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Feeling Adrift

Drifting Boat
Image by Ruth Archer from Pixabay

One thing I’ve learned over the years of crafting what I now call my Multidimensional Life is to do more observing than reacting. Because what I have found is that that my initial reaction usually misses the mark. It’s more habit of thought than intuition. I was reminded of this recently when what seemed like a feeling of being adrift slowly revealed itself as an intentional letting go.

The Pause

My journey over the last decade or so has shown me very clearly how insidious habitual thinking is. As a result, I’ve learned that when I pause, the second (or third) thought is more accurate. Just like when I was learning to cross the street, lo those many years ago, I need to stop, look and listen.

It was the deeper listening that made me understand that what I was experiencing  wasn’t an untethering. Instead it was a grounding into my own Multidimensional Life. A letting go. Me doing the releasing, not being cut off by the outside world. An inner driven decision, not outward driven.

As it turns out, it feels good. So, I asked myself just what does this mean in the scope of my own MD life.

But first, a side trip into what a MD life is not.

Defining multidimensional

When we use the word multidimensional to define an object it means that it contains many facets. It is not flat; it has nooks and crannies, some obvious, others hidden. To me there’s magic in it. Each time we look, different aspects reveal themselves. However, not everything must be taken in at once.

When I talk about a Multidimensional Life, I mean the same thing. Not every facet needs to be in play at every moment. It is not an invitation to overwhelm. It is not intended to create a longer to-do list or attain the status of superwoman.

It is intended to be lived in conjunction with a pause which allows space, breath and discernment. It is being true to those things that are most important, not just urgent. We know the urgent will get done, but the challenge is to weave in the important, the meaningful, the joyful, the nurturing.

Back to my gradual untethering.

Once a month I connect with other coaches for a creative mastermind. There is a structure to it as we think out loud and tap into each other’s wisdom. I value these women and this time together and my nature is to be diligent about keeping every appointment.

But sometimes my MD life requires me to hit the pause button. Sometimes, I need to decide among various options and priorities. Sometimes, I have to tumble over to the side of me and what’s best for me at the moment.

That’s what happened recently.

When I think of the things that are most important to me, things that I need in my life, my outdoor space is high on the list. It doesn’t have to HGTV worthy, but it needs to give me pleasure when I look out my window or step outside. However, for the last 5+ years I have disappointed myself and been saddened by the neglect I inflicted on my garden. I had instead agreed to the ideas and priorities of others and put my joy of the garden on the back burner.

On the day of the mastermind call I had several things on my calendar: a coaching client, this blog post to start, reminder emails for my writing circle and editing of my own creative fiction that I would be sharing with another writer. It was a full day.

By the end of the afternoon, when I was due to get on our call, I was standing in my yard amid branches that needed to be cut up. I was in a groove and feeling good in the fresh air and sunshine. Then my phone alarm reminded me of the upcoming call.

Having and doing it all is not a MD life.

Joy whooshed out of me. Deflated, I said to myself “I can’t do it all” (habitual thinking). Self responded, “Why are you trying? What do you want?” (pause) Myself chose the yard and pruners. I never miss these calls. One time would be okay.

The having and doing it all is an unrealistic goal foisted on us by a productivity crazed outside world. It’s a view of women that would elevate us to superwoman (which is a load of you know what. It just means that we can take care of it all. Nothing new there. Move along; nothing to see.)

The illustration in this Star Ledger article really says it all. While the writer is talking about motherhood, much doesn’t change as we move into the second half of life. The baby might be a grandchild. We may be in a position now to hire help around the house, but we’re still are the point person, the hiring person, the one who deals with the details.

Oh, I’m sounding cranky. Actually, I’m very tired. Not a lot of sleep as I worry about a medical condition my husband is dealing with. Not Covid, thankfully; but definitely not a time to need to see a doctor.

But this is also part of a MD Life. The knowledge that things pass, we adapt, we can still get to those things that are most important. We may need to be more discerning but we can still get to them. We are not responsible for the world; we can accept help; in many areas we actually are dispensable. Does that sound harsh?

Choices

With a tip of the hat to Helen Reddy, sure we can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. We don’t have to, though. What is it you want? The bacon will still get cooked.

I chose to not attend this month’s mastermind. I know it was great and that I would have taken away more than I brought. But it was great and powerful for those who were there even without me.

Is it ego that drives us to try to do and be it all? Maybe. We think that we want to help, be useful and productive. Yet I suspect part of it is that we want to be looked at with appreciation, admiration. We want to be the hero of the story.

How about just being the hero of our own story?

Love

I had a college teacher who always said that the only thing in life that was non-negotiable was love. How about loving yourself as you love your loved ones. Get comfortable with feeling “selfish.” (You’re not.) You are tending to a very important life – yours.

In the end the feeling of being untethered, adrift, was really about being centered in what was important in my world. It was about more discernment, less fractured attention. It was about standing strong in my world and my priorities.

Try out the feeling of being untethered to the outside world. Anchor into your heart instead. Tether yourself to you.

A Journey of Becoming

The Journey Of Becoming
At the Seashore Original art by Donna Mills at Donna Mills Art

We are all on a journey of becoming. I used to think it was about growing up, but in fact it’s about growing. The world is a bit quieter and clearer right now. It’s a great opportunity to pause and see just where you are on your journey.

When I was in high school, and for many years later, my friends and I would ask each other “are we grown up yet?” It would usually come up as we celebrated deliberately belated birthdays. Our tradition was to delay, delay and then launch a guerrilla style celebration. We amused each other. What can I say? But on the silly card selected for the occasion, we would usually include that question: “Are we grown up yet?”

It was as if “grown up” were a place at which we would arrive. I’m not sure what we thought it would look like or feel like or how we would know we arrived. I do know that eventually we stopped asking and started living a grown-up life with all the normal accoutrements. We married, went to work, purchased homes; some had children, some married into children. We put our heads down and, well, I guess we grew up.

End of story? Oh, of course not!

In the introduction to his book “The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born To Be”, Mark Nepo mentions how the journey of becoming who we were born to be never ends. We don’t arrive. We grow.

As I read that, the question from my teenage years – about whether or not we were grown up yet – popped into my consciousness. We weren’t really asking about growing up; it was more about becoming a grown up. And, as Nepo reminded me, we don’t arrive; we continue to grow.

My friends and I are all mature, responsible women, now. But we haven’t finished growing yet. We’re still on the road.

On the journey

And it occurs to me that the journey of creating a Multidimensional Life never ends, either. A Multidimensional Life (MD Life) is one in which we tune in to what wants to be done on a deep level. It’s not a place at which we arrive. Rather, it’s a constant state of becoming, an ever evolving, dynamic process that heeds our inner wisdom as well as informs it. It’s an invitation to live from the inside out; from your magnificent essence. Yours. No one else. (They can ride along; they just can’t steer.)

It’s a time of liberation.

Liberation

As we move forward in this process of becoming, liberation asks for curiosity as well as hope. It asks that we put aside our comfort and discover the raw, unpolished beauty in the unedited version of ourselves. Liberation invites us to take small steady steps to create and express our truest selves. It reminds us that we have a deep well of wisdom; that there are possibilities of growth and transformation; that we have everything we need for this journey.

Paradoxically, there’s comfort in our familiar discomfort and liberation’s not always easy. It requires spiritual courage. However, in the end, it is so worth it.

Where do you begin?

Take a moment – now, if you can – and look up from your busy “grown up” life. Notice the road you’re on. Is it rutted and narrow? Uncomfortable? Are you ready for something new? If you’re not sure what that looks like yet, that’s okay. In the beginning the less certainty, the better. Just decide to start.

Questioning

Here’s a small question to nudge you. Don’t strain for answers. Just listen and let them bubble up.

Are you at a tipping point where your yearning for something truer to self surpasses the need for the safe and known?

Just being conscious of the question will begin a shift. Listening to your responses and the emotions it arouses will evoke more questions.  And, just like a tiny alteration in direction can ripple into a totally different destination for a ship, so too, will this questioning move you in new directions. You will become wakeful, attentive, liberated.

You’re not alone. We are legion on this journey of life.

Grab a partner for the journey

Don’t do it alone.  Contact me and we’ll talk about the nudges from your questions. We’ll draw on your creative spirit and to begin to look at your life as a journey of becoming. Together we can take the first small step into the rest of your MD life.

Benediction of Daily Necessity

The Benediction Of Daily Necessity
Wash Day Original art by Donna Mills at Donna Mills Art

This pandemic is causing me to look at some of my actions in a different light. To be a little kinder to myself. To understand that some of what I think of as frantic time fillers is actually what Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and With Others and founder of Amherst Writers and Artists, calls the “benediction of daily necessity.”

Our lives upended

Although I work from home and therefore often practice social distancing anyway, I am not immune to the effects of this pandemic.  Along with so many of you, I’ve had my world tilted, my routine disrupted, and am being denied many of the things I want to do. Fear lingers on the edges of everyday. But I must add that if this is the extent of my hardship, I’m very lucky.

I had been rolling along finding a lovely steadiness in my Multidimensional Life and now it feels upended. I had been feeling better about the balance among the areas important to me: my business, my personal life and my creative life. It was a hard-won goal.

And now I find myself rearranging furniture, baking, cleaning the most obscure places and things in my home. (Do you know those tip-out trays in front of the sink that stores sponges? SOS pads make them quite dirty and, well, it just needed cleaning!) If I could watch you reading this, I suspect you’re nodding and smiling. Life is curious at the moment. Distractions abound.

The riches in ordinary life

And actually, this is necessary as we regain and maintain balance. “Ordinary life, after all, informs our writing, heals our spirits, and keeps us from going mad,” Schneider says. We need that “benediction of daily necessity.”

She expresses this idea within the context of writing. But it applies to anything and everything. In her case, she wanted to write. (And quilt, make jams and jellies, bake bread and, of course, raise her four children.) But she finally realized that she couldn’t have it all. She was off balance; she wasn’t being faithful to her art.

A Multidimensional Life is a work of art

Schneider made the decision to put all else aside and just focus on writing. She never took her sewing machine out again. From that focus came books, poetry, a libretto, and a model of writing workshops that spread across the world and encouraged facilitators to go into suburban living rooms as well as into less served populations and give them voices.

There was a contraction, a narrowing of focus, a going within. Like an oyster with a grain of sand. There was a Pause and time to listen. Then there was the unfurling of the layers of her own wisdom, the following of her heart, the balance of the inner artist and the outer woman.

One layer holds many layers

This is the essence of creating a Multidimensional Life. And, while some might argue that writing is just one layer and not multi layered, I would respond that the layering can come in the outcomes. Her life unfolded in ways that couldn’t be predicted in the beginning.

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what, next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.” -Agnes de Mille

This is all part of living a Multidimensional Life. The fact that you don’t have to know how it’s all going to work out. The conviction that you have the wisdom to focus and go within. The intimate knowing that a shift in your foundation doesn’t topple you.

As Schneider also said “the achievement of the mature artist is a balanced life.” In the second half of our life, as well as in times of crisis, we keenly feel the need for balance. This is our time to fully step into a balanced Multidimensional Life. It is a work of art. It is your crowning achievement.

How are you achieving balance? What are you putting first? Is there a part of you that you aren’t being faithful to?

There are lots of things to distract us from the unique art of our lives. And some of those activities are necessary. But the true challenge is screwing up our courage and going inside. It’s asking our heart what it wants most. And then it’s taking the first step towards that. Only then will we have the balance we all crave.

What does your heart want?

If you’d like some help hearing and articulating what your heart wants most, in noticing what parts of your life are missing right now, contact me for a 30-minute discovery call, a free immersive experience where you will find and take your first small step.

It’s All About the Oars

The weeks leading into the recent holidays reminded me that every now and then I need to pull my paddles out of the water and drift into the wider stream of life. I have to ship my oars, take a pause and just be where I am: slow down and recover from illness; be part of a large extended family as we honor the passing of one of our elders and celebrate a life well lived; host a holiday and remember that this is all part of my rich Multidimensional Life.

Living a Multidimensional Life

Creating and living in a Multidimensional Life is the journey of my lifetime. It is ever evolving, expanding and twisting and one I’ll continue till my feet wear out and my eyes fade.

It wasn’t always this way. Where once I thought I had to be single minded in my pursuits (usually work) I now know that I want to flow among the various layers of my life that are important. The last 15-20 years of my life have been a time of gradual awakening.  I’ve been shedding elements of my old self that no longer fit. I’ve been unraveling the bindings that have held me in a state of discomfort.

It is a work in progress.

Managing the Oars

I also know that when I don’t actively and wakefully manage those oars, I can easily drift into the reeds or, even worse, into someone else’s stream. At the same time, I can’t just set a route and go on autopilot. Navigating involves monitoring conditions and adjusting my course. Otherwise, I’d be flung onto a strange shore and knocked back to sleep.

Does this sound familiar? Did you ever have a period in your life – days, weeks, sometimes longer – where life seems to have other plans? I’m guessing you have, just like me.

Take November for instance. I love that month. I love the crisp weather. I love the occasional bonus warm day that invites you to plant those last few bulbs, to cut back what needs cutting back in the garden and, if I’m really ambitious, to divide and move a few perennials. The garden is one of those layers of my life that is essential.

I also love Thanksgiving and have been hosting it for over 20 years. The ritual and routine of this holiday are a valued part of my life.

This past November began with a death in my extended family. A wake, a funeral, a repast. My large Irish family gathered in support, prayer and eating.

Shipping the Oars

And those few days throw me off my game a bit. There was little time for my normal routine; trying to fit writing in was a challenge and watching what I ate necessitated a little more vigilance and a lot more relaxation. But life is to be lived. Okay, lift the oars, adjust your course, slip into that stream of life.

And in the gathering and hugging, someone shared a lovely virus. It latched on to my husband and I and traveled home with us. We had a two-week stint of “hot potato” with sore throats, congestion and general malaise tossed back and forth. This lasted through all the pre-work and prep for Thanksgiving. By the end of the big day I had no voice and my left ankle had gone out on me. I was limping and croaking.

I chose to give myself permission to hit pause on my normal exercise routine (but, hey, window washing should count for something!) I let go of my target word count in my writing. I sneak in what I can.

The day after Thanksgiving, for better or worse, I attend our annual Poinsettia buying day, a tradition that we’ve shared with another family for over 30 years! This satisfies my desire for connection. (And a lunch that doesn’t involve turkey!)

On Saturday I purposefully dip my oars back in the water and navigate to the shore for a few days. I rest the oars on my lap.

I crash.

Not Fighting the Flow

I don’t fight the flow of life; I move with it while observing it. But I remain aware of my navigation tools. Those oars are just resting on my lap. They are there to engage when I’m ready and until then their presence reminds me that I have choices, that there are times to make things happen and there are times to let things happen. I get to choose.

The reality is that, as much as I take comfort in my own routines, I am not an island. I am part of a larger life. These times that necessitate a pause or a redirect are actually another layer of my multidimensional life. They are part of the ebb and flow of my life’s stream, not an eddy that spins me around and sucks me down an endless drain.

As long as I remember that I get to navigate, to dip and ship the oars, and that going off course is temporary and sometimes intentional, my Multidimensional Life flows on.

Dipping the Oars Again

Eventually, I put the oars back in the water and slowly find my way into back into my stream. I maneuver the paddles, adjust the rudder and choose the appropriate speed.

I am awake and still creating and living my Multidimensional Life. It beckons with all its beauty and riches. I am alive for the journey.

The Art of Listening

Listening
Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

Let me listen to me and not to them. – Gertrude Stein

Listening is an art. It’s a vital part of communication. We listen to learn, to understand, to make the other feel witnessed.

But how well do we listen to ourselves?

Our minds are full of chatter. They’re also full of different voices. The voices of our parents, teachers and peers. The voice of perfectionism, fear and deprecation.

The other voices continue in an endless loop and do quite a job in the background. They become part of the noise that turns white that we barely notice. Make no mistake, though, those voices are orchestrating a good part of our lives.

At the same time our wise, true voice speaks. However, too often we minimize that voice and magnify the others.

Until we listen, nothing changes.

I recently noticed my inner commentary on my lack of ability to play. It made me sad. I thought I had lost the knack. That I had forgotten how to have fun. That I was a dull girl, all work, no play.

I noticed because I had stopped and listened. I hit pause. I didn’t dismiss it or brush it away. I really listened.

Here’s what I heard:

Play is frivolous. It’s what you do when your work is done. Furthermore, adult fun involves high energy, adrenaline-soaked activities that have to be done somewhere “away” and costs money. Just like those TV commercials and ads for “active seniors”. Therefore, my play/fun is too small and insignificant and, consequently, not worthy of my time. Hey, go big or go home, right?

Wrong!

That was the loop that was running in the background. That was the driver. Therefore, if I was going to hear my wise, true voice I needed to move the conversation down to my heart.

Here’s how I reframed the conversation:

Play can be that thing I’m already doing after I’ve put it into a different light. It can be, lighter, less linear, more whimsical, pleasurable, silly, intuitive. My play is specific to me and anyone else I choose to have as part of the activity. It is not what I see on those pharma ads for seniors or what I see on Facebook or Instagram. Those feel shaming. Play can be fun; fun doesn’t need to be play. Play for me could be coffee and good conversation with a sister that includes laughter and silliness; a walk at the lake with a friend as we compete with our last best pace. It could be a satisfying yoga class. Play is a state of mind.

Here’s how Diane Ackerman defines play in her book, Deep Play.

“The spirit of play is spontaneity, discovery and being open to new challenges. As a result, it allows one to happily develop new skills, test one’s limits, stretch them and then maybe refine the skills and redefine the limits.”

That feels so much better. Play is not always idle; it reaches deep inside and moves us.

Getting back to listening.

If you paused and really listened to your wise and true voice, what would you learn? Would you discover that there is a tape running that is sooo out of date? Would you gently let that old chatter go (or maybe dropkick it to the curb? I don’t know how tenacious it is!)

I know you will learn something vital. For instance, you may learn that you, too, are looking at an idea through someone else’s lens and that the view doesn’t work for you anymore.

Pause and listen more often. Just be aware and noticing. You might be surprised at what you hear and how much lighter you feel when you change the tape.

As always, if you need some support as you hone your listening skills, please contact me to see how we can work together to assemble the small steps that will move you back to your own wise and true voice.

Creative Expression and What We Ache For

Creative Expression Brings Us To What We Ache For

Over the years, I have personally experienced how creative expression opens us up to the liberation found in discovering and following our truest yearnings. A recent article led me down a train of thought that brought this home to me again.

It was an article by Jaleh Bisharat, Co-founder/CEO at Naked Poppy, called “10 Books That Changed the Way I Think About Business”.

First, I chuckled as I am reminded of the magic in numbering. This many life hacks… days to…, habits… and yes, so many books.

But then I gave thought to the books that have had a meaningful impact on my life. There’ve been many. But one stood out. It was one that opened me up to the creative being that I am and became part of my own journey to finding what was truly meaningful for me.

The one that floated to the top

Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s What We Ache For fills the bill on so many levels. (Hey, why knock myself out to come up with a compelling “number”, I thought.  One is good.)

Dreamer’s book is chock-full of beautiful prose. It offers reflections and exercises that deepen the reading experience. And it goes to the heart of what I believe to be the most important mission in the second half of life. That is, liberating ourselves to tend to those things that are truly important and using our innate creativity, our own creative expression, to weave them into a Multidimensional life.

While I won’t say that reading this book was a triggering event in my life, it was definitely a spurring one.

A well worn and loved book

I read it approximately 10 years ago and I’ve picked it up many times since then. For coaching programs or writing workshop ideas. For my own writing inspiration. It is a book that I need to have in hard cover, that I can rub my finger along the rough paper as I read. I highlight and underline and put notes and exclamation marks in the margins. I engage with it as I read it or skim through it or open it up at random to see what wants to be seen. It has post-its and random pieces of paper to hold a place and the end flaps tuck in between pages to remind me where I want to go next. It’s the whole enchilada!

Doing creative work allows us to follow the thread of what we ache for into a deeper life, offering us a way to cultivate a life of making love to the world.

– Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Yes! Following that thread is my mission in my second half of life. Cultivating a deeper, more meaningful (to me) life and honoring the tug in my gut, the quiet voice in my heart. Having the spiritual courage to do all this while living in my world and doing my own work.

This is what I want for myself and, if this resonates with you, it’s what I want for you.

What do you ache for?

Have you also felt that ache, that tugging? This is what my 6-week program, You Are The Artist of Your Life is about. It will ease that ache, gentle that tug and begin your journey into a more integrated, Multidimensional life that is unique to you alone.

Want to learn more? Join me Thursday, August 29th at 6:30 pm ET on Zoom for my free monthly call. This month a I’ll be talking about my upcoming workshop You Are the Artist of Your Life. We’ll get to meet; you’ll get a taste of what the longer program will be like. One person will have a chance for a mini coaching session.

Begin your own journey to a deeper life!

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.

 

Finding the Incredible You

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

– Carl Sagan

If you live in New Jersey, road work is a fact of life. The sun rises, Taylor pork roll is fried and the road crews set up for the day. Something is always being taken apart and put back together; milled and paved; big projects (think new bridges), small projects (paving your street…in fact, they just set up camp at the end of your driveway.) Detour signs take us on new roads, concrete partitions (ironically called Jersey barriers) shunt us from lane to lane, sometimes leaving our desired point of exit in the rear-view mirror. We’re used to it. We don’t particularly care for it, but we’re used to it.

I have found that the path through life can present similar obstacles. Yes, I know that the idea of life as a highway isn’t new. The journey, the road, the way. But it’s still a good analogy.

And the idea of waking up to the best on-ramp to your next stage of your life? A good parallel and oh, so necessary. (I prefer the idea of an on-ramp. It feels like movement to something new rather than an off-ramp which feels like the journey is over.)

My Goal

What I have learned is that if you don’t look ahead and form even the slightest idea of your desired destination, you’ll end up on an eternal round-about. Have you ever gotten stuck on one of those? So frustrating.

For me, the goal is and continues to be to building and maintaining an on-ramp to each next stage of my life. It started as an unconscious yearning close to twenty years ago. Since then, I’ve had to make several U-turns. I got proficient at driving in reverse. I learned to pay better attention to where I was and where I was going. (Believe it or not, I have missed work exits, not once but several times. Being attentive really helps!)

You plan ahead for a road trip, right? Why not do a little for your one, precious life? Seriously, where is the benefit in the struggle?

If we stay with the analogy of the road and visualize the crisscrossing winding arrays of possible directions, here are a few things to consider:

The speed at which you’re traveling.

Like the White Rabbit who’s always in a hurry, are you always in motion? No time, no time…  What might you be missing as you rush through life? Possibilities can be hidden in plain sight as you speed by.

Take the time to pause and listen to the quiet voice inside that is nudging you in your best direction. Be curious about where you’re going and understand that it is an unfolding process.

What you bring along.

What are you toting around in your bag, backpack, trunk of your car, the untended places of your heart? The old messages about what you can and can’t do; should and shouldn’t do. The ballast that weighs you down. The rules of the road that don’t work anymore.

What is one small thing you can offload now?

The clarity of the view

Sometimes we drive along squinting through our windshield, when all we need is a little Windex.

What are the things you say to yourself that get in the way of what’s in front of you? What old beliefs are coloring your current experiences? Are they true? Maybe they were then, but are they still?

What might clear that view, even if just for a mile at a time?

A vision of where you’re going

 Even if your vision of the journey is not fully formed, there is usually an overarching element in your yearning that is non-negotiable. Freedom, beauty, creative expression, relationships, family, out-reach, advocacy.

When you know what is essential, you will tune in to the possibilities that will provide those elements.

The Goal

The goal in all this is to home in to your personal journey so you are able to recognize your on-ramp to what is next for you. Pausing and considering your direction will set you up for a rich and meaningful next part of the road, your second half of life, retirement or whatever is next for you.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate strategy. It definitely shouldn’t be overwhelming. It should always be a work in progress.

What part of the incredible you is waiting to be known? Contact me to find out how I can help.

What to do when what you’ve always done doesn’t do it for you anymore

Discover Possibilities In Midlife

When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.– Thomas Edison

Do you feel like possibilities are dwindling in midlife?

You’ve been doing what you’re doing for 30 years or so. There was a time when you were passionate about it. You leaped out of bed in the morning ready to conquer the world. Can you remember that? You were a crusader. There were windmills to tilt at. You were learning tons of new things and gobbling up new experiences.

Now, you’ve hit a certain age and you feel like your spark has gone out. At a minimum, the pilot light is flickering. How do you find new possibilities?

Something has shifted.

As a result, it’s gotten harder to drum up the enthusiasm that had once filled you up. Now many mornings bring dread instead of excitement.  Something has shifted. Is it just you?

No, I don’t think so. I’ve been there myself.

Wayne Dyer said “change your thoughts, change your life.” I used to think that meant I had to change the way I thought about my career. And while that might work for some, it didn’t work for me. For me, in midlife, the thoughts I needed to change were about what else I could do. I needed to see doorways, not brick walls. I needed to widen my lens.

What to do?

First, I would never, never, ever suggest you quit what you do every day. Even if it’s an effort.

But what I always, always, always would suggest is that you step back and Pause.

Some things to do in a Pause.

Do a little exploring and excavating.

A small, Kaizen-like question is a perfect place to start your explorations. Stay away from the question that begs to solve all the problems of the world. Instead, make it smaller and more immediate. Frame it in a positive way. Ask what lights me up as opposed to why am I feeling so flat. (How you frame it is important because your brain will supply responses to the negative also.) Ask it frequently during the day without any expectation for an immediate response. Your brain will grab onto it and go to work. Answers will pop up. The real trick here is to be paying attention and not censoring. Be curious.

Journal. Writing is a powerful tool during a Pause. In The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron prescribes 3 pages, longhand, to be done each morning upon rising. This is ideal and, if you can, certainly start there. However, if this is too daunting, you’ll likely do nothing. In which case it’s better to begin with very small Kaizen-like steps. Promise yourself to write for 1 minute. Ask your small question on the page; do a very quick brain dump of what’s on your mind. If you go longer, that’s great. If you only do one minute you’ve still kept your commitment. As this becomes habitual, stay on the page longer.

As you expand your writing time you will get to a point where you think you have nothing more to say. At that point nudge yourself very gently to write a little more. I promise you will go deeper.

Is what you do for a living leaving you deflated?

Can you explore your current industry? Is there a way to shift the focus of your work, move to a different area of your organization, take on a different responsibility, learn something new? What opportunities are there? Often compensation becomes a factor here. If a reduction in pay is really necessary, put pen to paper and figure out if it’s feasible and worth it. How long would it take to get back to your previous level and what would you gain in the meantime?

Do you have a mentor or a trusted colleague with whom you could confide your frustrations and concerns? This person might be able to role play with you as you practice asking for what you want. She can also provide a different perspective on opportunities as well as an objective look at you.

Do a skills and experience inventory. Dig in to what it is that has made you successful. Maybe more of a functional resume. Where else can those skills be used? Get creative here. And, don’t forget the volunteer work you’ve done: the PTA, the fund raising, the sports coaching, even the family event planning. All of this has combined to make you a unique package.

Or is it something else?

There’s also the possibility that the problem isn’t what you do each day, but rather what you don’t do. Have you over-fished your personal pond? I’ve been there. It ain’t pretty!

More about that next time.

As always, if you need a guide or a nudge contact me to find out how I might help ignite that spark.

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