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
I recently returned from a week-long stay in Keystone, Colorado. I documented my journey in daily sketches created in a Moleskine Japanese album (small size). My tools were Pigma Micron ink pens, Faber Castell Pitt Artist pen, Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush markers, Derwent watercolour pencils, Sakura Koi field sketch watercolor set, and Kuretake waterbrushes.
First, the SFO airport. There was an exhibit on Art Deco and I loved the patterns, colors, and shapes in it. Since I had a couple of hours to wait for my delayed flight, I started sketching and painting.I went back to photograph the original pieces that had inspired my memory.
Then I looked over my shoulder to see that a large watercolor mural had been placed high up, near the ceiling. I copied the quote on the painting and general feeling of it.
Then I noticed the number of billboards in this terminal devoted to issues of network security and cyber attacks. I captured this by placing three of the ones I remembered together.
On my flight I read two magazines I never usually read. One had Amy Poehler on the cover as one of the “100 Most Creative People In Business”. The other had a headline and article I will never forget (much as I would like to), entitled, “Why Die?”. It describes the efforts of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s multi-billion-dollar venture fund’s investments in biotech. He is focused on “eradicating death” from human experience, envisioning a future in which this “disturbing inconvenience” is made obsolete.
I road Colorado Mountain Express shuttle from the Denver airport to Keystone. I captured a few quick sketches of what that ride is like. Flat flat flat, then you’re in the Front Range, with walls on either side and endless ranges unfolding in front of you.
A few weeks ago, on August 20, I read the news that BKS Iyengar, the renowned Indian yoga teacher and founder of the Iyengar Yoga tradition, had died at age 95. Immediately I was brought back to the many memories I have as a result of his teachings. My first California yoga teachers were trained in the Iyengar tradition. In their classes I was exposed for the first time to silent meditation and chanting. I remember as a student just managing to tolerate these first few minutes of ritual as I waited for “the real yoga class” to begin. What could these Sanskrit sounds possibly have to do with my physical strength, flexibility, and fitness, which is why I did yoga (or so I thought)? Continue reading
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.
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
Oceanside Retreat with Dr. Lisa Chu
A note from Lisa:
Walking 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.
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
Friday, November 1, 2013 through Sunday, November 3, 2013
(Begin at 3pm Friday; end at noon on Sunday)
Half Moon Bay, California – our epicenter will be my home, just fifty steps from the beach.
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.
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
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 ownSaturday, 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
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.
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.
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.
Contact me if you would like a list of recommendations.
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.
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.
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
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.
Please email me directly with any questions you have about this retreat. I would love to hear from you!
Funny how sometimes the most important lessons we learn are the quiet, gradual processes that unfold out of necessity.
That would be the case with me and my learning about self-care.
Back in late 2010, I burst on to the scene with my “5 Principles of Self-Care for Caring Professionals”. I wrote a blog post, hosted a series of calls, then turned the material into an online course.
And then I left it at that.
I got “busy” with the work of living these principles in my own life. I came face-to-face with my own version of workaholism, and started on the path of recovery. I unplugged from the computer and went outside. A lot.
I got back in touch with a slower way of doing things – growing a garden, cooking meals instead of heating up trays of food, forming more real relationships in the real world.
The biggest (and smallest) change I’ve remained committed to during this entire almost-three-year period is how I start my day. Continue reading
There was a time when I believed – when I was totally convinced – that I could not take a day off.
Maybe it was the example of my parents, whom I saw work tirelessly every single day, never letting go of the responsibilities of their jobs, and never taking a day off unless they were absolutely required to (and by that I mean, being so sick they had to be admitted to the hospital).
Or maybe it was medical school, where I learned by working alongside residents and fellows who would regularly show up to work sick, because they “couldn’t take a day off”. On one rotation, I recall the vascular surgery fellow being so rundown from flu-like symptoms that he had to dash out of the operating room to throw up in the scrub sink during a procedure he was performing. I watched wide-eyed and took everything in, my mind drawing the conclusion that “people with important jobs can never take a day off“.
I became determined to find work that would enable me to take a day off, and still be considered important.
The problem was, I really had no idea what was truly important to me. I had many concepts that had been implanted by messages from my family, from images in movies and advertisements, and from the culture in which I was living. “What’s important” was a moving target, a reaction to whatever “everyone else” appeared to be doing.
Meanwhile, in my heart I knew that I wanted to make a difference in this world, to care about something genuinely, and to share my story somehow in this life.
But the only way I knew – based on what I had seen, learned, and been taught – was to put my head down and work.
I worked hard at everything I did. I didn’t take many days off. When I did, I remember feeling an odd combination of freedom and loss.
“Who am I without my email inbox full of requests and my voicemail full of messages?”
“Who am I when I am not answering to anyone else?”
“What would I choose to do if I had an entire day with no obligations, no one telling me where to be or what I had to do?”
Is your creativity dead?
I honestly believe that few of us – regardless of whether we work as “creatives” or not – intentionally set out to kill our own creativity.
We may just gently turn our backs on it, dismissing it as something reserved for children, or as something only “irresponsible” adults indulge in, or as a waste of time that could never serve a purpose in society (ie, getting paid money for it), or as something only “talented people” get to do.
I’m here to say that none of those is absolutely true.
Creativity is not limited to art…
So, let’s say you’re longing for a more creative life. That could mean anything from having more freedom and flexibility in your current job, to finding a way to support yourself while expressing your own creativity.
I don’t define creativity as being limited to “artistic” activities like painting, dancing, singing, or sculpting pottery. I define creativity as our innate human ability to connect with the unseen. By this definition, I see every human being as creative, by virtue of our brain’s ability to spontaneously form images that are only seen in our mind’s eye.
How you choose to use your creativity is a different story.
And this is where many of us have killed our own creativity, or least left it for dead. Continue reading
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
Change and Transitions: Resources To Help With Letting Go
Sound Healing and Meditation Resources
Connecting With Your Heart: Resources To Help You Recognize Your True Nature