I’ve fallen asleep for the last five nights swimming in a sea of gratitude for this place, it’s absolutely alive with the most magnificent energy I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never been “glamping” but I would consider this trip exactly that. We dropped in on a place in the rainforest where people are the visitors and our energy was on loan from the trees and wild creatures that call it home. It was a week of calm, the jokes were pure and funny, and we found one of those places in the world that will make me better just because I know it exists. Luke wants to bring home a monkey, I want an Ocelot…since neither will happen, I guess we’ll have to come back to visit.
So often the lesson for me is about letting go - of expectations, of control, of the way things are supposed to look, and when I slow down and see what is, I realize that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. There will always be the things in life that come to challenge us and make us stronger, but when it’s peaceful and good, don’t forget to sit and watch it for a moment, you can see the energy glow in this place. It lowers my heart rate and brings tears to my eyes, because o often I forget about the time that has passed and the places we have had to go to get to this place. The last podcast I did before we came on this glorious trip was with Jim Karas, New York Times best selling author, he and his daughter wrote Confessions of a Division I Athlete together. One of the things we talked about was the importance of showing your kids your mistakes. What I realized on this trip was that we have broken through to a place that is so real it and honest it that anywhere feels like home, and we have a closeness even when we aren't together. It’s a beautiful place to sit, be able to trust this energy, and know how to stoke its fire to help them create a life path that has no expectation of what they will be, just who they will be. My deepest desire for each of them are to be strong, kind, unselfish and free.
I realize what I saw on this trip is our family’s collective nervous system. It's healing and it's good for all of us. To be able to downshift together wasn’t just calming, but confidence building as well. As I sat on the back of the jet ski with my 17 year old driving, I realized that I’ve spent most of my life struggling to lean into the curve and go with the struggle. That need for control comes when I try to avoid what I don’t want to happen, rather than trusting that the struggle is part of the process to lead to exactly where we are supposed to go. This week that struggle broke free to beautiful flow that I’ll never forget. It’s a wonder to sit and look at these beautiful giant humans…22, 20, 17 & 15. This is a definitive sweet spot. What a ride it’s been, and with our energy recharged, it feels like it’s just getting started.
I have a theory that keeps running through my head. It is based both in self compassion and growth and goes like this:
When we are younger, we learn big things… how to talk, play, and relate with others, we find out what we are good at, and what we can do with those talents. Most of us follow a similar path with school, friends, and relationships, and paint the canvas of our life with big broad strokes. If we keep it within the navigational beacons, (thanks to my brother in law for coining that phrase) many of us get to a similar point in life. As we get older though, little cracks start to form in our canvas and affect our daily life patterns and relationships, in large part because our subconscious patterns, that we haven’t taken any time to become aware of, begin to chip away at the days that once seemed so simple. The good news is, we get to make the decision anytime along the way, to acquire a finer paintbrush, and use it to create the little strokes that lead to greater self awareness. This is the brush that fills in these little cracks that have formed on the canvas of our life. If we do the work, we lead a more connected and expansive life. If we choose not to, the cracks weaken us and we end up living a much smaller existence just to survive it all. It’s up to us to decide if we want to go from the school art project that our mom hung on the fridge to a beautiful scene or landscape worthy of a great gallery. Contrary to what society or social media might led us to believe, that great gallery isn’t reserved for the most popular, but for those who decide to take on the challenge of knowing themselves better and uncovering the power of their story. It’s a brave process and sometimes painful in the short term, but as we have the courage to work through it, I believe we always come out better for it. Each of us is so unique, yet we also desire so much to connect and belong together. The only way to find that deep connection with others is to find it first within yourself by discovering your own uniqueness and the strength that lies within it.
In 2020, I am growing my life design coaching to include curriculum that helps people uncover the power of their own story. We each have unique gifts, the powers I have uncovered for myself in this process the last few years are the strength in my calm demeanor, and my ability to disarm and create genuine safety in conversations with others. Uncovering these strengths and not being afraid to acknowledge them, and then learn to use them to help others, has been an empowering process. As I build out a coaching curriculum that includes aspects of mind, body, and spirit, I can help people uncover the power of their own story to help them realize the path to their fullest reality.
Mind - Relationships, parenting, transitions, patterns of limiting beliefs; these are among my favorite runways to explore. Do you want to work on your relationship with yourself or others? Is there a transition, whether a new job, a move, or the beginning or ending of a relationship in your life? Are you trying to create a happier, more productive home with your children? I have experience in all of these areas and a non judgmental listening ear.
Body - Sleep, Nutrition, Movement, Recovery...they are all part and parcel of a healthy life. Are you looking to feel better, lighter, or more fit in 2020. All of these major areas of health in our lives can be broken down into small manageable steps that lead to a sustainable game plan to a healthier, happier you and there are practical tools to make this process successful.
Spirit - Our spirit is about connecting with things that we cannot see but can definitely feel If we are open to it. Are you blocking the good things in life that are yours with negative energy? Are you speaking to yourself in a way that affirms your best life? Do you recognize a power in the universe that is bigger than yourself? Connecting to something greater than us is one of the most compassionate ways to view your own story.
Life is not happening to you, it’s happening for you.
Your self awareness is the key to unlock your fullest potential and 2020 is all about your vision being clear. You have all of the answers, but sometimes it helps to have a fresh look at the situation to understand where your mind might be getting stuck. A coaching session with me is a calm place where my clients are free to dialogue about where they are today, where they want to go, and what, if anything, is standing in their way. I use my trained, non judgmental ear to help you discover more about yourself and the answers that work for you. Sometimes it’s the tiniest brush strokes on our canvas that make the biggest change in our picture. I understand that safety and belonging are among our most important needs as human beings and strive to provide that environment in each coaching session.
If you want to uncover the power of your own story in 2020, click here. Here’s to staying present but also to the excitement about all this new decade has to offer any of us willing to put in the work.
There is a picture on my bookshelf of a quote that I like. It reads:
“She needed a hero, so she became one.”
For most of my life I would have said that sounds like someone who is full of themselves…today I say it’s the quote of someone who has challenged themselves to find the power in their own story and sees the beauty in anyone else who wants to take control of theirs. The twists and turns of my life have caused me to wrestle with some big narratives, whether it was my shyness, or finding my core values in an less than traditional family set up, life is better the more we understand ourselves how know how we want to show up in the world. But, because I have examined my patterns and thoughts, I have found a level of connection, kindness, and calm that produce a deep level of contentment on most days. So many thoughtful conversations come from considering your own steps and observing others and then knowing what questions to ask. The nature of the narratives of our lives is that they are personal, what is true for one story, may not work for another…which is why we should stay away from judging other people’s perspectives and either bond with what we have in common or can find compassion for, or set boundaries to protect what we see as our best way forward in our own life. Going back to what I wrote about. last week, we can’t control other people, but we are solely responsible for creating the best version of ourselves.
Optimism doesn’t mean that every twist and turn of life is joyful and easy. In fact, it’s the tougher moments, the challenges, and even the stress in our lives, that comes to teach us and make us stronger. This reality gets sticky for me sometimes, usually around issues that I feel define my character and the way I present myself. I’ve had to learn to trust myself, rather than the outside opinions that I was a fan of taking in, and trust the gut that I have developed from a lifetime of listening.
At some point, we all have to take ownership for our own lives, figure out why we make the choices we do, embrace what we love about ourselves, and get after changing the things we don’t.
Because I believe so deeply in authenticity, but have also learned that not every story in our life is for everybody, I know that I have to be accept the fact that some will vibe with my personal philosophy of life and some will pass on it.
I had a little gathering at my new house not too long ago and when I stopped to pay attention, I was inspired by the generations of people that I find connection with. Every decade from teenagers, who are my kids friends, to people in their 70’s showed up to hang out. As I always say,
“pay attention to what you attract because it’s leading you to your purpose.”
This experience, hanging out with people who are a part of my life, whether at yoga, on the volleyball court or others who help me stay healthy and sane over the course of my days, inspires my belief in connection and generational learning and makes me want to create a world where people aren’t so guarded and afraid to tell their stories, so I lead by telling mine. It’s not for attention, it’s because writing is cathartic and creates a sense of belonging with people who get me.
Part of building a strong and supportive tribe is knowing that we won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and, if we try to be, we end up exhausted and hiding our uniqueness that we have to share if we want to create health and happiness in our lives.
For so much of my life I was the young one, always feeling like I had so much to learn, afraid to put myself out there, and yet with this little voice in my head telling me all kinds of cool insight and stories, probably why I enjoy my alone time. I didn’t know that learning to manage criticism and judgment were a natural part of gaining a stronghold on our own lives, so naturally, I tried to avoid anything that might draw attention to myself. In school, I was always the youngest in my class, then I got married at 22, so most of the couple friends we had were older than me because really, not many people, even 20 years ago were getting married that young. It’s only been in the passing of the last few years that I have taken over the roll of one of the older ones. It’s like my old soul has finally caught up, and now I want to make good on the time I have left, which has me thinking about some of the things I want to work on in the New Year…
I will continue to ask, and even more frequently, knowing that silence or even rejection (I still can’t decide which one is more internally uncomfortable) isn’t a reflection on my worth or purpose. I am the only one who defines it. There is always the possibility that a connection is created with a yes. If we control our own mind, an ask is at best a neutral position, and even better, we get a yes and move the ball down the field.
I will embrace the wisdom that comes with age and love myself for both the changes that come, and the work I put in to stay healthy and free. I’ve been putting a camera on my face more often and have noticed that my initial instinct is to be more critical of myself. I’m learning to put my face and my voice out there anyway, because what you see is the real me, getting better…and that’s the best thing we do each day for ourselves and the generations that come after us.
I will separate myself from judgment of anything but my own path, find compassion for my own story, and set the firm boundaries that create healthy relationships in my life. Today I know how to do this and I want to teach others how to feel the strength I feel from learning this essential life skill.
Why share your real story? Because it matters and it helps create understanding in this world. And you will indeed end up becoming your own hero when you find the power in your story. The pain is in the shadows, it begins to subside when we learn to bring it into the light. The challenge is to decide who to share it with, it doesn’t have to be in a blog…start with one person, find your connection, and the most beautiful healing will take root inside of you.
If we pay attention, history has a way of teaching us about our own destiny and fate. I have always loved a good history class. I’ve been fortunate throughout my life to have had history teachers who could communicate stories, some with calm, clear voices and some with more excitement that you could imagine, hands flailing around and even one who jumped off his desk, mid-lecture (George Cotkin, unforgettable, Cal Poly Fall 1992). Either way, these voices showed me the angles of history that could incite critical thought and great conversation...a testament to the power of a great teacher. In part, because these teachers sparked my interest in history, I became an observer of the people in my life that could tell me the stories that had come before me. Stories of strength and perseverance and grand plans that turned into reality. I have always had the sense that what came before me was there to teach me about my own life story and, I have been fortunate to have people put in my path to be proud of and to prove my theory true.
Today I woke up thinking about D Day. I don’t know how many people my age did that, maybe a lot, maybe not so many. I would be willing to bet though that there are far fewer in the generations younger than me, mainly because the storytellers of the Greatest Generation have not been a part of the younger generation's day to day experience and, as humans, we learn so much more through story and experience than hard text.
When emotion is weaved through historical data, it embeds in our hearts and minds in a much more profound and impactful way. I grew up with a grandmother who told stories of being stationed at Elveden Hall (think Eyes Wide Shut and, more recently, All The Money In The World, they were filmed there) in England in World War II. She was a secretary to General Partridge and one of the first members of the WAAC, the Women’s Army Auxilary Corp. Her stories were my first taste of ground breaking female strength and conviction, and I always admired the way she radiated those qualities in the most humble, grace filled way. She also used the tenacity it took to get her to that point of her life, defying odds and breaking barriers, to carry her through both blessed and, more importantly, difficult life circumstances after the war, always using that strength to be a constant light to other people who crossed her path.
In 2012, I had the opportunity to visit Normandy and see the beaches and rocky cliffs. It was the trip of a lifetime. Even better, I shared this trip with my dear friends, one of whom had been there before with his father Jack, who had shared his story on that trip, as they traced his journey through the European battlefront to celebrate his 90th birthday. Jack landed at Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944. Note the irony of that date. As fate would have it, his ship was delayed by bad weather after leaving England, and when it arrived in the waters beyond Omaha beach, the fighting had moved inland. Hours and even minutes can make such a difference in the outcomes of our lives. A delay of 24 hours could have been the difference that afforded him a life well lived. A story that includes a wife, six kids, and more grandkids and great grandkids than I can count. Jack turned 100 on September 6, 2017 and is still going to work today. Born just two days after my grandmother, and as fate would have it again, they became friends much later in life, after the war, going to party's, traveling together, and sharing a life that looked much different than the days of World War II. On top of that, I am fortunate to call Jack's son and daughter in law among my closest friends...like attracts like.
The strength of the Greatest Generation will always be something I admire and use to motivate me in our modern world, in the face of fading human contact and the instant gratification that we face as a society every day. I am so grateful to have had these stories passed on to me to wake up with every day. When I stop for a minute, and let the stories I have been told sink in, the universal truths are there for the taking. Perseverance in the face of adversity, belief that both fate, and our own discipline, choices, and actions, have a hand in telling our story, and above all, that love, family and friendship will carry a story through many generations, if we care enough and are brave enough to tell it. May we all have the courage to create stories worthy of telling to those who come after us.