I recently noticed that I've been fighting against a lot lately. Fighting against complaining, fighting against frustration, fighting against fear. How's that been workin' for me? Not so great. Today I went on a hike and happened upon a field of daffodils...in February! Now isn't that amazing? I stopped to appreciate the surprise of unexpected beauty. And I realized that by sending out the energy of "fighting against", I am actually becoming the very thing I wish to avoid or resist. Continue reading
I recently took a tour of Stillheart Institute, Woodside, California, where I'll be a guest facilitator for the Whole Person Retreat on April 9, 2011. I'll be joined by Eliska Meyers and Johanna Beyer, the co-hosts of this gathering of women. It will be focused on women sharing their wisdom & questions while nourishing their mind, body & soul. Eliska and Johanna are heart-full, soul-connected, creative spirits who will be sharing their gifts of facilitation, guided inquiry, and ritual. I will be leading sound healing and music improvisation practices as part of our self-exploration throughout the day. When: Saturday, April 9, 2011, 10am to 6pm Where: Stillheart Institute, 16350 Skyline Blvd, Woodside, CA What: All-day retreat for women, led by Eliska Meyers, Johanna Beyer, and Lisa Chu. Personal exploration in a circle of women will include reflection, writing, verbal sharing, solitude and silence, as well as music improvisation and sound healing fun and play. Cost: $150, including lunch. Space is limited! To register, please e-mail Johanna Beyer of OnYourPath Consulting.
Who are you when there are no demands on you?
How will you be if everything is available to you?
What have been your life changing decisions?Watch a video of my walk, concluding with the labyrinth at Stillheart>>
More about Eliska Meyers:Eliska is an organization development consultant and coach. She partners with leaders & work groups in designing a path of their choice in service of business strategy and growth. Eliska facilitates a big picture view enabling discovery and implementation towards a preferred future that honors collective wisdom, results and relevance. Some of Eliska’s clients within the last 20 years include Hewlett-Packard, Agilent, Levi Strauss, the General Services Administration, Kaiser Permanente & Mercy Corps. She led The Conference Board’s research working group on Growing Talent for Succession & is Program Director for their Human Resources Executive & Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Councils. Eliska’s emphasis in her work is to coach leaders and groups in service of raising capability within complex systems. Prior to starting her own company, Eliska was an internal organization consultant for Levi Strauss & Company. While there, she worked with the North American Finance and Customer Relations organizations to design and implement “quick start” approaches to new ways of working during a $700 million reengineering initiative. Eliska holds a BS in Social Work, and an MS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She learned to be tough while being raised in New York City & compassion in her life as a San Francisco resident. Her two adult sons and husband of 30 years keep her grounded in communication. In addition to singing in the Glide Ensemble Gospel Choir & connecting with her Czech and Australian relatives, Eliska runs 19 miles a week, swims & practices Bikram yoga.
More about Johanna Beyer, founder of On Your Path Consulting:Johanna Beyer received her Bachelors Degree from UCLA and her Masters Degree in Organizational Development from California Institute Of Integral Studies. While working as a management consultant, she led hi- level teams within business to help them unearth their most innovative strategic thinking for long term success. Six years ago Johanna transitioned from her work with organizations to one on one coaching with individuals using many of the techniques that she applied to Fortune 500 companies. Since that time Johanna has been privileged to work with individuals to help them move past their fears so that they can make contact with the creativity and gifts that are inside. We all have dreams and talents within that are waiting to be acknowledged, released and acted on. By using different tools and processes, Johanna helps people to think about their inner values, purpose and vision. To request more information or to register, e-mail Johanna Beyer>>
It's been just over a year now since I stepped with clarity into the next phase of my life by leaving a business I came to California to create, back in 2004. I've told the story so many times that it may seem like "old news" to some of you, but for me, that one decision was a *huge* step. It cleared the way for so much magic that has emerged - through effort and spontaneous creativity, guided by intention and enabled by practice - over the past year. Last week I went through the embodied steps of letting go - moving all the physical items out of the Cradle of Manifestation after acknowledging that a 1,800-square-foot facility no longer matched the life I am creating. In the process, I've come face-to-face with so many of my deeply held beliefs and default patterns. I believed that being a "responsible" person - a piece of my identity I held tightly as a symbol of my worthiness to occupy space on this planet - meant putting other people's needs ahead of my own, no matter what the cost. In my work, this was expressed as taking full responsibility for all outcomes associated with the people I was involved with - which translated into poor delegation, inability to trust other people's skills and ways of doing things, and the result of preferring to do everything on my own, so it would be perfect. Ultimately, I experienced exhaustion and burnout as the destination on this path. After I crossed the hurdle of actually setting a boundary, saying "no more" to my own business (which, at the time, was the only path I felt drawn to), and risking the disappointment of other people (which, at the time, was my greatest and most paralyzing fear), the same belief expressed itself as a firm resolve in my mind to continue paying rent on my office space simply because I had signed a lease, and that was that. An agreement was an agreement, with no room for discussion. I was a person who kept my word. But living by those old rules under the new circumstance of starting a business from scratch in a new industry translated to prioritizing my landlords' needs over my own, which I did for an entire year. I dutifully and silently wrote each check and made sure it arrived before the first of every month. For an entire year. I was silently proving to myself my own worth as a "responsible" person (daughter, girl), but in fact I was not honoring myself or my fledgling business fully. Continue reading
Lately I have found that the best "medicine" I can give myself during the course of a day is to get out of my chair and go on a hike. I am fortunate to live within a few minutes' drive of several open space preserves, so there are no excuses! Except the voices in my head saying that I "should" be "working"...a very narrowly defined version of working indeed. I've found that every time I actually take the action of going on the hike - against the more prudent advice of the thoughts in my heads saying things like, "Breaks are for the weak", and, "Working hard is the only way to survive in life" - I experience a burst of creative ideas and energetic opening, which makes me grateful for every breath and every step I can take. It's not like "working out" at the gym, which I did for many years and with much gusto. Recently I took a hike and recorded two videos - one before and one afterwards. I set an intention (or actually a "goal") of practicing self-acknowledgment during the hike, since I had spent the better part of the day flogging myself to work harder, falling into the old thought pattern of, "It's never enough." About halfway through the hike, I realized that in the effort and concentration of pursuing my goal of self-acknowledgment, I had not acknowledged anything that was going on in my immediate surroundings! I had not taken in the particular sights, sounds, and other physical sensations of being on a walk outdoors surrounded by open space and natural vistas. My head was down for most of the first half of the hike. But once I realized this halfway through, and opened myself to experience the present moment, I softened my gaze. I was not working so hard to be on this hike and accomplish rejuvenation as if it were another homework assignment by a teacher. I was shifting into receptivity and noticing everything gently, in real time. I started to look UP at the sky, notice the sounds of the birds, appreciate how the outline of the mountains against the sky, on this particular day, were barely visible because of the misty haze. I started to listen to the sound of my own footsteps on the trail, and how they provided a steady, soft rhythm over which the birds occasionally improvised their solos. During the second half of my hike, there was a shift into musicality from what had started out mechanically. This was my experience of coming into the present moment. You hear Eckhart Tolle and Oprah and other teachers talking about "being in the present moment", but what is your own experience of it, in your own body? I post this as a reminder that we may spend lots of time trying to learn something, or pay someone to teach us "how to" do something, or read blog after blog in search of the answer to the questions in our heart. I believe that learning and growth are the ultimate purpose of our lives here on earth. However, keep in mind that the most important thing to do while learning is to notice yourself as you learn. By developing the ability to notice what is going on inside you, how you are applying the lessons specifically in your life, and honoring your experience as you respond to being taught, you are giving yourself the true gift of learning...and healing. I encourage you to find the energy of openness and receptivity in your daily life through your own practice....maybe it's a hike, or maybe it's something else. Discover what restores YOU! Video before the hike (where I set my intention): Video after the hike (which felt like two different hikes based on a mind shift halfway through):
A video message from a recent hike, on loss as a doorway to appreciation and joy:
You can be both organized and cluttered at the same time. Have you ever thought about that? A friend sent me a link to an article discussing the difference between organization and uncluttering. It arrived in my life at a time when I was open to receiving an "aha" moment. Even though I have found a place to store and/or organize many items in my home, I have noticed that so many of these items are ones I don't need or love anymore. At one time, they held an important place in my life. At one time, they were useful to me. At one time, they were needed on a regular basis. But how about now? I have undergone three major career changes in my life, and have lived in five different cities over the past twelve years. I have had an underlying assumption that my life "should" be constantly expanding in size. An unexamined belief that progress and growth means accumulation of things. I have full closets that I haven't touched in several years. And while my mind and body and spirit are trying to move in a new direction, the weight of these untouched contents is becoming palpable. Continue reading
For most of the years of my adult life, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has felt like a race. "A race to where?" you might ask. Great question! Instead of racing through your list of "to do"s, try something new this holiday. Try adding some restorative practices to your days, and checking in with yourself to ensure that you are sharing and giving your best self to the people you care most about. Don't know what restores you? Well, here's a great place to start: STOP. Yes, that's right. STOP doing for even one whole minute each day. For those of us who thrive on the thrill of accomplishment, fitting in, doing more, working harder, and making things look good, this might be as big of a challenge as anything you've put on your "to do" list. That's why you need to do it now. STOP. Just sit still with yourself for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE each day, and watch what happens. Feel everything that comes up. Feel your resistance. Feel your annoyance. Feel your jitters. Feel your desire to be anywhere but right here, right now. Give yourself this gift every day during the month of December, and you'll be on your way to being able to give to others what they truly desire - your full presence and peace with yourself. Want more inspiration and instructions on how to create restorative practices and restore sanity to your holiday season? Enroll in my online course starting December 13th. Register here>>
Have you ever tried actually doing one thing at a time? I've found that it takes a tremendous amount of trust - an amount I often don't have - to truly do one thing at a time. Somehow my brain prefers that high-anxiety mode of doing many things at once, having many irons in the fire, keeping many options open, so to speak. But the reality of that mode is nothing ever gets done, and I never feel totally complete. In other words, I set myself up to prove the belief that underlies this kind of behavior: "I am not enough." To turn this behavior around, I first choose a new thought to believe: "I am complete, as I am, in this moment." At first, I repeat it as a mantra that sounds ridiculous because my brain has never practiced focusing attention on all the ways that I am, in fact, complete, as I am, in this moment. I have trained my brain, for many years and quite intensively, to find all the ways that "I am not enough" - all the ways that I "should be" doing more than what I am doing right now. But since I have made the choice to be and do in a different way, to connect with a different energy as the source of my actions, I keep repeating that mantra. I allow myself some stillness and some time to find one example of how I am really complete, as I am, in this moment. I find some gentleness toward myself as I learn a new way. I remember that I am like a toddler, about to take my first steps, and joyfully falling and getting up more times than I will be able to count.
When was the last time you took a day off? Were you too sick to get out of bed? Were your kids too sick to go to school? Did you plan a vacation months in advance, spending money you didn't have, going to a place you thought would be fun, only to come back needing to take MORE time off? Why do we WAIT until the breaking point before we take the time that we need for ourselves? Try this: pick a day, any day. Preferably right in the middle of the week, exactly when you think you "can't" take any time away from whatever "important" project you're working on. And just take the day off. Make up an excuse to tell your boss if you have to, but know in your heart that you are doing it for the most important person in just this moment - YOU. Choose something you love to do, a place you love to be, and do it. You might even find that SLEEP is what you need the most. Before you say, "NO! I can't possibly do that!", I want you to try it. And see how that small gift to yourself affects your energy, your attitude toward yourself, and the way you treat your coworkers, family, and friends. When we can finally treat ourselves with genuine kindness and gentleness, maybe we can begin to act with true compassion toward others.