Monday, February 11, 2008

Catching up, Self-Care and Creativity

Time certainly does fly. When I look at the date of my last entry, I'm amazed.

There is a little book that I read from every morning, that gently reminds me that every day is a new beginning. With each new day we get to start all over again! Learning to take advantage of this is the real trick, I think.

So, here I am, starting all over again, once again. It's been a busy year for me. I have presented a number of retreats with some pretty amazing women. Whether the retreats have been about self-care and writing/creativity, the same underlying message has been present: When women look after themselves their creativity is nurtured, their energy is re-fueled, their focus is sharper and their relationships enhanced. It's fun for me to find creative ways to empower women to take a look at what self-care could look like in their lives.

Picture: Release your Inner Writing Goddess!

It was also enormously satisfying to lead In Your Write Mind...what is now my signature retreat. Leading this retreat allows me to nurture my own creativity and provide a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere for other women to unleash theirs, too. The results of this weekend were awesome. The women couldn't believe what they were capable of writing! There was no experience necessary - just a desire to explore their creativity through writing. Amazing what taking a little time out for one's self can do!

I'm offering this retreat again in May at the Rowe Center, in Massachusetts. If you go to Current Offerings at you can find out more information about it, as well as two other retreats: Gift of the Sea , a weekend retreat based on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea, and One Fine Day - A one-day retreat where we'll look at how to expand our concepts of self-care, and how to integrate them into our busy lives.

I heard something the other day that bears repeating: We can gamble with our health or we can invest in it. I really love the way this captures a bottom line. It's similar to "We can find the time to take care of ourselves or we'll take the time to be sick".

What I'll add is this: We can gamble with our health or our well-being, or we can invest in it. terms of finding the time? We'll probably never find time for anything. Where exactly do you look for time? Under the carpet? Behind the sofa? In the back of a drawer? You get it...we don't find time. We TAKE time. No one will hand us time - extra or otherwise. We take it, and then we choose how we'll spend it.

I think it makes eminent sense to choose how we'll spend it, rather than having that choice made for us through stress-related illness.

When is the last time you took a break? When is the last time you gave yourself permission to curl up with a book during the daytime? Or go outside for a walk during lunchtime? How do you make time for your creativity to express itself?

Here's an invitation: Make a commitment to yourself that you will do one nice thing for yourself today...something as nice as you'd do for someone you love.

Drop a line and let us know what you do for self-care. What do you do to nudge your creativity?

Monday, April 30, 2007

They just don't get it....

There are a number of things I could write about in this entry....the amazing women's retreat I led last weekend (Gift of the Sea, which I'll write about tomorrow - I promise!), my retreat coach certification (which happened in Colorado in March), the horrible Nor'easter we experienced here in Maine two weeks ago tomorrow...but this is what I'm writing about today:

We need a new refrigerator, and so while at Home Depot to get a couple of adaptor plugs, I wandered over to their appliance department to check out their fridges. There were quite a few: this is Home Depot, after all. While walking past the absolutely huge double door fridges, I happened to put my hand on one. It felt cold. I stopped and opened it, to find that it was in fact plugged in and running. I went to another refrigerator...same thing. I didn't check every single refrigerator there, but the 6 or 7 that I checked were all plugged in...nice and cold, as a refrigerator would be in one's home. I was incredulous. I couldn't believe that these refrigerators - all of them empty - were plugged in and running. Can it be that Home Depot has not heard about global warming? Do they know where electricity comes from? Are they unaware of the concept "carbon footprint"?

When I told my husband I was going to find the store manager to register my complaint and request that they sell their refrigerators at room temperature, he decided to pay for our purchases and wait by the door. He was, in a word, embarrassed. Undeterred, I went to the customer service desk and requested to speak with the manager. When she arrived, I politely told her about the refrigerators and that I thought this blatant waste of electricity was insanity. As far as I knew, millions of refrigerators had been sold without being plugged in and using electricity unnecessarily, and that I thought this practice was irresponsible on their part. She told me that many customers like to see how cold a refrigerator is before they purchased it.

I can't add anything to this statement. I think it speaks for itself - and the consumers who need to have a refrigerator plugged in to see how cold it is before they buy it.

This is only one Home Depot store, but, tonight I'm wondering - is this common practice? So, this is my challenge to you readers: go to your Home Depot, or some other big box store, and see if they have their empty refrigerators plugged in. See if they have them plugged in and running for the consumer who has to see how cold a refrigerator is before they purchase it. And, if they are (senselessly) running all 20 - 30 models, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week - perhaps you could complain to the manager or the district manager or the regional manager or whomever it is that thinks this makes sense, or is justified by the profit from selling a refrigerator.

While the rest of us are shutting off lights in rooms as we leave, reading from the cold orange or green light that comes from energy saving bulbs, driving low mileage cars, recycling and generally trying to reduce our carbon footprint...isn't it great to know there's enough electricity being generated to chill empty refrigerators and freezers for endless American consumerism? Isn't it just great to know that our finite, non-renewable fossil fuels are being used so judiciously?

P.S. The store manager I spoke to said she agreed with me and would pass my complaint on to the regional manager. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

You've got to accent-uate the positive...

No bars hold - springtime in the city
Dublin, 4:30 p.m.

I am, it would seem, an inconsistent blogger. However, as I note the consistency with which I am inconsistent, it would appear that I am perhaps more consistent than I give myself credit for!

That, my friends, is a re-frame. Go ahead and laugh, but re-frames actually serve a valuable purpose. By re-framing, I begin writing with a smile on my face and feeling pretty good about the information I want to share with you. If I didn't re-frame, at the very least I might have entertained some thoughts that were negative like: I just can't seem to organize myself very well to find time to write; all the other coaches, retreat coaches, writers - in fact the whole human race manages to find time to make regular blog entries; I should probably give up blogging altogether.

All that negativity would have zapped my energy, and left me feeling inadequate about my organizational skills. NOT good motivation for change. Accentuating the positive isn't putting your head in the's acknowledging the other part of reality - the light side to the shadow side - which allows us to move forward rather than staying stuck in a puddle of low self-esteem. Try it! A little positive attitude will go a very long way!

A lot has been happening in my world over the past few months. New Year's in Dallas with my amazing GrandBaby (can anyone imagine they could possible feel this way about another human being?), and at the end of January I led a fabulous retreat here in Ireland called "2007, Your Best Year".

Eight women from Ireland and the U.S. gathered to dream bold dreams, create visions and intentions and commit to supporting each other in achieving those intentions throughout the coming year. They learned, exchanged ideas, did some creative artwork around their intentions and came up with action plans that will act as beacons guiding them toward their goals. It was an amazing group of creative women: a photographer, a jewelry designer, a fashion designer, a very special administrative and marketing woman whose passion is to support the work of other women (and when I'm ready to hire a Virtual Assistant, she's my first choice!), two tax consultants and a reflexologist/reiki/Indian head massage practitioner. There was a lot of talent and creative energy there!

In terms of my own professional development, I was in Colorado a few weeks ago for a 5 day Retreat Coach training, and also received my certification as a Retreat Coach from Mountain Coaching in Beulah, Colorado.

I was there with 14 other retreat coaches, to learn, grow, share resources, have fun and restore my balance - exactly what a retreat is for! The Colorado blue sky and and air were both crisp and clear. I'm sure the B&B where we were staying was just glowing or emanating some kind of energetic waves out into the universe because 14 retreat coaches gathered together under one roof was one powerful experience.

I've returned energized, positive and full of ideas and enthusiasm for my April retreat Gift of the Sea, to be held on the coast of Maine April 20 - 22. Check out my website for more information. If you love retreating, if you love Maine....this is the place for you! This retreat is based on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book Gift from the Sea, and is an opportunity to nourish yourself in order to truly enjoy and sustain your relationships with others. Bottom line? We can't give what we don't have. This isn't being selfish with our resources - time, money, etc. It's being self-caring. Take a look and see what you think. The retreat centre, sitting right on the ocean, and near an Audobon Sanctuary, is a former convent that hosts multi-and non-denominational retreats.

Next post I'll include some pics of my Colorado retreat and I'll write about vision boards, sometimes called dream boards. They're a wonderful and powerful tool for focusing on your intentions. I'm also gathering some resources from some talented women that I'll post here as well.

Be well,


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Life Goes On...

I've been so involved in living my life these past months, that I haven't taken the time to write about it. And, much has happened.

On July 28 my first grandchild, Isobel Grace, was born. I have become a GrandMother.

My daughter and her husband asked me to come to Dallas for the birth of their child, and of course I said YES! I arrived on the 11th of July, met by a very pregnant daughter and temperatures of 100+ degrees. Quite a difference from Dublin, I can tell you. Since I have been here, Texas has had over 40 days of triple digit temperatures. (I never thought I would say that I was looking forward to the weather cooling down to mid to high nineties, which is the case this weekend).

Izzie has brought so many gifts to my life in the month that she's been on this planet: seeing my beautiful daughter enter into motherhood (and a flood of memories, long forgotten, of tiny details about her birth and my own tentative first steps into motherhood); getting to know my lovely son-in-law in a way that wouldn't be possible under other, less intense, circumstances; watching the three of them together, and perhaps the greatest gift of all ~ making a contribution to the sense of security and self-esteem of this amazing little being (who seems to grow like time-lapse photography before our very eyes!) as she begins her way in this world. I know I could go on and on, but don't worry...I won't!

With the weather so hot, I can't go walking outside. So, within a few days of being here, I joined the local gym on a month-to-month basis. I've been going almost every day, using the treadmill, and eliptical as well as some resistance training for the old bones.

In addition to providing the opportunity to get some exercise, going to the gym has been a wonderful people watching opportunity as well. The treadmill is on the second level of the gym, so with Chicago, Rod Stewart or the Beach Boys singing away in my ears, I get a wonderful bird's-eye view of the world of weight machines down below. Fantastic grist for a writer/life coach's mill, I can tell you.

There is a quote on the opposite wall to where I usually "tread", and I've spent a good bit of time contemplating on it. There is no name attributed to it, so I cannot give credit where credit is due. Nonetheless, I'll share it with you; perhaps it will encourage you. (Clearly, this isn't only about physical strength):

Don't ever let weakness convince you that you lack strength.
More later.
Meanwhile... celebrate life (including your own!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jet Lag

Many of my friends, colleagues and clients think dividing my time between Maine and Ireland is very glamorous. Well, after almost two weeks of interrupted sleep - or no sleep at all, I'm here to tell you - glamorous is not a word I would use! Maybe because I spend such long periods of time away in the States (three months this time) it takes my body such a long time to re-set it's clock. (It's having a bit of trouble differentiating A.M. and P.M. at the moment.)

Going over isn't so bad because I gain five hours. But, coming back to Ireland I lose five hours, and boy, is my body desperately trying to find them! I'm used to being asleep by 11:00 and up by 5 or 6:00. I love those early hours before the world and the rest of the house gets up.

I'm enormously grateful that I'm able to do this travelling back and forth. And, I wouldn't have it any other way. But, it just seems the older I get, the harder it is to bounce back. I should take a picture of myself with rings under my eyes, my hair on end like I've put my finger in a socket and swollen ankles. Then, when someone comments on how glamorous my life is, I can pull out the picture....Oh, yeah? You think this glamorous!

Being awake during the night has brought a wonderful, unexpected pleasure: hearing birds sing all night long. With all the traffic noises stopped, no children shouting, the train not running, no stereo, or television - only the odd alarm going off now and then....there are a couple of birds who just sing away all night long. I wonder kind what they are? Perhaps one of these nights I'll go online and look it up. There's a thing to do, now!

We left in a snowstorm, for the second year in a row. Cold, too. It was in the minus single numbers shortly before we left. Contrast that with Dublin, where on my evening walk tonight I saw daffodils starting to shoot up. They'll be bobbing their little yellow heads in the wind by mid-February. Temperature was almost 50F the other day. Some of the geraniums in our window boxes are still in bloom, and my camellia tree outside the door is getting ready to blossom next month, too. A walk down to the back garden this morning led to our passionflower vine. I'd say some of those blooms will be open in the next couple of days. That's the picture I've attached here. It will bloom all the way through the Autumn.

I know it sounds like a tropical paradise - next to Maine, anyway - but even though the temperature doesn't get really low, it gets very damp, making the temp seem much colder. Winter here is about more rain than usual (is this possible, you ask?), lots of wind and damp, damp, damp. I do a lot of work sitting by the fire during the afternoons.

February isn't just spring flowers's also when we begin to see a lovely "stretch" in the day, as they say here. One magical evening in February, it will be remarkably lighter, just that little bit later, and all hope is renewed! It's absolutely amazing what 15 extra minutes of daylight can do for the spirit.

It's taken me 13 years to appreciate the subtle nuances of Ireland. I hope I discover more. It's nice to notice them when I return; nice to get back to friends whom, after all this time, I can consider "old" friends; lovely to return to book club. The other part of my life is back to the West, now...over the Shannon, over the mid-lands, over the Cliffs of Moher, across the Atlantic, and spread across the United States: Maine, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, California, North Carolina, Toronto and so many other places, where my heart is held in trust, until I return.

Jet lag or not...I am very blessed.'s after 1:00 a.m., and I'd just love to be sleeping....

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

information super-Highway Bloggery

A few months ago I had several people leave SPAM in the comments section of several of my blog entries. The reason this really ripped me was because they were - wait for it! - Life Coaches.

They read my entries and left remarks in which they sold their own services, offered classes, etc. Some were very blatant, others were much more subtle but they were clearly advertisements, nonetheless.

I won't waste my time telling you what I think of the ethics and level of professionalism of these individuals, who call themselves coaches. I mean really, who would want to hire someone who advertises themselves through someone else's work rather than taking the time to develop their own site?

So, for a few months I was not allowing any comments on my blog. But now, you may once again leave comments on the postings. You will, however, have to take one extra step which is to type in a word that will come up in a rather cryptic way. I'm sure you've done them before.

Hopefully this will keep out the unimaginative parasites who are unable to create their own voice and presence. We'll see, anyway.

Christmas... are we having fun yet?

In my experience, the people who feel let down, resentful and even sad at the end of the holiday season are those who celebrate Christmas Day.

"WHAT?" I can hear you all the way over here!

It's true. Pinning all your hopes for fun, gaiety, cheer, quality family time, and looking for a good return on your shopping/preparing investment, places an unrealistic demand on the day that, in all likelihood, can't be realized. We might not even be aware that we're doing it. But each time we grumble about shopping lines, traffic jams, someone's bad behaviour, late deliveries, etc., we are unconsciously telling Christmas Day that it better come through with a good payoff for all this aggravation we're suffering in the name of Christmas.

What I have found is that the people who enjoy the holidays most are the ones who celebrate the holiday season. Some may start with the Solstice, lighting candles, bringing greens into the house, decorating the tree. Christmas shopping becomes a date with a friend, partner, or kids and often includes lunch or dinner. The difference is that all the preparations become occasions in their own right, rather than Christmas Day being the occasion itself. There's more behind those Twelve Days of Christmas than swimming swans, leaping lords, milking maids and golden rings, it seems!

Deciding how much money you're going to spend on each gift, how you'll choose to give the gifts (Chinese Auction, family grab bag, Secret Santa are just a few) can also be an occasion for a seasonal family get-together. Planning and shopping for the Christmas dinner can also be its own occasion. Forgoing regular supermarket aisles for speciality shops can make shopping feel like an occasion.

I suppose it's like any other process/outcome situation: The process offers its own beauty, value and gifts - which can be overlooked when we're focused only on the outcome.
So, rather focusing on the day itself, imbuing those 12 hours or so with the expectation that all the shopping, planning, cooking, baking, decorating and hopes for family peace will harmoniously converge for a 12 hour amazing, glossy-magazine, Kodak-moment Christmas experience...try making a celebration of the entire season, rather than treating it like a dress rehearsal for the "real" thing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What living life on purpose means...One woman's thoughts

I talk a lot about "living life on purpose", and I thought it might be a good idea to explain exactly what I mean when I say it.
To me, we're living our lives on purpose when we live our lives with intention and mindfulness, rather than operating out of "default mode".

In computer-speak, default mode is a programmed response to repeated input: you don't have to make a choice, you're pre-programmed and "good to go". We don't stop and question the situation in front of us or our patterned response to it.

A good example of that is something I think most of us have experienced at one time or another: Think of a time when you were driving and suddenly realized you didn't remember passing the familiar landmarks necessary to get where you are because you were on auto-pilot or in default mode. Your mind was somewhere else, and your driving became an out-of-body experience. Yikes! What's worse is that some people lives their lives that way.

When we live your life on purpose we are:
  • Creating goals or intentions that lead to a fulfilling life of contentment and meaning
  • Aware that every action we take and decision we make with either bring us closer to or move us further away from the life we desire
  • Present to the moments of our lives.

Remember the driving metaphor above? Well, if life is a journey, we can choose not only the destination, but how we're going to get there!