Creativity

Embrace Your Pace: Life Lessons from the Turtle

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“I’m procrastinating,” I said. “It’s my inner nemesis.” As soon as I said it, I got a stomach ache, like I was revealing and also judging an integral part of myself.

And, my brilliant writer friend said, “Process is tricky.” Ah, you said a mouthful there, sister.

A few days earlier I'd received an intuitive reading from the wise Dina Strada. One of the hits she got was that “things are going to take longer than you think.” And, I thought, Grrr. How much longer? It feels like it’s taking forever for things to happen, as in career, love, body health, etc.

Then, she said, “Keep doing your work and surrender to your timing.” Ah. “You can’t rush it.” Double ah. It literally made me exhale. Rather than feeling more frustrating, it felt true.

I believe in divine timing and it’s something I discuss often with friends, colleagues and clients. And, I also often find myself trying to beat the clock, divine or otherwise.

Interestingly, the moment after Dina said it - you can’t rush it - the image of a turtle, a grand old tortoise, popped into my head. I mentioned it and it brought the intuitive message to a whole new level for me. Embracing my pace. Just like the tortoise.

Some lessons from the turtle

It sent me discovering, to see what kind of guidance the wise turtle has for me and other tortoise-like folk. Ted Andrews, in his book “Animal Speak”, says turtles symbolize longevity and wisdom. They’re in it for the long haul. “Long life and groundedness…on some level, the turtle knows it has all the time in the world.”

Lesson: She teaches us to look at our relationship with time. Where to slow down, to speed up, to surrender to the pause. Sometimes the pause is the best thing to serve the pace.

Turtles carry their homes on their backs. They never leave their home, but more importantly their home never leaves them. They already have everything they need to survive and thrive.

Lesson: Read previous sentence.

When a turtle gets flipped onto its back, everything gets tossed askew. But, the turtle literally uses its strong neck and head to lift and flip itself upright again.

Lesson: Trust your own wisdom and knowledge when in a bind. Use your head. And, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t.

A turtle is opportunistic and takes her time to notice when an ample opportunity crosses her path. In the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” sometimes the hare is moving so fast, with her eye on the prize, that she misses opportunities as she whizzes by and she’s so busy trying outwit and outrun and to be the best, that she exhausts herself.

The tortoise is at her pace so she can slow down and seize moments to explore. She goes within herself, literally, to assess. The tortoise doesn’t try to be the hare or to buy into the hare’s latest online program, “Six Simple Steps to Win the Race Every Time.” That may work for the hare. This is not a judgment on the hare; the hare has a different process which works for the hare. But, it doesn’t work for everyone. The tortoise has the goal to cross the finish line too, but in a way that works within the tortoise framework. In a tortoise lane. On the tortoise clock.

It's funny, I often say, "I gotta light a fire under my butt," as way of motivating myself to move faster. Hmm, I wonder what would happen if you lit a fire under a tortoise's butt. Turtle soup? I'm just saying.

Lesson: It’s not about winning, because that often becomes about someone else’s race. Following someone else’s get-rich-quick scheme or shortcut to success may not work for you, at least not until you slow down enough to know what resonates and what feels right. For you.

The turtle is low to the ground and feels the vibrations of all that’s around her. It’s in that place that she trusts her pace, whether to speed up, slow down or pause.

Lesson: listen to your own vibrations and when you do listen to other's input, pause to listen to your own decision. Don’t be rushed.

No excuses

There’s a shadow side to the tortoise energy. It’s using all of this as an excuse, relying simply on this knowledge that things happen as they happen, resting on laurels with the hope that somehow your brilliance will be discovered.

A wise healer said to me one time, “There’s no shortcut to enlightenment.” The same goes for trusting your own pace. Divine timing isn’t esoteric. It’s doing the work that pulls you, that’s in your heart, that’s in your lane. And, trusting that the next levels of enlightenment or success or completion will unfold at the right time, your right time.

Then, when it does happen, it’s deeper and richer and more meaningful, as well as being authentic.

I’ve experienced this over and over again in my lifetime. My family has always said I march to the beat of my own drummer. Yes, that’s true. That’s because I’m a frigging tortoise! I’m a slow build, in it for the long haul. And, what’s interesting, when there have been times of fast success or a quick leap up, I often have to pause to catch up with myself. Gotta say, the turtle does that too!

Watch the work, not the time

I recently watched a documentary about artisans in France, designers who create and supply the design houses with very specialized elements, like pleats. An entire company and all they make are pleats.

Or an outfit that creates only the tiny artificial flowers that adorn a larger design. This artist said, “It’s under my skin, this work. It takes a lifetime. And, there’s history behind it.”

One atelier, a milliner, who makes the most beautiful couture hats, struck me. He created a wooden mold in its completion in order to build the perfect hat. He said, “You don’t watch the clock. You watch the work. Every one takes the time it takes.” I’m guessing he’s a turtle too.

Embrace your pace

So, back to my friend’s comment about process being tricky, it’s so true. You can’t judge it. Sometimes, it isn't procrastination, it's a necessary element, part of the project or work's unfolding. 

The freedom, the permission, is knowing that pace is part of the process. We turtles take our own sweet time, but we always get there.


Some Establishing-Shot Perspective

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It was a clear evening as I headed toward Pasadena for dinner. When I crested a hill on the freeway, the panorama made me pause. It was an expansive view, the roadways curving through the San Rafael Hills where homes were nestled in, and with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.

I thought, if I were writing this scene, this would be a great establishing shot of Pasadena.

In classical filmmaking, the establishing shot is the wide or long shot at the beginning of a scene that sets the tone, and indicates where, and sometimes when (time period), the ensuing scenes are to take place. It can also provide an instant glimpse into the concept and/or character relationships in the story. 

What happened when I took in the stunning establishing shot of Pasadena on that evening drive, was I got a sense of scope, with an eagle eye view, of what lie ahead in terms of landscape and architecture, as well as greater clarity on the direction I was going to take.

It got me thinking about what it might look like to apply the same idea to life, pausing for establishing shots in order to gain some clarity and perspective.

What does that mean? To my way of thinking, it means to stop what you’re doing in a given moment and take an energetic step back to peruse the bigger picture. And, also it means to view a total landscape before getting started on something, whether it's starting your day or launching a big program.

I often like to pause for an eagle-like perspective. It keeps me on track toward a bigger goal and also helps me to refocus on the present moment.

It can take place in smaller as well as grander moments. Such as:

  • Taking a broader glance at what’s on your desk, reprioritizing the day
  • Looking at the year ahead with a wide lens, highlighting special dates and deadlines. Navigation is sometimes clearer from a higher vantage point.
  • Focusing in on health – paying attention to the signals in your body, asking ‘where am I and where do I want to be when it comes to health?’
  • Zooming in on your living space – arranging things so they feel fresh and comfortable, and getting rid of excess that doesn't belong.
  • Picturing your life – through a life establishing shot, looking at where things are working and where they’re not, whether it's a job, a relationship or an idea. A broader perspective helps to light the way for more of what’s working. Also, from that establishing shot, you can visualize the life you desire. 

Pausing often to take these brief life establishing shots not only add layers of texture to your roadmap, but they keep you aware and present to your own life story.

Why not give it a shot? 


The Power of Re

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I overheard a woman speaking the other day in the elevator. Well, didn’t exactly overhear, it was a confined space and she was speaking loudly. She kept talking about how exhausted she was and that she needed to regenerate. She must have used the word regenerate ten times. At some level I could relate. In fact, the other nodding heads in the elevator gave credence to this articulated common denominator.

I love me a good “Re” word. Case in point, there are 26 of them in this piece.

It got me thinking about the impact of a good Re. It can be powerful and allows you to live your life rather than your life living you. It’s taking control of your life.

The power of the Re is that it places new energy in a new way toward, well, toward anything.

There are a lot great Re words, but here are some powerful ones to Re whatever needs a redo or a rethink or a reframe. I could go on…

  • Reinvent yourself by getting back to your foundation, what you love and why you do what you do.
  • Reinvest your time in a new and charitable way.
  • Reclaim your dreams, keeping them alive by articulating them on a regular basis.
  • Rejuvenate your attitude, turning can’t into can and don’t into do.
  • Refocus your energy by pausing, taking a deep breath, perhaps meditating or journaling.
  • Readjust your thinking, allowing yourself to come at a project from a fresh angle.
  • Retool your personal brand, your resume, your career intentions. A fresh approach can bring fresh results.
  • Recharge your physical battery; exercise, take walks midday or even rearrange your commute on the way to work.
  • Reignite your vision, like gently blowing on cooling embers. It’s always there, gently wake it up and bring it to life by pursuing it in thought and action, a little every day.
  • Redesign your plan; remove what’s not working and try something else.
  • Reframe your perspective, adjusting your view to gain new intelligence.
  • Refresh your relationships by reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. And, by being present in every exchange.
  • And, Refuse to quit on yourself.  

"Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit." ~ 
Napoleon Hill

Oh my, there are just so many. Review. Release. Renovate. Redecorate. Recreate. Reimagine.

Every day, you have an opportunity to hit the reboot button, in whatever way you choose.

In the way our skin renews itself every 24 hours, embracing the Re allows us to do the same thing in our lives. And, the good news is you can do and redo it again and again.

It’s truly the cycle of life. Or, in this case, the recycle of life.

 

[Photo by s w on Unsplash]


When Your Soul Speaks, Listen

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“Does your soul have a message for you today?”

That was the question the meditation teacher asked during session.

It turns out my soul did. It often does, when I’m paying attention.

Usually, the messages are so simple I almost miss them. Or I judge them. Or second guess them. That morning, I decided to just shut up and receive what was given to me. By my soul. Yep. I wasn’t judging it, or questioning whether it really was my soul guiding me, nor was I second guessing it, “Are you sure that’s all?” or “What am I supposed to do with that?”

It was pretty simple. I got quiet. Inhale. Exhale. Body against the chair. Sink in. Inhale. Exhale. When thoughts came that started to take me somewhere else, I floated back to my breath. Inhale. Exhale.

Then, I asked the question of my soul. “Do you have a message for me?”

Inherently, I knew to trust the first thing that came. And, here it was.

“You already have everything you need within you to receive the answers you seek.

Yes, it’s good to seek knowledge and experiences and connections that enrich your life. But, the truest answers to your deepest questions are not discovered externally. Those are found within your own inner and higher wisdom, through your direct connection to the greater knowledge that is source, God and universe. This is your truth, always.”

So simple. And, such a great reminder to trust. And, to not complicate things by seeking outside of ourselves.

Certainly that’s not a new concept, that you have everything you need within you. But, it was the message I needed to hear, right then.

The next morning I asked the question again and got another answer, equally as simple and perfect for what I needed.

That’s the beauty of this short and sweet daily practice. Each time the answer is different, the message is appropriate for what you need right then, on the day in that moment.

It happens when you’re in your body, as your breath connects you to being fully present and the mind is focused on listening and being open to receiving.

In that space, with the curiosity of a child, simply ask your soul what it wants you to know, in that moment on that day.

What’s interesting is that you can tell when it’s your soul speaking. If it sounds or feels like judgment or punishment, it’s your ego, not your soul. Soul speak comes from your highest wisdom and you know it when you hear it.

“Wise souls speak loudly in silence” ~ Unknown

What a profound way to create the day, on message. On your soul’s message. It paves the way for your divine purpose to unfold.

Simply, reverently, freely.


Stick to Your Lane

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"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally

I often marvel at my successful friends. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who are riding at or near the top of their game, continually reinventing themselves and expanding their capacities for the big lives they're meant to live. 

And, as a person who is continuing to unfold and evolve herself in midlife, watching them brings on a myriad of thoughts and emotions and actions. For one thing, it can be intoxicating! And, riveting. And, thought-provoking. 

And, inspiring. And sometimes I think, maybe if I emulate a few of the things they're doing then that might possibly work for me too. Maybe they know something I don't and should. "I'll have what she's having." 

Ever been there?

Where someone you admire is on a certain track and you wonder somewhere in your always-seeking brain, if you should be on that track too? 

The upside of that is that you can learn a lot: tried and proven tips and techniques to apply to your own work and career path.

The downside? It can lead to that never-a-winner game called Comparison. Where you start looking at your life, comparing it to that person you admire or a career path you might covet or even envy. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's also the thief of success and certainly of self-fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, "Comparison is an act of violence against the self." It only leaves you in a puddle of dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Hey, it's human to go there. I was there recently, after rejoicing in a friend's big successes, I caught myself in the downward spiral of comparison. Then, it went on to other fabulous friends who are kicking ass too. I started to question what path I was on, if perhaps I should be refocusing in some similar directions. Questioning all things like timing and choices and that started to lead to tiny thoughts of regret. Ugh. 

Well, there's one I did know for sure, and that was this train of thought was going nowhere good.

So, I got quiet. I did some deep work around it with some comrades who held me to my own fire, kept me accountable. I went underneath it, digging for the truths I've relied on over and over again. Then, in the midst of the quiet, when the competing inner voices had been silenced, I got the message I was meant to hear.

And, it was loud and clear: "Stay in your lane."

Stay in your lane.

And, it was an aha. Because the truth is whenever I've ventured over into someone else's lane for awhile, the lane of another writer or creative businesswoman where I want what she's having, I find that, beyond being inspired by them, I'm left chasing my tail and spinning my wheels. Why? Because it's their lane. It's not mine.

As soon as I step back over into my lane I'm reminded of what I do and what I love about what I do. Stay with that, my higher wisdom told me. Ground yourself in there, in the loving impact of your own lane.

It reminded me of a piece I'd written a couple years about a similar topic: 

In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning creator of the musical HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel talked about attending a school for gifted children. He said he looked around and everyone was smarter than him, he was “surrounded by genius, genius kids.” The interviewer asked him, “So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not one of your classmates?” He said, “I picked a lane and started running faster than anyone else.”

“I picked a lane!” That lane led to the intense hard work and dedication that made him a true pioneer, recreating the modern Broadway musical. And, man is he ever in his purpose. His lane just continues to widen and elevate him and everyone around him.

This time around, it made me think about how sometimes we can lose direction when we try to run in a lane that doesn't lead to our own purposeful work, so much so that we lose sight for a moment of what that was supposed to be. 

When I got that concise, powerful message I felt something shift in my thinking, back to what's in alignment for my truth. The simple truth is I don't want to be in anyone else's lane. No one should. 

It’s just so simple. We make things so complicated at times and comparison, that pesky devil, robs us of living our most intentional and satisfying life. When seeking outside of ourselves - outside our lane - we follow someone else’s lead down their road, ending up chasing a goal or dream that was never ours to begin with. Then, we lose our way, our path becomes less clear, albeit hidden behind something other than our own truth. We then try to override our most meaningful intentions by trying to make them fit a different outcome, rather than simply trusting the truth and power of our own lane.

So, how to get back there? Get still, find your footing again. Then, deal with what's right there, inside you and in front of you. Listen to your own wisdom. Remind yourself what you love and where you're amazing. Remember the reasons you share what you share. Discuss it with your support team, those who know you and have your highest best interests at heart. 

And, follow your heart's deepest intentions.

So, good reminder, yes? I say stick to your lane. And, I'll see you along the way. 


A Stolen Laptop, a Cautionary Tale and a Phoenix

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Where are the cars parked?” I asked the valet attendant.

“Behind the restaurant, inside a garage,” he said.

“So it’s secure? I have my computer in here,” I said. 

“Yes,” he said and nodded. For whatever reason, I felt safe enough to take his word for it. To trust.

Two hours later, you guessed it, when the same driver brought my car back around, the passenger window had been shattered and the one thing taken out of my car was the leather bag containing my MacBook Pro, which had been placed in the dark bag on the black floor, in a locked car inside their secured garage. To say I was suspicious was an understatement. And, believe me, I didn’t like feeling that way. I believe in people. I trust in people.

I’d like to say I was clear-minded, pummeling questions at the driver and his manager. I’d like to say I had the wherewithal to investigate. Instead, I crumbled, right there on the street outside The Village restaurant in Studio City. Thankfully I was with my dear friend who had a much clearer head than I did. She supervised the situation and helped me navigate.

She said, “Please tell me you’re backed up.” The blood drained from my face. Mouth cotton dry. Crying loudly on Ventura Blvd. Feeling stupid and angry at myself and then scared about the unknowns that surrounded me. Who took it? Why did they take it? Was it just for the hardware? Identity theft? It was a deep pit in my stomach.

This is what violation felt like.

Because here’s the thing. I knew the instant my computer was gone that I hadn’t properly backed it up. And, so much was lost. Beyond the photos and memories, so much deep writing. Gone. A novel I’d been working on. Gone, along with all of my notes. Drafts of screenplays. First drafts of articles not yet published. So much creation. Gone.

Then, I entered the phase of police reports and insurance claims and claims against the valet company and changing passwords and Lifelock memberships and phone calls to Apple and texts and calls from family and friends offering support and advice and shoulders.

This was what violation felt like. This is what being the victim of crime felt like.

And, because I have no idea if the computer was wiped clean right away or if the thieves took a tour of my virtual home, I vacillated, still vacillate, between feeling like my virtual house went up in flames, and feeling like I’m stark naked with my intimate personal info stamped across my forehead as the sleazy characters stroll leisurely around, looking at me and everything else, and I can’t cover myself up or do anything about it.

I honestly think, after a week of wondering, that it’s the former of those two scenarios. Hardware wiped clean and sold. I’m actually now praying that’s what happened.

Also, in my computer bag were three journals, two old ones, some of the source material for the memoir I’m writing, along with my newest one. I had them all with me because that morning I spent some really great time writing at Coffee Bean before heading into the office.

The memoir, and all files associated it with it, also gone. Although, the first saving grace in all of this, and there are several, is I emailed myself a draft about a month ago. Grace.

Another, for which I’m so grateful, I still have my old laptop. So, older files, photos, original drafts and records are still there. For whatever reason, it doesn’t really matter now what it was, I didn’t back up my new one, for the past 2.5 years.

I went home that night and powered up my old laptop. And, in the midst of my heartbreak, which I couldn’t yet define, a warm feeling came over me, like after being embraced by an old friend. That old 15-inch Mac, my old faithful, with the wallpaper painting that always made me smile – Vladimir Kush’s Diary of Discoveries – gave me a place to land that night. It felt like restart point, or at least a familiar resting point.

And, then, after a couple of long days and sleepless nights, when I wanted to journal again, I pulled out an old favorite and started in the middle where I’d left off back then, 15 years earlier.

We Join This Program Already in Progress

It got me thinking about where I was after the loss. My first thought was that I had to start over, with all that was gone. But, the truth is I was starting over mid-scene. Mid-step. In the middle of the dance. Midsentence. In progress. As in, we are joining this program already in progress.

I can’t pick up where I left off because where I left off, as it was all written, doesn’t exist anymore.

I found myself wanting to dig and see what was there, what is still there, of what I’d created. What would rise out of the ashes of those lost files, forgotten words once expressed to be revisited another time, characters developed, broken down plots, heroines and heroes conceived and nurtured until they were on their own, photographs flashed to capture moments now passed.

I closed my eyes and suddenly the image of a phoenix appeared before me.

The Phoenix Rises

A phoenix is a magnificent, mythical bird with wild colorful plumes that burns itself to ashes every 500 years and then is born again, signifying regeneration and renewal. If someone or something is a phoenix, it means they return again after seeming to disappear or be destroyed. Out of the ashes of the disaster, a phoenix of recovery can rise.

What happens to the phoenix after it rises? What becomes of the ashes? Does a phoenix go back and sift through its ashes for remnants of what was left behind? All questions coursing through my mind.

"You've seen my descent, now watch my rising." ~ Rumi  

What is my phoenix?

I had dinner the next night with some dear friends, all of whom are successful writers, working professionals. I love these dinners. We’ve been getting together, the same group, for 18 years. We always do an around-the-table catch-up and it’s been a joy to be alongside them as their careers have risen. And, these women are killing it with lots of exciting things – bestselling books, TV shows, movies – out in the world and currently in creation. Usually, I’m a much more lively participant, giddy for everyone.

But, that night I still had ashes in my head and in my ears, which made everything a bit muted and cloudy. I kept thinking about all of my own creations that were in the ashes as well. And, that victim part of me that was still very much present felt like I would never catch up because I was going to have to start over.

I thought a lot about the dinner over the weekend as I purposefully stayed quiet, in meditation, prayer and with pen in hand.

And, here’s what happened. I was visited several more times by the image of my phoenix. And each time, something floated up from the ashes.

Creation. Over and again. Creation. Create. That was the gift from the dinner with my incredibly talented friends.

Remembering that creativity is my lifeforce.

Creativity is my resilience.

My phoenix is just that.

The Phoenix of Re-creation and Creation

And, the re-creation isn’t wracking my brain cells searching for the words and ideas I’ve lost. Not to wallow in the ashes of mourning. I have to believe a rising phoenix wouldn’t do that either.

But, rather re-creation is to mine the ashes, for the gold, for the wisdom that rises to the surface, and to trust that the best parts of creation will float up and remain, providing a new foundation that builds at the level of season, wisdom and embodied knowledge and ideas.

That’s where new creation begins. I can work with that. As my brilliant friend, writer/director/producer Kelli Bennett says all the time, “Create from what you have.”

I have to believe what’s coming from this will be more streamlined, focused and on purpose.

My higher-self showed me how much clutter was actually stored on that stolen laptop. I captured everything, every little wisp of an idea, saving it for a time when I’d get to it. And, most of them lived there, ignored.

It will be really interesting what plays out in all of this cleared space. One thing’s true. I can’t stop writing.

Phoenix Guiding Principles

So many things have bubbled up as a result of this crime, much of which will take some time to process and release: shame, anger and regret to name a few. But, what the phoenix is showing me, the way to heal is by remembering my own guiding principles.

To start by being present. To stop reliving the moment, rewriting the scene in my head, where I took the bag with me instead of leaving it the car. It’s over and done with. I can’t change what happened so replaying it with what I’d have done differently isn’t helpful.

And, then doubling down on the tenets I try to live by, the values that rise like the Phoenix, and take me from feeling helpless to feeling empowered again.

Gratitude
Kindness
Compassion
Truth
Honesty
Positivity
Creativity
Trust (I still do and will, only now with a bit more discernment)
Love


And, a really big one that is the gateway to finally letting go and releasing all with the ashes: Forgiveness. Forgiving myself as well as forgiving those who victimized me. Not quite there yet, but I know that’s the key to being free to really rise.

So, please, please, please learn from my cautionary tale. Back that shit up. Protect yourself. And, listen to that little voice, the one that said 'take your bag', the one that always knows what’s best.


Change This One Thing To Attract the Right People

Then, Meet Them Here...

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Photo by Aleksandra Mazur on Unsplash

I love the little moments, the game-changers that shift things, changing everything from that moment on. This was one of them.

I was doing a Creative Jam Session with a client recently, a woman who is brilliant at what she does. I mean crazy brilliant.

We were brainstorming on creative ideas to get her business going in a new way.

“She intimidates me,” she said, talking about a high-profile woman for whom she’d done some coaching.

I understood. The woman had some really impressive creds, was a genius at what she did and was running a large event where she was required to speak, which is where my client was coaching her.

She floated quickly through the comment, “She intimidates me.”

It got me thinking about the idea of intimidation and more apropos to our discussion, the meaning and weight placed on it.

One definition of Intimidation is defined as "inducing fear or a sense of inferiority." 

To my way of thinking Intimidation is a wall. It’s a stopper. It’s a dam that cuts off flow.

It creates a hierarchy, a ranking order that’s created in your mind. When you allow someone to intimidate you, you place yourself in the state of inferiority. 

The truth is, it’s not real. It’s a story you make up to keep yourself safe and small, to stay in place. Even when we’re not at all aware of it.

You can’t go anywhere when you’re in intimidation, at least not anywhere forward. How can you build a successful anything if you’re intimidated by the very people you want to work with, have hire you, partner with.

Meet Them Here

I asked what it was that she found intimidating about the woman. And, it was all of those things that made the woman fabulous, the qualities that described exactly the type of client she is hoping to attract. 

And, yet, I said, “she hired you to help her with something she’s lacking, something she’s not good at. And, that you are. Her expertise isn’t yours, but yours isn’t hers either.”

The thing is, you carry intimidation into the room with you. When you’re intimidated it makes you weaker and not fully authentic. It’s an unlevel playing field with jagged surfaces and bumpy paths.

I said, "it sounds like you’re in awe of her. You admire her."

And, the energy in the room shifted. “Oh, that’s so true,” she said. That was it.

And, based on the feedback my client received, the feeling was very mutual. Chances were very strong that this high-profile woman was in awe too, perhaps even a little intimidated.

So, what if you took intimidation out of the equation?

It’s been said people meet you where you are. So, if you’re continually intimidated, it's likely that the people who will meet you there are those who use intimidation, by those who are fed by the power of intimidating others to get what they want. Those relationships will not grow you, your relationships or your business.

Those playing at the higher levels won’t put up with the out-of-balance energy between you. They may not be able to explain exactly why, but they won’t want to work with you.

However, if you meet them at awe, then that's a reciprocal relationship that flows in a positive direction. And, you’ll be met at a higher level, at the higher vibration of awe.

It levels the playing field. Intimidation does not. Awe and admiration do.

So, change the meaning of and reframe your meeting reference point.

Zig Ziglar said, "The playing field of life is not level, and to compete in the game of life, you need an equalizer." 

Here are some equalizers that level the intersection: 

  • Meet each other at Awe.
  • Meet each other at Admiration
  • Meet each other at Expertise
  • Meet each other at Respect
  • Meet each other at Talent

That’s powerful. A true intersection of equals. A meeting that magnetizes and grows and nourishes. And, keeps people coming back for more.

So, who intimidates you? Be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in it.

Recognize the positive qualities that you admire, that you’re in awe of. Turn the mirror on what you bring to the table. What you’re offering.

Meet them there.

If they don’t return to the level playing field, turn and walk the other way. As Empowerment Coach Andrea Quinn calls it when someone doesn't meet you at your standards and qualities: “Not your people.”

Removing intimidation from the equation was the game changer for moving my client’s creative business forward.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure what it is that’s stopping us, keeping us from starting something or from following through or taking it to the next level.

We can’t see the clear path through the fog, or more accurately through the forest of obstacles we’ve placed in front of us. Intimidation is one of those obstacles.

Getting clear on your own talent, expertise, awe, will provide the beacon to remove the obstacle and that will lead you to the right people. Your people.


How Meandering About Can Lead to Gold

 

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Photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash

I took a Sunday drive this week.Through my mind.

I was bouncing around from thing to thing, flitting between writing and movies and articles and chapters and musings and organizing. It created a feeling of unsettle.

“I’m meandering,” I said to Gracie, who is ever present by my side. She looked at me mid-purr. "So what else is new," her look said. (at first I wrote 'what else is knew?" which made me laugh because there's true there too).

I do meander. Aimlessly at times, so that I can almost get dizzy from the spinning. Breathe.

Meander is fun to say, it's kind of a whimsical word. It basically means to “follow a winding course,” and is often used when referred to streams or bodies of water, “the stream meandered across the valley.”

People meander through a conversation, which can be interesting and deep and unexpected. That’s what makes for good conversation. Unless there’s a point to be made, and when everything is said except the point, you’d say, “he meandered around it but never said it.”

I’ve always loved bookstores and could wile away hours, meandering through the aisles of books and miles of stories contained therein. I miss that. It's just not the same to meander about through online bookstores.

You can meander through a day off, which is one of my favorite things to do, to give myself permission to just flow from one thing to the next. The truth is some of my best ideas present themselves on days like that, when I wander through, yes aimlessly.

It made me look at the word and it’s meaning more closely. I started playing with it. Me-ander. Or for fun, if I just plunk down an innocuous “w” in there, meander becomes me-wander.

Which then makes me wonder.

Is it really wandering aimlessly? Sure, sometimes. When there’s no specific intent or goal.

More often than not, for me, it’s wandering with too many aims at once.

But, meandering, to an artist, to a writer, to a creator? What about the freedom that comes from it? The wonder? The wonder of the wander.

There is wonder in the wander, when you remove the judgment and become more open. Give yourself permission. Permission is key.

“There’s gold in them thar hills.” – Mark Twain, in The American Claiment

There’s gold to discover in the meander; treasures in the sand on the long beach walk; vistas to relish on the Sunday drive, through the mind or otherwise.

There is so much value in just thinking. Many success leaders, such as Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, carve out time in their day to do just that. Think.

How great would it be if an entire class in school was devoted to just thinking. An hour of time just to encourage kids to learn from their own minds. Where the only recommended materials were a journal and a sketchpad. 

"What's your favorite class?"

"Thinking 101. I'm learning so much from myself."

"Yeah, it's my favorite too."

Or if a time-out was instead a think-out. Hmm. I guess it is, really. "You sit here and think about what you said to your sister."

Aim-full Meandering?

What if you put a little purpose behind the meander? If you gave it some aim. Is there such a thing as aim-fully meandering instead of aimless?

It could be as simple as asking a question or stating a simple intent for the day or the time in front of you.

Deep questions can lead to deep thinking.

"What will inspire me today?" "Am I living fully?" "What does my heart want?"

Or pick a word.

I have a bag of word cards and often pick a word at the beginning of day, or before I go to sleep or upon journaling. I like to think that energetically there’s a reason I picked that particular word.

It could be "clarity" or "simplicity" or "trust" or "collaboration." 

So, then it becomes a backdrop, an intent. 

Then the meandering has aim. Try wandering around, examining, kicking the tires, massaging, splitting open and devouring it with a freedom from any expectation. There's gold thar.  

Purposefully wandering.

Wonder with purpose. And curiosity.

Or just enjoy the meander, the wonder of the wander, the blissfulness of the aimlessness.

Sure, focus and prioritizing and completion are important. But, that’s another post.

This one, happily, was the result of a shameless and aimless me, wandering.


I Had An Epiphany! Now What?

 

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“I had an Epiphany!” 

We’ve all felt that inspiring moment of realization at one time or another, the powerful insight that was going to change everything.  It’s a great feeling, right?  

Today is the Day of Epiphany. I know that because as I glanced at the calendar to schedule my week of writing I saw “Epiphany” written on today, the day I was planning to publish a post. So, I had a little epiphany that I’d write about epiphany!

I didn’t wake up receiving 12 drummers drumming from my true love, but I woke up thinking about how much I love those sparks of inspiration, those rushes of insight that bring clarity.

The Day of Epiphany in Christian tradition signifies the 12th day of Christmas and ancient traditions culminated the season with a lavish Feast of Epiphany. It’s come to be known as “12th Night” in Great Britain. Shakespeare originally wrote his play, “Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” as part of the entertainment for Twelfth Night, Day of Epiphany celebration.

Epiphany is such a great word. In Greek the word means “manifestation.”

“I had an epiphany!” I’ve said. You’ve likely said it, or have heard it said, often.

An aha! Oprah says often, “I had an aha moment.” She’s even made it a thing, part of her brand. 

So, is an “aha” a small Epiphany? Does an Epiphany have to be huge? I feel like it should always be written with a capital E because to me Epiphanies are major, whether they’re large or small.

What to do with an Epiphany?

Epiphanies feed creativity, particularly when we follow them, court them, nurture them, build relationships with them, introduce them to others so they can flourish and become something beyond themselves.

It got me thinking about Epiphanies and how often they show up in our lives. A light turns on, we have that aha moment where a realization hits home in a way it hasn’t before. It’s enlightening and can be life changing.  

But, this is where the rubber meets the road. 

What we do with the Epiphany - the awakening - is what matters, right? The doing looks different for everyone. Sometimes the doing is not actually “doing” anything. It’s being the Epiphany. Living the realization, one day, one hour, one moment, one second at a time.   

It’s returning to the feeling evoked when the bells of Epiphany first started ringing. 

The first step is to recognize it’s a new thought, a new feeling. It might bring up some fears of the unknown and fears that we won’t be able to stay in the new thought. The first tendency might be to turn the other way, to go back into hiding behind the old frame of mind where it’s familiar and seemingly safe. That’s my habit sometimes. 

But, the second step is to stop. To breathe. To remember. To align our new feelings with the new thought. 

Ahhh. To relish in that space. 

The third step might be to share it with someone. As soon as you give voice to it, the resonance deepens and starts to become part of your physical, emotional and spiritual vernacular. 

A little bit today, more tomorrow and so it continues as you listen with a more familiar ear for those bells of Epiphany to toll until they become part of your life’s symphony. 

When was your last Epiphany? State it in the comments if you feel like sharing. Would love to hear from you.

 


Resistance as an Ally Rather Than a Foe

Here's a fresh take on what can be a debilitating force.

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Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash

 By Cindy Yantis

"Focused attention yields the best results." - Melinda Hughes

Melinda is my personal trainer and the owner of The Strength Shoppe, a high-intensity training (HIT) facility in Pasadena, California. And, this quote, from their website, exemplifies what most I've learned from training with her.

HIT is a slow burn, really intense, focused workout where with each weightlifting exercise you exhaust an isolated muscle or group of muscles to a slow count of ten. It's also called Super Slow, Slow Cadence, Power of 10, or Resistance Training.

It takes such focused concentration to get through a set of the slow ten. The tendency is to put all of your body behind trying to lift the weight. That's when Melinda says to direct your brain to focus on the specific body part so that the target muscles are worked to their max. That wasn't something I'd done before.

I was amazed at how when you place your undivided attention, singly, on one body part, you can actually feel the isolated muscle doing its thing. The brain is so powerful. Then, the rest of the body is just there to support.

Toward the end of the set, the weight is so heavy that it barely moves, if at all. This is when the body's flight or fight response starts to kick in, wanting to give up or drop the weight. And, that's when Melinda says to "lean into the fire instead of pushing past it." It is, in fact, what provides the most benefit, leaning into the resistance.

In a recent yoga class, we were holding a lower body twist, for several moments. My hip flexors were screaming at me. That's when the instructor said in her soft zen voice, "Allow your awareness to go to the place of resistance. Focus on softening the edges, the tissues around the resistance. Now, find the place in yourself where you can settle deeper into it."

This all got me thinking about the broader force of Resistance and how it shows up in other ways. Everywhere, to be more exact.

In truth, I've been thinking about resistance a lot lately. What I’m noticing is that as I’m moving up and forward with projects in some new ways and at higher levels that I haven’t tried before, I’m meeting an internal resistance that feels like a gust of wind connected to an electric fence. It can be a really powerful force that pushes and pulls at the same time.

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” - Michel Foucault

THE LAW OF RESISTANCE

There are schools of thought that put Resistance right up there with the other powerful laws of the universe including the laws of Attraction, of Polarity, of Vibration, and of Compensation to name a few.

Jasmine Contor Dawson in "Aliens to Zebras: Dictionary for a New World" defines the Law of Resistance is: "That which an individual pursues in anguish or anxiety, will inevitably remain elusive."

In thinking about this, I was drawn to read again from Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” He’s my go-to expert about resistance, which he calls “most toxic force on the planet.” In fact, he devotes an entire chapter to this beautiful, terrible monster.

He says: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” He talks about how it's the root of so much unhappiness and “to yield to resistance deforms the spirit.” Pressfield considers resistance as strong a force field as gravity or electromagnetic, in that it can’t be “seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt.”

It’s an internal force, is always there and its aim is to repel.

He also says this. “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

So, when you're at the threshold, or the crossroads, feeling the pull to where your soul wants to go, succumbing to resistance can keep you at the crossroads. Forever.

LIVING IN THE CROSSROADS

Resistance can also show up as doubt that results in inaction.

According to Stephen Cope in "The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling" - one of the most life-changing books I've ever read - in yoga tradition they term doubt as "a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time " or "the invisible affliction" that is very powerful.

People have gotten stuck in doubt, and at some point, they came to a crossroads and found "themselves rooted there, with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection. Alas, they never moved off the dime. They procrastinated. Dithered. Finally, they put a folding chair smack in the center of that crossroads and lived there for the rest of their lives. After a while, they forgot entirely that there even was a crossroads-forgot that there was a choice."

Ugh! When I first read that a few years ago I felt the floor fall out from under me. It was a huge wakeup call. I realized how I'd allowed resistance to stop me enough, over and over, so much so that I'd set up camp at the crossroads! I became Mayor of Crossroads, USA!

HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS

However, as Stephen Pressfield also says, “Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer resistance.”

In addressing how to get out of the crossroads, Stephen Cope quotes the teaching in the "Bhagavad Gita: the Path of Inaction-in-Action," where Krishna says, "There is a certain kind of action that leads to freedom and fulfillment… an action that is always aligned with our true nature." Cope says this "is the action motivated by dharma. This is the action taken in the service of our sacred calling, our vocation."

So, then it's possible to embrace resistance, as an ally rather a foe.

"In dharma, it is possible to take passionate action without creating suffering." - Stephen Cope

To my way of thinking there’s something kind of comforting about that. When you think about it, if you welcome the resistance and recognize it as a threshold or crossroads through which you must pass to accomplish the next step toward your dream, purpose, and destiny, then when you make it your ally, it becomes part of your journey rather than a hindrance keeping you from moving forward.

"Hey, Luke. May the Force be with you." Hans Solo

When you fight resistance or procrastinate because of it, you're not present. Get present by talking about and releasing the fear that's underneath and fueling the resistance.

LEANING INTO THE FIRE

I know for me, I know when I'm in resistance about something, nine-times-out-of-ten it's something I need to do - for my body, for my work, for my life, for my soul. So leaning into it feels easier, and not only doable but necessary, and powerful. 

“If you try to force the soul, you never succeed.” John O’Donohue, "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom"

SO...

  • Focus on it. As in my yoga and HIT experience, focusing on the resistance softens its edges because your awareness and attention are pointed towards it.
  • Be with it. Get present. Being in the now with the force restores inner strength and balance.
  • Get vulnerable. Brene Brown says, "Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It's the birthplace of everything we're hungry for…Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. So -
  • Be courageous. Lean into the resistance and go forward.
  • Get creative. Creativity and spontaneity are energizing positive forces that help counterbalance the negative force of resistance.

And, Trust. Trust in all of these - focus, presence, vulnerability, courage, creativity and spontaneity.

They carry you through the threshold of resistance and across the crossroads of to your soul life, your purposeful life.

Interestingly, Pressfield also says that the resistance is only there when you’re faced with an up level. There’s no resistance going down, only up. Think about that for a moment. So, when resistance comes, welcome it because it only means you're on your way up.

“To fly we have to have resistance.” Maya Lin

So, I’ve decided to lean in, to be with resistance. I know it’s always going to be there. So instead of fighting it, I’m going to walk through it. Take one more step. Stretch beyond what I did yesterday. And, tomorrow will stretch beyond what I did today.

Who's with me?