Caring

June 13, 2013

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Meet Sharon Dunbar.

Sharon is a terrific caregiver for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, and she always thinks outside of the box. She once cared for a gentleman from Maine who wanted a giraffe. Instead of saying “no” like most caregivers would say, Sharon said, “OK, let’s talk about it. Where do we get the giraffe? How do we transport it? Where does it sleep? How do we feed it?”  They even spoke about walking it around the courtyard of his community so that it could visit with other residents by sticking its big head in their windows.

Over time, of course, the giraffe never came. However, this gentleman showed amazing improvement in his Alzheimer’s therapy. He showed focus. He felt loved. He felt valued. And in the words of Sharon, it’s not about the giraffe at all. It’s about the meaning that we give to everyone around us— sick or healthy, black or white, rich or poor.

Image from Jeff Kubina

Friendly reminder: Make sure to order a copy of “Contagious Optimism”!

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P1000353For more than ten years, Laurie Martin has been a teacher of self-love and personal empowerment. Laurie shares her wisdom and guidance as a speaker, certified life coach, yoga teacher, advice columnist and author of “Smile Across Your Heart: The Process of Building Self-Love” and her new e-book, “The Conscious Breakup Guide.”

Laurie is a contributing co-author in “Contagious Optimism.” For more information, please visit www.smileacrossyourheart.com. You can reach Laurie at LaurieM@SmileAcrossYourHeart.com.

Personal power is freedom. It means we are not looking to others for validation; we are not at the mercy of being defined by anything outside of us. My belief is that each person is beautiful, infinite and fully empowered.

Relationships help us see what is inside of us; they act as mirrors that reflect our insecurities, anger and disappointments as well as inner peace and joy. The more intensely we are triggered negatively by the external, the more important it is to explore why we reacted so emotionally.

Once we get to the “heart to the matter” within, we can use accountable communication skills in our relationships.  If we really want to build intimacy and feel empowered, we need to learn how to discern our feelings and how to express them in a responsible manner. The way we communicate during conflicts within our relationships is very important to the outcome.

I once had a client who arrived at our coaching session in tears. Christina, whose name was changed to ensure anonymity, was confused and worried because her husband had excluded her from participating in what he considered as “his” projects. His abrupt change in behavior made Christina feel unworthy.

I listened to her story. I tuned in to how this experience “triggered” Christina. I asked her questions like “What are you afraid of?” I repeated details of her story and asked her, “When he said that, how did that make you feel? Have you ever felt this way before?”

These questions helped her get to the bottom line of how she was feeling and take responsibility. She focused less on her anger and more on the cause of her anger, realizing that this situation was reflecting her own lack of self-love. There is always a bigger lesson in our conflicts—especially when they are triggering strong emotions within us. I helped Christina process her emotions by allowing them to be present, and she drew awareness and power back to herself.

Each time she confirmed her feelings, I had her write each one down on a piece of paper. Up until this point, she hadn’t expressed her feelings to her husband. She was so caught up in her anger; she didn’t sit down and process “why” she was so angry, so she projected her anger onto him. I asked her, “Did your husband express his feelings using actual feeling words?”

Christina said no; he gave his reasons but not his feelings. Christina agreed to stop blaming her husband and focus on her feelings.

Once we define our feelings, the next step is to use responsible communication techniques with others. To connect with others, we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share how we feel in an accountable and respectful way. As the speaker, the intention is to be authentic—to speak from the heart about his or her feelings, to create a connection and peaceful resolution. With this intention as the foundation, it alleviates the blame game. It’s also important that each person has the opportunity to speak without the other person interrupting, making faces or shaking his or her head.

I told Christina that when she talked to her husband, she should stick with expressing her feelings and needs and give her husband the same opportunity. One night Christina told her husband that her anger was coming from her own self-love issues. Christina’s husband listened to her and expressed sympathy. To Christina’s relief, he apologized and said that he did want her involved in the projects. Christina finally felt acknowledged by him.

I’m proud of both of them. They shared their feelings and needs, listened to each other, felt heard and came to a happy resolution. I spoke to Christina a couple of months after this incident, and she told me that they were doing great. Now she is helping her friends use this communication technique in their relationships.


Surviving

June 12, 2013

Meet David Katz.

David survived the Holocaust on a very simple recipe, which wasn’t so simple to follow at the time: “Do what you’re told, never complain and most important, constantly visualize yourself being freed of this hell.” He shared this recipe with everyone around him. For those who listened, they survived and still thank him today.

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When a loved one passes away, that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy again. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to mourn your loved one. You’ll want to honor his or her memory.

But eventually, you’ll start to remember the happier times. You’ll want to experience that bliss again. And when you find another special someone – through meticulous selection or happy accident – you might be surprised by how much you’ll gain by opening up your heart once more.

Here’s to moving forward with the past in mind.

Meet Jim and Rachel Harper.

Jim and Rachel lost both their spouses in the 1950s. However, within a few years, Jim and Rachel met through an amazing set of coincidences and serendipity. They eventually got married and brought all their children together in a “Brady Bunch” type of way – long before the “Brady Bunch” was ever heard of. The children hit it off so well that they created an unwritten rule which said, “We are not step-siblings; we are true brothers and sisters.” Well, 60 years later they still follow that rule today. Jim and Rachel are still very much in love and are thankful to have found true love twice in a lifetime.

Image from creativecommons.org

Meet Barbara Woodworth

June 10, 2013

Meet Barbara Woodworth.

Barbara tells us about her husband, Bill, of 53 years, whose optimism is so contagious it inspires everyone around him. Bill had polio as a child and was forced to endure painful treatments and live in and out of hospitals most of his young life. Instead of complaining, Bill channeled that energy into humor and optimism that he shared with children who were also stricken with polio. It was said that he added light to their darkest days and helped them to recover as well. Today, Bill asserts that optimism and a sense of humor are as vital as food and water.

Mark your calendars because June 15 is almost here.”Contagious Optimism” will soon be available for your perusal.

Since the team knows you’re itching to get your hands on a copy, we want to treat you to daily tidbits about some of our fantastic writers. From June 4 to June 15, read our posts to see how people have faced obstacles and challenges by adopting an optimistic outlook – and how they are now determined to help others do the same.

Meet Lee Shilo:

Lee was tired of being ridiculed for not having a bike nor being able to afford one.  His single mother worked hard just to make ends meet.  But one day Lee had a bright idea. He knew he could run home from school every day instead of taking the bus and build up his strength and endurance to compete.  And he did it.  By his senior year, he not only became a track start, but also earned the number one title for track in the whole province and put his school on the map for competitive track and field.

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In less than two weeks you’ll be able to experience firsthand “Contagious Optimism” from front cover to back cover. Get excited!