We’ve all had those days.  We start out feeling motivated and excited.  And then little things start chipping away at it.  Then it turns into big things. Then you get pissed off at everything and everybody.

That was me yesterday.  Fortunately, I’ve learned how to literally put on the brakes and change the energy. Here are some tips on how to shift your mindset and re-start your week.

Break the Cycle. I know, you’re going to say you’re not causing any of the problems, and you’re right.  But your focus on problems is causing your day to spiral.  This is Law of Attraction.  It’s NOT positive thinking.  It’s simply where you’re focusing your attention.  By focusing on the thought “I don’t want any more problems”, the universe simply hears more problems and gives them to you.  Literally you need to shift your perspective and focus on whatever, even if it’s the tiniest thing, that’s going right.

Give yourself a time out. Literally – like just say no to whatever you were planning. Yesterday I got stuck in traffic and the minute I got home I needed to start thinking about dinner because I needed to pick my daughter up from her cheer practice.  I love cooking and I was planning on making empanadas, but I found myself annoyed and resentful as I was looking at the clock.  I finally said, “screw it”, threw some burgers on the grill and put a bagged salad on the plates and voila – dinner was served which allowed me some time to go out for a walk and relax. Way more important than cooking a meal that would have taken up that time.

Breathe. Seriously. When we’re stressed we tend to hold our breath.  If you’re sitting at a traffic light, if you’re at your desk or even if you’re in the bathroom practice relaxing breathing.  Breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4 and breathe out for a count of 4.  Do this 5 times and you’ll feel your body relaxing.

Write it down. While all the little annoyances built up over the day, chances are that they’ve become way bigger in your head (which is probably ready to explode.) Write down a list of all the things that happened.  This will do two things –

  1. It will get everything out of your head which will immediately relax you
  2. You can look at the list and probably realize there wasn’t as much as you thought but you can also figure out practical steps for dealing with it all.

Do some aromatherapy. I have several essential oils – lavender, eucalyptus, orange and peppermint and use them to help my mood and my overall health.  Certain scents can invigorate you or calm you down.  I put them in a diffuser, dab on my temples, put a few drops into a hot shower with me, even just sniff them.  They help tremendously.

Get your heart pumping. There’s nothing like getting your endorphins to kick in for clearing your mind. If it’s too late to go for a walk outside put on some music and dance. Even do jumping jacks. Whatever you want to do to get your energy up. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there!

Tune out. The last thing you need to do is go on social media and get annoyed by posts or watch the news.  Stay away from toxic energy.  Instead read a book or turn on a comedy. If you have a friend who you know will make you laugh or put everything in perspective reach out but if it’s someone who’s going to try and top your complaints stay away.

We all have crappy days and that will always be the case. But by creating perspective and practicing self-care they don’t have to cause us to spiral down.

Are you committed to achieving your personal and professional goals in midlife? Join my group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!

I had a friend say to me this morning “I’m finding myself fearful of things that haven’t even happened yet.”

Yes, for even the most optimistic people, 2020 is doing a number on us. It seems as if every day something else is happening in our world – wildfires, protests, racial tension and deaths from COVID.

Our emotional and mental health is more fragile than ever. There’s so much uncertainty that we just can’t get our footing. And it just keeps piling up. Families are dealing with the heartache of not being with their loved ones during their final moments and isolation in the grief that follows.  Some are coping with the stress of losing a job or while others are exhausted and stressed essential workers who are working under difficult circumstances. And of course, there’s the Presidential election causing anger and fear regardless of what side you’re on.

Yesterday my community experienced the loss of a high school student suddenly and unexpectedly which has profoundly affected many of us.

We are all struggling mightily to try and find a reason for everything happening in our world right now but there are more questions than answers.

It’s as if the earth continues to shake under our feet and we don’t know how to find stable ground.  We’re literally hanging on by a thread until it stops cracking open.

At the beginning of the pandemic I did a video series with my friend who also is a member of the clergy talking about how to cope with everything happening.  Even if we’re spiritual it’s hard to find answers as we wonder what all of this really means.

There were a few times in my life when I’ve experience debilitating anxiety and fear of the future:

  • In 1997 my first-born son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He was 3 months and 24 days’ old.
  • I lived in Los Angeles during the riots and the Northridge earthquake.
  • I was working in New York City during 9/11.
  • I live near Sandy Hook elementary school and my childrens’ teachers had their own children attending that school.

I’m sure many of you have had times in your life like this as well.

But 2020 is different.  We’re like a boxer in a ring where the blows keep coming and we’re up against the ropes. 2020 is a relentless fighter that doesn’t seem to be content until we’re down on the mat knocked out.  It’s playing with our psyche and wearing us down.

I’m going to keep going with the boxing metaphor for a moment here and remind you of the movie Rocky.  If you’re too young to have seen the original watch it. In the final scenes Rocky is getting destroyed in the ring. He’s a bloody mess. To this day I’d still close my eyes at the scene where their cutting his eyelid so he can still see as he’s fighting.  His opponent, Apollo Creed, is beating the crap out of him and you almost wish Rocky would stay down as it’s so painful to watch him being beaten so badly.  The film ends with Rocky losing, by judges’ decision, but winning a more personal victory by “going the distance,” making it through an entire fifteen rounds in the ring as no previous challenger had.

That’s us right now – we’re going the distance.  We feel beaten up and exhausted, but we keep getting up to fight this SOB 2020.

Part of fighting though is self-care.  Here are some tips on staying mentally and emotionally strong.

Don’t engage on social media. Fights over social media about masks, vaccines and politicians drain us of energy and amplify our bad feelings. Be confident in your beliefs and stay strong but don’t engage in nasty discourse. Also take a digital break and step away from social media and the endless stream of news.

Breathe. I know that sounds strange but think about when you’re scared.  You end up holding your breath and then letting out a sigh of relief. When you find yourself tensing up, practice breathing in for a count of 4, holding it for a count of 4 and breathing out for a count of 4.  Do this several times and you’ll find yourself relaxing.

Share your feelings.  This is when social media is good. If you’re overwhelmed and anxious about distance learning and feel as if you’re screwing it up, talk to other moms.  You’re not alone! It helps to speak with other people who are having the same anxieties and can empathize. Essential workers who are parents have it especially difficult.  Find groups where you can get support.

Talk to someone.  If you are especially depressed and anxious speak to a therapist. Your feelings are valid, and a therapist can help you manage them.  If you have serious depression issues they can also suggest medication.

Get a change of scenery. Not only does exercise release endorphins which improve your mood and reduce stress but taking a walk and stepping away from what you’re currently doing helps clear your mind.

We may be down but we’re not out! We will go the distance like Rocky. Care for yourself right now and keep your eye on the future.

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I’m an avid reader. I usually have several books I’m reading at the same time. One is always my easy night reading, some fiction that doesn’t require me to think. In the morning it’s usually a non-fiction about self-improvement, spirituality or business.

I find myself searching right now for a book that will help me understand my feelings as my friend quickly nears the end of her life due to cancer. It’s not how to deal with grief as she hasn’t passed yet. It’s almost a “how to prepare to miss someone” that I’m looking for.

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.

So often I find myself comparing the end of her life to the beginning of life. When you’re about to have a baby and you’re waiting with excitement and a little trepidation about the birthing process. You prepare the bag for the hospital, decorate the nursery and buy the clothes. But just as there’s no manual for being a parent there’s no manual for grieving. You can read or take a class, but you never know how YOU will feel. Here we are waiting for her death also with trepidation about the process. Her family has made plans and we’ve prepared but I certainly don’t know how I will feel. Each birth is as unique as each death.

I’m so grateful that my friend and I have this time together to say all we want to say and to just be together. And while I know she’s at as good a place mentally as she can be with her imminent passing, there’s definitely fear on her part and anxiousness on mine – waiting for the call or text when she tells me she’s decided the time has come to go to hospice. You see she’s made the decision that she wants to die at hospice not home. She doesn’t want her family having that memory of their home where so many happy ones were made.

I have good friends who check in on me through this process – people who know she’s a close friend and understand that I’m hurting but can’t hurt too much in front of her. It’s almost impossible to explain how I’m feeling because, to be honest, I don’t know how I’m feeling. Right now, I’m numb, waiting for the inevitable grief.

Every morning I wake up wondering if this will be the day she decides it’s time to go to hospice. When my texts go unanswered for too many hours or she tells me she has new pain I worry. It’s the next chapter and almost the final one. I realize that once she goes to hospice the only question left to consider every morning is whether this will be the day she passes. I haven’t allowed myself to think about that yet or how much I will miss her. How her passing has affected me like no other since the passing of my baby at 4 months-old to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

It’s ironic that those two deaths have been so different. Connor died with no warning and apparently completely healthy. There was no time to prepare myself emotionally for my world completely crashing around me. It took years for me to even slightly recover.

And now I have just the opposite experience. The opportunity to say goodbye and spend precious time with her. I have the benefit through the loss of my son to understand all too well the grieving process and that while her passing will leave a gaping hole in my life I will at some point smile thinking about her.

How do I prepare for her dying? I don’t. I simply enjoy every minute I have with her right now.

Women are incredible at taking care of everyone’s needs.  Sick kid, needy friend, busy spouse and aging parents – we’re there to heal, listen and support.  But in the midst of caring for everyone, our own needs go unmet.

Sometimes we’re aware of our feelings of sadness and frustration that our desires are unfulfilled but often we’re simply so busy getting everything done that we don’t even tune in to what our spirit is trying to tell us – that something is missing.  I’ve had some women tell me that they choose to stay so busy because they’re afraid to examine their lives and face the emptiness they’re feeling.

At some point we finally come up for air, look around and realize that our lives are nothing like we had imagined them to be.  It’s as if the curtain is pulled back and we think “how the hell did I get here?!”

Do you feel that something is missing but you’re afraid to even consider what it might be?

The good news is that we don’t have to forego our happiness and personal dreams for anyone – not even our kids.  I can’t think of a more important lesson to teach our kids than living life to its fullest and following their passion.

This isn’t living selfishly but living self-fulfilled

In my coaching practice I work with women to get back on track to living the life they intended – confidently, courageously and joyfully.

Here are the first steps in getting there:

Turn on your personal GPS – The Universe always provides us with answers but often we either ignore them out of fear or don’t hear them because of all of the “chatter” in our brain.  Women’s intuition is a very real and powerful force.  It’s our personal GPS and will most certainly get us to where we want to go.  In order to do this we need to tune inwards and the best way to do that is…..

Meditate (Yes, you can!) – It’s almost impossible for us to disconnect and simply sit in silence.  In fact, it probably feels uncomfortable.  We constantly have our “to-do” list running through our heads.

If you regularly practice meditation that’s great but I have many women tell me they’ve tried meditating but can’t.  I tell them it’s because they’re trying rather than simply being.  Try this exercise:

  • Find 10 minutes where you’re alone in your house or, if you can’t do that go park somewhere and sit in your car.
  • Close your eyes and breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four and breathe out for a count of four.
  • Keep repeating this breathing and as you do focus on your breath as the air enters your lungs and leaves your nose.
  • If thoughts enter your mind don’t fight them but acknowledge them and then allow them to drift away like a cloud in the sky.

Start planning – You didn’t get to this place in your life overnight and you’re certainly not going to reinvent yourself overnight either.  This is where I work with my clients on the “3 F’s” – Focus, Filter and Forget.

Focus – Create vision boards with photos and written journal entries of exactly what you want in your life – a new job, a new home, a new partner – with as many specifics as possible.  Write out your perfect day from the moment you get up in the morning.  What do you smell? Where are you – near a beach, a city, the country? What is the temperature outside?  What do you eat?  Where do you work – a large corporation, in a home office, in a small shop? How are you dressed?

Filter – Begin filtering out friends and family members who are not supportive of your dreams or just emanate negative energy.  Don’t engage in conversations about your plans with them as they will surely find ways to discourage you.  Usually these people are unhappy themselves and, as they say, misery loves company.  Instead, surround yourself with people who will encourage you on your journey.

Forget – Let go of bad habits that will keep you from reaching your goals.  This could include unhealthy eating habits, drinking too much or smoking.  It also could be the habit of volunteering for projects that you really don’t want to participate in.  If your partner enjoys going to sporting events and that’s simply not your thing politely decline.  If friends constantly go out to expensive restaurants and you really can’t afford it take a pass and suggest some free activities instead.  The goal is to start living more authentically.

Are you living the life you intended to?  What changes would you like to see for yourself? To learn more about how I can help you, visit my coaching page here.

And if you want to be part of a group of women who are ready to live life on their terms joyfully and successfully, join my Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe – Fabulous, Fierce Females!