When you find the ability to become present in your life, you won’t find yourself trapped in the future or the past — you will be precisely where you ought to be — in the now.
As a part of my series about the the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Maziarz, host of the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast.
Coach Christine is an empty nest success evangelist. It is her passion to work with mothers of high school students (and beyond) who are in the trenches with sad and possibly overwhelming thoughts about what life will look like when their “baby” heads to college and begins to leave the nest. Her clients’ big question: What will I do with my time?
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Certainly! I was tossed into the empty nest early as my daughter headed to college out of state, and four years before traditional college-aged students. While I have always had a desire to fill a coaching role for others, it was this experience that provided clarity on whom I would coach. After my successful and early adventure into the empty nest, friends began seeking my assistance for their transition into empty nest years. I found my passion and love what I do!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’ve made a strategic pivot to temporarily focus my podcast on the not-so-empty-nest, as much of my audience has their college students home unexpectedly due to COVID-19. It has been rewarding to be able to do a quick pivot.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Know your ideal client incredibly well. When you understand them and the why for what you are doing, challenge yourself to dig deeper into the impact that your service provides to others. You may be surprised where your mind takes you — understanding your work’s why and your client’s needs will be what allows you to thrive when the burnout flames begin. Your driving purpose will allow you to detect the flames when they appear — and they are much easier to extinguish than a fire that results in burnout.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I have a small team now, but I’m doing everything in my power to train and empower them in ways that provide them with authority in their growth. My desire is for my team members to grow individually as much, if not more than, my company grows.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The book that was the force that I needed to move from “talking about coaching,” to “becoming a coach” was “Who the f*ck Am I To Be a Coach?” by Megan Jo Wilson.
I read this book when I was at a point in my life where I knew what I wanted to do. Still, I could not wrap my head around the fact that I did not have the funds to take the particular accreditation program that I wanted to complete. Even though accreditation isn’t necessary for the life coaching industry, my thoughts were stuck on the idea that the only way anyone was going to take me seriously was if I had done so.
Megan Jo Wilson’s writing permitted me to challenge that thought, and with some work, I was able to release the imposter syndrome and jump into my new role. Her book changed my life.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The upcoming fears of an impending coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
Five Steps to Develop Serenity During Uncertain Times:
- A practical tip is to find a singular news source you trust that shares quick headlines. Do your best to limit yourself to that singular source for your news. Two of my favorites are The Newsworthy podcast and the Up First podcast. Both provide the day’s headlines in less than ten minutes.
- When you notice anxiety in your body, congratulate yourself! For example, if you are cooking an egg at home, and discover that stress is taking hold of you, the act of noticing the anxiety contains power. It is from there that you have the opportunity to lovingly be curious about what you were thinking about as you were cooking that egg. Did it have anything to do with the egg? Was the egg causing you anxiety? You may even allow yourself to find the funny in that moment.
- Now that you have successfully noticed your thoughts, it is time to observe them lovingly. I like to begin by taking the time to write each observed-thought on a separate piece of paper. For example, if you discover that while you were cooking the eggs, your thoughts were, “These might be the last eggs I eat for a while due to a possible food crisis,” or “I can’t believe the state of the grocery stores — I may not get toilet paper ever again,” take the time to write each thought down.
- For each thought, ask yourself how the specific thought makes you feel and if you would like to keep it. Make an attempt to describe the emotion rather than labeling it. For example my stomach aches, or my jaw is tight. Armed with this knowledge, you have the opportunity to consider each thought and to question the thought’s truth in your life. When you choose to continue with thoughts that create unpleasant emotions, you already feel as if you are experiencing the lack of eggs and toilet paper!
Meanwhile, you are cooking an egg in your kitchen. More than likely, you have toilet paper in your home, also. If the thought makes you feel a way that you don’t want to feel, tear up that paper and throw it away.
- Know that you are strong enough to process through the emotions that make sense. For example, if you just found out that your child’s commencement will not happen, you may feel sad and need to mourn the lack of celebration around this milestone event. By owning your sadness and processing through it, you gift yourself the ability to move through and to the other side of sadness.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Five Steps to Effectively Offer Support to Those Around Us:
- Gift them with a safe space to release their thoughts. Providing an area that is free of judgment may be all they need. We have all had moments where we have said something out loud only to react as if we are hearing it for the first time, providing us with clarity. Be that space for another human.
- Remind them that they are not their anxiety, and they are not their thoughts. When a person feels lousy, it sometimes helps to be reminded that they are worthy and amazing. The act of saying something like, “You are strong enough to handle what is ahead, I know it. These thoughts that you are having, do they make you feel sad?” may allow them to move their thoughts in a positive direction.
- When they identify how they are feeling, ask them to describe it, and to lean into it. As I mentioned above, there is power in processing through your emotions.
- Ask them if there is any way you may help them and offer to be an accountability partner. Not everyone wants an accountability partner, but for those who do, this action has the power to change everything for them. Make sure you are specific about what you can do to help and be sure to follow through. Give yourself a calendar reminder to follow-up!
- Find some fun by asking them to share with you something funny that has recently happened to them. By making this request, you are requesting their mind to focus on something else — something specific — to search for it, and you may find you both laughing before long.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
- Find someone to talk to who provides you with a safe place for you to share your thoughts — this could be a friend, a therapist, or your pet!
- Find the funny in life. You know what makes you laugh — seek it out. It is a great way to pull you out of the thoughts causing you anxiety.
- Help someone else. Helping others is another fantastic way to lift yourself out of your worrisome thoughts.
- Work on being present. When you find the ability to become present in your life, you won’t find yourself trapped in the future or the past — you will be precisely where you ought to be — in the now.
- Professional Help. If your anxiety prevents you from living life: getting out of bed, taking care of yourself, etc., remind yourself that you are brave enough to seek the help you need.You are worth it!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself; otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river.” Eckhart Tolle
I have had multiple podiatry appointments over the last calendar year. During one appointment, they numbed my toe via an injection. To say that it hurt would be an understatement. Later, I had another appointment where I knew I was going to need the same needle that caused a tremendous amount of pain in the past. I had weeks to think about it, and past-Christine would have thought about it, worried about it, and spun in her thoughts about it. Thankfully, working on staying present in my everyday life, I was able to catch these moments and remind myself that I’m not currently at the appointment. I’m actually in my office and should be typing an email. By focusing on where I was in the present, I was able to remove the emotional turmoil that I was experiencing. It was as if I was placing myself in an emotional prison, and yes, those moments felt like a wild river dragging me along.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
The movement I would like to see is for humans to become aware of their self-talk in a way that allows them to become their own biggest fan. After all, we are the only person that we have guaranteed to be with us from birth to death. When humans know themselves and love themselves, they become less reliant on the judgments and words of others, which allows them to be all in on sharing their gifts with the world.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Subscribe to my podcast wherever you listen to podcasts: the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast or visit my website: https://youremptynestcoach.com/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!