Category: Relationships

It’s hard to keep the peace but especially during the holiday season. I happen to be one who loves the holiday season for the beauty and wonder it brings. I love the simplicity of the  Flagstaff Star every year on Veteran’s Day here in Boulder. The lights and color, the evergreen fragrance, the tree, music, community sharing and meaningful time with family and friends bring joy to me. Any reason to bring love, joy, peace, generosity,  goodwill, and connection to others is great.

What Are Some Challenges to Keep the Peace during the holidays?

Perfectionist Standards:

The image of the “ideal” holiday- whatever that means in décor, tradition, and festivity can dominate and increase anxiety.

Heightened emotion unravels and intensifies:

This causes even the most loving of relationships to need “do-over” moments. Regrettable things, though unintended can be hurtful.

Increased Stress:

Somehow, rather than savoring the goodness of the season, it is easy to get overwhelmed. This can turn into a burden rather than a joy.

Deeper Challenges Faced During The Holidays

Grief and Loss can be Magnified:

For those who are enduring death, divorce, health or increased stressors and challenges, this time of year can magnify the sadness and loss.  Because it can be so challenging to cope, you may feel you need simply to “cocoon”. Bring on the warm soup, tea, and blankets. (It’s no surprise that weighted blankets have become quite a “thing”)   Give permission to do exactly what you need. Reach out for support to avoid isolation.

Unrealistic Expectations/Obligations:

“Tis the Season” There may be many additional invitations and events to choose between and support.

 

Shame from feeling “not enough”:

Where there is “lack” there is a shame trigger. Orphaned parts of ourselves can truly raise their sad, angry or needy head. These parts are beckoning to be loved, especially during this time. Comfort and joy can heal from our increased kindness to self with hands over heart.

The holiday season can put undue financial pressure on families.  We clearly need a redefined and designed vision that focuses more on worthiness, simplicity, homemade, natural abundance and generosity. Don’t compare. Stay in your lane.

How Can We Cultivate  Peace and Joy During The Holiday Season?

I believe this is a season that ultimately celebrates light, love, and birth.

The light within illuminates through prayer and meditation, stillness, peace, and reflection. The light within can provide leadership, clarity, compassion, and calm. It can help us discern and make choices that align with our needs and values.

I have gathered thoughts and suggestions from clients, family, and of course my own experience, humbling as it may be.  Thank you to all contributors.

Here they are:

Create a Vision

First of all, how do you want to feel at the end of the season and as you go through it? Would you like to feel calm, connected as a team with your partner?  Likewise, would you love more time cuddling on the couch?

Complete the sentence…what I would love would be…..or wouldn’t be nice if……..

Prioritize Well-Being :

Self-care is of paramount importance. In busy times, it is the thing most likely to be sacrificed. Maintaining healthy nutrition, exercise, mindful practice, social support is so important. Because of this, prioritize your most important relationships. Turn toward and stay connected.

Be Clear :

What is important to you? No one can read your mind. Share how you would love for things to look and be.

Reset :

Let go of the stress and bring laughter,  joy, and playfulness. Dancing around to your favorite tunes, or flirting with one another through any task can ease tension and increase connection.

Find the Free Events :

There is so much offered for a low-cost budget to enjoy. Concerts, outdoor events, game night, cookie decorating, or peaceful evenings at home are all accessible.

Spread It Out:

Not everything needs to be celebrated in a three-week window. Planning something in January or later for friends or gatherings could be a great way to have something to look forward to.

Navigate imperfect moments:

There are bound to be plenty. What we focus on expands, so focus on the positive experiences, rather than disappoints. If there is a SNAFU or rupture between people- do this:

Slooowww Down, Stop, Breathe, Choose :

The next best response and reparative gesture or comment is a choice from a place of calm, kindness and clarity. For this challenge, regulate your EQ and nervous system. Stopping and take 3 deep breaths can help us during times like this, rather than “flipping our lid”.   Take a time out with the reassurance of coming back.

Furthermore, harmony, disharmony, and repair are processes important in daily life for the myriad of small conflicts we run into. Let’s be masters navigating these imperfect moments.

“Harmony. Disharmony. Repair”. Terry Real

Repair, Repair, Repair:

If stress or personalities get entangled, words cross or regret sets in, apologize and reset. Consequently, we need to let go of grudges, resentments or comparisons. Let in love, empathy, respect, difference, and understanding.

“Imperfections are not inadequacies. They are reminders that we are all in this  together.” Brene’ Brown

I love Brene’ Brown’s book. The Gift of Imperfection.  Imperfection is actually what bonds us together. Let’s handle it gracefully and with ease and reassurance rather than rupture and disrepair, gossip, division, and separation.

Click Here If You Would Love a 20 Minute Complimentary Consultation: https://calendly.com/sharlamacy/20-minute-complimentary-phone-session

 

I wish all a Peaceful, Joy and Love- Filled Holiday!

References:

Brene’ Brown, PhD. brenebrown.com

Terry Real, Relationship Therapist, terryreal.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have so many opportunities to choose appreciation and express gratitude. It is a value in action,  and a practice.  Sharing gratitude has so many benefits for the giver, not to mention the receiver.

Gratitude Is A Choice

The emphasis is on the importance of making gratitude seeking, a choice.

Imagine that a woman comes in at the end of an exhausting day. Her partner greets her with “Hi love! I am so happy you are home. You look wiped out. I bet you would love to have me take on dinner tonight. You are incredible and give so much to those around you. You deserve a break.”

Compare that to: “Well, look who just walked in. Finally, you’re home. Where have you been? I am starving!” they said indignantly.

Showing Gratitude

Imagine a beautiful snow-filled scene. One person might feel that it is annoyingly cold, hard to bear.  To another, it represents stillness, and the opportunity to slow and savor. For the active type, having the opportunity to enjoy walking, biking or cross-country skiing to work is an unexpected pleasure.   Generosity and community can be increased by shoveling for others who are not able to do so themselves. All these choices will generate health and well-being, connection or isolation.

It is a choice. Every. Single. Day. You can choose to express appreciation and gratitude, or displeasure and contempt. It’s all in the perspective and the ability to focus on the good. Why is that so important?

Gratitude Lights Our Way

Gratitude is the beacon of light through the darkest times. In grief, though our hearts are broken, it can give solace and comfort through reflecting on treasured memories and the things we loved most about the person.

John and Beth are going through a divorce where there are so much pain and remorse, sleepless nights and anxiety about the future. Gratitude for their time together, their children along with faith and hope can ease the pain and guide them with the wisdom needed rather than bitterness and closed hearts.

There is a great amount of research generously shared about the qualitative difference.

“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

Research on Gratitude

Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.” Harvard Health Publishing

We know, that in order to focus on the positive and what we appreciate, we have to set the intention. We are, as research shows, hardwired with a negativity bias. This bias has done wondrous things for humankind’s survival through existence. It, however, has not been great at helping us build health, positivity or connection with others. We also know that we are hardwired for connection.

To do that, we need a 5:1 ration of sharing appreciation vs complaints or problems.

When we “take in the good” and enjoy positive moments, it grows greater health and engagement.

More Research on Gratitude

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Gratitude in Relationships

Ways to Generate Gratitude:

Words of Appreciation- Through letters, daily sprinkling in of kind words at home or at work, to others, gratitude is shared and increases connection.

Create a gratitude journal to write in the morning or the end of day to build focus on the positive things that happened. This increases a sense of well-being, even in the midst of difficult times.

Share gratitude as a ritual. Whether it is at home or in the workplace, having time to express positive feedback, appreciation for the moments and contributions creates a bond.

Resources:

John Gottman, PhD.The Gottman Institute Gottman.com

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Rick Hanson, PhD rickhanson.net

 

 

Empowering Teachers

We love working with schools! We believe that teachers have one of the most challenging jobs in working with the children and youth in our communities. The Quest for School’s mission is to share support and resource in order to empower teachers, staff and parents in every aspect to meet the needs and demands of today’s students.

We believe that a quest implies a journey, well envisioned with core values and mission at its helm to navigate direction. Clarity and purpose are needed to not just add another workshop, but to do so with a wider lens in mind.

Quest for Schools

Our Quest for Schools’ program includes:

 Discovery Session:

We determine the needs of your school community- including teachers, parents and children. We engage in a minimum of two hours to understand in a deep way, the ways our services and expertise can support the underlying vision.

Proposal:

We design a proposal that includes leadership development, professional development, education, resources and tools for the school community.

Implementation:

We offer a pre and post assessment as to the efficacy of our Quest for Schools program. We then roll out workshops, consultation opportunity and other service rendered necessary for the growth and development of the community.

Workshops and Public Speaking on topics such as:

Emotion Coaching

The Importance of Self Care in Challenging Times

The Art and Practice of Empathy

Principles to Make Relationships Work

are among topics that are popular and useful.

Contact us today to set up a Discovery Session to determine your Quest for your school.

 

 

Quest for Families provides counseling, resource and support in order to heal, and rebuild even the most fractured of families.

I believe ideally, the place to share the deepest form of love and nurture is within the family.

Unfortunately, it is also the space that we are met with the most profound challenges, hurts, disappointments and heartbreak. How do we rectify, reset and rebound with courage, faith, resilience and respect?

I believe by celebrating our strengths, accepting our imperfections, limitations, finding humor, forgiving our mistakes and increasing rising skill we can repair and rebuild.

I believe families have the opportunity to embrace core values, vision and skill building in an intentional way.

“When we know better, we do better.” Maya Angelou

What is the Quest for Families?

Quest for Families is a 6 week to 6 month or even year program that provides counseling, resource and support in order to heal, rebuild the most fractured of families. Services such as:

Multi-generational family counseling

Joint parent/child play therapy

Parent Education and Emotion Coaching for Parents

Groups for children and teens

What is the process like?

  1.  Discovery Session: We meet together to learn about the needs and challenges within your family.

Common issues include:

Issues involving the developmental or  social challenges their children or teens are experiencing

Intergenerational communication problems

Divorce or transitions within the family.

2. Customized Plan: We create a plan for family counseling specific to the needs and goals determined

3. Best Fit:  Family members are seen through the modality that is most fitting.

4. Pre and post Assessment: We measure the progress made during   the duration of our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is a quest for meaning and joy, love and connection. A quest for couples is a process to increase the connection, emotional engagement, communication and intimacy over time.

Why?

It occurred to me that offering session by session often lacks the commitment to achieve what couples really want.  A Quest for Couples increases resource and then practice, practice, practice.  Learning new skills, habits, and ways of being with one another takes time. (more…)

What is emotion coaching, you might be wondering?  Emotion coaching is a program designed by the Gottman Institute for parents of children. It is designed to increase empathy, connection, and effective parenting.

Emotional Coaching is based on the research done by Dr John Gottman and joined by Julie Gottman, Clinical Psychologist, Co-Founder of the Gottman Institute on emotional intelligence and its effect on children; tracking how they performed in school, related to their peers, how appropriately they behaved socially and how they related to their parents. Emotion coached kids were more successful as adults on measures like peer friendships, gainful employment and academic performance.

 (more…)

“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen

How many of us have seen Season 1 and 2 of Big, Little Lies, or have read the book?  Wow… it seems to catch on like crazy for some reason.  Of course, the brilliant cast, excellent production of a powerful story of such suspense and complexity is without a doubt. The unfolding and tragic weaving of stories of abuse, violence, and tragedy command our hearts, intrigue, and pain. Each character brings forth such a compelling story.  (more…)

I was introduced to a friend of a neighbor in our new “digs” recently. I was taken with the question, what do you do? I paused and thought upon that question, usually so easy to answer with my usual professional credentials and response. This time,  however, I was truly struck by the existential challenge. I have thought long and hard over the last couple of days and pondered the answer.  What is it I really do and why do I do it?

The answer in and of itself sheds so many layers of complexity, specialization, and ego in order to find the simple kernel of truth.

 (more…)

FYI, engaged couples!

You are in the wedding planning stages — planning the location, the venue, the vibe, the dress, the photographer, the honeymoon, everything — to make the day you’ve both dreamed of come true. And you have such love and excitement planning your lives together.

Getting married is exciting! Creating a love that lasts requires wisdom, skill, planning, and conscious ways to build trust and commitment.

 (more…)