How Hard is it for You to Take a Break?

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. Chinese Proverb

 

I had been looking forward to the trip for more than a year. These last many months, when life felt too stressful or full, I would close my eyes and envision beautiful morning hikes, vast vistas, smoothies by the pool and downtime with my mom in sunny Mexico.

Years ago, when I turned 40, my sweet mother took me to beautiful Rancho La Puerta for a week away to relax, get healthy and refill my tanks. On that trip I realized that taking time away from my many responsibilities could actually stimulate progress in all areas of my life. Fast forward to late May, when I was about to return with my mom for a full week in that magical place that had changed me forever.

The morning of my departure, my husband woke up and couldn’t move his neck. It was so bad that he could barely get out of bed. Worry #1. I could feel my anxiety grow just as my mom arrived to take the two of us to the airport.

During the whole plane ride, all I could think about was my husband’s pain and the many possible disaster scenarios that could befall my family. Would Kurt remember all the pick-ups, drop off's, baseball practices and games? Would the hamster die of starvation? What if our cat, Fluffy, got more burrs in his fur? Would the mail pile up? And would my business need tending to each day? As you can imagine, these hypothetical hiccups had me paralyzed with worry. My mom kept asking me what was wrong and urged me to relax and enjoy – we were on vacation!

She was absolutely right. What was wrong with me? I had one week to enjoy myself and be present but all I could feel was a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I could feel how attached I was to my illusions of control.
 
This continued for three solid days. Finally, on Tuesday, I had a come to Jesus moment when my husband scolded me to stop texting, stop planning for the boys and get in the moment. I went for a walk in the labyrinth pictured below and the obvious truth surfaced within minutes.

I thought if I wasn’t taking care of things, everything would crumble.
I truly believed that loosening my grip – even from hundreds of miles away – would wreak havoc on everything in my life. 

The honest truth was, my inability to let go and trust was harming not only me, but my beloved family as well. 

My husband did not feel trusted and my mom was wondering where the heck I was half the time because I was so distracted with worry. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I did a Watsu session. Imagine a massage in a 98° pool for an hour. Your body is able to totally relax and be held by the water. In one pose, I was in fetal position being held like a baby. I could feel tears streaming down my face and for the first time all week, I let go in the arms of someone else and heard a strong voice.

It said, “the more you let go, Johanna, the more powerful your presence and impact will be on everything around you.”

And suddenly I realized, I was in Mexico!
 
I could have cried for hours, but I pulled it together. I then proceeded to take a two-hour nap. When I awoke, my mind, body and soul felt rejuvenated and clear. The rest of my trip was gorgeous and relaxing. But the best part was receiving that message. (Oh, and a chocolate chip cookie on the last night!)

So my questions to you all are…
When, if ever, do you totally let go? 
What beliefs hold you back from doing so? 
How can you practice letting go, even when faced with the responsibilities of daily life?
What could unfold if you let go of control more? 

When I got home, happily, everyone had survived. Even my younger son Gus, who got slammed in the head with a baseball, was in good spirits! Stripy the hamster was alive and well, Fluffy was fat and happy as ever and all my boys – Kurt included -- were happy and grateful to see me. My world didn't crumble, in fact it had thrived.

How Would You Answer This Question?

What exactly is self-love? I remember hearing the suggestion to love myself when I was dating and felt ready to meet my life partner. Wise friends would say, “don’t expect to find your soulmate until you truly love yourself first.” OK…this sounded reasonable, but I don’t think I really grasped the concept until I recently found this quote:

“And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?

Wow. This blew my mind. It would not occur to me to put myself on a list of things I love. It would be my friends, family, dancing and hiking. It would be music and dinners out and the occasional trashy television show. But myself, no way!

We really are not taught the ways to love ourselves. We are shown what it means to play nicely with others, to be a compassionate friend and a dedicated student. I was taught to respect other people and be a steward of nature. I was shown what good manners look like. But to love myself and say it out loud? Not really.

So with this challenge in mind, I took some time to brainstorm the ways I love myself. Why? Because at the end of the day, LOVE plumps everything up. It infuses all living beings with radiant, confident, kind energy. Love is the most magical of medicines. It can transform us into something whole and strong. Even my cat demands his daily love sessions. I tell him how magnificent he is while stroking his gorgeous orange fur, and he melts!

Just think what could happen if we oozed that kind of love towards ourselves each day. Imagine how differently we would thrive in our work and connect with our family and friends. We have the power to fill ourselves up with the magical medicine of love and when we feel full, our ability to give to others grows. Even more powerful, self-love fortifies against caring about what others think.

So, despite how vulnerable this feels, I am determined to share the TOP ways that I love myself. I do this in spite of my inner critic telling me not to “brag” about myself. The doubter inside who asks, “who am I to think of myself in this way?” This is the kind of resistance we all feel when we turn to love ourselves. So, with the disclaimer that I often slip into self-doubt and regularly fail to remember these, here goes:

I LOVE MY BODY: I look in the mirror and say thank you for everything I have been given.

I PRAISE MYSELF: I thank myself for all that I do each day instead of beating myself up for what was left undone. 

I RESIST COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS: I remember that no one else on this planet is exactly like me.

I PLAY: I sing in the car, I dance for my kids at breakfast, and I let my goofy self out with clients and friends. This is an important act of self-love because it honors the parts of me that are not “all buttoned up” and perfect.

I STAND UP FOR MYSELF: When I hear my inner truth, I love myself enough to back it up with action. I say “no” when I do not want to do something even when people are disappointed. I want my kids to be in their truth and set boundaries, so I must also.

I hope this list helps to inspire one in you. If you felt skeptical while reading my acts of self-love, PAUSE and notice how easy it is to be hard on yourself. Little by little, this will change.

Start small with your new self-love regime. Have an infectious laugh? Make a great cup of coffee? Good recall for names? Pick one thing you love about yourself and make it your mantra. The ideas will grow from there. This is my challenge and invitation to you. Email me and let me know how it feels to be the kindest and most loving friend in the world to the person who you’ll spend more time with than anyone else in this life: YOU!

Election Hangover

Ok, I admit it. For the last 18 months, I have been driven by my ego-mind in this election and honestly, kind of loving it. What does that mean? It means being really angry, righteous, critical and judgmental. It means that I’ve been 100% attached to my views and have aligned only with people who agree with them. It means binging on Facebook and sharing as many anti-Trump posts as possible. It means feeling superior to people with different political beliefs and characterizing them as dumb, clueless and other adjectives I will not mention.

 

And you know what? IT FELT SORT OF SATISFYING. Like the satisfaction that comes from pigging out on junk food or drinking too many cocktails after a long week. It’s the kind of rush that comes from overspending on a pair of jeans because I DO NOT GIVE A F^&%K. It’s a shallow kind of satisfaction that does not last long, but when it’s there…MAN, DOES IT FEEL GOOD!

 

But, like all behaviors and impulses that come from a short-term ego-driven place, they wear out. The candy stops tasting good and the credit card bill comes at the end of the month.

 

After the enormous disappointment and reckoning that was November 8, I’m starting to come off my binge to realize that all my ranting and raving is not going to make the change that my ego thinks it will.

 

Something bigger is starting to speak to me, a voice from a more thoughtful source, and it sounds something like this…”Johanna, I know it is really uncomfortable and painful to lose. Losing hurts, but we all lose at times. There are millions of people out there who disagreed with you, and guess what, many of them are good and caring people. Even if they voted for a different president, they are there to help and be seen. But first, you must let go of your anger.”

 

Slowly, I’m getting ready to talk less and listen more. But just to be clear: this does not mean being passive. It means I am ready to return to my curiosity, to my desire understand. It means that sharing posts on Facebook is not really taking action. It is time to start thinking about the organizations I want to align with; to start reaching out to people who supported Trump to share my fears and concerns, to listen to theirs, and to try and reach new understanding.

 

So, as I send out this message, I am officially ending my tantrum and moving into a better place of trust and action. I may slip a little now and then, but I’m going to try and put the candy in another room, spend less time on social media and more time on social justice – to stop binging on the junk food thoughts of my mind and act from a place of clarity and resolve.

 

HERE IS MY NEW, 8-POINT “NON EGO-DRIVEN” DIET:

1.       Cut back on time traveling to a future of doom and gloom. When that happens, return to the present moment and ask myself, “What am I doing right now that can make positive change?”

2.       Cut out mean Facebook posts.

3.       Increase daily intake of positive news and books that inspire me to do good in the world.

4.       Donate time and money to causes that support the solutions I want to see in the world.

5.       Accept “what is” rather than spending hours wishing it were different.

6.       Trust that there are cracks of light everywhere and that there is a divine order to all of this.

7.       Write more, give more, shine my light more.

8.       And like any diet, I get one day off to rant, rave, be sad, be mad or be lazy!

 

Let Your Shadow Out of the Closet

Recently, at a gathering of my women’s group, my fabulous friend Catherine led an exercise about understanding your identity. I was asked to bring an object that best describes who I am in the world. I shared my favorite quote by Rumi, “Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” I explained that I love to support people by identifying the things that excite them, and encouraging them to follow their bliss. In essence, I’m like a spiritual cheerleader.

I have been like this ever since I was young. (Ask my friends from high school!) I’m the first-born, spoke all the time for my younger brother, was a peace-maker in my family and felt deep compassion for others. I worried about other people’s happiness from an early age and this gave me heightened skills in empathy, compassion, listening, and giving.

Sounds great, right? I have a successful coaching practice and life purpose because of this identity. And of course it is very energizing to support people in meaningful ways.

But with every dominant identity there is a repressed shadow side. Some part of you had to get closed off and put in the closet so that your primary identity in the world could really take hold.

We adapt and begin to favor our dominant identity at a very early age. Perhaps a parent told you to toughen up and stop crying all the time, and that, in turn made you into a strong, unemotional leader. Or maybe you were constantly rewarded for being smart and good in school, so you made it your mission to never look like you don’t have the answers. Or maybe, like me, you were praised for being positive and kind, and as a result you put your feisty, more self-serving identity in the closet and decided it was a bad thing to take up space and receive.

For every fabulous quality you possess, there is a shadow part of you that rarely gets any airtime. And here’s the important part: there is a COST to this pattern. When we come into this world we are our most authentic selves – the good and the bad, are alive and well. It’s through conditioning that we learn to celebrate some parts of ourselves and shame the others.

This takes a real toll in our lives. When we BLOCK certain parts of ourselves, we BLOCK our power and potential in the world.

For me, I miss out on opportunities and a lot of support because I am resistant to receiving. One of the funniest and most uncomfortable moments of my life was on my 40th birthday. My closest girlfriends and I went on a birthday hike to the beach. We assembled in a circle and I asked each person to introduce themselves. The first person said her name and then proceeded to share all the reasons why she loves me. It was so hard to take in that I interrupted her and started to tell her all the reasons why she was amazing. The whole group told me to STOP and just RECEIVE!!! Although it was uncomfortable to take all their kind words, it turned out to be one the most memorable moments of my life. I was completely filled with love.

SO…TRY THIS OUT:

  • Take a minute to think about your dominant identity in the world. What do people come to you for? When people think of you, what adjectives would they use to describe you?
  • Now think about the direct opposite of that identity. For instance, I am a GIVER so my polar opposite is a RECEIVER. It’s hard for me to accept help, I do not take up much space and I feel more comfortable focusing attention on others.
  • Once you’ve identified your opposite, ask yourself what would it look like to bring that part of you out of the closet and into the world? Step out of your comfort zone, and I promise you’ll learn volumes about yourself.

For me, this means saying YES to the offerings that come my way, including all compliments! When someone at the market offers to help me take the groceries to my car I ACCEPT!!! And when friends ask about me, I share – in spite of my discomfort - instead of immediately turning my focus to them.

When you begin to accept all the parts of yourself you become more receptive to the power and miracles that want to come into your life.

 

 

 

 

 

How to know when it’s really time to change…..

Back in 2014, I decided to invest in my business and signed up for Marie Forleo’s “B-School” course. I felt it was time to learn more about how to build my brand, create new programs and reach new people in person and online. I made the payment (more than I had ever spent on my business), blocked off two hours a day on my schedule and dove full bore into the work. The lessons were powerful and it opened my mind and heart to so many new ideas that I had not previously considered. However, as the weeks went by, I felt a mounting and belittling sense of comparison when I saw the hundreds of other coaches doing their thing in the program. I got obsessed with looking at their websites and I started to feel like a big, fat looser compared to others who seemed to be doing bigger and better things in the world.

I felt the PRESSURE to change and produce, but not from a true sense of creativity and purpose, rather from a competitive part of me that wanted to keep up with the Joneses. I suddenly craved that silver bullet that would propel toward tons of money and external notoriety. For the first time since I started On Your Path Consulting, I began to create from an EXTERNAL DRIVE for success, rather than an INTERNAL DESIRE to produce work that was genuine and organic.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, THIS TOOK A TOLL ON ME! I STARTED TO DOUBT MY NATURAL ABILITY TO DO THE WORK I LOVED AND TO FEEL VERY DISCONNECTED FROM MY CREATIVITY. THE EXTERNAL NEED TO SUCCEED WAS KILLING MY LONGTERM STRATEGY FOR INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SUCCESS.

I pushed ahead, trying to force a new website when I was not truly ready, and surprise, surprise: the whole thing flopped. I woke up one morning, checked in with myself and realized I was trying to change for all the wrong reasons. Once I had that realization, I released my rebranding push and came back to a place of trust, knowing that when the time was right and the ideas were genuine, I would redo my website and create exciting new offerings.

So here we are! It is February 2016 and I am truly excited to share my new website. It was created from a true sense of readiness and a desire to shake things up and put myself out there in new ways. Part of what was required in this process was to forgive myself for trying to force the change back in 2014.

It is so natural to get restless and want to mix things up in order to feel new excitement in life. But my big lesson in this whole experience was the understanding that when change is fueled by an external desire to look good or get external acknowledgment, it has weak legs to stand on. It requires forced effort and feels like you’re swimming up stream.

Here’s what I also know: when change comes from a place of truth and creativity, it manifests with ease and substance, and it will feel just as pleasing to you as it does to everyone else.

Steven Pressfield calls this kind of creation TURNING PRO. He says, “What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.”

So when you’re feeling the need to make a big change in your life, PAUSE and ask yourself these three questions…

-Why do I want to make this change? Is it for others or for myself?

-What genuine new idea or creativity do I have inside that NEEDS to be birthed into the world?

-Would I do it even if it could fail?

What is the Difference between Life Coaching and Therapy?

 
 

There are actually quite a few differences that you should keep in mind when thinking about what will be most supportive for you.

To put it simply, coaching is much more current and future oriented. Coaching is proactive, so there will always be invitations to take action on your realizations and insights. In your coaching process, there will be some time spent exploring the events, learnings and challenges from your past, but the process will not linger there for much time. The lessons from your past will be applied to ways you can make positive changes in your life moving forward. When considering life coaching, it is best to have already done some inner work on yourself so that you can bring that awareness to your coaching sessions. The more you understand yourself, the more you will be able to listen to your truth and take action in the outside world.

Example situations when a life coach can help:

  • I am a high functioning individual who feels held back or stuck in a certain part of my life.
  • I have done the work on myself in therapy and have an awareness of how different events in my life have affected the way I operate.
  • I am ready to take my life to the next level….ie. figure out my life purpose, new career, new relationship.
  • I am ready and able to take action and want the accountability and support to keep me moving forward.

Example situations when therapy is a better option:

  • I am in an abusive relationship and need guidance and support.
  • I am battling with an addiction.
  • I have uncontrollable emotions and find myself crying on a regular basis.
  • I have not resolved childhood trauma.
  • I suffer from depression and feel helpless.

For more information or questions if life coaching is right for you contact Johanna here>>

Today is the Day to Act on your Ideas!

 
Today is the Day to Act on your Ideas!.jpg
 

So often I speak with people about what they would do in their lives if there were no constraints holding them back. Often times people have visions of being more creative or starting a business or traveling to new places. Inevitably, there is always a big, old BUT that comes after their exciting stories of possibility and that BUT is usually followed by a reason why they cannot make it happen. Perhaps it is not financially possible or there is a fear of failure or no one would think their idea would succeed. I then ask them why they cannot begin to explore their curiosity. What is the harm in beginning to carve out some time to specifically explore, research and talk to others about what interests them? The biggest obstacle I see people bump up against in trying to make purposeful change in their lives is an “all or nothing” approach. I can see the ego wanting the new endeavor to be perfect and that is just about death to any new seedling of an idea. Does a redwood tree come out of the ground strong, tall and robust? No, it takes time and the right conditions for it to grow and become majestic.

 

So instead of saying that something is impossible because there is no time or no money or that you are not talented enough to make it happen, start small and just change your story. Replace negative stories with ones that support your intelligence, curiosity and innovative spirit. Look at articles or research on-line about your idea and see what other people are doing similar projects out in the world. Start sharing your visions, all imperfect and fragile, to the people you trust and get their input. Track your ideas in a journal when they come to you so you never loose the spark of a good idea. One of the most powerful pieces of advice I ever received was “Fake it, until you make it.” Don’t wait to be an expert to start trying out your new idea. The new stories you tell yourself may sound contrived and funny at first but over time they become real and more powerful than the negative stories you had beforehand.

 

So if you have been dreaming silently to yourself for a while now about something that excites you and are afraid to act on it, today is the day to nurture that new seed. Water it with empowering stories, give it sunshine with the research and sharing you do and watch it begin to grow very slowly each day. When proper preparation meets right timing, magic happens. Just paying attention to your new ideas will shift your energy, bring you in alignment with the mystery of life and help you attract things you would never have imagined!

 

Taking A Break To Be With Your Kids Can Be Good For Your Career

 
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Your most valuable currency is what comes most natural to you.
— Danielle Laporte
 

I work with extremely talented, creative, resourceful women each day who have taken a break in their careers to be at home with the kids. When they come to me it is often because they are ready to recreate themselves a bit and find a new way to express their interests outside of the home…in simpler terms, they are ready to go back to work! Rarely do mothers I work with want to return to the same job that they had before the kids. Let’s face it…the women we were when we graduated college are very different from the women we have become. Many women do not want as aggressive a work schedule or they feel that something new has developed inside of themselves that wants to be expressed. Their biggest fear is appearing like they have nothing professional on their resumes for the last 5-10 years. Their self-confidence can be low, as well as their trust in being a valuable asset in the workplace. Fear to step into the unknown keeps any new ideas or actions from happening. They feel stuck.

 

While many would see that taking a break from work is a setback for your career, I see it as a HUGE POSITIVE. When you take a break from your work, it is a chance to see what new gifts and talents want to come out and express themselves. It is like hitting the pause button to see what else feels interesting, alive and challenging inside of you. When you start to look at your life through this lens of purpose (AKA, what you would do if no one was watching or paying you) you begin to see that you have been growing possibilities for your new career all the while you have been at home with the kids.

 

Here is one example of a mom that I worked with who thought she was completely lost about new directions for her career. Her identity was still attached to the high level work she did as a lawyer and she was feeling pressure to return to that profession. However, there was something new that she wanted to express in her career and when she took the time to really explore what that could be, something unexpected presented itself to her.

 

Kerri

Kerri is an ambitious, highly motivated woman who decided to channel her intellect and energy into law. However, after having her second child, the demanding schedule and pressure just did not work for her life any longer. While staying at home with her kids, she began to take on many leadership roles in the school and became PTA President two years in a row. She also rebuilt her home to GREEN standards and began to grow a huge vegetable garden. When she came to me she was ready for new work that was able to bring in some money and felt completely overwhelmed and doubtful about her chances of getting a job. After much exploration she realized that her passion for healthy living and gift for advancing big ideas to make change needed to be a part of her career moving forward. She discovered a magazine called Edible with a mission to bring awareness to organic eating and living. She knew this was it and started Edible in Silicon Valley. Running this magazine uses her editorial and leadership skills, passion to make change and obsession with healthy living.

 

Now, if you are reading this example and thinking that running a magazine is WAY too much for me at this time, remember you can create whatever it is you want. I just invite you to start thinking about the times you were in the zone. Start asking your friends to describe you at your best. Think about what you like to do when no one is watching? What is it that you cannot stop reading or learning about? What do you do so naturally that people come to you and ask for either your support or advice on the matter?

Begin to really follow your curiosity and ACT on it. Buy the new book, sign up for a class; take a friend to lunch who interests you. Just start praising yourself for all that you do naturally rather than beating yourself up for not having new things to put on your resume. Recognize that your fear is a natural part of growth. And if it is too hard to do on your own, find a coach!

 

11 Reasons Why You Are Ready to Take the Leap

 
 

  1. You cannot stop thinking about your new idea or new job. This may feel exciting at first but then reality sets in and you feel overwhelmed and depressed.
     
  2. You are constantly looking at what everyone else is doing and thinking that their path is the bomb! The self-comparison can begin to feel burdensome.
     
  3. You feel burned out and resentful with your current situation.
     
  4. You ping pong back and forth between two ideas, your inner critic kicks in and tells you that both are bad options which puts you back to square one.
     
  5. You start to think in all or nothing terms….for example, maybe I should just quit my job and move to Montana to start a farm!
     
  6. You start to rationalize that maybe feeling underwhelmed; uninspired and bored is just the way it has to be.
     
  7. When you start to brainstorm new ideas for yourself, your inner critic steps in very quickly to tell you all the reasons why the new idea will not work out.
     
  8. You know that there is more to life!
     
  9. You start to set all these manmade timelines up in your head to procrastinate putting your dream in motion…for example, I can suffer for another year, make money and then I will make the change.
     
  10. You begin to make other people the problem…
     
  11. One day you recognize that your excitement is greater than your resistance and you take action!

So are you ready to take the leap?