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Saturday, December 28, 2013

A New Year

Have you ever thought "no more New Year´s resolutions", and then still come up with some, maybe the same ones as the year before? Why is it so compelling to us to come up with a list of desired changes at the chime of the bell at midnight of December 31st?

It is simply fun to come up with a better version of ourselves. The mere thoughts don´t require any commitments, any energy or endurance. Dreams are free, they say. But dreams don´t come true just because. At least not the kind that involves losing some pounds or being more productive.

Why not use the start of a new year this time for deepening the relationship to ourselves? What if we better understood where we are at right now? What moves us, what worries us, what excites us? I don´t always find it that easy to know about myself. It is not something we truly need to find out in order to function in daily life. It is, however, something we need to know in order to create a charmed and fulfilled life. This and other things like "what is one thing I truly want to make happen in this life?", "am I currently doing something towards that?", "what can one step be to take right now?"

Now THAT is a New Year´s resolution that would make a true difference in the course of our lives. Once pinpointed, we can even ask ourselves, where we want to be in regards to this single one very important thing for us by the end of 2014. Then, we can identify steps within that year´s goal and start committing to the smaller steps by certain dates. It becomes tangible and thus doable and real. We can monitor our success, as well as be relaxed, because we know, we are moving towards the ONE thing that really matters to us.

In case you have a hard time deciding what that one thing is for you, imagine you are at the end of your life, having lived a fulfilled and amazing life. What do you just know that had to have been in it for it to be rich and full? Experience it with all of your senses. Get to know details about it, as much as you can. Trust me, whatever comes up - don´t over think it - it is THE thing for you. Your heart knows. All of a sudden it becomes clear.

I dare you to ditch your usual New Year´s resolutions list, and do this exercise. The rest will fall into place. Once we live a fulfilled life, things like extra pounds just take care of themselves. They usually are only there to hold the place for our dreams until we are ready to grab them and run with them. Once we are on our way, we don´t need the extra pounds anymore.

It is also a lot more fun than gritting our teeth and pushing through a list that never was the most important thing in the first place. Who are we kidding? By February we have returned to our same habits, unless it is something of true importance and meaning to us.

That said, I wish you an amazing year 2014. May you run towards your one thing you don´t want to have lived a life without. It is time to make it real.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Pilgrim for Life

For the third time, my husband and I went on a pilgrimage this summer. For over 1200 years now, the final resting place of the apostle Saint James has been calling millions of people to come to it on foot and experience an outer and an inner journey. Upon arrival in Santiago de Compostela, one question comes to the forefront: how to continue the essence of a pilgrimage once daily life has us back…

After three times I know the feeling of arriving very well. Arriving at our goal that we had for 6 weeks of daily walking - it is a bitter sweet feeling. Happiness of reaching a goal that only started out with one step and hope and faith that all the necessary following steps will be made in good health and good spirit. Sadness, because the focus for the last 6 weeks is no more. It is done. Now what?!

Daily life has a similar rhythm. It is different for each one of us, but it helps to have goals smaller than the obvious milestones in life. That way we have the sense of achievement more often. But simply having a sense of being on a journey is something I find difficult to keep in my awareness, when the daily grind takes over. Yet, I have a true desire to keep the feeling of the pilgrimage alive. It takes a strong commitment to achieve that, in order to be willing to change enough of the schedule around and to make big and courageous changes. Our own habits and default reactions can become like good old friends. We feel safe and know them well. Why give them up? Because sometimes they stand in the way of living a fulfilled life.

Giving them up is necessary if we want different results. For me, striving to be a modern pilgrim in an urban setting, the seductions of city life are a big challenge. The mere awareness of that challenge gives me a big advantage and the possibility to find ways to handle it. I have read a number of books that deal with simplifying life and creating a charmed life. I find them mostly helpful. There are things like decluttering, walking more instead of driving, or even driving less all together by choosing wisely and clustering errands.

With thrifty tasks like that, there is more time to make sure, the spiritual side is also being nourished on a regular basis. Just shortening my newspaper time in the morning and using it for a simple meditation gave me a strong connection to my overall big goals and guidance throughout the day in that respect. With that focus, many unnecessary things fell by the wayside and did not even need to be addressed anymore. Spiritual housekeeping, I call it. Simple and effective. That is the way I like my solutions - for myself, as well as for my life coaching clients. I stand by that, especially since I am trained in science, complicated psychology maneuvers, as well as personality and intelligence test batteries. All of these have their place as well, but when the daily grind takes over and takes the color out of life with its white and black strokes, the simple things are what count and bring back the rainbow colors and the spring in our step.