The Four (Biggest) Mistakes of Personal Growth Junkies

Do you know how hard it was to title this post? I almost called it “The Four Mistakes of Seeking Self-Awareness” but vague and noncommittal woo-woo jargon only sometimes float my boat and never for titles. Anyway, what I hope you know I’m talking about is those of us that are committed to rising up out of the habit of sleep-walking through our lives to grow spiritually and inter-personally in ways that fulfill and satisfy our desire to experience all that Life is offering and asking of us.

I’m talking to those of us who want to be awake and embracing Life. Those of us who already live pretty unconventionally, even if it’s only vicariously right now. Those of us who want more.

I’m talking from experience, too. Experience in my own life. Experience with clients who stumble with the same things.

These are the four biggest mistakes I see us all make:

1. We try to work on others as much as (or more often than) we work on ourselves:

Some people call this projecting. I look at it like a Fix It mode. We’re trying to “fix” our lives and we do so by meddling in what other people “should” be doing in their own lives. We (and by we, I also mean I) constantly think the problem is someone else’s, and if we can only fix our partner or our child or that really annoying neighbor who keeps triggering our desire to get all stabby THEN we will be able to reach personal enlightenment. (Essentially, we make our joy the responsibility of someone else.) OR we have to tell everyone we see with a “problem” about this new, great technique or practice we have. We essentially try to coach people we’re not meant to coach, instead of practicing the love and acceptance we know we’re called to practice.

The answer: That person or thing outside of yourself that you’re trying to fix or help or change is there only to reflect back to you the internal work you need to do. Take what is it they are bringing up in you and DIG IN to it. Bite your tongue or take a walk every time you’re tempted to “help”. The greatest gift you can give them is your own best self in full presence, love, and acceptance of where they are, with the trust that they don’t need fixing or changing.

Quotes by Mooji from www.theorganicsister.com

2. Sharing too much, too soon (or with the wrong people):

I’ve found there is an incubation period with both our dreams and with our healing/growth. There is a time to share and there is an even greater time (especially in the beginning) to hold our Inner Work Cards close to our chest. There are also spaces in which to share that are safe and can hold you in gentleness and nonjudgment and there are spaces that will be too much, too bright, too harsh, too upfront, too cold, or too out of alignment. We sometimes like to blame the people or the space, and call them rude or harsh, and hold onto that hurt we felt for years to come instead of seeing the truth of it: that it wasn’t a right fit. There are also people who just won’t get it, won’t understand where you are, and if your inner work is in its infant stages, they can easily knock you right back down. But none of this is the fault of the people or space; they may be perfectly what you need at another time in your “journey”. They just aren’t right now.

The answer: You wouldn’t subject a just-walking and wobbly baby to a Black Friday sales crowd. They aren’t near ready for that kind of crazy movement. Neither is your heart while it’s stretching itself and still wobbly in its beliefs and practice. Find safe and sacred spaces with people who have been where you are or are there now, places that hold you and nudge you, but not before you’re ready.

3. Not going deep enough:

Oh this one is sort of a pet peeve (and yes, I DIG IN to that!). I can’t tell you how many people I meet insist they only need to repeat their mantra more, or go to yoga more, or change their diet (again), or latch onto that new shiny Fix-It-All Machine. They keep themselves BUSY so they can avoid the real inner work they need to do. They don’t want to DIG IN (hell, who really does? It’s a mess in there and our survival instinct likes to keep us safe from pain) so they try to Build Out…they ignore what’s happening beneath the surface and pile more answers over it to keep the real stuff really hidden. It usually leads to feeling really manic and scattered and we see the same patterns resurface and the real problem never really, finally heal itself.

The answer: Slow the eff down. Stop latching onto something new. Instead allow most things to drop away. Pick one thing – probably the book or practice or person who calls to you the most but likely freaks you out a bit – and focus all your energy on that. Don’t let yourself stop when it starts to get messy or uncomfortable. Know that that is when the good stuff happens: when you clear out all the yuck keeping you from it.

4. Staying too deep, too long:

You know the difference between Digging Deep and digging yourself a grave? How long you stay down with the muck you’ve dug up. It WILL get messy and there are PLENTY of opportunities to feel like total shit, depressed and hopeless, or not good enough. The difference between feeling like a failure that can’t change your own patterns and the person who finds themselves in freedom and joy and Wide-Open-Arm-ness to Life is the person who at some point STOPS digging and stops swimming around in their head and all the junk that our heads are capable of creating (and making us believe is true), and starts planting and nurturing other seeds.

The answer: Get out of your head! Get moving instead.

And because that’s a catchy little rhyme, I’ll just leave it at that. 😉

“It could be worse…”

Trust creates peace. Where do you need to lean into trust? #quote #saying #tea

I awoke from a really weird dream (I was running track! HA!) with a totally unrelated phrase and thought going through my mind…

“It could be worse, you could be…”

It wasn’t the phrase itself that stuck with me. It was the accompanying thoughts behind the phrase.

I’ve been thinking about it all day as I went about writing for SBS, and planning an essential oils webinar, and cleaning up my son’s surprise shave job, and although I’m not sure I can quite articulate the sense I felt in the dream here goes anyway…

When shit hits the fan, my husband struggles to feel grounded or keep perspective. His “job” in his heart is to provide for us and make sure things are cared for in our world. But – like the truck problem he’s been working on for the past few weeks, or the fact that his motorcycle just got totaled (not with him on it) – sometimes things don’t come together too perfectly.

But every time I try to help him regain perspective by saying “It could be worse, we could be…” I’m doing a HUGE disservice to our actual sense of peace.

Because how can we feel at peace if we believe things can be bad?

Challenging, sure. Not what we want, okay. (Hurting our ego, most def.)

But if we don’t take the perspective of “All is well and will be well in our world.” NO MATTER the situation, no matter what, we’re always going to be in a place of fear, of pain, in lack of peace.

As in, sure things are hard now…but oh shit, they COULD be WORSE!

And then, of course, what are we saying to the people who are actually in a “worse situation”?

That THEY should really be freaking out?

That THEY really can’t be at peace with life?

That there is a point when things are terrible and there is no route to peace from there?

That things can only be good as long as they aren’t THAT bad?

Cuz then you’re screwed.

My whole spirit wants to reject that.

I want to be at peace when the truck is running optimally and when it isn’t running well and when it’s broken down on the side of the road and when it’s not there at all.

I want to learn to accept love and create joy when we have a bad day, and a terrible week, and when all hell breaks loose and we would normally have a total meltdown.

But every time we try to “put it into perspective”, are we just postponing peace?

Real peace doesn’t come from the situation we’re in, or the fact that we could have it worse.

Real peace comes from the choice to accept, embrace and be within the love of exactly what is, knowing that WHATEVER it is, all is well in our world. All will be well. Even in the “worst case scenario” it’s all ultimately going to be okay.

That’s peace.

A careful, conscious practice of trust.

Reminding myself how much worse it could be is not love or peace. It’s getting by, survival mode, until I can access that loving, peaceful place within me again.

Good Job! (And other things you shouldn’t say or do)

“Good Job and Other Things” is the name of Jennifer Lehr’s blog. Actually the full title is “Good Job!” and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say or Do (unless you want to ruin your child’s life). Which makes me laugh.

It’s also the title of July’s Tribe call with Jennifer joining us to chat it up.

Yes, I run with mamas who don’t “good job” their kids.

Yes, it seems innocuous.

Yes, I do feel it’s an important phrase to be mindful of.

Yes, it still slips out of my mouth. Old habits, after all.

My personal feelings on it: There are so many mindless phrases we utter in the name of parenting tradition. And although the intention seems benign, it’s really completely unintentional altogether. “Good job” is what I say when I’m not really engaged. When I love my child, and I’m pleased, but I’m also busy or not really interested in the 3885326898 LEGO sculpture of the day. Or when we slip into that whole “positive reinforcement” act, which is to say “you’re just a set of behaviors I need to reaffirm or stamp out and a simple ‘Atta boy’ is quite enough“.

“Good job” can be manipulative at worst.

Or lacking any real engagement and relationship at best.

Not always. But often.

But I like to let other mamas do the dirty work of discussing these things while I focus on our Mama Triggers, so I invited Jennifer for the conversation. 😉

Jennifer LehrJennifer is a wife, a mama of two littles, an author and artist, among other titles. But it’s her work with RIE and her upcoming book on parenting that sparked my interest.

We chatted over the phone about her philosophies and her perspective, and decided she was the perfect fit to join us on this month’s Tribe call. She comfortable and funny and the kind of mama you’d want to share a margarita with at the end of a long day.

When we chatted about what we wanted to focus on during the call, the following list was fleshed out from the outline of her upcoming book as the top 5 things to stop saying to your children (that we’ll cover on the call):

  1. Good job! (Of course, I have to include this one.)
  2. Shhh, it’s okay…Don’t cry.
  3. She’s shy.
  4. Give Grandma a kiss.
  5. I’m gonna tickle you!

Oh yeah, we’re gonna challenge some peeps. Including me. 😉

And Jennifer’s promised to share a few more of her least favorite phrases, and answer lots of questions, and just circle up with us while we all DIG IN to this big topic together.

P.S. This is NOT the Tribe call to join if you’re not ready to ask some challenging questions of what we parents take for granted and look at some radical ideas for interacting with children in a way that is authentic, mindful, relationship-based and deeply engaged with the small person who wants more of the very best of you.

P.P.S. This IS the Tribe call to join if you’d like to question some parenting assumptions we’ve long taken for granted in a safe, nonjudgmental, and likely fun and irreverent way and come to learn and practice some new ways of interacting with children that builds stronger, steadier and more trusting relationships now and for the future.

P.P.P.S. If you’re not yet a Tribe member, you can join here to receive information on how to join the next call.

Organic Wisdom: Staying Connected

power lifter

A little Q&A version this Friday…

My question would definitely be…. Why, when I feel most comfortable in my own body, alive and healthy, does so much go on around me to make sure that I don’t stay that way for long? Every time I feel like I have gotten somewhere, somebody (usually my child or someone close to me) causes a whole bunch of chaos in my life and I find myself reverting back to old ways of living and thinking.

My answer…

This is a great question and was a very important one to understand.

First ask yourself this: When a woman is truly, deeply connected to her core, feeling whole and healthy and vibrant…can anyone really shake that from her?

Those moments of feeling awake and alive and vibrant are like glimpses of connecting to your Truth, your core…Who You Are.

When you heal the things the disconnect you from it you will feel that feeling all the time; it will be unshakeable. (This is probably what people refer to as enlightment; it takes a real practice to fully get their in our life, but our purpose is to continue moving there, growing and learning, daily and mindfully bringing ourselves back to center when we lose touch with it.)

These challenges are natural. In fact, I’ve never not seen a person or had a client going through a process of reconnecting to themselves not almost immediately experience these challenges.

I used to look at these challenges as “Murphy’s Law”, and feel frustrated, even victimized. Then I saw them as tests and felt overwhelm and despair that I was “failing”.

Now I see these challenges are perfect. As the opportunities they are.

Every challenge you experience to stay connected is an opportunity to deepen your connection, to learn more about yourself (and others), to stretch yourself and grow even stronger in your own Truth, in Who You Are.

Think of it as a spiritual workout…through the resistance we meet in our life, the weight put on our spiritual muscles, we grow stronger.

But only when we embrace it and allow it to transform us for the better.

We do this best when we move our blocks out of the way; then this process actually feels like a process, not a setback.

There will still be opportunities, of course, but we will experience them in a new way – with gratitude and a deeper awareness of what they are offering us. (And yes, sometimes we’ll still feel frustrated, overwhelmed, victimized or hurt by them. But we’ll bounce back faster the stronger we are in our own Truth.)

You are exactly where you need to be. This opportunity is perfect.

(((Hugs)))

It’s Not Laziness You Need To Overcome {6 Things You Are Instead of Lazy}

Chillaxin

Have you ever been told – or told yourself – that you’re just lazy or that overcoming laziness is an act of willpower?

“I don’t want to go to work. I’m so lazy.”

“She doesn’t ever do anything productive. She’s just lazy.”

“He/I/You need to stop being lazy and just do it.”

Yeah, knock that off. It’s not working. It’s not even helping. You know why? You’re not lazy. And that person you’re judging isn’t lazy either.

Laziness doesn’t exist.

It’s just a word we’ve given to explain away something deeper and messier that we’d prefer to ignore. Think of it as a symptom. It’s a sign that something else is going on beneath the surface.

“Laziness” is the label we give to something when we judge it based on what we think it should be.

People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough. – Christine Kane

6 Things You Are Instead of “Lazy”

No, you’re not lazy. But you are experiencing something…here are six things you might be instead of “lazy”:

  1. Tired:
    Tired of going, going, going in this crazy, fast-paced, speed-obsessed world. You push and you pull and you try to keep up with the expectations of others until your body and your mind and your weary, exhausted soul say enough and you crash, and crash hard. Give yourself a break without judging your need for rest. It’s okay to slow down.
  2. Overwhelmed:
    You’ve allowed it to pile on – the tasks, the goals, the dreams, the need to do it all yourself, and to make sure it’s perfect. You’ve taken on the responsibility, and with it the guilt, the stress and the inability to admit you’re human. You’ve taken on so much that you soon can’t see straight and so it all just sits, staring you in the face while you freak out, settle for spending your time on Facebook, or curl up with Haagen-Daz while you quietly fail. It doesn’t make you lazy; it makes it impossible to move when you’re buried so deep.
  3. Afraid:
    It’s new and big and you’re scared it might not pan out or that it will turn out like it did the last time. You have a record in your head that is stuck on repeat telling you it’s going to get ugly, be difficult, and blow up in your face. And who the heck wouldn’t avoid that? Beating yourself won’t get you inspired and motivated. Give yourself some love.
  4. Hurting:
    You’re holding back, withdrawn or shy or not feeling good enough. Your pain is probably buried, deep and sheltered, because how could you function if it was full force? But it’s still there, an aching or gnawing dragging you down, draining you of your spark, your desire, your passion for Life.
  5. Uninspired:
    People seem to resist this one the most. Most of us just don’t want to admit that not enjoying something – not feeling inspired – is okay. Well, let me tell you…it’s okay. It’s okay to not enjoy washing the dishes or not be inspired to work today. It’s okay to find that class boring and choose to pursue what you love instead. If it’s something you feel is necessary, question yourself – maybe it’s not necessary after all, or maybe there’s a way to change it into something you can love. What’s so wrong with that?
  6. Stuck:
    You’re tired, overwhelmed, uninspired, afraid, hurting, uninspired and you don’t know how to get past it. You may not even know what it is you’re trying to get past. You try something new only to spin your wheels. You’re living your life on repeat, with the same worn out patterns and themes playing again and again. I know “stuck” well. Those barriers are what I’m known for helping others DIG IN to and overcome.

But guess what? None of these are your real problem either. All of these are just symptoms too.

Why “Overcoming Laziness” Techniques Won’t Work (and What Will)

Because it’s not laziness you need to overcome!

You don’t need a carrot-and-stick motivator, or a swift kick in the ass. Focusing on curing the symptoms is a lot like focusing on the fever instead of treating the infection. It gets you through the night, but you just find yourself in intensive care the next afternoon.

Sure you could listen to some motivational talks, drink a Red Bull, finally allow yourself a guilt-free night of sleep, delegate some tasks, or push through the funk.

But if you only address the symptoms – while you may temporarily “cure” your “laziness” – you’ll just find yourself curled back up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and self-loathing again within a month (if that).

You have to DIG IN and get to the root of these symptoms before you can really make lasting changes.

Overcoming laziness with the Digging Deep process? Absolutely.

When you’re ready to uncover and move through the things that are really getting in your way (the things that create your need to do it all until you’re overwhelmed and tired, or that have you so paralyzed with fear you don’t do anything, or that have you chasing someone else’s goals until you can’t recognize yourself anymore)…

When you’re ready to feel energized, hungry for life, and ready to experience it…

The Digging Deep process will walk you through the process of not only overcoming laziness, but also anything else that’s no longer serving you.

5 Principles of Personal Growth to Absorb Right Now

we must die to one life

[This is Part 2 or a 3 Part series.]

If any of the 11 signs of personal growth described in my first post resonated with you, or if you agree that we’re undergoing something major and world-shifting and if you’re feeling ready to take one step forward, I’d invite you to start by bringing your awareness to and absorbing these five principles.

I can almost guarantee you that without understanding and fully embracing these principles, your own journey will be slower, punctuated by more pain and self-doubt and peppered with more challenges.

Trust me, I would know.

But embracing these principles of life and personal growth can lift the heaviness of where we are from our shoulders and create an environment of peace and even excitement in our lives. It can shift us from overwhelm or apathy to clarity, acceptance and motivation.

Here they are, pretty much in the order of importance.

1. You are not wrong, broken, bad, or crazy.

It’s so tempting to use those words to describe ourselves. After all, conventional wisdom tells us if we’re feeling happy one moment and sad the next, if we can’t stop crying, or if we suddenly desire something more than what we’re accustomed to that we’re either bi-polar, depressed or experiencing a mid-life crisis.

I say screw them.

You are not wrong, broken, bad or crazy. You are human. You are diverse, sometimes messy and constantly evolving. You experience life deeply and it moves you in sometimes uncomfortable, but always opportunistic, ways.

All of this is good! And don’t for one minute think it’s not, for all of this is exactly what has been experienced by the great movers and shakers of the world, the creatives, the philosopher’s, the leaders and the world changers. They just didn’t had the burden of judgment or expectation like we do today.

2. Everyone does the best they can with the tools they have.

If you or someone else is not doing their personal best or the best you think is possible, it means you/they either lack the necessary tools or something else is getting in your/their way.

Understanding this gives us the ability to view ourselves and others with compassion and patience. It also begs to ask what we can do to help.

Life isn’t a sprint for everyone. We’re all going to move at our own pace. Treating yourself and others with gentle compassion and trust is the only way to ensure we’ll all keep growing. Judgment, guilt, fear, impatience…they are surefire ways to shut growth down.

Along with this principle is the fact that we are all looking and moving toward a greater good when we are fully authentic and feeling whole. We all ultimately and truly want what is best for everyone, even if we don’t know or are confused on how to get it.

If you’re struggling with personal growth, keep this one in mind and seek out new tools or self-awareness to get yourself unstuck.

3. There is no such thing as a lost opportunity.

Life is cyclical. Things always come back around.

If you feel as though you (or someone else) missed an opportunity, or maybe you just don’t feel ready for it, you can rest assured it will make its way back to you.

Be careful pushing things aside for later though; sometimes it’s harder to accomplish the second time than if you embrace the opportunity the first time around.

Instead, I’d recommend trusting that there are no mistakes and that the timing is perfect, even if not from our limited perspective.

4. The bigger your game, the bigger the obstacles.

Who here has ever been onto something really, really juicy and suddenly been blindsided by a string of bad luck, innumerable challenges or some serious self-sabotaging? (*raising hand*)

It can feel like everything is going wrong. It can feel like the cards are stacked against you. And you can begin to question what you’re doing – is it the right thing to do or am I the right person for the job?

Often times this looks like chaos, until we can be still and clearly see what it is: It’s not life or fate conspiring against us. It’s not bad luck. It’s just our own junk finally demanding face time.

Every time you’re about to experience a serious breakthrough, everything that does not serve you or will not serve you in the future, every old story you’ve told yourself, every fear that has held you back, every personal challenge you’ve ever had and never dealt with will suddenly surface.

Why?

Because they have no place in what you’re trying to create and in order to move forward into your future, you’ll have to spend some time with each of the things that has been holding you back.

Without giving them their face time, you won’t be able to leave them behind and without leaving them behind, you won’t move forward.

You can think of it a little like life testing your resolve. Or you can think of it as a spring cleaning of your soul to prepare you for the summer of your life.

Whatever image resonates with you, get ready to bring you’re A-game. Cuz it’s on.

5. This Too Shall Pass – If You Allow It

I don’t only mean if you allow it to pass, although not holding onto discord, drama or pain out of comfort or fear of change is important too.

What I really mean, though, is that you must allow yourself to be in this uncomfortable place for it to finally and fully come to pass. Resisting where you are or what you feel just postpones the process, and since life is cyclical (as described above), it will come back around.

This is the paradox of personal growth: Only by embracing What Is (the reality, the emotions, the everything) exactly as it is – with radical acceptance and without expectations of change – can it finally let us go.

You’ve got to be with it to be without it.

Sit with the sadness, the anger, the memories, the questions. Call them out and acknowledge them fully. Spend some time swimming in it. Without pointing fingers (at yourself or anyone else), just dwell in your experience. Allow it all to bubble out until there is finally nothing left to bubble and it detaches itself from you and you can experience the weightlessness left in its place.

By allowing it, it detaches itself from you and you from it. Then it becomes something that simply is, that has no power over you, and you can look at it with gratitude or compassion but no longer with pain or discomfort.

Included in this principle is a message of patience. As much as we’d like to, we simply cannot rush the process.

Deep breath. You’ll soon be glad you couldn’t.

Join the conversation:
Which of these principles is hardest for you to absorb?

Part One: 11 Signs Your Life Is Demanding Personal Growth (And It’s Time To Listen)

Part Three: 8 Ways to Make Personal Growth Happen

Susannah Conway: An Interview on Unravelling and Recreating

I’m so excited to bring you this beautiful interview with Susannah Conway.

Susannah is a photographer, writer and the creator of the Unravelling e-courses. A Polaroid addict and very proud aunt, she is currently hard at work on her first book, to be published in spring 2012, and collaborating with Jenifer Altman and Amanda Gilligan on a how-to book about Polaroid photography, also coming out in 2012.

Hi Susannah! Can you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about what you love and the work you do?

Susannah: I am a photographer and a writer and for the last two years I’ve been teaching a self-awareness e-course called Unravelling. The course has been the inspiration for the book I’m currently writing about healing and creativity, and I’m also collaborating on a book about Polaroid photography with Jenifer Altman and Amanda Gilligan. Both books will be published in spring 2012.

You have such a gorgeous creative style. How would you describe it and your inspiration?

Susannah: This is actually a really tricky question to answer! My home is filled with mid-century furniture and I shoot all my photographs with vintage Polaroid cameras, so I guess that vintage aesthetic filters through into everything i do. I’m also very inspired by simplicity – in colours, words, intentions and living. I own a lot of books, and way too many cameras, but everything else is kept to a minimum because i don’t like clutter, either in my house or on my website 🙂

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You talk a bit on your website about always having a hand in photography but rekindling that inspiration after the death of your partner. Can you talk a bit about those middle years…the years you weren’t as inspired, and why?

Susannah: Those middle years saw me pursuing a different path for a while. After art college I didn’t have the confidence to pursue my photography dreams so I worked a regular job before going back to university to do a journalism degree. From there I worked on several national newspapers before taking a job as a fashion editor – that lasted two years before I left to go freelance. Writing has always been a part of my world, but I am so grateful to have now come full circle back to photography. The two work together for me – a 50/50 even split that bounce off each other!

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I think lots of us have experienced that lack of confidence in pursuing our dreams. What do you feel was holding you back or bringing up that self-doubt? And how did you overcome it?

Susannah: Age and circumstance. When I left college I was 22 and back then (1995) the photography I wanted to do didn’t seem to have a place in the world yet. I didn’t want to be an editorial photographer, which is where most of my peers were headed, and I couldn’t see how I could make a living as a fine art photographer. I also didn’t own a computer and digital photography was still in its early days — i didn’t know how to find an alternative path.

What has changed for me now, aside from advances in technology and opportunity, is that I feel more confident in myself and my voice. As I healed in the years after he died I really got to know myself, a painful yet powerful journey which has changed everything for me — I guess this combo of being older, a bit wiser and feeling more ‘me’ has helped me to feel more confident in my work. I still have my bad days and lots of insecurities, but going through a bereavement like I did means I know intimately how short life is, and I just don’t want to waste any more time. We’ve gotta be brave and put ourselves out there, in whatever way that means for us.

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Wow! Such a powerful message to absorb, that life is short and we have to be brave, put ourselves out there and stop wasting time. Was it this message that inspired your Unravelling e-course?

Susannah: Unravelling started as an evening class I taught locally. I didn’t want to teach a regular photography class so I drew inspiration from my healing journey and how I’d been using photography as a way to get to know myself again. The class was a great success and as blogging was such an important part of my life it seemed natural to find a way to share the class online somehow.

Can you tell me more about your course, what kind of transformations it’s inspired in yourself and others, what are your intentions with it, etc?

Susannah: Unravelling is an eight-week course for women that I first led online in January 2009. It’s not a photography class in that I don’t teach any photo techniques or talk about processing — instead, I invite the Unravellers to use their cameras to look at their lives, almost like they’re looking for clues and documenting what they find. The writing exercises get them digging even deeper into how they view themselves and their world.

In week five we turn our cameras to our faces and time and time again it’s the Unravellers who didn’t want to share their face photos who end up making videos of themselves talking to camera! The magic happens when women gather together in a safe space and are willing to delve into their lives with fresh eyes — they support each other and the transformations are always so incredible to witness.

As for me, leading the class has taught me how to be brave on camera as I share a new video with the class every week; it’s given me the confidence to share my thoughts without being embarrassed. Going forward into 2011 I’ll be launching an Unravelling members’ site in June—it’ll be a cosy supportive space where people can hang out, make friends and nurture their hearts. As soon as I’ve delivered the manuscript for my book I’ll be starting work on the new site!

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I talk about unjobbing on my blog and I’m always fascinated with the creative ways in which people fulfill their life purpose while also paying the bills. Can you talk a little bit about fulfilling your own purpose with the work you do and some other challenges you’ve overcome (or are overcoming) in the past few years?

Susannah: In the years since the bereavement I have learned how to live on my own as an independent and self-supporting woman. It hasn’t always been easy— and I have the credit card debt to prove it! — but I got a first sense of my true purpose when I moved to a new city (by myself and not knowing anyone there) in the autumn of 2008. That was when I was invited to teach the evening class, and from that small beginning I discovered the work I feel most passionate about — holding a space for women to heal their hearts and reconnect with themselves. Helping them learn how to become their own greatest ally.

I always hated working in an office and have been self-employed in one way or another since 2002, but for the last two years I’ve been creating this online business of mine; there’s no how-to manual so every step of the way I am learning and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve never considered myself to be a business-minded person so it still surprises me that i have a business at all – I guess it helps that it’s not exactly a traditional business 🙂

SO loving what you have to say here Susannah; so many tangents we could talk on. But I want you to leave everyone with one answer: If you had to sum up in a single short sentence one piece of advice you’d give to women, or even one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self, what would it be?

Susannah: Next time you stand in front of a mirror, smile at the woman you see there; she is your greatest ally and it’s time to get to know her.


Thank you Susannah for your beautiful, wise words!

You can read more about Susannah Conway’s shenanigans on her blog at SusannahConway.com and connect with her on Twitter. Registration for the next Unravelling class opens on Saturday December 4th.

On Balance and Passion

Balance by Mari Dieumegard

Balance - artwork detail by Mari Dieumegard

This is my newest piece of art, a gift from the lovely Mari Dieumegard and I can’t wait to hang it in the new rig (I plan to have a real desk again – this will be above it).

I love this print, called Balance, especially right now. It reminds me to keep moving, to be daring, to go for it. It reminds me to keep my head up and my eyes on the goal but to enjoy the view and the company. It tells me to keep my arms and my heart open. And it feels powerful to me, but also carefree, as if it says “Look what amazing thing I can do on an average Sunday afternoon.”

Life has been a tightrope these past few weeks and through the madness I’ve had to harness that carefree, open-hearted power. I’ve had to remind myself of what I am capable of on any given day. It doesn’t always look like such an amazing daredevil feat but it sure feels like one.

I’m launching my new website on Tuesday with a BIG giveaway here on the blog and having a very real deadline with very cool sponsors can be a little daunting. Add to the mix a deep desire to not sacrifice our personal life, while also handling the emotional upheaval of so many changes and it was enough to elicit concern from loved ones.

It reminds me of this one from StoryPeople:

Tightrope by Storypeople

“Most people she never tells about the tightrope because she doesn’t want
to listen to their helpful comments from the ground.”

Yes, I was on a tightrope, one that looked unnecessary or dangerous at times. But I walked across it. It had its messy moments and moments where I nearly fell, but I took a risk. And for that I’m proud.

I’m also proud that I DO tell people about the tightrope, the challenge, the maddening moments of frustration, the days I want to quit. I’m proud that I have the courage to be vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable (for me and sometimes for others) but it makes my accomplishments all the more real for me.

I look at these two pieces of art and they remind me of what I so often forget: I am open, accepting of a challenge, ready to be daring, push my own envelope, take risks and grow. And as the madness winds down and I have time to lounge, I can look at those personal achievements and hurdles and feel good.

So how did I find this balance through the mad rush of work?

By accepting it wouldn’t look the way I thought it would.

It didn’t look like equaling doled out chunks of time. It didn’t look like me keeping up with my early morning routines or my physical therapy. It didn’t always look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Instead it looked like me passionately devouring my Task List, sometimes for hours on end, several days in a row. A few late nights and hectic days and lots of personal successes and reminders from my husband to eat or take a break. Then, right around the time my eyes went crossed, I’d pull back for days or weeks or even months at a time. I worked went I felt inspired to work, played when I felt inspired to play.

With Zeb immersed in a new computer game, we often sat side-by-side on our laptops, he sharing his accomplishments while I shared mine. And when you make your own schedule you get to do cool things like take your son on a lunch date or curl up in bed with your hubby all morning or stay in your pajamas on laundry day.

When I think of balance, I don’t think of how many hours I spend in each area of my life. I think of how I feel: how much time I spend doing what I love and enjoying it. That feels balanced.

That’s the purpose of life for me: enjoying the hell out of the adventure of living. And I feel balanced.

What’s balance look like in your life?