Today marks the 30th anniversary of my sister’s death. You would think that after 30 years, I’d be “over it”. Nope. I still miss her and even more now, miss what our relationship might have become.
This week I participated in our Blue Christmas service at our Church. As I read the 40+ names of the “Angel’s” that our community has lost, my voice was strong and clear, until I hit the name “Glenda Fleming” my sister. I broke down. Not just tears as “most” people do, but sobs. I was grateful for the compassion of my friend Darlene who came to my side and helped me continue to read the remainder of the names.
I would be lying to you if I told you I love the Christmas season.
I work to make Christmas as joyous as I can,
To be honest, I’d much rather it be summer and I would prefer to be fishing at the lake. Oh don't get me wrong. I love some things about Christmas. I am one of the first to start listening to Christmas carols and they play continuously in my home. I love the lights. I love getting special gifts for special people. I especially love that our family all is together during this time.
For me, I look back over many Christmas’s and see events that dimmed the joy. I remember 3 years after my sister passed away, still fresh with the grief, I felt, very lonely. My husband and I had travelled to his sisters to celebrate the holidays. There was a houseful of people, yet, despite that, it felt like no one to experience my grief with me.
Another year, I had gone through some really challenging times a work and only 3 people showed up to the staff Christmas party I planned. Depressed and not sure I ever wanted to go back to work, I took two weeks off and tried, albeit not very successfully to “enjoy the holiday”.
The season is dimmed by many experiences
I know many of you have similar memories. Job loss. Relationships falling apart. Addictions. Always having to work. No one to spend it with. The list goes on.
The truth is, we all have a multitude of things that happen to us during the holiday season. We also have numerous things happen to us at other times, but there is something about the holiday season that makes it much harder to take. The songs and social media tell us “It’s the happiest time of the year”. Um…sorry to burst that bubble, but for some of us, it is not the happiest time of the year. In fact, it is a very difficult time of year.
Yet the show must go on
There are gifts to be bought. Parties to attend and food to cook. And honestly, it's no fun being a scrooge. So how do you do it?
Here is what I have learned about getting through the holiday season.
We create our experiences
This year, allow yourself to be human. Acknowledge your pain. Feel your hurt. It is real. What is also real is the fun, the joy and the good times going on around you.
If you allow yourself to enjoy, you will enjoy. But it is you who must decide, what kind of Christmas, it's going to be.
I plan to make it a memorable one. I will tuck lots of little moments of joy away in my heart adding to all the other beautiful Christmas memories I have.
Giving ourselves time to think is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Most of us rarely spend much time in self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. In fact, what we tend to do is we often blame others for not giving us time to think.
Playing victim does not win you time to self-reflect. It just makes you crazy.
Do Self-reflection intentionally
The random reflection is important. To take reflection to the next notch though, you may want to intentionally set aside time for focused self-reflection. This might be time to think about a specific event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out.
How to do Self-reflection
Here’s an example of how I used self-reflection to sort out my dilemma
I was at a meeting the other day and someone said something offensive to another member of the team. The comment was meant as a joke, however, it was grossly inappropriate. As one of the leaders in this group, I felt it was my responsibility to address it.
I want to have something to say that will not only stop the negative behavior but also inspire the individual making the inappropriate comment to consider their impact and become more conscious in how they say things. It is through my self-reflection that I can get my desired outcome.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be aligned with our purpose and values. It can have us become more intentional in getting the impact we desire and going in the direction we want to go. We have to, however, make the time to do it. Add self-reflection to the top of your To Do list today!
Let me help you out with some regular reminders about slowing down.
Join me for Coffee Break with Kathy
Don’t you just hate getting stuck? Can’t go forward. Can’t go back. Can’t see any way out! Doesn’t it even drive you nuts more, when someone else comes along and sees an easy way out?
I remember being stuck with my vehicle many years ago before I learned that a 4x4 is the best way to go. Four kids were packed in the back of the mini-van ready to go to the babysitters, while I fumed, trying to get unstuck. The more jammed I got, the more stressed I became, knowing I was going to be late for work.
I saw a way out
A phone call to my loving husband and he came home to get my freed from the mounds of snow in the driveway. I’d been going back and forth, back and forth, only digging myself deeper. Ernie comes home, hopes in the van and had it out in no time. He knew what to do. He knew how much gas to give it at just the right time to turning the wheel. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t get out.
Get out of your rut
It’s that way with life often. We can’t see a way out. We go back and forth in our little rut, getting nowhere. What if it could be different?
Here is the trick
One of the biggest gifts that I received from being trained as a coach was the addition of the word “perspectives” to my every day vocabulary. Sure, I knew the word before. I even used it occasionally. Now however there is rarely a day goes by that I don’t use it to look at my own view of the world, to describe someone else’s or to help someone get out of his or her rut. I ask:
"What is your perspective and how can you shift it slight?"
Your perspective is the way you see things
A perspective is simply the way we see things. It is our view of the world, the person or the challenge in from of us. At the time, I had seen my situation in the mini-van as hopeless. Ernie had seen it as a challenge easily overcome. I now see the world as inherently good. Others see the world as full of people out to get them. I choose to see the changing seasons as opportunities to enjoy different things like puzzles and crisp starry nights. Others dread the coming winter.
Your perspective is based on your experience of life up until this point. It comes from where you grew up and the way you were raised. Your perspective is formed from your culture, the jobs you have had, the people you hang out with, the movies you watch and the book you’ve read. All of these things layer one over the other to create your view.
Some other words to describe perspective might be viewpoint, opinion, lens, belief or story. If you’ve read books like “The Four Agreements”, you may call it your agreement or your story.
You (not the world) choose your perspective
But here is the thing about perspectives. You choose them. It is like a pair of glasses you put on … or take off. It is up to you how you see the world. So if you are stuck, you might want to reach up and see if the glasses you are wearing are the ones that will help you get unstuck.
Here is how my perspective shifted
How will you shift your perspective today?
See what you can shift today. Choose to look at things slightly differently and feel the difference.
“We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth:
As I read "Thrive" from Airranna Huffington, I am reminded I need to encourage leaders to get enough sleep!
So here is your encouragement - Start by going to bed 15 mins earlier!
Huffington joins countless others on the mission to get leaders to balance their lives and sleep more. Tony Schwartz from The Energy Project is another advocate. His blog here states sleep is more important than food.
The Center for Creative Leadership also promotes adequate sleep with their manual which reminds us lack of sleep is a liability.
Don't push yourself to the edge any more please! It is not good for your health, your family or your company!
A few years ago I attended one of Robert's sessions. I love his energy and the fun he created in the room.
I don't think we have enough fun at work. We get bogged down in the "stuff" that shows up every day. The clients I work with want to enjoy life more. That can happen at work too!
Robert presents a powerful message about the value of adding fun into your day.
FUN AT WORK achieves the goal of simply bringing people together in a most unique experience. Through the sheer magic of playing together, we create a feeling of community in which team members at work are truly connected, operating more effectively with each other and generating more excitement and energy at the workplace.
A lighthearted introduction to a serious topic that prompts the obvious first question:
Does your Employee Health & Wellness Policy include FUN AT WORK? And more importantly, in your capacity of leadership and influence, are you spearheading a healthy Work-Fun Balance at your workplace? And if not, what's stopping you?
It's really all about big picture thinking and a big picture approach to creating a healthy workplace culture and a healthy workplace environment. In fact, take a look around and check out the number of companies and organizations committed to this whole new attitude towards FUN AT WORK as part of their refreshing approach to Employee/Team Health & Wellness.
Raising Fun Levels
What if your team members had permission for FUN AT WORK, permission to play at work, to interact, to laugh, and to engage in play experiences that totally generates a buzz of excitement in the workplace? Isn't it really all about happy staff? 100% of people surveyed agree that they all can use more FUN AT WORK, generate more excitement and energy, and create a dynamic team of individuals working together as partners in their department's success. That's a pretty bold statement. Agreed? But if asked, wouldn't your employees also clearly state that they too could use more FUN AT WORK? After all, the atmosphere at work is much more appealing and people even report an increased feeling of “community and connectedness” in the workplace.
Including FUN AT WORK in your Employee Health & Wellness Policy. “What Do I Do?”
Many companies have recognized a power in this new attitude towards FUN AT WORK and have totally integrated this attitude into their best practices model. This strategy is actually quite significant and paying huge dividends, whether you're responsible for training and development, staff retreats, conferences, team building sessions, or any other organizational effectiveness and employee wellness programs.
- Create a Healthy Workplace Environment
- Keep Valued Employees
- Opportunities for Staff Training & Development
- Employee Communication & Participation
- Meaningful Staff Recognition & Rewards
3. Ultimately it does starts with you when including FUN AT WORK in your Employee Health & Wellness Policy. Because FUN AT WORK is a whole new attitude and a vehicle for positive change, you need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards FUN AT WORK and play.
Now, go ahead. Make it happen!
Robert Manolson is the Creator & Facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences and is in the business of FUN AT WORK. He leads organizations in Workplace Fun & Wellness Workshops and believes that each day and every day we must re-energize and ignite our spirit within through the power of play and the value of FUN AT WORK. Contact Robert at www.powerfulplayexperiences.ca
If you have ever experienced fear; the drop in your gut, sweaty palms, shortness of breath or inability to speak, you probably pulled back. “Yikes” you said! “This is not a safe place for me.” You then probably retreated to your safety zone.
We've all experienced fear
Think of a time when you were put on the spot. A time when you had to speak in a new situation and maybe noticed your voice quaver a bit? Perhaps you were asked to address an issue with someone and you were scared of how they would respond. Maybe you were asked to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
Fear is a reaction to a thought
All of these things have a tendency to make your insides do the flip-flop. That is fear. Fear is a reaction to a thought. Fear is an emotion. The feeling, sweaty palms, shortness of breath or your stomach churning are body sensations that send messages to you.
What this video for more about moving through your fear, then keep reading.
When you get that physical sensation, red cheeks for example, you make up a story about what that physical sensation means. “My stomach is tight, that means something is wrong. I'm in a bad situation.” And so you run away. If your face burns red, you tell yourself what you just said was “silly” and so “I am embarrassed.”
You tell yourself you are afraid
Your face turning red is a physical experience. You then have a thought about your face turning red. You might think that what you just said was foolish. You might tell yourself that it was an inappropriate comment for the situation. You might tell yourself you shared too much information! It is then, only after you make up a story, after you think something about the event that you experience the feeling of being embarrassed.
Not everyone is afraid of heights, not everyone is scared of mice and not everyone fears public speaking. Those that do tell themselves it is a scary experience. Then they feel the fear.
Fear is an emotion, after a thought, that you had about something that happened.
Question your thoughts
If you want to really develop yourself and your skills and you want to grow, you will need to question the truth behind your thoughts.
Widen the gap between what happens and what you do
First you need to slow down enough and realize there was a thought that created the fear in the first place! You need to practice mindfulness. You will then widen the gap between what happens and your response to it!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
And if you want to know more about me check out my personal blog at www.kathyarchersblog.com
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