Mindset

Doing right by you

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People love you, for sure. They want you to be happy. They do! They want you to do the things that make you feel excited, energized, and fulfilled. Except that often, when you start doing those things, they freak out a little.

Or a lot.

No consciously. But somewhere inside, they panic. They feel unsettled by the change.

They feel threatened by the new you emerging.

They feel afraid that you’re leaving them behind.

And you know what? You might be.

Sometimes that is what’s happening. Sometimes moving more deeply into the truth of who you are will move you away from some people in your life. Most of the time, though, your deep dive opens up a place of permission for everyone around you to step into a more truthful, more beautiful, more expansive life.

Look, you are not here to make anyone else comfortable, or uncomfortable for the matter. It’s not about shaking things up just for the sake of it. Change will happen to you–there’s no need to manufacture it.

Answering the call the shift things or shed things or start things is an act of courage. There will be more that follow, including staying strong when others freak out.

Know you are moving toward freedom, yours and theirs, whether or not they can see it. Doing the wrong thing for you is never the right thing for anyone.

“Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”–Mark Twain

Body Compass

When You Hit a Wall

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What happens when you hit a wall? When you feel up against it? All out? When you just can NOT anymore?

When you look at the latest pile of dishes and you think, Why bother?

When you drag the clothes out of the dryer and into the laundry basket and then use that as your dresser for the whole week?

When you watch one episode after the other of a show you’ve already seen while your dog stares and stares at you doing that desperate thing with his eyebrows?

It could be that I’m sad about the broken weather or that my thyroid Rx needs a boost or that I’m emotionally wrung out from the tick tock countdown to the midterms and all the bullshit shenanigans and outright terror erupting from everywhere.

Or maybe it’s just life. Life has meandering paths, steep inclines, plateaus, beautiful views, deep forests, gushing rivers, dry wells. And walls.

The first thing to do is, not panic.

Oh look–a wall.

It’s not there because I’m a fuck-up, or I’ve made terrible mistakes, or I didn’t dream hard enough or follow through enough.

It’s just a wall, a part of the landscape.

Get to know the wall. Feel its surface. Paint it a pretty color.

Let it keep you in one place for a while. Lean up against it. Let it take your weight. Let it hold a boundary. Let it bring things into focus. Let it mark an ending. Truth is, you won’t stay there. The moment you give into it, love it, let it be there (it’s THERE so why fight it?) something will shift.

Let your mind drift. See where it goes.

You’ll notice something, a bit of movement, a flutter.

Don’t direct it. Just follow it. Let it flutter around. Notice where it lands.

It might not make any sense.

Good.

I wanna dance like Cardi B. That’s where my butterfly landed–on the twerking butt of a 20-something-year-old.

I’m just a middle aged white lady with a bad hip. I get out of breath changing the shower curtain liner. I can’t even understand what I’m seeing when I watch the hip hop.

But I love it! It makes me smile, feel light and tingly in my throat and chest.

That’s my body saying yes. My body doesn’t have a five-year plan. It’s all about right now.

So, with the wall and the dishes and the laundry and the dog all still there, I put my laptop on the fireplace mantle and spent about 20 minutes watching videos and gyrating around the living room.

It totally cracked me up.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, really, about anything.I  only know that I’m more creative, more resilient and more flexible when I really get that I don’t need to know. My only job is let what’s happening, be happening.

That’s not the same as collapsing into it or resigning myself to it. It’s being okay, even though it’s there.

What’s going on over there in your life? Any walls?

Try leaning in, let your eyes go soft, and see if anything silly, fun, or outrageous move into the periphery.

What was it?

Surprised?

Good.

Body Compass

Fear & Freedom

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I spent last weekend in New York at a workshop led by Josh Pais the actor, teacher, and the creator of Committed Impulse (CI). If you’ve never heard of Josh Pais and his work, go read more about it right now. It’s extraordinarily powerful, exhilaratingly profound work. He developed it over the years as a way to access his spontaneity and creativity as an actor but the classes are for anyone who wants to show up in their life more courageously.

Notice I didn’t say fearlessly. I mean, it’s cool to show up and do something hard when you’re not scared but that’s not courage. Courage is showing up for the hard or scary or new thing even though you’re scared. It takes vulnerability to face uncertainty, emotional exposure, risk.

We get brave not by getting rid of the fear but by shifting how we respond when the fear shows up. 

On the last day of the workshop, Josh led us through a group visualization during which, by the end, we each were ‘shown’ an image (from our subconscious) that represented a sub-personality–an aspect of ourselves–that we wanted to explore.

The exercise was to begin with this image, allow it to inhabit our body and guide us in finding a character — its physicality, voice, name, and anything else. 
 
People got up, three at a time, and went through this exercise. It was amazing! They became these people or creatures, seemingly by magic.  They interacted or not. They spoke or not. They were hilarious and surprising and odd and intriguing and moving. 
 
As I sat there, enthralled and delighted by the work, a growing dread overtook me. They were so good! I’ll never be that good! Ach! I can’t do this! I don’t have the stuff! What am I doing here? What was I thinking?
 
I got more and more in my head.

It wasn’t about planning what I would do or say. I simply had no clue what I would do. I had zero things going on in my head, only a vast terrifying blankness. I became paralyzed by my thoughts of being exposed, being self-conscious, being a failure or a faker, up there in front of everyone performing an idea of an idea rather than being authentic about whatever was truly going on.

As Josh says, “Nobody wants to see your brilliant idea. They want to see YOU. They are hungry for the truth.”
 
It also wasn’t about wanting to be amazing. I mean, sure, that would be fun if that’s what happened. But it wasn’t at the heart of the issue for me. What I wanted was the courage to let myself COMMIT to the IMPULSE and energy of the moment. I wanted to leap. I wanted to fall and find things as I was falling.

I didn’t want to manipulate the fear. I wanted to use it. 
 
This was what I was there for—to face the part of me that gets stuck, frozen, paralyzed and then INSTEAD of looking for a trick, a formula, or some work around, move with the energy of the terror of the unknown to wherever it took me because if you join it, it will move.

I mean, what was I going to do, LEAVE?  With only a few hours left of the entire weekend that I signed up for and paid for and had been looking forward to for months?

Yes. That’s exactly what I wanted to do.
 
During I break, I stood in line for the bathroom and announced to all the mostly young, beautiful actors there: I’m seriously fucked up in the head right now. I have a terrible case of Not Enough-ness. I don’t think I can do it. 

Them: Oh, yes you can!

Me: No, I can’t. Nothing will come out of me. I’ll just be up there with nothing and it will be painful and humiliating and excruciating!

Them: No, no! Something will come, it will!

Me:  It will for you. But not for me. 
 
And this is when it became crystal clear to me that I was making myself into a very special case, different than everyone. else. in. the. room. I am the ONLY ONE afraid to risk, to stretch, the only one for which nothing will come, the only one for whom this will not work. Such arrogance! 
 
Luckily, I didn’t collapse into bashing myself for being arrogant because Josh appeared in the line for the bathroom and I said, I think I have to go.

Josh: Oh, to the bathroom?

Me: No. I think I have to run away. I’m totally in my head. I’m filled with fear.

Josh: Use it! Party with the fear. It’s okay that it’s there.

Me: No. I really don’t think it is. It feels dangerous.

Josh: If you leave, I will cancel the class.

It wasn’t true, of course. He wouldn’t cancel the class. I knew what he meant was, this exact struggle is why you’re here. Leaving won’t solve anything. It will just be there the next time.

See, the problem isn’t the fear or the thoughts in your head, I imagined him saying (because he had been saying these things all weekend), it’s your resistance to what you’re feeling because you say No. Not this. This is not the right thing for me to feel for what I am about to do. 

That, my friends, is what fucks us up, shuts us down, and turns us away from ourselves, from who we truly are and what we are here to do.

I knew what he was saying was, Use the Four Access Tools of CI: (1) Breath. (2) Feel the actual sensations in your body. (3) Connect to your environment. (4) Say, “I’m back.”

After the break, I did that. IN EARNEST.

I breathed. I felt the sensation in my body (clamped chest, heavy stone in the pit of my stomach, numb legs). I looked around the room and really saw something specific—the contrast of light/dark in the corner of the ceiling. I said, I’m back. 

Everyone continued to be amazing. I said, I’m back, as I watched. I said it out loud, softly, over and over. I used the Four Access Tools to stay present while I watched so I wouldn’t spin out into my own drama.

At one point, I forced myself up. My legs were wobbly. My heart pounded in my chest.

I stood up in front of everyone.

I said, I’m back. I breathed and looked at a specific point on the wall directly across from me. I said, I’m back, again. In fact I said it continuously because the moment I finished saying it, my mind tried to rip me away from the present moment. (Minds are like that. The present is like a pile of hot coals to my mind.)

Josh talked us through the start of the exercise. I said, I’m back, a few more times and then I noticed that my body wanted to move in a particular way. I let it. I followed it.

I kept following it. I was in it. I was in the discovery. I was in the truth of the moment. I wasn’t manipulating or in my head or preoccupied by how I looked or what anyone else thought. I did things I didn’t plan to do. I was aware of everyone is the room and I felt free.

It was a total blast.

Afterward I said to Josh, I survived.

Ah! You thrived, he answered.

It was exhilarating.

I’m back. I’m back. I’m back.

It’s like what Pema Chodron says to do during hard times (which are really, times of intense physical sensation): Stay, stay stay.

Stay with the truth in the moment, not the ‘truth’ your mind wants to tell you. The truth your body knows.

It’s this and then it’s this. It moves you, informs you, transforms you.

It’s like a river or an ocean or a fire. It dances.

Dance with it.

Dance with the swirling, ever-changing mass of atoms, of energy.

It’s your power, your vitality.

It’s you. You need it.

But more than that, we need it because we need you.

Not your great idea or your idea of what you imagine we will think is great.

We need you, the real you, the moment to moment you. Now more than ever.

Body Compass

Answer the call

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Books come into our lives at exactly the right moment.

I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s newest book, The Artist’s Journey, and I urge you to do the same. It’s jam-packed and a quick read, both. It’s clear, straight-forward, and full of wisdom.

It’s a call to action.

It’s calling me to action, to inhabit my life differently, meaning–to fully stand in what I believe and let that be the whole thing. 

I’m at the tail-end of a sales class and even though the teacher is great and the content is clear, I’ve lost interest. My mind is telling me I should keep going. My body is saying No.

I don’t want to follow a formula. I don’t want to follow a script.

I don’t want to get better at sales. There is nothing wrong with being good at sales! It’s just not what I want.

What I want is to discover who I am through doing the creative work I am here to do.

I want to move from the great unknown into the great unknown by inhabiting the world of the great unknown (also known as the world of possibilities) by creating.

Creating.

Maybe I’m not meant to be a coach because I’m not pulled toward building my coaching business. I’m pulled toward being more fully IN the creative journey.

I’m pulled toward being with people, toward making things, not being alone in my office trying to get clients.

I want to paint. And write, and be funny with others, and play and read and see art and watch movies. I want to be outside and travel and have adventures and talk about the soul and spend my time with passionate people out in the world doing what they can to make it a better, safer, healthier, more just place.

I want to spend my time living the top 11 things I learned from my year of taking selfies:

  1. Inspiration comes from taking action, not before.
  2. You don’t have to be in the mood to do it.
  3. A bad picture is just a bad picture.
  4. That the more you look, the more you see.
  5. Not knowing is no big deal.
  6. Getting outside can be a game changer.
  7. The soul speaks in metaphor.
  8. Creative expression heals, empowers, and expands.
  9. Product is not the point.
  10. The more of me I have, the less anyone or anything can throw me.
  11. You can’t hide when you let go of focusing on the HOW and instead, begin, start, explore, play, experiment: do the thing.

What I have for you today is the same message I have for myself: Have the courage to do what you really want to do. 

Trust in your higher self, your deepest self, your wildest self, the calling in you that is beyond words and realism, beyond experience and qualifications, beyond what the world of conventionality and expectations tells you is possible.

Trust in the unseen world, the world that is asking to be brought into form. It’s there. It’s real. And it’s calling to you.

Answer the call.

Creativity

10 Lessons from The Great British Baking Show

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“No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing…try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun.” –Julia Child

Today it’s all about the bake, and by that I mean, The Great British Baking Show.

I’m sure you’ve seen it but if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat! I’m late to the party, but la la! What does it matter when we have every season right at our fingertips, or should I say, Netflixtips?

So for today, I’m going to give you, 10 Lessons I Learned From The Great British Baking Show:

  1. It takes courage to put yourself out there.
  2. It’s all about RIGHT NOW.
  3. Getting uncomfortable is inevitable when you can’t know how it’s going to turn out (and you can never know how it’s going to turn out).
  4. Time pressure keeps you moving.
  5. No matter what happens, stay in the game.
  6. You’re not in it alone, even when it might feel like you are.
  7. Helping someone else never takes anything away from you.
  8. There’s no shame in a bad bake.
  9. Every week (day, hour, minute) is a clean slate.
  10. Humor helps the human. Funny is essential, though as with baking, timing is key.

I think about these every time I show up to do something new or scary or challenging.

Showing up is the hardest.

Staying there is the hardest.

Being okay with a big fat ‘failure’ is the hardest.

Not comparing is the hardest.

And man alive, laughing is SO SO important! It’s the buoy, the salve, the fuel, the spark, and the sweet sweet comfort that creates room for us to be our whole, messy selves.

What about you?

Do you have someone in your life to help you show up, stay there, redefine failure, not compare, and have fun even though it’s new, scary, and challenging?

Try some FREE COACHING!

Yay! It’s true! For a limited time, I am offering free coaching to anyone’s who’s ready for change but struggling with how to make that change happen.

Click HERE to schedule your freebie.

Then go have a bit of sponge, a bite of shortbread, a spot of Parkin or whichever delicious treat melts in your mouth and opens your heart.

Mindset

At what door do you find yourself gazing?

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I love doors. I take a lot of pictures of them. There’s always a moment, as I point my phone/camera at someone’s front porch and doorway, when I wonder if look like I’m casing the joint.

I’m not, of course. 🙂

I just love the colors and the places that let the mail in. I love the shapes and the clutter or empty space surrounding this portal to the inside of someone’s home.

I’m not trying to figure out if they’re home or what possessions await on the other side of their threshold. I’m wondering who lives there, what they want and if they’re getting it.

I wonder who do they love and how they forgive those people or themselves for their inevitable stumbles.

I think of other doorways, openings to places I’ve never been but long to go.

I think of doors in my dreams that lead to rooms I didn’t know I had, filled with junk or treasure or vast open space. 

What about you? At what doors do you find yourself gazing? What would it take to open it?

Through what doors have you found yourself pushed? What might it take to turn around and walk back out?

Which door can you now close?

Which can you leave open, allowing yourself the freedom to move in and out as you do your own home, venturing into the world to try something new; returning at the end of the day to sort through what you’ve discovered? 

Self-care

Stumbling toward kindness

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There’s nothing wrong with being scared.

Or dropping the ball or falling flat on your face or putting your foot in it or missing the boat or being a deer in the headlights or leaving all the stones unturned.

There’s no shame in regret, ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, lying awake at night over things said or not said, actions taken or not taken.

There’s nothing wrong with classes skipped and projects undone, books abandoned, art materials unused, notebooks and calendars and workbooks and exercise equipment still in their wrappers.

There’s no shame in having made all those plans, written out all those schedules, picked the date to start the new regime only to watch it pass as you continue to do that same old thing you reall,y truly, absolutely are ready to stop doing.

There’s nothing wrong with any of it.

I promise you.

It’s all part of being a human person. ALL OF IT.

The only way to be reliable rid of it is to be not alive anymore.

I have a teacher who says, love whatever you’re feeling because in 50 years (100 years?) you won’t be able to feel it, or anything else.

All the feelings we have about anything that we don’t like are part of the human experience.

I always forget that.

ALWAYS.

I always forget that feeling sad, embarrassed, frustrated, disappointed, hurt, regretful, angry, jealous, threatened, scared, lonely, worried, unprepared, unqualified, self-conscious, insecure—ALL OF IT—is not a sign that something has gone wrong, but a sign that I am alive and therefore, susceptible to the full range of the human experience.

So what do we do? Accept it, many will say and I agree but true acceptance doesn’t come without kindness, tenderness, and compassion toward the self.

I took a week-long course on self-compassion a few years ago. It was an amazing workshop–inspiring lectures, powerful exercises, intense 1:1 work, and small group mini-sessions. At the end of the week, the instructors said, you’re leaving with a lot of information, resources, and tools but know that inevitably, all of these will fail you at times because disappointment, failure, and pain are an inescapable part of life. There is no class that can inoculate you from your humanity.

So, again–what do we do, practically speaking?

Self-compassion has three steps, says researcher Kristin Neff:

1. Mindfulness = noticing when we’re suffering. It’s astounding to me how hard it is to interrupt my habitual response to pain and equally how astoundingly different it feels when I remember to stop and say, Oh wait, this is hurt(or fear or disappointment, etc.,)

2. Common humanity = recognizing that whatever we’re feeling is part of the human condition rather than evidence that there’s something terribly wrong with us (or them).

3. Kindness to self = turning toward our own pain from a place of extreme friendliness to the self rather than pushing the feelings away or doubling down with harsh self-talk or unkind treatment.

I’m alive. You’re alive.

We get to walk around drinking strong coffee and eating crisp, salty potato chips. We get to hug our loved ones and talk about the stuff that lights us up.

We get to make mistakes and lose things and forget to pay attention to our heart’s desires. And then we get to stop, lean against our humanity, and stumble toward kindness.

Body Compass

It’s not you…

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Your time is precious.

Don’t waste it on someone who doesn’t realize you are, too. 

 

In whose company do you feel seen, valued, appreciated, even flat-out adored?

In whose company do you feel out of sorts, off-kilter, as if there is static in the air?

In whose company do you feel ease?

In whose company do you feel effort?

In whose company do you feel reciprocity, the back and forth of a two-way street, that things are not rigidly EVEN STEVEN but that, over time, there is a give and take, an extension of interest, genuine warmth and curiosity in you, your life, your work, your family?

Listen: what other people think about me is none of my business. What IS my business is putting myself in the company of people that make me feel good.

It’s all about the body. When my body feels icky, when my shoulders feel tight, when my mouths pulls back at the edges, something is off. I could go into my mind, into a whole STORY about the other person and what they’re thinking or believing, but what will that do for me?

And ultimately? It really doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s about them.

I know someone who likes to say, I’m too magical for their bullshit.

Right?

If my side of the street is clean, I don’t need to stare at their side of the street, trying to make sense of the mess.

That be their mess.

If they want my help with it, they are welcome to ask. I am up for the hard conversation. I’ll roll up my sleeves and sort through all kinds of debris. But until or unless they do?

Girl, bye.

I do not have the time.

My soul is calling me to go where my big, beautiful, messy, unabashedly glorious and imperfect self is celebrated.

Do you relate? If so, I say, GO! Your soul awaits!

Call up an old friend and have them shower you with love.

Or take a bath, a walk, a bounce on the mini-trampoline. Make a cup of Bengal Spice tea with heavy cream and sit on the stoop and watch the world go by.

Read, paint, doodle, dig your fingers into the ground.

Dive into the salty waves. Crank your favorite song and boogie all over the house. Curl up on the couch and watch a movie.

You’ll come back to yourself, I promise, and you, dear reader, are the best company there is.

Body Compass

You have a calling

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Listen: You have a calling. 
 
There is something that wants to come through you, right now. It’s not entirely you, nor entirely of you, but it does need you in order to be brought to the world. 
 
You are the living breathing being that is required to bring this thing into form. There is no one else that can do it, quite the way you can. 
 
No one. 
 
Your job is to become aware of it and then honor it by acting on it in some small way. To start. 
 
It’s not grandiose to believe that you have something to say, to do, to make, to express. I promise you. 
 
It’s correct. It’s truth. It’s the way of it. 
 
The world needs every one of us, in ways large, small, and everything in between.

The world needs you. 

Sit with yourself right now. Breathe. Get still. Feel the spaciousness inside of you, how it expands in all directions without end even though that doesn’t make any sense. After all, you are only this one person of this one size taking up this one chunk of space. 
 
But no. 

You are so much more than your physical body, your collection of memories and experiences, your tally of strengths and challenges and opinions and fears and dreams. 
 
You are an infinite being with an interior that is as mysterious and vast as the universe with an access point to information that wants you, needs you, requires you to reach out and take it and move with it.
 
I’m not being woo woo here. 
 
Nobody knows where consciousness comes from.
 
Nobody knows where ideas, inspiration, and moments of insight and genius comes from. 
 
Nobody knows where that GUT FEELING comes from other than, sure, the general area around our belly where we seemed to get that sinking or growing or tugging or knowing feeling ‘deep down’ that always turns out to be 1000% right on.
 
So. What is it telling you? What is it calling to you to do?

What do you know, deep down? What do you want, deep down? What do you feel, need, care about, keep returning to, keep fantasizing about, deep down?

Don’t get ahead of yourself with questions about the how and the time-table and the end result. Your infinite and vast and mystery portal is tossing something out to you.
 
Reach each out catch it. 

Little Stories

The ants came marching one by one, hoorah?

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How is everyone? Hmm? Are you hanging in there? Are you having fun on your vacation or settling back in after returning from one? Are you listening to a new podcast or deep into a new book on your commute to work? Are you on the beach, in the garden? Scouring yard sales for treasures and a great pair of old cowboy boots?

I missed sending this out last week. We’ve been moving, again, unpacking boxes, again, getting ready for our son’s last year of high school, setting up systems and work spaces, hangout spaces, squirreling away our landlords many chachkies and miscellany so we have a place to put our personals.

Our first morning here, the basement filled with smoke and we scurried out to the pavement in our pajamas to the 2000 degree heat of another sweltering east coast summer day. Turned out to be a faulty sewer cover that was an easy fix. The next day, the power went out for hours. The day after that, as I sat cozy in bed reading cartoons in my New Yorker, a small search party of ants kept climbing across my arms and neck, each time sending me into squeals and spasms as I lunged for a tissue to squash them, (sorry, Buddha).

I tracked them to a couple of giant boxes of my clothes that had been in storage for 6 weeks, opened them up and found an INFESTATION. Ants poured out like zombies in that Brad Pitt zombie movie. Poured, I tell you.

I emptied every box in sight. More ants, and (grotesquely!) egg sacs and debris presumably from their life cycle scattered everywhere, down the stairs, to the 2nd floor hall where they, frankly, panicked and started scaling the walls. 

Dave dashed for the super strong porta-vac ( from his beloved Costco) and some trash bags and together we squashed, sucked, and sorted the mess, cramming & sealing the clothes to leave on the bag deck until the light of day when we dumped them out in the street and shook, sorted, and sucked some more, transferring de-anted and de-egged clothing into new trash bags for me to wash.

We were quite a sight out there. Greetings, neighbors! We looked like either a really energetic homeless couple or folks putting on a very bad yard sale.

The clothes are now clean, the ants are gone, the boxes have been carted away. We are mostly unpacked and finding our new routines in this new home, where we’ll be until June when our son graduates and then, who knows? We may find another rental or return to our home across the state. It’s not clear what house we’ll be living in, and even though that’s stressful, it’s also okay.

Why? Well, first of all, because we’re choosing it. I keep reminding myself of how lucky we are to get to drag our infested clothes to the street in front of a whole house we get to rent in order to be close to an amazing school where our son is celebrated for the wildly unique learner that he is. I’m not putting a smiley face on it–I mean it! We get to move and rent and put our stuff in storage and then take it out, take the time to settle in and make a home! I get to putter around in my pajamas as I rearrange the kitchen and greet the city sewer officials! 

Also also because, the truth is, I’m always home, even though I don’t always remember that (and during stressful times? I forget ALL THE TIME.)  Our bodies are our home, and we are never NOT in our bodies so we are never not home. The safety we seek is with us all the time. The trick is to notice when we’ve left and do whatever works to help us return.

I suppose there are people out there who would calmly lift and clean each item of ant-infested clothing rather than lurch and scream, ACH! EEK! OH GOD! or those who would calmly say to their partner, Ah, I think I need to take a minute to sit with myself and get back in my body, rather than slip and skid into a fight. I’m not that gal, today.

But I’m still here in this body of mine, moving and sorting and rearranging, doing my best to remember, remember, remember and return home.