What makes you laugh?

August 7, 2009 at 12:30 am | Posted in laughter | 2 Comments
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I have learned to hold my so-called plans very loosely. This leaves so much more space and time for spontaneity and creativity and joy.

Those of you who’ve been a part of my journey for the last several years know that I launched my life’s work, Authentic Life Consulting, nearly 6 years ago. About that same time I began the 3-year process of earning my master’s degree. After completing my M.A., my dream/plan was to work with Authentic Life clients, facilitate groups, begin my first book, start a non-profit. None of those dreams have disappeared . . . but the timing has shifted a bit.

Fast-forward to several months ago when I made the agonizing decision to separate from my husband, move back to southern California where I grew up and, in many respects, start over again. Of course, one of the most significant “fresh start” elements involves getting back on track financially. It’s utterly amazing to me though, how some of this particular life aspect is being addressed.

I’m caring for three children, beautiful kids ages 1, 3 and 5, three mornings a week, and will soon be providing tutoring and after-school care for two more children, five afternoons a week.

There’s no way I could have foreseen these complementary opportunities, even just two months ago! Yet, they’re perfectly orchestrated. So, this is the first thing that makes me laugh, with amazement and relief — being reminded again that I have free will, intelligence, and energy, but ultimately, I’m not in control.

The second thing that makes me laugh is the sweet and unexpected gift of being with young children on a regular basis. Their silliness and honesty is so immediate and refreshing. What a blast!

What makes you laugh?


How are you staying awake to life?

January 21, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Creative Risk | 3 Comments
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“Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen [or women] and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.”

In the above quote Annie Dillard (in her book, The Writing Life) is referring to the capacity of a good writer to rouse us from the mundane and infuse our hearts and minds with a sense of fresh possibility.

Reading is a wonderful way to shake up your perspective, one of my favorites. But what else can you do to juice up your reality? Sometimes the smallest change — like taking a different route to work or trying a new recipe — can transform how you think and feel. It doesn’t have to be a major shift, like learning a foreign language or becoming a political activist or moving to a new town . . . but it could be.

The point is to do something — hopefully, every day — to stay awake to life . . . so that you’re not caught off guard by death or love or crisis when it shows up in your life.  These elements are part of all our lives.  Fear can make us avoid people or situations that make us uncomfortable, but it’s our willingness to embrace drama and break away from the ordinary that keep us truly alive.

How are you staying awake to life today?

What does your heart need right now?

January 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Emotional honesty | 2 Comments
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It’s really easy for us to get stuck in thinking in a linear way. After all, it’s a pretty linear world that most of us live in, right? The kind of world where reasoning traditionally follows a fairly 1-2-3 pattern. For example, “I need to work at a job that pays well enough, so I can save enough money, so I can buy a house, so I can start a family.” Or, “I need to stay in relationship with this particular person because without him/her I can’t survive financially and we’ve got a family to support and, besides, what would people think?”

Do you hear the fear that can often accompany linear thinking? Fear that if you don’t do things in a particular style or sequence, you won’t get what you need . . .

In his book, The Theft of the Spirit: A Journey to Spiritual Healing, Carl Hammerschlag refers to the heroic journey being one where we recognize and confront our fear so we can move past it to discover our truth. I like to believe that this is what the Authentic Life process is all about — moving from fear-based living to a reality based on trust, becoming more honest and free along the way.

Wherever you are today is exactly where you need to be, to learn what you’re called to learn. When you feel you’ve learned what you can — and your heart is ready for a fresh direction — move on.

There are times when a linear approach is appropriate and other times when it can keep you from movement, growth, change. Sense the difference, release the fear. Take a leap of faith and ask yourself, “What does my heart need right now?”

So tell me, what does your heart need right now?

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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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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Authentic Life group process set to go!

December 31, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | Leave a comment
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Here we are almost on the other side of the holidays, and I’m savoring the look and feel of an exhilarating new year ahead!

One of the experiences I’m anticipating most is collaborating with you in the Authentic Life group process. This is your opportunity to discover, trust, and express all you’re created to be, with 2 or 3 other women who want to grow in similar ways.

We’re going to get started the week of January 14, afternoon and evening times are still available. Group sessions provide the same transformational process I offer to individuals and couples, but at a lesser cost.

Email (ellen@authenticlifeconsulting.com) or call me (602.565.5151) for more details about the Authentic Life group process. You may want to participate yourself and you may know others you’d like to invite as well.

I’ll love to hear from you!

How about a gift for yourself? The Authentic Life group process

November 25, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | Leave a comment
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women-talking_000001746946large.jpgThe gift-giving season is upon us (unless you’ve chosen to go the “Buy Nothing Christmas” route), and right about now many of us are getting down to serious shopping. While you’re at it, how about a gift for yourself, too? Something you may have been putting off for way too long — taking time to discover, trust, and express all that you’re created to be.

Here’s an extraordinary opportunity for you to transform your life and your relationships: join one of my Authentic Life groups beginning the week of January 14. Afternoon or evening times available. The same developmental process I offer on an individual basis but at a lesser cost, with the added experience of enlarging your community. Groups limited to no more than 4 individuals.

Set the intention today that your new year will be one of rich growth and radiant freedom. This is your transcendent time.

Email (ellen@authenticlifeconsulting.com) or call me (602.565.5151) for more details about the Authentic Life group process. You may want to participate yourself, you may have friends you’d like to invite, or you may want to give the group experience to someone you love. Let’s talk soon!

Your life is worth living authentically

November 5, 2007 at 7:27 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | 1 Comment
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Your life is worth living authentically today.

Not next month or after the first of the year or after your next birthday. Now is your time.

This Wednesday night, November 7, during my Intro to the Authentic Life process, you’ll have a chance to learn more about how you can discover, trust, and express all you’re created to be. Not only will this evening inform you about the benefits and distinctives of the Authentic Life process, but you’ll also get to practice using an experiential tool that illustrates one of the key Authentic Life principles.

Workshop details are included below. For those of you who live in Phoenix, you can also read about it in this morning’s Arizona Republic on the front page of the Arizona Living section (see left-hand column entitled “Make the Most of Your Week.”) Give me a call or send me an email to reserve your seat for Wednesday night’s workshop. Feel free to invite your friends, family members, and colleagues too.



Are you looking for . . .

• greater clarity for major life transitions?
• richer, more honest relationships?
• a clearer sense of your life purpose?
• a personalized process that exceeds a programmatic approach to growth?

If so, join me for an
Introduction to the Authentic Life process,
a chance to learn how you can be all you’re created to be.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 7:00-8:30pm
Conference Room, Phoenix Public Library, Century branch – 1750 E. Highland, Phoenix
(south side of Colonnade Mall, off the Highland exit, SR-51)

$10 admission per person; feel free to invite friends, family, and colleagues.

For women, men, and couples of all ages.

Facilitated by Ellen Antill, M.A.
Director, Authentic Life Consulting

For more info or to RSVP, call or email Ellen
602.565.5151 ellenantill@cox.net

What will your legacy be? (Part 2)

October 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm | Posted in Legacy | 2 Comments
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happy-boys_000004399705small.jpgThe struggles in our lives can be viewed as obstacles that prevent us from being all we’re created to be . . . or they can be seen as a springboard for our discovery of new meaning and fulfillment. Perhaps, you’re already in the second camp. If not, you may want to consider changing your perception, as I did.

The desire to change generally takes hold in a serious way when you become sick and tired enough of some repetitive event or feeling, i.e., continually getting your heart broken . . . feeling as though you’re a miserable failure because you’re not “perfect” . . . never having a moment to yourself . . . being desperately afraid that your kids will end up with the same issues you have.

That last one — fear that my legacy for my son and daughter would be primarily sorrow — was the motivation I needed 15 years ago to seek a new approach to life.

My transformational process was lengthy and complex, as it is for most people, and involved supportive friends and professionals, experiential learning, journaling, and some important reading. In fact, my change process actually began when I read “Kids Who Carry Our Pain: Breaking the Cycle of Codependency for the Next Generation” by Robert Hemfelt and Paul Warren. This book helped me realize how vital it was to address my lifelong relational hang-ups so I could minimize damage to my children.

This is when I recognized, with the encouragement of others I trusted, that I could let the brokenness of my past inspire me to embrace wholeness and hope instead. It wasn’t an easy growth process, and because I’m human I sure don’t feel whole or hopeful 100% of the time. But I’m committed to ongoing development of a legacy of relational health for my kids and the others in my circle of influence. This approach makes all the difference in my life, my marriage, my parenting, and the work I’m called to do.

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