creativity with your magical pressure cooker sometime, too!

Organic Sugar Free Whole30 Compliant TomatoesIngredients

1 pound ground meat*
2 andouille sausage links/approx. 6 oz. (no sugar – Whole30 compliant info) – chopped into small bite sized pieces
1 whole red onion, chopped (or cheat and throw it in the food processor)
3/4 cup mixed sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow)
3 Tblsp minced garlic or 1 whole fresh clove
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp mild chili powder
1/2 tsp HOT chili powder**
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1/2 tsp (or to taste) ground cayenne pepper
1 can of diced organic tomatoes (no sugar & no salt is my preference)
1 can of organic tomato sauce
approx. 2 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock (in separate 1 cup batches for 2 parts of the process)
Garnish:  fresh cut green onions

Delicious Easy ChiliMethod

  1. Place ground meat into a skillet and begin to brown on medium high heat.
  2. Add onion, mixed sweet peppers to browning meat
  3. Stir in sausage
  4. Add salt, cook all together until ground meat is browned
  5. Add 1 cup chicken stock and turn to high heat until stock starts to boil/cook down quickly and then immediately turn it off & transfer it to your Instapot or Bella
  6. Add your cans of tomatoes and sauce, sun-dried tomatoes,  and all of the spices and stir thoroughly (feel free to tweak the spices levels for your own tastes if you like) as you pour in the remaining cup of chicken broth
  7. Prepare your instant pot for pressure cooking & GO!  I set my Bella to “soup”, which is 20 minutes of pressure cooking.
  8. When it beeps, let off all the steam while you stand at a safe distance.  As soon as it’s an all clear on steam, open her up and serve up some AH-MAZING chili!
  9. Garnish with fresh cut green onions for an extra flavor delight and beautiful contrasting bright green.  For added freshness, grow your own onions in the kitchen window year round!  (super fresh, super Paleo grow your own!)
  10. Voila! EAT UP and feel the yum!

*I happened to have venison in the fridge, courtesy of my nephew and brother, but I know beef or even a meat substitute for a vegetarian version would work beautifully.  I’ll use some of my HIckory Nut Gap CSA cache in the next batch!
**This makes what I would still call a mild version, but if I was making it for my mom, I would stick completely to mild chili powder.

The Power of Intention

Machu Picchu, Cusco Region, Peru

Overlooking Machu Picchu ~ photo by Sara

It’s time to change the way we think and speak about our dreams. Transforming a conversation, just like manifesting a dream, begins by setting an intention. Your intentions will assist you in taking greater control of your life.

A working definition for intention is: “to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim.” Lacking intention, we sometimes stray or wander aimlessly, without meaning or direction. But with intention, all the forces of the universe can align to make even the most impossible, possible. My intention is to transform the conversation around dreams from fear and doubt, to hope and possibility, followed by action and results.

Some might say this is not the right time to dream. The media and masses say, “It’s time to be realistic.” Consider this. without our dreams all we have is our present reality. Reality is not a bad thing necessarily, but I have to say that the current reality I observe in the bigger picture of the world is scary, and demonstrates a lot of the worst in people. I want to live in a reality that reflects the best we have to offer each other, not the worst.  We have to know where we are so we can design the appropriate strategy for getting to where we want to be. The challenge is our attitude around “reality” and being “realistic” and what being realistic has cost us. Often that’s our passion and joy, our hopes and dreams. I say no more.  I want to share a quick story about the power of intention.

I turned 40 in the spring of 2016 with very little fanfare, even though I am known among my friends & family as being a serious birthday brat.  So much so, even, that as a joke last year, one friend wished me a “Happy Birthday Year” on New Year’s Day… I tend to elongate my birthday as an excuse to spend more time with friends and family and “celebrate” as long as possible, both before and after the actual anniversary of my birth.  What can I say?  I just love to celebrate life!  And when one has experienced as much grief and loss as I have, one understands quite clearly that the next birthday is absolutely not promised.

Cusco Region ~ Ancient Agricultural Testing ~ photo by Sara

But the spring of 2016 was already jam packed with activity, including a week-long trip to Austin, Texas, during my “birthday month” to celebrate a friend’s wedding, and I definitely didn’t want anything to get in the way of the bride & groom’s spotlight.  Therefore, I told everyone way back then that what I REALLY wanted was for all of us to go on a trip together, somewhere magical that we’d never been.  I thought on it for quite a while before I landed on just the right adventure.  Then it struck me:  Peru for 42!  After all, I grew up reading Douglas Adams, so I knew that 42 was the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything.  I wanted to gather as many of my closest friends together and go to Peru to see Machu Picchu, and explore wonders of the world together!  That realization was some time near the end of 2016, and it was just an idea.  At that time, I set the intention that sometime around my birthday in 2018, we were going to Peru.

Meanwhile along the space-time continuum, one of those closest friends was navigating a long-distance relationship with the love of her life, who happens to be Peruvian.  As their relationship grew, so did their desire to be closer geographically, and it became apparent that due to family obligations and international relation nuances, the Peruvian partner could not relocate to the USA.  Eventually, my friend decided that moving to Peru was a real possibility.  Not terribly long after I set that first intention to travel to Peru with my friends, one of them made the decision that she was moving to Lima!  This move had nothing to do with my intent, yet it was perfectly in support of it, and the big group travel idea gained some serious momentum:  now we could go see Sara in Peru!

By the time the summer of 2017 rolled around, during which we did some annual big group travel down to Florida for a week of scalloping, snorkeling, boating, and swimming, more of the group was ALL IN on the Peru for 42 plan.  End of summer, I sent out a mass email with lots of information I’d pulled together about estimated costs for everything from flights to AirBNB’s in gorgeous places to side trip possibilities in Cusco, the mountainous region that is home to some of the most famous ruins on earth, Machu Picchu.  Today, we all have plane tickets to Lima in hand and our friend that moved to Lima is lining up our Machu Picchu tickets.  In May 2018, less than 2 weeks after my birthday, we’re all meeting up in Lima, Peru!  Peru for 42 is now more than intention, it’s a solid plan!

Peru ~ near Ollantaytambo

Peru ~ near Ollantaytambo ~ photo by Sara

So, what do YOU intend for yourself during 2018?
Given the unknowns and sometimes craziness of life, there’s never been a more important time to dream and take some time to set your intent.  Setting your intention is the first step to turning your dreams into current reality. When should you set an intention? You could set an intention every day. Your intention could be to work less and make more money, or to find a new career that you are passionate about. It could be to get healthy and physically fit, or to spend more quality time with loved ones or alone. It can be specific and about something in particular or more like a quality, such as to be more relaxed or involved with life.

Here are a handful of examples to help get your thinking started around ways to be more intentional every day:

  • Before you get out of bed, you can intend to have a relaxed or productive day.
  • Before you leave the house, you can intend to have quality time with your family or friends or perhaps even a roommate that day.
  • Before you start your car, you can intend to have a safe drive to work.
  • Before you enter your workplace, you can intend to learn something new or be helpful or to have a productive day with zero unproductive conflict.
  • Before the meeting begins, you can intend to stay focused and walk away feeling accomplished.

They key to setting intention involves clarity:  you have to know what you want.  After that, it’s just a matter of follow through.  Following are the first steps to using the power of intention in your own life:

1. Get clear about something you want and write it down or speak it aloud.

2. Share your intention with someone in a way that will supportively hold you accountable to taking action.

3. Do something today to demonstrate your commitment to your intention.

4. Acknowledge that you did what you said you would do and then, take the next step.

By setting an intention, you make it clear to yourself and others, just what you plan to do. Set an intention to redefine what it means to be serious about your dreams!

And I’ve found that a slogan seems to help… Peru for 42!

Need help figuring out what you want?  Contact us to set up a coaching call!  Coaching can help you clarify your values, your thinking, and what’s in the way of your dreams!  (864) 918-2914 or email info@completelifecoaching.com

Epilepsy First Aid: November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Every 4 minutes someone is diagnosed with epilepsy in the USAAccording to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 2.3 million American adults live with epilepsy, and an additional 150,000 people in the United States develop epilepsy every year.  One of those 2.3 million Americans is my older brother, who was diagnosed at 18 years old and is now almost 50.  After the initial diagnosis, it was obvious to all of our family that he had been having seizures for several years prior to receiving the diagnosis, and epilepsy was the real cause of a lot of seemingly unrelated behaviors and incidents that were chalked up to his being “lazy” or “irresponsible” and other dismissive terms. He’s not the only family member I have who lives with epilepsy, and I also have several friends who suffer from seizures.  One of my dearest friends of all time was also epileptic, and the depression he suffered due, in part, to both the condition itself and the ongoing treatment of it eventually took its toll on him and he made the tragic decision to take his own life in April of 2014. Epilepsy is a silent and invisible life-long disorder… until it isn’t.  Do you know what to do if you see someone having a seizure?

Knowing what to do if you ever witness a seizure could save someone’s life.  The following is a long post, but since epilepsy occurs in every location and demographic, it is crucial knowledge, particularly for those dealing with children.

General First Aid for All Seizure Types:
The first line of response when a person has a seizure is to provide general care and comfort and keep the person safe.  This information here relates to all types of seizures. Remember that for the majority of seizures, basic seizure first aid is all that may be needed.

  • Always Stay With the Person Until the Seizure Is Over
  • Seizures can be unpredictable and it’s hard to tell how long they may last or what will occur during them. Some may start with minor symptoms, but lead to a loss of consciousness or fall. Other seizures may be brief and end in seconds.
  • Injury can occur during or after a seizure, requiring help from other people.
  • Pay Attention to the Length of the Seizure
    Look at your watch and time the seizure – from beginning to the end of the active seizure.
    Time how long it takes for the person to recover and return to their usual activity.
    If the active seizure lasts longer than the person’s typical events, call for help.
    Know when to give ‘as needed’ or rescue treatments, if prescribed, and when to call for emergency help.

Epilepsy knowledge can save a life

  • Stay Calm; Most Seizures Only Last a Few Minutes
    A person’s response to seizures can affect how other people act. If the first person remains calm, it will help others stay calm too.
  • Talk calmly and reassuringly to the person during and after the seizure – it will help as they recover from the seizure.
  • Prevent Injury by Moving Nearby Objects Out of the Way
  • Remove sharp objects.
  • If you can’t move surrounding objects or a person is wandering or confused, help steer them clear of dangerous situations, for example away from traffic, train or subway platforms, heights, or sharp objects.
  • Make the Person as Comfortable as Possible
    Help them sit down in a safe place.
    If they are at risk of falling, call for help and lay them down on the floor.
    Support the person’s head to prevent it from hitting the floor.
  • Keep Onlookers Away
    Once the situation is under control, encourage people to step back and give the person some room. Waking up to a crowd can be embarrassing and confusing for a person after a seizure.
  • Ask someone to stay nearby in case further help is needed.
  • Do Not Forcibly Hold the Person Down
    Trying to stop movements or forcibly holding a person down doesn’t stop a seizure. Restraining a person can lead to injuries and make the person more confused, agitated or aggressive. People don’t fight on purpose during a seizure. Yet if they are restrained when they are confused, they may respond aggressively.
  • If a person tries to walk around, let them walk in a safe, enclosed area if possible.
  • Do Not Put Anything in the Person’s Mouth!
    Jaw and face muscles may tighten during a seizure, causing the person to bite down. If this happens when something is in the mouth, the person may break and swallow the object or break their teeth!
    Don’t worry – a person can’t swallow their tongue during a seizure.
  • Make Sure Their Breathing is Okay
  • If the person is lying down, turn them on their side, with their mouth pointing to the ground. This prevents saliva from blocking their airway and helps the person breathe more easily.
    During a convulsive or tonic-clonic seizure, it may look like the person has stopped breathing. This happens when the chest muscles tighten during the tonic phase of a seizure. As this part of a seizure ends, the muscles will relax and breathing will resume normally.
    Rescue breathing or CPR is generally not needed during these seizure-induced changes in a person’s breathing.
  • Do not Give Water, Pills, or Food by Mouth Unless the Person is Fully Alert
    If a person is not fully awake or aware of what is going on, they might not swallow correctly.  Food, liquid or pills could go into the lungs instead of the stomach if they try to drink or eat at this time.
  • If a person appears to be choking, turn them on their side and call for help. If they are not able to cough and clear their air passages on their own or are having breathing difficulties, call 911 immediately.Brains are equally as important as boobs - Epilepsy AwarenessALWAYS Call for Emergency Medical Help When:
  • A seizure lasts 5 minutes or longer.
  • One seizure occurs right after another without the person regaining consciousness or coming to between seizures.
  • Seizures occur closer together than usual for that person.
  • Breathing becomes difficult or the person appears to be choking.
  • The seizure occurs in water.
  • Injury may have occurred.
  • The person asks for medical help.Be Sensitive and Supportive, and Ask Others to Do the Same
  • Seizures can be frightening for the person having one, as well as for others. People may feel embarrassed or confused about what happened. Keep this in mind as the person wakes up.
  • Reassure the person that they are safe.
  • Once they are alert and able to communicate, tell them what happened in very simple terms.
  • Offer to stay with the person until they are ready to go back to normal activity or call someone to stay with them.

November is epilepsy awareness month. Please share this post.  You can help save a person’s life.

For more information and ways to help:

Epilepsy Foundation

CDC info on seizures

Meditation: Presence

You’re invited to join us – in person – Thursday, September 7, 2017
6-7pm ET
RSVP via Meetup.com

Meditation is being fully present to one’s self and what arises out of the spontaneous flow of life.

In September we will gather and talk for a while to determine what kind of practice would best serve the people who show up to practice.  Part of the gift of presence is to be willing to act on what is happening RIGHT NOW, without a plan or a need to force an outcome.

Once we decide on a practice, Vicy will lead the group in ~20-30 minutes of meditation.

Afterwards, we’ll have a short sharing circle to honor each other’s experiences, progress, and discoveries, as each individual likes. This leads to excellent questions and interesting dialogue. We love to have new minds join us! We like to engage in what is REAL for everyone when we all show up together.

Donations of $5-15 appreciated greatly to help us continue to grow and serve, but is entirely optional.  Come as you are.  Let it be.

If you have questions about this meetup, please call (864) 660-3132 or text Vicy at (864) 918-2914.

*Namaste.

*For anyone who isn’t familiar with Namaste as a greeting or valediction, it simply means that the Divine in me bows and recognizes the Divine in you. May we all experience the Divine in each other, as often as possible. Namaste.

Meditation: Presence

Thursday, Sep 7, 2017, 6:00 PM

Location details are available to members only.

7 Awesome People Went

Meditation is being fully present to one’s self and what arises out of the spontaneous flow of life.In September we will gather and talk for a while to determine what kind of practice would best serve the people who show up to practice.  Part of the gift of presence is to be willing to act on what is happening RIGHT NOW, without a plan or a need t…

Check out this Meetup →

Definition of worry, OED

Are You a Worrier?

by Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about worry and worrying. Many people close to me are definitely professional worriers, including family, a couple of close friends, and some clients. On bad days, I can certainly fall down a rabbit hole of worry.

All this thinking about worry made me want to dig deeper into the word itself.  Worry, to worry, it sounds so harmless.  I looked it up in my prized possession – The Oxford English Dictionary.  It’s in Volume XX, Wave – Zyxt, and its roots take up almost 3 full pages, tracing worry backwards to its very first usage circa 725 (yes, that’s 1,312 years ago) when our language’s first verb worry meant “to kill (a person or animal) by compressing the throat; the strangle.” It took until 1804 for the verb to morph into a more metaphorical verb meaning “a troubled state of mind arising from the frets and cares of life; harassing anxiety or solicitude.”  Worry’s various definitions all have to do with choking, suffocating, or otherwise constricting the throat (voice, perhaps?) of something until it is no longer living. [OED, pp570-572, Oxford University Press, ©1884-1991, Oxford, England]

I find these worrisome roots to be incredibly disturbing and also enlightening.

Worrying IS like strangling the life out of each and every moment spent worrying. How much life is lost to worry? How much of YOUR life have YOU lost to worry?

Or if it’s not lost completely, how much is strangled, choked back, made to so thoroughly struggle so as to ruin the experience of being fully alive and human?

When we worry, our attention is split on the inside. Our attention is focused on “what ifs” instead of “what is.”

I have a vivid childhood memory that illustrates this split attention and what if focus. When I was in middle school, the movie Top Gun came out and I became obsessed with the Navy fighter jets featured in those famous “dog fighting” scenes.  Since my dad loved all things engineered, he totally embraced my obsession and began adding trips to the Pensacola Naval Air Station to our family beach trips to visit family who lived in Florida. Pensacola is the home of the Navy’s elite flying squadron The Blue Angels. In Pensacola, it’s pretty easy to get to see them in action because they practice over those wide open Gulf shore waters.

Blue Angels - US NavyOne gorgeous, sunny day during a beach trip, we were just hanging out on the beach and enjoying bobbing in the emerald water when one – two – three – then all 6 F-18 Hornets clearly painted in the Blue Angel’s signature blue & gold appeared on the horizon ahead of us.  They were SO close to us!  And practicing their amazing tricks!  We could see them, and then hear the sonic BOOM as they would disappear and reappear a split second later in an entirely different spot and doing something else that you just wouldn’t believe was possible! Over and over they practiced their maneuvers and I stood in the water mesmerized, absolutely excited out of my 13 year old mind. (Even as I write this story, I get giddy and excited and feel it coursing through my body as my heart rate speeds up a bit.  Excitement that LOUD and large and rare is STRONG, even almost 30 years later.]

Then I turned back and looked at my mom, clapping wildly, delighted, and asked, “Isn’t this AH-MAZING, Mom?”

To which she flatly replied, her face crinkled in worry, “I just hope they don’t make a mistake and crash and kill us all.”

Really.

That’s what she said.

She wasn’t kidding.

Suddenly, that moment of exhilaration was gone.  Deflated.  [Again, as I write the story, the open expansiveness of excited caved to the tone and abrupt end of itself, choked off by the fear and worry.]

The full impact of this moment of grateful, excited surprise was completely strangled by my mother’s worry about a highly unlikely scenario of horror that was, for some reason, the only thing she could think about in that moment. Her worry was an abrupt shift in energies. Instead of this being a story of pure, wide-open, unhindered joy and excitement, it’s a story about worry. Instead of this moment being 100% great, it’s a 100% great moment whose life was cut short, worried to death. Now 30 years later, this moment in my memory is NOT pure enthusiasm and excitement (though, thankfully, it does begin with that and is totally worth remember every time), as it’s tainted by my mom’s worry and abrupt expression of it. Moments can never be completely un-strangled, as it turns out.

Neuroscience and psychology research agree that we are wired to be biased towards “negatives,” which is part of our survival circuitry. Our nervous system wants and needs to make sure we remember which things are dangerous so that we choose “safe” options in the future when confronted with similar stimuli. That’s great! And it clearly helps in our survival as a species and as individuals. Learning is good!

However, this negative bias can be detrimental when over-used as it can strangle our ability to take reasonable risks and to seek both new and novel experiences that expand our lives, our minds, and our consciousness to fuel conscious growth and development.  Brain and nervous system health is stimulated through growth, not stagnancy and fearful worry.

So what can we do to stop worrying and do something more productive with our concerns?

We can take action to shift our thinking because we have a big, fancy, adaptable brain.

As with any habit, the first step is becoming aware that worry is indeed a habit, just like biting your nails or smoking or stopping at the grocery store on Tuesdays.  Habits are routine, so we just don’t think about them much, if any. When you make yourself aware of worry as a habit, you can start shining an airplane landing light onto it to illuminate it thoroughly.  Get to know when and how and why you worry by observing yourself.  By observing more and reacting less, you’ll be able to make more choices about how long you let worry strangle your energies.

Step two is that you can ask yourself questions about what you’re observing, like:

  • Is what I’m worried about actually happening right now?
  • How likely is my worry to happen this week? At all?
  • What could I do for myself right now to feel more at ease – physically, mentally, or emotionally?
  • How do I feel (like, in my body) right now? Where am I tense?  Could I take deeper breaths?
  • Will this worry matter a year from now?
  • Is my worrying helping to solve a problem for anyone?

You get the idea.  Treat that habitual worry like a teenager who came home past curfew, but play nice and no guilt trips. Shift your focus onto observable aspects of your actual here and now: inside your body, with others in the room, the physical space around you.

Most worry and anxiety is like a lost time traveler – if you take stock of the actual here and now, most of the time you are just fine and nothing is *actually* wrong. Over time, your worry habit will become more flexible so that its grip will loosen and your mind can become more positive and solution-oriented.

Don’t worry. 

Take action.

Don’t worry, take action now.

Call 864-660-3132 us to schedule a free coaching consultation.  

Practice Makes Most Nearly Perfect

Very First Painting! ~ Art is lifeWhat do a medical doctor, an attorney, a yoga teacher, a life coach have in common?  They all practice their profession and their professional sphere is known as a “practice.” Doctors practice medicine, lawyers practice representing clients’ interests around the law, yoga teachers practice yoga (and recommend that you do too), and life coaches practice helping others through coaching, and using their own tools and techniques (and coaches) to enhance their own lives. A doctor who finished medical school but has no medical practice is only a doctor by name.  It is not the completion of an education in a certain field that makes one a professional in the field; practice, as it turns out, is what transforms a person from being a student to being a master professional. That transition can be challenging and is sure to make the practitioner very (even, excruciatingly) uncomfortable at times.

I remember the first time I coached a client who was a complete stranger to me.  I was terrified that I’d do it wrong, and that she would just KNOW I wasn’t *really* a coach yet.  I had all kinds of “practice hours” under my belt, having studied a LOT, written a LOT, and coached for hours back and forth with my student partner and with a variety of friends, family, and acquaintances who were gracious enough to help me by showing up for coaching while I chose which tools and specific methods I needed to hone and work on for myself.  But when that first cold call came in and she set an appointment and I had to show up at my office and PRACTICE FOR REAL, it felt like I was walking into a comprehensive exam unprepared.  Naked.  Just like those dreams that show up in silly Hollywood movies.  Every doubt in myself I had ever had showed up to greet me like old “frenemies”.

But we sat down together and I helped her (and myself) clear the space by taking a few long, slow deep breaths.  I asked her how she was doing and what brought her to coaching.  She began to tell me her story, and we were off!  After a few minutes of listening deeply to her experience, I was able to focus on my client and her story and needs, and completely disconnect from all that internal anxiety and doubt I was feeling about my “wet behind the ears” self.  I realized that using the most basic of coaching skills, full-bodied listening and empathetic understanding, was helping me focus on her and allowed my own insecurity to fade for a while.  My client would pause for a moment, and I would carefully summarize what I’d understood her to say, which she would either agree I’d understood correctly or she’d explain a little more or even correct her own narrative, realizing that what she said and what she’d meant were a little different.  The coaching dance continued, and the next thing I knew, the session was over, my client felt a great deal of relief made possible by my staying deeply connected to her and helping her feel completely HEARD, ACKNOWLEDGED, and UNDERSTOOD, and my anxiety about messing it all up faded away as it became clear to me that all of the tools and methods are important, but none more important than staying 100% present, focused, and attuned to the person who is there for coaching.

That was my first real practice.  That is when I realized why professionals practice their profession.

Perfectionism impedes learningI ended up working with that first client for several months around a specific set of troublesome things happening in her life at that time.  I helped her define the full content and scope of the problem.  I helped her learn a handful of tools that decreased her daily mental and emotional stress load so that she could better manage both herself and her family’s needs and desires.  I helped her create a specific goal, and we worked together to create a realistic plan of action to get her from where she was to where she wanted to be with that goal.  And she continued coaching along the way to help re-frame her own thinking and discover new strategies to get over, under, around, and through the various obstacles that kept cropping up in her path towards the goal.  Coaching became a practice in and of itself for me through this first “stranger” client, and soon I was working with more and more “strangers” with greater ease, less doubt about myself and my role, and more confidence in both coaching itself and myself as a coach.

That first client was nearly a decade ago, and I’ve now had the honor of helping hundreds of strangers coast to coast in the USA, and around the world as far away as China, the UK, and Australia.  My practice has become stronger, and I have become stronger because of my practice.  The academic learning element continues as I am always taking on new challenges in terms of continuing education and reading the latest news and texts on topics like neuroscience research, attachment theory, healing from trauma, and recovering from grief and loss.  As I learn new methods, and try them out with clients for the first time, I still feel a little of that initial hesitation and doubt, and am humbled to realize that no matter how much I practice, there is always more to learn and ways to improve.  I now have to actively cultivate a beginner’s mind as it’s easy to fall into the “comfortable” patterns of practice, which may or may not be of highest service to the specific client in front of me.

Perfect is an illusion, but practice absolutely makes most nearly perfect.

And we all probably remember how painful the process can be in transitioning from learning something in theory to practicing it in reality, whether that something is what one might do as a career or just as a hobby.  There are steps, both conscious and unconscious, involved in moving from student to novice practitioner to master practitioner.

So next time you embark on a learning adventure or start doing something that you KNOW you KNOW, but haven’t had a lot of “real world” practice with, just remember:  all that doubt and anxiety is part of the process.  Just start practicing, and stay open to both successes and mistakes from which you can learn, adjust, and grow.  And trust that the more you practice, the more nearly perfect you’ll be!  Perfection itself *is* an illusion, but we can all strive towards confidence coupled with the humility of being a human.  If we were perfect, we wouldn’t be human.

Namaste.

Summertime and the Living is Easy – Sometimes

Orchids in bloomIf someone asked me what my favorite thing about summertime is, I would have a hard time narrowing my answer down to just ONE thing.  I absolutely love to swim, so swimming ranks high on the list.  I truly enjoy eating fresh vegetables from the garden and farmer’s markets, and summertime food prep on the grill is pretty sweet too.  And then there are the vacations:  my own annual scalloping vacation is in the heat of the summer, lots of friends and family come to visit to take advantage of the outdoor fun times in the Appalachian Mountains, and I get to hear excitement and joy from clients as they look forward to their own breaks from the day-to-day. Summer also just feels like it’s teeming with life and energy runs high and the long days yield a lot of productivity, but still leave time for some rest and a nap in a hammock. The only thing about summertime, especially in the American southland, that gets a thumbs down from me is the bugs that are just incessant. (But that’s what lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils are for!)

Summertime is so sweet that it’s got its own anthem sung by the one and only Nina Simone, who reminds us in the soulfulness of her voice that life is long and complicated and filled with a full spectrum of emotions all the time, even in the summertime when the grass is high and the living is easy. And it is emotion, really, that’s on my mind this morning as I’m enjoying mist on the mountain over a rich cup of coffee.  I’ve been doing a lot of self-inquiry into my own emotional world while doing a lot of reading and listening to lectures and podcasts on the latest developments in the neuroscientific world around emotions, the brain, and the nervous system. There are a multitude of things I’d like to write about over the next few months, but today I am simply thinking about just how IMPORTANT emotions are and therefore how even more important it is that we all learn to discern what emotions we are feeling, especially when we dislike or disapprove of our own behavior or reaction to another person.

I went to bed far later than I meant to last night, as I got distracted with screens.  (Shocking, I know.  Who does that?) I was tired long before I stopped doing “just one more thing,” and turned everything off and got in bed, and by the time I did actually stop and get in bed, I was totally exhausted.  How many of you do this on the regular and find yourself feeling totally drained?  And how do you feel when you wake up after a too late night of distractions?

I realized last night that my emotions had gone flat because my “executive functions,” i.e., all that decision-making and task tracking and over-riding biological urges that tell you to go to sleep were zapped out entirely and my actions were absolutely on auto-pilot. This also meant that when I got in bed and my two sweet cats came into my bedroom to do their nightly power struggle ritual as to which one sleeps at my feet and which one sleeps near my head, I was at first mildly irritated.  After about 2 minutes, I was annoyed and my heart rate was increasing. After about 3 more minutes, I was angry and exhausted and weepy and I made both cats leave the room and sort themselves out somewhere else.  I had to just be still in savasana (yoga corpse pose) and do some calming meditation to ratchet my EMOTIONS back down to just tired and ready for bed.

So, it’s not that my emotions were flat beforehand, it’s that my brain and nervous system were both over-tired and over-stimulated, and my emotions were on a hair-trigger just waiting for some stimulus.  My response to that stimulus, which was from fuzzy creatures that I love dearly, was NOT loving.  Because when our nervous system is over-tired and over-stimulated, the emotions that tend to be triggered are not the sweet ones.

I had the luxury this morning of sleeping in without worries of an alarm clock disrupting the perfect sleep cycle, and was able to sleep soundly, for the most part.  When I woke up today, I immediately felt refreshed, happy to greet a Friday morning before a holiday, grateful for the rain that made sleep so blissful, and then super guilty for being so mean to my kitty cats. Thankfully, cats are more forgiving than people thanks to their smooth brains and infinite superiority complex.  But how often do our hair-trigger emotions lash out in ways that are way more destructive than my mild example above?  And just how much control do we have over such outbursts?

The answer is that most of us have precious little control over our emotions and lightning fast behavioral responses by the time we reach the end of a full day.

Earlier in the day, we have a lot more control, as long as we’ve had enough sleep and fuel for the most expensive part of our nervous system:  the big fancy brain and its prefrontal cortex. When we are feeling well rested, well fed, and in relatively low stress and positive mood, everything about our emotional world and the behavior it triggers is way more conducive to positive outcomes in our relationships and interactions with other people (and cats).

None of this is a revelation, nor is it revolutionary.  However, what I propose we all make time to do during the course of our overflowing days might be.  The world would be a much calmer, safer, happier place if we all took time outs for some restoration DURING our busy days instead of always running ourselves down to the cell phone battery equivalent of that 2% red line and then it just dies and the screen goes dark.

How do you do that?  Here’s a few things that I use, when I’m not trying to be super-overachiever-do-all-the-things-at-once woman and forget to take good care of my brain during busy days:

  1. Schedule a short nap or at least a “resting your eyes” time during your day (21 minutes is perfect and can leave you feeling refreshed without feeling “groggy” and this method works best on a day when you really did get enough sleep the night before.)
  2. Take short walks (inside or outside, though outside is best when possible) about every 2-3 hours throughout your day.  Just getting up and moving briskly for 5-10 minutes can really help re-set your brain.
  3. Do “cross crawls” for 30-60 seconds 5-6 times a day to clear out stress or frustration and give your brain a little break.
  4. Stretch and release your eye muscles by doing what I call the “clock” exercise.  You close your eyes for 10-15 seconds, and then open them and stretch them up (without moving your head up) to the 12 o’clock position and take a full, deep breath in and then out.  Move your eyes to 3 o’clock and repeat the full, deep breath.  Then to 6, 9, and back to 12.  And then reverse the cycle and repeat it moving your eyes counter-clockwise.  It takes about 2 minutes and is helpful to physically let go of eye strain, helps reduce headaches, and reduces stress in the nervous system because the eye circuits are really key circuitry in the brain.
  5. Listen to music, especially while doing tasks that require concentration and focus. Instrumental music is the most effective.
  6. Occasionally, when you are so overwhelmed and pressured that it seems totally impossible to do so, just don’t do all the things.  Or even better, don’t do any of the things.  Just don’t DO for a day on occasion.  Your body, mind, spirit – and relationships – will thank you.

To summarize, how you FEEL is what matters.  If you FEEL flat, watch out!  The trigger is hair sensitive.  But if you’re feelin’ good, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing!

And if you’re struggling in creating the life you REALLY want, please reach out for help.  We are here to assist.  864-918-2914

Silence is Golden is Not a Metaphor

SunflowerThe human world is very noisy: cars, big public spaces, meetings, gadgets that need our attention and therefore make sounds and flash lights to get it, kids laughing, playing, or even screaming, adults (sometimes screaming) moving clumsily through the world with their attention spans split between tiny screens and the real world.  We could take the rest of the day to name all the noise we hear on the regular. But let’s not, we all know that would just take more talking and a lot of us need less of that too, sometimes.

My point is that in order to experience silence – at all – one must CHOOSE to be silent and make space and time for silence in one’s life.  I assume at some point in human evolution it was quieter, but then we learned to talk and make tools and ever since it’s like we’ve been trying to magnify the sounds and make the world a louder place.  But all this noise is interference.  It’s interference between our souls and selves; it’s interference between the quiet voice of our highest self inside and the maddening cries of our lowest common denominator self that gets more and more insistent under stress and eventually becomes the only voice of ourselves we can hear.  If we do not learn to STOP and cultivate silence:  around us and inside us.

So in the quiet of early mornings, it has become a sacred practice for me to cultivate some silence.  Some days that may mean 5 minutes of simple meditation practice focused on breathing while also doing some mundane task like tidying up the kitchen and making coffee. That morning silent contemplative time will mean I can better navigate any stresses during the day, like people running late to appointments or unexpected traffic on the way to the office. On days that I have even a little protracted silence in the morning (twenty minutes or so), the whole day unfolds with more grace and ease.  It’s like the stresses don’t happen at all or if they do, they seem so minor compared to the vast chasm of inner calm that I hardly notice. And then on the days when I have a lot of silence in the mornings (an hour or so), the days seem to be practically enchanted with wonders, like the silence itself cast a golden spell on the rest of the day. Those days, it’s not just that stresses don’t stress me.  It’s that there are no stresses. It’s like those days are filled with good news, lots of little moments of joy and pleasure, a sense of satisfaction and completion after encounters with clients, colleagues, and friends, and usually some unexpected next step happens on the way to a larger goal I’m working with.

StarfishThat is how I know that “silence is golden” is not actually a metaphor.  Although it is 100% counter to the very Western (read: American) “work ethic” around working hard all the time, and productivity being the number one goal, and “downtime” being a mythological beast that everyone schedules in between the important things, silence is a crucible of productivity. Silence is actually where magic can happen in one’s life.  Silence is the connection between us and all our noise to our Source (God, Goddess, the Universe, the Spirit, our higher selves, or whatever other label may suit your particular beliefs).  Silence is our energetic connection to Source, of which each of us is a part.  We are like holograms, unaware we are holograms until we get silent and begin to sense that “all is one” is equally real and non-metaphorical.

The next time you’re feeling stressed, especially if it’s about what seem to be “hard” material matters like money or a hard conversation or finding a job or whatever it is that has you so stressed that a way out is starting to feel impossible to you, please just stop.  Please just sit down.  Please just stay calm with yourself and be completely silent until you are able to also silence your MIND.  Using a simple mantra (a phrase that you repeat to yourself or whisper aloud to help you focus) like “I am safe,” or “I am calm,” or “I am ok,” or just simply “I am” can be of valuable service to generating silence inside.  Your breath, inhaling and exhaling, and a simple mantra can replace the stressed out chatter of a mind on the brink.  It takes practice, but every time you choose to stop and sit and be silent, you are literally building circuitry in your brain that will help you connect more deeply and allow the inspired answers you need to come into your conscious mind.  You are infinitely more powerful that you’ve been taught to think you are.  Silence is how you begin to access your power.

Go be golden!

Namaste.

PS – Though silence is the most helpful, it can be intimidating to start with silent meditation practice all alone.  So check out some of our audio meditation help to get you started. And if that’s not enough, call us 864-918-2914 or email to schedule some coaching.  We are here to serve.