Celebration and Ceremony

If April showers bring May flowers then what does June bring? And no, Angelenos, I’m not referring to that ‘Gloom’ that moves into town for the month, I’m referring to …

Weddings!

The prevailing thought is that June is the month for weddings – and graduations, too. Consider the similarities – they’re both splashy celebrations that herald new beginnings. They both involve walking down an aisle in a gown intended to be worn for only that occasion to music that has become identified with only that ceremony and receiving a piece of paper as confirmation of a new title. A bride receives new letters that precede her name, just like graduates receive new letters to follow theirs.

The wedding may be the start of the married phase of your life but it’s also the culmination of the single phase and oh, how it sometimes feels like you’ll never move to that next step on the ladder of your life.

How to begin? What’s the first step in getting married? Is it getting engaged? Is it becoming a couple? Is it dating? Is it having a first date? Is it finding someone to date? Is it when you decide on the list of qualities that you desire in a mate?

It starts way before that.

How well do you know yourself? How actively aware are you of your own values? And how willing are you to stand up for them? What is truly important to you and the way you choose to live your life?

I promise you it will have a much more positive impact on your life – on your dating and all future coupledom – if you seek a mate whose qualities align with your own values rather than simply creating a list of attributes (height, income and profession are attributes, not qualities) that sound exciting or fun. Attributes are only what we see on the outside; relationships are an inside job. Ultimately, a man’s sense of love and responsibility, his viewpoint on the world and your part in it, personally as a woman and together as a couple, are much more vital to your healthy, happy relationship than his height or profession. And your sense of love and responsibility and your viewpoint on the world are vital to him as well.

Do you desire more love in your life? You can have more love!

Do you want to have more fun dating? You can have more fun!

Don’t know where to start or how to get to the next rung of the relationship ladder? I would love to help! Please contact me at info@lenaehrenberg.com and we can schedule a free, 20 minute phone call so that you can tell me what you believe is holding you back and I can offer you at least one, specific, action you can take that will change your results.

What if today is the day you take an action that propels you forward into the rest of your happy, loving, romantic life!

Right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

I know my values and my value, and I seek out others who know theirs.

Foster the Power of Love!

A woman I know is dynamic, forward-thinking, focused; a power house in her career who has created success in her chosen industry. She was also in the foster care system from the time she was an infant until she was reunited with extended family at approximately the age of 4.

I asked her to what she attributes her success. Has she ever thought about her qualities, her skills, her abilities and what their origin might be?

She said that when she looked at the blood relatives with whom she spent most of her life she doesn’t see entrepreneurs, business owners, business builders. They are all, for the most part, salaried working people who couldn’t understand why she left a six-figure income to strike out on her own. She doesn’t believe she could have developed her desire or abilities by simply being around them.

“The years from infancy to 3 are vital to a child’s development and I’m convinced that my foster mom added something to my DNA that made me the way I am.”

Imagine being able to impact the life of a child to such a grand extent that you change the trajectory and ultimate outcome of her, or his, entire life! And after that child’s life has taken a positive turn the momentum takes over and changes the lives of each of the successive generations like a snowball gathering more and more snow on its way downhill.

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster mama? What action have you taken to turn that thought into a first step? Have you talked to other people who foster? Researched any agencies? Gone online to the website for your local county’s department of children’s services – ‘just to see?’

If not, why not? What’s stopping you from eternally, positively, lovingly, wisely impacting the life of a child as well as your own? What’s preventing you from creating the life you want – one that includes a child?

It’s perfectly natural to have reservations, hesitations and fears, but if you are holding yourself back because you’ve heard sad stories or you fear difficult feelings down the road please talk to someone who can help you!

May is National Foster Awareness Month. If you have ever considered becoming a foster mama I would love to help you in your journey! And if someone you know has considered it, please forward this to her, ‘cause I’d love to help her, too!

What if it’s time for you to provide a safe, loving home for a child who needs and deserves one? What if it’s time for you to become a foster mama?

Right now, take a moment and affirm for yourself:

I have been blessed with vital gifts to pass on to children with great love!

More, More, More!

The first baby that I fostered came to me in the late summer and I had her through late fall, perfect walking weather in southern California! And every single day that I was pushing that stroller I got into a conversation with at least one person who, when she heard I was fostering said, “Oh, fostering, I’ve always thought of doing that.” Honestly, I had no idea people were so aware of it and that so many single women (and men) considered doing it! I love that!

And because I love to learn about people, and places, and things (I ask a lot of questions) I would always ask them why they weren’t doing it. 90% of the time they’d say, “I could never fall in love with a child and then lose them.”

That bit of highly un-scientific research formed the basis of my decision to want to coach single women who really want to foster/adopt and can’t bring themselves to take the action necessary to do so.

How do you feel when you look forward to something that you believe will be fun? I bet you feel happy, joyful, excited. You start to feel positive feelings about a future event because you think it will cause positive feelings.

And when you look forward to something that you think will make you feel sad, uncomfortable, unhappy you start to feel sad, uncomfortable and unhappy.

Can you see that your thoughts are what are causing your feelings? They must be, because you are feeling the same things in the moment that you think you’ll feel when the event happens. Like now, you don’t even have a child and you already feel sad by only thinking about that child (who you don’t have) leaving.

One of the difficult things about being human is that we’re not supposed to be happy all the time, but oh, wouldn’t we like to be! And when we try to insulate ourselves from ever feeling negative feelings we eventually also insulate ourselves from ever feeling the joy of positive feelings, too.

You are trying to avoid a feeling that you might have in the future, and making yourself feel sad in the present – and you are denying yourself the joys that come along with all children – by choosing to not have a child in your life.

May is National Foster Awareness Month. If you have ever considered becoming a foster mama I would love to help you in your journey! And if someone you know has considered it, please forward this to her, ‘cause I’d love to help her, too!

What if it’s time for you to provide a safe, loving home for a child who needs and deserves one? What if it’s time for you to become a foster mama?

Right now, take a moment and affirm for yourself:

Once love is created it can never be lost.

Foster More Love!

Last week I told you what it was like to first become a foster mama and how much I loved it and knew, for probably the first time in my life, that I was really good at something. I mean that it’s the first time I allowed myself to allow, accept and receive, while I was in the act of doing, that I was really good at that thing.

On the morning of a very big birthday (a number that ended in ‘9’) I awoke, opened my eyes, and realized that I was very bored with my life. I had good friends, as secure a job as is possible, I paid my bills and had some money in the bank. I was living my life the way my parents had hoped. I was safe. I wasn’t happy. As I ate birthday cake for breakfast (I highly recommend this!) I started to think about what I really wanted in my life.

I love to travel, anywhere, anytime! I can get as much joy from investigating a little beachside alley on the central coast as a centuries-old passageway in a mountain village in Italy. I wanted to travel more than merely the two weeks’ allotted by my place of employment.

I wanted to run my own business, to own my own home so I wouldn’t have to ask permission to paint the walls any color but white, and in that moment the message that came to me so clearly was – I wanted to be a mama!

I knew that other women made different choices, and yet for me, I’d always thought first would come marriage and then a baby carriage, so I’d never even considered having a child on my own. I also knew that I might still have half my life to live and I didn’t want the second half to be as boring as the first.

With that acknowledgement I sat bolt upright in bed and shouted, “From now on I’m not worrying about everybody else, from now on I’m doing it MY way!” All-righty then. Now, how to proceed?

I had always done a lot of volunteering with children’s organizations – Sunday afternoon art projects with little ones, Monday night story telling and play writing with teens, and the thing all these kids had in common was, they were all in the foster care system. THAT made sense to me. There are so many kids who need safe, stable, loving homes and I had that to give. And so I began to begin.

May is National Foster Awareness Month. If you have ever considered becoming a foster mama I would love to help you in your journey! And if someone you know has considered it, please forward this to her, ‘cause I’d love to help her, too!

What if it’s time for you to provide a safe, loving home for a child who needs and deserves one? What if it’s time for you to become a foster mama?

Right now, take a moment and affirm for yourself:

As I grow to love myself more than ever I expand to love others even more!

It’s National Foster Care Awareness Month!

At 10 o’clock on a Friday night in July a county social worker brought me a 4 pound, 10 ounce, 3-week old baby girl.

To put that into context, the next time you’re in the grocery store pick up a 5-pound bag of sugar, cradle it, and remember that she was smaller than that!

4 years and 2 weeks of desire had culminated in this little bundle fast asleep in a car seat that was way too big for her. They’d rolled up towels and encircled her with them to keep her from sliding out. She was wearing a newborn-size, white dotted yellow onesie that was also way too big for her. After the social worker left I had a moment – I was terrified. But then I l picked her up and cradled her in my arms. I looked down at her and realized that she hadn’t flinched. She hadn’t cried. She wasn’t scared – she was just being her best baby self, and she trusted me. And I realized that I was worthy of her trust.

I sat holding her while I gave her a bottle – the first of what would be 2 oz every three hours, for the rest of my foreseeable future. She latched onto it and sucked it down. She knows what she’s doing. She knows how to be a baby – she’s been doing it for three weeks already. It was me who was brand new at this mama stuff. So I did what I always do – I prayed. I asked God to tell me what I had to do and the answer came immediately. You are both my beloved children. I was a child too! She and I were both God’s children and I trusted God to mother us both. It took the pressure off my head and my heart. I didn’t have to know ahead of time exactly everything I would ever need to know I only had to listen for direction. When it came to being a baby vs. a mama, she was smarter than me. She was listening and doing everything intuitively, I was the one who thought a book or a class or a mentor was the answer. Silly grownup.

I made a deal with her. Since she had three weeks’ more experience in her position than I did, I would always listen to her and follow her lead. If intuition worked for her, then it would work for me, too. And with that decision I lost my fear and stepped squarely into my Zone of Genius.

May is National Foster Awareness Month. If you have ever considered becoming a foster mama I would love to help you in your journey! And if someone you know has considered it, please forward this to her, ‘cause I’d love to help her, too!

What if it’s time for you to provide a safe, loving home for a child who needs and deserves one? What if it’s time for you to become a foster mama?

Right now, take a moment and affirm for yourself:

I have such an abundance of love that I have surplus to give!

Perfectly Imperfect

According to news reports loneliness is becoming a world wide epidemic. We have the technology in our purses and pockets to enable us to communicate with people on the other side of the globe, and yet we are feeling lonelier than ever.

Last week I wrote – During all the years I didn’t like myself, the years when I lived an insulated life spending much more time alone than with other people, it was easy to believe slights were intentional because that supported the negative feelings I had about myself. I thought others were mean to me because deep inside I felt I deserved it, because I believed there was something about me that was horribly wrong.

Are you creating the loving connections you want to have in your life? Or do you feel separate and alone? And if so, why? Do you believe that people are mean to you, don’t like you, don’t understand you? The way we think about ourselves informs the way we think about others, and about the way we think others think about us. Yup, I know – go back and read it again.

If you weren’t thinking negative thoughts about yourself you wouldn’t assume that others were thinking them too. And if, deep down inside, you felt good about yourself it wouldn’t matter to you if they did think, or even say, negative things.

What do you think of you? Have you asked yourself that question and waited long enough to hear the answer? Or are you scared to even ask?

What if you make this the day you begin to love yourself?

When we don’t like ourselves we assume that other people don’t like us either. When we can’t love ourselves we believe we are unlovable. When we criticize ourselves we also judge others. Judgment is simply an overflow of self-loathing. We fill ourselves to the brim with our own self-judgment and whatever we can’t contain spills over into our thoughts, feelings and eventually actions toward others. Do you see how this ties in with isolation and loneliness? Self-loathing convinces you that you are not likable which makes you feel separate from others and judging others makes you feel separate from them as well. How can you create connections with people from whom you feel separate?

We are living in times of hyper polarity. Too many of us think things (and people) are all good or all bad. That reasoning is unreasonable and it is destroying our ability to build community. Humans don’t work that way. We can’t. You can’t. You cannot continue to believe you are all wrong and unworthy simply because there are certain things about yourself you might like to change. You can’t continue to villainize others for displaying human failings. And you certainly can’t keep focusing on what’s wrong and expect to co-create a loving relationship.

Right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

I am lovable and worthy and perfectly imperfect.

What’s Your Story?

In the 8 or 9 months I was actively dating online before my last relationship I met a lot of men who were smart and communicative and considerate, who showed up where they said they would when they said they would and were interested in getting to know me. They were simply not for me. No drama, just not a match. This is my story about online dating, what I dwell on. In that time I blocked 2, maybe 3, men who were totally inappropriate in the initial interactions. That is not my story about online dating, not what I dwell on. But it sure is some people’s story. I bet you’ve heard that refrain – “All men online are…” or “Every woman I meet is…” Have you even belted out a few choruses yourself?

Here’s a generalization for you 😉 – it seems to me that generalizations tend to be negative. And they’re all encompassing, too! ALL men. EVERY woman. And just like the words that come out of our own mouths, the words that come from other people can damage our belief systems. They become a thought that we often, unconsciously, accept as fact. What if you decide right now that you will consciously choose to think only positive, prosperous, uplifting thoughts?

During all the years I didn’t like myself, the years when I lived an insulated life spending much more time alone than with other people, it was easy to believe slights were intentional because that supported the negative feelings I had about myself. My story was that people were mean to me. I felt I deserved it, because I believed there was something about me that was horribly wrong. The more I went out looking for proof of my wrongness the more I found because I was acting out in ways that created the results that proved me right. After I’d gone through a big chunk of my transformational work and realized how it had all been a self-fulfilling prophesy, I went out into the world and started bumping up against people and making mistakes. I realized that people may be offended by things I say or do, but it’s not my intention to offend. I’m going about my business, living my life for me, not purposefully living my life against others. Now when I catch myself wondering if I may have been slighted I give people the benefit of the doubt. It enables interaction and connection, which creates an environment in which relationships can develop. And that had to start with me changing my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. I had to change my own behavior.

Before I started my work I was a nice person, but I didn’t always act like one. I had taken on behaviors that didn’t suit me, that didn’t serve me – or anyone else. I had to peel off that behavior in order to be approachable and available enough to create true relationships. That’s what’s at the crux of a lot of self-growth work – not so much changing who you are on the inside, but peeling away the outer shell and presenting who you are on the inside. It can be scary to be so vulnerable. But a truth I discovered during all those years of insulation – it’s much more scary to not be vulnerable and to spend so much time alone.

Right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

I consciously choose to think only positive, prosperous, uplifting thoughts!

Say What?

I’ve been thinking about the idea that affirmations are not magic spells or incantations. They are positive statements of fact to be repeatedly affirmed to yourself so that you can replace the negative thoughts you’ve got playing on endless loop. You might not even realize that the thoughts you think create the feelings you have. And the feelings you have cause the actions you take. But I bet you do know that it’s the actions you take that create the results you get.

The English language Is really interesting. And confusing. Often the phrase, “I think” is seen to lack power, to mean a lack of surety. As in, “Do you just think it or do you know it for sure?” When in actuality the thoughts we think have a lot of power. The thoughts we think and the things we say out loud create surety without our being aware of it. What we think becomes what we believe. To quote Abraham-Hicks –

Beliefs are simply thoughts we keep on thinking.

Our words have power when they are in our heads and they gain power exponentially when they come out of our mouths. What we think is what we believe and what we hear ourselves say drives the point home faster and more firmly. I marvel at the number of people who, when they become aware of a negative statement they’ve just made, say, “Oh, I don’t really mean that, it’s just a figure of speech. It’s not a big deal.” A) Then why say it? B) No, it’s not just a figure of speech. C) Yes it is a big deal. Not only do you mean it, you are making it your reality.

In Matthew 15:11, (KJV) Jesus, when challenged on the disciples’ lack of respect for dining traditions said, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

It’s as true today as it was then.

What thought would you think if you knew it would change your life?

What words would you say if you knew they would speed up the process?

I believe that you can create more positive results in your life – the results that you want for your life – by making consistent, positive changes in your thoughts, words, feelings and actions. Why wait? Right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

I honor my self with positive thoughts and amplify my thoughts with positive words.

Risk and Reward

I’ve recently learned of the passing of a few people who touched my life.

Over the years I’ve developed friendships with some women who were much older than I, and saw them as honored, trusted friends and advisers. These women had good, happy, long lives – cause to celebrate! Yet I feel just as sad as I would if the circumstances had been different. In one case it was different. One of the people was a man I ‘saw’ only on Facebook, although his being a contemporary of mine made it harder to accept. It was so unexpected.

Are you someone who is comfortable speaking about death, eternity, transitions, goodbyes, or does the sense of loss and unknowing cause you so much discomfort that you ignore it? I don’t know if it’s something I’ll ever feel comfortable doing, but it’s a necessary part of living a compassionate life, isn’t it? We have to learn how to comfort each other – or at the very least, simply be with someone in need of support.

Transitions and goodbyes are not always about death, although some of us treat them as if they are and are just as scared to experience them. Do you construct strong walls around your heart in order to save yourself from the possible heartache of a relationship ending? Do you believe that the pain you will feel will be so intolerable that you couldn’t possibly bear it, so you decide you’d rather not risk it at all? The unfortunate thing is what you are actually giving up is not the pain of separation, because you don’t know for sure it will end – and end badly at that. What you are absolutely losing out on is the joy you would experience by being in the relationship! I am willing to bet that would outweigh the sadness, but you’ll never know it.

What if the emotions you fear having down the road are actually not as intense as the suffering you are subjecting yourself to now, in anticipation? What if an emotion in its pure form, without the resistance that adds an extra weight, is actually more bearable than the angst you envision that makes you hide?

How would your life be different if you take action from anticipation of joy rather than assumption of sorrow?

When I had the honor of being a full-time foster mama I took that baby out for a walk every day, and every day, as I was pushing that stroller I met women who said that they’d always wanted to foster. When I asked each of them why they weren’t doing it, 90% of them said, “I could never become attached to a baby and have to let it go.”

Our lives are a series of meetings and partings, with various time intervals and intensities of association in between. After the baby went to another home I cried for a week. One week. If I’d decided ahead of time that a parting would be too much to bear, and that I couldn’t engage as a foster mama at all because of it, I would have missed all the joy and laughter I experienced for four months– and that is what I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life!

After a while when you protect yourself from ever feeling negative emotions you’ll also be insulating yourself from experiencing all the good! You need to feel some discomfort in life in order to appreciate, understand, experience, the contrast of the good. Allow in the love, laughter, joy! Right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

Emotions enrich me and I am willing and able to feel all the emotions that a full life brings!

Your True Self Can Shine!

Wow, here I am about to write my second post in a row. Really in a row, not with a year separating them. I’m on a schedule and I’m stickin’ to it!

I’ll admit to you, I’m feeling trepidation. Not because I don’t want to write to you, because I am taking a huge step across the valley of fear that in the past has stopped me from achieving my goals and dreams. That voice in my head (I call her Nellie) is screaming, and my heart is pounding. Writing per schedule rather than per inspired whim is one way to show up for myself.

What if, rather than letting it stop me, I allow myself to feel all the feels and keep on going? What might happen? I guess we’ll all find out at the end of this post, now won’t we? ‘Cause I’m going forward, with or without Nellie’s approval!

What will it take for you to make the changes necessary to have the life you want? This was a question I asked myself over and over before I ever sought out personal coaching, and when I figured out the answer I was able to take action.

There were two pivotal points for me to finally make a start – the first was the moment I realized that I had lived in three different states and had many, many different jobs and friends and first dates. I had changed all of the circumstances in my world over and over, and I was still having the same results. It occurred to me that if my life were a science experiment I was the only constant, and in that moment it clicked – if I wanted my life to be different I had to be different. If I wanted my life to change I had to change. And this led to the second pivot –

I didn’t have to change “myself” as if there was something wrong with me. That thought scares off a lot of people from ever self-examining at all – “Nope, can’t look in there, I might find something horrible, so I’ll stay over here and believe I’m perfect and my life is in the hands of other people.” It keeps people scared and sad and stuck. And I don’t believe it’s true. There isn’t anything wrong with you, although there may be something in the way you are presenting yourself to the world that is giving the world the wrong impression of you.

I used to display behaviors that were simply not supporting the way I wanted to be in the world. And they weren’t even truly mine, they were things I’d picked up from others and allowed to overlay the person I truly was. Rather than changing “myself” what I really needed to do was shed the weight of this wrong behavior and allow “mytrueself” to shine.

Remember, I believe that you are in exactly the right place and this is exactly the right time. So right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

I am creating positive change in my life right now.