Seven Steps to Surfing Chaos in Your Life and the World (Part 1)

Seven Steps to Surfing Chaos in Your Life and the World (Part 1)

In the last two years, so many of us feel that we have been unable to surf the chaos in our lives and the world; we have lost so much — our dreams, our plans and loved ones — and as 2022 gets into gear, the waves of chaos have not stopped. Some of us have lost jobs and work for most of us has changed considerably. Some of us have had to deal with days and days all alone and most of us have missed celebrations and we have missed being with loved ones. Some of us have fallen out with, and lost relationships with family and friends as different people reacted with fear and had different risk tolerances to COVID.

During this time, our community of coaches dealt with fearful family members who refused to meet with other family members, faced travel restrictions that kept fathers from seeing their sons for over two years, and at the height of pandemic, daughters risked travel to be at the side of their dying mother.

Just as we were getting ready to put COVID-19 behind us, here we go again with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, spiking gas prices, tornadoes, snow storms, travel delays, power outages, stock market swings, political turmoil, the list goes on and on.

And, with each unexpected setback, waves of fear wash over us again and again and languishing as been identified as the dominant emotion of 2021.

With rampant misinformation, social unrest, tension within families and mid-term elections this year, it feels like there is no end in sight, so we asked the MMSNorCal Collective coaches to share tips and practices they use to surf chaos in their lifes and the world in this three-part series of articles.

Step 1. Accept We Live in Uncertain Times

“When I think of acceptance,” says Coach Brandi Richard Thompson, “I think of the ability to embrace the totality of your experience, good and bad. During the past couple of years, I have seen clients and colleagues experience distress in ways they haven’t before.”

Coach Brandi adds, “As someone who has experienced trauma, the pandemic was similar to so many other times that I felt helpless, alone, and unsure of what to do next. The distress of those traumatic situations in my life made me want to push the experience away, hide from it or stuff it.”

Embrace Negative and Positive Emotions

Coach Brandi says that she has learned that it was far better to embrace her negative and positive emotions and this shift in thinking helped her to process them more fully. Accepting her circumstances allowed her to express her emotions, and feel all the feels associated with the pain of the trauma as well as the pleasure of the new things she learned through the experience and even the blessings that materialized.

Acceptance of the bad actually made room for Coach Brandi to experience the good that was happening at the same time. And whether you see it right now or not, there is always good right there with the bad. She encourages you to accept all that comes to you as an opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself.

“Life is unpredictable,” adds Coach Michelle Hayden-Marsan. “I find that resisting the undesired things that come into my life brings me my greatest challenge: anxiety, aggravation and disequilibrium. Accepting what comes my way, regardless of whether I like it or not presents an opportunity to let go of things that are out of my control. Being able to do that brings me peace and unexpected opportunities.”

What if Acceptance is Not Easy for You

Acceptance isn’t coming easy for Coach Charles Vivier either! 

Coach Charles says: “I have had to learn to focus on how fortunate I am that my daily life except for traveling wasn’t changing so much. I had to dig deeper, identifying my feelings, discovering their significance, defining what was important and reframing my purpose. Acknowledging and celebrating my progress and anything and everything contributing to my wellness. Learning what surrender really means has been one of my biggest lessons.”

Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig notes that there is a saying – the only certainty that exists in life is change. And, she adds, “When we can fully step into the flow of life, and accept that it is constantly moving and changing, we live with more ease and less resistance. Becoming comfortable in the uncomfortableness of uncertainty, creates space and opportunity for flexibility, growth and renewal.”

“When life feels unclear, uncertain or stuck, take the opportunity to focus on the present moment and raise your awareness. Awareness then acts as a lighthouse, shining on the path forward, allowing our lives to unfold as we respond to the present moment. Allowing ourselves to be fully in the present is a calming and grounding acceptance.”

Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig

Step 2. Nurture Your Body and Cultivate Routines

use dance to nurture yourself

Coach Muriel Murphy focuses on exercising regularly, eating healthy and nutritious foods, listening to music, meditating, stretching and attending to her body’s needs daily.

She also values connecting with loved ones and strangers with a smile on her face and listening to them with her heart centered attention, which can be difficult for many of us when we are agitated and upset with the world around us.

According to Coach Muriel, “slowing down and not rushing from one thing to the next, allows me the space to sense and feel my groundedness and be present with each task I am attempting to complete.”

Dancing is another way for her to release any negative stressors that may be holding in her body.

And, lastly Coach Muriel suggests dancing like nobody’s watching!

Consider a Challenge

“I have been struggling to find a way to have my outside match my inside, meaning having my outside body match my inside spirit,” says Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier. “My inside is clear, joyful, calm, purpose driven, grateful and healthy but on the outside I have been injured, overweight, tired and often sick. This year I decided to really give it a go and give my body a reset and put a stake in the ground and make a pledge I will not just talk about it, or wish that things were different, I would actually MAKE things different. SO, I took on the 75 Hard Challenge. No alcohol, drink a gallon of water, go on a diet program, and workout twice a day for 45 mins for 75 days…oh, and no cheating or you have to start over.”

Coach Lindsey, like many of us, had preconceived ideas about what my body could or could not do, so she took the Challenge to push back on her old belief system. She is amazed at how strong she is, how her body is showing her that it can rise to the occasion, even after all of her past injuries.

She finds that giving herself the space and time to put her health on the top of her to-do list has been empowering and provides some measure to be able to surf chaos in life and the world.

Show Yourself Love and Grace

Coach Brandi says “I nurture myself by showing myself the same love and grace that I show to those I love the most. I stop working when I am tired, set boundaries that support my health, and give up the need to control everything.”

nurture yourself with love

“I have a sense of control when I take time to be in tune with myself”, says Coach Michelle. “When we take time to listen to what our mind/body connection is telling us in the form of emotional and physical feelings, we can take time to respond. If I am feeling down or my body has some aches or pains, I ask myself, what is this? What is this trying to tell me? What do I want to do now? And perhaps my response is simply taking a moment to pause, catch my breath, or make a cup of tea.”

Coach Michelle finds that sometimes simply acknowledging the feelings can make her feel better.

The only thing we have control of is ourselves and our chosen response which is key to be able to surf chaos in life and the world with grace and control.

Consider Reviving a Hobby or a Passion

Some suggestions offered by Coach Sarah E. Spencer include engaging in a hobby you love. She says, “I have always loved crafts from childhood, and I seek yin energy almost every day. Currently this includes hand applique quilting, easily done while watching favorite TV shows, as well as planning future quilt projects.” (If you are looking to build a creative practice, check out this excellent read on our blog: Intrinsic Benefits of a Creative Practice.)

Coach Sarah also suggests building a routine that can help ground you, for example:

  • A daily morning routine that could include a short meditation session, perhaps lighting a candle, drinking a hot beverage. She likes to read a printed newspaper; you could read a printed book or journal for a few mins before planning your day.
  • A walk at lunch time, even for 10 – 15 mins around the block can center you.
  • An afternoon break for tea and a pause away from work could refresh you.

Continue reading the next article in this series: Seven Steps to Surfing Chaos in Your Life and the World (Part 2).

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Building a Gratitude Practice: What We focus on Grows

Building a Gratitude Practice: What We focus on Grows

In the last blog post from the MMSNorCal Coaching Collective, on 21st December 2021, the longest night of the year and the beginning of winter, we shared practices on how to Reset, Reflect and Rejuvenate for 2022. In this post, on New Years Eve, we will share our thoughts on a buidling a Gratitude Practice – one of the most powerful practices to reflect, acknowledge, mark endings and beginnings  – and a wonderful way to start a New Year.

Importance of Gratitude

In fact, research now shows that practicing gratitude – intentionally taking time to count your blessings, making note of the good things that are happening in our lives and in the world, acknowledging micro accomplishments that happen every day and looking for opportunities for mini celebrations – increases feelings of happiness and well-being and reduces negative thoughts that can spiral into anxiety and depression.

In the words of Coach Michelle Ihrig, “Gratitude has proven to help us calm our minds and create focus. The practice releases balancing hormones from our pituitary gland which in turn gives us a sense of peace and creativity. It enhances problem solving and resolve.”

As the saying goes, what we focus on grows.

She continues: “It is a great practice to start by looking back at all the things that went right last year, including all the small things that we may overlook, items we accomplished, new learnings, being kind to ourselves, friendships we made, opportunities we took, goals we achieved. Then look at the things that did not turn out as we hoped or are challenging; ask yourself – what has this experience taught me? What lessons have I learned? How has this shaped a better version of me or made other opportunities available? How has this experience made me wiser, stronger?  When we look at any mistakes or regrets as lessons learned to apply to the next phases in our lives, this contributes to growth. And with growth, we are constantly evolving.”

Tips on Building a Gratitude Practice

Michelle likes to end each day with at least 5 things she is grateful for.

On New Year’s Eve, Michelle writes down everything she has been grateful for that happened that year and this gives her perspective on far she has come.

She adds, “For those items which I may still regret, I allow myself to breathe into forgiveness, knowing that I did the best I could, and with my awareness of what happened, allow myself to move into full awareness into challenges moving forward.”

She believes that being grounded in the present with gratitude, builds positive momentum forward.

According to Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier, “even from hard knocks, illness and loss, we can find something to be grateful for. I broke my neck on my wedding night in Crete. I felt sorry for myself, stupid and I was in constant pain, but in the end I can honestly say: I was lucky it wasn’t worse. Our bodies have amazing healing capabilities and the biggest gift was that the injury made me vulnerable and I learned to ask for help.”

“I keep a dedicated Gratitude Journal,” shares Coach Muriel Murphy, “which can sometimes get slightly repetitive, but it’s always fruitful to look back on what I am truly grateful for. I realized that since Covid hit I was operating from a place of fear and not from the heart centered place that is usually so familiar to me. As I shared with my yoga students on Monday, I am seeing how this fight, flight and freeze response was running through my world, and I did not like it one bit. This is where my spiritual rubber hit the road, and I had to come to terms with my shortcomings over the past 20 months. I apologized to others, forgave myself, cried a lot and stepped forward to sense my strong and loving heart once again. It’s such a journey to witness myself in those uncomfortable zones and course correct. Of course, always with a little help from my friends and family. Thank you, from my heart to yours!” 

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Gratitude by the Quarter, by the Year

Coach Sarah E. Spencer lives in a part of the country with four distinct weather seasons, so she gives herself quarterly New Years to pause, reflect and recalibrate, something she found especially invaluable the last two years. One of Sarah’s foundational practices is to “understand my sphere of influence and what I can control and not control. Especially in these ambiguous times, I realize that that gratitude is usually centered within the local community, friendships and supporting my clients and my professional colleagues – things I have engagement and connection with.”

Sarah’s personal practice starts with reviewing writings of visions, aspirations and goals. ”I create space to be thankful, celebrate progress, note additions or those things that I can’t believe actually happened, and to sit with topics that I still yearn to have happened. And to welcome each ‘seasonal New Year’, I plan a meal for friends that celebrates the best of the upcoming months.” 

“I welcome the New Year by taking time a day or so before, to find a quiet stretch of time with no distractions during which I meditate with the intention of gratitude for the blessings of the year that is coming to a close” says Coach Michelle H. Marsan. “I let all those blessings sink in and fill me with a sense of peace. It is usually quite a beautiful experience and I am left feeling open, centered and calm.” 

Journaling can help set intentions for your life

“Next, I sit down with a cup of tea and my notebook. I start fresh, with an open mind; writing on what I would like to bring into my life. I make sure to hit all the targets: personal, family related, creative and career goals. If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I journal about my goals as if I already have them in my life. I write about how much joy I am experiencing and all the good things that are happening as a result. I know that on days when I am feeling depleted, or depressed, I can take the journal entry out, reread it and feel all that positive energy. 

On New Year’s day, I go back and look at those goals that I set for myself and I come up with an action plan to jumpstart and get the energy moving in the right direction. I also like going back to my journal and finding my previous year’s goals. I review what I wrote and see what came about during the year as a result of writing those goals. It is usually quite moving to see how the simple act of writing is the first step in the manifestation, and how consistently this practice works!”

Michelle shares a New Year’s ritual you can do with yourself or with friends and family – “hold a ceremony, perhaps by gathering around a fire pit and sharing one thing that you are grateful for from the past year and one thing that you admire and appreciate about the person sitting next to you. Next, write down one thing you would like to let go of for this coming year and burn it in the fire, releasing the hold that it has on you. Then finish it off by singing Destiny’s Child – Survivor or Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire or The Roots – Now or Never.”

Registering Gratitude Every Single Day

Several years ago, I myself, made a decision to start every day by registering gratitude – thankfulness to be alive, thankfulness to having the opportunity to make better choices in satisfying my needs and wants and being happy, and thankfulness to be able to support my loved ones to do the same.

For my gratitude practice, I clear my mind every single morning, make a list of the important areas of my life like health, family, work etc, reflect on what is working and what can be improved in each area without any kind of judgement. I make a list of what I want to keep doing and how I might do it better. I make a list of what I want to stop doing and how I can get out of that habit or obligation.

I think about what I have learned from things that were not positive and remind myself that they happened for a reason, which often is beyond our understanding.

Charles Vivier

This New Year, why don’t you take a little time to celebrate yourself and all the people in your life, the everyday blessings that give us hope and strength to live, love and share peace and light in the New Year!

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