I hope you enjoy these images of my solo Winter writing retreat to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I’m planning an upcoming Vision Quest Retreat here to the Bellmoor Inn & Spa. Be sure to Join my mailing list at Vision Quest Retreats to learn more about this and other fabulous retreats and events for women living their visions of success!
Happy New Year Success Coaching Exercise to try:
1) Take some quiet time to reflect on the past year. Journal about it; make a list of highlights and gains (this can be on any level). Make a list of losses. Take some time to feel the feelings that go with all of the above. Make note of what you learned from these experiences.
2) Look at your goals from last year and assess how you did (remember to be compassionate with yourself) noticing where you might have been unrealistic and where you could have done more.
3) Make a list of what you want to focus on and/or manifest this year. This can include your goals and/or may be the behaviors and thoughts you want to continue from last year.
4) On a separate piece of paper make a list of things you want to or are ready to let go of. Get rid of the paper and the contents. You may want to put it in your G*ddess/God box, burn, bury or flush this list with a prayer to help you to release them (keeping the environment in mind).
5) Create an action plan with a timeline to address what you want to accomplish in the New Year.
If you would like some help taking the action plan further feel free to drop me a line or check out Success Coaching
Happy New Year and Much Continued Success & Well Being,
Click image below to see “How to Battle Stress During the Holidays” on Channel 9 WUSA’s #OffScripton9 with host Bruce Johnson
Click image to view video
While the holiday season is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” it may not be for many. Below are 5 tips for dealing with difficult family members and 5 tips for beating the holiday/winter blues. I hope you find them helpful.
How to Have Happy Holidays with Difficult Family Members
A part of the stress of the holidays can be brought on with having conflict with difficult family members and interacting in dysfunctional or troubling family dynamics. This is exacerbated by expectations born out of the messages around us; Hallmark Cards, Christmas Specials and TV commercials showing happy families during the holidays all conspire to create holiday propaganda that says we should love and get along with our families.
Well the reality is that for many people this is far from accurate or even realistic. We are bombarded with pictures of holiday family bliss that look like they were painted by Norman Rockwell or Romare Bearden when our holiday family tableau would be more accurately captured by Hieronymus Bosch! If you are dreading the upcoming family get-togethers this holiday because of difficult family then this article is for you!
Below are my top 5 tips for handling difficult family gatherings:
#1 Set a Positive Intention
#2 Stay out of the Boxing Ring
#3 Get Busy/Focus on Others
#4 Keep Breathing
#5 Have an Exit Strategy
#1 Set a positive intention: Before you enter the family gathering gather yourself. Pray, meditate, do whatever you have to do to get centered then set an intention for the time that you will be there. This could be to get to know a family member better or be helpful in some way or it just may be to remain peaceful. Whatever you choose it should be positive. If you need a physical reminder of this intention you could carry a special token like a medallion with the serenity prayer engraved on it or even a rock or shell that you keep in your pocket. Some experts suggest wearing your watch on your opposite wrist to help you remember your intention.
#2 Stay out of the boxing ring: Family members are adept at pushing our buttons but you don’t have to let them. You do not have to show up to every fight to which you are invited. Especially stay away from touchy subjects like politics! You will only get riled up and won’t change anyone else’s perspective. If someone expresses a strong opinion with which you disagree you can take a breath and just say nothing but if you must reply have some simple phrases to repeat a few times as you plan a hasty retreat to another part of the house. Phrases like “that’s interesting,” “I see” or “I understand how you feel” are good and if you are really brave try saying “You may be right” before gently gliding away. (Remember everyone has a perfect right to think and behave exactly as they want to.)
#3 Get Busy/Focus on others: Nothing like helping out to give you a positive focus. Be of service, offer to help. Focus on making others enjoy themselves. Maybe you have an older relative (who isn’t the problem family member) that could use some doting on. Maybe there are some kids (also not problem children) who could use your attention and may even be begging for an adult to play with them.
#4 Keep Breathing: Take some nice deep slow breaths when you feel that fight or flight syndrome kicking in. It will help calm and center you. Slow deep breathing will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, the system associated with resting and digesting. This isn’t easy stuff so practice loving compassion for yourself then focus on sending that outward to others. Employ huge doses of empathy forgiveness and compassion for everyone present. (Remember this is only a few hours of your life).
#5 Have an Exit Strategy: You may be able to show up early and leave early. If you expect that a gathering will be really bad let the host/hostess know ahead of time that you have another commitment at a time that’s going to mean you have to skedaddle at a certain hour. Your exit strategy should include transportation. There isn’t a Dysfunctional Family Extraction Team that I know of so you will have to arrange your own transport. Drive separately, have cab fare, be prepared to Uber or Lyft. If you have to walk to metro remember comfortable footwear! (There is nothing worse than staggering away upset on a cold night in heels!) Your family may not like you leaving early but it’s self-care so don’t feel guilty.
Once safely away from a tense situation take some time to rest and recover then pat yourself on the back for doing the best you could in a difficult situation.
Winter months can bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and for some this may be exacerbated by holiday blues. Symptoms of winter SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Some folks begin to slump as early as August, while others remain well until January. Depressions are usually mild to moderate, but they can also be severe. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, gloomy winter months may bring you down and for many people the holiday season can be a tough time. Below are my top 5 tips for beating the holiday blues.
#2: Get Light
#3: Be of Service
#4: Practice Gratitude
#5: Lower Your Expectations
#1: Exercise. Exercise is crucial in combating depression, staving off Alzheimer’s and keeping off unwanted pounds. Do some kind of physical activity you enjoy at least three times a week for 30 mins each time. Exercise can release endorphins and reduce stress. Vary your routine and have fun with it. I keep it simple with walks in the woods and my yoga practice.
#2: Get Light. Get outside when you can in the sunshine even if it’s cold the sun’s rays can lift your mood. Being in nature lifts the spirits of many. I’m lucky enough to get out during the days but some people get relief from phototherapy using light boxes and now they even just have single bulbs ranging from about $4-$10. The light boxes range from about $30-$150. Not all light boxes are effective for treating SAD. Before buying one you may want to read this article from About Health.
#3: Be of Service. Nothing lifts the spirit like getting outside of yourself and doing something for someone else. There are so many ways to bring joy to others. Think of things you can do and do them. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or just do some favors for friends and family. The opportunities are endless. If you can’t come up with anything check out Simple Ways to Give Back…
#4: Practice Gratitude. Holidays are also a great time for people to compare their lives to others and feel lacking. Single people may feel lonely because they don’t have anyone to kiss under the mistletoe. Divorced parents may stress about splitting holidays. Kids with divorced parents may be unsure of who to spend time with. Holiday time may also remind you of loved ones who have passed away. All of these situations can lead us to feel a sense of lack. The antidote for this is GRATITUDE. Focus on what you do have and give thanks for it. Accept and bless YOUR circumstances. When I feel down I write a gratitude list of at least 10 things for which I’m grateful. A roof over your head? A job? Food? Friends? These things are pretty awesome!
#5: Lower Your Expectations. Holidays are often stressful because so many people are striving for a Norman Rockwell type of holiday. Stop it! Don Miguel Ruiz has the right idea with his fourth of his Four Agreements; Always do Your Best. But this isn’t an invitation to perfectionism. It means do your best then leave the rest. Stop trying to control, to be perfect. There is no such thing as the perfect family, party or anything. Don’t compare your experience to anyone else’s. High expectations lead to stress, disappointment, and often resentment. Lower your expectations and watch your serenity and happiness rise.
I hope you found the above helpful. Click here if you are seeking more FREE SUCCESS TOOLS.
Join us at this FB Live event if you have you been promising yourself to break out and really live the life you love for some time now.
Are you succeeding at a job that you don’t even like let alone love? Do you know what you would rather be doing for work but keep procrastinating on getting started? Or, have you gotten started on creating the life you love but are encountering roadblocks?
If any of the above describes you then invest (15 mins) of your life to join this discussion on Vision Quest Retreats with Dr. Nicole Cutts FB page and get expert advice on how to really live your Vision of Success!
I will be on FB Live starting 12/13/17 and running for six weeks to share tips on:
1) Clarifying your Vision of Success
2) Setting goals and achieving them!
3) Removing self limiting thoughts
4) Navigating real life obstacles like paying bills while doing work you love
5) Creating a plan that you can follow to get you out of a job you don’t love and into one you do!
Looking forward to “seeing” you there!
Questions? Drop me a line at email@example.com
Reading “The Cave of the Shadows”-an excerpt from Journey to Orphalese
In The Adventures of Isabelle Book II: Journey to Orphalese our heroine Princess Isabelle of Xamayca has to overcome some pretty scary challenges. As we all know trials and ordeals in the form of dragons and other baddies are pretty common when you are on the heroine’s quest to achieve your Vision of Success. For that matter so are visits to shadowy places like the Underworld. Remember Orpheus and Eurydice and his little trip down there to pick her up? But what of the “dragons” that live in our own minds? On the quest to living her Vision heroines often have to contend with the dragon named Self-Doubt and other limiting beliefs about ones abilities and chances of success.
These self doubts live in The Cave of the Shadows, the dark recesses of our mind and they often appear as whispered or even shouted negative self talk. They say things like “You are too old, not strong enough or smart enough etc.” Here’s a secret, the voices often get really loud the closer you get to your Vision so beware but know this means you are on the right path. Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way calls these little nasty voices “blurts” and even has nifty exercises to help you contend with them.
These inner demons of self doubt revolve around FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) and in a weird way they are your ego’s way of trying to protect itself. The ego will tell you that it is protecting you, but do not be fooled! You are perfectly safe whether you succeed or “fail.” It is the ego that will be diminished and this is a good thing! Your ego slows you down and blocks your way. If you are afraid to fail you will not take risks and you will not try. If you are afraid to succeed the same things happens. (Check out my post Overcoming the Fear of Success )
Now what the ego and all the other little boogie men in your head (cave of shadows) will never tell you is that achieving your Vision of Success has NOTHING to do with you, nothing to do with how you look or how popular you are or what others think of you. Your Vision of Success is your Mission in life. It’s what you are meant to bring to the world through you forothers.
Trust me. Whenever I am afraid (walking through the cave of shadows) my ego is always involved, but as soon as I remember that I have a mission and that it is to serve others, that fear and anxiety goes right away and I get brave. A prayer or two usually helps me to get back on track.
So the next time you find yourself plagued with self doubt or fear, when you hear those negative voices pop up in your head tell them “thanks for sharing” and live your Vision anyway. Or as our friend Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” I personally would have said, “Don’t stop!” but don’t tell him I said that.
Are you ready to Relax and Recharge? Do you long for some serious “me” time to reconnect with yourself and come back with a renewed “Personal Strategic Plan” to kick butt in 2018? Are you ready to banish your fears, achieve new goals and capture your bliss? Perhaps you have conquered many fears, achieved goals and found success but lost touch with your bliss?
Grab your passports and join Vision Quest Retreats & Travel With Lady V for this 6 Day/5 Night life changing getaway to paradise! Join other fabulous women for this transformational program at a luxurious 4-Star All-Inclusive property in Guanacaste, Costa Rica on the edge of the beach of Matapalo. Check out the Hotel Riu Palace! Our goal is to provide a relaxing, empowering, stunning and unforgettable 6 days for YOU!
REGISTER BY AUGUST 12 & Receive a FREE 3 Day/2 Night
Daily workshops focused on capturing your bliss and achieving your Vision of Success***
All inclusive luxury accommodations and 24/7 Room Service
Guided meditation and yoga sessions
Personal travel consultant to help with flights, excursions etc.
Attendees entered to win a FREE CRUISE** (Given away during retreat)
During the retreat you will stay in a 4 Star All-Inclusive hotel with all the amenities you need for a relaxing fun time. Rooms are all Jr. Suites with two double beds or one super king-size bed, a sofa in the lounge area, a hydromassage bathtub, WiFi, satellite TV, air conditioning, a minibar and beverage dispenser, a coffee maker, and a balcony or terrace. This property has a variety of restaurants as well as 24/7 room service. Once you eat your fill you can work it off in their gym or take a walk on the lovely beach. If night-life is your thing they have a disco and casino as well as live entertainment! Other property highlights include…
SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES i.e. Gym, beach volleyball court, group fitness activities, floodlit hard surface tennis court, steam bath, whirlpool bath, windsurfing, stand up paddle surfing, snorkeling equipment, kayaking, and 1 introductory scuba diving lesson in pool.
5 nights accommodation at an all-inclusive resort
Workshops (4-5 hrs), focused on YOUR Vision of Success
All supplies for the activities including success tools
One spa service and one excursion (optional excursions and spa services available)
Transfers from and to Liberia, Costa Rica International Airport
Plenty of free time to relax and/or work on success/bliss exercises between sessions
All hotel services and activities listed under accommodations
On site travel consultant
Four post-retreat group success coaching sessions (via teleconference) to help keep you on track with the Personal Strategic Plan you created on the retreat!
What’s not included:
WHAT IS MY INVESTMENT?
The total cost for all-inclusive accommodations (based on double occupancy), airport transfers, workshops, personal coaching sessions, on site activities and travel consultant, excursion and spa treatment is $2899.00 per person. (Single room occupancy and room upgrades available at a higher rate. Solo travelers can be matched with a room mate.) Single room occupancy $3402.00 per person.
A reservation requires a non refundable deposit of $310.00 paid by August 19, 2017.
*Hotel accommodation on future travel for the first 10 people to register by August, 12, 2017. Registration must be completed, paid in full and retreat attended to receive FREE Hotel Stay. (Hotel locations include Aruba, Florida, Las Vegas and more.)
**Cruise Giveaway does not include taxes, port fees and gratuities.
***A word about “Success” Everyone has their own definition of success. Vision Quest Retreats defines Success as being satisfied and happy with what you have, who you are and what you are giving back to the world.
Questions? Contact Nicole Cutts via email or phone 202-669-5777
Those of you who I’m connected to via Facebook or Instagram know that I love my (almost) daily nature walks and I take them wherever I can. Being in nature helps me reconnect to my spirit. When I’m home these walks are usually along the Potomac river on the tow path of the C & O Canal. I use this time to commune with Mother Nature and The G*ddess, to pray and meditate and get inspiration. My routine includes saying three good things I’ve done for myself that day and five things for which I’m grateful. The three good things include things like earning my living and even taking exercise which I’m doing when I walk. The gratitude list can easily be more than five things and includes everything from clean water to drink, to having a vehicle to living my vision.
But, sometimes doing a list of my blessings morphs maniacally into a to-do list or looking at what I don’t have or worst of all I sometimes find myself comparing myself to other people and invariably finding my life lacking! I know that I should not do this and I know that focusing on gratitude is the magic antidote to this perception of lack so the other day when I found myself comparing I put my focus back on my blessings. The discontented feelings that accompany my perception of lack began to lift.
After this I stopped to cool myself at the stream that runs under a sort of covered bridge. I was greeted by a kaleidoscope of tiger swallowtail butterflies puddling in the mud along with one little violet colored butterfly. As I approached, the butterflies flew up in a cloud and danced around me bringing a broad smile to my face and evaporating any remaining traces of my discontent. My heart was filled with gratitude.
After this I realized how amazing my life is; that I get to see things like this on an almost daily basis, that I have created a life for myself where I can work AND have time to take care of myself by going for walks, sitting by streams, meditating and getting to play with butterflies and other beautiful creatures. So life is good when I practice gratitude and stay out of comparing!
Disclaimer: I don’t have a degree in film. I’m just a chick who loves action adventure movies, watches a lot of films and has a passion for helping women see and live their lives as a heroine’s quest.
Like many women and especially as a woman who loves action adventure movies, superheroes, and is obsessed by the heroine’s quest, I was excited to see Wonder Woman. Also like many women I long for more movies starring female action heroine’s and super-heroines. This longing is in large part why I wrote my first book The Adventures of Isabelle Book I about a strong adventurous princess.
So, when my friend Tenecia Brown invited me to see the movie last weekend with a group of other women I said “YES!” We saw it in a stadium theater in IMAX 3D. It was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the special effects and the fact that this movie depicts a heroine’s quest. It was also a visual treat. I especially loved the scenes shot on the Amazon island of Themyscira an idyllic paradise populated by many strong, athletic, beautiful women of many hues. I enjoyed the fight scenes (again especially on the island) and the costumes (yup on the island again).
BUT there were a four things that kept me from LOVING this movie as I had expected to…
FIRST: You can accuse me of being shallow, body shaming or looksist, but this is just a matter of personal taste; the look of our lead Gal Gadot’s body. She was very pretty indeed but she did not do it for me. She was just too SKINNY! It was not believable to me that this skinny Amazon could train in secret then end up being the best warrior among all the others who had trained longer and looked way stronger! I felt distinctly like the “male gaze” was at work again. Of course she has to be attractive and feminine for the movie to sell but c’mon! Couldn’t we put some meat on those bones and some toughness in her face and still have her be sexy?? She would have been to me. There is a scene where she stands, legs spread and arms akimbo (supposed to be a tough pose) on the cliff’s edge on Themyscira in her little short tunic and I remember thinking “She’s too skinny! Why can’t we have a heroine with some muscles?” Why does she have to look like a fragile princess?
SECOND: The relationship between her, her powers, and men. She is SUPER HUMAN and could save all the men but the way they had her go about it was clearly orchestrated to not damage the egos of the mortal men. Really?! Who has time for that? I’ve never seen Superman hold back so the men around him don’t feel inferior. He’s picked dudes up and flown them through the air! She’s not a real woman who often really does have to do this in real life to cater to the male ego. She’s a goddess. Gods and goddesses do not bow to humans but the movie depicted her treading carefully maybe so the men in the audience could better fall in love with her. This left me a bit flat. I go to movies like this for an escape from real life, not to see this stuff repeated! I wanted her to just do her damn thing! Instead she often seemed to let the weak male mortals try something first, so as not to “emasculate” them, then after they failed or weren’t doing it so well she’d step in. The fate of the world is at stake and she’s gotta soft pedal super powers!? Warner Bros Please!! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
THIRD: I wasn’t really feeling the romance between she and Steve Trevor. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t dislike it (and Chris Pine is nice to look at and funny) but to me the romance can kind of slow down an action movie. What I did like about this relationship was that he was not central but more of a tool to her self growth. He played the role that the women often play to our male heroes. He’s on the side and we like him and we want her to have a boyfriend and all that but let’s get back to saving Earth shall we? In short I’m glad he blew himself up and that there’s no way he can return in a sequel. I want Wonder Woman to focus on her mission. I don’t think she has time for a long term monogamous relationship. In case you think I’m sexist I don’t really like when 007 gets too serious with anyone either. I’m like, “Yaaaawn! Get back to work!” It would add to the adventure and fun for me if she met a bunch of hot men and/or women and just dated. I know every movie can’t have everything for everybody and this is why my princess is bisexual. Yes, The Adventures of Isabelle Book II: Journey to Orphalese (coming soon) is going to heat up a bit.
FOURTH: While I dug the multicultural representation in Steve Trevor’s crew and the women of color on the Amazonian island, I wanted more women of color in larger roles. If we had spent more time on the island we would have probably seen more of this as we had been introduced to some high ranking officers and stateswomen of color. Again a good reason to not leave the island and again why sometimes we have to write our own stories and make our own films. In Book II of the Adventures of Isabelle there is a band of female warriors of all hues, colors, shapes and sizes and they are all Bad B’s!
So there you have it. My two cents. Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts???
In light of our recent elections many Americans (my clients and myself included) have been processing our grief and disappointment and I want to offer something that may help folks cope and even thrive through this time and beyond. While I have many political and socio-cultural opinions I am not an expert in those areas so I’ve decided to stay in my wheelhouse as I approach offering help to those around who may either be suffering or just challenged with coping with disappointment, loss and the resultant grief.
As a psychologist, success coach and organizational consultant I favor simple and elegant solutions like the use of the “Serenity Prayer” and the exercise below. That being said these solutions are not necessarily “easy” real growth never is. So here goes…
God/Goddess (Higher Power), Grant me the SERENITY to ACCEPT the things I can’t, the COURAGE to CHANGE the things I can and the WISDOM to know the difference.
List the things you can’t change i.e. other’s attitudes or opinions, the outcome of elections and contests.
List the things you can change or better yet DO i.e. change your attitude, volunteer, work for social justice, love someone, forgive, get to work!
DO the things you CAN (Maybe not all of them but you can do something)!
Keep praying for acceptance, courage and wisdom to discern the difference between 1 and 2.
STOP wasting your energy complaining or just being mad. That leaches the energy you NEED to DO something and it helps no one. That being said you can benefit from speaking about how you feel but that is different than complaining.
Take a look at my video above that may help too. Please note the definition of real success according to the mission of Vision Quest Retreats must include bringing something of value to the world and others. It does NOT mean success just for you so you can think you are great…LOL.