New Storytellers groups now forming

August 24, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Storytelling | 1 Comment
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Storytellers – Love your story, love yourself

If you’re a woman who wants to learn to love your whole self through the sharing of your life story, then Storytellers is for you. New groups are now forming. (See my 4/17/08 post for more info on the healing power of storytelling,)

The transformational storytelling process provides you with an opportunity to:

* better understand and communicate your needs
* practice genuine self-care
* recognize and express your strengths
* be known and valued by others
* develop true community . . . and more

Each Storytellers group is comprised of 2, 3, or 4 participants. Groups meet twice a month for approximately 6 months, depending on group consensus. Sessions run for about 2 hours and are held at the Authentic Life Consulting office near 12th Street and Missouri in Phoenix. Feel free to take part as an individual or with your friend(s).

Please call or email me for more info. I’m also glad to meet on a complimentary basis with you, or you and your friends, to answer your detailed questions about Storytellers.

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Living authentically “Down to My Bones”

August 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Life Calling | 1 Comment
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Speaking and living one’s truth. This is something I think about a lot, try to practice faithfully, and love to discuss with others nearly every day. Speaking and living truth is my elemental life value.

As a result, I’m always impressed when I see someone daring to live authentically, and I’ll be profiling them here from time to time. Derek Turner embraces this fearless lifestyle (see my January 1, 2008 post) and so does Jenny Leigh Antill.

Jenny is a lovely singer and composer whose first CD, “Down to My Bones,” will be released September 6. In this haunting compilation of songs Jenny explores the depths of human love and loss, the hope we can share, and strips bare her own soul in the process. Her willingness to be honest about her own journey is a powerful invitation for us to do the same. You can listen to a few sample tracks here.

If you like what you hear, let Jenny know . . . and forward her website to your friends.

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How I got over my fear of conflict

August 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Conflict | 7 Comments
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When the mood hit him, my dad was a rager. Very loud and very scary in conflict with others. I believe that much of my difficulty expressing real anger — throughout several decades of my life — springs from often being scared out of my wits by my father’s vitriolic tirades.

When I married I had no tools to guide me in having a difference of opinion with my husband. Unfortunately, my husband lacked tools as well. We were both stuffers, avoiders par excellence, and this ostrich-method had disastrous consequences. Our marriage (the first one) ended after 13 years.

During the years that followed I intentionally sought emotional wellness by reading self-help books, participating in therapy, and practicing a new trust-based way of relating to others. That last piece — practicing — was the key for me. Consciously opening my mouth and saying how I truly felt, with others who cared for me, often felt terrifying . . . yet this was the biggest factor in my getting over my fear of conflict.

Willingly engaging in confrontation still feels slightly unnatural to me. Generally, I have to stop and think about it for a second. But I’m not afraid of it anymore.

When my husband and I remarried more than 10 years ago (that’s right, we chose to try again), I let him know up front that this time I’d be committed to being emotionally honest, that I would no longer run away from conflict. I’m sure there are some days he wishes this wasn’t true (smile), but it’s working for us.

Do you struggle with engaging with conflict? Let me know how you’re overcoming or have overcome your fear.

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I am a former “conflict-a-phobe.”

August 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Conflict | 3 Comments
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I admit it, I used to be scared to death to have a difference of opinion with anyone. When I sensed pending conflict in a conversation or situation, I used to clam up or lie (I was a gifted chameleon), anything to avoid engaging in an unpredictable disagreement that might mushroom into a full-scale argument.

Can you relate?

Or maybe you identify more with “powering up” in conflict, overwhelming someone else with your superior debating skills or your louder, more forceful voice.

Instead of regarding conflict as something to be feared or overcome, consider shifting your perception. What might happen if you chose to regard conflict as a straightforward opportunity for creative growth? After all, does any real change occur in life — whether it happens within yourself or in relationship with others — without a degree of discomfort or struggle?

Let’s talk about this, what are your thoughts? And, if you like, let me know your typical response to conflict.

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“Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

July 14, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Emotional honesty | 9 Comments
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I’m pretty late in coming to the worldwide party for Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 bestseller, “Eat, Pray, Love.” Admittedly, I’d passed right over it many times in the bookstore because, based on the title, I thought it sounded too “fluffy.” I couldn’t have been more out to lunch!

The minute I opened Gilbert’s book to the introductory quote by Sheryl Louise Moller , “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell truth,” I sensed this was going to be a transformational book for me. And it was.

“Eat, Pray, Love” is Gilbert’s memoir of her one-year journey of healing and self-discovery in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Her story is funny, inspiring, poignant, and deeply involving . . . but the element that was most meaningful for me was her refreshingly real, authentic voice. Gilbert is so vulnerable about her humanity and womanhood, so incredibly honest in sharing the questions she asks about life, questions many of us wonder about silently but may be afraid to say out loud. She seems to be fearless about telling her emotional truth.

In case you haven’t yet read this vibrant book, I’ll refrain from going into further detail . . . except to urge you — no, implore you — to run to the closest bookstore or library or friend who has a copy you can borrow, and begin reading it now! It’s THAT good!

If you’re already a fan of “Eat, Pray, Love,” — or even if you’ve read it but didn’t care for it — I’d love to hear your impressions of this story. What did you learn from it? How did it change you?

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Good-Bye, Superwoman!

June 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Superwoman Complex | 1 Comment
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Many years ago I recall a wise friend asking me, “Why do you think you have to take care of the whole world?” At the time I wasn’t sure how to answer but now — after several decades of processing — I understand the roots of my Superwoman complex and consciously practice a few key techniques to decrease her influence in my life. You might find these helpful, too, if you’re beating your head against the wall, multi-tasking like crazy and trying to do everything yourself.

* Reflect on whether you’re playing the role of Superwoman. If you’re not sure or if you’re prone to minimizing how much you actually do, ask your closest family members and friends for their ruthlessly honest opinions. Decide ahead of time that when you ask them, you’re going to believe them

* Examine the reasons behind your Superwoman tendencies. You may want to consider engaging a counselor or coach to support this exploration.

* Recognize that there’s great strength in being able to rely on others who are trustworthy. Having needs is not necessarily the same as being needy and clingy. Understanding your needs and then expressing them to people who know you well lets them have an opportunity to care for you. Sharing your needs actually lets others feel valuable and gives them a chance to love you

* Accept that you are not all-knowing and all-powerful in every aspect of life. For example, your husband or partner may actually be a better bargain-shopper than you and, as a bonus, he may genuinely enjoy it! And in the professional world, even though team development may be part of your job description, your colleague may be infinitely more gifted than you in being the consensus-builder for your department

* Delegate some of your responsibilities to others. At home, ask other family members for help or hire out specific jobs. If possible, try to release a few tasks; stop doing them altogether or cut back on their frequency. On the job, dialogue with your colleagues about your strengths as well as their’s and determine if some projects can be reallocated.

* Plan the multiple ways you’re going to relish the added free time and peace of mind you discover when you kiss Superwoman good-bye!

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No shame in being afraid

June 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Fear | 3 Comments
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“It is no accident that all of the world’s wisdom traditions address the fact of fear, for all of them originated in the human struggle to overcome this ancient enemy. And all these traditions, despite their great diversity, unite in one exhortation to those who walk in their ways: ‘Be not afraid.’

. . . [this phrase] ‘Be not afraid’ does not mean we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear . . . the words say we do not need to be the fear we have . . . ” (Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer, pp. 93-94)

Palmer’s right, we all have fear . . . and often it shows up around unfamiliar experiences or change of any kind — taking a new job, exploring a new relationship or giving up an old one, learning an unpleasant truth about ourselves, negotiating an unexpected turn in a conversation, making a major decision. The anger, confusion, and anxiety we can feel about any of these processes is real and can really scramble our perceptions.

It’s very important for us to give ourselves permission to be afraid while understanding that we don’t have to be the fear.

There’s no shame in being afraid. It doesn’t have to control and limit our thoughts and actions. We have a choice — we can elect to hold on to fear, often in silence, and let it gain growing power over us. Or we can opt to process the fear internally or face it with someone we trust and, hopefully, let it go.

If you’re challenged by a specific fear just now, I hope you’re giving yourself space to learn from it . . . and that you have an emotionally safe place to explore and release it.

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“Dancing to a New Rhythm,” forum for divorced and widowed women

April 21, 2008 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | 2 Comments
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“Dancing to a New Rhythm” will be the next event in the Women in Transition (WIT) forum series . . . it’s designed especially for women who are adjusting to the multiple life changes caused by divorce or the death of their spouse.

Date/Time: Thursday, May 29, 2008/7-9pm

Location: Franciscan Renewal Center, 5802 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale

Registration: $25 per person

Click here to learn more about and register for the May 29 forum.

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Embracing your whole life story

April 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Storytelling | 1 Comment
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“Through transforming our negative, painful, or chaotic experiences into stories, we take responsibility for them, and we bring them to bear more constructively on our lives.” (Jack Maguire, The Power of Personal Storytelling)

What’s your life story like?

If it’s anything like mine your story has chapters during which relationships were rich, you felt cared for, and you acted with integrity and selflessness.

There also are passages of great fear and wounding when relationships failed, dreams were lost, and you acted against yourself or others with intolerance and rage.

Many of us seem to want to ignore or even deny those aspects of our story marked by painful experiences or our dysfunctional behavior. Yet, we are our whole life story, not just the pleasant parts. When we refuse to recognize hurtful episodes, we shut off major elements of our identity as well as opportunities to learn about ourselves.

Until we’re able to accept our full story — without shame or guilt — we cannot grow into our authentic selves. As David Benner writes in The Gift of Being Yourself, “You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to embrace the reality of who you are. Only then can you truly become who you are most deeply called to be.”

I hope you have an emotionally safe relationship or environment in which to share and explore the nuances of your distinctive story . . . a place where others you trust listen closely to you and honor you for all that you are and all that you’re becoming.

The Storytellers process that I facilitate for small groups can be such an environment. Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about Storytellers.

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Go outside and play!

April 8, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Play | 4 Comments
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“My dream is . . . “
“The thing I’m afraid to discover about my dream is . . . “
“If I actualize my dream, it will mean . . . “

These are the opening questions on one of the tools I generally ask my clients to complete in the first couple months of the Authentic Life process. For various reasons it’s not unusual for many people to feel unprepared to answer . . . but I think there’s one element that may make these questions seem especially challenging —

We’ve forgotten how to play. Or, perhaps, we never had a chance to learn.

A recent National Public Radio story by Alix Spiegel (“Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills”) reports on the negative effects on today’s children of limited or non-existent time for imaginative play. The kind of activity where kids have the freedom to create make-believe worlds, where they regulate their own play and make up their own rules.

You may have grown up being generously encouraged to play. Or you may have had little time to simply goof off because you were needed to work around the house, the yard, the family business, your church, or to care for family members. Much of your childhood may have been spent performing in sports or academic or beauty contests or, perhaps, you were busy with homework and lots of special classes and lessons.

Take a look at the pace of your adult life today. If you feel you’re always on the go without a moment to “play” (or relax or reflect or dream about what comes next in your life), ask yourself if your current choices are a continuation of choices that were made a long time ago.

As Spiegel notes, imaginative play fosters “concentration, effort, problem-solving, and task success” for children. Doesn’t it make sense that the same would be true for adults?

Good. Now go outside and play!

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