You Have to Believe We Are Magic

7-year old me waving her silver glitter-covered wand (hard to see it in this old-school exposure) and helping her Barbies live their best lives. #bornforthis

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Magic!

That’s how I often describe coaching.

It feels that way to me and it feels that way to my clients.

Just last week one of my clients resigned from a stagnant, unfulfilling job that she’s had for many years.

In a few weeks she’ll step into a leadership role as employee #3 for a woman-owned startup that is making an impact in ways that are really important to her. 

Six months ago, when we started coaching together, she knew she wanted out of her current position but had no idea what was next. 

In our first visioning session she had this gorgeous vision of all the things she wanted in a dream job.

I know to her it seemed impossible to have all of that. I just smiled knowingly.

Now here she was at the end of our 6-month engagment telling me, “Everything is landing the way I wanted. I got everything I wanted. Everything is coming to me. It feels like I’m a wizard or something.”

There’s that magic!

But magic is a mysterious force and when she thought of it that way there was some uneasiness. Like it could all go “poof!” and go away.

So as I do with all my final coaching sessions, I took her on a journey of the last six months. We looked back over her challenges and accomplishments, her actions and results, her celebrations and insights.

When I was done she saw so clearly that it wasn’t actually mysterious.

It was her. 

She became the person who created the results she had. 

I bet you’re wondering, if it was her then couldn’t she have just done that on her own? Perhaps. 

If you could get all of your results on your own, wouldn’t you have them already?

It’s really hard to see our own thoughts and ways of being when we are viewing them from our current perspective.

This is where it feels a bit magical again…

It was her AND it was coaching. 

What happens in a coaching relationship with a trained coach that is different than other supportive relationships?

Once again, the magic isn’t so mysterious.

We work to access your higher level thinking.

We uncover the ingrained patterns of thought and behavior that have you doing what you’ve always done and begin to create new beliefs so you can see new results.

A good coach challenges you to move from fear-based reaction to intentional action.

As you do that in a guided, supportive, attuned relationship with someone who believes in you, your wisdom and your potential so unconditionally you begin to create internal safety so you can stretch beyond the edges of your comfort zone. 

You get to know that future version of yourself who has the courage and capacity to create what you desire and you start to embody her now.

And when I coach there is usually lots of laughter and a few curse words.

And Love. There’s always Love.

A message I pass on my walk around Lady Bird Lake in Austin.


So maybe it is magic. But we are the ones holding the wand.

As that client reflected on her coaching journey last Saturday she recognized that those results came from her and how she showed up – her new powerful thoughts, the way she conducted her emotional energy, her more compassionate relationship with herself as she took courageous action in the face of uncertainty – and she said:

“It’s so striking [hearing all of that] because It makes me feel even more powerful, even more like a magical wizard.”

It wasn’t going to go away becasue it came from her. 

Now she’s bringing that power to all areas of her life where she wants to create and conjure her desires into being. She has it when she needs to make hard decisions and face challenges with fierce belief in herself.

But she’s not special.

Well, actually, she is. 

She’s infinitely special. And so are you Allison. 

We all are.

Coaching connects you to this power within you.

So what glorious magic would you like to create in your life?

Abracadabra, baby!

With so much love,

Allison

P.S. What would you like to create in your life in 6 months? A year?

Imagine me reflecting on our time working together. Whet would I say about you and about how you showed up? What are you believing about yourself? What results did you create? What felt impossible that’s now a reality? What are we celebrating? What impact does this have on your life?

Reply to this email or sign up here for a free, no-obligation coaching consultation and we’ll explore these questions.

You’ll get so much awareness about yourself, where you are in your life and where you want to be. This conversation alone will change you. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Are You Forgetting Someone?

Woman with arms outstretched and a sky full of stars behind her.

“Live as though life was created for you.”

Maya Angelou

A friend of mine is going through a divorce and while the change is amicable, it’s still a very challenging time. 

She’s doing things she’s never had to do on her own before, she’s learning on the fly, she’s having to speak up for herself and make important decisions, all while in the thick of uncertainty. 

Naturally all of this is deeply uncomfortable for her, as it would be for anyone.

She has shared that she finds courage in thinking about doing this for her daughter. 

She also feels empowered when she remembers the strong women who’ve come before her who didn’t have the same choices and privileges she has now.

She thinks about the generations of women coming after her. She’s being brave and making certain choices, laying a foundation for them too.

Yes! Connecting to others and to something bigger than ourselves is a very powerful way to move toward our goals.

Yet, I can’t help but notice there’s something…or someone…missing as she describes her motivations.

Herself.

Where is she in her reasons for finding courage, speaking up and doing what makes her happy?

This is what I want to shout – with all the fiery love I have – to her and anyone else who needs to hear it:

It is perfectly okay for you to want to be happy, for the simple pleasure of being happy.

It is perfectly okay to want to do something, to stand up and speak up for something, to make a decision because it is what you want to do, because it feels right to you, because you love your reasons.

It’s perfectly okay for you to have needs and to have other people support you in getting them met.

It is perfectly okay to have desires, goals, and dreams for no other reason than the fact that they are important to you.

My dear friend is not alone in forgetting herself. This comes up for many of the women I coach. It shows up with some of my friends. I even see it in myself at times.

These are patterns that are deeply ingrained in many women. (And some men too.)

We are conditioned as caregivers and nurturers, the ones who think about others first. We see needs and take care of them. We give. Wholeheartedly. We get the message that to do otherwise would be selfish. We downplay our own needs because we don’t want to be burdens. We look for approval, permission and validation outside of ourselves. We hold others up on pedestals, looking at them for inspiration and motivation. We downplay our own magnificence, not wanting to be seen as too much.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to serve and care for and nurture. Most of us get deep satisfaction in giving of ourselves in this way.

It becomes a problem when you forget about including yourself.

It’s not sustainable and will often lead to physical depletion and illness, emotional overwhelm, resentment, strained relationships, feeling stuck, powerless and put upon.

Luckily it’s not true that it has to be one or the other. You don’t have to lose yourself when you give of yourself.

You can give and receive.

In fact, this win-win level of energy is a potent creative force. 

I work with my clients to show them that they can have and do both. 

They unravel those tired old patriarchal messages and live in alignment with their own beliefs. They hear their own wisdom.

They set healthy boundaries and take care of themselves.

They know that their needs, their happiness and their dreams matter. 

They see themselves just as worthy of love and abundance as the people around them.

As they live in this way of being, they can’t help but radiate love outwards and that has such a powerful influence and impact.

This is what I want for you too.

You don’t have to stop caring for others or thinking of others or finding inspiration in others.

Just remember to include yourself.

With so much love,

Allison

P.S. Your dreams and your happiness matters. To all of us. Don’t hold back what you are feeling called to create and contribute to the world. 

What would happen if you were fearless about living your purpose and being the change you want in this world?

 Sign up here for a free, no-obligation coaching consultation and we’ll explore these questions.

You’ll get so much awareness about yourself, where you are in your life and where you want to be. This conversation alone will change you. Are you ready? Let’s go!

The Power of Taking Responsibility

“It is only when you take responsibility for your life that you discover how powerful you truly are.”

Allanah Hunt, Coach & Author

My mom likes to tell me this story. When she was pregnant with me, she dove into learning about conscious parenting because she wanted to do things differently than her own parents did. She wanted to interrupt generational trauma.

One of the ways she did that was to pick the one value that was most important to her. It would be the characteristic she most wanted to develop in me. This choice would guide many of her parenting decisions as I grew up.

The value she chose: responsibility.

To her this meant I took ownership of my actions. That I was aware of the impact of my choices on myself, on others and the world around me. That I took ownership of my life.

I am so grateful for that gift because it has guided me throughout my life.

It’s been particularly valuable because the tendency of my easy-going, laid back personality is to avoid or procrastinate especially when things are difficult.

That’s when this deeply rooted belief of responsibility kicks in and keeps me moving forward. 

Often when we’re feeling drained and stuck we are mired in the energy of victimhood. It’s that feeling that no matter what we do it won’t make a difference. The “why bother” mentality. 

Victimhood can also look like blaming others for our results. If only they changed, or if only my circumstances were different, then everything would be better. 

These thoughts keep us at arms length from our own agency and personal choice. It keeps us from taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions.

That’s why I was jolted to attention when my own coach said to me last year:

“You seem to think you are a victim to your life.”

I had shared with her that I was waking up at 2 in the morning full of fear that I was ruining my family’s future because I was following my dream of having my own business. 

As a coach I know that those inner critic thoughts get louder as we meet our growth edge and increase our capacity.

But in those early morning hours the fear of failure felt so true and inevitable. My heart would beat hard, I’d get clammy and my brain would run wild with all the terrible scenarios. 

Her words…”you think you are a victim to your life”…interrupted the fear thoughts and the blinders dropped away.

I suddenly saw very clearly.

I am the one responsible here. 

That future I was worrying about? It wasn’t up to someone else to make (or break) it. There was no one coming to do it for me.

I was the one responsible for creating my future.

I could stay stuck in fear or I could take ownership. 

This lightening bolt of recognition happens for my clients too. 

These courageous women are going through big transitions and life circumstances – divorce, infertility, stressful jobs, parenting teens, aging parents, big career changes.

When they come to coaching so much feels out of their control that they’ve thrown up their hands and said, “there’s nothing I can do, that’s life” or their fighter is in overdrive and they’re trying to control every. single. aspect. of the situations or people in their life.

Neither of these approaches serves them. 

What does serve is exploring these questions:

          What is not in my control?

          Where do I have control?

          What am I responsible for?

          What is my role in this situation? (and what do I want it to be?)

You start to see that you have agency. That you can make choices. There are possibilities.

You can choose your thoughts and your responses. You can take responsibility for your actions.

You see that you are part of the glorious co-creation of your life.

This is the great news…you are not a victim to your life, you are responsible for it. 

P.S. If you are done with thinking life just happens to you and are ready to take ownership and live a life YOU love, let’s talk. It starts with a free, no-obligation consultation. This conversation alone will change you. You ready? Let’s go!

There’s Something Special You Need to See

The lantana flowers are in full bloom in Central Texas right now.

They’re commonplace in the front yards here growing so profusely it’s easy to walk on by without giving them any thought.

But if you just pause and notice, you’ll see something really special. 

Look closely and what appears to be one pretty, colorful flower is actually a cluster of teeny-tiny flowers. Each one is unique, complex and beautiful on its own and also a part of the beautiful whole.

Like looking at the enormity of the night sky, the impossibly small intricacy of this flower also inspires a sense of awe and wonder.

This feeling enveloped me on my morning walk the other day and I had to stop and take a picture to try and capture the beauty I was seeing and experiencing. 

As I was kneeling there trying to get my iPhone to focus, a butterfly flew in and landed on the flower. No joke. 

brown butterfly sitting on an orange lantana blossom

I was delighted!

Talk about amazing little creatures. Gorgeously vibrant and simultaneously delicate and strong. Then there’s the fact that they’ve literally transformed themselves from a crawling caterpillar to a flying butterfly.

That flower.

That butterfly.

I couldn’t help but think of my beautiful boys.

Their growing bodies, their interesting personalities, their complex brains, their unfolding lives.

My heart was filled with gratitude and amazement at the life around me.

These beautiful things and beings and people that are a part of our every day, easy to walk by, easy to take for granted.

But if we just slow down for a moment it’s also easy to recognize the miracles that they all are. 

Then it hit me in a mind-blowing way.

I am an integral part of this extraordinary life too! 

So are you, my friend.

Do you see that you are just as miraculous? 

Just as miraculous as a flower, a butterfly, a child.

How often do you sit in gratitude and amazement, in awe and wonder for who you are and how you’ve unfolded and transformed in your own life?

I see you.

You are beautiful and unique. You are intricately made – body, mind and spirit. Extraordinarily delicate and powerfully strong at the same time. A necessary part of this gorgeous, connected, complex life.

I invite you to pause a moment and notice. I promise you’ll see something very special. 

She Let Herself Go

On my way home from preschool drop-off the other day, the George Strait song She Let Herself Go came on the radio. After loudly singing along for a few bars the meaning of that saying started to sink in.

The song is about a woman who, after a breakup, “let herself go.” Though not in the typical sense of the phrase. 

She didn’t stop taking care of herself or her appearance. 

Instead, she “let herself go” to all the places and did all the things she never did when she was with her partner. 

She became more beautiful because she began having a richer, more fulfilling life when she let go of the things holding her back and started being more of herself. 

It made me think of the women in my silver-haired ladies Facebook group. We’re a group of women of all ages who are living with our varied shades of naturally gray hair. Some are just thinking about it, some are in the midst of the transition and some have worn a silver crown for years.

Many of these women have friends and family that assume they are “letting themselves go” because they are choosing to stop coloring their hair.

Just like that song, quite the opposite is true.

What seems like a simple choice about their appearance becomes a journey that is about so much more than that.

They let themselves go.

They let go of hiding, let go of being ashamed, let go of what people think, they even let go of their own assumptions and expectations. 

Instead these women are becoming, embracing and loving their authentic selves. 

When they do that their life opens up in ways they never imagined. They set boundaries, they stand up for themselves, they don’t live for the approval of others, they see their own beauty just as they are.

They feel freedom, liberation and empowerment.

And they become even more beautiful because they’re loving themselves and living life on their terms with their heads held high. 

This is just one example. There are so many ways that we grip tightly to what we know, even when it no longer serves us, because it is familiar. We’re afraid.

We’re not sure where we’ll end up when we let go. The uncertainty keeps us holding on.

Poet Safire Rose’s poem below explores how profoundly and simply we can just let go.

It’s when we loosen our grip we discover who we really are – our beauty and our strength – and how much more expansive life can be when we let go.

What are you holding on to? What’s possible if you let yourself go?

xo,

Allison

SHE LET GO
poem by Safire Rose

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

My Morning Routine

A good morning routine fills your cup so you’re ready for the day.

You start the day intentionally, tuned in to yourself, rather than having your thoughts and emotions run on default, filled with the turmoil of the news of the day and social media.

What works for me and makes my morning routine something I looked forward to is having a morning-routine buffet. 

There is a loose structure. I typically wake up before the family is up (somewhere between 4:30 and 6:30 – mid-life has made sleep weird). I sit on a cozy spot on the couch with my blanket and coffee, and I have a few particular ways I like to spend my time.

What I choose to do and for how long, depends on how I’m feeling, what I need and how much time I have.

I’m sharing my morning routine selections below to give you some ideas and resources that you might want to use as you create your own self-care spread. But I encourage you to check in with what feels right to you and then give that time to yourself.

MEDITATION

Practicing meditation quiets the mind and helps you get into the present moment.

Tara Brach

Tara Brach is my very favorite meditation teacher. Her guided meditations are straightforward, with no music and long stretches of quiet. She has years of free meditations of various lengths to choose from.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is a smartphone app has a timer if you want to meditate on your own, but it also has a huge variety of free guided meditations or music to choose from. 

JOURNALING

Writing down your thoughts keeps them from swirling around in your head, taking up your mental energy, and gets them on to paper where you can see them for what they are and choose to do something about them or let them go.

Self-Connection Journaling Prompts

These were created by my friend and mentor Carrie Contey. Your answers can be as short or as long as you want, but they are a way to tap into your body, mind and spirit.

  • How did I care for myself yesterday?
  • How will I care for myself today?
  • Right now I feel… (physically and emotionally)
  • I am appreciating… (list 5 things, big or small, that you’re appreciating in this moment)
  • My intention for today is… (how do you want to show up to the day?)
  • I am joyfully anticipating… (this can be something concrete that is actually in the works or it’s something you hope will happen someday)
  • Lately I’m learning… (what’s a recent “a-ha” or insight)

Thought Download

Write out all the thoughts and feelings swirling around in your head. Hold them with curiosity instead of judgment. If you are familiar with self-coaching or you are working with a coach, you can map out how your thoughts affect your feelings which affect your actions and explore how they are serving you.

Goals

If you have specific goals you are working on, use a journal to write them out in the present tense, as if they have happened. Then sit with the feeling that accomplishing those goals brings.

READING & LEARNING

Sometimes I use this time to read a bit of a book, do some self-study, or read, listen to or watch my favorite coaches and other thought leaders.

Here are a few of my favorite books for personal growth and self-reflection.

SPIRITUAL CONNECTION

The quiet of the morning is a wonderful to connect with my higher self and a higher power.

You may want to read a religious text and sit in prayer.

Here is what I’ve been reading.

The Daily Word

Read “Today’s Word” in The Daily Word for a daily message and teaching from Unity Church, a non-denominational New Thought church.

A Course In Miracles

A Course in Miracles is a spiritual text from the ‘70’s that helps people develop a deeper connection to the Divine. The workbook lessons are typically read daily over the course of a year.

MOVEMENT

Moving your body so you’re breathing hard and getting your heart rate up has so many health benefits – physical, mental and emotional. But if it’s not fun, you’re not going to want to do it. Find movement that brings you joy. For my mom it’s water aerobics, for a client it’s rowing, for a friend it’s a daily morning hike. Here are some of mine…

Walking

A walk in my neighborhood is my happy place. That’s where, without trying, I come up with good ideas and solutions. I feel off when I don’t get my walk in. 

Walk/Run

I find running to be very challenging so it’s not my exercise of choice. But when I want to push myself a bit more than just walking, I’ve turned to Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method. It’s helped me actually enjoy running and keep going longer distances.

Yoga

I’m sure there are many online yogis to choose from but I especially enjoy Yoga With Adriene’s free videos. Maybe it’s her laid back all-are-welcome-here vibe, maybe it’s because she’s from Austin, or maybe it’s her cute dog Benji who wanders into the videos occasionally. 

Create Your Own Morning Routine

Now that you have some ideas, you can make it your own, because you know what will serve you the most. 

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What do I want to get out of a morning routine? Why am I doing this?
  • What do I want to feel as I begin my day?
  • What are some things that fill me up or give me  those feelings I listed?
  • How can I make this easy and simple?
  • How will I respond to interruptions or other things that might keep me from my morning routine
  • What would make this experience enjoyable and something I look forward to?

I hope you’ll find some of the resources interesting and helpful as you put together your own morning-routine buffet.

Remember, there is no right or wrong, there is no all or nothing.

I very rarely do all of these in one morning. I have my essentials and then I listen to what I need in the moment and am flexible if my time is short or my attention is pulled away.

I also give myself a lot of grace if I don’t do my morning routine. Maybe I needed more sleep, maybe my little one needed me, maybe I just didn’t feel like it.

My morning routine is meant to fill me up and not be a reason to beat myself up.

And each morning we have an opportunity to do it again.

Do you have a morning routine? What are some of your favorite ways to start your day? Share with me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

The Story of How I Got Unstuck

“Who we become by going after our goals is even more important than achieving them.” – Allison Burch

Six years ago this month I sat down for coffee with a woman who would change my life.

At that time I often felt like I wasn’t a good enough mom or a good enough employee.

I had a very active, intense kindergartener and I worked full-time in marketing and communications. Years prior it was a dream job but now I was burned out and bummed out.

Some days I was certain I just needed to do more; that I wasn’t doing enough. And then other days I was overwhelmed by it all and couldn’t possibly see how I had anything left to give; I was so depleted.

At this point in my life I expected to be enjoying my success and instead I felt like a hot mess. 

That’s why I found myself in a coffee shop talking to a life coach. 

Even though I had always rolled my eyes at the words “life coach” I knew I needed to work with her when we met at a workshop and she explained the difference between a coach and a therapist: “A therapist helps you heal your past and a life coach helps you create your future.”

I remember that morning vividly, me spilling out everything that was swirling in my head, the decisions in front of me – to go after a management position, work for a different company, look into changing my career, be a stay-at-home mom, start my own business – and all the fears and expectations that went along with each one, and a few things stand out.

It felt so good to be able to talk about me.
I got to share everything and be listened to without judgement, without concern for someone else’s opinion or unspoken agenda, and without the need to reciprocate. As a busy mom, loving wife and dedicated employee I gave a lot of my attention to other people and never expected it in return. It was amazing to experience someone deeply listening to me.

She pointed out the patterns of my thinking through what I said.
And on that first day I said “should.” A lot. I was living by what other people, and what I, thought I should do rather than what I truly wanted to do. I realized I had no idea what it was that I wanted. No wonder I was confused about what to do.

I felt different, even though everything was still the same.
After that first conversation the stress and worry that sat in the pit of my stomach like a knot had loosened. I walked out the door feeling lighter, hopeful because I had a different perspective and I saw change was possible.  

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this.

If you are in that same place I was then you need to hear this:

You are not alone. 
Wrestling with purpose, especially at mid-life, is very common. Although many of us go through it, there is often shame admitting it because we see it as failing rather than the opportunity for growth that it is.

You don’t have to go through it alone. 
We are relational beings so finding someone you trust, who you can talk to is essential. If you have a partner or friend who can hold space for you without their own hopes and fears getting in the way, awesome! Many of us don’t. Even when we have well meaning, loving relationships it’s hard for our loved ones to be neutral. That’s where a therapist or a life coach can help. 

New possibilities come from new ways of thinking. 
We feel stuck because our brains have thoughts that aren’t serving us and they’re playing on repeat. Those neural pathways can get so deeply ingrained we don’t even notice the thoughts anymore and we need help pulling ourselves out of that brain rut.

Once you start thinking new thoughts that serve you and have experiences that strengthen them and do that more and more you open yourself up to opportunities and possibilities you never could have imagined.

It’s brain science but it’s also pretty f-ing magical.

I know, because I’ve experienced it.

6 years ago, I sat in that coffee shop confused and overwhelmed. I walked out with a smile on my face and a flutter of possibility in my heart.

5 years ago I took the leap and left my corporate job, stayed home with my new baby (yep, got pregnant with #2 during this transition) and started to tip-toe to entrepreneurship.

4 years ago I started my business teaching workshops and helping new parents have better relationships.

3 years ago I decided to get trained and become a coach myself because of how powerfully coaching transformed my life and because it was so fun!

Now I have the best job in the world. 

I get to help people confidently live in their potential so they can create a life they love, make an impact with their unique gifts and feel more fulfilled in work, life and love.  

Whaaat??? Mindblown!

I don’t want to give you the false impression that it was easy. But most of the work was on the inside.

As I grew my self-concept and what I thought I was capable of, I stretched and strengthened and learned and failed and got back on track and asked for help and readjusted and got brave and reached out and on and on and on…in fact I’m still doing it because the journey is never over.

But that future I glimpsed in that first day in the coffee shop with the help of my coach — the one where I had more connection, joy, freedom and fulfillment — I’m living it now.

If my story speaks to you and you want to talk about where you are now and where you’d like to be, let’s have (virtual) coffee. Don’t put off starting your own journey.

Trust me, it’s so worth it! 

With Love and Light, Allison

P.S. I want to give tons of love and appreciation to Jenny Remington, that woman in the coffee shop who became my coach for many years and who I now am lucky to call a friend and mentor. We should all be so blessed to have someone like Jenny in our lives! xo 

Photo by Melanie Grizzel Photography.

What Are Your Essential Needs?

Since we’ve started sheltering in place I’ve been going on an early morning walk almost daily. Two to four miles, rain or shine. No music, no podcasts. Just me, the rising sun, the waking birds, and a few neighbors from afar.

The solitude and peace have been quite glorious, honestly.

Then, a couple of days ago, I slept in later than usual. When I woke up I just wanted to get the day started. I missed my walk and jumped right into “homeschooling” and housekeeping and work-from-homing.

It wasn’t pretty.

I was grumpy. A little mean even.

My attitude and energy affected my kids and they were whiny and resistant and clingy.

There were tears (from all of us). We were all off.

That’s when I realized, these morning walks are one of my essentials. A non-negotiable. Mommy’s self-care.

They don’t make everything perfect but they certainly help get my attitude and energy in a better place so I’m equipped to handle the hard stuff.

As we face the many levels of uncertainty and fear of the coronavirus pandemic, we all have different experiences and needs.

One thing is highly likely. Our needs are becoming more basic. More essential.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which says we first need to have our basic physiological needs met — food, shelter, rest, movement. Then there is the need for safety and security. When those needs are met, then we can more easily move up to the needs of belonging, relationships, and love. After that, self-esteem and accomplishment. Self-actualization is the icing on the needs cake.

So is it any wonder that if you’re not sleeping well you feel more anxious and just about everything feels off. If you’re feeling scared and stressed then your relationships are probably more strained. Or, if you’re feeling disconnected and lonely, it’s tough to feel motivated or creative.

All of that is totally normal at a time that’s anything but normal.

The question becomes, what is essential to my well being, right now?

The answer likely looks totally different than two months ago, so I invite you to let go of self-judgment or comparison and be a curious explorer instead.

Here are some questions to think about and journal on to help you uncover your essentials. Many of these prompts from my dear mentor conscious-parenthood expert, Carrie Contey

What energizes me? What fills my cup? What brings me a sense of well-being?Think about the different realms of well-being, physical, emotional, spiritual and relational.<

Think about a recent time (or start noticing) when things were flowing well. What were the elements of that experience? What made it feel good? What led up to that? What needs were being met?

Conversely, when things felt stressed and difficult, what were the elements of that experience? What was happening around you? What were the ingredients that made it challenging? What needs were not being met?

As you look over your answers, what stands out to you?

List three to five of your most essential needs.

Now that you have an awareness of your needs, think about how you can make sure those needs get met. How can you make them non-negotiable and help your people support you?

How can you meet those needs on a regular basis? What are the different things you can do in small moments, daily and weekly to meet your needs?

What might get in the way of doing those things? How can you plan for that?

What does support look like?

Why is this important to you?

In the spirit of sharing and connection, here are four of my essentials at the moment:

  1. Sleep
  2. Movement in nature
  3. Connection to my family through play and fun
  4. Being fully present in an activity

What’s surprising to me is that besides sleep, these would probably look pretty different if we were not sheltering in place. As I’m now aware of these new essentials I can make choices about how I want to spend my time and what’s nourishing to me and my family. I can see continuing to cultivate these experiences even after quarantine.

At the best of times, when our cups are full and our own needs are met we feel more satisfied and able to give energy and support to those around us.

Now with our normal life turned topsy-turvy, it’s so easy to skip over our own self-care but now is when we need it the most.

I’ve been clinging to my essential self-care like a lifeline.

I encourage you to start being curious and noticing what feels good then get intentional with how you care for yourself. Go back to the basics and know that by meeting your most essential needs you will be able to show up for your people and to this challenging time.

And just think, you will have those essential elements in place in your life as we move forward.

What is feeling essential to you right now? How has that changed (or not) since the pandemic? What will you keep as we move forward? Share in the comments below.

If you want support figuring out your essential needs and how to meet them, schedule a coaching discovery session and we’ll talk.

It is possible to meet this challenging time feeling a bit more aligned, a bit more resourced, and that helps everybody.

A Simple Way to Make a Big Impact on Your Relationships

 

I want to share two very powerful communication skills with you.

They go hand in hand and using them together will deepen and strengthen your relationships. They’ll help your people feel accepted and understood. They can support someone in sadness and lift them in their joy.

These skills are acknowledging and validating.

Big words for concepts that are actually really simple. No fancy degree required.

But putting them into practice is not always easy. They’re skills not many of us have been taught or have even experienced much in our lives.

In fact, when you first start doing this it can feel a little awkward, but trust me, it’s so worth it

When you can acknowledge and validate the people in your lives, especially our partners and children, and even ourselves, it is magical in transforming our relationships.

Acknowledging: We All Want to Feel Heard

When we acknowledge what someone says it shows them that we are deeply listening, and that we care. We are paying attention. And to us humans, especially the little ones, attention is love.

It supports that deep, primal longing that we all have to feel heard and witnessed.

Doing this when things are going well can amplify the good feelings. But acknowledging someone in challenging times can be when it’s most powerful.

We all see the world through our own objective realities and when we pause to listen and acknowledge the experience of someone else it helps us to understand where they are coming from.

We don’t have to agree but we are communicating that we understand their point of view and experience.

Here’s how to do it…

As much as possible, release judgments and approach listening from a place of curiosity. Let go of your own agenda and ideas and truly listen. Then mirror back or paraphrase what was said.

Some approaches to acknowledging are:

  • “What you’re saying is…”
  • “What I’m hearing you say is…”
  • “In other words…”
  • “Let me repeat that so I make sure I got it.”

At the end, you can even ask, “Did I get that right?” so they can clarify if needed.

Validating: We All Want to Feel Accepted.

After acknowledging, the next step is to validate the emotion and experience. Validating normalizes emotions.

Often, we have a lot of judgment about emotions, especially difficult emotions like anger or sadness. We can get defensive when others have those feelings around us, we often want to “fix” them and move past them quickly because it makes us uncomfortable. We may even feel guilty for having those feelings ourselves.

The thing is the more we resist emotions the more they persist.

Instead, if we hold space for emotions and validate the truth of them, those emotions can be released and they lose power.

Here’s how to do it…

With sincerity and without judgment of right or wrong, agreeing or disagreeing, you let the other person know you can see things from their perspective and that their feelings are valid.

You can use phrases like…

  • “It is understandable that you feel that way because…”
  • “You have every right to feel [name the emotion] because…”
  • “It’s totally normal (or natural) to feel that way.”
  • “It makes sense that you would feel that way.”

One important piece is to keep “I” out of it. Try not to say, “I know how you feel,” or “I understand” because that shifts the energy from them to us and we really can’t truly know how others are feeling.

Understand to be Understood

Why is any of this important? Because people will not look at things differently unless they first feel heard.

As in the well known Stephen Covey adage, “Seek first to understand before being understood,” If you want others to see your point of view, then you need to be willing to see theirs.

Naming and normalizing emotions help us make sense of them and builds emotional intelligence, in ourselves and in our children. The healthy expression of our emotions has a positive impact on so many areas of our lives.

In the first episode of her new podcast, Understanding Us, Brene Brown and researcher Marc Brackett have a fascinating discussion about the importance of emotional intelligence and giving ourselves and our loved ones, “permission to feel.”

The Concepts in Action

With a Partner

Your Partner: “I feel like I’m losing my mind trying to juggle work with the kids at home bouncing off the walls!”

You: “There’s a lot of pressure on you to get work done and the kids are really distracting and making it difficult. Of course you feel overwhelmed and frustrated. That’s so normal in this situation.”

Acknowledging your partner’s emotion without hearing it as a criticism and getting defensive opens the door to problem-solving rather than blame.

With a Child

Your child is upset that they have to turn off their screens.

You (getting down to child’s eye level): “You love this show and wish you could watch it all night, it’s no wonder you feel mad when it’s time to turn it off.”

Taking a moment to let your child know their feelings are valid and you can hear them without taking them on for yourself and still keeping your boundaries, can ease the resistance around a transition.

With Yourself

You can even give yourself a little love and tenderness by putting a hand on your heart and acknowledging your emotions and experience without judgment or spinning a story.

“I feel really sad right now and that’s okay. It’s perfectly natural to feel this way because I’m worried about my family, my community, and the state of the world.”

Naming and acknowledging your feelings allows them to move through you and release so you can consciously respond, rather than unconsciously holding on to them and reacting.

It’s Your Turn

Acknowledging and validating takes some practice and might even feel a little awkward at first but it has the power to shift conflict to connection, hurt to healing.

It’s are a powerful way to create a culture of love and acceptance in our families and within ourselves. We all need more of that!

What questions do you have about acknowledging and validating? For the next week give it a try with your people and with yourself, and tell me about your experience. What shifted? Share in the comments.

xo, Allison


I’m excited to have this article featured in the Poppy Collective app. Poppy Collective is a digital and in-person, co-working community space for working parents. Learn more, growatpoppy.com.

Are You Ready to Create a Year You Love?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

Happy New Year!

Here’s a fun little game to play at this time of year.

What’s something wonderful in your life now that a year ago (or longer, you make the rules) was just a dream?

For many of you, that might be that baby you’re snuggling with. For some of my clients, it’s a completed first draft of their long-dreamed-of book.

It could be a big goal you’ve worked hard on and finally achieved. Or maybe it’s something small, but important, that you’ve consistently done with little or no fanfare.

It could even be a way of being that’s different – maybe you’re less quick to criticize or you’re more compassionate to your partner…or yourself.

Now, take a moment to celebrate and appreciate!

Remember, what we appreciate appreciates. When we recognize our accomplishments with pride and gratitude we cultivate more of that good, motivating energy. Yahoo!!!

A couple of biggies that stand out for me were running a 5K without stopping or walking, something at the start of the year I couldn’t even imagine was possible; and getting my professional coaching certification and welcoming new clients, a career dream I’ve had for a while that I finally took action on and accomplished.

Most people use the start of the year as a marker for reflecting and dreaming, and so do I.

For me, it’s not about resolutions, those habits to start or stop, that we often drop after a few weeks and then feel bad about for the rest of the year.

Instead, it’s about setting intentions for how I’d like to show up to my life and what goals I’d like to work toward. What’s important to me? What do I want to make a reality in my life? How will I grow as I open myself up to what’s possible?

I’m not sure this is for you, but if you also like to use the start of the year to get clear on what you’d like to create for yourself please join me for my upcoming Create a Year You Love! Workshop where I’ll share the New Year goal-setting practice I’ve used for the past five years.

Create a Year You Love! Workshop + Coaching
Wednesday, January 15th or Saturday, January 18th
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Registration and Workshop Details

What’s cool about this process is it goes deeper than just goal setting. In this 3-hour workshop, I’ll guide you through reflecting on lessons of the last year, connecting with what’s important right now and envisioning where you’re headed.

You’ll leave with clarity on what you’d like to do and, maybe even more importantly, who you’d like to be in 2020. When you put those intentions out there (and down on paper) then the magic happens!

In addition to the in-person workshop, your registration includes a private, 60-minute coaching session so you can get personalized support on what most resonated in the workshop.

That may be tapping into what’s most important to you, you’re “why”; or it might be loosening up those limiting beliefs holding you back so they get out of your way; or maybe it’s developing a really clear plan of action to achieve those big goals.

(We’ll schedule the coaching session for at a later date, after the workshop.)

Just imagine how different your year could be if you started it with aligned intentions, clear focus and positive energy.

Join me and Create a Year You Love!

I’m curious, a year from now what wonderful thing will be a reality in your life that is just a dream now? Share with me in the comments.

With Light and Love,

Allison