Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I WIsh You a Merry Solstice!

I wish you a Merry Solstice
I wish you a Merry Solstice
I wish you a Merry Solstice
and a Happy New Year!

(sung to the tune of 'I Wish You a Merry Christmas')

Our winter solstice traditions come from the millenia before we had electricity, which is to say, before there was electric light, let alone radio, television, or the internet, and before there was central heating. That meant that in the darkest, coldest time of the year, about all there was to do in the long winter nights (and if you live in the far north, night goes on for weeks) was gather around the fire, talk, sing, eat, drink and have sex. So all our traditions come from that -- candles on a tree for more light, carols and stories to entertain us and the kids, good food and drink, mistletoe. 

Enjoy your solstice tonight!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Baker's Dozen of Tips for Pushing Stress Away at the Holidays

A few years ago, I was privileged to be part of a conversation of wise women about how to manage the holidays so that you can actually enjoy them. It turned out that there were common themes -- that we'd all gradually discovered the same things. Here they are:

1)    Know what’s important to you about the holidays -- For one friend, it's the spiritual aspect of this season, so that she can constantly remind herself of it and put the rest into perspective. For another, it's simply time with the family, to enjoy each other, so that they have happy memories. Be clear about what’s important to you and build traditions around what you value.

 2)    Find opportunities to serve other families and help other people -- Research shows this will increase your happiness, as well as others. I know one family who adopts a family to help each year. Their children are a part of this too, and they say it adds meaning to their celebration of the holidays.

3)    Keep it simple  -- One acquaintance says, "When our children were growing up, Our tradition was to give each of our children 1 new outfit of clothes, 1 book and 1 toy for Christmas. Now that our children have their own families they tell us that they now understand and appreciate their own childhood traditions even more."

4)    Make a list and stick to it  -- Do what you say you’ll do and don’t be tempted to do more than you’ve agreed to.

5)    Keep a binder of resources in one spot -- The binder could include a gift list, recipes, task list, projects, mailing list for holiday cards, directions for making decorations, locations of stored items.  It also helps to keep special things you use for the holidays in one place (e.g. linens, pans, decorations).

6)    Plan ahead – Do as much as you can during the days before your celebration. Only do what absolutely has to be done at the last minute on the day of the celebration. Having a written plan is essential. 

 7)    Do what works -- There’s no need to reinvent what you do every year for the holidays. If something you’ve done before has worked (e.g. a recipe, a seating arrangement, decorations) keep doing it. Include what works in your written plan. Having components of your celebration that you repeat becomes a part of the tradition and people look forward to traditions and annual “rituals”.

8)    Delegate wherever possible -- As the old saying goes, “many hands make light work.” Everyone wants to help and be a part of the celebration, even small children. Other people have talents and skills that you don’t. You really can't do it all -- at least not if you want to be healthy, sane and have some fun yourself! If you need babysitting so you can shop, ask for that. If you need help moving furniture, ask for that. One particular case of this is:

 9) Have others bring food -- Even if you’re not hosting a potluck, others enjoy contributing food to a holiday celebration. They feel more a part of the celebration if they've contributed -- and food is a particularly primal way to contribute.

10)  No One Cares What Your House Looks Like  -– Who is looking at whether the floor has been vacuumed? No one -- they're too busy with each other and the food and presents. Would you even want to hang around anyone to whom a clean floor is more important than the celebration? Again, an old saying works here: “The people that matter don’t mind and the people that mind don’t matter.”

11) Get support -- take care of yourself. Do something to feel supported, whether that's a massage or just time alone.

12) Set Good Boundaries -- What anyone thinks of you is none of your business. Stay away from people and places that stress you.

13)    Breathe -- Remember to breathe. Breathing brings you back into alignment.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The cancer in your soul

Every now and then I read something that says what needs to be said in such a clear and elegant way that I wish I'd written it myself. This is one such piece:

The cancer in your soul | The Intention Experiment

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Relatives for the holidays? Here's help!

We all know that being with our families, especially if we're going to our childhood home, or if we're going to be on 'their' turf, can bring up old feelings, old ways of being, that we've outgrown. We feel uncomfortable, or even miserable. We begin to wonder what's wrong with ourselves, and why we aren't acting like the person we know we've become.

You know, you go home, and your mother makes a comment about your clothes, and all of a sudden, you're 15 again, and resentful. Or your uncle is drinking again, and everyone rushes into their old enabling ways -- and you now see them for what they are.

And maybe you blame it on them.  Remember -- all relationships are two way streets. As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango.

Here's what you need to know to cope:

  • It's not about the present, it's about the past -- Because you have such a long history between you, you automatically fall into old patterns. These have been hardwired into your brain through long practice. 
Research shows that anything you do regularly creates neural pathways in your brain, and then you automatically run down those paths. A good analogy is lots of people walking between the same two buildings across a grassy field will literally create a dirt pathway, which new people then follow. 
Don't beat yourself up about this, just notice it and consciously choose a new path. This is work -- go easy on yourself.
  • They're not evil, they're just being who they are - If you've changed, and maybe even if you've just gotten some distance and some new reference points, you'll see dysfunction in things that just used to be normal
Judgment is singularly unhelpful here -- acceptance is a much better choice, even if you choose to set some boundaries for yourself around the dysfunction. At one point in my life, I decided that when I didn't want to hear an elderly relative's racist comments, I would just get up and leave the room, as quietly and unobtrusively as I could. There was no point in trying to change her, and no point in hanging around and feeling angrier and angrier. BTW, going to the bathroom is a useful 'excuse' in this situation. (PS - no one ever noticed.)
  • They expect you to be who you used to be - Why wouldn't they? They haven't been with you when you've had transformative experiences -- and unless you're extraordinarily close, you probably didn't mention them over the phone, either. 
My mother still thinks my favorite cheese is Jarlsberg, even though I've discovered I'm mildly allergic to cow's milk, so my new fave is Manchego, a sheep's milk cheese. Yes, I've mentioned it, but why would she remember? I'm gracious, as I thank her for trying to remember my preferences, as I remind her -- and then I eat a sliver, because I do still like it.  
  • You expect them to be who they used to be - This is the same thing - you may be surprised to find out your relatives have, in fact, changed. You could make a game of noticing - or asking - what their biggest discoveries have been since you've seen them last. In that spirit of rediscovery, you might find it easier to change the old annoying ways of relating. 
Armed with  these tactics -- have fun! Something new may await you.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The impressionyou manage appears to be your own!

We all know that when we try to stage manage ourselves, to appear in a certain way ("I'm confident", "I really know what I'm doing"), things feel a little weird. Here's evidence that your own perceptions change when you try to manage those of others:

BPS Research Digest: Trying to create an impression can alter your perception of others

Are some people more likely to get SAD -- just because of when they're born?

Season of birth may have long-term effects on personality, study suggests

Think of the Devil...

Most people know to call me on my land lines, not my cell phone, so my cell phone doesn't ring much. 

Last night, I was at a lecture where Marilyn Schlitz, the head of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, was speaking about their project on worldviews, based on her book, Living Deeply , and taking that into the schools. I thought strongly of a friend of mine, who is a middle school teacher in inner city LA, because I knew it was just up her alley. We were really good friends in college, but we don't talk all that much now -- we're both busy with work, family, etc. We hadn't spoken, in fact, since August. I actually wished she were there with me, listening to the lecture, so she could get fired up about it. 

During the lecture, my cell phone rang -- my friend in LA!

As I explained to her, telepathy needs two participants -- a sender and a receiver. I'm a powerful sender, and I guess she's a pretty good receiver. 

I really want to hear from you -- does this happen to you? When? Why? How?

PS - The title of this comes from the old expression, "Speak of the devil and he appears." I am in no way calling my friend the devil.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

I got this because I love her stand-up comedy, enjoy 'My Life on the D-List', and figured it would be good light reading. And it is -- it's fun, although you can skip the first three chapters, which were so boring I almost quit reading. (Sorry, Kathy -- and I know you're reading this, because you google yourself obsessively every day.)

The reason I'm writing about it here, though, is because there's a deeper message. Kathy describes very bluntly and clearly how show business works, and how deeply and completely committed you have to be to succeed, even when you're talented. She had plastic surgery to succeed (as did Lisa Kudrow, apparently). She reinvented herself many times. She paid for her own billboard in Hollywood in her campaign to win an Emmy. The list goes on from there.

This would be a great book to give a star struck teenager (Kathy's pretty blunt, it's definitely PG-13) so the teen knows what show biz is really like, and can decide if it's really for him/her.

But you should read it, too -- you'll find yourself laughing, and really liking Steve Wozniak.

Ignore at Your Own Peril

I reached a major milestone last Thursday, at least major for me -- I've now completed everything I need to do to be really on top of things, so I can move forward to new projects. I have renewed my CA real estate broker's license, cleaned out my files, reorganized them and shredded what had to be shredded, caught up on the bookkeeping, cleaned out the garage, overseen a few large real estate maintenance projects, dealt with the death of a beloved cat, and the exit from our home of my stepson. All of this, of course, on top of my usual reading/coaching sessions, and responsibilities to my business and our home. It feels great! :)

So when I finished my client work that day, I wanted to celebrate by -- okay, I know this doesn't sound like a celebration, but for me, on a weekday, it is -- going grocery shopping. Grocery shopping sounded like heaven! I could stop in at Trader Joe's and have a snack before I bought the 3 items I needed. I could wander around Costco and window shop before I bought my groceries. I could take my time, because there was nothing I really had to do.

But my sense of duty to my business said, "No, you have to send out your ezine. The main article is written, it will just take a few minutes to do the format changes to send it out, get it out."

So of course, iContact lost the work I'd already done, and refused to accept changes when I tried to start over. I spent an hour and half on the phone with a techie at iContact, who couldn't help me, and in the end just filed a bug ticket. (I'm doing someone else's QA again!) So there went 2 hours -- with less to show for it than before I began.

I should have just gone shopping!!

Many years ago, someone (wish I could remember whom) said, "Sometimes God speaks to us through our desires." Or maybe it's our guides or angels. Whatever. I should have listened to them last Thursday.

What did I learn? Ignore your guides' advice at your own peril.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Give the Gift of Clarity & Get Something for You, too!

Do you have a friend, or a family member, who is having a hard time in a relationship, or a business? Who just can't sort out which path to follow? Who can't decide whether to stay or go? Who can't see the forest for the trees?

This holiday season, rather than giving a quilted frog, or a book your friend might or might not read, give them what they really want -- clarity! One session with me will often help someone make huge changes. Here's what my clients say (posted on LinkedIn):
  • “After my very first session with Hollis, I felt vibrant and vibrating, as if I could power the lights of an entire city. Through her amazing insight and remarkable accuracy, I achieved a sense of calm and purpose, as well as usable tools. I was able to feel the results of our session immediately, and in fact, the tools came in handy that very evening. Much gratitude and looking forward to our continued work.” Sharon King, Real Estate Agent
  • “An hour with Hollis gave me the equivalent of two years of psychotherapy. Her insights are outstanding. I would not hesitate to give her my highest recommendation.” Ethan Hay, Educator
  • “I was facing a tricky career situation before I contacted Hollis. This situation left me with great uncertainty and worry. But after only one session with Hollis, she provided me with much greater clarity and understanding of where my direction should be. I noticed an almost immediately increase in self-confidence and have been able to forcefully move in this my direction. Hollis helped me visualize my current state, and then gave me some exercises to help me continue to move in my new direction. I had never had a reading before and was a bit skeptical. But, Hollis took away all that skepticism and replaced it with confidence....and a new direction.” Jay Lipe, Marketing Consultant & Business School Lecturer
  • “In less than an hour, Hollis helped me access and easily let go of my biggest unworkable habit, the need for approval. Since then, I've felt confidence and peace. I no longer have the need to please authority figures or certain other people. Letting go of that has made a huge impact! I can now speak up for myself, for what I want. I really appreciate the session we did, and am looking forward to more. I highly recommend Hollis Polk as a coach to get past blocks to success, joy and a better life. Great job!  Patricia Ogilvie, Web Marketer/Coach
To make this a bit easier, I am offering an holiday only special of 20% off for sessions of an hour or more paid for by Dec. 25, 2012. And along with this, I'll offer you this same 20% off for your next session of any length, completed by Feb. 28, 2013. Call me at 888-4-hollis (888-446-5547) to set this up, or send me an email at hollis@888-4-hollis.com.

(This offer is not to be combined with other programs, offers or discounts.)