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 was there with a small group of physicians gathered to restore their voice to the practice of medicine.
How I got there was through a series of events I can only call synchronicity.
What I felt was a profound feeling of “coming home”.
I showed up as all of me, in full color. My role was to listen deeply and expansively, and I chose to record what I heard in visual form.
It was as if everything I practiced was serving me in my service to this gathering. Each morning I woke early and rode my rented bike along the many trails around Keystone. I listened to the Snake River winding its way through the trees. I inhaled with awe each time I arrived at the vista of Lake Dillon. I clawed my way up a steep hill only to be rewarded with the jackpot of a stunning view of Breckenridge and beyond.
I had learned from these past few years of practicing self-care that these morning steps were my fuel for being present and thinking creatively. I knew what to do – even in an environment away from my familiar surroundings at home – because I had practiced them into new habits. I had my biking clothes, I was comfortable riding, and all I had to do was explore new roads and read new maps.
I also had my daily sketching and art journaling practice in place, something I started only within the last two years. I have experimented with many different formats and media, and I am comfortable drawing outside. On this trip, I brought a small Moleskine Japanese album with accordion pages. It fit in my small travel purse or pocket, and I carried a pouch with pen, markers, and water brushes.
On my morning rides, I often sketched a scene quickly in ink, filling in color later in the day or in the evening. I noticed what I noticed. I took note of the stories I wanted to tell. And by the time I got home, there were three or four panels that needed coloring, which I completed within a few days.
New experiences, new people, new places — all of these fuel my creativity and keep me inspired.
I am grateful for the daily practices I cultivate at home, so I am well-prepared to stay open when I’m on the road.
For a frame-by-frame caption story of my Keystone travel journal, see my post here.
For an in-depth reflection on the contents of the physician meeting and its impact on me personally, stay tuned!
In the weeks since returning from Boulder, I’ve been spending more time with the idea of the Unique Self teaching of Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom. For me it was deeply integrating to hear a story that finally enabled me to bring together both the parts of me I had discovered and cultivated during the last five years – namely, wordless presence, connection with the Oneness, and recognition of egoless identity – and the parts of myself I had “divorced” from – namely, the rules of classical training, the linear reductionist thinking of mechanical science, and the ignoring of subjective experience.
How refreshing to hear someone say, “You can’t meditate your ego away. You can’t meditate your story away.” This was part of my experience as a meditation practitioner! I wanted to put certain chapters in the past, as “the way I used to be”, believing that in order to become who I knew myself to be – both creative and spiritual – I needed to forget who I once was. No matter how many relationships I walked away from, no matter how many new practices I adopted, no matter how many new communities I joined, I could not completely ignore my prior experience and stories, and the curiosity I felt about bringing my new learning back to my old communities. I could not pretend they were not in me. Oh, I tried. But I never felt complete in my expression, or full in my generosity of sharing. It was as if there were problems I knew existed, in distant parts of the world, that I was deliberately ignoring for the sake of elevating myself beyond them, transcending them by trying not to pay attention to them anymore. I kept my eyes forward, visioning my ideal life over and over again. And still I felt there was a connection I was not making.
The image of my Unique Self “plugging in” to the infinite mesh of the One via a radically unique shape – not just a generic plug into a generic outlet, but a unique contour fitting in like a puzzle piece perfectly matching in every subtle turn of form – is supporting me to integrate all of my stories, all of my prior and current experiences, and to show up as me. I am now opening my vision to include all the parts of me I would rather hide and avoid, the parts I would rather not have you see, AND embracing my brilliance and light and infinite creativity at a level previously unrecognized….not as opposing sides of a coin, but as different and equally essential points on the same sphere of my wholeness.
So what makes YOU unique? What are the points that constitute the unique shape of your piece of the mighty jigsaw puzzle of all that is?
The invitation of our times is to hold this paradox: what you think you are is not who you really are, and exactly who you are is all you need to be.
When you show up as all of exactly who you are, you heal, transform, and create a world in the way that only you can.
It’s been a BIG few weeks for me. I’ve been away from my desk, discovering more of my tribe, in places I never thought to look. Experiencing the feeling of coming home to myself, my story, and my place in the evolution of all that is. I trusted the feeling of just knowing (without knowing why or how), and I was rewarded beyond my wildest imagination.
Three weeks ago I attended a four-day event like no other in Boulder, Colorado. Called Success 3.0 Summit, this was a gathering of entrepreneurs, CEOs, authors, spiritual leaders, artists, musicians, doctors, coaches, healers, and other thought leaders for the purpose of rewriting the myth of success in our culture. Success 1.0 was survival. Physical survival at the most basic level. Success 2.0 was the accumulation of wealth, status, achievements, and symbols of power at any cost, even at the expense of health, relationships, and well-being.
Success 3.0, as we are co-creating it to be, is the awakening to the fact that we can no longer operate as if our individual actions have no effect on the collective. We must wake up to the reality that we are all interconnected, and that we have both the capacity to destroy ourselves as a species and the infinite possibility of expanding our consciousness to include the whole cosmos in our own evolution.
Summarized in six words, Success 3.0 is a call to “Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up.” Wake up to our true identities not as separate beings, but as expressions of the oneness of all that is. Grow up to take responsibility for our actions as part of a larger whole, beyond our egoic concerns, beyond even our immediate family or tribe or community, but to include the entire cosmos as an extension of our sphere of influence. Show up as a leader by expressing our own unique gifts, standing fully in the truth of our unique life experiences and stories.
For me, the conference was profoundly integrating of the many chapters of my life experience that had previously appeared separate or unrelated. I now see that every single world I have lived in – from the suburban middle class neighborhood of my hometown in Libertyville, Illinois, to the halls of the Ivy League, to the training of medical school, to the partnership track in a venture capital firm, to solo entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, to the experience of burnout, to transitioning from classical music to improvisation, to performing acoustic rock violin, to training as a life coach, to traveling to Southeast Asia to study bodywork, to becoming an artist – informs my perspective wherever I show up. My ability to listen deeply across multiple disciplines, and my unrelenting vision of possibilities, is my unique gift to any situation I am in.
I am a weaver and collage maker, drawing threads from seemingly disparate elements and incorporating them into a new tapestry with every interaction I have. I am a living expression of the evolutionary impulse, coming through me, existing in me, and experienced by me. And so are you! Within your unique set of life experiences and stories is the unique expression of life as you – and only you – can express it. When you choose to wake up, grow up, show up, you enter into the process of co-creating, with the evolutionary impulse of all that is, your unique definition of Success 3.0.
I’m excited to continue showing up in new ways, to start conversations about what really matters, and to continue bringing my unique art into the world.
Is it time for you to upgrade and update your definition of Success? Join me in the conversation.
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
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!
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
The air is thick with the scent of lavender, heavy with the warmth of bodies at rest. A single strand of white lights twists, dances, curls along the floor where it meets the rising wall, hinting at the outer boundary of the otherwise darkened room.
I rise from a state of complete rest, quiet inside my body, after a Restorative Yoga class with John. I am curious about what sounds I will invite into the already perfect silence and stillness enveloping me. I set up my sacred space, an altar to my joy, my circle of support, my ability to love and to transform, to play and to create.
I settle in to the energy of these objects on my altar, which bring me peace and freedom even as I step closer to the edge of vulnerability in the open space.
The sound of the shruti box calms me, grounds me with a gentle yet firm foundation. It is both undulating and constant, a launching pad into the infinite as well as a soft place to land and be nurtured.
I invite sounds from all who are in the room. Immediately we are one – a chorus. Singers who don’t need to know the song, who simply listen and offer what comes naturally from within. A sigh, an exhale, a melodious note – it doesn’t matter. We are in this space together, experiencing this magic together. We enter the practice as one. Continue reading
So, for those of you who still haven’t read the whole book, and may even find yourself getting sick and tired of all the “Tiger Mom” and “Tiger Cub” stuff being thrown around the web, here’s something that might ease your suffering. Amy Chua wrote a column in USA TODAY entitled, “Here’s how to reshape U.S. education.”
First of all, it’s short and very readable in a few minutes, honoring our short American attention spans, a la USA Today.
Second of all, Amy “follows the rules” and wears her academic hat here, citing historical geopolitical examples, statistics, and all those other techniques that make our rational brains feel taken care of. She sounds smart, succinct, and very put-together. To draw a wardrobe analogy, she would be wearing a navy blue suit and high heels in this article, while in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother we saw her with no makeup, maybe some running shoes, and her “fat jeans”. In other words, she wasn’t so pretty and polished.
Here, she only briefly hints at her own vulnerability, her own flawed human condition, by stating that she “learned her lesson the hard way” when her younger daughter (NB: the daughter who does not yet have a blog, and has not yet gotten into Harvard…she’s only a freshman in high school) rebelled. She also hints at the vulnerabilities of her attackers – you know, the parenting bloggers and other self-righteous jumpers-on-the-bandwagon who feel the need to polarize every story into a right-versus-wrong debate – by saying this about parenting in particular, and why it’s such a hot-button issue:
“We all desperately want to get it right and never know for sure whether we are. Perhaps it’s because the stakes are so high, and it’s terrifying to admit a mistake.”
Ultimately, in the final paragraphs, she boils down her point of view into a very tidy philosophical statement of “East Meets West”, imagining an ideal borrowing from the “best of both worlds” – the structure and discipline required in early childhood to establish a foundation of learning, and a gradual opening in the later teenage years to allow ample exploration of individuality and creative self-expression:
The great virtue of America’s system is that our kids learn to be leaders, to question authority, to think creatively. But there’s one critical skill where our kids lag behind: learning how to learn.
East meets West
If in their early years we teach our children a strong work ethic, perseverance and the value of delayed gratification, they will be much better positioned to be self-motivated and self-reliant when they become young adults. This is a way to combine East and West: more structure when our children are little (and will still listen to us), followed by increasing self-direction in their teenage years.
When I read these words, they sound familiar. I agree with them.
They were the ingredients I intended to bring into fruition when I started a violin school for toddlers in Silicon Valley back in 2004. With starry eyes and the willingness to put everything on the line (including a partner-level job in venture capital) for the creation of this dream, I set out to provide the ultimate combination of Eastern and Western philosophies. This was to be “more than violin lessons”. It was to be “lifelong learning”, using the vehicle of violin to teach discipline, teamwork, leadership, collaboration, listening, sensitivity, confidence, and mastery. Everything I could think of could be taught through the journey of learning to play violin and performing around the world.
I actually used the term “learning how to learn” in my parent seminars and recruiting presentations. Continue reading
I was reading the website of a prominent life coach the other day, and was feeling myself getting seduced by the promise of change. For me, this feeling is a little tug in my chest, accompanied by a little voice that says, “You could be like her! Why don’t you just try harder? You could be successful like that! You can have everything you want in your life! Just try harder!”
I was getting pulled in by her clarity, and her certainty, and her artfully written course descriptions and “How I Work With You” page. I was dreaming of what my life would like if only I were “as on top of things as she was”. I was reading through her punchy blog posts, which boiled everything down into three simple categories, a numerical scale, and a “toolkit” for achieving the state of bliss that she has apparently created for herself.
In her “About” page, where she introduces herself and tells her story of why she became a coach, she talks about “having been there”. Having been broke, miserable, in a rocky marriage, and not living her best life. Continue reading