Creative Writing First Post

Since this blog reflects Barbara Isaac, and Barbara Isaac is both a writer and a personal coach, I will be sharing a bit of my writing with you every other week from now on.

I hope these words will make you smile, or think, or challenge your heart and mind.

Here is your first taste:

This is what thirty-eight years looks like.

 

The bonfire is hot, and I see in the reflected light the same gentle eyes that took my breath away when I was sixteen. We are sitting outside, and the locusts are so loud that they drown out any other sound.

The sky is magnificent, and the stars seem to cover every inch of it. Hundred of diamonds in the expanse above.

“This is the best,” I say.

“Yes,” he replies.

We soak in the peace that wraps itself around us.

“Isn’t it amazing to live in such harmony with one another?” I ask.

“I know,” he says. “I was thinking the same thing.”

We are quiet for a while, not for a lack of things to say. Just because it is right.

He pours two glasses of wine and makes a toast.

“To nights like this today and forever,” he says.

I smile.

“I’ll drink to that!”

 

He turns on the bluetooth on his phone and Billy Joel fills the yard.

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man,

Sing us a song tonight,

Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody,

And you got us feeling alright”

We both chime in and fill the air with our less than perfect voices. We laugh.

It feels so good to just be there together.

 

No drama.

 

Thirty-eight years of life together. Of singing and dancing and crying and working and praying and learning and breathing together.

Thirty-eight years of practicing love. And giving and listening and laughing and praying and sacrificing and forgiving and moving together.

Thirty-eight years of building. Of letting go and burying what needed to go and planting and watering and weeding and praying and bearing fruit together.

 

Sitting together in the backyard by the fire, it is well with us.

 

We have learned to go with the moments that present themselves.   

To trust each other.

To enjoy who He made us to be.

 

Billy Joel’s voice dies down, and the yard fills with the sound of locusts once again.

 

“God is good,” he says.

“Time for bed?” he adds.

“Yes,” I say.

 

It’s really that simple.

How to Start Coaching Yourself, Part 1

What does self-coaching really look like?

Over the years,  the critic on my shoulder became the coach on my shoulder. I have learned how to navigate difficult circumstances easier than ever before, and I find myself so much happier for it. And I truly have to credit self-coaching for that.

I know I have been talking much about the think-feel-act loop, and how thoughts create feelings and feelings drive actions, but how does that really work in everyday life? How do we recognize and change that loop? How do we create a new loop?

Necessary Components

Self-coaching has five key parts to it:

  • Building awareness
  • Acceptance
  • Practice
  • Interrupting thoughts, actions, and feelings
  • Learning

Today, we are going to talk about the first two components: awareness and acceptance.

1. Awareness

Awareness requires time.

Unstructured time to be alone with yourself and God in which you create space for yourself. As you do, you begin to understand what your automatic thoughts are.

This may look different for each one of us.

For me, creating awareness is wrapped up in two simple daily activities: journaling every single morning and taking long walks as often as I can.

Journaling

Daily journaling is scheduled but there are no play-by-play actions that are planned. I know that I will fill three pages, no matter what. So I just sit down and start writing–about my day, the weather, my relationships with people, my body, my thoughts, my circumstance, my finances, my kids… you name it.

By getting my things out of my head and onto the paper, I create a bit of distance and I can start to see more clearly. I can read back and look at my thoughts more objectively. Then, if necessary later on, I can separate thoughts, feelings, and action and notice what is out of alignment. I can then journal about that and uncover what is going on in my head, recognizing what my circumstance is, and what my thought about it is.

I can see whether my thoughts serve me or not. I can then decide to practice new thoughts, thus changing the neuro-pathways in my brain. More on this next week.

Walks

These are almost daily occurences for me, and they are just for God and me to enjoy the moments. By walking and giving myself time to think, I become aware of where I am at on the inside, noticing simply what is there: what am I thinking about, what occupies my mental real estate, what worries me, what am I wrapped up in?

I purposefully journal and walk without any interactions from the outside–no people, no social media, no emails. Just God, me and my thoughts.

This is definitely a skill that took time to develop, but it truly started me on this journey of mental health, and I feel strongly that this time spent on myself is not selfish at all and never, ever wasted. It makes me a better person, better mate, a better friend.

2. Acceptance

The next piece of this self-coaching practice is acceptance.

Acceptance starts out with simply naming what we are feeling–what is the emotion we are feeling?

Most of us just want to skip that part; we don’t want to think about what we are feeling, we don’t want to dwell on it. We just want to feel good, and that’s it.

Yet, once we name our feeling, we know what we are dealing with, and we are on the way to allowing ourselves to accept where we are at.

If I am feeling sad, I can simply say, “I am feeling sad right now. And the reason I am feeling sad is that I am thinking sad thoughts.”

It is important to accept what we are feeling in the moment and realize that this emotion is the result of specific thoughts.

 

You will find that your brain doesn’t want to think that your feelings are driven by your thoughts. It wants to say that you are sad because your mom is sick for example, and something has gone very wrong. Yet the truth is, you are sad because of the thoughts you are entertaining about your mom’s sickness: she is hurting, she is going to die, she won’t be able to enjoy my children, etc.

And it’s okay to be sad, nothing has gone wrong, this is a normal emotion. We don’t have to run from it, we don’t have to shove it down.

Just naming what we are feeling and then recognizing that it has to do with our thoughts give us our power back.

Crayons: We all start with a single color. Eventually we grow to the six color box. We can grow to develop nuances into the big 128color box. That’s with regard to our feelings. But, depending on where we’re at in our growth, we might need help identifying even the basic six to start with. By starting here, you can grow, identify your feelings and then learn to cope with them.

Do you see how useful this will be for you in everyday life? Next week, I will continue on the other components of self-coaching. For now, want to practice these two and tell me how it’s changing you? I can’t wait to hear from you! Please comment or shoot me an email! 

And please share with anyone who could use this information!