29 Feb

Practice & Discipline

If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, what good is our spiritual practice? – Maha Ghosananda, via The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology (Kornfield, 2008)

candlelight by Arend (via Flickr)

candlelight by Arend (via Flickr)

Discipline and practice. Well, this sounds like it’s going to be a real hoot, now, doesn’t it?

This Leap Day feels like the right time for me to check in (with you, and with myself) on my New Year’s intentions. As many of you know, I practice a pretty well-established ritual at the end of each year, which concludes by choosing a word to focus my energy for the twelve months ahead.

The last few months of 2015 were really challenging for me. I was starting a new career, and felt like a beginner in a way that I haven’t felt in many years. I could see the light at the end of my three-year grad school tunnel  – which was exciting, yes, but also scary. When I started down this path, I took a leap, not knowing where I would land exactly, but trusting that it was the right next step. Now, that next decision point is looming, and life feels rather uncertain.

I am a planner by nature, ISTJ at my core, logical, structured, organized. But in these past few years, it’s been really important to me to explore the other parts of myself – to learn how to let go of the reins (a little), allow for spontaneity, open my heart. Less control, more trust. I’ve done a lot of work in this space, and I think I’ve come a long way.

When we encounter big stresses in our lives, though, we tend to cling to those ways of being that feel comfortable, that give us some security. For me, at the end of 2015, life had gotten too chaotic, and I was grasping for something to hold onto. Here’s a snippet from my journal at the new year:

I need some routine in my life. I feel like I’ve strayed too far, trying to let go of expectations and my “social self“. I needed that exploration, but I’m craving boundaries now – something to order my days. Something to order my experience. And I’ve lost my spiritual grounding. I don’t feel like I know which way is up, or what I believe. I’m hoping this will help.

Sounds kinda desperate, huh? To tell you the truth, I hated starting the new year like that. And then, I was able to make peace with it, accept it as where I was, and go from there. I wrote, I meditated, and what kept showing up for me were practice and discipline. I felt that resistance (wow, that sounds like a boring year), but those words also felt right.

Over the next few days, I’ll put up a couple of posts that detail my practices, for those of you who might want to adopt some for yourselves. For now, though, I’ll say that this focus continues to feel right as the year moves on. Two months in, these daily rituals feel solid, connecting me to spirit and purpose in a really consistent way. Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of big growth and change, we need an anchor in the storm. For me, a commitment to some simple routines has made all the difference.

29 Jan

The Power of Yet

Some of you may have noticed the changes around here over the past few weeks. They’re slow, in part, because I have so many balls in the air – I happen to be in the midst of one of my own life transitions. I’m trying to move at the pace of guidance, but I get frustrated with myself when I feel like things aren’t going fast enough.

I’m trying to remember the power of yet.

Growth by KimManleyOrt (via Flickr)

Growth by KimManleyOrt (via Flickr)

Last month, I was able to spend a lovely week in my Midwestern home town, connecting with loved ones and settling into a slower pace, if only for a few days. While there, I caught up with my oldest and dearest friend, and our conversation went into details that we don’t often get to on the phone. Rhonda’s been an elementary school teacher for the past 15 years, and she had recently attended an in-service training on Teaching with a Growth Mindset. In fact, she said, it was one of the best trainings she’d ever been to. I was intrigued, so I asked her to tell me more. This idea that moving from a fixed mindset – one where students assume their knowledge and abilities are fixed at a certain level – versus one of growth – where talents result from effort, good teaching, and persistence – felt really powerful.

You can read more about the topic here, but one thing that really struck me was the way Rhonda said this mindset was impacting her students’ language. Rather than saying, “I don’t know,” they were now saying, “I don’t know yet“.

I don’t know the answer to that question… yet.

I don’t know how to do that… yet.

As I sit here, creating my business plan for the next phase in my career, writing and rewriting my About page, wondering whether I really need an Instagram account – and, oh yeah, sitting with clients as a therapist trainee – it’s easy for me to get stuck in self doubt and worry that I’m never going to get there (wherever “there” is). And I realize I’m working from a fixed mindset. I don’t know how to do this right now becomes simply I don’t know how to do this (and sometimes, I can’t do this). I think of those nine-year-olds changing their language.

One little word has the power to change things. Remember the power of yet has become a simple mantra that helps me shift my own mindset from a place of stuckness to one where I can see the broader view, where I can recognize this discomfort as part of the experience of getting from here to there, instead of as proof that I’m not enough.

I’m not done with this yet. There’s still a lot of work to do. And that’s okay! The work is what keeps me moving forward.

Or, said a different way:

25 May

People want to see you succeed.

Earlier tonight I was taking some time to catch up on Rachel’s blog – I’m asking some friends and colleagues for references/recommendations to use on my website, and her beautiful Kind Words page helps me to give people an idea of what I’m going for.  Imagine my delight when I read this quote from Tanya Geisler, in her interview with Rachel:

My Board of Your Life program is deeply rooted in this truth: people want to see you succeed. You actually just need to ask for what you need. I see it every day.

I love this.  Words of advice that came just when I needed them.