Mindful Time

My desire to grapple with the concept of time started at a very early age. I was a child IMG_9720living with a mother with a terminal illness and I always understood that she would not live the “normal” life expectancy. From the age of seven I understood our tomorrows are not guaranteed and that time is precious.

As a child and teenager, long into my early adulthood, I had trouble being “on time” for anything. As a young child my mother called me the pokey little puppy from the children’s storybook of the same name, but it quickly became an issue and not cute at all as I got older.

As a teen and young adult I struggled with schedules and meeting people at a specific time. It never failed as I was getting ready to meet someone, a friend would call needing to talk, or something would come up that I felt needed immediate attention.

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We now call that being in the moment, or being present – but then…it was called disrespectful.

I do own the fact that not everything truly needed the immediate attention I gave it, but this came only from practice and experience. I have also learned the art of predicting the unplanned and notifying people if it appears I’m going to be late now.

Once I got a handle on working within the constricts of time, I then was a single mother with children. Anyone with children knows this was an utter derailment and all my efforts to keep on schedule went down the drain as I tried to get my children to care about time.

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Children don’t care about schedules or time; they rely on their own rhythm and make their needs known as they arise. I allowed being on time to become so important to me that I missed so many important moments by hurrying them through something because of a schedule.

It’s funny how natural the child’s presence comes and as adults many struggle to become present. It is a natural instinct that we have put aside in order to work within the concept of time.

I know we need some type of order in the world. If everyone ran around being present and “in the moment” there would be chaos and we would certainly have trouble.

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Yet I think about living on the islands and going to a store or a utility office to pay a bill only to find a sign on the door, “out to lunch”. I knew that meant I should come back in 2 hours or so because they would come back when they were done, not within a prescribed 20 minutes or hour. Yes it was sometimes a hassle but not often because who doesn’t appreciate living on “island time?”

The thing is that time is a man made concept. It is a method we use to understand a rhythm of our existence. However this is not always to the benefit of our human experience, sometimes it separates us from the very experience and rhythm of life.

As I prepare to take a trip to the other side of the globe whereby I will cross the date line and a day of my life will vanish into thin air this concept becomes ever more illusive. A day will pass that I will never have lived yet been present the entire time.

If this doesn’t explain that time is not real, I’m not sure what does!

We are pulled each day by appointments, obligations and our schedules. Many often have trouble saying no to a request to spend their time doing something they may or may not want to do but once put in the schedule it is time spent.

Each time I step on a plane, each time I talk to my children on the phone or my family or friends either in person or on the phone, I recognize that time shared is a gift and not a guarantee. To miss being fully present in those moments however normal and routine they may be is to ignore the gift because it is those moments that are the ones I will long for if and when they are no longer available.

So I leave you with these thoughts on time. Time is a gift not a guarantee. It means onlyimages what you allow it to mean, so I encourage you to consider this each moment you
schedule on your calendar. Make sure what is in your calendar is what is in your heart and that you make space to be present during those appointments.

I encourage you to celebrate each moment. And if you forget how to be present, take a child for a walk in the woods and follow their lead, you might just spend a 20 minutes following a critter and it might just turn out to be the most magical and enjoyable 20 minutes you’ve had in a while.

Thank you for spending your time reading this and I hope it helps you be more present with the rest of your time.

The Mundane & Messy Middle

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I know when “it happens” it is going to be amazing. I know I will say it was worth the wait because “it”is everything I wanted…but in the moment – I must practice patience.

The idea is to surrender to the timeline that is true for me, and enjoy the present so I don’t miss out on my todays while working towards my amazing tomorrow.

This is true for so many things (the “its”) in my life my career, a relationship, my business.

The trick is to appreciate all the amazing that I have right now. The gift of the journey is to appreciate the unfolding, the stuff I love and the other stuff too – the mundane and the messy middle stuff.

I would love to say I have it all figured out and I don’t get impatient and I don’t have destination blindness at times, but that would be a total lie. I do however now recognize more and more that this journey I am on has a purpose and I’ve begun to really embrace it.

I have days that I question things, that I wonder why I’ve chosen a particular location, decided to attend a particular event or wander into any given coffee shop or workspace. I wonder if what I’m doing is as important to others as it is to me. I wonder if I matter (don’t we all?).

I also have days a total stranger starts a conversation with me for no particular reason and before long, tells me their story, sheds a tear and calls me an angel. Wow!

I realize this is all part of my journey and if I was Oprah today – that stranger wouldn’t be able to get near me and I might not ever be part of his/her healing.

If I was the female Tony Robbins in this moment, sure I could touch more people, but would I reach the ones that I reach today? Would I be able to give the time and attention to this person to create the same impact through these intimate, seemingly random conversations?

I remind myself of the magic of the journey, these moments in time that tell me I am exactly where I am supposed to be at any given moment. I can’t say that I don’t still think it should look or be different at times, but to surrender to what is and have the “why” reveal itself is proving to be quite powerful to me.

One of my three guiding words this year is surrender and although I didn’t really understand what that meant to me when I chose it in January, now in September it is becoming so much clearer. I am learning a whole lot by living in this space of letting go of what I think life “should” look like for me.

It is said that the beauty of goals is not in the achievement, but rather who you become by walking the path to achievement. I am learning to embrace the lessons along the way knowing that I can’t get to “it”if I don’t do the work.

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This is not easy and I often have to remind myself to slow down and look around. There are roses to smell and views to take in all along the trek up the mountain and I want to make sure I don’t race by and miss “it”.

Life has taught me that we don’t always reach the peak, so if we don’t appreciate the journey along the way, we have missed it all and I am not willing to take that chance.

In the end, I have a goal and I imagine what “it” will be like when I achieve it, but who knows, maybe “it” is not the ultimate goal. Maybe ”it” is along the path after all.

I encourage you to continue to set your goals and your sites on big dreams, just make sure you are not sleep walking or racing to the destination. Remember to enjoy the mundane and magic along the way.

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The Step Beyond Courage

Have you ever had that feeling, “uh oh, I’m in over my head”?

Living my lifestyle this is not a new thought for me, but this past week it was a more intense version of the same thought.

I just returned from a week that really challenged me. It challenged my ability to call out for what I needed, it challenged me to learn new skills, and most of all, it challenged me to stay when I wanted to run. I was challenged to my very core to be brave.

When I Don’t Run

It is in these times when I have to dig deep that I find the best parts of me. I learn so much about myself and my strengths and weaknesses and I often find a new voice.

When I am placed in a position to be brave I have made a decision that what I am facing is worth the challenge before me regardless of the outcome. It is the truest test of what is important to me and it calls on my spirit to support it.

This is where my spirit lives in the moments I need to call on my ability to be brave.  I believe this is true for others as well.

Size Doesn’t Matter

It doesn’t matter the size of the challenge, for some just getting out of bed to face the day is the bravest thing in the world in that moment. To me, being brave is the virtue of knowing that you are pushing yourself to do more and be more than you think is possible in the moment.

To go after something even when you are not sure you will succeed is a step beyond courage and moves into bravery where you must call on everything you have to accomplish your goal knowing it is not guaranteed. It has reminded me that those with illnesses, addictions or facing any kind of unknown outcome, the strength summoned to face each day and the challenges it brings is tremendously brave and I am in inspired by you.

Reminder

This week reminded me that I have so much more ability than I believed because I can call on my spirit and be brave when I am faced with the opportunity.

Because I had forgotten about this inner strength, I thought you might have too and I wanted to remind you that you are braver than you believe and stronger than you seem.

I encourage you to celebrate the ways you are brave today.

I see you being brave.

I know how strong you are.

It all matters.

You matter

-E

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Ain’t Misbehaving

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I love this quote for so many reasons. I love the permission it gives me to break the rules. I love the boldness it gives me to think outside the box. I love the idea that I can make history.

Here is where it all falls apart for me.  I take offense of the term a “well-behaved woman”. How is it that we continue to identify women by their behaviors and classify them as good or bad?

When did having ideas that challenge the norm and being bold enough to say so become a bad thing or something to be classified as misbehaving? And why is this only true if you’re a woman? Men are considered mavericks and women are considered…ill-mannered?

I have to say, I was brought up in a bit of an old-fashioned household. It

imageswas part of our upbringing to be taught etiquette and know the setting and use of a proper table setting to include each fork, knife and spoon, glass, bread plate and even if we were sat at a table including finger bowls (who uses those?) I was taught the etiquette of social situations, what to say, when to speak and not to speak, where my elbows belonged, etc. so that I would always be proper and the objective was that I would be comfortable in any situation.

 

 

The Time Has Come

I was brought up to be “well behaved” and I can be at times (if called for) but I also am a born rebel. I don’t like to be restricted, I question most everything around me and I push boundaries always.

It has taken me many decades to finally come to terms with the fact that these very traits are to be celebrated not hidden because they are not aligned with standard social grace. It is part of the very “E-ness” of me. I know it challenges some people, it scares some and it exhausts others. I’m learning to be in celebration of this aspect of myself and help others hear what their bold inner voice is longing, but too polite, to say.

Now that the final UK prince has married, it is unlikely I will be called to use the teaching of my grandparents to the degree they may have hoped. Luckily I haven’t been waiting to dine with the queen, but I have been apologizing for and toning down some of my zest in effort to “behave” myself.

Well-Behaved And Showing Up

It is time to discard the idea that standing out, being bold and making history is for those who are misbehaving or doing something wrong. We women are using our voices to share our views, making our mark or even making history and we arewell-behaved, intelligent women who are changing this vision once worn as a badge.

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We don’t have to be nasty to be heard, we aren’t wrong or socially incorrect, we have something to say or do and it’s our time to be heard and seen unapologetically.

It is time to discard the idea that having an opinion is misbehaving that using our voice and standing up for or creating what we believe is “unladylike” and should be avoided as a woman.

So I encourage you to join me in being a catalyst for whatever you wish to share with the world regardless of your gender. Know that you can share your gifts in whatever way you wish and feel comfortable knowing that we can all make history and it is only a credit to your character.

And don’t worry Granny,if I get called to have lunch with the queen, I still remember which fork is for my salad!

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Courageous Acts

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Sister: “What are you afraid of?”

Me: “umm, plummeting to my death!”

Sister: “You can do it, just jump, you saw me do it, I’m fine. You’ve got this!”

Encouraging words from my sister standing on the ground looking up two stories to me waiting on a platform to belay down.

I sat there listening and trying to get my courage up to jump. I coached myself, I listened to her coaching and in the end….

I unhooked my harness and traversed the course back to a platform I could walk down from.

My whole career these days is helping people make leaps! I help people do the scary things they are not quite sure they are ready for.

One of the best reasons to have a coach during these times is that – guess what? Sometimes you are not ready and it’s just not the right time.

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Having someone to encourage you and walk with you as you move through your process of collecting your thoughts, building your courage and thinking through your risks is the best gift you can give yourself.  Sometimes no matter how much courage you muster, the big leap is not right at this moment.

This doesn’t mean the big leap may not be right ever, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do other things that are smaller leaps that will prepare you for the big one or any combination of things.  What it does mean is that you get both the encouragement to stretch yourself beyond what you think is possible while still honoring exactly where you are at the moment.

This is a critical piece that doesn’t get talked about so I want to shed some light here.

When you arrive at a point where it is time for change and you begin the process you will come up against some challenges. Some of these you will plow right through and feel great about. Some will stop you in your tracks and make you question yourself, your capabilities, your sanity, etc.

This is how I work through these times because yes, even coaches get to these points and this ropes obstacle course just reminded me about the emotional part of what I do for a living and how I live my life in general.

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Remember what you have accomplished

First and foremost to even get to the point where you are thinking of taking a big leap deserves a celebration. Reflect on what you did to get to this point – it is highly likely you have pushed your comfort zone a bit already. Don’t discount that part – celebrate it!

For me, just to get to the second story platform getting ready (or not) to jump off meant that I had crossed all sorts of unstable rope bridges and taken a bunch of leaps that were pretty scary for me!  Even turning back and not belaying down meant I had to traverse more obstacles and challenges to get to a stable staircase to the ground. I was not choosing to walk away from challenge, simply choosing what challenge I felt capable of in that moment.

Be kind

It’s at these crossroads that we can be terribly tough on ourselves. We can be a big ole bully to ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t help me move forward, it simply makes me feel bad about honoring my feelings and my choice in the moment – that is not ok!

Originally my bully came out and I thought to myself – what kind of a coach are you? You tell people to make the leap all the time! You teach people move through their fears to push their comfort zone and here you are stuck!

I thought – well, if I jump and overcome everything I’m fearing I am a prime example of what I teach! This will be walking my talk and people need to see me doing this and hearing how courageous I am to feel that they too can do anything!

However, I also preach about living life for yourself and not to please others or meet anyone else’s expectations at your expense.

I then asked myself would replay this moment and feel regret. This ended up being a really important question for myself.

With this question moved into a much more gentle place and realized just how courageous it can be to walk away from the thing you are not sure you are ready to do. I thought of this decision as a strength equal to the decision to leap.  For me I saw no regret in not leaping…today. In the future I might come to another opportunity and feel more ready and I will welcome that, but I didn’t feel like I would regret this decision in this moment.

I also felt like if I dishonored myself by doing what I didn’t want to do and got myself hurt I would thoroughly regret not having listened to my “gut” to not jump.

These are important questions and processes to go through as you face new challenges. It is often very hard to determine intuition from indigestion –protecting yourself from harm vs. fear of doing the unknown (first kiss living).

Finding Your Courage 

So if you find yourself at a crossroads I encourage you to work through a process, here are a few questions I think my help:

            Am I doing this for myself or someone else?

            Will I regret doing or not doing this? And Why?

            Is this my intuition telling me don’t do it or am I letting fear or story keep me stuck?

Of course I must say, I also encourage you to have a coach to help you work through your process and help you listen to yourself, honor your stage and develop the skills and capabilities to build up to the leaps you desire.

I still have no regrets for not jumping and I believe I make as much of an impact helping people realize that sometimes it is not time to make a leap as I do helping people leap into incredible lives they have dreamed about.

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Soundtrack Of Travel

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From the balcony of my workspace I hear the sounds of the street below. There are taxis honking and the faint hum of people greeting each other as they pass by.

And then it begins, “ Ah, cinco mil pesos!” a vendor shouts through the streets. The familiarity of this gentleman will become synonymous with my memories of Santa Marta for sure.

You would think that hearing this chant throughout the day, each day (he works Saturdays and Sundays too) would become annoying, but actually it has become quite comforting. He has a rhythmic way of shouting this out, almost like the melody of a familiar song, and the precision – wow, I hear him say this so many times a day so many days and each time it sounds identical to the last.

I can almost mimic him at this point because of his consistency.

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Carrera 2 traffic, both old and new

This is just one of the sounds that will remind me of this part of Colombia, together with the clip, clop of hoofs from the horse drawn carriages riding up and down Carrera 2 in Rodadero. Some were work carriages, some were giving tourists rides, but the sound almost always brought me to the window just to enjoy the sight of the old times combined with the current times.

This is part of the experience of travel for me. You see, in the US, the buildings are closed up, the street sounds are usually traffic and there is no sense of what is really going on in the community. You can tell people are busy, but you don’t know what they are busy with because everything is so buttoned up!

I may not know what this gentleman on the street is selling for 5 million pesos, but I know he’s a vendor. I do not know him but he has become part of my day and will be deeply engrained in my memories when I leave here.

When I lived in Belize I had a similar chant from below my 2ndfloor balcony apartment.

“Alejandro!” This chant was not nearly as rhythmic as my Colombia gentleman and did not have consistency at all. Sometimes it was drawn out, sometimes it was quick and other times it was welcoming.

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You see, I quickly figured out that Alejandro was a little boy and his mother would call his name in varying frequencies depending on the day or what the boy had gotten himself into.

My son and I still recall this memory fondly each time we think about our time there.

It is the sounds of a location, the pace of life and the ability to find yourself immersed in a new culture simply by listening to life around you. In many places around the world, houses and transportation are open so connection with the community is simply part of the fabric of the location.

Learning a new culture is not simply the one-on-one interaction with people but it is allowing ourselves to become enveloped by the community. To pay attention and listen to the melody of the streets and the people within them is to know life in the community.

One of the most beautiful gifts I take from my travels are the songs inscribed on my memory like an audio keepsake souvenir.

Thank you “cinco mil peso” vendor, for you have become part of this soundtrack of my time here in Santa Marta, Colombia.

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Vendors setting up for their day on Carrera 5

The Benefits of Beginning

Having a discussion with a friend and colleague today she said something I think we all feel.

“I like trying new things, but I hate being a beginner.”

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Does that resonate with you? It does for me, but as much as I don’t like the beginner stage and I want to start everything I try at expert stage – I continue to begin again on something new often.

For me, this is part of why I like travel so much, I get the chance every time I arrive at a new location to have the childlike wonder where everything is new.  This part is cool, but until I learn a place, I get lost, turned around and can’t find what I need right away. Things take longer for me because of the unfamiliarity and I risk looking like a fool (have you heard my Spanish?)

Here is the thing though, if we don’t step out into what we do not know, we stop growing. One of the dangers of not stepping into something new is that because of familiarity we miss some pretty cool stuff.

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When I begin something new my awareness is heightened both in how I’m doing the new thing and how it’s being received. I want to do it well and I pay close attention to each step of what I’m doing because it’s unfamiliar to me. My awareness is heightened to a level not seen in what is commonplace for me and I see and witness things that might be otherwise overlooked if I was doing something routine.

Remember learning to drive? Remember when going 5 mph felt like you were flying?  You noticed everything, where your hands were on the steering wheel (was that only my Dad?) where you were focused, the speedometer and the rearview mirror. Do you even notice any more when you pass 70mph unless there is a cop around?

This is what happens when we stop putting ourselves into new situations. Things become routine and habits are formed (good or bad) and life goes a bit into autopilot which to me is existing, not living. It becomes so natural to not pay close attention and do multiple routine things at the same time. When we are in an habitual mode we fail to notice some of the beauty around us and we might even take some things for granted that are precious to us. We definitely miss a lot because we are not paying close attention.

The discomfort of doing something new gives us the opportunity to examine things around us much more closely and be focused on our interaction with them. We are naturally more present in a new environment or when doing something new to us.

In the newness of a process or location we are also at our most vulnerable which encourages interaction with others. Those whom we may have overlooked or not made time for become a necessary connection for continued learning or growth in the new process.

As technology continues to take us away from our natural world and we need to relearn how to “be present” I can think of no better way than to start something new.

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What could you become a beginner at today? Have you always wanted to play guitar, or sing, or learn a language?

There is so much to be gained by continually becoming a beginner, so as we move into Spring, I ask you, what will you begin next?