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Image by cambiodefractal via Flickr

It hit me all at once just as I was about to leave my office and head to yoga class. I heard a coach say on a group call that the best thing she did to cure the part of her who was depression-prone, and perfectionist was to keep surviving failures. She realized that the only way to heal the part of herself that was so fearful of failure was to actually “fail” and survive it. Over and over again.

What I heard in these words was a whole new way to look at the word “failure”. I’ve always had a hard time answering the question, “What is your biggest failure?” As I look back at my life, I’ve been awash in so many brightly lit success stories – the kinds that bring attention from other people’s parents, and disdain from the other kids in school whose parents wished they could be “just like me”. It was enough bright light and attention to overshadow any of the areas in which I might have been failing, and it took up enough of my time that I never had a chance to try the things I might have actually failed at.

In short, my life was set up so that I had no option to fail.

I stayed very busy and worked very hard on a few things that my parents had decided were the most important for me. And I followed the rules. I did my work. I did not fail.

This might sound like every ambitious parent’s dream for their child. But from the perspective of an adult who developed from this kind of environment and “succeeded” at fulfilling that dream, I’m seeing that there is a lot more to life beyond “living the dream”, especially when it’s not your own. Read the rest of this entry »

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“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend four days with your family of origin.” – Ram Dass

Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in many different directions. Before I blame this feeling on the imminent arrival of my parents to stay with me and observe my current life, I’m finally sitting down to write about (and perhaps discover with more clarity) why.

After a totally blissful July of following the music that was flowing from me – bringing with it new people, new places, new experiences, and new ways of being seen – I entered August with a renewed sense of awareness that I needed to be “working” on something. “My newfound sense of freedom and joy could not possibly be the truth of my life experience”, said an ancient part of my brain. “Life just can’t be that easy for you!”

I recognized those thoughts as ones I could choose to believe or not. I saw myself as an observer. I talked it out with my coaching buddy. She reminded me of how far I have indeed come on my path toward the Core of Peace I now know is my birthright and within me at all times.

And still, as I drive from one place to the next – from home to studio to the next place on my agenda – I can’t help but feel scattered. Like my energy is more diffuse than I would like it to be. I notice that my business card has four identities – musician, life coach, writer, and speaker. I now notice that this is symbolic of the fact that in my life I have never felt that it was enough for me to be just one thing – namely, me. I had compartments where I kept my identities and developed them diligently, but rarely did the boundaries of these containers spill into one another. Read the rest of this entry »

Ever since the movie When Harry Met Sally came out, I’ve pretty much believed that men and women can never really be “friends”. Not when one or both of them is not in a committed relationship. It’s just an unnatural state of being for both species, so why do we force it?

Facebook is a wonderful example of this. I’d prefer not to have a list of hundreds of so-called “Friends”. I know that most of the people on my list are acquaintances at best, and many of them, now that I use my Facebook account for promotional purposes, are just the product of friendly social encounters. I like them, I support them, I wish them well, but I know very little about them personally and I do not need to find out more.

Last night I had one of these friendly social encounters at a new venue I was performing at with my band. We are in a phase of doing a lot of legwork to show up at open mics, form new relationships, and scrounge up opportunities for ourselves to play for more audiences. I am in awe of the courage and talent that is showing up at these coffee shops, bistros, bars, and other locations in the community where I have never had a reason to “hang out”. Read the rest of this entry »

“But now that I am in love

with a place that doesn’t care

how I look and if I am happy,

happy is how I look and that’s all.”

– from Fleur Adcock, “Weathering”

Now that I am living from a place I call my Core of Peace, I see that it’s the very simple things that have arrived in my life that bring me all I need to stay connected to that sense of peace. Simple things like the feeling of a warm, furry cat. Things like full-bellied, out-loud, no-holds-barred laughter. Things like a scoop of ice cream enjoyed while sitting in the two best orange Adirondack chairs in the world. Things like the pure flavors of a good piece of meat prepared lovingly and unfussily.

These were things I had long ago written off as the childish or plebeian pleasures of someone I tried hard to “outgrow”. I thought that as my sophisticated pedigree accumulated items on its list, that my tastes and bodily sensations of joy should transform and complicate accordingly. Read the rest of this entry »

A video with my initial thoughts on a topic that I feel will become a vast area of exploration and focus in my work.

For part two of the video, visit this link.

And for a written expansion on the ideas in this video, see my blog post at this link.

1. What delights you and brings you alive?
2. What breaks your heart?
3. What does healing look like?
4. What one life-affirming action will you do beautifully and consistently, with love?

These four questions, conceived by my Real Speaking teacher Gail Larsen, powerfully and succinctly capture the process of life coaching and personal transformation. They go to the heart of our own truth, and call us to look with clear eyes at what is etched in our souls.

For most of us, there is at least one of these questions we’ve been avoiding for most of our lives. It could be any one of them. Perhaps we have not allowed ourselves to want what we want, to feel the joy of being fully alive. Or maybe we have masked ourselves with a facade of “perkiness” and images of “happiness” which belie the deep caverns of unexpressed pain in our hearts. Even if we have done the work of facing our deepest truths, we can get lost there if we never look beyond these current realities into a vision of what our lives could be. And finally, all the dreaming and scheming in the world is no substitute for taking actions which are aligned with the truths we have uncovered and pointed in the direction of our brightest visions. Read the rest of this entry »

Last night was the final Tuesday evening class for our cohort at CIIS. Next week will be the final Monday morning call for our Martha Beck Life Coach Training. The end of the training period is nearing. And I’m left feeling, “Just as I’m starting to get the hang of this and it’s all sinking in, it’s over!”

Of course, this is just the beginning. That’s what feels so delicious about it. At the same time, I want more. I want the community to continue, the relationships to deepen, the sharing to become even richer.

At other times when I’ve approached a graduation from school, I thought, “Yay! I’m done!”. This is the first time in my life where I’ve actually wanted the learning to continue. It’s not that I long for a student’s life. I actually am looking forward to putting this knowledge into practice in the real world. I’m eager to find ways to share what I’ve experienced and to be an example of transformation for others to witness. Read the rest of this entry »

Tonight we had an amazing lecture at CIIS from Erik Larsen, the creator of the CymaScope – a research tool, analogous to the telescope and microscope, used to “make sound visible”. The science behind the effects of sound on human bodies and human consciousness is both ancient and in its infancy. In some ways the study of sound has been going on since the beginning of human civilization. Perhaps sound is what gave birth to the universe. But we still have only rudimentary models for understanding what we all know intuitively or through experience to be the powerful, holistic effects of sound on the human body as a system.

These and other mysteries are what bent our minds tonight as we watched astounding images of different sounds transduced through water and visualized in still photos and high-definition video. Read the rest of this entry »

“Today I wake up empty and frightened. Don’t go to the door of the study and read a book. Instead, take down the dulcimer, let the beauty of what you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground, there are a thousand ways to go home again.” – Rumi

Last night I was reminded of the importance of ritual. There is a reason that the word “practice” implies some regularity and frequency at which you revisit a set of actions repeated in order to bring you into the present moment in your body. There is a difference between “getting stuff done” and “practicing”. I prefer to practice.

I went into the recording studio after missing my usual session last week. My shoulder had been feeling tweaky and I decided to let it rest. It was a great decision, and my body thanked me for it. I was fresh and actually craving the session last night a little bit as I walked in. I could feel my body getting into the mode of listening and playing as soon as I entered the studio space. I knew where to put my violin case, my coat, my bag, my water bottle. The tracks were already queued up on the recording system. I put the headphones on.

And it flowed. It was such a joy! I wasn’t trying to DO anything. I was just grateful to be back in my practice. See, I’m remembering that practice is the stuff of life. As a violin teacher, I spent hours answering questions about “how to get someone to practice”. In that process of trying to explain what practice was, I got lost. I got steered into other people’s reward-and-punishment systems, bribery tactics, making up false promises, all in an attempt to portray “practicing” – which was perceived as a necessary “evil” – as something palatable.

The truth is that the soul craves practice. Read the rest of this entry »

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