My friend has the greatest memory. “Allison do you remember Jean?” She asked me. I, searching my memory, answered honestly “No, who is she”. Then came the exasperated sigh. “Of course you must remember her, remember we did….” And so it would continue with the hoped for result of me saying “Oh now I remember and yes we did do so and so and went this place together, yada yada yada.” But it never ends that way. It usually ended with “No matter how many memories you drag out you know I don’t have your memory, but I believe you when you say I know her, now what about her.” My friend and I have been friends since I was 8 and she 7 years old so she is a sort of historian for me because my long term memory sucks. I wonder sometimes why she has such clear memories of our childhood, while mine are so vague. We did life together as children and shared many experiences because our two families were close.
As I wandered through the Museum with my mentees on a field trip to view photographer Kristy Mitchell’s Wonderland exhibit I was overtaken with the beauty of the experience. Indeed it was an exhibit designed to draw you in emotionally. My girls (mentees) wandered the wide rooms and were absorbing the images, interacting with the art and the artist through her work. I looked around to check in on each of them to make sure they were getting the most out of the experience when I spotted one of the girls sitting and focused on her phone.
I quietly came and sat next to her. By the time she registered my presence she knew she had been caught. I asked “Is what you are doing on your phone something that you can do later?” “Yes” she softly replied. “Is there something going on right now here, with these people, that cannot be done later?” “Yes” she again replied. “Don’t lose this moment or this experience. It will never return and in the place of a memory you will have regret.” I told her this and quietly left her to make a decision. I later observed her wandering around the museum along with her peers and sharing thoughts on the photos.
I believe that I missed many moments in my youth, but not due to a phone. I was a voracious reader. I carried a book with me where ever I went, hoping for an uninterrupted moment where I could pull it out and jump from my reality back to whatever world, time, or place that waited between the pages. My friends lived in those pages. I knew all the Little Women, and later the Little Men, I read many different genres and felt bereft when I had exhausted the offerings of a particular author.
Although reading is great and I don’t regret reading, I do regret not being present for much of my childhood experiences. Many of which were great, according to my friend, my historian. I didn’t want my mentee to have a similar regret. Even today I still have to remind myself to be present in each season of my life and not to waste it in experiences that can be had at any time. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I want to experience the purpose for which God has given me this time. Only in doing that do I know I will have no regret. Purpose in your heart today, to be present. This time has been given to you for a reason; do you know what it is?
One of the sayings I frequently quote is “been there, done that, got the T-shirt”. I don’t know where I first heard it from, but it captures for me the idea that something is familiar and not worth revisiting.
I’m reminded of that phrase when I hear clients speak about balancing their life, livelihood, and relationships. As someone who was running a business, raising a family and being available to my spouse, sometimes it felt overwhelming. There were some low points when I asked myself “why”, why try to build a business when I could just go work for someone else. Why should I be struggling, shouldn’t my spouse give more so I could struggle less? Why aren’t my kids and home more manageable? Yes, I asked the questions, no one answered.
I figured it out, with God’s help. I was able to see the value in right prioritization and staying focused on main things without getting distracted. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
When I coach, I coach from what I know, and what I believe to be true. I can coach on how to reduce the mom guilt that often accompanies women who are trying to build businesses who also have a family and romantic partner. I want women to be able to enjoy this demanding, but at the same time exciting journey. Being coached is just a fast-forward button to get you where you are headed. Yes you can get there without coaching, but the journey may take longer and there may be several painful detours. That is why I say “been here done that, got the T-shirt”, so you don’t have to take the same trip, I’ll just give you the T-shirt.
My son is purchasing his first home and asked me along to give perspective. While watching him deal with realtors and lenders I was understandably proud, but also intrigued. You see although he doesn’t have a lot of money, he knows what he wants and keeps insisting that it is out there.
I see him get excited about a listing then when he visits it he evaluates it based on a list of non-negotiables that must be met before he will make an offer. He isn’t going to put down his hard earned money just because of emotions. Some of the houses were great, but not great for him.
The best thing however that I have observed is his refusal to approach any handy-man specials, or fixer uppers. You see he knows himself; he is not into rehabbing anything. My son is capable of much, having worked at house projects and landscaping with his dad and myself for years in our home, but he is clear that that is not where he finds his bliss. He wants a home that is move-in ready. He doesn’t want to spend his after work hours fixing up a house, nothing beyond regular maintenance. So he goes out at least 3 evenings a week and on weekends looking at homes listed in our area and within his price range.
As I sit and write about this you may wonder what is the point? The point is simply this, what are your non-negotiables when looking for a mate? Do you even know what you want or are you so focused on what you don’t want that it is all that you can see and all that you keep drawing into your life? I have met women who can speak to me for hours about all the bad, negative traits that they want to avoid in a mate, but could barely give me 3 sentences about the positive traits that they want. What you focus on is what you attract. Having a list of non-negotiables is not a bad thing, as long as it is a list of what you want and not only what you don’t want.
When you have looked for awhile and you don’t immediately see what you want, do you tend to compromise? When you compromise, you are basically saying that what I want isn’t realistic, it’s not out there, or that I am too impatient to wait for it to materialize. In my son’s case he is planning on getting a 30 year mortgage and 30 years is a long time to live with something you are not happy with. He is not looking to flip a house, he is looking to live long-term in that home. No rehabbing for him.
Are you looking for long-term, or are you thinking that if this doesn’t working out you will just “flip it” and find something else. If that is your mentality, then you will be attracted to rehab projects. You will work to improve that project until it is either rehabbed or you become tired and then will find yourself starting over again with another rehab project, hoping for better results next time.
My suggestion is, unless you like doing all that traumatic relationship work, look for a relationship that is move in ready. I don’t mean that you move into his home, but that his heart is already safe, danger free, and has space for you to comfortably exist. On your end, you should not be a rehab project yourself, because if you are a mess, all you will be doing is bringing your mess into his prepared space and making it chaotic.
Some things for you to think about as you look for a romantic partner (or a home).
Make sure that you are also healthy in the ways you approach and evaluate relationships, because you can’t bring illness into a healthy situation and expect it to stay healthy. It takes two to make a strong healthy relationship. Finding a strong safe shelter for your heart and your person is only half the equation. Do you have the skills to keep it strong and safe, do you know how to maintain and repair if damage occurs? Focus on being a Proverbs 31 woman and you will attract a Proverbs 31 man.
If this message is not for you, but as you read it you thought of someone else who needed to hear this, do them a favor and pass it on. God has given me a passion for helping young women 25-55 years of age to understand their relationship skills and challenges so that they can have a heart open to be a safe and welcoming space for a young man who has a move in ready heart prepared for a long-term commitment. www.focusedlifecoaching.org
Do you know why as coaches we encourage clients to commit to a coaching plan (several session over a period of time)? It is because we know that our client's are not just looking for a short term fix to a situation, they are looking for a lasting change that corrects that situation or that prevents them from revisiting that situation ever again.
Think about that the next time you reach for a quick fix on anything. I offer a 30 minute FREE consultation that is just to get you started. Commitment to change that brings success is reflected in commitment to a coaching plan.
When we think of leadership we usually think of the person up front. That person who leads is usually an expert, the brightest, fastest, strongest or most charismatic. Because of this they are destined for leadership, right? Well what about the rest of the world. Can those who are not the brightest, or most charismatic, can they still be leaders?
We should all strive to be the best at whatever we engage in and do so with confidence, but we should also know that there are other attributes to leadership. On your way to being the best, all the positions along the way can offer you opportunities to display leadership. You can lead from where you are. If you are not positioned up front, or in the corner office, your contribution and influence still matters. Seeing influence and contributions as key attributes to leadership is as important as positioning.
If you change your thinking about leadership your position may follow. Remember Jesus was a servant leader, he led by serving others.
Have you ever wondered why some adults are so timid about pursuing their dreams? I think the following story explains it well.
The speaker looked into the faces of the elementary school students and asked with great enthusiasm “What do you want to be when you grow up”. Before he finished the sentence many hands shot up. The students were excited to share their belief that they will be Presidents, Astronauts, Horse trainers, Superheroes…and the list went on and on. The students spoke loudly and even met the laughter from others with good-natured laughter themselves. Their confidence could not be quenched.
The speaker five years later met these same students in Middle school and enthusiastically asked them the same question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. With a degree of self consciousness a few students put up their hands and shared “I going to be a teacher, I going to get a job at McDonalds, or I’m going to work with my Dad, Mechanic… then silence. The speaker looked around and asked would anyone else care to share their dream about what they will do in the future? He was met with students looking down at their hands and whispering to each other.
That same speaker met with the same students five years later in High School and with a smile of encouragement asked them “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. He was met with silence, no hands raised. He decided to pick students out of the audience and ask them to stand and share their hopes for their future employment. The answers ranged from a distracted “I don’t know” to an “I think I’m going to go to college and then decide after that.” One boy said he planned to study medicine and become a Doctor, however with head hung down and as he lowered his voice he didn’t appear to be confident that statement.
The same students were seen at five year spans, what happened, what changed? Where were those confident, brave, enthusiastic six year olds he had first encountered? Somewhere along the way seeds of doubt had been planted, weeds of self consciousness had grown, and shrubs of inadequacy stayed.
This story is unfortunately played out too often and witnessed in the lack of confidence displayed by many adults as they approach their dreams. It may be a dream for a future spouse, financial stability in a career they are passionate about, or a personal health and wellness goal. Regardless of the goal, many adults need help so that they can recover that bright, brave and brilliant child who believed in the best possibilities for their life and future. With coaching my clients are able to recover their ability to dream big, but go further and add plans and actions so that those dreams can become reality. Along the way there may be challenges, but there are also supports if you know how to look for them. The value of those supports and encouragement cannot be underestimated.
If you have some unrealized dreams that you want to explore and are ready to take a chance and bravely pursue, call me for a free consultation to see if this is the path and the time to begin your own dream recovery.
Allison Bonilla LCSW
Your Focused Life Coach
Have you ever had the experience of wanting something, going after it, achieving it, then wanting to change your mind? This happens more frequently than you would think.
My husband and I have been blessed to raise 5 children to adulthood. Four out of the five, as they approached adulthood expressed the wish to live independently. It sometimes sounded like this “I can’t wait till I’m 18 and can get out of here”. When said like this it was usually a reaction to some rule or boundary being put in place.
At other times it sounded like this, “When I get my own place I want to make sure I have a pool and a gym at the complex so that I don’t have to pay and get a gym membership”. When said like this it was usually at a time when we were talking about the child’s adult aspirations.
No matter how the discussion arose, the intent was clear; they were all going to move out of the parental home and into a home of their own. My husband and I prepared our hearts for it, and at times wished it would arrive soon, and at other times feared the fast arrival of that time.
Each child in their turn migrated out of the home, with the exception of one. And each child in their turn came back, with the exception of one who has maintained his independence continuously. That child by the way is the only one who really planned their exit financially and didn’t do it as a reaction to boundaries being set.
What my husband and I realized was that although we loved them all, even when they at times were being unlovable, we knew that they needed to have the freedom to try their wings. We also knew that we couldn’t roll up the welcome mat yet. We kept the safety net spread in case their wings were not strong enough to get them far enough away into the land of full independence. And sure enough three of the four landed back at our doorstep with regrets.
Going after your dreams is not a bad thing however it is important that you don’t go after it without planning properly. Anger is great fuel at times to get us moving and it can give us the energy to make things happen, but it can promote movement that is not well timed or well planned.
When we take the time to look at the thing we want so much we need to ask ourselves 3 questions before we move towards it.
3. What am I leaving behind to move forward? Every time you make a choice to move towards something, you also make a choice to leave something behind. This is not always a bad thing; some things need to be left behind. If you are pursuing maturity, immaturity must be left behind.
When our children, each in their turn wanted to come back home my husband and I spoke with them about the expectations of our home. They left as children and upon return we greeted them as adults. They were reminded that they left their children status when they chose to live as independent adults outside of the home. As fellow adults living in our home, we still maintained the rights as the landlords to have certain rules, but they had obligations towards us that they didn’t have before. They now had rent to pay, they had obligations not to come in past a certain time, so that the dog wouldn’t bark and wake up the whole house. We were all working adults in the home and coming in at 2 in the morning on a work night was a no go. So we left it up to them to see if they could pay their rent on time and abide by the rules and if not assured them that we would not be upset if they found other accommodations that would suit them better.
If you are a person who is motivated to pursue your dream, whether it is the dream of a great relationship, new job or business, or even a lifestyle change, great! Most people struggle with finding the motivation to pursue their dream. However before you move forward into action make sure you ask yourself the above questions. Make a strategy, a plan that looks for the positives as well as the potential negatives then get some good counsel on it. Speak to people who had done what you would like to do, and done it successfully. They can tell you where the pitfalls and danger zone are. You don’t have to learn by your own mistakes, there are many people who have gone before, learn by theirs.
Your Focused Life Coach;
Allison Bonilla LCSW