HSC: re-organizing quality time and recharging energy

Photo by Ouxu Cheng

May Holidays in The Hague. It’s such a blessing to free up time so easily with the work I am doing as a life coach. Yesterday my holidays began and my first working day will be next week Wednesday. Yeeaahoe! That means quality time with my family, sleeping in, bake, cook, organising our house and having more time to create fun business related but also personal related stuff.

And yes, it would have been wonderful to go on this trip to the North of Holland for a couple of days, but we cancelled it. We organised it a couple of weeks ago, but last Monday evening we decided to skip it. Mostly because of the sleeping rhythms of our children. Our youngest Dían is learning to sleep in his own room. Since his room is next to his big sister Amé, she is temporarily sleeping in another room. His possible crying or I-am-not-ready-to-sleep-mode could keep her awake.

During Easter we did go up North to visit family. Although we had fun it was actually very tiring. Dían had trouble sleeping at night, probably processing all new impressions and smells of the room we slept in. Yes, we are a super highly sensitive family. The way he slept and didn’t sleep kept me up at night. Logically, the following day I was extremely tired. And when I am tired I am not a fun person to be around with. I am not in the mood for talking, nor playing, not anything.

We were conscious about this experience, but somehow forgot it when we were busy making plans for a fun trip.

Luckily it kicked in last Monday evening. Right on time. Better to cancel than to be overloaded by extra impulses and coming back to a messy house. Now we have more time to organise our house and recharge our batteries.

And even best, to spend quality time with each other.

Today we had a friend of Amé over. They played with Dían, he was in play-heaven while receiving so much attention and interacting with them. They went outside to pick flowers to make necklaces and bracelets, but when back they used the flowers to make perfume. In play everything is possible.

While they were having a blast I caught myself being a wanna-be-slow-parenting-mom. Dían played on the balcony, showed me his dirty hands and I took a wet towel to clean his hands. Amé friend said ‘it’s sand, you can just wipe it off his hands’. Aha, indeed, by using a wet towel it got even worse, because, of course, he immediately put his hands on the floor and they got even dirtier. Hmmm…reality-check wanna-be-slow-parenting-mom! Secondly, after they returned, the floors were covered with soil and flowers. I vacuum-cleaned second time around and then it hit me: why not wait with cleaning until play-date is over? Gosh, I think I need a specific course in letting go off the cleaning and start playing.

Finally, after all baking and preparing foodwise for Kingsday, I felt space to play along. They totally got psyched by the idea of me giving birth to a baby. Dían was my cat, but as soon as I would have given birth to this ball I had wrapped around my waist with a scarf,  Dían the cat would turn into my newborn who would need breastfeeding. I had to give birth sooner than expected because Dían asked for breastfeeding.

HSP: listen to audiobooks and 5 book tips

A couple of months ago I started listening to audiobooks. First I downloaded them from YouTube, now I listen to them via www.storytel.nl. This is a Dutch audiobook provider with a nice collection of Dutch and English books. My motivation to start listening to audiobooks was a practical one, I found it much easier to listen in stead of holding a book in my hands above a big pregnant belly. Along the way I experienced some benefits from listening to an audiobook and I would like to share this with my crowd of highly sensitive people.

  1. While listening I rested my eyes. After a days work using my eyes in an intensive way while guiding people or writing coaching reports, blogs and other stuff behind the laptop it feels relaxing to be able to enjoy a book without using my sight.
  2. I love language and accents. What I noticed while listening to the collection of Storytel, the books were told by a person who spoke in the accent of the country the story was situated in. Fantastic. This made the story and their characters   even more realistic. In some books I heard several accents because the story travelled to different places. So listening to an audiobook fed my language listening skills
  3. What I also liked about how the audiobook was read, was the way the voice interpreted different scenes. There was actually some acting in it which made it come across like a detailed movie from which the images were created by myself.
  4. To me listening to an audiobook just before sleeping in was a wonderful experience. You can listen to the audiobook in the dark while laying still. I have a feeling this makes it easier to fall asleep, because your body and sight are already resting. To be honest I can’t really compare it to reading in bed, because I wasn’t doing this previous to listening to an audiobook.

Five book tips

1. The Hundred-Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais

I loved this book. It was read by a man with an Indian accent and he could do other accents too. The story narrates about an Indian family who emigrates to England for two years after a shocking and sad family experience. After England the father of Hassan; the main character, decided to move to a small village named Lumiére. There they set up an Indian restaurant just across a French two star Michelin restaurant managed by madame Mallory. She isn’t happy with their arrival and from there on many funny and interesting cultural twists appear in the story. The story appealed to me because I have been raised in a Chinese family which revolved around food. Furthermore the cultural clashes also reminded me of my own experiences!

2. The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

What I find most amusing about listening to audiobooks is that the story is narrated by someone who speaks with the accent of where the story is played out. The Rosie Project is read by a man with an Australian accent, because the main character lives and works in Melbourne. I have had some good laughs while listening to this story. It’s about the 39 year old Don Tillman who works as an associate professor in genetetics. He has Asperger.

The story is told by Don and when he speaks it rains facts, theories and detailed narrations. I was particularly fascinated by they way he behaves because I am more like Rosie, an emotional human being. I learned a lot about the human psyche when it comes to living a life with Asperger. Even though he rationalizes his whole life and behavioural actions he does have emotions. Through his contact with Rosie he discovers and learns more and more about human interaction and emotions. In a subtle way I saw him emotionally grow.

The story inspired me to go on and listen to the sequel: The Rosie Effect.

3. The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion

This book is as hilarious as the first book. Especially because of the immense contrast between a highly emotional ‘project’ which is Rosie being unplanned pregnant and Don Tillman’s rational and technical approach to it. Besides many loud laughters I found it helpful as well, because of the information shared on being pregnant.

4. Dear Fatty, Dawn French

This book is by Dawn French. She is a Welsh comedian, actress and writer. I was drawn to this book because of its expected humorous contents. In 2009 I took a course in provocative coaching. Since then I have been interested in exploring the world of humor more, but didn’t find the time. It was simply not a priority. End of last year it became clear that my husband wanted to be a stand-up comedian. It took him some months to realise he is better off as an allround comediant and actor. It’s because of our mutual interest in comedy that I chose to listen to this book. And indeed, it was hilarious, but also serious, honest and moving. Her story about being fat, positive sides of being big breasted, how an ex-boyfriend had treated her and her many letters to her father made it interesting to listen on. Afterwards I read about her on Wikipedia and discovered she divorced Lenny Henry in 2010 after 25 years of marriage. I believe this book proves that they have separated in an amical way. The book includes a detailed super love letter directed to Lenny.

5. Blissful Birth, Janey Lee Grace and Glenn Harrold

This audiobook was very helpful, because my baby could announce his arrival any time now. The first half an hour Janey talks about how to mentally and physically prepare yourself for giving birth. She also gives tips on how to manage contractions during labour. She finishes off with tips on how to recover from giving birth. As a mom of four children and having given birth in a natural way she has lots of experience to share. The book also contains two hypnotherapy sessions; one to prepare yourself for labouring and one to recover from giving birth. Both take half an hour. First time I listened to the session which prepares me for labouring I fell asleep while listening. Janey mentioned this wouldn’t be a problem, because my subconscious would integrate the information.

HSP: my sense of taste

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Next to life coaching one of my great passions is food. I adore the colors, textures and flavors of food. I also love all kinds of combinations of flavors, varying from sweet and sour to sweet and savory, spicy and pickled. I have a tendency to strong flavors, but definitely appreciate natural flavors of the different carrots roasted in the oven just like in the photo above.

Being a highly sensitive person my sense of taste is the one of all senses which gives me lots of joy. My cultural background, coming from a Chinese family, had a great influence on my tasting buds. I grew up with natural sugars from sugar cane, dates, a wide range of fruits and dried fruits. My knowledge of candy was very poor! Furthermore I grew up in the restaurant of my grandparents in Amsterdam. The suppliers delivered the best meat, fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits. Every day our dinner consisted of at least six dishes. So I may conclude that I have a well-developed palate. I must say we were spoilt! After a schools day my grandfather always came downstairs to ask what we felt like eating. This was around 3.30pm. Dinner was at 8pm after most of the restaurant guest had gone.

I do believe my upbringing has a lot to do with how I experience food. Strolling around markets with family who exactly know the difference between good and bad food helped me develop my eye and taste for good food. There is another detail which could be described as a highly sensitive trait, but I would rather think it’s because of my cultural background. It’s when I eat I am with my food, it’s like I become one with the food I am eating. I don’t talk, but dive into the smells, flavors and textures of the food. If you would like to converse you need to catch my attention first. During dinner my family spoke only of the food we ate or we were silence. As kids we didn’t converse with the adults around the table. That’s why I naturally don’t speak much during dinner.

I must say I act this way around people I feel most comfortable with. When I am having a business lunch or dinner and the focus of the appointment is sharing information or getting to known each other I don’t take as much time for the food as I like too. Afterwards I regret the fact that I didn’t taste and enjoy my food fully, because I had to focus on the talking! Multi-tasking in relationship with my tasting buds is not one of my strongest skills.

By Chungmei Cheng of Orchid of Life ~ Life Coaching

Life Coaching: looking back on 2015

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In this blog I will answer some questions to reflect on my work and development as a life coach in 2015.

How have you lived and worked in alignment with your values and vision?

Keyword I had chosen for 2015 was simply to “be”. It sounds simple, but I believe for many people it’s life biggest personal challenge to just be who you are, including for myself. As a life coach this year has been a year full of amazing emotional growth for myself, my partner and all the people I have coached. In alignment of my vision I have started giving lectures on high sensitivity. I kicked the first one of in May in The Hague and received 22 participants.

My vision is that the world will be a gentler, nicer and more fun place to live in when more and more people come to appreciate their sensitivity in stead of surpressing or neglecting it. High sensitive people have many talents, but feel quite overruled by a dominant society with high expectations. With these lectures I have shared the challenges highly sensitive people face on the workfloor and in personal relationships. Only by sharing stories of the highly sensitive people I have coached I got feedbacked that people feel supported and understood. They even experienced the lecture as uplifting, yes, of course there are ways to feel empowered to do just that what you most desire in life.

I have been working as a life coach for 12 years and I have always worked in alignment of my values. People hire me to guide them with their emotional development and in the Netherlands it’s quite unusual to invest in hiring a life coach. First option would be a psychologist. This has much to do with the costs and how my guidance isn’t covered by insurance. However I have seen my coachingpractice growing, especially people who have had sessions with a psychologist or psychotherapist found my practice and have undergone many positive changes.

One of my core values as a coach and human being is to give my best, every second that the people are in my coachingpractice. I coach with genuine interest and empathy putting their matters of the heart on the front line. My open and genuine attitide feeds the coaching relationship in which the coachee is able to blossom and let go of limiting thoughts and emotions. I have noticed that I attract more people who turn to my guidance even before turning to a psychologist. I find this positive in many ways. One of them is that people take the lead in health care; they choose their type of guidance in stead of being controlled by society and insurance policy.

What were your most valuable learnings or take-aways? My most valuable learnings were the following:

When you process anger and sadness one is able to feel loving and compassionate again by forgiving the person who angered you, but also to forgive yourself for being too hard on yourself or for not having done the right thing. This doesn’t mean the wrecked relationship will be renewded again; it means that you won’t have to go through life with resentment towards this relationship. But it is also possible to put loving energy in the relationship to see it change for the better. It all depends on how you feel.

I’ve started to use rebirthing in my coaching practice. Through this breathing technique I’ve learned a lot about how body, mind and energy works. It’s a simple technique which leads to magnificent results. People are able to free themselves from negative emotions and physical pains. People will start to feel clear-minded, strong and flexible in the body and emotional more stable.

Another valuable learning was the power of sharing my vision and mission. It empowered me to think about the high sensitivity knowledge I’ve gained throughout the years. Many people who follow my work feel supported and empowered to accept themselves fully as high sensitive people.

Where did you show self-compassion, courage, and commitment (especially in the face of challenge)?

The most challenging work I’ve done which showed self-compassion, courage and commitment was to let myself be healed by rebirthing and to be of support and guidance for my husband who has been suffering a headache for six years. It takes a lot of patience and resilience to keep out heads up. On the other hand we don’t have a choice; it’s either doing nothing which won’t change anything or putting all of our energy in getting healthy.

How did you surprise yourself?

While I was pregnant I’ve worked all the way. I had much more energy compared to my first pregnancy. I’ve only felt off-beat the first three months, afterwards hormones regulated and I could eat whatever I wanted and felt lots of energy and motivation to work.

What impact (big or small) have you made through your work?

I’ve made people express their anger, sadness, hatred, disappointment, powerlessness and helplessness to process their trauma’s such as sexual abuse, dominanting relationships with parents, divorce, being surpressed my negative emotions of family and break-ups of love relationships. After having expressed these emotions they felt empowered again, they felt empty at first, but slowly it gave them the energy to take better care for themselves, acknowledge their talents and live the life they want.

For more information on my work, I invite you to visit my website Orchid of Life ~ Life Coaching. 

HSP: what are your plans for Christmas and New Year’s eve?

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As a coach for highly sensitive people lots of stories about Christmas and New Year’s eve come my way. Most of the highly sensitive people I speak rather spend their time quietly with a few friends or in some situations only with their spouse, love relationship and kids in stead of packing stuff, organizing big dinners and traveling from one family to another with two days. (Christmas) And as for New Year’s eve, in the Netherlands it is the tradition to set of fireworks up until late, go out until late and the next morning you possibly catch yourself with a hangover and a huge lack of energy. This feeling of being totally wasted could go on for days so the people I speak to ask themselves: 

‘What do I want to do, how shall I organize this and most importantly, how will I communicate this to my spouse or family?’ 

Yesterday I gave a lecture about high sensitivity with professional and personal relationships. This same topic arose and conclusion was that it is most important to listen and finally act upon your own needs. The difficulty lies in the fact that we are so accostumed to do what others want and expect from us. (or read: to do what the group/family wants) In many cultures it is a tradition to spend time with your loved ones during these festive days, but all I hear about is lots of family stress. I understand it is very hard to break with family and cultural traditions just for your own sake. 

How wonderful it would be if we could choose for what we most want to do during these days? Before having this as an option in mind, one needs to tackle lots of emotions. Emotions such as guilt, anger or even family member blaming you for not coming to the gathering. Year in, year out, you feel horrible, and perhaps this comment rings a bell ‘this year I will stay at home’, but to find yourself each year in homes of other family’s or family at your place, because the motivation to choose for what you want somehow disappears. Days after the social activities you feel exhausted of all the conversations, impulses and possibly excessive amounts of food. 

What if, after years of struggling, with the December month turning around the corner, you consider, just slightly consider to do what you want. What ideas would pop up? With whom would you spend these festive days? How will you go about communicating this to your family? Think about it, it could definitely free your mind and body and take you up to a higher level of excepting and acting up to your own needs. The positive effect about this is when you feel well and good about yourself you could mean much more to others. This doesn’t only go up for festive days, it’s a daily positive life attitude. Many highly sensitive people regard doing something for themselves as ‘egoistic’. No way, it is super healthy to put your own needs first and in my view of life this naturally goes with healthy relationships, either professionally or personally. 

As a Chinese born in the Netherlands I never had a relationship with Christmas. These days were focussed on work and serving others Chinese food from out of the restaurant of my parents. And as for New Year’s eve, this meant being with lots of Chinese family living in the Netherlands, most of them had restaurants so lots of good food was served. Whole evening went to spending time with cousins and grown-ups talking and playing games. Chinese tradition of setting of fireworks did go hand in hand with Dutch culture’s fireworks at 0.00am 1st of January with a huge difference, Chinese fireworks was all about banging our ears of whereas most Dutch fireworks were about beautiful colors and figures whirling up into the sky. 

Somehow I feel lucky to not have any traditions in relationship to Christmas, it seemingly makes it easier to choose for what we want to do. But even so there are some family expectations to tackle. Even without a religious link to it family wonders what we will be doing around that time of year. Or perhaps it’s even more so the case that it’s more about me, somehow I feel compelled to share what we will do, in other words, we would like to spend time here at home in stead of visiting you, you and you. And as for New Year’s eve, to be honest, I have never been into fireworks. This year we decided upon spending time somewhere where it is fireworks free. Hmmm..this is quite a challenge, but we will find a place. I am sure of that. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Life Coaching: my journey in rebirthing

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This year my summer holidays wasn’t only about going to the beach, eating ice cream, reading books, discovering new spots nor any arty farty stuff while a Summer storm ravaged the Hague. Lots of my attention went to rebirthing. Out of pure necessity.

Day in and day out I have guided rebirthing sessions. I’ve undergone rebirthing sessions as well and it has been an exciting and insightful journey inwards. It all started in February this year. My partner came back from a rebirthing weekend organised by an institute named AUMM. His rebirthing experience and stories about other people’s sessions made me very curious. As if my wish was picked up by the universe, I am enormously grateful that I was guided into a rebirthing session only one week later. I cried unstoppably and without a sense of time for an hour.

Let me explain to you what rebirthing does. Rebirthing consists of different breathing techniques, but the one breathing technique which activates surpressed emotional blockages goes as follows: while breathing we connect inhalation with exhalation and exhalation with inhalation, in doing so we create a circular motion of breath. In rebirthing this is called ‘connected breathing’. This connected breathing could activate different physical symptoms like feeling cold all over your body or the opposite super hot like fire, a tingling sensation in arms, legs, face or just about everywhere, itching and the sensation of wanting to curl your feet up or move your knees from side to side. Whichever physical symptom arises depends on who you are, what kind of emotional trauma’s you’ve had and in which stage of emotional consciousness you are in.

By the end of June I started using ‘connected breathing’ in my coaching practice in combination with coaching techniques such as Neuro Linguistic Programming and Social Panorama. The results were fenomenal. In this stage my experience was only based upon my and my partner’s rebirthing experiences and by reading the books written by the founders of the AUMM institute. Before I decided to put my knowledge and experience to practice I had been through a major personal development regarding my role as a professional life coach; I had eagerly watched Suzanne Powell on YouTube and it was the first time in years that I found myself a teacher, someone I wanted to learn from. Her knowledge and experience affirmed how I live and think as I guide others to discover themselves while letting go of emotional burden.

Parallel to this development I struggled a week long with different life courses I could run: shall I write my book on high sensitivity, attend a four-year study on rebirthing or go for our second child? Off course I discussed all of this with my partner. After some talk we decided to go for our second child. I am happy to announce that I am almost four months into pregnancy. So ‘rebirthing’ has another meaning to me; going for our second real-time birth experience! I have to say, this life changing decision has put every work-relation ambition I had in a broader perspective. Off course writing a book and study can wait, but I would have been enlightened If I didn’t struggle with the following: how can I continue my journey in rebirthing when my full attention went to family and working life?

Out of personal and professional interest I did find time to read the books on rebirthing. And somehow the answer to my question just appeared out of doing my work. While guiding sessions one day I used the rebirthing technique without a lot of thinking. As I guide intuitively I just do what I feel is needed to enable the coachee to let go of limiting thoughts, behavior and emotions. As I have mentioned before, the results were fenomenal. Rebirthing to me has shown it’s positive effects while guiding people who have a hard time talking about their feelings. The positive results took me to investigate the topic even more. Within a short period of time I have mastered this skill with help of books, YouTube video’s, pure practice and loads of reflection; writing down every single detail of the rebirthing process.

This blog closes off an insightful and breathtaking Summer holidays, but the journey continues! As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this journey was started out of necessity. Some people who follow my writings already know, but to the ones who don’t know, my partner is suffering a severe headache for almost six years. So embarking on this journey wasn’t because we were so thrilled to cry our eyes out, instead we had a goal in mind and this is ‘living a life in good and vibrant health’. Before I go, there is one more detail I would like to share: one tiny part of me questioned my professionalism in embarking our rebirthing journey without having done a four-year long study. At the beginning of this week I got hold of a book by Susanna Tamaro ‘Louisito’. On the back of the book I read that she acquired international fame by one of her books called ‘Follow Your Heart’. I went online to read some reviews and came across the paragraph below:

‘And when later many paths open for you and you are not sure which one to take, don’t haphazardly choose a path, but sit and wait. Breathe with full confidence as deep as you breathed on the day you came into the world, without being distracted by something, wait and keep waiting. Do not move, be quiet and listen to your heart. Whenever that speaks to you, get up and follow his voice.’ ~ Susanna Tamaro

These words took away my doubt. I am very happy and grateful to have followed the voice of my heart. The rebirthing journey continues while every cell in my body vibrates of professionalism and a strong motivation to live my life in good health and help others to live theirs.

Life Coaching: fear of being falsely accused

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I forgive my fear of being falsely accused. My fear was there to protect me of being hurt again. I forgive my fear, because my fear thought this would be the right way to go about this family situation. Because of the situation and based on the past encounters and conversations with my in-laws I am proud to acknowdlegde the fact that I have grown as a human being. I forgive my fear and I thank my fear. My fear has given me the time to recover from the hurt, from the wound which was already there. These situations have helped me to heal the wound. The wound has healed and fear has no job left to do.

Thank you ‘fear of being falsy accused’, but I have come to a point in my life that no one is able to hurt me by falsly accusing me. No one. The dream I woke up from proves my rooted belief that no one can hurt me anymore by falsly accusing me. It felt like nightmare. My daughter walked into the room and I woke up from the scene I was in. A lady walked in and showed me some receipts of the gym clothing of the children. She was telling me that she recently bought these clothes and they were already damaged. I felt her negative energy, I felt she was accusing me of the damaged clothing. I saw the clothing piled up as evidence.

Strangely enough it seemed like there was a cristal wall between me and her negative energy. I observed her energy and I was conscious of my anxiety, but at the same time I was calm and I knew what I was about to say. But right before I was about to say anything my daughter woke me up from the dream. This dream showed me one of my biggest fears, the fear of being wronged. But the dream also showed me my strength. The only thing left for me to do is to be fully calm and get rid of the anxiety. No need to feel anxious when I know I am not the one to blame. I forgive my fear of being falsly accused and I thank my fear for the time it gave me to heal.