About erikshope

Andrea Chilcote is the author of Erik's Hope: The Leash The Led Me To Freedom. Andrea Chilcote is Erik's person, the woman who experienced and documented Erik's real life love, loss and rebirth. She credits much of her work today to the lessons received from her teacher, Erik. Andrea is an author, executive coach, and leadership development expert. She brings to the reader current practical knowledge of the issues and concerns people are facing at this difficult time. She has a keen skilled and intuitive ability to facilitate transformational change in individuals, and her writing offers this opportunity to the reader. Andrea has authored numerous personal development articles and programs, and designs and delivers leadership curriculum for diverse businesses through her consulting practice, Morningstar Ventures. Andrea lives in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband, dogs and horses.

Relating to Ourselves: Who Are You – Part III

How well do you know yourself? Here’s Part III of Andrea’s re-blog, Relating to Ourselves: Who Are You, a timely nudge to delve inside yourself to know and love the uniqueness that is you. 

Andrea Chilcote; Relating to Ourselves

By Andrea Chilcote

Want to know how to get what you need from the relationships you value in life? Know what you need. And, knowing what you need is a result of knowing who you are.

In my experience, an essential price of admission for healthy, satisfying relationships with others is a clear and grounded sense of self. I’m not talking about self-indulgence or selfishness – I’m referring to the settled sense that comes from knowing and loving the uniqueness that is you.

As a coach, I utilize instruments that help me quickly (and painlessly) assess clients’ core drivers, productive behaviors and the consequences of unmet needs. When revealing the results of these assessment tools, I’m sometimes met by a distinct response, a bewildered astonishment that I could reveal aspects of their personality so carefully hidden away. Often they themselves had not consciously considered these traits, but when faced with the data, they have a whole new world of choices. Recently I met with a new client over dinner to review the information I had compiled, a combination of feedback from others and her Birkman Report. At the end of the evening, she remarked: “Well it was very enlightening to have dinner with someone who knows me better than I know myself.”

Andrea Chilcote, Character ValuesWhile these tools are quite helpful, the fact is you don’t need a report to tell you who you are. You know when you are your best, most productive self. You know the activities and people from whom you gain energy vs. being depleted. You know what makes you feel most alive.

Do you let your true self be known in your day-to-day interactions with significant others? Is there some aspect of your personality – some core need you have – that’s hidden away? There’s a cost to holding back. At a minimum, when we don’t acknowledge and reveal who we are and what we need, we miss the most basic satisfaction in life. At worst, we find ourselves entangled in personal and professional relationships that can be destructive to body or psyche.

So, what is it that you need from a key relationship in your life? Take responsibility by naming it, then examine what you are doing (or not) to nurture that quality. A relationship is a product of the interaction of two parts. Changing your awareness alone can shift everything. My client has managed to change the perception of her work team by revealing herself in day-to-day interactions. What can you do to show up as who you are?

Andrea Chilcote


Revisit parts one and two of the Relating to Ourselves blog series:   

Relating to Ourselves: Putting Self First – Part I
Relating to Ourselves: The Need for Renewal – Part II

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Relating to Ourselves: The Need for Renewal – Part II

by Andrea Chilcote

Does the full swing of this New Year 2017 already have you feeling fatigued? Here’s Part II of Andrea’s re-blog, Relating to Ourselves: The Need for Renewal, a timely nudge towards remembering to honor our needs for rest and renewal.

Andrea Chilcote

Recently, I led a workshop with a team of people who are driven, dedicated — and stretched thin. I began our work with two questions: “How do you feel right now?” and “What do you need?”

Almost everyone replied with some version of the following: “I feel very tired, and I need rest and rejuvenation.” As they spoke, I secretly related. It had been a long and exhausting week for me as well, and I was looking forward to a weekend of play with friends who were visiting us, a rare three-day respite from the demands of life.

Even as I pushed forward that day, I realized that I was fatigued, and in need of a good night’s sleep. But there was more. I felt a longing for connection with people who enjoy and value the things I do. I wanted to be outdoors, enjoying the wonderland that is my desert in March. And I longed to be with my loving and goofy dogs, a pack that now includes a foster Husky. For me, rest can be active. It’s a time when I can turn off the noise of my mind and focus on the experience at hand — an enjoyable one.

How do you feel right now? What do you need? Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and feel the answers to the questions. Do you feel stress or fatigue? Do you have a longing for some enjoyable experience that has been missing from your life?

If you have no shortage of things to do, it may seem as if there’s no time for “me” time, rest time or play time. It is, of course, a matter of prioritization. If you’re telling yourself a story about how you can’t possibly do the thing you long to do, consider the cost of depriving yourself. Recreation is defined as “refreshment of health or spirits by relaxation and enjoyment.”

Andrea Chilcote

Rest and recreation does not have to take a long time or cost a lot of money. Many years ago, I regularly dreamed about fun activities with friends during particularly stressful times. While I couldn’t call upon those dreams at will, they conveyed a valuable message that I was working too much and playing too little. Life coach Martha Beck offers practical advice for adding more laughter, play and connection to your life in her book The Joy Diet. Intentional Resting’s Dan Howard promotes active resting and teaches simple tools for calling upon a restful state in the midst of everyday activities.

This past weekend, I played hard and laughed heartily. We took long hikes, enjoyed fine food and wine, and howled with the Husky dogs. I’m rejuvenated and ready to meet the challenges life has in store this week. And, the people around me will benefit from my more relaxed state of being.

What do you need to rest and recharge in a positive way? Whether you have three days, three hours or three minutes – take action – and enjoy the rewards.

Part One: Relating to OurSelves – Putting Self First – read

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Relating to Ourselves: Putting Self First – Part I

This New Year 2017 is off to a swift and catalyzing start! We thought this re-blog, Relating to Ourselves, is timely and may it be a helpful nudge towards remembering to honor ourselves and our own need to act from a personal state of integrity. Join us as we reflect back to Andrea’s original blog written in 2012.

by Andrea Chilcote

This post is the first of a three-part series entitled Relating to Ourselves. This segment deals with honoring yourself first in order to build capacity for helping others.

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Lately it seems I have less time and more demands on that precious time. Sound familiar? When I recently shared this lament with a trusted confidant, she asked me to do something that on the surface sounded simple. Her request? “State the following, then tell me how it feels to you: ‘I am the most important person in my life right now.’”

Well, it felt incongruent. Even though I believe that unless I care for myself first I cannot possibly care for important others in my life, I sure did not feel it in the midst of my all-too-busy day.

Many women tend to be healers – we’re the gender more often charged with care-giving. (This is not intended as a criticism of the many care-giving men out there who are natural nurturers – it’s simply a fact that women usually assume the role more explicitly).

So my friend’s question sparked thoughts about the great equilibrium of giving and receiving. It can be out of balance literally, or in our heads. Rejuvenating activities, gratitude or compliments from those we love, as well as simple acts of kindness shown to us, all produce healing energy. Are we allowing enough of that in our lives?

‘Am I the most important person in my life right now?’

Consider the literal examples. We can starve ourselves by constantly doing for others, never taking the time to replenish in whatever way creates true enjoyment. We can surround ourselves with people who take only (energy vampires, as Dr. Judith Orloff describes them), rather than spend time with people who know the beautiful dance of give and take. If you are one of these givers, you probably recognize the toll it takes on you, and, most likely, the things that you seek – acceptance, purpose, love – are elusive.

More insidious is the type that is made up in our minds. In this scenario we do a lot and are offered a lot, but – we don’t notice what’s coming back to us because our mental drive is so focused on the next task. I get caught in this mind trap often.

I am blessed with a loving husband as well as friends, clients and animal companions who give me as much or more than I give out. But often I miss these precious gifts because the to-do lists in my brain trick me into believing I have no time for them.

re-focus_relating-to-ourselves-revThe affirmation offered by my friend – “I am the most important person in my life right now” – was profound. Once I made that statement, I was forced to re-focus on the present moment. What I was doing did not change, but the way I did it changed significantly. I came back alive, appreciating the small and
beautiful give and take in the interactions of life.

As I moved through the next several days, I did, as usual, a great deal for others. What I provide the people and animals I love brings me great joy. And I en-joy that work when I come from a place of integrity in myself and my capacity.

So, take the challenge given to me.

Can you love yourself enough to care for those you love?

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The Year of Your Heart’s Desire

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“…the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language.” Wikipedia

Happy New Year! The Year of Your Heart’s Desire is a timely reblog from 2011. Make 2017 the year of your heart’s desire!

by Andrea Chilcote

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? If so, stop right now and notice how it feels to you.

Did you sigh wistfully, thinking “the party’s over soon,” or sense a need to buck up and get discipline? Did the feeling energize you—or deflate you? It’s estimated that only 10% of New Year’s resolutions are achieved. And it’s no wonder, given that they are often uninspired.

The Latin root of the word resolution is resolutionem ‒ the process of reducing things into simpler forms, loosening or “unbinding.” In his Word Power blog, Gregory Rineberg points out that in the last 500 or so years, we have used the word resolution to mean just the opposite ‒ holding firm in determination, resolute in pursuing a course of action.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from etymology. Consider as a metaphor the loosening or unbinding of your passions and true desires before taking resolved action. In my last post, I spoke of how intuition can work in tandem with our clever mind to manifest success if we allow our heart to take the lead. “Here is what I want and need,” we say from the higher self, our creative center, and then the mind responds, “Okay, let’s figure out how to get that for you ‒ here’s the right action step to take.”

When we lead with our head vs. our heart, we pursue faux goals. A faux goal is a pursuit disguised as noble, but does not truly reflect our heart’s desire. Many New Year’s resolutions fall into this category. Of course, it sounds honorable to start exercising, get organized or save money… but what’s the real reason for taking these actions? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my goal or resolution reflect a “should”‒ something I think or have been told I should do?
  • Is the goal more important to someone else than it is to me?
  • Does the thought of doing or achieving it give me energy or take the wind out of my sails?
  • Have I pursued this before without lasting success?

Sometimes we formulate resolutions as some sort of punishment for our supposed failures (“I ate too many holiday desserts…” or “I took too much time off…”). A goal born out of regret is handicapped from the start.

Examine Your Goals
What higher purpose is achieved when you get what you say you want? It that your true heart’s desire?

Recently, I met a man who was preparing for a second heart bypass surgery. He was disciplined enough to exercise regularly and eat a heart-healthy diet, yet 15 years after the first surgery, he had to endure it again. I asked him where he got the courage and resolve. His reply, “I have five grandchildren and I want to be here as they grow up.”

Take Inspired Action
Lead from your heart. Decide first what you desire, what purpose you are pursuing, then, and only then, define the action steps. Test the actions with the question, “What will that get me?” and include positive effects as well as negative ones ‒ before resolving to achieve them. A helpful hint regarding purposeful action: you’ll know it when you feel it, not when you think it.

Our new book, “Erik’s Hope,” is the culmination of my 13-year pursuit to share the lessons of a shelter dog named Erik with the rest of the world. The goal of publication has been achieved, and at the same time, the journey is just now beginning. I have never been filled with more resolve to have this story reach others who can consider and apply the lessons in ways that transform their own lives. My resolve is born out of my deep knowledge that this experience with Erik, this message of hope and inspiration, is purpose-based. It’s one of the things I’m here to do in this life, and it gives me joy.

So go ahead, resolve to lose weight, save for retirement or leave work earlier. These are noble pursuits for sure. But first ask yourself the question, “What will that get me?” If the answer fills you with passion, if you feel a sense of purpose or meaning, you’re on the road to success.

This life we are leading here on planet Earth is finite. While it’s fleeting by eternal standards, we all are here now for a reason. Make 2017 the year of your heart’s desire!

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Lucky Huskies

By Andrea Chilcote

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If you follow my work, you know that my beloved Siberian Huskies Kairos and Heather, and my Malamute Whisper, often teach me lessons that I share in my writing.

The Chilcote Pack

This past year, I have not blogged as often, as my “hobby” of rescuing huskies became a serious pursuit. I joined with Lucky Dog Rescue, a reputable 501c3 charity. And … we’ve saved 26 huskies so far! Here is our story.

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www.LuckyDogRescue.org

Phone: (480) 704-4628 | E-mail: info@luckydogrescue.org

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Give Yourself an “A” – Revisited

This week, join Andrea as she revisits Give Yourself an “A”, originally posted in September 2013.

Give Yourself an "A"

by Andrea Chilcote

Do you have the capacity to fully accept yourself, even in the face of criticism?

What a great lesson I learned from a talk by Brene Brown, bestselling author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.

With vulnerability comes inevitable criticism. Brown spoke of how she manages the disparaging remarks that come with a public life, and shared a personal technique she has for managing them. She keeps a slip of paper in her purse with the names of three people – the only people – whose opinions of her matter. These three love her despite her flaws, she says. They accept her as is.

I thought about that list all afternoon, and set out to make my own. I tried on so many, yet ended up with only two. While I’m blessed to have many loving friends, I know for sure that these two people love me about as unconditionally as a human being can. In turn, they’re the ones whose opinions of me matter. Isn’t that a funny paradox? The people who accept me regardless of what imperfections I might reveal, are the ones with whom I strive to be my very best.

By the way, my list only contains two humans, but it also contains my three dogs. Don’t roll your eyes – adding them revealed the meaning of my paradox. A human’s unconditional love is limited by his or her own ego and it’s rarely perfect. In my experience, a canine’s love is pure. The very fact that they never judge or criticize me is what makes me want to live up to their expectations, to be the person they believe I am. An inappropriately raised voice is enough to trigger a look from these sensitive ones, and that look stops me in my tracks. It isn’t a look of judgment – far from it.  Rather it’s a look that conveys compassion for whatever feeling triggered the tone. It’s the most pure and loving feedback one can get.

The Chilcote Pack

My three dogs: Whisper, Kairos and Heather. Photo by David Culp Photography.

Of course, the humans on my list are a close second when it comes to feedback. I can hear it because of the love that accompanies it. And because they accept my so-called flaws as simply a part of me, “feedback” is almost always reserved for instances in which I lose myself, and I am grateful to be brought back to my senses. It’s clean, simple and authentic. They just don’t seem to have a need to assess and judge indiscriminately, and this makes for a very freeing relationship.

So there. We are at our best when we are free of the opinions of others. Days later, this revelation hit me like another blinding insight into the obvious, and of course there is a mountain of research and evidence to support my observations.

People rise to the positive expectations others have of them.  In his beautiful book, The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zander tells the story of an experiment he conducted as a teacher. At the start of the semester, he declared that each student had received an A.  He only asked that they write a letter a few months later stating why they got an A grade. His project led him to the conclusion that a grade was a possibility to live into, rather than an evaluative measure.

Like Zander’s students, the two people whose opinions matter to me always give me an “A” to start. And that leads to revelation number two, and why I believe Brown’s choice to dismiss the opinions of those other than her three designees has freed her to make enormous contributions to human awareness and understanding: We can contribute only when we accept that we each have something profound to give.

So many of us are searching for our purpose, our path and our voice. And our voice will never fully reveal itself until we can leave criticisms behind, because in considering them, we hold back.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the importance of self-acceptance as a prerequisite for most of the things we say we want in this life. But it’s a daunting, seemingly intangible concept. How does one find the capacity for it if it’s weakened? One small step just might be to dismiss the opinions of others who do not have our highest and best interest in mind.

Try Brown’s exercise. Identify the short list of people whose opinions really matter, then feel how free it can be.

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Compassion for Yourself

by Andrea Chilcote

I love it when this happens: someone very wise states a basic truth in a simple and elegant way and I hear it anew.

Andrea Chilcote; Brene Brown

That’s what happened when I read scholar Brene Brown’s advice to examine my judgments, to see if they’re really self-criticisms that compare something I feel is inadequate in me to someone who I view as “worse.”

I’ve known about this mirror thing for many years. The things we like or dislike about others serve as a mirror for those things we like or dislike about ourselves. The judgments we have of others are really self-criticisms. It all make sense, yet Brown’s message gave me a tool to go beyond self-awareness – to transformation. And, it’s important because without the process she outlines, looking in the mirror just produces more self-criticism.

Like every great tool, her process lends itself to interpretation. I’ll share mine here, in the hope it will be practical and useful to you too, spirited women.

  • Examine the judgment. Ask yourself: “In what way does this behavior I’m judging in someone else remind me of something I don’t like about myself?” This step requires introspection. Don’t rationalize it – seek the insight, even if it seems illogical.
  • Give yourself a break. Practice self-compassion. Forgive yourself. This is the most important step, and it’s easier because you have company.
  • Then, (are you ready for this?) – feel empathy for the person you were judging. That’s easy too, if you acknowledge the ways in which you thought or acted in similarly. Compassion for the other person becomes automatic because – and perhaps only because – you just felt genuine compassion for yourself.

This new insight doesn’t change the inevitable fact that judgments will arise in me. It doesn’t change the need to practice self-acceptance. But in the week or so I’ve been focusing on this, I’ve transformed quite a few criticisms of myself and others – things that were sitting below the surface affecting my quality of life in some small way.

Brown says the practice will bring more joy. I welcome that. How about you?

“It starts with showing compassion for ourselves. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices—and embrace our own imperfections—will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.” —Brene Brown

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