Couple Appreciation Month: Celebrate and Reinforce Your Relationship

Couple Appreciation Month: Celebrate and Reinforce Your RelationshipEvery year,  April is designated National Couple Appreciation Month to encourage couples to do something special to re-enforce and celebrate their relationship – to let their partners know that they are respected and desired.

Given the grim statistics we hear on the state of relationships, I’m glad there is a whole month set aside to appreciate couples.

Statistics say most couples are unhappy in their relationships and more than 40% of marriages end in divorce.

As bleak as these statistics are, on the other hand, there are still approximately 50% of couples in relationships that are long lasting, thriving and happy.

What keeps these couples connected and happy?

Here are few tips from happy connected couples thar you can use to improve and strengthen your relationship:

  • Communicate. Communication is one of the most important qualities in a relationship. Expressing your feelings is the key to effective communication no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may feel. In strong resilient relationships, couples say “I love you” often and don’t sweep unpleasant issues under the rug.
  • Date Night. Remember how you looked forward to going on a date with your partner before the bills, school functions, meetings, and other life forces took over and pushed your relationship to the back burner? You can regain that same excitement and joy in your relationship. Start going on dates again. Just as you schedule other functions, schedule a time devoted to each other. Make your relationship a priority. Take out your calendar or smartphone, select a mutually agreeable date and time and write in your partner’s name. Commit to this date and don’t use excuses to stand up your partner. I’m sure you’re super busy but you must have at least one night out of seven to devote to your partner.
  • Never go to bed angry. In any relationship, especially a couple, unresolved anger breed resentment. Long-term resentment leads to apathy and disconnection. Don’t give anger space to grow. Let the other person know how you feel without directing blame or criticism.
  • Play together. Most couples spend less than 20 minutes a day engaged with each other and even less having fun together. Make time in your schedule to do a fun activity you both enjoy. Couples who share a common interest such as golf or bowling tend to have less conflict in their relationship. Not only do these couples spend time having fun, they also are strengthening their connection.
  • Trust. Can you count on your partner tomorrow to do what he or she says? Successful relationships are built on trust. If you tell your partner you’ll be home by 6:30, don’t be persuaded to stop for a beer or get into a 20-minute conversation with co-workers when it’s time to leave work.
  • Fight fair. All couples have disagreements. If you’re not careful, disagreement can end in shouting matches, anger and hurt. A disagreement does not mean you don’t love each other or care. Before you start slinging insults, name calling or a disagreement ends badly, a 5-10 minute “time out” may help you sort out your thoughts so you can return and reach an amicable solution.
  • Show appreciation. Couples ought to show appreciation every day not just in April when we celebrate National Couple Appreciation Month. It’s the little things that mean a lot. It’s not that you don’t appreciate your partner; you just forget to verbalize your appreciation. Tell your partner how much you appreciate him or her. Put an “”I love you” note on a pillow, in a pocket, on the bathroom mirror, in his or her gym bag or briefcase/purse to make them smile.

Even though Couple Appreciation Month ended months ago,  any day is a good time to let your partner know how much more enjoyable he or she makes your life, and then tell him/her.

To get professional help to improve or strengthen your relationship, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Listening Well

Listening WellMost of us have experienced the frustration of having someone not listen to us or felt that same frustration when someone says you’re not listening to him or her.   But, before we get all bent out of shape and accuse someone of not listening, we must first ask ourselves the question, “how well do I listen”?

You must learn to be a good listener if you want others to listen to you.  That means putting down the smartphone and giving the other person your undivided attention.

A smartphone is no substitute for meaningful connection

Listening is so much more than hearing the words that are spoken. Listening involves paying full attention to the person speaking, taking note of the tone of voice, gestures, body language and making eye contact.

We are so accustomed to speaking in shorthand – e.g., OMG, LOL, ROFL, etc., that real communication easily gets lost.  A “smart” device is no substitute for meaningful, connected interaction between two or more people.  Smart devices and shortcut speech is just another way for us to avoid connecting with each other in a meaningful way.

Before you send your next text, email or instant message, ask yourself:

How well do I listen?

How does my commuication connect me to him/her?

And to further hone up on your listening skills,  keep these tips in mind to remind you to become a better listener.

1) Look the person speaking in the eye as they talk to you. This shows that you are paying attention. Don’t fidget, survey the surrounding scenery or check email.

2) Nod your head occasionally, say, “tell me more”, or ask questions when appropriate to indicate your interest.

3) Don’t interrupt the person speaking to complete her thoughts in your mind before she has the opportunity to finish speaking.

4) Notice the speaker’s body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. When we focused only on the words being said, we often miss important physical cues that would clarify and give us a better understanding of what is really being said.

5) Remember to ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”. You want to ask questions that promote more conversation and clarity.

For more listening and communication tips, you may want to order my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace, and Celebrate the Real You

25 Quotes to Spark “Aha” Moments

QuoteQuotes are a staple in my self care and inspiration tool box. For years, I’ve collected inspirational quotes that elicit and spark those illusive “‘aha” moments. Here are some of my favorite quotes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way. —Napoleon Hill
  • Sometimes you’ve just got to give yourself what you wish someone else would give you. —Phil McGraw
  • Be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. —Marcel Proust
  • The purpose of life is to live it to taste experience to the utmost to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences —Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” —Mary Anne Radmacher
  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. —Maya Angelou
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. —Marianne Williams
  • You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. —Buddha
  • It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.—Aristotle
  • Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose–and commit myself to–what is best for me. —Paulo Coelho
  • …Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. —Victor Frankl
  • Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  — Carl Sandburg
  • Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the titanic. —Anonymous
  • I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand. —Chinese Proverb
  • There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go. —Author Unknown
  • The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them. — Maya Angelou
  • Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born. —Dr. Dale Turner
  • Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. —Les Brown
  • Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. —Thich Nhat Hanh
  • It is never too late to be who you might have been. —George Eliot
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. —Richard Bach
  • Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. —Benjamin Franklin
  • Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would love it if you would share some of your favorite quotes in the comment section.

And, for even more inspiration and self-care tips to live your best life, I invite you to get my latest book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You. 

5 Audacious Agreements that Empower

5 Audacious Agreements That EmpowerUnlike written or verbal contracts we make to provide a service or product, sometimes we make agreements with ourselves and other people that we are not even aware we made. And, when our expectations fall short of our desired outcome, we become angry, disillusioned, frustrated and confused.

For example, you may live with an unspoken agreement that conflict is to be avoided at all cost by not speaking up when there is a disagreement or difference of opinion. You may soon discover that avoiding conflict never gets anything resolved – just shoved under the proverbial rug.

Instead of going with the flow and operating from agreements that limit, define and get in the way of being your true self, here are 5 audacious agreements that empower so that the real you shines through:

Agree to ditch the labels – Mom, daughter, sister, wife or girlfriend is merely a label assigned to women by society. You are much more than a label. Labels don’t define who you really are anymore than tags in designer clothes tell you anything about the designer. Who you really are goes much deeper than any of the labels that you wear.

Agree to squash relationship drama – All relationships (marital, family, friends, co-workers and neighbors an even the relationship you have with yourself) will eventually hit a bump in the road. Are you clear about the kind of relationships you want to have in your life? Do you have relationships filled with confusion, temper tantrums, manipulation or deception? I hope not. But if you’ve ever experienced such behavior in a relationship, it may be time to assess how clear you are about who YOU are. Attracting drama into your life is usually an indication that you are giving others permission to set the tone of the relationship. You can change the dynamics of any relationship if you set clear boundaries about what you will accept and how you want to be treated.

Agree to say “no” like a 2 year old –One of the first words a toddler learns is the word “no”. That’s because she wants to be heard and express their assertiveness. Toddlers already have this down pat. She says “no” loud, clear and with conviction. Of course you don’t have to yell but certainly speak loud enough to be heard.

What happens to that conviction and assertiveness when we reach adulthood?

Unfortunately, once we leave toddlerhood, we seem to forget how to be assertive, express our wishes and think independently. Saying “no” is not meant to be antagonistic, difficult or mean spirited.

Saying “no” means that you set limits on what you are willing to do or give, what you’re capable of and how you desire to spend your time and energy.

Make an agreement to set realistic expectations – I agree with Dr. Phil when he says, “what upsets people is not what happens. What upsets people is if what happens violates their expectation of what was going to happen!”

Examine the expectations you have for yourself and others. Make sure they are realistic so as not to end up frustrated, angry or disappointed when things don’t turn out the way you hoped.

Agree to show more gratitude – When you consistently show gratitude for the things you already have, you open the window to receive more. An easy way to begin the practice of gratitude is to write down the things you are grateful for. You can use a journal to record your gratitude or write what you are grateful for each day and place it in a jar or other container. When you need a boost, go to your gratitude journal or jar for added inspiration.

And, to learn more about empowerment and being your true self, I invite you to get my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.

Silent Agreements You Make With Yourself

An agreement is defined as  coming to a mutual arrangement, the state of being in accord or an arrangement that is accepted by all parties to a transaction.

There are many types of agreements that we enter into such as a legal contract, an agreement to provide a service or product or an agreement to give or do a favor for someone and then there are the silent agreements we make with ourselves.

Silent agreements rob you of your voice and power and often guide you into making decisions that are counterproductive to your true wishes.

Silent agreements are the unspoken rules and beliefs that you internalize about how, why and what things you allow to influence you.  These agreements are not legal or binding.  No one has forced, persuaded or cajoled you into making these agreements.

Some of the silent agreements that may hinder, limit or influence your life are:

  • Taking responsibility for everything and everyone in your life.  For example, when you take on more and more responsibility than is yours, you’ll find yourself   running on the hamster wheel until you wear yourself out.  Allow others to be responsible for the things that they are responsible for.
  • Staying stuck because of fear and doubt – Fear of being accepted, loved, validated or liked will show up in how you relate to the people in your life and the choices you make.
  • Pleasing everyone but yourself – When you are busy making sure that everyone is happy and getting along, how happy are you in that role?
  • Saying “yes” when you really want to say “no”.  Learning to say no and mean it is an empowering act that increases your confidence.
  • Using disparaging comments about yourself.

You may not be consciously aware that you’ve made these silent agreements with yourself.  But with a little digging, you can uncover these silent agreements, make new affirming agreements and be on your way to revealing your true self.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Take responsibility for only those things you have absolute control of.
  2. Use affirmations, positive self-talk to overcome fear and self-doubt.
  3. Learn to use no as a complete sentence without explanation when saying yes infringes unduly on your time, energy and desires.
  4. Make sure your needs register on the priority scale.  Carve out some “self-care” time to replenish your energy and clear your mind of clutter.
  5. Use empowering words like, “I choose” instead of “I have to” so that you are expressing clearly what you want, can do and are willing to accept.

Our silent agreements only serve to deceive others and us as we hide our true selves.

To learn more about how silent agreements influence your daily life and to uncover your true self, I encourage you to start by getting my book, Master the Genie Within where you will gain more insight, tools and resources to help you on your journey.