Do you cringe when you think about Valentine’s Day? It’s okay. Many, even in healthy relationships, don’t love the pressure the holiday can bring. Roses, fancy dinner, romantic card? For singles, the day can be a reminder that they haven’t found a match or renews pain over a recent break-up.
While Valentine’s Day likely hailed from a drunken fertility feast called Lupercalia in ancient Rome, it became much sweeter over time and morphed into what it is today thanks to Hallmark back in 1913 in their effort to get lovebirds to buy their cards instead of the traditional homemade cards that had been around since the Middle Ages. With the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, it seems every industry tries to capitalize on it, making the holiday sales top around $18 billion this year. Yes, that’s with a “b”.
Then there’s Galentine’s Day, which started based on the character Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec back in 2010 celebrating female friendship on Feb. 13th. Brands were quick to jump on this unofficial holiday as well. As a friendship coach, I love the idea of honoring your friends this week. Research shows that those with close friendships are happier and even live longer!
And yet…what if you are an introvert or you just don’t really want to celebrate by going out or having a bunch of people in? My brilliant, lovely daughter, Jessica, who shares a lot of my introvertedness (new word!) gave me this idea about celebrating “Selfentine’s Day.” Those who are single celebrate “Single Awareness Day”(SAD, which isn’t an uplifting acronym, is it?) in lieu of Valentine’s and use the day as a treat yourself day, which is great, but the nice thing is you don’t have to be single to celebrate Selfentine’s Day! It’s a day to empower yourself to gift and give yourself the kind of day you would like, putting no pressure on a mate if you have one, or girlfriends – just you!
It might look like one of my favorite topics; extreme self-care. We each have our own preferences but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Start this special day with treating yourself to a massage. Make it a good one, maybe splurge on a spa day. You could add a facial, get your nails done, spend some time in the sauna or ice room. Whatever you enjoy! (Even better you don’t have to make the day fall on Valentine’s Day – schedule it for Saturday or Sunday to give yourself more free time!)
- Prepare your favorite dinner and set the table complete with candles and fancy dishes. Add soft music in the background and you have yourself a very nurturing environment for your Selfentine’s dinner. Take your time eating. Savor every bite.
- Read a book for pleasure. Put away all those books and articles you’ve saved up for work, they are for another time. Find a nice comfy place to sit, with your favorite throw or blanket nearby, maybe a cup of tea or your favorite beverage, and indulge! Let yourself be swept away in the story you are reading – phone in another room so as not to get distracted.
- Find a movie on Netflix or your favorite channel – guilty pleasure viewing. Put on your comfy PJs, stock your coffee table with Godiva and wine or buttery popcorn. Don’t hold back.
- If the weather is cold where you live, build a fire in your fireplace, put some music on, and have a dance party in your living room! Crank. It. Up.
- If the weather is warm where you live, go on a nature walk, breathe in the fresh air. Notice the wildlife and the landscape. Allow yourself to feel, really feel the appreciation for all that you are and all that you have.
As a life coach, the place that I begin is with YOU, the individual. Your dreams. Your personality. Your passions. It’s up to you! You can opt out of a holiday or even celebrate all three – Galentine’s, Valentine’s and Selftine’s. I’d love to see you share your activities with a fun post on Instagram with the hashtags #loveyourselfie and #selfentine. Remember to tag @coachedliving so I’ll find it easily. I’ll pick a winner on Feb. 15th to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.
They all begin in the same place – loving yourself first. No matter which one you are celebrating, be sure to make it special. If you’d like to learn more about working with a life coach to navigate the journeys through love (all sorts), friendship and careers, contact me to find out more about one-on-one coaching and group coaching.
Happy LOVE Week!
When we were kids, making friends was so much easier. All you had to do was showup. Just going outside to play, you were guaranteed friends. Showing up on the playground at recess meant you would be able to join a tetherball game or mess around on the monkey bars. So why does it have to be so hard now? Could it be you stopped showing up?
Where is this new gathering place for adults? Where is it that you can go to “just show up”? It could be as easy as taking a walk with your dog. After all, you will most likely encounter other dog walkers. It could be just showing up at the yoga studio or gym. There would most certainly be other people there with whom you could exchange a few words. What about that class you saw advertised online that you thought would be fun? Chances are other like-minded people would also find it to be fun. There are literally hundreds of places we could go and just “show up”. But is it really all that easy now that you are all grown up?
The short answer is “no”. It isn’t easy. It takes some effort on your part. I could easily create a list for you of “things you need to do” to take it to the next level, but I’m doubtful it would do much good. The issues are more inside of us than they are outside of us. We need a strong foundation, an understanding of how our minds are working before we venture out into the friend world to find “that perfect friend”.
Here is the question: can any one person really fulfill all of these requirements? It’s doubtful. I think we need a “community” of people who are friends at different levels to support us. When we don’t have this, life gets hard and feels lonely. When “just showing up” isn’t enough, I can help. Are you ready to start on this friendship journey? This is the journey we take in Friendship Coaching. When you are ready, I’ll be waiting. I would love to guide you along the journey of finding the friends in your life where there can be mutual support, respect, and love.
In a fast-paced world with countless distractions and demands on our focus, mindfulness and meditation have gained popularity. The most basic principles of mindfulness are about living consciously and paying close attention to the present moment. Because mindfulness requires a special level of attention, it may seem challenging for a person with ADHD to practice this form of meditation. However, research has shown that mindfulness, when adapted for ADHD, can improve focus and concentration.
With the demands of modern living, multitasking has become the norm for many people. Unfortunately, multitasking often does more harm than good, resulting in memory problems, excess stress, and increased distractibility. Practicing mindfulness demands single-tasking and asks practitioners to focus on one task at a time. Slowing down and eliminating multitasking can increase your focus and your productivity.
#2: Stress Reduction
Stress often escalates when people get overwhelmed by present demands and future fears. Mindfulness asks that your attention remain in the present moment. Instead of worrying about the future, mindfulness brings your attention back to the present and allows you to focus on what’s in front of you. Mindfulness will help you redirect your thoughts away from future worries and anxieties so you can focus on the present. In addition, the improved focus you’ll get from single-tasking will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed and stressed by everything coming at you all at once.
#3: Improve Concentration
Other research has shown that mindfulness can help rewire your brain and create new neurological pathways. It has also been shown to increase grey matter in the brain, and that extra density can improve one’s overall psychological well-being. By rewiring your brain and creating new pathways through mindfulness and meditation, you’re helping yourself find new ways to cope with stress and handle tasks. This all means that you’ll be better equipped to deal with distractions, resulting in improved concentration.
At first, mindfulness may seem challenging. In fact, many new practitioners struggle with feeling that mindfulness has made them more distracted. This feeling is normal because mindfulness will initially draw attention to your propensity for distraction. Noticing your distractions is the first step in the process. With time, you’ll learn to recognize them and let them go so you can focus on the task at hand.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Watch for my group on planning that I will be rolling out sometime this summer.
NEED HELP? Set up a complimentary strategy session so we can talk about it HERE.
Few things upset our lives more than a failure to plan. The Executive Functioning area of the brain is the part responsible for planning, so when there are challenges in this area, planning just doesn’t happen. A misfiring Executive Functioning area can hit people differently and affect the way they interact with the world. For example; people with ADHD have a different relationship with time than those without ADHD. I’ve heard my clients say there are only two times: there is “now”, and there is “never”. This means that if someone with ADHD doesn’t do something immediately, it will never get done.
Even though there can be lot of chaos in life for people who fail to plan, there are a few upsides as well. One is thrill of immediate gratification and being flexible enough to do whatever interests them at the time. Many of my clients in the past have avoided planning altogether for fear that they would “put themselves in a box” and then life would just not be pleasant and spontaneous. The ones who have embraced planning, however, have found the opposite to be true. If you plan out your time in advance, you will be more efficient. If you are more efficient, you will have more time to play. True, some of the spontaneity is taken out of your life, but there will also be the relief you feel knowing the essentials of your day are taken care of.
In response to clients’ avoidance of planning, for fear they would be trapped or “in a box”, I developed a bit of a mantra. It goes like this: You can trade time, but you can’t steal it. This means that if you have a time set aside for one thing but you want to do another, you have to look at your schedule and decide what you are going to trade for that time. If I have blocked off time for writing, and I’m not feeling creative at the time, I can’t just blow it off. I have to find another block of time to move it to. Sometimes that block of time will end up being my free time. That really stinks, but I have to make a decision to either take my free time now and write later, or write now so that I can take my free time later. It really is pretty simple. I do, however, have to be honest here. I occasionally steal my time. Yep, I’ll admit to it. You will too. You don’t have to be 100% perfect on this. But if you aren’t at least 90%, your life will start to spin out of control.
After accepting that there is merit in planning ahead, the next step is to decide how to do it. I recommend weekly planning at the same time each week, with daily planning in order to fulfill your weekly commitments. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Decide on your planning tools. There are many out there and people have their own preferences. Personally, I use a digital calendar and a paper planner. Most people don’t differentiate between calendars and planners, but there is a definite difference. I’ll say more about that in a future post.
- Know the difference between a “to do” item and a project. A “to do” item is usually simple and can be accomplished without multiple steps. A project will have many steps (or multiple “to do” items) in order to complete it.
- Plan at the same time every week, and then adjust your plan every day.
- Consider weekly planning on either Sunday or Monday morning to get your week started right.
- Daily planning can be done either the night before or in the morning. I prefer the night before so that I don’t waste any time in the mornings. It also helps me get up and around because I already know what I am doing that day.
- Block off spaces of time for each of the things you plan to accomplish. Be realistic and remember that people with ADHD tend to see time differently than others. Be sure and add extra time to your estimate to account for this tendency.
- Find yourself an accountability partner. This could be a friend or a coach. I wouldn’t normally recommend a family member. Too often when a family member fills this role, it is seen as nagging, whereas with a friend or a coach, it is seen as reminding.
- The last step is your daily review. Review at the end of your day how well your plan went. Note what went right and what went wrong. Make adjustments in your style accordingly.
I hope these tips help you. Watch for my group on planning that I will be rolling out sometime this summer. Planning is a skill. Skills take time and practice. If you are 10% better next week than this week, give yourself a huge pat on the back. It’s a process.
NEED HELP? Set up a complimentary strategy session so we can talk about it HERE.
Busy lives and fast minds sometimes wreak havoc on friendships. Add ADHD to the mix and it is a recipe for a lot of lonely times and hurt feelings between friends. Here are a few tips to help make staying connected with friends a little easier.
1. Go through emails and contacts and sort people into one of three categories. Intimates – these are people who are dearest to your heart. They are the people who will come to your aide at 2 in the morning if you need them to. Friends – These are people that you do things with outside of the context of the environment. For example if it is a friend from work, you would socialize with them outside of work. They aren’t intimates in that you would not confide everything to them, but they are fun and they add pleasure to your life. Acquaintances– these are people you see in church, at the dentist, at book club but you don’t socialize with them outside of the environmental context in which you know them.
2. Look at your calendar and enter a reminder to contact your intimates once a week and your friends maybe once a month. Acquaintances will just be on the list unless you decide to move them up to friends. The contact could be an email, a text or a phone call.
3. Have a friend journal in which you record things like important dates your friends and intimates mention, their children’s names, their significant other, special gifts or treats they like. This will help you avoid forgetting the important things in your friend’s lives. If it is a special date like an anniversary or birthday, take time to write it on your calendar.
4. Make plans to do something with your intimates at least once a month and your friends at least once every other month or so. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just doing something you both enjoy.
5. If you have shared interests, that’s a bonus. You can plan things to do surrounding your interest. I have a client who has an intimate who is long distance. They get together on the phone on nights Dancing With The Stars comes on and watch it together. You could also use face time or skype. At a particularly busy time in my life my best friend and I scheduled dinner out every Thursday night. We both had small children so it was an extra fun time to visit with each other without the demands of the children. One of my clients has a friend that he goes to the firing range with and shoots. They do this probably once a month or so.
There are a lot of other things you can do to keep up with your friends, but this should get you started. Let me know if you have other ideas. I’m always looking for good ideas!
With or without ADHD people need help with relationships. But those with ADHD need a little “extra” help. The tips below have come from working with people with ADHD for many years. I think they will help you too!
Educate yourself. Know how ADHD shows up for you. This allows you to develop strategies to minimize the impact of ADHD on your relationship.
Get help. Help can be in the form of medication, counseling, coaching or nutritional changes. Most likely it will be a combination of two or more of these. Without help it is nearly impossible to develop strategies to flourish in relationships.
Take responsibility. Don’t play the blame game. Take responsibility for your decisions, your actions, your ADHD, and for educating those who are closest to you about ADHD. People are usually willing to work with you if they know what’s going on.
Develop systems, strategies, and accountability. Systems and strategies make dealing with ADHD easier and accountability makes sure you use the systems and strategies you develop. This is work best done with the help of a coach. This is their area of expertise!
Make time for the people you care about. Relationships will literally die if you don’t make time for them. Make sure that you connect with the people closest to you regularly. (Hint – you could develop a system for this!)
If you would like to learn more about how to develop systems and strategies to encourage and strengthen relationships contact me.
Communication, Connections, & Relationships:
How to decode the mysteries of misunderstandings in your relationships
Your communication style in relationships is the way you interact with other people. If your style compliments the other person, the communication will probably be successful. If not, you will probably have problems communicating.
Many communication problems aren’t with the words we use, but with the tone and the way we string the words together. Sometimes it’s even body language or lack of it.
Most of us are blissfully unaware of the styles we use to connect with others. When our words don’t strike home we are often surprised and maybe even hurt. When we realize that we are misunderstood, we often say that we “just didn’t connect”. This failure to connect underlies most relationship problems. Without connection, relationships fall flat.
Some of us talk to think and others think to talk. In the first case, talking things out helps us come to conclusions. In the second case, we listen to what is being said and think before we respond. Either way it is difficult for these two people to connect unless they understand what is going on.
The person who thinks to talk often feels flooded with all the chatter and the sheer quantity of words that the person who talks to thinks uses. On the other hand the person who talks to think is often offended at the slow response of the person who thinks to talk. His/her words are often measured and few. Either party might be offended or hurt just because they do not understand their roles in this communication.
Neither way is better. They are just different. You might have already guessed that most women fall into the talk to think category and most men fall into the think to talk category. There are, however, plenty of role reversals with communication styles and it is best to evaluate each person’s style independent of any preconceptions.
My daughters, daughter in law, and I are definitely the talk to think types, and my husband, son, and one son in law are definitely the think to talk type. My other son-in-law, I think might just be the talk to think type. It’s too early to tell about my grandchildren, but suffice it to say that my granddaughters and my grandson use a whole lot of words! As you might imagine communication issues in our household have been among the top issues we have dealt with. Fortunately we are all pretty well educated in communication (sometimes against the will of my children especially my son who once said “I wish you weren’t a therapist!”).
Even though we are all aware of these differences we still experience difficulties from time to time. One of the hardest things for me is when my son doesn’t share his thoughts, dreams, and intentions with me. Well, he says he does, I think he doesn’t. You see, he uses very few words. I have to admit that he may use very few words because I use so many! Either way, for the last few years I have had to learn to patiently wait for him to share. You’d have to ask him how he feels about my communication style (he hasn’t said).
The girls and I are doing better than we did when they were teenagers. I think they still think I say too much and I think I can’t get a word in edgewise with them, but all in all we are doing okay. My two sons-in-law and my daughter in law are fitting in well with the rest of us and we are all learning to communicate and respect each other’s style of communication.
I have discovered that all my children and their spouses have some pretty deep thoughts if I just be quiet long enough for them to say them! Ah, my husband, well he does a wonderful job of listening to me and encouraging the kids to listen to me. In fact, he might just be up for sainthood when it comes to all the listening he does. Sometimes I get frustrated with him for what seems to be lack of feedback to me, but now that I realize that he is just “thinking” so he can figure out how to respond, I don’t take it personally. We are all definitely works in progress, but the important thing is that we keep on learning and growing in our relationships with each other.
- Try to determine which style every family member prefers.
- Identify your own style.
- Observe and record in your journal the styles of each family member and how your style and theirs either helps you connect, or disconnects you from them.
- Talk with your family members about your discoveries. Ask them to work with you as all of you learn to respect the styles of the others.
- Widen your circle to include extended family and then friends and co-workers. Do the steps above to determine their styles and deepen your understanding of them.
- Have compassion for and patience with those who have styles different than your own.
Have fun with this exercise. Not everything has to be work! Learn to laugh at your own shortcomings in communications and encourage humor and tolerance when discussing the shortcomings of others.
JUST STEP OVER IT
Few things can be as harmful to relationships as unspoken truths. Unspoken truths are those things that are really bothersome to us that we refuse to share with those we love. I hear unspoken truths often as I work with my clients. The things “not” said. These things I have been trained to listen for, but what about those of you who are not trained to “hear” these unspoken truths?
The unspoken truth is often felt rather than heard.
The husband says to the wife, “I’m working late tonight. Don’t wait up”. She feels uneasy and thinks, “Why is he not telling me where he is going or why he will be so late?” But, fearing conflict, she just lets it go (steps over it). The next day she is distant with her husband because she is still uneasy about last night’s situation. He realizes that she is distant, but not wanting to “rock the boat” he remains silent (steps over it).
A mother is talking to her grown daughter on the phone and the daughter says something to offend the mother. The mother lets it pass (steps over it) because she wants to have a good relationship with the daughter. Several times the next day the mother remembers what the daughter said and feels hurt all over again. The next time that they talk the daughter can tell that her mother is distant. She “feels” the distance. She says nothing (steps over it), however, not wishing to start a discussion that might lead into an argument.
Can you see how these things can lead to disconnection between the people involved? Every time we “step over” the unspoken truth we put distance between ouselves and those we love.
By the same token, we need to be careful in situations that might cause injury to those relationships we hold dear. I am not suggesting that we “confront” each other. I am not suggesting that you become the “unspoken truth police” with constant reminders to speak the unspoken truth. I am simply suggesting that it would improve our relationships immensely if we would take the time to collect our thoughts and then go back and speak our truths. If we do this often enough, we become quite good at it and then we can often speak our truths on the spot without much thought. It is all a matter of training ourselves to notice the unspoken truth, we make a decision about how to deal with the unspoken truth, and then act on that decision. Relationships are not usually harmed by the truth, but they are often harmed when unspoken truths pile up and assumptions are made.
An unspoken truth occurred between me and someone I care about just the other night. She said something that hurt my feelings. I stepped over it, feeling that it would do little good to say anything about it at that time. Now I have a choice to make. Should I call her and tell her that my feelings are hurt, and clear the air, or should I remain silent knowing that the relationship will remain strained if I don’t speak up? It is a difficult decision. It is one that I have not yet decided how to handle. The thing to notice here is that I am deciding. I am intentionally deciding how to handle it. I will, in the next few days, make a decision and proceed with it. Is the relationship worth me “putting myself out there?” I don’t yet know, but I will tell you that I will follow the same steps that I am about to outline for you in the Coaching Challenge. You see, even the coach is hard at work on these suggestions. It makes your life more peaceful and purposeful. I promise!!!.
- Get your journal out.
- Think of a person that is important to you and write their name at the top of the paper.
- Examine your innermost thoughts and feelings about your relationship with this person. Are there unspoken truths between the two of you?
- Write out any unspoken truths you thought of. These can be on your part or their part. Is there anything between you that needs to be cleared up?
- What would your relationship be like with this person if you cleared up the unspoken truths?
- What will it be like if you don’t?
- Is the relationship worth it to you? If so, go forward and clear it up, if not…just know that there will remain a distance between the two of you and move on.