Do Something For No Particular Reason- Take a Break

Recently, I spray painted my mom’s pole barn with the word “hope” and a landscape. I was moving back to my hometown and in the middle of a job search. Why would I stop and take a couple of days to paint when I still needed a job? It is a typical response when anyone does something fun when there is clearly work to be done to question priorities. If we do not take reasonable breaks to do things that light us up, we reduce outer productivity and flow. Doing enjoyable things as a discipline can help us get better results. I am not talking about aborting your mission in life. We all have things we need to do. As we schedule our tasks for work and home, we can allow breaks to just do things that are fun.

We can ward off toxic stress and prevent making poor decisions by having reasonable breaks. When we are stressed we do not have access to our best thinking and therefore; we can’t make the best decisions. When we are calm, we can think creatively and problem solve with more ease.

Are you a parent or caregiver with endless tasks to do? Are you stressed at your job? Are you stressed doing a job search. Are you or a loved one in a health crisis? Are you you experiencing financial or relationship stress? Are you moving? Are you going through a major life transition? Have you experienced a recent loss?

Would you be willing to take a break?

I am not sure what that looks like for you, but here are a few ideas.

Have a great meal with friends that make you laugh hard.

Take a nature walk.

Play with pets or your kids.

Make a new recipe.

Do some art.

Get your nails or hair done.

Dance.

Listen to music.

Read a Book.

Enjoy a fire

Play with a pet

Enjoy TV, going to a movie, or watching a play.

Watch or play a sport.

Learn to do do something new that is interesting to you.

Do a project around the house or outside… only if it is fun for you.

Now I am moved. I am working at the hardware store where I bought the spray paint for the barn, and I am loving it. I have a new perspective and I feel I am right where I am supposed to be. My stress level is much lower. Taking time to paint the pole barn when I was stressed marked the beginning transforming my thinking and figuring out my next reasonable steps.

During November, December, and January, I am offering Creative Discovery Sessions for a greatly reduced rate of $25. I am hoping people will get support during these months that are often more stressful.

Creative Discovery Sessions can be done in person, by phone, and on- line. The initial session will be about 50 minutes. We will identify stress agents in your life, transform some of your stories, and identify three reasonable goals. I will provide three follow up calls about 10 minutes each that you will schedule. This provides some accountability and ongoing support to help you power through the holidays with a little more balance and sanity. Holidays should not be just survived but enjoyed, but it is not always easy.

I can be reached at 651-331-1421 to schedule.

Here is some additional information about your brain when it is stressed. I think you will enjoy this video if you are interested in brain research.

Take Care,

Tracy May

Moving Naturally

I first learned that there was a link between moving naturally and longevity from reading Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. Buettner studied people around the world that enjoyed long lives and looked for patterns. Moving naturally was one of those common factors.

Those that enjoyed a long life, did not just move when they went to a gym to work out, or do an exercise routine, or practice yoga daily. Although, these are great practices, the movement that was observed in this long living super hero group was things like shepherding goats and having to walk up and down mountains, gardening, and carrying water. We have technology that makes it possible to move less. We drive to places we could walk, we use nice appliances to clean, we buy more food than we grow many times, and we miss out on the benefits of natural movement.

Instead of thinking about movement as a punishment, we can think of it as a reward. Moving naturally increases strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. This can help us emotionally, reduce pain and injuries, and help us be able to perform our tasks with more ease.

People that avoid movement are depriving themselves of health benefits. Living an active life is part of a healthy life. If you have a job that is more sedentary working in movement breaks throughout the day will take some intentional planning but it is possible create some new habits that will allow you to move more throughout the day. It may seem like a waste of time to choose stairs over the elevator, but you might find that the mental clarity you have after times of movement, increases your productivity and focus. Having lunch in a place that requires a brisk walk outdoors can rejuvenate you. Taking your family for a nightly walk instead of having couch and TV time can increase children’s curiosity about nature and get families talking and connecting again. I find I sleep best after having time being active outdoors.

If you have an injury, chronic illness, or disability, try to move more as your body allows. See how movement can help you. Maybe it is hard for you to get up to get things, or roll your wheel chair, or even do things with your hands. How can you challenge yourself? Everyone will have different options, limitations, and preferences, and we create habits that serve us best.

Take Care,

Tracy May, Promising Connections, LLC

How can you incorporate more natural movement into your life?

Express Gratitude

Having gratitude is one thing. Expressing gratitude is bigger. Expressing gratitude is an action that can propel us forward into being more happy and resilient.

There are times when we feel overwhelmed by obstacles of life. Bills, health issues, job stress, job finding stress, moving, business ownership stress, car troubles, home repair issues, children, romantic partners, caregiving, bossy pets, etc. , can make it difficult to stop and recognize what is good in life. There is always something worth celebrating.

Most of the world survives on $1 a day, and most of my readers have not had to survive on this little. Even if I hit bottom today, there are resources, personal, non- profits, and governmental, that I could access in order to still stay alive. I have so much. I am also healthy. Most of my family is healthy right now. How many people would love to say they had no loved ones in the hospital? My car runs. The roof is not leaking. The mouse that came to visit earlier in the week has gone with the help of exterminators. We have food. We are so lucky.

I needed to move to my hometown and find a job recently. It was scary to take that leap of faith and see how things worked out. I just got hired yesterday. It is a nice opportunity and it was such a relief to know that I have that piece of the puzzle in place. To celebrate, and express gratitude, I made whoopie pies and shared them with friends that supported me in the weeks of uncertainty.

My mom was a key supporter, and while I had time off, I cleaned and cooked for her. I felt gratitude and I also expressed it in action. I am looking forward to expressing gratitude to my hometown by actively participating in volunteer opportunities.

When I was in a bad car accident, I bruised a lung, and for weeks following, it was difficult to breathe. I was so thankful when I could breathe easier. Before that I took breathing for granted. In Guatemala, I could not drink the tap water. I appreciated clean water so much more when I returned. We live in a country where we can speak freely and where we can make some choices about our life. Immigrants from countries that do not have civil liberties, who become U.S. citizens, appreciate freedom.

There are things to be grateful for that we might take for granted. Expressing gratitude feeds our positive emotions. When we are going through times of difficulty, it is most important to start identifying what we can be grateful for. It does not stop there, though. How can we actively express gratitude? How can we move beyond the language of gratitude to the action of gratitude?

Here is an article to further explains the benefits of expressing gratitude.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Take Care,

Tracy May

Creative Discovery Sessions $125

To schedule call: 641-331-1421

Practicing Flexibility

You are doing yoga. You feel you have stretched as far as you can. You are sure you cannot reach your toes. Your instructor tells you to take a deep breath, and try again. You take the breath, you stretch as you exhale, and to your surprise, you stretch further than you did before. Practicing flexibility requires us to try to reach in a new direction or try to reach harder in the same direction. Practicing flexibility does not allow us to stay the same.

There are some things that are so alluring about sameness. In many ways, it is nice to have the same predictable work, familiar co-workers, community that is familiar and easy to navigate, cultural norms that do not challenge us, and a sense of safety in our comfort zone.

Is our comfort zone really safe, though? If you have kept everything in your power the same for many years, you may have been able to enjoy the luxury of your comfort zone for now, but changes happen to all of us at one time or another. At these times we have to be flexible or we may break. Basket weavers have to keep adding water to reeds so they will continue to bend or the reeds break. In order to not be caught by surprise, resilient people practice being flexible. It is not something they do only when they have to. It is a way of life. It is a habit that contributes to life long learning, personal development, and being resilient in times of stress.

Here are some ways that you can begin to practice flexibility.

  1. Learn something new.
  2. Have a new experience.
  3. Make a new friend.
  4. Join a new group.
  5. Go to a new place.
  6. Read a book by a new author.
  7. Try new foods.
  8. Research a new topic.
  9. Play a new game.
  10. Create new art.
  11. Listen to new music.
  12. Watch new movies.
  13. Attend new plays.
  14. Try a new exercise.
  15. Make a new recipe.

There are so many possibilities.

What will you do this week to practice flexibility? Are you currently being forced to be flexible and you have been resisting? What can you do to metaphorically, take a breath, and stretch some more? As human beings, we rarely achieve our potential. What could you accomplish if you practice flexibility and stretch yourself?

Take Care,


Tracy May

Creative Discovery Sessions are $125. I would love to be your life coach and help you increase happiness, resilience, longevity, and flow in your life. Call to schedule at 651-331-1421.

Working Towards a Goal

Having goals and working on them contribute to happiness. The first part is easy. Put that goal on a dream board. The second part is where people often stop. I put a map of blog posts on my calendar for the next few months and did not know that in September, I would still be working feverishly hard on a goal that I set for myself. Working Towards a Goal just happens to be the topic of the week, and that is what I am doing.

My guide for clients and myself, is that the goal should be SMART. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

My SMART goal was this.

Specific: A job that would meet my needs in order to stay in my apartment. Probably something outside of education because due to education policy and lack of funding, it is hard for a teacher with 18 years experience to get hired. I also desire continuous employment throughout the year.

Measurable: I will know that I have achieved this goal when I am working steadily, getting paid, and I am able to take care of my basic needs and save a little towards my emergency savings and for some of my bigger dreams that have been set aside for now.

Achievable: I am educated and have lots of experience. I have good connections that can help me find opportunities besides those on-line. I am fortunate to have these advantages.

Relevant: This goal is related directly to me having a life. This goal is related to shelter, food, transportation, and the basic pursuit of happiness.

Time -Bound: I think it is very important to know what your time limit should be as a target, but as we all know, who have done life for a while, we cannot control everything enough to ensure we always achieve something exactly on time. I was hoping to have a job by mid July that would be lasting. I have had to adjust my plan because that time has past. I honestly do no know how it will turn out. It is very suspenseful. I am aiming to have something by October now.

Let me tell you what working on that goal looked like. I applied for hundreds of jobs. I completed on-line essays, took tests, wrote specific cover letters, and customized resumes, I let all of my friends know at least twice that I was looking for work and what kind of work I was looking at, I talked to employers face to face to explore opportunities, I interviewed my friends about the specific work they do to see if that might be something I could do, and I went to some interviews. I tried a new job working in a day-care, gave it my best, and had to leave when they were not paying me according to our agreement. I cannot afford to work just for the passion of taking care of children. Still looking for that independently wealthy, handsome, generous man, to come into my life and say, just go paint, I have the bills. Just kidding. That is not on my dream board and definitely not a SMART goal. Back to the work part. I immediately applied for so many more jobs and I went to Work One to get some ideas on how I could improve my resume and find out what other kinds of jobs I could apply for. In order to get by, I have been cleaning houses and watching a pet. I reopened Promising Connections and offered coaching services and put my art for sale. I have let people know that I am willing to do things that I can do that they may need. Everything has helped. I have a few more days until I decide whether to continue my lease or leave a month early.

Most people in this area actually make $15 an hour or less. They many times have kids to take care of as well. I do not know how they do it. It must be through a lot of credit card debt. My one bedroom apartment is about $700 and I just have to take care of a litttle schnauzer who does not eat much. Internet is free. Utilities are about $150 total a month. I am still paying on student loans and an IRS payment for debt that was “forgiven” from back when I was married. I have a very simple life. I have very little furniture and my car is paid for. It has over 200,000 miles on it. I refuse to get a single credit card in order to pretend I have money I don’t. I currently have debts to pay off and will continue to pick away at that as I am able. I worked full time as a teacher since I have been in Indiana getting the pay of about a 10 year teacher (with 15+ years of actual experience). I did not have enough to live on this summer and needed immediate employment. The daycare job helped me a little, and I am grateful. I am grateful for the cleaning jobs, art purchases, and any other opportunities that get me by.

It is hard to work on your goals. Sometimes they do not work out exactly as you hope. Working on goals is essential to our happiness. It is our reason for getting up in the morning. My other important goals tied to employment is being in Indiana for my mom and being able to not only meet my needs but help others. I was able to volunteer with a friend that directs for the Civic Theater. I was cast as an elephant in a play that retold and adventure of a couple living at Westminster Village in West Lafayette. They went to Thailand and rode a young misbehaving elephant. That was me. I even got to squirt water. I think I entertained people and I had fun. I did some work for Saint Baldrick’s of Lafayette during this time as well. Tomorrow I am helping someone I do not know to move. There were other times that I was able to stop and hold space for others, even while I was working on my own goal. I am grateful for being able to be simply alive.

Sometimes life is a little tougher, but compared to most of the world’s troubles I am wealthy, healthy, and blessed. Each day I do the next reasonable step. I put my energy into to my main goal first and then I make room to volunteer, relax, take in some nature, and enjoy friends and family. Living keeps going on as we work on our goals. If you are in this land of uncertainty with me, let’s take a moment to breathe, in with the good air, out with the bad……back to work. We don’t know when things can suddenly shift. Life is good as it is.

Take Care,

Tracy May

Initial Creative Discovery Coaching Sessions are $125. You will leave with your own SMART goal or goals– the plan. We will also map out how you will WORK the plan. Call to schedule: 651-331-1421

Accept and Anticipate Change

One thing we can count on in life is change. Whether we like to play it safe or take risks, change finds us. Some of the change is planned and some of it is a surprise.

In order to be happy, we have to make peace with change and the possibility of change. As a teacher, Years ago, new policies, new room assignments, new students, new administrators, new co-workers, and many more variables, suddenly would change. As a first year teacher, I had become settled in my classroom. At the end of the school year, it was maybe even the last day of school, I was told the whole room had to be packed up to moved to another building. Initially, the change was overwhelming. It seemed impossible, yet there was no avoiding it. Change meant a lot of extra work in a very tight time-frame. Change meant adjusting my priorities. Change was stressful. Nothing of major consequence really happened. I am kind of glad that happened my first year, because after that I was able to not avoid having an attachment to my classrooms. I had a renter mindset. Some teachers continue to suffer when their room is changed. Last year as an art teacher, I was told my room was needed to do testing and I would have to teach on a cart. This happens to a lot of art teachers. I had Spring Art show things in process that required a room to spread out work and let it dry. I would not be able to impose that mess on classroom teachers. I had to change my lesson plans and vision for the art show. I was able to respond calmly. Was it challenging? Yes, it was. I chose to use my energy to solve the problems and make it work. To fight with the decision would have not helped the situation.

I also remember those moments that I realized dating relationships had ran their course. I used to try to make things work even when I knew at a soul level it was not meant to be. Accepting and anticipating change looked like, in this situation, imagining going to dinner alone. I would imagine showing up at parties without a date. I would imagine telling my dog about my day. She is not the best listener but she can’t leave me so she I have a captive audience. I also imagined not having someone being verbally abusive to me. I imagined not having to cringe when my date says something that offends my soul. Not all relationships add real value. Looking at the pros and cons can help in making a decision. To accept and anticipate the change that was coming made the hard decisions of break ups easier.

Some of us have faced health issues. In this case, there might be a course of action to take. Some of it might be very unpleasant. In order to get to a better place of health or at least pro-long life, we make adjustments to what our life will look like moving forward. There may be some physical things we cannot participate in. There may be added expense. We may need to feel sick from medicine we take. We may gain or lose weight. We may have to heal from surgery. Changes in our body can be traumatic and we might have to go through a grieving process to let go of the body we once had. Sometimes we need to take action, uncomfortable action, to be in better health.

When I started my business in Minnesota, I had a vision of what it would be, and it shifted so many times. Change is necessary. To keep doing things that do not work is silly. Having your own business requires some risk and experimentation. By accepting and anticipating those changes, we can reduce negative consequences, but we are never completely in control. I read all of the business books and magazines I can take in, consult with other business owners, and then I take reasonable risks. Some ventures were a success, and some lead me back to the workshop.

There are many life transitions that can throw us if we do not accept and anticipate change. Jobs end, people pass, old buildings come down and new ones go up, and we have to change as people in order to grow. I will say that again. We have to change as people in order to grow.

Amelia Earhart was an excellent pilot and navigator, but her error may have been to fail to anticipate storms and trade wind changes that increased her climb and some re-routing. The result was running out of fuel before she was able to land.

When we are faced with change, it can be stressful, and our anxious brains do not come up with the best ideas. If you are faced with a change, get yourself to best state of calm you are able to. Breath, be still, and allow yourself to accept the change ahead. Change is your friend. It is the only way we ever grow. It is part of living this crazy adventurous life. What are some of the anticipated unpleasant things that will be involved? What decisive action steps would give you the best results? Do you need to gather more information? Imagine obstacles being approached, overcome, and in the past. What could be some good things on the other side of this change?

After packing up my first classroom, my next classroom was actually better. The building I moved to was welcoming of my special education students and it was a good change for them. Break ups have caused some tears, but my life is more peaceful minus the unhealthy relationships. I have learned to thrive as a single person. I had to have major back surgery when I was young, but I have had over 30 years of living a healthy active life as a result. There are good things on the other side of change. The bad moments never last either. They change as well. Our attachment to keep things the same will always disappoint. The world does not work like that.

The challenge today is to think about what changes are on the horizon for you, and accept those changes as your friend. Begin imagining how you will best navigate through the challenges of that change. Prepare, take care of yourself, and don’t run out of gas. You are on a grand adventure. I heard that Amelia Earhart packed chicken sandwiches, hot chocolate, water, and tomato juice on her journey but she did not bring the Morris Code equipment that could have helped her communicate and might have saved her when her radio failed. The planning part of change is important and if you are willing to honestly look at it, some changes can be easier. Gather some expert information, make a great plan, work the plan, and enjoy the journey. When we fail, provided it does not end in a fatal plane crash, we can applaud that we tried, learn from our mistakes, and move on.

If you need help making a plan about an upcoming transition, that is what I do as a coach. Initial Creative Discovery Sessions are $125 and you will leave our first meeting with your next reasonable steps through your transition.

You can e-mail me at promisingconnections@gmail.com or call me to set up an appointment at 651-331-1421. I would love to partner with you as you navigate upcoming changes.

Take Care,

Tracy May, M. Ed, Promising Connections, LLC

Writing In A Journal

Journal work can be done in many creative ways and I want to highlight some of those in this blog. Maybe you will want to start a journal today.

Classic Journal Work: Get a nice journal book, and some delicious pens, and write one entry a day. The classic journal has a date and a description of the day in writing. This can be used to remember important things from your life including meetings, conversations, and significant events.

Creative Journal Work: I am a writer. I don’t feel like I am a great one, yet, but I know the only way to get better is to make writing a discipline. I have notebooks that I often scribble poems, write short stories, or retell actual events. Some of these I keep, and some of these I burn or throw away. I have tried to write using prompts from various sources. I currently have a couple of projects in mind that I want to work on. I have created my own outline and put topics on my calendar as if it’s homework. It supports the discipline of writing for me while forcing me to allow some time for creative work I love and need.

Art Journal Work: In my life, I have had moments so difficult that reading and writing was blocked. During one difficult time, I made a mandala every day. At another time like this, I used my art supplies and a mixed media journal to create one art piece a day. Making a dream board can be a form of art journal work. Every day you can think about what you want and add words and pictures to an ever growing collage. As an artist, I want to create murals and get better at portraits. Some artists try to do 100 portraits in a year, or plan out their bigger projects starting with a miniature. Leonardo Da Vinci kept volumes of plans in his codex, including observations of nature, invention ideas, and plans for buildings, sculptures, and anatomy notes that informed how he created images of people. There are so many directions to go with this option.

Strategy Focused Journal Work: Life happens, and we have to make adjustments. I like to do some journal work when I am in regroup mode. When I am making a new plan for my career, business, or health and well-being, I like to front load with tons of reading. I write down notes from the books and articles I read. I believe in “promising connections” thus the name of my company. I talk, ask questions, and actively listen to others to learn from them. I am currently looking for a new job. I have asked people in all kinds of jobs what they do, how they became qualified, how that job makes them feel, do they feel that they are compensated fairly, what would would make me good candidate, and what are things that I could learn in preparation of that kind of work. It is very interesting, and I have learned about so many different jobs, not just for my sake, but also in order to help clients going through career transition. Through this process, I have a number one career target and a few other opportunities that meet my objectives in employment. My Strategy focused journal is like a play book for life. What do I need to learn? How do I need to fix my resume? Who do I need to meet? What experiences should I seek? Where am I going to apply? How will I follow up? I have a play book for business planning and a play book for working on my health and well-being goals. It helps me move from overwhelmed to I have a plan and know I am working the plan. It makes it easier to take action knowing that I have some good reasons behind the action.

Journal work has helped me process emotions, develop creativity, remember and learn from my experiences, and create a strategies for taking confident next steps. If you are not currently familiar with journal work, I hope I have inspired you to give it a try.

Writing in a journal can be beneficial for many reasons. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/#comments

If you want to set up an initial Creative Discovery Session, please contact me at 651-331-1421 or send me an e-mail at promisingconnections@gmail.com.

Practicing Mindful Care of Your Body

Our bodies are our forever homes. Most of us value keeping our homes clean, fix appliances when they are broken, address any pest issues, and make sure the windows, siding, and roof is sound. We don’t ignore plumbing issues. If we live where there is frequent crime we make sure everything is locked up and secure. We take care of our lawns and gardens and maintain good roadside appeal.

When I was a graduate student, I was a full- time teacher in the day, and I had a number of explosive children in my care. Three days a week I would leave busses to my car to drive to the University of Minnesota campus. I would Park my car, and run across campus to class. In the winter, it would get crazy cold, and trying not to slip on the ice was tricky. After the lecture, I would go home and do homework until midnight. I would go to bed, get up at 5, be at work at 6, get a head start on the due process paperwork for special education, and start teaching at 7:30. My diet was so awesome to support my busy life. I ate a lot of Easy Mac, Fruit Loops, peanut butter, apples ( one healthy choice in there), and fully sugared coke. What is the point of Diet Coke? I loved to bring my kids donuts. Raspberry jelly donuts from the local bakery were blissful.

I did not sleep or eat well. I have always been bad about annual physicals. I exercised hard with the kids. We played a lot of basketball and soccer. We daily did Yoga and Tai Chi. The reason that practiced these things with the kids is because I knew they needed that to self- regulate.

If I got sick, I never let myself rest. I would push through and often get myself in a place where I had to go to the doctor. I am sure many of you can relate.

Mindful care of Your Body begins with values. Is your self- care or well-being on your list of main values that guide your life?

If you truly value it, you plan for it. Many of us take better care of our cars, pets, and our homes than we do of our bodies. Our bodies are where we live forever. We don’t get to trade it in for a new model.

What You May Want to Plan For:

Healthy meals that are also tasty.

There are so many diets out there and supplemental drinks. Each person will have preferences for how they are healthy. I enjoyed reading What are you Hungry For? By Depak Chopra. He talks about avoiding “FUNC” foods. These are frozen, unnatural, nuked, and canned foods. He has some great insights on super foods to add to your diet. When eating healthy, I think it is important to think of eating the right foods, the right way. Eat at appropriate times, make time to smell your food, chew your food, and taste it.

https://psychcentral.com/blog/tips-and-tricks-for-enjoying-food-mindfully/

Exercise. Include exercise that aerobic exercise, strength training, balance, and stretching.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/the-4-most-important-types-of-exercise

Have a sleep schedule that carries over to the weekend, ideally.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health

Plan time to do hobbies and special interests that light you up.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/201705/goofing-psychological-physical-benefits-having-fun%3famp

If you are spiritual, go to church, meditate, and participate regularly. Do what makes you feel grounded.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201608/the-surprising-health-benefits-spirituality%3famp

Spend time with people that support you, propel you forward with your goals, and give your life meaning.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860

See your doctor for physicals and if there is something wrong, get it checked. If a light came on your car, or water was dripping in your house, or your lawn was turning brown, or your fur baby was ill, would you just ignore it? Make self- care a value and you will have the best chance that your body, your life-long home,will take care of you.

Take Care,

Tracy May

Staying Hopeful When Faced With an Obstacle

The Hindu deity Ganesha is in the form of an elephant and is believed to be the remover of obstacles. I have always loved elephants and the eye that is my company logo is an elephant eye I painted. I know that in my work as a coach I have met people at some of their most challenging times and they might have felt that the obstacle in front of them were not something that could ever be removed. Having moments when you feel hopeless is part of the human experience. Our obstacles take different forms but they feel the same. An obstacle is something in your way, stopping you. It is frustrating.

I am currently teaching toddlers and we have been singing “Going on a Bear Hunt”. On the way to catch the bear there are obstacles. There are some powerful lines that could be metaphors for adults.

We’re going on a bear hunt. We are going to catch a BIG one….

(We are thinking big.)

We’ve got our binoculars…

(We have tools to help us.)

We’re not scared… (We’re not scared)

At each obstacle… they don’t avoid it, they go through it. ( persevere)

So they find a bear and decide it’s too big and scary and they run back and retreat.

(Okay, Sometimes we need to regroup and change our goal— that is not failure that is learning from being brave and trying something hard. It’s learning from experience. It is what propels us to what is next. Growth requires change.)

There is a Chinese folktale of a man that wanted to marry a woman but her father said he would allow it on one condition. He had to prove his love by climbing a very steep menacing mountain. The young man’s heart sunk because the one thing he feared the most was heights. He was in love. He started climbing. The way he won the battle with his fear of heights was that at each step up he would admire the flowers growing out of the side of the mountain. He would think about their beauty and remember his bride to be. He made it to the top, he got his bride, and I am sure she nagged him daily to pick up his dirty socks and stop eating so many chips. Wedded bliss. Happily ever after… that last part is not in the original story.

I hate heights too so that story stuck with me.

The painting of flowers on this blog is called Dahlias and Fireflies. I painted it when I was having a hard time in my life. After I painted it and named it I found out fireflies represent hope and inspiration and Dahlias are flowers that grow in the valley, so the picture represents hope and inspiration in the valley.

If you are facing an obstacle, what will you say to yourself to remain hopeful? Here are some ideas.

I am thinking big!

I will get through this.

I have some good tools to handle this.

I am not scared.

I am going to focus on the beauty along the way as I do this hard thing.

I will look around and see signs of hope and inspiration.

The anxious/ worried mind does not think as well as a calm, creative, mind. Training your mind to be hopeful requires a mindful shift in your self-talk from giving yourself messages that invoke negativity and doubt to feeding your mind with hopeful thoughts.

I hope that you are able to think courageously about overcoming your obstacles this week. It is good for your heath in general and it will help you be able to think clearer about how to solve your problems. Let me know if this helps you. If you would like coaching services you can contact me at Promisingconnections@gmail.com

Take Care,

Tracy May

Learning From Experience

Below is an article that best conveys why learning from experience is a key factor in people being resilient faced with adversity. This research is foundational to my business. Please take a moment to read it and then I will share my stories of how I have learned from experience and you can think of how you might employ this strategy yourself. Life is tough on many of us and we can spiral into being a victim or a learner and survivor. I coach people into being learners and survivors.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311

The accident

I was returning to college in Minnesota after having Thanksgiving in Indiana with my family. I was in the backseat of a minivan. A couple of drops of sleet hit the windshield. We fishtailed. I watched us go into the ditch. We rolled three times and my body was ejected 25 feet from the vehicle. I remember every detail. I broke my back in three places and could not get up. I could barely breath because my lungs were so bruised from the rolling. I thought I was probably done for. At Mayo Clinic Dr. Cabanela would tell me that he would do his very best but in this situation I should make sure I say everything I need to say to my parents because there were no guarantees. I came through that surgery. I was told I would have chronic pain, walk funny, never participate in athletics, etc. This was a lot for a young woman just starting adult life. That prognosis was not correct.

The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that every moment is just a sweet gift. There are no guarantees. I have lived every day since driven by gratitude and purpose. It was a blessed teacher. Thank you accident.

The first marriage

I dated for the first time at the end of college. My charming neighbor friend started pursuing me and I was smitten. He had a rough childhood and I had gobs if compassion for him. Our marriage was a series of wonderful times mixed with the most degrading verbal abuse, and terrifying threats. One of his favorite things to say to me was that he was going to chop off my head and defecate down my throat. I called the police on him once when he threatened to kill my dog. He probably has bipolar. He is a narcissist and maybe a sociopath. His abuse victims continued after I finally escaped him. I believe he is skilled on preying on empathic types. While the divorce was being settled, he threatened to come and shoot me with a gun. He told a Sunday school teacher this. It was the night before teacher workshops and I had to leave my house in my pajamas and stay the night with friends. There were signs that he was having extramarital affairs with men throughout our marriage. I got a restraining order. During this time, he called me to say that he saw the dog in the yard and he could have taken him. He also said you didn’t change the locks on the garage and I have the hatchet. I found a 5 gallon bucket outside of my bedroom window with large footprints. The police said that they couldn’t do anything unless I saw him. Forgive my French, but that seemed too damn late. Meanwhile my neighbor two houses down had a restraining order, too. I left Chet, and got my maiden name back, and found healthy friends. I discovered that I can have a happy single life having with a healthy tribe of friends. Thank you Chet for being the Dark Lord that helped me reach for my best life and better know how to reject the plots of narcissists. I know longer fear you. You have zero power over me.

Neighbor’s Murder

It was October, about 9:00 or so. I had just gone to bed. I heard a scream I will never forget, and five pops of a gun. I thought, my God, Chet is coming for me. I crawled across my floor to the phone and called 911. I peaked out the window and saw Cindy’s car door open, she was slumped in the seat. It is like a dream and defies any common sense but I went to her, not knowing where the gunman could be. I saw her brain. The police came. I gathered on the sidewalk with neighbors. Cindy was to get married the next day and her ex came and shot her as she got in her car. She didn’t survive. The next day, I could not open my door to let the dog out. My friend, Kendrick , came to help me. I missed one day of school and no more.

I had to talk myself through each day, going out my door, past the spot where I saw Cindy in her car, past the place I saw the five gallon bucket outside my bedroom window. One day at a time I became mentally more tough, resilient. I learned that these battles in your brain can be won and there is a pathway out of paralyzing fear and anxiety and depression. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Thank you Cindy. I heard you. I was with you in those last moments. I will not forget. In your honor, I will always hold space for women going through what we have experienced.

The second marriage

My second husband is the main caregiver of my daughter so I am not going to go in as much detail. I gave up financial power and put up with being daily disregarded and disrespected. He had a stink eye. He looked at me like I was stupid and worthless as a habit. There were hints that there may have been other women and vices causing issues in our relationship. When I said I was leaving, he behaved in a way that triggered some PTSD and left under duress. Since he was the biological parent, so I only negotiated for my daughter and suffered great financial abuses in the divorce. He did not pay on the house that I did a quit claim on so my daughter would have the home. He lived there for free for three years. That choice made it nearly impossible for me to get housing. I did not get to see my daughter that I had been the primary caregiver of for 8 years very much at all. It was the worst thing that happened to me in my whole life. It was an effective way to break my soul. Fortunately, my daughter and I are still connected. I am grateful for that. I grieve the time lost but look forward to being there for her for her future.

I learned from this to keep holding on even if it looks like you lost everything that matters. One day can change everything. And again, do not give your love and life to someone who does not give back. Thank you second marriage.

Dad’s death

Three years ago this coming week, my dad was suddenly in the hospital. I was first told he was getting better. A couple of days later, Dad would be going into hospice. A day or two later, he had only hours to live and I was told to come home now. All of this happened in the period of one week. Dad knew he had cancer and just did not tell me. It quickly spread throughout his body. He swore mom to secrecy. I talked to him on the phone that week. By the time I got there, he was unconscious, and I was told that he expressed that he was ready to die. Oxygen was removed, blood- pressure dropped, and dad did the hard work of dying. He was a sweet generous man. He was not like the people I have partnered with romantically. He was mourned by so many that had good memories of him.

I decided to stay with mom in Indiana to get her through the transition. Overnight I lost my dad, my home, my friends from over the last 28 years I had been in Minnesota, and I also had to do a messy break up. I had been living with my boyfriend that had a rage fest about a month before dad died. Thankfully, due to my previous education with narcissists, I did not feel compelled to see if he would evolve. I have no room for people that justify rage and verbal abuse. When dad was dying, this boyfriend could only think of himself. He didn’t even want me to leave to be with my dad. He almost didn’t come to the funeral. The idea that I needed to care for others besides him made him lose his &$@?. Another narcissist… we’ll keep that story short.

All of my experiences have taught me a lesson that can be simply stated as the most important thing in life is value the people who love you and do what lights you up. Life is short and it should be beautiful. I am in a constant creative process along those lines.

I could go on forever about learning from experience because I am daily goofing up. I fall down but I get back up. Sometimes stuff just happens and sometimes it is my mistake. It does not help to have a victim mentality or to shame yourself when you fall short. You have to give yourself credit for what you have overcome. I know my stories are mild compared to some of you. Give yourself some credit.

Questions to help you learn from experiences:

How have hard times been your teacher?

What kind of people do you need to surround yourself with?

What self talk is making you a victim? How can you change those messages into mantras that propel you in a positive direction?

How can you thank those hard moments in life for teaching you?

What can you do to demonstrate self- love today?

These blogs are often written on the run and I come back and edit later… but in case I have no later, I will publish now and hope it helps someone.

Take Care,

Tracy May