Family Feud or Family Fun?

Family Feud or Family Fun?

Getting (even the toughest) People in your Life to Work With You!

She’s moving baaaaaack!

This time last year my eldest daughter Victoria decided she couldn’t live with me and Caitlin (her wee sister) any longer.  So for the first time ever, she moved in with her dad.

If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve likely seen my posts every day since August 1st as part of a hashtag “#augustbreak2020”.  Last Friday I posted a couple of pictures of Caitlin and I with the caption “mirrored”.  

I shared how alike we are.  We’re basically kindred spirits and forever soulmates as we rarely fight and we love hanging out with each other. We regularly close malls when we shop together, have the same food sensitivities, and finish each other’s sentences all the time. 

After 22 years of living with this kind of relationship at our house, well, let’s just say, Victoria couldn’t handle it any more and chose to leave.  I mean, it’s understandable.  Can you imagine living with two almost identical people (one Boomer, one Gen Z) who look, think, talk and behave alike?  

In light of all this, Victoria knew that she needed her space.

Two days after the Caitlin post, I shared a collage of me with Victoria with the title “joy” on Instagram.  This time I talked about how this beautiful young woman, my eldest, has brought me so much joy, learning and challenge, especially trying to be a role model for her.  

And now she’s coming back home.  It turns out she misses us, and likes living with us after all. 

Strategy for Change! 
When the idea of her coming home again was brought up I knew we needed a plan because any change in family dynamics has to ensure everyone is heard and considered. 
Caitlin wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. I was trying to figure out how to make sure everybody was happy … a seemingly impossible task with 3 hormonal women, 3 cars and 3 careers in a small semi-detached house.  

TIP #1: Have Real Conversations
If you are faced with a dilemma like this, you need to take everyone into consideration. Conversations need to happen separately before doing it as a family so everyone has a chance to think it through. Sometimes even writing it all out helps you be super clear. Don’t forget to keep an open mind.

Victoria and I sat down together to talk about what she needed to move back in with Caitlin and I. 
Caitlin and I had a conversation to discuss what it would be like to have Victoria live with us again. 
I sat down with myself and thought long and hard about what this would mean for me. The lock down had given me 5 months of alone time while Caitlin was on a school exchange in Europe and Victoria was living at her dad’s.  I realized that all of us would want privacy and need respect, and none of us were the same people we were last year.
TIP #2: Have a Shared Agenda so Everyone Can Contribute
Use your phone Notes, Google Drive, or even a piece of blank paper entitled “Family Agenda” on the fridge to write ALL the talking points down so nothing gets missed.  Write each issue or question as open ended subjects so no decisions are made prior to meeting. This way the conversation can allow for all possibilities, solutions and considerations.

We set an agenda within a shared “note” in our phones so we could all contribute our questions and points to discuss. We left it open for a few weeks to give us time to think it over. 

TIP #3: Schedule a Meeting With Everyone
When you make it official it’s easier to negotiate the conversation. Someone has to lead it … it will probably be you, so keep your cool, and listen to what’s said, and not said. This is what’s needed for love and connection to flourish amidst change and challenge. When you use clear communication everyone knows the drill, appreciates the structure and honors the process. Take it seriously and be involved. This way you’ll get an outcome that works for everyone. Honor each person.
We sat down together in a “family meeting” to talk through boundaries, communication, finances, chores and privacy.  We also discussed how we would navigate food, rent, visitors and space. It was an easy conversation and everyone was clear, happy and felt heard at the end. We did it over dinner and we even used a straw as a “talking stick” so each person had their turn. We have been having family meetings like this since 2007 when their dad and I divorced, so they were onboard with the process.

Keeping the Communication Going 
This kind of communication strategy and practice often doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  It is a skill that is learned over time, with consistency and persistence for the greater good of all.  We learn to set aside our egos and realize that to work together we must come from the deeper heart-centered love that we hold for one another. It takes effort, commitment and desire.

My coaching clients learn all this, and more when they work with me.  They receive specific guidance, phrases, responses and tools to help them keep their cool, and come from love in any difficult conversation they encounter, either at work, in love or with family.

If you’d like help with your communication skills, complete my “Getting Started Coaching Form” and let’s talk.  I will give you one hour of my time to help you find out what’s needed for you to be happier, more confident and live fearlessly.  Especially in difficult conversations. Here’s the form again.

In conclusion, Victoria will move back in at the end of the month, Caitlin is happy, and I’m making sure I continue to get my alone time!  It is a win/win/win for all three of us.

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Your Hug Style? The “A” hug? Or the “I” hug?

Your Hug Style? The “A” hug? Or the “I” hug?

I noticed it right away. My body is frozen and I am decidedly uncomfortable.  I am scared, my heart is pounding, and my throat feels like it’s constricted.  I’m having a panic attack.

It’s my first Tantra workshop, and we are learning how to hug.

I don’t do hugs.

Well, I mean if I HAVE to I will, BUT, it’s definitely an “‘A” hug.  You’ve seen them right?

It’s a weak attempt to wrap an arm around the top of the shoulders of the other person, and you never lean in too far.  Your legs are far away from each other.  God forbid your hips meet.

It never lasts more than a millisecond and bodies hardly touch.  It is enough just to say, there I did it.  We hugged, right? 

That’s the “A” style hug.

Now an “I” style hug … that’s completely different. And that’s what I was being asked to do.

Oh God.  There’s no room between the bodies, and the hug is tight.  I mean tight.  My friend is a great hugger, and she loves them.  She gives “I” style hugs, and she is a natural.  And she learned it in her family.  They are all natural huggers.

But not me.  Nope.  We didn’t hug in our family.  It’s not what Scottish people do.  We are definitely “A” style huggers.  We don’t even say “I love you” either, so hugging would have been just plain weird.

Back to the Tantra workshop, I am like a deer in the headlights.  Frozen like the North Pole.  

The poor guy who’s trying to hug me is having a really hard time as the teacher tells us to make sure our thighs are touching.  What?  Thigh touching.  You’ve got to be kidding.  What kind of workshop is this?

So we (attempt to) hug for almost 30-60 seconds, and then we can stop.  I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank God that’s over.

Without human touch though we lose our connection to ourselves and to others.  We die inside.

But then it’s the next person in the circle and gosh, don’t I have to do it again, and again,and again.  It doesn’t get any easier, until finally the last guy comes towards me.  We begin our hug. Heart to heart. Thigh to thigh, close, tight and yet I’m still uncomfortable.  What is wrong with me?

Then something inside of me shifts.  I begin to let go.  Despite the constant thighs touching it doesn’t feel quite so weird anymore.  I think I’m getting used to it.  I can feel my body soften, just a little.  With his chest against mine I can feel my heart beating.  I hear my breath.  I sense myself.  I sense him.  I feel present.

This is an “I” hug.

It’s only 30-60 seconds but it feels like an eternity to me and this time, I don’t want it to stop? 

He holds me as all the others had done, and I hold him.  But this time it’s different.

Like chocolate, I’m beginning to melt.  Warm, sweet honey, I can feel my body relax and I begin to trust.

Oooooh … so this is what it’s supposed to feel like?

It’s not sexual.

It’s better.

It’s safe.  Loving.  Real.  Connection.

  • Deeper connections don’t happen by magic.
  • They take effort, time and practice.
  • We must be willing to trust, let go and relax.
  • We open our hearts and let love in.

I’m finally trusting.  I’m letting go and I’m relaxing in a hug.

Who knew?

I drop my defenses and I open my heart.  I let go.

When was the last time you opened your heart in a hug?

Over lunch I go to him.  “I have to tell you something” I say and I watch as a concerned look appears on his face.  “I had a breakthrough with you”.  My heart is beating very fast and my mouth is dry.  I’m not used to being vulnerable and telling people the deepest things going on with me.

You did”? He is curious to know more.

Yes”.  I take a deep breath.  “Remember the hugging exercise we did”?  

He nods.

Well, when we hugged, you created a safe space for me to trust”.  I explain.  “You held me in a way that helped me to let go so I could allow the hug.  Do you know what I mean”?

I really wanted him to get what I was saying.

I think so” he said, but I’m not sure he did.

It was really important for me” I went on.  “I have struggled with allowing anyone close most of my life, and with your hug, well that seemed to magically disappear.  I wanted to tell you so you would know I’m so grateful.

I was gushing now, eager for him to understand.

I, I mean not in a sexual way, well, just that it was really nice and it opened me up to something I’ve never felt before with anyone, so thank you.  I mean it.  Really.  Thank you”.

He looked at me and smiled.  “Really? Wow!” His eyes were sparkling.  “I did that?”.  His question was genuine. 

Yes, so thank you“. I was still nervous, but less so.

Thanks for telling me” he went on.  “I had no idea”.

Well, I just wanted you to know”. I explained.  We smiled, and then it was a little awkward.

Do you want another hug?” he asked.

Oh yes please” I laughed.  And when we hugged for the second time, I felt it again.

Safe.  Warm.   Comfortable.  Connected.  Not weird.  And not awkward.


Have no expectations, and just enjoy the experience!

  • Move together into a hug.
  • Embrace and connect at the heart by touching chests, left to left (not straight on)
  • Touch thighs against each other.

Don’t be afraid to be close.

  • If the hug is with a friend, breathe normally, drop into the hug and allow yourself to let go and relax by breathing deeply in flow.
  • If the hug is with your lover, try some Tantric breathing in addition to the physical hug.  Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth (this helps complete the energy circuit).  
  • As the man breathes out he imagines his energy entering the woman at her root chakra (base of the spine) and the woman breathes in, imagining the energy flowing up from the pelvic floor to her heart. 
  • As the woman breathes out, the man imagines taking her energy back in through his heart and moving down his spine to his root chakra.  This circular breath helps sexual energy flow in a cosmic circle through you both. The direction of the energy can also be switched.

Don’t worry, you can’t do it wrong.

  • Notice what comes up for you and let it be present.
  • Allow yourself to be held.  Hold the other person. Remember they are having their own experience too.

Relax and enjoy the embrace.

  • Hug for about 12 breaths or 30-60 seconds.
  • As you separate, share freely about your experience.

If, like me, you find this tough, persevere.  It gets better.

The secret is the thigh to thigh contact, and not making it sexual.  If you want to practice with others (not your lover), just breathe normally throughout the entire hug experience.

Just keep on hugging.

28 Ways to Make Love Magical

28 Ways to Make Love Magical

I have been on this earth for over 50 years, and sometimes that fact alone freaks me out especially because it’s not been an easy half century.

For a long time I believed that love was pain because my experiences of love have been catastrophic, crazy and only occasionally cathartic! 

And it’s just recently that I have begun to believe in, and understand, what true love really is.

If we listen to the media, true love is hopelessly romantic; the Disney fairy tale, the heartbreaking country song, or the idea of a lifelong partner with a big white wedding and happy ever after.

I’m sorry folks, but I don’t believe in this.  

True love requires attention and affection. It demands honesty and rigor. It is not complacent. It needs passion, effort, and a determination to make it the best it can be, by everyone in the relationship.

Do you live like this?

True Love requires commitment; the commitment to relentlessly never give up on something until the very end.

We live in a throwaway society. We reduce, reuse and recycle on many levels.

Please don’t do this with those you love in your life.  

When I was in marriage counseling I was determined never to give up. I had to make it work. When my therapist told me “Gail, you can only give up on this love when you truly feel you can look in your daughters’ eyes and tell them you gave it everything you could and it still didn’t work. Then and only then, can you let go of the dream of true love with this man”.  It took me 6 years to let go.

True love has to have passion to start, and ongoing passion to survive.

Most of us are familiar with the stirrings of passion with new love. The honeymoon phase is exciting and the love drug “oxytocin” flows through our bodies like a raging river, allowing us to overlook flaws at the beginning. But those same flaws will eventually become annoying to us and many people give up and move on when it comes to this stage.

True love means we look past the simply annoying, to find the best in ourselves, our partner and the relationship.

If our relationship dies of “weariness, witherings and tarnishings” we must not forget that we need to work on ourselves. We must remember to “not go looking at the speck of sawdust in another’s eye, when all the time there is a plank in our own eye”. It is so easy to think we are perfect and it’s not us that might be the problem.

Look in the mirror.

True Love is honest.

Brene Brown has become famous for her TEDx talks on shame and vulnerability. Her mandate is that we must be able to have the difficult conversations or else we will foolishly believe our relationships are real when in fact they are not.

Wholehearted living means we are willing to tell the truth for us, and be authentic, even if it’s a difficult conversation.

It is from this sharing and caring that we create and maintain the foundation for True Love to live on, and on, and on.

True Love is kind and gentle, yet strong and powerful.

The dichotomy of true love is that it can break you down, and build you up. Broken hearts mend, but at the time, love can nearly kill you.  I have cried a river three times in my life for what I believed was true love.  I won’t lie, I’m still not exactly sure about this thing called True Love, but I do know that it can hurt like crazy, and have me feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world, all in the same day.

True Love is magical, but it doesn’t happen by magic.

We must work at True Love.  We need to be willing to put in the effort if we want real intimacy. Love dies because we forget or don’t know how to “replenish its source”.  We must feed it, nourish it, share it and own our part in it.

We must bring ourselves fully to the table or “it dies of blindness, errors and betrayals”.

We must recognize when it is dying, and take action.

How do we do that?  

Here are some simple ideas to spark a re-connection with your lover and bring you both back to each other.

  • Simple eye gazing – Look in your loved one’s eyes for 2 minutes – no talking.  
  • Listen to each other (without responding). Hear the words and feelings.
  • Touch each other lovingly (and non-sexually) to reignite passion.
  • Learn what love means for yourself and your partner by completing the Five Love Languages quiz.  Feed the other’s love language, and ask for what you need.
  • Read a book you are both interested in … taking turns together to read aloud.
  • Slow down your lifestyle together.
  • Take time to explore each other in a new way.
  • Hold hands frequently (all the time knowing the hands connect to the heart energetically).
  • Sit side by side in a restaurant, instead of across from each other.  Feed each other.
  • Have a bubble bath together, just for fun.
  • Enjoy the adventure of life, together and apart.
  • Reminisce about how you met.  Tell each other the story.
  • Take photos of each other and keep them on the front of your phone.
  • Gave at each other softly, openly, vulnerably. Do it naked if you dare.
  • Do simple things for each other so your partner knows they are important to you.
  • Relax and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Walk in the woods and draw on the energy of nature together.
  • Drink hot chocolate wrapped in a blanket together in the cool evening.
  • Gaze at water at sunset saying nothing.
  • Enjoy the majesty of the stars together in the middle of the night when the world is quiet.
  • Snuggle under cozy blankets sharing favorite childhood stories in early morning.
  • Always honor each other. Trust each other. Talk to each other.

It doesn’t matter if true love is with your lover, your friend, your child or even just yourself. What matters is that you recognize it and feed it the right kind of care and attention it needs.  

When we know and understand our own “planks” we are much more accepting of others’ “specks”.

Commitment and passion, so vital for the journey, are the bread and butter of any real relationship, and it must always start with our relationship to ourselves first.

Start today. And start small.

Start by enjoying this cool little song by Dave Barnes.  “Loving You, Loving Me.