Posted by: silverliningsblog | June 29, 2018

How to make online dating easier

Online dating - womanIn speaking with many single clients, I’ve found that the vast majority do not enjoy online dating. This anecdotal feedback seems supported by a December 2016 Consumer Reports survey, which found that people were generally not happy with ANY online dating service out there (free or paid).

Certainly, it can be very time-consuming when you’re bombarded by messages from creeps, disheartening when you’re looking through countless uninspiring profiles, and frustrating when the one person you’re interested in doesn’t message you back.

That said, online dating IS a convenient way of meeting a wide variety of people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet from the comfort of your own home, at a relatively low cost (when compared to the expense of attending live dating events or meeting in restaurants).

So is there a way to make online dating easier? Can a person actually learn to enjoy it?

Top 10 tips to avoid wasting time online

There are definitely ways to make online dating easier. I’ve found that most people blindly begin without even thinking about which site is best given their relationship goals and demographics. They just use whatever their friends are using (whether their goals are the same or not).

Furthermore, most people set up a profile as quickly as possible without putting a lot of thought into it, and then wonder whey they’re attracting the wrong people. Or (on the other end of the spectrum) they spend too much time online dating, and wonder why it feels like the joy has been sucked out of their life.

Here are my top tips for being efficient and making the most of your time when online dating:

1. Choose one or two dating sites/apps to focus on – Being on too many sites scatters your focus and requires too much time to manage. Choose the site that has the best demographics for you and best serves your goals. (For example, if you’re over 40 and looking for a long-term relationship, Tinder or Bumble would not be the best choice as they are more commonly used by people under 30 for hook-ups and casual relationships.)

2. Choose a paid site – I recommend paid sites over free ones as they typically include at least some screening, so there are fewer weirdos to weed through and the “quality” of people is generally better (there will still be strange people anywhere though, or people with different goals than you). Paid sites also usually have enhanced privacy options and more features, and no (or fewer) annoying ads.

3. Create a great profile – Spend time learning how to create a great profile, and getting friends to review it to ensure it shows you in your best light in a creative (but honest) way. Think about it from your ideal partner’s perspective – what are they looking for, and what makes you a great catch? Don’t be too heavy – humour is almost always appreciated.

4. Use invisible/private mode – Most paid sites have an “invisible” or “private” mode, allowing you to keep your profile hidden, browse through other profiles, and only make yours visible once you find someone you’re interested in. This helps prevent being inundated with unwanted attention from creeps/scammers.

5. Set aside 30 min/day or one evening/week – Don’t spend your entire life online dating! A romantic relationship is only one aspect of your life. Be sure you’re maintaining balance and continuing to do activities you enjoy with people you love. Set aside a specific amount of time each week to dedicate to your search – and then the rest of the time, enjoy your life as a single person (you won’t be single forever)!

6. Ignore messages if you’re not interested – If someone messages you and you’re really not interested, just ignore the message. It becomes too time-consuming to respond to everyone, and it’s kinder to not waste someone’s time if you’re not digging them. However, if you’ve been communicating with someone or have gone on a date, then it’s common courtesy to respond and “let them down easy” if you’re no longer interested, rather than to ignore (ghost) them.

7. Report creeps and scammers – Don’t buy into early promises of love, or send people money or naked pictures. If someone sends you something inappropriate or asks for money, please report them to the dating site/app you’re using to spare others from going through the same thing! You can also report scammers to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

8. Message people who catch your eye – If someone catches your eye, send them a brief message telling them what you liked about their profile, or asking a question. Then let them respond – if they don’t, they’re either not interested or have perhaps found someone already.

9. Talk on the phone to learn more – If you’ve messaged back and forth a few times and decided you like someone, ask to speak on the phone (you can learn a lot about someone by the tone of their voice and how they hold a conversation). If the person avoids this, NEXT!

10. Meet in real life if it feels like a match – Within 1-2 weeks of meeting someone you’re really interested in online, meet in real life. Remember: You don’t really know who they are and can’t really assess how much you like them until you’ve met them! Ensure you meet in a public place, and drive yourself there (don’t accept being picked up at home until you know them better). If they don’t ask you to meet in person within a couple weeks, suggest it. If they avoid meeting in real life, move on to someone who thinks you’re worth their time!

Be patient and positive

Having success with online dating requires three things:

  1. Being clear about what you want.
  2. Having a positive attitude (about yourself, the opposite sex, dating in general).
  3. Being patient enough to wait for what you truly want (i.e. not settling).

No matter which dating site and strategy you use, there will be oddballs out there you have to weed through. There are good and bad “fish” in every pond, so don’t take it personally if you get a creepy message or picture, or if someone doesn’t message you back (only 1/3 of messages on online dating sites are responded to). You don’t need to like every fish, or have every fish like you – you just need to find one! It’s about quality, not quantity.

My #1 tip for making online dating easier is to have a good attitude going in. Be sure you only start dating once you’re already feeling good about yourself, your life, and your chances of finding a good match. If you’re not feeling good about these things, you will not attract good dates! It just doesn’t work that way. Do your inner work first, then date from a place of power and happiness – your results will be much, much better.

If you need help with this, or with creating your online dating profile, email me!

Share your thoughts!

Which site do you prefer? Please share your ideas and comments about online dating below.

Resources for further learning

**************

IMG_1956a_5x7Karen Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great, turn their heartbreak into a breakthrough, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

 

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Posted by: silverliningsblog | May 30, 2018

It’s not a disease! The benefits of being single

Single WomanIf you’ve ever been single, you’ve no doubt felt pressure from others around you to “find someone.” You probably dread the question, “Why are you still single?”

It’s as if people think being in a relationship is the miracle cure for solving all your problems. Or that being single is like having leprosy – some horrible disease that proves you’re undesirable (if you weren’t, wouldn’t you have someone by now?).

And yet, the latest research is showing that being single has some important benefits.

So why is it assumed that being in a relationship is better than being single? And is this assumption actually true?

The over-idealization of marriage

We live in a culture that reveres romantic relationships and marriage. There are many reasons for this:

  • We are social creatures who generally prefer togetherness over isolation.
  • We want to procreate (which ensures the continuance of our species).
  • We want security (someone to care/provide for us when we’re ill).
  • We want financial stability (two incomes, sharing expenses and lodging).
  • We want a family (the nuclear family is still assumed to be the best model for this).

While there are certainly benefits to being in a romantic relationship, our over-idealization of this one type of relationship often comes at the expense of other types…including our relationship with ourselves.

By putting so much focus and energy into our partner, we often neglect other people in our lives. I’ve seen it time and time again with clients and friends (and yes, I’ve done it too) that as soon as we’re in a relationship, we drop our friends and family like hot rocks, focusing all our attention on our partner to the exclusion of others. I don’t believe this is a good thing, as it is very unbalanced and suggests that the only relationship really worth having is a romantic one.

It also puts far too much pressure on our romantic relationship to fulfill all our needs – which is unrealistic at best. And what happens if that romantic relationship doesn’t work out? Because you’ve put all your eggs in one basket, if that basket is suddenly withdrawn, guess what…you have no eggs left.

Also, many people hyperfocus on their romantic relationship to the detriment of themselves. They put aside their own interests, passions, dreams to please the other, gradually sacrificing too much and losing themselves in the process.

And, let’s not forget that our romantic relationships don’t always result in happiness. Sometimes they are riddled with conflict, disappointment, and pain. Indeed, as many of us have come to discover, being miserable in the wrong relationship is far worse than being alone.

So while, yes, there are benefits to romantic relationships, there are also drawbacks, and it’s important to see both in balance to make an educated choice about what is best for you.

What I mean by this isn’t that everyone should break up and become single…it’s that we need a greater appreciation of the benefits of being single, so that as a culture we stop rushing people who are single into relationships, as if there is something fundamentally wrong with being alone.

The value of being single

I’ve spent more years living alone than I ever intended (over 10 years at this point). I always imagined I would get married straight out of university, buy a home together, create a family, and live happily ever after. I didn’t anticipate becoming widowed at 22, or divorced at 35.

After my first husband died from liver cancer, I resisted being single. I was urged by my parents and friends to find someone to fill the gap, and rushed into a relationship too quickly. It did not end well, because filling the empty hole in your heart with another person’s love is not the real answer to loneliness.

Then I remarried, and while I married a good man, it was not the kind of partner/relationship I needed. So after 10 years of trying to make two mismatched puzzle pieces fit, my marriage ended. And this time, I decided to take some time to be single, and re-discover who I was again.

My single years weren’t always easy, but they have been a true blessing. I’ve learned more about myself and my preferences than I ever would have being in a relationship (because I used to be one of those gals who sacrificed who she was to be with someone).

I learned to be ok with being alone – and not only ok, to actually look forward to my alone time (when my two kids are with my ex). I learned to meet my own needs, so that I’m not so “needy” in my relationships. I re-invested in other important relationships…with friends, colleagues, family. I re-discovered my passions, and spent more time doing things I loved to do that made me feel alive and truly happy. I changed careers and created a business where I’m helping people change their lives. And I fell in love with myself, truly enjoying my own company and coming to appreciate the many gifts I have to offer others, finally trusting in my own value.

I am now with a terrific guy, but I can honestly say I’m glad I didn’t meet him sooner – because my life is so much better balanced now, and the gift of loving myself is far greater than any external love could ever be.

For those who think being single is a curse, here are some benefits of being single you may have overlooked:

  • Doing what you want, when you want.
  • Decorating your home the way you like, without having to compromise.
  • Organizing your space the way you like (and having stuff stay put!).
  • Getting a better sleep (no more snoring!).
  • Having more time for
    • other important relationships
    • your own interests and passions
    • exercise and eating healthy
    • personal development
    • going within and hearing your own thoughts

More and more people are choosing to be single

I am certainly not alone in seeing the benefits of being single. There are more and more people who are living alone these days…and even consciously choosing to be single. There is a ton of emerging research that shows that marriage isn’t the be-all and end-all…and that many people are happier alone. I follow a lot of Bella DePaulo’s research, check out this article for a new perspective on the reality of single vs. married life.

To summarize a few interesting statistics from her article:

  • 45% of the adult population in the US over 18 is single (i.e. not married).
  • For the first time ever, more Canadians are living in one-person households than any other living arrangement.
  • Over the last 50 years, individualistic beliefs (like valuing friends more than family) have increased significantly for 79 percent of the world’s nations.
  • Recent studies show that marriage does not improve self-esteem or health, as previously thought. In fact, single people were reported to have better health than married people.

Living alone is not only more common these days, it’s often even a preference. More and more people (women especially) are choosing to have relationships, but live apart. Gone are the days when a woman wants to be a maid to her partner, and many women are financially independent, so they can choose to keep their own home instead of moving in together.

I personally know quite a few single people who are HAPPY being single. It’s a choice, not a requirement to be in a relationship, and it has nothing to do with how “desirable” you are. In fact, some of the highest calibre women and men are single the longest, because (rightly so) they have higher standards and are not willing to lower them just to be with someone.

It’s really about choosing what’s right for you

All this to say, it’s YOUR CHOICE whether you want to be single or be with someone, living together or living apart.

So, when someone suggests you SHOULD be with someone, trust that they likely mean well (being in a relationship is their view of what would make you happy, probably because they are in one). But understand that their view is a little one-sided. Ultimately it’s for YOU to decide how to live your life. Living your life based on someone else’s values and not your own will never result in happiness.

If you do want to find someone and get married, that’s great…but there is no rush and no ticking clock. In fact, being in a rush will result in one of two things:

  1. Choosing poorly (settling for “someone,” instead of choosing the right person).
  2. Pushing away good people because they feel your urgency/anxiety.

So, take your time and enjoy this period of being single…it’s not a disease or a curse! It’s actually a tremendous opportunity to discover who you are, create a life you love, and become truly happy.

Then, if you do decide to enter into a relationship, you’ll be doing it as a whole, healthy person and set your relationship up for success from the start. And if you don’t, you’ll have a well-rounded life that fulfills you, so you win either way!

Share your thoughts!

Please share your ideas and comments about being single below!

Resources for further learning

**************

IMG_1956a_5x7
Karen Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great, turn their heartbreak into a breakthrough, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

 

Posted by: silverliningsblog | March 2, 2018

3 keys to finding the love you want

Lasting loveWe all want to be loved, nurtured, cared for, cherished. We want to be heard, understood and treated well. We yearn to find that special someone to share life’s adventures with.

These are natural desires…human beings are wired for connection. Our survival instinct is to belong. Our reproductive instinct is to find someone to mate with. Our spiritual instinct is to join in harmony with others.

So why does love sometimes seem so elusive?

Problem #1: Looking for love in all the wrong places

Part of the challenge is that we’re looking for love outside of ourselves, instead of inside. We’re insisting that others give to us what we won’t give to ourselves.

For example, we really want someone to listen to us, but we rarely listen to our own body’s messages (that it’s tired, needs rest, needs exercise, needs healthy food, etc.). Or we want someone to validate us, but we ignore and fail to validate our own feelings (e.g. we overlook those “red flags” we felt when we first met someone). Or we wish that our partner would say nice things to us, but inside our head we criticize ourselves relentlessly.

We have a psychological tendency to look to our partners to meet the needs that were unmet in childhood. But it’s important to learn how to meet most of those needs on our own and create a life we truly love. That way we take the pressure off our relationship (and partner) to be our “everything.”

It’s ok to want people in our lives to show us love. But the very first place we need to find love is within ourselves. And the neat thing is, once we change how we feel on the inside and express more of that to others, the outside world will reflect that back to us and we will receive more love. But it begins with loving ourselves, so that we’re approaching our love relationships from a place of generosity, not a place of lack.

When you really, truly love who you are and the life you’re living, you’ll attract better relationships.

Problem #2: Choosing the wrong person

The other mistake I see my clients making is that they choose the wrong person, and then try to make them into who they want them to be.

In other words, they pick someone who has very different values than they do, or flaws they can’t live with, and then expect them to change. It’s very common for women to pick “fixer-uppers” with major issues and think that, with their love, the person will improve. But that rarely works without therapy.

Instead, it’s best to be clear about what you want in a partner and in a relationship, and then choose a person who is capable of that and has a similar vision.

Problem #3: Not having the right skills

Few of us were taught by our parents how to have a healthy, happy relationship. And most of us did not learn relationship skills in school. As a result, any skills we’ve learned were through trial…and a few too many errors.

But for a relationship to thrive, there are many critical skills we must develop. For example:

  • how to communicate our feelings, thoughts and desires openly
  • how to say things in a way that won’t elicit a negative response
  • how to listen deeply to our partner
  • how to navigate differences
  • how to resolve conflicts

Learning these skills and applying them make all the difference between having a relationship that is joyful and lasts, versus going through many failed relationships.

The 3 keys to finding (and keeping) love

So to summarize, if what you’re wanting is to find lasting love, the keys are to:

  1. Love yourself and create a life you love
  2. Choose the right partner for you
  3. Learn the skills required to have a healthy, happy relationship

If you would like to learn more about how to find lasting love, I invite you to join me in Ottawa on May 5−6, 2018 for the Soulmate Attraction Summit!

Share your thoughts!

Please share your challenges, successes, tips and comments about finding love below!

Resources for further learning

Other articles:

**************

Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great, turn their heartbreak into a breakthrough, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | February 2, 2018

What to do when life gets you down…

Sad woman 1Let’s face it…life ain’t always easy. It sometimes throws us a curve ball like a lost job or a friend who passes away. Obstacles suddenly appear on our path to our goals. We get taken down by the flu. We get a bad case of the winter blues.

No one escapes having challenges in life…but some people definitely seem to handle them better. So when life gets you down, what are some concrete actions you can take to feel better and turn things around?

Action #1: Take care of your body

When we are under stress, no matter what the cause, the most important first step is to nurture ourselves and take good care of our body. It will be much harder to stick-handle any problems and see the solutions if we get sick (or more sick), or succumb to depression and anxiety.

Some ways to care for ourselves include:

  • Get 8 hours sleep (you may need even more if you’re ill)
  • Exercise regularly (walking outside and doing yoga are very helpful when under stress)
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables (and limit refined carbs and sugar)
  • Take vitamin D and/or use a sun lamp (important in Northern climates during the winter)
  • Do something relaxing (take a bath, get a massage, meditate)

Action #2: Ask for help

It’s also critical to reach out for support. Many of us have a tendency to hide when we’re struggling, but this just increases our sense of isolation and separation. Instead, share your struggles with someone you trust, whose advice you value (e.g. friend, family member, coach or therapist).

Sometimes talking it out can be enough. Other times, you may need to make a specific request for help. Here are some ideas for things you might ask for:

  • Can you come over and spend time with me?
  • Would you be able to watch the kids for me?
  • Can you help me organize my paperwork?
  • Would you mind picking up some groceries for me when you go get yours?
  • Could you take me to see the doctor?

Action #3: Shift your focus

Once your basic physical and emotional needs are met, it’s time to shift your focus. Dwelling on what’s not working in your life will only attract more of what you don’t want. Instead, use your challenges as an opportunity to ask empowering questions like, “What do I want instead?”

Another great way to shift focus is to do gratitude journaling. Every night (or once a day at a time that’s convenient for you), write down what you’re grateful for about your life, yourself, and the people around you. No matter how difficult things may seem, there are always aspects of your life that are still good, and ways in which the Universe and others are supporting you. The more you pay attention to the good things you already have, the more will come to you. (And the faster your challenges will turn around!)

Action #4: Do things you enjoy

When we’re struggling, we tend to not only withdraw, but also to stop doing the things we love most. And yet, the best way to raise our energetic vibration (and mood) is to do things that make us feel joyful and alive.

So, make a list of things you love to do, and then pick something each day to lift your spirits. A few good ideas include:

  • listening to uplifting music
  • getting outside in nature
  • going to the spa
  • spending time with friends
  • buying yourself flowers

Tip #5: Don’t take things personally

When things go wrong, we often take it personally and beat ourselves up for it. But this habit is very disempowering, and keeps us from being able to see the best course of action.

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz advises to take nothing that happens personally, because what others do or say is never really about you; it’s about their own experience and perspective.

So when life throws you a curve ball, instead of replaying what happened over and over in your head, ask yourself “Who do I want to be in this situation?” Consider how you can remain true to your values and what advice your best self would give you, then decide what to do next.

Share your thoughts!

What are you struggling with? What helps you to feel better? Please share your tips/comments below!

Resources for further learning

If your self-esteem feels a little shaky lately, I invite you to attend my free upcoming online masterclass: Fall Madly in Love with You!

Other articles:

Posted by: silverliningsblog | January 1, 2018

How to accomplish your goals this year!

IMG_1081I tend to get excited when January 1 rolls around…the new year brings with it so much promise for improvement and potential for change.

Every year, I set new goals for myself. And every year, I achieve some, but not all. And I’ve started noticing an interesting pattern with the goals I achieve vs. the goals I don’t.

When I don’t achieve a goal, it’s either because it wasn’t important enough to me, or because I got overwhelmed by how big a goal it was (i.e. how hard it would be to achieve).

When I do achieve a goal, it’s because I am very clearly focused on why I want it, and committed to getting there no matter what obstacles I face.

So if you’ve ever struggled to achieve your goals, here are a few tips to make this year the year you accomplish what you set out to do!

Tip #1: Know your why

Goals that stick are typically the ones where we are very connected to our reasons for why we are doing them. And our reasons are closely aligned with our values.

So before setting a new goal, get clear on what your values are, and why you want to achieve this goal. Focus on the positive benefits, and how you’ll feel…not only once you’ve achieved the goal, but as you’re working towards it (i.e. what mood/state do you need to be in to achieve the goal?).

As an example, last year was a challenging health year for me as I faced adrenal burnout and gained weight, so this year I really want to have my best health year ever. This goal is important to me because I really value my health and living a healthy lifestyle, and I want to model for my kids and clients what being active and healthy looks like. To get there, I’ll need to tap into feelings of vitality, strength and energy.

Tip #2: Commit to what you want

It’s also critical to not just set a goal, but commit to achieving it. You must decide that you want this no matter what, and will do whatever it takes to get there. You have to make the pleasure of getting where you want to go greater than the pain of the work to get there.

For my fitness goal, I remember how great it felt to feel good in my clothes, to feel my muscles in action as I played sports, to run without jiggling. J So I’m making that more important than the extra exercise I’ll need to do and food I’ll need to cut back on. And I’m helping myself remember my commitment by posting a colourful tracking sheet in my office, so I can add fun stickers to the days when I work out and/or make good health choices. I’m also putting up a picture of me in my best shape a few years ago, so I can remember what I’m trying to achieve on those days when I feel less motivated.

Tip #3: Mind the gap

When you’re working towards a goal, especially a big goal, it’s important to “mind the gap,” as Jack Canfield says. In other words, don’t focus on how far you have to go to achieve your goal. Instead, focus on how far you’ve already come.

For example, I could easily beat myself up for the fact that I’ve gained over 10 pounds in the past year, and feel overwhelemed by how much work it will take to lost that excess weight. But that will just put me in a negative headspace and lower my energy, making it much harder to achieve my goal of getting back in shape (and into my pants) this year.

Instead, it’s far more helpful to acknowledge how much progress I’ve made with my health overall in the past 10 years…eating more healthy foods, eliminating dairy and gluten, clearing 80% of my allergies, re-balancing my hormones, exercising regularly, running a marathon, becoming a solid athlete and team player.

From that space of positivity (and gratitude for everything my body allows me to do), I can focus on my goal and enjoy the new steps forward I take this year. It’s a much, much different energy! J

Tip #4: Take it one step at a time

Once you’ve set a goal and feel good about working towards it, it’s important to break it down into manageable steps, with rewards after every step and once you reach your goal.

Breaking it down makes it easier to move forward without becoming overwhelmed, and to acknowledge each positive step we’re taking.

In my case, I’m focusing first on getting back into a regular exercise routine (then I’ll be turning my focus to what I’m eating). I’m rewarding myself for going to the gym by spending 10 minutes in the sauna after each workout. And my bigger reward for will be going clothes shopping once I lose 10 pounds!

Tip #5: Make it fun!

Working towards your goals should be fun, not a chore. It’s just as important to enjoy the ride as to reach your destination.

So whatever your goal is, find ways to make it fun for you, and to celebrate your successes!

For example, I’m making getting back in shape more fun in the following ways:

  • Doing micro workouts and playing JustDance with my kids (they love it!)
  • Trying fun new group fitness classes (variety and novelty motivate me)
  • Taking Zumba classes (I love to dance so it doesn’t feel like work)
  • Exercising outdoors when the weather permits (I’m a nature nut)
  • Taking my kids skiing, skating, rollerblading, etc.

The important thing is to know yourself and do things you enjoy, not try to force yourself to do things you really don’t want to (that is hard to sustain work long-term).

I hope these tips have helped, and that you are feeling excited about beginning a new year. I wish you tremendous love, joy and abundance in the year ahead!

Share your thoughts!

What goals are you setting this year? What has helped you achieve your goals in the past? Please share your tips/comments below!

Resources for further learning

If you would like to kick-start your year, I invite you to attend my free online masterclass on January 2, called Your most awesome year ever!

Other articles:

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Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great, turn their heartbreak into a breakthrough, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 2, 2017

12 tips to maintain balance over the holidays

Christmas sanityEvery year, I work hard to make the holidays “magical” for my kids. And every year I start off feeling joyful and excited…and end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Then like a scene from Bad Moms’ Christmas, I melt down and become a cranky-pants.

Can you relate?

Even if you don’t have kids, you’ve no doubt experienced the stress that can go along with the holiday season. In our well-intentioned efforts to create a special time for our family and friends, we sometimes go overboard and lose sight of what really matters – enjoying our time with others.

So this holiday season, I’m determined to do Christmas better and not get so stressed out. Here are my top twelve tips for taking the hustle and bustle out of the holidays.

Tip 1: Envision what you want

The key to getting what you want is to know what you want, and then imagine it happening. So start by asking yourself “What’s most important to me this holiday season?” And then envision it.

For me, I’ve come to realize that what I really want is a simple, low-key celebration where we eat good food and I have time to enjoy my kids and go sledding and play board games with them.

Tip 2: Plan

Once you know what your overall vision is, you can make a plan to create it. Make a list of what needs to happen in what order. Highlight anything that must be done. Postpone things that don’t need to happen now. Choose to let go of anything non-essential.

Tip 3: Put your health and wellbeing first

It can be so tempting to put off exercise and sleep and heathy eating when we’re busy and stressed. And yet that’s when our bodies need it most. So schedule your work-outs, meal prep, meditation and down-time first, ahead of everything else. It’s not worth it to end up getting sick during the holidays!

Tip 4: Take inspired action

Before doing anything on your to do list, stop and take a few deep breaths first. Center yourself, and think about your overall vision. Then set an intention for the outcome you want. You’ll be surprised by how much your enjoyment of each task will increase when you center yourself first and align your energy with your highest intentions!

Tip 5: Keep things simple

Here are some ways we can simplify our holiday traditions and maintain our sanity:

  • Buy fewer gifts (e.g. agree with friends/family not to exchange this year, give fewer gifts to your kids who likely have too many toys already anyway).
  • Scale down on decorating. A few pretty decorations can go a long way in making your place look festive (without all the work)!
  • Instead of mailing Christmas cards, consider emailing them.
  • Instead of cooking a full Christmas dinner, consider buying all or part (many places make dinner for you that you can bring home). Or do a pot luck!

Tip 6: Shop strategically

You can save a ton of time shopping with these tips:

  • Make a list of everything you need to get. Group items by store, and go to/order at as few stores as possible.
  • Order online and have gifts shipped directly to you!
  • Shop in stores during non-peak hours (e.g. weekdays, or Monday-Thursday evenings).
  • Shop in stores that offer free wrapping (e.g. MasterMind Toys).
  • Buy gift cards and let the person choose their own gift (kids love this).

Tip 7: Have a cooking baking day

To make Christmas baking easier, decide on a handful of recipes to make, buy all the ingredients in one trip, and do all your baking in one day. You can invite your kids, friends, or family to participate, making it a fun holiday tradition (my kids and I do this every year).

You can make cookie tins to give away as gifts to friends/teachers/service providers. And you can freeze the cookies so that whenever you host or go to a party, you always have something to bring!

Tip 8: Host a wrapping party!

Wrapping can take a lot of time and become a chore when you’re doing it all at once. So I started a tradition with my girlfriends where I invite them over a week before Christmas to wrap gifts while listening to holiday tunes and sipping wine! Makes wrapping much more enjoyable. J

Tip 9: Ask for help!

OK, I admit to having previously suffered from Wonder Woman syndrome, thinking I can do it all myself. So part of what makes the holidays more manageable for me now is asking people to help. My kids love to help with baking, decorating, and sticking stamps on envelopes. My partner enjoys cooking with me, and hanging the lights.

You may even want to consider if there is someone in your life (a retired parent or neighbour perhaps) who would enjoy spending time with you while helping you with what needs to be done!

Tip 10: Pamper yourself

I discovered long ago that a tired mommy is a cranky mommy. So I know the best thing I can do for my kids (and partner) is to make time to unwind before, during, and after the holidays. My favourite ways are to have a candle-lit bubble bath or lie in bed and read. And every year around New Year’s, I go to the spa near my home for some extra TLC!

Tip 11: Allow for imperfection

We tend to want everything to be perfect for the holidays, but perfectionism leads to stress. It’s far better to aim for an overall vision of what you want, and let the rest go. After all, it’s not the presents and decorations people will remember, it’s the feeling they had being with you.

Tip 12: Remember what’s most important

To me, what’s most important is to have fun with my family and friends. So my goal this year is to stop whenever I’m feeling stressed and ask myself if what I’m doing really matters. Because most of the time it doesn’t, and it causes me to lose sight of what does really matter…which is enjoying the time I have with the people around me.

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Resources for further learning

Posted by: silverliningsblog | November 3, 2017

Being at peace with time

Time - clocksTick, tock, goes the clock…

In our fast-paced modern world, we spend a lot of time trying to beat the clock. Rushing to accomplish tasks, with not enough time to get everything done. Racing to beat yellow lights so we can squeeze in one more task, one more minute.

It’s kind of crazy when you think about it…how in our hurry to get somewhere, we completely miss enjoying the journey.

I have spent a lot of my life rushing to get somewhere. For several years now, I’ve been working hard to build a career that allows me to spend more time with my kids…all the while not enjoying the moments right in front of me because I’m rushing to get somewhere else.

Can you relate? Do you sometimes feel like there just isn’t enough time?

Psychological time

Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievance, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence. —Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Time - pressureIn his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle talks about a concept he calls “psychological time.” He says that really, the only time we ever experience is in the now: the present moment. What we experienced in the past, we actually (back then) experienced in the now. What we will experience in the future (some day), we will experience in the now.

Feeling anxiety and fear is a sure sign we have left the now, and have in our minds travelled to the future. Feeling sadness and depression are signs we have left the now, and have in our minds travelled back to the past. Either way, our experience of time is in our mind…it is psychological.

Really, the only “time” we ever have is the current moment. And leaving that moment is what causes us stress.

Transforming our relationship with time

Sometimes we forget that saving time and filling it are not the same as using it well.
—Lori Deschene, Tiny Buddha

Time - smelling rosesMany people look for ways to “control” time, to get a jump on things, to creatively fit more in. But really, the way to transform how we experience time is to learn to become present, in everything we do, in every moment we live.

“Time management” then becomes not about squeezing more things into an already over-crowded schedule. It becomes about making choices to do what really matters to you. And then focusing on how you are doing it…what state of being you are in when you are doing it. If you do everything in a state of peace, love, and joy, your experience of time will dramatically shift.

How to be more present

So what does it mean to “be more present”? Here are five steps to help you:

1. Take a breather – Stop whatever you are doing and sit down. Breathe deeply, in through your nose (filling your belly), and out through your mouth. Repeat this at least 5 times. Notice what you are feeling, both emotionally and physically. Ask your body what it needs, in this moment. Putting a mindfulness app on your phone like the Mindfulness Bell can help remind you to do this regularly.

2. Become deeply aware of your surroundings – Now check in with your environment. Notice intently the objects around you – look at them as if it’s the first time you’re seeing them. Appreciate their beauty and uniqueness. Notice the space around them. Now notice the sounds around you. See how many you can identify. Notice the silence underneath them.

3. Accept where you are – Choose to accept the present moment as it is, even if it is not what you would like it to be. Resisting “what is” is futile, and wastes your precious energy. Instead, say “yes” to the present moment, as if you chose it. Notice how your energy shifts and new ideas occur to you as you relax into being where you are.

4. Determine what you want – From a place of accepting “what is,” ask yourself how you would like things to be. Consider your core values and what is most important to you. Decide what your highest intention is for what you want to have happen.

5. Act consciously – Decide on the best course of action, and take one step at a time. With each action you take, focus intensely on what you are doing as you are doing it. If you stay connected to your higher intention/value (identified in step 4), you will be in a state of peace, love and joy when you take the action you need to take.

As I write this article, I am preparing to host a two-day live event. The event is two weeks away, and there is still a LOT to do. Yesterday I was feeling both run down and panicked about “not having enough time.” So I did what seemed counterintuitive – I listened to my body and stopped. I took a breather and took the night off. I meditated and refocused on why I was doing this in the first place.

And when I woke up feeling renewed this morning, I began taking action, one step at a time, reminding myself to enjoy this incredible ride I’m on and enjoy the scenery as I go.

Enjoying the time we have

Becoming present takes practice…it is not what our current culture conditions us to do. But it is key to enjoying our lives fully and not feeling “pressed for time.” When we are fully present in each moment and enjoy each step we are taking, we lose all sense of time and feel much more relaxed.

And then we can finally stop wishing we had more time…and instead make the most of the time we have.

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Resources for further learning

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Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | October 2, 2017

Unwanted changes – How to let go and move forward

bench-560435_640Fall is a good reminder that nothing stays the same. Just as the beautifully coloured leaves fall from the trees, so too do things and people come and go from our lives.

We all go through periods of expansion and contraction, and while we might prefer one over the other, both are critical for our growth and well-being. Spring and summer bring new life, energy and growth. Fall and winter allow for harvest, rest and regeneration.

So if we know that the fundamental nature of life is change, why do we resist it so much? Why does it cause us so much grief?

Why we resist change

We humans are creatures of habit. We like to be “comfortable,” and to know what will happen next. So when change visits our doorstep, and thrusts something upon us that we weren’t expecting (and worse, weren’t wanting), we tend to resist it with all our might. So when a relationship ends, we lose a job, our kids leave home, health problems crop up, or a loved one dies, our typical response is to complain about our fate, and in so doing, make things worse for ourselves.

It’s natural to feel pain and a sense of loss when a major change occurs. But it is not natural (or necessary) to suffer. Suffering happens when we resist change, when we dig our heels in and say “I don’t want this to happen,” living in the past, refusing to deal with current reality, and avoiding our true feelings.

For example, let’s say your relationship ends. It is natural to feel a sense of loss, and to grieve both the relationship and the person who is no longer part of your life. You may feel sad for a period of time, and possibly even angry. But if you process your emotions and get support from family, friends and possibly a therapist or coach, your emotions will eventually pass, you will regain hope in the future, and you will start to feel better.

If, on the other hand, you start pining over how things used to be, wondering what your ex is doing now, and obsessively checking his page on Facebook every day, you are effectively resisting reality and prolonging the pain by keeping yourself energetically tied to your ex. By resisting the feeling of pain (trying in vain to keep the connection alive), we unwittingly cause ourselves greater suffering. Every time we see a photo of our ex looking happy, we wonder, “How can he be so happy when I am so miserable?” Truth? Because he’s moved on and you haven’t.

How to let go

So how can you learn to let go (especially when you don’t want to)?

1. Process your emotions – The first step is to acknowledge how you are truly feeling—not just the surface-level emotions (frustration, resentment, bitterness), but also the deeper feelings (pain of rejection, sadness that your family is not longer together, fear of being alone). For more help with this step, see Dealing with unruly emotions: Tuning in, not checking out.

2. Take good care of yourself – In times of change, it’s critical to put self-care first. So make a list of what makes you feel happy. Then try to do something on that list every day. This will gradually help you shift your mood and energetic state, so that you begin to feel better.

3. Look for the good – Ask yourself, what is good about my life already? We have a tendency to hyperfocus on what has gone wrong (the past), which takes our focus off of what is going right (the present). And yet, gratitude is one of the fastest ways to shift focus and feel better. So grab a journal and a cup of tea, and write down everything you love about your life as it is, right now.

4. Ask better questions – Next, notice what questions you are asking yourself. Most people react to change by asking these “why” questions:

* Why is this happening?
* Why me?
* Why now?

But these are fundamentally disempowering questions that put you in a state of victimhood.

Instead, try asking these “how” and “what” questions, which will help you feel more empowered to look for opportunities and create positive change:

* What are the blessings in this situation? (e.g. I wasn’t happy in this relationship anyway. I feel much freer now to live the life I want.)

* What are the opportunities? (e.g. This will allow me to look for something better.)

* How can this benefit me or others? (e.g. My kids will get more quality time with me. I can spend more fun time with my girlfriends.)

* How can I turn this around? (e.g. I can reinvest in my own life and learn to feel happy again. I can take that course I’ve been wanting to take.)

For more help with this step, see 5 magic questions to improve your life.

5. Shift your focus forward – When we continue to stare at a closed door, we fail to see the new ones that have opened. So take your focus off of “what went wrong,” and instead ask yourself, “What do I want now?” Allow yourself to dream, and imagine the life and partner you really What would that look like, feel like? By envisioning your dream life (future), you will become more clear on what your next step should be to begin creating it.

How “negative” change can become positive

forest-1345747_640When my husband Blair died 20 years ago, I definitely did not think it was a good change. I was devastated to lose my soulmate, and felt like life was against me. I felt powerless to make things better, tried to stuff my feelings down, and then slipped into a two-year depression.

Things finally started to change for me when I allowed myself to grieve with the help of a terrific counsellor, and started to take the steps listed above. Suddenly my perspective shifted, and the world seemed brighter again. I regained hope in my future, and that life could still be good…even without Blair in it.

Because of Blair’s death, my relationship with my mother improved. I gained many new friends who stepped in to help me. I moved to a new city to pursue a journalism degree, which led me to the career, kids and friends I have now. I gained a tremendous amount of compassion for people who are struggling, and became a life coach as a result.

I would never have wished for that particular change to have happened, but I can now see how many blessings it did bring.

Change is not easy, especially unwanted change like losing a loved one. But I find it helps to trust that a higher power is lining things up in a way we can’t see right now, and that there is a purpose to it all.

For example, when my ex-husband and I split up eight years ago, I was afraid of being alone, of being judged, of messing up my children’s lives. Once again, the changes I was going through did not at all feel “positive.”

But now, eight years later, I am grateful for the path that has led me to where I am. Now, I am much happier and fulfilled, and lead a life that is consciously designed by me. I have a great career and relationship with my kids. I thoroughly enjoyed my single years, getting to know and fall in love with myself. And I now have a terrific relationship with an amazing guy who could not have entered my life if I had kept staring at that closed door—the relationship with my ex that was clearly not working.

Change really does bring with it opportunity for growth. It may take time to see the changes you are experiencing in a positive light, but once you do, you will feel so much better.

I send you lots of love and positive energy as you navigate the changes in your life, and hope this article helps.

Share your thoughts!

What changes have knocked on your door? What has helped you feel better? Please share your tips/comments below!

Resources for further learning

If you have a relationship that recently ended and would like help, I invite you to attend my free webinar called Lemons to lemonade: How to turn your heartbreak into a breakthrough.

If you’re in the Ottawa area, you may also be interested in my two-day transformational event Heartbreak to breakthrough: Heal your heart, reclaim your power!

Other articles:

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Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 27, 2016

GREAT goals: How to get what you want this year!


“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t turn out – take another shot.”

—Author Unknown

Sun and orb

So you’ve done the New Year’s resolutions thing and set goals for yourself before (at least in your mind 🙂 ). And maybe you’ve even achieved some of them. But for some reason, your biggest dreams just haven’t come true, at least not yet.

What if I told you there is a better feeling way to set goals, pursue your dreams, and ensure this is your best year yet?

Why don’t people get what they want?

In my coaching, training, and 15 years of research, I have discovered three main reasons why people don’t get what they want:

  1. They aren’t clear about what they want.
  2. They don’t believe they can have it/aren’t patient in waiting for it.
  3. They don’t consistently take action to achieve it.

If you could have anything you wanted in your life, what would that look like? What would it feel like? Taste and smell like? If you can answer these questions with clarity, you’re a good chunk of the way towards getting what you want. If can’t, circumstances or other people will decide the course of your life for you.

Meanwhile, do you trust and believe you can have what you want and create the life of your dreams? If you do and you maintain your focus and positivity consistently, what you want will come to you eventually, when it is meant to. If you don’t, then you have some work to do on your belief system.

Lastly, are you taking regular, consistent action to make your dreams come true? Are you acting on what you want, and on the opportunities the Universe is putting before you? If you are, your dreams will manifest in due time. If you aren’t, what’s stopping you?

But I have bad luck…

You may have experienced challenging circumstances. You may even have experienced more challenges than most people. But your circumstances don’t define who you are, what you can have, and what you can do…you do. You are far more powerful than you realize.

When I think of the people I admire most, they have all had very difficult circumstances to overcome. Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Neale Donald Walsch, Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield…every one of these now famous and rich people had to overcome the initial “bad luck” they had…everything from a severely abusive childhood to extreme poverty to a broken neck.

And they each now say that those difficult experiences are part of what has made them so successful today.

You can also rise above your circumstances, see the blessings that have come from them, and create the life you really want. A life that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning!

One thing is for sure: this time next year, you’ll have had 365 days to do something with your life, just like the rest of us. The question is…how well will you use those days?

Getting what you want out of life

012Creating a life you love really starts with a decision – a decision to experience more love, joy, and abundance this year.

Several years ago, I had more than my share of challenges. I had two young children whom I loved, but struggled to enjoy being a stay-at-home mom. I lacked confidence after several years out of the workforce with no income. I was not happy in my marriage. And I had lost touch with who I was and what I enjoyed in life.

Then in October 2009, a friend gave me a birthday card that read, “Make this your best year ever!” I got chills down my arms, and decided in that moment that I would do exactly that. It’s amazing how one simple decision can create so much of an impact!

A year later, I had peacefully ended my marriage, bought a beautiful new home for myself and my kids, and was excelling at my new writing consulting business. I also had a new network of wonderful friends and was having more fun than I’d had in years. All because of one tiny…but momentous…decision.

So how about you…are you ready to make 2017 your most awesome year ever?

Why don’t people stick to their goals?

“Momentum that has resistance in it causes you to try too hard.”
– Abraham Hicks

Deciding to have a great year is a terrific start. But creating goals that feel good and that you’ll actually follow through on is even better. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to actually enjoy taking action on your goals?

Many people create goals but don’t stick to them. Why is that? It’s because they try to force themselves to do something that doesn’t feel good, that feels like work. And if it doesn’t feel good, the motivation to continue just isn’t there.

Why doesn’t it feel good? Because they:

  • do what they think they should do, instead of what they really want to do
  • focus on the “when and how,” instead of the “what and why”
  • have a limiting belief that they can’t have what they really want
  • haven’t lined up their energy with the vibration of what they want
  • aren’t stopping to appreciate how much they have already accomplished
Dream Journal

The journal I use to record my dreams and goals.

G.R.E.A.T. goals

“The world makes way for those who know where they are going.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Setting goals helps you focus your energy and resources on what you want, so that you live your life by choice, not by chance. But a lot of traditional goal setting gets people to focus on the wrong things.

I have been setting goals for myself for many, many years. I think I was born with a pen and notebook in my hand, writing down my aspirations and “to do” lists. (I guess you could say I am a bit of an over-achiever.) And I have had reasonable success setting what you may know as “S.M.A.R.T.” goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound).

But I found that by being so precise in my goal setting (and arbitrary in my deadlines), I got discouraged whenever I missed meeting a goal in the exact time or way I thought I should, and I discounted any progress I had made. I missed opportunities that weren’t part of my rigid plan, and stressed too much about “how” to make things happen instead of enjoying the process.

In the past few years, I have been using energetic goal setting (or goal setting on steroids, as I like to call it). And my life has been moving forward at a dizzying pace as I attract what I want much, much faster.

I have published a book, launched a coaching and speaking business, hosted a phenomenal women’s retreat, and created an online course. I have attracted many wonderful new friends into my life, and an amazing new partner. I have had tons of fun with my kids, traveled to several gorgeous destinations, and made quality time for myself. I even paid off my car two years early!

The key thing I have learned is that it’s the feeling you have when you create the goal that really counts. So I created a new acronym to represent this new “energetic” method of goal setting (who doesn’t love acronyms?!). I call them “G.R.E.A.T.” goals:

Click on each link to look at each of these steps more closely.

And please join me for my free webinar on January 2, where I will help you create your most awesome year ever!

Wishing you all the best in 2018!!


Karen Strang Allen

 

Karen Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is also the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 23, 2016

Staying sane over the holidays

16-12-23-holiday-lanternsNote: This is an updated version of a post originally published in December 2014.

The holiday season can be such a wonderful time…tasting terrific food, giving and receiving gifts, celebrating with people we love.

But it can also be very stressful…last-minute shopping and preparations, family members who push our buttons, unfulfilled expectations.

So what is the best way to stay sane over the holidays, and remain centered no matter what?

Follow these five steps if you’re feeling frazzled and want to re-connect with your higher self. (You know, the self who isn’t freaking out because you burned the cookies, your kids destroyed the house, and your Aunt Mabel had a little too much eggnog and is now doing the Bird Dance.)

Think you don’t have time? That’s exactly when you need to do this the most. Don’t worry…you can re-center yourself in as little as five minutes.

1.    Breathe

“Relax. Nothing is under control.”
— Buddha

When we are stressed, our breathing gets very shallow. Stopping to breathe more deeply can quickly reduce our heart rate and cortisol levels. (It can also keep us from turning blue with frustration.)

Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Fill your belly and chest completely, and pause at the end of each inhale and exhale. Do this for at least 5 breaths.

2.    Ground yourself

When I’m feeling frazzled, it’s almost always because I’m focused on some drama inside my head or trying to control something I can’t control (like Aunt Mabel’s egg nog consumption). I find reconnecting with my body and grounding my energy back to the earth to be very calming.

Try this short grounding exercise:

1. Stand strong. Stand with your feet on the ground, your hands on your heart.

2. Breathe. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

3. Root to the ground. Imagine roots coming out the bottom of your feet and running into the ground, deep into the center of Mother Earth. Imagine warm, loving, compassionate, nurturing feminine energy flowing up into your body.

4. Connect to the sky. Next, imagine that there is a stream of light coming from the center of your head and connecting you with Father Sun. Imagine receiving strength, purpose, determination, and courage from your masculine energy source.

5. Balance your energies. Now imagine that your feminine and masculine energies merge together in the center of your body at your heart, and that they are completely balanced.

6. Affirm the present. Affirm (ideally out loud): “I am love, I am light. I am safe. Everything is working out for my highest and greatest good. All is well.”

7. Ask the Universe for what you want. Now open your arms to the sky and say (as loudly as you can): “I am open to receiving the love, joy, and abundance of the Universe!”

You may also want to check out this great blog post on Getting Grounded for the Holidays by Charlotte Bradley of Yoga Flavored Life. Charlotte provides a short 5-pose yoga sequence to help you get grounded.

3.    Be present

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’”
— Eckhart Tolle

The best gift you can offer people doesn’t come in a box…it’s your presence and attention. Look around you. Instead of wishing for what isn’t, enjoy the moment and the people who are in front of you, right now.

4.    Decide what you want

When we experience unpleasant situations, it allows us tune into what we really do want instead. And once you know what you want, you can begin taking steps to create it. Don’t feel like being alone? Call someone up or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Overwhelmed by too many visitors? Sneak off and do the grounding exercise above or take a hot bath and listen to calming music.

5.    Focus on blessings

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
― Wayne Dyer

Things may not be perfect, but there is still undoubtedly much good in your life. Using each of your senses, pause and feel gratitude for the good things around you…the smell of roasting turkey, the sound of laughter, the excitement in your child’s eyes. (And just look at Aunt Mabel…it’s hard not to smile when you see her enthusiasm as she dances on the table. Or to admire her moves at 80.)

If you slow down long enough to see the beauty in the imperfection, you’ll start to appreciate what is already going well. And how blessed you truly are.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones…even Aunt Mabel.

If you like this post, please comment below, and share with others!

Looking for more ideas? Check out this blog post by my friend Lauren Jawno:
10 Strategies to flow through the holiday season – sanity intact!

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Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is also the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

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