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 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

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

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 14, 2011

Being Peace (part one)

I’m doing something out of the ordinary here and writing just off the top of my head, though I’ll admit to throwing some ideas into my journal earlier this week.  My greatest accomplishment since my last post is surviving the virus that passed through my household with a minimum of complaint- though it wore me down to the point where I could no longer keep optimistically stating that I’d probably feel better tomorrow (as I did for 3 days) and settled on “I know I’ll feel better eventually” and decided to simply hang in there the best I could with my boxes of tissues and the ability to order and read books on my phone.  And read I did, since I couldn’t even sleep.  A few weeks ago, way back in 2010,  my friend Ruth mentioned The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins to me- stating that they were the best books she’d read all year.  I agree.  But being a whole 2 weeks into the year, my statement doesn’t mean as much.  I’m guessing that they may still be the best books I will read this year.  They are also profoundly sad.  And inspiring. 

 What has been inspired within me, from reading this trilogy, is a desire for peace and freedom for all but also knowing that peace and freedom are an inside job.  We can’t live violently and expect peace.  We can’t hold ourselves or others back and have freedom.  Yet in so many ways we live violent and captive lives.  I’m not talking about outward physical, active violence and captivity.  Most of us are not gunning down 9 year old children outside supermarkets or keeping someone locked in the basement (okay, I honestly hope no one who reads my blog is doing these things…if you are, please go turn yourself in to the authorities and get some psychiatric help).  And though there are much more subtle forms of active violence against one another, particularly against children, I’m not going to discuss those today.  What I’m going to talk about are subtle, non-active forms of violence. 

 Violence takes place when we don’t step in to protect someone who is being hurt, when we ignore suffering that is within our power to relieve, and when we hold on to anger or hatred.  This is the kind of violence that takes place within ourselves and often, against ourselves.  A friend has a bumper sticker that reads “World Peace Begins at Home: Be Nicer to Your Kids”, and I completely agree with the sentiment, however I think that ultimately we could say “World Peace Begins Within: Be Nicer to Yourself”.  And while fine things, good food and enjoyable experiences are all perfectly good ways to express appreciation to yourself, they are superficial.  If you don’t actually feel love and appreciation for yourself and are treating yourself with violence through self-criticism and cutting inner dialogue, those superficial things are like an abusive parent giving a child a toy to make up for the bruises.  They are a distraction from self-inflicted pain.

 Every time we tell ourselves we are stupid, ugly, worthless, inferior….pick your poison…we are inflicting violence against ourselves.  When we hold on to anger and hatred, no matter who those thoughts are aimed towards, we are inflicting violence upon ourselves.  It’s pretty easy to illustrate the impact they have on our lives by making us feel stressed, contracted, unable to relax, and how those things create some negative results in our behavior and our lives.  Helping people work through all of that is what I do.  What I have been considering for the past few hours is how we can turn around this self-inflicted violence through our inner dialogue.  How we can be peace.  But that, my friends, is for another day.  I have some ideas swirling, concepts connecting, reticulating splines (oh, wait, no… that’s my daughter’s Sims game…) and I’ll reconnect them here at a later time.

 Until then…Peace.

 Lesley

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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?

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