I just returned from a weekend traveling solo to take part in a friend's wedding. The ceremony took place near Zion National Park in Utah. The love between the couple was true and free-flowing, the other bridesmaids were fun and fantastic, and the surroundings were awe-inspiring.
My friend (the bride) has always been drawn to Native American cultures. Their connection to the Earth and their holistic spirituality resonates with her, so she had a Native American officiant, and as part of the Bachelorette party day, some of the bridesmaids took part in an earthing ceremony in which we created a despacho (a prayer bundle) for the new couple to burn after the wedding. The shaman also led us through some other activities including smudging (to clear negative energy), picking spirit animal cards, and drumming. While I am not a religious person, I am fascinated by spirituality, and loved learning more about Native American beliefs, many of which make a lot of sense to me.
Because of our focus on these beliefs and the grandeur of the setting, we started to notice wildlife and comment on it. We were visited by several real "spirit animals" during our time together, and we had fun looking up the meaning. On our way to the earthing session, the bride, myself, and the two other participating bridesmaids saw a road runner. One website says this about the roadrunner: "Everyone protected by this totem is bound to be a good communicator and a social person. These people simply love spending time with other people and exchanging ideas." When we saw the road runner, this is exactly what we were doing.
Later, after the earthing session and a fantastic massage, I was laying in a hammock (such a luxury). When I went to pick up my purse, I had the most adorable baby lizard just hanging out on my stuff. He even allowed me to snap a picture. And when looking up the meaning of the lizard, I found this quote: "Don't be in such a hurry to get somewhere! Slow down, and look for the clues that are right in front of you." --Lizard
Pretty fitting since I was enjoying a nice relaxing bridesmaid day.
On the day of the wedding, 4 quails were in the yard just across the street as the bride was making her way to the car that would take her to the ceremony. We all pointed and laughed and said, "Our spirit animals for the day!" We also agreed that we needed to look it up. I didn't get a chance to do so until just now, and this is the quote of the quail: "Today is a day for family intimacy. You will find contented satisfaction in this."
No commentary needed, right?
As I flew home last night, I had some time to reflect on the weekend. I love nature and animals, so I'm pretty attuned to wildlife. However, being with the bridal party and putting the "spirit animal" twist on it took my observations to a new level. It was a fun way to look at the world, and I felt connected to my surroundings in a deeper way.
Life coaching does this. Life coaching facilitates a shift in focus which creates a shift in your mindset. As I noticed my "spirit animals," I felt that the world was working with me, even for me. Those animals would've been there regardless of how I chose to think about them, but raising my awareness helped me see them in a meaningful and uplifting way. I chose to feel a certain way about those animals, and I'm better off because of it. In addition, the whole bridal party bonded over our shared experience, and positive human connection is always a powerful thing. Likewise, when you experience a change in mindset through coaching, you can begin to see the world as working in your favor versus against you. When you learn to see events in a positive light, your inner voice becomes more enthusiastic and kind, which leads to improved relationships and deeper connection to others. I have seen this in the lives of others and felt it in my own experience. Contact me to get started on making these positive changes in your life.
On my last day in Utah, I was able to spend some time in Zion. I hiked Canyon Overlook (and took the picture that's at the beginning of the post), and I rode the shuttle to the last stop and hiked the first mile of The Narrows, a world-famous trail that requires you to wade through the Virgin River as you make your way through the narrowest part of the gorge. It is AWESOME. I hope to go back with my family in a few years to do the whole 16-mile stretch.
As I was on my way out of the river, I noticed a Painted Lady butterfly in the distance. I stopped and got out my phone with the hope of catching the lovely creature in a frame. I got set and watched as she got closer and closer eventually flying into the frame and landing on my phone! I said "well hello there" and watched as she gently crawled across my finger before flying away. It was a lovely ending to the weekend, one final and powerful spirit animal encounter, one that symbolizes "time for personal growth and greater awareness of your mental, physical, and spiritual rhythms," quite apt for me as I grow my life coaching business.
Watch for "spirit animals" in your life and share your stories with me!
My interest in self talk really ramped up when I saw the following picture a couple years ago:
That's a huge responsibility. And while I believe that many factors go into our self talk, this has made me pause many times and hear my words as the voice in my child's head. I have made a greater attempt to only plant positive seeds there.
As a coach, I've become even more interested (*obsessed*) with self talk. My inner voice rarely takes a break. Does yours? Are you even aware of what your brain is telling itself when you aren't actively controlling it? The brain is a powerful tool or weapon, depending on how you use it. Does your inner voice set you up for success or tear you down and weave self-doubt?
If you've never taken time to build awareness around your self talk, I recommend this exercise. Pick a chore that you do on a regular basis but that you don't really enjoy. Choose something that doesn't take a lot of concentration or skill. As you complete the chore, pay close attention to your self talk. For me, it's laundry. I think I could enjoy laundry if I only had to do a load a month, but with an active family of four, it piles up much more frequently than that. So I get annoyed with it. One day, I noticed how negative my inner voice was being. It was grumbling non-stop. It even went as far as suggesting that my family didn't respect my time or requests since there were STILL so many inside-out articles of clothing. By the time the load was folded, I was completely irritable. Where does your mind spiral when you are doing something unpleasant?
Once you've gained some awareness of your habit of thought, try changing it. Now, this isn't as simple as it sounds, so here are some pointers:
Once you've had some success redirecting your thoughts while doing a chore, you can start to build awareness and positive change around more complex brain patterns. For example, when you go swimsuit shopping, what is your voice telling you then? When you work out, are you encouraging yourself to keep going or trying to come up with an excuse to stop? When dealing with a challenging coworker, are you constantly reminding yourself what a jerk that guy is, or are you trying to see from his point of view?
The truth is, every thought is a choice. It might not feel that way. Some thoughts might be so ingrained or so habitual that you either don't notice them or think they are just a permanent part of your inner psyche. If your go-to thought has always been "this sucks" or "I can't do it," it might take a while to change. The first step is always awareness. I encourage you to take the next week to notice what your inner voice is saying, especially during boring, challenging or frustrating situations. Write down the thoughts you hear the most, and then try to find a replacement. Again, pick a thought you can wrap your mind around. Let's say you want to enjoy running more, but every time it starts to hurt you think, "This hurts. Running sucks. I'm out of shape. I should stop." You can't believably jump from that to "I love running! I feel amazing." However, you can move to a neutral thought such as, "I am running. I am out here doing it. I'm healthy and able enough to go for a run. I'll keep going." Or perhaps you can be positive about your surroundings, "Look at that beautiful tree. I'm running by my best friend's house...she's awesome. I'm glad I have a dog that will run with me. The air feels good. I like my neighborhood." The point is: CHOOSE a thought that is more uplifting than your default. Move...even if incrementally...from negative to positive.
Check out this fascinating talk about the power of a simple phrase: "I am enough." And then, if you're ready to give it a try but not sure where to start, I enlisted the help of my children to give you some ideas for simple phrases you can use to improve your inner voice. It really works!