To be, or not to be… - January 3, 2016

Hello again. Sorry for being away so long. I have determined that I will blog when something scratches at the inside of my head, and demands to be let out. This is one of those times.

Here is the “story” that is in my head today. I have seen this repeated again and again (in many ways) in life. I will make no apologies for the story, but assure you, there is a lesson in it for us all.

There was a woman who was in love with a man. She believed that love would conquer all, and that he meant everything he said. She built her hopes and dreams on the foundation they had discussed, and he too, believed he meant every word he said. Plans were made, and choices too: they celebrated the ringing in of the New Year, and threw caution to the wind, because after all, they were going to be together forever.

(there are many possibilities for exactly which “caution was thrown to the wind”: After all, we are given opportunities to abandon ourselves in relationship again and again)

However, in this story, nine months later a new life is born. Many months prior however, he determined he didn’t mean what he said. She may have wanted to change her mind too, but she couldn’t. She was now the vessel, and she would proceed (nope, this is not a pro-life conversation either, keep going). The foundation they had built together now had to be built by one woman, day-by-day, brick-by-brick, for the sake of another.

Sometimes she threw her fists to the sky wondering why he left, or why she wasn’t good enough (all gremlin dialogue). Then she strengthened her arms throwing daggers at the next woman who held his hand, because SHE wrecked the plans, HE wrecked the plans, THEY wrecked the plans. No matter—-the plans were wrecked, and would not come back together, so this woman was faced with a choice.

(and we are all faced with choices exactly like this)

Does she decide to make herself a victim of the choice and the broken plan? Does she allow the anger and the betrayal to eat at her, and poke her awake each night? Does she look at her child and see “something in her way”? She could. We could.

(we could all choose to let the darkness in, and be a victim of any circumstance)

Or, does she decide to begrudgingly grow? Does she insist on finding a way through her heart’s betrayal for the sake of finding her own peace? Does she wish she didn’t “have to”, but keep doing it anyway? What does she decide? What do we decide?

(do we grow and adapt, or do we stay angry, sad and stuck?)

She keeps going. She learns to ask for help. She cultivates her inner resources. She faces very dark times, and she continues on. Some days, she can still feel the resentment building, but it comes from a heart that is SAD for opportunities being missed, rather than one that is MAD about her own betrayal. She is growing.

She focuses on the goal of being HER best, whatever that means, and being that person she wishes he had been, rather than perpetuating the pattern, by chronically disappointing and abandoning herself and others. She focuses on that goal. She takes steps toward it every day.

(that’s how we change. Stay aware. Picture what we want. Take consistent, small steps in that direction–even if those steps are terrifying)

Today, this woman is a different woman. She still has tough days, but she is grateful more often, and believes in her inner abilities. Sure, maybe she still wishes that her life didn’t take this path, but she trusts herself to create a new one.

(do you trust yourself to take steps to create a new path, regardless of YOUR “story”)


Celebrate - December 3, 2014

I just realized something….
I just (I mean JUST) completed my 2000th session as a Professional Life Coach. This means I have said 2000 “hellos”, 2000 “talk to you soons” and sat nestled in, for a mysterious adventure 2000 times. I am honored.

Today I celebrate every one of those 2000 times. I celebrate each brave one who joined me, and each one who grew me (pssst…that’s every one of you). I celebrate each time I wondered if I served as best I could, and each time we yelled success from the rooftops!

celebrate 2000

I celebrate each tear, and each scream of agony or sadness. I celebrate each time we sat in discomfort for the sake of growth, and I celebrate every barrier we annihilated. I celebrate every time we wondered if we could go any farther, and we went anyway–because we are stronger together.

Thank you for everyone who has been a part of my 2000. Today I celebrate you, and your unstoppable spirit. While I place a cairn at this moment of celebration, I look to the many more moments ahead, feeling so blessed and fortunate to be along for the journey.

Slip Sliding Away - September 18, 2014

So, under the heading of “doing something new”, I went for a “float”.

No, not the ice cream and soda variety, but rather the sensory deprivation kind, where you get to step away from your physical body and really let go. This involves being inside a pod with 11 inches of highly-salinated water (buoyancy guaranteed, folks) that is warmed to body temperature. Whatever happens in there, is up to you. Some people rest, some people meditate, some people restore their body from physical pain, and others just let the journey take them–I didn’t have an agenda, I just wanted to see what it was like, so off I went to the newly opened Floatlife in Calgary.
float 2

I did all necessary pre-pod things, and climbed in. I became aware of needing to trust the water to hold me up, trust the earplugs to stay in my ears, trust the dark space to be a safe one, and trust through a few irrational fears (which I truly can’t remember). After that, I became aware of my body. Where was I tensing, guarding, holding? Could I let go? Yes, and then there was more letting go after that.

So there I was, after some time—mind quiet, body soft and floating–now what? oh, there’s that damn mind again, “go away please, I do not need to think about groceries right now. I am allowed to have empty space“. so I focused on my breath, and allowed that there was nothing else that I needed to do, but be present to this quiet space. Really, do I deserve to do only this, just this?

In hindsight, I am aware of waves of consciousness, and then waves of being very far away from my body. Then I was gone. No worries of water in my mouth (which wouldn’t happen anyway), no worries of “jeez will I slip away and stay gone all day (which also wouldn’t happen). No thoughts at all, just images, “dreams” and a feeling of expansion which had me forget that I was inside a pod, about the size of a double bed (but taller). there was only expansion—and at times, the sensation of being a human gyro and cartwheeling through infinity. Yes, all the while I am inside the pod.

As I came back to my body, I couldn’t feel it, it was like I had become the water in the pod and beyond, like I had no definition–I was one with everything. Then my brain kicks in “where are your legs? Did you leave them somewhere? Why is one leg longer than the other and sticking out of the tank? (nope, that wasn’t real either). “Mind, you are not helping me here, there is nothing wrong. The body is fine. Relax.”

So, my mind trundles off to see what other kind of trouble it can get into, and I am aware that this pod is like a womb. I am a full grown person, who is weightless inside a womb. I find this quite cool, and sit with that. “What if…I were to be reborn, fresh and pure, what would I do?” I never answered this question, as my mind had clearly gone snorkeling, or was trying to squeeze it’s way through the pod door “since it wasn’t needed here anyway”.

Slowly I become aware that I have a body and it’s boundaries are recombobulating. I became familiar to myself again, and while I had a delicious vacation from my physical existence, I was acutely struck by how much gremlin dialogue is woven into my thinking. Not until I removed my brain from the equation (the place the gremlins hide), were their thought streams and distracting behavior so glaringly obvious.

I look forward to my next float, and can see a value both (restorative and emotional), from getting out of my skin body as much as possible.float
PS: I learned that float selfies should be taken beforehand. The camera and the room are damp afterwards!

What do car washes and intimacy have in common… - July 28, 2014

As I stand here washing bug guts off my van and reflecting on the fun road trip that put them there, I am struck by something. A few years ago, I would resist cleaning “fun” off my van for as long as possible. The dust and footprints reminded me of the fun I had, and how fortunate I was to have had those experiences (and the people I had them with). Somewhere down deep, the dirt memories on the outside of my van were salve for the part of me that missed the fun, and was worried that more fun of that caliber would not come again. When I feel that, it also left me in a perpetual state of “holding a door open, when it had clearly closed”. It’s like I wanted to fight the fact that “over is over”. I was holding on.

What is different now?
As I wash the squeaky dirt from my brake pads, I remember sneaking up on Bison for a cool picture—-and I keep washing.
When I wash the dust off the side mirrors, I remember seeing a new mountain range in them as I was trying to wring out the last bit of visual goodness—and I keep washing.
As I find a new scratch that will need filling later, I remember squeezing over into the trees along the road to be kind to those who were filling their pockets with adventures, just like we were—and I keep washing.

So, now the van is returning to its original color, and I notice what I am feeling. I am feeling gratitude and peace. I am not feeling sadness or fear of “fun scarcity”. I am also feeling excitement and possibility for the next thing I will experience, and my slate (van) is clean and ready. I am complete, and I am ready to be fully present in the next experience. How can I not be excited about possibilities?–at my car wash I get to wash my van with happiness and rainbows! Yes, I am ready.
car rainbows photo

OK, so what does this have to do with intimacy? Beautiful, touching, deep experiences happen to us all the time. We can create them ANYTIME, I assert. Those beautiful, deep experiences are not necessarily LONG ones though. So what happens when you hold on? Do you hold doors open that are actually closed? Do you hold onto the last vestiges of daylight and fight the night? What would be available to you if you were able to let things complete, feel their significance and be available for the future, rather than trying to prolong the now or dissect the past?

I see intimacy like bubbles, and some moments of connection to others are long and enduring, while others, are momentary. As humans we have the ability to be present and participate in moments of connection (intimacy) of various sizes and intensities all the time. I practice this when I am interacting with the people who kindly make my coffee, or mix my paint, or fix my car. I can ask them the same old questions, or I can get present, look that person in the face, and ask them something real—–not because that bubble is supposed to last a long time, but because we have the agility to step in and out of connection with people for the sake of being able to really connect with MANY people. This is how the world becomes a kind, soft place (I believe). This is how WE become kind and soft.

So, while I have been practicing this on an everyday scale, my deeper sense of belief and trust in natural completion has grown–do not worry or be sad, another will come along, as long as you can pay attention to it when it arrives.

Intimacy is like a car wash in that, when we complete something and wash it clean (which is different than forgetting), we honor the importance of it (big or small), and find ourselves at the ready for what can be consciously created next.

Are you holding onto bubbles that have popped? What would happen if you opened your hand, kissed your palm, and started getting excited for what is next?

Resisting the Unresistable… - May 19, 2014

Resistance.  It is what happens that makes us try to stem the flow of things.  It is what makes us try diligently to stop things that are unstoppable, or hold back experiences that must happen.  We ALL do it.  I was just doing it (where do you think the inspiration for this article came from?)

What was I resisting, you ask?  Change.  I was resisting the inevitable experience of change.  Something that has been the “same” for  5 1/2 years is going to change, and I was in RESISTANCE about it.  How did I know?  I couldn’t fully express myself.  I was crabby.  I was trying to find a way to bargain with the world, to stop this change from happening.  I was trying to find a way to have the best of both worlds.  Resistance is futile, and while that is a great sci-fi line, it is also a universal truth.

resistance is futile

Resistance is a bit like holding back a race car that is going full throttle with wheels spinning.  It is exhausting, all consuming, and useless.  At some point, that race car will break free, and your exhausted self will see the underside of that car as it mows you over, and speeds off.  Race cars cannot be held back, and if we try, we burn our energy in resistance and have nothing left to give.  Resistance narrows our viewpoint and insists we fight an un-winnable fight.  Resistance is busywork that distracts us from the thing we REALLY don’t want to do: acknowledge and feel.

If you can feel the times you (or someone around you) is in resistance, and you would like to explore possibilities: read on.

How to get out of resistance

  1. Acknowledge the Resistance:  Shine a light on the fact you KNOW you are fighting SOMETHING.  Let that truth be known by you, and others (if that applies).
  2. Acknowledge the Feeling:  If you quiet yourself, and the resistance, you will begin to FEEL something.  What is the feeling?  Can you find a way to express it?  Can you let the “real deal” out?
  3. Keep Breathing: if step one and step two feel scary and make you want to lash out or hide your feelings–just breathe.  If the voices in your head say “This isn’t about feelings”–SPOILER ALERT: yes it is, and the gremlins are feeding you a line of bullshit to keep you from being vulnerable and getting uncomfortable.  Keep breathing.
  4. Say Something:  Express that feeling out loud.  If you can’t tell someone, tell yourself.  No, this isn’t crazy talk.  Pointing things out to yourself is an important step to bring consciousness to places that have been habitually unconscious. This could be as simple as “right now I am feeling….because….”
  5. Do Something:  Now that you know what you are in resistance about, and how you are feeling about it, what are you going to DO that is a conscious response rather than an unconscious reaction?

So all of this might sound something like: “Oh I notice I have my back up about something.” (silence, notice, feel) Breathe,  “I am feeling angry about a lack of acknowledgement.”  Breathe, breathe, breathe.  “I want to talk to you about this, and see if we can create something different”  TA-DA!  From resistance to action.

So, now it’s your turn.  Where are you in resistance? What are you resisting?    Have ya got it in you to try the five steps?

Pssst…I know you do.

We make our lives bigger or smaller, more expansive or more limited, according to the interpretation of life that is our story.

— Christina Baldwin