Monday, January 26, 2009

Flu forces surrender

Careful what you ask for, that's what I say, after a week in bed with the flu, chills, fever, coughing, weakness, aching lungs, and all that fun stuff.

I had been feeling like I needed to surrender the reins for a while, give in to the Universe and its guidance instead of worrying about the future all the time. I remember writing in my journal that I was ready to accept what the fates decree, trust that even if I didn't know what lay ahead, I surrendered needing to know.

My heart wanted to lead the dance, I said, and I would follow any insight from within. I even thought I needed softening.

Well, that prayer was answered. The flu has a way of forcing you to surrender the battle, give up the illusion that you can control your life. One has to give in, lay low and wait for the the germs to give way.

I lay in bed a lot, and rested. I managed to read almost a whole book, in French no less. Gabrielle by Marie Thiverge (sic). And I let my husband do the suppers and drive kids to appointments and feed the cats and dogs. I didn't have the strength to battle with my teenaged daughter over her outings. When the fever slays you, you have to ask for help from those loved ones still standing, and be on good terms with them.

Thank goodness he had his flu shot. I have revised my resolution to never have a flu shot, by the way. It now seems like a huge waste of time to lose a whole week, end up on antibiotics because of fear of infection in the lungs, and cancel all the wonderful activities I had to cancel last week, including my class on Mini-retreats.

But one thing is true, I do feel less belligerent about things. I do feel a small amount of trust in the Universe and my connection to spirit. I may have surrendered a tiny bit, the way feeling weak and tired forces you to give up and let go.

Is this the beginning of a new wisdom? too soon to tell, but I'm glad to be out of my bed, fully dressed, and able to drive again.

As long as I remember it's not just me in the driver's seat,

nameste, keep healthy,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Life coaching for one

Thoughts on how to be your own best coach:

I was reading Oprah's magazine the other day, a copy in the physiotherapist's waiting room that must have been 2 years old, but the article on women changing career paths couldn't have been more timely.

One woman had recently ditched her day job to buy a trawler, and without knowing anything about boats, took a nine-week training course, and set out for the Maine coast, fulfilling a life-dream to be her own captain. There were some truly awesome inspiring stories.

But the line that stayed with me a week later, was what the coach used to help these women find their passion. He said, sometimes you are already in the ballpark of your best job, but there is some fine tuning to do. You may love design, but hate the deadlines, or prefer working in solitude to working with a team. You have to tease out the parts that make you feel the best. and the parts that you hate. Where are your strengths?

To do this, ask yourself, where do I feel strong? I feel strongest when .... (fill in the blank).

For me, it was this: I feel strongest when I am helping other women find ways to help themselves. I feel strongest when I share information and resources with others. I feel strongest when I am speaking from my calm center.

There are probably some very good coaching books out there - but I haven't read any that didn't seem overwhelmingly complicated, filled with goal setting exercises, which don't appeal to me right now.

I do want to picture myself in the future doing what I love however. One exercise I did with a therapist was very visceral. She had me imagine how I would feel if I continued on the way I am now. Just putting off till tomorrow all of my dreams, reading and writing about them, but not taking any action. Letting fear and depression be my allies. I could physically feel my shoulders getting droopier, my eyes heavy, my insides felt like lead, as I aged visibly in my inner mirror. Until there I was, five years, ten years, then 20 years later, very depressed and ill (a lot like my mother in recent years). That scared me!

Then we did the oppositive exercise. I pictured myself doing what I dream of, leading workshops for women and retreats. I saw their faces as I left the retreat, their happiness, and gratitude for what they had learned. I saw my own face, lit up with gratitude too, and 5 years later, 10 years later, perhaps a book is published, talk shows, touring the world doing retreats for women.

The response in my body was amazingly different. I felt upbeat, happy, light, energized; actually I felt full of light and confident that this was my destiny. The next month I prepared and lead my first all-day retreat, and it was wonderful.

Sometimes we need a coach to help us find our way, to help us believe in our full potential, but sometimes we just need to picture ourselves doing what we love, and then have the courage and patience to let the universe bring it forward, bring us towards it, one step at a time.

ps I did also attend a 3 day workshop on Facilitating and Creating Transformational Workshops with Ken Nelson, and found a wonderful resource in the Women's Retreat Book, on the same weekend at Kripalu. The universe helps those who help themselves :)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

New Year Check In

First off, happy New Year, to all who have stopped by at this post.

I am not one for resolutions, and am especially irritated by goal setting exhortations from self-help types, so I will not incite you to improve yourself in any way, either by losing weight, eating less fattening food, quitting smoking or joining a gym. I've done all that, and it never lasts very long.

Instead, I am reminding myself today that "I am enough". I happened to be reading my journal from exactly one year ago today, and found an interesting entry. In it, I told myself exactly what I would be doing (before I had made steps to lead retreats) and where my real work lies. This may seem odd to you who know I lead workshops and have written books, and think that I must know what I am doing. But the weird thing is, it hit me only very recently that I am exactly where I need to be, and yes, I have been travelling on this path for some time now.

Having made a big move, built a new house and moved in November, it's been like living in a whirlwind. Once the dust settles, you look around and realize you are not in Kansas anymore. Yet where I am feels more like home than ever before. The gift of this brand new location with vast windows overlooking a white expanse of snowy lake, is that here we start anew. Here we live our dreams, the ones we can't put off any longer, the deeply felt creative life that has been calling.

I have given some thought to what the new year might bring, just not formulated any resolutions. Someone asked me what I wished for the new year at a party. I surprised myself by stating emphatically, Focus and Simplicity.

Perhaps these two words don't mean much to anyone else, but they summed up nicely what I want - more acceptance of what is, less distraction of desiring what I don't have, and generally, just focusing on what's unfolding here and now in front of me. (It's not easy, but it's what I want). Yoga helps bring me to a place of contentment in my body, and helps me focus on the now. Meditation has been bringing me to a place of peace for over 30 years now. But acceptance of what I have has always been a challenge.

So, here is the excerpt from my journal that says it all about where I've been, where I am going, and where I am already:

Questions I ask myself - maybe I am too self-involved (to be a good mother)? Yet, the more balanced I feel, the slower I allow myself to be, for example in accepting Silence and Serenity as allies of the Slow Feminine, the better I feel. I still judge myself too harshly, and sometimes allow the fear of not being busy, outside the house working to confuse me. Yet, I KNOW MY WORK LIES IN THIS INNER WORK OF QUIETING, CENTERING, finding balance. (N.B. CAPS are because I can't believe I need to hear this again to believe it).

My inner research time will bear fruit, with patience; once I can live it, then I can teach or share it. I need to assimilate the self-care message - act it and not only speak about it - first. Find a gentle place to move, speak, and act from, and leave behind the harsh critic. Practice stillness, observe.

So there it is - my own New Year's message to me, written last year on January 8,, yet so timely for today.

Thank goodness for my journal, a rich record of my yearnings, longings, thoughts, passions and passtimes. My own silver mirror to see my deeper self in, as Marion Woodman calls it.

I can look back on the last few years, a somewhat painful journey, that brought me through a menopausal descent, and a resurfacing. A few years of searching, and shifting from writing poetry into working with women in workshops. I feel a sense of excitment about the new adventure, teaching a class entitled Time For You: Mini-Retreats, at the West Island Women's Centre, beginning next Wednesday.

Wish me luck, and if you join my class, we'll explore this gentle inner space together.