Category Archives: Inspired Posts

Answering the Call of the Wild

Answering the Call of the Wild

I’ve been thinking a lot about joy lately. With it being a central theme during the Christmas season, one can’t help but at least give it a curtesy of acknowledgment. 

So often though, it’s just another word that gets floated around seasonally like peace or spirit, but we don’t really think about the essence of these words, what they really mean and what their energy is; at least I didn’t…until this season. 

As is usually the case with me, seemingly unrelated events, circumstances and activities in my life have a way of coalescing into an amalgam of beneficial insights and epiphanies for me. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were secretly conspiring and planning a surprise party where they get to control the moment of revelation. 

To back up just a bit, this year has been quite the transformational year for me. To start, for the first time in 27 years, I find myself a single woman. Frankly, I don’t even feel old enough to make a statement like that, but the chronological counting of age has always been a somewhat nebulous concept for me anyway, mostly because it never seems to reconcile. 

I mention this newfound singlehood as a significant factor in this year of transformation, well, because it is. I didn’t know it, but after a few decades, and then some, of almost constantly having a male companion, I’d completely lost sight of the dating game and all its seemingly strange eccentricities. After a few great episodes, some not-so-hot encounters, and a few started-out-interesting-but-quickly-went-south experiences, I realized I was not up to the task called dating, at least not for a while.

Besides, what the hell was I doing anyway? The truth is I became single by choice. I’d finally reached the point of having had so many serial relationships, one after the other, that one day (metaphorically, of course) I looked up and didn’t recognize myself. I’d left so many pieces and parts of myself strewn about like shrapnel, depositing one part here and picking up another part (of someone else) there that my life somewhat resembled a game of trading cards, except instead of trading cards, I was trading my interests, preferences, and desires for someone else’s. It’s funny how we can know we are doing something like this, realize it’s not working and still keep doing it anyway. But at some point, as in nature, everything has a way of reconciling itself, and recently I did just that; I reconciled myself. 

The second significant part of my transformational year was professionally. To put it mildly, I came completely unhinged. Looking back, it had been several years in the making, but it’s hard to recognize that is what is happening when you’re smack in the middle of the chaos and all you can see to do is keep the wheels on the bus. Round and round they must go.

Over the years, I’d become a professional automaton operating with an almost machine-like precision. I wasn’t a real person; I was simply masquerading as one. One might wonder how this played out in my relationships. Not well. Fortunately, though, I can say there was and are a small number of people, only one being a blood relative, that could see through all the exterior measurements and were there for me when parts started flying off, not to mention they stuck around for the aftermath to help pick up the broken pieces. For these individuals, I have a deep well of gratitude because frankly, it would have been easier to walk away, and they did not. 

A little more than 13 years ago, I launched into what became my current professional endeavor. It started out as one thing and evolved into something related, but very different. During this time, I’ve met people I would have never otherwise had a reason to meet, let alone have the privilege of working with and ultimately becoming close friends. Some of my deepest, most treasured relationships have been born from the womb of my work.

Braving the WildernessThrough all of this, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and do so much within the landscape of my current field of work, and yet there is so much terrain still to be explored. This is just to speak of professional endeavors; add to that an inquiry of sidelined personal pursuits and the world beckons me to answer the call of the wild.

This is what an unhinging will do for you. It brings you back to center. It reconciles you. It resolves the courage to let go of something that is hurting you and it fortifies in you the strength to move forth into new territory. It feels like falling apart at the outset, only to morph into falling together. It is equal parts catharsis and genesis. 

The third and final piece of my transformative year was moving, as in physically moving. More than once. In the span of three months, I moved both my office and my home. More specifically, I vacated my office, consolidated it into my home temporarily, and then moved from one apartment to a bigger one that could accommodate a home office somewhere other than in my living room. 

As is common knowledge, moving dredges up all manner of emotions and I was no exception. Moving forces you to look at things that have long since been stowed away and make a decision about them. Keep them. Discard them. Donate them. Repurpose them. Reutilize them. Hell, in some cases, just use them…for the first time. All that aside, though, moving also has the energy of beginning anew.

It’s not just about the newness of place, though. That quickly fades into the background of life. For me, this move was symbolic. Although I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint of WHAT exactly it was symbolic, I was aware that it WAS symbolic none the less. While I’ve certainly had moves before that had meaning, this is the first time that I really paused and took the opportunity to set an intention for the new space. It was my way of honoring the unnamed energy that this move was symbolizing. 

Before I moved even one single stitch into the new apartment, I ceremoniously cleared the space with sage, salts and incense, in that order. I was cognizant of feng shui placements. I stood in the empty space and loved it when it was only a blank canvas ready to be personalized with purpose. I had a conversation with it. I anointed it. 

As a result, my new apartment holds the energy of sacred space to which I can return and rejuvenate, and it holds the expanse of solitude for the joy of creating my best life.

Last night, a little more than a month in my new apartment, and with most things now having been in place for a while, I stood in a moment of awe and wonderment. I realized that every single time I walk into my new home, I feel like I am AT home and there is peace in that. Joy. 

As I stood in the heart of my home looking at the mostly original art donning its walls recalling the story that gives each one meaning, contemplating the still bare walls asking to be chosen for a story to bear, observing the lighting and how it gently casts its glow and hearing the soft hum of the dishwasher washing away the remnants of my culinary exploits, I brimmed over with gratitude. 

I realized I was braving the wilderness. I had left the safety of the familiar that was now in the rearview mirror and was marching forth vulnerably into areas unknown, both personally and professionally. 

I am discovering what I can do with the space and freedom of being single and reclaiming so many of those parts of me left behind. For instance, I’m reconnecting with writing. I have the quietness of space to indulge my love of reading and have found joy in cooking again, an interest I long ago abandoned.

Professionally, I feel like a phoenix rising out of the ashes. I’ve spent the last six months in contemplative inquiry to see if there was a way to continue my work without requiring me to be an indentured servant to it, which was the precipice of the problem. Fortunately, there is, and this new path is going to allow me to approach my work with an entirely new disposition that will afford me the privilege of working in my best and brightest areas of brilliance while still being surrounded by a team that uplifts and supports me, each operating in their own area of brilliance. 

And to stitch all this together, I have a new home, a new workspace. It’s not the new that is so important, as what the new symbolizes. My new apartment just feels right. It feels like a nest where I can rest and also a playground where I can create. I love the way the sunlight streams through the windows, the depth and layout of the floor plan. It’s not too big, but it’s big enough to be roomy and make it a home.

I call it Casa Prosperidad and to me it symbolizes both a physical space, the place where I live and work and rest, and a metaphysical space, the wellspring from which joy can flow prosperously and a place that can nurture creation and reinvention. It’s the place where I can accept the challenge of allowing myself joy without dress rehearsing tragedy. It’s the space from which I can dance gracefully into the turn of new opportunities, both personally and professionally. It is a space to cultivate mindfulness and where I can brave into the heart of the wilderness and truly live my best life.

This post was inspired by Brené Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book. It is rich with relatable stories about the quest for belonging and answering the call of the wild. 

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 curveballs. 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.

Don’t Let the Noise of Others’ Drown Out Your Inner Voice

Don’t Let the Noise of Others’ Drown Out Your Inner Voice

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like this, “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

Since then…I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many day’s in a row, I know I need to change something.

Your time is limited…Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…Everything else is secondary.

-from Steve Jobs at the June 12, 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address

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.

Thoughts on Creativity and Success

Thoughts on Creativity and Success

“Presentation is about the transfer of emotion.” -Seth Godin, author of The Purple Cow and a ton of other books

“Idling or doing nothing is important. Most of us are obsessed with getting things done. We’re afraid to be unproductive. And yet, the big ideas often come to you during your periods of ‘laziness’, during those episodes of ‘wasting time’.” -Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write

“To many business people, design is something you spread on the surface, like icing on a cake. It’s nice, but not mission-critical. That is not design, but rather ‘decoration’. Design starts at the beginning, not at the end; it’s not an afterthought.” -Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen

“It’s going to be a harder road than you thought, and short-cutting, half-assing, and second-guessing will only hurt [you in the end].” -Loren Weisman, author of The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business

Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love

So I just finished watching Eat Pray Love, the movie adapted from the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. It finally came out on Netflix! I cried and laughed and loved and felt loved all within the 2 hour and 20 minutes space of the movie and now I feel compelled to write. That’s how it works for me, I suppose; something causes me to drop into my heart and I want to write….need to write. Maybe it’s because she is a writer and I’ve read the book, but I doubt it. I think it’s more just because I’m a writer.

I forget that occasionally. I get busy with life and forget that about myself. That writing is one of the things I want to do most; that I feel like I was born to do. Writing makes me feel like I’m contributing to the world.

There are seven things in life that really make my heart sing, that which you might call my passions: 1) writing, duh!; 2) reading, I read lots of different types of books, but find that always having a good fiction book going helps me feel more balanced; 3) playing pool, I actually aspire to go pro; 4) riding (and working on, we call that “wrenching”, motorcycles), I’m fond of the long-distance brand of motorcycle therapy; 5) studying, learning and speaking Spanish; 6) photography; and 7) travel, it’s no accident that I can do all of these things while traveling! I like and enjoy lots of other things, but none more than these seven; these rise far and above all other possible activities.

I go through spurts and dry spells with all of them. Currently, I’ve been indulging my love for the game of pool one night a week. Yes, I know a girl that wants to go pro has to play a helleva lot more than one night a week and, quite frankly, I’m kinda tired of hearing it. Has anyone ever said out loud that it’s really a whipping to be constantly reminded of your potential by others? Don’t do that! It creates barriers. I know why we do it. We do that to those we love precisely because we love them, and it makes us happy to think about them fulfilling their greatest potential. But what if we focused on tending to the fulfillment of our own potential, instead? Then we wouldn’t have to focus on someone else’s as a distraction for our own. We inspire people to seek and indulge their greatest potential by supporting them; allowing them time and space; by loving them as they are, not as we want them to be; and certainly not by minding their business and painting their picture for them or by telling them what they already know.

See, here’s the thing about passions. They are things we feel deeply about and that satisfy a place in our souls for which nothing else will suffice. By definition, they are soul work. I can work out the messiness of my life on a pool table in the same way I can by writing or riding my motorcycle. I get perspective. I have aha’s! Life is one big analogy, but we can’t digest and relate to “one big analogy”. So we have passions. Passions help us relate and see our world and our problems through a different lens; they give us perspective.

When I’ve made a mess on the pool table because I didn’t play good shape, I’ve got to play it like it lies. And when I stretch myself to formulate a plan to approach a “low probability of success” situation (of my own making), I get reminded that the point was not so much about the success or failure of the immediate next shot as it is about the strategy of the entire game. Life is one big game and our passions give us bite-size games as altars upon which we can learn our life’s lessons….if we’re paying attention.