Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Tag Archives: Advent

Wishing you a very happy Christmas

Wishing you a very happy ChristmasIt’s coming towards the close of the year. Thinking over this past year of blogs, there seems to have been most engagement in…

values

choices – things we don’t want to get to our death beds and regret

being authentic

team coaching

valuing others and taking time to tell them so

What would you take into the holidays as one thing that if you chose to do it, it would make a big difference?

We will finish our tour of the seven habits book in the new year, as there is much to absorb and digest from the last two habits, and much of that fits with my background as a physiotherapist, and therefore is close to my heart.

But it simply remains for me to wish you a very happy Christmas.

Thank you for your company over this past year – I love to write, and I often become clearer in my own thoughts even as I put them into print, but it makes a huge difference to know that people actually take the time to read my written thoughts, and for that I thank you most sincerely.

May Christmas be filled with time to celebrate, share, rest, stop and just ‘be’, eat delicious things and be aware of how much we have to be thankful for.

See you next year.

 

 

A little reflective pulling together of the Habits for Advent

Advent frostIt’s a busy season of the year…no-one has time to read screeds and screeds on a blog. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation and anticipation. And we have been wending our way over these past weeks through some pretty challenging and potentially stop-in-your-tracks kind of habits.

So – this week, a simple putting-it-all-together pause….a few words on how the habits might be introduced into your thinking and being at Christmas.

Be proactive:

Advent candlesPreparations, planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, card-writing, school events, work, negotiating relatives, parties and nights out: all in all, we can end up in something of a frazzled heap, not enjoying any of it. Or we can be proactive in seeking to make the most of each moment, enjoy each individual element, and bring positive, encouraging enjoyment to all we encounter. “I get to do this! Isn’t that amazing….”

Begin with the end in mind:

Take a few minutes to ask yourself, what would be your ideal Christmas? What would you most want to remember about the season? Start there, work backwards, and each day between now and then, incorporate some of the key elements that will contribute to that.

Put first things first:

Following on from both of these, what is most important to you today? About who you are, about the people in your life, about what you have? Perhaps take a conscious moment each day in the stillness of all that Advent means and express thanks for all that is precious in your life. And make time for those people and things each day, rather than being swamped by the never-ending urgent tasks that come with this season.

Think win/win:

Advent angelsThere is enough to go round. Generosity of spirit, heart and wallet are never more important than at this time of year. We can choose to give, to share, to offer that little bit more, to do random acts of kindness to the mutual benefit of all.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood:

Christmas with your relatives. Seeing those friends who try your patience. Excess of everything leading perhaps to frayed tempers, irritability. Those who are lonely and have no-one, but struggle to express their need. Perhaps take time to get under the skin of that person and hear their heart and where they are coming from, and offer the gift of understanding.

To really listen is to give a precious gift

Listen with a view to understandWe are well into Christmas season now, with all that entails. Everywhere we turn, we are swamped by advertisers and marketers seeking to encourage us to buy that perfect gift to give to the one we love. Or something along those lines.

Interestingly, there has also been something of a backlash to the crazy, totally-over-the-top commercialism and consumerism of this time of year, starting in part as a reaction to the Black Friday sales of last month. Why do we need so much stuff? When we live in a part of the world where we have so much, and other areas of the world have so very very little, and yet there is enough to go around – something is wrong somewhere.

Last week we were talking about the habit of win/win – living with an abundance mentality that says, there is enough for all, and my actions can be for our mutual benefit and enrichment, and not simply for my own self-focused gain.

Well, here’s a thought – how about during this Christmas season you give a gift that is incredibly precious, won’t contribute to climate change in any way, does not involve struggling round the shops being overpowered by cheesy Christmas tunes, and won’t cost you anything – at least in financial terms.

And it will give worth, value, and a depth of care and empathy to the recipient that has the potential to open up greater riches in your relationship.

Let me introduce the habit that I believe carries the greatest power and impact:

To listen with a view to understand.

Imagine something with me for a moment.

You have something on your mind and heart that is really bothering you. Someone you know asks you how you are, and you decide to be vulnerable, so you open up and start to talk about the issue in question. But the person to whom you are speaking jumps in before you have got to the root of the issue with an anecdote of their own about a situation they were in, moves swiftly to advice about what they would do in your situation, and then is distracted by a text coming in on their phone. The overall effect is to leave you feeling shut down, raw in your vulnerability, unsupported, frustrated, and worse than when you started.

Ever experienced this?

Or – swift look inside of yourself – maybe you have behaved in this way towards someone who was wanting to talk to you?

How often do we, as humans, listen to each other because we want to be understood, rather than because we are seeking to understand?

When we listen from our own perspective, we tend to evaluate what the other person is saying whilst they are still speaking, and we interpret what they are saying from our own reference point. We then form opinions and judgments based on an incomplete picture and a lack of understanding of what was really being said – all this is usually subconscious and happens all the time.

The communication exchange becomes all about us and not about the person who is actually doing the talking. We are listening with a view to responding – with our own opinions, advice, judgments, assumptions.

Imagine instead we seek to listen with a view to understanding.

As we listen, we seek to get under the person’s skin and see things from their point of view – to not only hear their words, but hear the emotions behind the words. We pay attention to their body language and give them space to express how they really feel.

The person being listened to feels heard, understood and therefore valued and of worth. And as they are given time and space to explore the issue or problem on their mind and the emotions behind it, and talk it through without any assumptions, judgement, advice being offered, it is then that the speaker often will untangle the issue for themselves and gain greater clarity as to possible solutions.

Think about some of the situations you are in just now – with your work colleagues, friends, your partner, your family. Consider any problems within any of those relationships. How many of those problems are caused by misunderstandings? And therefore, how many of those problems could be resolved or prevented if we took time to really listen to and understand each other, to learn where the other person was coming from? What is the potential then for how much more rewarding and fulfilling those relationships and situations could therefore be?

Habit 7 in full is to seek first to understand then to be understood.

To be understood is about influence.

We all want to be heard, to be respected, to be valued. We all want to have influence – to make a difference and feel that we matter and have worth.

We tend to think that influence is about putting our argument across well, about presenting ourselves convincingly.

But influence is less about speaking and more about listening.

Listening to someone so that they feel heard and understood creates more openness, deeper communication and mutual trust and respect. This is the basis of influence.

This is the basis of influence and greater interpersonal communication.

This is the gift that really does keep on giving. Perhaps in this Advent season as we approach Christmas, we can choose to listen with a view to really understanding each other and in so doing, bring greater depth, openness and connection to all our relationships.

Wishing you deep peace

Deep peaceChristmas is nearly on us…only a few days to go. You, me, most other people living in our Western society, are up to our ears in plans, preparations, cooking, cleaning, festivities, shopping, wrapping. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of peace? Seems a bonkers question – and yet, what underlies it are the same issues.

What is most important to me?

Why am I doing what I am doing?

How am I taking a little time to care for myself in the midst of everything, so I can give more of my best to others?

How am I loving those around me?

This week, these words are running through my mind –

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

John Rutter

I encourage you and me both to stop. Just for a minute. To breathe, to pay attention to the moment – the quiet, the stars, the light.

To recognise that we are unique and extraordinary human beings, and that we are part of something much bigger than just ourselves.

Whether you have a faith or not, to recognise and cherish the central role of love, grace and kindness at this time of year – especially to those for whom this season is really hard.

Deep peace – just imagine that with me for a moment. That is my hope for you over this Christmas season – that you would know peace and contentment in who you are and what matters most to you.

Merry Christmas!

Waiting in expectation.

Waiting in expectationOnly 11 sleeps to go….sadly, in our house the children are old enough to have lost some of the magic of the anticipation of Christmas. There is still much excitement, and planning and looking forward – as much to a holiday from school as anything else! But I remember with dewy eyed fondness the sweet, innocent wonderment in their eyes when they were little, the wide open faces of expectation, the sheer magic of it all.

Patience concerns a particular form or way of waiting;

it is one filled with expectation.

Robert Sardello, in The Power of Soul

 

As grown ups, do we ever feel like that about things we are waiting for?

What does it mean for us to wait with that kind of expectation, anticipation, mystery and wonderment?

How quickly do we get stuck in the instant-gratification way of living? Wanting what we want now, and without any hard work thank you very much. How often do we wait impatiently, consumed with to-do lists, lost in what comes next and not noticing what is happening now?

When you think about this Christmas season, what is it that you are waiting for, and what is most important within that? We easily get lost in the preparations and stress and risk losing sight of the mystery and wonderment of this season – at least I know I do.

Getting it all done, and getting it all done right, can take over from actually enjoying it.

Waiting in expectation, waiting with patience, and understanding that what happens within the waiting time is important.

Pull right back from life with me for a minute – what would you most want to change about yourself? About your life? It takes time – how well do you wait, show patience in the waiting, and remain expectant of the outcome you desire?

 

Waiting without the whole story.

Just a little story this week – pause with me for a minute and think about this, and what it challenges in you.

Two beggars knocked on the door asking for bread. One beggar was given a loaf and sent away. The other was kept waiting and waiting. At length, the second beggar became concerned.

“Why am I being denied? What is so lacking in me that the other one was favoured over me?” he asked himself. Unknown to the beggar, a fresh loaf was being baked for him inside the house.

Jamal Rahman, in The Fragrance of Faith

Patience in the process of waitingHow often do we see things in two dimensions, with our own filters on, and solely from our own limited perspective?

Perhaps this Advent waiting season is a chance to stop and think –

How quick are we to make judgements on circumstances or events around us?

Are we living life at a frantic pace, and what do we risk by not slowing down?

What blessings await us as we show patience in the process of waiting?

How can we show grace, kindness, gratitude even in the uncertainty and lack of clarity during the wait?

Simply food for Advent thought.

 

Advent waiting

We have entered the season of Advent, as we anticipate and count down towards Christmas. I generally love pretty much everything to do with Christmas, but I love it in December. Not before.Advent waiting

These next four weeks, my reflections are going to be short, and focused on waiting, with a little quote or observation from someone else. I have written many, many words this year, and this is not the time for long screeds to read.

Two things have struck me of late. Advent is a season of waiting, and yet often we lose sight of this in all the busyness, build up, and preparations. What does it mean to wait well? What are we waiting for – not just at Christmas, but in our lives in general?

Advent is also the anticipation of Christmas, whatever that might mean to you. Central to that is love, grace, generosity, hope and peace. But I know that these things can quickly get trampled out of my life in the weeks running up to Christmas, as my focus slips and my mind becomes preoccupied.

 

So I give you this as food for thought –

Being made to wait has another benefit.

It helps us figure out what we truly want and what really matters to us. . . .

Remembering that some things are worth waiting for helps us decide what it is that is worth the wait,

Advent waiting without seeingand to prize it truly when we do receive it.”

MJ Ryan in The Power of Patience

A touch of kindness at Christmas

Two days till Christmas….our senses are on full alert.

We have seen, listened to, heard, smelled, tasted andtouch of kindness enjoyed our way to this week. For many, this is a wonderful time of year: to celebrate with family and friends…to enjoy some time of rest and refreshment….to sample delicious food and drink….to see sights and sparkles galore…to perhaps focus on the bigger picture of what it is all about.

To extend a touch of kindness to another that communicates care, joy, time.

It is a very tactile time of year too, with much embracing – from the bewhiskered elderly aunt to the work colleague you would never normally hug, Christmas somehow seems a socially acceptable time to be more huggy.

For some, this time of year is really hard. Lost loved ones, illness, financial uncertainty, natural disasters. All can serve to make what should be a time of celebration all the harder and more lonely. For many, there is little time off work, and work is busier and it can all feel just a little too much.

I don’t want to put a damper on things – simply to say, how can we seek to share love, encouragement, hope, a simple touch of kindness, to those around us in these days?

And I wish you a very happy Christmas, and time to stop and enjoy the moment.

Hearing is believing

They say that seeing is believing. I’m not so sure. Of course, it depends on what it is we are seeking to believe in – be it a person, an event, a reality.

Hearing is believing

Hearing is believing

Sometimes I wonder that it is when we hear – and really listen under the surface – that we believe. Because it is often through truly listening, to what is being said and more importantly what is not being said, that we get an insight into what is going on inside the other. The other person feels valued and respected, the connection is strengthened, and there is greater understanding and empathy.

There is much to assault our auditory sense at this time of year. It is all too easy to tune out everything extraneous because we are so focused on the pre-Christmas preparation tasks or events in hand.

But what do we risk missing?

An innocuous comment that belies a deeper worry or fear might go unnoticed but for the tone and heaviness of the speaker, indicating a desperate need to share….a longing to be asked.

A cross remark might spark an argument, but the irritation of the speaker masks an underlying anxiety and stress about something much bigger – do we take time to stop and hear what is really going on?

Days can pass in a blur of events and preparations, and it is so easy to pass our nearest-and-dearest like ships in the night, communicating nothing more than instructions about who has to be where when and with what. How much harder it is to stop…make time…ask about the other and really listen to the answer….to believe in them again and in what makes the relationship important.

All those Christmas songs in the shops – can drive you nuts…..but it is all too easy to have noise constantly going, and sometimes silence is the tonic that brings calm and a right perspective.

Hearing is believing – what are you listening to, hearing, believing in this week?

The tastes and smells of Christmas…remind you of what?

The smell of Christmas

The smell of Christmas

It’s a very tasty and smelly time of year. And generally that makes me very happy. Let me qualify that…

Our moods are affected most by what we take in through our senses – what we see, hear, smell, taste, and how we experience touch, can affect quite dramatically our mood. Think of simple things like a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal, a compliment, a well-timed hug. And in contrast, a wet, gray day; earache; a harsh word; a disgusting scent lingering unwantedly in our noses.

Of all our senses, our sense of smell is most powerful in reconnecting us with memories, emotions and past experiences. That is because there is a direct route from our smell receptors to the limbic system in our brain where we process our emotional memories (lovely article about this link here.)

I only have to smell mixed spice to immediately be transported back Dr Who style to my childhood and I am kneeling in front of my grandmother’s large wooden dresser that contained her spices and baking ingredients, sticking my head in to get a good whiff. Her presence is almost tangible and it reminds me of her, and how much I miss her and my grandfather.

Fresh cut grass boosts my mood as I think of summer, parks and picnics. The smell of hot wet pavements after rain immediately relaxes me as I am back in a hot holiday destination.

And the smell of Christmas?

Tangerines are memories of opening stockings on Christmas morning as a child, and now doing the same with my children. Roast pork is many happy Danish Christmas Eve celebrations, remembering my other, Scandinavian grandmother. Cloves make me laugh and think of the orange pomander thing that my cousin painstakingly made as a gift, following the Blue Peter instructions (happily, no dental associations for me with cloves!).

What smells have the strongest associations for you, and why?

What smells and scents are you aware of this week, as we head towards Christmas?

When we stop and notice, what memories, emotions, associations come with those smells?

And ultimately, rather than just noticing, how can we respond – with thankfulness, appreciation, generosity, kindness – to our nearest and dearest, to those with little or nothing, to those for whom Christmas food smells simply reinforce the gap between those that have and those that have not?

Smell and taste – intimately connected, enhancing each other. Lots to savour, and in a house of foodies, much deliciousness to anticipate.

In contrast, we have all experienced the bitter taste of an unpleasant, harsh conversation…the sourness of negativity…the lingering ‘off’ aftertaste of an unkind word, be it from our own mouths or that of another.

So this week, in this season of waiting and preparation – how can we bring a taste of goodness to others?  How can we ensure our words are sweet tasting, enhance the lives of those around us, bring joy and encouragement?

Smell and taste your way through this week, taking time to stop and notice, to remember and celebrate, and to spread goodness.

 

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