In Painful Times, Stay Strong with Non-Judgment

Try Non-Judgment - Life Coaching with Teresa Young

We all experience challenging, painful, even heartbreaking moments. They’ve been part of life’s journey since, well, forever.

Cut to these days, and we’re all increasingly connected through our smart devices. Indeed, besides whatever complexities we may be managing, troubling news and even horrific developments can come at us 24 and 7. And at times, they do.

It’s a constant onslaught to process. To feel our way through, in ways that can drain us energetically.

So consider this potential energy conservation method: In the midst of everything we can’t control, the ancient discipline of non-judgment can aid us. It can soothe us. Then we can pass some peace forward.

First, limit the constant onslaught. Really.

My dear friend Kim, an amazing attorney and child advocate, doesn’t “do the news.” She’s disciplined about it. Her determination to live and work in a radically calm zone allows her to stay healthy for her own intense work in the world. For her unique contribution.

And of course Kim’s approach works for her. For her life and work.

The truth is, we each have to find our own threshold for taking in terrible—even terrifying—news. If we stick with default mode in these wired times, any and all troubling developments immediately arrive as notifications in our lives.

The good news is that there’s middle ground between disconnected and hyper-connected. These days, choosing our place along that continuum requires conscious decision-making, and discipline.

We can take time and give ourselves permission to craft our own approach, our own boundaries, toward relative peace of mind and productivity. Because the world needs the unique contribution we’re each here to make.

Yes, we’re each part of the continuing evolution of our species at a critical juncture. Pause for a moment here. Take that in.

Now try limiting the judgments you form. Really.

Coaches know that non-judgment is an essential tool in our work. We practice it to avoid laying the templates of our personal values and opinions on the unique humans we’re privileged to serve. Those templates, our particular filters for living our own lives, could keep us from actually hearing and seeing and getting who others are.

So the truth is that we can also practice non-judgment when the news is especially tough. And let me be clear: The point of non-judgment isn’t saintliness. Non-judgment isn’t about letting perpetrators off the hook.

The point is our own mental and emotional health and productivity during gut-wrenching times. As we keep our own energy flowing, as we stay focused on our missions and goals, we help keep everyone moving forward. It’s in fact a critical contribution.

And of course some of us contribute by being on the front lines of tragic or terrifying situations in utterly necessary ways. Thank you. Bless you.

Also, honestly, there are people in our lives, or looming large on our smart devices, whose choices and actions don’t work for us. We may not be able to relate to where they’re coming from. To what they do, or with whom they sympathize.

Of course the truth is also that we only know what we know. What we think and feel. The truth is, it takes real time, patience, and due diligence to understand the motivations—conscious and unconscious—of another.

Reflect in “empty” space, with compassion

As observers of current events from local to global, how can we grapple with what’s terrible in empty space, rather than filling it with all our assumptions, or our fears? This is space for our fellow humans to be the complex central characters in their own poignant, perhaps tragic life stories.

Can we avoid judgments that fill in the blanks with our beliefs, interests, and values? Can we accept the fact that we can’t really know the reasons for the struggles or failures or darkness of others?

In fact, I believe we can compassionately witness troubling, even catastrophic events with as much heart and soul as we can muster. And further, we can benefit from the sense of control this particular form of self-discipline gives us. Because the reality is that non-judgment is freeing.

Seek and find whatever meaning moves you forward

Is anyone else thinking of Viktor Frankl in this moment? A 20th century psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, he made major contributions to our understanding of the human spirit through writing about our fundamental human freedom to find our own meaning in anything.

Because he learned and then shared that we can choose—even in the most dire circumstance, a Nazi death camp—to motivate ourselves. To find meaning in pain. And to carry on. Bottom line, Frankl’s most creative contribution to humankind came directly from his own most intense period of suffering.

Repeat as needed

In your own approach to painful times, try non-judgment. Feel it all, and protect your personal boundaries. Guard your energy and your goals.

And as you feel it all, if you feel derailed by what you’re feeling, reach out for support. You deserve it. After all, the world needs the unique something that you’re here to contribute.

 

Life Coach Teresa Young

When Things Fall Apart? Just Proceed, One Baby Step at a Time. One Foot in Front of the Other.

When Things Fall Apart - Life Coach Teresa Young

Processing… everything

I’m in Houston on my way home to L.A., already feeling like I’m back in civilization. Airport WiFi!

But I’m still intensely connected to what will be a long recovery process in Panama City. Because it’s just three weeks since historic Hurricane Michael hit the area hard.

There’s plenty I can check on and text my dad about on the iPhone I drove 100 miles to get him for his birthday. That phone, a communication channel I know I can count on in the midst of this mess, helped me get on the plane home.

Now healing will be very slow for my mom’s hometown, and for my mom. For my dad, too. He has worked himself to the bone.

And not just since Hurricane Michael struck. And not just the month before that, during and after my mom’s scary surgery and scarier complications. But for the past two years, when she was ill but not yet diagnosed. And the extent of her cancer still isn’t clear.

My dad’s health has suffered in the caregiving he’s been doing. Anybody who has been through their own parents’ tough times knows where I am with them now, in heart-wrenching new territory.

Emotion and encouragement

So despite my love for my beautiful life in L.A., I had a tough time leaving Panama City. Finally my dad and I agreed that I had to get in my rental car and go before we both broke down.

This morning it had a flat tire. Under these crazy circumstances, it took three hours and several phone calls to get some help. I wasn’t about to let my dad mess with it.

And now I know firsthand how natural disasters are in the news for a week or two and then fade from view. The truth is, the recovery process in and around Panama City is barely underway. The shock everybody is in is still descending.

I heard dark threads of conversation all over town that I countered with encouragement. The stages of grief are just beginning.

Blossoming in hardship

On the other hand, one inspiring result of all this heartbreak has been my family coming together. And that’s big. Because the fact is, this left coast liberal and those red state Republicans have re-connected in ways we haven’t been capable of in years.

My local brother Ken is kind of my twin on the planet, the big guy version born 364 days later. One day a year on his birthday we’ve always said we’re the same age. He’s former Coast Guard, and about the time I started my own business he started his. These days the ace helicopter mechanic runs his own tractor company while managing his 40-acre homestead.

So it was satisfying to watch him manhandle our parents’ ruined property. The first time, before I got there, he cut them out of a house-high barrier of once magnificent old oaks.

The second time he worked to get tangles of trees and all kinds of debris like siding, roofing, front porch overhead fan parts, and their shattered mailbox to the side of the road. We’ve heard FEMA will take it all from there.

It seemed to me he was doing what he was into from the time he was pint-size, pushing all his great trucks around in the yard. Being his kickass, can-do self in the world.

A day in the life

In the midst of it all, my two brothers and I managed to have some beers and a party-planning conversation last Friday for our dad’s 83rd birthday. We met at a favorite bar of theirs. It had just opened back up, running cash only and standing room only.

Then my brother Michael, a former-Navy security pro on loan from his work overseas, trekked back to the AirBnB townhouse out on the beach that I’d found before I left L.A. His family had to vacate their battered apartment building and are looking hard for housing. Ken headed to his place in nearby Chipley. And I went back to our parents’ home. Most folks have power now.

I had to smile while I was still looking for my rental car and saw Ken already rolling out onto the highway in his 50-foot rig, sporting one of several Caterpillar contraptions he works with. A day in the life.

Then yesterday as he was clearing our parents’ lot, they lost water to the house again. Amazingly, a guy from the Water Department came right out and diagnosed an issue underground. It wasn’t at the street, so it wasn’t his problem.

The next thing I knew, Ken was waist-deep in a hole, gluing something with something Michael had snagged from the hardware store. And our parents had water again.

Michael had already rigged up an antenna that my dad bought years ago. So now my parents can watch some TV. And I fed everybody. That’s been my thing.

Best birthday ever

And we had our dad’s 83rd birthday party. Despite our depressed parents’ protests, it went down. And Dad loved it. Two little girls next door even brought over homemade cookies, an impressive fete given the mess at hand! Mom couldn’t get out of bed to join us, but she said she thinks it was Dad’s best birthday ever.

And a note on the satellite image of Hurricane Michael here:

Just before I left, Ken heard that emergency responders had found one of Mexico Beach’s weather station recorders. They learned it had measured sustained 160 mph winds with gusts of up to 201 mph.

So it’s a good thing this storm moved fast. Otherwise its impact would have been even worse.

Tough stuff and temporary opportunities

Panama City and larger Bay County have had two hospitals for decades. And Hurricane Michael pummeled them both. They’re still closed right now except for emergency services.

So long convoys of troopers and sheriffs roll through town at least once daily, sirens blazing, getting people to hospitals sixty or more miles away. (Do they transport one patient per vehicle? I still don’t quite get it.)

And on my drive to Destin to buy my dad’s phone, I heard urgent requests on the radio for more hospital personnel, and PSAs about emergency nursing certifications. Both things I’ve never in my life heard before.

For now, back to La-La Land

For now, I’m grateful for the part I’ve been able to play for my family in this crisis. And for everything I’m learning about natural disasters.

For instance, I know now that west coast folks need generators to complete earthquake prep. Think about multi-week power outages. Oh, and landlines really will be useless.

For now I’m ready to get back to my own work. And I’ll keep going to Panama City. My parents will need ongoing help prepping for immense changes, like getting their 2-story house repaired and ready to sell.

And is it time for assisted living? Can they agree on what comes next?

It’s no longer a someday situation. One thing they do agree on is that they won’t be moving to La-La Land. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Meanwhile, thank you again and always to everyone who helped us. As my niece Kyla says, “You have done something great.”

We’ll never forget it, as the wild, wonderful journey of life moves on into who knows what strange new country.

That’s the gig we’re all on, right? Never a dull moment.

xo,
Teresa

 

Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.

 

 

 

 

Generating Power Through Gratitude is a Game We Can Play in Any Situation

Generating Power in Panama City - Life Coach Teresa Young

Generating power here

I’ve never seen so many workers up on power poles at the same time across so many lanes of traffic. And on a Sunday yet. And this is going on all over Panama City.

Gulf Power is trying hard to restore power to all areas of Panama City and larger Bay County by October 24th, two weeks after Hurricane Michael ploughed through here. That’s tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, in a sweet moment yesterday on a bumper-to-bumper highway, three state troopers were standing around keeping an eye on things. Someone in a car ahead of me reached out and handed them a big bag of sandwiches.

They dug right in. Power, indeed.

Music matters

When I got here from L.A. four days ago, I started playing Pandora’s ‘70s rock station while driving around in my rental car. That is, when I can get a signal. I decided on ’70s tunes to evoke my pre-teen years here. They feel right.

Like yesterday, on the way to my parents’ house from my AirBnB condo on the beach in heavy traffic. Cat Stephens’ Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world couldn’t have been more perfect.

My brother’s family is staying with me after getting most of their stuff out of their damaged apartment. My mother is recovering from some awful surgery and feels too weak to move. So I’m taking hot meals to my parents daily.

In a bizarre twist, Panama City Beach is the only nearby municipality with power. I found a place there before I left L.A., thinking my parents would come stay with me, too. But they won’t leave their home. And I get it.

After several hours with them yesterday, James Taylor’s Shower the People kicked in just as I pulled out onto their ravaged street again. It got me past the shock my dad and I feel every time we open his garage door to the ruin around us.

I give him his own private daily pep talk then as we stand next to my car. Shower the People is definitely what I’m doing here.

Sketchy routines

And on the important subject of cell service after a weather disaster, kudos to my iPhone. I’m faring better than folks with other devices.

I’m sending and receiving texts using weak cell signals and WiFi. I’m using Google and Google maps. And a shout-out to the carrier that’s sharing its tower with Sprint. I hear they have at least two towers with heavy damage.

We’re managing a routine of sorts while waiting for power, insurance adjusters, and more ease of movement. That’s both indoors at my parents’ place, where extension cords to the generator and all around the ground floor are exactly as I imagined them while sleepless in Los Angeles—with my mom on a walker and my dad using a cane—and outdoors.

Imagine downed trees, mountains of debris, and suspicious-looking cables as thick as your ankle stretched out across the roads. Hordes of workers with orange cones parked all around their heavy-duty vehicles.

And a news flash: yesterday I saw a convoy of FEMA trucks roll into town with “Potable Water” emblazened on them in block letters as tall as a man. Their presence is growing.

Fueled by gratitude

Lastly for now, thank you again! to everyone who has helped us. Now that the shock of it all has worn off a bit, I’ve starting telling my parents how I got here this time. All the aid we received. They get wide-eyed and quiet while I get choked up.

The three of us are feeling so much together, with gratitude the saving grace on the list. I’ll update you again soon.

xo,
Teresa

 

Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.

 

 

 

 

Heading Into Who Knows What: Adversity Reminds Us Just How Precious Life Is

Blue Skies and Inspiration - Life Coach Teresa Young

On a puddle jumper from Houston to Panama City a few days ago, I soaked in the incredible views. I usually pick the aisle seat, so I’m not often a window-gazer. But this time, in that tiny plane, 6A was both aisle and window.

Pale blue skies and soft clouds felt like pure gift. Like, here you go, girl, here’s some inspiration for you. An energy jolt in the midst of adversity and fear. Rest your eyes here. Store this 3D reminder of just how crazy-beautiful our little planet is.

Way better than the scene in my head

The view was a perfect match for my gratitude to be heading from Los Angeles to help my family. Because Hurricane Michael punched them and my whole hometown hard.

My parents had no power, no water, no phones. Though a few texts to and from my dad had gotten through. No internet to find out how to get help.

And after my elderly mom had just come home from three and a half weeks in the hospital. With my elderly dad with a wrecked knee as her caregiver. In L.A., I’d lie in bed at night imagining him out back keeping his generator going. Trying to feed her. Her on a walker back and forth to the bathroom. Extension cords everywhere.

With a hole in the roof, an upstairs window blown out, and more rain coming. (Later, I saw my dad’s genius move: he had painted “need tarps” all over what was left of his white vinyl fence.)

Yikes, right? I had to get there.

And grateful for so much

Four days later, I’m done trying to take photos and video that show the devastation and adversity all around us. And it’s dangerous to try given thread-the-needle road conditions. Time to focus on what inspires me instead. Time to focus again on what I’m grateful for.

I’m feeling all that as I drive the clogged streets and highways between Panama City and the beach, where there’s power and water. So thank you again! to everybody who helped by donating to my GoFundMe campaign.

It means so much to me and my family. More to come soon.

xo,
Teresa

 

Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Go Right Where You Think You Can’t Go. Do What You Think You Can’t Do.

Sometimes Adversity Hits - Life Coaching with Teresa Young

Mission critical:  get to Panama City

I’m in Houston right now on my way to Panama City. I’m feeling both anxious and grateful to all the people who are helping me help my family. Because Hurricane Michael just punched them and their whole community down to the ground last week.

My dad and one of my brothers have been texting me to prepare myself. “This place is ruined.”

Von Miller said it right

I caught the end of the Broncos game with my husband Kevin last night. And I happened to hear Von Miller say they’d been relentless. That feels just right.

Because right now my brother who works overseas is relentlessly trying to find a new place for his wife and three kids to live. Their apartment building is damaged, and they have to leave.

My 82 year-old dad is relentlessly trying to get somebody, anybody, to patch a hole in his roof before it rains yet again. Meanwhile, he neeeeeds tarps! In fact, he painted “need tarps” in big black letters on what’s left of his pretty white vinyl fence.

He’s also relentlessly trying to get my very ill mother—in a temporary bed in the living room—to eat something. Anything. And my brother who lives in nearby Chipley is out relentlessly clearing debris from all kinds of wrecked properties.

It took him three tries to get to our parents 17 miles away. He brought water and more gas for their generator. Water and gas. That’s what matters right now.

I’ve been relentless this week, too, finally finding a rare place on the beach with power where we can stay—and I can cook—for the next ten days. On the ground in Panama City, the couple who will host us are updating me hour by hour on their volunteer work at the local command center.

They’ve been amazing. “Let’s get you some help.”

This is life

While back in Los Angeles, my clients and students who I apologized to for leaving again said, “hey, this is life!” Over and over.

And that’s because I was just in Panama City for weeks for my mother’s awful surgery and worse complications. Hurricane Michael hit five days after I got home.

In fact, when Michael struck and I freaked out and started a GoFundMe campaign to get back there with funds to make a difference, most of my amazing clients and students contributed.

So thank you to all you angels whose help has me on my way back there right now. I’ll never forget it. And I’ll update y’all soon.

xo,
Teresa

 

Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.