Category Archives: change

Just Add… MUSIC!

If I were ever to make one of those lists – you know the kind I mean, the ones that are in every health, lifestyle, and inspirational magazine – to share my “top ten ideas for a better ________” (fill in the blank), it would undoubtedly include: Turn on the tunes!

Music has a transformative power. It’s like audible lubrication for your emotions.

  • Feeling sad and want to cry? Turn on a song that triggers your tears.
  • Feeling tired and unmotivated to clean or work out? Boom! Music is the best ‘pep talk’ you can find.
  • Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Calm or soothing music can relax you within minutes.

Music is one of my favorite tools in my toolbox, because it instantly changes my mood and my energy, and I get to choose what I want or need to shift in the moment, with real-time results!

Just this morning I was feeling a little ‘meh’ about all the things on my growing to do list. I was sitting in silence staring at both my screen and my paper notepad, and I remembered: turn on the tunes! Et voila! With a little help from Sting, Adele, and Enrique Iglesias I had a sudden energy shift, and I focused more. Task completion is underway and the to do list is shrinking.

Whatever you need to support or enhance in your life, or if you’re feeling stuck or in doubt about what the next right step is, try using music deliberately as a tool. I think you’ll be glad you did. I know I am. (And so is my to do list!)

Self Care Simple Truths

“Self care” has been a big phrase that gets tossed around across multiple industries. We actually had a class on self-care in grad school because of the high burnout rate among social workers. (It wasn’t mandatory, but I think it should be.)

Of course, self care is easy to talk about and harder to implement, for two main reasons:

  1. Self-care inevitably takes time, and time is something a lot of people feel they don’t have or shouldn’t take for themselves, because
  2. We’ve been taught to prioritize our lives in a non- self care way, stigmatizing the act of self care as a luxury or worse, selfish.

But, self care is neither luxurious nor selfish, it’s a fundamental component to our health, just like eating, breathing, and sleeping.

So, I thought I’d compile some some simple truths about self care that can help change the way we look at this important aspect of good health:

  1. We are entitled to take time to care for ourselves. Entitled. It’s not a privilege nor a gift, it’s a basic human need, and we are allowed to claim it. Even if it’s five minutes a day (which can be hugely beneficial, by the way), we are entitled to take and make time for our health and care.
  2. Self care can be easy, simple, and free. So often I hear people say “I don’t have time/money/ability to do that.” But it doesn’t have to be a $500 spa day or even a weekly mani/pedi for it to be effective. In fact some of the most effective self care is done for free in just five minutes a day, like conscious breath, or sipping tea, or calling a friend, or reading. What matters is the consistency and frequency, not the cost or length of time.
  3. It can be difficult to make yourself a priority, and that’s ok. If you’re not used to doing it, and you’ve bought into the matrix belief that it’s wrong or shameful in some way to prioritize yourself, making the shift in your thinking can be a challenge, and it takes time. That’s ok. Changing a belief about something is harder than changing a habit; but changing the habit will help you to shift the belief. It’s about taking the first step and following it up repeatedly over time. Soon enough, it will have shifted on its own, and you’ll be well on your way to being a priority in your own life.
  • The bottom line is self care can feel like scaling Mt. Everest because we make it more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive than it has to be. In reality, good self care should feel like breathing – a natural part of your daily life, however you choose to do it. When we look at it like that, it shrinks down to the size of an ant hill.
  • * Excerpted from What now..? by Martina E. Faulkner, LMSW – scheduled for publication in 2019.
  • Choice is a Superpower

    Embracing choice is a superpower. When you realize this, everything changes… for the better.

    I’ve been working on my next book, which is all about how to actually create positive change in your life in a tangible, actionable way. But the first step to actually creating change is wanting to… making a choice. In fact, choice is the most important step we take throughout our lives on a daily basis. It’s also something we all do rather reflexively and distractedly – if not, unconsciously.

    However, when we make choice conscious and realize that we are engaging in decision-making nearly every minute of every day, we are flexing our real muscles. We develop our superpowers, and the quality of our life changes… for the better.

    Ownership, Obligation, and Love

    The question was never “What can be done?”

    The question was always “What can you do?”

    Or rather, “What can I do?”

    When I start a session with a new client, I always start with: “How can I help you?” Because it’s a simple truth that we can only do what we can do. If a client said to me, “I need you to tell my partner that they’re wrong so that they understand how much I’m hurting,” my response would be, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that… I can, however, help you with your hurting.”

    ‘What can I do?’ is answered by what I can do.

    Everybody has unique gifts, and everybody can use their talents to do something and be impactful. Unfortunately, a lot of the time we focus on trying to be like other people by imitating their gifts, or trying to make our own less noticeable. But if everybody did the same thing, there would be no impact. No change. No progress. No understanding. No growth. No empathy. No hope. … No Love.

    What matters the most is being who you are, bringing who you are to the table, and then acting from that place. Knowing who you are, what you can do, and doing it is one of the greatest affirmations in the universe. It’s a way of taking ownership for who you are, why you’re here, and what you’re willing to do to contribute… and creating a path to Love.

    Just the other day, I was thinking about my own gifts and how I wish to take ownership differently going forward. I had a great conversation with a dear friend (and gifted healer), and realized a lot of my desire for change was mired in conflating ownership with obligation (aka: externalized responsibility). I cannot be responsible for things that aren’t mine to be responsible for. I may think I should do it, but the bottom line will always be about whether I can. If it’s not in my wheelhouse – meaning, it’s not aligned with my own gifts, path, and capabilities – then I really have to let it go. Otherwise, I’ll expend a lot of energy for little or no outcome.

    Ownership is different. Taking ownership is about claiming my place in this world, as I am, doing what I can do – not feeling responsible for others’ journeys, but sharing the road together. Ownership is standing unapologetically in my boots, for better or worse, and being. Being the best, most loving version of myself that I can be, in everything I do.

    My friend reminded me of the importance of remembering the power of Love throughout this journey. Love of self, love for others, and capital-L Love. Love supports change and growth more than almost anything else. This means that Love is absolutely necessary in ownership, whereas obligation (especially externalized responsibility) usually involves some measure of fear.

    So, in the end, when we look at the question “What can I do?” the answer should always be:

    Respond with Love.

    And the Universe emphasized that simple, yet important, truth when shortly after my call with my friend I parked next to a car that had this exact bumper sticker. I love how that works, don’t you?

    Complaining Doesn’t Create Change

    You can either change or stay the same, but you can’t do both. And if you want to create change in your life – if you want something to change – you have to become a participant in making it happen. 

    Harsh words? Perhaps. But that doesn’t make them less true. And trust me, it’s not as if I think change is easy. It’s not. Change can feel hard, and very few people are actually good at it across the board. We all have at least one thing that seems harder to change than others. (I’m no exception.)

    In reality though, change isn’t actually hard, even though it often feels that way. What makes it hard is when we add emotional weight to the process. This is what happens when we want to “have our cake and eat it too.” In other words, when we want change, but we don’t want to have to work for it.

    You can’t create change by simply wanting it and doing nothing to make it happen. It doesn’t work that way. Change requires decision and then action. These are doing words, not being words. You can’t be your way into changing something.

    All too often we readily complain (as I’ve done myself) that “nothing is changing,” or “nothing is getting better.” When I hear a client say this, the immediate question I ask is: What have you done to make it happen? (Which is often met with a scowl or grimace.)

    The thing is, so many of us want things to change, yet we’re also too tired/angry/resentful/lazy/scared/upset/frustrated/sad (or numerous other emotions) to do anything about it. Either that, or we’re caught up in some form of victimhood and martyrdom that allows us to feel like we’re entitled to complain endlessly without actually engaging in bettering our own lives. Yikes!

    The concept is really simple, though: If you want something to change, you have to do something to create that change. 

    • If you’re feeling sad, depressed, pitiable – do something.
    • If you’re feeling angry, scared, frustrated – do something.
    • If you’re feeling resentful, tired, lazy – do something.

    No matter what you’re feeling, if you don’t like it – you have to do something to change it. Take a walk, call a friend, eat a different diet. The list of things you can do to create positive change in your life is virtually endless.

    On the flip side, there’s only one proven way you can guarantee that nothing changes, and that’s to continue to complain while doing nothing. In fact, not only will things stay the same, they’ll actually get worse. There is no level of “maintenance” that includes complaining and/or inactivity. None.

    So, if you are tired, frustrated, or upset about how things are in your life – you absolutely have the power to change it… by making a different choice and doing something that changes your situation. It all begins with you. Even if it feels difficult or challenging (or even overwhelming) it is worth it, because the alternative is doing nothing – which is a guarantee that things will get worse. And who wants that?

    Change doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, there’s an easy way to approach change that I’m writing about in my new book (to be published early 2019). In the meantime, just do one thing – one thing – differently. There’s hope in action. Give yourself the gift of possibility, by taking action in your life. 

    We Don’t Have Three Feet

    We don’t have three feet – so it’s time to stop acting like we do.

    I run into this all the time with clients, friends, family, acquaintances  – even in the mirror. We seem to think we have three feet… but we don’t.

    Three Feet. (This image reminds me of My Three Sons (the TV show), but I digress.)

    Too often, and we’re all guilty of it, we live life trying to keep one foot in the past (resentment, grudges, hurt, blame, shame, anger, etc.), while also trying to put one foot in the future (hope, manifesting, daydreaming, planning, preparing, making goals, striving, wishing, etc.). But this strategy leaves nothing for the present. And it’s the present that allows us to move into the future with more ease, while also allowing the past to heal with grace.

    You only have two feet – where do you want to put them?

    The Importance of Simple Pleasures

    Like many people I know, over the last month I have felt emotionally inundated with one shocking headline story after another. My sympathetic nervous system felt under attack, and I needed to do something about it. It’s the old “oxygen mask” rule of taking care of yourself before assisting others, because otherwise, you’re no good to anyone.

    So, one day, I decided to snap a pic of my silly face enjoying some olives… because they made me so happy! They were a new discovery at my local grocery store, and they were DELICIOUS!! So, I took a picture. Then another, and I found myself laughing and smiling and, most importantly, emotionally lifted. I shared it with friends, and they, too, smiled at my goofiness. I hashtagged it #simplepleasures and didn’t think about it again.

    Original Post: With everything going on in the world it’s SO IMPORTANT to find little joys. And today, I did! My local grocery store has THE BEST olives!! #simplepleasuresmakelifebetter #iloveagoodolive

    Then, a couple of days later, another small thing made me wonderfully happy: A new pair of fun earrings, and I thought: Hmm…. there’s something here. So I wrote another post, played around with a fun new photo app, and shared it.

    Original Post: Remember my post about simple pleasures making life better (or some days, just bearable)? Well, the other day it was olives… whereas tonight it’s shiny new baubles!! What do we think?! I LOVE them! They’re like glistening mandala ornaments for my ears. <3

    And with that, I started doing a daily #simplepleasures post for about a week just to see what would happen. What I noticed was that I was pausing more and taking better note of my daily life. I watched insects crawl and fly around on flowers, I listened to rain on the roof at night, and I sipped my tea more consciously, rather than guzzling down the morning caffeine.

    While the world continued to spiral all around me, I felt more grounded and better able to remain emotionally-balanced. Subsequently, I also felt more more discerning about where I focused my energy and time. And that’s what’s important here: we have to be discerning about where we focus our attention.

    With everything vying for some piece of our time or focus, it’s increasingly more and more important to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we move through our days. While our news stations seem to primarily focus on the “bad” things that are happening (see my “PS” below), it becomes increasingly more important for us to take pause in our lives and identify the good things. An awareness practice, like #simplepleasures, is a perfect example of how to do this.

    Here are the rest of my week’s posts using the #simplepleasures hashtag. I invite you to try this out for yourself. Make a game out of it with friends and family. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the “bad” that’s going on in the world; it means that you’re choosing to keep yourself healthy, grounded and balanced, in order to be able to create positive change with more energy and focus. That’s a win-win, in my book.

    (PS: Seriously though, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about with needing to be more discerning about watching the news, try this: try not actively watching the news and instead sit in a room nearby listening in order to count the number of “bad” things they share as compared to the “good” things. I’ve done this. It’s even worse than you might imagine.)

     

    Creating and Sustaining Change: Tipping the Scales

    No matter what you’re working on, when scales begin tipping in your favor that is the time to double-down on being deliberate about your decisions, to recommit to your vision, and above all, practice discernment. Double-check that everything you are doing is aligned and reduce or remove anything that isn’t. It’s inventory-taking time, in order to streamline and ride the wave of the forward progress.

    Tipping scales is not a time to go “hog wild” and “all in” on something. Why? Because if you do, you risk breaking. If you suddenly add more weight to a tipping scale out of excitement for forward progress, it will move too fast and tip over. It will break. And then you must start over.

    Great change occurs in small, consistent, deliberate steps over time.

    Change quote on a desert scene

    Recognizing the momentum of change and sustaining it takes patience and thought. It is calculated in its approach. To do anything else, even out of excitement, shifts the energy to one of desperation… and desperation always undermines any target.

    Invite it in, and watch what happens…

    When I hung up the new bird feeder outside the kitchen window, this is exactly what I hoped for.

    Look at this handsome specimen! Alas, I think the below zero temps have frozen the seed block, but at least he knows where it is now, when the sun warms things up.

    I find inspiration in nature, in everything all around me … and sometimes I invite it closer, like with the bird feeder. Sometimes (most of the time, perhaps), the Field of Dreams adage is the one to live by: “If you build it, they will come.”

    Make it, build it, create it … it’s all an invitation, isn’t it? Invite it in. Extend the hand, and watch out your proverbial kitchen window, as everything arrives.

    Failure’s Message

    Well, I failed my Theosophy exam. I just found out last week, and I was bummed when I opened the email. After 8 months of reading, thinking and reflecting on the materials introduced in the course (and passing every quiz along the way with flying colors!) I was stunned with my final result.

    After my initial disappointment, however, I decided to reach out to the course instructor and ask how I had failed. Was it the exam? The coursework over the months? What was the deciding factor? Since he had mentioned it could be a either or a combination of the two in his final email, I thought it needed some investigation.

    As it turns out, I was one question off from passing. That’s not to say that I was close to 100% – far from it. I needed a passing score of 75% (or 40 correct), and I achieved just under that. I got 39 out of 53 questions correct.

    The instructor considered passing me, he said, but then he reviewed which questions I got wrong and decided to hold the standard. Rightly so. As it turns out the example he gave me of a question I got wrong was glaring. It went against the core teachings of the tradition. And he said there were a few other examples that were similar, therefore showing that I failed to grasp the basic tenets of Theosophy, even if I understood some of the more nuanced pieces.

    I have to admit I was shocked. Firstly, I knew the correct answer to that question, so I have no idea why I chose something else. Secondly, I passed the quizzes with 95-100% accuracy, so how could it all go so wrong?

    Once my nervous system settled down a bit, I wrote him back and thanked him for upholding the standard (I agreed with that decision), and explained how I can only attribute the wrong answer to user error while taking the exam itself, because I had given the correct answer previously on a quiz, and I also knew it. I haven’t heard back from him, and don’t know if I will. And that’s ok. Because after a few more breaths, I realized something very important:

    My failure was a message.

    You see, I’ve had a lot on my plate this year and I haven’t always been giving things my undivided attention. Everything from physical health to spiritual health has been somewhat half-assed, just to get through. I approached my exam the same way. I put it off until the last possible weekend in which I could take it and set aside the three hours needed to complete it. But, I wasn’t free from distractions, nor was I 100% focused on the task itself. I knew it when I sat down, but the exam had become something to cross off a list, so I did.

    Looking back, I can see that this has become a pattern of sorts in my life. I have been moving through things to get to the place of “being done,” rather than moving through things and being present as I went. In other words, I have been running part-time on auto-pilot, while not actually fueling my vehicle appropriately, or consulting my navigation.

    In my coaching practice, I teach my clients the importance of “book-ending” their healthy solutions. It’s a tool that makes everything that much more powerful and successful. As it turns out, I have been bookending my life in the unhealthy way with a combination of distraction and pushing, to simply “get through,” which made it that much more pronounced when I tried to just get something done, and failed.

    I’m glad I failed. I don’t see it as a loss, even though I paid for the course. In fact, I still have the knowledge I gained, I just don’t have the piece of paper that reflects that. And that’s ok, because it shouldn’t be about the paper. (Well, not always.) Many times, it needs to be about the process and the intangibles that are learned along the way. And while I learned many other intangibles throughout the past year (which I’m sure I’ll write about later), it was the final intangible of failure that put the past 12 months into perspective. What a gift! Because as I go into 2018, I can now be more aware of how I wish to show up in everything I do, and I can make deliberate choices from a place of empowered knowing, rather than just pushing through.