Archive for the 'Healthy Living' Category

100 Things to do…

Posted by Holly Stokes on January 13th, 2015

Family Raft Trip“I wonder what this is” I thought as I clicked “100 things to do.” I was surprised to find it was a list I’d made in 2005 before I had graduated from Portland State University inspired by John Goddard, the adventurer.

But I had done it a little differently, I had started the list with things that I had already accomplished and was proud of: I’d learned French, lived in a foreign country and I was a white water raft guide. I smiled to myself as I looked at the list of what I had already done.

Many times we get so focused on the future, trudging onward, looking toward the next summit of achievement and don’t give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come.

As I reviewed the list, I found I could cross a few more off: write a book (actually two), graduate from college and travel to the Bahamas.

Some desires had changed, like getting my motorcycle license, but I think that was really about my ex boyfriend. I haven’t ruled it out, but it’s just not so important anymore.

I was surprised that so many of my desires had stayed the same.

There were only 79 things on the list, so I added a few more things: visit the Mayan pyramids, see Harry Potter Daigon Alley in Universal Studios and swim with the dolphins – just to name a few.

Some of these things may sound frivolous, I grant you that. But I remember a time when I had lost hope for dreaming. I remember when I had a bleak picture of the future and so I allow myself now to revel in possibilities because I know the value of dreaming.

Dreaming is the spice of life, it keeps us young. Even simple dreams have the power to spark something within us – hope. It can raise our spirits and encourage us to engage with life. And it doesn’t have to be grand adventures, our dreams can even be the small things.

No matter where you are in life– we still have a lot of living to do!

And although I haven’t achieved some things on the list that have been there for several years, I still keep room for the possibilities and I feel inspired by the future.

Everyone’s life path is different and our course is guided by the values that we hold dear. Looking back to my 20’s for many years my life was ruled by freedom and adventure. And now I find myself very content with a quieter life filled with purpose and mission.

Looking back on your life, I wonder how far you’ve come? What will you find out about yourself when you make a list of what you’ve already done and accomplished? You may be a superstar but just haven’t recognized it in yourself yet.

And keep in mind, that accomplishments are more than what we’ve done, they are also about who we are becoming. How have you changed and grown through life?

And looking forward into the new year, what possibilities do you see for yourself? What are the values running your life and charting your direction?

The Challenge: Write up your list of 100-ish things. Make the first part about what you’ve already accomplished that you’re proud of, write as many as you can, then write the month and the year, and next list what you still want to do. Then share three things you are proud of and three things you want to do in 2015 in the comments below.


Reflecting on the Year

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 31st, 2014

Ahh, we’ve come to the end of 2014, with all its challenges, learnings, growth and gifts. The end of the year is a great time to reflect and review. I suggest taking some quiet time with your journal to consider these Coaching questions about the past year.

  • What was 2014 about for you in career, love, friendships, family, money, fun and recreation, personal and spiritual growth?
  • What was great about 2014?
  • What was your biggest struggle and what did you learn from it?
  • What do I want to let go of?
  • What did you love?
  • What will make 2015 better?

Coaching inspires you to find your own best answers by asking powerful questions. There is magic in asking questions because any time you ask a question, your mind will go find the answer- even at the unconscious level. Asking powerful questions creates clarity and helps you tap into your wisdom within. It can direct and focus your attention, solve problems and challenges and inspire you to your next level.

As you reflect on 2014, with these questions, what have you learned from 2014 that you want to take forward into the New Year?

This year for me I found resources I had lost, I found a stronger commitment to my path, I learned to appreciate consistency, learned more patience and greater ability to enjoy the ride. I released a grudge I didn’t know I had. This year for me  went from good to SPARKLE! As I look back, I smile at myself and have compassion for everyone else out there on the journey. I also found my love expanded with my nieces and nephews, my family, clients, the community and new friends. And the phrase -” it’s all good” has taken on new meaning.

May you feel complete with your year. May you be at peace with your choices and trust in yourself to follow your path of your highest learning. It’s all learning. May you let go of what’s not working and take the best with you into the New Year. May your life reflect the brightness within you. My heart is full for all of you out there who shared my year with me.

And to all of you out there – Let’s get ready to rock it in 2015!

Share 1-3 things, you learned from 2014 and what you want to take with you into the New Year in the comments.

Here’s Goodbye to 2014 and Hello to a Brand New Year!

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Communication habits and family dynamics

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 24th, 2014

MiscommunicationAhh the holidays are all about getting together with family. A wonderful time of cherished traditions and time with our loved ones. And for some of us, family time can come with a downside.

I don’t know if this has happened to you, but do you have certain family members that just push your buttons?

During the holiday season, we spend more time with family and because of our history with each other, sometimes we get our buttons pushed (and sometimes we do some button pushing too).

I had a family member that I couldn’t seem to get along with. It didn’t seem to matter what he said or what I said, we would both jump into an argument over even the littlest of things.

And then one day I had a breakthrough. I stepped back and looked at how we were operating.

I saw that I had been seeing him as “full of himself,” and so I felt it my duty to contradict what he would say and take him down a peg. And then I saw his side and in his mind, he needed to be right or that would mean that he was a bad person and he just couldn’t face that. So for him, arguing and being right was a protection.

When he would say something, it went through my filter of, “here we go again, he’s always right” and I would snark back which triggered his buttons of belittlement and needing to be right and around we would go in a power struggle.

We weren’t having discussions, we were full out arguing. And neither side was being heard. Even a few times we resorted to personal attacks and so we both took offense and so we would carry that baggage into the next argument.

And we were both right in our own minds. And we were both stubbornly justified.

But that one day, while I was sweeping the floor, it just changed, like a light bulb turned on over my head and I saw him in a different light.

I saw him in the light of his struggle and contribution and I could appreciate him for who he was. Once I saw him differently, our whole dynamic changed, something just switched. I stopped taking offense and snipping back and I stopped being critical and held my tongue.

Over a few meetings the past animosities seemed to fade. He later told me, “you’re different, it’s like you’re not out to get me anymore.”

I still noticed snippy things to say, but as I let go of the need to make him see that he was wrong, I could just sit back and let him think and say what he would without needing to correct him. He could have his opinion and I could have mine.

And I started to find ways to express my opinions that weren’t antagonistic.

The power struggles ended and we haven’t fought in years.

If we look at what is triggering us in our family relationships, we can learn more about ourselves and how we are operating. When we examine our own mindset and look for our own part, we can take responsibility and be empowered to make a change.

With our family relationships it’s easy to get stuck in patterns and habits of communication and how we treat each other. We may have played certain roles in the past, the rescuer, the leader, the caretaker, the pleaser etc and sometimes we don’t give the people in our lives the chance to change roles.

And when we change, we invite others to change as well.

Recognize that they are doing the best with what they know.

Many people are stuck in their own minds, stuck in being right, stuck in being seen a certain way or stuck in playing a role. If they have patterns that push your buttons, it’s quite likely they don’t even know it and they are just operating out of their mental programs.

And when you feel triggered, what is that telling you? Usually it indicates a bad mental program that you’ve bought into at some level of awareness.

Looking at your family relationships this holiday season, what are your patterns and what are you thinking in the back of your mind with family members? What frame of mind might you need to shift?

It’s easy when we get together with family to assume that we know who they are and to be critical of their patterns. Just remember that at the core of it, underneath it all, we are all simply trying to do the best with what we know.

Wishing you all a happy healthy holiday season. May you let go of old regrets, old hurts and judgments and rekindle the goodness of your connections with your loved ones.

Leave your comments and experiences below of how a relationship changed for the better for you.

Embrace Vulnerability

Posted by Holly Stokes on November 26th, 2014

“To feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability.
Belonging and connection is a deep human need. Watch Brene Brown – the researcher-storyteller decode the human connection and offer profound wisdom.

When Brene interviewed people about connection, they told her stories of disconnection and shame. She says “shame is simply understood as the fear of disconnection, the fear that something in me is not worthy or deserving of love and belonging, that feeling of I’m not good enough.

And she found there were two groups of people, one living from not feeling worthy and deserving of love and belonging, and the other group that lives from a belief that they are worthy and deserving of love and she calls them the “whole hearted.”

There are some things we do that keep us living in the first category. We numb our emotions. Brene says, you can’t selectively numb feelings. When we numb the bad feelings, we numb the good stuff too: we numb the joy, we numb the gratitude, we numb the happiness… and then we feel lost and go looking for purpose.

The second thing we do is make the uncertain certain. We say, this is how it is, I’m right and you’re wrong and there’s little discussion.

The third thing we do is we try to perfect, we try to put life in a box and make it look a certain way. But life is messy and complicated. [And with striving to perfect also comes judgements and criticism which can keep us stuck.]

And the third thing we do is to pretend that what we do doesn’t affect others.

These things leave us feeling isolated and disconnected which is the root of loneliness. A recent poll found that the number one social issue facing people today is loneliness, which comes from isolation and lack of connection.

But there’s another way to live as what she calls the whole hearted. The whole hearted are characterized by the courage to be imperfect, they have kindness toward themselves and others, and experience connection as authenticity and they fully embrace vulnerability.

So let’s unravel the mental patterns that the whole hearted are living from.

Courage to be imperfect. This courage comes from knowing that life is messy and its okay. And it also comes from the belief that you are not your mistakes, mistakes are simply a part of learning and growing through life. What “mistakes” are you willing to accept and stop blaming yourself and others for?

Kindness toward self and others and authenticity. To allow ourselves to be seen and to be authentic, we have to like ourselves first. You can’t authentically share yourself if you are ashamed or critical or trying to hide who you are. What is there to appreciate about who you are and what you’ve overcome? What judgements and criticisms are you willing to let go of?

Fully embrace vulnerability. To take risks you have to know that the value of who you are is bigger than your choices and that whatever happens, you are okay and you can trust the process of life. What risks are you willing to take?

Brene says, “To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy even in the face of fear.”

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

What if you didn’t get the messages that you were worthy and deserving when you were growing up? What if it wasn’t okay to make mistakes? What if you internalized criticism and judgement?

Well, that’s just the stuff that I help people change. Beliefs are just mental patterns that your brain learned and it can unlearn them and integrate new ones, even at the unconscious level.

How will you live whole heartedly this week? How will you let yourself be vulnerable? What risks are you willing to take?

I was going to keep this a secret unless I got accepted because it’s safer to share a win than to share a risk. But in the spirit of vulnerability, I will share that I applied to be a speaker at a Tedtalks event – Eeek! What if I don’t get it? What if I DO get it? It’s a mixed bag either way, but that’s my risk this week.

Natural Approach to Pain Management

Posted by Holly Stokes on May 7th, 2014

Natural Approach for Pain Management

My colleague Craig mentioned his back pain, he’d broken his back about 6 months before and was still feeling pain from the injury. So I asked him if he wanted to a natural approach to pain management and reduce the pain by using NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming.  He said yes, this is the process that I guided him through. It’s amazing at how much insight we can find if we look in the right places.

Holly: Think of the back pain, imagine scanning through your body and give it a shape, notice its outline and how it feels. Now imagine shrinking your awareness down to the size of a pea, and travel from your head through your body to the area of pain. Now ask the area of discomfort, what does it want?

Craig: It wants attention.

Holly: Thank that part for communicating with you. And what will it get by having attention?

Craig: It will be noticed.

Holly: What will it get by being noticed?

Craig: It will have influence.

Holly: What will it get by having influence?

Craig: It will have input into his (Craig’s) life.

Holly: What will it have then by having input into Craig’s life?

Craig: Then I can be more in line with my life purpose.

Holly: What will you have then if you are more in line with your life purpose?

Craig: Then I’ll have fulfillment, leading a fulfilling life.

Holly: What will you have then if you have fulfillment?

Craig: Then I will have peace and connection to God.

Holly: So what this part in charge of the pain really wants is peace and connection to God. If you were to set aside time each week for peace and connection to God, what would that look like?

Craig: Well, spending about 2 hours a week working on my own self improvement.

Holly: So ask that part if it will agree to reduce the pain signal if you make a commitment to make time each week for finding peace and connection to God.

Craig: It agrees, it  will try it out and see if I follow through.

Holly: So now, I want to ask your unconscious mind and the part in charge of the back pain if it will reduce your pain, taking all the time it needs in the next few days and hours?

Craig: Yes, it wants to do it at its own rate.

A couple hours later, I checked in with Craig about how his back was doing. He said the pain was getting better, and he had more flexibility and less stiffness in his back.

I checked in with him again 24 hours later and asked how his back was doing. He said that the pain had continued to reduce and he was feeling better.

Pain is a signal telling us that something is wrong. Pain is communication from the body. And sometimes pain is a communication of not only the body, but our higher intelligence. In this case, Craig’s body and higher wisdom was wanting Craig to connect with God and find peace and it was using pain as a signal to catch his attention.

We never want to reduce pain without understanding why it is present and what’s going on with the body. This means working with your health care professionals to address your medical issues. But once the pain is understood at the physical level, then we can look for the higher intentions, and we can make agreements with the unconscious mind to reduce the pain signal.

In this process we acknowledged the part of the body in charge of pain, connected with the body’s own wisdom about the meaning of the pain, and made an agreement to fulfill the higher intentions of the pain so that the pain signal would reduce.

Often times when we experience pain, we ignore the pain or we suppress it with painkillers and we ignore the body’s communication system. If however, we recognize the intelligence of the body and work with the body’s own systems for health and healing, we can address the mental and emotional and even spiritual blocks to healing.

The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. If something isn’t healing as expected, there could be a mental block to your healing.

Go through the process of asking your own body about the pain or work with a qualified hypnotherapist or NLP Practitioner to identify your mental blocks. Hypnosis can enhance getting in touch with the body communication system.

Here’s to Your Health, Happiness, and Success

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Positive Communications Pattern with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 11th, 2013

With the holidays and festivities also comes more time with family. Family is great when you all get along, and it’s of course difficult when your communications are less than stellar.

Try this NLP process for creating a habit around your communications so that you can come from a healthy space with your communications, creating more fulfilling relationships.

Line out a square of 4 spaces on the floor in front of you, one space for Self, one for Other, one for Observer, and one for Higher Self.

Think of a difficult conversation you had with a person.

Step into square 1: Self, and state your point of view.

Step into square 2: Other and get into the frame of the Other person, take on their view of the world and state their response or point of view.

Step into square 3:Observer, and take the view of an Observer. What is it like seeing the interaction between the two of you?

Step into square 4: Higher Self and imagine a white light shining through you and imagine being your Higher Self, feel the wisdom and insight and notice what you might change in this interaction.

Step back into Self and notice what has changed.

Repeat the process 5 or 6 times going through each of the steps, ending back in Self. Repetition will turn this into a new habit, making it an automatic response for you. This is a great process for difficult conversations, family, friends, and even coworkers!

You can also use it in preparation for difficult conversations to better understand the other’s view and maintain your own equilibrium throughout the conversation.

NLP Tool Motivation: Change your Mental Pictures

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 4th, 2013

Motivation can range from simple to complicated. At the simple level, we need to change how we are thinking about the thing we’d like more motivation on. Use this simple tool to boost your motivation on something.

A simple level motivation is to pay attention to your mental pictures. Think of a thing you are highly motivated to do. Now notice how you picture that in your mind. What is the location of the picture, what is the color, the brightness, the contrast, the sharpness of the image?

Next, picture something you want more motivation on, how do you picture that in your mind? What is the quality of that picture, the colors, the location, the contrast, sharpness of the image?

Now change the qualities of the picture, add more light to the picture of what you’d like more motivation on and change the qualities to match the picture of what you are highly motivated to do. As you change the mental picture, you’ll feel more motivated. Change the light, add brightness and vivid color. I like to add a pinch of pixie dust for good measure.

Now how motivated are you to do it?

Changing a Habit with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on October 27th, 2013

Sometimes making a change is simply about remembering to do so.

When you have enough healthy habits, you can enjoy lasting weight loss success. Use this Neuro-Linguistic Programming process for making a new habit.

Think of a change that you’d like to make and think of the context, where does it fit in your routine? For this example we are going to use adding exercise into the schedule after work.

What are you doing now? I come home from work and I sit down in front of the TV.

What change do you want? I want to come home from work and put on my workout clothes and go to the gym.

What is the cue that tells you to run the new habit? Coming home from work.

Read the rest of the blog post here:

Top 10 Tips for Living your Best

Posted by Holly Stokes on July 4th, 2013

Life and Business Coaching are on the rise. Working with a Coach can offer accountability for
your goals, a sounding board for your life’s choices, and a confidante for life’s difficulties. Coaching has grown out of the movement of positive psychology. As a Life and Business Coach, here are my Top 10 Tips for Living Your Best:

1. Make Time for Your Health – Eating right and exercise are foundational to living a happy, healthy life. Remember the old saying, you are what you eat? The quality of your health and energy depend on the quality of foods you are eating. Take the time to plan and make healthy meals. Making the time to care for your body is not only important to your health, but to your mental health as well. Research has found that the effects of depression can be alleviated by regular exercise. You only get one body, best to take good care of it throughout your life.

2. Make Peace with Yourself –Making mistakes is part of being human, have compassion for yourself and others as we are all in the process of learning and growing on this planet earth. Forgiving yourself means taking the learning from your mistakes and moving on.

3. Let Go of the Past – We can get so caught up in the hurts and injustice of the past.  When we think of past hurts, we feel hurt all over again. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean to cover it up and deny it, but rather to see it for what it is, our mistakes or someone else’s, and then being willing to forgive and let it go. Forgiving others frees us from negative emotions of anger, hate, and victimhood and opens us up to more positive range of emotions.

4. Imagine the Best – What is the best you can imagine for yourself? Imagination holds the key to  possibilities. As we open up our imagination, we dream about what is possible, then like magic, synchronicities show up to bring us the possibilities. Airplanes, internet, television, running water, all these things started as a dream in someone’s head. Your reality starts in your head, what can you imagine for yourself and your future?

5. Cherish the Present Moment – Too often we wait for vacations to spend quality time with our loved ones. Cherishing the present moment can be done every day, appreciating the little things in life with our friends, spouses, children and loved ones. It is as simple as asking yourself, “what is there to enjoy here?” and then taking a mental snapshot of it. Whether it’s your morning coffee, the smile of a friend, the laugh of a child, it’s the small moments of everyday that make up a lifetime.

6. Believe in Yourself. Why do we so often define ourselves by the past? The past is only a memory. What if you were to define yourself by the future and what you aspire to? As we think better about ourselves, we feel better and then naturally do better.  You hold the best within you right here, right now. Take an “I can do it” attitude.

7. Have Clear Written Goals – A study conducted at Dominican University found that those who had written goals significantly outperformed those who only thought about their goals. And, those who reported their weekly progress to a friend, significantly outperformed other groups. Having clear, written goals is a cornerstone to your success, and even better is to have a friend that will support you in achieving your goals. Make short term, mid range and long term goals.

8. Take Small Actions – Take one small positive step everyday that will move your life forward. Success is built one step at a time, it’s all the small steps that add up rather than a singular heroic effort. As you take small steps every day, you build a solid foundation for your success.

9. Stay Positive – Research has found that optimism increases longevity, health, job successes and higher scores on  achievement tests according to “Research Affirms the Power of Positive Thinking” by Daniel Goleman, published by The New York Times. When you practice the power of positive thinking, it helps you stay focused on what you want, helps you find solutions to your challenges, and empowers you to take action toward your goals. Plus, it may also benefit your health as researchers found that pessimists were more susceptible to depression and disease. Keep a scrapbook or journal in which you write only your successes and moments of happiness. You can include pictures, great quotes, your experiences, and this then becomes a great pick-me up anytime that you need a mental boost. As you think about the good experiences, it primes your brain to remember more good experiences, and create more positive experiences in the future.

10. Build Your Social Support – Positive relationships are key to enjoying life. As you cultivate your positive relationships with friends and family, you build a social support that can promote your health and well being. Making time for friends and family can decrease stress, provide mental well being, and even promote better health. A great way to meet new people with like-minded interests is to join groups on

Whether you are working on your own or with a Coach, as you implement and practice these tips, you’ll be thinking better and feeling better in your life.

Leave comments with your tips for living your best!

Here’s to your Health, Happiness, and Success!

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Laughter is not only good for your mood, its good for your health.

Posted by Holly Stokes on June 22nd, 2013

Can watching funny movies strengthen your immune system? There are physiological and psychological responses toLaughter is good for your health. laughter that affect both the mind and the body. Research studies show that the many health benefits of laughter may be just the ticket to help heal a weakened immune system and restore a positive mindset.

Laughter is a great way to reduce stress.  Cortisol and epinephrine, stress hormones that can impair the immune system, decrease with laughter.  Relieving stress conserves the body’s energies and promotes healing. One study found that laughter actually enhanced production and activity of natural killer cells which fight viruses and tumor cells. (Bennet, et al).

In addition to decreasing stress, laughter may also help with coping skills. Laughter was found to ease negative emotions and increase the sense of control and hope of cancer patients.

Laughter is thought to increase the number and activity of cells essential to the immune response including lymphocyte, cytotoxic helper cells and B cells. Studies have shown an increase in the number of antibodies after subjects watched a humorous film. Laughter also elevates levels…

Read the rest of the article here: