Colorado Life Coach: Dear Church

pic of churchPhoto credit Keeva999 from flikr

Dear church,

I know you mean well. I believe you want to help people find a saving relationship with Jesus, and that goal is part of your mission to exist. Most of your members have good hearts (the new regenerated ones, anyway), and truly think they are doing God’s work.

Here’s a problem that bothers me a lot. In fact, I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk to you about this for a few years. I’m asking you to bear with me, even if you disagree. Hear me out, please. There are people depending on you!!

Many people in your congregations (or formerly in your buildings) have been hurt very badly. In fact, many have actually been traumatized. This could have been before they met you, maybe in their early childhood, in another country, by their parents, by a spouse, by a stranger, by a broken system, by their family, or maybe even by you. This trauma has caused them to be broken, scared, and scarred.

Victims of abuse, neglect, accidents, disasters, prolonged illness, addicted parents, mental illness, violence, etc. struggle with trust. They may have heard that you have some answers. They came to you desperate for help and hope.

Then you brought up their sin.

Over and over you told them that is the issue keeping them from Jesus. What you are missing, is that for many people, this doesn’t compute. You see, they may have been so damaged by OTHER PEOPLE’S SIN, that they can’t see their own… yet. They need to be held, bandaged, and cared for, not preached at.

~Do you see it?

~Have you wondered why some people come once or twice, but don’t return?

~What type of training does your prayer team have? Do they point out the person’s sin, ask them to memorize more scripture, or somehow blame them for the troubles in their life?

~Where do you send them when they come to you broken?

~Have you thought about whether you chase people away from Jesus?

I was a bible study leader at a large church, along with a friend of mine. I remember vividly sitting at a coffee shop with her after our groups one day (we taught different studies). She literally pounded on the table in anger about the “sin” in the world, how people were messing up their lives, and how it grieved God. As she worked herself into a tizzy, I asked if she ever wondered what happened to those people to cause them to sin.

What little girl grows up thinking, “I’d really like to sleep around and jump from man to man, never being able to sustain a healthy relationship. That’s my dream!”

What boy thinks, “I hope to grow up to be addicted to pornography, so it distorts my view of sex, and causes me to see my wife as an object instead of a beautiful woman.”

My good friend and former counselor, Mary Ellen Mann was my guest on a podcast last year. She asked pastors to stop using the word sin in sermons, because it causes people who have been sexually abused feel shamed. 1 in 4 girls will experience sexual violation before they turn 18. 1 in 3 women will be violated during their lifetime. Pastors and youth pastors consistently teach, “God loves you. You’re a sinner.” Do you know what these women hear? “You’re a sinner.” Instead of helping them find the hope they desperately need, they feel shamed. They hear:

I can’t satisfy God.

God is not pleased with me.

I disappoint God.

I am bad.

I am part of the problem.

What did Jesus do? He attached first. He took care of us first. Then after a year or so, he could say, “if you get rid of your sin, you could feel my love more.”

He didn’t poke people right in the middle of their shame. He overwhelmed them with his mercy and grace.

Dear Church,

What if our message became, “God will go to the ends of the earth to find you.” “Someone has to pay for the sin of humanity, and that someone is Jesus.” “God adores you.”

What if you listened to people’s stories and truly heard their hurt?

What if you validated that what happened to them was horrific and they didn’t deserve it?

What if you didn’t blame them, or point out their sin?

What if you just cared for them, until they were healed and healthy enough to hear what you have to say?

One last question, Dear Church,

Could you shift the dynamic from the problem of sin, to one of God searching for you?

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe you’d have to add more services if that was your message!

This post written with love for the church by, Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

If you’ve been hurt and would like a coach to help you find healing, click here.

 

 

Colorado Life Coach: Going Through Grief

4855923781_bf762dc33c_z

photo courtesy Flikr

I love the ocean.

Wave after wave.

It’s so calming when I look at the waves coming in. I could watch for hours and never grow tired. In fact, staring at waves is one of the ways I clear my soul. I connect with God as I take in the sight of the never-ending waves. They remind me that God’s love is never-ending. He’s always with me. He will never leave me.

I’ve needed that reminder many times through my life, but especially during times of grief.

We all experience grief during our lives. Some grief is light, and momentary. Some grief seems as if it will never end. In my experience, grief is like the waves of the ocean. But instead of sitting on the beach staring and receiving the renewal my soul desperately needs, I feel like I’m in the undertow, dying to catch my breath.

Have you been through a really difficult time in your life? I have. For some, it’s difficult to understand how so many things can happen to one person, and it’s hard to stay in the presence of a person who’s grieving for long periods of time.

My grief began about 16 years ago with the sudden death of my dad. He was only 57, a pastor, and healthier than most his age. His death took my innocence. I realized at age 34 that grief will eventually hit us all. I know many of you lived through grief at a much earlier age, and I feel for you. Before the loss of my dad, I found myself mourning some broken relationships, moves, and the loss of pets, but his death hit at a level I had never experienced before. I’ve often wondered if watching a loved one die over a long period of time is more difficult than having them taken unexpectedly. I imagine they are both horrible in their own way. With the first, you grieve and prepare for the loss while the person is still alive, but you have to watch them suffer. With the second, you know their suffering is over quickly, but the shock is so difficult.

Grief is hard. It feels like a wave trying to knock you off your feet, and drag you under water.

My dad’s death was the beginning of a 16-year journey of grief. I didn’t realize my schooling in this area was just beginning with the death of my father.

~2 years later my Grandmother died after a 6-month battle with cancer.

~During the next year, we began what was to be a joyous journey through adoption, as we travelled to Vietnam to adopt our 3-½ year old son from an orphanage. Our journey became much more of a war for the heart of a traumatized little boy, who had experienced so much neglect and abuse during his short life, that he would do anything in his power to survive. We learned first-hand about the sad, painful diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), as well as many other acronyms to fit the various medical, emotional, and psychological ailments that came with our son.

~Due to our son’s issues, as well as unhealed patterns from our own childhoods, my husband and I had serious marital and family struggles, causing us to seek help from numerous counselors, pastors, and anyone we thought could help.

~Extended family members, friends, and our church family deserted us in the middle of our trials.

~I’ve struggled with sleep issues since our trip to Vietnam. My psychiatrist has been fabulous, but I’ve suffered through long bouts of sleeplessness through the years.

If I could go back to the ocean analogy for a moment, I felt like I kept getting hit with wave after wave. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t explain what was happening. The pain was so horrific, and the events happened so quickly, I couldn’t swim to the surface. It took every ounce of strength to gasp a mouthful of air before my head would be pulled under again. This continued for years. Not days or weeks, or even months.

~6 years ago, we made the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish our son to another family from our church. I felt like I was dying from the 8 years of parenting, trying to stay afloat. I knew if something drastic didn’t change, I wouldn’t make it. Losing my son was the most traumatic loss of my life. I love him. I wanted him to be part of our family forever. You can read my story here to understand RAD and what it can do to a family.

~After my son was gone, my husband and I separated for a few months. All the issues that we hadn’t been able to solve due to the constant survival mode of the 8 years of parenting our son had taken their toll.

~During the aftermath, and long years of recovery, I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I learned that raising a traumatized child traumatized me.

Where is the hope?

I asked this many times, and came to understand what Proverbs 13:12 meant, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Through all of this, I sensed God telling me, “I’m working, I’m healing, hold on, I’ve got this, don’t give up.” But the waves never stopped. Every once in awhile I’d have a respite for a few weeks or months, but the undertow always returned.

In spite of it all, I believed God. When I was desperate, I reminded him, “You told me you were healing this. You promised!”

Gradually (much more so than I would have preferred), God healed and even restored. We’re not done yet. I’m not done yet.

I believe healing does not come with time alone. Healing comes from a loving God who provides counselors, doctors, pastors, teachers, coaches, and friends to help us along our way. We need to deal with our own character issues, and truly grieve the losses, or they keep on stacking up on top of each other. Then we have complicated grief, and it’s much more, well, complicated to deal with.

If you’re grieving, please:

  1. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually
  2. Ask for help from a pastor, friend, counselor, or coach
  3. Work through past grief that may have become uncovered. If you don’t, it will come out in your behavior and your friends and family will have to deal with it.
  4. Journal or talk about your anger, sadness, and hurt over what you have lost
  5. Joy will return. I don’t know when. I don’t know how long it will take, but it will happen.
  6. Lean into God. Call out his name. Ask him to show you what he’s doing, and what you might learn from it.
  7. Be open to walking alongside others who grieve. So many of us feel alone when grieving. Having someone who truly understands is such a blessing. Watch for opportunities to use your suffering to bless others.

What about you? How have you moved through grief? What have you tried that might benefit others?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach: Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Colorado Life Coach: Disappointment

6038735179_718a51a52b_oWe all experience it…Disappointment!

It hurts. Sometimes, it really hurts.

Maybe I thought by this time in my life (meaning, by the time I was this old), I’d either be used to disappointment, handle it better, or able to dodge it, but I’m not.

It still hurts, and sometimes the surprise is what catches me.

If I were able to predict and prepare, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. Maybe if I walked around waiting for the next shoe to drop, it wouldn’t hurt so much, because I’d expect it. Then I’d just say, “Oh, there you are again.”

The problem is, I’m an optimist. I believe God. I look for the good. I believe things will work out. I believe the pain is worth it. I keep trying. Someone once told me I’m loyal beyond what I should be.

So I get hurt when:

~Someone lets me down

~Things don’t turn out the way I hoped

~Plans change into less than I was told

~Someone else gets asked to do something I wanted to do

~Friends don’t call

~People don’t care or like what I’m doing

~Someone else does what I’ve done and they get a lot of recognition, but I didn’t

Sometimes life moves along smoothly, but disappointment always returns. And I’m always shocked.

I know people who use humor in everything they do. When life is hard, things don’t seem funny to me.

I’m sad. I’m lonely.

I listen to uplifting music, pray, talk to friends, and go to counseling. I eat high protein, low carb food, and exercise regularly. I even do neurofeedback, get chiropractic care, and an occasional massage. I practice self-care.

I have a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I get this stuff!! I teach this stuff. I can help others navigate their way out of this stuff. And here I sit, disappointed again.

The bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12. I think the problem is it takes so long to fulfill the desire, that sometimes the heart is too sick.

I know many Christian friends who would say that we’re not going to see true healing until we die. I get that. I believe that to a point. But, Jesus said that he came to heal the broken-hearted. He didn’t say he’d heal them after they died. I believe him. I love this verse. I live by it. Sometimes it’s just hard, because my heart longs so deeply for the desires I believe God placed there. It’s hard to wait.

I once heard about a woman who had been married for 60 years. She was asked how to have a good marriage that lasted. Her answer: “Sometimes you have to get through a hard decade or two.” Wow!

That’s reality.

And even in the midst of disappointment, I got an email from a friend. It’s a devotional by Liz Curtis Higgs on Leah from the Bible. My friend even highlighted the areas that I would highlight for you:

When no one else sees, God sees. When no one else cares, God cares.

God sees. God hears. And God’s timing is always perfect.

Thank you God, and thank you friend for the reminder today!

How about you? How do you deal with disappointment?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Colorado Life Coach: No More Wimpy Prayers!

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 3.54.24 PM

Big prayers!

I’ve always dreamed and prayed big…until life slows down, and it doesn’t seem like my prayers are being heard.

At times, I’ve felt this burning deep inside that says, “Go for it! Ask me anything! Have courage! Dream Big!”

At other times, I feel like a nobody who’s prayers just bounce off the ceiling as I sit all alone.

I just started reading the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson. It’s about praying big prayers. In fact, he says that God doesn’t answer vague prayers. That hit me. Do you find yourself just praying to get through the day? Praying that your family would just get along? That you’d just have enough money to make it through the week?

God is huge!!! He does more than we could ever even think to ask or imagine. He’s powerful and he likes to show it! He is Almighty! He’s the King of the Universe!

When the only prayers we ask him are things that will probably work out alright anyway, or that don’t really change anything, we’re limiting him from doing what he loves to do.

What if we believed that he really could do those things our hearts have longed for most of our lives? What if he actually put those longings there in the first place? What if we spent a little time and thought through all the areas of our lives, and asked God what he’d like to do in those areas? What if we listened? Then what if we actually prayed that he would do all of that and more?

Our lives would change!!

I actually drew circles in my journal yesterday, with each family member, and all the issues in my life in different circles. As I prayed through them, I started to feel something stirring deep inside me. It’s hard to describe, but I know God was pushing me to pray harder, to ask for more, to go for it. I felt like he was urging me on to ask him for everything I’ve been too afraid to ask, or too afraid he wouldn’t answer. It really was amazing. I started writing in my journal and the words poured out. I asked and asked! I reminded God that he was the one who put those dreams there all those years ago. I got more and more specific.

I know God doesn’t always answer prayer in the way we want him to. Bad things happen: people don’t always recover, marriages don’t always work out, we don’t always have the money for everything we need, abuse and pain are real.

But, what if we got on board with God’s plan? What if we asked what he wanted for our lives, and then started praying for those things? What if it set our hearts on fire to the point where we couldn’t NOT pray?

That’s where I’m at! I have to pray for these things. I have to pray for healing, for reconciliation, for growth, for restoration!

I’m tired of praying that God will bless my meal, and protect me each day.

No more wimpy prayers!! I’m going Big!

Won’t you join me?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Colorado Life Coach: Guest Blog!! Stacy Voss, Savoring Christmas

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 9.46.05 AMThis is my friend, Stacy Voss! She’s just written a book called, Savoring Christmas, and I was to share it with you! Here’s Stacy answering questions about her book!

Stacy, could you tell us a bit about your book?

Sure. It’s called Savoring Christmas—the very thing I think most of want to do, yet have the hardest time figuring out how to actually make happen. We typically get so busy in December that we just can’t wait for it to be over, but there’s been this thought that keeps riveting me, challenging me to my core. What if we actually savored Christmas? Not just stopped grumbling about the many activities, or streamlined the things we have to get done, but actually cherished this most incredible event and reveled in Christ’s birth as if it were the first time we’d heard of it.

Can you give us an example of what it means to you to savor something rather than rushing through it?

I had my book launch last week. It was so very exciting, yet it also fell on the same week as some other things that took a lot of time and energy. Someone made the comment that they bet I couldn’t wait for my launch party to be over (they said this days before the party).  I just had to laugh since the whole party was about savoring, yet here was someone encouraging me to rush it away. They weren’t wrong, it’s just how we’ve come to do things here. Let me tell you: my party was so incredibly rich. It was a chance to celebrate what God is doing, as well as an amazing time for me to tell some of my friends how much I cherish them. I’m so glad I didn’t wish any of that away.

That philosophy of savoring versus rushing sounds great, but is it actually doable?

I’ll be the first to admit it isn’t easy. It is a challenge that goes against the culture, but when we stop and think about how much love went into forfeiting the beauty, safety and grandeur of heaven for our sakes, well, it seems so very worth stopping for a bit and truly reflecting on that. Besides, I try to give practical, easy-to-do things in my book that help us all savor Christmas like never before.

Care to share one?

Absolutely! I suggest we create treasure boxes this Christmas, just like Mary “treasured all of these things up in her heart.” We can jot down something amazing that happens each day during advent, or write out something unexpected that helped reveal the meaning of Christmas. Whatever it is, what if we set out to fill up our treasure boxes and therefore trained our hearts to focus more on Christmas?

I just have to ask. Your book has 31 devotions in it, but it starts December 1st. What’s that all about?

Great question! I toyed with starting the devotions the day after Thanksgiving and having them end on Christmas, but I couldn’t just stop on Christmas Day, especially because one of my most popular blog posts is entitled “The Meaning of Christmas: Disappointment.”

Let’s be real. The 26th rolls around and so many of us feel let down. The kids didn’t like the presents as much as we’d hoped, we didn’t receive that thing we wanted, the turkey didn’t cook well, or whatever. It happens. It’s just as real today as it was when people were disappointed that the majestic king they’d hoped for was born in a stinky stable.

The last part of the book wraps up the Christmas season and then turns into a time to prepare ourselves for the upcoming year. After all, why spend a month getting ready for the Messiah and not prepare to let Him guide and direct us in the days to come?

Great point. Would you be willing to give us a teaser, and where could people get a copy if they’re interested?

You can read the first 4 days on Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/mawz9m9). It’s also for sale on my site at www.stacyvoss.com/store.

Well, Stacy, thanks so much for guest blogging here today.

Thank you! It’s my pleasure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Life Coach: Becoming The Least Of These

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 4.45.48 PMphoto credit: Kamran Ali via Flickr

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40)

Maybe you’ve heard this verse before. Maybe you’ve thought about helping someone “less fortunate” than you.

This is good! Don’t get me wrong! As humans, we need to help each other. We all need help at some point, and when we’re doing well, it’s good to help those who are struggling.

I believed I had something to offer others, so I set out to do that. In the process, I became the one who needed help. Can you relate?

When I was seven, we adopted my brother from Vietnam. Adoption was normal to my family. I didn’t understand why some people questioned us about it. “Is it weird having an adopted brother?” “What made you want to do that?” To me, it was weird that more people didn’t adopt. I mean, if there are kids out there who don’t have parents, and you have an extra bed, can’t you bring one of them home? This was my seven year old thinking.

Fast-forward twenty years. My husband and I wanted to have children, but struggled with infertility and miscarriage. We adopted our son Brendan at birth, and then had our biological daughter Katie, 15 months later. When they were seven and eight, we decided to adopt again. I remember thinking that we had enough room, enough money, and enough love to share with at least one more child. Maybe we could bring in a child who didn’t have a family. That’s adoption, right?

I love adoption! I think it is a wonderful option when biological parents, for whatever reason, can’t take care of their child.

What I didn’t understand before, is that adoption is only possible because of loss. Maybe I sensed this, but no one talked about it. We all hear about how wonderful it is to offer a child a home. What we mean is, “We’re happy that we get to add to our family, and can’t wait for this little child to love us in return.”

Here’s the problem. Many children placed for adoption are traumatized. They didn’t have a choice in this whole situation. Maybe we think we are helping some poor child, but have we thought about what their life has been like until now?

We adopted our son, Sam from a Vietnamese orphanage when he was 3 1/2. It was the only world he’d ever known. He had never been outside the gates before we took him away from everything familiar: his friends, his home, his bed, his caregivers, his food, his language, his history, his culture. We brought him home because he was “the least of these,” and we had something to give.

Over the years, the toll of parenting a traumatized child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) became more than I could handle. I remember the day I thought, “I started out with the intention to help ‘the least of these,’ but now I am ‘the least of these.'” I couldn’t do it anymore. My body was falling apart. My emotions were falling apart. My mental health was falling apart. My family was falling apart. I couldn’t heal my son. I couldn’t help him trust me, or attach to me, or want to be part of our family. I couldn’t do it.

I was now the “least of these.”

And I was alone.

We made the heartbreaking decision to place our son with another family from our church. He seemed to do better there. He was less anxious. He was oldest, and didn’t feel the need to fight for position. It’s actually way more complicated than this, but I don’t have room to expand in this blog. If you’d like the full account, please read my book, Relinquished: When Love Means Letting Go.

The loneliness was physically painful. Have you ever made a choice that was not socially acceptable? If so, you may have a glimpse of what I’m talking about. We lost our child. I lost my son. Our family went from five to four. It felt like cutting off a limb, and trying to continue living.

My family grieved differently, and it was ugly. We didn’t have a funeral for the loss of our child. There is no “Relinquishment Day” when we post pictures of the children we used to call ours, but now live with other families, or in group homes, or therapeutic foster homes. We lost our small group, our church, many friends and family members because of our decision. I’ve been called a monster online.

It’s been 5 1/2 years since I’ve seen my son.

In that time I’ve done a lot of healing, had lots of counseling, earned my master’s degree from Liberty University, and founded Carrie O’Toole Ministries.

I learned along the way, that we’re all “the least of these” at some point, and it’s arrogant to think otherwise. My hope and prayer is to help others understand the importance of attachment and the effects of trauma on children. I desire to bring awareness to the adoption and foster care communities, because it does not help a child, when he enters a home unprepared to deal with his trauma, and the family falls apart. I’d love to help counselors understand the nuances of treating families raising children with RAD. Ultimately, I want to bring awareness to the societal need for early intervention with childhood trauma and attachment.

People’s lives are at stake!

~Certainly the children, who will need to overcome so much to be able to have healthy relationships.

~Definitely the families who love them.

~The counselors, therapists, teachers, coaches, pastors, and all who love these children.

~Our society. When children grow up without learning to trust, without learning cause and effect thinking, without consciences, and without empathy, society is in trouble.

Carrie O’Toole, M.A. is an Attachment-Based Intervention Specialist and founder of Carrie O’Toole Ministries. She serves on the board for the Institute For Attachment and Child Development in Littleton, Colorado. Carrie uses her coaching, writing, speaking and podcasting to help others overcome relationship difficulties. She is the author of Relinquished: When Love Means Letting Go and a Board Certified Christian Life Coach. Carrie and her son Brendan are producing their first documentary on adoption.

 

Colorado Life Coach: 0-60

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 4.00.27 PM

Do you ever feel your life is at a total standstill?

You’re working on things, but nothing seems to happen.

Maybe your job is going nowhere, or your marriage is in a rut. Maybe you’ve tried for years to lose weight, but can’t get motivated to do it.

Whatever it is, life seems to be on hold.

Have you been there?

I know I have many times!

I had a busy spring, but when summer hit, it felt like everything just stopped. In some ways I was thankful! My daughter moved home from school and I enjoyed time off with my kids. I was tired after publishing my book, and a consistent schedule of podcasts and coaching clients. But over the summer everything slowed down. We had several podcasts that still needed to be posted, so it didn’t matter that we weren’t producing more. My client base slowed down, but I was thankful for the time off.

As fall approached, I began wondering what was next. Don’t we all go through seasons of life where things begin to look different?

Well, this ministry is no longer resting through the summer–things are speeding up!

There are so many amazing things I’d love to share with you, and ask you to pray for:

1. I’ve been asked to join the board of directors for the Institute For Attachment and Child Development. I love this place! They help the traumatized children no one else can help. They save families. They bring hope and healing to families who have been through the ringer in ways most people will never understand. I’m so thankful for this non-profit organization, and I’m excited to use my ministry to bring attention, and hopefully donors their way.

2. My son Brendan and I began filming our first documentary together! We begin with the question, “What is adoption?” We are focusing on all aspects of adoption, and trying to shed light on areas that aren’t talked about openly. Our hope is to better prepare adoptive families, provide better services after the adoption is finalized, train up a new generation of therapists who can help traumatized children attach to their parents, and bring awareness to the issues impacting our schools, churches, and society as a whole.

3. We’re filming a shorter documentary focusing on 3 families who adopted from the same agency, at the same time, from the same orphanage in Vietnam. None of these adoptions worked out, and these children all live in other locations today. Each of these families felt they were the only ones, yet there were so many similarities. This is an amazing story that needs to be told.

4. I attended the national conference for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) a few weeks ago, and was certified as an “Attachment-Based Intervention Specialist.” At this conference, I met the president of AACC and he asked me to be a guest on their webinar.

5. In January I’ll be the guest on the training webinar for the AACC. During my time in Virginia, I’ll have the opportunity to speak to the student organization of the AACC, the psychology and counseling faculty at Liberty University, to record a counseltalk CD with AACC President, Tim Clinton, and to lead the 2 hour webinar, offered to 50,000 Christian counselors worldwide. This is an amazing opportunity to share my experiences of parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, as well as what I’ve learned about treating these children and their families, with the next generation of counselors.

Like I said, 0-60!

Here’s the thing–I’m not that scared! I’m a little nervous, because I take these opportunities seriously. People are hurting, and I feel I’ve been given an opportunity to change things and help them.

God has been preparing me for this my whole life.

For months, I’ve been sensing him say, “Get ready!” “It’s coming!” “Hold on!” “I’ve prepared you for this, you don’t need to be afraid!”

It’s so amazing that I can just do my job and enjoy the ride!

Can you relate? Share your comments below!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

 

 

 

Colorado Life Coach: Heading Into A Hurricane

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.06.51 AM

We got out a week ago today.

I’ve been thinking of writing about my experiences, but it’s been difficult to know where to start, or what to focus on. How do you put into words, something that was so significant, yet went almost unnoticed in the United States?

I decided to just write my story. Here it is:

I didn’t sleep very well this summer. For about a month, I didn’t sleep much at all. I finally went back to the psychiatrist and asked for sleep meds. They help, but I’m bummed that I need them again, and I don’t like the drugged feeling I live with most days.

I absolutely love summer! I like to be warm, or even hot! I love flip-flops, and no jackets, and bike rides, and eating outside. Because of the sleep issues, and the extra rain this summer, I started looking for a way to extend the season.

Several friends posted pictures of their vacations in Cabo San Lucas, and they were stunning. I wanted to go!

~There is no time change! I wouldn’t have to worry about jet lag further messing with my sleep!

~There’s a direct flight from Denver-only 2 1/2 hrs.

~It’s in the safe part of Mexico.

I tossed the idea around in my brain for several weeks. I prayed about it. I talked to my husband. There were 2 weeks that were possibilities, but I just didn’t feel I could make the decision. It’s not that I couldn’t decide, for you praying folks-you’ll get this: I didn’t feel I should decide yet. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t time. I don’t know-I just didn’t feel right doing it through most of August.

At the beginning of September, I looked at my calendar and the week of the 13th was totally clear. Nothing. Nada. No appointments. No clients. No podcasts. Nothing. I prayed about it, and felt OK to book it.

We have a timeshare available to trade, so the next piece of this puzzle was to find a place to stay. The most beautiful place, Grand Solmar at Land’s End Resort and Spa was available. We could get a 1 bedroom with a full kitchen, right on the beach.

All I had to do was push the button. I pushed it!

I booked our flights and we were set to go in 2 weeks! My biggest relief with the timing is that my daughter Katie’s 21st birthday was September 21. I asked her if she was OK with us coming home on the 20th. She was fine with that and the plans just fell into place. We had no headaches booking this trip.

My prayer for the trip: “God, please just let me rest. I’ve been so tired. Sleep hasn’t been easy or restful. My body is tired. My mind is tired. My spirit is tired. Please let me enjoy your beautiful creation! Show me the ocean, and let me walk barefoot in the waves. Let me lay in the sun, boogie board, snorkel, and maybe go out on a boat at sunset. Thank you for the ability to just go like this. Thank you for the time-share to trade, and the money to pay for the plane ticket. Thank you for the time-off. Thank you thank you thank you.”

I’ve sensed a change coming in my ministry for several months, since the release of my book. I called my web designer and told him I’d like to update my site. I’ve been working with a coach to update my relationship intensives (now to be called retreats). My main goal for Cabo was to rest, but when I rest, my brain gets excited. I knew I’d have lots of inspiration from the ocean and palm trees, so I took my computer to begin the process of these updates.

I was so excited.

Can anyone relate? Have you ever looked forward to something so much, and felt it was so needed, and even blessed by God? Share your story in the comment section below!

Obviously, this is just the beginning of the story. I’ll write part 2 soon!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Colorado Life Coach: Riding Through Life With A Flat Tire

3876813093_05c78eb7a8_oI couldn’t keep up!

No matter how hard I pedaled, no matter which gear I used.

I couldn’t keep up!

I’ve been biking all summer. I can’t ever keep up with my husband. I like to think it’s because he’s 6’4″ tall, and his tires are waaay bigger than mine. But this last week, I just couldn’t keep up with anyone in my family. I was huffing and puffing, and needed to stop more than normal.

What was wrong with me?

I’ve been slow all summer. My sleep has been an issue for about a month now, so I figured my energy must be low.

Over the weekend, my husband said my back tire looked low. He filled it up for me. About 10 minutes into our ride, he said it looked low again. We made a detour to the bike store. Once again, they filled my back tire, and we headed to a restaurant for lunch. By the end of our meal, my tire was totally flat again.

I walked my bike back to the store while my husband rode home to get the car. Turns out, I needed a new tube.

The next day we tried again.

Oh my gosh! I rode like never before! I was way out front, and having to wait for my family. I was using gears I didn’t realize I was good enough to use. I didn’t need to stop. I wasn’t even winded.

What the heck?!!!!

You mean it wasn’t me? All summer long, it wasn’t me? It was my tire!

Does anyone know what it feels like to try to live on almost no sleep, or depressed, or anxious?

It feels like…

~What is wrong with me?

~Why does life seem easier for everyone else?

~Why can’t I  just function without all these problems?

~Life would be so much easier if I wasn’t exhausted all the time.

I don’t want to complain, but it’s hard when I’m always exhausted!

What if…I have a flat tire? What if…I’m not lazy, or out of shape, or whatever else I’ve thought about myself?

What if my brain chemistry is off?

What if I’ve been through a lot in my life, and it takes a lot of energy to recover emotionally?

What if someone could replace my inner-tube, and life could be easier?

I’m not a drug pusher! Believe me, I’ve fought against taking medication most of my life. I’ve tried chiropractic, supplements, baths, exercise, 5HTP, Melatonin, hormones, massage, alcohol (sort of kidding, but a margarita here and there makes me sleepy), essential oils, and anything else you may suggest that I forgot to list here.

Sometimes my brain just doesn’t work right. We live in a fallen world. Sleep is important. My hope and prayer is that I won’t need medication to sleep the rest of my life.

I’m not one to just take the pills and hope life will get better. I’m in therapy every week. My checking account can vouch for this! Medication is not a substitute for working through your problems.

But you know what? It’s a heck of a lot better than riding on a flat tire.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Colorado Life Coach: Hurt people hurt people

421718459_12c4272307_zYou’ve probably heard this saying before, Hurt people hurt people.

What does it mean?

When people are hurting desperately, they just want the pain to end. If they’ve not worked through their emotional baggage, they may not have learned how to treat others while they’re in pain. Instead, they:

*Blame

*Accuse

*Pile on

*Twist

*Insult

*Say cruel things

*Lash out

Not a pretty list of words.

Anger is a secondary emotion.

Did you know anger is easier to access than sadness or hurt? It’s also more socially acceptable. Anger can make you feel powerful, and vulnerability can feel powerless. If you’ve been hurt by showing your weakness in the past, it may feel unsafe to do it again. Instead, you may just get angry.

Like many unhealthy alternatives, you may feel better…for a short time. But then, you may have feelings of remorse, bitterness, resentment, hostility, shame, or self-pity. Anger never solves anything. That’s because anger wasn’t the true emotion.

If you hide the true emotion, you can’t heal it.

So, what can you do?

If you’re the one who’s hurting, ask yourself what the true emotion is. What are you sad about? Where does the anger come from? What have you lost? What are you afraid of?

Find a safe place to express your feelings. Journal about it. Talk to someone who will listen without judgment. Tell them you’re scared, but you know you need to talk about this. Make sure it is someone who won’t encourage you to be angry, or blame others. Ask them to just listen to your heart. You need compassion and empathy for your hurting heart to heal.

Work on figuring out what’s going on under the anger. Start expressing your sadness and hurt more than anger. Seek out a counselor or coach to help you understand what’s going on, help you express it more appropriately, and move on to a more emotionally healthy life.

What if someone lashes out in anger toward you? Take a step back. Catch your breath. Disconnect emotionally for a moment. Ask yourself, “What are they sad about? What’s really going on? What’s under the anger?” If they are threatening either physically or emotionally, leave them until a later time. Safety comes first. Call the police if you feel unsafe, and can’t diffuse the situation or get away. If the situation doesn’t escalate, and you are in the emotional space to deal with someone’s pain, try to engage them on a deeper level.

Tell them you will talk to them, if they calm down.

Express your concern for their pain and sadness.

Ask if they’d like to share what’s really going on.

Be prepared to listen without judgment.

Express compassion and empathy.

See what happens.

You may be the catalyst for them to look underneath their anger to the pain. Now healing can begin.

Most people have never experienced kindness when they are angry. Their anger is met with others’ anger. In response, they feel afraid of the anger coming back at them, so they get more angry to prevent them feeling helpless.

It’s a crazy cycle!

What if you meet their anger with kindness? This does not mean allowing them to bully or abuse you. It just means you take the high road, and try to help them lower their need to feel powerful.

I’ve seen it work wonders! It’s amazing to watch someone who’s red in the face and fuming, suddenly well up with tears of sadness. You may be able to honor a person’s pain by becoming a safe person for them.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.


Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.