Have you ever asked *God to be your alarm clock?

IMG_3326*When I use the word God, I mean “That from which you came… your Source with a capital S”… so if you aren’t the religious type, perhaps it will help to think about it like that.

So, have you?  Have you ever said, “Hey, God… (Source from which I came)… I want to meditate for 10 minutes in the morning, could you wake me up in time for that?”

Would you consider giving it a whirl?  Certainly set your alarm… but imagine your surprise when you wake up feeling good before it goes off!

I’m sure this isn’t an original thought, but I don’t remember where I read it/heard about it… all I know is that my regular alarm clock is in the shape of a toddler, and about a year ago it was in the shape of a baby… and that baby felt unpredictable and I felt out of control.  I was so flipping tired from midnight feedings and lots of effort soothing her back to sleep, that the thought of waking up early seemed impossible.  And then somewhere along the way, I felt myself wanting just the tiniest bit of time to myself in the morning.  And from that place of yearning I made a simple request… “God, can you make this possible?  I’d like to listen to this 15 min meditation recording in the morning before M wakes up.”  Then I let it go… figuring, this will be great if it works, and no different if it doesnt.

The next morning I woke feeling energized and alive despite another night of what would normally be considered poor sleep.  Surprised and excited I quietly got up, pulled out my yoga mat and pressed play on my recording and if I remember correctly, it was creepy how perfectly timed it was… my daughter cried her first cry at the very end of the track.  Since then, it has continued to happen, and some mornings I have ‘pressed snooze’ and been disappointed when, ‘like clockwork’ she woke 10 min later and I had missed my chance.  I haven’t done this religiously, I’ve just done it when I needed it or when I noticed that I was awake and feeling good and it was beyond reason… I’ve tried to discipline myself to realize that there is a reason.

Through this practice, I’ve also learned to ask for other things, and receive them.  One is that when I’m heading to bed and I know I’ve pushed myself to stay up late, I simply request, “God, please make this rest enough.”  And the results have been amazing.  I always feel good in the morning since asking for this… I’m always able to greet my child with energy and love.  This would only be astounding to those who knew me before as the terrible grouch any time before noon that I have been my entire life.  But trust me… this is BIG!

This morning I woke 1.5 hrs before she was ready to get up, only 5 hours since I ‘d gone to bed.  I felt good, and the temptation was there to snuggle back in for a little more time in bed.  But the thought was there… “what if I went for a jog?… had that morning jogging meditation my girlfriends and I spoke about at dinner last night?  what if?… I also want a shower… these things take time.  God always wakes me with exactly the right amount of time, so if I’m slow about this… I’m likely to miss something.”  So after about 10 minutes of internal pep talk, I got up, jogged my jog, and felt inspired to write this.  I haven’t written in ages, and writing lights me up, so this is a gift to myself.  Thank you, Self!

So again… here’s the question to you… Have you ever asked God/your Higher Self/That from which you came to help you do anything?  wake up early? make a tiny amount of sleep feel like a solid night of sleep?  help on a test?  to get a parking spot? whatever?

Would you consider giving it a try?

Please do, because it is the greatest fun to feel in co-hoots with the “Almighty” for a better feeling life for yourself and everyone you affect.  And I promise you, it matters not how you phrase your words… it only matters that you’re feeling a desire in your heart… a true tug for something more, something better… and a little, playful willingness to be surprised.

Feel free to share your experience with this below… would love to hear your stories.

Now I’m off to shower!  M should be up in 15! 😉

*please excuse all typos, I haven’t yet asked God to correct my grammar.


The Right Way to Respond to Failure, by Peter Bregman

The Right Way to Respond to Failure, by Peter Bregman.  I really enjoyed reading this article as it demonstrates why I love NVC.

John Holt on education

I’m very much enjoying this audio from 1983 and finding so much truth in what he says… especially the continual evaluation of our schools and proclaiming that they are in terrible shape and “it’s time for reform!”  The fact that I didn’t know this was recorded 20 years ago and assumed it was recent until 10 min in, is proof that this point is correct.

Of course, as someone who truly enjoys compassionate communication, my favorite of his points is about the disrespectful treatment of children.

It makes so much sense to me that humans learn at age 5, 10, 15, 20, 32 (my age) and beyond the same way our infants and toddlers do.  As babies, we learn to sit up on our own, crawl, walk and talk from observation of those around us and a natural inclination to grow and develop. As a pre-teen I began to see that school was about performance and I lost my natural love of learning and began to evaluate myself based on how others saw me and how I performed on paper. But as an adult, I’ve rediscovered my passion for learning and it has been like a personal renaissance… I have read more books, watched more informative videos, done more research, practiced more skills and have written more on these subjects in the last 5 years than I have in all of my formal education and I did it from a space of curiosity and a natural desire to make life more wonderful.  And I did it by seeking out the expertise of people already doing what I wanted to do and modeling and adapting their methods to meet my own needs.  I believe it is no different for anyone of any age… we learn quickly and easily when we can see the purpose and value clearly and it comes from an inner drive.

I’m so hopeful to give this gift to my daughter… that she can learn through passion and curiosity her ENTIRE life and never be compelled to perform for anyone, including myself and her father.  And that she be internally motivated with her natural desire to be connected to those she loves and contribute to their well-being.  I believe as she matures, this love will expand beyond our immediate family and to the greater community and the world and her desire to contribute will make her very useful to society and also very happy from the inside out.

This vision is what drives my own passion to help create an environment that would give this to many children, not just my own.  I’ve been very excited and inspired by the efforts of those co-creating Cedarwood Academy.  I am currently assisting them with crafting their discipline policy around Restorative Practices and the consciousness of Compassionate Communication as taught by Marshall Rosenberg.  It hasn’t been an easy task, but it has been fulfilling and it gives me hope and satisfaction with every corner I turn.  I told my partner on the project that it has been like putting a puzzle together… I am looking at my vision of what’s possible as if looking at the image on the box and I’m sifting through the various resources that point in this direction looking for the perfect pieces that fit together for this community at this time.

My favorite facilitator on the subject of Restorative Practices is Dominic Barter, and he makes this point often which I will loosely explain here as I understand it:  He sees that there is no method to be written down and replicated around the world, that it must be organically grown by the community to accomodate the specific needs and flavors of that culture, environment and social norms.

Another analogy comes to mind around cooking… that while I might start with a recipe and a general idea of what I’d like to achieve (in this case, a respectful learning environment), I have to work with the ingredients and the tools I have… for instance, I prefer not to use a microwave, so every recipe has to be adapted to using the stove or oven and I don’t always have everything in the recipe calls for in my pantry, but often I can find a great substitute that makes the dish delicious.  And in the case with this school, our community is vastly different from the communities Dominic works with in the outskirts of Rio De Janeiro or the long-standing public schools in Pennsylvania with high violent incident reports who are using these approaches to find peace in a violent world.  Our space is already fairly peaceful and we’d simply like to establish an agreement that helps us to maintain our deep connection and respect even when we do have the occasional conflict.  So we borrow a little from one source and incorporate the gifts and talents of community members and eventually we’ll bring all the pieces together to make our own beautiful living image of a restorative community agreement.

In summary, education is a hot topic today, and if John Holt’s assessment is correct, my guess is that it will remain a hot topic.   The solution for me personally, (I don’t proclaim it to be the solution for everyone),  is so clear to me that I hope to offer my many of my waking moments to helping interested young people discover and groom their passions, gifts, and talents within a respectful environment, so they will grow to be happy, fulfilled, engaged members of society.  By doing this, I will also become one of them… happy, fulfilled and engaged.

Let’s Get Vulnerable

Last night I was pleased to stumble across this Ted video.  She says something in here that really resonates with one of my core beliefs.  She says, “Connection is why we are here.  It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives… it is neuro-biologically how we are wired.”  It’s so interesting to hear about her scientific, research-based approach to discovering what makes connection work for some and not for others.  What she discovers is disconnection comes from shame, a feeling of unworthiness and people who live “whole heartedly” find connection because they are willing to be vulnerable, mainly because they believe they deserve love.

I have a lot of respect for all the myths in our culture and their power to teach us our nature through metaphor.  This particular story of connection and disconnection has always reminded me of the Judeo-Christian creation story of Adam and Eve in the garden.  They live in paradise until they eat of the tree of knowledge and they feel shame, hide themselves, experience blame and they are separated from their creator, thrown out of Eden.  The fall of man is equated to the illusion that we are somehow disconnected from our creator, when in truth I believe that we are not.  And we constantly seek re-connection… when we feel good, we feel connected to life, the people around us, to our purpose and our values and when we feel bad, its because something has blocked our ability to know we are connected to our loved ones, purpose or values.

Think about your happiest moments, receiving a baby, falling in love, achieving a long awaited goal… these moments feel so amazing because we are feeling connected to ourselves, to our gifts & talents, to our creator, and to others.   Now think about your saddest moments, when a dream doesn’t work out, or someone you love deeply passes away… the thought is “I’ll never see them again”… underneath that, I am no longer connected to them.

I’ve always treasured Einstein’s words when mourning a loss like that.  “Energy is never created or destroyed.  It simply changes form.”  And I love how Abraham-Hicks talks about “we are always spiritual beings and sometimes physical.”  And then I couple that with the belief that I am always connected to source and to everything in existence, and while my loved one is no longer physical, somehow we are still connected on a spiritual level.

This appreciation of the importance of connection echoes through all of my life, especially in coaching, peace consulting and my approach to children.  It’s why Pam Leo’s book Connection Parenting rings so true to me.  It’s why I chose Coach for Life and the Inspired Learning Foundation for my training.  They are both based on the 10 Standards of Presence, one of which is Connect at a Heart Level.  And it’s why I fell in love with Compassionate Communication as taught by Marshall Rosenberg.  He taught me that we are all connected/interdependent and through choosing to connect on the level of needs, we can find solutions that meet the needs of everyone involved.  I love this!

So it’s really interesting to hear Brene Brown’s research pointing the finger to “vulnerability is the core of shame, our fear, our struggle for worthiness, but it appears it’s also the birthplace of our joy, our creativity, belonging, and love.”

She found that whole-hearted people had:

1) the courage to be imperfect, and

2) the compassion to be kind to themselves first, because you can’t truly be compassionate to others if you aren’t first connected to your own needs.

3) They found connection as a result of authenticity.  they were willing to let go of who they were supposed to be in order to be who they really are.

4) And they fully embraced vulnerability as a necessary part of life.  They believed what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful.

For most of us, myself included, living whole heartedly through being vulnerable is a challenge. For me, learning to embrace mine and others imperfections and to be compassionate to myself first are the big ones.  And my hidden big one… authenticity.  In many ways, I am as authentic as they come.  I’m an open book, I’m deeply and sometimes inappropriately honest, and I’m always seeking connection through this method of authentic sharing.  However, I do recognize that I have a filter, and my filter never allows judgmental thoughts or thoughts that might offend others to escape my mouth, and so there are things that I don’t share openly, and therefor might inhibit my full authenticity and therefor my full connection.  But I’m learning… that’s why I’m so passionate about Compassionate Communication.  It is teaching me how to communicate my truth (judgments included) and connect fully without risking disconnection through the thoughtless expression of judgments.

“They say” we always teach what we most need to learn, and that does appear to be the case for me.  And as I share my path and passion with groups, I really offer this as a bonus.  I’m in the trenches with them, I’m their equal in discovery.  Together we will explore this new terrain, share in it’s ups and downs, and support each other as we travel in the direction we want to go.  A more fulfilling way of living.

My goal is to make life more wonderful for myself, my family, my community and the world at large and I believe connection is the key.  Thank you Brene Brown for sharing your discoveries with us!

Quote of the Day

photo by Mark Walz http://www.themarque.org

“Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.  For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue… as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”

–Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

What do you think?

Have you ever aimed at something you wanted and missed?  Have you aimed at something you wanted and nailed it?  I’d love to hear your own experience about seeking success or happiness and whether or not you think Frankl has a point.  Please comment below:

New Equation for Happiness – Who would have “thunk” it!?!!

Truly it seems like such a “master of the obvious” statement to say, “Living in alignment with our Life Purpose, Values, Gifts and Talents equals happiness and vice versa” and yet, so few of us, myself included until a few days ago, consciously choose to a) discover and define our purpose, values, gifts and talents through something like a workshop or foundation session and b) strategically go after a meaningful, fulfilling life with this as a focus!

This is where the juice is… and by “juice” I mean energy and magic and all that it entails!

I first had it demonstrated to me when I was sharing a recording of one of my coaching sessions with my mentor coach for evaluation.  As he was reflecting his thoughts and asking me questions about the session, I found myself excitedly gushing over how much I love holding this space for people and witnessing the powerful transformations they have in very short time.  He stopped me and pointed to my purpose statement and asked me to read it aloud, with my client’s name substituted in where appropriate.  “To open my heart, see my true self and help *Jennifer do the same.”  He said he would venture to guess that by the joy in my voice he could easily detect that I was in alignment with my purpose and could I see that this was true?  Yes, I could, and yet, I wanted to test it out… to try this with other people… catch them happy and see if they were in alignment.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to give a Foundation Session to *Benjamin and before we began, he told me a story about a recent success he had experienced.   He said something like, “I went to this meet and greet for fishing enthusiasts and I met all these amazing people.  One person in particular was wonderful and working on a project that I’m really interested in.  It was so perfect because of what my wife does for a living and because of my skills that I could easily contribute to at a relaxed pace, because they aren’t in any hurry and it also would allow me to fish!”  I congratulated him, honored him for getting out there and moved on… completely forgetting about my recent commitment to do sleuth work in searching out happiness to find it’s cause.   It wouldn’t have helped at that moment anyway, because I didn’t yet know what his values, talents, gifts and purpose were… that’s what the Foundation Session is for.

Fast forward 2 hours later and Benjamin and I had discovered that his Talents and gifts were 1) Seeing the big picture on projects, 2) having strong skills in his field of fishing and 3) working with people.  His Values in order were Balance, Relaxing, Good People, Collaboration and Fishing.  As I began to wrap up the call and explain the purpose behind why we had just taken all this time to root out these words and call them values, I explained that I would be looking to catch him in the act of living in alignment with them and I would be encouraging him to continue make choices that lead toward his values.  “The theory is…” I said, “that people are happiest when living in alignment with their values.” And that’s when the light bulb turned on and I said, “For example, take the story you told me earlier and see if we can relate it to these 5 words.”

Sure enough, they were everywhere:

“I went to this meet and greet (WORKING WITH PEOPLE) for fishing enthusiasts and I met all these amazing people.  One person in particular was wonderful (GOOD PEOPLE) and working on a project that I’m really interested in (SEEING THE BIG PICTURE & COLLABORATION).  It was so perfect because of what my wife does for a living (BALANCE) and because of my skills that I could easily contribute to it (WORKING WITH PEOPLE) at a relaxed pace, because they aren’t in any hurry and it also would allow me to fish!”

It was so obvious that the theory was true in this case that Benjamin instantly began laughing.  SUCCESS!!!  So, off I go to catch more people feeling happy and help them make the connection.

*name and details changed to protect identity

Peace Coaching & Consulting – my path

In the late summer of 2004, on a smoking-hot day in Las Vegas, I was sitting in an ice-cold ballroom amidst a crowd of people with their eyes closed, all allowing Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for Soul Series, to guide us through a visualization to reveal our life purpose.  As I was guided in my imagination to open a box containing a symbol of my life purpose, I saw a mirror inside and a heart with a lock and key.  I heard the words, “To open my heart, see my true self, and help others do the same.”  That phrase eluded me at first, yet it has guided me further and further down my path since the day I unveiled it.  Three years later I began my training as a Life Coach.  Since that time I’ve entertained my voracious appetite for self-development through books, conscious movies, trainings, practices and more.  I began developing a focus around Compassionate Communication as it is taught by Marshall Rosenberg and working with parents of young children and teenagers.  This focus frightened me for a long time, even though it calls deeply to my heart.  I heard the judgment… “who am I to serve this population when I have no children of my own?”  Yet, again and again, this calls me… I am not a parent, and yet, I am a daughter with many parents.  I am skilled at connecting to the needs within each person, reflecting back to them their own words, so they can feel heard and awaken to their own magnificence and brilliance.  I don’t have to know what it’s like to be a parent in order to hold a loving space for people… in fact it may be in everyone’s best interest that I don’t see myself as an expert… I am simply holding the space for each client to receive what they most need and become their own personal expert in their lives… to open their hearts, see their true selves, and possibly help others do the same. As often once finding something that truly helps improve our quality of life, we want to share it.

Mother Teresa often spoke about the hunger for love and appreciation in this world far outweighing the hunger for food.  Let us come together to heal that need in ourselves first and from that full place, spill over into our families and loved ones to meet their needs, as well.

Through this work, I hope to satiate a deep hunger in my clients and empower them to ease the hunger of the people around them. Together we can heal ourselves and the world, one open heart at a time.