Photo ©2019 by MBK (Marjie) and Catherine Lenard
Whether you have family or no family, holidays can be a time of powerful self-discovery. Because the things that tip your balance are there to show you something about you.
Something surprising happened when I was sharing the idea for this article with my mom.
In the background, Daisy (my cat) started wailing in this bizarre sound that comes out of her when she sees another cat and goes all territorial.
I dropped the phone. Moving quickly toward the back of the house, I ran into Daisy rushing toward a front-of-the-house window when, all banshee-eyed and howling, she raised up on her hind legs (think grizzly bear) and took a hard chomp on my leg while delivering a masterful claw swipe.
Trying to bi-locate to find hydrogen peroxide and paper towels to mop up blood (mine) while letting my mom know that through all the howling (mine and hers) we were both still alive, I followed Daisy to find out what the heck was going on.
Once things calmed down — breathe — it dialed in that through all the drama, I “coincidentally” had a perfect example for this article.
When she acted so uncharacteristically, she was in the grips of an instinctive animal-react
The Cat Scenario
Although mostly laid back, Daisy has a feisty streak and recently got into a turf war with Rambo. Rambo lives across the nearby meadow and looks like his name suggests.
It happened about a month ago when I was preoccupied with unpacking my car from a trip. Daisy wandered away from the yard into the meadow. After hearing some kind of animal ruckus in the distance, I later watched her jet back to the house.
It wasn’t until after a few days had passed that I realized she’d been part of that clash and was hurt. With due diligence in treating the puncture wounds hidden in her fur, she gradually healed.
Since then, Daisy’s been on window patrol for anything four-legged that even remotely hints of invading her space.
I realized that when she acted so uncharacteristically toward me, she was in the grips of an instinctive animal-react from most likely catching another glimpse of Rambo. And I happened to get in her way.
The things that tip your balance are there to show you something about you.
Here’s How This Relates:
When something painful happens to us humans, we move on in one way or another. But if whatever that painful situation was hasn’t been worked through or attended to, it remains stuck in our consciousness.
When someone or something triggers this original pain (bring on the holidays), we may go instinctively reactive. Somewhat animal or “reptilian brain” as the clinicians would say, and behave in ways that may later be regretted.
When you can discover and soothe old hurts that underlie these reactions, the situations that once bothered you no longer will. It’s a process. You know there’s something that needs tending to when you feel your buttons being pushed.
3 Tips for Dealing with Those Moments:
When Daisy doesn’t like something, she [typically] doesn’t attack, she simply gets up and walks away. The idea is to have enough self-control to excuse or remove yourself from a situation before you behave in ways you’ll regret. To give yourself time to come back to center.
1. Once you’ve calmed down a bit, take the time to ask yourself what’s bothering you about what someone did or said.
2. Take time to identify how you’re feeling about what someone did or said (angry, sad, upset, hurt, annoyed, outraged, etc.)
3. While these tips are simply stated, they can help you empower yourself to get through those feisty Rambo-like situations.
While discovering more about you.
Without taking a chomp out of someone else.
Because having the satisfaction to know, despite whatever’s going on, that you not only 1) learned more about yourself, but also 2) kept your cool, is in itself a huge gift to you.
To a Peaceful Season, ;-)
Sometimes You Just Gotta Talk!
Holiday Talk Session(s) with Catherine
Apart from some obvious questions [Since when did holiday advertising start before Halloween? Is the spiritual meaning of the season on its last gasp?], the reminder — if only to myself — in the words of some infamous Twitter posts is, it’s Fake News!
When you think for yourself apart from outside influence, you empower yourself.
Fake News in this sense. You may have heard it, and maybe even know it, but it merits repeating because media tech is getting more and more sophisticated about getting under your skin. Not only literally (voluntary chip implants–yep they’re here), but regarding how you think.
So here’s a little pull-back of the curtain:
• Advertising is designed to affect your thoughts and emotions
• Steering you into doing what the advertiser wants you to do
• In the case of the well-rehearsed friendly singing and dancing man, he’s the mouthpiece for a giant corporate conglomerate
• That hires an expert creative agency who engages lots of folks to further their desired message
• We’re talking decades and decades of highly professional experience from account and research people who are skilled at mining emotional pain points (the underlying reasons that affect your decision to buy) to creative directors, writers, production crew, and talent (dancing man and his merry minions)
• Who pull out all the stops to figure out how to get you to do what they want you to do
• Which is to buy their stuff
• Because they have plans, they have bills, and they want to get their paycheck, too
• In media it’s about ratings, numbers, and the bottom line
If this puts a damper on your ho-ho-ho, remember this:
• You have the power to say no
• You don’t have to allow your mind to be manipulated and stressed through frenzied media reminders to buy-buy-buy now during the holiday season
• Or ever
• Unless you want to
• Remember, these ads are ultimately about translating into numbers for the corporate advertiser
• You have the power to affect their bottom line by consciously choosing where you do or don’t spend your money
• Because without their collective “you,” they got nothin’
When you think for yourself
apart from outside influence, you empower yourself.
Because becoming more self-aware about why you’re doing what you’re doing helps you flex your muscles to live more on-point. By choice. Yours, not theirs or anyone else’s.
Because long after dancing man has been paid for his efforts and Buy turns into Bye (ad campaign over), come January when those credit card bills come rolling in, you may be wondering what you were thinking.
When dancing man took you into his oh-so-inviting advertising arms and very effectively swept you off your feet.
One of the life changes we all go through at one time or another is the loss of relationships. Whether through breakups, divorce, death, or simply drifting apart, these can be some of the most gut wrenching, yet productive times of your life.
In an earlier post I talked about how coincidences can show up when you're going through change to help you know you're on the right path.
Coincidences surrounding relationships can also lead to amazing unexpected outcomes that are only revealed much later in time.
A Personal Story Example
Years ago, when my dad suddenly died, I stayed with my mom for a few weeks during the strange and difficult time between his funeral and when his body was cremated.
The day it was over, my mom came to my house for a much needed change of scenery. After doing some therapeutic yard work, we went for a last-minute walk.
Since I'd just moved into my new neighborhood, I asked her to please not stop and stare at a house she might find interesting (as she was known to do) because "I have to live in this little village."
Despite my best efforts, she stopped in fron of a Civil War-era house that was around the corner from where I lived. A huge catalpa tree in the side yard caught her attention.
While we were standing there (thanks, mom), a man appeared in the front yard, apparently the homeowner.
Although self-conscious about my dirt-splotched sweatshirt and torn-in-the-rear-end jeans (he was clearly an urban professional rather than a rural local), we exchanged introductions and chatted for a while.
A few months later (having been respectful of my grief period), he started stopping by to chat.
We were both going through the aftermath of recent terrible losses. His wife, dog, and car never returned home with him after he discovered (during her parent's Christmas party) that she was having an affair.
In addition to my dad's passing, I was reeling from the ripple effect related to the world financial crises.
We became very close and actually managed to find a lot of silly stupid things to laugh about when we were together.
Years later, a week after he initiated taking our relationship to a committed level, he abruptly walked out of my life.
No further communication.
I had often thought about the amazing coincidence that brought us together. He was included in my "things to be grateful for" journal almost every day. My mom, despite her loss, had pretty much hand-delivered someone special.
It was a long dark process to inch forward with my life in the aftermath. It didn't help my smashed-to-pieces heart that his friends had also become my friends and that I could see his house and the room we used to hang out in from my bathroom window.
Looking back, the coincidence of our meeting and the positives that have happened since that awful ending suggest it's all part of the same coincidence thread.
The "if that didn't happen, this wouldn't have happened" realizations that only come with time. Here's a recap:
The string of events that led up to meeting a special person who, in the best light, became a closest friend and helpmate were:
• My dad passing
• My mom coming to stay with me and
• Wanting to go for a walk
• Stopping in front of a house (despite me asking her not to) long enough for
• this man "just happening" to be walking from the back of his house
• to start raking leaves in the front.
The Coincidence Thread
The hidden thread from the coincidence of our meeting that later surfaced (as a result of working through the agony triggered by the loss of that relationship) resulted in a Santa Bag of Goodies.
I'm going to share with you the "best of's" that happened so that wherever you are or whatever you're going through, you may remember this story to know there's light at the end of your tunnel, too.
3 Takeaways to Help You
1. Gut-wrenching times help you discover positive things about yourself you may not have otherwise known.
Have the courage to face the pain. The key is not running away from your emotions and feelings — the only true way out is through.
This is a huge chance for you to do productive life-changing inner work.
Because what’s on the other side of that pain will be a different, enhanced version of you. Don’t miss this opportunity for your own personal growth!
Unforeseen benefits you can’t even imagine will come to you when you stay the course.
2. Be patient with yourself, your process, and your progress.
Healing can take a lot of time. There are minutes, hours, or days forward — then many more seemingly back.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about The 5 Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally Acceptance.
Know that none of them follow an organized list. Working your way through losses is messy and those steps can overlap, go upside down and inside out as you move along.
Sometimes it’s literally one moment at a time. You can do it.
3. Coincidences, maybe the one that brought the relationship into your life that is no longer there, can also have amazing hidden threads that are revealed later.
Understand there was a reason for the relationship you had.
And a higher purpose reason for the end.
Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, know there are wonderful things in store for you. It will help give you the perseverance to continue moving forward.
And one day be able to look back and notice the marvelous coincidence threads that have blossomed as a result.
With Heartfelt Empathy and Gentle Thoughts,
You’ve most likely heard of coincidences and may have had your own amazing experiences that have left you saying, ”How’d that happen?”
In the book When God Winks, author SQuire Rushnell describes these coincidences, or “God Winks,” as signposts. He also talks about how they often increase when you’re going through change.
While I’d been familiar with the concept and experienced my share of coincidences, I hadn’t been aware that their occurrence ramps up when you’re going through life changes to help you through them.
Here's my definition of coincidence: A situation in which events happen at the same time in a way that isn’t planned or expected that brings about something wonderful in your life.
A Personal Story Example
Being at yet another crossroads, I felt exiled through an unwanted and undeserved (from my limited viewpoint) tsunami of change.
Gradually emerging from quicksand-like grief triggered by those losses, I’d faced the pain head-on and hoped I’d managed to pull out every ounce of life lesson I could.
Then began the massive task of how and what to do with what was left of my life. An overwhelming To Do list defined days as I kept working to figure out which way to go.
About the only thing that became clear was that trying to grab some kind, any kind of lifeline from the past wasn’t going to work.
Coincidences in your life often increase when you're going through change.
Reaching the point that losing myself in a grocery store rag mag seemed like a worthwhile use of time, I finally sat – just sat.
Eventually quieting mind chatter down a few decibels, I asked my inner Self for guidance about what to do next. And hoped I was heard. And that my thoughts wouldn’t fling themselves in five thousand directions before an answer came.
Frustrated and scared, I was open to listening.
When I eventually heard (on an inner level) “empty yourself of your personal agenda,” at first there was relief. Then the feeling that I was hurling myself over a cliff into an overwhelming cloud of nothingness.
Then the thoughts, “Uh, exactly how does this translate into everyday life?”
And then doubt. Did I hear that right? Really?
Quiet time in the woods would help process the message. Thinking about a handful of possible places to walk, one destination felt right.
A rustic path wound through ravines and acres of primeval beech trees that were naked in mid-December light. Rounding a turn, I saw a tiny red spot in the distance somewhat veiled by leafless saplings that lined the forest floor.
Moving closer, I realized a bright red holiday ornament was hanging from one of the spindly branches! Huh? As I continued walking, there was another, another, then several others marking a path that led out of the woods.
I’d walked that path in different seasons for years, never having seen anything other than, uhmm, trees.
I gradually became aware that this was a charming signpost, a “God Wink” showing that with the guidance received (even if I didn’t know what the next steps would be or where they were leading), I was somehow heading in the right direction.
3 Ways to Read the Signs
These suggestions are gathered from personal experiences:
1. Coincidences or “God Winks” act as signposts to help you know you’re on track with your life path and purpose — even though you may be experiencing confusion and a lot of unknowns.
Having the thought to go to the woods with the beech trees and then seeing the red ornaments are examples of signposts.
They don’t necessarily give you all the answers to whatever challenge you may be facing (although in some instances certainly can). I like to think of them as lovely pointers, a connect-the-dots reassurance that helps soothe and direct.
2. Remembering coincidences you’ve experienced in the past can help you be on the lookout for new signposts as they appear in your life.
Exercise: Can you remember a coincidence (could be someone you met, something you heard, saw, or felt) that helped you through a life change?
Writing it down will help you anchor it into your memory. This dials in your coincidence radar.
3. Opening your awareness to these little miracles helps you know you’re right where you need to be.
You can open your awareness by taking some quiet time to reflect on your day. Coincidences and signposts can be subtle, obvious, or anywhere in between.
• Did anything unusual happen in your life today?
• Did you happen to turn on the radio and hear something, did someone say something, did you see or notice something that was significant to you?
The amazing thing is that coincidences are custom-made just for you!
Life changes aren’t always easy. Increasing your awareness so you can recognize the coincidences that act as signposts in your life can help you know you're heading in the right direction.
To Beautiful Signposts Lighting Your Way!
Note: Because my SOS Kit is going to be available soon as an online course to better help you, we've temporarily pulled the video because it had a link to the SOS Kit itself.
To be in the loop with updates on this, you can sign up at the form to the right. Thanks!
Finally! The video and Toolkit are here!
It's pretty self-explanatory, so sit back for about a minute and enjoy.
If there's someone you know
who this can bring a smile to, pass it on!
Catherine's SOS Need it Now! Emotional Feel Better Toolkit.
What type of leader are you for your own life?
In the book Leadership in Turbulent Times, author Doris Kearns Goodwin
talks about transactional and transformational leadership.
The book brings to light the lows and highs of 4 iconic U.S. presidents: Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Johnson.
What's the difference in these 2 leadership styles? Easy:
While these definitions are most often applied to organizations or companies, it can be helpful to bring these ideas to yourself.
As you're going about your day-to-day stuff, often with a big "to do" list, have you paused long enough to reflect on the overall vision you have for your own life or your family life apart from the nuts-and-bolts of Your List?
Is your style:
Why does it matter? Keeping your eye on the birdie of your greater vision not only influences at home leadership (even if that means you alone or you and your dog or cat), but helps you reframe when you're feeling bogged down with the nuts-and-bolts.
Many Unexpected Blessings and Cheers to you!
Photo Credit (sign): Jens Johnsson
Composite with blue birdie of happiness: Catherine
Have you ever experienced something unusual as you go about your everyday life that lets you know there's something much bigger going on than you're usually aware of?
I've been working on the audio portion of my SOS Need it Now Emotional Feel Better Toolkit for a long time. Delays have been rampant from tweaking the recording software settings, losing my voice, and finding somewhere quiet enough to do the work. Despite best efforts, it's been an extremely slow process.
I finally resorted to working in a closet. Not a convenient closet, like my own (too much street noise), but that of a friend, which meant becoming very mobile with setting up and breaking down a "recording studio" to work among her carefully folded blankets and pillows.
Having a relatively good voice day, I was rolling along with recording.
Suddenly (through ear buds), I heard the faint clank and spin of something that hit the ground. Huh? I looked down. It was a penny.
Now, I hadn't moved myself or anything in that closet for fear of disrupting anything that could affect recording. It just "dropped," did a spin, and landed next to me.
When family members suddenly passed about ten years ago, every once in a while, pennies would appear in the most obvious and ridiculous of places. Being tuned in that this is a known phenomena sometimes experienced by those who have lost loved ones, it became a source of wonder and comfort.
So, there it was again. In the least likely of places. Reminding, that despite the illusion – you and me – we're never really alone.
I stopped what I was doing to have a good laugh.
Note: This post happened to be published on November 1. The day after Halloween is known as All Souls Day in Christianity. It's a day of remembering loved ones who have passed on.
You're Invited: Bring your cup of coffee, grab a chair, and join me on October 6th for an informal group chat about Suicide Prevention Awareness + Emotional Well-Being. You just might save a life.
People who take their lives don't want to die–
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is globally observed on September 10th each year in order to provide worldwide awareness, commitment, and action to prevent suicides. Here are some facts:
In the United States, National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) is an annual week-long campaign (September 9 - 15) in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. It's purpose is also to reduce the stigma and encourage seeking mental health help.
According to Major David Reynolds, chief of Clinical Health Psychology at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, "The vast majority of people don't commit suicide because they want to kill themselves, but as a way to end the torment of not being able to cope with their problem."
While your world can feel temporarily black and like it will never change, remember, your viewpoint can change, and there are those who want to, and will help you, get through it. You're not alone.
What to do if you're feeling suicidal or need help for someone you care about? Call Now (it's free):
US NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
More Help: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Also, a comprehensive article for what to do for yourself or someone you know.
Pass it on . . .
Photo Credit: dmgreen44 pixabay
"Expanding your perspective can help you reframe your life."
One of the ways you can empower yourself toward life change is by expanding (changing) your viewpoint.
I recently had the opportunity to expand my viewpoint (photo). Some simple ways we can all do this are through:
• Reading a book or watching a YouTube video on a subject that's new for you
• Taking a different route when doing your errands
• Asking someone you don't know how their day's going and really listen
When you work at s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g your boundaries, it not only helps you look at yourself from a different perspective, but makes room for all kinds of wonderful new possibilities to emerge.
What's your stretch today?
Go for it!
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Hi, I'm Catherine!
Having overcome trauma and adversity and after a lifetime of trial and error, I wanted to make it easier for you to empower yourself to move beyond change, stress, and fears that hold you back while discovering how to create positive change in your life!