Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! What I'm doing instead of resolutions

I woke up this morning with a few thoughts on my mind about the coming year. My day job is winding up which gives me an amazing opportunity to look at the things I want for myself in 2014.

It's no secret that I've begun my life as a life coach and mentor to people who are searching for their personal north star and learning to move beyond thinking that is based in a need to "improve". Regardless of where you are in the sea of your life, looking to your north star will give you the guidance you need to choose a life that resonates deeply with your truest self. So in that spirit I give you my list of desires for 2014.

1. I want to have coffee with friends more often. Before you dismiss this as not much of a goal, I am going to confess that casually getting together has been a major problem--everyone (including me) is scheduled to death. I miss the experience of just being able to call someone up and say "can I meet you for coffee".  I'm opening up and letting that in.

2. I want to see the stars in the Southern hemisphere. I've never been south of the equator. I want to go somewhere on that side of the planet with a good blanket of stars and perhaps a telescope. Eh, I don't need a telescope. I just need to be there. Whether by plan or invitation I want this with all my heart.

3. La vie française. This year I'm going to indulge my inner francophile. Language, cooking, and perhaps even a visit to the City of Lights with my wife (who also loves la vie française). I'm putting it out there--I'm going to chat someone up in a Parisian bakery in 2014 and invite them to lunch.

4. Nurture my inner water spirit. I am most alive when I'm near the ocean. I plan to step up my paddleboard/kayaking skills and get out on the water more to commune with this precious life force. I'm calling friends to myself who want to share this experience with me.

5. Make a safe/healthy place for my best friend (the one who is not Keri) in my home. My oldest friend is terribly allergic to animal dander. For this reason she hasn't been able to cross the threshold of my home for years. I miss having her over!!!

Because I want to cook for her and to have a place to play games and chat I am building a small annex in my back yard. It will have 4 seats (for Keri to have a place and also in case she wants to bring a friend), a counter, and will be screened in so we won't have to contend with the small flying creatures of my yard. It will have a wall that will prop up in warm weather and will close down when it's cool. There will be access through the side gate so she won't have to contend with the furry nightmare that is my living space. I will also run electricity out there so time of day won't be a gating factor. I've been designing this in my mind for a few weeks now. I plan to break ground in Spring.

6. Build my coaching practice and reach the people who need my original medicine. Part of being a coach is knowing who your people are. I've been through hell and back on my career, on my creative life, in love and in finding courage and authentic voice.

When I sit with people in coaching sessions I am able to help them to stop looking at the illusion that there is something wrong with them and to start working on their personal truth and beauty. Because I've developed my own courage and I am skilled at subversion. I'm working on a plan to plant truth and beauty in a place that in the past has been my personal bête noire. I'm imagining this last part into being so I will share more on that as it unfolds.

Earlier this season I set an intention that everything I choose in my life will be in service to this last New Year's desire. By focusing on my desires and building the life I wish I am also serving as a guide post to the people I want to reach--"living it to give it" so to speak.  

How do I plan to do all this? Well, not by having a plan and working harder. I'm going to bring this all into being by finding the most fun and playful way to approach all of them! I've already done a lot of "hard work" to make things happen in my life. However, over the last decade or so I've discovered that being playful and open is the golden key to making luscious things happen. Even being kind to myself and resting has been a better solution than doubling down and "working harder".

Everything I've wanted to happen this year has happened. I'm taking this as a message to open up to bigger and more beautiful things in my life.

What are your New Year desires? I'd love to hear them. Please drop me a note or leave a comment.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

100 Days of Kindness: ACK! My 90 yo Mom fell!!!!

I started writing this post three weeks ago and life started happening all over the place!

After getting over my illness (FINALLY) and getting back to a more or less normal pace my poor Mom manages to fall on her FACE while moving a flower pot.

Good news is that Mom is ok. She had some pretty scary looking abrasions--and because she hit her head the urgent care send us to the ER in case she needed a CT scan. After 2 hours of answering repetitive questions and waiting around, the doctor decided Mom didn't need any deep diagnostics. They closed up Mom's wounds and sent her home (she refused a wheel chair ride to the car--the staff called her "feisty").

The day after the trip to the ER I was dead---so tired. I didn't stay up any later than usual nor did I wake up any earlier but I was still really tired.

The ER is an exhausting place to be--when my brother called me and told me Mom had fallen and that I needed to get over there I went on high alert and remained flooded with adrenaline all night. After we took Mom home I was rag doll weak. It didn't help that I had an early morning at work that diverted me from my usual routine. I didn't bring my usual healthy lunch or get in my usual yoga and meditation. The whole combo messed me up!

And even worse, that whole week was full of early work days. I could get up earlier to do my routine but I was already tired.

So, what does kindness look like when you are already running behind on self care, feeling stressed and the end still isn't in sight?

It looks like the best you can do.

As the days after Mom's fall turned to weeks, Christmas rolled around as well as the wrap up for the end of the year at work. I focused on the essential things I needed to do and let the rest go. Luckily I already did all my shopping online so I only had to face the madness of the retail world to pick up groceries for our holiday dinner. Beyond that I spent a lot of time just resting and reading books. I gradually brought back in my self care rituals -- I feel better doing them than not doing them.

My routine is actually what helps me get through my stressful times but sometimes I need even more flexibility. Five minutes of stillness or a minute of planking is better than the lengthy meditation/exercise sessions I would have skipped because they felt like too much in the moment.

For me, self kindness is looking more and more like rest and choosing behaviors that support me through my days, giving myself a break from perfectionism and letting good enough be good enough.

How did your holidays go? Please drop me a line or respond to this posting let me know how your kindness experiment is coming along.

Friday, November 29, 2013

100 Days of Kindness: Nope, I'm not coming over

Hey all, this is just a quick update so I'll keep it short.

In case you were wondering I did end up feeling well enough to make dinner. Thanks to some pre-planning and making the menu something more sane and manageable I was able to both respect the needs of my body AND make a really nice dinner for my family. Everyone had a great time--we all ate far too much and ended up digesting on the couch watching a Judy Garland movie. Nobody seemed to notice that I cut 2 or 3 embellishments that 2 weeks ago were ESSENTIAL parts of the meal.

Take away--the embellishments were for me. I may pull them out some other time but they didn't make any sense or lend anything to the party in the context of now.

Today I'm resting again. I did say yesterday to my sister that I would come by and visit but today I realize that I just didn't want to interact with anyone. I'm tired. After the big show I need to relax--it's far more relaxing and rejuvenating for me to putter around the house (yes even after being cooped up for a week) than to spend time with my family.

Do I feel bad about this? No. I might have felt bad at one time because if your relatives are only in town every so often you should suck it up and be social? I want to know who made that rule up...and if I went over there when I really want to retreat who would be served by that. Not me. And really no one else because I would be trying to figure out how I could escape back home the entire time.

I may go over tomorrow if I feel like it but for now I'm comfortable doing another day of semi solitary partial confinement (after being inside for so many days I think a short walk would be nice).

So I ask you dear reader--who are you making happy by making yourself less happy right now?

If you are working on your own 100 Days of Kindness project please let me know how you're doing by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

100 Days of Kindness: I'm delusional!!!

Ha! I thought I could just waltz back into work after being flat out for 5 days.

I claimed victory over my feeble frame when in a burst of energy I managed to do all the Thanksgiving Day shopping alone. I reasoned that it would be better and easier to do it before the really hardcore, insane people started shopping (which happened about 5 minutes after I realized I forgot to get the Karo syrup and had to go back into the store). But still, shopping done! I even grilled a couple of steaks and roasted some cauliflower while Miss Keri lay in the dark with a nightmare headache. Laundry is folded and the house is ready for the cleaners to come (yes we clean before the cleaners come over).

So, I was thinking, Yah! I am BACK BABY. I made it all the way into the office with my laptop and lunch bag in hand, got my first meeting and realized I needed the wall to keep myself propped up. So, back home I go.

I'm having a dilemma. I can rest at home some more but there is this Turkey Day thing happening in 48 hours. I have a refrigerator full of groceries and 7 people who will be waiting for the magic to happen. I'm really having a hard time letting this go.

Don't get me wrong--I took over cooking these family dinners years ago because I love to do it. I love to cook and I the love oohs and ahhhhs I get for cooking amazing instagram worthy food.

When I was still feeling sick on Sunday I planned a less impressive menu (but I'm still hitting all the bases). I made a manageable schedule for baking, and planned how everything would go Wed night/Thursday. The only thing I didn't do was allow any room for the possibility that I wouldn't be ready, willing and able to get this together (even under highly planned, and reduced offerings).

I'm between denial and reality--BTW, there is no way anyone else is cooking in my kitchen. One option is that I could send the groceries over to Mom and make my sister do everything. Or, taco bell for all! My pride is starting to whisper taco bell because I don't want anyone else cooking MY TURKEY DINNER.

So I think the kindest thing I can do right now is to not make any big decisions or declarations. All I need to do right now is rest some more. I'm going have a cup of tea and some emergency soup. Tomorrow is another day. Nothing is set in stone.

Friday, November 22, 2013

100 Days of Kindness: I'm SICK part deux or how every rule has an exception

Yep, I'm just as sick as I was yesterday. Maybe I was feeling a little worse so how do you think I'm going to explain what follows?

Today I was scheduled for two conversations I really really wanted to have.

First one was a phone call with Brooke Castillo--author and coach and the guest teacher in a class I'm taking. The second one was with an executive at my current company.

Some opportunities come at the wrong time. I mean how do you have a conversation when your voice is nearly gone?

Also, keep in mind dear reader I already postponed a number of other conversations and projects in order to preserve my health. Despite feeling crummy I wanted to make an exception for these two. 

I asked my inner kind mother what could I do so I don't make myself sicker or more exhausted.

I treated myself very gently--staying still and not talking. I made hot tea to drink.  I ate something nourishing. I took time to meditate. I made sure I had every possible advantage so I would feel as good as I could so I would be present and available for both of these conversations.

Now, I absolutely could have just listened to the recording for the Brooke class. It would have been ok. I would have learned. But, she had information that specifically applied to me that I would have missed out on if I just listened to the recording.

Also, I could have rescheduled with the exec. I know we would have talked eventually but my idea was really fresh in my mind and I wanted to get it out to her while my passion for the idea was peaking. The call ended up being short and pleasant and very worthwhile.

Jen Louden wrote recently on her blog about how to know when something is too hard. I broke my own rule about resting while sick but my desire was just too strong to ignore. It's sometimes hard to know the difference between driving for the sake of relentless forward progress and paying the right price for something deeply desired.

The kindness I extended myself was in taking care of body so I could give myself the gift of experience.

What balancing act are you have going between self care and desire?

If you are working on your own 100 Days of Kindness project please let me know how you're doing by leaving a comment.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

100 Days of Kindness: I'm SICK!

Last night I woke up with my throat on fire. This was completely out of left field...I was feeling great yesterday so this really snuck up on me. I don't know where I got it from and I haven't been unusually stressed or over worked so it just happened.

When the alarm clock went off at 5AM I knew I wasn't going to work. I turned off the alarm and stayed still and started thinking about my day--especially about the meetings I had scheduled and the assignments I planned to complete. I also started thinking about a blog post to work on too.

What a nice distraction free day this could be to get things done! I stayed in bed a while longer and made plans to call into work, make my meetings into conference calls and do my job from my easy chair--my usual routine when I feel under the weather.

After rising I settled in with a cup of coffee and some EmergenC and started notifying the world that I was sick but still available. As I reviewed at all the mail in my inbox and I started to droop in my chair.

It occurred to me that my plan wasn't very kind (to me).

I looked inside myself and found my inner kind mother and asked her to make the decisions for the day. Right off she knew I needed some nutrition and to get back in bed. So, my plan to read email and subsist on buttered toast went out the window. I made my usual green smoothie and marched back to the bedroom.

Now folks, I have to honest. A green smoothie just doesn't seem like proper sickness fare. Toast with butter (and jam) does. But my inner kind mother knew better. Toast is the ad campaign for comfort when I'm sick. The smoothie is actually full of all the stuff I need to feel better (even if it is very green and not a picture of comfort).

I napped the morning away and at lunch I made some "emergency soup" so I wouldn't have to leave the house (note: having the cupboards stocked with things you can throw together in a pinch is a very good thing indeed). More napping, ginger tea and an admission that I'm not going to be well tomorrow either so I see more naps, soup and tea in the near future.

I wish I could say that turning off for the day is a guarantee to a speedy recovery and that I will just bounce back over night.

Recovery takes as long as it takes and that is FINE. Nobody is served by my pretending to be well when I'm not--not me, not my coworkers and not even my company (they may not know it, but this is better for them...really).

Ok, back to doing nothing. I leave you with an idea/recipe for an Emergency Soup of your own. Improvise with your favorite nourishing things.

Recipe for Emergency Soup
(improv on the cupboard and fridge)
take the left over roast chicken along with the BBQd rib from the fridge and strip all the meat from the bones. Discard the skin, extra fat and gristle. Chop the remaining meat and put in a large pot.

To that add 1-2 tsps of ground cumin and 1-2 tsps of ground chipotle powder. Cover with 1 qt chicken stock (the kind that comes in a paper box is very handy) and bring to a boil.

Pour 2 jars of your favorite salsa in the blender and puree. Turn heat down on pot and add the pureed salsa, a can of rinsed black beans (or your favorite) and a cup of frozen corn. Let this simmer for a half hour while you rest in the easy chair and drink some more tea.

You can garnish this with all sorts of things but if your sick whatever...just have some soup and try not to move too much.

Also, if you are working on your own 100 Days of Kindness projects please let me know how you're doing.

Monday, November 18, 2013

100 Days of Kindness (to yourself!)

What would it mean to be really kind to yourself? As kind as you would be to the most precious person in your life?

Everyday I talk to people and they are trying SO VERY HARD to do something right. I can relate because that's my life too. I'm trying to do the right thing, be a good person, be creative, achieve, show people I care. Despite all this trying, at times I feel disconnected and as if I have forgotten all the reasons why I do things. It's exhausting and makes me just want to stop.

After years of striving and trying I realized that all the self improvement paths I took were leading  nowhere. There is no improved, better version of me to get to. I could just stop all of it and I would be perfectly fine as is. But that surfaces a different question--if I'm not "improving"was there any point to the things I was so hell bent on achieving. Why do any of it?

This thought came up recently when I released a long held goal in favor of pursuing activities that treat my body with greater respect and (yes) kindness. But what about other goals? How do I know when to keep going forward and when to let go?

So dear reader I thought I would take 100 days to explore what kindness to myself means and share the results with you. I will journal on this and share my learnings along the way. Additionally I will be having conversations with other coaches and experts on human development (still searching for a better word for this--one that doesn't imply we are canisters of film) for their take on self kindness--I expect we will be challenging each other on what that means and what it looks like in practice. Should be exciting!

All I know is that in our hard driving culture, self kindness many times comes in a distant 7th place as it is overshadowed by our need to show up for others, to drive towards our goals or attain any of the internal/external achievements that we often use to define who we are.

It seems we look at ourselves as unruly creatures to be subdued and broken when I suspect our best selves can be coaxed out--whispered to and sweetly met. As I learn to better live these things myself I want to share it all WITH YOU!!

Also dear reader, as I work these questions over I invite you to run your own kindness experiment and share your findings here or on FaceBook. I think there is a great deal we can all learn from this experiment and I'm looking forward to the adventure and playing with you all.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ninety seconds

]I just finished reading Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's book "My Stroke of Insight".  I love this kind of writing--science writing for non scientists with an excellent adventure at it's heart. I first heard about Dr. Taylor from her TED Talk. The book gives more details on how Dr. Taylor made her recovery--rebuilding the functionality of her impaired left brain (the linear, language based, story telling side of the brain).

Because her stroke impaired her left brain functionality she was able to experience life without the boundaries and internal monolog the rest of the world with fully functioning left brains experience. Most striking was her ability to select how she interacted with these rebuilt left brain functions. Without the left brain informing her she could choose which thought loops she would attach to and nurture. Her training as a neuro-scientist also influenced how she percieved her recovery. For her it wasn't so much the experience of "recovering" her real self as it was of selecting what functionality to rebuild. As a result, she was able to say no to many thoughts and emotions that had been habitual parts of her life prior to the stroke.

She learned that when she experienced things that triggered feelings of fear, anger or other unpleasant emotions, the biochemical effects actually clear out very quickly--in about ninety seconds actually. Anything thinking/feeling going on beyond that ninety seconds was because of a thought arose after the initial response...the beginning of a neural pathway.

What fires together wires together. This is why some thoughts show up when certain events occur.

For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic you might feel all the hair prick up on your body, your heart rate increase, gasping for breath plus feelings of complete fear/rage. Ninety seconds later, these initial feelings will have subsided BUT a monolog will have started in your head giving it's opinion about the situation. Even though the incident has passed and the neurochemical surge subsided, your story telling brain is starting to kick in and tell you the so called truth of the matter. Over time this dynamic build a solid neural connection between the triggering event and the associated thought pattern. 

What if subverting self defeating behaviors was as simple as waiting 90 seconds and changing the dialog in your own head? Simple, not necessarily easy--but also not impossible!

The secret to this is simple awareness. Here is an example from today:

I was walking through a building on campus when all of a sudden found myself thinking some very unpleasant thoughts about an incident that occurred in the past. Luckily I noticed what was happening before the thought could take over. It was then I had an Aha moment--I had an unconscious association with that building and the unpleasant incident which is why I find myself thinking some pretty dark thoughts whenever I go over there.

I made note of that and the thought was derailed. Moving forward I can let the moment (only ninety seconds!) run it's course and go on with my day. I imagine over time I will find myself less likely to experience those unwanted thoughts when I'm in that building.

The process of derailing thoughts caused by triggering events allows new neural pathways to replace the old one. This can be used to cultivate peace of mind. It also can be applied to habit building.

Dear reader, I invite you to play with the ninety second rule. The next time you find yourself captured by a trigger, let the clock run down ninety seconds and become aware of any thoughts that come up. Notice with curiosity that the triggering moment has passed and that the thought is unnecessary and let it pass away.

I'd love to hear your results. Please feel free to leave a comment to this post so we can all learn from your experience.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An invitation

If you've been reading my blog for a while you probably have read that I've been training to be a coach. Not a football coach, voice coach or executive coach but A LIFE COACH!

Ahhhhhh, that felt good. It took me a long time to get here so it's nice to share it with you all.

This is an interest I've been pursuing for a long time--a decade almost. Even before I earned my pastry diploma I was considering coaching as a full time career.

I became interested in coaching because people would often come to me to help unwind their conundrums. These long conversations (mostly them talking and me listening and asking questions occasionally) would end with the other person feeling better and sometimes with an idea of what they wanted to do next.

What I really loved was when a conversation turned into something that resulted in a happier, more fulfilled life for the person I was talking to. I knew becoming a coach could give me more opportunities to help people as well as experience the joy of seeing someone live a happier life.

However, even though I aspired to help others, I was getting in my own way on a massive scale! I had so many negative beliefs about myself I almost didn't pursue the training at all--I put myself in the impossible position of having to coach myself out of all my own issues and difficulties before I would be fit to take even one class.

Changing those self defeating beliefs didn't happen overnight. My road to becoming a coach included a tremendous amount of introspection and self work. Reviewing my old journals I saw there were certain areas of my life that were a constant source of suffering to me--I was always running after perfection in my career or body image or trying to attain another achievement. I really believed I would finally be happy with myself once I "got to" whatever those old goals were.

I have over 1000 journal pages on my computer at home filled with an infinite loop of self criticism, plans to fix myself and anger at my circumstances (especially around my work life). It's not very good reading. There was nothing anyone could say that would make me believe I was ok and a worthwhile person just the way I was.

Working with a coach helped me break out of the thinking that created that infinite loop of misery. My life is now far less based in achievement and perfect circumstance and more based in self acceptance and connection. Because I've extended grace and kindness to myself I'm able to help others see the good in their lives as well.

See, dear reader, you don't need to be fixed. You also don't need to improve. I want to hold up a mirror to you so you can see your own beauty--beauty you have today. And if you can't see that mirror, I want to help unwind whatever it is that is clouding your vision. Because when you have that kind of clear sight with yourself, the whole world changes before your eyes. Then life becomes truly magical.

Hope to hear from you soon.  Love, Sasha

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sick days, sick thoughts

Two weeks ago I had the kind of cold that requires you do nothing but lay perfectly still and sip tea because you have absolutely NO ability to do anything else. Not sure where it came from but one morning I walked to the door with my lunch bag and backpack ready to take on the world. However I stopped for a moment because I suddenly didn't have enough energy to open the door. I put everything down and retreated to the bedroom where I stayed almost exclusively for the next 48 hours.

I felt doughy, weak and like my muscle tissue was evaporating. I felt fluids soak my tissue turning me into a human sized version of the Stay Puff Marshmallow man. I lay there poking at myself unhappily, unable to do much of anything except contemplate my sorry physical state.

I wandered into the kitchen for a tea refill and looked at the dishes in the sink--I then wondered briefly if I can do a load of laundry and tidy all that up. Or do some writing. Or log a few hours of email time for work and avoid being so behind on it all.

And then I had a different thought. The thought was "this is you being sick".

That was all. I was sick. There was nothing to do except rest. The soreness, the state of my energy, my pallid complexion, my total domestic disarray were all perfectly consistent with a person being under the weather. Not pathetic. Not behind. Just sick.

The other peevish little bitch of a voice (the one wondering if this downtime could be used more productively and making note of how I am losing ground and muscle tone just laying here) is not at all ok with breaking with the superstitions I have around being a "better version of me".  This stopping to rest represents an enormous slide backwards towards...what?

All this activity I think I'm missing out on represents some huge distance I want to put between an ideal version of myself and what I think is undesirable/unlovable/unacceptable about me (even though these ideas inhabit exactly the same mind).

The best version of me, the one I am anyway (regardless of what I do), decided to just be sick for a few days and rest.

Amazingly my life didn't crash and burn. Now I am back at work rested and refreshed, whistling a happy tune--the imagined, pallid dough girl didn't show up in the mirror today either. There are a few dishes to be done but I'll get to them. 

And that's how it is when I whisper to myself "how could this time be used more kindly?"

What are you whispering to yourself these days?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Let's not self improve

There is an angry, unappreciative, tense part of myself that has the microphone every-time I think I need to "improve" myself.

It's the part of me that thinks that there is something wrong with me, with what's going on around me, with the general tapestry of my life. It's wrong. Wrong I tell you!

Whether it's my weight, how well I'm doing at my day job, the general order or disorder of my home, or how I stack up to others-none of it is happy. None of it makes me feel good. What am I improving? Where is this going? When will it ever end?

Even the idea that I could be having a more interesting life seems poisonous. I have exactly the life I created for myself--the one I picked based on every action I've ever took. Thinking it should be "more interesting" would be the same as saying I've done it all wrong.

As a coach, self improvement is a tricky question (it's a multi-billion dollar industry and it appears to be growing). My personal coach and friend Max Daniels brought it up in her blog recently calling it a "a deep crevice, very near the bottom. Down where there's no oxygen". Many people seeking coaching are trying to fix something about themselves--to improve.

I'm going to be bold--there is nothing about you to fix.

Also, there is nothing about me to fix. There is nothing about "that other person" to fix. And, shockingly, there is nothing in the world to fix either. Everything is exactly as it should be. Tomorrow, it will all change in some way and THAT will be exactly as it should be too. There is nothing wrong with any of it.

This is where people will get angry/indignant that I'm not giving sufficient weight to the problems that the world has. Or even more, the very very VERY serious and real personal flaws that people need to fix RIGHT NOW (seriously, this enormous butt isn't going to shrink itself).

Yah, so if everything is perfect, then why get coached at all?

Honey pie, if you are suffering over any part of your life, that's where the coaching comes in. Coaching is about your thinking--not fixing.

If you are suffering over something, you have created a story that is bending your perception of reality.

Skillful coaching helps remove thinking that keeps you trapped in a self improvement cycle--the kind of illusion that makes your perfect life some "just out of reach" thing in the future. Believe it or not, your perfect life is just waiting for you to notice it.

Oddly, once your change your thinking, everything else changes as well. I said it before, this isn't woo. It might seem like magic but anyone who has studied illusion knows that the magic is in the seeing.

If you want to experiment with unwinding some of your own illusions, drop me a line.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

There is a law of attraction but it isn't what you think it is

Remember The Secret? It says some pretty wacky things especially the notion that thinking about something will bring it about (such as you can't get fat unless you think about fat or car spaces show up because you magically make them appear).

So lets just list off all the things the Law of Attraction (LOA) isn't:

1. Magical thinking--such as thinking something really hard will cause it to happen.
2. A cosmic or universal power handing over stuff because you had the exact right thoughts.
3. some other woo that says you can sit on the couch and wait  for the magic to happen.

But weirdly it IS about your thinking and it IS about how things respond to you when you believe and think certain thoughts. And most bizarrely, a lot of it all happens without seeming "effort". How it not be list one but still be all the things list one seems to imply.

Let me explain.

Everything we do and say begins with a thought. And guess what? Our thoughts, while not necessarily true, still drive how we act often in subconscious ways that inform people how to respond to us. Our thoughts drive decisions that take us in certain directions--sometimes insignificant changes to routine result in big outcomes. What we don't take into account is all the information we are taking in and filtering out based on our thought patterns.

I'm sure you've experienced the phenomenon of buying a car in a certain color. As soon as you start contemplating this car you start seeing lots of these kinds of car on the road in the same color you plan on getting. It's as if these cars just pop out of nowhere. That's not quite it--the cars were always there. You just see them now because you are thinking of them.

If you apply this to the seeming good luck that follows LOA adherents you can see a connection between what they think and believe and the kinds of opportunities that seem to arise. The luck is simply them seeing the opportunity and then taking advantage of it. The belief that this is possible--that the opportunity is meant for them makes them extra resourceful, charming and ready to step up to the situation in a way that makes it work out. The signals they give off in body language and choice of words sends the message "I'm available--come play with me."

The same goes for so called bad luck. The same opportunities are out there for the person who just can't catch a break but they can't see them. And when they do see them or the opportunity is pointed out to them they act in self defeating ways (many times subtly and unconsciously) that make the opportunity not work out. They choke.

Even when a person who more or less has a positive LOA factor doesn't carry off what they want, they shrug it off, saying it wasn't quite the right time or whatever and that something even better is "on it's way". And yes, like magic, something does come along that fulfills the expectation of the LOA belief.


The rub in all this is that it can't be really manipulated by rituals and secret systems. You can't simultaneously attract nice things into your life and believe your life is cruddy--until you handle your belief in the so call cruddy aspects you won't see the good you have in the first place. This is why gratitude is one of the foundational practices for LOA. You become wealthier simply by acknowledging the good things you already have--you "see" them and and they make a positive appearance in your life whereas before they were dull and unappreciated--nearly invisible. Gratitude itself is a belief altering, sight expanding practice.

A person that wants to harness some LOA magic doesn't have to pretend things are going great. They simply have to be prepared for things to go well, to see good, to expect good situations and above all to feel that those much desired things are open and available to them.

It all boils down to ingrained thought patterns. If you find yourself harboring beliefs that separate you from they things and experiences you want in your life, it's time to start questioning those patterns. Once you start unwinding the beliefs that are contrary to your best life you may find yourself surrounded by experiences that "a person like you" would never have had before. Those experiences are already there waiting for your eyes to refocus to let them in. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More than an acumulation of all days

I've been giving a lot of thought to all the experiments I've conducted over the years to adopt behaviors that feel natural--baselines for health, mental well being, prosperity and new experience.

When I look in the mirror at my body I review all the actions I've taken to create what I see--every step walked, every pound lifted, every boundary crossed, every bite of food ingested, every risk taken and every failure endured. What I see is a living picture of cause and effect--a physical representation of a life that is constantly transitioning and changing form.

It's very tempting to view myself in terms of how well or poorly I seem to be doing. To feel smug or unhappy because of progress or the lack of it. 

My behavior isn't who I am. My behavior is something I do. 

All the things I see in my life today (my friends, my cash flow, my body, my home, my job etc) are a complex printout of a web of choices I've made in my past. Even so, they aren't who I am. 

Many people look at the landscape of their lives and harbor the illusion that the things they see around them and and activities they participate in represent an intrinsic state--something to hold on to and identify with. Over time people add or subtract behaviors that result in how the image of life appears. And because that, the belief that intrinsic change has taken place emerges. Changes such as becoming more prosperous, or getting fat/thin, or finding ourselves surrounded by children, or living in a foreign country start to form or shift an identity and we believe what we see around ourselves IS who we are. 

Why does this matter? 

If things aren't going well for you, any belief that your circumstances are a reflection of your intrinsic being will drive behaviors (in conscious and subconscious ways) to ensure you stay in the same unsatisfactory place. 

The brain always drives us to behaviors consistent with our beliefs. You may do something that starts to put you in what you see as a more positive direction but you will probably write off the positive result as "luck" and go back to behaviors that support your beliefs about yourself.

Conversely, if things are going well and our outer life looks rosy we tend to congratulate ourselves on being "the kind of person" that (gets raises, stays slim, makes rain, etc) forgetting that what we do today is going to effect who that "kind of person" is months and years down the road. 

Change is inevitable in circumstances, behaviors, physical form, and anything else you think you have complete control over. This is all just furniture being moved around in our world. The beliefs you have about these changes and events form their appearance in your perception.

This morning I read this short quote from Jiddu Krishnamurthy. "The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth." 

I would extend this to say the same goes for fixed ideas and beliefs about who you are. 

Any belief you harbor about yourself should leave you feeling free to make decisions and change behaviors to express your truest self--even if those decisions mess up the image of who you think you should be. This feeling of freedom will guide you to take actions that cause a shift in your life that will form a new external reality--one that will closely match and support your truest self.  


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Staying the Course?

Admitting De-Feet
I've written a few times about running, surfing etc and I want to say publicly, today, right now, in front of G-D and everyone--I quit.

Yup, I quit. After making a big deal about epic journeys, about following a teacher, about remolding myself into a "long distance runner whatever" I just want to say I quit.

Shocking, I know. I'm a quitter.

I haven't wanted to write about this because I think a lot of people really cherish the idea of overcoming odds and becoming whatever it is they set out to be--I really wanted to model that.

However for me it's more important to be truthful.

In my coach training we've been doing a lot of work about being guided by our feelings--specifically the feelings in our bodies. Our bodies are very reliable guides to what actions bring us towards our best lives. Things start to get screwed up when we don't listen to the cues our bodies hand us over and over.

I had an idea about running. What that idea meant to me was finally proving I was tough enough to do something hard--something really impossible for the asthmatic little girl I was. Just like in the movies I was going to transcend my past by running a marathon.

I tried to do everything right. I met with my trainer twice a week to workout. I did as was prescribed to me and did my best to ignore the feelings of dread and depression I had before training. At the time I just saw those as negative feelings to overcome so I put on a happy face and went out to run when everything inside of me said "no"--it always hurt.

This wasn't how it was supposed to go. I was supposed to put in my dues, over come odds and emerge triumphant. Perhaps even feel joy. It wasn't happening.

One training Aracely was putting me through my paces and at a certain point I started to feel burning in my hip. I was making a horrible face but Aracely told me to keep going--and I did until I couldn't. I told her I was hurting. She asked me where and when I showed her she poked me there.

I screamed in pain as well as rage--I felt my face go pale. Aracely looked shocked. I immediately felt embarrassed for screaming out but the tiger was out of the cage. This was several months ago so I don't exactly remember what happened except it was very awkward and I went home.

Later that day I made an appointment to see my doctor (again!).

It didn't matter that I had been working on my strength, being careful and trying so hard to do it right. I had once again injured myself. I had to be honest with myself--this wasn't working.

Aracely and I sat down for a final meeting and decided to suspend training indefinitely. We both hurt over this. I don't blame my coach--she invested a lot of time in me and it still went nowhere.

So, where things get interesting with this isn't around my injury or running or even the relationship with a specific coach. It's all about a story--one I created.

For years I invested in a story around what being a runner, specifically a long distance runner, means. I made my relationship to running mean something about me--and not running as being a personal failure and a statement about who I am.

Pretty sad way to look at myself. And a great excuse to exclude myself from every trying running again because it would screw up my new story about being a "failed" runner.

The reality of the situation was I trained to run, I got an injury and chose to not pursue running. Not a character failing. Not a tragedy. Not a tale of redemption in the offing. Just now, when I work out, I tend to not run.

Dropping the running failure story (and every other failure story) is allowing me to pursue the real things that bring me joy and gives me permission to fail at them (and move on) or drop them if they don't suit me. Or revisit them if it feels right (no point in saying no if your internal compass is pointing to it).

What stories are you holding on to that are separating you from your best life?

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Visual Journal Page

I've had many beneficial things converge in my life over the last couple of months. One outcome is that I now paint daily before I go to work. This isn't painting to be "artistic" or produce things to show others--its purely to paint. I look forward to it. I don't procrastinate over it. It starts my day like nothing else can.

The output is starting to take the form of a journal because I now overlay my thoughts in with the images. This is something covered by Lisa Sonora Beam in her work (which I highly recommend you check out).

I woke up feeling a little anxious this morning and started working with images to see if I could parse out where my feelings were coming from. It was a combination of anticipating stress at work, worrying about my own position, a messy desk and having eaten a overly large, spicy dinner the night before. From that I was able to extract a few remedies:

Eat a light meal and drink some water
Get a little exercise in
Tidy up your desk
See how you can help at work to reduce the stress going on without getting sucked in yourself

(my remedies almost always include the above plus the situational thing--in this case work being stressful/chaotic right now)

I ended up my painting musings with this page. Thought I would share it with you here.

As I've gone over with Coach Max, as well as in my own coach training, work has far more room for choice than we often think it does.

However, its really easy to think otherwise, especially when others are affirming the opposite.

What Else Is Up?
I took the summer off from blogging to follow some other things. The visual journalling opened me up in a number of ways so projects that seemed far off or hard to complete all of a sudden became in reach.

Instead of beating my head over being a runner (injured) or surfer (nearly drowned) I decided to find other ways to get my nature/water fix in. Using a windfall from a work project, I treated myself to a stand up paddle board. All I knew is that every time I found myself passing a body of water be it the reservoir or the harbor, I found myself longing to be out there. Instead of waiting to have the flexibility to master surfing I'm going out RIGHT NOW to be on the water. I'm getting all the pleasure of being outside, the smell of open water and the sweet peace of just paddling and exploring.

Its amazing what opens up in the Now when you discard beliefs about how things should be. 

I have a few other items of note to share but I will save them for a separate post. Cheers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Bully Pulpit

I was a bullied kid. This lasted into my mid teens. There were a variety of perpetrators. My memories of my life from earlier than age 15 weren't happy ones. I was the bird with broken feathers constantly pecked by the flock.

Despite the fact that today as an adult I have loving relationships, accomplishments as well as the tools to deal with agressive a-holes, sometimes unwanted memories of when I was small and defenseless come up and its just like being that broken bird again.

Recently I had one of these intrusive, unpleasant memories. Even just sitting at my desk I experienced intense sadness and rage. I wanted to be done with it...to be free.

I decided to call on Coach Max to see if she had some tools to help me out. Of course she did but I was left with questions I needed to answer.

After our session I really wanted to understand the "why me" aspect of being a target. I never understood the "mark" I had that attracted bullies. It wasn't an accident after all--my experiences growing up were consistent. Out of all the kids surrounding me why was I the one chased home, who had my things stolen and destroyed or called disturbing, hurtful names (a few of which still trigger me today)?

I understand that I stood out but there was more going on. Until now I never understood the big picture of my situation. So, in the tradition of a true Silicon Valley professional I made a Venn Diagram to figure out why my childhood went the way it did.

I own the fact that I was an oddball. I couldn't choose my clothes or how Mom wanted to do my hair. All my other behaviors...well, they were just part of little me. I was an enthusiastic, picky, sometimes loud, sometime shy, artistic, proto-queer child of an older immigrant mother and career military father--I didn't blend in looks or behavior. And for whatever reason, when the flock landed to pick at my broken feathers no adult took notice or understood that I spent my days completely terrified and depressed.

My mother's approach to the bullying situation was to let me deal with it on my own. "Rise above them" she would say or the other equally helpful "they do it because they like you". I think she thought that if I had to deal with my tormentors I would learn skills to deal with hard situations and eventually flourish.

I'm sorry to say this approach didn't work.

I was stressed out and distracted most of the time--even at home. I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to avoid whoever was going to torture me. One of my teachers told my mother she thought I was "special needs" because I was so distracted and out to lunch (that teacher also didn't know Helen Keller was deaf and blind by the way, but I digress).

My life didn't start to turn around until I was put in a private school with a lot of faculty involvement and high standards for student behavior. I went from being a sad odd ball to being a happy, outgoing oddball. I traded frenemies for actual friends and started the business of being a young adult.

Looking back on this situation its easy to say things changed because I got away from bullies. That was part of it but not all of it.

I took a class in influence this year. What I learned from that class is that behaviors flourish because a variety of factors all cooperate to create situations perfect for their those behaviors. Change isn't a single dimension process--it really isn't about the actions one person takes even though that is what we are taught. Even in the common scenario of weight loss we have learned that having self control isn't sufficient to drive lasting change--we aren't a nation of weak willed twinkie addicts. Americans used to be trim and fit. However, over the last 50 years we've created a variety of social conditions that lead to a majority of us being overweight or even obese.

I would suggest that we don't have a problem with some kids being bullies or some kids being picked on. I believe many sectors in our society are dominated by conditions where bullying is natural and easy.

As I look back at my childhood, my problem was that I never got a break from bullying or any hope that it would stop. I couldn't change me (believe me, I tried) and I wasn't going to get "tougher" because I was constantly being worn down. The counter behaviors I developed (aggression, over the top rage, the ability to run and hide) came from a place of insufficient support--running, fighting or raging were the only tools I had access to to deal with the groups of kids who would wait for me so they could abuse me. My energies were directed full time to countering abuse instead of the business of being a kid--playing, experiencing wonder and learning.

With all the discussion in the media about bullying, whether we should intervene, check behavior on bullies and "coddle" the bullied--we are looking at things the wrong way if we think we are just sheltering one poor proto-queer from "kids being kids".

I'm not advocating that we solve every child's problems for them or not give children opportunities to stand up for themselves--however we adults must realize these important skills are not learned in isolation. For every kid who faces off a bully in perceived isolation there are a hundred who never do because they have no safety or shelter.

For myself, looking back at my past I can only wish for the isolated oddballs that they find places of safety to be themselves, build real friendships and see there is a beautiful contrast to the ugly reflection cast back at them by a bullying culture/environment. Children simply do not have the tools to contend with agression unless they have support, safety and the knowledge that their brand of oddball is perfect for who they will be in life.

As for my intermittent sadness and rage, knowing I had my own perfect storm makes me feel less like the broken bird--that things happened. That my life changing and getting better is proof that I wasn't marked for life. I want this for all children--wounded adults as well.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What I've been up to lately

My class with Lisa Sonora Beam has really set me on some interesting explorations career-wise. Not ready to say what about yet but I plan to start making new services available by the end of the year. Its driving me in different directions at work too which is exciting and adding a real boost of cheerfulness to my work days.

The poetry writing as well as working with Lisa and Coach Max has definitely loosened me up. I've started painting again. I purchased a calligraphy brush, a bottle of Ultra Black ink and a roll of paper for making Shojii screens. I've been painting every morning before work and sometimes after work too. Unlike everything else, this pursuit truly has no goal. I don't even have to please myself...I just go for what feels good on the paper.

I remember as a little girl I REALLY wanted to help out with things like painting the fence. Instead of handing me a brush, my dad gave me some sandpaper and a piece of rough sawed redwood plank. He told me I could paint when it was smooth as glass.

(he really didn't want any help painting)

I still wanted to experience the luscious sensation of thickly applying paint with a brush. I just wanted to dip the brush right in the can and start gliding it over the surface of whatever I was working on.

When I got my first set of acrylic paints I couldn't wait to realize an image from my imagination on canvas. I was surprised that the gap between my imagination and the craft of painting was so wide! My first painting was pretty gloppy--bright as well. I had no idea how to mix paint so I used the hues as they came from the tube.

Over time the gap narrowed but I was never able to achieve the realism I craved. There were so many things to balance and adding color applied with something as strange as paint is yet another layer of skill. I wasn't great but I loved to paint and even considered an art major before going for the infinitely more practical Literature degree.

All these musings about art and creativity are because last weekend was the Maker Faire (my favorite event of the year). Its like Gay Pride for geeks and crafty people with less disco but possibly twice as many strobe lights. For a full day I was surrounded by people following their curiosity and ingenuity--sometimes making a profit and sometimes just there to show and tell. Most of the things there had a lot of preparation and polish, some of the exhibits were clearly "works in progress"...not quite ready but ready enough to show off the idea.

What I especially enjoy about the event is the supportiveness I witness around me. This event really is about showing and sharing...not competing or criticizing. I think there is a general understanding that if you have enough guts to bring your project to such a public and well attended event you deserve to be treated with respect and consideration. I've heard plenty of times myself when someone tried to tell me the "right way" to do something. I'd like to see this crowd spared that brand of helpfulness.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Change--it is and isn't a mental game

I was having a conversation with someone who said they had a short term goal they were trying to achieve and they just hadn't got there. They knew all the steps they had to take but just hadn't done them. I listened for a while and said "why are you trying to do this?"

She rattled off a list of very good rational reasons. Her voice was dispassionate as she told me why she wanted to accomplish this goal.

I found myself blurting out "without a compelling reason you aren't going to be able to do this--I'm sorry". I was sorry because I felt I stepped on toes and said too much. The only problem was I felt it was true.

A good rational reason is not a compelling reason. One has to do with the head, the other one with the heart.

Let me tell you a story about myself. I was a binge drinker. I didn't do it all the time and I wasn't a mess with a life coming apart at the seams but I drank to get drunk. I was in denial that it was a problem although over the years I got into some pretty sketchy situations under the influence. Regardless of that I had no plans to change this habit any time soon.

Once after a particularly bad day at work I called Miss Keri and asked her if she wanted to meet me at the pub to have dinner. She said she would meet me after finishing up some things at work. I went to the bar and drank four vodka martinis in quick succession. By the time she showed up I was seriously drunk. Regardless of my state we spent the evening together (obviously she had to drive me) and after several hours I was sober enough to have an actual conversation with her.

She looked at me and without anger she just said "you know, you're really boring when you're like this".

This stopped me cold. I had never thought I was anything BUT hilarious under the influence. Apparently not.

I didn't resolve to do anything but my behavior changed. I stopped drinking to get drunk. I couldn't stand the idea of the person most important to me ever thinking I was boring. It was in direct conflict with my self image of being interesting and entertaining (don't burst my bubble on this ok? I still have this self image).  I also won't say I've been perfect. I still enjoy drinks and I have been drunk--mostly caused by not keeping an eye on my consumption while engaged in long lively conversations. But after 12 years I can count the incidents on one hand.

We know certain changes will help us but we don't FEEL the benefit. We only know it in our heads. When things are difficult, behavior change is usually what gets thrown out because the emotionally compelling factor takes precedent over rational reason.

There are many factors that influence change however the motivation of a genuine emotional connection to whatever state you want to achieve or avoid is key. I suspect that regardless of how good our rational reasons are change will go along only in fits and starts until our hearts find their own illogical reason to do something different.

Monday, April 29, 2013

For Love and For Money--my weekend with Lisa Sonora Beam

A few weeks ago Coach Max sent me a note to say hello and to ask if I wanted to meet up at a workshop she would be helping out with--The Creative Entrepreneur taught by Lisa Sonora Beam. I of course wanted to meet the fabulous Max face to face but I didn't know about going to a workshop. I had just spent a non trivial sum of money to have a blockage removed from my cat's bowels (Kitty is ok but we needed to shave him so future deadly hairballs wouldn't form). Still, I was really attracted to the idea--a weekend away in a cute little town doing art. It sounded like a much needed departure from my daily life. I had a burst of warm feelings and decided to invest in my mental health. I didn't care so much about the entrepreneurial aspect as I did about getting away and having some light hearted rest.

In the days leading up to the retreat I read the materials for the workshop, collected the many whimsical materials, read Lisa's blog (utterly charming--but I was getting some ideas that she was far more than an art teacher). I had no idea what kind of magic she had up her sleeve but I was sure I was at the very least going to enjoy the process.

The weekend ended up being so much more than just a restful retreat with colored pencils and cool drinks. Wrapped inside an accomplished heart centered artist is one of the most practical and savvy business coaches I have ever met in any venue. Little did I know my life was about to change.

The first afternoon started with cups of tea at the studio. It was a small class so we had an opportunity to chat one on one. At 5:30PM sharp the workshop began.

We started with basic ground rules for time in the studio--this was to make sure everyone was present and able to have the space and quiet to really go deep and help us find our answers. We began with a simple art project that would be a tool we turned to time and again through the weekend. In a matter of minutes we were quietly painting--my own performance anxiety subsiding as I pushed swathes of saturated color across the page--a prelude to an altered state that allowed me to focus and be in the moment. We gathered images from piles of magazines and calendars--things that we found deeply pleasing--these were to be used over the weekend. There was some discussion about the content of the rest of the workshop and before I knew it two hours had gone by and I was ready for some dinner and quiet time.

The remainder of the weekend was a structured exploration of our best talents and abilities, discovering customer needs and defining areas where our talents best could solve customer needs. We did business strategy, planning, and scoped some initial product offerings all in a focused confidential environment.

None of this felt like work. We played all weekend. I've been to entrepreneurial classes before--not once have I had an experience like this. I literally vibrated all weekend long (and not because of the french press coffee Coach Max kept offering me).

I had solid take-aways from the weekend. Through Lisa's coaching, following her process and with group interaction I had one new idea for a business that I had never contemplated before. I also gained awareness that I do what I call so many other people out on--devaluing and downplaying my professional experience and ability. I tend to always think there is some credibility gap I need to cross experience or training away from a starting point. I realized I had skills I could use today to build a business with--that I have everything I need (not that I won't need ongoing education--everyone needs that).

My part in getting to my starting point is doing the homework to better refine what it is I want to do (this doesn't happen over night or in a weekend--this is CRITICAL to understand this before launching a business).

I cannot recommend this workshop highly enough. For the amount of information and attention I received, the workshop fee was very modest. I felt I got so much more than either a creative weekend or an entrepreneur's bootcamp could offer me.

If you are struggling to start your small business or need help getting to the next level, this is the right workshop. Click here to visit Lisa Sonora Beam The Creative Entrepreneur.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 20-25

Fatigue, I don't know
Sometimes things just want to stop
and then start again

Friday, April 19, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 19

who I thought I was

not the yelling voice in my mind
not the interpreted words of others
nor what I thought someone said
    or thought

not the memory of my potential
nor the projected wishes of elders

 not some better future self

when I met me for coffee
and listened as I told my long story
my heart broke
hearing the confusion that
I thought was just the domain of others

coming from the face
I never noticed
because I was brushing my teeth
were words that
made me reach out and take my hand

as I met my gaze
I was struck that the behind the eyes
feeling I felt as cold and angry
only looked wistful projecting out

how could I not have recognized
this person for so long

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 17

voicemail by voicemail


Hey its Rachel

and on India

and the other



luncheon meeting


there are bridge burns

looking forward


we were wondering

are wondering

where this well

And apparently

as usual

we're rather childish

and so talk (xxx) xxx-xxx

If you could

we don't really go


otherwise people

so far chill

around building 17


got your name



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 16

Customer Satisfaction Survey

on a scale of one to five

with one being

not at all

and five being

supreme excellence of an almost orgasmic nature

please rate the following

Do you find me useful

Do I meet all operating parameters

Do you find my interface accessible and user friendly

Do I respond to commands and
     use fuzzy intelligence
          to do what ever it is you are asking for
               even though you don't know how to ask for what you need

Do I operate quietly
     except for the purr of highly productive cycles

Does my exterior resist most scratches and abrasions
     and deflect most dings and dents

and when it comes down to that

will you be able to easily replace
     me in whole or in part
          when I finally say

fuck off

Monday, April 15, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 15

Development Proposal

Notice to:
mustard greens
minute timers
unidentified bush with tiny purple flowers
tumble weeds
fox tails
garden snakes
ground squirrels
burrowing owls
feral cats
field mice
beer cans
broken bottles
abandoned shopping cart
doritos wrappers
cigarette butts
office chair

a proposal
has been submitted
to the city of San Jose
to develop 
the open field
at the corner of
orchard and component

there will be a hearing
where you can voice
your concerns

Sunday, April 14, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 14

just so

clear day
no clouds

lilacs that remind
but never last

sunlight that warms
but not enough to burn

sound of lawnmowers
and small birds in nests

apple blossoms
last oranges

even the weeds look intentional

Saturday, April 13, 2013


i'm back

i had the idea
there was some where I was going
that started here

that I was diverted

and that coming here
would set things straight

but seeing this place I think

there is no back to be at

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 11

i left my homework on the bus

to whom it may concern
I'm so sorry
I forgot to be inspired today

instead I had a good day
whistled while I worked
high fived a team mate
walked in the sun

and the heat and pressure needed
to produce
some verse
just never built up

instead I had nice thoughts
about good friends
ate my dinner slowly
called my mother
and gazed lovingly at my wife

a poem just didn't happen
life goes on--I will be deep tomorrow

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 10

little animal

your watchful watchful eyes
see in the angry stare an assesment
of your essence
although that stare doesn't see you
just your shape and the space it occupies

you learned something
a myth
a lie
a picture with you in the center
and the activity all swirling
in the same direction
the same outcomes
all a lie because of something you think you saw
something that you thought was the truth of you

faces are the same
and the words are the same
and you look in the mirror
and it all matches perfectly
with the myth
with the lie
the something you think you saw
the something that you thought was the truth of you

when you get up in the morning
and you collect the memories
that cement you to this reality
not the reality where you flew past the highwires
in a paper airplane
and the grasses held their own conversations
that reality is different
but this one is based on something you think you saw
this reality that you thought was the truth of you

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 8


when you were alive
I wished you were dead

you were the butt of my jokes
and the cause of every problem

when you were sick
I thought it was repayment

the fulfillment of your evil mind
proof of a just god

but then after time
I just saw you were sick

like good people I knew
the ones I agreed with

for whom such a fate was unfair
proof that god doesn't exist


when you were finally dead
I was sorry

that the time I spent hating
and joking
and twisting in the sheet of my outrage

that I wasn't doing
the things I knew
were the right things to do
to balance out you

Sunday, April 7, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 7

I shall not compare thee to a summer's day

if you were wondering
why a love poem hasn't happened
and why my words halt
where they once butterfly boogied
past my flapping gums

words fail me
in the wake of our lives
as I now know you by
the mirroring of our flaws
and to feel like I'm falling
only to be caught by you
when I thought your arms were
too full

the things we've seen aren't pretty
and sometimes we pass a
single respirator back and forth
as we kick together
towards the surface

oh but the surface
with its sunlight
and oxygen
waits for us
as we kick
and breath
and hold on to each other

I didn't know you could swim so well

Saturday, April 6, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 6

can't get my head straight
keep it simple...who me?
too much cleverness

Friday, April 5, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 5

these and more

The unreasonable love that ended in crying

To keep a dark vigil that would end only in dying

To be quiet one time and another a blaze

To finally shake off my torpor and haze

Both the stupid and the kind things I have said

To drink all the wine before securing the bread

To complain of my form yet to stay in my chair

To spend a small fortune on cutting my hair

To take risks on faith not counting the cost

Driving for hours not admitting I'm lost

To dive in a lake filled with water once frozen

These are all things I can say I have chosen

Thursday, April 4, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 4

You aren't sorry

You want things to be the same

You want to pretend

You don't want to pay the bill

You want the past to be something else

You want to think I think it's ok

You want the pain to end

You want to feel safe again

You want a smooth world that will never scratch you

You want some other road

You want comfort

but most of all

You just want me to stop looking at you
the way I'm looking at you now

It makes you feel sorry but somehow

You aren't sorry

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NoPoWriMo-Day 3

How I Plan My Garden

Where did that red rose come from?
Don't know

Why don't you get rid of the Scotch Broom?
Don't know

Did the Lamb's Ears spread by root or by seed?
Don't know

How will you treat the aphids this year?
Don't know

Your peach tree isn't thriving...why?
Don't know

You have so many kinds of Rosemary...how many?
Don't know

Why did you plant so much purple?
Don't know

Where does the rabbit live? How many are there?
 Don't know

Will you rotate the tomato bed?
Don't know

Where do all these questions come from?
Don't know

When will I finally be present?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 2

am not am

I am a writer
not a reader
of writers
who write about writing

I am a doer
not a doing
of talkers
who talk about doing

I am a reader
but not a reader
of writings about writings
I should be reading

I am a thinker
but not a fighter
about thoughts
some other one thinks

I am a have
not that I have to do something
but that I have something to do

Monday, April 1, 2013

NaPoWriMo-Day 1


She begins
by turning all
the lights on
through the house

ending at the bath
she dials it to hot

light heat steam

invoking one voice
silencing others

"your downward mobility is your privledge"
she said and created her own voluptuous magic
ignoring skinny pale scolds who
had choices before they knew they were choices

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NaPoWriMo--I'm in!

NaPoWriMo equals National Poetry Writing Month!

I'm easily led. My interwebs friend Lydia Swartz turned me onto this through the all mighty FaceBook. The mission is simple. A poem a day for 30 days starting on April Fools Day (so poetic)--you can post them on line or not...entirely up to you. This is about as non competitive as they come.

I tried to do NaNoWriMo one year and realized I'm such a slow, terse writer that I was killing myself to do the daily requirement. I think I can commit to a poem.

Join me...or don't! I'll be posting my offerings here daily starting next Monday.

Friday, March 22, 2013

needing vs. not sparing

Many years ago, I worked with a teacher who would admonish my use of the word "need". Her point was that "need" as such implied a lack of choice in action, thinking etc. That thought bent my mind--I still struggle with the concept of "needing" to do things. When that comes up and I don't want to do the thing that I supposedly "need" to do I am stumped for motivation.

Needing to do things, the invisible and imaginary force that externally drives action, is powerful. Turning "need" into a paper tiger didn't necessarily make my life more pleasant but it made it more interesting.

I'm writing this blog post from the floor of a conference room. I cannot stand sitting in the rolling chairs they have in here especially for these 6+ hour meetings. The world appears to be turning just the same.

Its simpler to be obedient. Not better...just simpler.

Still, without the invisible iron hand of "need", how to get myself to do things that difficult in the moment? In the context of "need" I can bully myself into doing many things but after a while my inner anarchist gives "need" the finger--especially since I know need is a false driver.

I started playing around with the word need and its antonyms. Words I came up with are surplus, luxury, comfort, fortune, plenty, have and spare. Interesting that "need" and "have" are opposites but mean the same thing in certain contexts; I need to do something or I have to do something. But, a sentence such as I need money is FAR different from I have money.

The word that jumped out as the perfect antonym  was spare--to "not spare" actually.

"Not sparing" makes activities sound like seasonings...like not sparing the garlic in the pasta sauce, not sparing the Valrhona chocolate or not sparing the Blue Label Scotch. These all sound pretty good to me! 

I've been on the edge of giving the need monster the finger lately so I am definitely going to be trying this out (I will will NOT spare the pushups! I will NOT spare the foam roller! I will NOT spare doing a longer plank session!). 

Ok, now I will NOT spare attention to this slide. After that I will NOT spare finishing up my tasks before going home where I will NOT spare a rendezvous with the beer I brewed before Staycation. 


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I started writing this several days ago in my head about enjoying finally being able to take walks. I was wondering when walking wouldn't be enough and I'd get the urge to run. It hasn't happened yet. This is what I've observed--when I see others run I'm jealous of them running. When I am by myself I don't feel like breaking into a run.

Having said that I have experienced pleasure running--free, loose and swift. That experience feels so distant to me now. I find myself having conversations about running vs. walking. Why I would do one or the other and especially what I think it says about me that I don't have the urge to run right now. Not that I'm supposed to run (not cleared for that yet) but that I don't have the urge. Seems like a failure of spirit somehow.

Happily, I don't spend a great deal of time dwelling on these mean thoughts. I walk daily around my neighborhood or near work and listen to books or podcasts. Its very relaxing and I enjoy the time outside (so grateful for spring time). Enjoying the enthusiasm of the moment is a wonderful thing indeed. Its hard to feel the pleasure of the moment when you have the nag of a goal waiting for you to get back in the game.

I was doing a similar thing with my work life.

I was spending a lot of time trying to find ways to really "care" about what I was doing. Everyone around me seems engaged and passionate about the work we're doing. I wanted to feel that too and felt there was something lacking in me that I wasn't playing the game with the same intensity.

I wanted to do work that was seen to be important. I worried about the impression I was making with my work, about showing my managers and peers that my work/thoughts were valuable. I was working very hard to be noticed and appreciated. I'd come home all ramped up and almost believing that I was finally on to something with my career. But there was always a little bit of me left behind that was waiting to also get swept up in my professional zeitgeist. That part of me wasn't catching up.

I do have islands of enjoyment at work--mostly when I connect with other people and help them through their issues. Usually, this is not connected to the body of activities that count as my job. However, it is what gives me a warm feeling. I tell myself this is the intangible I bring to the table--the reason to show up, to be present, to engage.

I just spent the last two days in and out of the hospital. My partner started having chest pains so we rushed to the emergency room to find out what was going on. It took several hours before the doctors could determine it was NOT a heart attack (we still don't know what is causing her pain).

Our friends and coworkers all expressed real concern for our well being, telling us to take the time we need, to relax.

Neither of us could relax. I won't speak for my partner but even in the emergency room I was taking furtive glances at my work email. I saw people looking for my attention RIGHT NOW (even from people who knew where I was and what I was doing).

What I tell others I find I must tell myself--people will treat you the way you allow them to.

As my partner rests from the day's trails, all the little email voices in the background seem to be a thousand miles away. From my living room window I can count the blossoms on my little peach tree. The clouds are gathering for rain. My dog is asleep at my feet.

I'm so grateful.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Introversion, leadership, work...

I'm always surprised when people say they think I'm extroverted. I'm not--I cultivated the ability to speak up in a group because its impossible to get anything done otherwise. I test Introvert 100% of the time on Myers Briggs and every other personality indicator I've ever used. This doesn't mean I dislike people or socializing--I just find groups larger than 3-5 to be extremely taxing (and depending on the group 3 can be a bit much).

I'm energized by long periods of solitude, working alone or with one or two others to bounce ideas off. Let someone else be in the spotlight...that's not for me.

Over the last few years I've taken on a number of roles that have required more extroversion than I care for. I thought it was time for me to be more serious about my career which in my industry usually means learning "leadership" skills. There is no way to sugar coat this--leadership favors extroversion. For every Warren Buffet there are 1000 wannabees trying to imitate Larry Ellison.

Its frustrating to me because the best things I have to offer come from being alone to consider and gestate. When a peer has an off the cuff idea that seems to come from some fit of ADHD and the group RUNS with it I want to scream. It's simply too fast and so much energy goes into following a path that may or may not have merits.

The continuous focus on presenting, defending, promoting...what work are we actually doing?

I would like to make something and just have it be used and perhaps even appreciated (loved?). I would like to dispense with the requirement for a PowerPoint deck. I would like to have a conversation over lunch about something that isn't work. When I leave at the end of the day I would like to not have flickers of anxiety because I know some of my peers work past midnight. I would like a work experience where my job isn't based on pulling things from other people. I would like to dispense with the artificial requirement for "goals" and annual reviews that are dreadful for both me and my manager.

Oh, and I'd like to not have a manager. What I'd like is a supporter--someone who helps when I'm stuck. I don't need to be "managed".

I once had a job where I made something. I made happy customers by solving their problems. I'm too disconnected from the pleasure of seeing the direct effect of my efforts. I think that's part of my frustration.

I guess I'm admitting I don't want to be a leader. I don't think I'm using my life wisely by trying to fit the leadership mold as promoted in my corporate life. I'm not willing.

Now that I have that off my chest I can figure out what it is I DO want to do. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bird Brain

I met with Coach Max yesterday. She gave me a lot to chew over. Sometimes conversations don't reveal the answer but are just part of the process of getting to the answer.

The session was hard for me. Max kept throwing pillows at me--Play! Sit in Cafes!

I was trying to get to the very very very very serious point of my meeting with her--my utter misery in one area of my life. After an hour I was feeling pretty crunchy and wanted to escape but at the last possible minute Max got me to notice something. I kept saying "it feels like I'm carrying the heaviest rock you can imagine".

Max: What does the rock look like...describe it to me.

Me: Its impossibly big...grey, the size of a sheep.

Max: Can you put it down.

Me: I've put it down. It rolled on its side.

Max: How do you feel now?

Me: Like picking it up again. My arms are itching to pick it up. I can feel them contracting.

Max: Well, pick it up.

Me: Ok.

Max: How does that feel?

Me:  Like I have my rock back. It fits perfectly against me.

I spent the afternoon pondering my rock. I wrote in my journal the phrase "I'm holding a big rock" over and over again. I noticed I wrote the words smaller and smaller. In my mind the rock was about the size of a potato. Actually it had turned into a potato. A raw, lumpy potato. But, much smaller than the original rock. I felt a little better.


Several years ago I started the habit of making daily pacts with myself--a way of looking for sign posts to show me my heart was on the right frequency.

One pact I would make frequently was to see a beautiful bird. For a time I was making daily requests to see wild turkeys. As I drove to my job I would see wild turkeys clustering by the side of the road. On the way home those same days I would see terns flying over the highway. High in the air with the fading daylight around them they looked celestial...like angels.

I met a friend over the weekend for a walk at Rancho San Antonio. We saw the most beautiful flock of turkeys. They were only a few yards from us--one puffed his feathers out and spread his tail. I felt so incredibly lucky in that moment.  It reminded me of all I had to be grateful for. For a friend reaching out to me, for my recovered strength, for the beautiful day.

Its my anniversary today. Miss Keri and I have been together 14 years and have been friends since childhood. We exchanged cards under the covers before getting up for work and spent a few extra moments just being before rushing off to start our days.

Its easy to lose perspective when one area of life isn't working out or seems hard.

As I stood in the shower this morning my rock had turned into a Laura Ashley pillow--the kind filled with high loft down. It then became cloud like and drifted to the sky.

I knew in my heart what I needed to do. It wasn't much. I just forgot how to look at the world. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Notes from Staycation: Trade confirmed!

The trade for my jewelry tools and supplies has been confirmed. A young artist proposed trading two of her pieces for the set! Delightful! Once we make the exchange I will show off her work.

It's time for me to start reforming myself back into a member of the workforce. Laundry to be folded etc.

This headspace clearing time left me with more questions than answers. At least my morning meeting has been deferred because of a different meeting. Wish me clear eyes and a clear mind.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Drawing

This is my hand--a drawing of my literal hand. This is figurative me--not an actual physical representation but an image representing my flailing about. The point? To try out these blue pencils from Tim Ferris. The rest is obvious.