Archive for ‘Intention’

December 19, 2011

The Gift of Play

Bird whistles rockWhen was the last time you truly played? Did something fun simply for the enjoyment of it. No goals. No plans. No expectations. But also, active. Taking action without intention, simply for the amusement of that action, maybe to see what would happen. Did you play at all today?

Sometimes as we grow up, we forget how to play. Many times our children serve as reminders- however, what is play to children isn’t always satisfyingly playful to adults. Play dances at the edges of our developmental abilities. It can be enthralling to watch this and participate in this with children, at their level, but as ever growing and changing beings our edges like the dance as well.

Playing, in whatever form it takes for you, has many benefits- it reduces stress (which is well documented as a cause of many physical ailments), it increases our creativity, mental flexibility and focus. Play gives us energy. These are our edges as grown up people- the places where we are often challenged. Especially as parents. But do you know any adult who couldn’t use more energy, focus and creativity, and less stress? (You know, I do think I actually know a quite a few…and guess what? They play. Often.)

There is one caveat here. If we go into play time looking for benefits, we’ve turned it into something other than play. An assignment. A project. Something we do because it’s “good for us”. Yikes. I’ve noticed that I have a strong tendency to do this with my creative pursuits. Recently I began painting. My intention was to just have fun with it, and I painted an image that had been in my head for a while. It was fun. I did some more painting. Then I got ideas. I decided that I wanted to paint some more specific images. I wanted to use them for another project I’m working on. Can you guess what happened? I stopped painting. Somehow I didn’t feel the urge to pull the paints out again. I had turned my play into a chore. A project. Something that needed to be done. So much for the fun, energy, creativity and stress relief. But it’s also a fun juxtaposition. Play is only play when it’s done for it’s own sake. For fun. For the love of what you’re doing. Yep. Work can even be play.

So, how will you give yourself the gift of play? I will be pulling out my paints and a fresh canvas. No fixing that bizarre looking lizard. No grand attempts to paint that flame on the canvas I painted black, unless it feels like fun. Just me and some colors and some brushes and a blank canvas. Slap some paint down and see where it goes. But play can be anything- taking a walk down a different street, getting lost (literally or figuratively), making designs in the dirt (or your mashed potatoes), seeing what happens when….., making up a story about the people in the car ahead of you, jumping on the trampoline. Yes, it CAN be with your kids of course, they’re some of the best people to play with…. but give yourself permission to play without them as well!

Tell me how YOU are playing in the comments, or tell me what you’re doing about that ever so grown-up tendency to turn play into work. How are you turning work to play instead? And give others the gift of play (and good health, energy, focus, and creativity!) by sharing with the buttons below.

PS. If it’s the only way it will happen, schedule some time devoted to play. Pencil it in. Leave some time open for whatever strikes your fancy. Or, drop what you’re doing right now. Go play. I mean it. Go play!

December 13, 2011

The Gift of Nurture

This week’s gift is one that I know all of you amazing mamma’s out there give to others- generously, beautifully, wonderously- every single day of your existence. You are the goddesses of nurture. Holding your families in nearly every thought with love, concern, appreciation and understanding. Or at least that’s your intention and your touchstone- what you come back to even when life feels hectic, out of control, too much ….. and well, normal.

Nurture is also what we do. Giving hugs. Making meals. Showing our kids how- when they want to try something new or do what we can do. Patching up boo-boo’s with compassion, validation and a kiss. And being present with their heartaches… also, with compassion and validation. And knowing when a hug or a kiss won’t be helpful.

But we often do not nurture ourselves. We forget to do the things that make us feel loved and supported. We don’t keep ourselves in our loving, appreciative, understanding thoughts. Sure it feels wonderful to have someone else nurture you in some way- making a favorite meal, providing you with a clean bathtub and a warm towel, giving you a hug after you slip in the dog slobber on the tile floor and land hard- but we can provide ourselves with the same. (Okay, maybe not a hug, but a chance to rest or that hot bath after the last one…)

I challenge you to come up with a list of 3 ways you can nurture yourself this week, starting now. I have a friend who has filled a jar with pomegranate seeds, to be treasured at will. I like to do yoga or meditate outside. Or go to a beautiful natural spot and just breathe in the beauty. Take a walk, or a run. Just be alone. Nap. Borrow any of these, come up with your own and report back in the comments! For bonus points, tell me what you’ve appreciated about yourself today.

Know someone who could use the gift of nurture? Share the love using the links below….

December 6, 2011

The Gift of Permission

Your permission slipWhen I first considered what gift I’d like to give myself this year, permission was the first word to come to mind. What do I want permission for? To be more of a thriving creative force in the world. To do work that excites and fulfills me. To stop being critical of myself and seeing criticism in the words and actions of others. I am the only person who can give me permission for these things.

But why permission? There’s a formality to permission. A granting from an authoritative source. My generation, and those before it, have been trained deeply to look to an authority, someone who knows a great deal about a subject, someone who others also look to for information and guidance in that area. And the fact is that you are the best and absolute authority on you. Only you know your private thoughts and your inner workings. Only you truly know your greatest joys and fears. Only you know what is best for you.

Granting yourself permission is not only allowing yourself that thing that you want, it is declaring authority over your own life. There is no single more powerful thing you can do for yourself. Even if today you’re only granting yourself permission to take a walk in the woods, an extra long hot bath, or half an hour to release your inner artist. Giving yourself permission is empowerment.

So, what will you give yourself permission for today? For the holidays? For the new year and the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments!  Do you know someone who would benefit from giving themselves this gift?  Share the love. (links are right below!)

December 6, 2011

Gifts to Yourself- A holiday blog series

Sorry, forgot to wrap it....As much as some of my previous holiday posts may contradict this- I LOVE Holidays. Particularly ones with lights, their own music, stories, food, and traditions. But it’s also a time of year when many of us get so caught up in our duties as the creator of holiday joys that we forget to care for ourselves. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting holiday gifts to give to yourself. They will be linked below, so this is one place you can find them all, but if you subscribe to my blog over there on the right where it says “Get Updates by Email”, they’ll come right to your inbox each week.  They won’t cost you anything. They have no calories. They won’t even take much time. Play along and let me know in the comments…. there may be an extra gift for you from me when you do. Enjoy.  And share the love.

Week 1- The Gift of Permission

Week 2- The Gift of Nurture

Week 3- The Gift of Play

Week 4- The Gift of Rest

November 21, 2011

I Refuse to Survive the Holidays

Every year around this time I start noticing the magazine articles, tv talk show blurbs, and even blog posts about “how to survive the holidays”. While I know these can be incredibly helpful when you don’t know how to deal with your rude Aunt Marge or have backed yourself into a corner by saying yes to every event invitation that comes your way- complete with requisite cooking and gifting tasks (“gifts must be handmade” says the invite- oh yes, that sounds cool- until you realize you need to not only figure out what you can make, but actually make it, by next week.)…. this year every one of these tips has me both laughing and groaning. Putting “the holidays” and “survival” in the same sentence brings up images of harried women on a remote island, trying to forage and craft a “lovely traditional holiday” while competing in immunity challenges and plotting votes to exile their tribe sisters. The idea of “surviving” the upcoming holidays just seems equally absurd to me.

I have survived the holidays. Worn out, sick, grumpy and making up ugly holiday stories about how I can never do enough and my efforts are always thwarted or aren’t appreciated. No more. I plan to CELEBRATE! I will grab hold of joy and wave it boldly through the streets. I will appreciate everything around me and be delighted. Small things. Big things. Giving in delight and doing what is fun. Survive the holidays? No thanks. I think I’ll have fun and celebrate instead.

How? By refusing to do things that don’t feel good and running with what does. I’ve ordered Thanksgiving dinner. On Black Friday, I might go out – not to shop- but to observe the absurdity of it all and smile at everyone I see. Funnier than reality tv. My kids and I will snip paper snowflakes and cover things in glitter. It will be ephemeral and euphoric (or not ;-D, then I’ll stop). Impromptu holiday movie parties, with appropriately themed snacks featuring the 4 food groups- candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. Because it’s fun. I’ll plan a day to wrap gifts, because I love creating beautiful packages, complete with holiday chick flicks. I will take my daughter to do her holiday shopping- she’s so excited to do it. Perhaps we’ll make a day of it. And that’s probably it. No pressure. No obligations. No trying to be Martha Stewart or Mrs. S. Claus or June Cleaver or Molly Weasley (I mean, the woman has a wand. No muggle should even attempt that one!) Likely I’ll strike several of these things from the list. And I’ll do it gleefully. And joyously. And while singing out whatever tune strikes my fancy… whether it’s Deck the Halls, Caught in a Mosh or Blah, Blah, Blah. Because I’m celebrating…. life and love and light and everything. And celebrating feels good. If not, it’s not celebration.

So, what about you? How will you ditch survival and celebrate?

Lesley

ps. Somehow I feel like I’m missing out on that whole plotting thing…. but hey, I bet I can find some kind of joyous plotting to do…. hmmm….

June 10, 2011

Peace, Reactivity and Auto Repair

A few months ago I wrote about Being Peace, fully intending to write a follow up.  That follow up didn’t come to me right away.  But in the events of my life this week I’ve found even more to consider with the concept of being peace.

We’ve been road tripping this week- me and my girls.  Drove from SC to PA in one day and we’ve been hanging out at my parents since then.  Yesterday morning I noticed that I was feeling on edge.  Potentially reactive.  Score one for awareness.  I noticed.  I breathed.  I recognized that with the changes in our routine the girls and I were all a bit off kilter.  I got creative- even if “creative” simply meant creating a plan to run with for the day.  Noticing, breathing, moving on with the day.  It was good.  My older daughter and I went to run some errands.  It was a hot, hot day.  The air conditioning in the van wasn’t quite cutting it.  Hmmm.  Service Engine Soon light on.  Hmmm.  Observe.  Turn off the air.  Turn it back on.  Hmmm.

I’ll be completely honest.  At this point I could feel the panic beginning to well up.  It would be so easy to go into full blown hyper-freakout, where I can’t think clearly and have no patience or tolerance of any other requests, challenges, or needs.  I’m over 600 miles from home.  My van is my freedom.  I have plans to be in NY in 3 days.  How much is this going to cost and how much will I have to change my plans to pay for it?  Do I have the money?  Can I get it fixed soon, or will I need to rent a car?  Do I have the money for that?  Will I have to arrive late at conference?  How can I write when I’m feeling this tied up? I have writing to do!  AAAAARRRRRRRHHHHHHHGGGGGGHHHHH!  This was once my default setting.  Playing the “what if’s” into a nasty hairy thing- a big jumbled, twisted, knotted ball of awful that tends to sit right in the center of my body.   I need to shake it off just thinking about it.  And I did still have some of these thoughts.  Okay, all of these thoughts.  Even though some of them aren’t even real problems.

But I didn’t go into freakout mode.  I kept breathing.  I kept asking myself “what’s the next logical step to take?”.  I breathed.  I didn’t avoid my feelings.  I looked them straight in the… well….whatever part of feelings you look them in.  Yep.  There they are.  What next?  I didn’t waste any energy trying to make them go away.  I didn’t stuff my face (not sayin’ a piece of chocolate wouldn’t be nice!).  I didn’t yell at anyone.  I played a minimum of mindless computer games (okay, I do have a Solitaire habit that’s rather unfortunate).  I didn’t break out a bottle of wine.  I didn’t blame anyone or anything- didn’t get angry at myself, or my van, or anyone else.   I didn’t complain.  Or at least I don’t think I did.  But I probably drove my mom nuts with my thinking out lout.  I made some phone calls. I did some research.  I bought some fluids and parts and tinkered.  I was thankful for my van, for internet car repair message boards, for cheap auto parts and good mechanics.  Did some more research.  Made some more phone calls.  Went to a mechanic.

My van is safely operable, for now.  The permanent repair is set up for when I get back from NY.  I am feeling a great deal of relief.  And I’m also feeling thankful for this experience.  The repair itself is irrelevant.  I found out a lot about holding my own place of peace- the place of peace where I can see and observe my thoughts and feelings, accept them and even embrace them.  I avoided reactivity- which prevented much distress for myself and those around me.  As a mamma, as the one my children calibrate their emotional scales to as the underlying mood setter, that’s very important.  When I keep my peace, I help create peace.  Not once did I fall into the easy trap of “why does this stuff always happen to me?”.   Which is big.  Ultimately because it’s not true.  But also because the further I fall down that rabbit hole, the worse I feel, the more negative of a mood I set, and the less likely I am to see the good that is happening in my life.  And the less likely it is that my children will be able to see the good that is in their lives.

And so I’m left thankful and peaceful and looking forward to my time in NY among one of my favorite tribes, connecting with my amazing girls.  And looking forward to getting my car repaired… for probably only the second time in my life.  Pretty effing cool.

Until next time,

Lesley

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June 3, 2011

The Last-Minute Rock Star

At the moment I’m preparing for a road trip that will take me from SC to PA to NY and back again in the space of two weeks.  In my mind, someone who is truly great at this sort of thing would have a comprehensive checklist prepared, have a detailed to-do written (at least mentally) and would have had all the items that aren’t necessary to everyday life packed and ready to go by now- the minivan clean and maintained and ready to roll, home tasks that need completion before leaving nearly up to date and be ready to simply, calmly and joyfully put the stuff in the van and leave when the time comes.  Oh, and they’d definitely have the conference talk they’re giving in less than 2 weeks at least in a completed rough draft state.

My experience of this process is rarely anything like this.  Usually I experience a combination of procrastination and panic, with an underlying and continuous monologue of reprimands and reminders of how insufficient I am and how I’m doing it all wrong and how much of a loser I must be for not just doing the freaking stuff that needs doing, that culminates in me yelling at everyone to “just get the *&%$#! out of my way so I can get this stuff done and get at least a few hours sleep!” at about 11pm the night before we are planning a 5am departure.  Not an ideal situation, in my personal opinion- especially when I do not function well on less than 8 or 9 hours of sleep.  Any wonder last year’s incarnation of this trip had us all craning our necks along the highway to find a Starbucks? (when, of course, a green smoothie would be MUCH more of a help!)

So in the midst of my procrastination and panic this week I decided to do a little self-coaching on this subject.  In the process I remembered that I am a last minute person.  I function well doing things last minute and I rarely fall short of my own expectations no matter how much I’ve delayed and put off.  I recognized that what I dislike most about my usual pattern is not my last-minute nature, but the lack of trust I hold that I CAN do what’s needed in the time I have (I’m amazingly efficient when I’m motivated- a great illustration that tasks take as much time as we allow them!) and my lack of calm and peace in the process.  I don’t like being unkind to my family.  And I’m downright afraid of how unkind I can be to myself.  My “deer in the headlights” feelings of panic and inability to act are mostly about how much I’ll berate myself as I’m losing much needed sleep and yelling and then trying to fuel myself on sugar and caffeine.

I’ve decided that this year, I’ll prepare for our road trip in the usual way- acting as I feel the motivation.  Except this time, I’m choosing to trust in the fact that I always get it done.  I’m going to trust that I can do this calmly and without yelling at anyone, or mentally abusing myself.  I am going to invest in my well-being by saying no to others’ requests of my time and attention when they don’t align with my goal of a peaceful and calm packing process and departure.  Many of my children’s requests WILL align with this goal- they’re as excited about this trip as I am, maybe even more!  Some of them might not.  But I can feel good saying “yes, but not right now” knowing that we all benefit from peace and calm and trust that everything works out.  Ultimately, I’m going to step up and be a last-minute road trip rock star- flipping the bird at the reptilian voice in my head that is not really me, but an amalgamation of cultural expectations and past criticism that I’ve allowed to remain.  I’ll be kind and loving and roll on the wave of adrenaline I get when the time comes.  I’ll enjoy it.  I’m actually pretty great at this last minute stuff.  Time to own it.  Time to rock my last-minute capabilities and evolve them to a more peaceful and loving place.

So anyway, take what you can from this story and apply it to your own life.  Where do you berate yourself for being who you are, and what is the real problem with the situation?  How might a different thought change what you do and how you do it?  How can you be the rock star of who you are and bring it?

I’m off to do what I’m inspired to do today- just like I was inspired to write this post.  Rock on and let your stars shine!

Lesley

May 18, 2011

Be Amazed- a public service announcement

This week I graduated from  Martha Beck Life Coach Training !  I just realized I haven’t fully celebrated this.  I’m a bit stunned that it’s over already as it’s been an amazing 8 months.  Big congratulations to all my fellow graduates and big thanks to all the master coach instructors and Martha Beck herself- everyone’s participation has contributed to this being a life changing experience and I’m so appreciative of everything I’ve learned, all the challenges I’ve encountered, and all the opportunities for growth.  I’m just full of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you and all the experiences.  My next step is certification- I’ve completed most of my coaching hours, but still need some more.  Keep an eye out for how you can support me by gaining skills in supporting your own inner wisdom in my upcoming program (still in the planning stages!)  I’m in the process of writing my talk for the 2011 We Shine Celebration next month- “Finding light in the darkness- transforming shame, fear and self-judgment into freedom“.   Feeling lots of good butterflies on that one- about my topic, about the phenomenal group of people I get to spend the week among and about how much I get to learn and grow in the process.  Yay!  Now onto the actual blog….  Much love, Lesley

Last Friday I received an urgent reminder in the form of a circus performance.  Be Amazed.  Pay Attention.  Widen your focus and let it all in.  Believe in Possibility.  And here’s how it happened.

I’ve wanted to see a Cirque du Soleil performance ever since I heard of the group back in college (yes, those ancient years of the 1990’s).  This year the planets aligned, or whatever, to make it happen.  Affordable tickets became available.  My baby, the one in the picture who is now 7 years old, wanted to join me.  We made an afternoon of it- driving downtown to the arena, buying an overpriced soft pretzel, taking our seats.  Then as the show began, an interesting question popped into my mind- What is the point?  Why, when there are so many important things to do in my life, so many opportunities to make a difference and so much sadness in the world, would I spend a somewhat significant amount of my monetary resources and time to seeing some circus acts, no matter how freaking cool they might be?  Okay, so this is definitely the part of my mind that feels like I need to be productive and save the world- and that oddly enough puts so much pressure on me to do this that I end up doing little, if not nothing about it.  But I’m at the point where I can recognize these kinds of questions and just consider them.  I sat there and consciously decided that I was going to enjoy the show and not concern myself with answering that question.  I set an intention to simply be in the moment and appreciate the performers, as well as sharing this experience with my daughter.

And in doing so- in being present in the moment, in being appreciative, I found the answer to my mind’s question.  The point of seeing a performance, the point of these performers doing the show, the point of them putting their life’s energy into developing their unique talents and in the audience putting their life’s energy into buying tickets and showing up to see them is this-  Be Amazed.  Pay Attention.  Widen your focus and let it all in.  Believe in Possibility.  And what do all those things add up to?  Joy.  Or in Spanish, the title of the show “Alegria”.   In that performance there was so much with which to be amazed- the skills of the performers, their precision, the choreography, the music, the fact that no one collided, snapped in half or fell to their death (one trapeze artist DID fall during the performance- making me appreciate the systems in place to keep the performers safe).  And last but not least, that I liked the clowns.  Oh, yes, liking clowns is a pretty amazing experience for me.  I’m just not a clown person.  The show encouraged me to be fully engaged and widen my focus- with so many performers on the stage and so many details it was necessary to take it all in.  I’m sure I still missed quite a bit.  And possibility?  Did you know that it is possible to sit on top of one’s own head? That the human body is capable of this?  A week ago I would have said it was impossible.  Now I know better.  Makes me wonder what else I think is impossible that can be done.

I think this is the point of anything that seems to serve no logical purpose- to help us see the beauty and miraculousness of everything.  To help us live in a state of amazement and presence.  To encourage us to explore what is possible and reconsider what we thought was impossible.  I walked out of that performance with a renewed commitment to myself to be fully present and truly see what is around me, to be amazed at all of it, to play with possibility and keep a wide open focus on joy.  I’d say that’s not a bad investment of $60 and 3 hours at all.  Then again, we are free to be amazed and open and present and joyful in every given moment.  How amazing is it that I can sit in bed and write something that anyone can read?  How amazing is it that there are small feathered creatures flying and singing right outside my window?  How amazing is it that the baby in the photo is now a child who creates things and shares her own ideas?  How amazing is it that my husband and children seem find just the right ways to push my buttons so that I can access thoughts and beliefs that are limiting me and clear them out?  Pretty freaking amazing.

And so that is my public service announcement to the world, courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.  Be Amazed. Pay Attention.  Widen your focus and let it all in.  Believe in Possibility.

Enjoy!

May 6, 2011

The best (kind and loving) butt-kicking ever

Just a quick post and update, not even a photo as I’m transitioning to a a new computer and don’t have access to all of my files.  I’m also in the process of creating a new website and will be moving this blog there when it’s ready- whenever that may be.  Not rushing the process but letting it flow.  But I do miss posting here and your comments! So this will be an exercise in imperfection (thanks to my friend Lorraine’s coaching!) and just putting my thoughts out there.  Much love to all…      Lesley                                                                                                                   

Earlier this week I received a much needed (though I wasn’t aware of it at the time) and appreciated virtual butt-kicking from the amazing and insightful Martha Beck.  You see, I showed up to our class thinking I was having a pretty excellent day- but had submitted a few questions in my homework regarding rewards, as outlined in her book The Four Day Win.  Rewards just aren’t my thing.  I do things I love all the time and don’t make them dependent on doing other things first.   In the course of our conversation, Martha asked me how I would rate my day, the day I was feeling quite good about, on my body compass which is a measure of how my body is feeling about any subject  on a scale of -10 to +10, 0 being neutral.  Looking at my plans for the rest of the day and thinking “yeah, this is a pretty darned good day” I rated it a +6.   I was quite surprised to be told (kindly and lovingly)  that  a life lived at +6 is not a life fully lived- though come to think of it, I think her actual word was “pathetic”.  I was advised that if my life isn’t rating a +10, it’s time to make some changes.  Not only that, but that as a coach I have a sacred commitment to live my life at +10- that living in pure joy is what will most fully expand my ability to help others and be a force of change in the world.

Really?  My life is supposed to be totally, amazingly, absolutely freakin’ great? It’s not only okay to want that, but it’s my sacred duty?  Now wait.  I seem to remember believing this at some point in the past.  I was right?  Because a while ago I gave up that belief.   I got in the habit of looking for answers outside of myself and was surprised that I wasn’t finding them.  My life began losing it’s sparkle and I lost touch with the inner voice that once gave me hope.  Earlier this week, I thought that I had already fully regained connection with that inner voice.  I was able to rate an average day as a +6.  It was a vast improvement from the days in years past when I was lucky for my day to rate a +2 and they more often rated on the negative scale . So on one hand I was feeling slightly defensive, like “hey, I’m really doing so much better!” but on the other hand, hearing that it’s  essential to follow my deepest desires, dreams and joys on a consistent, moment to moment basis was a relief.  There was a part of me simply waiting for permission to allow myself that much happiness.  The message that +6 isn’t sufficient for a life fully embraced opened up a door holding back so much of what I love (including writing and helping others connect to their own inner voices and truth) – things I’ve held back with my own unexamined assumptions.

So I ask you- how is your day rating?  What passions and joys are you not allowing into your life?  Why?  What would it take to live a life turned all the way up to +10?  What can you do right now?  Go do it… here’s your permission slip if you need one (but go ahead and sneak out if that feels better) .  The world is waiting for you.

March 15, 2011

Conscious Rest

The past six weeks or so have been filled with delights and horrors, large and small. From tiny moments of absolute bliss sitting on my front porch enjoying our beautiful southern early spring to the devestation in Japan, from delightful birthday celebrations with my girls to a day spent semi-conscious and in pain, hugging a bucket, from reunions with friends to more time than I like playing single parent. And just about everything in between. My personal lesson throughout these weeks has been this- rest. My body has done a particularly bang up job of imposing it on me when I’m not being aware enough to create it. My work right now is developing an awareness of my need for rest and the means to create the kind of rest my body and mind need- conscious rest.

So, how to cultivate this awareness and allow rest? And what exactly does it mean to rest consciously? I’m curious about what those of you reading do to create this space and awareness. Right now I’m exploring and playing with it. I don’t have specific answers other than a sort of undefined swirl going through my heart and mind at the moment. And so I’ll leave this here… and take a few hints from my cat.

Restfully yours,
Lesley

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