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Living On Purpose

Archive for August, 2009

Finding Fun — The Plan Vs The Reality

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

relationship-conflict silouetteThis is Part 2 of the post called Re-Introducing Fun.

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Mitch returned for our next appointment to let me know how things went with Meg. Were they able to add fun to their relationship? Did his attraction to the woman at work subside? Did Meg agree to see a marriage counselor? I asked for an update on his progress.

“I left our last coaching session with intentions to focus attention on my marriage,” he began. “Meg loved our surprise date.” Mitch hesitated.

“It sounds like something may not have gone as you had hoped,” I said.

“A couple days later, I talked to Meg about how I was feeling. I told her about my conversation with you and how the woman at work at piqued my interest,” he said. “She immediately got defensive. I thought she would be happy that I was considering going to a marriage counselor, but that made her even madder.”

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“You must have been anticipating a different reaction,” I offered. “What happened?”

“Meg’s convinced that I cheated on her and when I try to explain, I dig a deeper hole. We try to talk, but both end up defensive and mad.”

Mitch was upset and I empathized with his current predicament. In an effort to strengthen their relationship, his intentions may have backfired…at least temporarily. голова болит секс

“I don’t know what to do. It’s like ice between us. We barely talk. I’m sure the kids know something is going on. I should have kept my mouth shut. It would have been better had I not said anything.”  I paused for a moment as we both reflected on his last statement.

“That’s not true,” he added. “Whether I said something or not, the problem was there. We were just pretending that it wasn’t.”

“It sounds like pretending won’t work anymore,” I said. “How can you consciously NOT pretend?”

“I told her I would go to counseling. Maybe I should move out for a while,” he hesitated. “I don’t know how to fix this.”

“Knowing Meg, and seeing her reaction, do you think ‘fixing it’ is most important to her?”

He looked confused so I added, “When you have seen Meg upset by something outside of your relationship, how does she handle it?” голова болит секс

“She talks about it…a lot. She and her sister can be on the phone for hours talking about what happened and how she feels.”

A light suddenly went on above his head. “I get it. She doesn’t want me to solve the problem. She wants to talk about it and to be understood.”

“How could you help Meg to feel understood?”

“If I were to approach her like her sister does, she might talk to me. I could ask questions, talk about her feelings and empathize with her. I’m much more comfortable just solving the problem, but I guess I could try listening.”

“How will you start the conversation?” I asked.

“I will say, ‘I am sorry you are upset. Tell me how you have been feeling.’” He described other questions he would ask to understand Meg and not try to fix anything.

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He continued, “It’s awkward, but I’ll try,” he said. “I don’t want to lose Meg.” Mitch committed to have the conversation that evening and would email to let me know that it had occurred.

Although Mitch’s initial attempt to strengthen the marriage had not been met with complete success, I knew that if he kept moving forward, he and Meg could stay REAL and move through this situation. There is benefit to forward, focused movement, even when it takes us into temporarily uncomfortable territory.

Coaching Challenge: Each time you take a step forward in any area of your life, you have the opportunity to re-evaluate where you are, what’s important and how to move forward. It can be easy to settle with the way things are and stay stuck. Write in your journal about an area in your life where you feel stuck. Make a plan to take at least one small step forward. Each time you take a step, re-evaluate and take another step. Thoughtful, courageous baby steps are the best way to keep moving forward.

Reintroducing Fun

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

couple_silouette_editedMitch seemed agitated from the minute he had walked in. Something was on his mind. After the small talk, he paused and looked down at his hands.

“You know how much I love Meg,” he began. “She is the light of my life, the mother of our children and a great woman.” His pace slowed. “There is no question about my love for her or wanting to stay married. But there is a woman at work who is getting pretty friendly. To tell you the truth, I am enjoying the attention and the light-heartedness of our relationship. Nothing has happened that is out of line; I just enjoy having fun.”

“I’m curious if Meg knows about this new relationship, and how she feels about it,” I said.

“I haven’t told her anything because nothing has happened.” He paused and added, “I guess something is happening for me since I want to coach around this today.”

“How are you feeling?” I said.

“I feel torn. I love Meg and want to stay married.  But there is a part of me that is opening up with this other woman. It’s my fun, playful side. So much of my time with Meg focuses around duties and responsibilities. We don’t have the time to just hang out.”

“What did you used to do on your dates?”

“Before the kids were born, we were care-free, Mitch said. “We enjoyed going to our favorite Mexican restaurant. They have the best margaritas.”

“How often do you make time like this now?” I asked.

He couldn’t recall the last time. A look of guilt crossed his faced. “I guess it’s been a while,” he confessed. “When we get time together, we slip into ‘meeting’ mode. It’s as though we are working through an invisible agenda. I want to have fun, not feel like we are having a meeting.”

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“Tell me about the FUN agenda.” I said.

“The FUN agenda would begin with dinner at our favorite restaurant. Her parents would keep the kids overnight so we could stay out late and have time alone,” he said. “We could set up ground rules to keep us from slipping into our ‘business meeting’ mode. On our FUN dates, the point is to laugh, joke, relax and share time together. I don’t want to trouble-shoot problems. I want it to be fun.”

“You are creative and romantic,” I said. “When could you two talk about the serious subjects?”

“We have a difficult time talking about tough subjects. Meg easily talks about feelings and I don’t. She has suggested counseling, but I haven’t been open to it.”

“What are your goals for the relationship and how will you make that happen?”

“I want to focus on my relationship with Meg. It’s not the woman at work that interests me; I just want to have fun,” Mitch said.  “Meg and I need to be able to talk openly about anything, so maybe counseling would be a good idea. I could talk to her about it.”

“When will you have this conversation with Meg and how will I know that it has happened?” I pushed for accountability.

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“I will set up the FUN date and surprise her with it on Friday. I’ll talk to her about the possibility of counseling over the weekend,” he said. “I’ll email you on Sunday to let you know that the date and the conversation happened.” He added, “I’m a bit nervous, but I don’t want to lose Meg or ruin my family.”

Mitch had taken significant steps to shift his energy back into his marriage, including adding more fun (since that has been lacking for him) and by being open to professional counseling.  Taking a step back from the situation helped him to gain perspective and make a clear decision on how to move forward.

Coaching Challenge: Identify one relationship (significant other, friend, co-worker, etc.) where you’d like to introduce more fun.  Brainstorm three fun activities that you can do together. Talk to him or her and plan to do at least one event in the next two weeks. It can be as simple as taking a walk over lunch to enjoying a weekend trip. The point is to have fun with someone you care about.

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Finding Purpose in Everyday Chaos

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Deb is on a journey to discover her life purpose. She originally came to coaching because she longed for “more.”

From the outside, Deb’s life seems to be in order. She is married to a supportive, loving man; her kids are doing well in school; she enjoys her career as a school teacher; and yet there is an ever-elusive longing in her soul, a sense that she is meant to do and be something more.

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In one of our early sessions, we explored what “more” looked like. It was difficult for Deb to describe. It’s hard to put into words a concept that hasn’t fully formed in your mind. I tried a different approach.

“If you could describe ‘more’ as a feeling, what would it be?”

“Exhilarating, but peaceful,” she answered.

“When have you experienced this feeling before?”

“The first time I looked at my son, it was a miracle. I felt larger than myself,” she paused. “It felt like ‘more.'” We sat with that a moment and let the feeling fill the room.

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She broke the silence by saying, “I don’t feel that way very often. I feel like my life has been reduced to the tasks of everyday life. I cook, shop, do laundry, help with homework, and try to find moments of peace. The last thing I want at the end of the day is “more.” I’m overloaded with my day-to-day responsibilities …but they don’t feel like part of my larger purpose.”

“If you were working on your larger purpose, how would you be spending your time?” I asked.

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“I would enjoy quiet time, write in my journal, do yoga and read books,” she replied. “But in my world, those times are rare. With the demands of my job, my family, and my volunteer responsibilities, I don’t have the time or the energy. I’m frustrated with the mundane and it’s all around me.”

“How do you feel when you are doing things that are in line with your larger purpose?”

“I feel like I’m making a contribution, like I am in service to something larger than myself.” She continued, “I have something to share and am willing to do what it takes – even if it means having to sacrifice– to walk this path.”

“Give me two routine tasks and let’s describe them from the perspective of ‘mundane,’ and then from the perspective of ‘purpose.'” I suggested.

“Our laundry is a never-ending cycle of gathering, sorting, washing, drying, ironing, putting away, wearing, gathering, etc.” she said and then struggled to find the purpose behind the task. “When I do the laundry, I am in service to my family and sacrificing my needs because it’s important for them to have clean clothes. Looking at it this way, doing laundry might be more purposeful than I realized. “

Deb continued by describing the routine aspects of teaching. “Mundane tasks include creating lesson plans, grading papers, and classroom management.” She paused in thought; a reflective smile appeared on her face. “Teaching can also be quite purposeful. For example, when I have witnessed someone learning to read…it’s phenomenal. That is when mundane turns into purposeful.”

“I’ve never really thought of laundry or grading papers as being purposeful. I guess it’s how you look at it,” she shared.

“It reminds me of the story of a man who came across three bricklayers,” I said. “When asking the first one what he was doing, he said, ‘laying bricks.’ The second one replied, ‘Making a brick wall,’ and the third one said, ‘Building a cathedral.”‘ (www.jpb.com) All three were performing the same task, but had completely different perspectives.”

Deb’s homework was to write down five routine tasks and describe the mundane and the purpose in each. I wonder if she will look at this assignment as mundane or purposeful.

Coaching Challenge: List five routine tasks. Describe how each task feels mundane and how it feels purposeful. How can you continue to see and feel the purpose of each of your daily tasks, even if they feel mundane? Find one word to remind you to view each task from a purposeful perspective. Post it in the place where you perform the task. For example, write the word “PURPOSE” on a piece of paper and hang it in your laundry room.

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