Just One Thing

This article also appears on the Huffington Post.

Hope is the sparkPerhaps you’re like me. It’s mid-January, you’ve made big plans and set sincere intentions for this bright, shiny new year and . . . you’re stuck. It’s like you’re in a hole and you can’t find your way out. Any spark of action or glimmer of hope is lacking and you find yourself overwhelmed by the day-to-day needs of your life, unable to start even one change.

That thought is what brought me here today: “start with one change.” What if I changed just one thing today?

This is the idea behind what the founders of Simple Green Smoothies did. Unhealthy, broke, de-energized, and not sure where to go next, Jadah decided to change just one thing. She decided to have a green smoothie every day. With that change, she started losing weight and had more energy; then she started working out and the momentum continued to grow. She changed one thing and the rest followed.

So I started to think of the 10s or 100s of things I’d like to change, what is one thing I can do to get to “better”? What is one thing that can help me out of the hole and lead me toward hope?

The first thing that came to mind was going for a lunchtime walk each day. For my project management work, my office is located two blocks from Lake Michigan. Can I steal away for 20-30 minutes each day to connect with a little nature and gently move my body? Can I do this one thing every day for a week?

Will there be barriers and excuses? Oh, yes. An overly packed meeting schedule is sure to be a hurdle. What if I put it on my calendar to make sure it’s prioritized? Will the weather be cold and nasty? Hey, this is Chicago, you can guarantee it will be. But I commute by public transit so I already have all my gear with me. I can handle the weather.

Then my mind chimed in some more: But, wait. Does this make sense? How does this get you any closer to those lofty and important goals and intentions of the new year?

Honestly, I have no idea, but I stopped the analysis. It’s just one thing. It is a change. It breaks a pattern. It facilitates a shift. It changes a behavior of overwork, under-thinking, and under-breathing.

Perhaps it will be the spark that leads to something else. Perhaps it will provide me with the mental space to make a bigger change. I’m not sure, but it’s just one thing, that I’ll do for one week.

Will you join me? What’s your Just One Thing that you’ll do for a week to ignite a spark in your heart? Let us know in the comments below.


~Wishing for you the spark that lights up your heart with hope.

Book review: The Dance of Anger

The Dance of Anger cover

The reading list from my Creative Grief Coach certification course, included, “The Dance of Anger,” by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.  This book provides an honest assessment of how women express, repress, and manage their anger. Within the course, it aided us in our work as emotionally intelligent individuals and it helped us gain the skill that we need to bring to our coaching practice. For that practice, it is a helpful guide, because those who are grieving are dealing with a wide array of emotions, including, at times, anger. Also, we grieve in a community. This communal aspect of grief means that there will be multiple relationships touched by our grief journey and some of them may have patterns of anger.

Dr. Lerner presents many helpful techniques to work with anger. However, I’d like to focus on just two of them in this review. The first one is observation. This is an incredibly helpful technique in working with emotions in general.  If we can pause and observe our emotional reaction, notice that it is occurring, where it is occurring in our body, and, then, with discernment, choose what we say and do in that moment, then this helps us with our emotional health and our relationships in general.  I believe in the power of this for several reasons, including that it puts us first for a moment.  I’m saying this as a woman who has bit her tongue and held her words back more than is probably prudent.  I am not alone in this — many women do this and Dr. Lerner’s book is speaking to us — those who hold back and those who don’t. (Definitely, there are men who have this same emotional pattern, but this book focuses on women’s experiences.)  Whatever, your pattern — hold back or not — observation is a helpful first step.

Another technique or directive from this book, that I find very helpful (and it is often a trigger for anger) is our desire to change another person. This pattern of trying to fix others comes from a place of over functioning. The healthier approach, if one desires change, is to change oneself. If you’re like me, that takes your breath away. “What? Me? Change?!” Dr. Lerner presents many examples in her book of women who stopped trying to change another person in their life and changed themselves instead. This takes introspection and courage. As with the first technique it requires that we notice that we’re in a pattern of trying to change another person, then making a conscious effort not to try to do that any more, and then, finally, changing ourselves in a meaningful and healthy way. Ironically, of course, because we are in a relationship, the other person often changes as well.  Maybe not in the exact way that we would have prescribed, but as a reaction to the way we’ve changed.

If you’re looking to refine your steps in the dance of anger, I highly recommend Dr. Lerner’s book.

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Change . . . Child’s Growth vs. Aging

It is Fall in the Northern Hemisphere.  One of our seasons of change, people say.  Maybe all seasons are seasons of change.  Maybe we are constantly changing.  Constantly in a state of flux, but we are not aware of it.  There are moments, of course, when we are acutely aware of change, for example, during major life events like moving, changing jobs, getting married, etc.Janice Lodato, Reiki Master

Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my body’s physical changes that are coming about because of my age.  Many of these are not welcome and I’m having extreme difficulty with acceptance.  In contrast, I was reflecting on the changes we observe, and welcome, in children as they grow and mature.

We marvel at the first year of life and all its physical and developmental changes — the first tooth, the increase in height and weight, the first words, the first steps.  But on the other end of the spectrum all the physical changes are to be accepted, not celebrated — the first gray/white hair (and the many that follow), the veins that must be covered, the eyes that need assistance, the shorter height, the injuries that heal so much slower, and speaking of slowness, the races that will never be won.  Nothing to celebrate here.  Just accept.  We cheer on the ascent into adulthood only to turn our eyes away from the “decline” to old age.  The statistical bell curve of life:  going up is good, going down is bad.  Why must it be a decline?

So this is where my mind is right now, in a battle with acceptance.  Why accept?  What’s in it for me?  Accepting seems like rolling over and playing dead.  Is that what I’m practicing to do?

I once worked for a woman who, during times of corporate reorganization, would spout out “Change is good.”  She would repeat it as if trying to convince herself and us.  Change is not in itself good or bad.  Change just is.  Our perception of it is what makes it good or bad.  In her statement she was glossing over the fact that some change is bad – it’s painful, difficult and sad (if those things are indeed “bad”).  Again, change just is.  It is:  inevitable and constant.  We can celebrate it, as in a child’s growth, or we can rail against as in our attempt to look and act younger than we are.  Change:  accept it.

My mind is continuing the battle with acceptance.  I’m trying to smile at my wrinkles and marvel in the new, even if I don’t welcome it.  My body is doing the best it can and I try to help it with adequate sleep, nutritious food and plentiful exercise.  A daily dose of self-Reiki helps too.  It brings me back to the constant and universal within me.

Wishing you light and peace.

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