I Am Human

IMG_3144Years ago, I read a quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.” This quote came to mind as I was reading Debbie Ford’s book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. In it, she talks about the importance of accepting our dark sides and finding the good in those aspects of ourselves that we hate. This has been one of the greatest lessons I have learned as a coach.

What are the “don’t be(s)” that you tell yourself? Don’t be mean? Don’t be selfish? Don’t be unkind? That’s just the beginning of my list, it can go on for pages. The fact is, there are times that I am mean, I am selfish, and I am unkind. And, there are times those behaviors serve me and/or serve those around me. When we begin to accept the fact that everyone, myself included, have both good and bad within us, we can begin to see that there is less that divides us than unites us. When you find yourself locking in on a judgment about someone else, take a moment to think about what circumstances could have caused you to take the same action or stance. Give yourself the same gift and see how it changes how you view the world and yourself. In the end, we are all too human.

 

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Start Where You Are

IMG_1823Do you remember Snoopy’s happy dance? That’s where I am right now. Yesterday I finally pushed through all the moving piles of stuff and created enough clear space in my studio that I can paint again. For those of you who are waiting for your artwork, hang in there, it’s coming. Often, to keep me in my work zone, I take the opportunity to listen to one of the many webinars that appear in my email queue. Samantha Bennett, from the Organized Artist Company, is one of my favorites. Last year, I took her course “Get It Done” and shared with you her encouragement to take fifteen minutes a day to work on whatever your dream happens to be.  Yesterday, she was promoting a new course and soon to be book, “Start Where You Are”. One of the pieces of advice she gave after asking participants to tell her what was stopping them from starting was to replace the word “but” with “and”. I don’t remember exactly how folks replied but the gist is — instead of “I wanted to start but my I couldn’t find my art supplies” reframe the statement to “I wanted to start and I couldn’t find my art supplies.” For me, taking it from an excuse to a statement of fact moved me forward.

I’ve said it before and I will keep on saying it. How we talk to ourselves and others matters. Have you paid attention to what you are saying to yourself lately? Perhaps this is the week to start. When you use “but”, replace it with “and” and see how it feels to you. When you say, “I am …. (pick a negative comment), follow it with a positive statement about yourself. Remember, you have total control here. Start where you are. Now.

Loving Ourselves

I just finished some very intense coaching training on fulfillment. There is no way to  participate in this type of training without experiencing transformation yourself…and I did. Taking a deep dive into our inner souls amidst tears and laughter, darkness and light, fear and joy, we emerged having  met our power and those parts of ourselves that love us, appreciate us and support us…that want for us to be our authentic selves and spread our light into the world. Marianne Williamson wrote

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

How awesome it was to experience this powerful lesson and to know that I can access those parts of me that allow me “to shine”. The parts that entreat me to I love myself and “not play small”. I can’t wait to give this same gift to my clients. It was fitting that one of my favorite songs started playing in the hallway during break after the last session. It was Jason Mraz’s “Living in the Moment”. I plan to take the words to heart today. How about you?

Setting Intentions

butterfly1I’m not very good at journaling. Despite best intentions, I start with great passion, writing daily and then eventually put the practice aside. Yesterday, I came across some writing from 2008. I had written on the first page the word metamorphosis and its definition: “A profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.” It was followed by a quote from T. S. Eliot. “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”

I was intrigued. The journal started with “Today I begin my transformation — releasing old patterns and habits, opening my heart and mind, honoring my body, recognizing the connections and immersing myself in that which brings me joy. I am indeed blessed on so many levels. It is time to revel in that. This is the time to be aware, be open and have faith as a new path emerges and I move towards my calling.” A few days later I wrote, “I started this morning reading “A Weekend to Change Your Life” by Joan Anderson. The focus today is on intention – to stretch towards something. ‘Intention can be a new way to embrace life – a positive attitude, a series of wild characteristics previously thought to be forbidden or unattainable. They can be one word each, or a series of words strung together. They come from noticing characteristics or qualities that appeal to you, just as I did by observing the seals. They can be verbs, nouns or adjectives; attitudes, actions, or feelings. An intention can even be be a color.’ My words are joyful, kind, spiritual, open, aware of the good, non-judging, positive, imaginative, creative, laughter, living every moment exuberantly, healthy. There will be more as I plant the seed in my head and heart. It will be interesting to see what springs forth.”

As I look back, I realize that this is where I made the commitment to follow my heart and not my head. I began to paint in earnest and I laid the foundation for becoming a coach to help others find their passion and follow their hearts. I set the intention to step outside of my comfort zone and open myself to possibilities. The process had its ups and downs but I can say, seven years later, that the journey is worth it. Each of us has so much to give. Consider this week setting the intention to undergo a metamorphosis. Find the words which describe who you want to be inside. Write them down and let them be.  You will be amazed at journey you will undertake.

Exercise Fifty-Seven

Have you been noticing the cycles of nature and life? We’ve been doing a lot of driving on the back roads and the concept of “laying fallow” has really been resonating for me. For those not surrounded by farms, the concept of “laying fallow” is plowing and harrowing the land but leaving it  unseeded for a period of time to allow its fertility to be restored. When I hit those periods where I sit in front of the computer and no creative ideas come forth, I like to think that I am laying fallow and as I wait my creative energy is being restored.

blog dreamsWhere is this rambling leading? A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, a former president of India, said, “You have to dream before your dreams come true.” This week, this is what I am going to ask you to do. Dream. Suspend judgement. Suspend disbelief. Forget about the how. Take out a notebook and a pen. Put on some uplifting music. Quiet your mind and write down your dreams. Is the dream too big, too far out of reach to write down? Write it down anyways. Remember? You have suspended judgement and disbelief for this brief period. Your dreams are the seeds that are waiting to be planted in fertile ground. For now, you are just gathering your dreams, like seeds, before sowing them. There is great power to giving voice to your dreams. Let them emerge and begin the cycle to grow and flourish.

 

Changing Seasons

I loved Hawaii but I missed seeing the leaves change color in autumn. If you think about it, the changing seasons mirror our creative cycles. Think of a leaf as our creative spark. A leaf falls to the ground to lay fallow and seed during the winter; it begins to sprout in the spring, lifting its face to the sun for nurture; matures and blossoms in summer; and in autumn bursts into its full, glorious color, and with the fall begins the cycle again. It gives me the hope and the knowledge that in the winter, when no creative ideas are in sight, that they are just under the surface, germinating, waiting to come forth and begin the cycle again. The falling of the leaf does not symbolize death to me, rather new beginnings. It lands with a gentle dance, returns to the earth to nurture the next generation of flowers and trees.

cleafCycles are important. How differently would you view current circumstances if you remembered that everything is a cycle? We are growing and dying every day; there is activity and rest, happiness and sadness; nurture and loss…nothing that happens is a permanent state. Each cycle leads to another. This week make a point of noticing the cycles around you. Imagine you are the leaf that falls to the ground. What will you give back to the earth? What will you nurture? Envision your roots growing deep in the earth. Who will you connect with? Feel yourself sprouting and opening up. What will you see with new eyes? Grow and blossom. Who will you share your gifts with? Burst into glorious color. Who will you share your knowledge with? Rest and wait to grow again. You are an amazing creation, full of life and wonder. Live it.