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Finding Your JOY in the Midst of the Holidays

Tis the season of JOY!  We sing songs about Joy, we read stories about Joy, we hear Joy in our surroundings, and most of us desire Joy in our lives.  But what happens when we are not feeling joyful?  What about those times when we are stressed out, exhausted, cashed strapped and lonely?  Just finished with another Finding Your Joy in the Midst of Holiday Chaos workshop last week.  It never ceases to amaze me the difference between how we picture the Holiday season and our reality.  What I have heard are the cries of people saying they are not feeling joy, they are feeling the opposite and questioning why.

Just like in the workshop, let’s look at some of the things that fill us with joy.  For some of you it can be quality family time, baking Christmas cookies, spending time with friends, laughter, quietly sitting in front of the fire, watching a holiday movie with the kids, going for a walk, time to take care of ourselves, sleeping, or listening to Holiday music. How can we increase the opportunities to have these joy-filled activities in our lives?  Let’s take a look at some of the things that might get in the way of our joy and ways to turn those joy busters around.

Stress – financial – not having enough, spending over our income.  How can we turn that around from a joy buster to something that brings joy?   BUDGET your gift giving.  Give hand-made gifts this year.  Choose to give a board game to your family instead of individual gifts, then play the game together.  Give experiences – a gift of staying at your home for a weekend and going to a park to play with you– not only is it an experience with you, but you get exercise too.  Many options are available on Pinterest – search “experience gifts”.

Stress – recent relational loss – can be due to death, divorce, conflict or break-up.  Decide on a way to remember your loved one – pictures, stories, visit a favorite place and celebrate the time you had together.  Do something in honor of your loved one.  With a divorce, conflict or break-up – take time for yourself to feel love from your personal spiritual resource.  Take time to learn from the experience; what will you do differently in the future?  Write, draw or talk with a counselor/coach.  You can contact me at  Speak To Me

Family Stress– strained relationships or knowing that “one person” will be at the same event –PLAN.  You can plan the time you will be at the event – showing up with a time limit you can get through the time, keeping your joy and spending time with the person showing them what JOY looks like in you.

Expectations – this has made almost EVERY workshop participants list of joy busters.  Our expectations of a perfect family gathering or perfect gift, or perfect 5 course meal, or perfect outfit, or perfect decorated house…….  STOP!!!  Have simple expectations for yourself, and truth be told, lower expectations for other activities.  One way to do that is to simply remove the words – SHOULD and/or SUPPOSED to – from your thoughts and words.  We give you permission to NOT- do, say, arrange, plan, perform for anyone especially if that action involves the words SHOULD or SUPPOSE TO.  What do I mean?  Who needs to have 10 kinds of Christmas cookies while sitting around one of the 3 decorated trees in your home?  NO ONE!!  If you desire to bake cookies with your family or friends, plan it and make time for it.  If you feel like you HAVE to bake cookies because of others’ expectations….DON’T DO IT!!  Relax, enjoy your quiet restful time knowing you are able to give out of your overabundance of JOY.

Which leads us to another JOY boosting suggestion – do something different this year!  Whether that be to agree to no gifts, giving through a charity such as Samaritan’s Purse, or World Vision in honor of your family, having a soup and sandwich Christmas meal or a bring an ingredient for the crock of soup.  Whatever you plan or participate in, it’s to bring you JOY.  If doing all the other things you’ve always done because its tradition or others say you SHOULD, evaluate if that activity brings you JOY.  If not, don’t do it!!  If it does, have at it, knowing that this activity will take a scheduled amount of time and energy!

Another important part of finding your JOY is to take care of yourself!  Taking care of ourselves is not selfish, it’s caring for ourselves that empowers us to give out of our abundance.  Being a stressed out, tired, broke, crazy person is not going to bring anyone JOY, for sure not you!  Take time to rest, eat right, exercise, and set a schedule for your activities.  How amazing would you feel if you were fully rested, nourished, energized by moving your body and had margin in your life? That brings me JOY!

Serving others is a way to bring JOY not only to you but in your serving bringing JOY to others!  Check out the previous post for reasons and possibilities to serve.

The last suggestion we talk about in the workshop is to have an Attitude of Gratitude!  What are you grateful for this season?  When we focus on what we HAVE and are blessed with, we will have more JOY in our lives.  One of the things I ask clients to do is write down 3 – 5 things they are grateful for every night.  Admittedly sometimes that is a tough assignment, especially if you are in the middle of chaos, however, I know from experience when you focus on being grateful, it will change your outlook.  Being grateful for what you have is the antidote for wanting MORE and MORE.  Giving thanks for the people, things, dreams and desires we have will increase our JOY and help us be more positive people.  And who doesn’t want to be more positive, encouraging and thankful?  Give it a try for a week!  Write down 3 – 5 things you are grateful for and I know tomorrow night you will have more to write and so on and so on!

Hope you connected with some of these suggestions and have found ways to increase your JOY this Holiday season.  When the workshop participants leave they usually have a skip in their step and a new resolve to simplify, take care of themselves and enjoy new ways to build JOY into their Holiday season.

My wish for you is a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or what you are celebrating this season!  If you would like to work with me for coaching, please go to the  Speak To Me page and we can connect.

Here are some quotes and scriptures about JOY – hope they encourage you and bring you JOY!

Joy Quotes

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, JOY follows like a shadow that never leaves.  Buddha

JOY is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.  Marianne Williamson

Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings JOY and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.  Eileen Caddy

Balance, peace and JOY are the fruit of a successful life.  It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.  Thomas Kinkade

Joy Scriptures

Deuteronomy 16:14, 15b  Be JOYFUL at your festival – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.  For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete.

Nehemiah 8:10  Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is holy to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength.”

Psalm 16:11  You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 20:4,5  May He gave you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for JOY over our victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

Proverbs 27:9  Perfume and incense bring JOY to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.

John 15:10-12  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my live, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love.  I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.

Why? If it doesn’t feel right – Change! My epiphany

Why did I leave a job I loved?  Why did I move to Milwaukee?  Why did I open my heart to Brian?  Why did I leave all that I have known for over 50 years?  Why did I move away from my grown daughter and extended family?  Why did I become a life coach?  Why indeed!

I believe I am in the right spot for my life at this very moment.  I am a Life Coach who longs to guide people to clarify their values, discover their unique gifts and lead a more purposeful life.  I am a “retired” pastor who continues to volunteer and develop leaders.  I am a Milwaukee resident following my heart to marry the best husband!  I am a trailblazer and willing to try new things.  I appreciate all I have learned from others in my past and my past experiences.  I am a Gramma who treasures time with the kids and the “little’s” YAHOO for Skype!  I love my MN family and friends.

Why the confession?  It was revealed to me on Wednesday, November 12th how blessed I am, how I live a rich life, how God created me with unique gifts that help others and how I am not doing the best I can.  Not a “shame on you” or a “you are wasting time” kind of truth.  A question really of “what are you putting in the way that is a stumbling block to sharing what you were created to do?”  After some thought and asking for guidance, my passion is not to become a Life Coach to be rich and famous, I became a Life Coach to assist others in clarifying their values, finding their unique passions and setting goals to lead a purposeful life!  What is in the way of that happening?  I believe it has to do with how I look at my coaching practice.  Is it a career?  Yes.  Is Life Coaching a type of ministry to help guide others to be the very best they can be?  Yes.  Is my Life Coaching practice assessable to those who desire to clarify their values, discover their uniqueness and enjoy a more purposeful life?  Maybe, but not assessable to those with real life financial constraints and/or concerns.  The awesome folks I know in the MS community who live in a reality of crazy high medical expenses, a Life Coach is an extra that is not in the budget, no matter how much they are desired.  Single parents, which I was for over 20 years, may be hard pressed to afford such a perceived extra luxury, no matter how much a Life Coach would help to enrich their life and their children’s lives.  A family who is struggling to purchase the groceries, pay the mortgage or general living expenses, but who know a Life Coach would help their family dynamics with communication and goal setting.  These are the people I long to coach!  One of the stumbling blocks I believe is the higher financial cost.  If I lower that barrier, I believe people who are desiring to grow, change, enrich and explore their lives to lead a more purposeful life will have a better opportunity to seek out my coaching.

Today I am announcing a dramatic change in my fee structure. Discovering gifts and passions, accountability, setting and tracking goals toward a more purposeful life will take time.  There are several package options to work with me as your Life Coach.

Package #1 – Five hour long sessions that can be in person, Skype or phone, where we will clarify values, set goals, identify your passions and help you be accountable in your growth towards a more purposeful life.  These 5 sessions will be scheduled in a 10 week period.  Also included are 3 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the coaching period $150

Package #2 – Five 45 minute walks with 15 minute wrap up sessions.  Walk in nature to reconnect with creation, or walk in a public location to clear your mind and focus on what steps you want to take to reach your goals.  These sessions will be in person, will have level terrain with paths, roads or indoors.  These 5 sessions will be scheduled in a 10 week period.  Also included are 3 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the coaching period $150

Package #3 – Six  1 hour sessions for Couples – one or two sessions with individual and four or five with couple together to work on values, communication, relationship and goals for couple to pursue their family life purpose.  Can be in person, Skype or phone.  These 6 sessions will be scheduled in a 3 month period.  Also included are 4 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the 3 month coaching period $180

Package for returning clients – Three 1 hour sessions – can be in person, Skype or by phone.  Sessions will be to reconnect with the goals you had set and steps you took in our first set of sessions then focus on new goals from the new habits you formed, accountability and celebrating your movement forward in pursuing your life’s purpose.  These 3 sessions will be scheduled in a 2 month period.  Also included are 2 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the coaching period $80

1 hour sessions – $40 hr. schedule at least one week in advance.

All coaching packages come with a money back guarantee.  A refund, if requested, will be given after your first session.  A pro-rated refund will be given for any unused sessions at the $40 hr. rate any time after your second session.  You may discontinue your coaching package at any time during the process.

Thank you for reading this post.  I hope this shows how all of us get chances to change, grow and start new in areas of our lives.  If you are interested in working with me as your Life Coach, please go to the Speak To Me page and complete the simple form.

Close the drapes, the relatives are coming!

Okay, that might be a bit over the top, but sometimes we may feel that way when we are going into a family gathering or interaction.  EVERY family has an issue or two!  What separates the enjoyable from the not so enjoyable is our reactions to the interactions.  “Oh but Chris, you have NO IDEA what my family is like”.  While I do not know the specifics of your family, I do know that when people are involved it can potentially get messy!  There are different personalities involved, different views, different filters being used, even a shared event can have different meanings to 2 people who are experiencing the same event!   If that is not a recipe for confusion!!!

I continue to learn about family dynamics and how each member plays a role.  No matter if your family is large or small, if there is more than you……you experience family dynamics.  How you deal with conflict, change, plans, relationships, careers, marriage, birthdays, and holidays is influenced by the experiences you had in your family.  The good news is, even if your experience was not the most positive or nurturing, you can make a change in the way you think about your past and how you apply that to your present/future!  “There is no how it is, only how it is for you.”  Tim Brownson.  When you look back at experiences or patterns, you can pull a learning or teaching out of each experience.  Decide which of those patterns you want to keep, and which you want to change.  We can learn from every interaction.  What you decide to do with that learning is what we’ll talk about here.

At times, we look back, remember the behaviors and we blame others or continue those patterns into our present lives.  Then we curse our parents, siblings, other family members or friends for making us this way.  When in reality YOU have a choice to make, you can stay in the thought/behavior pattern you are in or you can make a choice to learn, change, acquire new skills and even thank those from your past.  Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Research shows that patterns we experience growing up can be patterns we adopt unless we chose to change those patterns.

How did your family handle conflict in the past?  How do you handle it now?  Do you find yourself repeating patterns you don’t like or want to do anymore?  CHANGE!  If you grew up in a home where conflict was handled poorly or not at all, that does not mean you have to deal with conflict in the same way.  Talk to others in your life that you see handle conflict in a healthy way, what are some tips or thoughts they are willing to share?  Does that fit for you?  Check out books that deal with the pattern you want to change.  I highly recommend, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, a life changing book.  Or if you had an abusive upbringing, consider going to counseling.  Heal, accept and learn from those experiences and if desired, CHANGE the pattern!!    If your mom or dad yelled or they were not present, you can thank them for teaching you how you will speak gently to your family and friends, how you will live in the moment each day that you can be present with family/friends.

How was planning done in your past?  Was there a plan in place for say, family vacations?  Or maybe you had micro managed plans for everything.  What do you enjoy?  What works for you?  Can you see a pattern that is not what you want?  Change it!  If you enjoy planning, but the thought of planning something as big as a vacation is overwhelming, start small.  Plan an afternoon adventure, a trip to a museum or train ride to a city close by for a day trip.  Whatever you plan, do it the way you want to plan.  After your outing, debrief with those involved or just by yourself.  What worked?  What would you change?  What would you do again next time?  Then, plan something a little bigger.  You’ll get the pleasure of doing what you’ve planned and you will learn another pattern of planning!

Physical activity – if your family was not physically active or if your family was super active, what do you want your activity level to be?  Healthy is a good beginning point!  Try a class at a gym or Park and Rec department.  Grab your spouse, kids or friends and go for a walk, bike ride, or anything that gets you up and moving.  If running marathon’s or Iron Man competition is not your thing…..don’t do it!   If the thought of running a 5K or training to run a marathon is something that excites you….DO IT!!  Do you have a cause you support?  Check their website to see if there is a run/walk/ride in the near future.  Sign up, train and go for it!  Or sign up to help in other ways that support those physically participating.

Some of us grew up in environments that were encouraging of our uniqueness while others grew up where we were compared to or expected to be like someone else.  It’ time to find the encouragement to be the very best YOU you can be!  You are a unique individual with passions, talents and gifts that are uniquely yours, no matter what you’re your family background is.    What are you doing to use your gifts and talents? What patterns do you want to break or do you want to grow?  Need some guidance for the first/next step?  If you have serious issues that need help in sorting out, go to professional counseling.  If you are desiring to make a change, have a resolve to be the unique individual you are and are motivated to try something new, give life coaching a try.  I would like the opportunity to work with you.  I’d like to celebrate your uniqueness and help guide you to reach your highest potential!  Simply go to the Speak To Me page and complete the form.

Here’s to being all that each of us can be!!  “On the day you were born, the world grew by one life with big purpose and much to be done.” Marianne Richmond, Hooray for You! A Celebration of “You-ness”

Mistakes: opportunity or problem

Mistakes, I’ve made several, we have all made mistakes at one time or another.   Mistakes are so “normal” that songs are written about them.  Here are a few I’m aware of:

Queen – We are the Champions –“And bad mistakes I’ve made a few I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face”

Bob Marley – Mistakes – “I made a mistake, yes, I did, yes, I did”

Smokey Robinson – Oh Baby, Baby – “Mistakes, I know I’ve made a few.  But I’m only human.  You’ve made mistakes too”

If we all make mistakes, do we all react to the outcome the same way?  Do we all change whatever behavior or choices we’ve made to NOT make the same mistake again?   In my life I’ll admit mistakes have been repeated.  Meaning I didn’t learn the first time around, OR, I didn’t stop to find out how my behavior influenced the situations where mistakes occurred.  Do you ever find yourself in a different situation but with the same mistakes being made?  You are not alone and you can change!

Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.  Mistakes and the situations they bring are new chances for us to take a different approach!  In this article we’ll focus on dating relationships.  A man or woman find what they believe to be their “perfect” dating partner.  The excitement and anticipation build for this new potential relationship.  However, like their previous dating relationships in a few weeks or months….BAM….”it” happens again!  The “it”, can be different for everyone, but why “it” keeps happening is the same.  If you have not dealt with the “it” from your last relationship, stopped to discover your part in the situation and learned a new way to act/think – you WILL repeat “it”!

Have you thought or have you heard others say, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “Why do all the men/women I date end up doing the same thing as my last date?”  Stop!  It’s time to investigate what is happening, deal with your findings, change your thoughts/behavior patterns and head in a new direction!  How do we do that?! Here are several options.  You could ask a close friend to be honest with you and tell you what they see as a pattern.  You can ask a family member for advice. You can seek out a Life Coach – someone that will help you sort out what is happening, think of other ways to think/act, set a plan in place, hold you accountable and guide you to reach your highest potential.  I would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you to see if we would be a good fit for a Life Coach relationship.  Simply go to the Speak To Me page, fill out the brief form and we’ll be in contact!  One of my favorite quotes of Albert Einstein is “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Let’s see what I can do to help you have different results!

We have focused here on the dating relationship but this applies to all areas of your life, marriage, job, family, church, work and more.  If you find yourself living with consequences of past or present mistakes, or if you are thinking it will never change, let’s work together.  We will sort through the situation, learn different responses, new thought processes and set a plan in place to change your focus from mistakes are problems to opportunities for growth!!  Go to the Speak To Me page, complete the form and we can talk about what steps to take next!  Here’s to changing mistakes into growth opportunities!

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