Untethering

“If experience is the best teacher, there’s nothing that comes close to the experience of life.” ~ Michael A. Singer

I’ve not discovered a cure for a major disease nor have I invented something that radically changes how we live. And it’s probably fair to say that neither have you. Still, we are significant; why else would we be here? Each of us is making a contribution to humanity simply by living in full expression of who we are. For whatever or however you are contributing, I honor and respect you!

Life is about continuous progress; the ability to move forward and achieve your own version of greatness. To get there, however, some of us need to let go of things from our past and listen to our inner voice that can urge us toward a space that seems both unclear and at times, crazy.

When we listen to our voice we begin to imagine and dream about following this higher knowing and the possibilities that lie ahead. Sometimes though, when we start to believe in such prospects, the ego-mind interjects itself and we find ourselves doubting our dreams and desires. And we retreat. You’re familiar with this, right?

So, why do we self-sabotage? One reason for inaction can be understood when an individual not progressing is viewed as part of a larger social situation. When one has to marshal the herd and get others to move, there is some risk that accompanies that. It is much easier to not lead the way, blend into the crowd, and wait for somebody else to assume the risk and be responsible. In social psychology this is called the “bystander effect.” But when others are not involved, it becomes justly about you.

2909801893_76a1e8f941_m

If you are On A Verge, listening to your inner voice, perhaps sensing opportunity and an associated need to untether, these considerations are important to remember:

  1. Appreciate what you have. Rather than focusing on what you think may be missing from your life, reflect on that with which you are blessed. It’s too easy to look at the people you surround yourself with and want what they have. Just because someone has material possessions doesn’t mean s/he is internally happy. Be grateful for what is most important to you instead of what you perceive as lacking.
  2. Take full responsibility. Near always, you are responsible for the quality and condition of your life. Sometimes we choose to do nothing when we get hit hard because it’s just easier (and less painful) that way. But disappointment is often only deferred. You have to live with that inner voice that says you didn’t try hard enough in pursuit of your dreams/desires. It’s your choice to plow through and keep moving forward.
  3. Do one simple thing. To move forward; start moving. One step, small steps, in the direction of your goal or vision is progress. Determine one (simply one!) area of your life where you have wanted to move forward. Spend time visualizing what it would take to get you started. And act! Take that first step. Then, move on to the next step.

Left Brain, Right Brain

“A creative idea will be defined simply as one that is both novel and useful (or influential) in a particular social setting.” ~ Alice Flaherty

We have many creative people in our world. Many, conveniently, blog among us. In the WordPress Reader I recently found a Chris Delatorre post. He’s a creative thinker and (if you’ll pardon the simple word) doer.

Being creative or artistic doesn’t mean you know how to draw or play an instrument. Being creative is a way of thinking, a way of viewing the world. Creative people simply use the right side of their brains more than the left. The enduring question with creativity has always been whether the defining factors come from nature or nurture. Everyone can learn to be creative to some degree, but new Cornell University research has revealed that the extent to which we’re born creative may be greater than previously thought.

As a hardwired ‘left brainer,’ I find some comfort in now knowing this. 🙂

In one of his posts, Chris writes that he believes science and art ought to make a home together. In this video, Max Cooper creatively depicts life coming into being, blooming and then vanishing. I’d be challenged enough to find the right words to express that, let alone create what he has visually.

Researchers have also confirmed that creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.

If exploring the right side of your corpus callosum is something that interests you, here are three easy enablers:

  1. Pause from business thinking. Or any kind of thinking that requires intense focus. While it might be challenging to step outside ‘business mode,’ the mind sometimes needs a rest from bottom-line thinking. Consider taking a mental vacation and indulge in something you’re passionate about. Then come back, refreshed, to the task(s) at hand. You may see things in a very different light. Being with beautiful things (art, nature, passions) creates connections that we often neglect to notice.
  2. Shut down your inner critical voice. Notice I said “critical.” Don’t think. Disable the part of your brain that observes what you’re doing. This is your ego, your sabotage, your self-consciousness. Be in the moment (I know, I say this often). Stop second-guessing everything you’re doing. It serves no purpose to be hard on yourself. Remind yourself that you are creative and that you’re doing what you’re doing not to impress anyone.
  3. Experiment and play with possibility. It’s easy to dismiss unusual or different solutions which you haven’t tried. People often think of all the possible ways that something won’t work. And they easily dismiss the idea of experimenting. We can’t foretell the future even though many would like to. Simply go forward into it in a creative and exciting new way.
Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Like a Shag on a Rock

“I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind” ~ Albert Einstein

Australian slang can be a complete mystery to people not from there; as with this title. When “shag” is used as a noun, the expression simply means that one is lonely or exposed, seeing as the regular behavior of a shag is to stand on a rock with its wings outstretched to dry off after diving for fish.

In the past week I read two articles that had me rethink the topics of solitude and being alone. In the Northern Hemisphere it’s vacation time. What could be better than an ice-cold beverage and being alone with your thoughts. As it turns out, just about anything. According to research from psychologists at the University of Virginia and Harvard, people would rather do something – even engage in a little masochistic distraction – than do nothing. On average, most respondents said they didn’t enjoy having nothing to do. The study can be found here.

In a Bloomberg article, doctoral student David Reinhard at the University of Virginia stated, “It seems that the mind may want to engage with the external world, even if that engagement involves pain.” He added, “We may seek out technology because entertaining ourselves with only our thoughts is difficult and technology is an easily available alternative.” “But because we often seek out external stimulation from technology we may then lose practice with entertaining ourselves with our thoughts and that in turn makes it more difficult and less enjoyable.”

Although loneliness and solitude are often thought to be the same experience, little could be further the truth. Loneliness manifests itself as a sense of emptiness and isolation while solitude creates a sense of communion within the self. In loneliness we ache. In solitude we feast. In loneliness we have no one. In solitude we are one with the self.

Personally, I’m comfortable being a shag on a rock. I use that space to ask: What’s really important to me? What do I really want? If you are looking for ways to clear out the clutter or the noise and celebrate who you are, here are three simple ideas:

  1. Start a morning ritual. Wake up little earlier and squeeze in some alone time before you start your day. You can meditate, pray, journal, draw. This process can also give you time to focus yourself before the day.
  2. Be your own muse. When you’re alone, you are the only one stopping yourself from doing something. Discover new foods, people, places, cultures. When you’re alone you have more time to create something meaningful. Get inspiration from your alone time!
  3. Hole yourself up. You can do this in your office or at home. Close the door or find quiet space or use headphones with calming music. Let others know to not disturb you. The key is to find a way to shut out the outside world. Then, be at peace with your thoughts.

Hoeing Your Passion Row

 “It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master position.” ~ Rebecca West

Passion, to me, is a vivid word. It conjures many images and is significant in the creation of exceptionalism. Great musicians, stunning artists, gifted athletes, extraordinarily accomplished business people, revered leaders, and compassionate social entrepreneurs (among others) all share the passion trait. They have influenced the world, they’ve stood out, and their achievements are frequently admired.

Yet according to a recent survey, nearly 75 percent of the population do not know what their true passion is. And yes, the word “true” is open to interpretation. Still, to me, this says a lot of people are not doing what they are meant to do. Perhaps this contributes to why there is considerable discontent in society.

Finding one’s true passion is not as simple as it seems. For some it comes easily but for many, it requires some inner reflection (and serious questioning) to identify what you were born to do.

I spent a quarter century working in corporate settings. What I did came easily to me and it yielded a comfortable lifestyle. But as I have shared before, I wasn’t thrilled with what I was doing to earn a living. When I focused on people who were upbeat about their lives (and often their work), I knew I wanted to learn what made them passionate.

Pursuing what you love is great advice but it’s not always a simple exercise. This because it’s a process. For simplicity sake (and to reign in the word count), here are six questions you can ask yourself early in the passion exploration process:

  • What do you find doing to be easy?
  • What do you like to talk about?
  • What lights your inner fire?
  • What puts a smile of your face?
  • What would you do for free? (My favorite question.)
  • What would you regret not having tried?

Many of us have a sense, if not some clarity, about what we love doing. If you’re interested in finding your passion(s), here are four steps you can take:

  1. Talk to people who know you well. They will have insights to help you identify what you most love and do well, naturally. Ask them for their ideas and guidance on what aligns best with their view of your passions.
  2. Start saving money. Try not to let financial pressures dictate your choices. Once you feel strongly that you want to pursue your passion, start saving. A lot. The more you have saved, the less finances will rule your decisions. And the less frightening it will be when you venture outside your financial comfort zone.
  3. Acknowledge epiphanies. Life-changing experiences can present out of the blue. Your passion could be illuminated through major events or in quiet, reflective moments as you ponder change.
  4. Don’t rush or force awareness but when your imagination is sparked, act. Keep your mind open to new ideas that can present simply through new activities and/or everyday interactions.

Positive change can be stressful, even frightening. Consider flowing with the process and experiences. As you hoe your row, your passion will reveal itself – in due course.

Appreciating Health and Years

 “Life is beautiful, as long as it consumes you. When it is rushing through you, destroying you, life is gorgeous, glorious. It’s when you burn a slow fire and save fuel, that life’s not worth having.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

In a recent post I highlighted Ysabel Duron, a news journalist and cancer survivor, as a shining example of someone who has since her diagnosis, embarked on an encore (aged 60+) career. Little slows Ysabel down because she has utter clarity about her mission and greater purpose in life.

Cancer. It’s a ravaging disease. Many of us have friends and family who have battled this scourge. I came across the following (author unknown) piece a while back. I’m sharing it to heighten awareness of cancer or any other crushing affliction.

The Chicago airport was crowded especially downstairs where the United commuter gates are. Sitting to my right a few seats away a man in his seventies was doing business. From what was spoken on several calls he apparently worked for a grocery supply company.

The last call the gentleman made started with “Hi, this is ________ and I am calling to get the results of my tests from last week. Yes, sure I can hold.” He sat quietly and until he spoke I did not know someone else had picked up on the other end.

“Oh, that bad, huh. That’s not the news I had hoped for” was what I heard in a much more deadpan voice than the up-tempo salesman I had been listening to previously. In an even softer voice came, “Yes, I can come see the doctor next week. How soon does he want me to begin chemo again? I’m hoping I won’t have to start until after Christmas.” There was a pause as he listened followed by “I understand you’re just the nurse and can’t tell me. It’s just not the news I was hoping for.” Then came another pause before he said, “Wednesday at 2pm? Yes, I will be there. Thank you.”

He ended the call and just sat there staring down at the floor for what seemed like five minutes. As he raised his head up, he made eye contact with me and his moist eyes met mine. Without a single word, I smiled and he smiled a half-smile back. There was nothing else I could do for this perfect stranger who I imagine had just been told his cancer was back.

I won’t forget this experience. I will remember how good my life is and how blessed I am to have good health. My momentary airport friend will go through the weeks to come, facing the specter of ill-health and the possibility of impending death. I hope for the very best for him and owe a debt of gratitude for being accidentally included in his life for a few minutes. I have so much to be thankful for!

If you and your loved ones are blessed with good health, then the prospect of aging might be something you want to reconsider embracing. Ysabel Duron and others who have lived 60+ years know that now, especially now, is the time to appreciate that:

  • You know that diet is a lifestyle, not a temporary restriction on what you eat.
  • You know that people are more important than things and you now prefer to collect good people in your life.
  • You no longer take bucket lists seriously because you live every day fully.
  • You totally get the value of having kind people in you life.
  • You are okay spending time alone; in fact, you prefer it sometimes.
  • You still use the phone to talk to friends.
  • You have learned how to weed out the users, the time-sucks and the emotionally needy from your life.
  • You understand that being a good listener may be better than being a good talker.
  • You know that elders aren’t the only ones you can learn from; younger people have a perspective worth being open to.
  • You truly understand other people and have gained a real appreciation for all types of personalities.

And… you can wear whatever you choose. 🙂

 

Contributions on Two Fronts

 

“Simply being with other people who are also seekers and who are involved in the same quest you are is very meaningful.” ~ Dan Wakefield

The two most recent segments of the Awakening to Awareness Radio Show featured guests who are committed to contributing to community and on a broader scale, society.

Executive Coach, Tony Mayo, recently authored, “The Courage to Be in Community.” His book served as the underlying focus for our interview/conversation. Tony shared his distinctions between courage and bravery, and authenticity versus genuineness. We talked about the significance in communities of five “Cs”: courage, connection, choice, compassion and conversation. And we explored relationships, acting from the heart, vulnerability and “costumes” – all in the context of community.

Tony’s book addresses two overarching issues: How do we balance the universal human needs of authenticity and acceptance in our personal lives? and, How might we foster communities where others have the courage to be truly themselves with us? Tony’s one unifying purpose: to promote workplaces of humanity and prosperity where people can be productive and satisfied.

When journalist and cancer survivor Ysabel Duron turned the camera on herself, she launched an encore career that shines a spotlight on cancer for Latino communities throughout the United States. In September 2003 she founded Latinas Contra Cancer (LCC), an organization committed to educating, supporting, and providing essential services to low-income Spanish speakers suffering from the disease.

In 2013, at the age of 66, Ysabel was named the encore.org Purpose Prize winner for her extraordinary contributions in encore (aged 60+) careers. Encore.org is at the vanguard of a large and growing movement of individuals in their encore years, helping to solve many of the toughest problems facing our nation and the world. Immersed in her work and cause, Ysabel explains her utter clarity about greater purpose in life.

Full bios for Mayo and Duron, along with show podcasts, can be accessed and downloaded via this link. Consider listening and being enlightened.

Bridging a Significant Gap

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh.” ~ Pema Chodron

There is a wealth of difference between knowing and doing. It’s what separates performance and success from wishful thinking. Generations have been surrounded with amazing knowledge and possibilities for personal growth. Whether it is time, focus, or not understanding, the application and use of knowledge and learning is one of the hardest parts of change. We read, listen (though often, not enough), and learn, but it doesn’t seem to make it into our reality. So all the knowledge and possibilities in the world are useless if we don’t cross the bridge from knowing to living.

To grow from where we are to where we want to be, we need to bridge these gaps. To do this and expand the possibilities of living better begins with awareness of what brings us satisfaction now and what would bring us more. Clarifying what is creating the gap between where we are and where we want to begins with crossing the bridge. And honest awareness makes this possible.

From expanded awareness we have to spend time and energy to explore the concepts, ideas, and strategies that can help us cross the bridge and close the gap. We need to reflect, consider, and imagine how new ideas or actions could change us. This is the new knowledge and if we can’t see the knowledge expressed in our reality, we’re likely to remain in the gap.

A personal experience: Over time I realized that I had accumulated considerable knowledge. I knew a lot. I was able to enlighten others to possibilities that could change their lives. But I wasn’t feeling that much better about my own life. I knew how I wanted to live, yet I wasn’t living it. Thus began a long process of attempting to integrate what I had come to know about how I wanted to live my life into actually ‘being’ that on a regular basis. There were changes I needed to make; tough decisions I had to face and; tension between who I was and who I knew I could and wanted to be. This process continues to this day as I try to live as my most authentic self.

With clarity and new knowledge, followed by exploring our possibilities, we can make choices. We only have to choose an action, a pattern, or an opportunity to make change. Keep repeating the new choice and the change gets easier. It won’t be long before the new knowledge is the old knowledge and more possibilities for growth are recognized and, voila, a new gap appears. Every day becomes a new adventure in expanding and discovering as bridges get crossed.

Here are three possible ways in which to cross from wanting and knowing something to living it:

  1. Plan for tomorrow but live for today. All positive actions are undertaken in the present moment. Little steps each day give us a slight edge and before you know it your goals are in sight, the achieved, then surpassed. Before you realize, people will say you’ve changed and you’ll know how you did and why.
  2. Develop an endless curiosity about our world. Become an explorer and view the world as your jungle. Stop and observe all the little things as unique events. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and experience as many different environments and sensations as possible. Why not?
  3. Rise. Sometimes you don’t achieve. Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. Sometimes you just don’t feel like continuing on anymore. So what do you do? Rise. There’s a lesson to be learned in everything and sometimes that lesson is to cross another bridge and engage in a beautiful comeback.

Pleasing Perspectives?

“There is no burnt rice to a hungry person.” ~ Philippine Proverb

In this image, what is the orange’s perspective? Maybe it’s not! Life is all about how we look at it. This sounds and perhaps is, cliché.

In my coaching work, we widen the aperture to consider expanded views and we search for a larger number of things that may be possible in the future. I encourage clients to visualize panoramas when exploring; to cast their consideration nets wide.

You and I have a wide range of perspectives, including: friendship, politics, entertainment, fashion, spirituality, money, laws, history, culture, death, etc. Perspective is seen and experienced through a ‘now’ lens, yet flexibility with perspective can frame new possibilities for moving forward. When one changes their mindset, they often free themselves to step into new spaces with new perspectives.

Perspectives can be fixed or malleable. They can take the form of ideas, beliefs or opinions. They can shift views from the negative to the positive or vice versa. They might change tomorrow or they may forever stay the same. Two perspectives on life that I hold are: 1) Most people aren’t against you, they’re for themselves; and 2) Go where you are celebrated, not where you’re tolerated.

We know that how we view people affects relationship dynamics. And our behaviors and reactions are often rooted in our perspectives. Yet how we act toward others can be modified. If you are interested in altering select perspectives, here are three steps you can take:

  1. Assess what fact(s) you are unclear about or uncomfortable with and how it is impacting your life. Ask yourself, what view do I need to change? What do I want my changed perspective to be and to yield?
  2. Explore your strengths, personal gifts (skills, talents), and potential – because each of us has these qualities. Ask, how do I use these to create and align with new, desired perspectives?
  3. Discover and get clear about what you want to change. Ask, how am I prepared to effect action(s) to get me to where I want to be and; What kind of story do I want to tell a year from now about my shift in perspective(s)?

I’ll close on an amusing note. The following image, is self-explanatory. It’s a humorous example of a geographic perspective… from an Australian who has never been to the United States. Once he travels to the States and becomes a bit more familiar with what lies where, he may change his perspective. 🙂

Exciting News!

“It is not until you awaken and become fully present that you will realize that you have not been present. It is not until you awaken that you will realize you have been asleep, dreaming that you are awake.” ~ Leonard Jacobson

 

From my desk, with clarity and a vision, I announce the debut of my Internet Radio Show, Awakening to Awareness. Broadcasting live on the RockStar Radio Network http://rockstarradionetwork.com , it will air every Tuesday evening from 8:00pm to 9:00pm Eastern (U.S.) time. You can learn more about the show by visiting the network website or by “tuning in.” If the time slot isn’t convenient, you can listen to full podcasts (which will be available on my show web page) any time, for up to one year post-show.

Awakening to Awareness intends to provide “chronologically gifted” people (a.k.a. Baby Boomers) with timely information as they approach or are transitioning into life’s Third Act. By focusing on passions, possibilities, and purpose, listeners will learn ways in which to embrace choice, gain clarity about their intentions, and shift their life from traditional measures of success to one of greater significance.

Excepting its debut (when, as the host, I’ll ‘fly solo’), each week will feature a guest who will share wisdom with the target audience – Baby Boomers. They may be a generational resource, a subject matter expert or someone who offers products, services and/or information of value to this cohort.

I’d love to have you listen to the show, even if you’re not a boomer. There will be plenty to share and learn. Equally important, your show feedback and topical suggestions will be most welcomed.

Image Isn’t Everything

“Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good.” ~ Alan Cohen

I’m opening with this quote for two reasons: 1) I love it! and; 2) It is the most frequently linked/copied image from any of my posts.

Back in mid-June I wrote a piece about Opinion versus Judgment . In the spirit of that post, I’d like to express an opinion about being authentic: Let’s stop all of the “image management.” It’s exhausting, stressful and the exact opposite of authenticity. I have been there and let me reassure you that trying so very hard to be liked, loved, forgiven and accepted, when you are not being authentic yourself, only leads to discouragement and depletion of self.

Let’s first recognize that an authentic voice is that quiet, persistent messenger who speaks to your intuition, telling you what is right for you and what you really need. Fairly simple, right? Yet being authentic means being yourself 24/7 and sometimes that isn’t easy. While it may be easy to stay in your comfort zone, finding the courage to be who you really are (I know, I emphasize this often), will help you realize your true potential. So how will you know you are being authentic? You will feel happy, expanded, optimistic, and relaxed. Whereas feeling restricted or contracted is a sign that you are shutting down and not being as authentic as you can be.

Being authentic begins from an assumption that many things are fake or not entirely real, genuine, sincere, or original. What we value in western culture and ourselves reveals much about our lifestyle, marketing, and communication attitudes. What we demonstrate in our ‘being’ speaks volumes about our alignment with values. But there is another facet that we overlook when we consider being authentic and that is intimacy.

Where authenticity is an ability to accurately share what is going on in our hearts and minds, intimacy is the level to which we share those things. It has to do with how far into our hearts and minds we let other people see. Authenticity is about clarity and definition. Intimacy is about depth.

A challenge, then, to being authentic is not understanding the layers involved in getting to know people. Most of us have layers; it’s how we protect and honor ourselves. But it’s the layers (the masks that hide the true self underneath) that seem inauthentic. Foundational to my work is establishing trust and intimacy with a client. Discovering what ‘lies beneath’ is something one has to want and another has to earn the right to see. When permission is given to peel back layers, exploring who the authentic you is – almost always yields new awareness, greater freedom, and a more inspired you.

So how can you begin to be your even more ‘authentic self?’ Here are three ideas:

  • Be a friend in real-time. Rarely does intimacy occur on Facebook or Twitter. If there is no face-to-face interaction in your relationships, intimacy doesn’t have space to grow. Go ahead and check with your friends in the digital space, but also create time to be a friend in real life. Invest in your true self, not in your cyber self.
  • Disregard the cynics. This is an important factor in being true to yourself. Being you is much more attractive than creating a false image so others are satisfied.
  • Align with yourself. In which direction are your feet walking? Are they walking toward what is passionate in your heart? If they’re not, can you justify why?

As long as you keep being you, as long as you keep staying true to yourself and who you are, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. What matters is that you are living in your truth and the people who need you will find you. And you will find the people you need.