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Monthly Archives: October 2007

Breakdown, Breakthrough

In working on my book intensively these past few months, I’ve been acutely aware of something surprising. As many of you know, I’m writing about the typical crises professional women face today (12 crises of disempowerment, to be exact), and I’m realizing that:

1) I’ve experienced all of these crises, some at the same time, and several of them more than once
and:
2) I’m in the middle of a few of them right now!

This realization made me stop in my tracks this week, and ask myself “How well can I help others if I’m still going through some of these very difficult dilemmas, and haven’t resolved them fully?

As I asked these questions, I had a bit of a “breakdown” – not a clinical breakdown, but a deep realization that there are several key aspects of my working life that still aren’t at all where I want them to be. This led to an urge to “break down” these problem areas to their core elements, their essential nature, and understand what’s truly going on at the most fundamental levels.

In breaking down to the basic elements what’s not successful or positive in my life, I somehow had a “breakthrough” – I allowed myself to fully feel the pain of what isn’t working and see clearly how my blocks are negatively impacting my life. Doing this hard inner work allowed me to gain acceptance of the pain, and by doing so, I could release it. In essence, I broke through. Not completely, not in all areas, but in a way that allowed movement — beautiful, powerful movement, that carried me safely past my blind spots to the other side, this time.

To help us all understand more about the process of breakdown to breakthrough, I’d love to hear from you about your particular life experiences:

1) When has breakdown led to breakthrough in your life?
2) What has needed to happen in your life for the breakthrough to occur?
3) What areas continue to challenge you the most? Where are you hoping for a breakthrough to happen?

I’m very grateful for your insights and thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

Wishing you a time of great movement and release.

All best,
Kathy

De-Stressing and Enjoying Your Holiday Times

Happy Halloween to You!

As the chill of Autumn arrives, we know that busy times are ahead — complete with ghosts and goblins, turkey trots, Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s and other beautiful celebrations fast approaching.

Along with the bustle of excitement often come stress, worry, exhaustion, and over-load, especially for women and moms. We seem to take on a heavy load, usually from an intention of creating lovely, special, and lasting memories for our families and friends. No one sets out to be stressed during the holidays; it just happens. Or does it? I believe we can do something about this holiday-time stress…it doesn’t always have to be this way.

So, what can we do to enjoy ourselves more, feel less frenetic and exhausted, yet still create beauty, celebration, and excitement in our lives, and the lives of our families?

Here are a few tips that have helped me and others get on–and stay on–a path of holiday joy without the hysteria. The overall theme is: Say Yes! to what matters most to you and your family, and Let Go of what isn’t working or joyful.

Holiday De-Stressing Tips:

1. Forget about attaining holiday perfection – go for fun, joy with family and friends, and creating memories of laughter and love. Often we look at pictures in magazines or images on TV and film of holiday bliss, and believe we have to imitate the beauty and the magic portrayed there. Well, there’s a reason that it’s on TV or in magazines! These are shots that have been posed, set up, meticulously and artistically planned and constructed by a staff, etc. You don’t have to replicate what the media portrays as holiday charm and beauty. Do and create what gives you and your family pleasure to do.

2. Focus on holiday traditions that you and your family love most, and let go of the rest. We truly don’t have time in the day to do everything – we have to be selective and create lasting, fun traditions that define who we are uniquely as individuals and as a family. If baking holiday cookies simply does you in, then let it go! Buy the cookies from the store, and perhaps have your kids decorate them, on their own, with all the fun of messing it up and making a mess! But make sure they do their own clean up.

3. Remember, it’s not your job alone to create your family’s holiday experience. Get help, and lots of it, from friends, your spouse, relatives, significant others, your children. Moms tend to believe that they’re in it alone in making the holidays wonderful. Not so. Empowering others in the family to pitch in and do, create, plan (and clean up!), is great for you, and even better for them.

4. Separate the “shoulds” from the wants. So often in life, we fail to differentiate between what we feel we “should” do versus what we want to do. This chronic adherence to “should,” especially around the holidays, leaves us empty, resentful, angry, and exhausted. Our “shoulds” often emerge from our childhood experiences and relate to beliefs we’ve carried about what we need to do to keep our families and friends happy, based on what our mothers and fathers did. Now’s the time to stop “shoulding” and start doing what you feel in your heart would be fun and meaningful. As we walk away from “should,” we break through to a more authentic way of being. This allows us to break free of emulating a past picture that no longer resembles who we have become.

5. Finally, let go of what hasn’t worked. A very wise man once said “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.” If something hasn’t worked in the past, don’t repeat it. If going to your aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas each year has always been a disaster, make new plans. If New Year’s Eve in Jamaica would ring your bell, then make a plan and make it happen. Even if it is not possible to move completely away from the old experience that isn’t working, a small but conscious shift in your intention can make the whole experience feel new and improved (“I intend to get along better with my brother and his wife this holiday season,” for example). These empowered and intentional shifts can create miracles.

Don’t wait. Take steps this year (now) to empower yourself and your family to jointly and collaboratively create fun and meaning-filled traditions and experiences for the holidays. It’s never too late to have what you want, the way you truly want it.

Please let us know:
1) What specifically stresses you out during the holidays?
2) What have you done to de-stress? What works best for you?

Thanks for sharing your tips for having a beautiful and restorative holiday season.

All best wishes,
Kathy

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