Finding Your Voice In 2018

What a wild ride 2017 has been. More than a years worth of fires and floods, loss and grief along with plenty of anger, blame and judgement in the air as well. It’s easy to be drawn into the drama and acrimony of others. We don’t always have control of the events of our lives, but we can control our attitude and the way we view these events.

How do we maintain our balance with all of this negative energy swirling around? In the coming year I would suggest honing in on your self nurturing skills, integrating them into your daily routine with these three skills.

1.) Setting your intention is a great way to create more of what you want and let go of those things that no longer serve you. An intention is a conscious choice for the direction of your life in this new year. It isn’t a list of action steps, but a statement of what is important to you. Better than New Years Resolutions, intentions can not be broken. If you get off course you simple reevaluate and take “course corrective actions.”

2.) Surround yourself with people that will support you in your hopes and dreams. There are plenty of people in our lives that are more than willing to tear you down to their level.

3.) Self-forgiveness is an essential skill you can use on a daily basis to release any self-judgements as they come up. The judgements you harbor against yourself and others are negative energy you carry inside of yourself 24 hours a day. Self-forgiveness is an indispensable tool.

Wishing you a great, glorious and magnificent 2018! Continue to learn, grow and protect yourself from taking on other people’s negative energy. In a well lived life, there are always challenges as well as explorations. When things come up, reach out to the people you trust who can lift you up. And as always, we are here to assist. Reach out and let us know how we can help YOU make this your greatest year yet!



Affirmations That Heal

Affirmations are a powerful tool that you can use to counter act the constant barrage of negative messages that are constantly coming at us.  All of this negative input can be called your Inner Critic or “background noise.”  No matter how hard you try or how little you pay attention to the noise, some of it ultimately filters through and into your subconscious internal programming.  You began to believe these negative images.

Affirmations are your noise canceling program.  They are most effective when you use them to counteract the deep-seated negative messages that you have internalized; the negative thoughts and feelings you believe about yourself.

Why Can’t I Find My Soulmate

One of our clients’ recalled the constant message from her father, “You’ll never find anyone who will love you; men will always disappoint you and leave you.”  (It doesn’t matter whether this is what he actually said.  It only matters that this is a message she heard.)  Not surprising, she is single and all of her relationships have ended badly and were disappointing.  It was not until she dug deep inside and recognized the pattern that it finally clicked for her.  When she was able to recognize the pattern and its origin, she could then take action steps to release it.

Every thought you have is attached to an emotion. Your negative emotions and upsets are a result of negative thoughts. These thoughts are based on your limited interpretations of reality or your attachment to believing your view is right. Whenever you are in upset, it is a clear indication that what you believe to be true is in conflict with reality.

Like Attracts Like

The more you think of your life as a problem to be solved, the more you create negative thoughts. Negative thought patterns become your habits. It is so easy to fall into this pattern of thinking that you don’t even notice it. Before you realize it you have a very active “inner critic.” Human beings are creatures of habit. What you are thinking today is probably the same as what you were thinking yesterday and the day before. You become like a well-worn record, the grooves are very deep.

Affirmations are a way to overwrite your habitual negative thinking with more positive loving patterns of thought. More positive thinking leads to a more positive emotional outlook and attracts to you more happiness, joy and loving. What you think about all day you become. It takes about 30 days of consistent practice to change a behavior.

Excerpt from, “From Heartache to Happiness: Letting go and moving on.” Available on Amazon:

Gratitude and Loving Are a Way of Life

Holiday Reflections

The holiday season is often a time we reflect on the events of the past. We can judge our lives by our Gratitude and Lovingsuccesses or failures, by our experiences good or bad, but how many of us wake up each morning and realize how truly blessed we are. Gratitude and loving are not just sentiments written on our holiday cards, but a beautiful way of life.

So often in our busy lives we think in terms of problems to be solved. How many fires did I have to put out today? Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m just trying to get through my day,” or some other version of overwhelm or obligation? Just think for a moment, is my life a problem to be solved, or a blessing to be lived?

When I get bogged down in the problems and minutia of life I repeat this little phrase to myself and it helps me to gain perspective, “Live each day as if it will be your last, because someday it will be true!” It’s not as fatalistic as it might sound at first. It’s a reminder to focus on what is truly important in my life and let some of the petty things that so often upset us and waste our time go.

Tomorrow Will Come

It doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for a better tomorrow, it just means that I don’t put off living today. Today, right now is the only time that I can be truly alive. Do I want to push people away and be upset, or do I want to connect with others and find that place of peace and loving in my heart?  Sometimes I forget the loving and get swallowed up in the fear and darkness. When I become aware of this I have to remember to STOP, check in with my heart and find that loving place.

When you left home this morning, or the last time you saw a loved one, what was the last thing that you said? Was it in loving appreciation, or was it something else? Did you take just that moment to be fully present with that person and appreciate them for being in your life, an attitude of gratitude? If that was the last time you were ever to see them is that how you want to be remembered?

Gratitude and Loving

They are called our loved ones for a reason, not our “Take it for granted ones!” Upsets, fear and anger are all part of the human experience and, at times, they can seem overwhelming. But we all have a choice. We can choose to wake up, and remember that loving is our true nature. Gratitude and loving are not just sentiments written on our holiday cards, but a beautiful way of life.

“Live each day as if it were your last…”

Grieving Is A Process

The holidays are here and they may be a painful reminder of those who are no longer with us or what we have lost. Unfortunately, change and loss are just a part of life. Pain or grief is inevitable, but we do not need to get stuck there. Grieving is a process we move through to completion, to release the pain.

Each of us has experienced loss at some time in our life, and it is painful. But, we are under no obligation to suffer for the rest of our lives. If we try to stuff or ignore our losses, the suffering becomes a way of life. We get used to carrying the burdens of the past. Sometimes we hold on for so long we don’t notice the numbing effect it has on our present life.

Suffering Is A Way of Life

We get used to being sad and lonely. This is how it was for me, mildly sad, lonely and extremely guarded. I was used to feeling this way. I didn’t know that there was any other way of being.

I eventually learned that I was suffering as a way of life. The clouds of woe were just a part of who I was. I know many people who are holding on to their past loss as if it were a lifeline, not knowing there can be a different way. Many others grieve only partially, doing the best they can, but only achieving partial relief.

But, I had a wakeup call. I came to a place where I could no longer bear the burden of the past. I learned that there were actually effective tools that could release me from my dark and gloomy self. I came to understand that grieving is a process that I must move through, using a specific set of tools, to completion.

Grieving Is A Process

Moving through the grieving process seemed scary, but staying stuck in my past was even scarier and unbearable. As I worked my process I began to feel happier, and lighter. I never knew that this was possible for me. Not only was happiness possible, but it was a direct result of moving through the grieving process.

I’m not special or unique; however, I have spent over a decade learning the tools and processes for releasing grief and loss of the past. These tools will work for you, when you are ready to release the past and move into a happier more loving life. When will it be time for you to choose you?



Life: Is It For Me or Against Me?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

According to Mr. Twain I must have had the most interesting and meaningful life you could imagine.  Maybe a little more meaningful than I would have preferred at times!

I used to live by the philosophy that life is hard and then you die.  Every challenge was a personal affront.  But, as you can imagine, this is a very hard way to live.  It leaves little room for personal growth or happiness.  Quite frankly, I was living life as a victim, someone that life happened to.

Eventually I had one challenge to many and completely broke down.  I could no longer live under this dark cloud, carrying all of my burdens. (My victim mentality).  When I worked for a University we would sometimes participate in what we called “attitude adjustment hour.”  This meant going to a local watering hole and having a few drinks.

I tried the alcohol and drugs route for many years and it didn’t work.  I drank to make my pain go away, but all it did was numb me out and get me to the next day.  I would wake up and have all of the same negative attitudes and problems as the day before; nothing changed.

In my experience, alcohol and drugs can never solve your problems.  They can only dull the pain, for a little while.  Then, there you are staring at yourself in the mirror with more guilt and shame then the day before.  It is false hope and a spiral down. I learned that true attitude adjustment doesn’t come in a bottle, but in adopting a new perspective or philosophy of life.

Ultimately there are only two basic perspectives on life.  My initial programming was to view life as is hard and then you die.  But I discovered a new, more meaningful and self-respecting, way to live; everything in life is for me.  Even the most painful events in life have meaning. One is a constant slow spiral down and the other is stepping stones to higher consciousness, happiness and freedom.

This new way of thinking was very intoxicating in a way that alcohol and drugs and never could be. For the first time in my life I felt truly free. I was liberated from the old stories I told myself about my past. New questions flooded my mind. How can I use this? How is this for me? How can I learn and grow from this experience? How can this make me stronger? I felt empowered; that my life mattered. I began to honor my feelings and myself.

One of the most important, and least conscious, choices we make in life is our fundamental view of the world.  Is life is for me, or life is against me?  It colors everything in our lives.  Do you look for the negative, or do you look for positive and uplifting in people, situations, and your own personal experiences?


Are You Ready to Celebrate the Holiday Season?

Once again the holidays are upon us. Radio stations are playing holiday music. I am constantly reminded of the great sales and gift ideas that are available at the local mall or department store. When I’m on the internet or checking my Facebook page, pop-up ads inform me of products that are on sale for a limited time only.  All of this is guaranteed to make me and my loved ones happy. But in addition to the music, shopping, wrapping and baking, the holidays are usually a time of cheer and family connections.

But what if your heart is aching and you’re not feeling the cheerfulness, that holiday spirit?

All of us that have experienced heartache or loss, whether recent or past, may be anticipating holidays that may be anything but happy or festive.  For some, the holidays may be a painful reminder of the loved ones who won’t be at the dinner table or party this year.  Everything connected with holidays seems to tell us that we should be happy, often adding guilt to the pain and heartache we may currently be experiencing.

There is no right time or place to grieve.  But, grieve, we must, and in our own way and in our own time.  I can’t tell you how to feel, nor can endless cycles of holiday music make you feel any better.

You may not be happy, but you can celebrate in a different way.  You may be sad for your loss, but you can celebrate the life of your loved one.  You can be grateful for the time you had together and the happy memories you created.  And when you are ready, you might look forward to new beginnings, starting a new chapter in your life. As the author of your own life, it’s your choice how you allow the experiences of your life to color your future.

Whether you believe it now or not, you’re a loving person.  We know this to be true because only people who are capable of loving deeply are the ones who can suffer or grieve a loss.  The good news is that the capacity for loving can never be fully disowned.  Only a person who is able to grieve deeply is able to love fully.

You may try to cover-up the sadness for a while with distractions.  But, when you are able and ready to move through the heartache, you will discover a deeper, stronger person inside.  The feelings of love we have for a loved one who is gone, never die, but the pain and suffering we feel inside can be resolved.  It’s your choice.

We’ve discovered a method of resolving heartache that worked for us.  Our book, “From Heartache to Happiness” includes tools and techniques that you can use to move through the grieving process in a healthy way. You can create the next chapter in your life with more peace, love and joy!

Happy Holidays with Love,

Bill and Irene Stafford

Beautify Yourself From the Inside Out

As people are immersed in the spirit of the holidays – lively decorations, shopping for friends and family, holiday music, parades and parties, there are those of us who are feeling the effects of heartache.  Maybe the event was recent, or maybe years ago – it really doesn’t matter.  What matters is how you are feeling in the present moment.  For some it’s a consistent feeling of sadness.  For others there might have been a trigger, a reminder of a loved one who is no longer by your side.  One moment, everything is fine, and the next you may find yourself thinking about your loved one and overcome by a feeling of sadness.

Whatever the situation you are facing today, it’s not something we like going through.  But grief is a normal and natural part of life – part of being a human being.  If we didn’t have feelings, we would walk around the earth like robots never experiencing sadness and grief.  And we would never experience joy, happiness and love.

Many years ago, there was a movie called, “The Stepford Wives.”  Women were made to be physically beautiful.  Yet they lived a life of emptiness – no feelings, just a robotic existence.

Our society is bombarded with programs and products to “look” beautiful with guarantees that you will live life happily ever after.  How is that any different from being a “Stepford” wife,  pretty on the outside, unresolved issues on the inside?

Heartache is an opportunity to beautify yourself from the inside out. Heartache is not permanent.  It’s an opportunity to become fully alive and ultimately live a better life.

Irene Stafford
Transformational Life Coach

What is it That We are Desperate For?

It’s not even Thanksgiving and we are already bombarded with advertising for the holiday.  Giving gifts to our family and friends is a wonderful tradition, but is it a substitute for really connecting with them?  Is it one out of gratitude or guilt?

You, or someone you know, may be surrounded by friends or family and still feel isolated and alone.  The holiday season can exacerbate these feelings.  Wouldn’t Thanksgiving actually have more meaning if we were to connect with the people in our lives and tell them how grateful we are for the difference they make?

What is missing in our present society is the heart to heart connection.  Over 100 years ago Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  What is it that we are desperate for? The feeling that our lives matter, that we make a difference and that we have a heart to heart connection with others.



A Gift for You

Relationships – what would life be without them?  They are often our greatest teachers.  We go through life “looking” for that perfect soul mate and when we think we’ve found our match, life happens.  Maybe you’ve experienced a separation or divorce,  maybe even more than one. Or maybe after spending what seemed like a lifetime together, your loved one died.

Disappointment, sadness, anger, bitterness and resentment are all common feelings.  So what do you do with the feelings you are experiencing?  How do you process  major life transitions that have happened to you?

Did you think you would just forget, move on and leave your old life and the person you were involved with behind?  Were you told there are plenty of fish in the sea and think that finding a new partner would solve all your problems? Well, it doesn’t quite work that way.

After the end of a relationship, love doesn’t die.  There are memories you created together that last a lifetime.  When you are able to release any anger or resentment and embrace self-forgiveness for the judgments you placed on the other person and yourself, your heart opens wide to feel the blessings of the experience.  Self-Forgiveness is one of the most valuable tools you can have in your toolbox for life.

It’s not about forgiving the other person for what they did or didn’t do.  They don’t have to be present for you to heal your own inner wounds.  It’s about you taking responsibility for your own feelings and resolving the conflict you have within.  You’re not condoning what they may or may not have done but rather releasing yourself from the judgments you placed on their actions.

When you carry anger in your heart, who is the person who is hurt by the anger?  The other person may not even know that you are angry.  Yet after holding onto the anger and resentment, you may notice you are developing physical symptoms (high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines etc.).  Isn’t it time to let go?

The holidays are just around the corner.  Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of Self-Forgiveness.  You’ll be glad you did and the people around you will feel the positive effects.

Irene Stafford

November 14, 2013


The Other 9-11

I busied my hands untying the pastel ribbons that held the balloons tied to her IV pole. The metallic balloons had lost their air and were hanging limp from the pole. One had a large pink heart and the other read “Happy Birthday.” . There were presents all around. Just last week was her fourteenth birthday party, the house filled with loving friends and family. The house filled with life. But that was all gone now. It was just the three of us now.

The IV slowly whirring and beeping, the oxygen machine in the corner with its constant ga-wish, ka-thump; it was unusually warm in her room for a September morning. I reached over her bed and opened the window. The breeze immediately pulled the shear white curtains into the screen. Above her head were pictures she had cut from teen magazines of her favorite actors and heart throbs. There were colorful pictures that she had drawn on her walls. Pictures of her favorite TV stars, her heart throbs. The rest of her walls were covered pictures she had drawn herself. They were all brightly colored with rainbows and sunshine and positive affirmations; Be Happy.  She was covered in the pink and blue afghan my mother had made for her. The radio was playing one of her favorite songs, “The Wing Beneath My Wings,” by Mette Midler. “Didn’t you know that you’re my hero. . .”

I turned and looked at her. She looked peaceful now, no hint of the pain and suffering she has endured. I stepped over to her dresser and was caught by the small bottle of morphine on the tray. For the last several weeks four or five times a day I would crush the pills and mix them in with Luigi’s Icy’s. I would sit by her bed and feed her, one tiny spoon at a time and talk with her until the pain left her face. There would be no need of Luigi this morning.

Another of her favorite songs began to play, “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston. It was from the movie “The Bodyguard,” a movie she watched more than a few times. I think that she often dreamed of being swept up and rescued by the handsome leading man. Just as the song ended she simply stopped breathing. She let go of what was left of her body. “You’re my hero; I will always love you.”

In a calm almost matter of fact voice, I called out, “Irene, it’s time.” I turned off the IV, then reached down and turned off the oxygen. Irene came into the room and looked at me then glanced at Shannon, she already knew, mothers know. She looked back at me. Three weary warriors at the end of a long campaign. We held each other too weary to talk or to cry. We held each other a long time. It was finished, her journey here on earth, our journey with her was complete now. There was nothing that needed to be done. There was nothing left to do. For the first time in three years there was nothing to be done.

You’re my hero; I will always love you.