Common Sources of Vitality

Explore a method for using images and symbols connected to sources of healing and strength in order to become more vibrant and healthy

When was the last time you thought about the miracle of your body? If you’re like most of us, you don’t pay a lot of attention to it unless it complains. When our body is going about its business, keeping us functioning from day to day, we don’t stop to consider how wonderful it is, nor do we think about all the ways our bodies are supported by simple things we do.

However, in working with clients, and in my own experience, I’ve learned that paying attention to these resources increases the impact they can have on one’s sense of vitality. And since your physical well-being is connected to your emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, by paying greater attention to these aspects of your life, not only will you reinforce your body’s natural healing mechanism when that is needed, but your mental faculties will improve and your spirit will be lifted. Read More

Reduce Stress With a Nothing Day

November 1, 2012
How Two Scheduled Days a Week Can Make a Huge Difference in Your Stress Level
This is a follow-up to the post I wrote on Monday, when I shared with you how I’ve learned to choose from the many potential projects that call for my attention.

In a new metaphor I suggested that by asking certain questions you can  discover the things you want to do or buy now — and those you can put off until later, or never.

Now, I want to write briefly about a way I’ve learned to maintain sanity once I know the one or two things that call for my immediate attention. Even when working on one project, I still have to keep it from overwhelming me, despite my claim to be a “recovering perfectionist.”

For example, right now I am putting the finishing touches on my latest book, How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going Crazy. It’s been fun, and I look forward to soon telling you how you can buy it.


However, right behind that is a revision of Letting Go of Our Adult Children. It should take probably six to eight weeks (looking for completion by the end of the year). But I know that I can’t work non-stop. I’ll need breaks from time to time.

So I’ll do what I’ve learned to do in order to reduce too-much-project stress: I schedule two “off” days a week.

On the “Nothing Day” there is absolutely nothing scheduled. I can do anything I want! It’s a stress-reduction technique I highly recommend.

If you don’t have time to have a day like this on your calendar, take another look at your priorities. If you don’t give yourself frequent mini-holidays, I can almost guarantee that your stress will be three times as high as it should be. Having a Nothing Day can be quite creative and most relaxing.

On my Nothing Day last Saturday, for example, I worked on creating a “MadLibs” game for my younger grandkids. They don’t know about adverbs and adjectives used in the story-bought versions, so I have come up with a graphic game that would be good for younger children, perhaps 4 to 8. When I’m done, I will share it with the parents and grandparents who read this blog.

Incidentally, as I was creating the game, I discovered some things about my graphics program (Fireworks) that I need to know for when I’m working on a “work” project that uses that same software.

The other way to keep my sanity is to have a “Something Day”. This is when I have something planned that has nothing to do with work. This Sunday,it was doing the washing (a planned activity that my husband and I call “having a party”). Between loads I again played with the grandkids’ project.

Would your life really fall apart if you had a Nothing Day and/or a Something Day? My guess is that not only would you feel better, but your projects at home and at work wouldn’t feel so pressing. And at the same time you would get them done much easier.

If you are feeling the stress of too much work, I hope you this idea helps you.

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Centering Ritual to Start the Day

August 20, 2012
A life coach discovers how to slow down and to value starting the day with a centering ritual.


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.


Ten Minutes, Ten Toes — No Problem!

Reprinted with permission

nail polishA couple of months ago, Life gave me an unusual vehicle for personal growth. And, because the Universe I live in is filled with humor and laughter, my lessons tend to show up via unusual channels. This particular opportunity presented itself in the form of painting my toenails.

The weather had just started to turn warm and my thoughts turned to wearing the new sandals I had just bought. And from the sandals, my thoughts then turned to painting my toenails. Sandals and painted toenails, bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly, hot weather and shorts — these just go together, right? The only drawback to this particular train of thought is that I got this brilliant idea — ten minutes before I was scheduled to begin my first coaching call for that day. Ten minutes, ten toes — no problem.

With fearless abandon I went to my medicine cabinet, selected a lovely shade of pink, put my foot up on the bathroom sink and started painting away. With one foot done, I moved to bring my other foot up and somehow the nail polish applicator flew out of my hand and landed deep in the bathroom sink drain . . . brush side up. Five minutes to go until my first call.

My brain is moving a 100 MPH. All I can think about is how to get the applicator out of the drain. So, I hopped into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and started poking around the drain. That doesn’t work. Then the phone rings. It’s my client calling early! It turns out it’s a friend calling for a phone number. I’m still trying to get the top of the nail polish out of the drain, talking to my friend and desperately hoping that the phone won’t fly out from under my ear and chin where I had jammed it so my hands would be free. The phone stays put, I give my friend the number and tell her I love and that I have to get off the phone. I hop back into the kitchen and get a pair of thin pliers. They do the trick and I resumed the painting process. By the way, I’m keeping an eye on the clock the whole time. And as my newly painted right foot hits the floor, the phone rings and this time it is my client.

So, what did I learn? Well, besides how important I think it is that the color of my toes match . . . I found that I was slightly off-center the rest of that day. I learned that for me to do my best work I need to be grounded. That and, of course, don’t try to paint your nails ten minutes before you are scheduled to begin working!

How do you start your day? What kind of centering rituals do you have? Are you aware of when you’ve completed one activity or project before your begin the next thing on your agenda? Do you find yourself running from one appointment to the next? Is your day an endless stream of activity?

By using some kind of centering ritual, we can condition ourselves to move into an appropriate frame of mind to begin our day, our work or our projects. A ritual can be as simple as walking around your chair once you’ve completed one activity and before beginning the next. Develop a ritual for yourself that takes you off of automatic pilot and helps to ground you in your body and the present moment. When you are grounded, with all your energies (mental, emotional, and physical) in harmonious balance, it is much easier to focus your attention. And with this focus and clarity, you can access your inner wisdom and increase your ability to produce and create.

© 2002, Lea Brandenburg

Lea Brandenburg is president of Creating Strategies in New York, NY, and has been coaching an international group of clients and businesses since 1997. Her areas of expertise and passion are interpersonal and business communication, intuitive intelligence and creativity. She is a graduate of Coach U, the coaching industry’s premiere and oldest training program, a member of the International Coach Federation, which is an association dedicated to preserving the integrity and ethics of the coaching profession, and a Founding Member of Coachville, the first on line coaching training company and portal. You can contact her at

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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A Special Kind of Doodling While Waiting

February 24, 2011
Recharge your batteries by doodling instead of building up steam because you’ve been put on hold.

Doodles during a math lectureAs I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been cleaning out my office and have discovered papers and files stuffed with quotations, ideas for articles, and suggestions for blog posts. Typical collection of an author.

Tackling one specific file yielded lots of ideas for posts and I thought I would start working my way through them. That will give me more posts than I usually do when I have to think up new ideas.

So now I am using my ironing basket approach to tackling I’ll-get-to-this-later jobs in which I start with the item on the top of the pile and do whatever needs to be done with that before going to the item below. Thus this first topic comes from the paper on the top.

“Doodle” was one suggestion from a list of about thirty ideas in a pamphlet for caregivers. The idea of the list was to encourage people to take care of themselves in order to take care of others.

I could just repeat the list here, but I don’t find lists helpful in ready accomplishing anything. I will read the list, think “those are good ideas,” and then forget them. There are just too many to pick out one to work on. So instead of giving you a whole bunch of suggestions at one time, I will periodically offer you just one. Then I’ll add my own perspective on how you might do it.

I think of these as posts for recharging your batteries; either decreasing your energy drainers or increasing your energy boosters.

Here is my suggestion for today:

Get paper, pencil and colored pens and put them by the telephone. If you only use a cell phone, put them where you can reach them when you have to make a call to one of those draconian telephone trees.

Then when you are put on hold, start doodling. You may be tempted to draw a noose, but I suggest you try something more radical.

Draw a stick figure if you don’t trust your artistic talent. Place the figure in the middle of a circle and draw hearts or plus signs around it. Then imagine you are sending energy to the person you are calling and are opening your heart to do whatever you can do to help him or her help you.

After you’ve sent positive energy to the person to whom you will speak, notice if you feel better. If you don’t, continue doodling after you hang up. Then you’re free to do anything you want.

Usually doodling is a process of allowing something to arise from your subconscious to keep you awake when you have to sit and wait for something to end, like the doodles made by someone in an afternoon math lecture in the doodles above. So the idea of planning a specific concept may not seem right. But give it a try anyway.

Send me your doodles if you’d like and if they are family-friendly I will include them in the blog.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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My First Relationship Stress-Buster

January 31, 2011
Reduce your stress while you work on a relationship.

If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile, you’ll know that I’m learning to create videos. Loving it! A bit time-consuming as I work my way through glitches caused by my ignorance of minor technical points that cause major problems. But all and all I’m looking forward to taking the many things I’ve learned over the years in helping people and putting them into a form that can reach people who want to watch a lesson rather than read it.

Today I bring you the first of what I expect will be many videos to help you reduce stress while you work on improving a relationship. Here you learn the importance of disconnecting stress neurons that are all tangled up with the thoughts you have of another person.

NOTE: The video may take awhile to load depending on your computer, the size of the video file, your Internet connection, your server, our server, and whether you had a cup of coffee this morning. It shouldn’t take very long, but it’s worth the wait.

If you want to read what I have to say in the video, below is a text version of what I said (well, approximately anyway).

Welcome to Relationship Stress-Buster #1

I am Arlene Harder and if you wonder why I’ve put Pumba from The Lion King on my head and set the timer for 1 minute, I’ll tell you. It’s a demonstration designed to show how you can reduce your tension and improve your relationships.

One of the problems with strained and broken relationships is the tension in your body when problems don’t get solved. The neurons in the brain grow ever more tight around thoughts of the other person and the problems you have. We tell ourselves that our bodies will have less stress if we resolve our conflicts. Well, what I’ve learned is that we can feel calm despite our conflicts, and because you are more calm, we are more likely to solve our conflicts.

So what I’ve done is create a series of what I call “stress busters,” that can give you a sense of freedom even while you have a relationship that needs a lot of attention. You can work on the relationship, but your body doesn’t have to suffer while you’re doing it.

This is Stress Buster 1, the first of more than ten and I call it “A 60-second Balancing Act.” Many of them are inspired by a special feature of Support4Change called Take-a-Break. I’ll add other Stress-Buster videos from time to time.

So let’s get started on improving a relationship you have that gives you stress by having a little fun.

Balance something on the top of your head for 60 seconds. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be difficult to do, like using a heavy book or a round object that would roll off. I just suggest you don’t use anything breakable. The only requirement is that you balance it for one minute.

Sometimes I make a face because it’s hard for me to focus on the difficulty I have with someone else when I’m making silly faces. My brain can’t handle silliness and seriousness at the same time. I imagine none of us can.

You see, I’ve learned that no matter how much I want another person to change, the only person I can change is myself. And that can be hard sometimes, so I need things that distract me from the difficulty I am having with someone. What I discover when I’m not focused on getting the other person to change, I am calmer and I’m able to see solutions that aren’t so obvious when I’m focused on the problems I have.

I invite you to do this Stress Buster right now, but before you do, for just a moment think about a relationship that is difficult for you. Notice how your body feels a bit tense, or maybe very tense. Then pick up the item you will balance and do the one minute balancing act.

Notice that while you were balancing something on your head, the difficulty of your relationship faded, even if for only a minute. The tension neurons in your brain were disconnected from the idea of the other person and they were able to relax and, just possibly, open up a pathway to a solution to your relationship.

Look for other Stress Busters in the weeks to come.

Good luck.

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