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How to Create Freedom and Health for a Life you Love

How to Create Freedom and Health for a Life you Love

How quickly this year is flying past, despite the days that seem to last forever and drag by slowly. Perhaps, like me, you’ve had a chance in these last eighteen months to consider deeply what it means to have a life that you love. More importantly, have you noticed the roles that freedom and health play in your life?

This year has reminded me of the importance of my physical health and wellbeing. My physical health impacts my mental health directly. Coeliac Disease goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression when inflammation sets in.  It’s more than just the anxiety of not knowing how my body will respond and “play up”.

As long as I manage my inflammation and have a healthy gut flora, my mental health thrives. As my mental health thrives, so does my productivity and ability to build a life I love. Nonetheless, I have regularly ignored how this autoimmune disease affects me and limits my freedom over the past twenty years.

As we spent much of 2020 in lockdown, all the issues related to what I can control and what I cannot control came to the surface for me. There were months of deep introspection and noticing where I have healed and what I have left to heal. I noticed where I trusted the Divine to take care of me and where I sadly lacked trust!

So, I took stock of my life once again.

Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom.Henepola Gunaratana, health, a life you love
Mindfulness gives you time.
Time gives you choices.
Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom. Henepola Gunaratana

Defining values: freedom

One surprising effect of the crisis of 2020, ongoing into 2021, is how it impacted my values and what I consider important.

In my twenties, freedom would have been my primary value. And once again, I find it front and centre as the value which I hold most dear.  While wisdom reappears, laughter made an appearance for the first time since my teens! Mastery made an appearance, replacing ideas of commitment and being in the flow. And empowerment made an appearance for the first time: empowering myself as well as empowering others.

For 2020, my values were bold, committed, resilient, inspired, aware, intuitive, and flow.  I struggled most of the year with the flow and detaching from the outcome!  I’m not sure what happened to bold – other than being outspoken in my memes on social media to the extent that I got a few Facebook bans for sarcasm that was “fact-checked”.

But for me, freedom is more than just political freedoms or religious freedom.

Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.Albert Camus
Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better. Albert Camus

What does freedom mean to you?

personal freedom: freedom of the person in going and coming, equality before the courts, security of private property, freedom of opinion and its expression, and freedom of conscience subject to the rights of others and of the public
From Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary
Freedom is the state of being allowed to do what you want to do
“Freedom is the state of being allowed to do what you want to do.” From Collins online dictionary.

I consider freedom to cover many aspects of my life:

  • There’s an emotional aspect – the healing from baggage that I have perhaps carried for many years;
  • Financial freedom – the power to live a life that I love, having choices open up before me because I have built the financial wherewithal to finance my choices;
  • Religious freedom – to believe and have faith as I choose;
  • Freedom of speech and opinion; and – most importantly
  • The freedom to be yourself.

I hope that you are loved, accepted and valued as you are, for who you are, by the people that you value and love.

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.Charles Evans Hughes
“When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.” Charles Evans Hughes

The Health to Live a Life I Love

An essential element of my personal freedom is the health to live abundantly. This includes my emotional and mental health and a level of fitness that is high enough to do the activities that I love.

While my personal definition of great health is a body that does not rely on medicines or supplements to keep my organs and systems balanced and well, that is not currently my reality. I don’t have enough energy to do everything I want without supplements, and I don’t get to live pain-free. However, I don’t have to resort to medication for my health journey. That is a major step forward from where I used to be.

I exercise because I want to be strong enough to do activities that I love: paddle boarding, exploring the outdoors, travelling with active sightseeing. While my travel has been restricted these last eighteen months, I am focused on keeping a fitness level that affords me the confidence that I could leave at any time and be fit enough.

The goal, ultimately, is a life that I love.

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How do I identify my ideal life?

If you’ve ever done a “Passion Test”, you will know this phrase well.

“My life is ideal when I am…”

  • What are you doing when you are living your ideal life?
  • Who are you with, ideally?
  • What do you feel when you are thriving?
  • Where are you?

You might write down ten or twelve phrases of “my life is ideal when I am…”

At the beginning of the year, I write down fifty things that I do when my life is ideal. What are the activities that I am actively involved in? Who do I make time to visit and spend time with? It might be as simple as “make time to have coffee with ____”.

The goal throughout the year is to do as many of these 50 items – no matter how big or small – that are aligned with my values and ideal life.  These are fifty small stepping stones to an ideal life.

Designing my ideal life:

I am now exceedingly careful with who participates in the design of my life. Whoever calls the shots has the power. I insist on having the freedom to design my life and seek opinions from others with common interests.

What limits your ability to dream and desire? Of course, it depends on whether these limitations are real. Are these limitations beliefs that we have held in mind for years? How might I challenge these beliefs? Perhaps they are imaginary limitations.  If you’ve handed over the power to others, can you now take it back?

Do you have the freedom to prioritise (in time, money and attention) what is important to you?

When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw. Nelson Mandela
When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw. Nelson Mandela

The freedom of values:

For me, in the design of my ideal life, my values take centre stage. They are not simply empty words and ideas. Rather, they reflect the ideals of what I want to embody in my choices.

Whose values are you living and embodying each day? Perhaps your life and the design of it reflect the values of another generation. They might reflect the values of your inner critic rather than your deep sense of self.

If you feel empty and that your life is meaningless: this is a great place to start examining. Consider the values that your life currently embodies, and then consider whether or not these are your personal values.

The Freedom to Create:

Creating a life you love is more than ideation and design. It’s creating and then keeping to routines that support you. You take an idea, and you put it into action, allocating time and resources.

  • Do you have the freedom to create a life you love?
  • What limitations and obstacles are you facing?

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Health and Energy to Take Action:

For me, these past twenty years, taking action has been tied closely to my health. While I might use mindset to push through part of the obstacles, I’ve found that building a stronger, healthier body is easier and more effective than focusing on using my energy to push through.

How does your mental health impact your freedom?

I’m in an industry where we talk openly about mental health and our challenges with anxiety or depression. I’m blessed with an awareness of what “okay” feels like and can notice when I’m not doing well.  More importantly, I have a support network that helps me get back to fully balanced and in action.

Because when my health is great, I’m motivated and focused.

If you don’t have that support network: how can you build it? Having a life you love depends on this!

The joy of travel

With Coeliac Disease, one of my biggest constraints is where and what I eat. While that could limit my love of travelling, I refuse to allow that to be so! Airbnb has been one of my saving graces because it allows me to have a kitchen and make my own food. I typically pack one or two small pots (yes, I travel with my own pots) and then buy disposable cutlery and a ton of tinfoil when I arrive. The tin foil allows me to cover surfaces in the kitchen that might have gluten (like chopping boards).

Unfortunately, Coeliac Disease also constrains what I drink. It’s more than just avoiding beers and whiskey. Most powdered coffee and frappe mixes are either flavoured (malt) or contaminated with gluten. However, most leaf teas (unflavored) are safe choices.  So, I often order a tea with a meal rather than risk hot cocoa (because I don’t know which powder mix they use) or a cold drink.

On a plane, I assume that the only food I’ll be offered is a fruit salad and peanuts (which don’t sit well with my stomach and I avoid). So, I always pack my own snacks for planes and travel.

I’m not going to let dietary restrictions impact the joy of travel!

Eating out, however, is another story! I’ll join friends for celebrations but often find myself ordering vanilla ice cream. While it would seem that a fruit salad or a salad of any kind would be a safe choice: unless they have a dedicated gluten-free surface and knives, I won’t risk it. I prefer to go hungry for one meal than ruin my holiday for the next ten to fifteen days.

Steps and pacing yourself

You have to start wherever it is that you are at right now. There’s no point in waiting longer – till things get better – to get started. It’s unrealistic to think that everything is always fine – there are challenges and obstacles.

If you’ve never done it before, get clear on your personal values, and then define for yourself what freedom means and the health you need to have the life you love.

Your personal definition of freedom will differ from mine. Perhaps it is merely political and religious freedom. Maybe it is something more.

What is your personal definition of wellbeing? Does it include health and fitness?

No matter what your definitions, identify small steps that you can take this week, this month and over the next six months that allow you to build a life you love.  You might consider creating a plan for the next two years or even up to five years.

Review, revisit and revise your plans.

Plans are implemented over time: things change, and life doesn’t always go as expected.

I typically review my plans and progress in November and May of every year. Sometimes I find myself back at the drawing board, rebuilding the plans I had for my goals. Other times, I merely tweak and chunk down, delving deeper into the next steps forward.

It’s all about how I face the obstacles and challenges along the way.

Despite the challenges I’ve faced with health and well-being over these past twenty years, I still insist on being fit and healthy. This doesn’t mean that I give up on a goal or dream. Nonetheless, I regularly check what works and adjust my course.

You’re never starting from scratch when you revisit and revise your plans – you now have more experience and adjust for the current reality.

It’s tempting to throw away the goal and give up. But most times, the problem is not the dream or goal itself. Usually, it’s the plan we’re following or our half-assed efforts at implementation.

As much as I would like to say that I wing it and do everything going with the flow, I don’t. I use discipline and routines to keep the flow happening. They are my best friends in both planning and execution.

What do you value most in freedom, health and a life you love?

As you look back over the lessons you’ve learned in the last eighteen months, consider how your definitions of health and freedom have changed.

More importantly, what do you value most in creating a life you love?

What are you doing to create this?

introductory call, Beth Gray, coach, coaching packages, phone call, Zoom, Skype, online, purpose, expectations, value, fit

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How to be aware of your triggers and concealed rewards

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Most of us have emotional triggers that we aren’t aware of until we blow up or “lose it”. These learned responses helped us to survive unpleasant situations (often in our childhood).  Unfortunately, those very habits (cues/triggers, course of action or response, and rewards) that allowed us to survive in childhood now sabotage or hamper our growth and relationships.

I’m not talking about PTSD triggers: those are at another level, where it’s not merely a habit. These triggers actually require deeper assistance, such as therapy.

These habitual responses are survival tactics, often learned in our childhood. I adeptly overlook and sidestep the bigger issues when I ignore the hidden rewards of my habits.  The slowing down of 2020 gave us much needed time to sit and do the inner work of looking at our survival tactics.

Be grateful for triggers: they point where you are not free. -Anonymous
Be grateful for triggers: they point where you are not free. -Anonymous

Even 2021 has shown me (especially on social media) how I respond to certain types of posts and comments. There are people that I have been tempted to block “for my peace of mind”. Nonetheless, my commitment to healing and working on myself continues. So, I decided that rather than block them (or engage or shoot back), I would make time to actually look at where I have lost my freedom to respond gracefully.

Continue reading How to be aware of your triggers and concealed rewards

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Dreams: what is really holding you back?

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If you are anything like me, there’s a list of excuses holding you back from building your dreams:

  • when I have more time,
  • if I had more money,
  • as soon as I finish.

For those of us that said that we needed more time at home, 2020 has provided many of us with a lot more time at home. Now we get to find out that this wasn’t holding us back!

Perhaps you said you needed more time with your kids to build stronger relationships. I don’t know how it’s working out for you, but my experience is that I am finding out just how little patience I have for teaching a six-year-old how to write, do her social studies and mathematics lessons!

Continue reading Dreams: what is really holding you back?

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Finding your voice: loving your authentic life

finding your voice, loving your authentic life, the power of authenticity

For me, the year 2018 was all about finding my voice and becoming me authentically. I discovered areas I focused on people-pleasing. I was busy living up to expectations, rather than speaking my truth.

It came on the heels of burnout. I recognised that recovery required a new set of standards and values by which to lead my life!

Have you stopped loving your life?

Maybe some of the following words or phrases resonate with you:

  • Disengaged
  • Unfulfilled
  • Unhappy
  • Stuck
  • Inauthentic
  • Going through the motions
  • Living up to old dreams
  • Yesteryear
  • Living up to other people’s expectations
  • I forgot what the question was while pursuing the answer
  • Life just got in the way and took over

And then, one day, you wake up, finding you lost all respect for yourself and others and you ceased loving.

FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him, and so loses respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

The Power of Authenticity

There is an extraordinary power that is held in YOU being You. When I suggest you need help finding your voice, I am not referring to a writer or a speaker. Instead, I want you to find the power of the small, still voice – somewhere deep inside – that dares to stand up for you.

It’s finding that voice that dares to think your thoughts.
That dares to speak your mind.
That dares to make decisions for that are right for you – because they are right for you.
The voice that truly represents who you are – or perhaps, at this moment in time, who you wish to be.

I invite you to search for the best, authentic, true version of you.

  • The you that keeps your word – especially to yourself – that wakes up when the alarm goes off the first time. When you know the value of starting the day early, you keep the smallest promises to yourself. “I will get up at this time.” When you finally recognise that if you lied to yourself about something this insignificant, you couldn’t trust yourself for the more essential things in life.
  • I want you to find YOU – the you that keeps your word about how much exercise you want to do and how you want to feel in your body – because you care about you.
  • You keep your word about what you will do and get finished today because what you say to yourself matters.

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Because how you do anything is how you do everything.

Finding your voice is discovering the You that has investigated, for yourself:

  • What you really think
  • What you truly desire
  • And who you most deeply are: the deep inner you.

You are, in your own, unique way, really creative, truly compassionate and fiercely courageous.

They say that we come into this world as living souls of infinite potentiality to be discovered and released – when we dare to live life from the inside out.

A story is told of a man who sits brooding at his desk in the evening.
Earlier that day, he received his dismissal notice from a company that he had served for more than 20 years.
He’s busy despairing on the difficulty of getting a new job – at his age – the impossibilities of living on his income – the shock of finding himself dispensable in the world!
Useless.
Washed up.
A little spider was walking across his desk at that moment, and he unconsciously brushed it off.
Immediately he found himself watching, in awe, as this tiny creature took this disaster – of being swept into the air and off its path, and spun a tiny strand to bear its weight and gracefully swung down to the floor.

If that spider – a tiny creature – can get into the flow of using all its talents and natural resources and deal so creatively and gracefully with a crisis – why can we not do the same?

Your innate power lies within:

Could you invest a little of your time discovering your inherent ability?  This power comes from knowing who you are and what your strengths are and the resources that you have at your disposal.

The power of a person that owns what they say – that can compassionately, and yet clearly, say what they mean. Can you permit yourself to be you – warts & all?

– Jay Acunzo
“If you just stopped trying to be a better version of everyone else, you might find way more success using your creativity to be the only one who does what you do.”

Finding your inner voice: WHO AM I?

When you are alone, taking off the labels of relationships, religion, profession, nationality, and all the rest of the tags that society or even you have placed on yourself – WHO are you?

-Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist Philosopher.
“Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power.”

Know Thyself.”

Know thyself now. It does you little good to know the person you were ten years ago. Even the person you were last year is not going to help you out today. Who are you now?

Are you in touch with your feelings and needs?

We are human beings: who are you now? And I would even go further. We are human becomings: who are you becoming?

Most importantly, who do you want to become?  Understand “this is me here and now” even as I grow and change.

‘A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly.’

I started off asking if you were stuck, unhappy, disengaged. One of the issues with forgetting who you are – really, truly, deeply – is that you can’t express who you are because you don’t know any more. You’ve become trapped in the definition of self that you made up some time ago.  Or worse yet, you failed to define “who am I?” and so someone else told you!

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Finding your voice and identity: 

As you get to know yourself, you find happiness: I like this, but I don’t like that. Then you can say I want to do this and I don’t want to do that.

When you know yourself – you feel less conflicted.  Your actions will align with your inner feelings & values.

When you know the answer to “who am I?”, it’s easier to make better choices for yourself.

  • Do I like this sweater?
  • What would I like to eat?
  • What do I want to invest the rest of my life building?

Knowing who you are, and finding your inner voice, allows you to slow down. Do you feel that you are busy living your life with other peoples’ choices?  Or, are you choosing what you would like to eat? Do you love your body? How does this influence your wardrobe? Who decided your lifestyle?

Know Thyself

What are your limits & boundaries?

Here are some great questions to ask yourself:

  • How good am I at X?
  • How well do I do what I do?
  • What are my strengths & weaknesses? What are the limits of my strengths? Strengths might be your abilities, skills & talents – but don’t forget your character strengths –
      • Loyalty
      • Respect for others
      • Love learning
      • Emotional intelligence
      • Empathy
      • Encouraging others or a great listener

Do you know your “superpowers”- because knowing these strengths also gives you self-confidence!

Knowing and acknowledging your weaknesses allows you to hold back from accepting responsibilities or roles that you are not cut out for.

And one of the best things about knowing yourself, of really understanding your likes and dislikes – is having the power to say “no” when you mean “no”.  How many times do you say yes – to social obligations, to invitations, to responsibilities & commitments, when you wanted to say “no” because you weren’t standing in your power?

Do you need guidance in finding your voice?

 

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Imagine your desired life: how to create it

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Imagine your life is perfect in every respect: what would it look like? (Brian Tracy)

I'm going to exercise more, New Year's resolutions, life plan, vision boardThis year, I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. I do not promise:

  • I’m going to exercise more.
  • This year will be the year I get healthier.
  • I will lose weight.
  • I’m going to find a hobby and stick to it.
  • I will play more.
  • This year I will start each morning with meditation.

Nope. I have no intention of setting myself up to fail to keep my word because I am hesitant to give my bond unless it aligns with the perfect life that I envision building. Continue reading Imagine your desired life: how to create it