Embrace a Joyful Spirit

We often sing about the joy this time of year brings. Sometimes the words can be empty and the emotion of joy a distant memory or even a highly desirable one that seems unattainable. The Holidays can be very demanding with the high expectations of beautiful decorations, buying the perfect gift for everyone on your list, and attending all the additional events and functions that come in celebration of the various Holidays, this on top of our regular schedule.  Then for others it can be a lonely, high stress time as money may be tight and the memory of a loved one now passed leaves a bitter sting during this time.

Whatever it is that brings the added stress, it can definitely be hard to grab onto some “joy.”  So what does the word “joy” mean to you and how does it differ from “happy” emotions you experience?  Just so we are all on the same page, I am not speaking of happy times, such as an evening with friends when the laughter is abundant, or when you laugh a good “belly laugh” watching a funny YouTube® clip someone just shared.  I’m talking about joy that comes from within no matter what the circumstance you find your life in.  Experiencing true joy and having a joyful spirit is very different than having happy times that can be fleeting.  It is a feeling or maybe even something bigger than a feeling that surrounds you in radiance, lets describe it as a “glowing.”  This joy swells from the inside, like when someone who cares wraps a warm blanket around you on a cold chilly night, it warms you to the core.  And, just like that blanket, when you share it, others feel the warmth as well.  A joyful spirit is contagious and can affect anyone around you who is open to experience it.

So, where does a joyful spirit come from, and how can we allow it to grow and then to “glow?”  A great place to start is counting our blessings.  I know, sometimes it may be hard to bring anything good to mind, but when we actually start, it is usually surprising how many things may show up; such as health, family, friends, a warm dry house, plenty of good food, the list can be endless when we get started.  By embracing the mindset of a grateful heart, this action alone can start a spark that grows that “glowing joyful spirit,” especially when we acknowledge the source of the blessings.  Some call it the universe, others call it a higher power, I call Him, God.  This acknowledgement causes our world to grow bigger than “self” and allows us to see the miracle of life around and within us.  Yes, you are a miracle, and much thought went into the specific gifts, talents, and experiences you would have to be “you.”

Unconditional love, was first given to you by God, and as you accept this gift for yourself in everything; the good, the bad and the ugly, you begin to see all your qualities as good as they move you toward your divine path.  If you don’t already, I encourage you to believe you were created for a purpose, and that purpose is to touch the lives of others in “your” unique way.  Only you can be you!  Therefore, begin each day by counting your blessings of being you!  What qualities do you recognize that creates joy within you as you share them with others.  Embrace these qualities and allow them to shine without fear!  By embracing the real you and letting it shine, you begin to step into unconditional love for yourself and this alone can be freeing; to give up trying to be anything you’re not and not to step into expectations or demands of others that don’t fit you.  Just show up and be you!  This begins the “glow” and then there comes a time to “pay it forward” and allow your joyful “free” spirit to pour out as love for others with the same grace and gratefulness you have found for yourself.  Let your light shine and joyful spirit glow, as you embrace everything that makes you, you!


Today’s author: Coach Sandie Lynch is a Registered and LicensedDietitian/Nutritionist.  She obtained her Masters in Public Health Education with a certification in Healthcare Administration in 1999 and is a certified Fitness Consultant and Personal Trainer. Sandie also has fitness certifications in Aerobic Instruction and Pilates. Her services include; nutrition education/consultation, fitness training using the ATP™ approach, wellness lifestyle coaching, public speaking, workshops and wellness retreats. Contact her today at [email protected] to start your journey to Attain Top Performance!  Or visit www.ATPhealthandfitness.com.


December Calm

December Calm

Do you find that the month of December brings not only joy but also additional stress as you add more activities to an already full plate? It’s easy to get caught in the dreaded “shoulds” of this time of year in an effort to create memorable holiday experiences.

Throughout the year we women often overload our lives with work, family, community activities, household needs, and more. We juggle actual responsibilities and schedules (our own and other’s) to the point that there’s no time left for self care. And to most women, this feels like what they’re supposed to be doing, even when it’s clear there’s just too much going on at once.

We know that if we don’t take care of ourselves by limiting and prioritizing the balls we have in the air, sooner or later we’re going to drop them.  What would it be like to experience this December with a plan for self care? Here are a few tips on how to avoid overload during the holidays and create a calm and enjoyable holiday for yourself and your loved ones.

  1. Decide what’s most important and make sure you do it
    When we accept that we “can’t do it all” and begin to choose just the activities that are most important to us we free ourselves to enjoy them more. Trying to do too much fills our heads with endless thoughts about details for upcoming activities, robbing us of the pleasure the current moment offers.  Make sure you take time to enjoy the things that bring you peace and joy at this time of year and say no to the things that drain you.
  2. Create and use a “pause practice”
    Racing from one activity to the next we can miss the magic moments that are abundant at this time of year. Consider creating a habit of pausing throughout the day to receive the moment. Reading something inspirational in the morning to ground yourself before the day’s busyness sets in or pausing before you eat to give silent thanks may feel right to you. Even just taking three intentional breaths before you dive into the next thing on your to-do list will center you in the moment. Meditative moments and intentional breathing slow you down and help you receive the gift this moment offers.
  3. Schedule self care
    Calendars are our friend and help keep us organized as we go about the work and activities of full lives. They can also be our enemy if we allow them the upper hand. You are in charge of how you schedule your days. Be sure to carefully consider each commitment you make and make a conscious decision whenever possible to allow buffer time between appointments. Buffer time provides you with much needed breathing room to move calmly from one activity to the next and helps us arrive calm, cool, and collected. As you fill your December calendar be sure to add activities that nurture you. Perhaps a visit to the salon or spa to pamper yourself, or time for a fun evening out with a friend to laugh and simply be together is in order. Schedule the things that fill your heart, comfort you, and leave you feeling deeply happy.  If you plan for it, it will happen. Likewise, be open to taking advantage of spontaneous opportunities for fun as they appear.

We are all familiar with the stress that this busy time of year creates in our minds and bodies. Our heart and spirit are also affected as we are reminded of someone or something that’s missing. We realize that the “picture perfect” holidays presented in the movies or on TV are not reality. Be tender-hearted and compassionate with yourself as you come upon the edges of loss and grief this holiday season. Whether it’s the loss of a special person, finances, or a dream recognize the loss and allow time to feel the feelings in order to let them pass. Admit that things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be and treat yourself with the loving kindness that you would offer a dear friend or child who is hurting.

December is a time of preparation.  When we prioritize and prepare we claim peace and calm for ourselves. Prepare to celebrate this season in whatever way is meaningful to you and your loved ones. And remember to prepare to take care of yourself so that you can fully enjoy the blessings of this special season.


Today’s author: Carol Hayes, [email protected] or 301-371-7460. Through her company, Clear Choices Coaching, Carol shares her expertise and skill fostering growth in people of all ages. She is especially energized when her coaching helps people experience “breakthrough” moments where they push through their personal edge and grow more fully into the people they want to be. Carol’s certification as a Life and Energy Leadership coach comes from The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation. She is also a dynamic speaker and workshop leader who facilitates energizing connections with groups of all sizes.


“Perfect” Thanksgiving

“Perfect” Thanksgiving

I am writing this the week of Thanksgiving and as I sit here in the midst of preparing for the 20+ people that will be dining with us here on Thursday, I am gently reminding myself to stay focused on the intentions behind the festivities and not get bogged down with the details.  As a “recovering perfectionist”, I have a tendency to stress over needing everything to be just right, and in this stressing I oftentimes lose sight of what’s really important.  What a great question that can be…What’s really important?

For me, when I really think about it, the answer is simple… it’s spending time with those I love and having the opportunity to express what I am truly grateful for.  It’s not important that my house is perfectly clean, or that I’ve decorated like Martha Stewart, or that my menu is ideal.  I’m willing to let go of perfectionism and in doing that I’ve found the secret to my “perfect” Thanksgiving.  Perfect for me comes from seeing the smiles on the faces of my children, my nieces and my nephew as they spend time playing together.  Perfect is having 3 generations gathered around the dinner table.  Perfect is having my 13 year old daughter tell me that Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday.  Perfect is when we all gather in a circle before our meal to count our blessings.  Perfect is knowing that we are creating memories to last a lifetime.  That’s what’s really important to me.

Now, it’s your turn…What are the ingredients to your “perfect” Thanksgiving?  Are there things you are stressing about that really aren’t that important?  How can you let them go?  I look forward to reading your answers and Happy “Perfect” Thanksgiving!


Today’s author: Laura Hall is an iPEC certified life coach who believes every woman deserves a coach.  She offers both one on one as well as group coaching services.  She can be reached at [email protected] or check out her website at www.hallcoaching.com


Set Yourself Up for Success

Using Goals and Intentions effectively to get what you want.

While traveling recently to visit my son at college I took a wrong turn. Since I’ve done this trip numerous times over the years I had boldly set off without written directions or even a GPS. I was sure I knew the way and scoffed at any suggestion that I should prepare for the trip by printing MapQuest directions or borrowing a friend’s GPS. After all, there weren’t that many turns and I was sure I’d recognize the signs and landmarks as they appeared. I didn’t. It’s been many months since I last did the trip so when the exit sign for 220A appeared, I couldn’t remember if I needed to take it, or if there would be another exit for 220. Making a snap decision I decided to take it and immediately began to wonder if I had done the right thing. Was this going to get me where I wanted to go?

Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We know where we want to go but we don’t do what’s necessary to prepare and thus ensure our success in getting there. Whether we’re overconfident (as I was) or simply naïve in knowing what’s necessary, we sometimes set off without considering how we’re going to get where we want to go.

Goals and intentions are two useful tools to ensure our success. We can think of our intentions like the destination on a trip. We know we want to go to San Francisco, for example. There are lots of ways to get there, though, and goal setting is how we choose our specific route. Many considerations need to be taken into account when choosing the steps, or route, that will best get you to your destination. The steps that are right for you may not be right for someone else. Consulting outside sources, as well as your own inner wisdom, will help you decide which steps will get you where you want to go.

Intentions describe the passion or purpose behind an act or change. They are based on your values and priorities and act as a guiding light to help you navigate your way toward the reality you want to create. They are the what and why that guide and limit your actions or behavior. For example, a fitness intention may be to improve your health so that you feel better and can keep up with your partner or kids.

Goals, on the other hand, define a series of steps required to complete the intention. Goals are the how, when and where of the change you wish to create. In our fitness example, it might be “My goal is to lose 10 lbs, start doing yoga, and clean up my diet.”

Goals are to intentions as driving directions are to a destination. What goals do you need to set today to move toward the destination you want in your health, finances, relationships, or career?

On 220A I decided to contact someone who had access to a map, as well as my son who has driven this route many times. Both confirmed I had taken a wrong turn, however, with the help of road signs I eventually found my way to 220. Detours and wrong turns aren’t the end of the world, but they create uncertainty and angst. With the help of others I got back on track and I learned a lesson that I hopefully won’t forget . The next time I hit the road I will prepare better by consulting a tour book or travel guide to explore the many ways to get to my destination.

When preparing for a life change it’s wise to work with a guide as well. Whether you’re going to San Francisco, a healthier lifestyle, or a new career, carefully choose the steps that will get you there.


Today’s author: Carol Hayes[email protected] or 301-371-7460. Through her company, Clear Choices Coaching, Carol shares her expertise and skill fostering growth in people of all ages. She is especially energized when her coaching helps people experience “breakthrough” moments where they push through their personal edge and grow more fully into the people they want to be. Carol’s certification as a Life and Energy Leadership coach comes from The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation. She is also a dynamic speaker and workshop leader who facilitates energizing connections with groups of all sizes.


Moving through Life Intentionally

Have you ever taken an exercise class or worked with a personal trainer to improve your physical health? One benefit is that the trainer helps you focus on how you’re doing specific movements. With that focus we begin to see what needs to be changed to get different results.

Many of us take our bodies and the way they move, for granted.  We are often unaware of the habitual ways we move. Past injuries and repetitive motions ingrain an unconscious pattern to our physical movements that can be limiting and even harmful to our long term health. A skilled physical trainer can help us become aware of these habitual patterns of movement. With that awareness we can modify the movement to bring about more desirable results. Focused attention on our breath (which we often hold), or reaching fully into a stretch, or isolating a specific muscle as we exercise, contributes to developing an overall more mindful presence in our bodies. We ‘show up’ in our own skin and lose the sense of disconnectedness we once felt.

Athletes, and those of us who simply wish to be physically healthier, look to trained professionals to help us understand our current movement patterns and help us find, and implement, healthier options. The same holds true for understanding our mind and heart patterns.  We develop habitual behaviors that don’t always bring about the results we desire. Procrastination, perfectionism, and busy-ness are just some of the areas we can struggle with repeatedly.

Awareness is the key to starting the change process. First we must know what we do, and how it’s impacting us, before we can create any modifications. This awareness happens at a rapid pace when we work with a trained professional, or coach, who guides and reflects back to us what they see. Beyond physical awareness, we benefit from becoming aware of how our thoughts or feelings are creating patterns of behavior in our lives that may not be serving us well. As we become aware of these thought and feeling patterns we then experience a moment of choice. Will you continue to do it as you always have or will you modify them to create different results? The choice is yours.  Just as a physical trainer teaches you how to move your body differently, a life coach guides you to life movements, or choices, that promote your overall well being – mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual.

Awareness creates choice. Choice offers options. Options empower us to move forward one step at a time. That movement creates positive energy and we are encouraged to start the cycle all over again. With consistent action we create new habits, or behaviors, that bring about the results we desire in our lives.

Creating change in a mindful and purposeful way takes effort. Having a support team to help you achieve the changes you want to see in your life is a clear advantage and will ensure your success. Who is on your team? Who can best help you create the change you want in your personal and professional life? Just as you choose an exercise class, or 1-1 time with a physical trainer, to support your physical growth, consider how a workshop, or 1-1 time with a life coach, can support you overall.  Intentional growth workshops are available this fall at PIOMA Performance Fitness Studio in Middletown, MD.

Intentional Growth Workshops
Instructor: Carol Hayes
Dates are located on the Clear Choices Coaching Events Calendar
All workshops: 7- 8:30 pm.
PIOMA Performance Fitness  – 7 Main St., Middletown, MD.
$20 per workshop or 3/$55 or all 6 for $105

To sign-up for this or any upcoming workshop, please contact Carol Hayes:
Email: [email protected]