Archive for ‘Wholeness’

May 28, 2011

The awesome of introverts (and extroverts too)

I’ve been having a funny experience of my own introversion this week.  Right now I’m happy as a clam to curl up in my shell and just be- in solitude, able to dip down into my well and refill my cup, to be refreshed and to live largely below the surface.  I’m also noticing the voice of my social self- that part of me that’s out to please others with little regard for how I’m really feeling- and how it keeps telling me that there’s something wrong with wanting to feel refreshed and fulfilled, that it’s weird that being alone is fulfilling for me, that others will be displeased with me if I choose to pass on social events or small talk, and that I have no business wanting solitude because I’ve chosen to be the parent of three children.  My social self can be quite judgmental.

I began to ask myself what is awesome about being an introvert?  How do introverts give back to the world in ways that perhaps extroverts do not? (though of course extroverts have their own gifts… I just don’t know what that’s like, being an introvert and all…)  In my moodling on this I made the mistake of doing a Google search.  What I found was that even on sites that intended to extoll the virtues of introversion, I was bombarded with negative assumptions I hadn’t even considered.   Talk about sending that social self voice on a field day?  I hadn’t even realized all the horrors we introverts are inflicting upon ourselves and the world- OMG, WE MUST CHANGE NOW!  Just kidding.  I closed my browser toute de suite.  This was not what I had in mind at all. Luckily I found my answer after a few minutes of quiet contemplation (just like an introvert, ya know?).

For introverts, recognizing that we’re energized by solitude and deep relationships gives us the chance to provide ourselves with this gift.  When we work within this nature, knowing how to fill our sails and fuel our passions, we are best able to step out into the world and share our gifts.  We can also share our passions in an introverted way, by working alone then sending our creations out into the world or by sharing them with just one person at a time.  When we don’t give ourselves full permission to replenish our fuel, when we don’t accept this in ourselves and relax into it, when we continually nag ourselves to be different,  we’re more likely to feel the world is a hostile place and retreat further-  not replenishing our energy,
not accessing our passions and not able to share them with the world.

And then it hit me.  I bet extroverts experience the same thing in an opposite package!  I’m guessing that when an extrovert doesn’t interact and surround themselves with different people and ideas and energies, they are less able to reach inward and access their own passions and muses. (extroverts- can you confirm this?)   So the most wonderful thing about being an introvert- or an extrovert- is simply in knowing who you are, what fills you up, how to access your highest self and share it with the world.  It looks different for introverts and extroverts, but ultimately it’s what allows each of us to thrive.  And how freakin’ cool is that?

Until next time- wishing you the space to be exactly who you are,

Lesley

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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.

February 4, 2011

Immersed in life…

I suppose one could say that I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties, however what has been happening here is life.  Nothing more, nothing less. My word of the year is immerse, and as much as I enjoy spending hours writing, editing and posting (and writing, and writing, and writing some more) for the past few weeks I’ve been immersed in living.  Big, beautiful, satisfying, delicious life.  I’ve been snuggling with my kids, helping them figure out games, reading to them, and having all kinds of interesting discussions.  I’ve been spending whatever time I can with my husband- between our jobs time together has been limited, and we’re connecting more knowing that once he is settled in his new job he will be less preoccupied with work while at home.  I’ve been working.  I’ve been gardening- enjoying the feeling of being rooted to the earth with open skies above me.  I’ve been cooking and experimenting with my own recipes for vegetables and daydreaming about how I’ll use the ones from my gardens this summer.  And I’ve been coaching, being endlessly inspired by the amazing people my clients and friends are- and in awe of how universal our struggles are and how perfectly the work we’re all doing meshes together to create this tapestry that is living and being human. 

Life is full, and I’m soaking it in.  Today, as it’s very chilly and wet, I’ll build a fire that my family can gather around.   We’ll have pizza and smores- or roast hot dogs over the fire.  My girls will jump on the mini-trampoline I brought down from the attic this morning.  We’ll read some stories, watch something on the tv (who knows? something from the dvr, or a movie, or someone will play a Lego game or Ocarina of Time).  I’ll snuggle up with my nearly 11yo and we’ll hang out and talk and perhaps we’ll be spurred on to new adventures- as the old new adventures seem to have lost their appeal.  Perhaps we’ll study Japanese together and laugh at our attempts to speak it correctly.  Or string together nonsense sentences of words we learn because they’re fun to put together.

In other words, we’ll be living. 

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.  I know I will.

Lesley

January 21, 2011

Illusions

I’m recycling an old post of mine from an email list this week- edited slightly to make some kind of  sense separate from the conversation.  I’m just tired and decided that rest is my priority at the moment.  And I sort of like this piece of writing.  My apologies if you’ve seen it before, and many thanks to anyone I was paraphrasing in the original (much much love to my shiny peeps!).  Have a lovely, restful, joyful, wonderful week everyone!

For years I have been trying to find the way to truly feel and embrace and embody the kind of parent I have wanted to be.  But knowing something and living it are two very different things.  I struggled, I strived, I read, I thought- and I think I know what was missing through all of it.  *I* was missing.  I think a lot of Moms who are drawn to gentle, connected parenting are those who are “pleasers” by nature or circumstance.  We want everyone in our lives, particularly those we love, to be happy.  We want to support their happiness, we want to help fulfill their needs, but we forget that we also have needs and desires and sometimes want support for our own happiness. 

 In the mainstream this so often turns into a rigid “I need to have my needs met, to hell with yours” (and I have seen this approach taken on by parents who began with the intention to be kind, gentle, loving and connected and then burnt out because they’ve ignored their own needs for so long).  This is often aimed at children, particularly infants, but it permeates interactions with everyone in their lives.  I think for those of us who have chose NOT to take that route, it so often results in carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Often this leads to a sort of under the radar blaming energy- the martyr role- which creates a repeating cycle.

 It really was only in the past few years that I realized that it is not my job, or purpose in life, to make the people I love happy.  As it’s quite literally impossible to MAKE someone happy- happiness is entirely an inside job.  This puts pressure on everyone.  (if my job is to make you happy, your job is to be happy, NOW DO YOUR JOB!) Then it becomes a blame/guilt/shame cycle.  I have finally learned that to support and uplift and be there for those I love does not mean “make them happy”- and I think many moms in this cycle misinterpret the idea of connected, supportive parenting in this way. 

 To support and uplift and be there for those I love means I create a foundation.  I am strong and clear and loving and kind.  And to do that, I need to make sure MY needs are met.  Back to what I said before- this does not mean “I have needs, screw yours”- it means that to be of any use to anyone, to be able to serve our children and the world in the best way we can (which does not mean “making them happy”) we need to be well cared for- and we need to do this ourselves. 

 We need to be happy and be gentle with ourselves, get enough sleep and physical activity and nourishment (both the physical and dare I say “spiritual” kind).  We need to nurture our own connection to our wise selves- not to the exclusion of others, but to the benefit of others.  The love we send out to the world is diminished if we are not already saturated in it ourselves- self-love, self-care.  It’s like the concrete that creates a strong foundation for a building- it allows us to then support and uplift those we choose to carry with us. 

 Maybe those of us who are strongly left brained are more prone to this – not automatically connecting these things, because they exist in the more feeling realm? (I consider myself strongly integrated brain-wise- but usually my initial processing, my default processing is left brained- logical and linear)  We carry the weight (sometimes quite literally- or at least in my case- and I think there’s a huge connection between these revelations and the healing path I am on now- I am both literally and figuratively letting go of the weight that’s holding me down *updated note- I did begin a personal wellness journal blog this week, which can be found here)- and it’s not something you can learn, I think, from a “thinking place”- it’s a “feeling place” thing. 

 And it does come down to honoring and accepting, recognizing and feeling what you are feeling- walking away from those mental constructs we create because we’re so AFRAID of what those feelings might do to us- that they might be too much.  I used to think I was flawed because I couldn’t just “get over it”.  And that’s pretty much the opposite of validation.  Not validating our own feelings makes it awfully challenging, if not impossible to validate anyone else’s.  And when you’re busy trying to “get over it” the kids’ joy and silliness can’t even reach you- the self-invalidation is like an invisible wall- like an awful version of casting a “protego” charm around yourself and living inside it- separated from everyone and everything else by an invisible force field.  Sure, nothing can hurt you, but nothing can touch you either. 

 I’ve known for a while I was one of those people- one of the “try-ers”- but have been at a loss how to get out from under that cloud, that weight, the burden of Atlas- which is something like “Hey, I’m barely avoiding being crushed over here- I’m okay with it, really- I’m smiling- but please don’t be unhappy because then this will actually crush me as I try to help you”.  I’ve had to make a significant investment in myself- to heal, to trust, to rest, to feel.  And hey, it turns out that the world I was carrying around- it was a movie prop- an illusion- it was pretty darned heavy, but I was never actually in danger of being crushed- just seemed that way.

p.s. can you find the teenager in the photo? 

January 5, 2011

Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote (oneself) fully

One of my intentions this year is to post weekly to this blog.  To support this intention I’m joining in the WordPress Post a Week 2001 challenge.  I’m taking this as an opportunity to more fully practice imperfection as well as to, of course, immerse myself in this process.

From the depths,

Lesley

I want to more fully define this term and what it means here.  The title above is not a strict definition.  It’s cobbled together from several I found online, as well as from my own thoughts- as is everything that follows.  Immerse is my word of the year for 2011, (link) and it has become a key element in the focus of my work (yep, there it is in the tagline).  Right now I’m completely in love with this word and it’s implications in living a life without limits, a life where I am here and completely devoted to being present, digging in, and bringing my whole self to my actions.  It makes my heart beat faster and I start smiling uncontrollably when I think about it.

 On one level, immersion is about throwing myself completely into whatever I’m doing in the moment- whether that’s writing, playing with my children, eating dinner or taking a nap.  It’s like presence and mindfulness, but in a very physical way.  Being immersed is very difficult when you’re up in your mind thinking about being mindful.  Being immersed engages all the senses and opens up a 360° awareness of what is around you. 

 But to immerse does not simply mean this.  I’m a bit of a word geek- so as I was looking up the definition I was curious about it’s history.  It comes from middle english meaning “embedded deeply” coming from latin roots that mean something like “to merge into”.  To immerse, for me, means to merge into the life you are creating for yourself.   It also means merging your *self* back into your life.  A few years ago I was living my life simply going through the motions.  I was physically there and in action- but my *self* was elsewhere.  I’ve rejoined my life, but I’ve learned how it becomes easy to simply being functioning on auto-pilot and allowing the delicious parts of life to drift away.  Immersion is the act of reuniting the self into a whole and remaining whole.  Being deeply and fully involved in your life in every way.

 Immerse means to surround yourself completely in your hopes, dreams, ideas and the actions you are taking to bring them to life.  You can do this within your work, your art, your family, your relationships.  You can also do this within your self; making sure that you have everything you need to be fully present.  This means delicious, nourishing food, joyful movement, deep rest, creative expression, uplifting connection with others and quiet insightful time for connecting with yourself. 

 Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote yourself fully.  Today I am choosing to immerse myself in my family, my work, my creativity, and in my well-being.  There is joy in simply devoting yourself fully and engaging deeply.  Where will you immerse yourself?

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year… some changes and a freebie

Last day of the year.  I’d love to write something deep and profound today (or okay, how about thoughtful and uplifting? That may be more within my range) but I’m not exactly feeling it.  I have some wonderful plans I’m eager to get on with- but I do have promises I’d like to fulfill first.

 So, I assume you’ve noticed the new look.  Maybe you’ve noticed the new tagline.  Maybe you’ve even noticed my slight change of focus and the new page tab up above.

 I began this blog intending my writing to be attachment parenting based ideas for mothers (and dads) to explore their lives as whole beings- while still being a parent.  I think what I’m writing now still applies in that context, but to be honest, I was feeling that twisting everything into being about life with children wasn’t authentic to me.  I am a mom and that is a part of me that will continue to be represented, however the ideas that are coming through my pen lately aren’t specific to parents.  They’re applicable to anyone.

 So, from here on out I’m writing what I am inspired to write.  It may be parenting related, it may be about living in freedom, and it will surely be about freeing ourselves from assumptions, thoughts and beliefs that aren’t serving us.  It will be about living joyfully and accepting ourselves completely, whoever we are and whatever roles we fill.  And it may be about integrating those roles in our lives.  I may also discover more things I’m compelled to write about.  I’ll write what I need to write, because I know that desire is there for a reason beyond myself.  I’ll write more about the new tagline after the new year. 

 What I’m also launching today is my life coaching practice.  I’ve been training with Martha Beck and her wonderful, amazing, master certified coaches since September.  It’s been a truly wonderful experience and I absolutely love everything I’m learning and doing with the program.  But it’s time for me to step out and make use of all that I’ve learned, practiced, will continue to learn.  Thankfully it comes to me more easily and joyfully than just about anything I’ve ever experienced (hmmm…I think I can compare it to reading- which I find absolutely effortless and joyful!).  You’ll notice there’s a “life coaching” tab at the top of the page.  There is where you’ll find some more of my thoughts about coaching and find out how you can work with me for 8 sessions with no cost.  A freebie.  A really cool one, if I say so myself.  And I great way to start the new year, with support for living the life of your dreams. 

 Now I’ve got my favorite man asking me out to lunch and to go shopping- so I’ll leave you with wishes for a very happy and fulfilling new year.  I look forward to serving you,

 Lesley

 ps.  today’s photo is the vision board I created at the start of my training when it was suggested as a way of defining what we wanted to create in our lives and coaching practices – I love seeing it everyday as a reminder of where I am going

December 30, 2010

The gap between the sofa cushions

When I came to my notebook to write today, I was feeling rather scattered and depleted.  So I decided meditate briefly, to quiet the buzz of my scattered thoughts, refill my well of peace, and to see what would rise to the surface.  The phrase that popped into my head was “the space between desire and action”.  I think of this space like the gap between sofa cushions.  It’s where we tend to lose the small bits that make up the whole of our selves, where we lose our dreams.  Everyone has dreams and desires, but how many of us fall into that gap where we see only the darkness, think it’s too hard to get out and never take action towards what we want our lives to be?

 In that gap between desire and action we are living among thoughts and ideas that we’ve come to believe- but are the ones that limit us and create feelings of hopelessness.  These beliefs tell us how much safer we are to not take action, and how likely we are to fail if we do.  What we forget is that the world outside this little hidden place isn’t as scary and unfamiliar as it seems when you can only see a small slice of it.  That big place outside is nothing more or less than where life takes place.  It takes action to get there. But those thoughts and beliefs swirl and make noise and keep you distracted so you can’t think of what your first step could be.  They say “It’s too hard”, “Don’t bother”, “You’re not good enough” and “But you’re safe here!”  Luckily there are some things we can do to get out of that gap.

 The first is to take action anyway.  Stop thinking, just do it.  I love this most when it’s the action I can’t not take, but it does also work to say to those thoughts, with determination, “Yep, I hear you.  But I’m doing this anyway”.   I admire the people who seem to only need this approach.  I’m not one of them.  The second way out is to look at and listen to the cacophony of thoughts and beliefs and pick out just one.  Then look at it.  Ask it why.  Ask yourself if it’s true.  Step outside of it and see if it’s serving you or if it’s holding you back.  One thought at a time you can turn them into the rungs of a ladder into action. 

 There are so many approaches to this practice of examining our thoughts, this process of inquiry.  I’ve written about some of them before- The Work of Byron Katie and Self-coaching 101- but one thing I’ve learned over this past year is the value of reaching out and getting the help of someone well versed with these processes and with working on thoughts.  For me this was a life coach.  A life coach, from my experiences acting as both a client and a coach, can help you pick a single thought from the swirl of many that are creating the distracting background noise in your life.  A coach can walk you through your inquiry process- figuratively holding your hand as you look into the impact this thought has on your life and gently keeping your focus within the process.  My own tendency is to distract myself, particularly when I’m looking at a thought that has a strong hold on me, and turn to the nearest shiny object or fall back into a loop of my story so that I remain stuck.  A coach can gently, or sometimes firmly and lovingly, say “let’s set that aside for now and come back to it later after you’ve finished exploring THIS thought”. 

 The results of this process have varied from instantaneous “WOW!  I never thought of it that way!” to getting only tiny, almost unrecognizable shifts, that with continued exploration of a thought and it’s many companions and shape-shifter forms, looking from many angles, lead to the experience of a larger shift.  Those are the ones I find most life changing- when I can’t see movement from one day to the next, but over time find there’s been a complete change.  It’s like a force of nature. 

 Honestly, I didn’t know when I started writing this that it would end up being about coaching, but it’s wonderful that it did.  Tomorrow’s post will be more about coaching and I will be making a very limited offer to my readers, friends and family.  But it will not be entirely about coaching.  It is also about some shifts I am making in my writing focus, and changes to make your experience as a reader more enjoyable and valuable, regardless of your interest in life coaching.

 With love to you all,

Lesley

December 29, 2010

Respecting darkness

Some poor choices today brought me a bit closer to this subject than I like, however most fortunately  I wrote this a few days ago.  I’m making this post late for that reason, but also because I was busy making up for lost sleep, cooking delicious belgian waffles, helping look up hints for Lego Harry Potter, and making sure we had toilet paper.  And, well, eating too much leftover candy…

Enjoy, comment, share, subscribe… another post tomorrow, but especially don’t forget to check in on Friday!

With the darkest part of the year just behind us, I want to reflect on loving and accepting the darkness within ourselves.  I’m surprised to see how little this is addressed, seeing how even the most optimistic among us at least occasionally have a rough day, or an experience that challenges our positive outlook.  And even more so, seeing how many people seem to go through life with a distinct desire, or a persistent habit, of focusing on the negative- to always find what is wrong, rather than what is right.  There was a time in my life when I actually felt pride in being a pessimist.  I thought “I might not be happy, but at least I’m aware”.  It surely wasn’t the happiest period of my life, but it also wasn’t the worst. 

 I’ve always respected darkness, and for a long period of my life I respected the dark and heavy places within myself.  This was during my pessimist period, but it was also partially during a time when darkness seemed inevitable to me.  I was a minor and didn’t yet have the freedom to fully choose my direction or my everyday activities (which are what move us in a direction).  I accepted what came out of that- I was angry and I expressed it in what I hoped were creative and productive ways.  I developed a place within myself where I honored the anger and lack of freedom- my own and that of others.  Being highly empathic, I picked up on others’ frustrations- and believe me, many of theirs were much more difficult to bear than my own- and I held them, saw them, and recognized their rightness and their beauty.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I recognized the rightness and beauty of the dark places within us where there is pain and anger and fear.

 Fast forward fifteen years or so to a life where I was no longer denied the freedom of self-determination simply for being young.  This was a life that was nearly everything I’d ever dreamed; an incredibly supportive and loving husband, 3 beautiful, healthy, unique, wonderful children, and the financial resources to allow us to live a bit more than modestly while I stayed home with the kids to support their curiosity, empowerment and freedom.   Here I was with everything I always wanted, yet struggling against my dark places- mostly pain and fear, but also some anger.  Most of it was old, some of it newer, and almost all of it aimed at myself.  What right did I have- a woman of freedom, intelligence, good fortune and privilege- to be entertaining any of these dark feelings, or to even possess dark places within myself?  My life should have been all positive energy, gratitude, light and love, right?  I had no right to darkness in my world full of freedom, love and comfort.

 But there it was, all the same.  *This* was the worst time in my life.  So I did what I could to make it go away.  I numbed- with food, with distractions (Zuma, anyone?), even with complaints and blame- reaching outside myself to look for the solution to make the darkness go away.  It didn’t work.  As I came to learn from my experience, and recently found words for in the brilliant work of Brene Brown, a shame researcher, numbing can’t be done selectively.  When we numb our pain, fear and shame we also numb our delight, excitement, interest and gratefulness.

 So, what to do with that darkness?  We all have some of it.  Some of us, at times, carry it around like a dark cloud or the weight of the world, like Atlas.  Oh boy, have I done that.  I think I was a frequent, long term visitor to that place with the t-shirts to prove it (you know, the ones that are the size of a child’s tent, covered in stains and dotted with holes?).  And we carry this weight and try to pretend we’re not standing in the cold rain being crushed to death as we smile and look for the positive.  We already know that doesn’t help.  So, alternatives?

 I suggest that we find the place I did when I was an angry teen- the place where we recognize that as much as we’d like to *not* feel those feelings, they’re there.  They won’t go away until we honor their presence and give them our love and respect.  Those dark places hold energy and power that we can use to draw ourselves out from under the clouds.

 I’m not suggesting that it’s good to repeat our stories ad nauseum- usually that’s a way of avoidance through blame (ie. complaining).  I’m also not saying we should act out these feelings and dark thoughts.  If one is feeling any serious urge to act harmfully or violently towards another living being, self included, that’s where some professional psychological help is vital.  But we can feel, honor and express our fear, our pain and our anger in ways that release the energy and free us.  I think everyone may be different here, but I’ve found much of this release through physical activity, music, art and occasionally a good hard cry.  (Any other suggestions?).Once the energy is released we can recognize the beauty and importance of our darkness- giving it the love and respect it deserves as our strongest and most effective guidance system, showing us that somewhere we are numbing or suppressing or hiding from vital parts of ourselves.  Then we can turn towards the light of what is calling us forward. 

 In both darkness and light,

Lesley

December 28, 2010

The power of a single word

So, I’ve actually managed to post for 2 days in a row…and tomorrows post is written as well.  Friday is approaching swiftly.  Hopefully I’ll have a few of my changes completed by then and I will be letting you know about my next steps.  For now, enjoy, and feel free to share with others through the links at the bottom.  Thanks!

For the past several years I’ve been following the blog of Christine Kane- who is both a coach and a singer/songwriter.  The first time I visited her blog was about 3 years ago, when an online friend sent a link about choosing a Word of the Year (and definitely check out the posts there too!).  The idea, in my not very eloquent synopsis, is that rather than choose a resolution for the new year, to choose a word.  A single word- just one- that encompasses our hopes and dreams and goals for the year.  Resolutions tend to be dropped as soon as we stray from them.  A word is not an ultimatum or an all or nothing proposal.  It’s simply an idea that we can carry with us throughout the year to remind ourselves of our intentions. 

 So I’ve done this ever since that time.  Okay, the first year I couldn’t pick one word.  I picked 3, and I can’t remember what they were.  It was fun, but not particularly transformative.  The second year I chose “self-respect”- as I had realized that this was something that I hadn’t been giving myself.  I can’t say that word changed my life dramatically that year, but from where I am now, I believe it was the beginning of my current path.  Had I not chosen to focus on self-respect, I don’t know if I’d have reached any approximation of self-love, self-worth, or self-esteem.  Or self-trust.  And those things have been incredibly transformative in my life. 

 Last year, I chose the word “rise”.  This had multiple meanings for me (and ah, that’s what I love so much about words…).  It brings to mind the sayings “Rise and Shine”, “Rise Above” and after experiencing it this year I’d add “Rise Into”.  My desire was to meet the world and my life as wholly and authentically as possible.  It was also to face obstacles and challenges from a place of empowerment and strength.  And what it ultimately led to was my claiming my life for myself, claiming my truth for myself, and rising into who I am and what I am called to offer to the world. 

 This year has certainly had challenges, fear and loss.  It has also had excitement, joy and beauty.  I chose my word looking towards my first semester of nursing clinicals, about which I was petrified.  I emerged from that with a great deal of confidence and a love of the people, the science and the nurturing of nursing.  But my year also started with the  great loss of an amazing friend- who was also the mother of my daughter’s best friend.  As much as it was an honor to be part of her life, it was an honor to be part of her death.  And I learned much about rising to a place of loving and honoring who someone was while accepting their departure from our lives.  And the year moved on.  In the summer I challenged myself to rise into my life and find my truth.  I made an investment in myself to get some coaching and rise above my self imposed limitations.  I joined Christine Kane’s 7 week Uplevel program, choosing to face my eating disorder and support my body’s strength and health.  I ended up drastically changing my life as I discovered that as much as I loved nursing, the path I was on was not supporting my life, but draining it.  This was not the time.  There were other things I needed to do right now.  The fall arrived on a wave of joy, where I was rising beyond any expectation I’d ever had before, and then crashed with another loss.  My uncle, a vibrant, creative force in my life and the world, was found dead.  Again, it was an occasion to rise- to find out what I had to learn from this sudden loss and from the life that was no longer being lived.  I still feel the sadness of the losses of this year, but I know there is much to be inspired by in the lives of those who are gone. 

 I had no idea how much I would hold onto my word in 2010, how much it would serve me, and point me towards love and joy and healing.  “Rise” was the perfect word for me this year.  And did I ever live it, in ways I’d never have imagined 365 days ago. 

 For the coming year, I’ve decided on the word “immerse” (there were 2 runners up, but I’ll set them to the side… there is such power in the choosing).  I am walking into 2011 ready to plunge myself into my joy and my wholeness, and fully face my fears.  I will remind myself when I’m holding myself back that my intention is to jump in and engage my whole self in my experiences, to absorb all I can from them and see where it takes me.  And I will dedicate myself to serving others with whatever skills and gifts I develop- because what could be more fulfilling than that? 

 I invite you to join me in choosing a word to live and see where it goes. 

May you learn and thrive in this year and the years to come,

Lesley

December 27, 2010

If I had one wish

Be the star cookie man!Just a quick note to mention that I’m finishing up this year with daily blog posts, making some updates and changes, AND a big announcement and opportunity on Friday.  Subscribers will get this announcement first- so if you’re curious go ahead and subscribe. 

And Happy Birthday, Mom!

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“If I had one wish this holiday season…” – Steve Martin

 Okay, so I’ve now proven that I’m truly scarred by a lifetime of SNL viewing.  And my one wish has nothing to do with singing children, swiss bank accounts, all encompassing power, revenge or orgasms.  If I’ve lost you here, I can only hope to catch you up with a youtube clip

I have a holiday tradition of wrapping gifts while watching movies.  I love this time alone.  I love making my gifts look beautiful.  And I love holiday movies.  My favorite gift wrapping movies for the past few years have been Love Actually and The Holiday- because they are ones the rest of my family scoffs at as “chick flicks”, which results in them somehow being magically repelled from my presence for a couple of hours.  Brilliant.   

As I watched and wrapped this year, I noticed something I hadn’t consciously noticed in the past.  At some point in the story line, the characters are overtaken with the urge to do something unusual.  Something that’s out of character.  Something bold and daring.  Even something that everyone else thinks is completely nuts.  Or that actually is kind of insane.  And they don’t have the urge to do these things simply for the expected result.  They have the urge to do these things because they can’t *not* do them. 

 This is the magic in these holiday movies- watching the characters being overtaken with a completely illogical urge to follow their hearts.  They become unflinchingly honest.  They admit to their mistakes. They panic and nearly back out.  They say “What the hell am I doing?” then do it anyway.  You get the sense that the result is irrelevant.  They seem to be saying “Hey, this may work out, and it might not.  But the only thing worse than it not working out is not taking the chance”

 There really is something like magic in that feeling.  Just following your heart, or your inner being, or your essential self.  Just doing what feels perfectly right.  It might be a little crazy.  It might be a little scary.  Or it might be a lot of both.  But it feels absolutely and perfectly right. 

 That is my one wish this holiday season.  That everyone, myself included, live a life of heart inspired action.  To experience that wild-excited-scary feeling and to follow through, knowing that the thing much worse than an unexpected or unwanted result is to not have taken the leap of faith at all.  I wish this for individual moments, this season, and for the new year to come. 

 A somewhat belated happy holidays and a very, very happy new year to all.

Lesley

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