Monday 11 September 2017

Boss women: Liz

Happy Monday! I'm excited to introduce the next inspiring boss lady to you: Liz.
Liz and I have never met in real life, yet I feel that I know her well. We found each other's blogs several years ago, and have been following each other and communicating ever since.
When I came up with the idea of this series, I knew right away that I wanted Liz to be a part of it. She is such a special person: She is a life coach, blogger, podcaster, amazing photographer, counsellor, and an expat. 
Her story is unique and awe-inspiring - I'll let her tell it.  

Q: You are a life coach. What is a life coach? 
A: Oh, I loooove talking about being a life coach. Ok. Here’s my take on it. A life coach, in my opinion, is a fellow pilgrim who acts as a guide. A mentor. One who has experience, specific skills, and a love for the journey of life; but who is also on her own journey as well. It is a professional relationship, but something more akin to seeking out a spiritual guide, guru, yogi, mentor, and/or, well… coach.
Life coaching is about helping others to help themselves. It is a journey of self-discovery. Of discovering who we are + what we want through focused, goal-oriented conversations . It is about coming alive to our own lives.

Life coaching is not therapy or counseling, but rather it is a journey of discovery of seeking + fulfilling. It is present-based + future-oriented, free-spirited + well-organized, beginning with where we are now and uncovering the path that leads us to create, right now, one moment at a time, the life that we envision for ourselves. This is what Joseph Campbell (one of my heroes in life) calls following your bliss.
So, a life coach works to provide tools and support you in finding your own answers. It is about helping you realize + bring forth all of the power that already lies within you. A life coach challenges you to take the necessary steps towards the desired change.  Life coaches listen, guide, and help clients decide on certain, concrete steps to take toward an active change in life. For me, because of my training + experience, that includes spiritual guidance, existential questions as well (Who am I? Why am I here?, etc.). It is a very personal, present and future-oriented way of guiding a client in creating the life that he/she envisions.

The idea is to release, through life coaching sessions, your full potential in order to achieve the goals and the life that you dream of. Our individual goals and interests are at the center of it all, and through coaching, we realize that we have all of the answers already within us. A life coach simply helps us to discover the power within to create the life that we want.

Q:What made you decide to become a life coach? 
A: I have experienced a few life-changing rebirths in my life. In fact, I dare say that the cycle of birth, life, and death, the cycle of constant renewal + transformation, is exactly what life is all about.  It’s that journey that I mentioned above. In fact, it is this mystery and magic and simplicity of continuous cycle of life that is so evidently seen in nature.
For me, this is spirituality. This is why I am here. To constantly plant, grow, sow, and evolve. To continually learn and transform. Ultimately to discover, with each passing day, more and more of my true authentic self. And to live life from that authentic place in my soul, so as to be of benefit to this world.

9 years ago I was studying theology and spirituality. I explored all of the ways (from a Christian perspective) that we “know” god and what it means to live a spiritual life. 
My heart + soul challenged me to find my own path back then. But that process of finding my own path has taken a while. Back then, I felt the call to take all of the religious bullshit that made no sense, and inspire others to see that it’s not about the religion, but about relationships. It’s about living a connected, grounded, authentic life.
It’s often assumed that to be religious or spiritual means that one also is holy, above others, closed-minded, untouchable, perfect. Like a guru or a saint. That religion + spirituality actually have nothing to do with everyday life. And so, it is a big turn-off.
Over time, I formulated my ideas and beliefs on how we can know that life is meant to be lived more deeply, how we are here to do more than exist, and how spirituality is actually a part of everyday life. The creative energies that connect us all (whether you call them god, magic, allah, tao, spirit, or anything else or nothing at all) move in and among us at all times. Empowering + inspiring us, and teaching us to live life from our soul. And when we do that, then we are in creation with each other + the whole world, making a difference, spreading love + light, and living a deeper more meaningful life that is true to who we are.

In the past 10 years, I have found a way of living with the mystery and magic that brings that meaning to my life– by learning to be, love, and live. And that’s where Life Coaching comes in.

My intention has always been to guide and inspire others in finding their own bliss, in discovering who they are, in listening to their own souls, in living a mindful, intentional life filled with spirit and peace. Becoming a life coach is my way of answering my call to minister, guide, teach, and journey with others, as they discover their own souls + create their own lives.
Now, being a life coach does not mean that I have it all figured out, but it does mean that I am much more comfortable than I ever have been before on this crazy journey that we call life.
Becoming a life coach is my way to raise my voice and share my story – in an effort to make a difference in the world. The best way I know to do that is to write and talk about the life that I live – because I believe that, while we each have a story to tell, we are all a part of each others’ stories and the one, great, story of being human. What we seek individually, we all seek collectively: love and hope and peace and equality.
What I seek to offer is a way to discover how others can create a meaningful life filled with simple moments, that allow you to be authentically you, and to follow your own bliss.

Q: Can you tell us in what situation one might need a life coach?
A: At different points in our lives we all need a little outside ear to listen, frame, and help us find the answers that we already have tucked deep inside us. And, there are so many different reasons we may be searching for answers. And so many different moments in life that we find ourselves seeking a little guidance. Here are just a few of the common times in life when it just might be good to ring up your friendly neighborhood life coach (whether it’s me or someone else), to help you start to dig deep + find what you are seeking. Here are 11 good reasons that you just might want to meet with a Life Coach:

 You have experienced a dramatic (good or bad) change in life lately
 You find yourself pondering life questions
 You are dissatisfied with work
 You want to do something you feel passionate about
 You want to improve your quality of life (health, love, work, spirituality, etc.)
 You are questioning who you are, what you believe, and/or your values
 You have peaked in what you set out to do and want to find something else that excites you
 You are entering a new stage of life and want something meaningful to pursue
 You feel you have a purpose or destiny in life and want to discover and fulfill it
 You are simply ready for a change

Q: You and your wife also have a podcast. What is it about? What inspired you to start it?
A: Gaaaah. The podcast! I love having a podcast with my wife, Lina. We started it a year ago and have 27 or 28 episodes out there in the podcast world. We started it because we were invited to be interviewed on a podcast in Asheville, North Carolina (my hometown). And it was so much fun that we thought, “We can do this!”. So, we did!

The Liz + Lina podcast is all about life. Our life. What we do. Where we go. How we think. Who we are. And how we feel about all different kinds of things. It’s about learning and discovering how to live life to the fullest, on our terms. A life full of celebration and adventure, creativity and coziness. It’s even about the things that we struggle with and how we try to slow down and stay connected to ourselves, to each other, and the world. We laugh a lot. Get pretty silly. And hope that somewhere, in all of our conversations, we just might sprinkle a little joy and light and magic out into the world.

Q: You are American, but moved to Sweden several years ago. Why did you move? 
A: In 2010, after nine months of marriage of a mix of living in two separate countries + visiting each other as much as possible, I finally was able to move to Sweden to be with my wife. She’s Swedish and I’m American, and we’re two girls. So, for obvious (sad, but true) reasons, we decided that Sweden would be the place where we made our first home together. We took our little American cat, Zola, packed my bags, and flew across the great wide Atlantic to begin our new life together.

Q: How is life as an expat? What's the best/what's the worst part about it?
A: To say that I am blessed is utterly ridiculous. It is the understatement of the decade. My life is so full, so rich, so amazing. I am unbelievably grateful for this crazy life that I live… and even more grateful for finding the courage within me to finally break free and live the life that I felt called to live. Slow, meaningful, adventurous, inspiring, bi-national.

Yes, expat life is filled with all of those dreamy dreams, but it is also tough (as Miriam knows!). 

It is a dream come true for me. Something I lay on my bed, plotting and imagining as a little girl; and then, later, as a young woman, felt a very real, deep yearning for. To live out that dream is indescribable. To have two countries that I truly call home blesses me day after day, especially when it comes to holidays. My wife and I are celebrating some kind of holiday constantly! 

But, expat life is heartbreaking as well. The hardest thing I know is to be away from my parents and my brother. To not be near my family and friends. Some days I wonder if I am wasting precious time by being so far away. And, yet, I am still as close as ever with them. So, it aches deep in my heart on many days.

Perhaps living an expat life has deepened everything about my way of living, opened me to feeling and exploring and living life to the fullest, embracing each and every moment with intensity and gratitude. And I would not change any of it for anything.

Q: You have been blogging for 6 years. What made you start? What's the best thing about blogging for you?
A: As a new ex-pat, every single day was an adventure. I was living my dream (thirteen years in the making) of living in Europe. I was in love. And life was pretty crazy and amazing. So, I decided to start a blog to celebrate my new life in Sweden and to share what life was like in in this Nordic country with all of my friends & family “back home” in the States.
But, pretty soon, it was much more than that. The name of my blog (belovelive )became my inspiration – an outward expression of what I believed in most; and of the life that I yearned to live.
Somehow, my blog began to grow and I began to gain friends from countries spread all over the globe. Some of these blogging friends have even become real-life friends. In addition to creating relationships through the blog, I have found myself creating almost daily, documenting my thoughts, inspirations, photos, travels, and adventures.
I dreamed up belovelive in 2011, as a way to discover how to turn my thoughts + beliefs in to my actual life. And, what began as an online diary after turning my life upside-down and becoming an expat, has since turned into the inspiration for me to discover how to truly align my life with the way I want to live.

Q: You meditate daily. Any tips for newbies who can't shut up their crazy mind?
A: Yes, I do meditate regularly… and it has changed my life. These days, it is like breathing. It is the foundation of my being, of each and every day. Though, it took years of practice to get me to this point. And it’s all about being patient, and slowly and intentionally creating a routine.

I do think that, whether it is 5 minutes or 2 hours, engaging in some sort of ritual and routine, the more grounded + prepared we are for the day. The more we remember and focus on what truly matters. And the more inspiration we receive that empowers us to make changes + make a difference throughout the rest of the day. I highly recommend exploring what works for you. And adding in time to just be yourself… if only for 5 minutes, as I said.

But, the worst thing about meditation, I think, is that freaking wandering mind. We think we must be perfect yogi, guru meditators. And, even if we don’t believe that, we still feel guilty if we try to meditate, only find ourselves making grocery lists, scratching our noses, listening to dogs bark and cars whiz by, and feeling stressed about feeling so stressed. We feel like a failure if we “wasted” our meditation time with a wandering mind.
So, what to do when your mind wanders and thinks and analyzes and pays attention to every little thing except calming down? Well, I have a tiny, little tip: 

Embrace the thoughts. Actually, meditation is not about emptying our mind. It’s not about fighting against everything that is going on. Meditation is all about acceptance. Accepting and simply being with all that is.
So, try this: Imagine that you are standing at a window watching all of your thoughts go by.
Silly, huh? But, I have done this sometimes. And you know what? It is freeing. I did not reprimand myself for the random thoughts that came to mind as I (tried to) meditated. In my mind I imagined that I was watching myself as I stood at a window, and that my thoughts came by from right to left, like a parade. Each thought was a different float in the parade. And, stupid as it sounds, what that did was free me up to see the thought, acknowledge it, and then let it pass. Usually another thought was right behind it, but sometimes there as a little silent break. A gap. And that gap is that coveted, amazing mediation moment of nothingness.
So, if you are into meditating, then give the parade thing a try. See what happens. And remember this: do not reprimand yourself for having thoughts that interrupt your meditation. Do not get mad at yourself if your mind never settles down. It happens to all of us, and it doesn’t mean that you cannot meditate. But, keep practicing, keep watching your thoughts, as you become someone who lets go and settles the mind more and more with each passing day. That’s my goal. And, it takes time. But, I think I’m getting better.

Q: Do you have a big goal you want to achieve in your life? 
A: You know, I have an interesting relationship with goals. I don’t make them. Strange, huh? I have had them in the past, and I have reached many of them. And, of course, I understand the importance of them. I even use them in my life coaching. But, I do not focus on them. 

See, life happens and changes so much… and what I might set for a goal today, may be completely irrelevant next week, next month or next year. Therefore, I live by setting intentions and casting visions. 

To me, intentions and visions fit right into my desire to live a slow life that unfolds and evolves. My intentions and visions allow me to cast my dreams and ideas and goals out there into the future, while at the same time recognizing the importance of living in the present moment, flowing with the energy, remaining aligned, and adjusting the sails as I journey through my days.

So, my big intention and vision is to inspire. One of the ways I want to do that is through writing and photography and speaking and life coaching. Should I publish a book and travel around speaking about that, I would be unbelievably ecstatic about that. So, I cast that vision out there, and I focus on intentionally on doing all I can right here, right now to stay faithful to my truth and continuing to create the life that I want to live. 

Thank you Liz!

To learn more about Liz, go check out her
↠ Blog
↠ Instagram
↠ Podcast

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xo Miriam

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