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Pen + Thoughts = Power

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The pen is mighty. Put that pen to paper and record your words and thoughts… power.

Why write? I’ve asked that question many times in this blog. This time I’m inviting you to consider writing as a powerful agent of change.

A leather bound journal. A diary. Any simple, humble notebook that can capture your words. Julia Cameron recommends this type of writing it as a daily ritual in The Artist’s Way:  3 longhand pages first thing in the morning known as morning pages. Dorothea Brande proposed something similar, what she called “unconscious writing”, in her book Becoming a Writer first published in 1934. Your writing can be impromptu or just thoughts dashed onto the page. In coaching I sometimes offer prompts followed by a 2 or 3-minute writing sprint. In our Find and Follow Your Spark program we call them Magic Pages. And they are truly magical.

Broad Impact

What I have found is that a writing practice can impact you in ways far beyond what is usually thought of when we say “writing.” It doesn’t always have to be about a finished products, publication or book sales.

Your words, captured on a page are powerful. You cannot set your thoughts down, day after day, and remain the same. You will be transformed.

I would suggest you start by doing the morning pages suggested in The Artist’s Way. Experience the effect this will have on you as you develop a writing habit. Power through to that third page because I guarantee you will go someplace deeper and unexpected. But don’t feel this is the only way to do this, that it’s  “all or none.” Do one page. Do it several times a week. Just do something on the page.

Here are some other reasons to develop a journal practice and some of the ways I use my journal.

Writing will amp up your listening skills

Listening to yourself, that is. Thoughts run amok through our mind all day. But if you stop to jot them down, you have the opportunity to actually “hear” them.

You might be surprised at what you hear. You might realize that you say these things all the time, both out loud as well as to yourself. You might recognize that these thoughts/words are an engrained habit, not necessarily true. And, unfortunately, those habitual thoughts are not usually encouraging. They tend more toward the “why am I so ____” with the “_____” not very flattering.

How will you capture these thoughts? Those small spiral notepads that fit in your pocket or purse can do the job quite efficiently. As can the notes app on your phone. It doesn’t need to be fancy. The power is in the act of capturing.

Writing is an act of resolve

You may not realize it at first, however if you keep up the practice you will discover your beginning.

In my writing circle, naturally, there are women who want to write. There are also those who have been told they “should write that book.” There are others who are heeding a call for creative expression. And there are some who are there to just see what they’ve got.

There are lots of reasons. And the end result is always the same.

They begin to understand that they have something to say. They recover memories; discover depths. They become reacquainted with themselves. Gradually, change takes over. They find a new beginning

Writing is a place to ask a small question

Ask a small question on the page and keep going. (There’s an art to the small question. Read more here.) But ask them frequently, day after day, or however often you write. Ask and then listen. As you go about your day, notice what emerges: the email, the phone call, the song on the radio, the quote someone shares. Just keep your antenna up and stay curious. Answers abound.

Writing can be a space for praying

In the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, the maid, Aibileen, keeps a prayer book. A simple, cheap notepad. For her, putting her praying words on the page was like “electricity, it keeps things going.” So, put your wishes and dreams on your page so they can keep going. Put them out in front of a higher power along with the needs of others in your world who can use this “electricity.”

Writing is a place for affirmations

Affirmations are a way to create new thinking pathways. A journal is a place to test out those statements. Saying it is quicker. However when you speak it the “but” that whispers in the back of your mind could be missed. There’s something about the physicality of writing them, the way it gives your brain those milliseconds to catch up with your hand, that makes a difference. If it’s not quite believable to you – as in the “but” in the back of your mind – you have the chance to edit it until it feels right. If it feels right and believable it will seep into your subconscious and do the work. Dare I say it again? Magic!

There are lots of ways to use a writing practice. You will find things that are particularly helpful for you. Try it. Be curious. Be open to the magic.

Need help getting started? You don’t have to do it alone. Contact me to see how I can help.

Welcome to My Writing Nest

Hello-i-m-nik-bCXQkRZ-LsQ On Unsplash.com

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Coming soon! A place to read about writing, hear from other writers, inspire, be inspired.

It’s time to begin and continue your writing adventure.

Look forward to meeting you in My Writing Nest.

Who will you be in the next phase of life?

Transformation
image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The need to “do”, to be productive, is engrained in us. Therefore, “But… what will I do?” too often becomes the inevitable question that completes the statement, “I’m thinking of retiring …” However, before you go there, consider an equally important question and one that should be addressed first as you transition into retirement or into any phase of life: “Who will I be?”

Don’t get me wrong. “What will I do” is a good wake-up question because, as sure as dust follows dusting, life will pull you into its slipstream. If you wait until the first morning of retirement to figure it all out you may not make the best decisions. And be assured that there are plenty of folks who will be happy to tell you how to answer that question!

(Just a brief sidebar here: my suggestion to that question is always “plan to do nothing for a while,” the emphasis being on the word being “plan.” More on that another day.)

And I understand that concern about what to do. However, I also know that finding the answer to the question of “who will I be” is a better way to start and a much more satisfying way to drive your actions going forward. It is inner driven rather than outer driven.

Finding answers to “who will I be”

Finding an answer to who you’ll be probably feels a lot of work. Starting with who you are and peeling back layers. Scraping off life’s gunk and stripping away labels to get to who you are at your innermost core. Like the alien in the movie Cocoon who undresses and reveals her non-human status, who the heck are you beneath all the layers? After all this time?

So, yes, it may feel like a lot of work. And, really, who needs more work?

Because I know that by the time we’re contemplating retirement, by the time we are at an important phase of midlife transition, we have been at life for a while. We have adapted, instinctively figured out ways to cope and many of us have switched to auto-pilot. So, any task that can’t seem to be wedged into the rest of our “stuff” isn’t very appealing. It calls up our Scarlett O’Hara persona and we put if off for another day.

Been there; done that!

What if I told you there was an easy, fun way to explore the question of “who will I be?” That the process can be easily wedged into the rest of your stuff?

All it requires are four simple things:

  1. Formulate the question.
  2. Remember to ask.
  3. Pay attention.
  4. Capture what comes up.

Formulate the question

“Who will I be” is broad. Instead, narrow the question’s focus and consider these areas:

  • Who am I now?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What did I love best as a child?
  • What shoots that bubble of delight up through my chest?
  • What’s most important to me at this point in my life?
  • Where do I find awe?
  • Where do I find meaning?

Questions like these will loosen up your imagination and allow you to find your purpose. That purpose doesn’t have to be big or TikTok ready. It only has to be right for you!

As you go along in this process, more questions will come up and these may change slightly. Go with it.

Remember to ask the question

Sounds simple, but new habits are squirrely and asking a question on a regular basis is a habit. What do you do to remind yourself of other tasks or events? Use that. Or go totally analog and write the question on some post-its. Place them on your vanity mirror, your dashboard, the back of your phone.

The goal is to see it – and ask it – often. Do not labor for an answer. Your only job here is to ask. And to ask frequently.

Pay attention

When your question is handy and asked often, the brain will be engaged and answers will emerge. You will notice news or magazine articles. Random conversations will hold clues. A billboard, a song, a stray memory. Don’t discount any of them. As one of my old co-workers used to say, “radar on, antenna up!” That’s all you need to do. It really is this simple, so resist the urge to complicate it. I’ve also been there and tried to do that!

Capture what comes up

You may think you’ll remember the answers that pop up, but the odds are not in your favor. It has nothing to do with age and all to do with busyness and distractions. Come up with a way to capture what emerges. The memory, the idea, the crazy scheme, the business idea, the volunteer organization, that place or thing you’ve always wanted to visit or do but never had the time.

Capture it all. You are only gathering data at this point. Don’t edit or censor and please don’t judge! And also, be very discerning with whom you share these ideas. Even the most well-intended remark can squash dreams like a bug.

You could try on some of the answers and do a little body check. “I am curious and love learning.” How does that feel? “I love helping others to do ____.” How does that feel?

If you have more time…

Try this exercise:

Make of list of words to define and describe yourself. Pay close attention to your language. Yes, you are a woman, man, partner/spouse, parent, son/daughter. You are an accountant, nurse, doctor, lawyer, baker extraordinaire. You have built a business, a career. Perhaps you’ve traveled the earth or gone to space. Wonderful.

Now go a little deeper. Go beyond the labels; peek underneath. At first, this may be uncomfortable or feel difficult. You may think that nothing’s there. Nothing’s coming up. Who the heck are you outside of what you do or your role in the world? (You could use the questioning format above for this.)

As you begin to list the labels, you may find yourself moving from nouns to pronouns. From pronouns to metaphor. From metaphor to analogy to a story of who you are without the labels. Eventually you will find yourself at the core of who you are.

Years ago, I attended a workshop to learn tips on running writing workshops for children. The teacher suggested a writing prompt that had them list what was in their backpacks. When you let them keep going, the tangible shifts to the intangible. The books and pencils lead to hopes, dreams and fears.

It will be the same for you if you keep going beyond the discomfort.

From there you can build outward. Reassembling yourself into who you’ll be and what you’ll do.

Pause for transformation

All of this requires a Pause. It requires time to think and wonder and ponder. Things we don’t normally spend too much time on in our second act or the first half of life. This is where all the good stuff comes from, the juiciness and richness.

Would you like to continue the process? I provide a very safe container in which you can pause, think out loud, say whatever you want, be outrageous, be hesitant, explore, experiment, course correct. It is transformation – deep and lasting. Contact me to schedule a coffee chat to see how we might work together.

Hello again

Hello!
Image by Benjamin Sow on Unsplash

Hello again! It’s me. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It must be months since I’ve written about what is important to me and why I do what I do. The last few months have been tough and, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been off my game. The sudden death of my youngest brother knocked me and my family for a loop. My husband’s recent health problems continued to keep me off balance.

This is not to say that I haven’t been working. I have. But to resume deeper dives into writing about topics that are important to me – topics such as the power of writing and re-imagining our “third act” … that hasn’t been happening.

Tasks are often easier than deep thought. I can make a list and check it off and that is satisfying. At the same time, I’ve started and stopped several blog posts. I can’t give specific reasons, only that my focus wasn’t there.

It’s time.

So, here I am.

What I have found is that challenges and loss can throw us off track, particularly in our second half. If we’re not careful momentum will keep us that track.

However, what I know is that writing and creating bring us back, give us resilience and hope.

Right now, for me it feels a bit like starting over and that’s okay. Each of us gets a chance to start over – every day. Even every minute of every day. As long as we are here on this mortal plane, possibilities live.

So, let me introduce myself once again. As a reminder to both of us.

I am a coach, blogger, writer and ardent advocate and supporter of women in midlife.

I want for those women what I want for myself: to thrive in our third act as we creatively navigate career, life and business changes and design an awakened, meaningful, rich and purposeful, multidimensional second half of life. I love to help other women figure out what’s next and, as so beautifully put by one of my clients, create “Me 2.0”. Or 2.2. As I said above, every day is a chance to start over, re-create, re-imagine life and self.

I want to see the spark that is in every one of us catch fire and grow. To watch the transformation that takes place. To watch us come alive in ways both big and small. It all counts.

Let’s talk

Are you a woman in midlife? I’d love to start a conversation with you and hear about where you are in your life, what your dreams are and what you need to step into them. Not a sales call. No pressure. Just a chat over coffee or tea, in person if you’re local, or virtually. An open-ended conversation.

Because every conversation tells me more about what is needed in this challenging yet exciting time of life.

Every conversation makes me better able to work with the next person.

Every conversation makes me a better midwife in the process of bringing to life the essential you in your Third Act.

Every conversation moves us all one step closer to the amazing women we are.

Click here to schedule your 30-minute coffee chat.

Joyous Contentment and a Multidimensional Life

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I recently wrote about doing the joyful work. It was in the context of individual coaching and our Find and Follow Your Spark program. The topic lingers in my mind. Along with the question of whether I’m talking about joy or deep- rooted contentment. Are they the same thing? Do I need to redefine Joy? Is it Joyous Contentment? It’s definitely part of your Multidimensional Life!

How do you define joy?

Is it a beautiful sunrise or sunset? The radiance of a full moon? A leaf turning from green to copper? The magnificence of nature that makes you gasp?

The birth of a child or a life-defining moment or milestone can also be a source of joy.

The smile of someone you love? The fist pumping elation of success?

All of this is joyful. But it’s also generated outside of YOU. I believe that JOY is an inside job.

Here are three things to help you redefine/rediscover JOY:

  1. Joy can be rooted in the ordinary.
  2. Joy can be found by simply paying attention.
  3. You need to be open to recognizing Joy.

What is ordinary JOY?

I believe Joy can be an everyday state, not an exceptional state. It doesn’t have to be spectacular. Or awe inspiring. It can be a very deep-rooted satisfaction. In life, in your work, in your surroundings, in your purpose. It can be contentment. Let’s begin to think of it as Joyous Contentment. I love this poem by Pat Schneider “The Patience of Ordinary Things”. There’s such simplicity and pleasure in her words.  Not a clamoring joy but rather a deep appreciation.

Joy also doesn’t need to be something for which you strive or struggle. That seems antithetical to Joyous Contentment. It can be as simple as enjoying bubbles in a bubble bath or just feeling good. For me it’s often found in the early morning in the quiet kitchen, the sunrise, a cup of strong breakfast tea. Joyous Contentment settles on me as I pause and notice the spiraling steam, the fragrance, the deep color.

How do you find JOY?

Mindful presence. Yes, mindfulness has entered the mainstream lexicon to the degree that it can begin to feel stale. But truthfully, if you don’t pause and pay attention so many things will pass you by. Those moments when you feel good about where you are or what you’re doing. The moments of Joyous Contentment. You need to be paying attention in order to find them. Not constant high alert. Just the occasional picking up of your head and asking where am I finding/seeing joy in this moment/what else brings me joy? (By the way, if the answer is nowhere, widen your search. Let it be simple and small. I’m pausing as I write this, looking out my window and loving how the fallen leaves make the grass look greener and lusher. Mmmm… I sought the joy in nature as opposed to stumbling upon it.)

Someone who is new to my list responded to my request to tell me three things about herself by telling me that being authentic brings her joy. I thought it was a wonderful example of being present with what is. With who she is at her very core. I liked that, that present feeling as a source of joy. Later she clarified this. “Being authentic is comforting,” she wrote. Other things that brought her joy included “hiking to the top of a mountain and looking at the view, a good book, learning new things, a good cup of coffee…” Even without my asking she answered the question of what else brings her joy.

How will you recognize JOY?

Discover where you feel joy in your body. Recall a situation that you would define as joyful and notice where you feel it. Identify that as your Joy-meter.

For me it’s that savoring Mmmm. Sort of like this smiling emoji 😊 Yes, I have fist pumping woo-hoo moments, too but I don’t wait for them. Ordinary, everyday Joyous Contentment is lovely and sustainable.

By contrast, there’s a lot in the world to give you a feeling of dread. Also notice that in your body. Don’t push it away immediately. Some small questions around that:

  • Is it real? True? Am I in danger?
  • Is there anything I can do about it? (Even small actions make a difference.)
  • Is there another way I can look at this? (A reframe or shift in perception.)
  • Does my feeling this way make a difference in the situation?

You may need to feel sad for a bit. But you have the choice of returning to Joyous Contentment.

I invite you to ask yourself what where am I finding/seeing joy in this moment? To pause and recognize the everyday, mundane, simple joy. A deep-rooted joyous contentment. What is it that brings you joy? And what else?

Why bother defining/discovering/recognizing JOY?

First, we are not on this earth merely to suffer. However, as we approach and travel through mid-life and beyond, stuff piles up. We lose sight of the simple joys as we tend to life. A bit of the “forest for the trees” situation.

But if you want to experience a Multidimensional Life, Joy has to be part of it. Joy will feed your creativity, have a positive affect on your health and happiness and bring more balance into your life. Creating a Multidimensional Life is the conscious work we do to make the second half of life richer, more meaningful and creative. Joyous Contentment evens out the good with the bad, the sweet with the hard, the beautiful and the not beautiful. It’s life, real life, your life.

This is joyful work we can do together. Contact me find out what a path to a Multidimensional Life could look like.

Perfection or Excellence?

Perfectionism
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Do you believe your success depends on you being perfect? Do you strive for perfection? What if you were to strive for excellence instead? Excellence through continuous improvement.

In studying what makes people and organizations successful, Dr. Robert Maurer of The Science of Excellence has found that it is not perfection that leads to success. It is more often a matter of accumulating very small steps toward excellence. It is excellence by continuous improvement.

Is it real or is it…

After all, perfection is not real. It is an illusion. From my observation, a desire for control can masquerade as perfectionism. Or a need for safety, a fear of looking foolish, being wrong, being rejected or ridiculed. Ultimately, it’s unattainable.

Perfectionism is that thing that can creep up on you in all aspects of life and become a way to avoid doing what you’re here to do. If I can’t do it perfectly, if I can’t be an expert, then I may as well not do it at all.

Applied to yourselves it can hamper goal attainment. It can lead to unhappiness, dissatisfaction and a breakdown of relationships. It’s like trying to get a perfect point on a pencil and sharpening it down to a nub. When does something go from a masterpiece to ruin? From beauty to wreck?

When it is expected of others, perhaps in work scenarios, it manifests as criticism, micromanaging and the inability to be a productive, contributing team member or partner.

And sometimes, perfectionism is just a habit of thought. You don’t even realize you’re striving for it. It has become your normal.

In the end it would be so much more productive to shift your attention to excellence through continuous improvement.

Excellence

When you are striving for excellence, you are doing your best all the while knowing that you can continue to improve. You are stretching yourself, refining your skills, learning from others, collaborating for a shared goal.

Excellence is knowing when a thing is “good enough”. And speaking of “good enough”, is that an acceptable goal?  You’ve heard of the s*&%ty first draft. I say yes! Yes, it is a “perfect” place to pause and decide whether you’re done  (for now) or to continue.

And, by the way, switching from perfection to excellence through continuous improvement is not a lowering of standards. It is a way to continue moving forward. And the irony is that “good enough” for a perfectionist is most likely head and shoulders above the standards for a non-perfectionist. The issue is knowing when to be done. And in the end, as Scott Allen said, “Done is better than perfect.”

Consider this:

  1. Excellence through continuous improvement allows for creative detours. It allows for observation, curiosity, experimentation. Perfection puts on blinders.
  2. Excellence through continuous improvement is conducive to collaboration. Perfection is a one-person show.
  3. Excellence through continuous improvement is fluid, a series of points along a continuum. Perfection is rigid.
  4. Excellence through continuous improvement is a process. It is creative. On the other hand, perfection can set you up for disappointment and rob you of the joy of discovery. Think about how so many inventions have been built on the work of someone who went before. They don’t come to us out of thin air. They are often improvements on someone else’s work or come from an observation that sparks an idea. Steam engines existed but James Watt took it to another level. Someone didn’t set out to invent the microwave oven. The waves were there. It was “invented” when Percy Spencer’s chocolate bar melted.

Whether in life or business, whether in ourselves or in what we create, the struggle for perfection can be debilitating. Too often the perfectionist is paralyzed, the dream of perfection becomes a hindrance. It prevents you from shining because your work is kept under wraps until it is “perfect.”

Make a different choice. Be excellent, not perfect.

Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coaching can help. Contact me to find out how I can help you can break through perfectionism and move forward.

#perfection #creativity #secondhalf

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Recently, I’ve had some interesting conversations with people about retirement.

Some have a crystal-clear vision of how they want their days to flow. They see themselves moving seamlessly between creative work, nature, those bits of their career that they loved and can now repurpose into something new. There is time for play.

Then there are those who are worried they’ll spend their days in a TV induced stupor or frantically cooking and cleaning all day.

Both of these visions carry a mindset of staying busy and productive. However, they are two totally different approaches.

Dual Approaches

The first approach allows for new possibilities, spacious days, fun and meaningful interest.

The second can’t see beyond what has always been – busy days of work and busier weekends filled with tasks and errands. The black and white of either go-go-go or crash.

If you’re like I was and tend toward the latter approach, let me assure you there is hope. But it can be a tough mindset to shift. Whether this need for busy productivity was learned during our formative years or acquired over a long and busy career, it can become a habitual response to any open, yawning expanse of time. Especially as you transition to what is traditionally called retirement or, as I prefer to think of it, your Third Age.

However, what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Approach is a choice

We humans are amazingly adaptable. We don’t break when we try to mold ourselves into a new mindset.

You get to choose to have a full, meaningful, joyful life without filling every minute of every day. You get to choose your approach as well as how you feel about. What will my days look like? What would be fun? You get to fall in love with your next stage of life!

It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s wonder-full.

As for me, I have fallen in love with helping others do this.

How will you choose to love your life?

L Learn what brings you alive. Through different exercises and guided meditations, I help you recognize that bubble of excitement or delight that accompanies aliveness. Once you feel it, you can latch onto it and see where it takes you. If an idea fizzles out, think about what else produces delight. Nothing comes to mind immediately? That’s okay. Imagine what might bring you alive. Nothing is off limits. Nothing you come up with is set in stone. Permanence is an illusion. You don’t want to get stuck there. It took me a while but I finally learned what lights me up. I also learned how to give myself permission to follow it. (That permission stuff can be a tough one, too!)

O Open yourself up to possibilities. This is where your imagination – and fun – comes in. Just because you never did something doesn’t mean you never can. Whether it’s skydiving or training for a 5k, picking up that old camera, rescuing a puppy or learning how to code, I encourage you to develop a habit of thought that says, why not? We brainstorm and explore. This is creativity in action. You can create something that wasn’t there before. A life, a world, a way of thinking. I see people do this all the time.

V Volunteer in your own life. Yes, of course, there’s a need for altruism in the big world. But what do you do for others that you don’t do for yourself? Perhaps you think it’s selfish to claim your own time. You’ve been taught that others come before you and therefore find yourself at their beck and call. You are the first one to step up when someone needs an oxygen mask … even though you know you need to put yours on first. Self-sacrifice comes easily. But it’s not always necessary and not always healthy. Often you don’t even recognize this in yourself until we start talking. You will find that when you volunteer to take bigger care of your own life, you have more to offer when the time comes to volunteer elsewhere.

E Experience your life fully. Feel it. Don’t tear through it in the fast lane. Appreciate it. Allow yourself to daydream. Notice where your thoughts go. While necessity may be the mother of invention, I believe curiosity comes first. When you stop to pay attention to life you are Pausing. In this Pause lives the quiet space in which you at your essence comes to the forefront. You. The beautiful, interesting, quirky, smart, and unique You.

Love that You!

Your first step

If you’re ready to do more than wonder or worry about how your Third Age will look and would like to dive into this process with me, then I’d love to talk to you.

Contact me and let’s start a conversation about where you are, where you’re going and how I can help you can fall in love with this next stage of life.

Collective Yearnings

I recently wrapped up a case study project in which I coached an amazing group of women. My intention was to go deeper with my work. I wanted to get more data on how my coaching model can work specifically for women in their second half of life. I wanted to understand the issues that resonated the strongest. Was there a collective yearning and, if so, what was it?

Collective Yearnings

What I found is that despite our uniqueness there are certain universal truths. We all would like to:

  • Get clarity about the parts of ourselves we left behind that are now yearning to come forward. Things left for “another day”, old dreams.
  • Let go of the notion that we’re too old to make meaningful life changes
  • Feel able to make different, riskier, more unexpected choices in how we spend our time each day
  • Choose projects that light us up and make us come alive instead of ones that feel like an obligation
  • Begin to make ourselves a priority instead of putting everyone else’s wants and needs in front of our own (I’m not talking about critical needs or emergencies.)
  • Revamp our career, business or personal direction
  • Make time to express our creativity, however that wants to show up

I think of this as a Resonance List. And, yes, a collective yearning. It’s all part of stepping into a unique Multidimensional Life that will make the second half of life richer, more meaningful and creative while operating from a grounded place that encompasses the good with the bad, the sweet with the hard, the beautiful and the not beautiful.

Real Life

This way of life, this Multidimensional Life, is not a Pollyanna life. Life can be gritty and real. It can hijack us. When that happens, we risk forgetting what we long for, those beautiful yearnings, and we lose our way. We’d like to hop into that old VW bus with the peace signs and daisies and escape. Peace, love and freedom!

However, what I have learned is that we can always find our way back with grace and ease. And this case study project showed me that my coaching is quite effective here. I help you articulate those yearnings and when necessary, guide you back onto the path to your Multidimensional Life. Our work together helps you preserve that piece of self that can be lost so easily. It moves you forward, even if only in small steps.

This goes for me as well as my clients.

Life as a Hijacker

Right now, my life has been slightly hijacked. My husband had a health scare and because of it my home is in disarray, routines interrupted. I feel unsettled. But I know that it’s not everything and not forever. I don’t throw my hands up and surrender. I choose to look it straight in the eye, accept it, give myself a break, do what I can and let the rest go…for now.

Some things on my list won’t get done. They’ll be shifted to tomorrow or next week. Other things can be done – like this post- and I will be satisfied with that. I will remember that no day is like the one before but my overarching goal of creative ease and flow can remain.

What resonates with you on the above Resonance List?
How do you begin to realize these longings?
How do you get back on track when life throws you for a loop? 

Working through these questions is something I do well. Contact me to see how I can help you work through them.

The Power of Good Endings

Good Endings
Image by Spencer Evers on Unsplash

My business coach, Isabel Parlett, talks about “harnessing the power of good endings”, “developing intimate endurance”, being present and engaged even when things are uncomfortable. These are part of her fourth quarter teachings and they are good ones. They’re also markers of our resilience.

So often, as we wrap up a business cycle, an offering, a sales month or quarter we usually have our heads into the next one. We’re always gearing up. What I’ve learned is that closure and reflection is always valuable and never a waste of time. Beyond the “what worked and what could have worked better”, is the reality of dreams and efforts. The grace of giving yourself credit for what you did without berating yourself for what you didn’t. Focusing on the gifts and the learning. It can be as simple as an internal acknowledgement, a virtual (or real) pat on the back and a gentle closing of the door.

And while the above reference is in the context of business, it’s so true in life.

Finding good endings in 2020

How can you apply this concept to the year of 2020? The year that wasn’t. Or maybe the year that shouldn’t have been. Definitely, the year that we won’t forget. For some, there was incredible sadness and my words will never be enough to make it better. Sickness and loss of loved ones is heart wrenching in the best of times. It was magnified this year with the inability to be with loved ones or grieve together if they passed.

This was also a year of fear, feeling untethered and resentful. There was widespread unease. For some a low-grade disquiet that shadowed us throughout the year; for others, a screaming, sometimes physically debilitating anxiety.

Looking for miracles

But before you pick up the cellophane sheet of your Magic Slate of a calendar and wipe everything out, ask if there were any bright spots, any gifts. Maybe, dare I say, any miracles.

We take so much for granted. For instance, as part of a recent guided meditation my yoga teacher had us visualize a friend whom we hadn’t seen in 20 years and think about how it would feel to greet them. All I could think about was how I wanted to be able to hug my siblings again. A privilege I had always taken for granted.

And, speaking of taking things and people for granted, consider the health care and front-line heroes and all those folks who went to work so you could get your groceries, your coffee and your morning paper, to name a very few things. Those people we just assume will always be there but are a bit too invisible in normal times. It will be a long time before they slip into the background again.

What do you want to remember?

In addition, there were wonderful stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Yes, I know there were the other kind of stories but those are the kind that sell newspapers and TV and internet ads. Those are not all the stories and anyway, where would you prefer to shine your light?

I love Isabel’s phrase “intimate endurance.” It’s a beautiful reminder to stay present right through to the end. So, take a moment now. Just pause and think about one bright part of 2020. Did you spend more quality time with family? Did you feel life slow down, just a little bit? Were you able to be outdoors more? Take a walk in the middle of the day?

Did you get to savor the quiet this past spring with fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky? And did you notice the birdsong more? Did you get to garden? Was your commute shortened to the time it took to get to your home computer?

Find that one sparkling star

Yes, I know we can come up with flip sides to all this. But look for that one sparkling star. After all, “Without darkness, nothing comes to birth, as without light, nothing flowers.” (May Sarton)

Pause. Take a nice deep breath. What is just one thing that wouldn’t have been – couldn’t have been – without this year we’d like to forget.

After that, thank it, pull up the cellophane and clear the Magic Slate of your calendar. Then move on to 2021 and continue on with your beautiful Multidimensional Life.

I’ll see you there!

Finding life’s music in the White Spaces

Image by Rombo on Unsplash

Whether it was Mozart or Debussy, this quote is one to ponder: “Music is the silence between the notes.” Because it’s in that silence that you’ll find the white space where you will discover the music of your life, the song you’re here to sing.

Recent conversations with coaching clients have led to discussions about “white space”. Not always in that exact language but always dancing around the idea. I have loved this concept since I heard it from Coach Dawn Kotzer, Inner Wilderness Guide, Doodle Activist and the Real Deal (that last one is my title for her.) That was quite a few years ago. She was speaking about the white space on our calendar, the idea of blocking out unscheduled time. I contacted her recently and asked her how she’s looking at it now.

“Energetically speaking,” she said, “White Space- fluid & flexible, immune to the needy, BS part of ego – is home to our creative soul and where we most effortlessly access our core of peace.”

Can you feel it?

That still feels so open and expansive to me. I get it; I seek it. I know what she means on a gut level. At the same time, it’s amorphous and can, therefore, be difficult to articulate. Those coaching conversations made me realize I hadn’t reached down deep enough for the right language.

One client spoke about how busy her life was years ago with kids and work and home. Life is less structured now but she’s still carrying the old busy mindset. She pondered, “How do we figure out how to not have our days crammed full?”

I offered my definition of white space – open, unscheduled time to do nothing. She disagreed. She felt that it wasn’t possible to do nothing. I guess it was how I explained it because she is right. (I love this about my clients. They are so wise.) I wasn’t explaining that gut level understanding well enough. I still hadn’t gotten the exact right language.

Or is it life’s margins

Another woman I was working with described building and maintaining the margins of life. Oh! That made me sit back in my chair and take it into every cell.

Those margins are non-existent in the first half of life as we rush through our days. Working, tending, doing. And, just like my other client mentioned, we carry that restrictive, busy mindset into the second half of life. All that rushing and doing that’s no longer needed except our habit makes it so. We strive to fill the margins.

I love the idea of cultivating the margins of life. That’s the expansiveness I crave and closer to my visceral understanding of white space.  If I need a visual, maybe it’s the contrast between a narrow highway with no shoulder and those roads with generous edges. Narrow spaces bring discomfort. The wide edges create space. And in that place, we can discern and act on what is most important.

Is it just thinking time?

So, what is the essence of white space, after all? As the first client said to me, “It’s always something, right?”

True. I can sit on a chair and gaze out the window but there’s never a void. I’m thinking, ruminating, dreaming. All of this is good. So, call it what it is. Thinking time.

But it’s more than that. It’s protected time. Time claimed just for me, bounded by stillness and quiet space. Okay maybe I’m getting closer.

Leo Barbauta, of Zen Habits, wrote a post that I mentioned it in an earlier blog. It has a powerful pull for me. He likens the white space in design to white space in life. He describes white space in life as a place where we are able to get more clarity, peace, breathing room and balance. It’s the removal of the non-essential that enables us to have the time and space to figure out what is most important. Only then can we give it the emphasis it deserves.

Whatever you call it, you need it

It’s similar to the second of Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants. The important but not urgent. A place most of us are not used to occupying in a busy Second Age or first half of life. But a perfect place in which to unfurl, develop and sink into a Multidimensional Life.

There are as many ways to look at this are there are eyes. But, at its core, I believe it is the claiming of time to intuit what is best for you in the moment and in this stage of your life. It’s tuning in to your own music. It is a creative process that is unique to each of you and carries a language you will need to create for yourself.

Whatever language you use, this concept is essential to a Multidimensional Life. In their own language, it resonates with my clients and and elevates the work we do together.

What will you call it? How will you describe it? And, most importantly, how will you incorporate it into your life and find that clarity and peace?

Don’t make it a big project. Look for moments. Let them build like beautiful, soaring music. Create your White Space and listen for your song.

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