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Midlife Awakening

Freedom
Image by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

It’s been my experience and observation that we spend early to mid-adulthood, our Second Age, on auto-pilot. We charge through our days getting lots of “stuff” done. We compartmentalize life, schedule our pleasures and squeeze in downtime. It’s a race to the end of each day. But once you arrive at midlife? Ah, now it’s your time, a for awakening.

I’ve written about the Third Age, a theory Peter Laslett offered in his book, A Fresh Map of Life: The emergence of the Third Age. Today I want to talk a bit about that Second Age.

Just to refresh:  In our first age, he says, we are dependent. We are still immature; we may be students. The second age is the time for independence, maturity, working. The third age is an era for personal achievement and fulfillment, and the fourth age is a final dependence, infirmity and death.

The Second Age

The Second Age is a building time. Typically, we are absorbed in developing careers, making a good living, rearing families. Often, we are taking care of older generations. It is an outwardly focused time. And, let’s be honest, there’s a little bit of keeping up with the Joneses. We’re running on the schedule of Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit. “I’m late, I’m late…”

Maybe that’s what has to happen during those years.

No judgment here. I’ve lived it, too.

However, what I know is that we don’t have to continue to embody that story.

Awakening to the Third Age, a Multidimensional Life

What I know is that we can Pause, get our bearings and transition to another path, our Third Age, our Multidimensional Life.

Now, I’m not saying it won’t be scary. There’s a nakedness, a vulnerability in this process and that can be quite uncomfortable.

But, just imagine the enormous relief of awakening in midlife, taking off the bindings of earlier times and feeling free. The sweetness of checking in with your quiet inner voice and heeding her message. Learning that you have options as to what comes next, that you are strong and courageous and that it’s okay to rock the boat as you move forward into uncharted waters.

What I wish for you

I believe that this is essential for a full, rich life. Therefore, this is my work in the world:

To empower brave women like you to feel the liberation that comes from speaking to what is alive and true in you.

To guide you as you step into the life-long experiment of being on your own path, even when that path is not clear, of taking small, steady steps in creating and expressing your truest self.

To remind you that there is always the possibility of growing and transforming, of exploring the options of what comes next, of being open to how everything you need is on the path to finding who you are.

Ultimately, it is the freedom of being your true self that wins the day.

Contact me for a discovery call. Let’s explore how I can help you find that freedom.

Help with the Midlife Journey

You Can Lighten Up Your Journey

Do you find it hard to ask for help? Do you feel that you need to do things on your own? After all, why would you work with a coach for help in the passage into midlife and beyond? To lighten up the journey? That beautiful unfurling of a Multidimensional Life? After all you can read a book or talk to your friends. And hiring a coach feels frivolous. I used to think that way.

Lots more road ahead

At a certain point in life we start to sense feelings of disappointment. It can become a close companion. Regrets, ruing, what if’s, the road not taken. I know I’ve been there. We aren’t that 21-year-old anymore with starry dreams and no road dust. We have been through the thick of it. We have worked and nurtured, we’ve laughed and shed a lot of tears. Tears of sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, laughter. We’ve been knocked for loops, left adrift, fallen down, gotten up, been pulled up, been knocked down. So, how do we put it behind us and move on? Because there’s still more road ahead.

And, here’s the thing: You’re still here!  All the stuff I just listed? This is the stuff that will be used for the next leg of your journey. This is the stuff that you can sort through, dialogue with, toss out. You can thank it for its lessons and let it go. You can use the Marie Kondo method – does this bring me joy?  No? Toss it. This is grist for your personal mill, lead to be transmuted into gold.

You are an alchemist.

Moving forward

Now, you can certainly go it alone. You’re smart. This isn’t your “first rodeo”. However, my personal experience is that without support dreams just float by. It’s hard to get momentum and easy to slip back into the rut of the status quo. The pages of the calendar fly away at an ever-quickening rate. Oh, well, you sigh. Maybe I’m too old for change. Maybe it’s too late. Life isn’t so bad.

You’re not too old.

It’s not too late.

Life can be richer, deeper and more meaningful.

I’m not talking huge epiphanies or complete 180’s. I’m talking about beginning an exploration of possibilities with small questions, small steps, curiosity and joy.

Why go it alone?

Getting support, hiring a coach, taking courses…this was hard for me in the beginning. I always thought that I should be able to fix whatever wasn’t working. I thought asking for help was a weakness. It didn’t fit in with the image I had of myself as a strong, self-sufficient woman. Yes, my ego was quite fierce!

But, the reality? Staying in my own head, having no objective person to bounce things off didn’t work. Yes, I have a great husband and friends and siblings but their views and feedback will usually be biased. They know me as they think they know me.

Fresh ideas, fresh tools, fresh mindsets? That has made all the difference. Finding new people who resonate with the person I was becoming and who weren’t stuck on the old me (like I also was!) was life changing.

That is what I do for my clients.

What else I do

I also:

  • Remind them of their dreams
  • Help them create small questions and determine next small steps. (There’s an art to this!)
  • Provide accountability, celebration, deep listening and someone to reflect back their words.
  • Have an array of creative tools to make this process more intriguing and fun.

By midlife we carry so much. We are containers that life has filled to the brim with all our experiences – both good and bad. Up bubbles the regrets, the disappointments.

It’s time to tip that container over and sort through things. It’s time to stop being weighed down by this slag.

What worked, what do you love, what is important to you, what are your values – have they shifted, what brings meaning into your day, your life? What about joy, delight, a giggle?

Work with what is working

Let’s shine the light on that, expand it, thank the other stuff for their contribution, for their strengthening power, for making you who you are. Know that there will be more challenges and tears but the depth and richness of your MD Life will be able to contain them, hold them and let them move through and out of you.

Now is the time to begin living as if you believed you have a lot of life left and that the quality of that life matters. Because when you do, it begins to come true. It’s magic. It’s alchemy. You are golden.

You are so much more. Contact me and we’ll uncover the you that is in waiting. Let’s show the world all your beautiful layers. Your Multidimensional Life.

Let’s Go Deeper and Wider

Go Deeper And Wider

“These times.” Everyone is writing and talking about “these times”.  For the most part that’s a good thing. As a writing workshop leader and as a coach I know that writing and talking about it enables us to process it, make sense of it – if there’s sense to be made, and to integrate it into our consciousness in ways that help us cope.  It helps us dip below the surface of the everyday and go deeper and wider into our truth. I saw that in our April Writers Circle as the women said that they didn’t want to just write about Covid-19 and yet it still snuck into the writing. Not as the main event, more of a bit player. And that was okay.

And as we talk, read and write about “these times”, we’ve woken up, become more conscious of how we spend our time and aware of the habits that have been disrupted. Many people are questioning their old status quo, rethinking careers, wondering what life will be like and who we’ll be when we emerge from “these times.”

In the midst of all this, I want to remind you that you are so much more than your habits and status quo, so much more than what you do every day. You have depths unplumbed.

Even in normal times

I get to remind women of this while I work with them in their second half of life as they get curious about what else life has to offer. They often feel stuck, having a hard time seeing outside the rut that a busy life has created. When they finally pick up their heads, they’re not always thrilled with what they see. Even in normal times.

I hear them express dissatisfaction with their personal status quo. They tell me how unhappy they are in their job. They wish there was a different career they could transition into. It’s often difficult to see past what they’ve done for the last 25-30 years. They sigh and say “I wish there were something else I knew I could do.”

Wishing and sighing. A true sign of stuckness. But I promise you it is possible to get un-stuck.

Adding life to retirement planning

A few months ago, at a party, I was chatting with a few people from my old world of financial services. They asked what I was up to and when I told them of my mission to help women uncover a Multidimensional Life in their second half, they nodded. “That is so needed these days,” they said. They, the financial advisors, reflected on how retirement planning should be about more than the money.

I smiled because I’d already discovered that. Now, I’m not minimizing the importance of financial planning. Not at all. However, the question of who you are, where you are and whether that still fits goes much deeper and is just as critical.

Deeper and wider

The question for you to consider is whether you want to uncover a life that is deep and wide or do you want to stay on the surface and coast. The choice is yours to make at any point of your life.

But do it sooner rather than later. Because there is so much more of you to uncover and offer to the world.

Where are you in this journey into midlife and beyond? How have “these times” shifted your thinking about your life and your possibilities in it? Are you one of the women who, after reading this, raises her hand and says “That’s me!”

If any of the above resonates with you, let’s start a conversation to explore how working together can propel you into a stage of life you haven’t imagined.

You don’t have to know your destination; you only have to take the first step toward it. You don’t have to turn your world upside down; you only need to change your view point. It doesn’t have to be hard and fraught with sweat and tears; it can be joyful and exciting.

This is what I do with my clients. We reframe the wistful and craft the small questions that get you started. We begin to unfurl the layers of your Multidimensional Life. We begin the journey of returning to the essence of who you are and why you’re here. Together. Because there’s power in plus one.

Contact me for a 30-minute discovery call and begin to see how much more there is to you than what you do every day. Even during “these days”.

Grinds and Gifts

Dude With 'Tude
Dude with ‘Tude original art by Donna Mills at donnamillsart.com

You’ve made the journey into your 40’s and beyond. There have been grinds as well as gifts. The former is easy to recall, the latter often goes unacknowledged.

You’ve had a successful career, maybe raised a family, given your time to causes that align with your personal values and so much more.

You are quite amazing.

And yet there are times when you wonder what else there is. What’s next. There’s a vague sense of wanting. A grain of sand in your spiritual sneaker. After all, you’ve done these things for so long, what else could you possibly do? What are you prepared for outside of this career, industry, your home, community?

Life is good

Overall, life is good, you remind yourself. Who am I to want more? Who would want me now? Do I have what it takes to try something new? I wish I had done something else when I was younger. Maybe I should just wait it out, coast along until retirement. I’ll think about this another time.

You bank these questions on the back burner of your heart. But every now and then, in the course of your busy life, they reach out and tap you on the shoulder.

I hear you and if I could pass on just one nugget of wisdom before I leave this worldly adventure, it would be to assure you that you have a rich, sparkling vein of gold in you. I would tell you that everything you’ve done in life – paid and unpaid, at home or in the workplace – has given you an enormous stockpile of skills and knowledge for whatever you want to come next.

I know. I had those thoughts on my back burner, too.

The vein of gold

But here’s what I found out: What I thought was a grind, had a sweet gift in its center.

The grinds: The slog of going to work every day, year in and year out, when I didn’t feel like it, when I was tired and cranky. Fixing problems not of my making. (Ever feel like the sweeper behind the circus elephant?) Working with difficult people; managing difficult people.

The gifts: I have discipline. I can stick to something even when “I just don’t wanna.” I’m good at problem solving; I’m a good listener. I can distill a tricky situation down to its elements and figure out how to put them back in a way that works better. I’ve learned ways to deal with difficult people. I know that I don’t like to be a manager but I’m a good teacher and mentor. I’ve learned so much about myself and what my natural talents are. I learned that I can be successful in an environment that’s not a good match for me, but that the cost may be higher than I care to pay.

I can now bring order and discipline to my own business (although I’m still wrestling with how much is too much.) My problem solving and listening skills have translated into coaching skills as I listen deeply to what my clients are saying – and not saying – and help them get to the heart of their dreams and goals, find creative solutions and take the steps toward those dreams.

I also know that I can take these skills and so many others acquired over a long work life and apply them to other situations to assure a successful outcome.

You can too.

Recapturing your essence

This isn’t necessarily about career changes or 180˚ life changes. This is about discovering the multidimensional you and recapturing the essence of who you are. It’s about first small questions and first small steps.

First small question: ask yourself what it is that you love about what you’ve been doing. Not job specific but rather you specific. Your skills and gifts. Did you love working with different groups of people? Small groups? Large groups? One to one? Did you prefer the numbers folks or the creatives? Did you enjoy training your staff or mentoring new employees? What innate skills served you well? Your writing, creative eye, problem solving? Remember to ask the questions often and let the answers come gradually.

Then a small step: begin to assemble a list of grinds and gifts, a few at a time, over the course of a few days. Create a resume of these non-job specific traits and skills and begin to look at them differently. Where else could you use them? Who could benefit from what you know? What would be fun? Make a long list and include those things that seem crazy.

You will see in black and white just what you’re capable of, how resilient you are, what you like and don’t like, how you can get through a difficulty and come out on the other end.

The gift

This is the gift of decades of life and work. And from where you stand now, there are more decades when all these skills, this mountain of self-knowledge can be re-purposed. And this time it will be an even better fit. This is the path of your Multidimensional Life unfolding before you.

You’ve struck a vein of gold.

p.s. If you would like my kind and loving eye looking with you at where you’ve been and how that can support where you want to go, let’s work together. Contact me here to request a consultation. The world needs more of who you are!

Deep in the Work Phase of Life

Deep In The Work Phase

Years ago, when I was deep into the work phase of my life, I began to feel an underlying discontent. It was like an itch that you can’t find to scratch. It was distracting but I became adept at putting it aside. Instead I tried to figure out what else I could do. I moved around within the company and the country trying to find a better fit. It would work for a while; the newness and challenge would distract me. But eventually that was too exhausting.  Why was I so unhappy? Was I not doing enough… what else can I do… is it true that if I “change the way I look at things, the things I look at change?” I just couldn’t get that last one to work.

I had been a round peg in a square hole for many years. I can see it now but back then I didn’t understand how, as an introvert, I should deal with people who seemed like vultures picking at my soul. I kept myself on the firing line rather than realizing that my skill set is best utilized when I can think and strategize on a higher level and with a few people at a time; when I have the luxury to nurture people rather than always be on high alert for the next fire drill. Some thrive on that. Not me!

What was for me?

What I was craving was a more expansive, suitable satisfying life where I could flourish doing the work I was called to do. I was looking for what I now call a Multidimensional Life.

I would look out and see people doing all these fun, creative things and feel sad that I couldn’t do them. It took all of my bandwidth to succeed in what I was doing. I told myself I wasn’t creative and felt bad about that because I mistakenly associated creativity with creating something tangible.  A real pity party. It took me a while to realize that those other folks might also be struggling even while they were working at their creative dreams, or that they might be putting on a good front. Or that there was a healthier way to look at my creative possibilities. It took me a little longer to understand that I needed to stop looking outside.

So, what did I need?

I needed to wake up, ditch the angst and find my smile.

I needed to step out of my work driven world and become the navigator of this one big beautiful life that I’d been given.

The question was: What do I want? What was my dream? Who was I without all those old stories?

How would I get it?

I decided to live in the process of becoming, rather than stay attached to a concrete outcome.  Not an easy task in the beginning. But I came to understand that the creative process was just as satisfying as the end result. Writing was transformational even when I wasn’t working on a book. Learning for the sake of learning was enriching even without the goal of a degree. Going into a new venture and being open to the winding ways of entrepreneurship has been life changing. Through trial and error, big and small discoveries, new possibilities and the fun of imperfection I was led to places I’d never expected. I never would have gotten there without freshly opened eyes and the help of other creatives and coaches.

I learned how magical small questions, deep listening and the subsequent small steps made a world of difference. How they reduced the overwhelm and stirred the creative pot. I began to get an expanded view of me, what I wanted and, most importantly, what would make me come alive.

My Multidimensional Life

I began to re-imagine my life. I started to unravel the tight, work-based persona as I realized that I wanted a richer, more colorful and diverse life. And, lo and behold, underneath all that was the multidimensional me that had been waiting all along.

I let myself spend more time outdoors. I let myself become immersed in writing. I turned down the volume on the harsh taskmaster inside that shouted you aren’t getting enough done and was able to hear that quiet voice that taught me that inspiration and creative work isn’t always done in front of a computer. (Mind you, that is an ongoing lesson!)

Over time, I began to feel the freedom of choice that a Multidimensional Life life provides. Yes, there are priorities and deadlines. I don’t live in a bubble. But sprinkled among the have-tos are the get-tos. And that makes all the difference. I sense into the day, construct it around my themes and dreams. I still work hard, but it doesn’t always feel like it.

What do you need?

Part of the joy of my MD life is coaching you to unfold your Multidimensional Life. Helping you ask the questions and live into the answers that will make your life rich and beautiful, that will soothe the part of you that has been restless for something more.

If you sense a MD life knocking at your door, contact me and let’s talk for 20 minutes about what isn’t fitting right and what your next steps might be. We can also talk about what it might look like to work together on the great creative project of creating this next phase of your life. Hey, we all only get this one!

An Invitation to Pause

Chaos
All great changes are preceded by chaos.
~ Deepak Chopra

I was always a leaper. Challenges? Problems? I was compelled to do something. Anything! I often thought in terms of “close my eyes, hold my nose and jump”! Must be that trial and error life I’m destined to live.

However, what I learned was that in doing that I was surrendering my freedom of choice. I learned that the better course of action was non-action. A stop, look, listen. A Pause. A bit counter-intuitive, I know.

I’m not talking about passivity, but rather a purposeful decision of which way to go. Not always the most popular, but the best for me. Not always a well-lit, well-traveled path, but one on which I would find the most joy.

When we are in the midst of change – which is really so much of life – it can feel chaotic. No, forget the “can”. It’s damn chaotic. It feels unsettling and uncomfortable. We feel rattled, uneasy, cranky. Something’s up. We soldier through. Because that’s what we’re taught to do.

In the moment, we may not realize what’s happening but when we pay close attention, we can recognize the symptoms of change and transition. Dang! Didn’t I go through this a few months ago??

Yeah, life is about change.

That is your invitation to pause.

Not only an invitation but an opportunity.

Consider this: If you had paused the last time you felt this way, would you be thrust into another round so quickly? Oh, there’d still be change and transition in your future, but it might play out a little differently.

Why Pause?

  • Pausing gives you the freedom to choose, to actively decide on a course of action rather than be swept away by outside currents. You may choose the same plan that life’s currents suggest, but it will be your decision.
  • It’s an opportunity to tap into the essential wise self that’s in all of us. It is asking questions and listening to your body’s response. It is heeding your gut.
  • When you pause you remember that your choices are not always set in stone. They can be evaluated and changed at a later time.
  • Pausing slows you down and lets you consider that deferring a choice could be a temporary solution.
  • Pausing jogs your memory so you can remember what you want and what is most important to you, not always most expedient and urgent.
  • The duration of a Pause can be done in a moment or days or months. Is this doctor best for me? I know what others have said, but… (a quick gut check) Is this the right time for me to retire? (longer process)

What helped me.

Looking back, I see that once I began to pause, I made much better decisions. I didn’t just react. I would write it through. I spoke with the right people. (Fortunately, I have lots of coaching friends!)

Were there times in your life where you would have benefited from a pause? Are you in the midst of that chaotic feeling of change now? How would it feel to pause? To step back and look at what is happening from a different viewpoint?

Here’s what will turn your chaos into great change.

Sometimes it helps to have someone to accompany you during a Pause. Someone on your side holding the light so you can see things clearer. A safe place to think out loud. To sort through the noise and, yes, the chaos. The tools to listen to yourself better and discern what is best for you. Because you are the one that knows best.

This is what I do in my coaching practice. Want to learn more? Contact me for a 30-minute discovery call.

The Midlife Journey and Opening Doors

Transitions And Closed Doors

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.  Helen Keller

Reading this quote led me to think of how, in midlife, we begin to feel the unease of change and the belief that too many doors are closing. Each time I read it, I get an immediate visual of someone looking longingly at a closed door, looking backwards at what’s done and gone. It may be that she’s not ready or willing to face what’s ahead. Or perhaps she’s not even aware that there is another door beckoning.

That makes me sad.

Our Options

When life hits us with challenges and changes it certainly feels like doors have closed and options are evaporating. And sometimes we’re too tired to go searching for the newly opened doors. I get that. And, while it may not always feel believable, what I do know is that we always do have choices, also known as doors.

We can:

Ignore the open door. Or continue to believe that there are no open doors for us. Feel sadness and despair.

See the door but feel fear about walking through it. Do nothing. More sadness.

See the door. Or doors. (There may be several.) Pause and step through with understanding.

That pause in the last option is a rich one.

A Potent Pause

A pause can be minutes, days or longer and here is what I have found to be true about it:

  • A pause is a rich time when we listen to our thoughts, observe and feel our way to choices. Because there are always choices. We can make them actively or passively, but they are always there.
  • It’s a period to process and integrate what has passed. When we do so, we can regroup, refresh and reorient ourselves to what lies ahead.
  • For me, pausing enables me to set aside my impatience and be objective and observant. I have aha moments and my body cues me as to the best direction.

What I’ve learned

As we listen deeply during a pause, we begin to understand that the first attempt might not be the final and that’s okay. At the same time, we know that inaction is rarely good. I’ve learned that life is full of trial and error and that we always have a second chance (or a third or fourth!) until our time on earth is over.

Life has taught me this many times. It’s why I pause. It’s how I remember what I know. When I believe there are open doors, they appear. When I trust my inner voice, I make wiser decisions. Those decisions are always the best for me at the moment. It may not always be what I expected. I leave myself open to wonder and surprise and I know there will be more doors.

Are you working through changes and looking for open doors?  I can help you with that. Contact me and together we will shine the light on the door that has opened just for you.

 

Don’t Be a Sunflower

I’m not happy, I’m cheerful. There’s a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them. ~ Beverly Sills

One morning I woke up thinking “be a sunflower”. I have no idea where it came from. I can’t remember any context, just the statement “be a sunflower”. Sound a little goofy? Maybe. But, for me, that’s an opportunity to follow a thread of thought and see where it goes. It piques my curiosity.

I love sunflowers. I love the way they grow and bloom and how their faces follow the arc of the sun in the sky. They signify happiness, warmth, abundance and loyalty. They feel so positive.

Why would we not want to imitate the sunflower!

Percolation

I started writing this post several weeks ago.  And each time I came back to it, I disagreed with myself. I began to browse books on my shelf; I searched for articles on positivity, positive psychology and Pollyanna. I looked for ideas that substantiated what I thought I’d set out to say: That we should only be looking for the positive in life.

But that wasn’t quite right. It brought to mind the quote by Beverly Sills. Where was the thread? I kept thinking and asking myself questions to help give shape to this amorphous thought that was trying to emerge.

The Shadow Knows

At the same time, I was reading Awakening at Midlife by Kathleen Brehony.  I came to a section called “The Shadow Knows.” “At midlife unconscious, shadow material erupts into our life.” She goes on to say how the emergence of the shadow is an attempt to bring balance to our personality, accepting ourselves as we are, “… coming to love those neglected parts of ourselves as elements of our own authenticity and humanity.”

Okay, now we’re getting closer.

Looking for Balance

I had always strived to be a happy person. If something knocked me down, I would put on my big flouncy Scarlett O’Hara hat, say fiddle dee-dee and leave it for another day. I’d put it in the “long bag we drag behind us”, so aptly described by poet Robert Bly.

Boy, was I out of balance! And, at some point it got to be a lot of work. More than it was worth.

I could see where being a sunflower and only following the light no longer served me. As I followed this train of thought I also realized that I had already done a lot of the work. Coaches, reading and a little bit of therapy had helped. I gave myself a little pat on the back.

Brehony suggests that this distortion is quite normal in our second half of life, when we begin “perhaps for the first time to see the “other”, the parts of ourselves that have long been ignored in favor of who we always thought we were”.

How gratifying to know that it was normal to throw off these old stories at midlife and open up to the parts I’d kept hidden; to attain better balance.

A Need for a Pause

However, that balance is not attained by quick fixes, but rather a Pause where we can explore and experiment with those other parts of ourselves that have been neglected.

That pause is a juicy place that includes light and dark, sun and shadow, clement and inclement weather. It comes bearing gifts for midlife.  It is the first step into a mindful second half of life.

I love sunflowers. But don’t be one. Our journey is rich and complex and the good news is that we do not have to travel alone! Contact me to find out how I might help you pause as you honor all your beautiful parts and create a path back to a whole you.

Please note that this is not intended to replace professional psychological help where needed. If life is okay but you feel there’s more I can help. If you are feeling despair, please seek a skilled therapist.

Find the Thread

Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.  – James Russell Lowell

What do we do with an idea?

I am rising out of sleep, not quite awake. It’s 4 AM. Half in/half out of a dream. Seemingly disparate photos slipping away. They get fainter and fainter. Just the sentence “Find the thread and follow it in” remains.

I grasp for the images. But they will not be caught. Pfft! Gone. The who, what, where and why go with them. Just the one line remains.

Find the thread and follow it in.

Writing in my head

I often wake to words that stay with me. I start writing in my head.

While I sometimes reach for something to write on, more often I don’t want to disturb the flow that runs so easily in the quiet dark. In the relaxed body state where I’m melted into the bedding, where my body hasn’t awakened but my mind is gearing up. Many of my blog posts start there.

How about you?

Where do things start for you? What quickens your imagination and shifts your thoughts to possibilities? Opportunities? A project in the studio or around the house, a job or life change?

What do you do with the idea once it arrives? Dismiss it or explore it?  How would it feel to grab that thread and see where it takes you? Recognizing where it starts and allowing your process to take over can be the difference between a dream realized and a dream deferred.

Once the idea is allowed to live, what is your process to get started?

Do you feed it with small questions? Talk it over with a supportive friend or coach? Do you allow yourself to daydream? (Yes, daydreaming is a productive activity!) Do you make a list? Do you sketch it out, mind map it, doodle it? Do you look around at what’s out there to find what you like and, sometimes more importantly, what you don’t like.

Most importantly, do you let it emerge in its time, like a butterfly out of its chrysalis?

For me, with writing, it is often starts in that half asleep state. Rather than dismiss it I let it take its own course. It could be hours or days before anything gets onto the page. That’s okay. I find that the theme will linger for a few days in my waking-up time and show me more. I also find that it will spark other ideas. Those spark more and so on.

Intentional Creativity

This is intentional creativity and it is available to us 24/7. In our dreaming and in our waking. When you’re aware of how ideas take hold – when you’re able to recognize your thread – you become aware of your creative process. This will take so much of the struggle out. Your awareness will provide a magic carpet that you can ride into anything. Your process is as unique as you. Go with it.

If you’d like to explore how a creativity coach (that would be me!) could help you with your process schedule a free discovery session. I’m a very good thread detective.

Kaizen: A Kinder and Smarter Way

Years ago, when my commute was almost an hour, I worked with a woman who lived nearby. What a happy coincidence! As a result, we began to carpool. She was the epitome of “all or nothing”. Even with her car’s heater. She would constantly turn it on and off. Too cold, too hot. (Hey, there’s a built in thermostat for a reason! I’d tell her)

She would make pronouncements about how she was going to quit smoking, lose weight and start working out – all beginning that day. I understood her “why”, however, I instinctively knew this wouldn’t work. I would ask her why she didn’t just start with one of those things and then add the others over time. Nope! Not a big enough gesture. Subsequently, within a few days, all those big plans would fade. A month or two later she’d drag them out again.

I hadn’t learned about Kaizen at that point.

Too bad.

When people ask me what Kaizen means I tell them it’s “a Japanese philosophy that means continuous improvement though small steps.” Sometimes I’ll add “small questions, small thoughts and small rewards.” That’s a quick and easy explanation.

However, nothing can be further from the truth. I just haven’t come up with a quick sound bite to explain the magnitude of Kaizen.

Kaizen is huge!

Ironic, huh?

Kaizen is about gradual, lasting change without fear, resistance, overwhelm or procrastination. Can you feel something start to unwind in you as you read the word without? (Oh, and there’s my sound bite!)

How does it work?

With Kaizen, change or goal achievement happens through the accumulation of small steps, questions and thoughts. Kaizen bypasses that part of the brain that throws us into the fight or flight mode, the mode that made my friend give up before she even started. It is intuitive and gentle but it is very powerful. It builds sustainable momentum. When you add principles of creative thinking that momentum becomes an evolving process that reflects who you are, feels more natural and is easier to continue. In Kaizen, small thoughts and questions allow you to act with wisdom as you build new habits.

Why do we need it?

There is such a pandemic of overwhelm, perfectionism, fear and resistance in today’s world! Everything needs to be bigger, faster, done overnight. Reactive, as opposed to proactive. Just writing this I can feel prickles of anxiety. Corporations want to do more with less and they want it faster; workers compete to come up with big ideas, big solutions, big innovations. They want home runs not singles. They don’t want to see that the more batters that get on base the better the odds of the win.

Looking for the big innovation overlooks the importance of the smaller steps, the building blocks, and the creative process of trial and error – all the things I use in my coaching.

Stop and think for a moment. How do you bring change into your life? How do you work toward goals? Have you, like so many, fallen victim to the fairy tale of overnight whopping success?

Would you like to experience this for yourself? Contact me for a 30 minute discovery call.

There’s a kinder and smarter way. It’s called Kaizen.

 

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