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Friendship

June 25, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

I drove to Santa Barbara to be with my friend who I have known for twenty-five years. We don’t get enough face-to-face time because she no longer lives in California, as I do.

Isn’t it the best knowing you are going to be with someone who gets you, who carries your HISTORY, who could care less if you wear MAKE UP? We know we LOVE each other. We have been able to mend the hurt we caused or the blind spots that kept us from really “SEEING” and “BEING” with each other. Both of us have been through struggles and pain as well as celebrations and joy. LIFE, we share it…

It is fun for me to pack treats for her that she can’t easily access: apricots, peaches, blueberries, sierra gold potatoes, California Rose and Red wine, Los Angeles local yogurt, cheese and crackers. with a side of olives and homemade hummus. Of course, there is always room for desserts, orange zest pound cake; yes, it is full of butter, and macaroon drop cookies.

Our RHYTHMS are so similar. We are early risers who like to chat over coffee at home and then get out the door to explore. NEGOTIATING is effortless; CHANGING the plans doesn’t cause TANTRUMS, and the one listening more than TALKING, doesn’t feel being USED nor self-centered.

We wouldn’t be FRIENDS this long if we DENIED how each of us sees things. “That didn’t happen, that’s not how it came down,” nor do we NAME CALL when sharing feelings, “Oh you are so SENSITIVE.” We don’t feel SUPERIOR to the other and we don’t change the SUBJECT to lead the other off course.

Each of us has learned how to SELF-CARE, “Sorry, I have to go to bed. I’m tired.” “Ugh, I am spinning that disappointment in my head that I told you about yesterday. I can’t stop re playing what happened. I know we talked about it already. Would you remind me, again, what might help me right NOW and wait until I get PAPER and PENCIL to take notes?”

Our EXPECTATIONS are in check. I need to eat more often than she does. I like being outside, so she knows that request is coming her way. I know she likes to have directions ahead of time of exactly where the hike, museum, play, restaurant, etc., is located. Relying on apps isn’t enough security for her.

Laughing and made up words always arrive. The SCHMONGON SISTERS will be there for LOUPINOFFS. Then we get into stories that can turn our FANTASY IDEAS into playful thoughts that the WORLD just has to have. We talk about our past relationships, projects that slid down the drain, not feeling the AGE that shows up in the morning MIRROR, fun experiences we have had, personal and world dreams for tomorrow, and of course, family. We chat about the UNKNOWN and conclude, sometimes, that for now, this is how it is.

Friendships, at any age after COLLEGE and beyond, seem to be more difficult to CULTIVATE, especially if you live in a BIG city or aren’t part of a face-to-face work or INTEREST group community. Have you noticed that too?

For others, it is not that they need MORE friends. It is that they long for deeper more MEANINGFUL conversations and the COURAGE to say STOP IT to the same old conversations and then be able to head in a new direction for connecting.

Maybe it will be helpful to get a view from above yourself and ponder the question, “WHAT WOULD I LIKE IN A FRIENDSHIP? WHAT DO I HAVE TO GIVE and WHAT WOULD I LIKE TO RECEIVE THESE DAYS?”

What I learned when facilitating my workshops about friends is that they want more inclusion, they want to be asked questions that maybe they haven’t thought about, and they want less texting. They feel they have creativity and wisdom to share but everyone is hurried or has agendas and they don’t know how to interject what they want to give the friend.

TAKE GOOD CARE,
Natalie

Mentoring

June 20, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

If you know me, you know I love mentoring. No one wants to develop his or her life without support. I have had help and am daily grateful.

You know how you have an idea and you are flowing along and then you lose momentum? It happens. What I hope for you is that along with the reality that energy shifts, that you also remind yourself not to allow your inner critic to add fuel to your STOP ZONE.”

You get all these ideas. You start and then as usual, you are all talk and no action. What is wrong with you?” Does that critic voice sound familiar? It happens to all of us in our creative process and in our creativity with our relationships.

What helps me is to EXPECT that at some point I will get STUCK and I will also hear the loud cymbals of my inner CRITIC in my head.

IF YOU KNOW it is natural for the critic to arrive, you will be less punishing towards yourself than having blinders on that all will go well every day and that you can always figure it out by yourself. Sometimes you need a sounding board or an expert in the field.

When your inner critic is diminishing you, you can say, “THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I am uncertain about my next step and this happens to everyone. So BUG off.”

You move into a more compassionate, empowering voice. You CAN’T get rid of your inner critic and you CAN give it LESS of your time.

I have also noticed in mentoring others, whether it is re-inventing their careers, re-entering the world after a long pause, or helping them map out a plan for their project that is reality vs. fantasy based, that people feel badly telling me they only have so much money in their budget for me to help them.

I welcome your asking me for what you do and don’t want. It is your time and your money. Sometimes people call and don’t know what they want or how to organize their thoughts and actions.

My job is to ask the questions for you to pause and then discover what is true for you and what you need. It is vulnerable for some to come to the table with what they think is a “boring dish or no dish at all.” You are still welcome at the table.

No worries, I have been there, so I understand the not knowing where to begin or what to ask for when it comes to being supported.

Take good care,
Natalie

Father’s Day

June 16, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

Adoption or birth of a child, fathers are ecstatic playing with their children. The love they give and receive changes them. Sure, you hear the stories of how they are showing up more by getting time off and taking it from work and how some are happily taking the role of care-taker as their wives drive off to work.

What I have been hearing from couples is the dream come true stories of finally being able to AFFORD to be parents and the TEAMING with their partner from spontaneously figuring out how to parent.

More and more couples are getting dogs first to see how well they do with teaming and getting up and out the door early or after work to walk the dog.

Some fathers have talked about how different they are parenting than their dad did, “my dad was more quiet about asking me questions about my friendships or school. I am more chatty with my eight year old daughter than he was.”

Fathers stare at the beauty of their child and are drawn into the deep automatic love they are feeling. It pauses them from the other roles they carry in the family.
I always hear, “I had no idea how tired we would be and how in love we have fallen for our child. I am changed by this love. I just want to do all I can to be here for them.

I do at times miss the free weekends we had before birthday parties and soccer games, but I will get better at having the grand parents help out and not feeling like I am missing out by not being with my kids.”

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY. THANK YOU. THANK YOU, for teaching and being love.

Natalie

Try Something You Don’t Typically Do

June 15, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

Change: I think women and men have lived with themselves long enough to know what they enjoy, what they are good at, and what people acknowledge about them.

I wasn’t surprised when I asked the women to write a short response to those above questions and many felt stuck. They said, “I don’t know what to write.” Part of the stuckness is we focus on the problem solving that is needed for the day or the TO DO LIST, don’t you think?

Who shares during a walk with a friend or dinner or at work, what is awesome about them or what compliments people passed to them during the week? My guess is not too many people. You know why that doesn’t happen; bragging, self- centered, so what, and the thoughts in your head go on and on as to why not talk about the JOY of YOU.

Do you think it is self-centered? Do you think it is boring? Do you think it goes nowhere so you don’t bring it up where as “issues” ignite more of a back and forth conversation? What do you think?

Well, I invite you this week to share the JOY OF YOU. Share and ask your friends, colleagues, kids, parents, partners, what they enjoy, what they are good at, and what acknowledgments people have given them over the months?

PS – The last one might be the most challenging. Awkward is normal, so go ahead and be, “normally awkward.” People get to PASS if they don’t want to respond to the questions when you ask them, just a heads up about that happening because it could happen.

Share with us. Leave a comment or email. We will listen and even get inspired by the JOY OF YOU.

Have fun,
Natalie

Graduation

June 9, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

A major life transition is happening in May and June; high school, college, and grad school graduations. What I have been hearing from parents is how proud they are as their tears touch their face.

They can’t believe they are viewing their child, grown, and crossing the stage to receive that diploma. For some families, it hasn’t been an easy relationship and today they are choosing to celebrate the milestone.

Parents shared how much they love having family together, creating more happy memories. They miss those who have died and aren’t in the room. Some feel their discomfort of being divorced or widowed. A range of feelings and thoughts quickly visit parents during graduation ceremonies and parties.
Among the hugs, gift giving, and pass the salad, parents are wondering, NOW WHAT? How often will I hear from my kids and who will I become now that my children need me less. Honestly and embarrassingly they share, I STILL NEED THEM.

I should get over it and make a better life for myself. I should be grateful my kid graduated and are more independent. I should have been more fun and not just have been the disciplinarian or worrier. I should have let them have more sleepovers. The SHOULD list goes on and on.

What I have noticed is we all spend time listing lists of shoulds and coulds. Those lists occupy our mind, keep us busy so to speak, and also help us reflect.

When I asked the parents, WHAT WILL YOU MISS, the feeling in the room changed. When I asked, WHAT WON’T YOU MISS, laughter arrived. When I asked, WHAT DO YOU APPRECIATE ABOUT YOURSELF AS A PARENT, few hands rose to share. It took a bit more time to dig in and find what values and meaning they feel they add to their child’s life.

Complementing ourselves gets buried because we judge it as bragging. BRAG ON. It was easier for parents to chat about the loneliness they feared and some anxiety about what their relationship with their kids would be like NOW. What’s the new role for the grads and the parents?

CONGRATULATIONS PARENTS. You have been the teacher and the student on this journey towards graduation with your children. LOVE, oh what it asks us to be and do!

Take good care,
Natalie

I Can’t Shift Out of My Bad Mood

June 6, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | One Comment

A group of fun women asked me, “What do you do when you are in a funk?” I replied, “I seek and see beauty. I feel best when I get out the door.”

Last week I was feeling disappointed. I could not muster up forgiveness or compassion to shift my funk. No matter what I was saying to myself, I was not feeling any better. So, I coached myself to throw on my leggings, big t-shirt, and drive to one of my favorite neighborhoods. I let go of taking my camera since it was one more thing to do and what I really needed was to get out the door and not change my mind.

Harder to coach myself out of bed since it was 6:00 am but the love of beauty and silence in the world at that hour, got me in the car. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going but I knew the homes and landscapes in that neighborhood made me feel like I was on vacation in paradise. I parked the car, taking my keys and cell phone. Neither people nor cars were moving for about twenty minutes of my walk. There were unexpected ravens sounding as they flew above and squirrels crossing on fences. Then a man and his black dog, then two guys on their bikes, and one male runner. No women.

Roses, hydrangeas, birch trees, magnolia leaves and buds, big house gates, modern and contemporary. I stared at the roots of trees bursting through lawns and sprawling beyond their home. HEAVEN FOR ME to be an early walker in this BEAUTY. The beauty easily held me. Nothing but what I was seeing was on my mind. Sadness was gone.

I thanked myself and my spirits for getting me out of my HEAD, “Oh, it won’t be that much fun, just rest because later you won’t have enough energy for the day. Blah blah blah.”

You know I talk about how we all have an orchestra within us and it helps to have access to more than the drummer or violin voice. Thank goodness, my beauty seeker VOICE got the attention that morning. I don’t know about you but I have this loving habit of saying THANK YOU, often. “THANK YOU FOR GETTING ME INTO BEAUTY. THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME WHAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER.” Can you relate to bad moods and so wanting them to end?

I am sharing some of what made me SO HAPPY. Glad I had my cell phone as a camera so I could re-visit the beauty of the morning.

Take care,
Natalie

Confusion

May 31, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

My friend invited me to come join she and her six friends for a brunch at her house and lead a discussion about UNCERTAINTY.

I began with a story about a woman I know. She wanted me to share this story, not her real name. Nicole has two children and lives solo. Actually, her husband is in the same house she lives in but in separate bedrooms. She has lived in separate bedrooms for two years. Most of their interaction is data based about work, schedules, finances, and health in the family. They attend “events” together but not always.

Nicole does not have her head in the sand. She knows this is not an ideal way to partner. She also knows this is what she can HANDLE for now. She has gotten advice from lawyers, therapists, family members, friends, colleagues all wondering what is she waiting for when she knows this is a dead end partnering?

WAITING. There is always an orchestra of voices within giving advice of what to do. “Just pull the band aid off and get it over with. It will never be the right time. Oh, but there is so much that the two of you had that was great. Find that again. You aren’t getting any younger and soon you will have slim pickings. You are just stuck in fear choices rather than love choices. Did you meditate on it or ask for a night dream? You made a commitment. You need to keep it.”

Uncertainty can birth new parts of you to help you through the not knowing yet, like living with DISCOMFORT, being extra KIND to yourself rather than the critic or PUSHER buzzing in your ears, and LOYALTY to self, meaning make time to PAUSE and check in with you: How are you? (I’m scared and lonely). How else are you (I’m so mad at him and can’t stop thinking about that and then I am mad at me.) Those are examples of how to check in with yourself. Also ask yourself, WHAT do I NEED TODAY? “I need to take a drive with good music playing and then get out of the car for a walk in the city. Stimulation around me that is uplifting. “What else might you need today, “to brave up and ask my partner what he is thinking about our future.”

I hope I stay curious about why someone is doing or not doing what they are doing and not jump to fixing or advising. When asked what to do by a friend, I hope I take the time to BE with them, listen, bring some questions to the discussion, and ask if they want me to offer some thoughts that I have right now. Yes, to engage with them and participate in their pondering. When you love someone, you just want to MAKE IT ALL BETTER and better might be not having an answer, saying that, and sitting with each other in that energy of not knowing yet.
Take good care,
Natalie

Embarrassed

May 25, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

Can You Relate To This Story?

“If I tell them that I feel anxious, I am afraid they won’t include me. It just seems easier to be in the cult of wellness that is talking about cycling, juicing with added turmeric, organic food, meditation, getting into nature. Right now I am going through BIG CHANGES and I want to talk about how anxious I am. I want to talk about how I don’t like change. I get irritable and feel angry.”

Articles and books talk about, “SEVEN TIPS TO PEACE,” Tips, this is my life, not a how to make a flowerpot. I am deep in the dirt about the uncertainty of where my life is headed.

Honestly, I don’t want tips or tools. I think if I had to name what I want, it is comfort from another. Focus on ME. Well, that was hard to say out loud. FOCUS ON ME. Sounds selfish. Listen and then maybe say something like,” Wow, that must feel horrible today. I too would be so disappointed, anxious, if I were living that right now.”

I think I would feel less embarrassed and more able to speak up about my anxiety if others talked about being anxious at times. Story time about anxious experiences. I can’t be the only one who walks around feeling uncomfortable about entering a room, making a phone call, shopping, going to a wedding. Yes. I not only am so uncomfortable with these changes I am living, but just ordinary social life can spin me at times.

My friend shared, “Maybe we all lack the practice of forgiveness. Maybe we could add stories of how we had to forgive ourselves to the topic list of true stories we share with each other.

Take good care,

Natalie

It’s Just Not Working

May 17, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

One of my friends is a painter, the other a writer and one a geek, as she says. When we were at dinner, we talked about the chaos of the world, the frustration of people talking on their cell phones in restaurants, and hurt feelings.

I also shared about my thinking about the life of a scientist. They are trying to discover something they have never known, what a thrill that must be and for sure a frustration. They seem to live a different mindset about risking and not having things work out. At times, I for sure am too attached to getting what I am reaching towards, but better than I use to be at, “well, just keep going, let that go.”

We all talked about how we, “stay too long at the fair.” All the signs are there that you need to walk away and yet we plow forward. It’s a drought here.

Each of us has had to walk away from friendships that were self-centered or negative. Oh man, that was painful. I have worked at putting my voice in the room and being “straight forward, throwing the arrow,” as I call it, This is a conversation I once had, “I feel used. You call me when you have problems and then you have to go. I would like you to call and ask about my day and how I am doing. We have talked about this before. What’s your take on what this is all about?”

All of us at dinner agreed we have to walk away sooner and stop the conversations that are repetitive with no action changes. Two of us are what we call peacemakers and one is more cut throat.

What makes it easy and what makes it challenging to ask for what you want? Well, if I am in a good place that day, I go for it. If my doubter has grabbed me, maybe I don’t speak up. If I remind myself I won’t die from taking this risk, then I laugh and go for it. When I say, this is hard to say, as an intro, so please listen and let’s pause at times, then I step up. Oh, just pull the Band-Aid off and go for it. You don’t have to plan and be so kind. Guess who says that?

“My time is too valuable to spend with people who are takers and non-listeners almost all of the time.” They say they get it and yet they do the same same over and over when we get together. Well, my time matters and still I have a long history with that friend and walking away is so sad.

I wonder, does the GIVER actually get to feel more in CONTROL, which is their comfort zone? There are two sides, the plus of the GIVER and the blind spot of the GIVER. Ah, the birth of the SCIENTIST. There it is… We shall see.

Take good care,

Natalie

Mother’s Day Is Over

May 16, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | 5 Comments

Can you relate to this story?

“We’re here, parking the car,” said the ringing text on my phone. Door opens and in walks my kids, dog, grocery bags, and presents for Mom. Honestly, I just want that hand-written love letter about what a great mom I am. Oh, I see the card. Yippee. Who doesn’t want that love letter? Come on. You know you re- read long after this day ends.

They are cooking brunch. They know my favorites: lox, red onion, olive bread, goat cheese, apricot jam, guacamole, cucumbers, pumpkin muffins, and a hot coffee latte. Easy. Delicious. We sit on the patio in jeans. I am so happy.

The house is quiet now. They are back to their lives. I am still re-inventing mine, again. Checking emails. Going for a late walk and wondering, now what?

I know I need to re-focus how I want to spend my non-working time and with whom. I thought it would be easy at this stage of life, but my interests and friends have changed.

People in the big city seem to live on a routine. Have you noticed that? It isn’t easy fitting in friendship time or making new friends, let alone traffic and parking. I am not giving up. There is a tribe for me. One or two meaningful friends will do.

Anyhow. I know I need to meander wider and deeper about my passions. I want to get lost in them and then look up at my phone and say, I can’t believe how fast this day has gone. So fun!

Time to be more playful. When I throw myself into things I love to do, I am so happy. I will re- visit my WHAT’S FUN FOR ME and then begin.

Wishing you ease in finding your passions and then doing them.

Natalie

Questions I Have Been Asked This Year: Life in Transition

May 15, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

 

Whether empty nest, divorce, new career, re-locating, illness, loss, grand parenting, friendship, etc., there were common questions asked in my groups, one on one and by my friends. I wonder if you can relate?

 

1. I have done all I can do to make this work and it isn’t. I feel frustrated, sad, and defeated. I thought if we had open, listening, asking, responding, discussions that we could work this out. Why doesn’t talking about it and negotiating our differences lead to a happy solution? Why? Could it be you are asking for something where the skills aren’t there in that person and the person is telling you that they don’t want to work at making those new skills happen?

2. I am always the one who reaches out to get together. We have fun. Then I don’t hear from that person. What the heck is that about? Maybe another question is, “what would happen if you asked that person why you haven’t heard from them?” Vulnerable I know.

3. I can’t believe how sad I am about my son leaving for college. Really, this is a reason to be sad? We have been preparing for this for years. What’s up with me? When you love someone and they aren’t going to be around as often, of course you are sad. Who wouldn’t be?

You may be dropping into the deeper grieving that the role you loved as parent is changing and you don’t know what the new role will be? They lead more now and you might be feeling a little more in the background of their new journey. What are you feeling and thinking about at this stage of your life? What are you longing for and what had to go dormant that now wants to surface?

 

4. I am anxious, depressed. It is not only the chaos and changes in our country, it is in my life. I don’t enjoy my relationship anymore and my job is boring. Too many changes at one time? One of the changes you are feeling is that you don’t have answers today. You are sitting in the unknown and that is uncomfortable for sure.

Our mind always wants answers. The unknown offers new perceptions, asking for help, patience, and trial and error. Daily practices, like being in nature, prayer, candles, music, asking for guidance from something or someone larger than you, recording your night dreams, are a few ways to receive when answers aren’t available, yet. Up your curiosity and compassion by saying something like.” I am not going to be forgotten and within me is a safe harbor, let me go there, sit, take deep breaths, put my shoulders down, and BE. You are loved.

This year and it is not over, I attended to DOING WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW I MIGHT BE GOOD AT. I know the parts of me that shine, rise up, fall in: leadership, listening, pausing, spiritual practices, communicating, problem solving together, cooking, photography, care-taking, writing, changing, weeping, silliness, and being still.

What I didn’t know was that I could accept what is for a longer stretch of time, rather than spinning in my active mind because life wasn’t as I wanted it to be that day. I am better at keeping false verses realistic expectations in check. I could enjoy the moment fuller and not have it lead to something else which discounts my joy.

I traveled more back-to-back schedules out of town and felt fantastic. I think drinking more water, carrying more protein in my purse, going for quick walks, and increasing my meditation, as well as, saying out loud to the energies that I know want to help, “walk with me, keep me aware and grounded.” As some of you know, I have an inner library of things I can try to ease pain, fear, and doubts.

You also know from our sharing stories together what spins me, what comforts me, what brings me to my knees, and how I LOVE CHANGE.

Right now, if I had a jeweled wand, we would all be sitting in our jammies sharing.

Take good care and share some of the questions you have these days. You are welcome to email me, natalie@lifeintransition.org

PS. As you noticed, I didn’t go paddle boarding. I didn’t write a book with brilliant lifesaver thoughts and helpers. I didn’t learn to code, yet.
Natalie

Mothering

May 13, 2017 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

My GIFT from making the choice to MOTHER ANOTHER is, it took me out of my rapid MIND and into my wiser HEART. That is ongoing for me. My daughter is my teacher of what love IS and ISN’T. Love is complex, a mystery, and worth it.

Mothering sits me in the unknown and invites me to shift gears. It calls me to dig for parts of me I haven’t met yet that have been waiting and waiting to be heard. Other times, it’s a fun, easy day, or gratefully, an ordinary day.

 

I have sacrificed, chosen, and deeply cared for another, which of course I thought I could do, and yet, do you really know that until you are with that person day after day, year after year?

Many mothers have shared with me their happiness, regrets, and tears of parenting. Thank goodness we have each other, even when we live cities and countries apart. We need the village. We need to share our stories and ask for help. We need to ask questions and hear suggestions. We need to talk about what we are good at, what hasn’t arrived in our lives that we thought would by now, what we lost.

What might we be open to adding and what painfully do we need to hug goodbye. Deep MEANINGFUL questions about our precious lives. I know some struggle with, WHERE IS THAT TRIBE OF PEOPLE? I HAVE BEEN LONGING TO BE WITH THEM.

I want to acknowledge that some of our mothers are gone now, and some mothers weren’t very good at mothering. We feared we wouldn’t be either, maybe by not being available or being the “helicopter mom.” We weep about that loss. We weep about PARTNERING that doesn’t happen as you thought it would. We weep about NOT GETTING the kind of child you wanted. I am beyond grateful for the COURAGE and time women sit together, call together, be together to dive deeper into conversations that add meaning to their life and ours. We feel the belonging.

Wishing you celebrations of how you have loved your children and what parenting has given to you.

Natalie

PS – How many of you have had to remind your kids SUNDAY IS MOTHER’S DAY AND YOU WANT A HAND WRITTEN LOVE NOTE?

HA HA

Natalie Caine, M.A. natalie@lifeintransition.org | 10061 Riverside Dr., Suite 1002 Toluca Lake, CA 91602 | 800-446-3310