Goodbye and Hello ...and Happy New Year!

For nearly everyone I know, personally and as part of the collective, it's been a tumultuous year with lots of change.

Storm riding. Breath holding. Solid ground seeking.
Hand to heart; change.

For me, the change (s) have been enormous. And the challenges; big, crawl out of my skin, don't think I can do this, what if I fall from the sky, challenges.
Pushed up against, and far beyond comfort zones.

And also, amazeballs, miracle kind of stuff in equal measure. The kind that is so direct and clear you know you are being  supported and shown the way. It's palpable. 

I think, maybe, this next year will offer a span of time for the tectonic plate-like shifts to slow, and the dust to settle into some sort of manageable form.

This year I said goodbye to;

Sirens, horns, subways, light pollution, crowds, and most of my possessions.
Which was easy.

My (animal) rescue work and many small beings who depended on me. 
Which was very hard.

Alcohol. I miss wine, everything about it. 
And a good whisky on a cold winters night.
It was time.

Security and certainty.
Which are an illusion anyway.

But true ties span continents.

I said hello to;

Spaciousness, and room to breathe.
The sound of my own footsteps.
And potentials which had never known the conditions needed to potentially ...become.

I thought I was good with the forgiveness thing. I've done a lot of it. 
But the other day I got a crystal clear realization (accompanied by an audible harrumph of "ooh, right")  that there is more to do, and just how powerful it is.
Forgiveness can all at once reach back into histories of patterning, and shift the course of our lives.
It is the stuff of unblocking like nothing else, and has reverberations which span lifetimes, complete contracts, and shift our "energetic DNA" (Karmic, of you will) for this life and those to come.

Someone asked me, but how do you do it? How can you forgive horrible wrongs done?
What Im finding in myself is a softening which comes with the awareness that somewhere, somehow, there is someone holding on to an unforgiveness of me.
In the this life or before, I have without a doubt, knowingly or unknowingly, done a wrong to someone.
Maybe even a wretched one. Its a law of humanness.
That is my beginning place.
And, letting go of my my "unforgivingness" doesn't forgive the thing, it releases me from being bound to it.

What if at the heart of the work of coming home to ourselves, is coming home to the whole of which we are woven?
What if this is the source of our fragmentation, and at the core of our longings?
Maybe what we are in need of returning to is Self as part of all things, all beings.
With our daily considerations and intentions rooted in a lived remembrance of our essential nature. For own healing. And for the world.

Is this something you do? Choose a word that represents a feeling, state of being, or aspiration for the year to come?
I love how congruent sounds, and rolls off and ends on the tongue.
But more than that, it feels like, everything; integrity, values, alignment ...inner & outer, word & deed, as above so below ...
Congruent is my aimed for measure for all things in 2019. 
Am I? Is this?
Congruence is the place and way I want to be in more of the time.


Tracking Our Triggers

For the most part -maybe the entire part, the set of emotions and impulses we experience in any given situation have very little to do with what is actually happening.

We bring the baggage of a lifetime with us into every perception, interaction, and circumstance-reaction.And filter what we hear through our lens of conditioning.
It could be that rose colored glasses were handed out in childhood. (Can we please swap for just a little while??) More often, it's a more traumatic and/or negative view of the world and self kind of patterning, that creates our neural pathways and becomes our filter.

A mother who hoarded plastic bags? A father who told you artistic expression was indulgent? A history of scarcity? (real or felt) Abandonment? Body shame? Check. 
Unless we also inherited a phenomenal mindfulness practice, we are always in reactive reflex based on what was, not what currently IS.

What Im noticing right now, given my recent not so small leap, is that regardless of being where I want to be and knowing that it's right, in the part of me that knows, ALL of my stuff about home, and (in)stability and having enough is being triggered. Big time.
And I am having to be extra vigilant about observing, bringing myself back to present and asking; is this about now?  
Are my worries and anxiety in proportion to the circumstances and real risks of the current situation? Or is the viscerally, illogically, all out "homeless and broke with two cats in a foreign country" catastrophising, a function of my bag of baggage??

While it's true that stretching past comfort zones and doing what to our nervous system and emotional memory feels dangerous (new always does) what is being experienced, and preventing us from being in and weighing the merits of this actual moment, is usually old. 
And, our adult self has the ability to judge and strategically deal with and "keep us safe from" where our 5 year old self couldn't.  

Developing the observer muscle 
It's not about detachment, but witnessing. Compassionately observing the fears, chatter, body stiffening, and (re)actions that are not in equal measure to the situation, and creating little breathing spaces between trigger and reaction, in which we have room to unclench from the trigger. And to choose. 

It aint easy. It takes Reflective Practice. And practice. And more practice.
Regular, daily, new neural pathway creating habits which invite perspective. Grounding. Stilling. The ability to watch the rhythm of our thoughts ... 
And choosing now. And another way. Falling off, and getting on again. And again.

A daily practice can be anything that works for you  -whatever it is that puts you in the zone; meditation –seated at an altar, or walking in the woods. Movement, (swimming, cycling, running, yoga). Journaling, being with animals, in service to others, anything which brings you into your body fully, in observation, and the present.
And, physiologically speaking, is at least 20 minutes in duration, and consistent, to get into the space where shifts happen. A bit like hitting REM sleep.

Cycling does it for me. And connecting to the wild -at its most elemental, always brings me home. But my most consistent practice is an every single morning without fail chunk of time with my journal.
It doesn't matter what I write. It's not about story telling or formatting. Its both a mind dump, and my written prayer. And it's a practice. It brings me back to myself and my connection to source, and creates space between my mind and the chatter that fills it. It connects me to compassionate observation.

What works for you?

What are you feeling triggered by? Do you have a practice? Does it help? Tell me about it ...if you care to share


The Craft of Deep Listening

I’ve come to the conclusion over the last few weeks, that the craft of deep listening doesn't get nearly enough attention.

How many of our daily conversations consist of two people talking at each other, while (usually unconsciously) angling for a break to insert our own experience or reaffirm a position?

How often do we feel really heard?
How often do we really listen? 
To others. To ourselves.

There is a trifecta that happens with the practice of deep listening.

We become capable of a fuller and truer receiving of others -friends, partners, strangers ...and in all of the subtle ways they are communicating, beyond the words being used.
And so we really are speaking with, rather than at each other. 
When both parties in any situation feel seen and heard ...this is the space where possibility is endless …

With deep listening we access and communicate from a more authentic part of ourselves, our responses are more thoughtful, accurate and reflective of how we really feel. 
Making it possible for others to hear (and understand) us in the ways we fundamentally long for.

And, listening deeply means the muscle of intuition strengthens, so we are more able to hear ourselves ...our emotional wisdom, needs, and soulful callings ...

What could happen if we practiced listening without agenda?
And pausing before response?



Getting ON with it

For the last year, the last few months more so, I've had an increasing sense of just how short our time here is. Not a dwelling in morbidity, but a real feeling-awareness of how fast the finality of being in this body comes.
And an urgency.
Even if I live the full length of my natural life span, my time here is already more than half over. That feels like a heavy but necessary awareness, because, maybe we all need to get more ON with it.
I have "no idea where the time went" I do know I spent so much of it waiting, for ...myself, really. For permission. For self belief. To be enough. And all things to be, right. MORE.
More reasonable, more practical. More money. More guaranteed outcomes before risk taking. And so much time spent worrying about stuff that just doesn't matter. 

Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to be pulled by what is, rather than held by what isn't.

I will be packing my bags and heading back to Scotland, twice this summer!  
At the end of May I'll be spending a week at the Findhorn Foundation, a place I've known of since I was right about 10 years old, when I picked up a book with full page photos of magically enormous flowers and vegetables, and had my young self's certainty of earth magic, and fairies confirmed.
And again for just about 2 months toward the end of summer, for some deep time and slow travel. I'm really excited about spending a few weeks in Orkney! I have no idea where it will lead ...but it will lead somewhere, of that there is no doubt.
(I will have laptop in hand, and be coaching from afar!)

Change is inevitable. But we humans, so enamored of control, simultaneously long for, and dread it, don't we? Always desirous of control and certainty ...thats me.
I would be lying if I didn't also say that this jumping off is scary shit. For real.
I know how I want -intend for it all to turn out. And I have no idea if, and how it will ...

Intending with an open palm ...
It's a hair fine and fluid line, an edgy kind of dance, isn't it?

  • What change is pulling you?

  • What is steadily murmuring of its need to be expressed?

  • Where is excitement pointing?



Excitement as indicator that we are facing right-direction

The spark ✨ ...that almost imperceptible but undeniably present; ooh, yes, breath catch, heart flutter, belly jump -or softening the revealer of where we belong. Our north star, sweet spot ...our truth, our gifts, and work we are meant to do. 

It's usually not the thing itself, but what the thing aligns us with; exploring this idea over another, making this right turn over that left, and what becomes so, if followed. The ways of being, and experiences presented when choosing in the direction of  excitement ✨💫

Those small almost imperceptible sparks ...flutters, heart jumps, breath catches, quiet yesses (they aren’t always in shouty caps and preceded by a hell) ...are the breadcrumbs that lead to congruence.



Forgotten agreements and hidden agendas

I wrote a letter today. Its unlikely I will ever send it. I may decide to burn it. Maybe it will forever remain in my desk drawer, in it's ceremonial envelope.
I broke long ago made commitments, and rescinded forgotten permissions. 

As method of survival, acceptance, and the singular need of a new to the world young being for stability, safety, and the love and support of family and society, we make agreements. Both spoken and unspoken, and often at the cost of our own innate gifts, values, longings, about how we will live, love, shine, rise, trust ...the degree to which we will and will not need and want. Usually its about, not TOO much. 

We agree not to shine too bright or be bigger than parents who have never shone at all. Not to be artists, adventurers, or receivers of love.
Not to rise above the level that those around us did or did not. Not to deviate from the model of romantic partnerships, success, and personhood. To live by a set of values not necessarily our own, so as to to ensure acceptance and a continued place at the table.

We agree and then we forget.

We give permissions for how we will be seen and treated, first to those closest, and then carry that modeling into our adult lives. We forget about them and go on with our lives, but the trajectory -and the degree of our actual LIVE-ing, is often in direct relationship to these hidden commitments. Intentions set at age 2, 10, 17, set the stage for what does and does not enter our lives. They cement the bricks firmly in place for the "inexplicable" blocks we come up against again and again as adults, unable to figure out why we cant just finally get on with it. 

If we want different, we sometimes have to revisit, and do a manual re write.

It is our right to rescind those agreements, made under the duress of our small selves doing what we had to, to ensure what felt like survival.

  • Where are there old sticky energetic threads, still holding you in agreements that don't serve?

  • Who in your young life did you decide it was your responsibility to protect by not being or having, more, or different?


Don't censor yourself, write whatever comes, even if it doesn't make sense. I invite you to ask;

  • What agreements, both spoken and unspoken did I make long ago, and with whom?

  • The current life situation I'm in, or unmet need I'm struggling with, is about keeping my agreement not to _____________

  • Whom or what part of myself am I keeping safe by doing so?

  • That agreement (s) is affecting me by _______

  • What permissions did I give that have shaped my life today?

  • What would I have to give up if I broke the agreement (s) or rescinded the permission?

  • And, what might be gained by doing so?

When you are done, consider completing or renegotiating at least one agreement or permission that does not serve, by writing a letter. It need never be sent, but a physical statement, kind or angry, whatever it needs to be, letting that person (s) or situation know that you are moving on. That you take back the permissions you gave, and are making a new agreement, one that gives you your freedom and inalienable rights.

Burn it. Send it. Toss it out the window and let it be carried away by the wind ...



Measures of a year well spent

I think we all do it; a year comes to an end and we start to reflect on what has, and has not been accomplished; aspirations for new jobs, moves, new loves, finally reaching the goal...for reinvention?
Invariably, it opens up a whole can of angst.
But what of internal evolution? What of walking the labyrinth of inner landscape? Of traveling great distances to come home to ourselves, while externally, not much has changed?

What of forward motion that can't be measured in a straight line?

We assign so much value, and measure of worth and identity by the external. Its a very modern, and western thing, I think. This DO-ing rather than BE-ing.

I am in no way suggesting that we don't set, and work toward our aspirations (for me a better word than goals) or that we passively sit back and wait for our dreams to manifest via the "power of positive thinking"
Only that we redefine what progress looks like. And, maybe show ourselves some kindness.
I am a seasoned practitioner of whipping ones-self with the sharply barbed list of what what hasn't been accomplished.
But what if we took pause, a kindly few moments with ourselves, to list our victories?

  • How much rootedness, and emotional intelligence have we gained?

  • How much more do we belong to ourselves?

  • The days we did get to the gym, speak our truth, choose, rather than react?

  • New ways of being with ourselves and in the world.

  • The ways we've lived braver.

Maybe this year has been marked by huge leaps and gains; hoped for personal life events, and gigantic promotions, Woohoo! For real, amazing.
But if it’s been a series of quiet stretches rather than epic leaps ..also Woohoo!

What would you have to embrace or let go of, to be okay with the year that was?

We have an idea, about straight lines from here to there, and if we don't get there we go through the mental war-with-self for not having reached point B, and draw hard lines in the sand. But life happens in between the lines.

I invite you to consider;

  • Who you were a year ago? How have you changed, become more of yourself?

  • What inner precipices have you walked to the edge of, and perhaps crossed?

  • Where have you realized that there is work to do? -This is a big thing too!

  • Were there times that you quietly said yes to a thing? Or, without fanfare, just said said NO?

  • Is there a realization -or several, that you've had about how you want to live your life in the year to come? This is valuable.

What I've come to know that time is not linear, its circular. And that "progress" speeds up and slows down with influencers not
seen by the naked eye or measured by calendar month. 

Or by year. 



Doing our work, so that we can do our work

Someone recently told me that I was, to paraphrase, too "self-analytical” basically, that I spend too much time thinking about myself. It stung.  
Is this really how I appear? OMG Have I been misunderstood, again?
(Cue the ouch of recurring life-theme)
And then I forgot about it ...but not really.

Having recently spent a week on retreat with with a group of people doing some deep "self-analyzing" I'm thinking of it again. 
And of the need for us not get stuck in "self" work, but to follow the continuum of healing, so that our own found clarity and wholeness is the foundation from which we move to heal brokenness in he world -in whichever ways we are uniquely inspired to do so. Art, writing, animals, hospice work, gardening with love ...just BE-ing, living and interacting from this place.

The truth is that the personal development/self help/coaching world can be maddeningly narcissistic and ego serving, and become a loop of navel gazing and designer mala beads.

My own commitment to self inquiry and healing, and the reason I coach, is about the very opposite --it's because whole, healed, authentic people create a whole, healed world. And this is my daily entreaty ...

Its about dynamic revealing, and seeing, peeling back the layers of false conditioning and disconnect, about figuring out what really, deeply, matters. And then turning our gaze and our actions, outward, and being the change.

Just as we aren’t designed to be solitary creatures, but meant for connection -to immediate community and greater earth community, our work to embody a fuller expression of who we really are, isn’t meant to be wholly self-focused, but for the good of the whole take into the world  in small and big ways, that create ripples that reach the recesses of distortion and dark.

Inward directed inquiry and self care are not the end goals, but the way forward

Getting really clear and working on our stuff, allows us to discover and hone the ways of being that we want to bring into the world. 

Coming home to ourselves means we can then relate to others from a place of rootedness and grounding, and self-integrity, that we can then reflect out into the world-community near and far.



On walking to edges

Im thinking about edges this morning -and walking to them.
And that edges come in different forms …not all present with a stomach clenchingly dramatic precipice, and are accompanied by thematically appropriate soundtrack.
Some are subtle, woven into the fabric of our daily choices, and directions taken. 
A little ..”Ooh, hello, well here is little thingie to notice and stretch to the other side of ...”
And, subtle doesn’t equal un monumental.
An edge doesn't have to feel cold sweat dramatic, and rock us to our core, to be profound. Or to bring a shift.
Sometimes the subtlest action of stepping off the curb in our not usual direction to the grocery store -down a not before seen road, or a quiet YES, or just
choosing to be still, sitting with feelings or thoughts never before given space to BE, can cause ripples equal to stepping off a precipice thousands of miles high …
The thing is, that we keep stepping.



Holding Places

When I was studying anatomy -and specifically multi directional breathing, we learned about how when cadavers are dissected, the habitual postures and holding patterns in life are reflected in atrophied and misshapen lungs (and other organs) in death.
Where a person has held tight -their insides had also not expanded, not been able to function fully, multi-dimentially.

This has always stuck with me, and felt like a profound metaphor for examining and asking, where am I contracted? Where am I folded, and un true?

What parts of me if untended to, will be atrophied or misshapen if examined at the end of my life?

The year or so before my trip to Scotland, and the trip itself were very much about a profound getting, of my holding places. And how uneven my growth had been, incredibly developed in some areas, but also, many places that had never seen the light, never been fed or tended to, or had a chance to become …there was malnourishment patterned from as long ago as I can remember, that needed attention; Soil, sunlight, listening to. Open and wild space in which to take hold …
For me it took getting physically sick to really know it.

I am continuing to restructure my life and work in a way is that both nourishing and values-aligned.

We all have them …I wonder, where are the places in you, the metaphorical atrophied lungs? What would be found if you were to be opened up today?

What values and things held sacred, are lying unexpressed, and in need of honoring and tending?

Being the change

I was speaking with someone yesterday about the overwhelm she feels at so many wrongs and injustices in the world, how to choose one, where to focus, how to have effect ...

What I said to her, and what I truly believe, is that it really doesn't matter WHAT we do, as long as we DO.

I believe that every action taken toward the healing of a brokenness, the righting of an imbalance, whether it be in our close community; planting trees, working with children, delivering meals on wheels, or being the voice of non human animals. Using our art to by-pass the polarization that can come with dialogue, and instead reaching peoples hearts and feeling-places, fanning the flames of awareness.
Or on the other side of the world, protecting old growth forests, blocking bulldozers and pipelines, or holding vigils and bearing direct witness to that which is unbearable, each and every thing we do with the passionate intention of shedding light and transforming what is, lends itself to the greater groundswell of awakening and paradigm shifting that is pulsing and ready to become … 

Each action that aligns with our own unique voice and heart-calling, and our unfettered impulses of compassion and humanity, feeds the collective shift toward a new way of existing on this planet, and a just and sustainable world for all beings.

The important thing is that we DO. 
Each of us has so much more effect than the individual actions we take. 
Every action creates a ripple that connects to other ripples and literally reverberates around the world.


Having a soft heart in a hard world

I've been thinking a lot lately on what it means to have a soft heart. To feel, acutely. 

Earth as self, animals as self, the homeless person on the corner, as self. 
And about how the world at large and even most therapists and others in helping professions, attribute this depth of feeling to some kind of pathology, to something missing from our childhood, or a projection of the hurt parts of ourselves onto those most vulnerable, and it is dismissed as a kind of "reverse healing" that negates our authentic impulse.

I strongly counter that rather than soft hearts indicating that something is wrong with us, they are an indication that something is RIGHT with us.

Feeling, viscerally, as part of the whole; recognizing the struggle of another, the experience of empathy, a call to alleviate suffering, seeing self in others -across the illusory divide of species and color and culture (and that there IS no "other") are all part of moving closer to our unfettered state and essential nature.

And, softness doesn't cancel out ferocity.

Walking this earth with a soft heart, the willingness to feel the pain (and the magnificence) of mad love for all that is, and the impulse to act upon it, is a gift. 

Do more of that.
Nothing is wrong with you.