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."

Be Willing to Drop the F Bomb

IMG_3704 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 "Be Willing to Drop the F Bomb"

Surrender and Loving It ‘Til You Know What It Is

137_3724 I am in a large group of women artists who have driven up to the ridge of a mountain range and then down a very windy road to a secluded artists retreat program in northern California. All I want to do is stare at the dreamy landscape, watching how the golden green hills go back and back and back, disappearing finally into a fog bank which hovers just above the sea in the distance. I want to watch as the wind blows, the fog clears, and the misty outlines of the hilltops begin to glisten in the midday sunlight. I want to sit and sketch it, and fill in the colors I am seeing, and try to capture the dreaminess, the haziness of it all, the lack of precise outlines which gives it that quality of mystery that makes me want to keep staring. IMG_3510 But we have a schedule. There are ranchers and herders moving us along in this schedule, ensuring that we are on time. I help myself to a large lunch - two servings each of lentil soup and kale salad with some fruit on the side. My idea of a perfect meal. But my stomach feels slightly full after all that, and I am ready to rest and digest. Having forgotten the schedule momentarily, I’m jarred when it is announced that we now need to move into another room for a “movement activity”. Continue reading "Surrender and Loving It ‘Til You Know What It Is"

The Energy Gardeners’ Club: Experiments To Cultivate Seeds of Magic In Your Life

Energy Gardeners Club

Inspired by the success of the E-Squared Book Club, The Energy Gardeners' Club will continue the practice of energy experiments to cultivate the seeds of magic in your life, while connecting in nature, and creating a circle of support to empower your actions. We will revisit certain experiments from the E-Squared book - and the magic wands! - and we'll go beyond the book into the everyday practice of energy experimentation in our own lives. Sessions and experiments will reflect the themes of planting, growing, and harvesting the fruits of our intentions, with an emphasis on practical aspects of energy work. *Bring a sketchbook with blank (not lined) pages, your favorite sketching tools (pens, pencils, crayons, markers, etc), and a blanket or chair to sit on. Wear layers and sunscreen. Recommended Reading: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout

Tuesdays, 2pm to 4pm

$100 each session of four classes paid in advance, or $30 drop-in each class

Cash or check (payable to "The Music Within Us") accepted for drop-in payments.

Limited income: $20 drop-in per class. Supporter: $160 session of four classes

Three sessions will be offered in 2014:

Session 1: Planting & Tending the Seeds

May 6 May 13 May 20 May 27 at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach (rain location: Here Comes The Sun Coffee House, 8455 Cabrillo Hwy, Montara, (650) 455-4308) Fitzgerald cypress grove We will meet at the stunning coastal gem, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Beginning with a short hike in silence, we will gather our circle in the shelter of the cypress grove, with views of the sky, the ocean, and the resting seals. *If you have not read E-Squared before, please read from beginning through the end of Experiment #1 before the first meeting.

Session 2: Growing & Ripening

June 3 June 10 June 17 June 24 at Quarry Park, El Granada Quarry Park labyrinthQuarry Park labyrinthOur gathering place will be next to a labyrinth in a eucalyptus grove at the peaceful Quarry Park. We will begin with a short hike in silence, arriving at the labyrinth to create our circle. *If you have not read E-Squared before, please complete reading from the beginning through the end of Experiment #5 before the first meeting.

Session 3: Harvesting & Sharing

September 9 September 16 September 23 September 30 *Please complete reading the E-Squared book in its entirety before the first meeting. at Maverick's Beach, Pillar Point, El Granada Mavericks Labyrinth with sky Under the open sky of this protected cove, we will gather near another labyrinth. Birds and sea mammals may pay us a visit. A short hike from the parking lot begins our journey as we harvest and share the fruits of our intentions, and gather the seeds for next season's planting. **WE WILL MEET IN THE PARKING LOT at 2:00, and walk together to our meeting place.**

E-Squared Book Club: Week 4

Shirley plays with magic wands as Tammy witnesses.
Shirley plays with magic wands as Tammy witnesses.
It was a foggy, misty morning, but just before 10 o'clock, the sun began to shine. We gathered to discuss Experiment #5 - the Dear Abby Principle. This states that we each have unlimited access to a constant source of inner guidance from the FP. Pam talks mostly about the distinction between our conscious mind (logical, rational brain) and inner guidance. Too often we get the two confused, and we use our conscious thoughts as guidance. Oops! The conscious mind has these important functions:
  • identifying problems
  • formulating goals
  • making judgments
  • comparing current experience to past experience
  • interpreting results and building models
However, it's not the source of guidance when you "don't know" what to do, or when you want to take a step toward a vision you want to create. I'm curious: what forms has YOUR inner guidance come in? Continue reading "E-Squared Book Club: Week 4"

How To Practice True Self-Confidence

Inviting Mystery
Inviting Mystery
Here’s my definition of true self-confidence. I’m so over the days of being in a classroom and each of us painting our own “version” of what the teacher wants us to paint. We are told that this kind of imitation – producing something that looks “as good as” what we are told is a “masterpiece” – is what we should be striving for. That we should practice for mastery as it is defined by the experts. I disagree. I’m interested in the kind of self-confidence that comes from facing the blank page, the open space, the silence, the void. Where there is no map. Only your body, your breath, your instincts, and your wild-eyed awareness. Only by choosing to “go there” – to show up in territory that is uncharted for you – can you experience what I’m talking about here. For me, it requires venturing outside my zones of mastery and wondering what it’s like to be a novice. I never sang, so I explored what my voice could do with sound. I never painted, so I played with brushes and paper and colors. I bring back the lessons of these experiences to the areas of my life where I may be stagnating in my attachment to being “good at it”. When was the last time you stood at the edge of your comfort zone, and faced the open space? When was the last time you took a step into that open space, truly not knowing where it would lead? Each time you give yourself this kind of opportunity, you discover your relationship with fear, and you have the chance to see and accept yourself as you are. Continue reading "How To Practice True Self-Confidence"

Beyond Knowing: Many Paths to the Present Moment

Oceanside Retreat with Dr. Lisa Chu

Supertide

A note from Lisa:

Lisa beach portrait PhotoshopedWalking the path of creativity - shining the light on how you can create the life you truly desire - is the work I am honored to do with my life coaching clients. I have found that there are many dimensions to this work, many layers to explore as we cultivate the courage to walk again and again through the doorway of Not Knowing and into the realm of joy.

While conversation is the centerpiece of the coaching relationship, I cannot help but notice that my work with clients feels incomplete without including the body, the soul, and the mind together in one place, as one unified expression of harmony. I have longed for a way to bring together and share the many elements and practices that have truly supported my journey of discovering that each of us is an artist - yes, that means you, too. Your art is your particular life, and you are here to weave together the many strands that keep arriving in your experience to create the life that only you can live.

This retreat is my offering to you, my clients and those who are curious about experiencing, in three-dimensional reality, this magical realm I call "Beyond Knowing".

I welcome you to my home, and there I will invite you to come home to yourself. To experience casual comfort, peace, freedom, intimate connection to yourself + nature + others, awe, and wonder. To discover a new kind of luxury - the luxury of being YOU.

The intention

You will take home from this retreat:
  • at least 5 new ideas for starting your day differently....to infuse qualities of inspiration and vision into each day, from the first moment you wake up
  • a list of potent self-care practices you discover for yourself...how to spend "down-time" in a way that rejuvenates, nourishes, and allows your SoulBodyMind the space it requires for wholeness
  • writing prompts and exercises to reconnect you rapidly with the truth of the present moment
  • ARTifacts of your own creation that will remind you of your inner vision and true nature
  • whole body experience and tools to begin practicing present moment awareness in your daily life
  • powerful, simple self-coaching methods to release old stories fearlessly and stand compassionately in the gift of "now"
  • engagement with the natural world as your teacher, and concrete ways to bring this into your daily life

When

Friday, November 1, 2013 through Sunday, November 3, 2013 (Begin at 3pm Friday; end at noon on Sunday)

Where

Half Moon Bay, California – our epicenter will be my home, just fifty steps from the beach.

Beach with clouds
Yes, this is the beach, just fifty steps from my front door. We will be working here.
House
This is my house. We will be gathering here also.

We will be working both indoors and in various outdoor locations for our activities. All of the photos on this page are locations in Half Moon Bay, and many of them will serve as the powerful teachers and messengers for our work together. Details on our starting location will be provided when you register.

Sample Activities

Enchanted Forest Miramar

Creating a sacred circle of support Stillness and silence Movement and sound Reflection and self-expression (writing, speaking, art-making) Deep listening and sound healing Walking and sitting in natural outdoor spaces Mindful eating Individual and group engagement Rest and play

Sample Schedule (subject to change)

Friday, November 1, 2013
3pm to 5pm Opening Session

Casting the sacred circle of support

Setting intentions for the weekend

Evening on your own

Fitzgerald cypress grove
One of several enchanted forests in Half Moon Bay.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
*optional 6:30am Beach meditation *optional 7:00am-7:45am Breath and energy work on the beach Breakfast on your own 9:00am to 12:00pm Morning Session

Inward reflection and grounding of the circle

Activities will include reflection, some form of expression, and sharing of experience

Lunch provided (organic, locally sourced) 1:30pm to 4:30pm Afternoon Session

Playful exploration of nature, the body’s expressions, and enlivening the senses

Practices to engage with the doorway of Not Knowing

Farm-to-Table Dinner provided Evening – New Moon Ceremony Sunset Pillar Point 3.25.12
Sunday, November 3, 2013
*optional 7:30am Meditation *optional 8:00am – 8:45am Breath and energy work at the beach 10:00am to 12:00pm Closing Session

Holding intentions and dreams from this weekend

Completing and closing of the circle

How to Register

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. Full payment of $550 is due at the time of registration. The price above includes the Retreat experience, and lunch and dinner on Saturday. Price does not include airfare, lodging, ground transportation, or other meals. Retreat is limited to six participants.

Policies

Because of the small size of the Retreat, and because travel arrangements are necessary for most participants, there will be no refunds once you have made the commitment to attend. If you must cancel for an emergency, your fee (minus the non-refundable deposit) may be applied to a future coaching package. You may gift or sell your seat to another participant, but please be sure to let me know if you do this. Thank you for your understanding regarding this policy. Contact me directly with any questions you have.

Lodging

There is a full range of accommodation options in Half Moon Bay, from ocean blufftop camping at the Francis Beach State Park Campground, to the inexpensive and casual Montara Lighthouse Hostel (in one of the most beautiful, peaceful locations on our coastside), to many local bed-and-breakfast inns such as the Cypress Inn Miramar Beach (within walking distance of my house), to the upscale Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.101_5808 Contact me if you would like a list of recommendations.

Transportation

The nearest airport is San Francisco International (SFO), which is 40 minutes by car. You will need a car to get around Half Moon Bay. Contact me if you would like to arrange carpooling or ridesharing with other Retreat participants.

Who Should Attend

I dreamed and designed this Retreat with the intention of serving those who resonate with my life coaching work. I wish to offer a more “three-dimensional” experience, one which brings together the Soul, Body, and Mind into one – the SoulBodyMind experience. The activities we will share during the Retreat represent the best practices I know for tasting this experience of harmony and presence, the originating energy of healing, transformation, and creativity. 101_5812

What You Will Receive

This is of course up to you! My intention is for this weekend to be a natural extension of having coached with me and explored the areas of self-care, creativity, walking into the territory of the unknown, finding courage, and learning to recognize and trust the distinctive sound of your own voice. Once you have tasted these in your own body, you may experience the freedom and luxury to be yourself, without fear or apology. What happens when you repeat this process, even in a small way, every day, is what some might call magic.

Quarry Park labyrinth

What to Bring

layers for outdoor gathering - a warm layer plus a rain layer scarf, hat, gloves for morning and evening gatherings sturdy shoes or boots for hiking and walking on sand/dirt comfortable, casual clothing that you can move in refillable water bottle notebook or sketchbook your favorite pen or other writing instrument 3 to 5 magazines that inspire you open heart curious mind your body as it is your intention - to heal, to transform, to create the life you truly desire Note: we will be gathering and walking in a variety of natural outdoor settings that involve uneven surfaces such as sand, rocks, and dirt. Please bring extra layers and sturdy shoes that you will be comfortable hiking in, and walking on sand.

QUESTIONS?

Please email me directly with any questions you have about this retreat. I would love to hear from you!

Trying To Squeeze Blood From A Turnip and The Power of No Force

Part of a series exploring each of the Breema Nine Principles of Harmony turnips001 Trying to squeeze blood from a turnip is a lot like being at war with reality. What are the ways we use force against what is, in an attempt to make things the way we think (and thought is the key word here) they should be? Does it ever really work? And at what price? When we use force, do we even know that our sanity, our inner peace, our body, exists? Or do we only see the blood we want so desperately to come from the turnip, or whatever we are applying force to? If we see clearly, we first begin to recognize that we are not getting the blood we want, despite all the effort. If we continue to look, we might be able to recognize that there's a turnip involved, a turnip that is quite innocent, being a turnip. It has no blood to give. It's just being squeezed, and squeezed some more, harder and harder. You (the one who is squeezing) keep getting more frustrated, but the turnip is not doing anything different. Surprise, surprise, it's still a turnip! Your squeezing, your effort, your frustration, your attempts, have done absolutely nothing to change that. Continue reading "Trying To Squeeze Blood From A Turnip and The Power of No Force"

You are not alone…the power of women gathering at TEDxSandHillRdWomen

Last Saturday I attended a program called TEDxSandHillRdWomen in Menlo Park, California. You may already be familiar with the TED talks series. This was one of 130 events of its kind around the world on the same day, gathering women together to hear "ideas worth sharing." I had an intuition about attending, and synchronicity brought me the opportunity to take the place of a friend's friend who could not attend at the last minute. All kinds of insecurities ran through my mind in the hours and days approaching the event. I was not a speaker, "only" an attendee. Yet all of the connotations in my mind about "Sand Hill Road" - the home of venture capitalists and attorneys for all of Silicon Valley, the allure of which had once drawn me into the role of venture capitalist, and eventually drew me to live in this zip code when I first chose to move to California - now haunted me. I wondered what I would wear. I no longer even own any high heeled shoes or suits, and I didn't feel like dressing up to "be like" what my mind believed a "Sand Hill Rd woman" should look like. I watched my mind mull over this question, knowing from my higher awareness that it didn't matter at all what I wore, but also curiously observing as my thoughts popped up anyway. A few days before, a friend heard me describe this and said, "The question you should be asking is, what do YOU want out of this?" I immediately replied, "I want to be comfortable as myself. I want to show up as myself." She smiled and her eyes sparkled as she nodded. "And I'm looking at you right now. I see you, right in front of me now. Are you comfortable?" We were sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor of my home, getting ready to sing and make music together. I had met with this woman every two weeks for the last two years. I was totally comfortable. And now, nearly a week after attending the amazing TEDx event, I can say that I felt totally comfortable there as well. I was surprised in the most delightful of ways at everything - the diversity of women there, the inspiring speakers offering so many different perspectives, the serendipitous interactions I experienced throughout every moment of the day - and most of all, I was delighted to experience myself as me, fully inhabiting my body and my mind and my spirit exactly where I am today. Continue reading "You are not alone…the power of women gathering at TEDxSandHillRdWomen"