feeling lost

When moving forward is hard (and you don't really want to)

A few years back, a good friend of mine lost her entire house, basically everything she owned, and one of her dogs, in a house fire. Recently she shared with me a little bit about that time in her life. She said, “moving forward seemed impossible, but going back was impossible.” This is how I’ve felt in the last month since losing my dog child Kona. I want so much to turn the clock back and have my happy, healthy, furry kid again. Since I can’t do that, I’m trying to move forward. Albeit reluctantly. Let life happen to you. Life is in the

Maybe you’ve been here before. Something major, even earth shattering, happened in your life that you didn’t see coming. Your new normal A- doesn’t feel normal at all, and B- feels really sucky. Then C- you wonder if your life will ever feel great again. You hope it will but you aren’t really sure.

I decided to share the experience I’m going through at this time in hopes that something might resonate for you either now, or in the future.

I’m in the middle of this grief journey. It’s H-A-R-D.

I’m a life coach. That means I have a ton of tools in my toolbox to help both me and my clients with all sorts of situations in life. You don’t often hear how life coaches deal with the really hard times. I’ve found that the best tool I have in my toolbox right now is straight up surrender.

Surrender to what’s happening. Surrender to my new reality. Surrender to the process of grieving and all its stages. Surrender to the hard and sad parts. It ebbs and flows through me during the day. I just let it do its thing. This means I cry. In the grocery store, while walking my other dog, at home, in the car, in front of people, by myself…

I’m melting really. Kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West when she gets trapped under the house in the Wizard of Oz and melts away. That’s what’s happening to me. But what’s melting away is my ego. That part of me that plans and plans and plans. That part that makes decisions about what’s coming up in my life and how it’s going to look down the road. That part that’s trying to keep it all together.

It shattered.

Into a million pieces.

When the rug gets pulled out from underneath you, you can hit the floor pretty hard. I did.

How losing a dog could create such havoc in my inner world is beyond comprehension. But I get it because it goes beyond the intellectual. It’s just pure love. There are no words for that and it needs no explanation.

There’s that quote that says “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s almost a bad thing in our culture to not know where you’re going, have big goals, or have a plan to get you to those goals. I’m completely questioning that. It’s we humans who feel the need to have a plan. But life happens when you’re making other plans. So I’ve decided to not plan, to just let the wind blow me around and see what shows up.

It doesn’t mean I sit around and do nothing all day. I’ve found I worry less, I don’t care about things as much, and I let go of expectations of others and myself. It’s kind of freeing actually.

I’ve known all along the universe is more in charge of my life than I am. I just think I’m in control. Ha! But looking back, it has supported me fully, my entire life. With or without my input.

It’s really nice to let the universe show me where to go for a change. It takes the pressure off. So I’ll follow its lead. I actually think I’ll have an even more interesting and fun life moving forward by allowing it to take me towards new adventures I might never have planned on my own.

So when life throws you lemons and you don’t feel like making lemonade, don’t. Try surrendering to, and allowing the process you’re in, to unfold naturally.

You might just find the universe will make you some really yummy lemonade, all without your help.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

A Love Letter to My Sweet Dog

Monday 09/29/14 You filled my days with SO much joy. Just being in the same room with you made me (and I think you) extremely happy. Your sweet, gentle face melted everyone’s heart that you met. Your fierce wagging tail, that could knock a drinking glass off a table and blow candles out, was a sign of how thrilled you were to be with anyone who showed you attention.

It always made me smile as I watched you run down the trail with your yellow tail, slightly curved up at the end, swaying back and forth with your stride. I’d call your name and you’d turn to look at me with that sparkle in your eye and know that home base was near. And off running you’d go.

You loved being rubbed from the top of your head to the tip of your tail, and even in-between your toe pads. I loved running my fingers over all your furry parts. Your ears were as soft as velvet. As I massaged them with my hands your eyes would roll back in your head. I knew how good it felt. You pawed at me when I would stop because you wanted more. I always obliged.

After you ate meals you would lie on your side on the floor rubbing your nose in the carpet making little pig-like grunting sounds. You LOVED food. You could clean out any sink strainer with your tongue by standing up on those long back legs of yours. And you were a master of stealing food from others. So quick, they didn’t see it coming.

You had some bad habits, but you never made me mad. I would just laugh at you.

When I’d walk in the door after being gone just a few hours, you’d practically fly over to greet me and whine like I’d been gone for days. Then I’d put my face right in front of your nose and you’d sniff my scent to make sure we were connected again.

If you happened to be sleeping when I walked into the room and you heard me, your eyes would open and you’d thump your tail so hard I thought it might break. I would call you by one of your nicknames and watch your head pop up off the floor, one ear up and one down, in full anticipation of what I would say next. I’m pretty sure you were always hoping I’d ask if you wanted to go for a car ride.

You are the only dog I’ve ever known that would sleep on the couch belly up, with your back legs spread eagle, and your right front leg lifted straight up into the air like you had a question to ask.

Then one Monday morning, out of the blue, you woke up and something wasn’t quite right with your back and your hind legs. I somehow “knew” something was very wrong, but I didn’t want to believe it.

I chose from the various options the vet gave to help you and me get back on the trails together. You were so patient with me as I took you back and forth to the vet for injections for what we thought was arthritis. After a while, you hated going there.

I hope you know how much I prayed and hoped, and did everything I could to get you back outside to run and sniff, and eat animal carcasses in the woods. I even bargained with God. Take something away from me, anything, so that you could have your life back. I pleaded. Don’t let this be it. It’s just too soon.

You had better days and not so good days. But the one thing I could count on was that you would eat every last morsel of food at every meal. You never lost your amazing appetite. I know food became a highlight of your days. As well as all the times I lay with you on the floor stroking your fur.

In the end, I did the kindest thing I could. I freed your amazingly happy spirit from your malfunctioning body and said goodbye. I asked my mom, who has already passed and was awesome with animals, to look after you until I could be with you again.

I know the hole in my heart is so huge because I loved you so much. I never missed an opportunity to show you what you meant to me. If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing. I know I did it right.

You’ve been gone 7 hours Kona and the house is SO quiet without your thumping tail on the floor and your bright eyes looking at me. I miss you so very much already. I knew this day would be tremendously hard, but the reality is, it’s more excruciatingly painful than I’d ever imagined it could be.

I’m already thinking about your soft fur, your breathing in and out, the sound of your eyelids when they blinked, that happy whine, and so much more. I know my life will never be the same without you in it. I can’t even begin to imagine it. I really don’t want to. It hurts too much.

So now that you can, enjoy the trails. I’ll picture you running all around just like you used to do. As well as the sparkle in your eye when I’d call your name and you’d look over at me. I so look forward to being out there with you again someday.

 

Play in Peace Kona.

IMG_2119IMG_1658IMG_0245Susan&Chad_W_437

Kona, AKA, Big Boy, Boo Bear, Yellow Kid, Sweet Boy, and Sweet Pea

August 2002-September 2014

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Random events aren't really random

I believe in a friendly universe and I believe events that happen in your life that seem random, aren’t. If you’re willing to pay attention that is.

I mentioned my dog child Kona two weeks ago and how I dealt with the uncertainty of what was happening with him. If you missed it, you can read about it here. dice

The week after Kona had the herniated disc in his back was beyond stressful for me. The kind where you don’t sleep, or eat stressful.

Kona had some kind of a neurological event that caused strange things to happen with one of his eyes. It looks a bit odd, but thankfully, he can see fine.

I found a lump under his armpit and the cells inside were abnormal. I waited two excruciating days to find out if he had cancer or not. He doesn’t. Phew!

And he was diagnosed with arthritis that would need some pretty heavy-duty meds or he would be limping and in pain for the rest of his life. We’ve started those and he’s improving already.

How random all of this seemed. How unsettled I felt.

How could an active healthy dog go from running miles and miles one day to looking like he might not make it through the next day, like overnight?

I had to sit with these questions.

In doing so, I found helpful insight and meaning when I really looked at what seemed like random events.

Am I really paying attention to my life? Kona had some arthritis symptoms now that I look back. I didn’t know that’s what they were, but I’m aware now. Where in my life do I have symptoms of a problem that I’m not aware of or that needs addressing?

Kona had an issue with his eye. What am I not seeing clearly in my life or what do I need to see that I’m completely missing?

There’s that lump I found under his arm. Do I do regular mammograms and get check ups to make sure I remain in good health or catch something early?

What happens outside of us can be a reflection of what’s going on inside of us. Everything is a mirror.

My dog Kona has shown me so much the past few weeks. His issues have given me a lot to think about in my life.

I also found out how deep my love for him was. I’ve always known it was incredibly huge. But when I thought the end could be near, my sadness was overwhelming.

I didn’t know my heart was so big.

I invite you to look at the events in your life that seem random. Are they really? What can you discover or learn?

It’s your life. It matters.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I'd love to  hear from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

 

What your brain does with uncertainty

I am (for the most part) totally fine with uncertainty. Yea I plan for the future, but know that things won’t always work out that way I visualized them in my head and I’m okay with that. I can’t possibly know what’s going to happen tomorrow. No one can. IMG_0729

But uncertainty hit me at the beginning of the week and scared the bejeebies out of me. My lab/husky mix dog child Kona, who is one active, healthy, 12 year old, woke up Monday morning and couldn’t walk very well. His hind legs were stiff and straight, his back arched, and he seemed to be in pain.

I immediately knew something was very wrong with my normally full of energy happy kid. I stayed home all day to monitor him and made an appointment with the vet.

Then my brain proceeded to freak the hell out. It said things like OMG!...What’s wrong with him?... This is the beginning of the end… What if he has cancer… I’m not ready for this… You get the picture. Not pretty! Or comforting.

And unfortunately, that’s what our brains do. Tell a story and freak out about a made up future that isn’t even here yet.

Absolutely NOT helpful.

So I pulled out some coaching tools to use on myself.

The first one was to sit outside on my deck surrounded by trees, green grass, and singing birds. I closed my eyes, breathed in, and breathed out.

Then I looked at the situation. I had only two facts in front of me. 1- my dog wasn’t walking right and 2- he was in pain. That’s it. TWO facts. Everything else was just an anxious story my mind spun about what those two facts might mean.

I also noticed and observed the crazy thoughts I had about the gloom and doom of what the future “might” hold. When I did that I became anxious and scared. And then I cried. I let those suckers flow.

Then after crying I’d come back to the present moment with my two facts. And just focusing on those two facts was so much more doable. He’s not walking right, he’s in pain. I’d already made a vet appointment, so help would be coming. I lay with him on the floor petting him and watched him sleep. Interestingly enough, if you are sleeping you don’t know you’re in pain and your back legs work great. Especially because I watched him running in his dream.

That was the key for me. To stay present with the facts. Yes, I was sad that something was off for him, but staying just in the moment, one moment at a time, made it so much less stressful and anxiety provoking.

I’m not going to lie to you. My brain toggled back and forth between staying here and jumping into a scary future. But at least I know I had control over it. I chose whether or not I worried.

You can do it too. Notice something you are worried about for the future. Notice the thoughts you have around it and how you feel. Now notice what the actual facts are in the situation now. Notice the difference between the two.

We made it to the vet and my Kona had a herniated disc in his back pressing on a nerve affecting his legs. He got an injection plus great meds and he is SO much better. My boy’s spunk is back. I am beyond grateful for amazing veterinary medical technology.

And for coaching tools to help me stay here and now. Because that’s where life happens. Not tomorrow or 6 years from then. In each little moment. Now. I can handle life if it’s broken down like that.

I bet you can too.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Getting help when you need it

A “normal” writing idea for my blog has escaped me this week. I’m thinking its because Robin Williams’ suicide hit me harder than I expected. robin williams I’ve felt depressed before. It sucks. Haven’t we all on some level at some time in our life? I can honestly say I’ve had times in my life when I had suicidal thoughts. I’m not ashamed to admit and share this. It’s part of my human experience. I just could not see the direction I needed to go and I lost hope. I bet many of you have had some form of this experience.

Some part of me knew I’d never go through with it. Some part of me knew help was available and I could get it. I did get help. Therapists are amazing people. The one I worked with helped me see that I had choices. Options my depressed brain at the time could not see. I think that’s what often we are seeking. To know we have choices, there is hope, and we can feel better. I don’t condemn or condone Robin’s choice. I’ve never been diagnosed with clinical depression. I can’t possibly imagine what that must feel like.

Honestly, I don’t ever want to.

The choices to be made for our life cannot be made by anyone but us. I can’t possibly know or understand the indescribable pain he must have felt to decide that the only way out was to end it. That was his choice.

If you’re reading this and you’re feeling depressed, feeling helpless, and feeling hopeless, there is someone waiting to help you. Always. 24/7. Call a friend. Get a counselor. Call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255!

There are people put on the earth just for the sole purpose to help others through their pain.

You are human. I am human. You and I are not alone. We survive by celebrating together during the good times and helping each other through the tough times. People want to help you. They really do.

Your life is worth so much to so many. Look at the effect Robin Williams has had on the world this week. Don’t underestimate how important you are to humanity, or to at least one other human being.

That number again, 800-273-8255.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

When you have no choice

A client I’ve been working with has an amazing story I think you’ll want to hear. I’ll call her Lydia. We had been working together a short while when she had one of the most uplifting experiences of her life. She went hang gliding.  hang-gliders-in-manitoba

Here’s what she said about it. “I'm currently in southern California right now on vacation learning to hang glide. Today is my second day of training, and it is beyond words, aMAZing! I'm feeling a pride about myself building. And I'm so practicing some of your advice. I'm not my thoughts or feelings. My brain/instincts like to think I'm going to die, fear when I surge up in a thermal, is just a feeling. I'm separate from these and in control of my glider. These thoughts help me relax and maintain steady control.”

She felt on top of the world. Brimming with confidence. She was so excited to move forward from this place within herself to the next step in her life.

And then…

She broke her arm on another hang gliding outing. But it wasn’t just an oh you’re arm is broken--put you in a cast for 6-8 weeks--have it removed--then you’re good to go kind of broken arm.

No.

Think surgery.

Pins to hold her broken bones together.

And an external fixator (a metal device that surrounds the outside of her arm 24/7) to hold her arm stable. Pain pills. Doctors visits. Physical Therapy visits.

Now let’s add a loss of independence. She’s in her 30’s. She had to be bathed, dressed, and driven around. Cared for by someone else (her boyfriend) because she couldn’t do it for herself.

Let’s also add a diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder which left her with low energy, anxiety, wanting to sleep, depression, and brain fog.

AND she decided to take pre-requisite classes to get into nursing school during all of this.

OMG!

This can’t be real right?

Yes it can be and it is. Welcome to Lydia’s real life.

I spoke with her recently about all of this and was incredibly curious about how she has managed to do so well and keep her great attitude through this. It’s not over by the way. She still has a lot more work to go with her arm.

Her words of wisdom were excellent. They are worth sharing.

First, she cried. A LOT. She allowed herself to cry. When life gets hard, we feel a lot of emotion. We need to feel that emotion. It’s important, because when we cry, we allow that energy to flow through us and pass on. When Lydia cried, she eventually got tired of crying, then was ready to move forward and take the next step. Crying allowed her to do that. I would even say that releasing energy that needs to be released actually propels us forward.

She said that looking forward too far in the future was depressing. If she was supposed to start physical therapy on a certain date and her arm wasn’t healed enough, it burst her hope bubble. Instead, she would look at where she was now compared to two weeks ago. She focused on the present. The little victories of the progress she’d made. She could finally put her own hair in a pony tail and swim one whole lap without a kickboard. She learned to be in the present moment and grateful for what she had now.

She talked about slowing down. She said, “I’ve made the decision to slow down, mainly in an effort not to be stressed. I’ve always had problems talking/communicating. But if I allow myself to be slow, and not make my brain try to whirl with every thought imaginable, I do a lot better. I’m slowing down when doing tasks, thus preventing a whole lot of stress.  And doing things with more quality, connecting with what I’m doing, and oddly more efficiently. I’m not able to do this 100% yet, but when I do remember to slow down, it is SO much better.”

She said she couldn’t multi task with one hand. Not only did this affect her physically, she decided to let things change in her mind. Lydia said she was tired of juggling all the thoughts in her head, analyzing every conversation with people, and she just didn’t have the energy. She was stressed by rushing all the time.

So what did she do?

She started giving herself extra time to wake up in the morning, actually enjoying breakfast, and talking to her dog. She applied this slowing down to conversations too. She could actually take a breath and listen to what others were saying. To really hear them better.

By slowing down, she felt more calm and less stressed. She enjoys being present, here, right now. She’s feeling more confident and secure in herself because of all the time it has taken to heal. Even other emotional wounds she had from earlier in her life have healed in this process as well.

Pure inspiration this woman is!

Let’s recap because this is gold!

~ Hard shit happens in life (to everyone)

~ It’s okay to let someone else take care of you

~ It’s important to feel and get your emotions out

~ Stay present and appreciate what you have right now

~ Multi-tasking is stressful

~ Slowing down makes you more efficient and present with yourself and others

I told her what a gift her experience has been.

I know, I know. Coming from a person who hasn’t been through anything like this, I sound arrogant.

But I’m looking through the eyes and heart of a human being who gets how this seemingly horrendous time has given her so much. She’s more present, less stressed, more calm, able to listen, not rushing or multi-tasking, more efficient, and more confident and secure in herself.

Our hardest times can so be our greatest gifts. If we are willing to get that.

How many qualities do you see in her that you’d like to possess?

Her circumstances forced her learning. And sometimes that’s what it takes. The proverbial 2X4 smack on the head. Or the arm.

I think the universe knew she needed this. I know she’ll be a different person from now on.

What will it take for you to start feeling your emotions, slow down, stop multi-tasking, be more present with others and yourself, and feel grateful for all you have in your life?

You can start to make changes anytime you know. Or you could wait until you break your arm and have no choice.

Thank you Lydia for being willing to share your experience. I am now a more thoughtful person because of it.

What will you do with the choice you now have? Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

When you get lost

I was out on a mountain bike ride last weekend. I knew where I was going, had a map, and headed out. I passed several trail signs which confirmed I was going the right direction. After a while, I didn’t see those trail signs anymore. I knew I had somehow gotten off the path. Again! Dang!

I am notorious for starting out with a plan, losing my way, then getting lost and having it now work out.

Life is SO like this.

winding-path

How often do you find yourself somewhere you didn’t expect or want to be?

Does that mean your goal was wrong?

Sometimes we start on a path we think is the right one for us, then it takes us somewhere unexpected and we wonder if we were actually on the right path at all to begin with.

You’ll know it’s right because you’ll “feel” it. What?

The paths that are true and right for us are felt in a special place in our bodies.

I’m not talking about “that” special place. ;) Hear me out.

Some of us feel it at a gut level, some in our hearts, some in a place that can’t really be put into words. For some it’s a “knowing”, for others it a sense of rightness, or lightness, or peace.

Our paths are rarely just straight, from point A to point B.

We are never truly lost. We’re just where we are on our own path.

Occasionally, the path we’re on starts off feeling great but then something happens and it’s not so great anymore. Some paths end at that point. And that’s okay. Maybe you were only supposed to be with that person, that job, or in that city for a certain amount of time and then it was time to make a change.

How do you know when it’s time to change the path you’re on?

When continuing the direction you’re headed in doesn’t feel right in your body anymore. There’s tension, and yuck, and no way out….

The change could take the form of a slight shift, or it could be you need to move in a completely different direction.

No wrong answer. It’s your path.

By the way, I found my way back to the correct trail. I got out my map which told me nothing about where I was or needed to go. I just stopped for a few moments and listened to where my body thought I should go.

Worked like a charm.

Tell me your thoughts. Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me directly, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

~ Susan Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Building your community

We human beings are social creatures. That means, at least some of the time, we need to be around other people we can connect with. holdinghands

But not just anyone will do. You need to find your people. Often you find those people in various groups in your life.

Some can be found at work, or a place you volunteer, maybe in line at the coffee shop, or when you try something new like taking a painting class.

Having moved and settled into a new hometown, I’m building my own local community. It’s exciting and actually scarier and harder than I thought it might be. It’s almost like going on a first date all the time. How will I come across? What will I say? How much info. is too much info. to share? Will they like me? Will I like them? I’m not sure if that ever goes away. But then I realize I’m looking for my people. The one’s that like me will, the one’s that don’t won’t. And that’s okay.

In the end, my community will be the people who get my silly quirks and still love me, and I’ll get their goofy mannerisms and love them too.

There are endless possibilities to meet new people and build a community for yourself. Here are a few in my town. You may have many similar ones too.

Online you can go to meetup.com and type in your town. It will show you quite an array of different groups meeting to hike, bike, go to movies, have tea, play games, learn computer stuff, etc… I started going to coffee meetups here and found a ton of woman in my same shoes. Either they were new to town and didn’t know many people or had been here a while and many of their friends had moved.

Look in your local newspaper or magazine. Maybe you have a community college or university where you can take an inexpensive class in something you’ve always wanted to learn more about.

People want to learn, share, grow, and connect. It makes us feel good. We know we aren’t alone and have people around us to be there during the happy and the hard times.

It’s spring! Get out and commune. You’ll find your people if you look. I promise they’re out there.

And I want to thank you for being a part of my community here online. I love the comments you leave on the blog or email to me. There are some smart, deeply feeling people in this community. We can’t meet in person and have coffee but I know if we could it would be super fun. We’re all on the same team and that feels good. Thank you again.

Join the conversation on the blog by leaving a comment below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com

I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.

As always, take from here what works for you, share this with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest… you can leave behind.

Bloom On!