SPRING INTO ACTION –Move From What Stops You to What Calls to You!

** What fears or anxieties stop you from moving toward your greatest dreams and aspirations? Are you experiencing “political anxiety?”

** How can you make the shift to Optimism and Action?

** What would your boldest vision for the future look like? Can you find the courage to write it and use it as a roadmap?

Growing up, the word “Spring” was always followed by the word, “cleaning.” My mother took the cleaning part very seriously- like cleaning every slat of the venetian blinds, moving the furniture to insure that “dust mites” would not inhabit the house dust, and so on. My mother had left Oklahoma as a child in the 1930’s, moving with my grandmother’s family to escape the drought that led to the Oklahoma of that era being called “The Dustbowl.” They settled in a small agricultural town in the desert-lands of southern California before my mother, as a young woman, moved to San Diego.

Even though I have no reason to be daunted by any form of cleaning now, that early training led to a tendency, as Spring approached, to put-off almost everything that I might interpret as work- like this article, which I’d intended to write and post in early March.

I am now declaring a shift – from equating Spring with the drudgery of cleaning, to viewing Spring as an opportunity to create a more beautiful, expansive, and fulfilling life.

It’s easy to hold this view for my clients and my friends:
1) Diane, an energetic woman somewhere in her sixties, was planning ahead to relocate to the east coast to be with children and grandchildren in the next chapter of her life. Retirement was an option; money was not a particular problem. It was anxiety that was stalling her. She confessed that the anxiety was related to taking on the cleaning and organizing of her house. “I don’t know if I would technically be called a hoarder, but after 40 years in my big house I can’t imagine and feel over-whelmed every time I think of what it would take to get it ready to sell.”

I introduced Diane to a short meditation practice, Heart Breathing, as taught by the Heart Math Institute. Five minutes of breathing love into the heart and breathing out fear lowers heart rate and respiration right away, and taking the last minute to “breathe out love to all other beings” leads to a sense of deep calm. Diane was thrilled to start feeling less anxious so quickly. She was further relieved to know that when she felt ready, a professional organizer friend would be more than happy to guide her through the process of preparing for a move.

* While depression is thought to be a deep sadness about the past, anxiety typically represents a fear of the future. I’ve found that since the presidential election, many people are experiencing what we psychologists are calling, “political anxiety.”

2) Sandra, a young woman client who’s also a psychologist, came to me in a state of panic. While she is blond and “Anglo,” as we say in New Mexico, her physician husband is Mexican. “My children are brown- they look Mexican. I’m so afraid of how they might be treated now that Trump is president.” Sandra was reminded that her strengths- the positive attitude and the spirituality that helped her overcome challenges in her past was exactly what she needed to practice to overcome her fears now. She also recognized her need to get back to regular exercise as a stress- reliever.

3) Recently, I was asked to give a talk to one of the resistance groups, called, Indivisible. I spoke about Resilience- What it is and how to do it. One psychological definition of resilience is: “The capacity to cope with adversity and even catastrophe, and return to homeostasis afterward.” I stressed that the first coping mechanism is to feel your grief deeply, whether it’s the confusion of disbelief; the pain of anger, the crazy-making of obsession, or the anguish of depression. Take time to be with it, write about it, talk about it, think about it. As you honor and process your grief, you become able to practice the greatest attributes of resilience: Optimism and Self-Efficacy. Optimism means that you can hold a higher vision for the future. Self-Efficacy means that you believe in yourself- knowing that you can be an influence for good in every situation.

4) To accomplish this, use your SOAP daily:
S – Spirituality; Social participation; Service; Meditation/prayer; church; community, volunteering, mentoring
O – Optimism, Self-Efficacy, Confidence, Create a Power Pose; Make a long list of your strengths
A – Appreciation, Gratitude practices; Affirmations and Declarations of your Intentions
P – Purpose- Powerful Commitment to life work & to the Self-Care that is Required to Do the work, and to the over-riding value of Love!

5) To receive more guidance for your meditation practice, read the section in my book: From Crisis to Creativity: Creating a Life of Health & Joy At Any Age in Spite of Everything! (the 3rd edition)- starting on page 237:
“Relaxation – Trance – Meditation – Prayer”

Have a Wonder- filled, Happy Spring!

All Blessings,

Gail

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Creative New Year! 2017

red-tree

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo painted her first significant self-portrait following an accident that nearly killed her. She gave the lovely Italian Renaissance-style painting to her boyfriend so that he would always remember her. This gift to her first love was an obvious memento. The gift to herself was less obvious, but more profound. It was a declaration that she had survived. After this, Kahlo chose to be a painter rather than a doctor. Following each of more than thirty operations, she made bold representations of herself, each one nearly shouting that she lived, despite her wounds and her physical and emotional pain. She lived and lives on through her gifts of art.

My definition of creativity (as described in From Crisis To Creativity) is “the art of growing self-expression.” In every way that we express an idea, a thought, a plan, a feeling, we give someone – especially ourselves – a gift.

Georgia O’Keefe said, “The days you work are the best days.” She was referring to her art, of course, which was her passion. In this New Year, why not view all of our work as our art? In doing so, every activity in which we invest our passionate energy will become our personal creative contribution.

Businesswoman Ruth Handler is best known for creating Barbie and Ken, teenage stars of her mega-toy company, Mattel. In the 1970s, she survived a radical mastectomy from breast cancer, and from her grief came the idea for a comfortable, natural breast prosthesis. She worked with technicians from her company to create the “Nearly Me” line of breast replacements and from her vision manifested a gift to many other women.

Sarah Dixon studied to be a teacher. This young woman was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, genetic problems that gave her parents little hope that she would live to adulthood. Like Frida Khalo, Sarah had thirty operations to restore physical functions. She now lives, works, studies, and even completed a trip around the world. Sarah reminds us to respect every life experience for its inherent growth and creative potential. Her life and poetry exemplify the “determined overcoming” which is the hallmark of the resilient and creative person.

Right now the world needs our “determined overcoming” – in every way that we can express our values and our commitment to the *”Heart of Democracy.”

“There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.” – Rumi “A Community of the Spirit”
So go and Be your Authentic, Bold, Badass, Creative Self this year!

Many Blessings,
Gail
*I highly recommend Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker J. Palmer

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Year, A New Life- With Intention

Gail Feldman, PhD January, 2017

  1. Why do our New Year’s resolutions lack RESOLVE ? What is it that has us drop them after a few short weeks? While they seem like good ideas, (we do want to lose those extra pounds; we would like to save toward that vacation), our motivation may be based on our weakest rather than our highest values. For example, wanting to lose weight to look good at the next high school reunion won’t be as powerful as using the HS reunion as a springboard to support the high value you place on increased health and longevity -to be lively and strong for your children and grandchildren.
  2. VALUES are the power behind the success of our Declared Intentions. If you value integrity, commitment, loyalty, it’s more likely you’ll follow through on your resolutions. It is values that keep us accountable and responsible. Values are the power behind our word.

Consider this : If you tell your child you’re picking him up from school at a certain time, when the time comes to leave for school, you would never say to yourself: “I don’t really feel like doing this today. He won’t mind if I say I forgot just this once.”

You would never let your infantile, selfish voice sabotage your commitment to being a loving parent! BUT WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES routinely!

  1. We are not ACCOUNTABLE to ourselves; we are not RESPONSIBLE to ourselves; we do not RESPECT ourselves. We do not LOVE ourselves enough to do what’s possible and what is in our highest interest. We rationalize, we deny the importance of our wishes and our dreams. “It’s not a big deal,” we might say. “I’ll start next week.” IT IS A BIG DEAL! Let’s not derail our dreams this year!
  2. Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist who lost his entire family in the death camps during World War 11, survived 3 years of hard labor and emerged barely alive with a few others who survived Dachau, the camp where 30,000 died.

Several years later, after dealing with near-suicidal grief, he was instrumental in creating the new field of Humanistic Psychology. In his most famous book, Man’s Search For Meaning, he is insistent about his belief that what keeps us going through the biggest challenges and the deepest suffering are our strongest values. He believed these values to be:

1. LOVE

2. CONTRIBUTION & Commitment to Others

3. RESPONSIBILITY and a DETERMINATION to OVERCOME SUFFERING

Please support your aspirations and dreams this year. Create your resolutions with Focused Intention and Strong Self-Regard:

Here’s an exercise:

  1. List your 3 strongest Values
  2. List 2 ways to express each one
  3. Declare your Intention to practice these 2 things (now 6 things)

Every day for three months! Your word is all-powerful!

Write it and Post it for all to see.

  1. Use an Accountability Buddy: someone who knows your plan to hold you accountable for follow-through
  1. Make a list of rewards and give yourself one at end of each week (Food must not be on your reward list! Be creative!) If (when) you fall off your plan, do the following:
  1. Forgive yourself
  2. Open your heart to success and get back on your plan
  3. Be grateful for your past successes and the ones that are now to come!
  4. Give yourself more love this year!

Have a Happy New Year and a Happy New Life!

Posted in Intention, New Year, Resilience, Values | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ontology and the Equinox

The Fall Equinox falls on September 21st, which happens to be my birthday, and it reminds me of several things: First, the equinox represents one of the two times of the year when there is a balance of day and night, a relatively equal duration of lightness and dark.

What a beautiful metaphor for my work as an ontological coach. Ontology, the study of the nature of being, of existence, is a focus that balances the facilitative coaching of achieving intentions and goals with the equally important focus of creating time and depth for personal peace, self-care, fulfilling relationships, and complete self-expression. We know that for overall health and well-being, this balance is essential.

The other thoughts that September bring to mind are of Labor Day, the end of summer; the return to school, or the renewed efforts to settle back into one’s work and to commit to even stronger inspired accomplishments in the next year.

*In what ways might you find greater balance in your life?

*What areas in your life would you look at to create greater health and

well-being?

Responsibility and Resilience

As well as celebrating each year, I believe that birthdays, like anniversaries, should remind us of our responsibility to evaluate our lives; acknowledge our accomplishments, and practice resilience. We are blessed to have the freedom to commit to creating lives that we love, but we often don’t take the time, or don’t have the tools to do so. With each accumulated birthday, I feel we also have the responsibility to share our knowledge and wisdom. How well and in what ways are you sharing your wisdom?

Stephen Covey wrote in The 8th Habit, that in this age of wisdom and service (beyond the industrial and information ages), the task is to “Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs.” My mission in this year beginning with the September Equinox is to help others find their voice.

*What would “finding your voice” look like for you at this time in

your life?

*What are the higher accomplishments you would like to achieve

in your work?

*What have you always secretly wanted to do, but thought it just

a dream that could never be achieved?

I would love to support you in making discoveries about yourself that would transform your life and make your dreams possible. Professional coaching raises the bar and takes one to the highest level of personal functioning. Why not blow the top off all limitations to your greatness?

Call or email me today to arrange for a complimentary phone session to introduce you to ontological coaching!

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.Goethe

Let’s make magic!

Gail

Posted in Achievement, Balance, Coaching, Equinox, Ontology, Resilience, Transformation | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t let this happen to You!

Wonder Woman: kidnapped and held hostage by Hollywood! This could be the headline for a review of the current Warner Brothers film, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was so looking forward to seeing this film. I was so excited to see the return of Wonder Woman, the first female superhero, in a line-up with Superman, the comic book hero Wonder Woman was created after, by Harvard psychologist and feminist, William Marston, in 1941. She would be there to fight against tyranny, just as she had teamed-up with Superman in the ‘40s to fight the Nazis.

I’m a psychologist, a life coach, a public speaker, and my current talk is on Wonder Woman as representative of the current feminine archetype of powerful, smart women who are working around the world (there are nearly one million grassroots women’s organization on the planet) for an end to violence; for social justice and equality for men, women and children.

I found no trace of the real Wonder Woman in this movie. There is no resemblance to her in the characterization written for Israeli actor, Gal Gadot. By the time she showed up (probably 2 hours into this painful, ugly drama), Superman had been reduced to a Superwimp and stripped of his superpowers. Batman is a sadistic villialante. Wonder Woman looks like a Vogue model, and when transformed, a character out of Game of Thrones, who’s dropped in, but we don’t know why. She accomplishes nothing. Gone are her gold tiara, which could be hurled at a villain to stop him in his tracks, the silver bracelets that could deflect bullets, the golden lasso which impels truth-telling. But the biggest loss for the audience is the loss of what the film purports to be about- Justice.

There is no justice in this movie. A monstrous creature, (Doomsday in the original comic story) Zod in this film, who’s infused with Lux Luthor’s DNA, succeeds in killing Superman- which was his aim all along. Although Luthor ends up babbling incoherently in prison, he is the only winner in this ­panoply of superheroes-gone-wrong and supervillains-getting-their-wish.

Luthor, played superbly by Jesse Eisenburg, is the only compelling character in the film. And I object. Anti-heroes are intriguing because, while they are morally ambiguous, they usually land us on the right side of things. Luthor is not morally ambiguous. He is a sadistic psychopath. So we essentially have no heroes in this film.

The corollary to Jesus’ death and resurrection is evident at the end (we even see a cross in the distance) when Lois Lane tearfully drops dirt on the coffin, turns away, and the coffin starts to move. By this time, my friend and I are just glad the film is over, and disgusted by the cheap gimmick preparing the audience for the next put-you-to-sleep-if-you-have-earplugs and can-stand-the-lack-of-morals sequel. (And I’m not interested in seeing Superman portrayed as the second coming.)

Back to Wonder Woman

Our first female superhero wasn’t created to compete with or participate in the prevailing male “fists and firepower” manner of handling crisis. She was created with the intention of bringing the feminine energies of love and fierce compassion to a world that desperately needed (and still needs) justice, equality and peace.

William Marston was dedicated to equal rights for women and he firmly believed that, “The only hope for civilization is the greater freedom, development and equality of women.” He and his brilliant wife, Elizabeth Holloway, dedicated their lives to this purpose. After his death in 1947 and with the end of the war, women were sent home from offices and factories, and Wonder Woman lost her power.

It’s been a long road back to equal rights and we still have far to go- particularly in other parts of the world. For example: Women perform 66% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the world’s food (in Africa 80%), but they earn 10 % of the income and own 1% of the property? (Women’s Global Initiative ’95; restated in 2012 and 2014, Marcia Dyson, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates)

So yes, we have much work to do. Male or female, we must unleash the power of our inner Wonder Woman, the powerful nurturing feminine energy we all possess, and stay true to our purpose and intentions. We must resist whoever and whatever organization, industry, cause, (or our own small selves) that might persuade, sidetrack, or hijack us from our mission, our life purpose of being a Warrior-for-Good.

At the Vancouver International Peace Summit in 2009, the Dalai Lama said:

The world will be saved by the western woman.”

And Ernest Holmes wrote, “My Inner Light shines through the mist of human beliefs and frees me from the bondage of fear and limitation.”

And lastly, Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of our energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

So let’s harness the freedoms we possess and prove the Dalai Lama right! Be a Badass Wonder Woman Goddess. The world needs your vision, your truth, and your Divine Feminine Energy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year – Blank Page

Greetings!

What Achievements Will You Acknowledge for 2015?

Every new year’s eve, whether at a gathering, or alone, at midnight I take a beautiful

card with blank pages inside and write a letter to myself: on the left side, “Dear Gail,”

and then I list all the wonderful achievements and blessings that have occurred that

year. On the right side of the card I write about what I look forward to creating in the

new year. This is what I wrote on December 31st:001

1. 2015 began with new life, literally- the birth of my third

grandson, Santiago Wolf Bettencourt, aka Mr. Adorable.

2. My coaching practice accelerated, adding several more yearlong

clients along with those who continue their contracts for four

to six month services. Facilitating people to express their highest creativity and realize

their many goals is a great honor.

3. I was able to return to Italy this year, a country I love, to spend time in Tuscany at a

Mindfulness Conference with Donald Altman. I was awestruck and inspired to see and

learn more of the history of these ancient cities, towns and cathedrals.

4. My “talk of the year” was Wonder Woman: Five Strides to Greater Power &

Resilience. It was so well-received, I’ll be giving it two more times in 2016- February in

Santa Fe, April in San Diego.

0025. My daughter, Megan, had her first book released in

August: Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World.

This is a beautiful book about social justice, and it’s the

culmination of fifteen years as an award-winning

journalist, international travels, heart-rending interviews, and

compelling narratives. I’m so proud of her.

6. This December I spoke at the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death at their

annual Snowflake Memorial. It’s deeply humbling to speak to a group

of parents and families of murdered children. I spoke of Viktor Frankl, the physician

who survived three years of starvation and hard labor, but lost his entire family in the

Nazi death camps. His primary message is that one must endure suffering and grief in

order to live and love and find meaning again through service to others. I am totally

inspired by the parents who’re committed to helping other parents survive this most

heart-wrenching grief.

7.And lastly, I’m grateful for the love of family, friends, and the trust of my coaching

and therapy clients. I am so privileged to have been given this life!

What Will Emerge on Your Blank Page for 2016?

And then I turned to the new page for 2016 and for the first time, I was at a loss. I

could think of nothing that would top 2015. Two weeks later I’m still looking at that

blank page. So I decided to look at how it was that I achieved such success last year.

Yes, I was blessed, but what did I do to help create it?

As I reviewed my own coaching notes from last year, I realized I’d focused

consistently on releasing self-criticism and practicing self-love.

This poem from Rumi was inspiration:

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as

beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”

In my daily meditations, I released fear and self-doubt; I embraced myself with love

and compassion. And as I did this, I manifested more and more of what I desired for

my life.

Now, for 2016 I am declaring that I will continue to practice expanding into self-love

and love of others, and releasing all limited thinking and negativity. I will serve others in

every way that I can and I will practice what I teach about Wonder Woman: to be the

Badass Wonder Woman Goddess I came here to be!003

More than ever, I believe the world needs the heroic qualities of

our Divine Feminine Energy!

All Blessings to you this year,

Gail

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Daring Adventures and the F Word”

Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Some of us, during particular life transitions would opt for nothing- a little nothingness, a drop in the adrenaline, a simple diminution of stimuli, or as one of my friends says at times of chaos, “Let me just sit on my bed and suck my thumb.” We long for time to emotionally regroup.

The “daring adventure” that is our life is marked by cycles of change- of loss and reconnection, of dependency and individuation, of deep grief and realizations of renewed growth. Our “hero’s journey,” as Joseph Campbell taught us, is a process that guides, directs, pushes, pulls, and ultimately transforms us along the way from innocent children to wise, mature adults.

Psychologically, life transitions call us to transform the energy of the ego and its childlike ways of expecting the world to take care of us. We are tasked with facing and killing the dragons of defense, our early playmates, who taught us to deny fright and wrongdoing, rationalize deviousness, repress our negative thoughts and project our less than lofty impulses onto others. Repeatedly facing down the small to the deadliest fears rebirths us as warriors, able to protect and nurture ourselves as we grow strong enough to recognize, adapt and finally to enjoy and master completely new terrain.

Campbell tells us that we always have supernatural aid along the journey- so hang onto that belief in guardian angels, no matter in what form they appear. In my life they tend to appear as good friends turning up at crucial times with crucial insights, like a Tinkerbell, focusing my attention on how to handle the crisis of the moment. But one night when I was suffering unbearable pain from multiple broken bones in my shoulder, a more traditional angel friend showed up, dressed in gossamer white. She took me to an icy kingdom, which numbed my body and allowed for much-needed blessed sleep.

Angelic friends are folks you can cry in front of. Sometimes, before we take on the dragons, we have to fall apart and weep, say we can’t possibly do it, we can’t bear it, we didn’t even think we’d signed up for this particular trip. And our friends hold us and soothe us and remind us of who we really are… wonderfully intelligent souls, filled with the energy of the gods, and ready to take our rightful place at the vey center of our lives. As one woman said to me toward the end of a conflict-ridden divorce- “I’m taking back my power, my money, and my magic.”

The benefit from every life transition small or large, is the magic of transformed consciousness. This happens in three ways: through greater Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Three A’s. When we survive and complete each journey, we have a deeper awareness of our values and our self in relation to the world. We accept ourselves, our shortcomings, our skills and our gifts, as well as our current life situation. And we discover greater courage to take the next action steps toward our goals.

There is an important F word involved here- the word is Forgiveness. Often, it’s the most decisive part of this equation. Self-forgiveness, or forgiveness of past wrongs, is the door that opens to the other three. It brings inner peace. To learn more about the benefits of forgiveness, and how to do it, order Megan Feldman Bettencourt’s new book, Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World.

http://meganfeldman.com/books/
As a trauma psychologist, I know how crucial forgiveness is to every part of our life cycle. Give yourself that gift.
Many blessings, and thanks to my daughter for writing this important book.
Gail
Triumph-of-Heart-FB-Banner

 

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment