Falling Leaves

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When I was a child I remember being told about a story where a man was tying leaves back onto a tree in the autumn. As a child I thought that no one would ever do that, but as I grow, I watch people attempt the same every day.

Change Is Scary

We happen to know that leaves must fall off a tree, there is no benefit to the tree or anyone by tying these back on the branches. In fact by doing so, especially in the regions that get snow, you could likely cause more harm then good.

Looking at the leaves as a metaphor though, how often do we argue with nature? How often do we feel that what is naturally happening should not happen and attempt to altar it?

From what I observe, it’s often.

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Attachment

I find that when I am attached to something my attachment does not leave room for change.

If this is a person, does that not allow them to grow?

If that is a location, does that mean progress is always bad?

If that is a goal, can it not evolve?

I’ve learned that attachment often harms more often then it actually preserves what I am attached to. I’ve learned that the more I hold loosely and observe what I love about something or someone, the more room I give it to breathe and become what it is designed to be or become.

Living In The Moment.

The less I am attached to something in its current form, the more I can simply appreciate it. I can always love those initial things that drew me to it and at the same time allow appreciation of how it transforms or evolves.

Does this mean I don’t enjoy permanence? Absolutely not! I l have favorite things that travel with me all over the world and I have many long-lasting relationships. I find that I enjoy more of these relationships by allowing them to be what they are in any given moment. If that is a day-to-day experience, or if it becomes a once-in-a-while experience, I don’t spend the time bemoaning the time I don’t have so I find more enjoyment in the time I do have.

Your Turn

I encourage you to take this time to reflect on the leaves you might be trying to tie back onto the tree. What might be in your life that you might be so attached to in its present condition that you might miss what it could become. Is there a change that has clearly taken place that you are not acknowledging because it will mean you’ll need to break out the rake?

Take some time to think about the trees in your forest and make sure you are allowing ample space for nature to breathe and follow its course versus trying to control it.

Seasons of change

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In Pursuit of Crow Pose

I have recently returned from a week away at a yoga retreat.  This was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, had never actually done.  I can’t even tell you how I heard about this event, or why it came across my radar, but when I saw it something said I needed to do it now and this was the one.

Our initial evening we were asked to write our intentions for the week.  What did I want to get out of the week?

I was stumped!

This goal girl had no goals for the week, except, maybe to finally get into crow pose for more than a millisecond before toppling.

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Toppling crow

As I pondered this question and searched my soul to figure out my goal for the week, I realized it was just to have this experience.  My goal was to let the week unfold and teach me what it wanted and for me to just be curious and a allow myself to be a novice in this experience.

Now you all know, I am an action person, I like to set goals, make plans, allow them to change but always I seem to have my eye on some prize, some goal.

I have begun to explore another way, to see if there may be times when I would benefit by allowing life to unfold for me. The idea to not drive my life every step of the way and to allow the path to reveal itself with each step is new for me and I’m seeing how much it might benefit me to listen, watch how each move I make changes the landscape before me.

I’m not saying that I believe sitting on a couch eating bon bons is the way for me, nor do I believe you can just OM your way to a fulfilling life. I am saying, maybe releasing my grip on the driving wheel might have some benefits at this point in my life. How about you?

The challenge for me is to find a way to both allow life to unfold while still having a strong direction and taking action and steps. Lord knows I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to me – I’m never going to be THAT chill!

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For example, the action I took was to attend the yoga retreat, the release and the unfolding was that when one came across my plate and it struck me, I didn’t question it and I jumped on board. Once I determined I was in a safe space, I further released to the unfolding and allowed all of the people I came into contact with during that week to teach me and share whatever it was they chose to share.

I did not have a list of questions to ask others nor did I have any agenda of accomplishments I hoped to achieve. I did not have to be the best yogi, I did not know anything about the topics that were being taught.  In fact, I knew very little about the stories that were shared or any of the activities or rituals that occurred during the week. I was in a “child’s mindset” which I could have embraced or fought – I chose to embrace it.

Curiosity Is Action

What I learned during this week was precious and not entirely what I could have thought to put into an intention at the beginning.

One of the most important items I continue to learn as I practice my crow pose, is to take careful assessment of how I feel, align myself well, take my time as I move and concentrate on the moment as I look forward, let go and trust myself.

Although you may or may not be a practicing yogi, I believe these lessons may prove helpful in all that you pursue.

Are there places in your life that you are safe enough to let go of the driver’s wheel, be a novice and just be curious? Are there times when you are so busy setting goals and being the best you can be that you miss what others share with you?

I encourage you this month to consider where you might loosen your grip on the driver’s wheel in your life to trust and allow some of life to unfold for you and show you what it has to teach you.

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What To Do With A Little Funk

I’m going to be honest with you all, I’ve been having a bit of a tough time lately.  Yes, even Life Coaches have their days or weeks when things are just in a funk.  It is not that there is one specific thing that is wonky for me, just a bit of everything all over the place.

I recognize that this feeling has come up before and it often occurs when I am working on a major transition, namely a move to another country.  So good news, I am aware of what likely kicked it off.  I also have the benefit of knowing it is not something that will last and I know I have been here before and I moved through it. Knowing this is great, however it doesn’t change the feeling of unease and general funk.

What To Do?

In the past I have dealt with this type of feeling in a very active way.  As some of you know, my mother was never one for coddling us girls, she was more of a “pull up your boots and get on with it” type of woman. So, with all the grace and gentleness of a bull I have usually just plowed through my days just doing everything I needed to do to get to the other side.

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There are many benefits to handling life and its challenges this way.  First, you get a heck of a lot done because you are working so hard at getting through “it” you are like a freight train at top speed.  While moving so fast to get through the days that will land you on the other side, often times additional things get swept to the side and left unnoticed by the side of the road.  Trust me, not dealing with those items today does not mean they won’t pop up again (usually at a most inconvenient time)!

A Different Approach

Today I’ve been focusing more on just being.  Sitting with the feeling of funk, trying not to label it good or bad, just observing and feeling (even the stuff that just sucks to feel) and letting it teach me what I need to learn so I may move through it.

This is not easy for me by any stretch.  I’m an action person in all senses of the word.  I like to move and create and that requires me to do stuff.

I am finding though that by sitting with things – even the wonky things, there is much to be gained. By allowing the feelings to wash through me and journaling,  I can sometimes hear the message in the mess.

The Benefit

These times cause me to get out of my head and stop plowing through my “to-do” list and listen to the world around me.  I’ve realized that sometimes (I know this will come as a surprise to you) I am so busy moving forward I’m not looking at where I am or not paying enough attention to those around me.

Being in a funk always slows me down and brings me from my head to my emotions.  It’s in these moments that I can be open to the possibilities that although something might not be going as I wished, that doesn’t mean it is not going the way it needs to go.

When I stop rushing, running and doing and begin to just observe what is going on around me there is opportunity to receive.  When I slow I create more peace and I can often begin to see what would have just been a blur had I been trying to push through to get to the other side.

Where Are You Today?

So I encourage you to take stock of where you are today.  Yes, we are midway through the year, so review where you stand for your goals this year, and then just sit with the information.

Don’t rush out to make a plan to make up for lost time or set about 10Xing your next six months, just sit with the information from your review.  Spend some time in meditation and maybe a walk on the beach and see if there is information that comes to you about where you are.

You might just reinvigorate your desire to pursue this goal and come up with a great new idea, or you might find that the Universe has been trying to tell you something but you were moving so fast that you couldn’t see the sign.

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The One Question To Start Your Day

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

IMG_9953I’ve been speaking with a number of people lately who have been in one stage or another of overwhelm. You know the feeling when you just don’t know which way is up or which direction you need to even point yourself. This can be exhausting and you’re not even moving!

Imperfect Action

In the space of personal development there is a lot of talk about taking imperfect action as a response to this “feeling stuck” or overwhelm. I am not sure how you are supposed to know if it is perfect or imperfect action until you take it. So this advice is rather unhelpful in my opinion.

In the case of my clients I use my life experiences to give insight to what worked for me. This is not scientific or a certified process developed by some guru. This is just my simple practice that I have used when I am feeling overwhelmed or unsure. It has gotten me through some pretty tough times and brought me to where I am today. I continue to use this method as I continue to dream big and have NO idea how I’m going to make these dreams come true, but I know that I must pursue them. It has become a habit and a way to check in and stay present in the midst of all I aspire to create.

The Process

I take a few moments, usually in bed at the time I wake up and I just lay there with my hands extended and open, my eyes closed and just revel in that perfect moment. I often use this time to think about my gratitude, simply for waking up (a gift we often take for granted) and for whomever might be next to me (these days it’s my dog) or in my world at the moment who brings me energy and joy.

After gratitude comes my talk with the Universe or God or whomever you talk to when you are in your space and simply ask, “What is the next step?” I don’t ask how I’m ever going to do what I’m wanting to do. I don’t ask for the full picture or to see the whole staircase or the money, energy or capability to take the next step, I simply ask to know what is the next step.

Why it works for me

I don’t know if I developed the process because I just couldn’t handle looking at all the steps or more likely because there was so much to do I just had to look at the one next step because that was all I could manage at the moment. I knew I needed to keep moving but wasn’t sure what the next move was and staying where I stood was not an acceptable option. I had to find a way to clear the overwhelm to be able to begin to move.

Here is the deal, you might see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s damn dark where you stand today. Truly you can only take the next step, you can’t take the 3rd step in front of you, only the next step, so ask what that is. You might surprise yourself and find, as I have, that over the course of time this simple process takes you exactly where you are meant to be and you didn’t even notice how far you had gone.

Why it will work for you

Simply by taking the next step you continue to move. By asking each day what the step is for you today, it gives you the possibility to course-correct if necessary. This process provides you focus on today. It helps you reduce anxiety about step number 45 because day 45 will come and you’ll deal with that step then. Today your only need is to know what you need to do today and then do it, knowing that you get another chance tomorrow.

Keeping your mind on your overall goals, but focusing your attention on this moment, this day allows the actions you take to be exactly perfect for today. You will learn something by what you do today and it will benefit you along the journey.

So tomorrow morning when you wake up, instead of going through your “to do” list in your mind and trying to figure out how you’ll get everything accomplished, and anything else that comes to your mind upon opening your eyes I ask you to pause. Take the first few moments of the day and give thanks and gratitude for all that you have and quietly ask, “What is the next step for me to take today?”

To the enjoyment of your success and the journey that brings you there.

-E

What’s In Your Pickle Jar?

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I keep hearing people calling for more balance in their lives. I don’t believe it’s actually balance they need at all! In fact the same people screaming for balance also want to live full, rich lives and have crammed their datebooks and calendars full with activities, events and “to-dos” to provide them the balance to their overflowing work life!

It is not balance you seek!

Balance is the act of two of more objects being of same weight, or in this case importance. This just isn’t the case for most people I speak with. What is happening in most people’s lives is that something of lesser importance or of less value to someone is taking more time or weight from the things that create joy and fulfillment in their lives. So if you are spending too many hours doing things that don’t bring you joy and then you try to add equal time doing things that do bring you joy you are going to be out of time and totally stressed!

So what happens is the work stuff gets done and the joy stuff does not.

The Professor’s Example

A long time ago when I was screaming for balance in my life as well I came across the classroom story of “The Pickle Jar.” The professor was explaining that when people thought the jar was full with a bunch of large rocks, there was still room in it for more and he added pebbles, sand and even water until there was no empty space. The underlying theme of the entire demonstration is that if you put your big rocks (most important things to you) into this pickle jar (representing your life) first then the next important things (represented by pebbles) then the next (sand) and the next (water) you will have space for everything in your life. The professor’s take on this was that there is so much we can fit in our lives even if we think our lives are full now by simply making sure the big things get in first and then you can fit so much more in it.

As well intentioned as that lesson is, I think it’s a load of crap and that most of us are walking around with stuffed pickle jars! Just because you can cram a ton of stuff into your pickle jar does not mean you should. I believe the good professor missed the point that if you fill your jar with rocks, pebbles, sand and water there is no room for life-giving air.

Where is the air?

Humans, can do so many amazing things and some can go for long periods of time with really full pickle jars but what happens when there is no air to breathe or feed the flame and no space to absorb and enjoy the process or the results? The pickle jar smothers out causing all sorts of issues that may show up as burn-out, anxiety, depression, lost relationships, health issues or substance abuse.

So I ask you, is your pickle jar too full? Do you even know what is filling your pickle jar anymore? Was a rock or pebble placed in your pickle jar by someone other than you? Does each rock and pebble in your jar belong there today?

It’s time to examine this cry for balance and begin to look at what we are trying to achieve. I believe what people are truly seeking is not balance but a fullness of life. People tell me they wish to fill their lives with people and experiences that matter to them and contribute to the greater good in the mean time. When I sit down with them and examine their desired life and current pickle jar, they just don’t seem to match.

What Can You Do?

Dump out that pickle jar and look at all the items in it. Should the rocks be rocks or maybe pebbles?  What might you take out of your pickle jar and put in a “not now” pile?  An item may indeed be a rock, but the time for that rock to take priority in your life might not be this moment. These are hard but necessary questions if you are seeking to live a less stressed and more fulfilled life. Think about it, if your pickle jar is stuffed, how can you possibly enjoy and experience all that you’ve stuffed it with if you can’t even move things around and see it all?

Fulfilled life doesn’t necessarily mean a filled life. There needs to be space in your life to be able to be present and enjoy what you place in your pickle jar! For me I gained amazing results when I looked at my pickle jar and consciously refilled it with a nice mix of rocks, pebbles, sand and water – I also was able to fit a shell in there too!

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