Kids Do Well If They Can

I am not going to write much on this but I was having a discussion with a friend about kids behaviors and this article came to mind. I studied it in my teacher training program and I put it into practice when I was teaching. It is such a great thing to keep in mind…

KIDS DO WELL IF THEY CAN

It is NOT kids do well if they try.  Think about it, it is easier to be bad than to feel stupid.

 Here is the article written by Ross Greene, PhD kids_do_well_if_they_can

This video also addresses this…he has many more but this is a good starting place.

Caring Relationship

Caring Relationships….are one the best protective factors for children who the face the high pressures and demands of parents, school officials, and society.

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I recently attended a talk by Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Professor Emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Dr Luthar has spent years studying resilience and vulnerability in children from many different populations.

The consistent message is that those children who have a positive caring relationship with a parent, teacher, or any adult have a higher resilience, less depression/anxiety and less destructive behaviors. Certainly there are other factors and just having a caring parent does not guarantee your child will never do drugs or have a bought of depression but it does make the case that we, as adults, need to do more to demonstrate how much we care, speak more kindly, ask how we can help, and reduce our criticisms and unreasonable expectations of our children.

This is also a call to educators to reach out and practice compassion, empathy, and non-violent communication. Ask your students how you can help. Reach out to a student who seems withdrawn or one whose grades are decreasing. Sometimes just saying ” I notice you have been quiet, how can I help?” Letting them know you care could make a HUGE difference in their lives. I have experienced the power of those words and how they can truly turn a student’s behavior around if they feel supported and know that you want to help them…that all is not lost.

Dr Luthar also explained that “bad” comments have a much greater effect on children than “good” comments. So it takes 3 positive comments to balance out the negative effects of 1 critical remark.

As parents, it is so easy to constantly harp on grades, chores, room cleaning, etc…that we forget that this constant nagging can be detrimental to the child and our relationship. I would suggest that we learn to change HOW we say things.

At the Parker School, where I taught last year, we always started our feedback with warm feedback (positive) then transitioned to cool feedback. Even then the cool feedback was discussed in such a way that the student or fellow teacher felt supported and not attacked or criticized.

Recently, I have tried to back off the nagging of grades with my son. He felt that I was constantly criticizing him because I was addressing some chronic low performance. A friend suggested I back off and I did. When I did address it, I put my “coach” hat on and tried to ask questions and give him choices. I asked how I could help and when he was going to speak to his teachers instead of telling him what to do. Same outcome…different emotional triggers.

I think my new stance is working better. We have less outbursts, fewer fights and he has admitted to not putting in the effort he should… which is a HUGE step. It doesn’t mean he is going to change right now but the admission in a calm manner was progress. Baby steps!

Dr Luthar has TONS of articles and research on her website. I highly suggest you check it out.

We don’t have to be the bad guy in our kids’ lives and we don’t have to bully them to get them to do what we want or to do what they need to do.  Helping them rebound from mistakes is huge. Remind them that mistakes are learning lessons and we can always make a fresh start.

Say…

“I Love You”

” I am here for you”

“How can I help?”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Tomorrow is a new day”

“I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

Remember, no parent is perfect. YOU are NOT perfect. We ALL have something we could be doing better; some way that we can also grow and make progress. Life is a journey. Don’t stop evolving!

 

Happy Parenting!

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Spring Cleaning

For those of you who have known me a long time, you probably know that I am not a fan of winter and winter in New England is LOOOONG. Many of you may also not know that March is the single hardest month for me. It’s my birthday month so one would think it would bring special memories and a time to celebrate but it does not. It brings out the worst in me. I get depressed, angry, and negative. I see it happening and it takes ALL my energy not to let these feelings take over competely but it seems to linger under the surface.

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I have been known to impulsively book a trip to a warm weather client at the last minute to get out of town in the month of March.  I would mortgage my house to get somewhere warm in March or just have a change of scenery.  I am a very practical and sensible person…until March. It’s so consistent for me, that we started to prepare for it. The past two years we have gone away in February during the kids’ spring break thinking it will help with March but it does not. Sometimes booking a trip in April helps because we have something to look forward to but its not as mentally beneficial as a March trip.

Now, I know that some of these negative feelings are from my own attitude and I need to be more grateful and appreciative of the month of March. I could change my relationship with March by changing my perspective. However, this is a life long issue for me that wont change over night and there are some physical issues that contribute too…Vitamin D deficiencies, being stuck inside a lot, being cold, less activity, etc. The sun just brings happy and calm to my life. I absolutely love it’s warmth and energy.

So today I was trying to pull myself out of my mid-March funk and found this article about Spring Cleaning your mind and body…a clearing of mental clutter.

Spring Cleaning for Mental Clutter courtesy of Banyan Botanicals

In this article, you will find tips for changing your life by changing your thoughts AND detoxifying your body by a doing an Ayurvedic cleanse which is meant to rest and reset the digestive system, eliminate toxins, and simultaneously remove excess vata, pitta, and kapha from the body – all of which serve to promote improved balance and overall health.

Even if you do not do the full cleansing ritual, just following the preparation will help set you in a better direction.

“For a few days leading up to your cleanse, focus on cleaning up your diet and habits to prepare the body for an effective cleanse. You will want to eliminate (or at least dramatically reduce) your use of coffee, caffeine, tobacco products, alcohol, and any recreational drugs. At the same time, reduce your intake of fast foods, processed foods, meat, refined sugars, and sweets. During this time, eat as many simple, whole foods as possible (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds).”

So if you are also struggling with winter blues, being cold, gaining weight, feeling blah,  …then maybe you too need a reset of your physical and mental state.

This was a good reminder that eating out, emotional eating, drinking alcohol, not sleeping well, and focusing on what I dislike instead of what I am grateful for are all making it worse. It’s time to shift and clean up my act.

Tomorrow I have a mini yoga retreat. This will be a good day for me to start resetting my bad habits and I will consider doing the cleanse.

Spring is here!

Time to re-awaken nature and our best selves.

 

 

 

The Subtley of Fear

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Last night I attended a Business Workshop for coaches (health, executive, life…not sports) through the International Coaching Federation-NE (ICF) and had an epiphany, which is what happens when you talk to an effective coach; stuff comes out.

Even though everything has fallen into place with my new career path, as if I planned it all perfectly, and I am so confident in my coaching abilities and the direction I am going, I am still affected by an undercurrent of fear and self-sabotage. I know I get doubts and anxieties just like anybody else, and I fight to keep them in check in order to maintain a healthy and realistic perspective. But I hadn’t been aware of the subtleties of some fears and how they manifest so differently, so quietly.

Back story: I was raised by fear…of punishment, bad people, an enemy, a lawsuit, someone misjudging me….the list goes on and on. I notice it now in my extended family, but I have worked really hard to fight that inner voice of fear by being aware of it. This fear utlimately prevented me from going to vet school, studying abroad, and/or going to college far away. Not that I think I should/would have done these things, life happens the way it was meant to. (not doing them was part of the inspiration for me to be aware of it and start changing)

As I got older and more independent, I became more aware of how fear stopped me from taking risks and really just enjoying life. The fear fed anger, it fed depression, it fed negativity.  I was too serious, too concerned about a need for protection from an unknown. I became in awe of those who took risks in spite of the naysayers and the doubters. I wished I could be one of them. Then I decided I would not let fear stop me from living life and I started stepping outside my comfort zone….started questioning the basis for these fears.

What I found is that they were baseless….someone else’s negative opinion, misguided fear, or criticism had been stuck in my head.  I vowed to change that dialogue.

So last night, I am talking about my upcoming certification and my marketing strategy with a table mate, the wonderful and insightful Sibel Babacan of Lexington and she asks me…

“Why don’t you start reaching out to those places now? Why wait? “

My response was “because I want to wait until I can say I am certified and not just in the process of getting certified”.

Then she says something like “Why can’t you talk to them before you finish your certification?”

I say “The certification gives me validity.”

She says “Sounds like fear. It sounds like you are sabotaging yourself and your thoughts into thinking you are not good enough unless you have that certificate and you could be missing some really good opportunities to grow your business.”

(this dialogue is not exact but I hope you get the gist)

She was right…I knew it immediately in my heart, mind, and my gut…this was fear, not the “careful planning” as I had labeled it. It was so subtle, I hadn’t noticed it. But a well-trained and experienced career coach had.

The reason this was so powerful, although it may not seem like it, is that this is not the first time I have heard this. It’s like I need this document to prove to doubters that I am good enough. Again, I am allowing someone else’s beliefs or negativity to infiltrate my own reality.

I began to think about the fear and anger that so many people hold onto and how doubts and negative inner dialogues skew reality and leave them susceptible to manipulation. They get so caught up in their stories and their own dramas that they don’t see how others can use these insecurities to gain power, position, and control under the guise of protection. I wish for one moment, I could take away their fear and negative thought patterns so they can experience what peace of mind and compassion truly feels like.

The sad part is that no one can make us feel LESS fear, anger, or anxiety until we examine where the root of these feeling and thoughts are ACTUALLY coming from.  We need to ask ourselves “What is the storyline in our heads?”, “Where does it come from?”, “Why do I think this way?”, “What has been my experience?” , “Could I be reacting to something else in my life that feels out of control?”, “What other choices can I make?”

For me…

I choose NOT to live in fear. I choose to work through fears, prejudices, and anxieties and understand the real root of my thoughts and emotions so they don’t control me.

I choose NOT to fear people of different cultures, religions, or even death.

I choose to try to live a life of love, compassion, and empathy…and this includes for myself.

I choose to be curious.

I choose to surround myself with positive people who raise me up and are looking out for my best interest.

So…I will start working on implementing my business plan and starting my career even if that piece of paper hasn’t been presented to me…YET! I know I am going to get it…I will make sure of it.

I am a good coach and I will change people’s lives…starting now.

Doing the right thing can be hard

We have all heard that doing the right thing can be hard or that the best things in life worth doing are the hardest. This sounds so empowering until you have to actually do it.untitled-3519

Recently, I had to do something in my professional life that was took a toll on my emotions. It was actually heart-breaking, but it was the right thing for all parties involved. Even though you know something is the right thing to do, that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. Even though you know all parties will be better off in the long run, that doesn’t make it easier. Avoiding the situation would be unethical and/or just not fair.

This isn’t the first time I had to do something hard but it doesn’t make it easier for me.  You know, life is about winning, losing, falling, getting back up, growing, and learning. I have experienced enough to know that even the bad things can become good things because they force us to grow, reflect, change, and offer us a chance to live a life of purpose.

We wouldn’t appreciate the good things, if we didn’t experience some hard times. It sounds so cliche but it is just so true. Struggle is a chance for us to look inward and re-evaluate what we think, feel, and how we behave. What would I have done differently? How can I prevent this in the future, or can I? What is this experience teaching me?  How can I grow? What was my part in this? How will I reflect on this moment in 5 or 10 years?

So, I chose to honor my experience as that…an experience that I have been granted that will help me grow and help me be more resourceful, more mindful, more empathetic, maybe even more grounded in my professional and personal lives.

To all those who don’t take the easy way out.

Namaste!

A November of Grief

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Grief is a deep sorrow, usually brought on by a person’s death.  Grief may also be brought on by the death of a relationship, loss of innocence, loss of a given reality, and loss that touches your heart and/or forces you to change your relationship with someone or something.

This Fall, I felt a lot of loss. I lost my Aunt Tina to cancer. She was a vibrant, outgoing, and beautiful woman who shaped who I was in so many ways.  Her death was not a shock but the lasting effects of it are still hard. She left behind a husband and son who adored her and too many friends to count. If you met Tina, you never forgot her. This loss started November off with a sadness in my heart that just set the stage for more hurt.

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I encountered other losses this fall that shook up my beliefs in myself, my country, my family, my neighbors…everything I believed in. Although no one else died, a piece of me felt like it. I actually felt myself slide through the stages of mourning….denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In the end, a hole was left that will serve as a memory for the rest of my life.

It is strange how things can affect our emotions and feelings by altering our reality. Obviously, loved ones have the greatest effect on us. But isn’t it wild how information that changes our perspective of a person, place or thing can also have this effect?

How do we recover from loss? I think we allow ourselves to feel the loss. Sit with the discomfort, the pain, the overwhelming emotions. I don’t mean ‘sit with’ like we hold it in and pretend nothing is wrong but ‘sit with’ the pain and feel it, think about it, name it, dance with it. Let ourselves grieve and fall from exhaustion from the process.

In a mindfulness practice, we name the emotion whereby removing some of the power it has over us and this allows different parts of the brain to quite down…just by naming it, we can disengage from the negativity and let it go. By letting go, we heal.

This idea or theory was depicted in the movie “Collateral Beauty” starring Will Smith and a host of other talented actors. Will Smith loses his daughter and the movie follows his grief and how it affects those around him. It is both heart wrenching and inspiring at the same time. In the movie, Will’s character struggles to process his grief but finds the strength to move through it with the help of his friends, Time, Love, and Death. It is actually a very cathartic movie. (go see it and bring some tissue) #Findthebeauty

This made me think about how we must look to all the good that can come out of a bad situation. It may not be a direct relationship but good will rise. It always does. You just have to look for it or make it yourself.

When we lose a loved one, it’s hard to think about the good that comes out of it and maybe that will take time…a long time. Or maybe we have to make some good from it by living a good/happy life, honoring that loved one, providing hope for others, etc.

When I was processing my negative emotions, I hurt my back. Tension, anger and other emotions do have physical consequences. Our muscles tighten and our minds are distracted. It is the perfect storm. In one way, having the pulled muscle forced me to focus on my health and less on my feelings of loss and anger. I realized that I couldn’t let my negative feeling affect my life, my health, and my family. I needed to move forward in a more constructive nature and I created a plan.

Someone once told me November is the month of death. This November sure proved that right. But with death comes rebirth. The sun goes to sleep and then it rises, winter becomes spring, darkness is replaced by light. Good will prevail over evil.

I realize it all makes sense. The ebb and flow of dark and light; good and bad. We would not appreciate one without the other. Sometimes we forget how good we have it and why we do what we do and need to be reminded, which is why history repeats itself…over and over again.

So no matter how dark this Fall felt and no matter how bad things get…it’s all temporary. Change will come again.

In the meantime…

I chose love.

I chose to be happy and healthy.

I chose to #findthebeauty

I chose to rise.

Getting to Meditation

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For months, I have been wanting to incorporate some form of a daily meditation ritual into my schedule.  My intention and desire was to meditate for about 10-15 minutes (to start) in the morning before I got on with my day. I wanted to begin my day in a grounded and heartfelt space so I could take on anything that came my way with compassion, calm, and positive intention. However, I could never seem to find the right time that fit into my morning routine. Once my day got started, I found it even harder to incorporate a set time to meditate. There were already certain things that took place at specific times and meditation had to fit in there somehow. Plus, every day is so different and there other things competing for my attention (like dogs, appointments, studying, kids, husband, showering, shopping, meals, etc)

But I finally did it. How? It was through a series of events…

First, I was always mindful that I wanted to sit and meditate and would see that there was a potential time but after the fact. I always included it on my weekly health goals but never really made it a true priority. I always found some excuse not to do it.

Then I went to a Natural Health Expo with some friends and we attended a seminar that included a guided meditation. From this I realized that maybe I needed to start with a guided meditation but the women who led this one offered free guided meditations on her website but they were just too long for me. So, I put the thought aside.

Then November happened. Lots of emotional and physical pain and loss. I realized I had to make changes in order to return to my true self. My husband encouraged me to get off social media as it had become a cesspool and was affecting my ability to focus on the good in life.

Up unti then, my morning routine had been to stop my alarm on my iPad then switch over to Facebook for a little mental wake up. When I decided to cut back on social media, I decided to replace my morning Facebook surf with a short guided meditation. I remembered how calm and centered I felt after the one in the seminar.

I wanted a meditation that was specific for the morning to help me wake up in a positive mood, ready to take on the day. I found one that fit my needs…10 minutes and was designed to slowly “awaken your brain and allow you to tap into your full potential”. So at night, when I set my alarm, I plug in my headphones and make sure the meditation is ready to go.

When I wake, I immediately put on my headphones and hit play. I lay there relaxed and through the positive affirmations and stimulating music, I rise happy, confident, and grounded. I am already feeling so much happier. (click here to try this morning meditation)

Now I am looking at apps and other meditations to which I might graduate once I am ready to move on to something new or longer. There are lots out there…different lengths, options, voices, and messages. You can do one that is religious/christian or more traditional Hindu or some that are just generically positive. Some are specific for the morning, some for falling asleep, some for weight loss, some for depression, etc. There are lots of options.

What did I really do to incorporate meditation?

  1. I made it a priority…I had to make a change
  2. I was realistic about my needs and my time
  3. I researched to find something that worked for me
  4. I substituted it for something that was not working for me (replace the bad with good behaviors)
  5. I organized/planned out my time the night before
  6. I made it easy to incorporate
  7. I committed to giving it a try.
  8. I remind myself how good it makes me feel.

Anyone can incorporate changes with the right amount of motivation, support, and organization. It’s always hard to change our habits and sometimes it takes hitting a low point to make a change. So use your low point as a motivator and not a de-motivator. That difference is a choice. It might be hard to shift your thinking but it can really help.

Cut yourself some slack. (self-compassion)

Always move forward. (don’t dwell on the past)

Give it a try. (we learn from mistakes too)

Fly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty is not a weight

“After Losing 100 LBS Precious is Actually Gorgeous!”

This is a headline in today’s yahoo feed. Some media outlet actually wrote an article about actress Gabourney Sidibe’s weight loss and somehow thinks it has anything to do with her looks. She has always been beautiful and talented. She has a tremendous smile and gorgeous eyes. Shame on you for not seeing it. Stop focusing on weight as a sign of beauty. One has nothing to do with the other.

 

This is a subject that has been on my mind lately….the linking of beauty and weight, and this article just set me off. These two things are completely separate and one has no bearing on the other. One is a subjective opinion and one is about health.

A person’s beauty is multi-dimensional. Beauty comes from eyes, a smile, a laugh, a good sense of humor, an openness to others, a kindness of heart. Beautiful people come in all shapes and sizes. You want to be with them. They are the light in a room. They are not the size of their jeans.

They say beauty comes from within and the more people I meet, the truer those words stand. I have met women that are sexy, attractive and adored by all, who are not some perfect weight that society seems to create. Beautiful women can be ANY size and we have to stop letting the media define beauty (especially because everyone is photoshopped).

And, by the way, women need to stop attacking each other. Skinny women get harassed for their weight as much as overweight women do. I have a friend who struggles to gain weight and I can’t count how many insensitive, hurtful, and mean things people say to her because of her thin frame.  They think it’s okay to say things because she is thin but the comments make her feel bad. Her whole family is skinny. She is just made this way. She is also kind, loving, and would give you the shirt off your back. Her heart is one of the biggest I know but some people only see her weight. It’s terrible that our society judges people based on looks. Whether someone is “skinny” or “overweight”…it’s really not okay to judge or make rude comments.

Beauty is not a number on a scale.

What can be attributed to a number on a scale is health. However, each person has their personal range that is considered healthy for them. Doctors may use BMI as a tool but really each person has their own range. Each body is different with different muscle masses, different metabolisms, different frames, and different ages. Your healthy weight is between you and your healthcare practitioner.  Not anyone else.  Weight is also not the end-all-be-all for health. It is just a component of health. A weight that is healthy for me, might be too high for one person and too low for another.

Don’t let the media convince you that you have to be a size 2 to be beautiful or that women who are a size 12 are not beautiful. It has nothing to do with it.

Just be your damn sexy, incredible self!

 

Slangry

Slangry? What’s slangry?cats-9876-Edit

Slangry is sleepy and angry. Anger and lack of emotional control brought on by lack of sleep. I know quite a few of you that do not experience this but I certainly do. Avoiding being slangry actually rules my life.

According to an article in Health Magazine this month, scientists at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center studied brain activity of adult with amounts levels of sleep. They that “we’re not able to regulate our emotional responses without sleep”.

I could have told you that and saved a couple hundred thousand dollars. If I get less than 7 hours of sleep, I am almost unable to function: I get a mild fever, I cannot think or process my thoughts well, I am unable to manage my emotions, and I feel physically drained.

Recently, I had trouble sleeping for 3 nights and by that third day, my ability to work was greatly diminished.  It took every ounce of energy I had to get through the day. Luckily, I was able to sleep on the fourth night and was back in the swing of things.

I dont think the amount of sleep matters because we all sleep differently. I toss and turn all night so I need more hours to get enough deep or REM sleep. While I know others who can function on far less, probably because they actually sleep more efficiently and deeply.

In any case, sleep and feeling refreshed is important for mental and physical health. According to the NIH (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, sleep plays an important role in your physical health, safety, and quality of life. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. For more information you can click HERE to read about the importance of sleep on the NIH website.

So get enough sleep.

Don’t be slangy.

If you are a parent, be a good role model and help your students get enough sleep.

Sleep…it’s a good thing.