Monthly Archives: June 2012

How Laura Got Her Groove Back (It’s Not What You Think)

Over the past few weeks, maybe even the past month, I have had times of feeling very anxious. In the past I frequently had boughts of anxiety, but over the past year or so that has become rare.

I felt anxiety about some specific things, in particular two decisions I had made about the direction in which I wanted to take my business. One decision was to start an Internet TV show on the Real Coaching Network platform. The other was to completely rebrand my business and have a new website built.

Both of these required somewhat large outlays of money, so I told myself that I was anxious about spending the money. Both of these decisions were made about four or five weeks ago.

As I moved forward with each of these projects, I encountered bumps in the road and sometimes roadblocks. I would have moments where I would wake up first thing in the morning overcome with anxiety which was usually related to one of these projects.

I did what I felt I could do to relieve the anxiety. Sometimes this took the form of asking a question of the provider of the service. Other times it was “talking myself down.” The anxiety continued to occur, so nothing I was doing was getting at the root of the problem.

In each case I agonized over whether I had made the right decision. I was never sure. I was full of self-doubt. I kept asking my higher self for guidance, but never seemed to receive it.

I had avoided asking for deliverable dates and sharing some of my concerns with the owner of Real Coaching Network because I was afraid of his reaction. I had several interactions with him fairly early on where he became defensive and blaming when I questioned his process or didn’t want to do something the way he wanted it done.

In one case this was about security. He wanted my login information, including passwords for all my social media accounts, and he wanted me to put them in his online project management tool. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to be overly worried about Internet security, but I do know enough not to put my passwords in writing, even on a supposedly secure site! I wasn’t keen on giving them to him at all, and I outright refused to put them somewhere online.

His reaction was to argue with me, to tell me why I had to do it that way, to tell me that no one else he worked with had a problem (are they stupid?), and to tell me that at some point I had to trust someone.

Well, let’s see. I’ve known you for about two weeks, and you are the person I am supposed to trust with all my passwords? Um, no. Anyway, that is just one example of the types of interactions I had with this person that led to me being reluctant to raise issues with him.

Separate from his belligerent attitude, I realized I wasn’t receiving many of the services from him that he was supposed to provide. I was paying a monthly fee for these services and the next month’s payment was coming up in a few days.

I sent him an email with a list of all the services I was supposed to receive and asking for a status on each of them. I also listed things that had been done incorrectly (professionalism is not his strong suit) that needed to be corrected, and asked for a response. I then waited anxiously for the eruption that I was sure I had set off.

I received a response from him a day and a half later. I was getting ready to go out of town for the weekend, and I was fearful that reading his response would lead to more anxiety, and that I would not be in a place where I could respond to him since I was going to be out of town. So I sent him a note that I would respond when I returned.

The morning of my first day back I awoke with tons of anxiety. I tried to go about my morning routine, but finally decided I had to see how he had responded. My expectation was that he would attack and blame me somehow.

I opened up the document and saw that yes, he did blame me for much of what was undone, but that he hadn’t really attacked me.  Whew.  But…aside from the tweaks to fix things he had done incorrectly, he hadn’t done any of the other things that were due, nor told me when they would be complete.

I realize this has become a very long story. To cut to the chase, I stood up to him. I canceled my subscription and asked him to refund the payment that had been made a few days earlier. I did all of this nicely and respectfully, saying that it was not a good fit for me.

He first responded by trying to cajole me, offering to have a phone call that he would come to with an “open heart.” When I said it was too late for that, then the hammer came down. “No refunds. What a bad person you are, Laura, you don’t walk your talk.”

I stood my ground. I contacted an attorney. I called Visa to dispute the charge.

And all the while I was spinning on the idea that I was wrong, I was to blame, I was bad. I realized that this man reminded me of my ex-husband, and that was why I had all the anxiety about interacting with him. His patterns of interacting with me matched my ex-husband’s. And even being aware of this I couldn’t get out of the place of self-blame.

The rest of the day was a very uncomfortable, upsetting one for me. There were moments of crying uncontrollably. Mostly I just felt sick to my stomach. I could see how I was stuck in my head, and stuck in this place of taking responsibility for something that was not my fault, but I couldn’t stop.

That evening I went to Kundalini yoga. If you’ve never tried it, please do! The last thirty minutes is a gonging session where we lay on the floor with pillow and blanket and just feel the vibrations of the gong.  These vibrations release stuck emotions and energy. At the very end of the session I heard a voice inside say, “You have every right to be angry.”

I finished the session feeling significantly better than when I had started. When I woke up the next morning I felt calm and peaceful, and spent most of the day in that state. I realized that this situation had been testing my resolve to be authentic, and to speak my truth regardless of my fears.

The following day as I woke up I saw that the feeling of being cut off from the guidance of my higher self was because I wasn’t paying attention to the guidance I was receiving. All the anxiety I had felt was guidance. Because I was afraid to confront the situation, the anxiety grew and grew, trying to tell me to pay attention.

I realized that I also needed to deal with my concerns about my website project. I sent an email off to the project manager asking to halt the project while I re-evaluated. I felt calm and at peace.

Soon after sending this email, I went for my regular morning walk.  As I approached the road that runs along a bluff above Puget Sound, I saw a single bird flying towards me. As I looked up at this bird I saw it was blue heron.

A sign of self determination, following my path, speaking my truth. I knew I was back on track. My intuition had been there all the time, waiting for me to pay attention, and now I had.

And that’s how Laura got her groove back.

What’s In a Name? A Lot

I’ve decided to legally change my name. I’m going to drop my married name and go back to using my maiden name. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but for me there are emotions and history associated with this name change that makes it feel like a triumph for me.

My name has been an issue ever since I got engaged back in 1992, and the discussion about what our married names would be began. It was a little more complicated than simply would I take his name, or I would keep my name.

The first complication was that this was his second marriage, and when he got married the first time they combined their names into a new name. Somehow my ex-husband could not understand that I would not want my married name to contain the maiden name of his first wife. This seemed pretty reasonable to me, but he just didn’t get it.

He had emotional reasons, tied to his family of origin, that he did not want to go back to using his original last name, so he suggested that we choose a name we liked that would be just ours. This didn’t work for me, because part of the meaning of name for me is the family history.

I was already struggling with if I wanted to give up my maiden name (Longley) and essentially say I was no longer part of that clan. To give it up in favor of name that had no connection to anyone else, was just not possible for me.

Eventually my then-fiancé decided that he would be okay with going back to his original last name (Allan), and I agreed that I would change my name to Allan. Until…

As we got closer to the wedding date, I just didn’t want to give up Longley. It felt like I was giving up my identity, and it felt like I was losing my connection to my family of origin. I felt that I would be consumed by the marriage relationship, and that I would cease to exist as an individual.

These feelings and fears ultimately proved to be prophetic. But that comes later in the story.

My fiancé was not okay with us having different last names. It was non-negotiable to him: we must have the same last name. Although the simple solution would have been for him to take my name (Longley) – that solved the issue of giving up my maiden name, as well as us having the same last name – that was not an option to him.

We started counseling to try to figure out what we were going to call ourselves once we were married. In hindsight twenty years later, this was probably a very good clue that we would have some issues in our marriage!

In fact, the core issue in our marriage was his need for us to merge, and my need to maintain a separate identity. This is not an issue that can be resolved through compromise, and it’s not surprising that he’s now my ex-husband.

Ultimately we agreed that he would change his last name back to Allan, and that I would add Allan as a fourth name, keeping my original middle name, as well as Longley. My ex-husband was never fully okay with this solution, but it was a middle ground.

He did not want me to hyphenate my name, so at work I used the last name Longley Allan (with a space between the names) and in other settings I used Longley as a second middle name.

Longley Allan was a difficult last name. Computer systems don’t deal well with a space in the name, and I was forever being called Allan (first name) Longley (last name). When my son was born in 1996 I decided to just use Allan as my last name in all settings.

I was okay with making the change to Allan at that time because the meaning was there for me: I had the same last name as my son. We were a family.

When I divorced, I kept Allan for the same reason; it was my son’s name. I greatly regret not insisting that my son’s middle name be Longley, or even that he have two middle names, one of which was Longley. But his father and I had so many fights over our own names that I just didn’t have it in me to have another one about my son’s name.

So, why am I changing my name now? I still have a son. He still has the last name of Allan. I think the answer is that I have wanted to be a Longley for the entire time I have been an Allan, and my son is at an age where it makes sense.

My son is sixteen and we are going through the separation phase. Last year he decided he wanted to go and live with his dad, so we have physically been separated to a degree (I still see him on weekends).  It feels like whatever bond we have needs to be based on more than a shared name if it is to survive. For me, changing my name now symbolizes that I am letting him go, allowing him to grow up and be whoever he may be.

I did ask my son if he cared if I changed my name, and he said he didn’t. He has plans to change his own name (to something pretty outrageous) once he is eighteen, and said it would be hypocritical for him to tell me not to change my name. I smiled, as somehow I don’t think his name change will ever actually take place.

I do feel a little sad that my son and I will no longer have a name in common, especially as that held meaning for me. But as I’m coming more fully into my authenticity and my identity, choosing the name that feels like me is important.

Finally, now is the time to make this change because I am ready to let go of the power my ex-husband has had. Changing my name is entirely symbolic, but it just feels like as I become a Longley again I am truly shedding the last vestiges of that marriage.

I never was Laura Allan, I always have been Laura Longley.

The Blue Heron Wisdom Internet TV Show Goes Live Today!

If you have enjoyed reading my posts here (which I will continue to do), you might also enjoy tuning into the inaugural episode of my new Internet TV Show, Blue Heron Wisdom.

To find out more about the show and to watch the archives, go here: http://www.realcoachingradio.net/content/blue-heron-wisdom

To tune in live at 7 PM Pacific / 10 PM Eastern click here: http://www.realcoachingradio.net/content/live-studio-call-vip-show-hot-line-303-872-0503

So, you’re probably wondering what this show is all about. Let’s start with the name of the show: Blue Heron Wisdom. The blue heron is a symbol of self-determination, discovering and walking a path of authenticity. My mission is to inspire you to want to be more of who you truly are, to enlighten you on how to move forward on your own unique path, and to encourage you along the way.

In my weekly radio show I will share information about ways to work through common problems and stuck-points, including exercises and tools that you can use at home. We’ll then open up the phone lines for live coaching on any questions or situations you need help working through.

On the first and third Thursday of each month I will introduce you to a practitioner who offers an alternative approach to discovering and walking your own unique path. Some of the guests scheduled include hypnotherapists, EFT practitioners, acupuncturists and a Kundalini yoga instructor. There will be time in the last half of the show for you to call in with questions for the guest, or for me. Or why not get input from each of us?

I hope that you will be inspired by my stories and the stories of my guests, that you will find enlightenment in the ideas, tools and techniques that we offer, and that you will feel encouraged and supported through receiving live coaching for your own questions. My ultimate hope is that by experiencing this inspiration, enlightenment and encouragement, you will in turn inspire, enlighten and encourage others to be more of who they truly are.

Here is the schedule of topics and guests for the first four episodes:

June 14, 2012
The Inaugural Episode with Wendy Wagoner
I will be interviewed by veteran broadcaster Wendy Wagoner. We’ll be discussing my hopes and dreams for how the show will make a difference in the world, how I came to be doing the show, and sharing what’s in store for the coming weeks. We’ll be sure to leave time for you to call in and get some help with situations in your life.

June 21, 2012
Psychic, Medium and Teacher Melissa Peil
Melissa will share how she became aware of her own intuitive gifts, how using your own intuition can help you move in the right direction, and how she uses her gift to help others find the right path. Call in and to get Melissa’s input (or mine) on a problem or decision you need help with.

June 28, 2012
Overcoming Perfectionism with Ina Stockhausen
Join me and my friend and colleague Ina Stockhausen to find out what perfectionism is, why it interferes with being authentic, and what to do about it. Ina and I will address questions you may have about how to set your perfectionism aside and be more of who you truly are.

July 5, 2012
Astrologer and Writer Rhea Wolf
Rhea will share some information about an upcoming astrological event that will require us to call upon our skills to live with change and uncertainty. We’ll have a conversation about resiliency: what is it, why is it important, how to develop it. Call in to ask for an astrological perspective on current events, or for coaching on a difficult situation.

I am incredibly excited (it seems like I use that word a lot lately) about this new chapter in my business. I look forward to your feedback, and talking to you live!

Here are the links again:

To find out more about the show and to watch the archives, go here: http://www.realcoachingradio.net/content/blue-heron-wisdom

To tune in live at 7 PM Pacific / 10 PM Eastern click here: http://www.realcoachingradio.net/content/live-studio-call-vip-show-hot-line-303-872-0503

Eagles, Part II – The Battle Between Ego and Higher Self

On the second day of my Olympic Peninsula adventure, I decided to go to Cape Flattery. Cape Flattery is the most northwest point of the continental United States. I’d been to Key West which is the most southern point, so it seemed kind of fun to go to the most northwest point. Not to mention that it’s in my home state, so why hadn’t I been there in 55 years?

Also, part of the goal of my trip was to spend some time at the ocean, and Cape Flattery is the point where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean. Pretty cool.

I arrived at the parking lot and saw that there was a trail through the woods that led to the coastline. As I walked the trail there were side trails that led to overlooks of the water crashing below.

I am so bad with distances, but I would say the cliff is a couple of hundred feet above the water crashing below. It is quite rocky, with inlets of water on either side of the land where the trail was.

From these overlooks I could see caves that had been created in the rock from the unrelenting crash of the water. There were lots of birds flying, in the water, and on the rocks: seagulls and several types of water fowl. I was overcome by the power and majesty of nature. To say it was beautiful is a severe understatement.

When I reached the end of the trail there was a raised wooden platform with benches. The vista from this lookout was spectacular! To the north I could see Vancouver Island. directly in front of me to the west was little Tatoosh Island, with the lighthouse. To the south were more rocky cliffs and rocky islands with surf crashing around them. It was spectacular!

I stood and took in the view for a while. Watched all the various birds. Eventually I decided I wanted to just sit and listen to the sound of the ocean. There was no one else around, and I sat on one of the benches and closed my eyes.

I’ve always found the sound of the ocean so soothing. I sat and listened, meditating on the sound. After a few minutes I felt the urge to open my eyes. I had intended to sit like this, just listening, for ten minute or so. But for some reason I felt it was time to open my eyes after just a couple of minutes.

When I opened my eyes, I saw directly in front of me two eagles in the air. I got up and walked to the railing at the edge of the platform to get a better view. This was not two eagles soaring on the thermals as I have  seen before. One of the eagles was definitely chasing the other.

At one point, the eagle being chased landed on an outcropping of rock directly across the cove from where I was standing. However, he didn’t stay long as the second eagle dive-bombed him. He took off into the air again.

On the next pass, the eagle under attack rolled his body so that his claws were facing up. The attacking eagle was flying directly above him, and they struck at one another with their claws in mid-air. This took place at eye level from where I was standing, perhaps 100 feet away.

I felt very distressed witnessing this violence. I was worried that one of them would be seriously injured, and I didn’t want to see that. I said out loud, “Don’t hurt him.” At that point the first eagle flew off to the north and around a point of land to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

I had hoped that the second eagle would let him go, as he had now successfully run him off. But he followed behind, although at a distance.  I was grateful that whatever may happen next (maybe nothing?) would be out of my sight.

Now that they were gone, I had time to process what had happened. I feel that I was meant to open my eyes when I did. The eagles were only there for a minute or two. If I had continued my meditation (as I originally intended), I would not have seen them.

So, what was the message in this scene? Eagles represent Spirit (God, Source, the Universe). What could two eagles fighting mean? I was highly affected emotionally by what I had witnessed, so I believed there was a message there. But what was that message?

Although I leave myself open to further insights about this experience, what I believe these two eagles locked in battle represent is the battle between Ego and the Higher Self. I view the eagle being attacked as the Ego, and the attacker as the Higher Self.

I have been going through a process of identifying more and more with my Higher Self. Sometimes with greater success than other times, but always with more awareness of which part of me is in control.

What I came to understand from the experience with the eagles, is that both parts of me need to exist; both parts will continue to exist. This is why I cried out “Don’t hurt him.” Ego cannot, and should not, be killed or destroyed. It serves a purpose when kept in check.

But my Higher Self is becoming stronger and more dominant than my Ego. It’s the part that’s in control more of the time now. When Ego tries to assert itself inappropriately, the Higher Self can run it off and send it back to its own territory –firmly, but without harming it.

Conversely, I can see this as a warning that if I allow it, Ego can chase away my Higher Self. Ego cannot kill the Higher Self. It will still exist, but will not be dominant in my perspective and in my choices.

I know this all sounds kind of woo-woo and out there. And at the same time I know I witnessed this scene for a reason. There was a message here for me.

I’m open to other interpretations.  Please share your thoughts.

This is a lovely reminder to just be. Here. Now.

lifeandfriendship

Stay Awake. Remember to Listen. Breathe.

That’s it. Today I am trying to stay awake. When I come to and realize I have been caught up thinking about something that happened in the past or may happen in the future, I stop and get back to the moment at hand.

I am trying to listen. I can’t learn when I am talking, or when my mind is full of the buzzing chatter that drowns out the present and sends my mind spinning with what if’s and must do’s.

I am trying to breathe deeply and release all that I don’t need. Moving through fear, doubt, anger and anxiety is much more possible with a body and mind calmed by great big inhales and nice slow exhales.

I took a yoga class a few years ago in which I thought I would lose my mind. That was because for the full…

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Eagles, Part I – Spirit Is Always Present

Friday was my birthday. Several weeks earlier I made plans to go by myself to the Olympic Peninsula. Part of my motivation was to spend some time alone in nature. To reflect and meditate on what I wanted to create in the coming year.

On a clear day when I am driving the hills of Seattle near my home I can see the Olympic Mountains. Over the past couple of years I have felt a pull to go to the Olympic Peninsula, especially to the northern part of the coast where it is rocky and wild.

However, that is not a day drive, as it takes four hours or more to get there, and requires planning for where I would stay overnight. With my birthday coming up it seemed like the perfect excuse for this getaway.

I’ll admit, too, that the other part of my motivation was that I didn’t want to end up alone and with no plans on my birthday weekend. It was something of preemptive strike to make plans for that weekend so that I was choosing to be alone rather than ending up alone.

On Friday I had no special birthday plans. I did a Skype call with a friend from church that was business-related. I met a new friend for tea, and she bought my tea and pastry, which was nice and unexpected. I saw a couple of clients and went for my monthly acupuncture appointment.

I stopped for dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant on my way home from the acupuncturist. Nothing special and I was okay with that.

When I got home it was still early in the evening, and I suddenly felt very lonely and sad. It was my birthday, and no one had invited me to do anything to celebrate. Of course the flip side of that is that I had not let my friends know that I wanted to do something. But either way, I felt very sad and sorry for myself.

I was even beginning to feel like I didn’t want to leave on my weekend trip the next morning. I had a vague sense of loss or grief at leaving home for the weekend. I worried about my cats, which of course are fine on their own overnight.

I did what I frequently do when I begin to feel sad, lonely or grief-stricken. I distracted myself by playing games on the computer and reading. I hoped I would not be feeling this way all weekend.

When I awoke Saturday morning I did, indeed, feel better. I had been thinking about the route I would take to the hotel. Where would I like to go, what would I like to see and do on the way?

After treating myself to breakfast out, I decided to go to a park at the south end of Hood Canal: Penrose State Park. My family had gone there many times when I was a child. Sometimes we would go for the day and go clam digging. When we got home my dad would make chowder with the clams. Other times we would camp overnight, hike in the woods near the water, and dig caves in the sandy bank at the water’s edge.

I hadn’t been to Penrose for about five years, and prior to that had not been since I was an adolescent. This stop was a nostalgic one for me.

I arrived mid-morning. There had been a little rain while I was having breakfast, but now it was dry, with some broken clouds. I had brought a raincoat and boots because the weather can be unpredictable, but I was thankful that I would not need them – at least not right then.

The tide was about halfway out, and the spit of land where we walked to dig clams was fully exposed. I decided to take a walk out on this spit. The path along the top of the spit was somewhat rocky, and required a certain amount of attention to my feet and where I was stepping so that I didn’t turn my ankle.

As I walked this spit of land that stuck out into the water, I would occasionally look around at the view: land close in on both sides, still and quiet water, a seagull or crow here and there.

I noticed streams of water spurting up from the ground in the wet areas on either side of the pathway. I remember that seeing these fountains was how we knew there was a clam, and would start digging to find it. It was a fun and warm memory of time with my dad.

After ten minutes or so, I was about halfway down the length of the spit. I was continuing my slow walk, looking around me occasionally, but also focused on where I was stepping. To my left I suddenly heard the beat of wings and looked up to see a bald eagle taking off from the ground not more than ten feet away from me!

He flew back to the forested land at the edge of the water and perched on the top of an evergreen tree. From where I was standing I could only see him because of his white head. I was amazed (and a little disappointed) that I had come so close to this eagle, and yet had not noticed him there.

I know that eagles symbolize Spirit. I realized that this experience was a message that Spirit is always with me, whether I notice it or not. Spirit watches over me even when it is hidden in the top of a tree and I can’t see it. It is still there, just waiting to be noticed.

I was (and am) so grateful for this experience, this reminder. I had been feeling sad and lonely, unloved and uncared for, yet Spirit was with me all the time, loving me and caring for me. All I had to do was pay attention.