Tag: growth

Embracing the shadows: Learning how to hear the “No” as much as the “Yes”

I’m a firm believer in the intuition and truth that we get from our bodies. I teach my clients to focus below the chin when making important decisions. For me, the truth lies at the solar plexis. Others find it closer to the heart.
Speaking with my book club the other night about important life decisions, I shared that I have had many decisions in my life that I knew to be true and never questioned. My body told me so and I never waivered. But then there’s a whole other set of decisions where my body doesn’t tell me.
I’ve been mulling over that information, and while in a twisty, long pose in yoga this morning I had an aha moment.
I realized that all of the decisions that I say “I knew for sure. My body told me”—they were all happy decisions. Knowing my husband was the person I should marry. Knowing what schools to attend. What job to accept. Even what house to buy. They felt “right.”
The decisions where I feel less certain are the darker ones. Not the “Hell yes!” life choices, but the firm “No.” The ending of relationships. The creation of boundaries. The times to leave rather than stay. To wait and rest rather than push forward. To quit.
My inner critic has a field day with me when the decisions are about the darker pieces of life. I believe the importance of embracing our shadows. That life is both the sun and the moon. The darkness and the light.
My body DOES tell me lots of information about these darker decisions— but I resist it. I can hear myself say, in a voice that must be a three-year-old version of myself, “But I don’t want to.”
Bravery is easy on the fun side but hell on the dark side. I don’t want to disappoint. Hurt other’s feelings. Give up. Be a quitter. Take the easy way out.
I am learning just how much I resist the tough stuff. I prefer to turn a “no” into a “yes.” If there’s a problem, I will work harder. Dig deeper. Fix it. Taking a brave leap is my superpower.
I see the limits of this strategy as a middle-aged runner. “Push through” was always my motto. These days, pushing harder means an injury. Learning to be softer. To know when to say “Enough” is my work.
NOT stopping, walking away, setting the boundary—it just delays the healing. I believe the Oprah metaphor that the universe throws a pebble at us to notice what we need to do. And then a rock. And eventually it’s a big brick toward our head. And all the while the resistance to these messages are loaded with guilt, grief, doubt.
Being brave means sitting still. Moving through the darkness back into the light. We expend enormous energy trying to stay in the same place, even when it’s time to move on. As with all life coaching work, noticing our blocks is the first step toward choosing new ways to live.
So here’s to the moon and the shadows. May they hold me as much as the sun and the light.

Creativity with structure? Or let it flow?

A recent article getting a lot of attention talks about how some people may thrive on a lack of balance and mindfulness. It suggest that perhaps being mindful and calm just isn’t for everyone.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner, an acclaimed writer for the New York Times, speaks to the need to hide in the bathroom to puzzle out a piece of her novel during a family dinner. Of juggling many balls at once to get it all done. She talks about NOT letting the big idea float away because she is trying to lie in savasana in yoga and empty her mind.

I agree with the author on her premises of how to work as a creative and get her writing done. When working with my writing clients, I often say that it is necessary to ride the creative wave when it hits. When everything is clicking and the words are pouring onto the page, clear the decks of all else and let that flow happen. Hide in the bathroom when the inspiration hits. Cancel plans and let the house get messy when inspiration is visiting.

In such waves of inspiration, sitting still is excruciating. Clearing my mind–not helpful.

It’s important to realize, however, that creative juices don’t flow evenly and always. I find that they come in waves. Ride them when they are there. But when the flow disappears, it’s time to rest and recharge and clean up our lives to prepare for the next influx.

Balance rarely means doing everything all the time in equal portions. Rather, it means that over the course of a bigger span of time, we are connecting with all of the pieces that matter to us. I can be a super mom for a week, and then a writer for another week. Can I be a super mom and an inspired writer all at once in the same day? Not very often, and if I do, my energy will be zapped for days.

When I do go on a creativity binge and write until my fingers are sore, I have to recover with sleep, self-care, and yoga. I need to recharge my inner battery by shutting off the phone and the email and the to-do list.

Mindfulness is very important in the times when we are stuck in critical pieces of our lives be it work, creativity, relationships or otherwise. It is an important tool when we have a decision to make and need to discern the best decision. Clearing of one’s mind is not necessarily getting rid of all thoughts. It is getting rid of the chatter. The negative tapes. The inner critic that sits in our head and judges us (and is NOT us). It is listening for the inner voice of truth and wisdom—finding the important voice by turning down the noise. THAT voice is where all of the creativity comes from.

Coaching provides a way to help us to find that inner zen. Mindfulness alone cannot find our own blindspots. Partnering with a trained professional can help to create the structures and habits that can restore our energy and point us back to our purpose when we are stuck, lost, or just moving in too many directions at once. It can also help us to rebound into those flows when life seems filled with creativity and joy.

So yes, chaos might reign and be healthy in the good times of abundance. But in the droughts of creativity, of energy, of love—coaching, mindfulness, body movement, rituals and prayer, quiet moments—all of these skills can give us healing. Can give us comfort. And can help us to find our way back to our purpose so that joy and inspiration can flow again.

Glow and Sparkle this New Year

I have set my intentions for 2019. The word, “Shine” captures my intentions for the upcoming year. I’m hoping to stoke the fires of my inner light to keep it bright enough that it can fire my soul and inspire others as well.

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With the inner light ready to shine, I thought about how I might shine. I can GLOW. Emit a steady and solid presence of positive energy that is enough to warm my heart and be noticeable to others. A glow feels like a steady presence of warmth and encouragement. A regular level of being a source of inspirations to myself and to others.

Glow comes from loving ourselves. Keeping our batteries charged is self care. When we have enough love within ourselves to glow, we can inspire others, as well as attract others who value our energy. But the starting point is how we treat ourselves. Believing we are worthy of being lit from within.

I learned from 2018 that I have to make sure my soul’s batteries are always charged sufficiently. We seem to glorify exhaustion in our culture. We even connect loving others with giving of ourselves to the point that we have nothing left within. I’ve been called selfish for saying that I needed to pause and restore myself before I could help others. Because I know if I try to serve others from a place of energy emptiness, that’s a recipe for bitterness, meltdown, exhaustion, and transferring my negativity to the very person that I was trying to help. If I find my batteries too low, I need to say “no” to anything extra until I am recharged.

This glow business seemed to feel just right as a goal for 2019. Until I saw a little girl strut across a room, showing off her sparkly gold boots. She was striding right through Quaker meeting (my version of church). She walked on her heels, toes in the air, with a swivel in her step. She was utterly full of sass and spirit.

This kid SPARKLED. With a joy that bordered on the edge of daring. So full of herself that she might cause a stir. Ruffle some feathers. Risky and bold and brilliant. She was so clear about her inner shine, it exuded from her.

To fully embrace the biggest version of myself, I need to sparkle. Lean into the brave, bold, badass version of living.

The glow and the sparkle. Like the yin and the yang. The calm and steady with the explosive joy. Next year, I wish for both.

Ready to build your vision for the new year? Contact me at dana@danamitra.net to get started.

Hooked on forgiveness. Released by closure.

Forgiveness and closure. These two of our toughest challenges intertwined.

Not forgiving only hurts me. Forgiveness is self love. And it is one of the hardest acts to fully give ourselves over to doing.

It can feel worse when we have an awareness of the need to forgive, but still cannot let go.

But it’s hard to unhook. Pema Chodron calls it shenpa—when emotionally we are triggered and feel ourselves closing down.  I envision a fish hook that has lured me in. The barb of the hook twists me around and around. The more I try, the worse I’m caught.

I am aware enough to see that I struggle. And then I get mad at myself that I can’t let go. It seems like others are so much better at forgiveness than me. I want to let things roll of my back. Look forward at the light. But when I spend my energy resisting a negative force, I feed it more. Such heaviness. Then I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I’m still hooked.

Closure is related to forgiveness. Yet it feels more tangible to me. I feel more agency with the idea of closure. I can take my power back. I can step away from a dysfunctional space where I’ve gotten lost in the abyss. The power is in the decision that I alone get to make.

Glennon Doyle Melton nails it when she said: “If you keep reaching back to a toxic relationship don’t pretend it’s ‘closure’ you want. Calling one more time is not a need for closure — it’s a need for one more fix — it’s a sign of drama addiction. Detox by moving forward, not back. You don’t ‘get’ closure. You decide: It’s closed.”

How do I know it is closed? That fish hook is gone. An interaction won’t leave me raw and bloody. The fear of further wounding is gone.

I can love someone. Be loved by someone. But that doesn’t mean that person should be in my life.  As a friend and former coach of mine taught me, I yearn for loved ones who love me in a way that I can’t process as love. It doesn’t register. Even when they intend it.

When I finally believed that possibility recently,  a deep sigh came from deep within me. A sigh that I’ve come to recognize as the way that I am allowing my body to relax. To let down my defenses. It lets me know that I’m ready for closure.

If I can see my wound as a disconnect rather than an intentional act, I might be able to access sorrow rather than rage. Maybe even lean toward compassion. I can choose to close the wound. No desire to retort, reengage, to wound back. Nothing to anticipate.

And maybe through closure I can lean into forgiveness. Because I know that forgiveness will set me free.

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Start the new year with intention. Clear the year before. Joyfully plan for the most a year of expansion and awe. Join us in New Year Jump Start. Just $49 to ensure you can join us, and you can bring a friend along too.

Charge your batteries before the feast

The holidays can be a time that social anxieties and triggers flare all over the place. Sitting next to Uncle John with opposing political views at Thanksgiving dinner. Social obligations that make us uneasy. Lots and lots of things “to do.”

When we don’t prepare for these moments ahead of time, we often numb ourselves throughout. We drink too much wine. We eat too much turkey and pie.

The numbing tends to make us feel worse.  It further drains our batteries when we are already low.  We check out emotionally. Or explode. Awkward happens.

How can we avoid this damaging cycle? We need to prepare AHEAD of time for the moments that we know are coming.

Take the time before the crazy times begin to remind yourself of the habits that truly renew you.  Stick to what recharges your batteries so that you have the capacity to navigate the emotions and interactions of the holidays.  Ten minutes in silence. Deep breaths of fresh air on the front porch. Journal. Take a walk or a run.

If you are visiting away from your home, you might need to walk around the block of a family members house instead of walk in the woods. Or do a few yoga poses in a bathroom.  Do it anyway! Take these moments of solitude to clear your mind. Set intentions for the difficult parts of the holiday.

Remembering to recharge is a discipline. Especially on days where we don’t have a normal routine. Recharge requires setting an intention ahead time for self-care. Scheduling the time. Sticking to it when it’s easier to numb. Maybe even getting up an hour early or stepping out of the house for an “errand”

If you can stay grounded and centered, everyone around you will benefit from your ability to be present, calm, sure of who you are.

Doing so might even require enduring the comments of others who might judge and call it selfish. Often such people are not caring for themselves, so it is hard to appreciate when others are making wise choices. They might not think it’s “fair” that you step aside for a few moments. Send them love and light. And do it anyway.

Namaste.

Make space for your future

Sometimes when we are the cusp of a big life transformation, the universe gets very noisy if I stop listening.  Last night at two in the morning, a loud voice was screaming in my head that I had to clear out all that heavy emotions that are holding me down. And the next step of that process was to purge out my closet.

I realized that I store memories in my clothing. Clothing that looks exquisite and rocks my body needs to get OUT of my closet if reminds me of a person or a moment that hurts my feelings. I spend three hours removing half of my clothes from my wardrobe.

I also was holding on to clothing that was past its prime because it contained positive feelings. Some of the items were worn out, tattered. Others just did not flatter my body.  I’ve been wearing my teenage daughters’ clothes because she’s in Argentina for the year and I miss her. But they do not look good on me. I can find other ways to keep her close, like a bracelet of hers, than a shirt from Forever 21.

Compliments also can weigh me down.  There are lots clothes out there that somebody thinks I look good in but don’t serve me.  This statement also holds true for jobs, friendships, ways of speaking to others, and just about everything that matters.

So, questions to remember the next time I clean out a closet (or need to let go of anything in my life big or small)

  1. Am I holding onto things that hurt my feelings and pull me down? Does this have a negative memory attached to it that I don’t want have to ever think about again?
  2. Am I clutching to past memories of joy—even when they no longer me going forward?
  3. Am I holding onto this because others think I “should”

Happy winterizing of your closets. And for those of you feeling that twinge of a  feeling that change is coming, clear the space you need physically, mentally, and emotionally to prepare for what is coming. Even if we don’t know what it is yet.

 

Aligning my image with my ideals

I’m stepping way out of my comfort zone. I’m taking a class on “style.” I get squirmy and squishy when I think about shopping and fashion. As much as I love wearing something confident, the hate the idea of shopping. I hate being in stores. My eyes glaze over. My head aches.

My inner critic always comes shopping with me. My friend has named her “Nerdy Middle Schooler.” That critic is so noisy she’s even embarrassed that I am writing this blog. How could I share my insecurities with others?

When I go shopping, my critic tells me it looks wrong. Frumpy. Who am I to spend money on my clothes? How vain? You’ll just spill something and ruin it anyway. I’m so clumsy. And someone might notice. Might not like it. It might be too bold.

I’ve always covered that fear with, “I want to be noticed for who I am, not what I am wearing. ”

When I listen to my inner critic, I tend to imitate what others wear, whether people we often. Rather than figuring out the puzzle, I mimic.

I am learning that I can choose to have what I wear reflect who I am on the inside. And then perhaps people are more able to know the good stuff on the inside.

When I’m feeling brave. When I’m standing in my power, I can dress boldly. We are a hoop nose ring instead of a teeny tiny stud. Wear big crazy earrings that might not work but might be fabulous. Bold colors, curvy shapes.

I’m attaching a TED Talk explaining this concept of Inside/Out Congruity.

 

Leaping is always about stepping forward

Autumn is the season of kids growing up. Going to college. Pre-school. Moving away.

It’s all about playing big. Growing the boundaries of who we think we are into possibility.

I am watching both of my teenagers take giant leaps into the unknown to see just how big and grand they can become.  My 16-year-old daughter has left for the year to study abroad in Argentina. My 14-year-old son has left his local soccer to follow the dream of being a member of the US Soccer Developmental Academy.

They are both brave. They can speak very well of possibility. Neither is sure how it’s going to turn out. Neither made the safe choice. That’s the paradox of it. To live a life that feels filled with meaning and satisfaction requires not knowing. A leap of faith

They  are in the first part of the leap, soaring upward. They left their safe, grounded places. They have a vision of where they want to land. They are stretching every limb to get to the other side. Feeling a bit off kilter. Unsure how the rules work in this new space. Doubting themselves and feeling the thrill of the challenge all at the same time.

The first steps in the trajectory are up, up, up. It’s exhilarating and new and thrilling. Queasy. Emboldened.  I can feel helpless sometimes, watching. Hoping that sending energy and love and protection like telepathy will keep them strong on the inside.

I know the trajectory will come back down and they will land in a new place. The new place is rarely what we expected. They might stick the landing where they sought and be surprised it’s not what they expected at all. Or they might fall down. A place unexpected. Unwanted even.

Lows. Tears.

My daughter is finding struggle where she least expected it. Not in feeling homesick but instead in being held back by the constraints of Argentinian social norms and bureaucratic rules from showing up in all the ways that she wants to fully experience her adventure. But in the confusion of change, my daughter has found friends who appreciate and support her. She has learned how to speak her truth even when it makes people uncomfortable. Of meeting new friends, speaking one’s truth when it’s not going well.

My son has spent more time sitting and watching than playing some days. But from that shift he experienced the exhilaration of coming off the bench to provide the assist and then a goal in a tied game.

These kiddos will never ever be back at where they started at the beginning of August. They are falling down in big and small ways. They pick themselves up dust off, and begin from there. Then they find thrills they never expected. Big highs and lows  first place. And they will pick themselves up. Forever changed by the bravery of taking the chance.

Slowing Down.

Every year I spend a week in the woods. I live in a tent and I cook for my children’s summer camp. I unplug from my technology and steep myself in a much camp magic as possible.

I especially the singing at the fire circles. This song spoke right to me this year, sung over and over in a round:

Humble yourself in the arm of the wild
You’ve got to lay down low and… [repeat]

And we will lift each other up.
Higher and higher.
We will lift each other up.

Camp offers me the gift of slowing down. Noticing a bug walking across the roof of my tent. Sampling the blackberries along the trail. Staring into a fire.

The slower I get, the more I know. The more wisdom seeps up into me. The more grounded I am. The greater I am in touch with my truth. My intuition. The part of knowing that comes from deep within my belly and tells my monkey mind to hush up and surrender. To “be still and know.”

I’m back I’m the frenetic life of the day to day. But I keep trying to hum that melody and remember to notice. To wonder. To be thankful. And to get still and to listen deep within myself.

Ready for transformation? Contact dana@coachingbydana.com