I’ll post new bits of inspiration here a couple times each month. Expect quotes, links to videos, musings, recipes, and who knows what!

Grateful for the little things

The Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful reminder to be grateful for our many blessings. Remembering the big stuff – family, friends, love and laughter – is often easy. But what about all of the small beauty we may overlook on a daily basis? Below is an Anne Sexton poem to help keep your attention on feeling gratitude for the little things.

If you need even more thoughts to ground you in gratitude (or just don’t like poetry!), here are my blogs from the last few years:
http://jenfrankcoaching.com/2016/11/what-are-you-grateful-for-today/
http://jenfrankcoaching.com/2015/11/grateful/
http://jenfrankcoaching.com/2014/11/gratitude/

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

Welcome Morning
by Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Is being overly busy a form of laziness?

A friend recently dropped this nugget of wisdom on me: “busyness is a form of laziness.”

Hmpf.

If you read this blog regularly, you may have picked up on the themes of overwhelm, stress, and general busyness. I’ve looked at the topic from a number of angles, most recently discussing acting like a human doing instead of a human being.

Busyness is something I continually struggle with. I like to see open space in my calendar or else I feel stressed. I once took a vacation where my entire goal was to see if I could be bored! And so to label me “lazy,” makes me aggravated. A-ha! That means we are onto some new insight…

First I needed to take a look at the judgments I have about laziness. Yes, my default thinking is that lazy = bad. But there is a good side to lazy; for me, it’s called ease. [sigh of contentment] I know this part of me, and it trusts that it is appropriate to be lazy sometimes: to recharge and just enjoy the simple pleasures of doing nothing in particular – or productive!

Now that my judgments are calm and I can be rational, how can being constantly busy equal being lazy? I love paradoxes, and this is a great one with something to teach me. If I stay busy with work or other obligations, I get to avoid something else. Maybe it’s tackling all the fundamental stuff in my business (like an out-of-date website); or perhaps taking on new challenges that are more personal to me (more yoga and meditation); or maybe I’m worried about being lonely?! Am I busy about the right stuff and in the right amount? Sounds like my priorities need some attention!

How do you feel about the word lazy? Is your busyness a cover for something you don’t want to address? What might you be avoiding? And the next time you scoff at a little nugget of wisdom, pause and see if there is something there for you to explore!

Get busy!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

p.p.s. Happy Halloween!! 

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Permission Granted

This week in yoga as we moved into final relaxation, my teacher said, “I give you permission to let go.” Hmm, permission…

I don’t consider myself a big risk taker, but the major changes I’ve made and chances I’ve taken in the last decade were because I gave myself permission to choose again if it turned out I was heading in the wrong direction.

Becoming a coach? I told myself I would commit to the training, learn a lot about myself, and gain new skills. If I decided to not become a coach, that was an ok outcome. It was only then, when I gave myself permission and space, that I was able to sign up for the year-long training – and found a profession that’s a terrific fit for my skills and gifts.

Move to Memphis? I liked Memphis a lot, but another big move felt risky. When I told myself if it turned out to be the wrong decision I would move again, I was able to go forward. It’s been an incredible four and a half years in a city that has so much heart. I have been embraced here by wonderful people who have helped me build a successful business and a full life.

This works on a small scale, too. Recently there was an event I wasn’t too sure I wanted to attend. I told myself to show up and gave myself permission to leave after an hour if I wasn’t enjoying myself. I ended up staying for two and a half hours and had a good time meeting some really nice people.

These things were only possible for me because I gave myself permission – in advance – to be wrong and make a new choice. (Bonus points for the times when we do this with grace and mercy and without judgment!) If you have to get every decision right, it’s going to keep you stuck. If you force yourself to live with every choice, good or bad, you’re going to become reluctant to make decisions and you’re going to stay stuck. If you’re cruel to yourself when you get something wrong, you’re going to stop trying and then, you guessed it, you’re going to be stuck.

Where do you need to give yourself permission? Whether it’s to be wrong or change your mind or make a new choice, where can you lighten up a bit and show yourself some grace and mercy?

You have my permission to let go.

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Human Being vs Human Doing

Since I launched my business in 2013, I’ve often written about working too much, stress, time management and being overly busy. Recently I realized that I believe “it is more important that I am productive than joyful.” Ouch.

This is a generational belief for me and one that is hard to break. Clients have been coming to me with similar versions of this belief, including “my value as a human is proportional to my production.” Ouch again.
human doing
It is a great thing for all of us to want to serve our loved ones, our communities and our world. However, we do not have to earn our self-care, our down time, or our joy. We are allowed to just be; after all, we are human beings – and not human doings. As Brene Brown says, “Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”

Remember, a belief is a choice, and we can always choose again. I’m currently experimenting with “I am worthy of joy” and my client is trying “I can waste a little time.” The trick is to show these new, aspirational beliefs that we think they might be true.

So last week on a perfect 85 degree day with low humidity, I played hooky for a couple hours and read by the pool and went swimming. And I saw a Facebook picture of my client on a beach, smiling and looking relaxed. Progress!

What do you believe about your productivity and your worth? What new belief could you experiment with to show yourself your care, relaxation, and joy are just as important as everything else you do?

Wishing you time to just be!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Things always get different

In the past month, two of my closest Memphis buddies have moved away. These are folks in my ‘hood who I saw often – my comfortable, familiar friends who always recharged my spirit. The first left a month ago, and the second left last week.

I have been surprised over the last couple months that I have not been more worried about these changes. I would normally pre-worry about the situation to prepare for the inevitable feelings of loss!

While I feel a bit sad, I find myself in a more trusting place – due to age, experience or grace, I cannot say. (Probably a bit of all three.) What I do know is that I will remain close to these friends despite the geographical distance. And I know that if there is new space in my life, something will come to fill it.

While my friends’ adventures are taking them 1,000+ miles away to different coasts, my current adventure is more quiet and internal. Will I be lonely? Will I fill my time by working too much? Or will I make choices that take care of me? (Probably a bit of all three!)

temporaryA wise friend once told me that “things always get different.” I was blessed to have such good friends close by that I shared great times with. And I am blessed to have many other friends locally and around the country. And I know that something new is on its way in its own time. So instead of worrying, I’m going to anticipate goodness and take special care of myself.

What’s the thing in your life that’s likely to “get different?” How can you take care of yourself during the process?

Be well!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

p.p.s. Quick note for young professionals in Memphis… There is one slot left in the career coaching group starting in August. Details are here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-aug-2017/

 

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How ARE you, really?

how_are_you_feeling_today__by_avatarjessRecently I was walking into the library while an older gentleman was walking out. I smiled and said, “How are you today?” He replied, “I’m blessed. How are you?” As we passed each other, I responded without looking back, “I am, too, thanks.”

While the exchange was pleasant and reminded me to be grateful, there was no pausing to be really present. It was friendly, but absent-minded. I’m sorry to say, I do this a lot. Even with people that I am close to and care about deeply.

I read an article by columnist Omid Safi not long ago, and he wrote:

“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.”

What a gift to pause, look someone in the eye, and ask them, “How are you? How is your heart?” And then listen to the answer and accept it, without attempting to change a thing. (This is for you folks like me, who want to cheer people up if they are feeling bad!) What a gift to share an intentional, heartfelt moment with a loved one – or maybe even a colleague or stranger.

Also notice how you answer the question, “How are you?” How many of us answer, “Good” or “Fine” without even thinking about it? I’m afraid I’m guilty of that, too, although I’m trying to do better!

Where are opportunities for you to break your stride, slow down and ask, “How is your heart today?” Or maybe give a thoughtful answer when someone asks, “How are you?”

p.s. I’d love to hear how you are! Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

p.p.s. Quick note for young professionals in Memphis… There is one slot left in the career coaching group starting in July/August. Details are here: http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-aug-2017/

 

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Send a Card (part 2 – the power of a thank you)

One of the things I discuss at my Authentic Networking workshops is the power of a thank you – especially a hand written thank you after an information interview.

When someone takes their valuable time to sit down with you so you can learn from them, a timely thank you is a must; an email that day or the next is great. If you want to take your gratitude to the next level, send a written thank you. Here’s why…

rsz_thank_you_cardsThe person you met with will appreciate your email thank you, but it will be quickly forgotten. However, they will think of you again – warmly – when they receive your written thank you card. They may set that card on their desk where a colleague might inquire about it; then they get to tell their colleague that they helped you and feel good all over again. Maybe they will even tack your card on a bulletin board. The warm feelings and received gratitude will linger on, and they will be more likely to remember you and want to assist you in the future.

Here are two tips for your thank you card. The first is about the content. Be specific in your thank you. What did they say that really stuck with you or helped you? The second tip is about packaging. Consider getting some interesting thank you cards, perhaps ones designed by a local artist. Cool looking cards tend to hang around longer. (One thank you I received last year – pictured in the top left of the photo – was hand-colored; it’s still on my refrigerator.)

A hand written thank you takes a little extra effort, but the good feelings it creates for the giver and receiver are worth it! Who deserves a hand written thank you today?

Send a card! Thanks!

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Send a Card

I attended an event at the Memphis Botanic Gardens on Sunday, a beautiful spring day with the tulips and cherry trees in full bloom. Fitting, as the event was a discussion for a book called “A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be.” Twenty women contributed essays to the book, and the four Memphis writers and editor were at the event to speak. All were inspiring and talked about tough transitions they’d made, but one had a reminder that I wanted to pass along.

Suzanne Henley spoke of times in her life when she struggled mentally and emotionally, which in our society isn’t accepted the same as a physical ailment and may even be seen as something shameful. During one of these periods, Suzanne said a friend sent her flowers. This simple act validated Suzanne and the difficult time she was having while adding a bright spot to her dark day. Her parting advice to the audience on Suneeyoreday was brief: “send a card.”

I have sent those cards. It takes a little effort (but not much!), and means the world to the receiver. I know, because I have been the recipient as well. Receiving a card from a friend during a difficult time is like getting a hug. It says, “I know this is tough, but you are not alone. I’m thinking of you, and I love you.” It is a simple act, but its kindness is magically magnified as that card sits on the side table or is stuck on the refrigerator door – a constant reminder of a friend’s encouragement and love.

Is someone you know struggling or in need of hearing that you care about them? Whose day could you be a bright spot in?

Please, send a card.

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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The Light (part 2)

There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
– Ernest Hemingway

We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.  
– misattributed to Ernest Hemingway

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
– Rumi

These quotes are among my favorites (even the one that Hemingway never wrote). I’m a big believer that where our cracks, or wounds, are is where the light gets in. When you are wounded, you learn things. You grow as you gain new insights and awareness about yourself: what you want more of in your life, what you don’t want in your life at all, how you contribute to situations, how you can do better next time, and just how strong you are. You also see how the people around you support you, and you are reminded of their love.

cracked bowlThese cracks and wounds are also where your light comes out. I believe that where your wound is, is where your gift is. That thing you came to give to others is something you are experiencing yourself. What’s most profound to you will be important to others – not to everybody, but essential to the right people.

Belonging is my top core value, the thing that is most important to me. I didn’t always feel like I belonged as a kid – or as an adult; I struggled with self-acceptance and not feeling accepted by others. Over time, that wound has also been a great source of joy for me. It has driven me to invest in my relationships with others; today I have deep friendships with wonderful people and more loving relationships with family. That wound has also led me to my work; as I help my clients to learn about themselves, accept themselves, and create more belonging in their own lives, my sense of belonging also increases.

Where are the cracks that allow the light to shine in for you? And how do you use that light as a gift in your life and others’?

Keep shining!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

 

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Be a Light

There seems to be general agreement that 2016 was a rough year. Yes, there were blessings and accomplishments and laughter, too. But a rough year.

What was so heartening for me was how my clients and friends seemed mobilized by the tough experiences – each ready to make a difference in their own way. What’s the difference you are uniquely designed to make? What’s the thing that lights you up and allows you to shine your light on others?

be-a-lamp-rumiThis Rumi quote is one of my favorites: “Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” What’s the thing you naturally do that is a light in other people’s lives? We often devalue our gifts and strengths, thinking that if it comes easy to us, it must be easy for everyone else. Not so! There is something that only you can contribute to the world – it may or may not be vocational, and it may or may not be what you think!

I’m privileged to work with incredible clients every day so that they can understand themselves and others better – and so they can use their gifts to be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder. Creating understanding and acceptance is, I hope, the way in which I bring my light to the world.

What’s yours? If you don’t know, that’s ok – and not unusual. But please create some space for the question in 2017, because the world needs your light!

Shine on!

p.s. If you would like to learn more about yourself and your strengths (and are in the Memphis area), I am running a small career group beginning in late January. The deadline to register is this week, so let me know today if you have any questions. More information can be found here http://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group-jan-2017/

p.p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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