How to ‘Walk Off’ the Anxiety with Labyrinths

How to ‘Walk Off’ the Anxiety with Labyrinths

These are turbulent times in general, aren’t they?

With the emergence of a new coronavirus and the physical, mental, and fiscal challenges of the yo-yo financial marketplace, there can be a lot of anxiety.  There are so many unknowns as to how we, collectively, will move beyond the current times, and about the overall costs to us collectively and individually we will bear in our futures.  We have lost what is usual and customary in our lives, and it creates unsettled feelings.

Perhaps you feel like so much in life is not in your control.  Perhaps the loss of daily freedoms and interactions are starting to weigh heavily on your emotions.  What can bring your attention away from the media, which can alarm and focus only on the down sides to what is occurring, as you deal with these times? How can you look within to find your inner wisdom when the speculations and models of experts ‘might’ happen, not happen, or doesn’t fit with your current situation?

These are all big questions in their own right, which don’t always have quick answers. I recalled recently a period in my life when I felt life was way out of my control. I was socially isolated. I wasn’t sure of what the future held for me.  There was one afternoon when my perspective totally shifted.  I found solace in walking a labyrinth.  It allowed me to have the experience of moving forward, toward the heart of my issues in baby steps.  It showed me how there can be beauty and merit in taking a journey forward when I could not readily see ahead to all of the twists, turns, and even joy of traversing a nonlinear path that a labyrinth brings. I felt the anxiety float away as I walked and allowed for me to continue to move forward when I headed home.

A labyrinth as a metaphor allows us to see our journey and situation in a different, very visual way.

A labyrinth shouldn’t be confused with a maze. Both are similar, but the experience is somewhat different. Both start at point A and end at a new destination.  Neither provides a direct, linear path to the end destination, which is where we want to be.  Both have dead ends that cause us to sometimes double-back and make different choices.  The differences between the two are the actual experience, and to me, the value.  Mazes often have high walls and require a bit of problem-solving to navigate a bit blindly.  Labyrinths are circular in nature that (which) draw(s) you to their centers then reverses you back out to where you started.  Mazes offer a starting point but end on the other side of the maze.  A labyrinth is constructed to draw you inside to the center, which I deem a metaphor to your inner self and your inner wisdom.

Why do I suggest using a labyrinth?

I learned the following about myself and my situation that afternoon when I walked the labyrinth. 
Here are some snippets of what I learned:

  1. Shutting out the surrounding noise of the world, I could give myself space to think and feel what was causing me angst.
  2. By moving slowly along the labyrinth, I saw the value of going to the center of looking within to what I needed for me.
  3. Because I was focused on one step at a time within my experience, I could see multiple perspectives of what was around me and within me.
  4.  I learned to relax and just trust the flow and my ability to work through the process.

The metaphor of the labyrinth is a way of walking through change one step at a time, gaining clarity along the way, and finding the patience and trust you will get to the heart of what is stressing you.  From there, you will know how to find your way out of what you wish to change. Along the way, you’ll see rich landscapes and experiences that would have been missed had the path been a direct line to the goal. In many ways, it really is about the journey, not the end goal.  But it takes the goal to move that journey forward with conscious intent.

Have you ever had the experience of walking in a labyrinth?  One can do so physically if there is one close by.  It can be done in ways that honor social distancing.  But one may not be able to travel and physically walk a labyrinth.  If that is the case, there are several ways to experience a virtual walk-through of a labyrinth.

Try it out – walk a labyrinth and reflect upon your journey of change.  Nearby labyrinths can be located using a website:  http://labyrinthlocator.com/.   Can’t find a labyrinth or get to one, did you know there are virtual labyrinths out there?  The Labyrinth Society has posted a virtual walk for you at https://labyrinthsociety.org/virtual-labyrinth-walk.  They let you choose the center icon, whether you want it to be controlled by your mouse or is self-guided.  It can come with music or not – all your choice.  There is even a free app in the Apple Store (sorry, I’m an Apple person) called Maze Walk VR – Virtual Reality.

For me, the most challenging part is to TRUST, trust that all roads lead to home.  The labyrinth is a visual that will get you to the heart of your anxiety and give you the space to resolve it.  When I walked the labyrinth that day, I really let go and trusted the outcome of my personal challenges in addressing my world of crazy change and the anxiety I had been holding.  I found by letting go and trusting, it made the path forward so much easier for me. And quite importantly it allowed me to gain clarity on what steps to take.

Trust is handled differently by each individual.  Some have strong faith that guides them, some naturally relax and enjoy the journey, while some rely on guidance with the help of others in the form of coaching, mentoring, or consulting.  What do you need to trust that all you need is within you to address whatever might be causing you anxious moments? Discover your own way of navigating your changes and stressors at hand and I invite you to try using the labyrinth metaphor to move you through.  Happy Travels!

“If you practice turning your attention inwards again and again, then you can find peace – no matter how turbulent
the outside is.” – Johanna Schuh Naikan

 Cheers, Maureen

As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar.  It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable.  Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus.  Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s.  I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life! Kris

H.R. Manager

Is Your Purpose Guiding and Shaping Your Best Life?

Is Your Purpose Guiding and Shaping Your Best Life?

Does One Have Only One Purpose in Life, and Does It Hold for a Lifetime?

As a coach, mother, and mentor, I’ve been asked this question several times and I’ve lived enough years now to know that the best answer is, “It Depends.”  I have a daughter who drew houses from the time she could hold paper and pen and is fulfilling her purpose by being an architect.  Another daughter, as a child, loved to play, “Let’s Go Shopping,” where she set up a cardboard box to ‘sell’ select goods to her customer (her sister).  This daughter has spent many years in retail stores, from managing stores to managing their accounting books.  In that way, they found purpose at work which was not far from their playtimes.  As a child, I often played “School” with the kids in the neighborhood where we took turns playing teacher and students.  My purpose became a lifelong fascination with learning as well as teaching.  Yet, these were not the only things in our lives that gave us purpose.  I have also seen that our definitions of purpose can also change and give way to new dreams as we move through the stages of our lives.

My Experience:

My experience with ‘purpose’ is that it can become a guiding light in times of difficulty, in times of change, and in times of feeling lost or of no value to others.  I have had to visit it more than once in my life and yet there have been some strong themes that run central to my definition of purpose.  For me, those themes are family, service to others, and lifelong learning.  Those themes to my purpose have never changed, yet what I do in work or life has varied.  That’s the “It Depends” part of purpose in life.

What Gives You Purpose?

How do you explore your purpose and what contributes to a purposeful, soulful life for you? Below are thought-provoking questions to ponder if you are eager to put on your explorer persona to dig a little deeper into your purpose in work and life.  How will you answer these?  If you feel a little daunted, I follow the questions with a few activities that can help you with your journey of exploration.

  1. If I could, I’d like to make the world a better place by…?
  2. I’d jump right out of bed every morning with excitement if I knew I could get up and …?
  3. My fondest memories in childhood involved…?
  4. What would I regret not fully doing, being or having in my life?
  5. When I am active and lose all sense of time, what am I usually doing?
Suggested Activities to Discover Purpose

  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Autobiography: Write a short story about your life. Play with the past, present, and future.
  • Interview those who knew you at different stages in your life and ask what gifts of yours seemed most apparent to them.
  • Build a collage of images that represent what you’d like in your life.

I’m hoping you’ll have fun using a few of these as you take a journey to deepen your understanding of yourself and how to live a memorable and meaningful life.  Nothing is set in stone in your life, so make choices according to what you feel you are meant to do. The Universe is quick to show you when a path is closed or if you need to navigate around what seem to be obstacles. And lastly, believe in yourself and in what is possible.

Feel free to reach out to me with your comments or a quick question. Enjoy your journey!

“Whenever you become anxious or stressed, outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose. You have forgotten that your state of consciousness is primary, all else secondary.” 
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

 Cheers, Maureen

As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar.  It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable.  Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus.  Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s.  I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life! Kris

H.R. Manager

The Business of You

The Business of You

Why the World of Full Time Freelancing Is Growing

History of downsizings, mergers, bankruptcies, offshoring of jobs, a growing international marketplace, and technology changes have all brought dramatic and relatively fast changes to the world of employment. While the economy is stable with a low employment rate right now, there is always the possibility for future economic downturns that can affect our world of work.  Current examples of how quickly the shifts can occur are the business impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting dramatic ups and downs in the U.S. stock market. 

We experienced the second most dramatic economic downturn in U.S. history, which started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.  [Note: the first being the Great Depression in the 1929.]  In that recent period, many were impacted either by loss of jobs or doing more with less with a loss of savings. Loyalty to corporations that existed in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s have long come and gone.  What we are living in is a massive shift in how we think of work.

We are growing a Free Agent Nation where the individual must now think of themselves as being in the business for themselves – I call it The Business of You.

Free Agent Nation:

Daniel Pink wrote a great book, ­Free Agent Nation in 2001, where he talks about the death of the “Organization Guy.”  He claims the shift from the “Organization Guy” to the “Free Agent” is a shift from twentieth-century economics to a new economy that focuses on the individual.  

Who is a free agent?

  1. The unemployed
  2. Jobseeker – underemployed or merely seeking change
  3. The solopreneur – aka freelancer
  4. Temps – may be working on a project basis for a firm
  5. Small business owners – Pink calls them microbusinesses of fewer than 20 employees

In 2001 Pink indicates there approximately 33 million or 1 in 4 workers in America who consider themselves free agents.  That was when the unemployment rate was 4.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

 Why Do People Need to Think Like a Free Agent?

Mergers/bankruptcies, layoffs, the fast pace of technology changes, the shifting international economy continue – all contribute to the dissolving of jobs as we know them today and create new ones that were unthinkable in years past.   Tom Peters, in his 2007 article in Fast Company called “The Brand Called You” says it well when he writes,

“It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.)  A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.”

The Business of You – Why Should You Care?

If you are fortunate to be working today and love what you are doing, Congratulations!

If you are not fulfilled, not engaged, or not employed, you are ripe and may be ready for developing the Business of You if you have not done so yet.

In the October 2019 Forbes article, Full-time Freelancing Lures More Americans, Elaine Pofeldt indicates the share of freelancers who work full time rose 11 points since 2014, from 17 – 28%.  As of 2019, 35% of U.S. workers are now freelancing, representing 5% of the GDP, which is nearly a $1 trillion impact.

I would encourage all those who are or wish to be working to ponder deeply on who they are and what they want to be in the world of work. And then to run it like a business.  You can only change the things under your control, and that is you, for better or for worse.  While you can influence others, you can’t change them.  Take a peek within to where you are in your Business of You.  If you haven’t done that before, now is the perfect time to start, and it is never too late.

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

 Cheers, Maureen

 

As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar.  It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable.  Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus.  Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s.  I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life!

Kris

H.R. Manager

What is Your Unique True North?

What is Your Unique True North?

Warning: contents may lead to self-reflection, personal questioning of life purpose and the legacy you wish to leave in this world.

Just Mercy

Just Mercy, is a motion picture I recently saw on the big screen.  The movie (and the book on which it is based) is a true story of Harvard trained lawyer Bryan Stephenson who chooses to represent those underserved on death row. The story is about his journey in what I would call his life’s calling.    One of the first cases he takes on is that of Walter McMillan, who was falsely accused and convicted for the murder of an 18-year old girl.  McMillan, an African American, is sentenced to death and lives on Death Row. In going through McMillan’s files, Stephenson finds suppressed evidence that vindicates Mr. McMillan, making McMillan an innocent man biding his time on Death Row.

What struck me as I watched the movie (and read the book) is the clarity Bryan has for his chosen career path.  He moves to Alabama at the age of 28 in 1988 where he takes on the case of Walter McMillan which ends in McMillan’s exoneration in 1993.  As a Harvard law graduate, Bryan could easily have chosen a career path that would have been safer, easier, and provided a rich income.  Instead, he chose to support and aide the underrepresented in the legal system which at the time challenged deep cultural biases in the Deep South.  Bryan’s choices in his journey were neither safe, simple nor lined his pockets with money. It took 5 years of hard work to free Walther McMillan while facing tremendous opposition.

Bryan Stephenson’s Compass

Bryan set his compass on what was true north for him in the work he chose to do.  He set sail when he moved to Alabama and took on the McMillan case.  To say sailing was less than smooth is an understatement!  There were strong waves of negative popular opinion in the region that could have swayed him off course.  He became a target of police pressure as he challenged the Deep South’s cultural biases and opinions when it came to race and social status. Storms arose as he gathered evidence and took the case through the court system.  The tenacity and resolve in his purpose is admirable and amazing.

Questions arose for me about what leads to knowing one’s path in life?  How do we set our compass for where our deemed purpose lies and stays true?  Bigger yet, how do we weather the waves, currents, and storms that we encounter once we set sail for our heart’s destination?  Bryan is a great example of what there is to gain, not just for self but for others, by staying true to true north. As you will learn in seeing the movie or reading the book, the impact is huge for many.

Reflection

What happens when we are pulled so far off that path due to our fears, the stressors or the influences of others?  Will we be able to show the same resolve and strength of character of Bryan?  We can hope if it is truly a passion, path, and purpose, sooner or later the pain of straying off course will lead us back to the helm to right our vessels to get back on course for whatever our true north is.  Like Bryan, it not only required focus, tenacity, and belief in our purpose but it takes others who believe in the same purpose to encourage and assist us to keep moving forward in the direction – true north.

If you are living your true north path, I congratulate you, and thank you for the difference you are making. If you are unsure as to what your true north is, these following questions may provide some introspection for you. What is calling you? What do you feel drawn to do in this lifetime? What inspires and brings you joy? What is a cause you care about deeply?  What service can you be to others? What would you do whether you got paid or not? Take time and space for yourself to reflect.

Each of us has an impact to leave on our world, even small gestures can positively impact more than we often know. By following our own unique true north on our internal GPS, we can live a life fulfilled and make a difference in this world. I encourage us all to don our captain’s hat, put our hands to our vessel’s helm, and set sail into the destiny that is calling out to us.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Cheers, Maureen

 

As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar.  It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable.  Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus.  Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s.  I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life!

Kris

H.R. Manager

How To Connect To Your Heart’s Work

How To Connect To Your Heart’s Work

Re-Building Your Work Relationship

For most of my career, I worked towards status and dollars, hoping to climb ever higher on a career ladder. I didn’t realize with those pursuits; I was losing who I was and who I am meant to be in the world of work.  My pursuit of status and materialistic gain eventually took a heavy toll on the heart and spirit of who I was.

Over time, I lost enthusiasm in greeting each workday. I dreaded, not welcomed, the challenges and opportunities in the course of each business day. I watched my self-imposed stress levels rise. I no longer brought the best of who I was to the workplace. I lost out, and my employer lost out – I left my potential sleeping and left additional productivity gains untapped. My relationship with my work and with myself was no longer healthy. With each day, another grain of sand in the hourglass of my finite time on earth was slipping by, never to be recovered.

Awakened

 Something within me eventually awakened. It took introspection, energy, and focus in order to break myself free from the inertia in my relationship with work.  I received exceptional advice from multiple sources in the form of 3 simple words, “Follow Your Heart.” Follow my heart? Really? Isn’t that just a Pollyanna-like view of the world only found in novels? I wasn’t trained or skilled in doing that! I had spent my years following my mind’s logic, not my heart! How could I trust that following my heart was going to pay off?

It took a significant leap in faith for me to trust that it is perhaps everyone’s birthright to follow our hearts versus our heads. It took effort and time to set aside my old pattern of egoist gratification in work – striving for position and money. It still takes effort and time to keep my focus on fulfillment and connecting to all parts of who I am, not just my mind/ego. However, with this new relationship with work, I no longer regret a single day or grain of sand passing.  I bring my heart, mind, and spirit to my work and all that I do. My relationship with my work is now a very healthy one. I willingly put in more effort and more extended hours into my work, and thoroughly enjoy the breadth and depth my work brings to my life.

What is possible?

If you find my story sounding a bit familiar, I challenge you to seek out what engages you and create a healthy and enriching relationship with your work. Dream in the color of possibilities. What are you passionate about? How can you bring your heart to work? What stops you from pursuing your dreams in the world of work? I’m convinced that if we could all answer those questions and then re-build our relationship with our work that embraces our whole selves, we will find rebirth not only within ourselves but a rebirth in the American workplace.

An Invitation

I’m passionate about what I do, which is guide others through life’s complexities towards success and fulfillment. Connect with me to learn more about the coaching process and how it can assist you to navigate the world of possibilities. 

“Maureen’s insight, knowledge, and intuition has laid the ground work to help me walk through my challenges. Thank you Maureen for the opportunity to heal, grow, and renew my sense of purpose, it has made all the difference.”

Vicky, Executive Director

How to Lead with Your Heart: The Hero’s Journey

How to Lead with Your Heart: The Hero’s Journey

What Is a Hero’s Journey?

Before we begin to hear Maria’s hero story, let’s take a quick overview of what a hero’s journey is. Joseph Campbell wrote a book called The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It summarizes the phases a hero makes in his or her journey. There are 3 phases, each of which includes several stages to a Phase. Those phases are 1) Separation or Departure, 2) Trials and Victories, and 3) Return and Reintegration with Society. (Campbell. Pg.36)

Separation or Departure is where you either choose to leave or are forced to leave life the way it has been running. Think of it as casting away from the shore. These departures take many shapes. For example, it could be the loss of a job, a career change, or a divorce. These life circumstances of Separation and Departure bring with them a lot of trepidation to those who must undergo the hero’s journey.

Sooner or later, everyone will face their own hero journey in one’s personal life and work life. Many times they are intertwined. Have you ever had such a situation? Recently, one of my clients has traveled through the first two phases and is ready to move into the third phase, which is the coming home to a new way of work.

Maria’s Story

Maria is the owner of a highly successful daycare facility. She has traversed the hero’s journey for several years in launching her business. Now that she is successful and the business is running well, she finds she no longer wants to be involved with the day-to-day operations of her thriving business. Maria is still passionate about the services her daycare facility offers but is seeking a change. She sees several options that would allow her to move out of the day-to-day operations and has had trouble deciding which option to choose. One option is for her to sell the business outright. A second option is to take on a business partner who will handle the day-to-day operations, and she can be available for consultation with broad oversight only. The third option is to staff it for the day-to-day control but work on franchising the unique business model that has been so successful in her current one-location setting.

To complicate the decision-making process a bit more, Maria is now engaged to a wonderful man who lives in a state hundreds of miles away. He has his medical practice in his hometown along with shared parenting duties over the children of his first marriage. Moving for him is not an option. Moving for Maria is not an option as long as she has day-to-day operational responsibility for her business. She has hired managers in the past year, only to find that they do not work out. It has been difficult finding someone with the right set of skills and the same passion for the business that she has. She knows she will want to move after the wedding and not maintain a long-distance marriage.

The wedding date has been set, and Maria finds herself in a quandary with her business. The more she thinks through the various options and tries to forge ahead, the more lost and unsure she feels. She reached out to SoLwork for coaching assistance to help move forward.

What is the Challenge for the Hero?

Maria has faced what is I call the “Foggy Seas of Transition.” No one direction seems more right to head down than do any of the other business options that she has available. She is uncomfortable with her indecision and wants to take action. In this part of the journey, it is not an activity that will bring about the best results. This part of the transition is where creative solutions can evolve if one is quiet and still enough to listen to their heart’s message on the direction and next steps to head.

The Outcome

Maria was tempted to take on a business partner by developing her existing business into a franchise. Once she had clarity, she decided to sell the business. It freed her to move to where her future husband lived and allowed her time to adjust to her new life and marriage. Once settled, she can revisit the idea of franchising her business model for daycare under a different name. Maria felt great relief to finally see her way clear so that she could move forward once again. She truly led from her heart to gain clarity in direction. After months of being in the fog, she feels she has truly made the best choice for her, for her current business and its staff. Maria is currently living a very fulfilling and happy married life. She feels she chose wisely and from her heart center. All components for her and her business, though not always easy to execute, did work out beautifully.

Disclosure: This is a true story of success. However, the names of my clients have been changed to protect their privacy. 

“Career and Life Coaching with Maureen has changed my life. I was at a standstill for many years working a corporate job that was not fulfilling and wasn’t a good fit for me.  After taking the plunge and opening up my new business I was so overwhelmed and had a hard time making decisions and organizing my priorities.  I have seen big results since I started working with Maureen!  My confidence has increased in making decisions and I have been able to move forward. I never imagined the changes that working with a career coach would bring to my professional and my personal life.  It was a great experience but also a necessary one to make things happen in my life. I can’t thank her enough.”

Maria