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Do you feel somnambulant during the holidays? Sort of like a Mommy-zombie? Stumbling around with a TO DO list pinned to your shirt, a frozen smile on your lips, and a murmured refrain of “Don’t forget the baby! Don’t forget to shower! Don’t forget the list!”

All that murmuring and stumbling causes a time warp of indecision and doubt that ultimately leads to neglecting to buy the turkey or turn on the oven [insert ridiculous lapse of judgement here].

I know.
I’ve been there – done that.

After raising multiple wise-cracking, big hearted, incredibly demanding children, I have found a better way of “doing” the holidays…now I ask for help.

The most crippling part of the holiday season is the feeling that we are in this all alone. Standing at one end of a long, dark tunnel with a Norman Rockwell dining room table laden with perfectly cooked food at the other end–a shimmering mirage of everyone else’s perfect holiday meal. The only thing standing between us and them is that we are REAL HUMANS, and they are a story.

Ditch the story and have yourself a real holiday, complete with bumbling messes, real bonding, and bedhead.

Ask your loved ones to help you make a new kind of grateful, one that’s built on real stuff. How?

Here are 3 tips for a stress-less holiday season:

1. ACCEPT THE MESS: realize that Uncle Bill is a bit of a zealot who likes to mouth off at the worst times, so sit him in the corner with Aunt Sadie, who’s deaf and doesn’t care. Do a last minute picking up with a laundry basket, which then is shoved in a closet. Your guests will never know that you didn’t put everything away.

2. DELEGATE: I know, if you give the job to someone else, it won’t be done YOUR way…so what? It will be done, and you can take a moment to tame that bedhead. Giving responsibility to kids and spouses shows them that you trust them. All you need to do is delegate and resist the urge to follow behind them to re-do it, because that’s an enormous waste of time and energy. But if you just can’t help yourself, then…

3. TAKE THREE DEEP BREATHS: Every time you feel like perfecting one of your delegated tasks, STOP. Take 3 deep breaths, closing your eyes, filling your belly on the inhale and releasing the exhale through your mouth with a big WHOOSH! Notice how your shoulders come out of your ears, and your heart rate slows to something less than a panicked deer in headlights. Keep chanting in your head, “I’m creating a peaceful space.”

All of these tips are ways of creating a better NOW. Now is the only moment that matters. You can create a new Holiday tradition: real gratitude for what you HAVE right now. Look at your football watching partner, arguing children, overflowing trash can and repeat after me, “This is my uniquely flawed family, and I’m so glad they’re mine!”

xoxo
Terri Fedonczak

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“Kindness Starts With You” was the recent theme at my Girl Power Station Wellness Center. If you aren’t kind to yourself, your kindness to other people rings false. The way you treat yourself sets up the framework for how you treat others. “Love your neighbor as thyself” is a phrase we learned in childhood. But you can’t truly love anyone else until you love yourself.

Speaking of speaking kindly, I had an epiphany yesterday (yes, another one!) about treating myself with kindness around food. I have struggled with food, dieting, and my weight for most of my life. I thought that if I found the “perfect” diet or work out, that I could finally control my weight and be that perfect size 6. I kept thinking that the answer was “out there”. Yesterday, I realized that 45 years of struggle may have been a wee bit much.

I was drinking my green smoothie. It was exactly what I wanted (that’s how I choose my nourishment these days – what do I really want to put in my body?). I was almost finished with the glass, and I realized I was full. Since there was only an inch or so left, I was about to chug it. After all it was good for me, and I should finish it, right? Wrong! The thought popped in my head, “Would you force feed a baby?” Of course, I wouldn’t – that would be sick and twisted. And then I started to cry. In my kitchen, looking at my cockapoo. Because I have been force-feeding my inner child for decades, trying to fill the hole inside my heart with food. But now, I have my life’s work all around me. Every day I make a difference in someone’s life, by doling out hugs and impromptu coaching sessions at will. That empty space is filled with love.

So, I put the green smoothie back in the fridge and went to my wellness center to spread smiles. I’m not sure how this changes my life, but I do know that I recently had to buy workout clothes a size smaller. I also know that I can create a sense of wholeness by being kind to the fragile soul within me.

What do you love about yourself? Notice the way you talk to yourself, and, if it’s less than kind, STOP. Then start again. If your self-talk has been mean or critical for a long time, then that’s your habit. It’s going to take a little while to learn the language of kindness. Give yourself time and space to start a new habit. If you get impatient, take a deep breath and imagine that you’re speaking to a small child. “That’s OK, sweetie! Everything is going to be just fine. You’re doing great!” That’s a much more effective way to motivate yourself than, “You’re such an idiot! How could you have done something so stupid!” That’s how I used to talk to myself, and it made me feel like a loser. When you feel like a loser, it’s really difficult to win at anything. Self talk makes a difference.

Choose your words kindly. Treat yourself as though you’re precious, because you are.

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Each week we have a new theme in my Girl Power station, and we teach classes around that theme. One of my recent favorites was, “You are the Boss of YOU!” As school is starting around the nation, I wonder how our frightened freshmen would react to a new school experience if they took this thought to heart. What choices would they make if they thought they were their own boss? What choices would their moms make if they were secure in the knowledge that their daughters were making informed decisions from a place of strength? What thoughts do you need to be your own Boss?

1. “I respect your right to an opinion, but don’t expect me to agree with you”:
My bookends (my oldest and youngest) are both great examples of this kind of thinking. They are a little (okay, a lot) sassy, and they really don’t care if you agree with them or not. As a result, I think they default to what THEY think is important, instead of what the group is doing. And they don’t spend a lot of time trying to change other people. My middle girls learned this at college, when they finally stopped changing to meet a crowd that didn’t represent their values. You will never change another person to be what you think they should be, but you can sure as hell stop hanging around them if they drain you..

2. “I have all my own answers.”
When we stop looking to other people for approval for every little action or thought we have, we can free up a lot of time—time we used to spend waiting for other people to tell us what to do. With that time, we can choose to try something new. We can try to prove our hunches right. We can listen to our Inner Guide (that little voice that tells us what, and who, is good for us). We can stop waiting for permission to live our life and get on with it, already!

3. “If I take responsibility, I can save time and energy.”
Think about all the time that’s spent pointing fingers at other people, in order to find out who’s responsible for screw-ups and mistakes. What if you just took the heat, even if it’s not all your fault? What if you owned up to your part in something, just to move the situation forward? If you take responsibility for your actions, people start looking to you as a leader. As humans, we want to forgive someone who stands up and says, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” So stop blaming your boyfriend, parent, child, boss, or reality TV show for how unhappy you are. Take a stand, own it, and move on.

4. ”Treat yo’self right; if you don’t, who will?”
Start taking care of your sweet self RIGHT NOW! Don’t wait for the kids to grow up, or you get a raise, or you lose 10 pounds…treat yo’self right, now! I’m not talking about buying yourself a brand new car if you can’t afford lightbulbs. I’m just talking about taking 5 minutes to go outside and look at the clouds. Do a cartwheel. Dance in the rain. Lie down and cuddle with your dog or your kids; or better yet, your dog AND your kids. Do something that delights your senses and take charge of your own happiness—by building it on a daily basis. You’re worth it!

We all make our own rules.

As Victor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”.

We all have free will, no matter the circumstances.
Exert yours.
Be your own Boss and watch how your life grows in the process.

Please go see my Girl Power Station happenings at www.girlpowerstation.org and all things volleyball at www.850elitevolleyball.org ; we have many portals to build our Girl Power. Which one will you choose today?

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The struggle is not real and it’s all in your head.

That is basically what my mentor Martha Beck said on a call last month, to which I respectfully said, “I call B.S.! I am struggling, and it is very real!” On the call, she coached me live (an experience that felt like something between a root canal and baking cookies with your favorite auntie) to reach a place where I could see that struggle and effort are two very different things.

When I began my life coach training, Dr. Beck said to all of us: “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” It took me 5 years, losing both my parents, breast cancer and living in chaos for 6 months to understand that there is a corollary to this edict: “Effort is inevitable; struggling is optional.”

For years, I’ve been telling you that Square 3 of the Change Cycle is hard; they don’t call it the Hero’s Saga for nuthin’! But there’s a difference between putting in a lot of effort towards the actualization of a dream (which is a very simplistic description of the sh!t show that has been my existence for the last 6 months) and suffering. The butterfly must put in a lot of effort to escape the chrysalis, effort that gives her the requisite strength to fly when she breaks free, but she doesn’t suffer in the process. You don’t hear the butterfly saying, “This should be easier! What is wrong with me that I haven’t broken through yet? If I were just thinner, prettier and more professional, I’m sure I would be free, by now!”

No, she just continues to plug away at freeing herself, until her cage finally breaks. Because that’s what happens with continued effort in the direction of your right life: you eventually break free of your cage. And it’s only a struggle when you tell yourself it is. If it’s true that struggle and peace cannot co-exist (like fear and gratitude), then when your goal is peace, struggle is a waste of time. My goal is most assuredly peace, not just for me but for all the girls and moms I coach. So, I am officially kicking struggle off my TODO list. I’m replacing the phrase, “Why is this so damn hard?” with, “This is no big deal. Just solve the problem in front of me, and keep baby stepping forward. Then take a rest and do it all again.”

That rest part is pretty important, or you will just wind down like an old battery. My favorite way of avoiding struggle is a judicious use of boogie-ing to Motown, meditation or Hulu /Netflix breaks. “Tele-novela” is my latest rest-stop; so funny and wacky! I take a little rest (turning off my phone in the process), and then plug back in to the next baby step.

How do you move your life forward? Is struggle still on your TODO list? Join me in letting it go, just for a day, or the next 5 minutes, and notice what happens to your mood. Then tell me all about it in the comments below!

XO

Terri

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Although I am not a Buddhist, one of the tenets of the Eightfold Path, Right Speech, fascinates me; it’s where parenting adolescents smacks into enlightened living…and it’s kicking my a$$. 

The foundations of Right Speech include:

  1. Abstain from false speech; do not tell lies or deceive.
  2. Do not slander others or speak in a way that causes disharmony or enmity.
  3. Abstain from rude, impolite or abusive language.
  4. Do not indulge in idle talk or gossip.

As a society, we are failing miserably at Right Speech, and I’m curious to know why. I wrote a little bit about this in my book, but I’ve had it flung back in my face, lately…over and over. You see, my new dream of starting a Volleyball Club and a Wellness Center that empowers girls has landed me smack dab in the middle of Drama. You would think it was from the girls, but you’d be wrong…it’s mostly parents who keep the drama and nasty chatter bubbling.

I had a conversation about this the other day, and I realized that there was a way to apply Right Speech to the Drama-War; I could just choose not to partake. So, I tried it. There was a mom (actually, I’ve had this conversation with many moms, so this is a representation) who was protesting how unfair someone was being to her kid, and I could tell she wanted me to jump into the Drama pool and agree with her. I didn’t. I validated her pain, “I can see that’s tough for you. It’s always tougher on the parent than on the kid, isn’t it? You know, I’ve found that tough situations make kids tougher, if we can let them figure it out and come out the other side. I know it’s tempting to jump in, but most of the time it doesn’t help. Take that energy and help yourself stay calm. That will help her more!” And then I just sent her love and changed the subject. It was remarkable. She followed my lead out of the drama, and pretty soon we were having a meaningful conversation about stuff that really does matter!

It’s tempting to go down the drama rabbit-hole. It feels exciting to one-up a juicy story. But don’t you just feel a little slimy afterwards…like you need a shower? Staying in drama is not the way to build your Girl Power; it just wastes energy. Drama sucks joy.

Right speech spreads joy.

Choose Right Speech.

When asked to embellish a juicy story, especially if you have new information, choose instead to say, “It’s not my story to tell.” And then change the subject to something funny, weird or heart-warming. Join me in choosing Right Speech over Drama; let’s spread a little joy, channel our inner lioness and make Girl World a kinder, more powerful place!

ROAR!

XO

Terri

PS If you and your daughter want a drama free retreat of a lifetime, I’d love to have you join me here.  

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