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Make Space to Shine

A Matter of Perspective

I am in awe of Spring.

This year in particular it seems that she has had to work extra hard to come forth from behind the dark veil of Winter. Here in Michigan, our Winter was longer and snowier than ever before - both in my opinion, and in meteorological history.

Now my backyard is an oasis of growth, a beacon of hope for what is sure to come out of the darkness, even when it doesn't seem possible.

Not long ago, I stared from inside my house out to my backyard and this is what I saw….

I took that picture during one of our last snowfalls near the end of March (March 25 to be exact). I couldn't believe it was snowing again. I didn't think any of us could tolerate another flake of snow. Even though I typically enjoy the beauty of winter, I was so tired of the colorless landscape that this snowfall was depressing. Even after the snow melted, I stared at the naked trees not believing they would ever bear leaves again. It just didn't seem possible after the brutal weather we experienced - that something so desolate could ever be lush again.

Today my backyard looks like this…

I watched in awe as the little leaf buds popped, the grass began to turn from brown to green, the sky returned to its trademark blue, and finally the buds turned to full grown leaves. It is amazing, isn't it?

Same creek in the back. Same trees. I'm looking out from the same house. The same person. And everything looks completely different.

This change in perspective is a simple yet powerful thing. Seeing these trees from Spring's window is so completely different than seeing them from Winter's. Yes, the trees themselves are different too, but does that really matter? What if when I looked out the window on March 25th, I chose to see the potential for growth I see now?

What if when I looked in the mirror this morning, irritated by the way my shirt stretched across my large chest, I saw her…

Instead of her…

Would there have been less grumbling? Would there have been such doubt in her reflection - her beauty, her worthiness, her capacity to shine?

Last week in our online coaching circle for our e-course Make Space to Shine, my dear friend and teaching partner, Libby and I began to explore perspective with the class. Libby brought her life coaching tool - her Perspective Wheel to the table and blew me away with the insights that came with it.

Surprisingly, the new insights were mostly mine. With Libby's gentle nudge, I began to see what for me was a stumbling block in growing my business from a few different perspectives - from my daughter's perspective, my future self's perspective, and even from the perspective of a painting hanging on my wall. Same stumbling block. Different perspective.

Usually our perspectives are the result of a story we have come to believe about ourselves. A story someone else may have helped us write. A story that may not even be true. Sometimes a story we carry for our entire lives was written in a matter of minutes, even seconds.

Exploring these stories - how they came to be and who helped us write them gives us the opportunity to dig deep, and sometimes we don't like what we find. The beauty in digging though is that we get to decide what to keep and what to throw away. We get to decide. WE get to decide.

The skills we lacked when the story was written are more developed now. Whether the story came into being twenty years ago or 20 minutes ago, we now have the capacity to see it in retrospect. Consequently, we can choose whether we want to rewrite the story from a new perspective or keep it like it is.

Accepting our stories as is opens us to the possibility that there were lessons learned or gifts given. Acceptance is as powerful as revision. Acceptance neutralizes what was once a source of shame or guilt. By digging into this story and accepting what came of it, we disempower it. No longer does it have a hold on us.

We can completely rewrite our stories. Or, maybe we can keep the essence of the story, but change how it impacts our lives. A story of what was lost when a loved one passes becomes a story of what was gained in knowing this person. We can decide whether we want a co-author or whether we will go it alone. We can take it slow. We can stop and start again. We can crumple up our latest draft and start fresh. All along the way, we get to decide.

I write my story. You write yours.

Where could you benefit from seeing a situation in your life through a fresh set of eyes? Will you try it? Will you choose hope? Growth? Potential? Or will you choose something different? It's all up to you.


More Snow, Tax Day, Toxic Thinking, and MAKING SPACE to SHINE.

Morning view. Undoubtedly gorgeous. And cold.

My kids are on Spring Break this week. We are spending this precious family time cozied up in our family cottage in Northern Michigan. This morning we woke up to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Due to wishful thinking (and perhaps a wee bit of oversight on my part), "we" didn't pack winter clothing. 

When I asked my kids where their coats were, they said "Mom, it's SPRING break!"

Right. Spring MICHIGAN! Clearly they are too young to know that while Spring in Michigan may conjure up images of new blooms and mud pies, it can also mean frigid temperatures and falling snow.

This winter has been brutal. This assessment from someone who has heat and food and a reliable vehicle. Yes, all that and I still felt the impact of dark skies, cold air, and lingering doubt about whether winter would ever really end. 

I am prone to the winter blues. This particular winter was flat out depressing. There were many days I had to play mind tricks with myself to get my body out of bed. Fortunately, I'm pretty good at transforming my hopelessness into something more positive. I've had a lot of practice. And still, the sight of more snow makes my heart ache. Thank God for today's beautiful blue skies and bright shining sun though (see how I did that? I found something to be grateful for in the midst of feeling doubtful.).

Before I really even got out of bed this morning, I heard news of a tragic accident that took the life of a nine year-old girl. In her school parking lot. Devastating.

Today, Tuesday April 15, is the IRS tax filing deadline. Anxiety-ridden.

My neck hurts. Again. I hold my tension in my neck and shoulders and while it isn't too much to bear, I am in discomfort every day.

A little bit ago my kids went from playing peacefully together to arguing.

My dog is barking at me.

I'm not sure what to make for dinner tonight…

There are many, many thoughts swirling around in my head at any given moment. I have heard that the average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. Many of which are the same thoughts we have every day. Many, many of which are negative.

Some of us, especially those prone to anxiety and depression - like me, can get bogged down in negative thinking. It can be debilitating. 

There are many books, tools, and experts dedicated to finding ways to help people eliminate negative thinking, or at least alleviate the devastating impact it can have on people. I have worked with many of these resources. One of the prevailing lessons of this work is that in most things worth pursuing, a great deal of practice is required. I felt some sadness when I finally realized that because what I really wanted was a cure for what has ailed me most in my life… pain, loss, grief, shame, anxiety, depression. I have wanted it all to end. I have devoured texts and spoken to professionals trying to find ways to make it end. 

What I discovered is that none of it ever really ends. I can't stop it; however, I can learn to live with it. To live with it, to live with all of it - what I was born with, what I have learned along the way, and what I am exposed to each day - requires an ongoing practice of determining what is true and what isn't, what can be changed and what can't, and what can be held or released.

It sounds so simple. I probably should have gotten it the first time I heard Reinhold Niebuhr's Serentity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

I didn't get it all those years ago though. I then thought I only had to say the prayer and POOF! I would be okay again. I didn't understand that an ongoing practice went along with this prayer. I couldn't have comprehended that there will always be things. That every single day more things arise. That as I grew older, the things would become more complicated. That the longer I ignored these things instead of facing them, the more painful they would be when they surfaced.
And why does it even matter? Why would I care to undertake such a practice?
Because I want to be free. And, I have work to do.
Several years ago, when the new mom fog that surrounded me began to rise and I realized that life is really really short, I came to know that I had work I wanted to do here on Earth. I was fortunate enough to learn many tools that helped me feel more at ease in my life and I felt called to share what I've learned to help others. I started with a little blog and then a business. 
I can't continue to move forward if I continue to let my negative thinking weigh me down. None of us needs to stay bogged down in negative thinking. We were never meant to live in that dark, heavy, bogged down place. We were meant to experience freedom, light, and JOY! It's true. 
As soon as I opened up to that possibility, that maybe part of my purpose is to share what I've learned, I committed to practicing what I learn along the way. I'm so much happier for it.
Now it's time to share what I've learned in an even more powerful way.
My dear friend Libby Nelson is a life coach. She recently shared this on Facebook, "Friends, here's what I know to be true: each of us is here on Earth for a special purpose. We have gifts and callings that are uniquely ours to share. When we allow that to happen and we let our lights SHINE, the world is a better place and we are happier, more alive and a force for love and good in the lives of the people we encounter. So often, the way we think about and talk to ourselves gets in the way of all of that. We beat up on ourselves, we fall into overwhelm, we believe the myth that we aren't good enough, smart enough, thin enough or lovable enough. We hold ourselves back, we hide our precious lights and we suffer for it. So does the world."
Libby and I have created an e-course called Make Space to Shine: Transform Your Toxic Thinking and Let the Light In. Our intention is to help other people determine what is holding them back, and to help clear that space out so they can shine as they were meant to shine. 
About our e-course Libby says, "We'll share five weeks of rich, life changing and easy to manage course content including techniques to transform the way you think about and communicate with yourself. We'll combine coaching with easy-to-follow art projects (no experience or fancy supplies required!) which will give you access to yourself in a whole new way...we promise that you will leave this experience feeling more connected with yourself and other women. You'll have made more space to really SHINE -- and when you do that, anything is possible."
Imagine this if you will…a world where we shine together. Close your eyes and let that image sink in for a minute. Our minds are free of clutter, our hearts are open to the love that surrounds us, we are in community together, shining brighter than ever. I LOVE that vision. I love what Libby and I created together and I cannot wait to share it with you.
I hope you will join us. It's time. Make Space to Shine.
To learn more and to register for Make Space to Shine, click here. Earlybird pricing ends Friday!
Thank you! I'll see you in class! xoxo
Libby and I in Santa Fe, NM getting ready to help you SHINE!