Daily Spirituality

SCENARIO

Is your daily routine so fast paced that you get caught up in doing and lose the art of being? It can feel like you’re losing your connection with your spirituality or forgetting who you really are heart and soul. At times you may even catch yourself, especially at work, going against your personal values in order to do what you believe is best for your work.

CONSIDER THIS

VICKI:
It’s so easy to get lost in the everyday, especially at work. The most important thing we can do is to let our personal values, spiritual or otherwise, lead the way in our work life as well. It’s the difference between doing and being; most of us grew up being taught to do rather than be.

Take time during the day to just be; here are a few suggestions:
1. Meditate for two or three minutes. It clears your mind and can help you refocus on a busy day.
2. Say an affirmation hourly if possible. It should be a statement of intention for yourself and your day. You may choose to use the same affirmation hourly or change it to go with the flow of your day.
3. Keep a reminder of your values in a place where you can see it through your busy day. It may be a book that sits on your desk, a sticky note with a quote on your computer, or the old rubber band around your wrist – anything that has meaning to you.

JILL:
There is no doubt that when Monday morning comes around our busy lives can find us losing touch with ourselves spiritually. On the weekends it is easier to find the time that you need for a spiritual connection.
Be more aware of your weekly schedule and where your time is being spent. Are you doing something that you don’t have to do or don’t want to do? Can you instead use that time for yourself?

If a pocket of time cannot be found you may have to look for it in smaller increments.
Here are a few suggestions to help reframe your day:

1. Utilize unused time; get up earlier in the morning, 15 minutes at lunch or before going to sleep.
2. You can bookmark websites that have daily inspirational messages. I googled ‘daily spirituality’ and some helpful websites came up. Here are two –
New Spirituality Network
Belief net
3. Have a spiritual book, book on tape or meaningful music with you during your day. One of these is perfect while you are waiting for an appointment, on a coffee or lunch break or in a traffic jam.
4. After finishing your work try to take a few minutes to sit quietly.
5. Practice spiritual consciousness in your daily routine. Speak to people that you might not otherwise talk with, see opportunities for small acts of kindness & courtesy and be more aware of your imprint on the world.

People Pleasing & Healthy Boundaries

QUESTION

I have what Oprah calls the need to please, why do I always say ‘yes’ whenever someone asks me to do something? I just volunteered to drive my daughter and some kids around Saturday morning for a bottle drive to raise money for a school trip. I have a hundred other things to do on Saturday why didn’t I just say that I was too busy?

ANSWER

VICKI:
The majority of people pleasers will tell you that they didn’t want to let someone down, yet that is only the surface answer. Disappointing another is about how you will be viewed by that person and yourself. It can be really debilitating to live for other people’s impressions or opinions of you. It can be totally devastating if you judge yourself as a good or bad person based on the need to do or prove something to others. The bottom line is this is a boundary issue. You need to learn to set healthy boundaries.

People, yourself included, can only do what they have within themselves to do. Frequently the person who says yes to everything has little to give because their sense of obligation leave them feeling resentful, which leaves no room to give from the heart.

The next time you are asked to do something for someone else don’t respond immediately. Just stop. Ask yourself if you have the time and if you want to do this. If the answer is negative just say no – people pleasing is like a bad drug.

There is a book called “Where To Draw The Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Everyday” by Anne Katherine. You may find this book very helpful.

JILL:
You need to look at what is behind your inability to say “I’m too busy”.
Are you trying to be supermom?
Are you subconsciously saying ‘look at how much I do’?
Do you want people to not think badly of you?
In fact, not being able to set boundaries does not make you likeable, strong or perfect.

Here are some ways to beat the urge:
Pause before answering: Train yourself that no one has the right to demand an answer right away. It may be their moment of panic but that doesn’t make it yours.

Just say NO:
Ask yourself what is going to happen? The world does not come to an end. You are merely saying “Sorry, I am too busy”’ they will find someone else.

Don’t over explain: That makes you seem defensive and gives them an opportunity to change your mind.

Visual record of your busyness: One thing that helps is when you can see how busy you are. Never answer until you have checked your day timer. Have a schedule by your home phone that shows what is happening on each day and at what time. If someone requests your time when you are out again check your day timer or blackberry before answering.

Middle of the road: If it a request that you would like to help with but time is a factor. Find the mid-way point “I can sew the costumes, bake the cookies but someone else will have to pick them up. If that doesn’t work don’t agree to it, you offered a compromise that is enough.

Judging Is About Wanting To Be Right

QUESTION

I find myself in a place I truly dislike. I’ve been extremely judgmental of other people and their behaviors. I hate when I see this in others and I hate it more in myself. It just seems like so many people just do the wrong things. Do you have any suggestions for turning this around so I judge less?

ANSWER

JILL:
As a Life Coach, there is only one line of your question that I am going to touch on and that is that you are in the world thinking that you are right and ’many people are doing wrong things’.
How do you know that what they are doing is wrong? Are you basing this on the fact they don’t agree with you or share your beliefs?

Judging the world this way will leave you feeling quite alone. Peace will come to you when you accept those around you imperfections, flaws and all. Remember that you too are human. If you cannot work through this and become more accepting of others I would recommend that you speak to a counselor. They will be able to help you discover what the reason is for you being in the place that you are now.

Don’t worry too much, the fact that you are so concerned about your behavior says that you are a good and kind person, who has temporarily lost their way or perhaps something has occurred and you are not sure of what your place is in the world. If you have a trusted long time friend or spiritual advisor maybe they can help you find your path again.

VICKI:
It appears that your thinking is around there being a right way to do things and that’s just not truehamburger for many things. There are many ways to enjoy a hamburger, with cheese, relish, mustard, bacon or without these, none are right or wrong they are a matter of preference. When you start getting judgmental ask yourself if it is a hamburger type of situation. If it is allow yourself to sit back and enjoy seeing something done a new way. You may even learn something new.

Now there are other things that are a little more black and white, such as watching someone be verbally hurtful to another person. These instances are opportunities to see who you do not want to be. Your choice will always be between observing the situation (acknowledging the action for what it is) and judging (claiming the person or action as good or bad). Observations are how we learn and judgments are how we make ourselves better than others in our own mind.

Become aware of what judgments are and when you are judging. When you find yourself doing it ask yourself if you need to be right or better than the person you are judging. Understand that it is not about the other person, it is about how you feel about yourself in relation to other people. Notice that those you love most you’re more apt to make observations about and those you dislike or don’t know, therefore don’t care about, you’ll tend judge more.

In the end judgments always are about being right and being better. As Neale Donald Walsch wrote in the Conversation With God book series, “Ours is not a better way, ours is just another way”. When humanity sees this clearly we can start moving towards world peace. It’s time that we as individuals all start doing our part by adopting this way of thinking for ourselves.

The Roles Mother’s Play – Moving Towards Your Goals

QUESTION

I look around me and see all kinds of women who, after having kids and watching them grow into little adults, start to turn their sites on re-inventing themselves and moving on with their life in a new direction, but they lack the confidence to “dive in”. Any advice on what us gals should do to get/keep our self-esteem intact through this process?

ANSWER

JILL:
First, take some time to acknowledge what you have accomplished to date; you have succeeded at (to quote Oprah), “one of the hardest jobs in the world, being a mom”. You may have had no pay, promotions or sick days but being a mom was something that you willingly did 24/7. Add to that maintaining a home, wife, sympathetic sister, caregiver, and friend; your roles and duties have been many.

When being a mom becomes less of a full time job, you are faced with yourself. However, often with all the pressures of the above, you lost that connection with who you are. You need to re-establish a sense of self before you dive in to anything. From there you will be able to start to establish the self-esteem that you will need to face the next chapter in your life head on.

Create a team to help you – coaches, business consultants, mentors or counselors. Don’t feel alone, find ways to connect with like minded women, so that you can support and help one another.

Start to pursue new interests or pick up a long forgotten hobby or passion. Practice self-care with a fresh updated image – hair, clothes and make-up. As you start to feel more yourself look at what you want to do with the future. Brush up on rusty IT skills, prepare a new resume or take courses to help open new opportunities.

VICKI:
I’m going to use the “F” word here – fear. What you say is a lack of confidence really does boil down to fear. It makes perfect sense when you have had a long term routine, especially for stay at home moms. Whether you want to get back to the workforce or start your own business it’s normal to wonder and question if you have the skills to reach your goals.

This is where it’s imperative to know what your strengths are. Moms have more strengths / skills than they ever give themselves credit for; raising another human being is the most difficult and worthwhile job on the planet. The skills used and learned for mothering can be the same ones you use to move towards your dreams – courage, endurance, patience and please don’t underestimate love.

It’s time to reflect on what you have learned being a mom and acknowledge those skills, make a list of those attributes and move forward with them, not in spite of them. Then take Jill’s step-by-step advice.

Husband Of 27 Years Is Gay

QUESTION

My husband and I have been married for 27 years and have two grown children. He recently told me he wants a divorce; he also revealed that he has been having an affair with another man! I feel angry and betrayed as though our life together was a lie. What should I do?

ANSWER

JILL:

1. Take a deep breath and accept that you have a right to feel those emotions and more. You are dealing with a number of difficult issues here. Not the least of which is that the end of the day you and your husband of 27 years are getting a divorce.

2. Don’t assume that he didn’t or doesn’t still love you. Being gay doesn’t preclude his ability to having feelings of love for you.

3. The foundation of the marriage itself I cannot speculate on. One day I hope that you will let him tell you why he got married and what the union meant to him. That conversation may bring you some peace and lessen the feelings of betrayal.

4. Remember that what your husband is doing isn’t about you. Don’t question your desirability, femininity or the type of a wife that your were.

5. When I work with a client who is undergoing a major life transition they tend to feel empty and off-balance so I recommend that they take a lot of quiet time for themselves. It gives you an opportunity to assess who you are, loving mother, good friend, supportive daughter, strong and vibrant woman, successful entrepreneur or career woman.

6. Don’t hesitate to turn to spiritual or professional guidance during this time.

Finally, self-care helps with the healing process. Practice the things that are important for your mental and physical well being. Avoid friends or relatives who may judge or discuss the issues continually. Seek the company of those who strengthen and respect you. In other words take care of you!

VICKI:
Jill is absolutely correct when she told you that your husband’s actions are not about you and not to speculate about his love for you. Know that when your husband chose to marry you it was not with the intention to cause you pain.

There is no doubt that you are filled with questions at the moment and some extremely intense emotions. Where I believe that it is very important that you ask your husband for the answers you need it should not be done until you are in a calm and collected state of mind.

Firstly it’s impossible to be in emotional turmoil and have clarity at the same time. You need to be clear headed in order to decide what the really relevant questions for you are and in order to be able to listen to your husband’s answers with an open mind, which you will need. Take all the alone or quiet time you need in order to get to that frame of mind; it may be weeks or it may be months and you may need help getting there.

Secondly when you and your husband do talk, especially about his motivations, you need to recognize that this isn’t a black and white area. It is not a matter of right or wrong. This is the gray area where he has made past decisions based on his fears and insecurities; something that every single one of us has done at one time or another.

I hope the two of you will sit down and talk with compassion and good will for each other in both your hearts and truly listen to each other.

Cats vs Dogs

dogandcat.jpg

QUESTION

My husband and I decided it was time to get a pet. The only problem is that he wants a dog and I want a cat. Any suggestions on how to settle this?

VICKI:
Hmmm… I only see three alternatives
1. Don’t get a pet.
2. Get a kitten and a puppy and raise them together.
3. Go for a ferret – it’s like the best of both worlds.

JILL:
While you are deciding on which direction to go, here is another factor to consider, young vs. older. A puppy and (or) kitten require time and attention so that they can be socialized and get to know the house rules, that way with time you can all live happily together. As well as the training, you have to make sure that they are vaccinated and spayed or neutered. An older dog/cat is usually already fixed and will often blend into the household a little easier and quicker.
In my house, the official stance is that my husband is the cat person and I believe that ‘dogs rule’; we have a blend of two dogs and four cats; so I vote for Vicki’s second suggestion. Some we got as babies and others came to us older and sometimes with a troubled past but with time they all became an indispensable part of the family. At the end of the day nothing beats their unconditional love.

A Foster Parent’s Surprise

Scenario

Three years ago my husband and I had just become foster parents. We didn’t know what to expect until we got the phone call. We were asked if we would take in a crack baby, short term, who was 4 weeks old and ready to be released from the hospital. We agreed because it was short term; we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into and how much it would change our lives.

The social worker rang our doorbell and delivered to us a little girl with biggest brown eyes I had ever seen. I had never heard a baby cry with such desperation. It was explained that she was still going with withdrawal and would be for a while longer. This child instantly touched my heart.

Two sleepless weeks later my husband and I were starting to wonder exactly what short term meant. It was difficult hearing her cries knowing there was nothing I could do to comfort her. At times I wanted nothing more than to give her back.

The third week she started to settle down just a little more. It got better week after week. Before we knew it three months had passed and she had become part of the family. At this point we decided that we would keep fostering her. It took a full year until she developed enough to a point where she acted like most children her age. That was a year of many ups and downs, numerous medical appointments and more sleepless nights.

My daughter recently celebrated her third birthday. We have now started the adoption process. I couldn’t imagine a day without her in my life. I’ve learned so much about life and myself through her. Watching her in the playground no one would know all the turmoil that she and our family went through together. She taught me what it truly means to love.

VICKI:
What courage you have to take in a child with difficulties that early on in life. Congratulations and I hope the adoption process goes along easily for your family. God bless.

JILL:
The best things in life are usually the unexpected ones.