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Adventure

Adventure, Autumn, Celebration, Compassion, Dreams, Emotions, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Healing, Intention, Life Coaching, Life Path, Mindfulness, Open, Personal Growth, Self-love, Soul, Suffering, Support, Wisdom

Letting go, creating change, a practice for magicians and wizards of self-love

A beautiful, sunny day that began with a walk with a friend and dogs, with weekend weather that’s allowed the delicious coziness of light sweaters and leggings.  An exciting new beginning as I’m catapulted into my life as a full-time graduate student, in a field fully aligned with my mind and heart, where I’m getting daily affirmation that I am on the right path. Also, close enough to my return from France that I still can recall how freeing the experience of traveling alone feels in my body, and can easily connect to the joy of walking miles a day on cobblestone to be wowed by gardens, castles, vineyards, ornate bridges, rose windows, public transit, and pain au chocolat.  These are days to cherish and savor.

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I turned 37 in July and when I left 36, I entered into possibility and adventure. I started inhabiting myself more completely, without the inner struggle and conflict that marked past years of grappling with career and relationship confusion, sapping my energy and attention (more on that, soon). I feel fully engaged and in my life, and I feel satisfied.

Except for when I don’t. There are times I forget and feel impatient about where I am on the journey. Instead of staying open to possibility and adventure, I close down around my desires and feel like I can’t be me until things or situations arrive or can’t be truly happy until things are arranged to my liking.

In some ways ending a 2 year relationship and starting out a Masters program can seem like certainties, specific finalities or futures planned out. Yet being single and in “beginner’s mind” as I embark on the path to becoming a counselor, so much is unknown and undefined. This is a vulnerable place to be, but truly, we all never know what will happen, even if things seem solid, small changes sometimes have a big impact, and small changes can happen at a moment’s notice.

For me, these next couple years will be a process of getting to know my philosophical orientation and professional identity as a counselor, getting to know people and clarifying my relationship goals and what I want to give and receive in my romantic life. There are a billion things I want for my life at 37 and beyond, some of which I am pursuing by going back to school for counseling, taking on new coaching clients, meeting people online and dating, dancing at home and in community, and forging friendships as I release old connections that I’ve outgrown. The constant practice, for me, is to not close up around my wants and get attached to outcome, to not craft an identity that I then get stuck in and am unable to flex and grow from, and to not feel discouraged when what I believe I want is not already here.

So, here I share a practice that I do to build my awareness around where I am attached and where I summon all the power of life and love within and without to break these fear-based patterns.

I meditate in stillness and quiet for 10-25 minutes before moving into this practice. Establishing the connection of meditation helps me listen more deeply to what is true under the surface grasping and whining. Then I go inward and check out what I am holding onto, what thoughts are driving my emotions and behaviors, what stories I’m telling myself, then I name all of it as I pull in a “clearing statement” from Access Consciousness, to help me cut through it with sharp awareness, wisdom, and compassion.  The clearing statement is like the abracadabra of a magical spell…”I  create as I speak,” or “May it be so,” invoking the power of language and intention to create change.

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Even in times of joy–sometimes especially, as we may be clinging on to things as they are, worried about losing what is going well–we can experience anxiety and insecurity. As this very amazing moment in my life opens me up to learning new things and loving new people, I find a lot of fear in and around my chest, a tightening jaw, flurried belly flops, repetitive thoughts pulling me into a spiral of anxiety, and a tenderness about emotional, intellectual, and spiritual risks that I am taking.

The process of tuning into all of this, speaking it, and clearing it out went like this the other day (note–these words came out spontaneously and were captured on audio so I could share with you–it is always unknown, unplanned, and uttered from the wisdom of the moment):

ALL THE WAYS I let fear pull me around, hook me in. All the ways I lose trust. All the ways I abandon myself and focus on someone else making me whole. All the ways I grab and cling and want to control life or know the future and ensure an outcome. All the ways I contract and get tight and small around my desires. Destroy and uncreate all of that. “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS that I leave myself, my truth, my wholeness and grasp at something outside. All the ways I think someone can fulfill me, all the ways I feel afraid of rejection, abandonment, of not being lovable. Destroy and uncreate all of that. “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS I forget that I’m already whole and already loved, all the ways I lose touch with my own heart and go into lack…all the ways I dwell in sadness and fear, that I feel sorry for myself. All the ways that I push away my experience and reject my emotions. Destroy and uncreate all of that. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS I get self-absorbed and make my pain the center of the world, all the ways I don’t show up for others and don’t reach out to connect, or make my sadness bigger than everything else on earth, including my own heart. Destroy and uncreate all of that. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS I believe I’m smarter than everyone, the ways I judge and criticize, all the ways I want to be right, all the ways I am not open to learning and challenging my world view. And all the ways I make myself small, don’t use my voice, doubt my intelligence and contributions. Destroy and uncreate all of that. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

Having been said, make it so, now. Activate growth, change, and healing.

Clearly, I could (and did) go on…that was just a part of what felt up for me on 1 day. I share this to show you that we are in this human experience together–all the ways we undermine our own happiness by identifying it as outside of us or in the future, when some external goal is reached. All the ways we humans think we are missing something and fixate on lack. All the ways we forget who we are. These are so common! This practice can help us see these for what they are and to get underneath, in the wise mind that knows the wholeness we already are, in the tenderness of our oh so human vulnerability. Vulnerability is not about something being absent, but the presence and fullness of love, compassion, and open-heartedness.

Naming our habits can build awareness. We cultivate the counter-habit of catching ourselves in the act, not to chastise but to chuckle, and say…there’s that again, that energy of wanting to control, that tendency to place the responsibility of my fulfillment on someone/something else.

When we truly believe in change, we see it leaving our field, we feel our bodies lighten from the lost weight of worry and grasping. It will come back, and we will practice again.We stay in compassion for ourselves and our habits. And sometimes, we forget all this meditation and magic and have a good cry with a friend and a cathartic release of all our crap, and move deeper into love with ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure, Compassion, Curiosity, Discernment, Failure, Intention, Life Coaching, Life Path, Mindfulness, Open, Personal Growth, Radical Acceptance, Self-love, Transformation, Whole Body, Wisdom

The Big Fat Happy Yes of No

Today I ask: when we have a relationship, job, or lifestyle that doesn’t feel like a fit–can we view these as successful and proud achievements that are part of our path? Can we look at our seeming missteps with gratitude for helping to point us in the direction of truer callings and better matches?

I clocked out of work for the last time yesterday filled with elation, excitement, and pride.

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While in my 3 years at social services, I may have struggled, cried, felt powerless, and discovered that it was not the job for me, I wholeheartedly consider my time there a success. Successful because I worked hard to learn policy, programs, and software in order to fulfill my responsibilities. And successful because I used my strengths of compassion, listening, and presence to serve and advocate for some of the highest needs people in my community. But more importantly, I consider it a success that I learned this job was not the right fit for me. It is a success that I quit. It is a success because I love myself and my life enough to move on and claim my true path.

We can tend to look at our past relationships and jobs that didn’t work out as failures or mistakes. Yet more often than not, these are the choices we needed to make with the information we had at the time, with the sense of self and confidence we had at the time, to gain the clarity and poise we need to get even closer to living out what we most desire. They were the best choice we could have made knowing what we knew then. The information we gain from those experiences, then allows us to make even more attuned and informed choices moving forward.

If we are open and aware, they help us to know ourselves better, and to invite us out to new edges of growth and emotional and spiritual risk.

When we recognize that something isn’t working, we are not just saying “No” to that relationship or job, we are saying a big fat happy “YES” to ourselves. The secret is:  keep saying “Yes.”  Keep listening to that stirring of inner passion and heart whisper that told you this isn’t quite what you need, and refine, re-calibrate and trust that, in time, the Nos will move you towards your bigger, fatter, happier YESes.

Often, when we follow our inner impulse and act with courage in honor of what we need, we quickly then backpedal into fear or succumb to mainstream narratives about what is normal or what we “should” be doing. I, for instance, “should” have waited to leave my job until I had another one lined up, or I “should” worry about how I will pay my bills.

I believe that if we make choices from love and trust rather than what society tells us we should do, we are much more likely to land back in our inner wisdom and feel peace with each decision, instead of finding ourselves in another job that pays the bills, but does not feed our souls, or in a relationship that is comforting, but not fulfilling.

So, if you consider the last relationship that didn’t meet your needs, the last job that caused you stress or boredom, can you see the success in your awareness that it wasn’t what you wanted? Can you feel proud for choosing to leave to honor your deeper desires and potential? Can you see how this was an essential experience along the way to where you are going, that showed you the next step to take? Can you keep listening, with courage, to the Nos, even as it challenges convention and norms and ideas about what you “should” do?seascape

It isn’t always the right time for us to leave, of course, and we can also feel proud if we stay and find ways to reduce stress, or stimulate and challenge ourselves, or take responsibility for our own joy. That was my path for many years in the “wrong” jobs. But then there was a “No” inside me whose voice grew louder and more insistent, which I could no longer placate with creative work arounds and spiritual strategies of radical acceptance.

I took the risk and now will own it instead of freaking out (okay, maybe I will freak out a bit). I keep coming back to my body’s cues, my heart’s longings, and am making choices that feel fruitful–emotionally, spiritually, and financially, while also allowing for vulnerability of uncertainty, because the fulfillment of my dreams and expression of strengths make it worth it.

Now is the time to embrace the Yes of adventure, unknown, radical trust in my deeper vocation and lifework. And to feel proud of my so-called failures and Nos for getting me there.

 

Adventure, Curiosity, Dancing is Healing, Experimentation, Freedom, Joy, Life Coaching, Play

8 Ways to Play

I–along with 50 lovely folks from the US and abroad–just wrapped up a week long online retreat. In our 7 days of self-connection, we took the time each day to be with ourselves in meditation, movement, exploration, creativity, and self-compassion. Each day offered a new theme and one of those themes was PLAY!

During our retreat, I shared some ideas for adding fun and whimsy into our days and thought I’d share some of those here…and a few others that didn’t make it into my retreat practices.

What are your favorite ways to play? Comment below to add to the list!

SILLY DANCE

Find a song that makes you feel good. Make up your own silly dance to go along with it…try to make it as goofy as possible. Invite friends and family to invent ridiculous choreography together.

CREATIVE NATURE WALK

Take a walk in the woods or garden. Find 3-5 nonliving things to bring back home with you. Keep your eyes open while walking for anything of beauty or unusual on your trail. Dead leaf with an interesting color or shape, a stick that speaks to you, rocks or pebbles, pine cones or acorns, berries, mushrooms. In a sacred or private space for reflection, place the objects from your walk as if you were presenting a work of art.

HULA HOOPING

This toy has been reinvented and redesigned to be an ideal fitness activity that is loads of fun! If your town doesn’t offer classes, you can find tutorials for hip, waist, chest hooping and more online or order instructional DVDs. 

WEAR A COSTUME TO THE GROCERY STORE

Dress up is not just for Halloween. Just doing your normal everyday errands in wigs, capes, and bunny ears can inspire laughs.

MANDALA COLORING

Get yourself some markers, colored pencils, or crayons and print free mandalas from here or here. Get coloring!

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NIGHT SKY WATCH

Go out and observe the stars. Find constellations. Make up your own constellations–see a shape and give it a name. 

GIBBERISH

Get together with a friend and have a conversation in made up language, each of you speaking in your own gibberish as if having an everyday interaction. Use your invented language to complain and vent when you’ve had a rough day.

GO ONO

Check out Yoko Ono’s creative and mind-bending prompts in her books Acorn + Grapefruit.

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Adventure, Awareness of Sensation, Curiosity, Experimentation, Freedom, Joy, Open, Play, travel, Visualization

finding freedom (+ fun), right here

Some clients i’ve worked with in one-on-one coaching struggle with feeling stuck where they are while living local & feeling a strong yearning for the global. Free spirits, they see themselves thriving in the new, unfamiliar, and unexpected. But whether due to finances, family, friends, or any other reason, they have a current need to stay put and aren’t able to travel.

If you are someone who doesn’t feel like yourself when you’re not traveling, if excitement, freedom, openness, and a willingness to take risks are qualities you strongly identify with and that feel most alive on your cross-country adventures and foreign escapades, read on. If you have a fear that being in one place, settled in a home, will extinguish your sense of freedom, shut down your spirits, and make life feel stagnant and sterile, this list is for you, too!

I encourage you, like i do my clients, to drop thoughts about what being in one place means. Notice what fear-based thoughts are going through your mind and imagine who you’d be without them. (Hat-tip: Byron Katie). Try out these experiments to cultivate a sense of adventure and the spirit of travel, right at home.

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1. Just Imagine…

Pretend that you are a foreign visitor who has never been to your town. Go sight-seeing or stroll the streets and look at your surroundings through the eyes of curiosity and discovery. See everything as if you have never seen any of it before. Go to your nearest visitor’s center as if you’ve just landed from outer space. Do you notice or learn anything new?

2. Get excited!

Find a park, historic home, quirky space, or museum nearby to visit and treat it as you would some famous landmark. Feel *that* excited about seeing it! Talk about it to a friend (or aloud to yourself) in the tone of voice you would use to talk about a trip to some dream destination. How does it feel to be in this sense of excitement? Where does that excitement show up in your body? Allow yourself to feel & enjoy it. Does this feel too ridiculous to take seriously? Great!! Have fun with it, laugh, and enjoy!

3. Taste the flavors…

Friends of mine who went to Thailand, Vietnam, Peru, and Mexico took cooking classes in each country to experience its authentic flavors. See if a local cooking school or meetup group offers classes in international cuisine or if there is a restaurant representing a region you’d like (or already liked) to travel to, where you can enjoy an authentic exotic meal. Or try a cookbook or online recipe.

4. New? Do!

The freshness of our experiences when in a new environment is something that can make life seem more vibrant. Do something totally out of character. Always dress in neutral tones? Don yourself in bright colors. Listen to a style of music you think you don’t like and try to find something in it that you appreciate. Sign up for a class in something you know nothing about or take up a new hobby: hip hop dance, ceramics, photography, rock climbing, kayaking, fishing, aerial dance, drumming, poetry writing. Find free classes on Coursera like this or this. Sign up for a race! Volunteer at a community agency or animal sanctuary!

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5. Only Connect.

Meet with fellow lovers of travel and exchange stories about your past trips and future dreams of adventure. Share photos and memories. Find someone with whom to partner for language exchange. Go to a cafe or bar and strike up a conversation with a stranger as you would when traveling in a tourist town. Read foreign literature or watch films made and produced from around the world.

6. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

One of the most freeing aspects of travel is being light…having little with us, few concerns or things for which we’re responsible for, and living well with few belongings! When i was in Central America, i went with about 5 outfits for 2 months. It was wonderfully uplifting to not worry about what to wear beyond what was clean and what the temperature was. I had only the belongings that could fit in my hiking backpack…i’d buy a used book, donate it and buy another when i wanted to read. This is an invitation to clean out your closets, let go of excess stuff, and make living as easy as possible by keeping your space and schedule clutter-free.

7. Visualize + actualize.

Recall a time in the past when you felt both stability and centered in home and, at the same time, joyful, carefree, and open. If you haven’t been able to feel these simultaneously, imagine what it would be like if you could. Connect to that memory or daydream and make it bigger in your mind and heart. Feel it in your body. Picture yourself living your day to day with that sense of freedom and joy.  Know that being settled in a home does not have to squash your spirits. Trust that it is totally possible to be grounded and supported as well as free and expansive! What are some steps you can take this week to create the conditions for this play, joy, experimentation, and freedom in your life? Soak up the sensations! Create a collage, paint, or journal to capture the kind of freedom you desire in a visual form to remind you. Now, start living it!