5 COUNTER-INTUITIVE NOTIONS THAT CAN IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

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** image credit: Victoria Yore and Terrence Drysdale

Hi friends…

So what might those notions be?

These came to mind…

  1. Being still when you have a thousand things to do. Seems like the last thing you should do when you’re swamped with a busy schedule. There are people to see, places to go, fires to put out, calls to make, emails to send. But then, things aren’t always what they seem, are they? Here’s what St. Francis de Sales and Martin Luther had to say about it…

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2. Giving when you’re low on money. What? Really? That just doesn’t seem like good accounting. It seems like the last thing you should do when you’re low on cash, and wondering how you’re going to pay your bills is give some (or all) away. But for some reason, the law of the universe is “give and you shall receive.” Perhaps because it takes faith to give. It takes trust to give. And that faith and trust are never more tested than when we give even though it looks like utter foolishness. You can trace some of the greatest (and sometimes wealthiest) people to their generosity. If you were to examine some of their lives, you’d find that they gave when it hurt to give and when it seemed they had nothing.

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3. Doing less, not more. Striving: it seems like a good word and a good idea, but is it? Sure, we should strive to love more deeply, create more authentically, trust more fully, work more heartily, but striving is something different. Striving is doing something in our own strength and forgetting why we’re doing what we’re doing, and for whom. Striving can be exhausting. When there is much to do, and so many depending on us, to step away requires faith, it takes strength, and that first takes willingness.

 

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4. Loving and being kind to someone who has hurt or offended you. Whenever I’ve heard of people sort of mocking the idea of following Christ, as if it’s for simpletons and weaklings, I wonder if they know about this thing he said: love your enemies. This is where the rubber meets the road. Whether someone stepped on your toe, or destroyed your life (or the lives of people you love), we are called to love… which is the absolute last thing we feel like doing in that moment or season.

 

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5. Keep going when you feel like giving up. You’ve been planting seeds and watering them continuously. You’ve been hoping, praying, trusting for a situation to change or improve. You’ve done your part. What gives? What’s taking so long? Where’s that harvest you were promised? Sorry, I don’t have an answer on that one. I wonder myself sometimes.

What I do know is that even though everything in you wants to call it quits and forget about it… even though you’re frustrated, tired, exhausted and want to throw in the towel, something inside you refuses to give up. Even though it would be easier, you can’t. You won’t. You’ll get up one more day and keep going. You’ll trust one more day and anticipate something good, even though you have every reason to say, “Hey, after all this time, it ain’t happening.” Even though the outward reality looks completely opposite. Again, things aren’t always what they seem. Just like in the best plays, there’s always something going on behind the scenes to make the story one worth telling.

It’s what the best stories are about, the best movies: tenacity, overcoming, resilience… moxie. It doesn’t even seem possible to keep going, but you do and you will.

 

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In all five of these things, what stands out is that none of them “feel” good, or make sense. They’re completely contrary to how we normally operate. So they must require a strength outside of ourselves in order to pull it off.

Exactly.

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* * Image credit: Christian Schloe 

 

If you’d like to have a courageous conversation, click here to book an appointment with me (no charge). I’d be happy to talk with you and explore how you can move your life forward.

Blessings,

Monique

http://www.artoflifecoachmonique.com/

 

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ON PERSISTENT PRAYER & NEVER BEING ALONE-PODCAST

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Hi friends…

Sunday before last was my birthday and I thought the best way for me to celebrate it and give thanks for my life would be to put myself in a position for God to speak through me. So since our pastor is on vacation and we needed someone to fill in to prepare and share a sermon, I said, “Hey, I’ll do it.”

I’m seeing more and more why Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet,” and I’ve realized I may never be able to speak to a group of people about God without crying. I think I’m okay with that. It’s just hard to talk through tears is all.

Someone asked me afterwards what made me start crying. I later thought, “Well, that’s a pretty intimate question!” At the time, I wasn’t sure how to answer, but after thinking about it more, I realized it’s partly because when I look out into the faces of people, I can see in their eyes the pain they are carrying. For some, it may not be on a conscious level. For others, it’s very much on the surface. In any case, be it a blessing or something else, I’ve always been able to pick up on things going on beneath the surface when I walk into a room. It can be overwhelming at times, but it is a gift in that it gives me the ability to tune into what people are not saying and be sensitive to it. I suppose this is part of what made me cry.

Also because as I prepared this message, I thought mostly of my dear brother and his affliction, so he too was there in that sea of faces even if I couldn’t see him with my eyes.

I know people who have suffered, or are currently suffering–people I care deeply about–who think that God has abandoned them. And I want so much for them to know that it’s not true. Despite all outward appearances, he has not abandoned them. Or if you’re reading this, he has not abandoned you. Your spouse may have, your friends may have, your family may have, but God has not and it is a tragedy to confuse the two.

As for me, I can attest that it is God, and God alone, who has patiently carried me through every darkness, every pain and every trial and never left me. And that is perhaps why I cry when I speak about him. Because I so much want others to be free from suffering and just as much, I want them to know that when they are suffering, God is there suffering with them.

I hope this message will encourage you. Feel free to share with anyone you think might need to hear it.

To schedule an appointment for life coaching or spiritual guidance, please click this link.

Blessings,
Monique

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CAKE (a poem)

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There was a movie called Flashdance
(stick with me).
The main character said,
“I’m not a dancer like that.”
She wasn’t trained, didn’t have degrees
on the wall (hung mostly to impress).
She could just…dance. No one knew how.
No one saw her sweating it out in her living room,
practicing behind closed doors,
away from human eyes.
She was also one of “those” dancers—
the ones that don’t call themselves strippers
since they’re still wearing a string of cloth;
she had bills to pay, and besides, it was the one place
she could shake without judgment.

Like her,
I am not a writer “like that.”
I just…write.
I don’t have a scroll of accolades
trailing behind me like a wedding gown.
I’m not hip to who is currently the “best” in the country,
nor do I have a clue about the New York Times Book Review,
perhaps because so much of what moves me
isn’t making it to the bestseller lists
(you’d need to buy your own copies for that)…
obscure mystics like Evelyn Underhill,
and whisperings from the past by Blake and Rilke,
Dickens and George MacDonald—
people who wrote in blood and parchment, ink and blotter.

So I took “stripper” jobs (there were bills to pay).
Or what felt like their equivalent to someone
who writes for the love of writing, the written word,
and the power it has to bring light—
like music, like film, when it’s done well.

And I wonder: if artists were paid for
sheer love of what they do—
for the doing of it with heart’s blood—
not for applause,
not for kudos and thumbs-up,
not for being deemed part of the new trend,
how many would be rich, and how many poor?

There are the rare ones who hit the jackpot
without selling their souls—
those who stay true to their core
regardless of others’ jealousies, despisings, and misunderstandings,
unmoved by the questioning expectations left and right,
(nevermind words like “marketable”),
the C. S. Lewises, the Woody Allens.
But many are pushed aside by the loudmouths,
the narcissists, those pretending to shine,
and threatened by those touched with fire.

Little do they realize
that the glow of the True cannot be snuffed out.
Darkness has a go, but cannot overcome them.
Theirs is the final conquest,
the limping triumph of those who have made mosaics
from the broken pieces of themselves and their lives.
It is not registered in anything but
the peace and tranquility
of authenticity.
If money comes in a rushing wind,
it is the frosting, not the cake.
The cake is a soul
at peace with itself.

 

© Monique Amado
written November, 2012

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My Story of Healing from Eating Disorders (Podcast)

This will be part 1 of my story because there has been healing in so many areas of my life that each would require a separate talk. So I’m sure there will be more parts that I share on this topic in the future. But for now, I wanted to post the story I shared at church here in Berlin recently and my hope, as always, is that something I said might give hope and encouragement to someone listening.

There were moments of technical difficulty during my sharing…and a bit of nervousness…and a bit of crying. Our stories can be messy, so it’s no surprise that the telling of them can be too.

Click here to hear it.

It tells a bit about how I went from this:

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To this:

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I hope that if you, or someone you know, struggles with an eating disorder, or any kind of self-destructive behavior, that hearing my story will help you to not give up and to keep praying, keep hoping and keep knowing that God loves you no matter what’s going on and that healing and good things are possible.

Your life matters and you are needed here on this planet.

Blessings & peace,

Monique

p.s. If you need coaching and/or spiritual guidance, please click here to schedule an appointment for an introductory call with me.

 

 

WHAT IS THE SABOTEUR? (HINT: WE ALL HAVE ONE)

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Hi friend…

Do you ever have the experience where you’re about to do something you know you’re supposed to be doing and then you stop yourself? I don’t just mean doing the dishes or the laundry. I mean important stuff. Things your heart burns for. And yet, despite all the burning, there’s this voice inside you that takes a bucket of cold water and pours it all over you. And the next thing you know…

You’re doing something completely unrelated to whatever “it” is that you were meant to be doing.

I don’t know what it is for you. It could be a book you’ve been meaning to write. It could be that space you’ve been wanting to organize for yourself so that you’ll have a place to focus on your creative or spiritual life. It could be eating healthier so that you’re not sick and tired all the time. It could be a relationship you’ve been wanting to work on. It’s different for everyone.

But then some voice inside you says things like this:

“What’s the use? There’s no guarantee it’ll lead anywhere.”

“When I have more time.”

“So many other people are doing this. What makes me think I’ll ever get anywhere with it?”

“The last time I tried something like this, nothing came of it.”

“I’ll do it later.”

“I’m not good enough. / Nothing I do is good enough.”

“It needs to be perfect.”

Friend, that merry-go-round won’t stop on its own. You have to deal with it and stop it by force, even if it means bringing it to a screeching halt. Even if you have to dig your heels into the ground and feel like you’re being dragged a while before it stops. But stop it you must.

How do I know this? Because I have a tendency to ruminate, so if I’m not careful, I could spend hours ruminating and speculating and over-thinking. Granted, a big part of being a writer involves staring into space. But there’s a limit. I’ve had to learn to snap out of it. I do a lot of things to help with that—prayer, meditation, yoga, EFT, writing, watching and reading things that motivate and inspire me.

But in the end, the only way to cut it out is to… well, stop it. Get up and shake yourself out like a blanket that has crumbs on it. Because even crumbs can bury a person if there’s enough of them.

Remind yourself of the opportunities you have—very likely opportunities that a few years ago you only dreamed of. Or if not that, just reflect on what you’ve already done and how far you’ve already come. And if you’re having trouble remembering, call up someone who knows you well and ASK them. Ask them to remind you!

There are some friends who fit this quote so perfectly, they should have a t-shirt with it inscribed: “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it back to me when my memory fails.” Or, in some cases, a coach.

Make sure you have at least one person in your life who can jolt your memory and remind you who you truly are and of all the good you have done. Because this will help you to courageously keep going on days when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.

If you can’t reach a friend, consider sitting for 20 or 30 minutes and writing down all the good you have done and reminding yourself. I guarantee you, 20-30 minutes won’t be long enough.

I hope this encourages you and helps you feel less alone and more okay being human, knowing that there isn’t anyone on the planet who doesn’t struggle with self-doubt or The Saboteur.

Together, we can silence that debilitating voice and keep replacing it with the voice of grace and encouragement. The latter is the voice of truth.

If you need help battling the saboteur, you can click this link to go to my calendar and set up a free 30-minute introductory coaching call with me. 

Meanwhile, stay courageous,

Monique

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10 EMPOWERING TIPS FOR ADDICTIVE PERSONALITIES

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Some weeks ago, I posted a piece called Hope for Addictive Personalities here. 

Following are some tips to help you get started if you struggle with any type of addiction—from serious ones to ones that are not necessarily life threatening. Whether it’s an eating disorder, a drug addiction, a relationship addiction, a worry addiction, an internet addiction, a shopping addiction, or a nagging addiction, these apply…

1. Admission. Acknowledge and admit that you can’t go on like you have. The first step of surrendering and putting your hands up to say, “I can’t do it on my own” can bring a flood of relief. Especially combined with turning to a power greater than yourself, whether that is the God you believe in, or a supportive community, or both. (I realize not everyone believes in God. A loving, supportive community is God with skin on though.) It’s not about trying harder. It’s about laying down arms and admitting you’re powerless over this thing. It’s humbling to admit we don’t have something under control, but it’s a lot less exhausting than trying repeatedly to overcome something that we’re obviously not overcoming.

2. Change your thinking by replacing disempowering thoughts with empowering thoughts. It all starts in our minds. Once we get that sorted out, our actions begin to fall into place much more easily. Where you focus your mind, your energy follows. Instead of allowing your mind to automatically fall into old ways of thinking (which can lead into old ways of behaving), find ways of thinking that fill you up with energy, hope and confidence. This doesn’t happen overnight usually. It takes some discipline, but be encouraged! Your brain wants to help you. As you form new patterns of thinking and acting, your brain creates new neuropathways that will eventually make the new thoughts and actions the norm for you. Identify disempowering thoughts and intentionally replace them with thoughts that edify you, rather than bring you down. This step alone can lead to amazing results.

3. Become aware of the words that are coming out of your mouth. Know that, as it says in Proverbs, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Or as the poet Hafiz said, “The words you speak become the house you live in.” Think of each word you speak as being the brick and mortar of the life you want to be living. Which leads us to the next two…

4. Stop saying mean things to yourself. Life is hard enough without chanting about all that you don’t like about yourself and all you’ve done wrong. If you mess up, admit it, and press on. If you’re working on improving, then give yourself some credit for your willingness and tenacity.

5. Start saying kind things to yourself. Talk to yourself as you would to a good friend or someone you really care about, someone you want to encourage. It’s not egotistical to care about yourself. You could say it’s egotistical not to because when we care for ourselves and treat ourselves with love and respect, it’s easier to treat others the same way. Also known as “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Speak kindly both to yourself and to others.

6. Be intentional about your actions. This will flow more easily if you’re already thinking differently. Decide what you want to change, and take small steps towards changing it. At first it may be difficult, but difficult isn’t the same as impossible.

7. Tell someone. Talk to someone you know won’t judge you or try to rush your process, someone you know will come alongside and cheer you on as you take on the brave challenge of change. Not only will it give you accountability, it will give you momentum and courage.

8. Notice. Start noticing how, little by little, what once seemed impossible to change is becoming easier. You’ll see how you and your brain are working together to form new habits to replace the old ones.

9. Be gentle with yourself. If you have a day when you fall down, get back up. If no one else is around to do so, remind yourself that just starting on this new road is a huge hurdle you’ve overcome. Brush yourself off and try again.

10. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. Any great work takes time and effort and a lot of faith to keep going. Remind yourself how far you’ve come. Remind yourself that your life is a great work. Think of all the possibilities that may lie ahead for you if you simply keep going. Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel in one day, or in one go. Abraham Lincoln had a nervous breakdown and many setbacks before he became president.

You may not be running for any elections or looking to paint famous ceilings in Rome, but whatever it is you are trying to overcome, you can if you simply do not give up.

And I hope one day these hurdles that you face will only have paved the way on your personal road to greatness.

If you’d like to have a conversation, please click here to book an appointment (no charge). I’d be happy to talk with you and see how we can move your life forward.

p.s. Here is the version of this post that was published on Elephant Journal.

 

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10 THINGS TO DO WHEN THINGS LOOK HOPELESS

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1) Pray. If you’re not the praying type, then sit quietly and meditate on something good, true or beautiful. A few minutes, or one minute. You might find it so beneficial that you stay with it for longer periods of time and eventually might want to do it every day.

2) Call a friend and pour your heart out. Go ahead. Don’t be shy. Don’t convince yourself nobody wants to hear about your problems. Just call and ask if your friend has some time to spare and tell them that you’re needing a shoulder to lean on. Then let it out—the hurt, anger, sadness, grief, despondency, fear. Sometimes just being allowed the freedom to express how you’re feeling, and to know you’re supported, can lift a huge boulder off your back and help you to believe that things can get better. We’re not meant to carry our burdens alone.

3) Remember another time when things seemed hopeless and they ended up working out okay, or better than you thought, even if they got pretty unpleasant (or even horrendous) in the middle.

4) Watch something—like a movie or video about someone who overcame impossible odds, survived and went on to lead an amazing life. You could even watch nature—the way an ant will carry a piece of dirt or food that seems too heavy for it and try again and again until it succeeds. Or a bumblebee. Did you know that aerodynamically, it’s actually “impossible” for them to fly?

5) Listen to a song that inspires you and makes you happy (sing along at the top of your lungs). If you don’t have access to music for some reason, sing or whistle. It’s medically proven that both are good for your health and mind.

6) Get moving. Moving your body can release endorphins in your brain which will help you feel more positive. Dance, go for a walk, go running, do yoga, just do something that reminds you that you have a body. And don’t forget to breathe and notice your breathing. This alone can help you feel more grounded.

7) Do something nice for someone else. It makes the other person happy and it will automatically make you feel better. It’s an amazing principle woven into the fabric of the universe.

8) Make a gratitude list. You might be thinking, “A gratitude list?! I’m going through the worst thing imaginable.” I know. Just try it. Start with 1 thing. Then 3. Then 5. Then work your way up to 10. You may find that just writing down one thing will lead you to think of a bunch of other things you hadn’t thought about till now. Examples: friends, the ability to see, the ability to hear, good books, etc.

9) Do something—anything—to improve whatever you feel hopeless about…even if it seems pointless and like it won’t make any difference at all. Joan Baez said, “Action is the antidote to despair,” and she was right. One small positive action might be the beginning of everything turning around for the better. Don’t underestimate the power of starting small.

10) Believe that everything will be okay. It’s better to be an optimist and be wrong than to be a pessimist and be right. If everything ends up turning out well, think of all the days and hours you will have wasted fretting and worrying and being anxious. It’s always better to have faith. It’s better for your entire immune system, your muscles, and every part of your brain. Pessimism isn’t good for anything.

If you need help getting started with any of these and you’d like to schedule a free 30-minute exploratory coaching call with me, please click here and book yourself an appointment. I’d be happy to talk with you!

Grace & love,

Monique