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January 2010: "Are You Vacationing?"

There is nothing like unplugging from a quest to reach dreams or goals or a desire to "get to" other than where we are and to just enjoy the moment, as so often can happen on a vacation.

Truly, to vacation and experience a world that is vastly rich with peoples and cultures and new ways to traverse this experience we call life allows for a richer and deeper appreciation for what we choose in our lives. To vacation is not "the right thing to do;" however, if you are such a person who does not vacation, have you considered what you "might not know that you might not know" and could experience and learn from?

Perhaps for me the key factor in the importance of taking vacations is based on the fact that as a military kid moving from one state to the next every two to three years, and even to a foreign country, there was always a reason to vacation. Oftentimes we didn't spend a lot of money to vacation; however, vacations were always important for our well-being.

Mom was an avid historian and would research our next vacation each time we would move to the next city. She found numerous historical cities, along with the wonderful federal and state parks that are naturally rich with history and nature, throughout the United States. She drove us through the country visiting sites such as the huge sculptures of the four best Presidents representing the first 150 years American history. We visited the massive dam of Niagara Falls, outside of Buffalo, New York, which holds back thousands of tons of water which pours over a 180 feet high cliff that is over a half of a mile wide, while at the same time feeling the spray of mist that displays wonderful perpetual rainbows. We walked across a plank laid across a tiny, muddy trickle of the assumed head of the 2350 mile long Mississippi River in Itasca State Park, Minnesota, and later, we were amazed by a visit to the Gulf of Mexico where the huge mouth of the river culminates.

Our idea of vacationing brings back fond memories of no television, no radios, not an MP3 player in sight nor thankfully needed. Instead we talked and sang and played games such as how many different state license plates we could find along our travels. We spent valuable and now longed-for time together on our vacations. We traveled in big old wood-paneled station wagons and stayed in inexpensive clean little motels or vacation rentals on military bases rented for a modest fee along the way. One summer we traveled in an old silver Airstream trailer and camped along the way. We sat around campfires at night while listening and laughing to wonderful stories told by my parents or fellow campers visiting the same campground. It was a pre-fast food environment, and my very favorite place was Howard Johnson's where we would stop after a roadside picnic for dessert on special vacation occasions, and I could order my favorite Peppermint Stick ice cream.

I knew that life was great. We were on vacation, and I was with people I loved.

Dad was an avid fisherman and when we weren't moving from state to state or country to country, the "in-between" years we would be at some little fishing resort that would take a family of 4-8 kids, depending on the year, with fishing gear, aluminum skiffs, and a ski boat where he would drive madly around the lakes with kids in tow either solo or in tandem, depending upon the boat of the season and how large the motor was. This was the basis of the years I have spent on sailing the oceans of the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean, I'm sure. Dad would take off to fish in solitude while the rest of us would swim, fish, or sit around and read books with each other and get lost in a story alone. Often, we'd set up our meals on picnic tables outside with fellow resort vacationers and learn new things from new perspectives.

Ah! The realization that life beyond our own imaginations was plentiful and rich and waiting to be discovered!

When we moved to Europe, Mother's itineraries spread from tiny little Moroccan cities in España to huge cathedrals in Italy and cities in France where she and my father might have visited previously during their assignments during WWII. Dad being the water person that he was would choose vacations along the Costa del Sol in beach cities such as Benidorm, Barcelona, and Sitges.

Ah yes, vacations are important. To have accomplished what I have of which I am proud, my accomplishments have been based in my choice to continue my family tradition of vacationing. While I no longer stop at Howard Johnson's, I have had the pleasure of going camping just a few short miles from my own town deliciously isolated from the 'city life' lights and hustle and bustle while sitting next to a crackling fire under a star-studded sky, while laughing with family and friends and fellow campers. Or visiting the wonderful people of Fiji and SCUBA diving while taking movies and pictures of sharks being fed inches away from me; and visiting the Oktoberfest in Munich with friends from Germany and Austria; and sailing for 10 days in the British Virgin Islands, dropping anchor in deserted little anchorages and plunging into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea; or traveling to Europe with an inexpensive Euroraíl pass, getting on and off the trains for visits to "Youth Hostels" where albeit the water wasn't always hot in the showers but the beds were welcome and clean, while traveling the Bay of Biscay where Napoleon's wife, Josephine, had her estate, or a customized pizza was served to me in Brindisi, Italy, or ouzo was served to me in a Café Neon in Crete, Greece.

Because of vacations, I have been able to indulge in a favorite passion: to study people and cultures throughout the world; all along, getting to know the people of the world and learning to love the wonderful earth on which we live. What is available beyond my automatic ways-of-being in my life always opens my views wider and assist me in appreciating life for what I knew not.

Are you vacationing?


Patricia Hirsch, MBA, Master Certified Coach and Chief Empowerment Officer with Design Your Life Coaching

January 2010: "Five Premises that Shape Your Life"

Carol Harris-Fike supports clients who desire to explore where they are and where they are going in their lives. These are people who may feel just slightly "off track" with the life they dreamed they would live. With Carol's support they can make adjustments that support being "in the flow" with their lives. The wisdom she has gained through her education, training, avocations, and especially her life experiences greatly influence how she supports her clients… and herself. Carol shares the following five premises through her articles, books, and coaching practice, as well as her presentations.

Premise One: Awareness that each of us creates our own reality. All of us live with a world-view conditioned by our own individual and cultural experiences. These even differ among siblings as each "sees" life a little differently. We react… take action… based on this unique reality. Thus, everything an individual does says much more about that person than it does about those with whom they are interacting. Carol believes that everyone is doing his or her best at any given moment. Best for each person may not be best for those around them because if a person is living within a unique reality, he or she only sees things from that viewpoint. When Carol learned to step back and examine her reality and then the possible realities (viewpoints) of others, she saw clearly how seemingly hurtful words and actions may not appear the same to the other person… may not be intentionally about her and only all about the other person. When she is paying attention to this premise she can choose to not react against the actions of the other person or choose to have a conversation to clarify what has happened with the other person and see if an understanding and/or reconciliation can be reached. This awareness creates an understanding that we do not always know in exactly what reality the other person lives AND that we may be served by examining the reality we are creating for ourselves. When Carol was a public school administrator she sometimes received complaints from parents about how the teachers and the principal of a school were unfair to their child. As she practiced tuning into the reality of this parent, the majority of the time she found that the parent saw the unfairness from only their reality. Carol could then reassure the parent that she understood their perspective and then could explain the perspective of the school, which would usually solve the problem. Most people just want to know someone understands even more than they want the world changed to suit them. As we become aware of this premise we can learn to examine our own reality and understand that the other person's may be quite different. Then, and only then, can we begin to understand what may be closer to the actual truth and the next action we may choose.

Premise Two: Awareness that each of us has a choice. We have a choice to break out of our personal dream of reality and become an observer of ourselves and those around us. We have a much wider choice in the actions we take based on our observations. Ontological coaching distinctions include the idea of stepping back and observing ourselves and those around us to discover new opportunities for action. Once Carol began to observe the patterns in her life that were not serving her, she transformed how she lives her life. She discovered that her dream of being in a "perfect" relationship with a "perfect" man was just a dream. (This applied to all kinds of relationships, including careers.) Accepting that it was possible to repair trust and that trust includes maintenance work, deeply affected Carol's life. She is now in a great marriage based on good communication where neither person expects the other to read his or her mind (always understand the other person's reality). The relationship is based on the idea that trust is maintained by checking things out… not taking them personally and living with assumptions. Carol also has also learned that a balanced life can and will support a great career… one that is her pure bliss… it is her choice.

Premise Three: Awareness that we are energy beings… that like everything in the world we are made of energy. Energy is the way we connect with each other, our pets, and perhaps the sunset. The flow of this life energy within each of us connects our bodies, our emotions, and our language. When the flow of our life energy shifts, so does our body position, the emotions we feel, and the thoughts or words that come from our heads. Carol grew up in West Texas, a place of sunshine and strong wind… energy she could feel. Through her long career as an educator she studied and taught "learning how to learn" theories including the brain research on how we connect within ourselves and with others to learn and grow. During those same years, she was also studying the brain/body research that gave her an understanding of how energy actually flows within us. Her 15-year practices of energy healing methods and Tai Chi and Chi Gong supported her in learning to actually feel the flow of energy within herself and others. Carol uses all the wisdom she has gained in her study of the brain/body and energy to support clients in discovering the choices they have to better serve themselves and those around them. Clients learn to observe their own energy flow as well as the people around them. These observations support the client in better understanding of how energy shifts one's reality or "world view". One client observed that her strong, excited, "Fire Energy" was not serving her in getting a great idea accepted by her supervisor. She realized that her supervisor who had a much milder flow of energy did not understand her strong flow of energy. Her supervisor could not even connect with her to hear the new idea that would support the organization in becoming stronger. The client learned to shift her own flow of energy to more closely match her supervisor. It was amazing to the client that the other person then demonstrated that she wanted to understand the new idea!

Premise Four: Awareness that we have a choice in how our life energy is flowing. When we choose to shift the direction of the flow of energy, the new direction will shift our emotions and language, automatically. Carol first became aware of this phenomenon when she was making huge changes in her life five years ago. She had decided to marry, had announced that she was taking early retirement from her lifelong career, had put her "dream house" on the market, and was moving to another town to begin her new life as a full time professional coach all within four short months. She awakened in the middle of the night full of doubts and fears about all of her decisions and was unable to fall back asleep fearing she might be making a huge mistake. The next morning she had a scheduled session with her mentor coach. "Charles" asked how she was and all the doubts and fears began pouring out. He stopped her story… as good coaches often do… and asked how she was holding her body. Carol described her position as leaning over her desk with fists clenched, determined to get past these negative emotions. Her coach asked her to lean back in her chair, keeping her back slightly arched with her heart wide open. After breathing from that position for a couple of minutes, he asked her to tell her story again from the beginning. Shifting her body position shifted the flow of her life energy, which allowed her emotions and words to change. Both her emotions and words were so different that Carol found it difficult to imagine all those doubts and fears had ever been within her because all the emotions and words that came were around the wonderful possibilities for her future. This new awareness supported Carol in her continuing study of ontological coaching and lead to her recently published book: 5 Life Energies: The Choice You Have in How Energy Shapes Your Life. Carol supports her clients and her readers in understanding five distinct ways life energy flows within us as well as how to intentionally shift the flow to one that will better serve ourselves and those around us.

Premise Five: Awareness that we each came to this life with unique gifts. Carol believes that it is our responsibility to discover the gifts within us and give them back to this world because no one else has these same gifts or can make the difference that each of us do when we share them. How do we discover these gifts? We observe what makes us glow. We ask for guidance from our God, our Higher Self, however we believe we are guided and supported in this world. And, we listen on a regular basis to the answers that only come from this source. Whenever we have doubts about how to share our gifts we can shift the flow of our energy to better support the understanding of the gift as well as how to offer it and have it accepted within the world. Carol supports her clients in discovering and/or refining their gifts so they can be offered more clearly and the giver creates more of a presence within our world. Carol believes her gifts include the expression of each awareness in the five premises shared in this article. She offers them to her readers, her clients, and her friends with the gratitude of knowing they are serving her and those around her.

To learn more about Carol Harris-Fike's coaching and consulting practice visit her website and blog: