Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Understanding and Toughness... There is a Connection

You know, I've been thinking about this for some time now. We as athletes tend do be naturally, tough, tenacious, hard headed, determined, focused, driven.. you know the bill.. and beyond that, as athletes, we admire these qualities in ourselves and others. After all, they rock, if I do say so myself.

Though when it comes to relationships, intimacy, and connection, these matters take on a certain quality that can, on the surface, seem to come into stark contrast with our all too glamourous "toughness". The art of slowing down, the art of attending to, the art of having patience with, actually seeing and understanding another, all can certainly strike a chord of anxiety in someone who is drive to go and achieve. But personally, I think these qualities serve only to compliment our tenacity and toughness.

Quite frankly speaking, when we train, isn't rest and recovery just as important as our training itself? Don't we need to give our bodies the time it needs to repair and heal, and adapt to the stress that we have put it through? As an athlete myself I know all too well how difficult this can be at times, but I also know, that without it, our performance will suffer, we will be more prone to injury and ultimately put our athleticism at risk. And I know not a one of you wants that. =]

So, when we take time to recover, and truly recover, and we practice slowing down, tending to our bodies and listening to what we need, we are in essence, beginning to hone the skills that our relationships need as well. Relationships take tenderness and understanding. They take a willingness to step outside of our own perspective and see the other person's point of view. They take an honest assessment of ourselves and what we truly have to give to see the relationship succeed. These things are hard to do when we are going 100 miles an hour in "achievement" mode. But they are possible when we slow down turn inward and honestly evaluate our own emotional experiences, and they are also possible when we slow down, pause, look deeply into the eyes of the person we are sharing our life with and do our best to honestly see, hear and understand them and what they need on an emotional level.

After all, in the end, we can't take the medals, awards or money for that matter, with us. We can't take our loved ones with us either, but to be able to rest knowing that we have done our best to do good by the one's we have share our lives with? Is't that what it's all about?

Peace my friends,


the pic on this page captures my point here exactly.. enjoy.. http://www.anthonymillerphotography.com/2011/02/understanding/

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Facts and Stories

Facts and stories... Sometimes it's hard to discern the difference between the two in our own minds as our emotions often make us feel like our stories are in fact, facts. 

Over the years though I have taught myself to look at facts as the concrete, tangible, objects and events in the out side world. The facts are in essence, what happened without judgement. 

Your opinion of the object or event would then be the story. Wether you liked it or not.. Whether you thought it was easy or hard.. Make sense?

Being able to tell the difference between facts and stories can be a helpful tool to utilize when our emotions try to highjack our minds. 

When you notice that emotional distress begins to ride, say you are feeling anxious or distressed, ask yourself:

1) what am I feeling?

2) what is happening in the outside world that may be contributing to this distress?

3) what are the facts about this situation? What do I actually know concretely to be measurable and true?

4) is there any action I can take or would like to take to address this issue?

5) then make a plan and do it! =]

All my best my friends.. Can't tell you how much I have personally grown from this practice over the years. It takes time and a willingness to live mindfully but it can surely help to put you back in the drivers seat should you feel your emotions have been getting the best of you, especially when it comes to your relationships.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

aRticulate it Thursday: The Result Comes from How You Ask...

Once you have been able to clearly form your message, the next vital skill in interpersonal communication is to learn the difference between making demands and requests.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for giving a firm directive. Yet, in our day to day interactions with our coworkers and loved ones, if we can learn the art of making requests we can cut down on defensiveness and unnecessary tangential discourse. After all, the objective is to create connection and or  get the task done, no?

So the next time you find yourself telling a friend or a loved one to DO something. Stop. Pause.. Breathe. Then ask yourself what you are really asking. Make it specific, clear, and measurable. Now, if like I said last week, this part is hard, then share that and work through the request with your loved one. Otherwise, state the request, in a tone that communicates respect for the other person and wait for their response.

Now again, by making a request, yes, you give the other person the option of saying, "no". If you are in fact met with a "no" there are ways to work with that. Communicating the importance to you is one such strategy. I will go into that more next week.

For now, watch your interactions. How often do you make demands of others in your life? How often do you simply ask? How do others respond when you demand vs request? It may feel weird at first. You may even end up with more disappointment iin the beginning. This is not uncommon. It is simply an indicator of the type of communication that the people around you have become used to. With practice and diligence, it will get easier and I don't doubt, in the long run, you will begin to see your relationships strengthening as a result.

All my best,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

For WE Power Wednesday... some thoughts and reflections on the marriage and agreements...

I was in session recently discussing relationship dynamics with a client. We were addressing the importance of renewed agreements in relationships when my client shared that her parents, now married for close to 50 years, used to say to her on their anniversary every year that they were going away to "review their contract".  My client shared that as a 10 year old this was a bit confusing and unsettling but that now as an adult, it made perfect sense.

I think we all could benefit from this practice. No matter the type of relationship we are engaged in, setting clear agreements from the outset and then revisiting them on an annual basis allows for the fluidity of life and makes room for our ever evolving selves. People do grow and change over time and the hope in marriage is that couples can not only growth together but support the divergent growth that may happen for their spouses.

On a fundamental level, the core agreement in a marriage is to work through the hard times and support each other in the good ones... quite simply, stand beside one another for life. Unfortunately, in this day and age in our country, this agreement gets broken by over 50% of those that choose to make it, myself included. A sad statistic, but a true one none the less. Maybe if we were more conscious and deliberate about what we are committing to before taking those vows and then further, diligent about reviewing our agreements on a regular interval we could begin to have a positive impact on this statistic. I know for myself, this is my hope should I ever decide to take the plunge again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tough it out Tuesday: BE STILL 9/10/13

As athletes we tend to prize achievement, getting ahead and accomplishing the next goal. The thrill of victory and the sense of accomplishment are powerful experiences that for many are unmatched by anything else. I find though, that, over time, in the perpetual quest for the next success there can be an emptiness. A place that only stillness can fill. This space for me is a sense of coming home. A sense of being one with oneself and one's purpose here. A sense of quiet calm that exudes love when it is tapped into. It takes just as much courage, patiences, and tenacity to go into this space as it does to train for and complete any ironman. The training is different but it is no less difficult. In this case, it is not a matter of one or the other. Both can be accomplished simultaneously. One must have the willingness and courage though to go within and sit thorough the silence to truly begin to tap into and fill one's emptiness.

If you are ready, set a timer for 5 to 10 min, sit quietly and breathe.. in the nose and out the nose. Allowing your breathing to become your only focus of attention. As your mind wanders, notice without  judgement and gently bring your focus back to your breathing. Notice what you are feeling in your body. Allowing the sensations to just arise and unfold. Continue to return to your breathing and release your thoughts. This is a the practice of coming home and taming the mind. Be patient with yourself, as with anything, time, consistency and focused attention here is key.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Can you see it? Forward Moving Friday 9/6/13

Can you see what it is that you want to achieve? Meaning, in your mind's eye, how clear is your picture of your end result? Taking time to imagine, sense and feel what it will be like when you reach your destination can make the difference between actually actualizing your goal and it becoming yet another dismissed wish.

When something really matters to you, don't skip the imaging step. Having a clear picture in your mind of your outcome can help you to stay focused when the going gets rough and all hope feels like it is gone.

The goal isn't to delude yourself, but rather, work as an anchoring mechanism for where to point your energy. In our day to day lives it is so easy to get distracted from our bigger endeavors that if we don't take the time to really see where we want to be we can and will get lost in the minutia.

So to keep moving FORWARD on this here Friday, take the time if you haven't already to truly paint that picture for yourself of what it will be like when you reach your destination. Take in all the sights, sounds and colors, see who is around you, smell the aromas that fill the air... detail it with all of your senses and then breathe it in. Give it a name and visit it daily for at least the next week to keep it vibrant in your mind.

If you are more of the artsy type, draw it out, make a collage or picture map of it and keep it somewhere you can look at it daily.

After all, "some things have to be believed to be seen."
~ Ralph Hodgson

Keep your dreams alive my friends... and then make them happen!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WE POWER Wednesday: The Power of Encouragement 9.4.13

As I watched the TED talk I posted yesterday, I was moved by  Diana's story about her father. Yes, the story in it of itself was touching, but what struck me more than anything else was the power of belief and the gift of encouragement.

Often times we forget how important it is to believe in and encourage the ones that we love. We can be quick to judge, point out fault or insist on needing to be "realistic", all thing we usually do to be "helpful," yet we are forgetting the damaging effects these kinds of interactions can have on one's confidence.

Take a minute and imagine yourself getting ready to tackle a really big task, maybe something your've been dreading or something that has just been a thorn in your side. Now watch yourself move through the motions of the task and say to yourself something encouraging, like "I can do" or "Take the next step" or "I got what it takes"... what ever words seem to give you a little forward push. Just take in the feeling. Notice what it's like to have your head as your cheerleader. Notice what it feels like in your body... and breathe it in.

Now alternatively, bring up the same task and allow your doubting mind to run the show. Hear the messages that are probably more loud, the one's like, "I don't know about this", "this is a waste of time", or "I can't do it" or what ever they may be and do the same. Notice what happens in your body. Notice what the energy is like, what feelings go along with it.

Note the subtle differences that emerge from each experience. It is these subtle differences that determine the difference between winning and losing in a race or in initiating a plan of action or staying stuck in a nonworking pattern. The coolest part about it though is that we all hold the power within us to help tip the scale in a forward direction for ourselves and others.

Our minds and our words of encouragement are our allies in having a positive impact on our sense of wellbeing and the world around us. Through an active commitment to motivate and encourage ourselves and the ones we love we help to instill a sense of confidence and belief that has the potential to make more champions like Diana.

On this WE POWER Wednesday I encourage you to use your gifts of encouragement and belief today to boost up someone you love. Tell them you believe in them, let them know you got their back and that they are capable. Do your best to communicate these messages not only with your words but your actions as well. I will do the same.

All my best to you,