But I want…I need…You should…

Although my first marriage only lasted 4 ½ years due to the untimely death of my husband, it lasted long enough for me to begin to learn some important life lessons.

JG was a good man.  He worked hard, loved his job, turned his pay over to me and never questioned how I spent it, was home every night by 5:30 (unless he had to pick up equipment for repair from Bakersfield or somewhere far away.)  He thought he was getting a sweet, young woman who would complete his life.  I thought I was getting someone who would fill my insatiable need for reassurance, affection and attention. 

We were both wrong.

He worked all day, six days a week and we spent most of the seventh day at church.  Several times every month I would complain, beg, nag and pout about how little attention I was getting from him.  Why couldn’t he take an occasional day off?  Why didn’t he tell me he loved me more often?  The only relief were our occasional vacations where I got to be with him 24/7.  But for 50 weeks out of 52 I was unhappy and made sure he knew it.

I didn’t like the results.  We were both unhappy most of the time.  Not the marriage either of us had envisioned!

I was finally desperate enough to tell God, “I’ll do anything to make this marriage better.  I’m even willing to change if you’ll just tell me how!” (I’m sure God breathed a sigh of relief!)  There were no lightening bolts or voices out of the heavens, but the first little whisper of an idea came shortly after.  “Instead of complaining about how little time you have together, how about being grateful for any time you DO HAVE?”  Hmmm…

So, every evening when his truck pulled into our driveway, I said a prayer of thanks.  “Thank you that he’s home safely.  Thank you that he comes home faithfully.  Thank you for the next few hours that we have together.”  And then greeted him warmly when he came through the door.

A few weeks later, as he was leaving for work one Saturday morning, he said, “I’m planning on coming home at noon today.  Is there anything you’d like to do?”  Shock.  Wow.  I didn’t even know what to say.  If my memory serves, we had lunch, went for a drive, got an ice cream cone…all without any discord…peacefully, lovingly…time that nurtured my need for his attention.

That lesson…being grateful for what is, rather than unhappy about what isn’t…has continued to be a life-lesson theme for me.  This lesson repeatedly calls me back to what Ekhart Tolle calls “the present moment” in his book, The Power of NowIn this moment I am safe.  In this moment the main bills are paid.  In this moment I have food for myself, my chickens and my dogs.  Living in the moment, and being grateful for what is RIGHT NOW, is a powerful spiritual practice that continues to challenge and enrich my life.

Being grateful for what is good NOW seems to go against our natural inclination to worry about the future, fret about how a bill will be paid, focus on our partner’s failings, create imaginary scenarios in which we fail, or are disappointed.

But the payoff for gratitude is a more peaceful life, more peaceful relationships, a quieter mind, an opening that seems to attract more miracles like JG’s offer to come home at noon, or unexpected income, or help such as the woman who offered to help me transfer groceries from my loaded cart into the trunk of my car this week.  Gratitude seems to grow the good in my life.  Will you take the challenge?

What is true about your life NOW for which you can be grateful?  Are you willing to join me in the discipline of pulling our attention back to RIGHT NOW and being grateful for the good that is ours in this moment?  You have my respect and support if you answer “Yes!” and my compassion and understanding if you refuse…  It’s hard.  It’s not a once and it’s done event.  It is a practice, a journey, a calling that must be answered over and over again, moment by moment.  

All I can add is that the practice of gratitude, although certainly not done perfectly, has brought many more blessings and miracles into my life than I couldn’t have gotten by complaining and nagging!

How Are Your Plans Coming Along?

Is your life looking like the blueprints you had in your mind ten or twenty years ago?  Is your marriage living up to the dreams you had for it?

Or are you suffering with a marriage or relationship that isn’t matching your plans?

“When life doesn’t match your blueprints, you suffer.”  I’m sorry I don’t remember where I picked up this statement, but isn’t it the TRUTH?!

When my body isn’t in the shape I want…When my partner doesn’t act lovingly toward me…When my child doesn’t live up to the potential I see in him or her…When my income isn’t what I’ve dreamed of…When… (fill in the blanks.)

And then perhaps you want to shoot the friend who says, “Everything works out for the best,” Or the spiritual leader who says, “We are providentially given the lessons we need to learn,” or, “Life is a school with lessons custom designed for each of us.”

I’ve had a few lessons that I wouldn’t have wished on my worst enemy, (if I had one!)  There were times when, truthfully, I just wanted my life to be over.  Sometimes THIS life is just too hard…too unbearable.

I’ve been widowed twice.  I’ve had major challenges in relationship to my children and step-children.  I’ve gone through a few seasons of financial strain.  My body has broken down and periodically caused me great pain, both emotionally and physically.  I’m experiencing aging…and facing what might be seen as the final decades of my life.

And yet, every tough season, every lesson learned, has delivered or brought me closer to my childhood dreams of (1) enjoying a loving, peaceful relationship with the love of my life, (2) having five children, (3) participating in loving relationships with each of them, and (4) writing books to help others have loving relationships.  The bonus has been my practice of personally coaching couples and seeing an online course published to help those, and other couples become more loving.

What were your life blueprints?  What areas of your life look like a building plan gone awry?  Who are you blaming for “mistakes” that have brought you a life that is a disaster in some area or another?

If you (or I) are suffering, it is because we long for a perfect construction being built according to our blueprints.  When our life doesn’t match our plans, we suffer.

I have the advantage of looking back and appreciating how perfect the lessons have been that I needed to achieve my childhood dreams.  I still have circumstances I don’t particularly like, but I am not fighting them as desperately as I used to.  So, what am I doing instead?

  1. I express gratitude for every lesson…sometimes through gritted teeth, but GRATITUDE.
  2. I look for and expect to be given teachers, guides, skills that will enable me to move through the suffering to a solution that works for me.
  3. I trust that there is a Guiding Force, the Universe, God who is orchestrating a PLAN that is perfect for me…and supporting me as I do my best to cooperate with my journey.
  4. I celebrate every success: each time that I choose food that is healthy for me, each coaching session where couples are excited about less hurt and more love because of skills I’m teaching them, every loving interaction with a family member or friend, each offer of help or evidence that I am, indeed, being guided.

I can’t help with many things that may be causing you pain, but if your marriage or love relationship isn’t matching your dreams, call me.  I may be able to show you how Jim and I achieved the marriage that matched our blueprints!  We’ll start with a complimentary appointment to see if your needs match my skills…and if they do, we’ll work out a plan to move toward enabling your relationship to come closer to the dream blueprint you had in mind!

https://meetme.so/SpeakWithNancy

Holiday Traditions: Saying Grace

Our family always says “grace” before a meal.  You and I probably won’t be sitting at the same table, but I’d really like to “grace” you with a few blessings from my heart to yours:

Bless you for finding value in my blog… (I assume you wouldn’t read it otherwise.)

Many thanks to those of you who have left encouraging comments…

Thank you for being on this journey of Life with me…

I ADMIRE you for caring about your relationships…

May your celebrations of this Season be filled with Joy, Love and Peace…

May your relationships be mutual expressions of Love…

May the food on your table be scrumptious

May you navigate the holidays in such a way that you feel blessed, rather than stressed…

May you complete whatever journey you are on with Ease…

I so value all the ways you are blessing me!

Sending you a BIG HUG across the ether!

Best wishes, 

Free Download: TRADITIONS: Saying Grace

Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #4

Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #4 – Where the Rubber Meets the Road!

It’s not hard to be grateful when something is going well.  This week while planning this challenge, many lost their homes to California wild fires.  I was grateful my son’s home in northern CA was spared.

He is a helicopter pilot.  I was especially grateful that he came home safely after finishing his all night shift rescuing people during 70 mph winds.

These are easy things for which to be thankful.  But can we stretch into gratitude for a home and all belongings burned in that fire? Or a child who has become drug addicted? Or a struggling marriage? Or a spouse who dies before his time? Or an illness that places harsh limits on your life?

This is where the rubber meets the road.

You may be asking, “What is the advantage to being thankful about hard, painful things?  Why should I?

Because gratitude opens the heart.  Being thankful for the hard stuff is the ultimate expression of faith.  You may not share my faith.  That’s no problem.  Whether you talk to your God, or the Universe, it hears you.  It responds to your open heart.

An open heart says, “I’m open to whatever good can come from this pain.  I’m open to see new opportunities brought to me by this disaster.  I’m open to learning new lessons that will benefit me in ways I can’t predict right now.  I’m open to a Wisdom that is beyond my limited vision.

And then you persevere.  You put one foot in front of the other. You ask for help.  You do your best to be grateful even while in pain, and waiting for the Grand Plan to reveal itself.  You find joy in small gifts…the companionship of a loyal animal, a neighbor who awkwardly expresses their sympathy, the hug of your spouse, a lost keepsake returned to you.

You may think, “Now she’s gone too far.  I don’t want to hear her preaching!”  This is not preaching.  It’s teaching a universal life lesson!  It’s expanding your consciousness of what may be possible!

Next week I’ll share a few of the hard, painful stuff for which I have been thankful, sometimes while pounding a pillow and screaming my pain…

Are you ready to try out this road with me?  To accept the challenge where the rubber meets the road?  I’d love to hear from you!

Get your FREE Download – Rubber Meeting the Road!

The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #3

Never Enough? or Abundance?

This is Week #3 of my Radical Gratitude Challenge.  We’re going to talk about how easy it is to think in terms of “never enough!”

He doesn’t love me enough!  She isn’t fun enough! We don’t go out enough!  There’s never enough money! There’s not enough time!  We don’t make love often enough!  Not enough…not enough…not enough…

Years ago, after our marriage was solid, but our finances were not, I found myself making out deposit slips while thinking, “This isn’t enough!”  That sentence became like a hamster wheel going ’round and ’round in my mind.

I knew enough about how our thoughts often create our reality, that, one day, when I consciously caught the unconscious refrain in my head, I decided to change my mantra.  Whenever I thought about our financial condition, and particularly when I was filling out a deposit slip, I began saying, “Thank you for this $300.  I so appreciate this $150!”  My goal was to become more aware of the abundance we enjoyed, with or without an overflowing bank account.

I splurged on a 79c package of sweet pea seeds and planted them along a 30 foot length of fence in our backyard.  Within weeks, the prolific vines were much taller than the fence and producing thousands of pink, purple, white, maroon, and lavender flowers…filling the air with their sweet scent.

What a perfect metaphor for abundance!  While I was thanking God for every little check that cleared the bank, I expressed gratitude for the rich color of our green grass, for the joyfulness of my dog playing fetch, for the solid screen of gorgeous color from the sweet peas.

It wasn’t long before I noticed that every month, each bill was paid on time. Slowly we were climbing out of the financial hole we’d been in.

There is ZERO doubt in my mind that the reason was because we began feeling grateful and rich, long before there was any evidence of prosperity in our bank account.

Download your free worksheet for attracting abundance with gratitude!

Financial stress is one of the top reasons cited for marital discord.  What if you, with or without your partner’s participation, began to practice gratitude?  What if you began to be open to seeing abundance in your lives, rather than lack. What happy surprises might find their way into  your open hearts?  Are you willing to apply this Radical Gratitude Challenge to your finances?  I dare you!  Please report in via the Facebook Page or comment below!

 

The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #2

The Art of Expressing Gratitude

This is Week #2 in my Radical Gratitude Challenge.  Last week I challenged you to express gratitude to your partner.  And, if necessary, work at it, dig around a little, but find things for which you can express appreciation face to face.  Thinking it in your head, doesn’t count.

But there’s an art to effectively expressing appreciation.  Throwing out a general, “Thanks for marrying me” doesn’t cut it.  In order to reach your partner’s heart, the words must describe a specific act, or habit, or character quality.

Like this: “This morning when you went out of your way to kiss me before leaving, I felt so loved!”  Or, “I saw how you handled the situation with our daughter.  You were so kind!”  Or, “Today I was thinking about how lucky I am that I can always count on you to come home after work each day.  Not every woman can say that!” Or, “Thank you for cleaning up after dinner last night.  That was a special gift to me!

My late husband Jim would sometimes put in a very long day.  He loved it when I met him at the front door with a hug, and said, “Thank you for working so hard for us today!”

If Jim saw me at my sewing machine, he would grin and say, “There you go! Making something cute again!”  And my heart would glow.

So in addition to being very intentional about expressing gratitude and appreciation this week, deliver the words about something specific in order to make the most impact in your relationship!

Download your free guide to the Art of Expressing Gratitude.

How’s it going?  Are you finding this Radical Gratitude Challenge a challenge?  Please share what has happened when you gave your partner a compliment. What happens inside of you?  What was your partner’s response?  Share with me on my Facebook Page or in the comments below!

The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #1

We are six weeks away from our Thanksgiving holiday.  These six weeks could change your life and your marriage forever!  But first a little history…

Every school play reenacts the first harvest celebration in 1621.  More than 200 years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a holiday. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the date by signing a bill in 1941. It declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

Most major religions encourage a spiritual practice of gratitude.  One of the first verses I learned from the Bible was, “In everything give thanks.” (Ephesians 5:20.)  I confess that there have been times when I’ve asked, “Everything, God?  Really? Everything?”

During a particularly challenging time in my life, I began practicing gratitude as a spiritual commitment.  Being thankful for everything really did transform my attitude, and eventually the circumstances.

When new challenges come, the habit of being thankful (sometimes through gritted teeth!) reminds me that I don’t yet know the end of the story.  Circumstances change.  And they’re more apt to change in my favor if I keep my heart open by practicing gratitude.  Fear and discontent close my heart and my circumstances to happy surprises.

In this post and in the next five weeks, I’m issuing a challenge.  Each week I’ll be challenging you to focus on one area of your life where it may be hard to be grateful.

Are you up for it?  What have you got to lose?

Since I am a relationship coach, my first challenge to you is to be grateful for your partnerDECIDE that you will spend the next week looking for qualities, actions, and gestures for which you can express gratitude…not just in your heart, but face to face!

Examples:  “Thank you for being so consistent about helping out with the kids’ bedtime.”  Or, “I appreciate that you let me know that you might be home late.”  Or, “I love that you are so conscientious about getting our bills paid on time.”

Now these may not fit.  But you get what I mean.  Work this! Dig if you have to!  But find things you appreciate about your spouse!

Because….whatever we focus on, increases.  When you only deliver complaints, pretty soon, all you see are things you want to change.  When you focus on things for which you can genuinely be thankful, the irritations shrink as they are more than balanced out by things that are good.

Are you ready to try Radical Gratitude?  I challenge you to say, “Thank you for…” or “I appreciate….”  or “I’m grateful for…” whenever your mind starts to dwell on a problem or dissatisfaction with your partner.  Each week I invite you to share what this Radical Gratitude Challenge has done for your heart and your relationship.  And I’ll share my experiences with you!  If you are accepting this challenge, leave a comment below.

Go Deeper with Radical Gratitude with this Free Download