Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Feel better using a little reminder

There's an unusual amount of construction happening on the roads between my home and my office. I literally cannot choose a route that doesn't bypass some road construction. This has been going on for a few months now.

As I approached one set of orange signs and a roadblock, I noticed that no work was actually being done this morning. This was an invitation for my mind to go to frustrating places such as, What the [heck]? and When will this ever end? and This has been going on forever! 

It was then that the thought End of October! entered my mind, and I instantly chilled out and felt much better.

Recently, I'd mentioned to some friends about the frustrating amount of road construction going on. One person pointed out that road construction has a window from April until October to get all of the work done. Something about the temperature and its effect on pavement. End of October! was a shorthand way of refreshing my memory about the longer conversation.

It hasn't been forever, it won't last forever, and, in fact, we're really close to the end of the inconvenience. I can easily hang in there a bit longer.

So, use brief catch phrases to remind you that there's another way to look at the situation. Make this attitude change once, no big deal. Do it three or four times a day, multiply it by seven days a week, multiply it again by a year's worth of effort, and this technique can be a major contributor to you having a more relaxed and pleasant life.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thinking doesn't make it so

Yesterday, on the way to an outing, my husband David and I stopped at a sandwich shop. I stayed in the car with the two dogs, and David went inside to get some food. 

Being parked right in front of the large storefront windows, I saw David order, then I saw him step to the side while the cashier waited on others, and then I saw him wait...and wait...and wait some more.

I remember thinking, What the heck is going on? I convinced myself four or five times that I'd have to wait only another minute or so. I recall thinking about what might be holding up our order: they forgot him, they misplaced the order slip, they gave our order to someone else, they ran out of some food item. There must be a reason for this!

It was then that I noticed that my stomach was tightening, my face was reddening, and I was sighing heavily. How unpleasant!

I reminded myself that the running chatter in my head wasn't making the sandwiches come out faster. I convinced myself that I should either take some action (go into the store, convince David to call the manager, keep him company as we waited) or let go and accept the situation.

Preferring the company of the dogs, I decided to let it all go and relax. Immediately, all the tension drained from my body, and I felt better. The sandwiches will get here when they get here.

I had to remind myself of an important lesson yesterday. Either take action to try to make things better, or accept the situation for what it is. Don't think yourself into a stress ball and fool yourself into thinking it's doing any good.

A call to teach children how to pay attention

Click here for an excellent article calling for schools to teach children how to pay attention. Paying attention is a learned skill. 

Practicing mindfulness is an excellent way to boost the ability to pay attention. In order to live in the clear and present, we have to de-emphasize the chatter in our minds, and we have to emphasize instead our sensual connection to what's happening around us and what we are currently doing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mindfulness: foundation for being present

People probably have heard plenty of advice about being clear and present, seizing the day, and being connected to the present moment. The question that usually follows is: how do I begin to do that?

If you think of all the habits and skills needed to live consistently in the clear and present, you can imagine a house. Of course, a house is made up of many different parts, but we can all agree that its foundation is a critical component; you want to build your house on something very solid. Following from that, an important part of the foundation for "living in the clear and present" would be mindfulness skills.

Mindfulness skills are meditative practices that you use while you're living your typical, daily lives: taking a walk, taking a shower, having something to eat, brushing your hair, walking or driving from one place to another, and so on. The great thing about mindfulness practice is that you don't have to dedicate any time or money to it; just apply the techniques to what you naturally do on any given day.

Here are some handouts that can help you to begin a mindfulness practice:

Louis C. K. on importance of being present

Brilliant as usual, Louis C. K. describes why he hates smartphones, especially for children. He also tells an amazing story of an emotional reaction he had and why it's important to sit with it, feel it, and move through it, instead of distracting or trying to "entertain it" away.

Click here for Louis C. K. on smartphones...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Welcome to my blog

As a Life & Career Coach, I help people to speed up the time between dreaming and doing. The biggest challenge in making this happen is understanding that there's something in between those two states. There are a number of things we can call it. Getting out of our own way. Overcoming negativity and struggling to stay positive. Floundering in lack of confidence and motivation.

In between having dreams and making them come true, you eventually have to do something today, in the present moment. It will help if what you are doing is effective, actually working well and helping you to succeed. However, it all starts with moving beyond doing nothing and finding a way to do something, as soon as possible, consistently.

To help my clients to take those initial steps into action, I like to tell a story from the movie, Bull Durham. Crash Davis is a professional baseball player on the AAA level, just below the major leagues. Annie Savoy is a Super Fan of the Durham Bulls, providing good company and timely wisdom for a number of the players and coaches.

Davis is in a battling slump, and he and Annie are at the cages. He's trying to practice his swing, attempting to work his way out of his struggles in the batter's box. Annie takes his place at the plate, and she imparts this bit of sage advice: "Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate." I don't think I've heard a better, more direct set of instructions about how someone can get into "the zone" and perform well.

So, that's what my blog is all about: how do we relax and concentrate on any given day, enough so that we can work our way out of slumps, avoid negativity, keep a focus on our own well being, and have more fun, even when we're technically working. Like any decent Life & Career Coach, I help you to set goals, prioritize them, break them into smaller steps, and encourage you along the way. However, my specialty is helping you to develop the habits that keep you clear and present on a daily basis, so that regular life doesn't distract or discourage you from making your dreams come true.

I hope you find this blog useful and that you enjoy it. 

About Gerry

I'm a Life & Career Coach living and working in Baltimore, Maryland. I am a Master of Clinical Social Work (MSW), and I have 18+ years of counseling and coaching experience. In additional to emotion management and mindfulness, I specialize in assisting with career transitions, having moved from being a software technical writer into being a Life & Career Coach. I established my private coaching practice in 2002. Finally, I make my home with my husband, David Kimble, and our two Basenji dogs, Q and Coal. And I work hard to practice everything that I preach.

Here are some links if you'd like to learn more about me.