Category Archives: Window Into My Life

Starting Something New: The Courage to Cultivate Authenticity

Starting Something New: The Courage to Cultivate Authenticity

Lately, I’ve been very aware that I am in a period of recapitulation. I’ve been in this place before, but mostly I just reeled against myself in resistance because I couldn’t stand the uncertainty that comes with the territory.

To recapitulate something is to summarize and restate again the main points. In terms of growth and development, it’s a period of introspective evolution — an expansion of consciousness, if you will.

I admit at times, it’s damn uncomfortable. It’s also very sweet and this time around I’m savoring the sweetness of it and being ok with letting things inside of me germinate at pace slower than to my liking. It’s actually kind of peaceful.

As most everything in life needs a period of “rest” after it’s been worked (soil after it’s been tilled, dough after its been kneaded, our bodies after a good work-out and our souls after a challenging period), all of this comes on the coattails of three very challenging years.

In 2011, I walked off a cliff and started a music festival–a blues music festival to be more precise. I also publish a magazine. In this latest issue, I wrote about my experience starting this Festival, which was a totally harrowing experience, and one I wouldn’t change for the world. The journey of the last three years inoculated me against everyday fears that frequently plague all of us. It shined a light in the dark corners where these fears hide and exposed them for the frauds they really are. Where I was once blinded by darkness I can now see, and I am fortified with some truths that I might never have known any other way.

As I look at my blog, I’m realizing the extent of my neglect has been almost a year. So it’s time…time for me to share with you what’s been keeping my attention. Here I share with you my story of starting something new and how that helped me to cultivate authenticity. Starting Something New: The Birth of Tall City Blues Fest

The Satya of My Agraha

The Satya of My Agraha

“Satyagraha” is the priceless gift of “focusing on an ultimate goal and refusing to divert energy to unnecessary skirmishes along the way”; the art of restraint, of picking battles wisely, of discerning between bait and conviction.

I found this quote in a book by Susan Cain called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”. I’m finding it a fascinating read, I think mostly because I am innately curious about people and what makes them tick. But this quote above stopped me in my tracks; it was exactly the medicine I needed at exactly the right time.quite-book

The entire purpose of the book is to explore the quiet strength of introverts, something we often dismiss and overlook in a culture chock-full of extroverts. Having practiced being an extrovert most of my life, I have a tendency to think that I need to react to every criticism, defend every attack and fight every battle.

Over the years, though, I’ve been slowly learning to actively choose where I put my energy rather than impulsively getting drawn into a “skirmish” and then wondering how the hell I got into a mess. Apparently, this discernment is innately an introverted quality, meaning introverts do this much more naturally than extroverts.

To the extroverted side of me these “skirmishes” are attractive, presenting me with opportunities to prevail and triumph; however, they are exhausting to the introverted side of me. And quite frankly, sometimes they are just bait. Not because the initiator is purposely trying to bait me (although sometimes that may be true), but more so because if I participate it will be less conducive to achieving my goal than if I don’t. It may appeal to my ego in the moment, but really it will be diverting energy away from ultimately achieving my goal.

In Sanskrit, “satya” means “truth” and “agraha” means “soul force”. As a self-sovereign being, I am wholly responsible for the “satya” of my “agraha”, or the truth of my soul force. I can choose to temporarily divert my energy and take the bait of the battle or I can choose to more thoughtfully pause and contemplate my response, which may or may not be audible (or visible).

Certainly, there is value is being able to make a quick decision (a primarily extroverted quality), but not every situation warrants a quick decision or reaction. And certainly not every encounter is bait; some circumstances do require being addressed head-on. It is being present in the moment, being in the flow and being fully conscious that determines whether I can make this distinction. Because let’s face it, life doesn’t come neatly wrapped in a box with nicely creased edges and a bow on top; rather it is full of hairpin turns, steep cliffs and curve balls. Situations that require making this distinction happen spur of the moment and often without notice.

So this means that presence of mind becomes all the more paramount to my success and to my ability to ultimately achieve my goal, whatever that may be.

To peek inside the “Quiet” book, click here.

My Most Ecstatic, Realized Self

My Most Ecstatic, Realized Self

I was recently presented with the idea that Life is here to serve us; we’re not here to serve it. I think I’ve spent most of my Life living this idea backwards. Having this notion is like now having a new pair of glasses to see Life in a totally different shade…now I wonder how I can fully experience my most ecstatic, realized self by allowing (not expecting) Life to serve me!

To the Aspiring Writer: The Job Requirements

To the Aspiring Writer: The Job Requirements

I’ve been thinking lately about writers and the thought occurs to me that as writers, particularly aspiring writers who are not already getting paid for our work, we’ve really got it cush, yet we think we’ve got it tough.

As aspiring writers, we inadvertently sabotage ourselves, or at least hold our potential at bay, because we have both a wishful desire to get paid as a writer, and at the same time, we privately wonder why anybody would pay for our writing. What is profoundly insightful or insatiably intriguing to others, to us may seem commonplace. And we fall into the trap of thinking that if we thought of it, then anyone else can think of it too….so therefore our thoughts are not remarkable…and therefore our words are not worth money….and because they are not worth money, of course no one will pay for them. And voila! We’ve conveniently justified not writing. Because why bother anyway? Only people that are already getting paid for their writing, get paid for their writing, right? Wrong!

This is a classic case of a thought thread beginning with a statement of truth, but very quickly veering off track into a self-deluding lie, albeit one that tastes palatable and so therefore must be true. It’s too easy to assume because the seed of our thought started with a truth that the end conclusion will also be a truth. But that just isn’t the truth!

Herein lies the flaw: Just because anyone else can think of your same thought doesn’t mean they will, and even if they do, it doesn’t mean they will do anything with it, and even if they do do something with it, so what? Is your take on the same motif going to be EXACTLY the same as someone else’s? I hardly think so! But, by far, the biggest lie in this line of thinking is assuming that our thoughts are unremarkable and unworthy of monetary consideration because everyone else has the same thought potential as we do.

So that’s true: everyone else does have the same thought potential. But potential is where the truth ends. If we don’t turn that potential into writing that someone else can read, it remains just that–potential. And how much money do you think potential alone ever made anybody? Zero! Potential has to be turned into something. This is what distinguishes writers from thinkers. And the ‘something’ it gets turned into may or may not command money in the marketplace. But that doesn’t matter.

When you’re a writer (that’s not already getting paid for your writing), you can’t use whether or not your writing is going to get you paid as your impetus for starting to write in the first place. You just have to write and let your stuff get filtered thru the universal sieve of the marketplace. We all know that people get paid for crap writing all the time, but crap is subjective. If that crap is generating money for its author, then it is withstanding the test of the marketplace, period! The only difference is degree and as an aspiring writer, we can’t afford to concern ourselves with degrees; we should instead be concerned with breaking the barrier from not getting paid into getting paid, assuming of course that we are writing in the first place! And even after we break the barrier and start getting paid, degrees still really don’t matter, at least degrees relative to other writers. The only thing that matters is our results relative to our desires. And for promotion and marketing: they’re a numbers game. Promotion and marketing are a hedge, that’s it; nothing more, nothing less. We still have to write.

It’s like this: We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take, and as a writer we have to take the shots (i.e., write the stuff) regardless of what we think the outcome might be. One of two things is going to happen: We’re either going to produce stuff that people will pay for or we’re going to learn a hellava lot in the process, presumably about ourselves and about writing. And besides that, writing is an art and art works by working on its creator. The more we create (write), the better our (art) writing becomes. So who’s to stay that what we are writing now that no one is paying us for won’t pave the way for us to write something that someone will pay for?

The point is this: Write. Just write. Write regardless. Write with abandon. Whatever happens, it’s a win all the way around.

Money or no money, as writers, we have to be willing to put ourselves and our writing out there. It’s a requirement for the job!

P.S. Please excuse my several instances of prepositions at the end of sentences. If it makes you feel better, think of it as post-positioning instead of pre-positioning!

Sovereignty from Circumstances

Sovereignty from Circumstances

“The impact and meaning of a catastrophe are not in the event itself. The ability to tolerate it is a function not of what happens but our relationship to ourselves and our own minds. In that simple realization is absolute freedom.” (excerpted from Lost and Found by Geneen Roth)

This quote hit me squarely between the eyes. It was so powerful for me, I sat straight up from my slouching posture as I was reading and thought “OMG! That makes complete and total sense!” And it comes at a time when I am right in the middle of what my mind is defining as a catastrophe, yet I am observing myself be able to address each day with poise, posture, dignity and more and more often, freedom from the circumstances, while still working thru the circumstances. It is an interesting observation to realize that we are sovereign from our circumstances.

It reminded me of once at a conference about 6 years ago, I heard a guy that was giving a talk say “Rules afford us freedom”. Now this guy was loonier than a fruit-cake, had already sported hugely oversized green-lensed glasses to illustrate a point about perception (meaning that when you’re lenses are green, everything you see is green…to you); he paraded all 500 or so of us in the room thru some sort goofy game that was a cross between limbo and duck-duck-goose and bounced all around the room booming with high energy, as if he was performing on a stage. Well, I guess he was performing since he was a keynote speaker, but he acted more like he was performing for our entertainment, than our education.

So by now, you might have picked up on my judgements as a broadcast of where I was in my life those 6 years ago. If it wasn’t apparent, I was judgmental (obviously!), self-righteous, jealous, arrogant, intolerant and living in my head (it would be more accurate to say that I lived as if I was only a head)!

This gentleman was simply living out loud, living authentically, demonstrating an enthusiasm for his life and a passion for his work–precisely what he was trying to teach us to do!

So what does he have to do with dealing with a catastrophe? I suppose not much other than the paradoxical nature of both. The ideas that rules afford us freedom and that catastrophes have nothing to do with the catastrophe itself and everything to do with what’s going on inside of us; well this just flys in the face of all modern thought. But that doesn’t make it any less true!

I am learning that the physical forms and beings of this world are tools that help us relate to our own spiritual nature. We have relation-ships with people, material things, our bodies, experiences; and from these things we extract some meaning about ourselves. They give our lives context, as opposed to the alternative of floating around in the ether of spiritual space.

So, if it is true that we are spiritual beings, meaning that we are so much more than the things we can see, feel, touch, and interact with; then it would also stand true that there is more to life than only that which we can perceive or believe to be true. That maybe, just maybe, these things that seem counter-intuitive really do have some merit and when we can surrender ourselves to their essence, we just might be amazed at how much liberty they can afford us to live our lives from the inside out–from that core place of sovereignty and authenticity within us all. After all, we don’t have to believe it to be true for it to work!

The Crux of Writer’s Block

The Crux of Writer’s Block

It seems like ‘writer’s block’ is more about having too many ideas, rather than not enough.

I think the ‘block’ is more about the paralysis that results from having too many thoughts, than it is about being lost in the black void of nothingness.

The real challenge, it seems, is more of a sorting-thru-all-this-great-stuff problem, than it is a finding-new-content problem.

‘Tis the Season to Guard Your Peace (excerpted with edits from original article published in Midland Reporter-Telegram-Dec 2006)

‘Tis the Season to Guard Your Peace (excerpted with edits from original article published in Midland Reporter-Telegram-Dec 2006)

Whatever your feelings about this time of year, the memories you have that cause you discomfort, the presents you can’t afford to buy, the meringues that fall, the strands of lights that won’t work, the hours you spend in an airport instead of with family, the family members you dread having to tolerate, or the things don’t go according to plan – we and everything around us is EXACTLY as it is supposed to be.

So often, we lose sight of the bigger picture because we get caught in the web of expectations – usually our own expectations and, particularly this time of year, what we perceive others’ expectations to be for us. We expect that things will go according to plan and when they don’t, we become irritable. We obsess about appearances and become restless. We impose our expectations on others and when they don’t comply, we become discontent. All of these things take away our peace – that inner peace of knowing that all is well, even though nothing is the way we would like it. We make the assumption that what goes on around us has the power to alter our peace.

I often like to think of my life as a tapestry that is not yet complete. As I am busy toiling away at the stitches of my tapestry, I can only see the back-side where the threads are messy and knotted and certainly don’t appear to make for the fine tapestry I would like for my life. Yet, when I get a break in life and get a glimpse of the front side of my life’s tapestry, I am always amazed at what I see. Suddenly, I get perspective on why things were the way they were at a time when I thought my life was in complete chaos. Even if just for a fleeting moment, I am often comforted in the peace of realizing that once again everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.

There was a time not too long ago that I was really wrestling with some things in my life that were not as I wanted them to be. Simply put, I was not in acceptance, although I didn’t know that at the time. I was sharing some of my woes with a dear friend of mine and she said to me, “Lisa, if you knew that in the next 30 days, everything would be exactly as you would like, what would you be doing different today?” Without missing a beat, I said “The same thing I am doing right now,” which was worrying about the outcome. And in that very next moment, the insanity of my answer struck me. Why would I continue to worry if I knew everything was going to be all right? And furthermore, why was I giving my peace away for absolutely no reason? It was one of those life-stopping moments where I had once been blind, but now I could see. I got a front side glimpse of my life’s tapestry.

The back-side view of our tapestry represents our feelings about things – messy and not always pretty. But the front-side view represents the reality of our life – the way things really are despite how we feel about them. I once heard that feelings are not facts. Yet how often do we assume they are and react to them with sometimes disastrous results?

So, this season, Guard your Peace! And when you feel it slipping away, remember that everything is exactly as it should be and when you get one of those priceless glimpses of the front side of your life’s tapestry, you will know this is so. Don’t sacrifice the precious moments of the Present because you can’t believe it until you see it. Don’t let the things going on around you interrupt your Peace.

Have Peace because you have Faith.

Funky Feelings, Faulty Sockets & Voila!

Funky Feelings, Faulty Sockets & Voila!

So I spent 21 days in a funk and if there is anything good I can say about a funk, it is the coming out of it. The brightness of feeling alive and connected again stands out sharply against the dark backdrop of feeling like a blob of existence. I didn’t plan for 21 days (do we ever plan for a funk?); to be truthful I didn’t even realize it was only 21 days. I would have bet money on 45 days and felt sure that I was being conservative.

Getting out of the funk wasn’t easy. Somehow, I was under the grand illusion that I had moved thru other funks, traumas, tragedies and catastrophes much easier than I was working thru this one. This only served to whip me further into the gridlock. I also relentlessly dug the trench deeper by obsessively wondering when it was going to be over. What I finally learned is that I had to take action–in particular, self-care action. Oh how this was elusive! The whole time I was in the funk, I thought I was taking care of my self by resting (read, sleeping) alot, mindlessly escaping into TV and solitaire. It is clear to me now that was a cleverly disguised form of admission into the funk and it was easy to get away with it because it “looked” so normal. Normal just means alot of people are doing it; it doesn’t mean it’s sane!

A vital component of recovery from the funk was relating to other real people. We all have people in our lives who could fit in the “not-real” category, as in you’re supposed to be close, but you never really feel like you know them. So I purposely got with the REAL people in my life and shared the REALity of what had been going on in my world. Sharing with others has a way of diffusing the potency of the funky feelings. It also pastes next steps vividly on billboards!

I had to inventory my funk! Repeatedly playing the circumstances over and over in my head wasn’t working. And neither was trying to answer my own questions with the same mind that created them. So I had to sit down and take stock. This exercise helped me to get clear on WHY I was feeling so bad. It was laughable when I finally saw it for what it was. My character liabilities were in full swing with my full participation, but not my permission! I was bathing in woe (self-pity), obsessing over not meeting others expectations and what they were thinking of me (pride), feeling entitled to better than what I got (entitlement), stubbornly unhappy with what I had (ungrateful), fervently wishing the circumstances could be different (resistance) and waiting to be struck wonderful again (unwillingness).

After having a good laugh at myself, I once again felt worthy of good and this started the re-connection. It was a little like plugging into a faulty socket; the juice is intermittent at first, but with a little concerted effort and attention, it eventually starts working the way it was designed–to be of maximum service when plugged in-to. Funny, how that is reciprocal!

Voila! Now we were getting somewhere!

Expanding Capacity

Expanding Capacity

I’ve become aware lately that my capacity is expanding. It used to be that when someone suggested something new like a book to read, movie to see, experience to have, a talent I should exploit, a new business contact, etc., that my first response was a feeling of overwhelmingness. That still happens some, but I am also starting to notice that that is starting NOT to happen.

Willingness Helps Steer Clear of Black Hole

Willingness Helps Steer Clear of Black Hole

Again, I’ve had a lapse in writing and I can tell it in my mind and body. I have that messy feeling that comes with the territory. In part, this is because it’s been so long since I’ve spent much time writing and this, in turn, is because I’ve been completely consumed (and am still recovering) from a HU-MON-GOUS first annual event that I produced recently—that’s my day job.

I vacillate between being energized and deeply exhausted, creatively inspired and being blocked. In reading about Resistance in Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, I am learning just how elusively cunning Resistance really is. I’ve heard invisible thoughts saying things like,

‘Nobody cares about what you have to say.’

‘Everything that’s worth saying, somebody’s already said it.’

‘Writing is a waste of time. You’ve got way bigger priorities right now.’

‘It’s been so long now since you’ve posted anything, you’ve lost all your momentum.’

Even as I write this, what I’m writing feels stupid.

And here’s a real whopper, ‘If you were really going to write, you’d have already started; so apparently it’s not THAT important to you really.’

So F YOU, Resistance! I’m writing, even if it’s crappy. And I do have other priorities right now, but that doesn’t mean writing ISN’T a priority! Writing is always nourishingly therapeutic for me and if I’m not willing to take action on things that replenish me, how can I expect to have any surplus for anyone else? If I don’t do the things necessary and essential for me to feel full and vibrant (as opposed to depleted), I am destined for the black hole of self-serving, self-absorbed, self-righteous, self-pity and self-loathing. Yuk! No thanks, I’ll pass! And ‘passing’ requires effort against the grain of Resistance.