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Stillness Inspires

As my life would have it, I managed to put myself into a hurricane of sorts lately.  Being a coach, I have numerous friends in my profession who “lovingly” give me “feedback” on an ongoing basis, pointing out ways that might be more reasonable alternatives to some of my choices.  As I got myself all worked up about a situation, one of my dear friends reminded me, “that’s because you engaged.”  Silly me.  I engaged.

Using the hurricane analogy, all of us have the best access to our own power when we are centered in our silence, similar to the “eye” of the storm.  Ignoring that, I recently decided to play a part in an issue that I was allowing to upset me.  I was stepping right out of my peace directly into the wind, pretty much obliterating my nice calm centeredness. The wind in a hurricane does what it’s supposed to do – blow.  Hard.  So, of course, the more I “engaged” with the wind, the more I let myself get tossed around in debris, often forgetting that my storm even had an “eye” to it.  What was my immediate response to my engagement?  I got mad at the wind.  The wind doesn’t even care. It’s just doing it’s job blowing things around that are in its path. That’s all.

My friend's hurricane reference got me thinking about the value of boundaries.  No different from house rules, curfews, expectations of staff or a leadership team, or driving on the side of the road that will minimize the likelihood of a head-on crash, we live in a society that recognizes the need for boundaries and structure.  Some might choose to bend, ignore or think of rules more as “suggestions”.  As I tell my children, “All choices have consequences.”  Yet, what if we have “vague rules”, expectations that aren’t conveyed or we haven’t defined what is OK with us?  Would it be someone else’s job to read our minds to determine that something is acceptable or not if we don’t make that known?

I admit that I don’t set boundaries well, then get all agitated that someone didn’t honor my [unspoken] expectation.  Although I’m getting better at it, I often don’t realize my co-dependent, enabling, caretaking behaviors that I have become quite masterful at, almost guarantee that I’ll be stepping into the wind if I haven't done my stillness practices.  Then I’m flailing around at a bazillion miles per hour, wondering how to find the “eye” of my storm again.  What’s interesting to me is how I see this happen with so many people.  It’s everywhere in the media - people who claim to be “victim” of a situation because of them giving power to someone or something else.  Since we are the common denominator of all that happens in our lives, what is the part that we play to create all of our circumstances and experiences?  That means all of us.  No one is immune to being the author of his or her life.  Although there is enough self-sabatoging going in the lives of many subconsciously, I believe we can at least be conscious of our boundaries, where we choose to “engage”, and be mindful of the choices we can control.

This evening I was visiting a retired couple and their living room was decorated with holiday lights.  The woman told me “this is a time of the year for quiet.  Sometimes I just sit here later at night with the lights for reflecting and quiet time.”  With the Winter Solstice upon us, in the darkest time in our northern hemisphere, how could your life be enhanced by taking some time to re-acquaint yourself with you?  Would you choose to let the drama of the wind in your life be tuned out for a few minutes each day during meditation, prayer, cross-country skiing, or maybe a mini retreat in a hotel room with just you and maybe your journal?  You always will get more of what you pay attention to, so if you’re choosing to set boundaries, claim or reclaim your power, find clarity or be inspired, you won’t find your answers in the noisy roar of the wind.

Make it a priority for yourself to get still if only for five deep inhales and exhales a few times per day.  Your power lies in your center and you have much to do to be an inspiration in our world.  Don’t rip the rest of us off...YOUR stillness inspires.



There is no “Out There”

Over the past several weeks, a general theme has been coming up around the concept of “identity”.  I’ve collected a few of those here, knowing from my work that so many are seeking clarity, direction and “what’s next”.  Something here may spark an idea for that person in your mirror.

One of my clients has been doing some great self-observation work and today we got onto the subject that we can only see aspects of ourselves in others, as a mirror to us.  For example, there are things I appreciate in others, such as intelligence, kindness or quick wit because I usually like those traits about myself.  Similarly, when I get aggravated by someone being controlling, well….where’s my mirror?  Not that I’m liking that part much.  “You Spot It, You Got It” could be another Universal Law, like gravity.  Whether you get a warm fuzzy or find yourself highly annoyed about someone’s behavior, remember, there is no “out there”.  If you are looking to have something be different, the answer is in your own back yard.

Speaking of close to home, last month I took my last “first day of school” picture on our front porch.  Yes, my baby girl is a high school senior.  My boys just rolled their eyes when I forced this tradition on them when they were high school.  Despite this year’s eye-rolling, the next comment was, "Mom, you have to get pics of [my daughter and her best friend] on the car."  The car was, of course,  adorned with “Seniors ’10” and hearts painted all over the windows.  Then they were off to get iced coffees before school.  Ahh…the first day of school…that enthusiasm will be showing up again in June on the last day of school.  Another place for me to look at “identity”. What about how we perceive our roles in our lives? In this scenario, I’ll be evolving from my role as a “full-time mom” of 27 years (not like one is ever done being a parent) to an “empty nester”.

What roles, job descriptions, business titles or positions in organizations that you may currently hold have now run their course? Are you hanging onto them even if they are no longer a fit, simply because you have identified yourself as your job title? Could you still be you if you were no longer the president of ABCDE Group?  Are you truly dedicated to your role because it’s right for you or because it’s right for someone else?  I’m sure you’ve seen Dick Hoyt and his inspirational story at www.teamhoyt.com, yet it might be helpful to view his video again on the site if you happen to be asking yourself that question.

Speaking of what others might think, what era are you living in?  Is it the present or some other time?  This summer, I spoke with a friend who enjoyed a day at the PGA Championship round at Hazeltine National Golf Club with his friend.  Being a people observer, they talked of many attributes of today’s elite golfers, the demeanor of the crowd, etc.  After the round was completed, numerous people were gathering in a VIP tent.  His friend made a comment that was very interesting, “There are four groups of people in the tent.  One group will remain silent.  The second group will be those who say, ‘Do you know who I was?!’ The third group will be boasting, ‘Do you realize who I am?!’ Finally, the fourth group will be encouraging others to recognize, “Do you know who I’m going to be?!’  Then he asked my friend, 'Which one are you?'”  Hmmm…. What era are you living in?  Is it serving you to dwell on the past, live only for the future or be with those who you can love and matter to right here, right now?

Let me end today's thought about identity with the inspiring writing from Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love, that Nelson Mandela helped make famous:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

BE the inspiration YOU are!



Summer Brain and Being Inspired

Whew!  I’m back.  I took a bit of a writing sabbatical in the midst of the life upheaval called moving.  Relocated my home and my office last month.  Thank goodness for loving friends and great summer weather to minimize the awfulness of physically putting all my stuff from one building to another.

Summertime is a great time for moving and not only because my plants don’t freeze.  Summer is also a time when life is in an altered state, at least in the Upper Midwest.  For years I’ve referred to this state as “Summer Brain”.  I’m guessing there are innumerable reasons behind the relaxed mindset.  It could be possible that it is such a thrill that our frozen tundra has thawed for three short months so we get to play outside without 17 layers of clothing.  Or maybe that we don’t go to work in the dark, then go home in the dark.  Another explanation could be because school is out and we extrapolated that sense of “whatever…it’s summer” into adulthood.  Whatever the case, I’ve observed that right after the State Fair is over and Labor Day is behind us, most of us get our brains back.  There is focus again with the expectation of change and a sense of a “new year” mentality – even more realistically than the changing of the calendar on January 1.

Luckily, I’m feeling like I might be recovering from my Summer Brain symptoms earlier this year after not feeling like I had a summer.   I allowed the whole moving thing to consume me with many weeks of “packing, planting and painting”.  I was telling some friends last week that I’ve been doing those other “p” words with not enough “play” and I’m beginning to get rather “p***y” about it.  Not all that inspiring, so I’ve waited for some “peace and pleasure” to show up.  After all, I write to inspire….and I’m back in the nick of time, well before the summer has faded into history.

One advantage of my “p” tasks is that most of the time I spent alone in those activities.  The added bonus is what I was doing fit quite well with my summer brain as each thing really didn’t require any serious brain activity.  Having the advantage of (theoretically) plenty of meditative and thinking time isn’t all that relevant considering my hyper-active brain. Yet amidst the banter going on in my head, numerous inspiring topics showed up.  The first being the basic concept of “inspiring”.

"Inspire" is one of my favorite words.  My dear friend and branding expert, Kathy Garland, said, “You OWN “Inspire” because that’s what you DO”.  Being very aware of that word has me see it everywhere.  I liken it to buying a new car, then seeing the same make and model as your purchase everywhere you look, even if you were blinded to that model prior to your purchase.

With my heightened sense of my “inspire” word and pondering over planting, all kinds of philosophicalness (that’s now a word) came over me.  Then what happened?  I just was at a leadership conference out of town the last few days and walked into a workshop when one of the first topics was, ”Is being inspired something you 'get' from someone/something or is it something internal?”  People debated and then shared their reasons for their opinions being one side or the other.  The trainer said there was no right answer.  The jury is out on that one for me.  What do YOU think?  Are you an inspirer (internal source) or an inspiree (external source)?

Now let’s say you experience something external to you that motivates, energizes, triggers or uncovers passion, to the point that has you want to be or do something differently.  Where does that anxiousness, anticipation, curiosity or drive come from?  Is it really an external stimulus…really?  If it is, what did that external factor touch within you to have you feel inspired?  Similarly, is happiness an outside job?  What about love….is an external stimulant required to experience love?  I have a philosophy that there is no “out there”.  We only can experience a reflection of what we believe internally.

The alternative point of view is your inside world is the place inspiration is born.  What about all of your dreams, wishes and desires that appear to come from inside of you? Do you have the feeling that you have something original to experience or offer that you feel is driven from inside of you?  That “come from” can be very powerful as well.  What is it within you that makes “it” matter, keeps you in the game, has you contribute, or drives you to excel?

If you feel “inspired” (no rush if you have Summer Brain) let me know how you would vote.  To inspire or be inspired...is the source internal or external?

In the meantime, BE the inspiration YOU are!


Celebrating Change

Yesterday I wrote a marketing piece for something I offer during this gift-giving season.  My promotion addressed the fact that we, as a society, usually give gifts at a time of change.  The thought has become more curious to me overnight, so I’m filtering it out as I post here.

As a culture, we often give flowers, cards and gifts at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  These holidays celebrate love more than change and tend to be more intimate.  Still, the majority of the events that constitute throwing a party, gathering crowds or however we make a big deal about the person/people involved, revolve around some form of life transition.

I’m addressing these moments with wonder.  With the exception of birthdays, most of these events clearly constitute some form of life-altering adjustments for the people involved.  Here are the examples I noted:

Birthday = changing ages

Wedding = changing lifestyle and adding family member

New baby = permanently altering lifestyle and adding family member

Anniversary = reflection, and in a perfect world, gratitude

Engagements = excitement and/or terror (depending on who you talk to at any given time)

High School Graduation (for parent/s) = changing lifestyle and possibly semi-removing family member

High School Graduation (for graduate) = changing lifestyle and figuring life out

College Graduation (for parent/s) = changing financial lifestyle and possibly semi-re-adding family member

Getting unmarried = changing lifestyle and deleting (at least) one family member

New House = celebrating chaos and new beginnings

New Job = same

No Job = ok, maybe you would or wouldn't consider this "giftable" depending on the scenario...yet, be a friend....this could be life-altering for your buddy

Retirement = (see HS Graduate above)

There will always be the range of how people celebrate or acknowledge a life shift.  Some follow the “let’s just fly under the radar about this” approach as opposed to others who get balloons and pop champagne because it’s Friday.

What is the impulse for us be joyous and join in commemorating a glorious occasion?

Is it tradition?  Many cultures have traditions and ceremonies built around “coming of age” or other rites of passage, as an example.

Is it love?  We simply can’t wait to share another’s joy and happiness.  Who doesn’t want to be around love energy?!

Is it expectation or obligation?  Oh, that’s just “what is done” when [that event] happens.

Is it support?  (aka: love category)  I’m going to give you the gift of my time to get you through this, my friend.

The times we celebrate life changes can often be anticipated by either a date on the calendar or a time that is an end result after some work and anticipation.  When we get to that celebration moment, we could experience gratitude, relief, completion, acceptance, anticipation or a myriad of other emotions.  The common factor is that we typically knew about the timing prior to the celebration, so we could “prepare”.

What about other types of transitions that we didn’t anticipate?  Some situations can toss our lives upside-down, not much differently than some of events listed above, yet we might say we weren’t “prepared” or we feel “it” happened unexpectedly.  Life continues to happen like that for all of us.  Those who like victimspeak will say it “happened to them”, as if they don’t have a part to play in their own life movies.

Why not celebrate that, too?  After the dust settles and you regroup, couldn’t you throw a party for the new YOU that was able to adjust, recover and grow?  How about celebrating that you can have multiple chapters in your book of life and each one becomes so rich that you can’t put the book down?  When you’re lovin’ life, those closest to you love your book, too, so why wait until the end?  If you’ve got a beating heart, you are living a life of change and transition all the time.  Make it a point to have at least a party per chapter – maybe after each time you learn something new, make a new friendship or gain another realization of your genius and brilliance.

To live a full life, we get to embrace all the twists, turns, inconveniences, blessings and growth along the way.  We have choice to make that a mundane, dum-dee-dum, one-step-in-front-of-the-other kind of plodding through our life or as, Dr. Suess would say, “…find the bright places wehre Boom Bands are playing.”  Celebrate change.  You and those your love are worth it – give them the gift of you.  Don’t wait.



By the way, is the book of your life on your own “Best Seller” list?  I’m sensing a party invitation coming soon…

Infuse Love / Evoke Passion

This title sounds almost like a Valentine’s Day theme.  Yet, right before Mother’s Day, maybe it’s even timelier that I write this as there is no greater love than that of a mother.

Last week I was at a “Diva event” which was a promotion for a new very cool local wellness center.  One of the speakers that evening had a topic about creating better relationships, which piqued my interest.  One part of my business is involved with relationship marketing tools, so ongoing learning to be a better relater is something I’ll likely be working on for the rest of my days, in an expectation that one day I’ll get it right.  I believe that people tend to teach what they get to learn better, so more tools in my toolbox is a good thing.  I jumped into the seminar and, of course, being vocal, I (my relationship stuff) was the topic of discussion in the group.  What’s that saying?  - “Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we want.”  Oh, gotta love feedback.

The presenter talked about the concept of “infusing love”.  Wow!  That resonated with my philosophy that “the one with the biggest energy wins”, which got my brain spinning even more.  How many people do you know can change the energy of a room just by walking into it?  He or she could be charming, charismatic and gorgeous.  How about a toddler pitching a fit or an adult wanting to share his or her mad-on?  Did you ever experience someone who hit a jackpot of some kind and wanted to “share the news”?  We’ve all experienced that kind of large, vocal, “instant” kind of energy, that when infused into the environment, will shift “what was” to an entirely new situation.

Now imagine a large, quiet, enveloping energy – a giant dose of unconditional love – similar to a parent or grandparent holding the context, mood, expectation and belief in a child.  The inspiration, fulfillment and contentment of the second scenario is not as instant and jarring as the former scenarios, yet the lasting effect of love energy is permanent, evasive and something we all retain in our souls.

Big energy often appears that it is cast into a space, onto a person or into a situation.  A person in a position of authority might set a stage of expectations that comes from a commanding or controlling perspective, thinking that kind of behavior will get results faster.  It often does.  The responding parties will comply because of unease, retribution or some other fear-based emotion and the pervasive longer-lasting result is often resentment.  Did you ever hear the statement, “Resentment is the poison you take hoping someone else will die”?  How could this strategy ultimately result in a long term gain if those involved are expected to be happy, productive contributors?  Isn’t that in itself an ideal?  Ask anyone what they want the closest people in their lives to experience and the ultimate response is always, “I want them to be happy.”

A couple of years ago one of my clients, who held a management position, was responsible for the performance of numerous people and an improved bottom line for the organization.  Holding a position of authority as a leader, the manager believed in the need to act as an authoritarian.  In this case, it wasn’t authoritarian as in a "teacher" who has an expertise in a subject; it was the authoritative type of conduct that was assertive, directive and controlling.  It finally became apparent that the forceful style of addressing issues and duties continually prompted frustration with all involved.  “I want to instill pride into them!” was a repeated comment by this individual who was charged to lead. Really?!  How can one “instill” anything into someone when they already have it?  It almost gets me as upside-down as saying, “I’m empowering my team.”  What?!  Who made you God today thinking you have the ability to give anyone else power?  Geez!  How about “evoking” pride? What about recognizing that empowerment is an inside job?  Any trait, skill, value, passion or characteristic that lies dormant can be shaken up and brought forth with the right kind of attention, nurturing energy or compelling reason.

Bringing forth one’s genius, brilliance or passion comes from a source of energy rooted in love, trust and an of-course-you/I-can belief.  It can be as simple as the example of how all of us learned to walk.  We were determined, encouraged, fell down, got up and didn’t waiver in the belief we could do it.  We had someone believe in, encourage and guide us. At some point, all of us who have achieved something beyond what we originally thought possible for ourselves had a parent, teacher, partner, coach, friend, business associate or mentor that held the bar up for us, gave little energy to our limiting "circumstances", infused love and said, “Yes, you can”.  And we did.

Be that today.  Be love loving.  Think of your mom and all the others who nurtured you and assisted in evoking your passion and greatness at one time in your life.  They lit your candle when it was dark in your world.  Their candle never diminished by lighting yours.  Now it's your turn. Where can you light a candle or two today?

Be the inspiration YOU are –