distraction

struggling with creativity

if you really knew me, i've been struggling a bit with creativity. i was saying to Jakob the other day, i have so many logistical things on my plate it often feels difficult to access the deeper, more creative or "spiritual" places in myself. i admit i haven't been all that disciplined with myself either. for some reason, after the switch to Daylight Savings, it took me weeks to get back on track with rising early. but, even though i've been doing so for the last week or so, i still haven't taken the time to write. just letting the words flow out however they will without some agenda (other than getting a blog posted!) attached to the process. one of the really great things that's "gotten in the way" is making preparations for our big presentation on April 18th at the Spirit/Mind/Body Expo in Sonora. if you are in the area, i really hope you can attend! we're launching our new organization, the Local Security Exchange (website will be up 4/18/15!), and have been working very hard with Cheyenne, computer Goddess extraordinaire, to get the website ready. we’re in the final stages of refining our talk to make it as compelling as possible for folks to get involved.

rainy dayso, it's not like i haven't been doing creative things; it's just that i've been feeling disconnected from the quiet space inside and around me which opens up when i give myself the gift of time to write. it feeds my soul so deeply, i forget how delicious it is until i finally sit down to do it. i think it's a great help today that it's storming outside... rain, wind, thunder. this kind of weather always gives rise to my desire to hunker down and write. but that's not typical around here, so i'd better find an inner storm soon (or at least tame the storm of lists in my head!).

as i sit here allowing myself even a few minutes to write before i begin my busy day, i feel so grateful for this precious time. if i wait, thinking i'll get to it later, it will be gone. too hard to recapture in the middle of the afternoon, after i've already had a thousand thoughts of logistics and events, or the evening when all i want to do is snuggle up with Jakob and read.

it's so easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless to do's of life- the dirty dishes, the meetings, the errands. even when i get up extra early, something else always seems to find its way into what used to be my sacred morning time. i distract myself in a million ways from the thing that brings me so much joy and satisfaction. and, even though everything i do is founded on the simple principle of getting that i matter, i find myself putting the thing which brings me a deep sense of inner fulfillment on the back burner. is it a question of worth? do i feel i don't deserve it? is it simply a question of habit? am i simply playing out a legacy of codependency deeply engraved in my earliest memories? or is it a strange brew of all the above? i’m wondering… do you relate to this?

so, if i were in a coaching session with myself (which, perhaps i should do more often!), i would dive more deeply into those questions. then i'd create some reminders for myself that i really, really love... like "remember how sweetly sane it feels to take a few minutes just for me" or "i love to write" or, as the pencil on my desk says, "don't forget to write!" i'd put alarms on my phone or stickies on my vitamin bottles. okay. i'm going to do that. right now! no, wait. i'll do it after i'm done writing.

right, this is it. so simple. yet i complicate it so much. i'm just going to do it. just say "no" to my habitual machinery of tidiness and ticking items off the list. just sit down. turn on the computer. and write. but will i keep it up this time?

ok. right. i'm coaching myself here, so i'm going to challenge myself to write every day. regardless of the important tasks in my path (dishes in the sink, breakfast to make, emails unanswered), i'm going to sit down for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days. 30/30. no matter what. ok. oh shit. what have i done? i've declared it publicly! well, it's too late now! i've gone and done it. so this is when i’d ask, "who are you going to ask to support you in keeping your word with yourself? who will be your accountability buddy?" i can think of a few folks. "ok, so when will you ask them?" today. i'll ask them today. i'll ask a few different folks to check in with me or let me text them to tell them i wrote that day. jeez! i'm really doing this. i'm going to do this. right now! no wait... i still have 2 minutes left to write.

P1040255ok. so, for now, i'll sit here with the peaceful chimes on my writing program, the blank canvas before me and the delicious quiet in my head as the words fall out and swirl onto the screen.

i love to write.

 

waking up in the Age of Awakening

farm to table photographi'm coming to the realization that the only real power i have is right here, right now. i know… it's something i've been teaching for years. but what i'm realizing, on a deeper level - yet again - is that the best place for me to make my greatest contributions to the world is right here in my own backyard. literally. this looks like growing a garden with non-GMO seeds from our local seed exchange, learning more and more how to live as lightly as possible on the earth (like carpooling with my sweetheart), raising chickens (arriving this weekend- so excited about that!) and contributing to my community in ways that are meaningful to me and hopefully helpful to others. it looks like doing things i love like writing, playing music, teaching workshops, sharing meals with family and friends, and laughing (a lot!). and it looks like opening our home to others who want to share in and co-learn this beautiful, ancient, essential way we are all re-discovering together.

if i were to be perfectly honest, i'd admit that the whole Get That You Matter "thing" started as a book - only a book. all i heard when i first got the message to write it was, "write a book." not "start a global movement" or "create a radio show" or "make a documentary" (although all of those things sound really exciting and tempting). i added all those other ideas over time as my ego got more and more involved in the ever-growing list of things i could do to make this a "really big thing." the truth is, it's the near-constant thinking that i'm not doing enough to make that stuff happen while procrastinating on finishing the book that trips me up every time and wakes me at 3am in a panic on a regular basis. does anyone relate to this?

what i'm realizing is this - it keeps coming back to one word:  simplify.

and this - for an over-achieving, relatively anxious, perfectionistic, recovering people pleaser - is a tall order. i mean, could i get by on checking facebook less than once a day? or stop compulsively signing up for emails about how to market myself bigger and better? or resist signing up for courses on how to make more money doing what i love so i can give more of it away? when i think about letting go of some of the things i could let go of in order to simplify and focus on what's in front of me, it's scary and liberating all at the same time. honestly, though, i can't tell you how much my shoulders drop, my belly softens and my breaths slow and deepen. i get quiet and feel peaceful and calm when i think about my little life "on the farm." the simple truth i'm arriving at is that living a simple life is actually one of the best ways i can contribute to the world.

i mean, if more of us (and by more, i mean millions- maybe even billions) took the time to stop or even slow down for a few minutes and really check in about where we are and what we're doing, we might actually be present. if more of us woke up to the lies we've bought about fulfillment coming from things (the stuff, the money, the cars, the constant barrage of "buy this and feel better"), we'd realize that so much of what we've been indoctrinated with is a lot of smoke and mirrors. if we realized that all that stuff just gets us more stuff, trashes the planet and drives us further away from our hearts and real, meaningful connections with each other, we'd clamor to give away what we don't need to those who could use it. we'd share more- much more. we would empty our costly storage units and tear them down to build community gardens and orchards. we'd end the so-called "demand" for useless little plastic toys and gizmos made in China which only end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch, killing Midway Island seagulls. we'd have dirt under our fingernails instead of acrylic. we'd be grateful to eat what's in season rather than participate in a system which imports pesticide-laden bananas from Ecuador so we can slice them over our genetically-modified cornflakes and antibiotic-riddled fat-free milk.

okay. you get the picture.

Here's the to the simple life

yes it is absolutely critical that we hold corporations (those pesky non-human persons run and maintained by human beings) accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) with protests and petitions and chaining ourselves to machinery. yes it is absolutely critical that we speak out for basic dignity and the rights of child prostitutes in Thailand, suicidal farmers in India, orangutans, polar bears and elephants, the Amazon rainforest and the rights of Nature herself. yes it is important - even critical - that we use the technology we have at hand to make positive impacts, to let our voices be heard and to connect with others around the globe in truly meaningful ways. and… we can do all of that while living simple, earth-honoring lives as unplugged from the machinery and corporatocracy as possible.

perhaps the thing to do is to be willing to tear down the house of cards we all helped to build, piece by piece, while transforming the vast water-sucking lawns around them into food forests maintained by formerly homeless, recovering addicts, ex-CEO's and exiled monks who live in gorgeous tiny houses built from the re-purposed materials of those Towers of Babel we now see were monuments to our own sickness.

perhaps we can sit down together at long farm tables spread with sumptuous feasts grown in those gardens and cooked in solar ovens, then dance to music played on landfill instruments around the bonfires fueled by the millions of boxes of documents we no longer need to hide or maintain and the wood from the warehouses in which we once thought we needed to keep our secrets.

but in order to get there, we are going to have to grieve - long and deep and well - all that we've done and built and ruined and lost in the name of perpetuating the grand illusion that we're separate from each other, our animal and plant companions and the very earth which supports us. only then will we be able to truly live in this beautiful, precious world in a way which sustains us all.

so, here's to the simple life. may enough of us choose to wail, weep, scream, laugh, dance, release, give away, share, re-purpose and create simple lives so we can turn the tide and truly usher in this Age of Awakening.

Question of the Week... March 4, 2012

When you take the time to listen to yourself, do you hear the voice of your head or the voice of your heart... and what do you hear?

(Please share your thoughts in the comments area below. We look forward to hearing from you and having a great conversation!)

Falling Down and Getting Up with Be Love Radio

I'm sorry to says sobut, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lunch wuth an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

-excerpt from Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess

I love how life works, even when it seems to not be working – or, rather, I don't seem to be working with it.

I had every intention of posting this blog about Falling Down and Getting Up right after the Be Love radio show on July 3rd, and here I went and fell down and didn't get it posted until two months later. I'm sitting here smiling and laughing at myself as I think about that old saying, "We teach what we most need to learn."

Just like that baby learning to walk, I, too, am learning to walk in a whole new way. It doesn't surprise me when I fall down anymore because I've done it so often, but it does bring more and more compassion and gentleness for myself in the process. I used to beat myself up terribly for all the falling down I did, but now – more often than not – I laugh and look for the underlying cause or issue in order to learn from the experience. I meditate a lot more than I used to, too – it really seems to help.

Having said that, I invite you to take this away from the July 3rd Be Love show (and I do recommend that you give it a listen- they're always really informative). Take away that you will fall down, that your mind will find countless ways to sabotage your progress (I know that one really well!), and that you are absolutely capable of overcoming every obstacle you may place in your own way.

In other words, you will fall down and you will get up again.

The best way to get up again is to reconnect with your essence, with your heart and your community to get all the support you need to get back on the old, proverbial horse. Remember to be gentle with yourself in the process. Can you imagine yelling at or beating up that little baby for falling on its diaper? Of course not! So why do it to yourself?

What would it look like for you to reconnect? Would you need to take some "time out" in order to revitalize your purpose? Would you need to reach out for support from your community, an accountability buddy or a coach to express your feelings in a safe container? Most importantly, what do you need right now (in this moment)?

Regardless of what you choose to do to get back up again, I invite you to have as much fun as you can in the midst of all you are doing. Remember, getting that you matter is meant to be an enjoyable, fulfilling and fun experience. When you fall down, it's great to be able to laugh and learn from it.

Life was never meant to be a chore. You are not a slave to your life, but rather you're here to enjoy the adventure of experiencing it in its fullest. It is your birthright to enjoy and marvel at this wonderful thing called being human.

So, I encourage you to listen to the archived show for this chapter on Be Love Radio; it's got a lot of great stuff in it and should be very helpful in your own Getting That You Matter journey. In the meantime, you can begin the process with this week's Meditation, Mantra and Movement.

Meditation for Getting Up "In what ways do I fall down? What support system can I put in place to help me get back up?" Journal, using the first question, about how you get yourself off track; then about ways to get yourself back on track using the second question.

Mantra for Getting Up "I reconnect to my passion and purpose by…" Make a list of the reminders you can use to reconnect to your passion and purpose. Post your reminders wherever you need to so you can see them every day, and use them. For fun you can track how often you use them and what helps you to remember them, then keep the ones that work and let go of the ones that don't.

Movement for Getting Up Create the support system you need to help you stay on track. Who do you need to enroll? What group could you join? Do you need some professional assistance? What practice would most help you? How can you build in down time and fun so you don't become a slave to your passion? Set a deadline and put it in place! And if you're finding it hard to do, ask one person to be your accountability buddy and help you create your support system.

Paying Attention... Orienting to the Heart on Be Love Radio

I really enjoyed speaking with Kidest OM on today's Be Love radio show. It's always an honor and a pleasure spending that half hour with her. She is truly a gift to the world; her consciousness, compassion and clarity shine through in every word. We talked about paying attention and slowing down enough to be able to bear witness to our own internal dialogue... the conversation between the heart and the head. We talked about how we can actually develop a conscious internal environment or family, if you will, wherein our heart is like the "good parent" of our mind. When we do so, we become the good steward of our own humanity.

There is incredible value in paying attention. When we do, we begin to understand ourselves and the choices we make with more clarity and compassion. So often we walk through our lives as if we have no idea of our impact on others. Sometimes we do, but much of the time we react to the world around us, rather than respond to it. In other words, we end up doing with little or no consideration for how we are being.

When we pay attention - compassionate, careful attention - to our beliefs, thoughts, words, attitudes and actions, we begin to make that necessary internal change from reactivity to response-ability, from doing to being. It is a very humbling experience to pay attention, but it is so crucial. It is even more humbling to realize when we haven't been paying attention. Like starting an exercise program, cultivating awareness is a practice of discipline and diligence; it sometimes seems daunting at first, but the more we do it the easier it gets. The whole point of paying attention is to give ourselves the gift of going inside so we can tap into our unique aliveness and get how very much we matter.

One of the best ways to develop the quality of paying attention is to listen to ourselves, intently, through some sort of regular contemplative practice. Regardless of what you call it, this is one of the most profound ways we can cultivate the ability to truly feel that we matter and have something to contribute. It may seem counter-intuitive - “Wait a minute! If I want to contribute, I need to be doing something, don’t I?” Not necessarily. Not doing with awareness is far more powerful than doing without awareness.

The trick is to get below that surface level of thought activity in our heads and settle into the place where we do our deepest listening - our Hearts. When we "take the elevator" down into our hearts, we are able to connect with the place where our deepest wisdom resides, the place where we remember who we truly are.

There is a caveat here – sometimes we can fool ourselves into believing that our heart is telling us something when it really is our head doing the talking. There are some great tools I use to help me discern my "heart voice" from my "head voice." If you listen to the radio show, you'll hear me go through each of them; for sake of ease, I call them "Weighing the Options," "Lighting Up" and "Body Wisdom."  These tools are very useful for tuning into our intuition and making clear, conscious choices. Then we must trust the choices.

And there will be times - often, daily! - when our head takes over and we forget. Just like my friend Tricia Huffman talks about in her vlog, "I make sh-xx-t up," we make stuff up all the time because our minds need to feel important.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Mjj6Iyt-jek

So if we just remember the mind likes to make stuff up about all kinds of things, then we can start to work in team with our heart and our minds and we're well on our way. It’s like the heart is the good, loving parent and the mind is this curious, playful, often petulant, mischievous, testing, sometimes rebellious, sometimes obedient, demanding child. It is a parent’s job to take care of their child, to guide it and to be the good steward of its wellbeing. In other words, we get to re-parent our minds, observing them from the loving, interested distance of the fair witness or parent.

We don't have to make our heads wrong or bad, we get to say, ‘Wow! Look what I learned from that situation.” Our choices are perfect because they take us to the next right place for our evolution, even if it may feel painful and not at all perfect at the time. That requires the willingness to take time to pay attention, the discipline to do it regularly, and a large helping of humility and humor. It’s not always easy to pay attention, but it is always rewarding. When we do, we find inspiration from those lessons and have the opportunity to see just how much we matter.

This week's Meditation, Mantra and Movement

Meditation- Paying Attention: What do I notice about myself? Journal about what you notice and what you pay attention to regarding your thoughts, words, beliefs, attitudes and actions. Do you usually listen to your mind or your heart? If you were going to live from your heart on a regular basis, what would you need to let go of? What would you need to claim or embrace?

Mantra- Paying Attention: What are your questions? What could you ask yourself to develop more self-awareness? Maybe it's "What do I need in this moment?" or "What will serve my highest and best in this situation?" In other words, what are your "hard questions"? Connecting with your heart, create one or more questions to help you pay attention.

Movement- Paying Attention: Give yourself the attention you most need! Is there something you need to do or create to develop more awareness? When you receive the answers to your "hard questions," notice what most needs attention and give that to yourself, even if it's uncomfortable. Watch what happens when you stretch and give yourself what you most need.

Ah procrastination...

I have been procrastinating about this blog for months… again. It's my very large streak of perfectionism… the old "all my ducks must be lined up before I take action" story. Don't get me wrong – I'm fairly spontaneous when it comes to doing fun things with my friends and family. But when it comes to what I'm "putting out there" in the world, it's more often than not got to be perfect. Hence, my book continues to live in the "to be published" phase. Do you recognize this in yourself?

The truth is there are always things to write about, comment on, argue for or against, take a strong stand for, figure out, offer, share. Always. As a matter of fact, I could safely say there are more things to write about, comment on and share than one person could ever handle, but I sure as hell do my best. I continue to save emails, notes and ideas, stashing them away to send out when I do my newsletter (which is still waiting in the wings for the right time). And they continue to pile up.

I realize, in holding this Vision I've been holding for nearly four years now, I feel I have lost some of my momentum – or at least misplaced it temporarily – and that has me scared. The clock is ticking more loudly than ever. I'm almost 50 years old and I need to get off my ass and live out what I'm here to do!

This panic often drives me to work until I fall asleep at the keyboard, often startled awake at 11 or 12 to a bunch of ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff's on the page. I often wish I didn't need to sleep (or like it) as much as I do. I sometimes wish I didn't need to eat or take care of this body as much as I do. It simply feels like there is not enough time in one day, week, month, year or lifetime to do all the things I want to do, and that I'm steadily losing ground on what I want to create. I wake up at night wondering, "Is my book already written by someone else? Has the title been taken and I just don't know it?" I can't help but feel slightly guilty and embarrassed that it's taken this long to get it closer to being published.

Then I remember what I tell my clients – starting new from this moment is all we can do. Regret will get us absolutely nowhere. I am teaching, once again, what I most need to learn myself… that forgiveness, self-love and discipline… this fine balance of qualities are what makes for a life of contribution and meaning. A life of mattering.

There is really no point to this little bit of verbal purging other than my attempt to at least get something out of my head and into the world. I will save my soapbox for the next posting. Suffice to say, I am – once again – renewing my commitment to share, to get "out there in the world" what lives in my head and heart, the issues and causes that make me flail my arms in the air in absolute frustration, cry with deep compassion or laugh with sheer delight. Woohooo!

Distraction or Action? Fasting for Zimbabwe

Yesterday, in support of my goal of finishing a first draft of the writing for my book in the next 90 days (oh jeez! I just said it publicly, like I said I would in my last post- now I have to do it! Oh well, no turning back now…), I made a commitment to cut out as many distractions as possible from my life. I sent an email to some folks with whom I've created a local event saying I need to bow out for now, I decided to let other folks handle a correspondence in which I'd had limited input anyway, and I committed to deleting all email notices from social networks and to only check those sites once or twice a week. Pretty proud of myself, I went to bed with a feeling of conviction and satisfaction about staying focused.

Well, you know how, when we make a declaration to the Universe, it does everything it can to challenge the strength of that declaration? It teases our commitment and conviction by bringing us more of what we say we are giving up, less of what we say we are creating, and frustrates our efforts in order to build our muscle of resolve. At least, that's what I believe. So… of course, I get up this morning, and after doing my "morning things," go to check my email and there in bold, black letters is a plea to join in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe by pledging to fast for a day.

What am I supposed to do with that? Delete it? Ignore it? "Save it for later?" I don't think so!
There went my resolve to not get distracted, to stay on point with my daily routine and get my writing done before ten o'clock. Yes, I allowed myself to get caught up in a "distraction" this morning for about thirty minutes by signing the pledge to fast in support of the situation in Zimbabwe, sending email notices to as many folks as I could and creating an event on Facebook to support this critical cause. Hey, it only took thirty minutes!

For about ten minutes I felt bad about it, beat myself up a little bit and admonished myself that I must not get caught up in things that take me away from "my work." Then, I realized a few things: one- that, if I don't do something by participating in this cause, I have no right to complain about what's happening over there; two- it is "my work" to get involved in a way that is doable for me; and three- that I could write about this situation and incorporate it into my daily writing time. After all, I have had a lot of strong feelings, thoughts and words about what is happening in Zimbabwe in the last couple of years, and it's about time I put my writing where my mouth is, so to speak.

I decided, in that moment, that, instead of beating myself up for being "distracted," I would turn a distraction into an action! I know that there is the strong possibility that this is just a really good excuse for extraneous behavior, but I'm choosing not to see it that way. I mean, come on, I cannot sit here in my comfortable home, eating my breakfast, sipping my tea, enjoying the beauty of this winter morning and just do nothing. That would be unpardonable.

The thing is, I feel particularly connected to what is happening there because, when my daughter had the incredible opportunity to travel in southern Africa with an awe-inspiring program, The Traveling School (http://www.travelingschool.com), the driver and cook for the semester were from Zimbabwe. Japhet's daughter even joined the girls for several weeks at the end of the trip. I feel as if I have a personal connection to them through my daughter, and that I have a responsibility to do whatever I can to support them.

From time to time, I have asked my daughter about what is happening with them and if there is anything I can do to help, but up until now it seemed like nothing can be done. The other day, when I asked again, she said we could buy each of their families a cow- that having animals, particularly cows, is a really helpful thing for families there. How do we do it, though? If we send money, that only gets confiscated by corrupt officials. We certainly can't send a cow, and even aid organizations can't seem to get through.

In other words, how do we begin to make a dent in what seems to be an overwhelming steel wall of Mugabe's resistance to aid, to the reality of the cholera epidemic and to helping his people in any real way. It's like a huge Wall of Denial. We have had countless conversations about this issue and it seems so complex, and it always colored by the fact that I don't understand this resistance. I judge it, make him wrong and speak in frustration about the decisions he has made and the things he has said about his own country. It seems to me like he doesn't care.

"So," I ask myself, "What can I do to move from my own place of resistance and judgment to a place of openness and true service from over 10,000 miles away? What can I do, here in the small town of Avery, California, to help? How can I make peace with the one in me who is in denial, who resists change and who turns away help when she most needs it?" These are questions that I believe must be asked by each one of us who wants to help or "do good" in the world.

I think that, in the end, I must remember that I am everything, that I am capable of just as much horror, neglect and abuse as that man across the globe. If I were given that much power, would I, too, abuse it? Would I, too, turn away from the "hungry masses" with a wave of my hand, dismissing the realities that are plainly in view? Or would I be a "leader for and of the people," like I continue to hope and believe our new president is being? I don't know… and that scares me. I have been more of a sheep than I care to admit sometimes, losing my voice when I see injustices in public, not standing up for my oppressed brothers and sisters because of a multitude of stories and fears in my own mind. But I do believe that, if I own and embrace the possibility that I could be just as cruel and ignorant as that, then I believe I am taking the first step toward being able to be truly "helpful."

So, I "pick myself up, dust myself off" and begin the work of seeking out the dark corners of my heart, bringing them to the light and feeling the attendant feelings that arise. I start by alerting as many people as I can to this action, this fast for solidarity, and write about it, post it to my blog, sharing it with the world in my own small way. I commit now (again in public- the only way to keep myself accountable!) to seeing what I can do to raise money to buy a cow each for Crispen and Japhet's families. I commit now to living up to the fullness of my purpose on the planet in every way possible so that all can have a fair shot at a good life.