Archive: Newsletter

Jaw breaker or licorice

 

Jaw breaker or licorice – I have to decide. I’m frozen on the spot … jaw breaker or licorice. Once I decide, my hard-earned 25 cents will be a thing of the past.

My sister refuses to accompany me to the corner store any longer, because standing there with me in my frozen state is just too unbearable.

That’s my earliest memory of indecision. Happily, it’s no longer a problem. But honestly, it took way too long to let it go.

When it was a problem, the dilemma was always around the possibility of making the wrong decision and regretting what I’d done. The turned down job, the loved one I chose to leave, the city or county I moved away from. For anyone who has experienced this feeling, every decision we make and act on sets us down a path, and by doing so, limits the possibility of experiencing some different, possibly better, path.

We won’t ever know now … we tell ourselves. And right away, feel regret for the decision we did make, robbing us of enjoying it in any way.

But, there’s a more important thing that we do to ourselves whenever we stand in indecision: we reinforce our own self-doubt and deepen the distrust we have in ourselves a little more.  We do this because we stop listening to what we want and start listening instead to what others may want. Mom doesn’t like jaw breakers because they can break my teeth, so even though I really want the jaw breaker, I’m thinking of what my mother wants and how she will be disappointed in me.

This indecision means I’m not listening to myself, that I’m ignoring my own wishes. And the more I do it, the more faint that inner knowing becomes. And the less I am able to trust myself.

A wise man once said that we are free to choose anything at all, as long as we’re willing to accept the results of our choice.  If I could have accepted that my mother might have been disappointed, then I could also be free to really enjoy that jaw breaker.

Be Choosy about Choosing

 

 

Quote of the Week 

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”

-Moses Maimonides

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

 

Living an ‘ordinary’ life

 

There is a Zen saying: Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.

There are books written on what this might mean: A simple statement that carries loads of meaning.

It can mean that after all is said and done, the every-day things we do are still there.  It can mean that how we do every-day things is also how we do everything, big or small; and that what we encounter in life isn’t nearly as important as how we meet those things that we encounter.

It could also mean that living an every-day “ordinary” life can be just as fulfilling and worth-while as living a life filled with adventure to remote places.

Today, and for a while yet, most of us have been forced to narrow the focus of our daily lives to what’s in front of us; to what we may see as “ordinary”. If you’re used to being busy, then this might be a real hardship for you – this luxury of time you never asked for.

Chop wood, carry water – how can you make that simple task meaningful for yourself today?

Stoicism as a philosophy for an ordinary life

Quote of the Week 

I sit there thinking about how much courage it takes to live an ordinary life.”
― Colum McCann

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

 

A sense of life lived according to love

 

We have time!

We have time now that we haven’t had for a very long while. For me and many others, the necessities of daily life are reduced to a walk, a weekly grocery run, and working online. That doesn’t fill the day.

What fills the remainder of the day is up to me. It might include cleaning the house, cleaning out an over-burdened closet, fixing something on my household to-do list. It could be watching a movie on my want-to-watch list, or reading one of the many books on my shelf waiting to be read, or gardening, or writing long and thoughtful letters to friends.

The remainder of the day could be filled with all the things I love, that feed my soul, and that I usually put off because I’m too busy. It could be filled with those things, if I choose.

It might be an opportunity to rethink my priorities, about what’s really important. We all know the world is changing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. How might it change for me? And how do I want to meet these changes?

This is our opportunity to address what we never had time for before.

My philosophy for a happy life

Quote of the Week 

In everyone there sleeps a sense of life lived according to love..”
― Philip Larkin

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

 

The story we tell ourselves

 

I’m a worrier. That means that I have the ability to worry myself into building something small into something big in my head, and then believing it as true, or at least truer than anything else.

For instance, just as a wild example, let’s say my kitchen tap starts to leak. After changing washers, it continued to leak – not very badly, but still there. If I let myself, I could begin to wonder how bad that leak could get, and under what conditions it might cause major problems – say, something gets stuck somewhere that causes a build-up in pressure; then I decide to go away for 3 weeks, and just in that time, it blows. By the time I get home, there’s major damage.

That could happen, but it’s really very unlikely. And yet, dwelling on this worst-case scenario has turned it, in my mind, from tiny and remote, to huge and probable.

I no longer worry like that, but I know a lot of us do, especially in these uncertain times. And there’s reason for it: while I’m worrying about that tap blowing, I don’t have time to dwell on things I’d rather not think about. It keeps that busy mind of mine occupied, and in a kind of weird way, entertained.

It’s a story I tell myself.

Here’s a different story: The tap begins to leak. I fix it and it still leaks. I call the plumber, and he installs a new tap.  End of problem.

In the first story, I’m kind of helpless in the face of things happening beyond my control. In the second, I’m the one in control. I like the second story better. Less drama, though.

We are the stories we tell ourselves

 

Quote of the Week 

Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves….”
― Cheryl Strayed

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

The power of anger

 

I’m feeling anger and despair right now – and grief, finding myself tearing up throughout the day. I’ve discovered that a lot of us are feeling this, after seeing the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent demonstrations by many and riots by a few all over the US.

I won’t say much here, because I strongly suspect that you are feeling the same just now. For my part, I intend to take this anger and grief and use it to propel me even more towards creating the world I want to live in – a world where color and station and sexual preference mean nothing more than an expression of individuality.

I’m white. I don’t know what it’s like to – every day – be treated with suspicion and disrespect. I’ve had a taste of it, and that was plenty. But I can stand for what I know is right and good, and add my voice and whatever power I have to create the world I long for.

What’s been with me through tears and no tears today is Louie Armstrong’s “What a beautiful day”, which I know by heart. While I can’t shake hands to express love and connection, my focus from now on – more than ever – will be to reach out, mend, and heal.

Tyler Merritt – Before you call the cops

Louie Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

Quote of the Week 

Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” – Eckhart Tolle

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

How love is made … and made again

 

It’s been several months, many weeks and days, of living closely with our loved ones.  For some, too closely, which may lead to seemingly baseless arguments, and a powerful desire to be alone.

Some couples have, by being aware of this dynamic, found ways to distance themselves, only coming together at dinner time and weekends. They’ve managed to find an extra space somewhere away from their partner for that purpose – it may only be their car, or the garage.

It serves the purpose. Sometimes, though, even this isn’t enough. If you’re one of these people, a day will come when you find you are highly sensitive and allow your inner dialogue to take over, leading eventually to flare-ups and hurt feelings.

It might help to remember that this kind of thing is normal during unbalanced times, which these certainly are – I hope you can forgive yourself and move on. A teacher I know calls it “emotional shock”. Our world has been turned on its head; most of us – at least in the western world – have never experienced deprivation and personal restrictions the way we do now. I remember my parents and grandparents speaking of the 2 world wars and the great depression. I’m from the mid-west, where the centre of North America turned into a giant desert. My grandsires lived through those times. I heard the stories, and I thought I understood them.

But I didn’t understand them because I’d never experienced them … and there’s no substitute for experience. In truth the deprivation we’re currently experiencing pales in comparison to what they went through. And yet, it helps me understand much more how important it is to meet the challenges it brings us – especially with my closest relationships.

How can I continue to honor the needs of both myself and my loved ones? How can I continue to meet the restrictions placed on me with creativity and optimism? How can I meet this latest challenge and see it as a way of growing and deepening my most important relationships?

Maintaining our relationships means growing them, because otherwise they become stagnant. Open heart, willingness to forgive, and continued hope – these qualities can help us negotiate whatever comes up.

Love is made… and made again. Every time we meet what life hands us, with hope and maturity.

A better way to talk about love

 

Quote of the Week 

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
― Ursula K Le Guin

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

The biggest adventure you’ll ever take

 

A friend is in mourning: she had a dream of opening up a care centre with her savings. That dream was dashed when the Covid-19 pandemic hit: her business took a steep dive, and instead of adding to her dream fund, she had to use that fund to stay afloat.  It took her a few months to even admit this huge personal loss to herself, it was so important to her.

As a coach (and therapist), I tend to caution clients (and friends, when they ask) against being unrealistic in their dreaming, with one caveat: to know the kind of life that would, at the end of it all, bring them a sense of satisfaction and peace.

Many of our dreams are being dashed with this pandemic, except for one – living the biggest adventure you’ll ever take – your life. The thing about adventures is that you never know what’s around the corner. If you have any pre-conceived ideas of what that might look like, you will probably be in for an unpleasant surprise (I won’t bore you with the many clichés covering this, like “man plans … god laughs“, etc).

Adventures are about dealing with the unexpected and unknown, about finding and honing the resources we already have and testing ourselves against what’s in front of us. That adventure is constantly there, and constantly changing.

That dream my friend had? It won’t go to waste. I know her – she’ll mourn the loss of that beautiful dream, then dream even bigger.

To raise brave girls, encourage adventure

 

Quote of the Week 

The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”
― Oprah Winfrey

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

Social Distancing and Affection

Our choices determine our destiny.” A man called Alfonzo Bernard said this, and has influenced thousands of people with his words. He’s currently pastor of a Christian congregation in Brooklyn NY. I came across his name as I was listening to one of those people he influenced, and discovered his influence on me with what he said about distance in human relationships – so apropos for us all today.

In one of his many Youtube videos, he talked about the principles of life. The one that really grabbed my attention is this: The life principle that governs distance in human relationships is not in miles but in affection. Two people can be together and miles apart (we’ve all experienced this), or on opposite sides of the planet and affectionately close. We use affection to create distance by withdrawing affection. In reconciliation, we give our affection.

I am very sure there isn’t anyone who is reading this blog who doesn’t have personal experiences that speak to how we distance – it’s on all our minds. The prolonged need for us to remain physically distant from many and not distant from a few, if any, is causing both anxiety and depression. How we deal with this latest challenge can have long-term consequences – good and bad.

In my own life, I’ve lived and worked beside people I chose to dislike, shutting myself off from my own vulnerability and their humanity. Conversely, I have close friends who are countries away – including my husband – who I look forward to connecting with online because their lives mean a lot to me. I’ve withdrawn affection and, when I finally realize I’m shutting down and shutting out, I begin to close the distance by reaching out, human to human.

Today and for a while yet, the only people we can be physically close to are those we live with. We may find ourselves wanting – needing to – create more distance. It’s difficult – having to be physically close over long periods of time, with no reprieve. I’ve met many people who have come up with creative ways of making this happen; from taking scheduled solitary walks, to using their car as an extra “room” away from everyone, to finding an abandoned space they can retreat to. And I’ve met many people who have learned the value of being vulnerable over long distances, and the value of ensuring their long-distance loved ones remain safe.

How are you choosing to live today with social distancing that will inform your destiny tomorrow?

The hidden influence of social networking

 

Quote of the Week 

“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” 
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

Quality in difficult times!

I read a blog about 2 months ago that looked at the excuses we all make when we rationalize doing less than great work for someone (or ourselves) – because he or she is too demanding… because this isn’t really our job … because I’m having a bad day.

Well, these days of pandemic lockdown, every day can be a bad day, and it is so very tempting to turn on the TV and stay in front of it for as long as possible, feeling helpless and controlled, over-restricted and deprived. All of us have these kinds of days in the best of times. And the reality of today is not the best of times for anyone.

Today, I had what began as a difficult meeting online. At the end of it, I’d planned on going for my (now) daily jog. But instead, I was really tempted to “take the day off”, simply chill out and forget about this blog and the studying (an opportunity I’ve picked up, given I’ve got more time). Only do what was absolutely necessary and let go of everything else.

Every once in a while, it’s OK to do just that. However, if I do it too much, it becomes a habit and I can end up missing days of living a life that makes me feel good about myself.  Those days that make me feel good are the days I do quality work, either for myself or for others.

There are basically 2 kinds of things we can do that make us feel good: things that give us pleasure, and things that give us mastery. Things that give us pleasure might occasionally include watching TV and taking a break, but they will stop giving us pleasure if that’s all we do.

The things that will always give us pleasure are those things we feel we’ve earned – a long hot bath after finishing a project, or sharing a glass of wine, or being with a loved one, or going for a leisurely walk after finishing something that needed finishing. The things that give us mastery could be learning a new skill. It might be paying a bill, or cutting your bangs, or going for a jog, or writing a blog. Doing it well – with quality.

These 2 activities often, as you can see, go hand in hand. Quality work à earned pleasure.  Even if all you can do that day is one piece of quality mastery for 10 or 15 minutes, rewarding yourself with one small pleasure, it makes the whole day feel worthwhile. It might also make you feel good enough about yourself to go to bed looking forward to tomorrow.  Even more importantly, it’ll help you do a better, more quality job on the things you need to do today, because there won’t be anything at the back of your mind distracting you.

Now for that jog.

You don’t have to be an expert to solve big problems

 

Quote of the Week 

“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” 
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

Who we are in hard times

During my days as a project manager, I would periodically get a new person to this field wondering why I was getting paid so much when everything seemed so straight-forward. The answer was that I wasn’t getting paid a lot for the straight-forward part; I was getting paid for those times when everything became chaotic. Project managers are known for their stoic stance in the face of insanity – it’s often the thing that makes the difference between a successful project and an abject failure.

Now I’m a therapist and coach. People see me for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes the reason is that they are experiencing their first hard time and don’t know what to do. They have no skills for such times, and feel their world falling out from under them.

There’s a saying that goes something like: it’s easy to be moral when life is good. The real test happens when life isn’t so good. That’s when the ability of taking the long view, having a steady heart and a cool head is so important. Even more importantly, this is when self-honesty and clear boundaries and values count, because without these, you may be able to look like you’re calm, but inside you will be anything but calm.

We’re defined for who we are when times are hard. It’s the testing ground of life, and our opportunity to grow. As many wise men and women of the past have reminded us, it isn’t what we get handed in life, but how we deal with what we get that matters.

How the worst moments of our lives make us who we are

 

Quote of the Week 

It’s the hard days – the days that challenge you to your very core – that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”
― Sheryl Sandberg

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.