As I prepare to teach a 4-week learning circle entitled “Nurturing Your Feminine Leadership Journey” I realize that I have done what I can. Now it is time to surrender the results, and become (and remain) present with the participants.
I may have just a couple of students, but I am committed to making the course valuable and holding the space for growth. So I will “preach what I practice” and stay present, learn and discover what the students need most, and respond accordingly.
As some point in the process, we have done what we can. We only control how we prepare, how we show up, and our attitude. We do not control the result, so at this point, it is best to surrender it and enjoy the experience.
***This edited blog was originally posted in February 2018***
When we get to February I always feel a surge of optimism. Spring is not so far away now, and those of us who get a little “cabin fever” this time of the year start noticing more light in the evenings.
In February of 2017 I started a habit of daily meditation. I had meditated before that occasionally. But last year, I committed to a minimum of 5 minutes per day. It was a do-able goal, and I count my yoga sessions as part of my practice, so with 3 classes a week, that made the goal easier as well. In February of 2019 I will celebrate 2 years of daily meditation.
It has changed my life, particularly since I have struggled with a.d.d. in the past. Meditation has helped me calm my mind and become less reactive to the “bouncing” thoughts. I can observe them and not follow them. I notice when I am caught in a story that I am spinning, and start to question whether that is even true. I hold less judgment about my mind, and more curiosity.
To those who have been thinking about starting a practice, I encourage you to start small. Literally commit to only 2 minutes the first time, focus on your breathing. It may not be easy at first! Add a minute a day, and see how this changes the quality of your days overall. It may take a few weeks before you really start to notice benefits, so give it at least 30 days.
People used to tell me I needed to have at least 15 minutes. That was a barrier. I could not imagine how I would fit that in every day. Now I average a lot more than that. It is not always easy, and sometimes I feel “too restless” to want to do it. But those are the times I am most likely to benefit, I now realize.
Last fall I read Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body (Goleman and Davidson). For a clinical researcher, I loved learning about experiments, past and present to demonstrate the value of meditation. The authors actually critique some of their early studies, the bias and the lack of proper controls. They review the field and conclude that, even with some flawed studies in the beginning, reliable science is beginning to emerge on the benefits of meditation.
For those of you who have a regular practice, I would love to hear how you got started. As I like to say about sleep, doing more of it is like a super-power! If only I had known when I was younger. I know now. So I will continue to encourage people to try it, and see what works for them.
I spent a lovely afternoon with 14 women who joined us for the workshop “Embody the Leader Within You.” Despite the below-zero temperatures, and a chilly meeting room, this really warmed my heart. The discussions were robust and engaged, and everyone participated actively, which is exactly what I’d hoped.
There was such positive energy in the room, and I believe some fruitful connections were made. I got good feedback after the session, even though 90 minutes can go so fast it is hard to cover everything. We were able to hit the high points. One student who talked with me afterward said we offer a 3-session series on the topic… indeed!
It was so great to know that the topic resonated for this group. I am grateful for how it proceeded, and the opportunity to meet women with such different experiences, to explore how to empower ourselves and other women further. I shall let this experience “sit” with me for a couple of days to consider the feedback and how it will inform my upcoming 4-week course offering.
For now, I feel really happy with the effort and the participation. I am on the right track and with practice, I shall iterate and improve what I offer each time. I am breathing out a big sigh of relief and gratitude for a successful first “pilot” of this type of workshop. Onward!
I have made a big decision about what I will do for self-development this year, and I am excited to commit to it. Y’all know I am a big fan of yoga. I practice typically 4-6 times a week for an hour or more each session.
Yoga and meditation have changed my brain. These practices have transformed the way I experience my life. They have helped me live with more intention, get grounded in my own body, and helped me manage my mind and my emotions. Though I still have an active (and what I call “playful”) mind, it is far less scattered and anxious than it used to be. For that I am intensely grateful.
The 200-hour yoga teacher training involves seven monthly 3-day weekend all-day sessions over a period of 6 months starting in March. Taking this study to a deeper level with Yoga North after many years of consistent practice is exactly right for me now.
I am designing a leadership training program for women that will involve meditation and/or yoga as core practices. I really cannot overstate the benefit in terms of self-awareness, self-compassion, intuition and wisdom about our bodies and minds.
The application is going in today. I am committed!
Is there anything you have been considering that you are getting serious about in 2019?
Happy last day of 2018! Hope the next year brings you love and great new adventures!
I spent some time Tuesday morning listening to podcasts with writers. In the meantime, I dusted off the boxes in my office and decided to put some order to my journals. As some of you know, writing for me is somewhat a compulsion. It is a non-optional part of my daily practice.
I hand write my journal. I am old-fashioned that way. The ideas that pour forth with a nice smooth pen on paper seem qualitatively different than what I write when I sit down to the keyboard. More raw. Less pre-meditated. Just me.
My intended audience for these journals is just me. I made my college roommate promise me that if anything happened to me she would have the journals burned without reading them.
I was a little embarrassed when I started sorting the piles of journals into decades. The sheer volume of the once-blank books that span the last 26 years astonished me. Think of all the wasted paper! All those poor trees have been sacrificed for my greedy writing habit…Then I was kind of amazed. I started to wonder about the periods when I had been faithful to journal at least weekly, or other periods when journals were either lost or not kept.
What happened to 2008-2009? No journals from that time. Mysterious.
Did I start journal-writing prior to 1992, the year I left home to go to Swarthmore College? I have a cute little lock & key style diary from when I was about 7 years old, a that I probably got from my Mom.
I decided to document via photos the journals I have kept. This is as much to illustrate my insanity as to be able to let go of these books at some point, as per my desire to live a more minimalist life.
My collection from 2018 includes 15 blank books (so far, since I just started #16 today). That is really embarrassing. But I suppose in a way, it is something I can embrace. I write. My days flow better when I write each day. I also seem to have less insomnia when I let it all out rather than letting it simmer.
When then if I want to work on a big project, a book idea? Do I keep writing? Do I perhaps use my journal as the “reward system” for after I’ve gotten my daily pages and work done?
Clearly it’s a habit that’s not going away. It feels like a lifeline to me, and I am sure I would need to spend a LOT more on therapy if I were NOT writing each day. Come to think of it, the gaps in my “years” of journals actually correspond to episodes of major transitions and/or clinical depression in my life: 1995, 2002, 2009.
Wow. Sh*t. Ages 21, 28 and 35. It seems I was due for an episode in 2016 at age 42, but it never arrived. I am giving credit to my consistent pile of journals and some proactive therapy. When you have tasted that flavor of darkness more than once you sometimes recognize the signs before it arrives again. Self-care is now a religion for me.
I told and AirBnB host back in September: I write because I must. Indeed. Apologies to the trees that sacrificed their lives for my mental health. And everlasting gratitude to you.
Lately I have had a stronger inclination to blog less often and work on a bigger project. I hesitate to write this here, because it feels a little raw and personal, but I have book aspirations. Some other part of me says, “don’t we all?” This community will understand, surely.
Ever since talking with a potential client about ghost-writing a book he wanted to work on, I started questioning what direction my writing will take me. I feel so fortunate to have worked for three different clients on a few writing and research projects in the past month.
I can now claim an identity as a “professional writer” in getting paid to actually do this thing I love. It felt good to know that this daily blog practice has led to a portfolio of writing samples, several of which may have been instrumental to landing the contracts.
And now I find myself with stirrings toward working on a book idea. Titles come to me sometimes while I allow for quiet reflection. I turn stories around in my head to figure out how they might resonate, if I can find something of value in them. I think I may owe it to myself to figure out whether I can write something bigger and more substantial.
When I considered the idea of working for a client for a fairly low dollar figure to write his book, my response was: my time would be more valuable working on my own book! Then I thought: why not? I do have to earn some income, and I hope to keep a pipeline of projects going. But why not set aside the time, blog a little less often, and really invest in that bigger project?
Big projects feel daunting to me. I remember how hard it was to complete my master’s thesis, and that was only 40 pages long. Something deep within me beckons me to work on it though, to set aside regular time to turn my attention there.
I feel I have been distracting myself with little things, afraid of getting lost in one big project. At the same time, some “gear” clicked into place when I heard myself ponder the question, and I felt excited by the idea. So I have not totally committed yet, but I am imagining ways I could make it happen. I am considering how to block off daily and weekly time chunks for tapping that inner well and seeing what comes of it.
Do I have the endurance for that longer game? We will see. It seems a pity not to make the attempt.