Tag Archives: facing your fears

Greeting Fear with Love

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Fear has been up for me lately. I’m stepping into new unknowns and therefore a new level of courage is required. And in order to function, I’ve woken up to a new way of greeting fear. Instead of trying to beat it down, or conquer it, which both contain the quality of resistance, I practiced this: “It’s OK, fear. Come on in. You are welcome here. Sit down at my table.” The subtle practice here is being with, but not believing in, or becoming consumed by, the guest at my table. Just loving my guest – fear – exactly as it is. Not “falling in love with” it, but being OK with it. More importantly, feeling OK with it being there. Not trying to change it in any way.

This is entirely new for me. Only when I actually heard the words “it’s OK” did I realize how much resistance I had felt towards fear. I never said to my fear, “It’s OK.” Two simple, comforting words that were not an automatic response in my internal dialog.

I like to “get over” things, conquer them, put them behind me, become better at them. But simply and sincerely saying, “It’s OK”, had never occurred to me.

I played with “It’s OK” two nights ago before going to bed. Instead of trying to talk myself out of the fear I was feeling, I repeated, “It’s OK.” I made it OK that I couldn’t get rid of my fear. I made it OK that fear was what I felt. I made everything about me in that moment OK. And I really meant it. I woke up the next morning feeling noticeably different. More relaxed. More at ease. Without effort.

Later that day I saw three new books being released by bestselling authors with “Fear” in the title. Martha Beck and Deepak Chopra are doing an event called, “Turning Fear into Fuel”. Lissa Rankin’s new book is called “The Fear Cure”. And Elizabeth Gilbert’s fall release is subtitled, “Creative Living Beyond Fear”.

Apparently I am not the only one for whom “fear is up”. It’s the subject of a larger conversation. It seems the collective call is to look at our relationship with fear, and create a new way to dance. When we choose to step into new territory, or when life hands us an unknown, fear will come knocking on our door. We can respond with the automatic arsenal of fight, freeze, or avoid. We can fight fear with fear. Or we can greet fear with love.

Whichever we choose, “It’s OK.”

All About Love – Unpacking the L Word

Heart of Imagery Painting

“Heart Shines On”, acrylic on canvas, 16″x20″ by Lisa Chu

Why is “love” such a hot button word for so many of us? It seems we remain as divided with respect to this word as we are on so many other issues. There are “hopeless romantics” and there are “anti-Valentine’s” party hosts. There are those who sprinkle the word “love” over every communication with strangers or friends, and there are those who use it sparingly, like precious strands of saffron reserved only for the finest occasion.

 

We never said the word “love” in our house, so during my childhood, I formed the belief that something was missing from my experience compared to the outer world of suburban midwestern America I lived in. We didn’t talk like the characters on The Brady Bunch. The emotions expressed in my family were much more raw, more volatile, so close to the surface and not easily contained. The love I experienced was unrelenting, filled with the need to protect me from constant imminent danger, and would never let me off the hook.

Over a lifetime of accumulating ideas of what love is – from what I was told, from what I experienced, and from what I imagined – I decided, other-than-consciously, that it was not safe to love fully. Continue reading

What Doctors Can Learn From Artists and Entrepreneurs

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Since leaving medicine, I’ve been an entrepreneur and an independent artist. They are similar pursuits, and both have taught me about the experience of living in creative rather than reactive mode.

How do you know if you’re living in reactive mode? If you define and measure yourself based on external circumstances, and you believe you really are limited by what’s happening outside yourself, you are in reactive mode. Most of our institutions, including the education system, government, mass media, and the medical training system, are based on the reactive mode. These systems teach you to believe that your success is measured by your ability to manipulate external circumstances, so your attention and efforts should be focused on external metrics. You compare your performance to others on a so-called objective scale, and you rely on statistics to know how you are doing. There is nothing “wrong” with reactive mode. It is the way most of the systems in our society operate.

Creative mode requires a 180-degree shift in this perspective. Continue reading

Be Willing to Drop the F Bomb

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When I was a senior in high school applying to college, I remember one university had as its essay question, “What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?”. I remember considering not applying to that school because I couldn’t think of a failure to write about.

At the time, I was on the receiving end of a lot of attention and praise for never having failed (publicly at least). But now as an adult, I know the trap of living a life based on avoidance of failure. It’s no success to have reached all the goals that have been set for you, to have checked all the boxes other people have laid out as important for you, and then to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Or to have your body screaming in pain or exhaustion.

Having been there and done that, I have rediscovered the vital importance of failure. Not “achieving” failure as an identity, but being willing to fail. I gave a workshop on Friday to a group of engineers, coaches, consultants, startup founders, and other change agents interested in how groups of people grow and learn. It was based entirely around sound, voice, and music improvisation – in other words, the most common fears of about ninety-nine percent of the population.

The name of the workshop was, “Play the Wrong Note: Daring Adventures in Learning, Failure, and Creativity“. The title actually refers to a specific moment in my life when everything changed for me. Those four words – “Play the wrong note” – were the four most compassionate words ever spoken to me by a teacher. No one in a position of authority had ever said, “Lisa, I want to see you break the rules. And I’ll help you.” It turned out to be the most loving instructions I ever received, and the framework for an entire body of work. Continue reading

Exercise Your Write To Be Free

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjpacres/

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjpacres/

I rarely share client stories, but a recent experience is birthing a whole new way of working for me. I just finished a 30-day writing experiment with a physician client who is just starting out on a brand new path. Having already found the courage to leave his medical practice and head into the open space of the unknown, we worked on rekindling a secret dream he’s held for a long time, maybe his whole life: writing.

He always wanted to try writing, but never did because he had a belief it was too impractical and was no way to make a living. Yet he knew he had stories to share, and ones that would help others if he did.

I wanted to hear these stories myself. I was curious what touched him so deeply about his experiences in medicine. I knew that in hearing these stories, we could both experience a healing journey.

So I came up with this idea, which I had never done with a client before: a writing experiment. The assignment was to write daily for ten minutes a day, thirty days in a row. Then send that writing to me, which I read every day. Mostly we let the process run itself, but we had two phone conversations during the month, once to check in and then again to review the entire process.

I knew that a small, daily commitment done over a sustained period of time would lead to something. A new habit at the very least. An awakened sense of hope and creativity I envisioned as possible.

What I didn’t expect was the vast territory we would cover in those ten minutes of daily writing each day. Not only did I learn from my client’s deep minings that occurred from this type of reflection, but I heard accounts of key moments, important feelings, and long-held beliefs that it might have taken months to get to with traditional weekly phone coaching calls. In timed writing, you get to the heart of the matter quickly. You can try to dance around, squirm a bit, but the hand keeps moving and the clock keeps ticking, and something gets said that has juice to it, even if at the very end.

And when you have a curious, compassionate witness, who wants to hear more, and will ask you questions and deliver you the next prompt to inspire more writing, it unfolds with surprising beauty. Continue reading

Write To Be Free: The 30-Day Writing Experiment

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THE PREMISE:

When we let go of judgment, everything is possible.

Experience a whole new way of writing, which combines meditative flow, nonjudgmental presence, and the opportunity for greater self-understanding. Combined with compassionate witnessing without expectation of praise or criticism, this experience awakens your creativity and expands the possibilities for your life and your writing.

Develop and nurture a new habit of daily writing that will set you free, whether you are a seasoned or beginning writer.

This individualized, one-on-one mentoring program is not about the craft or product of writing, but about discovering what flows through you onto the page when you are free of concepts about what writing has to be.

THE PURPOSE:

  • Begin to experience moving beyond rules and agendas; creating in spite of doubts, worries, and concerns
  • Sharing work that is not “perfect”; practicing trust in what flows from your own hand
  • Experiencing the safety of knowing there is no grading, no critiquing, no editing, no comparing; only witnessing without judgment
  • Exploring a new process for initiating creative flow
  • Exploring what happens when your pen begins to move and you have a non-critical, supportive audience

Life altering experience

THE PRACTICE:

  • Decide on a time of day that you can consistently set aside for your writing (e.g., first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, lunchtime…whatever works)
  • Have a separate notebook or a folder in your computer for this writing only
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes
  • When the timer starts, your hand begins to move across the page (or type, if you’re using a keyboard). You don’t stop, you don’t edit, you don’t reread what you wrote. You “lose control” for those 10 minutes.
  • When the timer stops, your writing stops.
  • If your flow is strong, you can continue on a different page for as long as you want. But for the PRACTICE, it is important to have a container for your 10 minutes of writing, and to acknowledge yourself for doing that 10 minutes each day that you do it.
  • Do not read your writing immediately. At this point, you send it to me. I will read everything you send, but I will respond in writing only once a week.
  • The nature of my responses will be sharing my experience as a human being receiving your stories, images, and process. I will let you know what I am curious about, and what I want to hear more of. My responses will NOT be edits, critiques on how you might improve, or suggestions for how to publish your work.
  • In our phone conversations, we will discuss your process, what you are discovering, and anything else that comes up.

THE MAGIC:

Ah, there’s that. The magic comes from both of us being fully present in this commitment together. When I read something you’ve written, it may inspire something in me that I want to share – a story, a quote, something I’ve experienced and learned from. I am free to share that with you during this process, at the right time for you. And this timing makes all the difference in the world, I believe.  You can read stacks and stacks of books, go through programs filled with great wisdom, and attend workshops and retreats from the best teachers, but knowing when to apply the right lesson for you is the art of it all.

This process facilitates the art of being present, and all the creative flow that comes from that presence. And that applies to both of us.

THE EXPERIMENT:

  • A daily, 10-minute writing practice for 30 days
  • Weekly written responses from me (never an auto responder, always individualized)
  • One-on-one mentoring and individualized feedback:
    • One 20-minute phone check-in after the first week
    • One 50-minute phone conversation during week three or four of the process

Whole New World

This program is for you if:

  • you’ve always secretly wanted to write, but never set aside the time because it didn’t seem “practical” or possible…
  • you’re a regular journal writer and writing is your mode of processing, but you never considered sharing your stream of consciousness with another person…
  • you write for a living, but have little time or space to write without any agenda. It’s time for a creative boost or to explore a new direction with your writing…
  • you don’t consider yourself a “writer” but this sounds like an exciting and safe way to dip your toe in the water with a compassionate witness…
  • you’re going through a life transition, experiencing lots of different emotions that are hard to put into words right now, and would like to achieve some clarity…
  • you’ve just made a big life decision and it feels slightly scary. Some support right now would be welcome as you navigate uncharted territory…

THE TIMING – 2014:

Writing Day #1 – October 15, 2014

Writing Day #30 – November 13, 2014

Individual phone check-in (20 minutes) #1 – Week of October 20, 2014

Individual phone coaching session (50 minutes) – Week of November 3 or 10, 2014

*Note: Additional 30-day programs to be offered in 2015:

February 2 – March 3, 2015

April 1 – 30, 2015

…and stay tuned for others!

INVESTMENT:

$1,295 paid in full -or- two payments (billed 30 days apart) of $695
Special offer for previous coaching clients: $895 or two payments (billed 30 days apart) of $495

Ready to begin?

Apply now! Here’s how:

1. Do your first 10-minute writing exercise. Need a prompt? Ask me. I’d love to send you one!

2. Send it to me. You can scan or take a photo of your handwritten pages, and attach it to an email.

3. Book your phone interview to make sure this is a good fit for you, and to answer any last-minute questions you may have.

Please send your writing to me at least 24 hours before your scheduled phone appointment.

Once we’re set to go, you will receive an email from me one week before the start of the writing experiment.

Note: The 30-day writing experiment starts on October 15, 2014.

Being Open to Outcomes

The view from Higgins Canyon Road

The view from Higgins Canyon Road

I packed water, an apple, and an orange, but no extra layers of clothing. This was Christmas Day. A leisure ride, nothing that was going to kill me. I knew the hill on Higgins Canyon Road from having come down it once by car. Winding and barely wide enough for one car and a bike to pass. Spectacular views of Sky Moon Ranch, the sheep and cattle grazing next to large water reservoirs on steep hillsides.

The route we had chosen would not, we decided in advance, include riding up that part of the road. We would turn off and make a loop back to town, way before that steep ascent. After all, this was Christmas Day. No need to kill ourselves.

The turnoff was, according to the map, just after Burleigh Murray Ranch and off to the right. All we passed were private roads with mailboxes and No Trespassing signs on the right. We kept riding because it was a gorgeous day and it was fun.

Next thing I knew, we were headed up the hill. Continue reading

Learning to Ride

It’s freezing. All I know is it’s 11 miles out and back. The description on the website had said, “Participants must be in good cardiovascular condition. No single track/technical work. Climbing for sure.

I should have known when I saw the fat tires on everyone else’s bikes.

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Oh, how we wish that learning would take place in the comfort of our familiar homes! A cozy blanket, a warm cup of tea, our favorite music playing, and the knowing that everything as we have chosen and arranged it now surrounds us.

Learning for me always looked like showing up in a classroom, or privately in front of a teacher, and demonstrating what I knew. I would then get feedback in the form of a critique, the next challenge chosen by the teacher, or a score on a test that told me how much what I thought I learned matched what I was expected to have learned.

What I learned on my first mountain bike ride this weekend is that learning – the fresh, raw experience of aha!wow! that’s new! – can be extremely uncomfortable. It can happen when we are placed (or we find ourselves) in a situation we did not know we chose (but we did) and that every fiber of our being is wanting to fix, alter, escape, or resist. But there we are. In my case, “there” was a guided 11-mile ride on a closed access trail. Turning back was not an option without taking the entire group with me.

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A map of the terrain, which can’t really tell us what it’s going to feel like.

Continue reading

Why everyone should poop in the woods…at least once

I firmly believe everyone should have the experience – at least once in their life – of pooping in the wilderness. Of digging a hole at least six inches deep, dropping trou, and watching their own poop land in the hole. Then filling it with soil, packing it down, and returning the surrounding earth to its original state.

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What we’d rather imagine than pooping in holes.

I believe this not just because pooping in holes has become second nature since I started backpacking, but because I experienced real compost in my friend Lydia’s yard yesterday. From start to mulch. When you see one too many potted plants or cut flower arrangements in your life, you forget where it all really comes from. Not just the postcard pictures of a farm with a guy in overalls posed casually leaning on a fence that you see from the side of the road. Not the beautiful bins of colorful, washed produce (definitely not GMO and definitely organic) at the farmers’ market.

No, I’m talking about what dirt really is. How our bodies – the stuff of our skin and bones – are ultimately the same stuff as dirt. How the plants growing prettily or wildly in the ground are also the same stuff as dirt. How if you have the chance to take a shovel and pull up some plants, move them to the compost heap, then come back a few months later, you might see something that looks nothing like the original plant but a lot like dirt. Continue reading

Live Your Medicine

Lisa Pillar Point FB profile reverse warrior

The Native American tradition speaks of each person’s Original Medicine – that set of gifts that only you can offer the world with your particular life. I’ve always felt there was such a finality to the phrase “Original Medicine” – like I had to define the one thing I was here to do, or it would be lost forever.

No pressure!

This feeling would ignite the achiever in me, who would scramble to come up with a name, a brand, a package, a business, something very “put-together” that would create an image of how well I knew my Life’s Purpose.

I’ve been doing some version of that for most of my life. But recently I’ve begun to discover a process I find much more alive, much more healing, much more in alignment with my own sense of unconditional wholeness. I call it “Live Your Medicine.” It is the practice of asking, “What time is it now, for me?“. It involves listening for what holds the most fear for me in this moment. And then summoning the courage to take action toward that in one small way. Again and again, revisiting and refreshing with each present moment. Continue reading