The World of Little Things: Seeds

Again, I was walking home from the school bus, when my gaze fell upon a little milkweed seed on the ground. It was glistering with dew drops. While the general scene, albeit sunny and not too cold, was rather brown – mind you, it is November and nature supposed to be brown – that little seed was a sparkling messenger of life and hope.

Have you ever thought of all the beauty we might miss, by focusing on the big picture only?

Happiness is Here, Now

Happiness is a Value, not a Goal!

That means, happiness is not something to look for, to try to reach, a goal, but a value, something to believe in, a moment-to-moment way of being!

Does this sound familiar? – “I will be happy when _______” (fill the blank).

What did you wish for as a child? – Your next birthday gift? As a teenager? – Your driver’s licence? As a young adult? – A good job? / A wonderful partner? – And once you got what you were wishing for, how long did your happiness last before you filled in the blank with something new, a new condition for your happiness? What are you longing for or chasing today? – Do you think this ____ (fill the blank) will make you sustainably happy? It is an endless cycle in the pursuit of happiness.

How can we break the cycle? Can we be happy here and now? Independent of circumstance?

Here are a few mental exercises that can help you create new thinking habits that make it possible to be happy, independent of pursuit:

Talk to and about yourself in compassionate ways

Instead of being hard on yourself for all your flaws, your failures and mistakes, assure yourself:

_______ (Your name), you are perfectly human, with all your imperfections, just like everyone else. Let’s acknowledge what is wonderful about you, like _______ (fill the blank), and have fun improving you a little bit every day.”

Talk to and about others in constructive ways

Instead of dwelling on a situation that feels hard or impossible to change, assure yourself:

Like you, dear ________ (your name), everybody around you is perfectly imperfect. Their essence is a beautiful as yours. To draw out their best, concentrate on interacting with that part of them!”

Talk about your circumstances in solution-oriented ways

Instead of focussing on mishaps failures, assure yourself:

Every event or circumstance can be a gift. It can be turned into an opportunity. What is a mistake or failure you could look at and see potential in?

Global Cultural Mindset (Part 1: Values)

For a seemingly long time, the work was becoming smaller as global travel became easier and more and more affordable. Then, a pandemic hit, and the world seemed to expand. Sometimes, the other side of the earth seems to be as far away as another planet. Then again, we are interacting and working with people from all over the world, often in a virtual setting.

In my work as a teacher and a life coach I have come to learn about the cultural challenges a global setting can provide for individuals. In a synthesis of my training as a sociologist, my experience as a teacher, and the many wonderful things I learned from people I have worked with, I have created a program.

The series is called “Developing a Global Cultural Mindset”. Part 1 is all about VALUES: Values answer the question:

In a world where you could choose to have your life be about something,
what would you choose?
(Wilson & Murrell, 2004, 135)

Why is it important to be aware of our values? – Values are our inner compass. Being aware of our values helps us navigate our life in the direction that we choose.

For a short time, the first self-exploratory exercise “Reflection on Values” is available for free.

The Benefits of Laughing

What makes you laugh? –  For me, it is quite frequently my husband, who has a gift of seeing and pointing out the humor in things that I sometimes take (too) seriously.

Laughter is beneficial for our physical and mental health. It can lower our blood pressure and improve concentration. In an emotional way, laughing can it can alleviate stress and anxiety. Even spiritually, laughter can help us feel more connected and whole.

You don’t feel like laughing? – Even so, try doing it anyway, because our body does not know the difference between fake and real laughter.

Please share what make you laugh happily!

Grounding Myself In Nature

Much has been said about how our modern life tends to create a disconnect with nature.

In my coaching (and in my life) I seek to keep things simple:

I need nature to survive: It gives me food, it gives me air, it gives me space to move and space to experience my connection with all other living things. When I get really calm I experienced that I AM PART of this wonderful world.

What does it look like for you when you feel grounded? – Please drop me a note!

Mindfulness in Motion

Mindfulness is commonly understood as paying attention to what is happening in one’s mind, body and surroundings, with a focus on the present moment, and in a curious, compassionate and non-judgmental state.

What does mindfulness do to us?

Mindfulness improves our well-being. Focusing on the here and now makes it less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or nostalgia over the past. It also improves our mental and our physical health.

One technique is Mindful Walking:

The ability to walk sets us apart from most animals on earth. It is a defining factor of being human. Most of the time, we might fail to see walking as something special.

When you walk mindfully, pay attention to the sensations of your body:

  • How do your feet feel, in your shoes, when you step down and when you lift them up?
  • How do your other muscles keep you balanced?
  • Pay attention to how your arms swing as you walk.
  • How about your breathing? Is there a rhythm between your breathing and your steps?

Pay attention to and become more aware of your surroundings, beyond the practical (like avoiding a puddle or drop off a letter on the way). Enjoy the immediacy of sights, sounds, and smells.

  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you smell?

You can also pay attention to intuitive messages: Ask yourself a question and see what your intuition tells you.

Do you have a question for me? – I would love to hear it!

Less Knowing More Being

Sometimes I wonder about the scope of our awareness. My ego does not agree, but my intuition tells me that there is more than I can perceive. Nature taught me a valuable lesson about that:

I have been baffled many times by the perseverance of ants, walking back and forth on their established routes, carrying up to twenty (!) times their body weight. I kept thinking about their world view: What do they see? What do they perceive the world to be? And where does the world as they know it end? While I am aware that the average ant might not be thinking those thoughts, I inferred that their world view is probably more limited than ours. Yet, they might confidently state: “This is how the world is!”

We do the same. We postulate that there is an objective reality and that we know what it is (or strive to find it). I postulate that – even if an objective reality exists – we might not be able to perceive it. So what are we left to do?

How about living in the moment?

I would love to read your thoughts!

Gratefully Changing Perspective

Humans have a hard time focusing on two emotions at the same time, especially when they are conflicting ones.

When we have a problem, and we focus on the problem, we tend to see the obstacles rather than the smoother path ahead.

I challenge you (that is what I do as a coach, with your permission) to find 5 things you are grateful for, right now. And then think about each one for a minute and appreciate it.

Feel free to share any of your revelations!

What Snapping Turtles Can Do to You

Life has been a bit challenging recently, due to ____ (please feel in the blank).

Today is a sunny late summer day. As I took a break from work and went outside to sit in the grass for a few minutes, my gaze fell upon a little snapping turtle, no bigger than two inches. He (?) was sitting 1 foot away from me, staring me “down”. I had to smile, and I thanked that little creature for making me smile.

Then I realized that the world had not changed, but my attitude had shifted: from my problems to the possibilities life holds.

My name is Manuela. I am a Professional Life Coach.

Contact me when you are ready to shift your focus from the backwards look at your problem to the forward look towards your possibilities! It’s magical!

Common Ground: Connecting by Taking a Step Back

We live behind an industrial woodlot. This time of the year, the guys (male-dominated workplace) are cutting and shredding wood. We see them twice a day on the way to and from the school bus, and we wave at them. They wave back. That is usually the extent of our interactions. Friendly neighbors.

When my daughter’s friend came over, I asked the girls to stay well away from any big equipment. I also mentioned that we wave at the guys to say hi. My daughter’s friend’s mother (I am calling her Clara) said that no, they don’t to that, because you never know the intentions of strangers.

That comment stirred up a set of emotions in me.

Then I took a step back from the situation. I could sense the motivation behind Clara’s comment: concern for her daughter’s well-being. And there was our common ground, because of course I could relate to that.

What do you think about abstracting from the problem at hand to the theme behind it, and dealing with it at that level? Have you been in a similar situation? Did this method help you in any way?

Please feel free to leave a comment!

Doktor Wald (German)

(This is a simple and slightly provocative poem by a German forest ranger that seems to address what I coach by: The power of nature!)

Doktor Wald

Wenn ich an Kopfweh leide und Neurosen,
mich unverstanden fühle oder alt,
und mich die holden Musen nicht liebkosen,
dann konsultiere ich den Doktor Wald.
Er ist mein Augenarzt und Psychiater,
mein Orthopäde und mein Internist.
Er hilft mir sicher über jeden Kater,
ob er von Kummer oder Cognac ist.
Er hält nicht viel von Pülverchen und Pille,
doch umso mehr von Luft und Sonnenschein.
Und kaum umfängt mich angenehme Stille,
raunt er mir zu: “Nun atme mal tief ein!”
Ist seine Praxis oft auch überlaufen,
in seiner Obhut läuft man sich gesund.
Und Kreislaufkranke, die noch heute schnaufen,
sind morgen ohne klinischen Befund.
Er bringt uns immer wieder auf die Beine,
das Seelische ins Gleichgewicht,
verhindert Fettansatz und Gallensteine.
nur – Hausbesuche macht er leider nicht.

Förster Helmut Dagenbach, 1986

Doctor Woods

(Freely translated by Manuela Zeitlhofer)

When I have a headache and neurosis
feel misunderstood or old
and the lovely muses don’t caress me,
I consult Doctor Woods.
He’s my ophthalmologist and psychiatrist
my orthopedist and my internist.
He sure helps me over every hangover
whether it’s from grief or cognac.
He doesn’t think much of medications and pills,
but all the more of air and sunshine.
And no sooner does a pleasant silence envelop me,
he whispers to me: “Now take a deep breath!”
If his practice is often overcrowded,
one runs oneself back to health in his care.
And the patients who are still panting today
are without symptoms tomorrow.
He keeps getting us back on our feet
and restores our mental balance,
prevents fat deposits and gallstones.
however – unfortunately he does not make house calls.

Forest ranger Helmut Dagenbach, 1986

I am a Lady

… most of the time just from the inside.

I should probably start by define my interpretation of the term: A “lady” is stylish, unique, a bit eccentric, but not annoyingly so, who is not following trends but creating her own. That is me. Normally, I would not refer to myself as a lady tough, because I spend a lot of time doing things that I would not consider typical for a lady – like fixing roofs.

Last Thursday, I was fortunate to go to a small music event. And there, surrounded by inspirational music, beautiful people, and the gorgeous backdrop of our river, I did feel like a lady. The setting reminded me of a similar event in London (Great Britain) in 1993. It was called “Music in the Park”, and there I was introduced to the fine art of enjoying myself and the company I was in, in a natural setting, sitting on blankets, surrounded by picnic baskets and beautiful old trees. It all felt so exquisite that it stayed with me all this time.

When do YOU feel exceptionally yourself?

The Beauty of Weeds

I found those beautiful flowers by the side of our house. They are tough in many ways: tough to pull out, tough to give up during a drought, tough to give up in a dry location, tough to walk on, tough to mow over with the lawnmower. Yesterday, I walked around the house to find some of them in full bloom. That made me think of the (often) hidden beauty of things we label as undesirable.

What was the last thing, plant or animal in nature that astonished YOU?

Your Vision

Imagine you had a vision. Somewhere you want to be. And you keep postponing to do something about it, because – well – life is busy.

Imagine further that in order to implement your vision, all you had to do was start moving. All you need is to listen to the voice from within, and a little bit of courage to start moving.

Does it matter if you start out and take a few steps in the not-quite-right direction (do we ever literally walk or drive in a straight line to our destination?). No, it does not! Just get up and move! Your path will unfold and road-signs will appear as you come closer. I can assist you with that.

Send me a note!

Nurture with Intention

I love my house. And I love my garden. My property is surrounded by wilderness, I have started o draw a line of where my endeavors end and the freedom of the wild space around me begins. In some way, that is also where my freedom (the freedom to enjoy instead of trying to control and modify for example) begins. I cannot help it. I pull out the grass from the well-fertilized garden beds, and I start grass on the less fertilized and sandy soil around. “Of course”, I thought yesterday, “the grass wants to grow in my garden beds – that’s what I nurture. I have to nurture the grass where I want it to grow.”

What do you want to nurture in your life? And do you do that with the intended outcome in mind?

Meet the Coach

My name is Manuela Zeitlhofer.

I was born in Austria, Europe. When I was a young adult, I left Austria to immigrate to Canada. It was not so much that I did not want to live in Austria, it was more the strong desire to live in the wilderness that led me to Canada – more specifically to the Yukon Territory.

At first, I worked as a tour guide. I was very fortunate to guide tourists into the most pristine parts of the Yukon Territory and Canada. The winters were quiet and long, and so I started teaching as a substitute teacher during the winter. After several years of guiding tourists in the summer and teaching little kids in the winter, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. It seemed only natural, as in my work as a tour guide, I was also the advocate of nature, guiding and coaching people how to respect nature while enjoying its beauty.