Taking Heart After Parkland

Forsythia are sprouting their first yellow buds at the south side of my house. A clump of Daffodil leaves have broken though the warming earth. The snow melts quickly now after each storm. Crocuses are appearing. The first day of Spring is tomorrow. It feels good to bid farewell to cold, snow and the flu season. Finishing this email after weeks of illness with an upper respiratory virus.
Over the past months and weeks, I have been doing a lot of listening to what people are saying, feeling and thinking about. Trying to regain my balance again after the shootings in Las Vegas and now Parkland. It has been hard to find the words to write this e-zine about a celebrated life. Creating calm, connection and peace. When I feel so shaken by the level of violence in our country. So I have been doing a lot of listening instead.
Here is an article, Taking Heart After Parkland, about what I am hearing so far. As I am looking for words of wisdom that will help me regain my heart, my courage. Help me make some sense out of all of this. In a way that is uplifting. And helps me to better understand the tremendous change that is happening right now. And why it is so painful, so hard. So here are some human signs of Spring that I am noticing that are important to lift up and celebrate right now.
Your partner in celebrating the small steps toward healing and wholeness for us all,
Nancy Francisco, CPC

Taking Heart After Parkland

What does it mean, to take heart? It means to feel encouraged about something. To find courage.
Here are some thoughts that others having been sharing over the media that have helped me take heart, as the winter comes to an end here in New England.  After the violence of the past months. In public places. In schools. And the stories of women joining their voices in the #metoo movement.
Here are some signs of spring that I want to share with you. Like these delicate, short lived blossoms that will appear soon on the heart leafed Forest Pansy tree in my back yard. If I don’t pay attention, I might miss them. With all the drama of the forsythia and the daffodils.
Our Youth:  The amazing courage, passion, determination and no nonsense action of the youth in this country. Calling for an end to violence in schools, churches, cities. Challenging us all to raise the bar on morality. They move me to tears. They lift me up. I never thought I would be looking up to our youth to lead us. But here we are. Here they are, so ably leading us. Our future is in such good hands with these young people. I am in awe of them. They are a sign of Spring for me.
Women: In our country and all over the world. Standing up to the sexual assault and harassment they have experienced. Coming together to demand an end to abuse. Challenging everyone to treat women with the respect and fairness they deserve. And to believe them when they have been terribly harmed. And take action to support them. Our country, our world will be richer when all women are treated with the respect and value that is their birthright. So these women coming together as one voice are another sign of Spring.
Men: Out of the #MeToo movement and the conversation about mass shootings often done by men, there is a rising conversation about what it means to be a man. About aspects of maleness that don’t serve men or women well. About what men need. And a vision of a world that isn’t based on male dominance. Where men and women base life instead on partnership. And where caring is valued and supported. A vision of manhood that focuses more on what it means to be human, than on gender and difference. Another sign of Spring. That out of the pain and hurt, it would appear that humanity is actually evolving, developing. Moving toward greater wholeness and healing.
I will post some links below to some of the many sources I have found heartening. 
Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear from you.
Your partner in listening deeply and noticing what to celebrate, even when times are hard, and the path ahead seems uncertain,
Nancy
A wonderful video of a recent webinar I attended about rethinking what it means to be a man, to be male.  How to create a society based on partnership rather then dominance.
A great article about masculinity and how it needs to be rethought.  What boys and men need.
Another thought provoking article about the violence we have been witness to and unmet needs of men in our culture.

A Practice Of The Heart: For Now & Always

Frozen drips of sap hang from the maple tree outside. Much of the snow has melted with the recent warmer temperatures and rain. The puddles of water have dried up with the sun appearing again. I choose to walk on the sunny side of the street, and soak up the sun’s warmth. I have a lovely talk with a bundled up neighbor sitting in her porch doorway reading a book, and soaking up the sun too.

My husband, John, and I have been laying low. He recovering from a concussion followed by a flu/cold. Me fending off mild symptoms and a full blown sickness. Our daughter, Mandala, called today, sick also. She said this has been the worst season for sickness on record. There are multiple sicknesses going around all at once in the school where she works. Makes you want to hunker down and stay away from human contact altogether till the spring!

Hope you are managing, coping and healing yourself with the health challenges that are abounding right now. And finding patience and compassion for yourself in it all too. Give yourself more rest then you think you need. And be patient with the slow healing process. Find small ways to create joy for yourself. Is there something you have been wanting to get to that you can do a little of right now while you are healing? Something that would inspire you?

Here is an article, A Practice of the Heart: Now & Always, in celebration of Valentines Day tomorrow. It will help you to use appreciation as a practice for this Valentine’s Day. And for every day that can use a little more love. Not just for your partner, but for your kids, extended family, your friends, your community, all that you hold dear. How you might more deeply celebrate them. In a way that will be remembered, always.

So Happy Valentine’s Day!

And here are photos by my daughter, of valentines she made for her school children with bits of ribbon, beads, buttons and old cards she had. Aren’t they lovely?

Your partner in deepening connection with those you love,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach

A Practice Of The Heart: For Now & Always

 

Lately I have been reading and thinking about partners getting into conflict over their parenting styles. And different strategies parents can try to address that. To create more peace between them. And one strategy stood out for me.

That was the practice of offering your spouse or partner 10 appreciations before presenting them with a concern you have over their style of parenting. (Link to full article below.) It sounds like an awful lot of appreciations! And it is. A stretch. Far more frequently, I know I have critical thoughts rather than appreciative ones. But that’s the point of this practice. To focus on the appreciative thoughts much more. And maybe mostly. Practice making appreciation the more go to thought.

So here are 3 practices you might consider, to bring more appreciation into your relationships, your life, starting with yourself. You might choose just one Practice of the Heart, to keep it simple.

10 Appreciations Practice: Consider offering your partner or your best friend or your child 10 appreciations in the next while. And refrain from criticisms during this time. Let those negative thoughts just float by unspoken. Noticed. But allowed to just float by. Notice what happens. How you feel offering these. How they respond. How this might shift your connection with each other. Deepen it. What fulfillment it might offer you in your relationship with them. Notice whether you are learning more about them too.

 

Appreciation Note Writing Practice: Consider putting your appreciations in writing. There is nothing quite like getting someone’s appreciations in writing. My family has done this for me. And I will never throw these notes away. Ever. They sit in a special place where I can find them and read them again from time to time. I treasure them.

So write a note and be as specific as possible about what you appreciate about that person. What you value about them. What you see in them. What you love about them. Let them know that you really see them.

Do this for Valentine’s Day. Or their birthday. For Christmas. These are gifts that last a lifetime and will be remembered that long. Give this to a partner, child, friend. Anyone you care about and appreciate.

 

Daily Practice of Appreciation: You might just become more mindful of people in your life each day. And how you appreciate who they are. How they show up in your life. And when you think of it. When you notice it. And the person can stop for a moment and really hear you. Simply tell them what you appreciate about them. And how they touch your life. How they enrich it.

So let me know how this goes. What you think. I love hearing from you.

And here is the link to the article, Partnering Well In Parenting by Rachel Schofield, on the Hand In Hand website.  Where I found this 10 appreciations practice.  And more strategies about how to parent together.

Your partner in growing more connected, peaceful families,

Nancy

 

Patience: Losing & Finding It

Snow continues to blanket our world here in New England. This stream in Forest Park was so full and fierce when warm weather came, along with the rain, just last week. As I went to shovel out my driveway, again, a neighbor walking her dog reminded me of how beautiful the snow is.

A flock of crows continues to look for food in our neighborhood. I love to watch them take flight. They are such a powerful looking bird. Even in the quiet of winter there is still so much to notice and appreciate.

Here is an article, Patience: Losing & Finding It, that can help you find more patience with your kids and with yourself. When you are feeling like it’s hard to calm yourself down, so you can be the parent you want to be with your kids. Or the adult you want to be with your family and friends.

Your partner in growing more patience and calm,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach

Patience:  Losing & Finding It

I had just finished shoveling snow in front of my house. And was just standing there to pause before going in. And I noticed something odd about a beam on my porch. Something was hanging from it. As I took a closer look I realized that what I saw was peeling paint falling down. I was shocked. As I looked more at other beams, I noticed that 2 other beams were also badly peeling, as if someone had applied paint stripper to them.

Just days before, as I was sweeping the snow off of my newly painted porch floor, I discovered that as I swept, the gray paint came off in places. We had just spent a bit of money having a painter scrape and paint this porch just 3 months ago. It took awhile longer, as most things do. But when it was finally done, we would continually say how lovely it was to have this porch painted, and painted so well, that it would surely last as long as we lived here. And even though we have tons of projects to do on this house, that at least we could now check this one off our list for a long time!

I am sharing this with you, not to find sympathy, although that would be nice, but to give just one example of how our lives are full of these moments, when things don’t go the way we have planned. Unexpected things happen. That try our patience.

I have been learning a lot lately about conflict, something that tries our patience often. Conflicts between siblings. Conflicts between parents and their children. And what I am hearing again and again is that when approaching conflict, parents first need to calm themselves down. So that they can actually help their child or children calm down. And together listen to each other. And solve the problem at hand. But this is no small task. To find calm and patience. To approach a conflict rationally and model how to resolve conflict for our kids.

Have you been finding yourself losing your patience lately? Finding it hard to accept or tolerate things going wrong? Taking longer? Here are some thoughts about how you might find more patience in the days ahead.

Fill Up Your Well: What is one thing you need more of for yourself right now?

More sleep. Eating more regular meals. Time to yourself. Support with something. Connection to loved ones. Time to create or play. Adults need play time too. Decide what that is and give it to yourself.

You will have more patience when things go wrong, when there are some things in your life that are going right. You won’t feel so knocked off balance if you are already moving toward self-balance. Not so depleted that one thing going wrong takes the last bit of patience you have. So fill up your well regularly.

Slow Down: You probably need more down time, unscheduled time.  

You might be trying to cram too much into a day. Life doesn’t work perfectly, like a machine. We need to allow time for things to go wrong. Not go perfectly. Certainly kids don’t operate that way. Kids have their own sense of time and priority.

And lower your expectations for what you can realistically accomplish in one day. Maybe 2 or 3 important things. And that is it. We all have limits, whether we recognize them or not. We just can’t do everything. So live your life from choice, and then you will feel more empowered and patient.

Find Presence: Practice being present with what is.

When things are working out well. And when things are all messed up. My daughter locked her keys in her running car, along with her cell phone, hat and gloves, in the terrible cold we had recently. She panicked at first. About what might happen next. And then she arrived in the present moment and worked at solving her problem. First accepting the help of child with a cell phone waiting for a bus. Then walking to a nearby gas station. And calling the police, that came right away to open her car.

So try to be more present with what is, right now. Not in the past or the future. Accepting what is. And what you can do about it now. What you do have control over. But it will help you to be more present, if you are already filling your well and slowing down.

Notice What Is Working: Practice appreciating all the things you are grateful for.

The things that did work. Like my daughter finding the help she needed. She posted a lovely list of all that she was grateful for on that very trying day.

Consider what helped you through an unexpected turn of events. Somehow gratefulness lifts us up. And it is something we do have control over. It is so easy in our busyness, to overlook all that is working in our personal and family life. All the simple gifts. Our gratefulness will cushion our disappointment with the challenges that surely find us all.

So, after calming down from the shock of needing to redo my porch, I called my painter today, to meet tomorrow and talk about what happened. And what can be done to fix it. And later this week I will tackle coming up with a list of other things that need attention this year, in my home. Knowing that my plans won’t go perfectly. And maybe some things in my home will never get done. But that I am doing the best I can do. And so was my painter. Life isn’t perfect. I think what matters more, is how we show up in it. And what we do when things go wrong.

Let me know how you are bringing patience into 2018.
I would love to hear from you!

Your partner in growing more patience and peace,

Nancy

2018: Less Judgment, More Peace

Happy New Year everyone! Glad to be back writing this newsletter again. I have been busy offering workshops in the past few months. Also doing a lot more listening and reflecting instead of writing. And taking time to dive deeper then usual at the end of 2017 and the beginning of this year into where I want to take my work and my life going forward.

I look forward to continue to offer you e-zines that uplift and inspire you. As I feel more deeply rooted in what inspires me. These days, it is so easy to be pulled off balance with all that we hear going on in our country and the world. I hope that what I write can help you regain your balance. And create the peace you seek.

Here is an article, 2018: Less Judgment, More Peace, that can help you start this new year loving yourself a little more.  And creating more peace for yourself, more joy. We all have negative voices in our heads we may not even notice. That weigh us down. Stop us from finding joy, peace, love, in the present moment. Here are some insights, strategies about how to begin to let go of some of the judgments that are weighing you down right now. So that you can move into this new year lighter, with more energy and greater satisfaction in your day to day life.

Your partner in creating more love in the world, starting with yourself,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach


2018: Less Judgment, More Peace

This is a lovely bridge over a stream that I often walk by during the week. Hoping this article will help you bridge from 2017 to 2018 with less self-judgment and more compassion for yourself. As you begin a new year of your life and take time to reflect on the year ahead, take time to consider how 2018 can offer you more peace and self-love.

One thing I have heard as I have been listening to parents is how unsettling it is when another parent, stranger or family member criticizes their parenting. Honestly, parents need more support than they get in this world. Certainly not criticism. Especially from other parents. So here are some thoughts about how to deal with this. And take it a step further. Strengthening the love you have for yourself.

1. My guess is that people who criticize you are walking around with a lot of self-judgment whirling around all the time in their own heads. Judgment they may not even be aware of. So they are letting it spill out on you. But it probably has nothing at all to do with you. They are letting you know about how it feels to be them. If their heart was filled with compassion, they would never offer this to you.
2. But since we have no control over what others say to us sometimes, we need to focus on what we do have control over. What we tell ourselves about our parenting. What voices of judgment are whirling around in our own heads every day. Not just about our parenting, but about anything we do or don’t do “right.”
3. Let go of perfection. Life isn’t perfect. We will never be perfect parents. We all make mistakes. And will continue to. That’s part of living, breathing. Being alive. Growing. Becoming. Creating. Our own parents made mistakes when they were doing the very best that they could do. And so are you. Every day. Doing the very best you can do. And perfection isn’t what kids need. They need real parents who are parents for the long term. Loving them. Learning from them. Growing with them. Showing them their vulnerability and their strength.
4. Be OK with the present. With what is right now. It is enough. You are enough. More than enough.
5. Notice the critical voices in your head each day. What are you telling yourself that you may not even be paying attention to? If it isn’t kind, loving, than question it. Is it really true? Is it loving? In your best interest?
6. Reframe those judgmental thoughts. Turn them into thoughts of support, acknowledgment. Celebrate the things you are doing that are most important to you today. And acknowledge that you have limits. You can’t do everything. Only a few important things each day. You are doing what you can do. You are an amazing parent. Your child is so lucky to have you as their parent. And you them.
7. Be kind to yourself. Hopefully, there are many that love you in your life and show you kindness. But more than anything, you must do this for yourself. And out of this kindness for yourself, ripples out your kind compassion for others you encounter every day.
8. When you hear negative self-talk, stop. Notice it. That will give you more perspective. Distance from it. Get you unstuck from it. Don’t let it weigh you down. Drain your energy. It is an old voice that doesn’t serve you anymore. Let it go. Reframe it. Enter this new year a little lighter. A little more compassionate. A little more at peace with yourself and the world.

Your partner in creating more loving connection and peace,

Nancy

 Link back to TheCelebrationCoach.com

Tending The Soil: Growing A Family

We are midway through the summer already.  The days grow shorter now with sunset at 8:00.  There are hints of fall in recent cooler days and nights.  Empty green pods ring the outer edge of the lotus pond as more lovely blooms are at varying stages of opening.  A dragon fly rests on a huge, round lotus leaf.  I love how graceful it is and how it’s wings shine so delicately in the sun.  The beauty of these shapes of life make me stop in wonder and celebrate all that just is.

The maple outside my house has dropped it’s seeds.  The sidewalk is covered with them as they crunch underfoot.  Every day now squirrels hang from the branches and eat their fill.    Somehow it feels too soon.for the fall.  And yet it is just about 6 weeks away.

As we look toward the fall, and a new season of our lives approaching, here is an article, Tending the Soil: Growing A Family,  that can help you to tend the soil your family grows in.  Help you look at the quality of balance and relationship that feeds your family and keeps it growing strong.  I will also tell you about a new workshop, private session and series that I am offering, that give you even more help with cultivating that soil, for the weeks and months ahead.
Your partner in Growing A Family,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach 

Tending The Soil: Growing A Family

In my own backyard garden, the Zinnias are growing tall, in bright shades of red, pink, orange and yellow.  But the sunflowers, usually as tall as me by now are short and struggling.  And one sunflower plant that started out so full is now a skeleton of itself, eaten, I think, by slugs.  And the Bamboo and Hydrangea bushes have grown so much with all the rain, that they crowd out the bushes around them.  I love them.  They are beautiful.  But there is just no more empty space.

If your family life were a garden, would it look something like this?  Are some things like weekend family time really thriving but your partner time is struggling to stay alive, like the sunflower plant eaten by slugs?  Are you feeling over-scheduled and crowded in like the Hydrangea?  Is time connecting with your kids thriving but time taking care of yourself barely blooming at all right now?  Are you concerned that screen time is overtaking your family life, your kids life, and you’re not sure how to prune it?

Here are some steps you can take to cultivate your family garden for the season ahead.  And grow the kind of personal and family life that helps you thrive.

 

  1. Reflect:  Before you plant more in your garden this fall, take time to reflect on your life right now.  What’s thriving?  What’s not?  Where do you have too much of a good thing?  What needs thinning out?  What needs more fertilizer?  Or replanting? Think about partner self-care, partner connection, connection with your child, family members with each other.  And balance.  Balancing scheduled and unscheduled time.  Family time with work and activities.  Time with and without screens.
  2. Imagine:  How do you want your personal life, your family life to be this fall?  What would even be ideal?  Allow yourself to go there.  What do you long for?  How do you really want your family life to be each day?  What is missing from that ideal right now?
  3. Prioritize.  Set priorities for the fall.  Make choices now.  Before things get really crazy busy.  Use your reflections and imaginings to make 3 to 5 priorities for the next few months.  What you say yes to first.  Name them.  That makes it easier to tell others and helps you honor them yourself.

If you would like more help with this I am offering a workshop, a private session or a group series to get you started.  

Workshop:  A Mini Family Life Retreat: Tending The Soil.  This workshop will help you take these 3 steps in a brief hour and a half.  With the support of other parents doing the same thing.  The fee is $20, $35 per couple.  I will offer this locally.  I can come to your home and offer this to a group of your parent friends too.

Private Session:  A Personal Family Life Retreat: Tending The Soil, Designed By You.  This is a private session with me, over the phone or in person, at a time that works for you.  You have my undivided attention for an hour and a half.  Helping you look at what’s working, not working in your personal and family life.  You choose which area you want help with.  You come away with first steps you want to take to grow your life into more connection, calm and peace.  My fee is $125 for one parent or a couple.

Group Series:  From Being To Agreeing: Planting Seeds And Getting Started.  You might want more help than one session.  More extended support.  You may be ready to go deeper and make more significant changes in your life.

Come away from this series with:  Greater insight into your family strengths and challenges around connection and peace.  Knowledge about family life balance, screen balance and basic rituals of connection.  Focused action taken on your biggest area of challenge, with group support and coaching.  And next steps to take when the group ends, to keep you moving forward.  This 4 session group will meet every other week for an hour and a half.  The fee is $75 per parent.  $90 per couple.

Interested?  Contact me for a free 20 minute consult.  Tell me what you’re looking for.  Ask any questions you would like.  I can tell you more about these offerings.  I can help you decide what would be a good fit for you.  No strings attached if it doesn’t feel like a good fit.  I would just love to talk with you and see if I can help.

Your partner in growing a thriving family,

Nancy

Back to my website, www.thecelebrationcoach.com

Married 45 Years & Still Growing

The stream was flowing swiftly in the park this week after all the rain we got.  It was so loud, I could hear it over the traffic noise from the nearby interstate. There is a lovely “field” of pink/white lotus flowers blooming in the pond across from the covered bridge.  I spot a family of deer in a grassy opening near the Barney House.  And a family of Canadian Geese I have been watching this spring and summer.  The babies are almost full grown now.  It’s hard to distinguish them from their parents.

How quickly life seems to flow like the stream.  All of nature seems to be in hyper-drive.  And it’s almost the end of July now.

As the years pass evermore quickly in my own life, and in my marriage, now 45 years old, there is still need for growing.  Even though we have seen so much growth  already, both in each other and in our relationship.  Each change in life requires our relationship to change, just as it did 30+ years ago with the birth of our first child.  And just recently as our last left home for good this time.

Here is an article, Married 45 Years And Still Growing, about how my husband and I have been growing again, responding this time to illness and challenges of aging.  And sharing this together.  Hope you find this helpful in your own life, as you grow significant relationships with partners, family and friends.  No matter what age or stage you find yourself in right now.

Your partner in growing connection and deepening relationships,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach 

 

Married 45 Years & Still Growing

John and I have been together now for most of our lives.  We married when I was 21 and he was 26.  You might think that moving through our 60’s and 70’s now, that we might have, over the decades, figured everything out.  How to live peacefully together.  How to agree.  How to meet whatever challenges come along.  But that just isn’t so.

We will probably never be completely done with growing into relationship with each other.  And with ourselves.  Because, I think that life has a way of constantly changing the way things are.  So we need to be open to those changes.  And take time to embrace them, and make them a part of who we are as individuals.  And how we are in relationship with each other.

I would also like to say that having challenges come up in a relationship is normal.  People don’t live “happily ever after”.  Sharing your life with someone takes intentionally nurturing it over time, like tending a perennial garden, that comes up every year but still needs to be weeded, thinned out and watered to keep it vibrant.

So for the past year, John has had different health issues come up.  This has been concerning to me.  Sometimes it has been unclear exactly what the cause has been.  The challenge in all of this was that he has always been like that proverbial Energizer Bunny on that battery commercial that kept going and going.  And what may have worked when he was younger started to really worry me at this time in his life.

As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge to get him to slow down, I happen to be at the opposite end of the busy doing spectrum.  I like to take my time with things I do.  Take breaks.  Pace myself with projects.  And check in with how I am feeling a lot when I am doing anything.  Be more mindful.  And plan more too.

As you might imagine, these differences have gotten us into some conflicts in the past.  But over the years, we got more accepting of our differences.  Found ways to cope with them.  And also found ways to do things separately, so that I could take my time, and attend more to feelings and details.  And John would go as fast as he wanted on his own, until he was exhausted, and satisfied with his accomplishment.  This also worked well when the kids were with us, because there really was so much to do raising a family and caring for a home.

At first I tried to figure out how I could just do what he had done.  Take his place.  I soon realized that I just couldn’t.replace what he had done, how he had done it.  And that that just didn’t work for me to morph into some superwoman Energizer bunny.

So what I did was engage in many conversations about how I felt and what I needed.  My concern for John’s well-being and need to slow down.  Our need to collaborate a lot more on taking care of our home.  Our need to plan together more too.  At the same time, I voiced my need for John to reach out more to me, to check in with me as we worked together.  And to pace ourselves when we worked together.

It wasn’t easy at first.  For either of us.  Uncomfortable.  It took a lot of commitment to keep talking about how we were feeling.  What we wanted.  Trying to stay away from judgements or arguments.  Just talking and listening to each other with as much kindness as possible.  We raked and mowed the lawn together.  We painted part of the garage together.  Sometimes we had to stop and sit and talk along the way.

As the spring has turned into summer, and we have been practicing this new, more collaborative way of being together, it has all gotten easier.  John is taking a lot more responsibility for slowing himself down now.  And feeling a lot more acceptance about pacing what we do.  He is checking in more with me too.  Our relationship is better for having done this growing.  Stronger.  We are much better at collaboration now, not just around caring for the house.  There are still times when he needs to be reminded to slow down, but it is a whole lot easier to talk about this now.  And he quickly adjusts his expectations.

So I hope this encourages you to embrace change and conflict, when it comes into your life, at it surely will.  I hope that reading this heartens you in some way, in your relationships.  To see any life changes as opportunities to deepen your relationships.  And at the same time, to honor your own needs, take good care of yourself.  And create a situation that is a win win for everyone.

It does take focus and energy.  But it’s worth it.  Finding your way into creating more love, more peace in your home.  And sharing it with your family, friends, community and beyond.

Your partner in growing connected, peaceful families,

Nancy

www.thecelebrationcoach.com

Family Connection: Looks Like, Feels Like

Summer is just 4 weeks away but felt like it was already here last week, here in Western Massachusetts.  Hope you are finding ways to keep comfortable in this record breaking heat and unseasonable cold weather. And still enjoying the beauty of this time of year.  These are shots of flowering trees in Forest Park this spring that just made me stop in wonder. And try to capture something of their beauty against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.

The stream and ponds are full now, with all the rain.  Lotus leaves have appeared on the surface of the ponds.  The beauty of green is everywhere.  Frogs croak.  An empty Canadian Goose nest lies on an island with the remains of egg shells.  It’s hard to tell whether the babies survived.  I hope so.  A goose was sitting there just last week.  Can’t find any evidence of young geese anywhere yet.  They must be somewhere.  Spring is so full of anticipation and wonder.  I want to see it all!

It’s great to be writing to you again after so many months.  Sometimes it’s good to stop, take a breath and step back for awhile.  Hope you find what’s been resting and deepening in me these past few months, helpful to you and your family, as you look at how you can live a more connected, celebrated life.

Here is an article, Family Connection: Looks Like, Feels Like.  A huge part of my work is about connection.  So here is what I think connection is.  What family connection means.  Looks like, feels like.  And why I think it’s important enough to spend part of my life writing and talking about it.  Helping others deepen it n their lives.  I hope it helps you reflect on what connection means to you.  And why it’s important to take time out of your life to grow it.

Your partner in creating family connection,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach   

Family Connection: Looks Like, Feels Like

A Connected Family Of Turtles At The Park
Hanging Out Together On A Log
For decades now, I have been noticing how our celebrations and rituals hold a huge potential for us to build community.  To deepen our connection to each other. 

And what I mean by connection is relationship.  To create celebrations that intend to build relationship.  That are designed to make it stronger.  Deeper.  More long lasting.  Our relationship to ourselves.  Partner.  Children.  Our family members to each other.  Relationships with co-workers.  Within our schools and colleges.  Neighborhoods and other communities that touch our lives.  Anytime we gather together to meet.  And we are doing this every day and around the year.  So there is a huge potential when we gather to strengthen, to build relationship.

A potential to go beyond surface conversations and judgmental thoughts.  To really get to know someone.  Especially what they most care about.  And what their strengths are.  Discover, deepen, what you love about them.

I think that as a culture, we long for this kind of deeper connection.  To be known by others and appreciated.  Seen for who we are.  To matter to someone else.  To feel a sense of belonging in a family, in a community.  But this doesn’t just happen.  Too often, this opportunity is missed.  I think that connecting with others is something to practice and develop.  To intend to do.

So what does family connection look like, feel like?  Here are some thoughts.


  1. Imperfect Peace:  It’s not perfectly peaceful all the time, without conflict.  But the connection that is practiced helps the family to find their way back to a sense of peace and calm again.  Back to a place of loving relationship.  The connection the family has is an anchor in the inevitable storms of life.
  2. Open To Growth:  Part of that conflict that arises is an openness to learning and growth.  To feelings.  To individual needs.  So I think there are far less feelings that are swept under the carpet.  There is more mindfulness of each other.  And a willingness to be vulnerable.  More emotionally open.  A belief that parenting and being in relationship is a way to grow your heart and spirit.  And that conflict isn’t something to avoid.
  3. Known, Appreciated, Respected, Enjoyed:  There is a feeling of being known and appreciated, respected, enjoyed.  Particularly known for the strengths each family member has.  The gifts they bring to the world.  Even those that are different or challenging.  There is a willingness to share in another family member’s interest.  And a feeling of just enjoying each other’s company.
  4. Needing Regular Feeding, Redirection:  Family connection isn’t static.  Something to create once.  It is something that needs to be nurtured all the time.  Every day.  As we all change and grow.  Connection needs to shift with the changes.  And the imbalances in life that pull us away from relationship to ourselves and others.
  5. Building Strong Roots:  When family connection is practiced, it builds the strength of connection over time.  So even though connection needs continued renewal, the practice of connection deepens the bond, like the roots of a tree growing ever stronger underground.  And hopefully this bond will last a lifetime
  6. Making Choices:  Parents have made a conscious choice to make time to be together.  Family time is valued, cultivated.  Is a priority.  There is unscheduled time to just hang out together.  And to balance screen time with time to connect without screens.  To balance work, school, activities and family time.
  7. Collaborating And Listening:  Collaboration and listening are practiced regularly.  There is a desire to help each other.  To create win win situations in daily life.  To problem solve so that, as much as possible, everyone’s needs are being met.  To be flexible, and willing to change plans when needed.  As well as make plans together, from weekly activities to vacations.  There is also an ability to have meaningful conversations together, to listen well, to find value in another point of view.

So family connection doesn’t mean an absence of conflict.  But does build on that connection to return to peace.   It is fertile ground to grow personally and in relationship to others.   It offers a feeling of home, where you are known and appreciated for just being yourself.  It needs regular feeding and redirecting.  But builds bonds so strong they can last a lifetime.   It requires making choices, priorities, setting boundaries.  And it is a school for team building and a high quality of listening.  Wow!  All that wrapped up in family connection! 

Ultimately, a connected family looks and feels like the world we all long to create for our children and for all human kind.  What better place to begin than in our own homes, with our own relationships.  And ourselves.

Hope this has been helpful to you and gotten you thinking more about what family connection is all about, especially in your own life.  What it looks like, feels like.  Hope this has inspired you to seek it out more for yourself and your family.  It sure has inspired me to write about it!

Please feel free to share this.  

Let me know what thoughts you have about this.   I would love to hear from you.   More articles coming soon.  I promise. 

Go back to my website to learn more about family connection and the programs I offer.  Or sign up for my free article, 10 Reasons Families Lose Connection. 

Your partner in growing connected families, 

Nancy

 

How To Move Through Impossibility

single-hydrangia

Hello everyone.  It’s good to be back writing this e-zine.  I took some time off in August and early September to do other writing and just take a break.

The season is turning now from summer into fall.  The days are stunning this week.  Breath taking in their beauty.  It is such a relief to have cooler temperatures and low humidity again.

staging-1

The park has been an adventure to walk through each day this week.  A theatrical group, Double Edge Theater, is setting up for their Latin American Spectacle.  A collaboration with the Springfield middle school, the Conservatory For The Arts.  And City Mosaic that supports the city’s cultural district.  They have been installing mini sets and zip lines throughout the back end of the park in the pond area and around the meandering stream.  There will be stilt walkers too.  Come and see this FREE event Friday, September 23 or Saturday September 24 at 7 PM.  It starts at the Barney House on the hill.  Here is their link with a cool video and photos.  Latin American Spectacle/Double Edge Theater

Here is an article about how you might approach something in your life that feels impossible.  Overwhelming.  Too big to begin.  It’s also about simplicity, doing something a piece at a time.  And making space in life for something new.  Letting go.  Lessons I have learned so far, cleaning my attic.

Your partner in downsizing, in all it’s forms,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach

How To Move Through Impossibility

staging-3

Are there some things in your life that you never seem to get to?  That feel too big, too hard?  For me, one of those things has been cleaning out the attic.  Until August.  And than everything shifted.  I want to share with you what I learned.  Because the experience has felt profound for me.  And might be inspiring for you too.  Help you find your way out of an impossible place.

When we bought our house more than 10 years ago, the owner was to clean out his family’s belongings.  This had been his parent’s house.  But he never did.  Perhaps he felt like I have felt.  Just too overwhelmed with it all.  So our stuff got piled around his stuff.  My mom moved out of her home to an apartment.  Years later she died.  John’s parents died.  My Aunt died. And we added our own family layer of things we couldn’t part with.  And as the kids grew up, outgrown toys and other things they couldn’t part with were added to the growing mess.  Until we reached a point where we had pretty much filled up 3 rooms and 3 large closets.

So here’s where the shift happened for me.  This whole year has been a year of letting things go.  Of making space.  For doing things in my life that I most want to do.  I have let go of a lot of volunteer work.  Even things I enjoyed.  It’s also been a year of completion.  Of getting things done that have been weighing down on me for awhile.  And making space for doing something new.

So one day this thought came to me. We recycle so much that we only have to put our big green trash can out once a month to be emptied.  What if we filled up one trash bag a week of things we don’t want and probably no one else would want.  Just went around the house and filled it up.  It could be like a fun game.  Seeing what we could put in it.  (I know this might urk some of you that I decided to just throw stuff into the landfill, but bear with me.)  We started with the garage one day, when my son was visiting John and I.  I got up from dinner and told them my idea and my son said let’s do it!  So in a short time we had filled a bag of trash or 2 from the garage.  We all felt great about it.  Amby found his fishing pole.  And there was suddenly more space and a calming order in a section of the garage.

So that’s how it all started.  With a simple plan that felt kind of novel and fun.  Now we are 5 weeks into cleaning the attic.  We have the large hallway cleaned and are almost finished with the largest of 3 rooms.  Our plan has been simple.  Just fill up trash bags.  Focus on one area at a time and forget the rest of the mess.  Spend only an hour or 2 and stop.  We have ended up completely filling our can each week, with 2 or 3 trash bags.  Putting stuff on the street that people have thankfully taken away.  And brought some stuff to Goodwill.

Each time we finish, we go back up and just look at what we have done.  To celebrate.  Breathe it in.  The sense of amazing calm where there was such chaos.  The spaciousness of it now.  We have a way to go still.  But it is such a feeling of empowerment that John and I both feel now when we are doing this.  This task that for years, has felt so hard.  Impossible.

So here are some strategies for moving through your own impossible place in your life.  It could be a project like mine.  It could be making a big change in your life.  Or starting to create a more satisfying family life.

  1. Start Small:  It may even seem ridiculously small like mine.  Really?  A bag a week?  But yes.  Probably the smaller the better, when it feels hard or impossible.  Because what it did for me is get me into action.  And really that’s half the battle.  Getting started on something.  Beginning.
  2. Listen to your intuition:  Intuitively I knew what to do.  If I had just thought it through, I would not have a partially clean attic right now.  Let your creative mind step in.
  3. Let fun enter into it:  Lightness.  Imagine what would make it fun.  Easy.  Enjoyable even.  Playful.  A game.  Life is far too serious.
  4. Limit how long you do it:  We could have spent days at a time doing this cleaning but it would have felt exhausting.  Physically and emotionally.  Going through all these things.  Deciding what was an antique to sell.  What to save for the kids.  What to cherish and then let go of.  What to set aside for a second going through at a later time.  Limiting our time allowed us time each week to get rid of things on the street or take to Goodwill.  To completely get stuff out of the house each week.  To be complete. And not exhausted.
  5. Be open to possibility:  Choose to get beyond your stuck place.  And you might just find yourself discovering a way of moving through the impossibility.  You might just discover a window in that wall, that you hadn’t imagined, like the photo above.

I would love to hear from you.  Just leave a comment.

Check out other posts here or return to my website.  Find out more about how to create more calm, connection and peace in your life.  Even though creating this might feel impossible.

Your partner in getting unstuck and into action,

Nancy Francisco, CPC

Stopping Time, Finding Presence

Latana or Orchid Flowers

The last few days have brought blessed rain to a drought filled summer.  The stream and ponds are so low in the park.  I see some small trees dying or dead.  Other trees dropping leaves too early.  It grieves me.  I am looking into how I can help young trees survive in my neighborhood, with a little weekly watering.  But despite these challenges, there is much beauty in the pink and yellow Latana, the butterflies attracted to my Zinnias and the hot pink Lotus flowers blooming in the pond at Forest Park.

yellow zinnia butterfly 2

With 5 more weeks of summer left and school starting in a couple of weeks.  And the busyness of taking up a fall schedule of activity.  It’s a good time to look at presence.  And how ritual and celebration have the potential to stop time, and help us find presence in our over busy lives.  Presence to then nurture us, support challenging changes, reconnect us to our life meaning.  Here is an article, Stopping Time, Finding Presence, that will help you bring more presence into the months ahead.

Your partner in creating presence,
Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach   

Stopping Time, Finding Presence

 

hot pink lotus

Whenever we celebrate, we are stepping out of time in some way.  Out of ordinary time.  We are taking pause.  Even stopping time and the busyness of our lives.  To lift up something important to us.

As you look toward this fall and the holiday season that will soon follow, consider how you can create daily ritual and celebrations, that truly bring presence to your personal life and your family life.  Here are some tips you might use to help you create moments of presence in the weeks and months ahead.

  1. As you put together your schedule for the fall, consider rituals that offer you and your family this daily and weekly presence.  Self-care, partner, mealtime, bedtime and family night rituals.  Before you commit to fall activities, take time to consider whether they will eliminate important rituals that give you these islands of presence.
  2. Consider where in your life you feel you and your family are out of balance.  What’s getting most of your time and energy?  What’s getting most of your kids time and energy?  And what’s wanting more attention?  Often it’s work, school and kid’s activities that get the most of our time.  What may be missing is taking better self-care.  And taking more time for relationships: with a partner, friends, family.
  3. Choose to bring rituals of celebration into your life that fill the gaps.  Placeholders for unscheduled time to just be, to just be together.  Without the distraction of screens.  So that you give your presence to each other.  The best gift there is.
  4. Then think ahead to the holidays coming up.  How can you focus less on the doing and more on the being side of celebrating them?  Focus less on the things to buy, to do.  And more on how you want to be together.  So that each moment isn’t scheduled in with activity.  And you’re not too exhausted to enjoy being present with those you care about.
  5. Is there a special ritual you would like to add, that could bring you and your family more presence?  Help you stop the busy holiday clock a bit.  And just be together.  In a simple way.  Brainstorm what that might be.  Talk to your partner, your kids.  Ask them.
  6. It takes thought, intention, making choices to bring presence into the way we celebrate throughout the day and around the year.  It doesn’t just happen.  But the rewards are huge.  To live, and to celebrate in a more conscious way.  And to intend to use ritual and celebration to transform our over-busy lives with the presence we all long for.

I would love to hear from you about how you might bring more presence into your life this fall.  Just leave a comment.

Check out other posts here or return to my website.  Find out more about how to create more calm, connection and peace in your life.

Self-Care Amid Growing Human Crisis

dragon fly 1

Glad to be back writing to you again.  The first part of summer has been very full.  Looking forward to slowing down.  The heat and humidity of July is encouraging that too.  Found this blue Dragonfly in the park today, landing on this amazing “field” of pink opening into white lotus flowers.  Life is so amazingly beautiful and fragile at the same time.  Spotted 4 ducklings swimming with their mother in the stream.  I’ve been looking for ducklings all summer.  What a joy.  They were fuzzy in mottled colors of brown and tan, blending in with the stream and rocks.

This month I will be writing about self-care again.  This first article, Self-Care Amid Growing Human Crisis, will help you to take good care of yourself, as we all are moving through some really disturbing times right now.  I am noticing as I reach out into the world more with my work, I need to create a broader foundation for myself.  Rooted more deeply in my own self-care.  And as I experience the growing call for equality, I need to be sure that I am coming from a place of calm and peace in my day to day life.  So here are some thoughts on this and how you might deepen your own roots in self-care.  And find peace.

Your partner in creating more calm, connection and peace,

Nancy Francisco, Certified Professional Coach 

Self-Care Amid Growing Human Crisis

white lotus 2

It’s been 6 months since I last wrote about self-care.  It’s a good time to revisit self-care, mid year, between the beginning and the end of summer.  At the same time, I am so aware of my own need to dig deeper into what I am doing to ground myself, especially in the last month, with all the disturbing news about shootings, racism, homophobia, terrorism and war.  And as I reach out into the world more and more with my work, my reach needs to balance my own self-care.  The one needs to equal the other, for me to remain standing strongly in my life.

Here are some thoughts about this, and how you might anchor yourself more in self-care, in the months ahead, as we experience so many challenges before us.

  1. Deepen your connection to yourself.  That might mean doing more journaling each day.  Being more careful to give yourself quiet time to be alone.  Being more regular in practices that take you out of your thoughts and into your body.  I am doing my yoga, stretching, exercise ritual more regularly and finding it deeply grounding.  I have added to my journaling about my top 10 wins for the day, time to just write about what I am feeling and thinking.  To hear my wise self speak.  It has been helpful to just take time to sit, close my eyes and breathe.
  2. Balance your time listening to media and news with time reading a book that inspires your faith in humanity.  Find some books that renew your faith in where humanity is going right now.  Turn off the news and give yourself time to fill up the well of your soul.  Read a book with a bigger perspective.  That helps you reflect on your concerns about what’s wrong with the world.  But also helps you see in the present crises, the potential for humanity to transform itself.  And a part you might play in it.  I am reading Parenting For Peace: Raising The Next Generation Of Peacemakers by Marcy Axness, PhD, that gets me thinking beyond the problems, to real possibilities.  Reading this book is part of my bedtime ritual of self-care now.
  3. Get outdoors and be with nature.  Take yourself for a walk in a place of natural beauty.  And put yourself in a place of just being.  Just doing this will heal you.  Help you to gain perspective.  Leave your Pokemon Go game for later.  (People were walking around the park or biking, face down, glued to their screens this week.)  Notice the dragonfly.  The beauty of the lotus flower instead.  Let it fill you with joy.  There is a lot of ugliness happening now, but there is also a lot of beauty around us and in each other to behold.
  4. Take time to connect more closely with your loved ones.  There is a lot of grounding in that.  Ask for their support.  Share what your concerns are.  Your grief, fear, anger.  Take care of your emotional self.  Try to schedule less so you have time in your day to check in with someone who will listen and offer you support.  Shore up your talk time rituals of connection with more regular time to get and give support.
  5. Be more intentional about being with communities of people that feed your spirit.  Give this to yourself regularly.  Groups that lift you up.  Inspire you.  Help you put the pieces of your life back together and feel whole again.  If you don’t have communities like this, consider a community that might offer you this and join them.  There is power in being a part of a loving community, especially now, when love seems hard to find out in the world.

Hope this is helpful to you.  Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear from you.

Wishing you calm, peace and connection, as you take really good care of yourself,

Nancy