I actually love the acronym WIIFM, which stands for “what’s in it for me”? Almost everyone needs to understand specifically why investing their money, time or energy is important, before they will invest it, regardless of what the situation is. We are programmed (whether by DNA or societal conditioning – or both) to ponder and find an answer to why, what or how (although the question why is a completely different ballgame and I’ll talk about that in my next blog). People also like to know when something will happen but often do not get an answer to that question that they like. Still we are conditioned to ask and often seek the answers externally.

Sometimes it is the questions we don’t ask that have the most importance in our lives.

Take Coco for instance.

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Prove it to me!

picIf you told someone you were a singer or a veterinarian or plumber, would they ask you to prove it?

I run into people from time to time who are skeptical that I’m the “real thing.” They expect me to read their mind. I’m psychic – not a mind reader. They are two different things, although I’ve been known to say things that sound a lot like mind-reading. I understand their skepticism; I’ve been there. I’ve had many readings in the past and some were more accurate than others. Now that I’m on the other side of the table, so to speak, I find myself curious about the question of proof.

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Out of alignment?

car-alignmentDo you know when your car is out of alignment? I’m not sure I do. If you are out of alignment with something and don’t know exactly what it is (and we often don’t), how will you know what to do to correct it?

I think as human beings we go through life intuitively seeking meaning, purpose and alignment. We find it in different things: children, spouses or S/O, work, music, art, etc. These are most often pursuits happening outside of us. In the long run though we always come back to having to find it within because all those other things change and come and go.

This time of year often has us reflecting just a bit more about what is right or wrong in our lives, the goals we’ve achieved and the ones we haven’t and where we might go from here. We don’t always know which way is best. Such was the case for a reading I did on Sunday.

As you know my business centers on women entrepreneurs and business professionals. As I was sitting in my reading room at East West Books, a man approached me whom I’ll call Sam, and asked if I was available. Yes, I said and he came in and sat down.

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Do you ever feel like running away? I do. It’s the beginning of another year and I’m soooo glad! Right at the beginning of December I fell into the pit of depression. I was approaching the two-year anniversary of Chris’s death (I still find that hard to say), it was the beginning of holiday season and I was moving my office from outside to my home; a triple whammy. It hit me and it hit hard. I retreated and spent a lot of days on the couch in between clients. There were a couple of weekends I never made it out of the house and it was OK. I sat literally waiting for the days to pass. And pass they did.

After 5 weeks of building my protective internal sanctuary of survival, I finally emerged. Just a little at first and now I’m almost fully reintegrated back into the community after this last grieving cycle. I even went to a networking meeting recently, a big leap forward for me and sign of my rebirth. It is almost Spring!

We are cyclical by nature and it is most important to honor our cycles rather than circumvent or even attempt to eliminate them. I honor my cycles of self-healing I because I love myself. That wasn’t always true.

Why did I start off my blog with a kind of “downer” story rather than a “how wonderful life is” story? First, because it’s genuine: I rediscover a new part of “me” and where it fits into my new life every time I go into the cave and then re-emerge. It’s really quite a wonder for me. I never know who is going to emerge and how I will feel. No I don’t have multiple personality disorder just recovering and reconciling through the grieving process. I bet you can relate on some level.

The second reason I told this story is to illustrate what it may mean to Take Charge of one’s life and since this is what I teach I certainly want to be a role model for others. Taking charge of your life may mean many things or just one thing at time and of course it may evolve over time. Here is what I teach as a foundation to learning how to Take Charge of your life.

Taking charge means:

  • Noticing and identifying the symptoms that are causing problems, unresourceful or even bad behavior.
  • Setting healthy and loving personal boundaries to enforce emotional, mental, physical and spiritual safety.
  • Knowing and believing that self-care and self-healing are healthy as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.
  • Honoring intuition.
  • Being with the process (or riding the waves of the storm) instead of working so hard to go around it or deny it even exists.
  • Emerging stronger on the other side.
  • Feeling ready to forge ahead.

When I do all the above work the results are loving, encouraging, empowering, engaging, hopeful, spiritual, and supportive among other positive outcomes.

When you go through tough times in your life and you feel like running away, I hope you’ll remember these thoughts and actions and that they might even sustain you as you ride out the storm.

For those of you who don’t know, my life partner Chris who was also my business partner, mentor and best friend, passed away suddenly on December 21, 2010. For the first year I was in shock (I guess I still am) and the second year brought home the realities of reinventing everything (and I mean everything) in my life. I’ll spare you all the details because it will take a book, which is in the works.

After the first year, things got very bad for me and I knew I needed additional specialized help. I became part of a trauma and PTSD study and was assigned two amazing women as my therapists who are doing their practicum for their Ph.Ds.

Today was my therapy appointment. It had been a rough week as I cycled back into a wave of grief accompanied by depression so I was glad to be seeing my therapists. What I hadn’t planned on was that today was also the day the space shuttle Endeavor was taking her retirement flight via the Bay area down to L.A. to her new home. When I headed out this morning armed with this new knowledge, I knew I would need to allow extra time to get to my appointment because I had to take the freeway that was in the direct path that the space shuttle would fly over on her last ever journey.

I’d never planned on seeing the space shuttle; I was just headed to my appointment. The freeway was at a crawl. There were hundreds of people lining the streets, buildings and overpasses. I’m sure they had been there for a couple of hours. They wanted to see and be a part of history in the making. The closer I got to my exit the slower the traffic went until it literally stood still. At that precise moment in time I thought to myself, could it really be possible that at this miraculous moment in time I could be in the right place to see Endeavor as she flew overhead? It was a random moment. As I sat there thinking this thought I looked up and there just a few hundred feet away was Endeavor hugging her 747 mother. I cried out loud, grabbed my cell phone and began to shoot a terrible impromptu video. As bad as this video is I now have this forever memory in my mind’s eye. At that moment I was stunned and all the emotion of wanting Chris to be there to witness it with me flooded into me as well as the wondrous site of Endeavor. What are the chances I would be at the exact place at the exact time she passed by? As a side note I was actually closer to Endeavor than even this photo looks.

I believe this is serendipity. There are no coincidences in our Universe. Endeavor flying over me so low and close it was astonishing. My depression co-mingled with the joy into a crescendo of tears. It made me realize I was on a new Endeavor. While one was retiring another new one was beginning, my new Endeavor whether Chris was with me or not. The Universe and Chris and my higher self conspired for me to see and be part of this event knowing how much it could change my life. I will ponder this for some time to come and take in and absorb the serendipity and profundity of this moment.

Do you have an example of serendipity you can share?

For those of you who don’t know, my life partner Chris who was also my business partner, mentor and best friend, passed away suddenly on December 21, 2010. For the first year I was in shock (I guess I still am) and the second year brought home the realities of reinventing everything (and I mean everything) in my life. I’ll spare you all the details because it will take a book, which is in the works.

After the first year, things got very bad for me and I knew I needed additional specialized help. I became part of a trauma and PTSD study and was assigned two amazing women as my therapists who are doing their practicum for their Ph.Ds.

Today was my therapy appointment. It had been a rough week as I cycled back into a wave of grief accompanied by depression so I was glad to be seeing my therapists. What I hadn’t planned on was that today was also the day the space shuttle Endeavor was taking her retirement flight via the Bay area down to L.A. to her new home. When I headed out this morning armed with this new knowledge, I knew I would need to allow extra time to get to my appointment because I had to take the freeway that was in the direct path that the space shuttle would fly over on her last ever journey.

I’d never planned on seeing the space shuttle; I was just headed to my appointment. The freeway was at a crawl. There were hundreds of people lining the streets, buildings and overpasses. I’m sure they had been there for a couple of hours. They wanted to see and be a part of history in the making. The closer I got to my exit the slower the traffic went until it literally stood still. At that precise moment in time I thought to myself, could it really be possible that at this miraculous moment in time I could be in the right place to see Endeavor as she flew overhead? It was a random moment. As I sat there thinking this thought I looked up and there just a few hundred feet away was Endeavor hugging her 747 mother. I cried out loud, grabbed my cell phone and began to shoot a terrible impromptu video. As bad as this video is I now have this forever memory in my mind’s eye. At that moment I was stunned and all the emotion of wanting Chris to be there to witness it with me flooded into me as well as the wondrous site of Endeavor. What are the chances I would be at the exact place at the exact time she passed by? As a side note I was actually closer to Endeavor than even this photo looks.

I believe this is serendipity. There are no coincidences in our Universe. Endeavor flying over me so low and close it was astonishing. My depression co-mingled with the joy into a crescendo of tears. It made me realize I was on a new Endeavor. While one was retiring another new one was beginning, my new Endeavor whether Chris was with me or not. The Universe and Chris and my higher self conspired for me to see and be part of this event knowing how much it could change my life. I will ponder this for some time to come and take in and absorb the serendipity and profundity of this moment.

Do you have an example of serendipity you can share?

Do you know how to acknowledge someone? Do you know why it’s so important to learn this valuable skill?

In simple terms acknowledgement validates who you are. That’s really BIG so I invite you to sit with that thought for a moment….Validation implies that you are a valuable part of someone’s life, family and community.

I was recently talking to a good friend of mine and during our conversation the word acknowledgement came up. She told me she had no problem acknowledging her friends or family, but struggled with acknowledging her husband. We talked a little bit about it and I explained to her that one of the reasons this may be difficult is that with spouses we come to expect so much more from them; almost too much, so they often seem lacking in our eyes. Hence the holding back of acknowledgment. The irony of course is that the more you acknowledge your partner the more they WANT to do for you. So a lack of acknowledgement simply leads to more lack – period.

Past resentments can also lead to withholding acknowledgment, consciously or unconsciously. Resentments can keep you from having what you truly want; usually a reciprocal and loving relationship. Resentments can run deep and most people don’t have the skills to get to the heart of the issue and release it. But that’s another topic.

Spousal type relationships are complicated. They are the deepest form of relationship one can have on a non-familial level. Your spouse or partner sees you in every kind of conceivably vulnerable situation; or at least that is the hope in a loving and healthy relationship. What’s more, they become a very clever and clear mirror of every part of who you are and it’s not just the standard mirror it’s the magnified version…ughh! Yes, they reflect back to you all kinds of deeply rooted behaviors as well as the superficial idiosyncratic behavior. There is a presupposition in NLP (which stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming, a form of quick behavior change technology) which in essence says: the response you get is a direct result of the communication you express. That oughta make you stop and think. Communication is CRITICAL (again other topic) and acknowledgment is part of communication. So think of acknowledgment as positive reinforcement. When you see your spouse do or say something that you may often take for granted, acknowledge it.

One of my favorite movies, takes this concept a bit deeper. In Avatar the indigenous people have a phrase; they say: “I see you.” It is the deepest form of acknowledgement possible because it acknowledges your essence at your very core. It is a heart-to-heart connection. As humans, being acknowledged is a very basic human need because remember it validates your value.

Acknowledgement can take some skill. It’s not exactly a compliment, although it can sound and feel like one. Remember you are simply reflecting back a positive and valuable observation. It is a sign of recognition. Here are a few examples:

  1. I can see that you are are doing your best and I want you to know that I noticed this.
  2. I really see the effort you are making and I truly appreciate it.
  3. I get that this was a challenge for you and I recognize the hard work you put in.
  4. I hear that you are struggling and I want you to know that I can just listen if that would be helpful.

Try them out and let me know how it goes.

Sometimes as I go through the days, I’ll notice a particular pattern making itself known. As I pay attention to this I allow it to guide my direction for the day or week ahead. I like doing this because it gives me time to pause and be introspective; which is really what the next few weeks are for cyclically.

On July 14th planet Mercury went “retrograde” which happens 3 times per year and last about 17 days. Not that I’m terribly knowledgeable about astrology, but I do know when Mercury goes retrograde; I calendar it so I’ll be prepared. There are times I’m particularly sensitive to it and you may be too only you didn’t know why.

Mercury most notably influences our communication. If you’ve noticed your computer or printer doing odd things or your phone not working properly or vice verse, it is likely influenced by Mercury’s retrograde appearance. In simple terms retrograde means reverse or backward. So when Mercury goes retrograde it appears to be moving backward (it’s not really) but this is why communication can go wonky – feel backward. Additionally, we just had one of the biggest solar flare disruptions to our planet in many years. So, there is lots of cosmic activity.

It’s important to realize and remember that we humans transition through many different seasons or cycles just like Mother Nature. We are clear what to do during each of Earth’s quarterly seasons and yet I think we are sometimes stumped when we have to “deal” or “handle” our own cycles or are even surprised to realize we have them. Mercury retrograde is one of the cosmic reminders for us to pay attention to this quietly internal cycle.

Generally this means it is a good time to go within oneself and be introspective. Sit quietly with yourself and notice the things you’ve been avoiding and begin to work through them. I know this is easier said than done, but when I receive this message repeatedly I heed it. This is a time to work on those internal issues that you’ve been pushing to the back in favor of more prosperous pursuits.

Spend a little less time on sales, systems and logistics and a little more on relaxing and relating to nature, your animals and Mother Earth. Have more patience remembering that communication with others can feel more difficult. Our bodies play a tune we are sometimes unfamiliar with which is why learning to listen to your body’s needs is so important. We are not machines, at least not in the traditional sense. Give yourself time to be human before you rev up your engine again. It will happen all too soon. Taking charge of your life is quite often about listening to and respecting your inner cycles and wisdom.

Blessings n-joy,
Julie

Sometimes as I go through the days, I’ll notice a particular pattern making itself known. As I pay attention to this I allow it to guide my direction for the day or week ahead. I like doing this because it gives me time to pause and be introspective; which is really what the next few weeks are for cyclically.

On July 14th planet Mercury went “retrograde” which happens 3 times per year and last about 17 days. Not that I’m terribly knowledgeable about astrology, but I do know when Mercury goes retrograde; I calendar it so I’ll be prepared. There are times I’m particularly sensitive to it and you may be too only you didn’t know why.

Mercury most notably influences our communication. If you’ve noticed your computer or printer doing odd things or your phone not working properly or vice verse, it is likely influenced by Mercury’s retrograde appearance. In simple terms retrograde means reverse or backward. So when Mercury goes retrograde it appears to be moving backward (it’s not really) but this is why communication can go wonky – feel backward. Additionally, we just had one of the biggest solar flare disruptions to our planet in many years. So, there is lots of cosmic activity.

It’s important to realize and remember that we humans transition through many different seasons or cycles just like Mother Nature. We are clear what to do during each of Earth’s quarterly seasons and yet I think we are sometimes stumped when we have to “deal” or “handle” our own cycles or are even surprised to realize we have them. Mercury retrograde is one of the cosmic reminders for us to pay attention to this quietly internal cycle.

Generally this means it is a good time to go within oneself and be introspective. Sit quietly with yourself and notice the things you’ve been avoiding and begin to work through them. I know this is easier said than done, but when I receive this message repeatedly I heed it. This is a time to work on those internal issues that you’ve been pushing to the back in favor of more prosperous pursuits.

Spend a little less time on sales, systems and logistics and a little more on relaxing and relating to nature, your animals and Mother Earth. Have more patience remembering that communication with others can feel more difficult. Our bodies play a tune we are sometimes unfamiliar with which is why learning to listen to your body’s needs is so important. We are not machines, at least not in the traditional sense. Give yourself time to be human before you rev up your engine again. It will happen all too soon. Taking charge of your life is quite often about listening to and respecting your inner cycles and wisdom.

Blessings n-joy,
Julie

I was on my group mastermind Q&A call recently and one of the group members was in the Hot Seat receiving excellent coaching to her question. When the call was over I saw her post a comment in our Facebook group that she “felt bad” because she thought she’d taken up too much time during the call. While I appreciate her humility (because there are people who can self-servingly TAKE extra time) her well-intentioned comment struck me as a “knee-jerk” response. I know, because it’s a pattern and knee-jerk response for me.

Too often I hear women use responses like “I’m sorry” and “oh that’s OK” and “I feel bad” and do you know why? Because somewhere deep down we feel like we don’t deserve “it” or we feel guilty receiving it.

Sometimes we don’t even use these words to describe the knee-jerk feelings underneath because the pattern is so engrained in us as women. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a motto: to Serve and Protect. Sometimes I think women have unconsciously adapted this motto to be: to Serve and Deny. As women we have grown up learning that we are “good” when we serve others and often learn to “deny” ourselves because otherwise we are selfish. If we do allow ourselves something, we often qualify it by saying ‘I deserve it’ as if we need to justify it to ourselves. I know you know what I’m talking about. These beliefs are powerful forces in our culture and believe me when I say it is a learned behavior.

Now, rather than ask ‘where or how did I learn it’ I like the question, “How do I un-learn it?” because feeling bad about things truly does NOT support you. It is interesting information in that it teaches you that having more resourceful thoughts, behaviors and actions does support you. Like anything you want to change, you must become aware that it is happening, when it is happening and how it impacts you.

How to Un-Learn:

  1. Paying Attention. Begin by becoming aware of when you have the self-deprecating thought, belief, action or behavior.
    1. What do you say in your head?
    2. Where do you feel it in your body?
    3. When does it show up, i.e., what trigger’s it?
    4. How does it impact you?
    5. How do you feel when you say/do it?
  2. One new different action. Once you discover the answers to the questions above, decide on ONE new action, thought or behavior you will take as soon as you notice yourself engaging in the old pattern.
    1. For example: If you notice yourself saying “I’m sorry” for no apparent (damn good) reason, a different action might be to ask yourself “what am I sorry about”? Or to even say “I take that back.” This will interrupt the unconscious pattern that continually plays out. There are tons of different things you can say and do to interrupt this pattern. Just find one that works for you and do it consistently.
  3. STOP beating yourself up! You didn’t learn this behavior overnight and you won’t unlearn overnight. Don’t even go there because it’s too BIG a gap to go from changing an engrained, unconscious pattern you’ve been using for years to not doing it all. There is an old joke: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. Take one act, thought or feeling at a time.
  4. It’s OK if you slip up, just correct yourself and for goodness sake keep doing it! Falling down is expected.
  5. Take small, adaptable steps that continue to build.
  6. Be consistent. It’s KEY to your success!

Reflection: Taking charge of your life is a process. Applaud yourself on what a great human being you are and how you are striving to make your life better and better every day, it will begin to counteract the self-criticism. There is a fine line between humility and criticism.