Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Take a deep breath and repeat after me – “I will relax and delight in the holidays this year.” (Perhaps it would be a good idea to repeat this little mantra three or four times – especially if the idea sounds ludicrous or you feel like the woman in this photo.)
The craziness that overtakes us in the United States between Thanksgiving and New Years is the stuff of legend and cliché. We eat too much. We buy too much. We commit ourselves to too many social events. We set Martha Stewart expectations for ourselves. (even though we don’t have access to her multi-media empire or enormous staff – hardly fair!) And we make mile-long to-do lists that only stand a snowball’s chance in you know where of being accomplished if we commit to making due with a mere three or four hours of sleep a night. Baking and shopping and wrapping – Oh My!
As we take on more and more, we may find ourselves anything but jolly. In fact, we may feel a bit more like tripping anyone so much as resembling an elf if they get in our way during our frantic errand running. (Unless it’s David Sedaris, reading his Santaland Diaries – God love him!)
Allow me to share three small steps that may help you loosen your death grip on the reins as you gallop headlong into the holidays.
1. Give Yourself Permission. Permission to say no, to do less, to breathe more, to lighten up, to curl up in your favorite chair and watch your favorite Christmas movie from beginning to end – not while addressing envelopes, or wrapping presents or baking cookies, but while simply sitting on your tuckus, wrapped in last year’s Snuggie from Aunt Bertha (come on, you know you love it) while drinking a cup of hot cocoa or tea or toddy. (your choice!) It may help to say this out loud or write it down in your calendar – “I hereby give myself permission to…insert something here that will delight you.” If you find if too difficult to do for yourself, perhaps it will help if you receive a more “official” permission. So, allow me to give you permission (as I do for my creativity coaching clients).
"I, Jill Allison Bryan, creativity coach (trained and certified by the official Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching program), and founder and head chica-in-charge of Creative Oasis Coaching, hereby give you permission to… insert something here that will delight you.”
2. Let Go & Visualize. Take a look at your holiday to-do list. (I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that it’s very long, and has quite a few things that you’re really not looking forward to doing on it.) Now, find a nice red pen and cross something off that list. Just one thing. (for the moment) Next close your eyes and imagine that you're holding a large red balloon, written across it is the thing that you just marked off your list. Let the balloon go. Watch it deflate and fly away. (now would be a great time to take another deep breath) Visualize how nice it will be to not feel that pressure/dread/stress that this “to-do” item was going to cause you. (You didn’t really need to make three different desserts for that party anyway, did you?) If that felt good, and relatively painless, perhaps you can let go of one small thing a day during the season in this same way. (or every other day…small steps ☺)
3.Give Yourself the Gift of Five Minutes. Each day, allow yourself just five minutes to do something that brings you true seasonal joy. Read a favorite holiday book with your kids. Light a candle and let yourself be hypnotized by it for a few moments of relaxation and unplugged joy. Print a coloring page off the Internet and color…with crayons or markers or pencils…color outside the lines if you feel like it. See if you can take a full five minutes to eat one single Christmas cookie. You may be surprised how that short span of time can re-energize you for the rest of the day. (There are 1,440 minutes in each day – you can spare just 5 of them for yourself!) If you're feeling really generous, give yourself the gift of a free 30 minute introductory creativity coaching session with me. (Sign up at email@example.com.)
That’s it. Three simple ways to help relieve a little of the pressure we often put on ourselves this time of year. I promise I’ll join you in trying to cut myself some slack in the days and weeks ahead. First up - five minutes with a cup of hot peppermint tea and a book. Ahhhh.... Remember your mantra, “I will relax and delight in the holidays this year.”
All the best from my creative holiday oasis to yours,
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
For a little more than a year now I’ve been a sponsor through Women for Women International. The first year I sponsored a woman living in the Democratic Republic of Congo named Elise Nzigire M’Cirindye.
Although I never received a photo of Elise she did send two wonderful hand-written letters that were translated by Women for Women. From those two letters I learned that Elise was married with four children ages 20 months to 12 years old. They lived in a mud dwelling with a thatched roof. The majority of her day was spent working in the fields, fetching water, looking for food, cooking, cleaning and, of course, taking care of her family. And, she was a survivor of war. She began her letter, “I am happy to greet you my loving sister!”
I don’t know if I can do justice to the feelings I experienced when I received those letters…holding a piece of paper in my hand that had traveled half way around the world, written in a language that I could not decipher, and yet, I felt so connected to the woman who wrote those words. It was goose-bump, spine-tingly, teary-eyed amazing stuff. And, I felt hopeful. The letters represented possibility…possibility that I might actually make a positive difference in Elise’s life...possibility that she could truly create a better life for herself and her family through the Women for Women training program…possibility that this was only the beginning. There were tens of thousands of women to help in war-torn regions all around the world…yet, I felt hopeful knowing that Women for Women was doing more and more work to reach out to these women and help them learn to help themselves. (Flash forward a year to the first small steps of my creating The Infinite Possibility of Women Helping Women - my upcoming CD release/fundraiser.)
During the year long program, Women for Women International supports women in war-torn regions with financial and emotional aid, job-skills training, rights education and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives. When Elise graduated from the program, I received a survey she completed which showed the areas that had improved in her life because of her training: her health, family’s health, ability to get medical care, sense of self-confidence, support network, relationship with her husband, relationship with her family, economic situation, awareness of her rights, ability to make decisions, and ability to send her children to school.
Wow! All of that was accomplished with her hard work and my relatively small commitment of $27 a month. That’s when I knew I had to get the word out about the great work begin done by Women for Women across the globe, and the inspiration for turning my CD release into a fundraiser took shape.
I’m now sponsoring Deborah Ajak Nhom-gol from the Sudan. She is married with three children and three other dependent adults living with her. They have no electricity, use torches to see at night and must walk long distances to bring their water from a well. She has had no formal education. She has lost family members due to the war. And now, she is my sister.
Our lives could not be more different, and yet, I know we share much in common – our basic human needs and desires and feelings. We love our families. We breathe and laugh and cry. We’re women. And it’s my sincere hope that our involvement with Women for Women International will elevate our lives in ways neither of us can even imagine. I truly believe in the infinite possibility of it all and I hope that you will join me and many other hopeful women on this journey!
Visit the Women for Women International website to learn how you can sponsor a woman today and stay tuned for more details about the creativity, art, music and women that are coming together to raise awareness and funds for this life-changing organization.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
“Only those who risk going too far know how far they can go.” – T.S. Eliot, poet, playwright.
Okay, so I’ve never held a combination CD release-silent auction-fund raiser before. In the wise words of my creative mentor, Jill Badonsky, “So what? I’ll do it anyway!”
In Badonsky’s inspiring book, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard), Audacity – the Muse of Courage and Uninhibited Uniqueness, might just be my favorite. She’s the muse who acts “as if” she can be who she wants to be and do what she wants to do and urges us to do the same. Several years ago, Audacity helped me get back to writing songs and performing. Then she encouraged me to become a certified creativity coach and start my own business – Creative Oasis Coaching. Throughout the past year, Audacity has helped me to record my first solo CD. (People don’t buy CDs anymore you say? So what – I’ll do it anyway!)
Today she’s helping me as I boldly go where I’ve personally never gone before – to create a fund raising event that combines my passions for creativity, connections, music, philanthropy, performance, and supporting others in their creative and life journeys. Definitely a major moment in my Mid-Life Oasis™!
So what? I’ll do it anyway on Saturday, March 27, 2010 to be precise! (with the help of many wonderful friends!) Thanks to Donna Harris of the always in the know inTown Mix, I’ve found the ideal venue - the dreamy 7 Senses in the Dallas design district. Imagine Moulin Rouge meets Alice in Wonderland meets the inside of Jeannie’s bottle on "I Dream of Jeannie” (where I wanted to live as a little girl!) and you begin to get a sense of the ambiance. (look for an interview with the creative genius behind 7 Senses – Reg Land, in an upcoming blog!)
In my last entry I shared the details of my plan for The Infinite Possibility of Women Helping Women event. Since that entry, I’ve received the first piece of artwork and let me tell you it’s amazing. I’m beginning to think that the most difficult part of this entire process for me is going to be relinquishing the artwork to the silent auction with the proceeds going to benefit Women for Women International. (stay tuned for information about Women for Women and interviews, photos and videos of the artists and their work in the coming months)
I’m looking forward to the adventure that awaits me, and to introducing you to some fabulous artists and amazing humans along the way! So, as we sometimes say in creativity coaching – Ready! Fire! Aim! – which is another way of saying “Let’s get this party started!” – we’ll figure out the details as we go!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
As a creative life coach, I often use quotes that I hope will inspire my clients. Recently I shared this quote with a client, and it made a great impact on both of us. I feel energized, hopeful and filled with possibility each time I read it because, while I may not know how to save the world, I do know what makes me come alive – creativity, music & art!
That’s why I’m so excited about the plans taking shape for my CD release celebration, which I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago . It began with playing the “what if” game (great creative coaching tool that “what if”!) I began thinking of ways the event might become something more than just a night of live music at a smoky club. (well, luckily, the clubs in Dallas aren’t smoky anymore!) “What if” I somehow combined art with my music? What would that look like? What if it became a charitable event? What if it celebrated and helped women? What if?
Here’s where all of that “what-iffing” led – The Infinite Possibility of Women Helping Women – a night of music, art and women helping women around the world!
I’ve always been amazed by the number of talented female artists I have as friends. I may be able to write, record and perform original music, but my artistic attempts are purely therapeutic. You won’t find any of my vision-boards or creative oasis journals in a gallery. But, I have dozens of extremely talented friends who create artistic magic out of thin air (and a little paint or film). Now I’m equally amazed by their generosity. Thirteen artists have agreed to each create and donate an original piece of art inspired by one of the songs on my CD. The night of the CD release celebration (date and place TBD) this artwork will be put up in a silent auction with the proceeds benefiting Women for Women International.
As I’ve never created or facilitated a fundraising event such as this, I have a lot to learn over the coming weeks and months. This is a classic example of “ready, fire, aim!” – but sometimes that's the best way to make something happen – dive in head first and start paddling like crazy. I have the support and wisdom of so many wonderful people, my intuition tells me this is all meant to be! In the coming weeks I'll be posting updates, artist interviews, music and more information about Women for Women leading up to the big event.
Madeleine K. Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.” I’d prefer to think there’s a special place right here on earth for those who do. ~
All the best from my creative oasis to yours,
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Last week, our sweet friend, 8-year Piper, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. Now, even in the hospital, hooked up to a machine and awaiting her first round of chemo, Piper was a hoot. She’s spunky, dramatic, fun-loving and if you can envision anyone donning a purple bob wig and kicking cancer in the booty, it’s this girl!
When I visited her last week, I brought a Diva Supply Kit that my daughter and I had put together (because when you’re a diva, you’re a diva – whether at home, school or in the stinkin’ hospital!) filled with fun stuff like a pink-feather boa, shiny hat, VIP badge, autograph book and a stack of 8 x 10 colored glossies and a pink sharpie so Piper could sign autographs for her visitors. The kit was a hit. She put on her diva hat, VIP badge and cheetah scarf and then posed while her dad took pictures until she said, “No more paparazzi, please! No more!” putting a dramatic hand to her brow.
Another thing I came prepared to give Piper that day was a guided imagery. This is something I do for all of my clients at the end of each coaching session. Guided imageries are relaxing and a nice way to access the intuitive wisdom of our right brain. My hope was that it would offer Piper a way to relax by being able to put herself in a “happy place” if things got tough during her treatments. I didn’t know if she would have the patience for it, or “get it”, but I thought it was worth a shot.
I sat gently beside her on her hospital bed and asked, “Have you ever done a guided imagery, Piper?” She immediately closed her eyes, relaxed back onto her enormous, pink furry pillow and said, “No, but I’m going to right now.... I’m on a beach…I have a big glass of iced tea. Oh, this is so nice. The paparazzi are everywhere. It’s so sunny. I can hear the ocean waves…” On and on she went painting this beautiful, fully realized picture of herself as a diva, relaxing on the beach. Her mom and I tried our best not to belly- laugh so that we could hear what she was saying because it was all priceless.
“Wow, that was great!” I told her. “You don’t need me. You really have this guided imagery stuff down. And you know what? Any time you need to go to your ‘happy place’, you can close your eyes and do exactly what you just did here! It’s a great way to relax, slow down your blood pressure and feel a little better all by yourself!”
“Hmmmm….”, she said. “Happy place number two…I’m back stage at a rock concert! The paparazzi are everywhere!” And she was off! Clearly, this little girl is well adept at tuning into her own “happy places” and we adults could learn a thing or two from her!
As her friends and family well know, Piper rocks!
(Some good friends have assembled a team to walk in Piper’s honor this Saturday night at the Light the Night Walk – sponsored by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you’d like to join them and support Team Piper – click here -http://pages.lightthenight.org/ntx/Plano09/TeamPiper!)
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Pink Heels Services: Business Coaching & Consulting
What inspired you to start your woman-owned business?
A few years ago I was feeling stuck, frustrated, unfulfilled and overwhelmed. Working one-on-one with a creativity coach changed my life within weeks! I returned to my love of music, began singing, writing songs and even performing again. I rediscovered the authentic me and life became a joy again. My amazing creativity coach, Jill Badonsky, thought I would make a good coach too. I loved the idea of helping other women create the positive mid-life experience that I was enjoying, so I went through an extensive training course and earned by certification as a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach. I founded Creative Oasis Coaching and now love my new mid-life career as a creative lifestyle coach!
What were your primary goals when you started working with Pink Heels?
To learn how to create a greater presence on the Internet, share my message of hope with a greater audience, and formalize my business with things like a marketing plan and branding.
What goal are you most proud of that you accomplished while working with Pink Heels?
I’m very happy that I’ve clarified my mission statement and created a strong foundation from which to continue to grow my coaching practice.
What have you learned about yourself during the journey with Pink Heels?
I’ve learned that although one-on-one coaching sessions, writing articles and blog posts and facilitating workshops, retreats and teleclasses are my favorite aspects of Creative Oasis Coaching, I am also able to handle the necessary business and marketing aspects of my practice. (with the wonderful guidance and encouragement of Pink Heels!)
What is the name of your new small business that is ‘Up & Running?’
Creative Oasis Coaching
Web Site: www.creativeoasiscoaching.com
Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share with the world; especially any potential women entrepreneurs?
Listen to your intuition. If you have an idea that energizes you and brings you joy whenever you think about it, talk about it or write about it – you’re on the right track. Then, reach out for the support you need to make your dreams come true – whether it be working with a coach or finding a support group or taking a class. And for those women in and around the mid-life years, I truly believe that you deserve to create a Mid-Life Oasis™ - because it doesn’t have to be a crisis. I’m living proof of that!
Monday, September 28, 2009
The Non-Linear Creative Path (perfect for moms, musicians and people who can enjoy the scenery during a detour!)
I’ve spent the better part of the last two weekends in the recording studio. We were scheduled to finally embark on the mixing phase of my CD project. (Mixing is when you’ve finished recording all of the instruments and vocals and you’re ready to fiddle with knobs, tweak volume levels and generally make all the sounds in your songs come together in the most pleasing way possible.) It’s exciting! I feel a bit like I’m about to give birth again, albeit this time to a 13 song solo CD rather than a 7 lb. 11 oz. baby, but after some nine months in and out of the studio, the analogy rings true.
I’m anxious, excited, and a little impatient to finish this thing, yet, on the other hand, not quite sure that I’m ready for what comes next - much like I remember feeling just before Riley Anna was born. I’d kind of gotten used to being pregnant after nine plus months, but was not so sure about the whole how-to-be-a-mom thing.
As much as I was looking forward to leaving the studio each day with a few more songs completed, we kept coming up with tasty ideas to try here and there and ended up recording more tracks rather than just mixing. We were all enjoying the process too much to really worry about the fact that we’d gotten a bit off track. (Talk about an oasis - the studio time may be my ultimate Mid-Life Oasis!) I know in my heart that the end result will be much richer, fully realized songs.
I realized this was a perfect example of the non-linearity of the creative process. There’s no scientific formula for creating the ideal song. You have a feeling first, and then an idea and then maybe a memory pops up and says “hey would it be weird or wonderful to put sleigh bells on this part?” – so you try playing some sleight bells and see how that sounds. (BTW - it sounded wonderful)
Being open to the non-linear process has been a blessing. Some songs have changed formation, direction and intonation and songs that we thought were ready to stick a fork in (‘cuz those suckers were done!) – have benefited greatly from – “what if” – what if we add a lower harmony here or change the sound of the bass or add a concertina? Winding down the creative path with this music has been the trip of a lifetime for me and a real-life reinforcement of two powerful creative coaching techniques – being open to the non-linear and asking “what if”.
Just as with my own baby girl (now 10!!!!), I’m sure these songs will be more beautiful, meaningful and exceptional to me than anyone else – and that’s okay, because I also believe that like my amazingly intuitive, empathetic, and loving daughter – these songs will (hopefully) touch people in a positive and profound way, like she does every day.
It’s been such a treat to have my husband, Doug, in the studio co-producing with us. And, although Riley Anna remains our greatest creative collaboration to date, she’s still a work in progress, where as, very soon now I will step out of Pleasantry Lane Studios for the final time and the CD will be complete – 13 songs – fully formed and ready to make their way out into the world. I guess that’s why I’m beginning to play the “what if” game with the next phase – the CD release celebration! Great things are brewing and you’ll be the first to know what they are so stay tuned...
All the best from my creative oasis to yours,
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
My daughter, Riley Anna, recently turned ten years old. “TEN YEARS OLD!! DOUBLE DIGITS! I’m a TWEEN! Only three years ‘til I’m a TEENAGER!” (The all caps and exclamation points are hers, not mine, I can assure you.) My response to her overzealous excitement at turning ten was more along the lines of a quiet– “Woo-hoo. That’s great.” – followed by a tearful spell locked in the bathroom - every mom’s one sure “alone” place in the house.
Of course, I’m thrilled to watch my daughter as she grows into such a loving, empathetic, fun, entertaining, caring person. But this milestone birthday brought home the fact that a decade is a good chunk of time, and this last chunk whizzed by at a rate that makes my head spin. Given traditional wisdom, the next will fly by with even faster.
So what does this mean? Since I gave birth to Riley Anna at age 34 (I just barely missed “advanced maternal age” – isn’t that a charming medical phrase?) – you do the math. I’m coming up on a milestone birthday of my own and making great strides into this time of life we call “mid”. It seems like a good time to step back and take stock of my life, so I have. And you know what? I wouldn’t go back a decade for all the Botox in Hollywood!
Since turning 40 I’ve experienced some of the best times of my life. I’ve been writing, performing and recording my original music again after years away from it. I’ve made time for meditation almost every morning of the past four years. I’ve been trained and certified as a creativity coach and now have the distinct privilege and pleasure of helping other people create and live their best lives. I’ve taken up running and am loving it, and I’m even training for a half-marathon - something I never would have done as a 20 or 30 year old!
All this to say – if you’re ready for a change – if you’re hoping there’s something more – if you’re experiencing a little trepidation about the prospect of your next birthday – take a page from my daughter’s book. Own your age! LOVE IT! Be thrilled by the possibility of it all! Each new year brings new opportunities to do what we’ve never done, go where we’ve never gone, try what we’ve never tried. Now’s the time to go for it!
As I like to say, “I’m having a Mid-Life Oasis – because it’s to much nicer than a crisis!” Join me, won’t you?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
My, my, my…music and movement are on my mind this morning! (alliteration too, apparently) Last night I experienced an amazing evening of music by the über-talented Elvis Costello and his latest band of merry men – The Sugarcanes. (Nashville legends Jerry Douglas and Jim Lauderdale and more!) Playing songs from their new CD, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, as well as some Costello classics with new arrangements perfectly suited to the bluegrass sound of his band.
We were literally sitting right beneath Elvis, and it felt like the band was playing in our living room. They’re all stellar musicians and the sound was uplifting, and yet…something was missing. What was it? My husband, Doug, and I discussed this on our drive home and concluded the missing element…there was no drummer on this tour. There was a stand up bass player and the music had rhythm, but there was nothing driving the beat the way a drummer does. No drummer equaled no dancing. You wanted to tap your foot and clap along in time, but getting up out of your seat and dancing was just not in the picture. Not the norm for an Elvis show. As a Dallas Observer review said, “…the songs lacked a bit of propulsion.”
Isn’t it cool how certain music can really propel you? This summer, my daughter, Riley Anna, and I began compiling a list of songs that absolutely make you dance every time you hear them. (You know - like the happy, Snoopy dance!) The idea began when we watched “Madagascar 2” – and the silly, yet infectious, song “Move It, Move It” had us both dancing around the room as if we had the proverbial ants you know where. “Wouldn’t it be great to have an entire compilation of these kind of songs?” I thought. “Songs guaranteed to lift your spirits and get you dancing and smiling when you need a little pick-me-up.” Songs deliver Instant Oasis Moments – five to ten minute bite-size bonbons of joy! Which songs have the power to levitate you from your chair and get you moving – even on the worst of days? What song always makes you dance? (whether you want to or not!) I’d love to hear your favorites and check them out.
Here’s my short, but growing, list of songs that absolutely make you dance every time you hear them:
Move It Move It by will.i.am
It’s Your Thing – James Brown
Pump It Up – Elvis Costello
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) - C&C Music Factory
Love Shack – B52s
You Drop the Bomb on Me – The Gap Band
A,B,C – The Jackson 5
Most any Putayamo Worldbeat CD
I don’t listen to music as often as I’d like during the day, because my brain will not allow me to read and write and talk on the phone with my coaching clients while listening. I have to sing along, even if only in my head. But, music can be a great motivator in other ways. For example, I “get to” listen to an entire CD as a special treat while I do something like clear my desk or spend time organizing and filing. In fact, I was able to reorganize my mailing list this morning while listening to music and the time flew by!
Listening to good music almost always inspires me to start making some music of my own. So, I’m off to the keyboards right now! Why not treat yourself to an Instant Oasis Moment right now and listen to a song that absolutely makes you dance every time you hear it!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
(photo by Christy Cogsdill)
The card with the cute photo of a chipmunk with overstuffed cheeks has been sitting on my desk since my return from Breckenridge, Colorado. He reminds me of the sweet little creatures that feast on sunflower seeds (courtesy of my dad) on our back porch. They’re adorable to watch as they scamper to and fro. They stuff so many seeds in their mouths that you’re absolutely sure their tiny cheeks will explode if they go for one more, and then somehow, miraculously, they pop in a couple more and do not, in fact, explode.
I’ve kept this card out because I wanted to use it for a blog post, but I just couldn’t seem to find the exact topic the photo conveyed. I’ve been home for almost two weeks now. Still not sure what this little guy was saying to me, I thought to myself, “I’ll just scan the photo and then I’ll have it – just in case.” And that’s when it hit me!
The reason I resonate so much with those hoarding chippies is I can relate to them! They’re stocking up while the gettin’s good "just in case" they show up one morning to find no more seeds. Well, I too have a bad case of the “just in case” blues. I keep my grandmother’s china just in case I ever want to have a formal dinner party or tea. (I never do. I’m not the formal type!) I hold onto old toothbrushes just in case I want to scrub tile grout with them. (I never do. I guess I’m not the grout-scrubbing type either.) I stash decades of documents in boxes that overflow out of my office closet, just in case I ever need them. (like I could find them if I did – ha!)
I recently read a great article on the “just in case” mentality, and I’m sure I clipped and stored it somewhere –“just in case” I should ever want to refer to it again. (Like I do today, but can’t, because I don’t have the first clue where it is!)
I have this image in my mind...somewhere in the cosmos there are these enlightened beings watching me scamper around my office with my stacks and stacks of stuff. I can hear them now, “Oh, how cute. She’s bought another book on creativity. Wouldn’t you think she’d have enough by now? Do you think she’ll actually read this one all the way through?”
Having just recently cleaned out and organized my bedroom closet and my daughter’s closet with the help of a wonderful professional organizer (Atta Girl Organizing), I know first-hand the fantastic feeling of letting go of things I really don’t need (give-away totes with ripped handles, sandals I haven’t worn in five years, clothes that don’t fit) and then putting the things I really do need and want in order. Seriously, my closet now brings me a feeling of peace and serenity. Sometimes I just look in it and sigh. It’s like my moment of Zen.
My challenge to myself, and to you, this fall is to practice feeling abundant, knowing that I have plenty, and that things that I’ll need in the future will show up exactly when I need them. I don’t have to hang on to a bunch of stuff “just in case.”
It’s interesting how creating literal space, seems to free up our time as well. Less stuff to deal with (clean, store, repair, manage) more time to create (write, sing, paint, play, run, design). What about you? Anyone have any ideas for making space in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s support each other this fall and enjoy the freedom of the “just in time” mentality, rather than the frenetic “just in case” pace of a squirrel storing food for the winter – which can make us nuts!
P.S. – Here’s a link to that article I was thinking of earlier. It was written by Martha Beck for the April 2009 Oprah Magazine. I found it “just in time”!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Actually, I’m writing about this personal triumph not so much to sing my own praises, as to share with you the notion that breaking through personally imposed barriers can be an absolutely fan-freakin’-tastic experience! We all have certain labels we’ve taken on or been saddled with by family members, friends, enemies or evil P.E. teachers. As a child I believed I could write stories, play piano, sing and act, but I also believed that I couldn’t run well, wasn’t athletic and probably never would be.
As an adult, I slowly began to realize that I did have a few athletic abilities after all. I could play a fair game of tennis. I actually enjoyed weight training. I even learned to windsurf when I lived and worked on a sailboat in the Caribbean. But only recently, in the past two or three years, have I tried running (something that only real athletes do)…on the treadmill at first, and then, only one or two minutes at a time…but running none-the-less. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the way it made me feel. When I took my runs outside, I was even more amazed. I found that not only could I run further and faster than I ever dreamed, I love the mind/body/spirit experience. I love the meditative feeling of moving my body in my own rhythm, at my own pace, being in nature, and letting my thoughts flow freely. I love the fact that at 44 years old, I am healthy enough to engage in this new energizing physical practice. (another Mid-Life Oasis ™ lesson – it’s never too late to begin!)
Though I’ve been running a few times a week for several months now, there’s a difference between running for an hour through my neighborhood, and participating in an actual race. Although I’ve registered to run a half-marathon in January of 2010 at Disney World (the location makes it seem more feasible and fun somehow) I still had yet to run in an “official” race until this past Sunday.
I registered on a whim after watching my daughter (who is almost ten) break through a barrier herself. She was climbing an indoor rock-wall, trepidatious at first…inching up a few footholds, then coming back down. Finally, after several false starts, she maneuvered her way to the very top of the climbing wall and rang the bell. She was elated - so proud of herself and rightly so.
Perhaps it was serendipity that a sign-up sheet for the Breck 150 Father Dyer Mail Run 5K sat right next to the climbing wall. I felt a sudden surge of possibility and a little bit of “oh, what the hell” - paid my $25 and registered. (There was also that nice, shiny new SIGG aluminum water bottle that came in the goodie bag – but I like to think that was only a small motivational factor.)
The weather the day of the race was gorgeous and sunny. I knew in theory that I could run the 3.1 miles since I had been running almost everyday on trails around town, so my goals were simply to finish and to have fun. The latter was seriously challenged during the first ten minutes of the race which was extremely vertical. But after I found my rhythm (run the flat bits, hike the climbs, breathe…breathe…breathe!) and a couple of nice pacing mates, I really enjoyed myself. I kept thinking “Wow! You’re really doing this!” And “Hey, this is pretty fun.” And occasionally, “Was that a 12 year old who just past me?”
The final ten minutes of the course was downhill and then flat out. The adrenaline kicked in and I finished at a pretty good clip with the two lovely women I had run with for most of the race. Once I past the finish line and handed in my ID stub for my time, I felt slightly nauseous and a bit emotional for a few minutes…then pure elation! I did it! I rang that bell! I ran right through a lifelong self-imposed barrier and into the world of “real” athletes.
If I can do it – so can you! You can get up and sing at karaoke night! You can take a dance class – even something dramatic like the tango or salsa or hip-hop! You can bake a soufflé! You can do whatever it is that you want to do! Why wait another day? Treat yourself to the giddy elation of breaking through a self-imposed barrier now. Your oasis awaits you!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
At 9,600 feet elevation, you have a new appreciation for oxygen and your lungs ability to pump it through your respiratory system. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I take my morning run through the scenic mountain town of Breckenridge. During the first five minutes or so, my lungs experience a slight burning sensation and my brain sends little “are you kidding me – we’re really going to do this?” messages. But, soon, I find my rhythm and the clean mountain air feels great and my mind focuses on the tranquil beauty of the river, bright blues skies and surrounding mountains. (especially novel and amazing sights for a flatlander from Dallas, Texas) My body takes over and does what it’s designed to do without my giving it another thought.
It’s so easy to take something as omnipresent as oxygen for granted in our day-to-day lives. And yet, when we experience something as basic and ordinary as breathing in a new set of conditions (in a higher altitude, as we exercise, or a combination of both) its preciousness becomes more apparent. Even in my everyday life back in Dallas, I sometimes notice that I’m not taking full breaths. When I have this realization and remedy it by taking in a few deep, cleansing breathes, the relaxing and energizing effects are immediate and transformative – an instant oasis, if you will.
A wonderful doctor, Dr. Margaret Christensen, posts as signs all around her office that simply say “Breathe”. I’m always amazed how within the course of a visit with her, I’m reminded to breath a half-dozen times or more and how wonderful it feels. It’s unbelievable really, but most of us forget to really connect with our breath and breathe deeply the majority of the time. It’s as if we have this magical device at our disposal that we neglect to use. Feeling stressed, anxious or nervous? Take a nice deep breath and let it go. Dangerously close to losing your cool with your co-worker or kid? Breathe deeply and feel the calm flow throughout your body. Feeling particularly grateful for something, breathe in and let the positive energy expand within you.
My dear friend, Jane Baldwin, founder of Pranasalara, (which translates to “breathing through illusion to freedom”) leads amazing breathing circles. Using special breathing techniques, she guides you into a state that transcends the usual mind/body/spirit condition and allows you to experience a soul-cleansing release that is truly extraordinary.
So, the first lesson the mountains have shared with me this summer, and my gentle reminder to you is this – remember to breathe. You have the magical power to bring a calm, focused energy to yourself – anytime, anywhere – your breath. How great is that?
All the best from my oasis to yours,