Listen to my podcast on Self-Confidence with Sheena Yap Chan

Sheena Yap Chan is creating a valuable resource for women everywhere, with her podcast The Tao of Self-Confidence.She recently interviewed me, and I hadn’t thought about the topic of confidence for quite some time. It had never occurred to me that I lacked self-confidence, because I had always been a high achiever. But in the interview, I realize that my source of confidence has shifted from outer accomplishments to an invisible inner source.

Sheena Yap Chan is creating a valuable resource for women everywhere, with her podcast The Tao of Self-Confidence. Tao of Self Confidence photo She recently interviewed me, and I hadn't thought about the topic of confidence for quite some time. It had never occurred to me that I lacked self-confidence, because I had always been a high achiever. But in the interview, I realize that my source of confidence has shifted from outer accomplishments to an invisible inner source. Maybe this is the attribute we most wish for ourselves and for our children -- that we learn to trust our own life experience. Ideas of "success" and "happiness" are words we settle for because they make for polite conversation and convenient book titles. But what we really want is the confidence to live from our true self. Hear some of my thoughts and stories on my journey of self-confidence in this episode of Sheena's podcast here.

Remember, Celebrate, and Acknowledge…YOU

One way to define love is “sustained, compassionate attention”. These words came from John Muir Laws, a naturalist, educator, and artist who inspires stewardship of the land by sharing his practice of nature sketching. When I read these words, I began to see the importance of my own art practice in developing sustained, compassionate attention for myself.

Snake River sketch, July 2015.
A sketch from my bike ride through Vail Pass in July 2015. Illustration by Lisa Chu.
One way to define love is "sustained, compassionate attention". These words came from John Muir Laws, a naturalist, educator, and artist who inspires stewardship of the land by sharing his practice of nature sketching. When I read these words, I began to see the importance of my own art practice in developing sustained, compassionate attention for myself. I have noticed, in just a few years of deliberately making art daily, that my well of self-compassion has grown wider and deeper. And gradually, my capacity for compassion toward others -- even the ones it would be easy to judge or dismiss quickly -- has become more of a habit. Continue reading "Remember, Celebrate, and Acknowledge…YOU"

Greeting Fear with Love

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.”

IMG_4563 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 "All About Love – Unpacking the L Word"

Write To Be Free: The 30-Day Writing Experiment

Write To Be Free

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.

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.
sunflower
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 "Why everyone should poop in the woods…at least once"

How is your relationship with Not Knowing?

"Not Knowing is most intimate..." - Zen saying
Mavericks Labyrinth with sky
This is a note for you. You are such a good student, when there's a teacher standing in front of the class, and other students surrounding you, all learning to do the same things. You are a stellar worker, always taking responsibility for your job, above and beyond the call of duty. You take instructions quickly, correct your mistakes diligently, and do everything you can to get along with others. You are smart, capable, successful, but still feel there's something missing from your life, even though you can't quite name it. So what is it? What is that missing thing? I don't know. But I'm willing to bet that your relationship with Not Knowing could use a little tune-up. A little checking in and refamiliarizing. Continue reading "How is your relationship with Not Knowing?"

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 "Live Your Medicine"

Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go

Braid closeup In The Wisdom of No Escape, there's a chapter where Pema Chodron talks about three useful qualities for life and for meditation: precision, gentleness, and letting go. I've been consciously living with the nine principles of Breema lately, and I've noticed how precision, gentleness, and letting go are a useful way to greet any practice, old or new. For example, one of the Breema principles is "No Judgment." When you begin to study and practice "No Judgment", the first thing you notice is how much judgment is in your mind already. "No Judgment" brings your attention first to the judgment that's there. Which means, you begin to identify judgment as judgment. That's precision. You may notice as a new student of something, you like to be very precise. So every time you see your mind judging, you say to yourself, "Damn it, I'm judging again! Why am I so judgmental? I need to stop judging so much." And you feel the assault on yourself beginning to happen. This is the moment when gentleness can enter in. You have an opportunity to practice gentleness, or to continue the assault. Gentleness gives you the opportunity to take a different attitude toward yourself, even as you see, with precision, what is going on. Gentleness encourages you to just see, without extra attacks or criticism or labeling. In other words, no need to judge your judgment. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to see clearly. Just see what is, with no extra. Letting go is the final practice, and it is the result of practicing both precision and gentleness. Letting go is not something to achieve or do, but is a natural unfolding of both precision and gentleness practiced together. When you play with these qualities of precision and gentleness, dance with them back and forth, and then gradually see that they are both happening all at once, there is a feeling of letting go. Neither precision nor gentleness has to "win". There is no final state to achieve. There is no superior way to be. Letting go is a sensation of relief. That it's not all such a big deal. That we definitely need to practice, but part of the practice is also to let it all go. Letting go is not a "Forget about trying, I'll just give up" kind of feeling, but rather a smiling recognition that no one needs to win or lose, not even the more or less enlightened parts of your own mind. It's a kind of relaxation into the present, a return to what is, and a feeling that our attached thoughts are not who we are. A knowing that our true essence is something much lighter, and also more timeless than any thought or practice.

On the other side of beautiful

P1310482 Lisa Matty 1 CROPPED THIS was not a photo on my vision board. I was perfectly content to be performing, showing what I was able to do comfortably, easily, and predictably. I thought I was getting "good" at playing freely, improvising, and creating in the moment. The sound of Chinese Melodrama that matches the stacks of CDs we bring to every gig. Then THIS had to happen. By "THIS" I mean: We are at LunarBurn, a three-day outdoor festival and experiment in community living. In my mind, it's a chance to show up and spread the love. We play our first set at the PermaPub, an intimate venue with couches, a bar, and all the impromptu live music one could ask for. We aren’t even finished with a song (Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”) near the end of our set, and a guy appears onstage. He has furry white chaps over his jeans, and a grey hoody. He appears to be maybe under the influence of some substances. But what do I even know about these things? I just thought he was a jerk for interrupting our set. Lisa saying really Here’s my, “Get off the stage, jerk!” look: Lisa judging Yep, what you're seeing is a whole lotta judgment flowing freely from me in that moment. First he wanted to play my violin. I’d rehearsed this response before, so it was easy to say, “Sorry, I don’t let anyone touch my violin.” Continue reading "On the other side of beautiful"