The Four Agreements – Be Impeccable with Your Word

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements many years ago. Many people in my industry love The Four Agreements. I try to live them. They are not so simple. Over the next four weeks, we will delve into each of the Four Agreements. The first one is to be impeccable with your word.

What does be impeccable with your word mean?

Being impeccable with your word can mean different things to different people. For me, it is simply to mean what you say and say what you mean. We often speak before we think. It’s probably wise to do the opposite. Words can heal or harm. We should always try to choose ours carefully and intentionally. We want to lift others up, not tear them apart.

Verbal Abuse Hurts

As someone who has been through the pain of verbal abuse, I can tell you it’s rather painful. Words can be like weapons. Remember the children’s saying, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt me.” That’s an outright fallacy. I have been called many names throughout my life. I’ve also had broken bones. I know what sticks with me more today. It’s those hurtful words that cut me to the quick. It’s not the broken bones.

When we wield words as weapons, we do ourselves and others a disservice. We hurt people and we hurt ourselves. Karma exists and when we are practicing right speech, we are being intentional about what we say. We are allowing ourselves to think about what we say and to mean it. We are being impeccable with your word.

The Concept of Impeccability

I first heard this concept when I was reading the works of Carlos Castaneda. Truthfully, I didn’t understand it immediately. I was a college student at the time studying History and Latin American Studies at Tufts University. I thought it was a cool concept, but it would take me years to grasp. Impeccability is a way of living. It’s the ‘warrior’s way.’ As an impeccable person, you strive not to be flawless, but to be striving for it. You do and say the things that you are meant to and mean to. You are your word. It’s inherent in you. There is no separation of the two.

How can you practice the First Agreement?

This week try hard to say only what you mean. Think before you speak. Tell people things that are uplifting even if you must pause and take a few minutes to think of something kind. You can find it. You can choose your words to heal and not harm. You can take a minute to find something uplifting to say to someone else. You’ll find yourself feeling lighter as a result and better.

If you want to read, The Four Agreements, I would encourage you to do it. It’s a wonderful book. Next week, we’ll focus on the Second Agreement – don’t take things personally.

The Three Principles – Transformative Coaching

I provide a service known as ‘transformative coaching.’ I want you to know that yes, I do coach people who are looking to transform their health and their lives. However, ‘transformative coaching’ refers to a specific modality called The Three Principles.

What are The Three Principles?

The three principles refer to a self-help movement started by Sydney Banks. Sydney Banks is just a run of the mill Scotsman, who moved to Canada. He’s not a therapist or a guru of any kind. He’s a welder with a 9th grade education. While attending a marriage seminar in British Columbia, Banks discovered the three principles.

Banks discovered that “there’s no such thing as insecurity – it’s only thought.”

From that discovery, grew the three principles, which are Mind, Consciousness and Thought.

What is Mind?

Mind is the energy and intelligence of all life, whether in the form or the formless. The Universal Mind, also known as the impersonal mind, is constant and unchangeable. We all share in it. The personal mind, which is ours alone, is in a perpetual state of change. Sometimes, it’s referred to as the river.

What is Consciousness?

Consciousness is the gift of awareness. When we are aware of something, we are conscious of it. Consciousness allows the recognition of form. Form is just an expression of thought.

What is Thought?

Thought is a little more tenuous to grasp. The power of thought is not self-created. It is, in fact, a divine gift. It serves you immediately after you are born. It is the creative agent that we use to direct us through our lives. Thoughts can be changed and so can our experiences. There is great power in thought.

How Do We Use the Three Principles in Transformative Coaching?

Well, the three principles are a guide to help you look at your life in a different way. If you can remember that your natural state is whole and healthy then you will do everything you can to return to that state. Your body and mind want to feel well and whole. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

There is so much potential in us and the possibilities are endless. When we tap into those concepts, we can find so much joy in re-creating and re-fashioning our lives. I’ve had my awakening to the Three Principles and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. How can I not want to share that with you.

If you are ready to look at the world and your life in a completely different way, please contact me for a transformative coaching session. The first session is free and we will take it at your pace. You are the architect of your life. I will hold space for you and allow you to create.

How do you handle grief?

Grief is something that touches us all. In life, we lose people we love whether through death or other types of loss. We mourn the loss of relationships, the loss of love and the loss of life. We are saddened by the fact that someone is taken from us too soon because their time on Earth is never long enough. We wish we could’ve reached out to them sooner, to let them know how much we cared. Then, when it’s too late, we are left with sadness, regret, pain and a myriad of other feelings that are just hard to manage.

My recent loss

I have recently lost a treasured family member. I hadn’t seen her in years, but my Aunt Bev was responsible for some of my favorite childhood memories. She was always smiling and joking. She had the most beautiful laugh and she was the kind of mom you wished you had. She was a genuinely good person who had a difficult lot in life, but she was always there to offer a kind word or a hug to someone else in need.

She was the salt of the Earth. She had faced tragedy in her life but she never let it get her down. She lost two of her children before their time. It was heart-breaking for her, but she carried on. I hope that now she is gone, she is able to be with them. I want them to be reunited in heaven. I want to believe that is what happens, but I don’t know and that upsets me too.

How do I handle grief?

I allow the grief to enter into my spirit. I let it live there as long as it needs to. I cry and a I get angry. I go through the Kubler Ross stages of grief. Some stages are quicker than others. I know I feel powerless and this time I feel as though I’m losing ties to my family in the northeast. I have lost countless family members since I moved to Texas in 2001 and I haven’t been able to go home to say good-bye. My spirit has been there, but my body has not.

I feel immense guilt over this. I feel like I’m losing my entire family and a part of myself. My heritage means so much to me. As an Italian-Portuguese woman, my family is everything. I had to move away for a variety of reasons and I can’t afford to move back. Nor would I, but sometimes, I miss being there.

I really do.

The real guilt

As my parents age and are ill, I feel as though I won’t be able to be there for them when they need me. This hurts me deeply. I don’t know how to reconcile it. I don’t know if I can, or if I really want to.

You see, when I was younger, I took on a responsibility role that I was not ready or prepared for. I helped parent my parents and my younger siblings. When I left Massachusetts, I left that behind and am glad of that. I didn’t want the responsibility and sometimes resented it. Now, I find that there are times I miss it, but I don’t miss it enough to take the mantle back up.

It’s not my burden to bear.

What does this mean for grief in the larger sense?

Grief wraps itself up in a plethora of other emotions. We need to isolate them out and separate them. We need to honor each emotion, feel them and let them go as they need to. It takes time to recover from grief. We need to be compassionate and kind to ourselves, to let ourselves take the time to heal. Grief is a tough life lesson, but we can learn from it and become stronger and more resilient.

Final thoughts on grief

I know I am not alone in my grief. Many people feel grief every day and for some, it can be debilitating. If you struggle, know that you are not alone. You are loved and accepted. I love and accept you. Thank you for letting me share my grief with you here. It helps.

What is Mindset?

So many people toss around the term mindset. It has almost lost its meaning. To me, mindset is when you set your mind on doing something. Yeah, I’m pretty literal. In so doing, you decide that you will achieve a goal that you have set forth. You will do anything you need to do to get there. You are determined, you are willful, you are powerful, you are strong.

I set out to lose weight and I did. I set out to conquer my cravings and I did. I wanted to achieve these goals so badly that I knew I would. There was NO other option for me. Failure didn’t even enter into the equation.

As I take on the goal of losing my last 66 pounds this year, I know that I will achieve it. I believe in what I’m doing. It’s at the top of my to-do list. Every day I’m making choices that are pushing my goal forward. I exercise. I eat healthy food. I drink my water.

You can apply mindset to any goal you have. Put yourself in achiever mode. You have to believe in yourself. Other people may doubt you, but that’s not important. What matters is what is in your mind and in your heart.

You are a champion. You can achieve great things. Yesterday, I saw the movie “On the Basis of Sex” about a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG is a real badass girl. Why? She doesn’t let anyone stand in her way. She goes after what she wants and trusts her gut even when other people in her life tell her to quit. She will not give up or give in. She holds fast to her ideals and she achieves the nearly unthinkable.

Mindset is powerful. Master your mind and you can master yourself. You can achieve anything you put your mind to. If you need help getting your mind right, I’m happy to help. I can provide a safe space for you, a container where you can talk through your issues and your doubts so you can put them to rest.

I will be here with you every step of the way. Contact me today for more information. I’m here. Let’s set your mind right in 2019 and accomplish your goals no matter what they may be.

Can’t Hurt Me – A True Testament to the Iron Will

Can't Hurt Me

David Goggins is a badass. He’s a warrior. The former Navy Seal and extreme athlete is a personal hero of mine. I love how he pushes himself to be better. He’s on a constant mission of self-improvement and I strive to be like him as much as I can.

In his first book, Can’t Hurt Me, Goggins gets real and personal. He talks in depth about his life and how he overcame a difficult childhood, learning disabilities, obesity, health challenges, failed marriages and more. He ends each chapter with an action plan for the reader so that we can callous our minds the way he has.

Goggins believes that most people operate at 40% of their full potential. He calls it the 40 percent rule. He feels that we can access more of ourselves. We can do more and be more by just pushing ourselves a bit more. I’ve been trying it in my personal life with my exercise routine and it really makes sense to me.

I enjoyed reading this book immensely. Goggins really pours his soul into the book. He bares himself for all to see and doesn’t hold anything back. His honesty is refreshing and welcomed. He understands what it takes to be a warrior because he is one.

He went through Hell Week not once, not twice but three times. Each time, he faced some severe physical challenges, but he didn’t let them hold him back. As an extreme athlete, he discusses some significant health challenges. He always finds a way around them and never lets anything keep him down. I love his intestinal fortitude.

I personally have some health challenges and I love Goggins’ refusal to let them define him. I won’t let my limitations break me. I love this book for inspiration and insights. I learned a lot about David Goggins and how I can callous my mind to make me into the best version of myself.

I recommend this book highly. Please read it and do the chapter exercises to the best of your ability. I am currently going through the book a second time because there’s so much to learn.

The Power of Forgiveness

forgivenessThis is going to be a bit of a departure from my normal posts. I am writing about forgiveness. From the Greek for “letting go”, forgiveness is a difficult concept for many of us to grasp. Many of us think that it’s like the saying, ‘forgive and forget.’ No, that’s not true. You don’t to forget the past. However, you need to put it in the past where it belongs so it doesn’t mess with your present and your future.

For many years, I’ve been afraid to visit my family in Boston. I avoided them. I made excuses. I just didn’t want to deal with the feelings they brought up in me. I had significant trauma surrounding it. I won’t bore you with the details here. It’s not important. Not anymore and that’s the truth.

This past weekend, I went to visit my mom and dad and sisters. I have two brothers who don’t live in the area. I got to spend one on one time with everyone. I asked for forgiveness and got it. I realized that I wasn’t easy to live with. I saw them for the flawed people they are and forgave myself for being a flawed individual too. I’m not perfect. Nobody is and you know what  that’s okay with me now. I hope it always stays that way for me.

I think it will. When my mother extended her arm and told me that she remembered everything about me in her heart because she’s always loved me unconditionally, I cried. I am tearing up as I type these words. I love my mother. She is the type of person who will give a stranger the shirt off her back. She is that kind. She is going through a difficult time, and she’s lonely. I don’t want her to be.  I am going to be a better daughter to her and my dad from now on.

I am planning a trip to Boston again in January. I want to see them more often. I felt loved and appreciated. I felt heard and I believe they did too. It was a beautiful experience. You can go home again. You can heal the past. You just have to be open to it. I don’t want to lose more years like the ones I’ve lost so I won’t.

We make time for the things that are important to us and my family bonds are important to me. I know this now. It’s part of who I am and I wouldn’t have gotten there without forgiveness in my heart. Forgiveness is NOT weak. It’s extremely powerful. I will be a better person, a better coach, a better parent and a better daughter and sibling because of it. I feel so much joy thinking about it that  my heart may burst. That’s a beautiful thing.

I really feel 160 lbs lighter now. That’s pretty amazing, don’t you think?

Why Weight Loss Surgery Was Necessary For Me

weight loss surgerySometimes, I hear the statement that people who have weight loss or bariatric surgery have taken the easy way out. I’ll be honest, even my own sister-in-law said it to me when she found out I was having it. It incensed me. My decision and journey have not been easy. This is not a quick fix.

Weight Loss Surgery is a Tool, not a Magic Bullet

The truth is that weight loss surgery can help you lose weight if you are significantly overweight, which I was. By the time I’m done losing my weight, I will have lost over 200 lbs. That’s a lot of weight. Conventional methods did not work for me. I would lose a little and gain a lot back. I pretty much dieted myself up to nearly 400 lbs.

I am not lying. I wish I were. I wish there were a different way out for me. Bariatric surgery was literally my last hope. I had messed up my knee significantly. I tore my meniscus and I had bone on bone arthritis in my left knee. Why? I had too much weight on my legs for more than 20 years. I admit my responsibility in my poor health. Yes, I do.

My orthopedic surgeon told me I need to get to a 40 BMI before she’d do the surgery on me. I was at a 68 BMI. How insane is that?

So, I made the painful decision to have bariatric surgery for a second time. Oh yes, I had it once before. I had a lap band in 2010 and it was removed in 2013. I gained almost all the weight back from that time and I felt like a failure. I was scared that the sleeve would cause me great misery and wouldn’t wind up working.

Why Was This Time Different?

I prepared myself for my weight loss surgery. I had worked on my emotional overeating with a nutritionist and my therapist. I talked to my life coach about concerns on the weight loss journey. I read books and researched the surgery. I was an informed patient. I had also given myself a leg up on most weight loss surgery patients. I had experience with the process. I had the knowledge and will to succeed. My mindset was healthy. I was ready to let food go.

My Success

It hasn’t been easy. As of the writing of this article, I’ve lost over 160 lbs with just 60 more to go. I know I will reach my goals. I have no doubt of that. I know that this time I will keep the weight off. However, I have worked my tail off and have a ton of new and healthy habits to show for my work. This has NOT been an easy process. I can’t eat meat anymore. I can barely tolerate gluten. Becoming a gluten-free vegetarian was NOT in my life plan at all.

However, I’ve learned to roll with the punches and accept life for what it is. It’s not perfect. Food is NOT my friend. It’s also not my foe. It’s just food. I look at food so differently now than I used to and it’s healthy. I advocate a healthy relationship with food for my clients. I have discovered one for myself. I enjoy food sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t. It’s okay. I’ve gone from looking forward to my next meal to often forgetting to eat. It’s a weird sort of thing. I once went four days without eating because I wanted to test my hunger response. This surgery is a tool that’s helping me be successful, but the success is still mine. I didn’t take the easy way out and neither are you.

You deserve respect along your journey. Demand it. If you need help, I’m her

Bariatric Troubles

I understand bariatric troubles. My first surgery was in 2010. I was about 420 before the lap band. My doctor didn’t want to do it, but I was afraid of what I then called ‘mutilating my stomach.’ I had a sister who had the bypass and she was completely a mess. I know most of it was her own making, but there were mistakes by the surgeon as well.

I was scared to have the bypass. The sleeve wasn’t used then so the other options just seemed worse. I persuaded the surgeon to do the lap band. It happened in March of 2010. On surgery day, I was 397. I got down to about 268 in about a year and a half. I enjoyed a trip to Disney, but I was pretty miserable. I throw up a lot. We kept going in to readjust the filling and then sometimes taking out the filling on the lap band. I’m not going into specifics here, but basically you have a port, they put liquid in and it keeps your stomach ‘fuller’ so you eat less.

Eventually, I had to have the lap band removed. The new doctor I was using wanted me to get the duodenal switch. I said hell no and walked out of his office, vowing to lose weight on my own. I worked with a nutritionist and my therapist to figure out why I was addicted to food. You see I was really food addicted and I believe that many people who have these surgeries are. No one during this process prepared me for the feelings of loss and loneliness I’d feel without being able to overeat. No one told me that I would feel mental stuff because of this physical change.

I worked on myself for three years. I did try a lot of things to lose weight. I kept gaining. In December of 2016, I was at 387 lbs. I also tore my meniscus in my knee. I needed knee surgery but couldn’t have it because of my size. I decided to go back to a new doctor and get the sleeve. I went through the process. I prepared myself mentally and physically. I had the sleeve on June 6, 2017. I have, to date, lost 115 lbs from my high weight of 387. I still have a long way to go. 272 is good, but my goal is 175. I will get there.

Food is not an issue for me. I do still struggle with regurgitation and vomiting. I’m currently working with my surgeon to figure out what’s wrong. I have bad days and good days. I understand the process is not easy, but I am not a food addict anymore. Food is just food. A cookie, my food love, is now just a cookie and I don’t care if I eat it or not.

It’s very freeing and allows me to do other things and focus on other things like being a life coach and helping others like me. I’ve been there. I get it. Thank you for hearing some of my story.