Words to consider: “Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is…”

Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich. – Sarah Bernhart

What an interesting concept, energy creates energy and by sharing ourselves with others all are enriched. Okay, yes, scientifically I know there is a finite amount of energy in this world.  BUT that does not change the fact that when I am around folks who are positively energized- jazzed up about what they are working on professionally, or some new hobby, or an upcoming vacation, or just about anything positive- then suddenly I feel more energized too. Somehow there is a wonderful compounding of “this feels good, right, exciting…” and instantly we both feel more energized. I think this momentum can continue to build with each additional person we interact with the rest of the day. When it does, those are superb days for all parties involved and I want as many of them as possible.

Unfortunately the same principle seems to hold true when I am around people who are negatively energized. Heck, they can drain your energy like a vampire or impart a toxic atmosphere where they go. These are the types of folks you find yourself wondering why you are spending your precious time with them, or avoid in the office like the plague, or dread seeing at the family reunion.  As a strategy to help me live as happily, sanely and as healthily as possible, I strive to limit or eliminate from my life people who have this effect on me. Sometimes interacting with them is unavoidable, and so in those times, I work to see the individual as a complete person who is flawed like me- as much as I dislike admitting that- and create a visual barrier in my mind, much like my client Rosie did with her Thundercloud, so that I don’t get swept up in the negative energy. What tricks do you use?

I work to keep the ratio of personality energies in my life skewed to the positive. That does not mean that I am never a pill or have a downer mood, or that occasionally I don’t get swept up into the negative energy. The same holds true for all of the positively energized people in my life. But more often then not we are positive, even in the midst of chaos. And when I am not, or they are not, we find away to let it go. It is not a pattern of negativity, and when it does occur the reason is usually pretty good. When an apology is needed it is made then we move on. We are human, not happy robots.

Want to get a sense of the ratio of positively energized to negatively energized people in your life? Go get yourself a piece of paper or two and something to write with. Got it? Okay make two headings, “Positively Energizing” and “Negatively Energizing”. Now take a few minutes to think about the people who come to mind when you reflect on “Positively Energizing” and start writing the folks down. Write until you are done. Then repeat this when reflecting on “Negatively Energizing”. Once you are done making the second list count the number of people under each heading. Where does the balance tip, positively or negatively?

Whether you like the direction the ratio is weighted or not, take a minute or two to think about the person who would positively energize you now. Once you know who that is, find a way to reach out to them.


Back By Popular Demand…

I am delighted to tell you that by popular demand I will be hosting a Powerful Living Workshop on July 25th.  The June 24th Powerful Living Workshop was a success for all involved. Thanks to all of you for your continued support!

One of my recent posts, “Crafting a Future From the Edge of Chaos“, addresses the thinking behind the Powerful Living Workshop. In these changing and unsteady times many of us are asking questions such as: What comes next? Or about what might be? What is the best, most fundamentally satisfying way for me to live? This workshop offers participants a time, place and process to consider these questions and begin to answer them.

For those of you who are in the Galesburg/Quad Cities/Burlington area I invite you to join me at the July 25th workshop.

Powerful Living:

Visualization for Creating

Your Best Life


A workshop for you to stop, reflect, focus, on your life and your future.  

You’ll create a clear vision and a plan for you to being realizing it.

We’ll even play a little, and who couldn’t use a little bit of fun these days?


Date: Saturday, July 25, 2009, 10 am – 12 pm 

Location: Inner Wisdom, 31 N Kellogg St, Galesburg, IL

RSVP by Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at (309) 343-8806 

Investment: $25, a willingness to be open to possibilities and two hours of your time

Benefits: Clarity, Focus, Satisfaction and Some Fun

Please feel free to send me a note at inmotion (dot) Danahar (at) yahoo (dot) com with any questions you have about this workshop. Please forgive the odd spelling of the address I am trying to thwart spammers.

Words to Consider: “The Future is uncertain… but this…”

The future is uncertain… but this uncertainly is at the very heart of human creativity. – Ilya Prigogine

When we are kids, everything is uncertain, so what do we do? We play. We experiment.

Will I be a doctor – I don’t know let’s pretend by playing the game Operation. How about a pastry chef? Head into the yard and make some mud pies and eventually we work our way into the kitchen and try making some brownies or cookies.  Oh- I wonder what a maroon-pink-blue flower would look like? Grab that box of crayons and get down to business and draw one.

We did not let, “… but I don’t know what will happen…” get too much in the way of our experimenting. Heck that was the point, “I wonder what will happen?” 

Go play a little today with a new idea, a new recipe, a new sequence of dance steps that you make up, or whatever floats your boat.  As adults we FINALLY get to do what kids think we get to do: Choose what we want to do when we want to do it and can play just about whenever we want to. In reality that may not be 100% true, but we do get to choose to play or not for some period of time each day. So take a little time to play-doesn’t have to be for a long time, even just 10 minutes. Frankly, these days we could all use a little fun. See what else shakes loose for you when you do play and have some fun.

Oh and let me know what you did to play today.

Me. I am going to play with a new Viennese Waltz Routine.

Too busy worrying about the future to stay in the present?

Staying in the present is a challenge. Our lives are so very full. There are innumerous distractions. It is understandable why we so often go on autopilot moving through our days and lives, doing the routine- our normal. Feeling our normal. Expecting the normal- what always has been will always be. Often this is quite an unconscious process. We are blessed with a brain that is sophisticated, layered and complex. It is so busy attending to all of the stimuli around us, it relies on neuropathways that have already been fired and wired. We operate on unconscious assumptions grounded in what occurred in our past and find ourselves distracted by what needs to happen in the future.  We exist in our normal without necessarily actually living and being aware of our present. Our normal can be at once numbing, perfunctorily going through our routines, and enormously stress-inducing, trying to juggle all our responsibilities and managing all of the technological distractions that of this age, never mind the impact of the current economic climate.

These unconscious assumptions can be very sneaky. At times they allow us to react quickly to a situation, excellent when an oncoming truck has crossed the yellow line and is heading into our driving lane. However, they can also divert our attention and stifle our ability to awake to the present and consider options. Options about what we intend, or what we really want to happen. That is happen here in now, in this specific situation and that these intentions align with our most heartfelt values and purposes. When our unconscious assumptions are operating in relation to some issue or event that draws up anxiety or another alarm we tend to tense up. Our shoulders and back muscles tighten, we breathe only because it is an automatic response, our pulse quickens, there is flood of hormones in our bloodstream and we slip into our more primal survival mode. Folks this happens more often than anyone of us might like to admit; think about how irritated you can become over the smallest frustration like the new barista not knowing what is your “the regular”. Our minds like our muscles do not flex easily or at times even at all- think horrendous leg cramp- when they are tense.  We need to stretch them and refocus.

Opening up some space for mental flexibility would serve us well. To allow for other possibilities and meaning where we are used to assuming only one course of action or outcome will be — and there can only be one, because of some meaning we attach to the particular situation/task/event — presents us with an opportunity for learning and creation. Our unconscious or assumed meaning can be entirely different from what we intend for a given situation/task/event. Opening up your mental flexibility is a practice that takes time and effort, repeated effort. Like learning a new teaching modality, a new approach to providing counseling, a new dance step, improving your golf swing or how to knit lace, practice, focused, regular practice is key. I continually work on my mental flexibility, as do my clients. It takes time for people to learn and to fire and wire new neuropathways, creating new assumptions.

Let me share an experience I had in a recent coaching session. My client, who works in Social Services, was facing a separation with one of her own clients. My client, we’ll call her Rosie, was anxious about this, she assumed her client had not addressed the primary reason she came to Rosie for services; support in getting a new job. Rosie described her experience of her anxiousness as a “Big Dark Thunder cloud” hovering over her all the time. Rosie was sure she had not done enough for her client and assumed a failure on her part was about to be revealed, which would reflect poorly on her professional abilities. Rosie was certain she had not prepared enough while working with her client. In her mind, if she had, then well, her client would have a new job, or at least a few interviews lined up by now. Rosie could not imagine anything other than a negative outcome from her upcoming client meeting.

To open up some space for mental flexibility, I asked Rosie to draw her “Big Dark Thundercloud” hovering over her all the time, which she did. She assumed the Thundercloud was bound to result in something bad. I asked her to change the picture in some way that would help her edge out from under the cloud. Rosie added an umbrella, which literally created some space, a demarcation between her and the Thundercloud. “So what if there is a cloud overhead, it can protect from the blaring sun, it can provide some needed rain, or can entertain with a terrifically beautiful storm. None of these are good or bad, they simply just are, and you, Lucky, get to decide what meaning you want to attach to the experience of being under a cloud,” I suggested. Once she altered her picture, Rosie could close her eyes, and see a bluer sky overhead and that perhaps the client session would not be all bad.

And it wasn’t. In fact her client had good things to say about the services she received from Rosie and even had a solid, new job prospect- one that had been specifically created for her. In talking with Rosie about this experience, she said that under the “Big Dark Thundercloud” she was distracted by her unconscious assumptions about what would happen in the future, based on her experiences in the past, the meaning she attached to them and could not be present in the current moment to center herself. Rosie could not entertain other options for how she “could Be” just then in the current moment, as well as, how the client session might unfold. We had to find a way she could align her preparation for the client session with her honest hopeful intentions for her client’s success and a positive closure session.

And what magic did Rosie pick-up on? Play. We played. First we noticed what was going on- feeling anxious. I asked her to draw a picture of her experience, and then intentionally, very deliberately change it. And by taking those actions Rosie loosened some tight mental muscles that had been cramping her imagination, her source of possibilities. She can use this tool again in the future and so can you.  And the more she does this the more she’ll be able to strengthen the new neuropathway’s firing and wiring.

All this activity takes is first noticing what you are feeling. Then grab a scrap of paper and something to draw with and draw what you are feeling. Then take a couple of deep, lung filling breaths, let them out and change the picture. What looks different? What does that mean to you? Ready, set, now go- you can tuck that picture in your pocket, purse, backpack, briefcase, laptop tote or just about anywhere so you can reach for it as a reminder, literally and figuratively.

Oh and by the way, as a kid I was terrified of thunderstorms. I mean dive-under-the-bed, pull-a-blanket-over-my-head-and-not-move, just-lie-absolutely-still, facedown, sweating-my-little-head-off, until it passed. No matter how much I was sweating or how emphatically people tried to convince me it was going to be all right.  As very young child I had the everlovin’ bejesus scared out of me a when a thunderclap erupted over my head while walking with my Mom between two buildings; it sounded like the world was literally about to crash on us.  And I just knew that the next thunderstorm would be the one that brought the walls down. Now, I love a good thunderstorm even when they make me jump — there is so much possibility in them. They are thrilling.

Words to consider

I learn much from the wisdom, insights and experience of others. Sometimes these are captured beautifully, in a quote. A brief, pocket sized string of words that can provoke own insights or confirm our own hunches. Through this new feature, I will regularly share some of these I have found and invite you to share your own.

Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.  – Sophia Loren

Stress Management in the Midst of Chaos

Yes, it is all fine and well to see the uncertain and changing environment in which we are living as brimming with possibility and opportunities, but… But some days it just feels like there are too many unknowns, or too much to do, or both. Then WHAM!!! Stress hits full, hard, square and strong.  With my own professional transition in play, I know the paralyzing or overwhelming state that STRESS can bring to a person.

In a conversation with a colleague yesterday we were talking about what we do to help get centered, exert our willpower and manage stress in our lives.  In most cases this is an indeed an act of willpower over the situation. Not a struggle for power, but simply using you will and personal agency to tap into the resources you all ready have to change the balance of things back into your favorite and regain your sense of control.

Here are our tips. I invite you to share yours with me and the other readers of this blog.

1. Do the one thing it feels as if we must absolutely must not do- slow down. Like when driving a car in hazardous conditions it is important to slow down, concentrate on what you need to do at the moment and say “No”, positively, politely and respectfully to everything else.

2. Get a change of scenery. Sometimes give moving away from the physical environment where you feel the stress the most can release enough of the stress that you free up other energy in order to attend to the tasks, thoughts or feelings you need to without getting stuck.

3. Do something physical. Take a five-minute bust a move break (my favorite) turn on a song that makes you want to move and then move. Not your style, well tear up some paper, punch a pillow, jump up and own, roll your shoulders… but do some thing to loosen up your body.

4. Breath. Not just autonomic system breathing, but really pay attention to taking air in through your nose filling in all the lung space you have and slowly blowing it out. Then do that again, and again and again, until you can feel a lightening in your body and your mind.

5. Just leave it alone, that is take a break. Whatever “it” is will still be there when you get back, but you’ll be more ready to address “it.” For the majority of us that “it” which is causing so much stress is not a real emergency the house is not literally on fire, you are not in the middle of a life saving surgery or just moments away from finding the cure for cancer. Of course if any of those are true of you, by all means carry on, then take a break.

6. Say no to the little negative voice talking to you. When that little voice inside says, you can’t do it, you got yourself into this mess… or something else negative-and we all have that little self saboteur inside – notice what it says and then let it go. If it keeps you trying to pester you, just keep noticing, let it go and remind yourself that you are a competent, capable person, and take a step forward towards what you need to do to manage your stress or get the “it” done.

7. Think about what you want to happen and meditate, pray or think on it, then talk it out. Getting clarity on what is most pressing or important is key. Talking it out with yourself or a trusted person will help to get back your realistic perspective and you can break it down into steps/parts that feel do able for you.

8. Give yourself and others a break. Forgive. Just forgive and let the negative energy drain off.

9. Go have some fun. Yes, fun. Yes, you deserve it. Besides all those neurotransmitters that are released when we have fun, well they can help get to back into gear to do what needs to be done.

10. Be courageous. Whatever “it” is, you can face.  You can do something about it. You may not be able to do it all by yourself, but you can reach out to others and reach into yourself – you might just be amazed by the resources and gifts you discover in both.