The Raven

On a crisp morning deep in the White Mountain Wilderness of New Mexico, I stepped from my warm trailer in to the silent stillness of a brand new day. I was one of only a handful of people for miles and miles. Within seconds of stepping down on to the dry pebbly ground I heard the “whoosh whoosh” of the wings of a bird and looked left just in time for a deep black large majestic bird fly 10-15 feet over my head. WOOSH WOOOSH WOOSH the air over his wings was so loud. I had never noticed the sound of a bird flying before. Right as he was above me he let out a loud “caaaw caaaaw.”

Instantly a knowing washed over me, like a voice, but not a voice. It was as if someone or something had dropped the knowing in my awareness: “You are here to learn to say goodbye.”

Tears rushed down my face without me even knowing it as my gaze followed the flight of bird. I turned and watched him fly straight into the rising sun, his wings glaringly loud with each stroke- WOOSH WOoosh wooosh…. and then it was silent again as I watched him fly away.

His black feathers turned gold as the sun reflected off him and into my eyes. I watched this glimmering gold bird fly gracefully toward the sunrise, and then disappear into the darkness below the silhouette of mountains in the distance. It was amazingly beautiful.

On this journey I am on I have made so very many strong bonds with many people. Then I leave. I am getting very adept at saying “so long for now.” Many people ask me to stay longer or meet again. What I’ve noticed is I rarely see them again… but I do meet more and more unbelievable humans and spend a day or a week or a moment with them and then continue on. It used to be hard to say goodbye, but now it is becoming more beautiful and graceful.

Standing there in the silence of that gift and knowing, tears continued to fall as I realized the significance of learning to gracefully and beautifully say goodbye.

In the moments just after the glimmer of the majestic bird left, I wanted to know more. One of my close friends on the mountain was an old man with a bushy beard that has been living in a tent in the mountains for 25 years. He was wise and practiced Native American spirituality, I loved talking with him. It was incredible getting to know him and hearing his stories and knowingness about animals, nature, our earth, how we are all connected, and what is available for us to learn from and with nature. I thought the bird was a raven, but wasn’t sure. My friend had mentioned certain creatures have certain roles and I was curious about this glimmering bird. So I jumped on my bike and road to his tent.

There he was sitting by the fire with his wife. I sat down with them in the chill and stillness of the morning and asked “What are those big black birds?”

The Messenger

“Those are Ravens,” he said, “and Ravens are very special.” He lifted his pant leg to show me a tattoo of a Raven’s feather. He told me that Ravens were messengers, much like angels in the Christian Faith. They bring knowings to special people in the tribe: messages from the sky, messages that reach beyond time and humanness. He told me if I ever found a Raven feather to keep it and stroke it during meditations. Then he shared that Ravens were a symbol of transformation and metamorphoses- and told me a story about humans changing shape into animals. He mentioned that transformation could happen physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually and that it can take place at any time in any form. He shared that if a Raven is in a tree nearby to talk to it, they will talk back… and more deep stories about Raven.

Realize I hadn’t told him about my experience, I only asked “What are those big black birds?” After he finished sharing all of the loveliness about ravens, I shared with him what I had just experienced with the big black bird at my campsite…

What a beautiful moment: One I will remember forever. Isn’t it interesting how connected everything is? Never before had I experienced an encounter with an animal like that, like it dropped off a knowing directly to me. What are the chances that when that happened, a two minute bike ride away was a human that could share his knowledge and knowingness with me… miracles are all around us.

My Friend

Today I am in Denmark. My raven experience came to mind after I spent a delightful day with my friend, Ulrich. We walked the gardens of a castle, smelling and tasting the herbs while taking in the majestic view; enjoyed a fancy meal inside the castle while chatting for hours; strolled the rustic seashore while deep in conversation; arrived at his home to find an actual red carpet rolled out from the front door for me; We laughed and talked over dinner with his family in their beautiful cottage in a quaint Danish town; and  enjoyed more deep conversation the next day over lunch and a while walking through a harbor with large vintage sailboats made entirely of wood. In just a period of 28 hours a delightful and profound friendship grew.

Ulrich then walked me to my train. He gave me a hug, stood barely outside the train door smiling, then leaned in while waving and saying goodbye and leaned back just as the doors shut. As the train pulled away I was in mental limbo teetering between being happy, sad, and filled with love.

The Grand Misunderstanding

It was as if I was observing this indecisive mental state. In that instant I realized again how ephemeral our feelings are. This could be a sad moment, a lovely moment, happy moment… any kind of moment. It wasn’t my friend standing at the door that was creating my feelings at all. My feelings were coming entirely from awareness in that moment. How I felt wasn’t even up to me, though it wasn’t not up to me either. My experience was fluid and changing and my thoughts were fluid and changing …just as it always has been and always will be.

More than learning to beautifully say goodbye, on this journey of life, I am continually being reminded of the grand misunderstanding that we all live in. The misunderstanding is: Believing that what is going on is causing me to feel a certain way.

This explains why a friend saying goodbye can seem beautiful one moment and sad the next. How I feel shifts and changes moment to moment. Although, at the foundation of it all, a peace that passes understanding is there for me all the time, in the midst of any experience. How I feel about how I feel seems to be even more paramount to experiencing a peace and stillness.  When I can experience what is happening (without my made up beliefs of what should be, what I want, or thinking I can change what already Is) everything shifts. I am simply left experiencing what Is, and what is happening.

In this quiet place of presence and pure experience Life becomes a beautiful adventure.

And what a wonderfully beautiful adventure Life Is.

 

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The Day I Knocked on a Neighbor’s Door and Cried

I was in Texas… Sitting alone in my Airstream trailer, feeling very low, and wondering why I chose to leave my friends and family and sell almost all of my belongings to wander the world by myself. In that moment all I wanted was a friend and to be in the company of someone who cared.

With no “friends” for miles and miles… It was as if there was a string attached to my heart pulling me out the door. It felt like it wasn’t my choice: I just wanted to be with someone. Having no idea what might happen, I walked out of my trailer and over to the nearest RV. I knocked on the door. The door opened and when I tried to say hello, I began to cry.

Having always seen myself as strong, brave, and independent… crying in front of people hasn’t been an option. That day I cried. The woman that opened the door was Roxann. She said “Oh honey,” welcomed me in and just sat with me. I don’t remember what I said and I don’t remember what she said… But I will always remember the day I cried with the lady next door.

Angels are everywhere. On February 14th 2018 I stepped out of my made up story of “who I am and how I act” and walked into an RV full of love. I was ready to quit traveling and living this lifestyle… I was ready to throw in the towel on the life of my dreams. Thankfully I didn’t. What I did instead was follow my heart right out of my trailer and into the heart of a caring friend that I didn’t know I had.

Consider forgetting who you think you are. Our personalities and everything inside the box of “who I am” is all made up. If you feel like being with a friend- go be with someone and soon enough they will be a friend. If you feel like crying, cry. There are no rules except the ones we make up in our head. What a blessing it has been for so many that I had no choice that day but to Coddiwomple over and cry with a new friend.

Roxann: Thank you from all of us.

PS- yes, this too is Coddiwompling: Everything is.

 

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Twelve years ago at around 2:00am a couple of firefighters had just returned from a medical call. Only the clicking of the keyboard broke the silence of the early morning stillness in the fire station as the details of the call were being recorded in the medical report. Interrupting the clicking of the keys was a single sentence said with soft resolve: “I love souls…” I stopped typing and slowly turned toward Randy who was sitting next to me. He was now silently gazing back. I wondered if the lack of sleep was getting to him and equally wondered what he was talking about.

“I love souls. It doesn’t matter what body they are in…” Randy calmly stated.

It took me a moment to realize what he was saying. Randy was married and had a three year old son. He was one of my favorite guys at the fire department, although we rarely worked together and weren’t close friends. He was a newer firefighter: very kind, courteous, a hard worker and seemed to have his life together. We hadn’t talked about anything deeper than what to have for dinner or what we had done for fun recently. This conversation (that had so far consisted of three sentences) suddenly had a gentle significance. I turned away from the computer and gave him my full attention.

Randy continued on about how he loved souls. It was obvious that he loved souls in general: He was a kind and compassionate guy. What Randy was specifically referring to was romantically. He explained that sometimes the soul had female body and sometimes the soul had a male body, but that didn’t matter to him: he loved souls, not the cover. I listened with tender intention without saying a word. I can’t remember the rest of the conversation, but the seed of a deep friendship was planted early that morning in the silence of a quiet firehouse. He asked that the conversation be kept private and we said goodnight before retreating to rest while waiting for our next call.

Through or friendship and our working relationship I saw on a deeper and deeper level what Randy meant by “I love souls.” He loves, listens, and cares for whoever crossed his path. His home doubled as an animal shelter: he took care of and loved the furry friends that no one wanted. He brags on just about anyone- always seeing the best in people and connecting those that can help each other. He truly loves souls in such a unique way.

Fast forward several years later. Randy, now a single father raising his son, had just returned from a short vacation in Boston. He and I were in the kitchen of the firehouse cooking together. Randy was glowing and couldn’t wait to tell me about a guy he met in a bar in Boston. They had chatted for a while and exchanged information. There was a special bond and Randy went on and on… I thought it was cute and listened contently. Even though I didn’t burst his bubble, I really wanted to say “Randy, really? A random guy in a bar in Boston?? These things never work out.” I kept my thoughts to myself and listened as Randy seemingly floated around the kitchen.

Fast forward more than seven years after the conversation in the kitchen and well over a decade after the “I love souls” conversation. The scene: It is a crisp mid-October evening. We are at a beautiful vineyard in New Hampshire as the sun is beginning to set. The soft orange glow is creating an unbelievably rich postcard like back drop of fall colors. There are 150 of us sitting in simple white wooden chairs. There are close to 300 eyes welled with tears… beautiful love filled tears. There is a soft but silent focal point. We are all mesmerized by the most gorgeously touching wedding ceremony.

Randy is standing to the left struggling to read his vows through overflowing emotions; Kaiden, Randy’s son and best man (who is now fifteen years old), has tears of love streaming down his face; and across from Randy is Jon, the kind and handsome young man Randy met in the bar in Boston seven and a half years ago. The vows being exchanged are the most heartfelt and deeply touching vows imaginable: Such an example of adoration, profound friendship, and love.

Kaiden has two fathers and a rich family atmosphere that is helping him grow into one of the finest young men I have ever met. Jon is the father and husband he always dreamed of being. Randy not only has a loving, strong, and kind partner, he also has the huge loving family that he’s always wished for. The foundation of all of this is love… a love of souls.

What’s even more interesting is how Randy’s love of souls has permeated so many. The 150 of us sitting together in the crisp fall air were loving souls. We were loving Randy, Jon, Kaiden, and their families. We were in love with each other- all of the varied friends and family that had come together to celebrate love. There were people with a slight southern twang, Harvard doctors, military vets, scientists, gay couples, straight couples, single people of all kinds, and many varied races, religions, ages… None of that mattered. There was only love.

What a journey it has been to the vineyard. There have been tears of all kinds, struggles, laughter, friendships, and love… lots of love. Randy and I experienced lives that ebbed and flowed, continually crisscrossing in unique and beautiful ways. Over a decade early in the wee hours of the morning when Randy first shared “I love souls,” neither Randy nor I in our wildest dreams could have imagined sitting in that vineyard. But it happened… it all unfolded beautifully.

What if we all loved souls? Imagine the possibilities if we didn’t see the shape, color, religion, political affiliation, age, scars, or skin deep attractiveness of all of the souls we meet each day. What if we saw love and possibilities in everyone? What if we saw ourselves in everyone?

 

Let’s all love souls.

 

Until the next revolution…Love

 

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Featured Coddiwompler, Randy Kostelansky

Randy Coddiwompled his way from an average life in south Florida working as a firefighter to being one of the top up and coming doctors in Boston. In just two years he went from a single dad and student to happily married, running a thriving wellness center, and lecturing to doctors at Harvard. He truly UNpredicted his journey and the unimaginable happened. Check out his story!

Not long ago I was engaged in an argument that could have derailed many friendships. Thankfully it didn’t, but I did find myself boiling and swearing under my breath. Shortly after the argument (and while the disdain was still fresh) I began wondering how I could let myself get so aggravated… especially since intellectually I understand where my experiences come from. My experiences come from my feelings and my feelings come from my thoughts… it seems quite simple. Why was I so pissed when I knew better than to let myself get all up in a tizzy. Well, for starters, I’m human and I was living in some deeply aggravated and defensive thinking. I was very curious, but thinking about it sure wasn’t helping.

Then in a flash, suddenly I knew something… something I could not put into words but that changed everything. In that moment and even in the days and weeks following the realization I tried to explain what I knew, but I continuously fumbled. It was like trying to describe the color blue: it felt so simple, but attempting a description left me feeling like a bumbling idiot. The only thing that was clear was that something inside me knew it would be close to impossible to argue like that again… with anyone. If only I could share what I knew…

Weeks later a metaphor popped into my head and still remains my only explanation:

Let’s say you are sharing a walk with a friend on a beautiful day. You are casually strolling  along when suddenly out of left field comes a jab that seems to hit you right in the heart. A little perturbed, you shoot back a look that says: “really?” A few jabs are exchanged and things get a bit heated.

Interestingly there are now two sets of fencing armor and swords lying in a neat pile right at your feet. As if by habit you both suit up and go to battle! Swords clanging, feet moving, you are in a full out dog fight with the masked person. Blow for blow you fight. Clink! Clink! Clink! The sounds of battle drown out the rest of the world. With every swing of their sword, your anger heightens. “How can they do this to me?” you think. “Why can’t they see how wrong they are?” As tempers and swords flail they are thinking the same about you.

And Pause… Mid swing time freezes.

What might happen if you stopped fighting back? Would your adversary continue to attack? Maybe, or maybe not. If this is anything like the rage filled match I was in, it would be tough not to continue to battle.

Now consider this, what if you gently laid your sword down and began taking off your amour: First you take off the mask to reveal your humanness and lovingly gaze at your masked opponent. Though you can’t see their humanness, you know it is in there. This isn’t just a masked enemy, this is a beautiful being, a being with whom you are deeply connected. What if you continued to gently remove the rest of your armor and stood there in full vulnerability, unarmed, and open. What might happen?

Who might be seen?

It only takes one to keep the illusion from ever being reality again.

It only takes one glimpse of the Truth to see through the thought constructed battle and realize the obvious: when the mask is removed the true beauty is the moment of realization that the loving gaze staring back… is ourself."Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?"- Rumi

 

 

Until the next revolution…

 

 

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Your Potential…

Most people consistently make decisions based on intellect. The majority of people also don’t get close to living up to their potential. Do you worry about not reaching your full potential? Maybe you are concerned about your loved ones or your team not reaching their potential? The best way to get more out of your own potential is to run towards it, instead of away from it; to embrace it, instead of ignoring it. The simplest way to do this is to follow your heart, trust your gut, and listen to your intuition.

This article is a special edition “Part 2” on how to be exceptionally happy and successful by trusting your gut and following your intuition. We will build on the ideas we explored in Part 1. If you haven’t explored Part 1, “What to do When You don’t Know What to Do”, check it out here.

Thoughts

After reading Part 1, many reached out to share their experiences and inquire about the idea of tuning into our own inner GPS for turn by turn instructions. One reader had concerns over feeling “boxed in” by the notion of following his own inner GPS all the time:

“Although totally relying on GPS for every turn may sound right, to me it takes away from the freedom to explore… Basically what I’m saying is that exploring alternate routes has almost always resulted in new discoveries and a feeling of ‘glad I did this. I guess I don’t like being boxed into choices [by following my internal GPS all the time].”

This may be a common concern, but fear not: your freedom to explore is built into your inner GPS! Consider this- “Hilda” (Hilda is the name we gave the voice of our GPS) is not an outside force.  She is actually your inner wisdom guiding you. So when you get the urge to explore, that is actually part of the turn by turn instructions. By choosing to explore (when it feels right), you are listening your intuition.

The real life GPS in your car is a metaphor and it exists in the outside world. That gps will not always take you where you want to go, but your internal GPS always does. It will never box you in and has limitless possibilities: we take a step and see what comes up, then we take another step and see what comes up…. and on and on the rest of our days. It’s the most amazing adventure and the epitome of exploration.

What is coming up for you?

Part II- the Chicken Pot Pie Approach

Intuition

Another question that routinely comes up around following our heart is in reference to what many identify as the “first big choice” in making a decision: choosing between 1) going with your gut or 2) taking in all the data and then deciding analytically. This is where the idea of the chicken pot pie approach (CPPA) was born. The CPPA is my on the fly a metaphor that popped up in a group discussion and offered a third option: 3) let everything mingle like ingredients in a chicken pot pie.

Many people think very analytically and live by the data. The CPPA offers this: take in the data, but don’t make it the focus. Instead realize the data is there and it’s great to have, but let it be one of many ingredients. Let the peas and carrots of data mingle together with all the other spices and cream of life. Allow it to bake together and set. Once you pop the chicken pot pie in the oven, there is nothing left to do but relax and anticipate the mouthwatering meal that will soon be on your plate.

With the Chicken Pot Pie Approach, there is no thinking to be done–things get muddy when we think. Let your heart and intuition guide the way. You know and understand the data and the facts. Sit with it, and then notice what your gut is pulling you towards. That is intuition. Your inner wisdom doesn’t pick and choose the pieces and parts that must be used in coming to a decision: Everything is considered, data included.  The important part to remember is to let your heart have the final say- it knows the way.

You don’t know when you don’t know

No matter how in tune we are with our inner GPS, there are times when the next step is unclear. Sometimes you don’t know. That’s human nature.  Here’s one truth: When you don’t know, you don’t know. A second truth is: When you know, you know.

For a few years I have been wrestling around with leaving a career I’ve enjoyed for 14 years. I’ve known I wanted to take a different path, but I didn’t know how or when. I had tons of doubt: I didn’t know and nothing seemed to help make the decision. Then suddenly the answer hit me like a ton of bricks: I knew! There was no doubting. Now it feels like there is a giant vacuum cleaner sucking me out the door of that career and there is nothing I can do to stop it. It’s exhilarating! I know! You will to, because When you know, you know. Plain and simple

Just Choose vs. Decide

There are times when making a decision doesn’t seem simple. No matter what, the clear answer doesn’t bubble up. In those times just choosing is where the freedom lies. It is in these times that choosing a course and going with it is paramount. Our inner GPS will be there to guide us after the choice is made.

Once you have made a choice, you just take the next step, and the next. Your inner GPS will guide you and adapt. If it wasn’t the right choice, no biggie- “Hilda” will recalculate and guide you in the right direction.

I look forward to having many more discussions around intuition, following your heart and trusting your gut. What are your thoughts? Please comment below, send an email or give me a call. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

TRUST YOUR GUT, follow your heart, listen to your inner wisdom… Develop your intuition!

Take that next step towards happiness and fulfilling your potential… and the next… and the next… and…

Happy exploring!

 

Until the next revolution…

 

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Time. On one hand, it seems a limitless resource and on the other, it appears as if there is never enough.  How do you value and make the most of your time?

Time

What if you saw someone burning money (literally), buying frivolous things, or otherwise foolishly wasting money. What would you think? Most would see them as crazy!  However, we witness people, including ourselves, wasting something much more valuable every day: time.

Why do we think nothing of wasting time, but think wasting money is crazy? Time has the greatest value, because once it’s gone you can not get more of it. Facebook, long drawn-out meetings or years spent waiting to do something important “someday” are just a few actions, or in-actions, that may be more damaging than burning money. Why the double standard?

William Penn brilliantly summed up it up in this statement, “time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

Despite the fact that time is the one thing we want the most, very few of us use our time wisely, consistently. It’s easy to get sucked in to scrolling through social media, procrastinating, or delaying a big decision. How often do you have a busy day and then, just before bed, realize you can’t remember what you actually accomplished? There is a huge difference between being busy and being productive.

Each day millions of people chase techniques and tricks that promise to find more hours in their day, while others rely on sheer grit and willpower. There are no magic bullet points or supreme spreadsheets that will magically help you free up more time.

Many people think they can will their way to success by multitasking, even though studies show this practice is counterproductive. Some people try sleeping less, working harder, etc. We can make changes through grit and determination, but it’s a struggle. The second we take our eye off the ball, we slip back.

Willpower works well enough so that it appears if we only try harder, it would really work. We think if we are better at it, we will be successful, but even the toughest and strongest lose steam. We aren’t the problem. The way we are going about it is. We want more time. We want to use our time better. We can try and try, but putting our nose to the grindstone is only going to get us so far.  This is not a long term tool for success. Instead, a change in mindset can bring about effortless change and is suitable for long term efforts.

In March I disabled my Facebook account. It was much harder than I imagined. I hadn’t realized what a habit scrolling had become. The first week I found myself mindlessly reaching for my phone. It wasn’t that I was wondering what my friends were having for lunch, rather it was a deep seated habit. Staying unplugged was tough and it took willpower.

After about a month, I realized how full my life had become without social media. I was more productive, at ease, and relaxed.  Around the 4-6 week mark, I had amazing clarity and no longer felt I was missing out. In fact, I realized that for years I had been missing out by wasting so much time on social media. An important change occurred; I had an insight. It was an awareness of a different way of seeing things and it brought about new thought. I just “got it” and it was no longer a struggle to limit my social media time. I rejoined and have enjoyed occasionally connecting without the urge to mindlessly scroll.

Awareness is not about looking for something better; it’s having a different perspective of the world you are living in. It’s not overcoming habits so that you can make a change. It’s as simple as looking from a different point of view and noticing what is there.

“We shall never have more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is.” Arnold Bennett

Here are three ideas on making the most of all the time there is:

  1. Realize what is important to you and what you want to create in the world. Prioritize around this
  2. Notice your state of mind. Operating from the mindset of well-being brings a higher level of clarity, creativity, and ingenuousness that opens doors of opportunity and a further abundance of time.
  3. Notice instances in your life where you may be letting time slip away. What comes up? Look from a different point of view and see what is there.

If you are also looking for methods to combine with your mindset shift about time, here are are two that can help:

What if we all began to consider wasting time just as foolish as burning money?

Enjoy your time, make the most of it, and welcome the possibilities.

 

Until the next revolution…

 

 

Your Thoughts?

Share in the comments below what is coming up for you. What do you notice? How have you shifted your thoughts and actions?

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In Part 1 we explored ways to calm the feeling of overwhelm, making a master list is one tactic. There are many other tactics that may help us prioritize our lives around what we want to create in the world. Now, in Part 2, we will explore the effect that state of mind has on overwhelm and the connection between our thoughts and feelings.

From Overwhelm to Clarity, Calm, Creativity

It’s important to know that how we feel (happy, carefree, anxious, overwhelmed, etc.) comes directly from our thoughts. Whether or not we feel stressed depends on our thinking about our situation, rather than the situation itself. Having tools and tactics to help quiet the feeling of stress is great, but what if there was a better option? What if there was something more innate that could instantly and continuously change how you think, act, and react to your world?

There is!  Being in a high level state of mind changes everything. Operating from the mindset of well-being brings a level of clarity, creativity, and ingenuousness that opens doors of opportunity. Think of a time when you were in an extremely great mood. What was it like? What did you notice about your interactions with people and clarity of ideas?

If you were in a happy, free, fulfilled state of well-being: How might you respond to a loved one who is upset and having a tough day? Imagine floating through your day at this level of peace of mind as your loved one walks into the room.  He (or she) is short with you and upset. How do you react? You might love on them, try to help them, or let them be and shrug it off. His or her reaction probably wouldn’t affect your state of mind much at all. What if you were feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and in a low state of mind and your loved one was short with you and upset. How do you react? It will not go nearly as well for either of you as compared to the previous scenario.

The only difference in these two scenarios is your state of mind. State of mind changes everything. Can overwhelm exist in a very high state of mind? When appreciation, happiness, peacefulness and love are oozing from your pores, is it possible to simultaneously feel stressed? Pause and think about that for a moment.

When we are feeling overwhelmed, we lose perspective and see things as black and white. This narrowing of our thinking is what fuels the vicious cycle of stress. When we are living in that clarity of a higher state of mind, ideas come to us. Things that once seemed like problems suddenly clear via creative solutions. The monstrous list of things to do begins to organize itself. New ideas pop up that change everything. Without realizing it, we get things done with efficiency and simplicity. We may even do more than we ever have before, but now with an ease and flow we can’t explain. This is not possible when we’re dragging ourselves through the quicksand of worry, stress and overwhelm.

Now, are you wondering how to get to this high level state of mind? If you try to control your state of mind, you won’t. It’s counterproductive. You can’t will yourself into clarity, well-being, and creativity. That would be like throwing a saddle on a wild mustang and trying to get it to take you for a ride like a pony at a petting zoo… it ain’t going to happen.

Instead of trying to make it happen, be open to letting it happen. Trust that it is possible. Trust that our natural state is well-being and calm. Be willing to step outside of your current thinking and notice what comes with the stillness. Trust that when you take a deep breath, step back, and settle in, you will effortlessly begin to float back toward this natural state of broader bandwidth.  In that stillness, you may find that peace and ease are already there. Instead of worrying about what could go wrong or cleaning up your mess, you’ll have more time to do what you want. You’ll begin to move forward with ease and grace.

I have lived from both sides. Right now I have a few more “things to do” on my plate than I did last year, but a totally different perspective. Back then, I was in the quicksand of overwhelm. I wasn’t as productive, my temper was much shorter, and I was living from a space of scarcity (scarcity of time, energy, money, love, bandwidth, etc). Comparing then to now, my surroundings haven’t changed, but everything else has. How did it happen? It was a change in perspective that was born out of the support, encouragement, and deep conversations with my coach, Andrew. It’s been a life changing journey.

Sure, I experience low states of mind and can get stuck there for a bit-that is part of being human. Now, I notice my thinking and feeling more often. About a week ago I had a heated discussion with someone close to me and I wasn’t in the best state of mind. Normally, I would go do something physical outside to find clarity and clear my thoughts. This wasn’t an option, but knowing well-being was my natural state, I took a different approach. I laid down and quieted myself by focusing on my breathing and purposefully noticing physical sensations in my body. In less than three minutes I was feeling calm, peaceful, and had clarity. Experiences like this continue to confirm that well-being is much closer and more accessible than it previously seemed. Well-being is our natural state… give it a try.

Clarity will be abundant when you come from a state of well-being and use your tactics, like the master list. In that state of well-being you have more common sense and more creativity. You’ll be able to identify which tactics and tools work for you. You’ll be streamlined and innately know what is best. You’ll be able to clear any unrealistic expectations and also clear limits you have placed on yourself.  This is our natural state and it is much closer than you may think. If you’d like support in your journey, begin with experiencing the power of coaching for yourself by contacting me directly via the phone number or email address listed below or by applying for a complimentary strategy session.

Well-being, calm, and limitless creativity are available to you. Be open to noticing and allowing yourself to experience it!

 

Until the next revolution…

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What if “stress” or feeling overwhelmed wasn’t a problem at all? What if overwhelm was merely an intrinsic message—your inner wisdom suggesting a change?Calming Overwhelm

Though feeling overwhelmed often feels like quicksand (the more we try to escape, the more we sink in) it may be more akin to the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard. It’s purely a signal to make a change, and the change may be simpler than you believe.

We can approach overwhelm two ways: as something that “happens to you” that can be “fixed” or as a feeling. In the latter, your state of mind intrinsically facilitates a shift towards (or away from) a state of wellbeing. To fully explore both of these views, this article is divided into two parts. This week we explore taking action, and next week, we dive into the effects of your state of mind. It will be interesting to see how you relate with each view!

In the “check engine”-light metaphor, imagine a very busy day: your plate is full; you’ve got several errands to run; you’re wondering if it’s possible to get it all done. As you jump in your car and speed to your next stop, your dash goes off like a fireworks show: buzzers ringing, lights flashing. This isn’t just a “change the oil” suggestion. This is something serious. What do you do? What might happen if you ignored the alarms and kept the pedal to the metal? Chances are you could blow the engine and put your car permanently out of commission.

So what are you going to do? Most people, despite their hurry, would realize the risk of continuing on. They would realize those lights and buzzers signal problems, and would pull over to investigate or call for help before larger problems arise.

Compare this to the feeling of overwhelm: if you are the car, stress and overwhelm are the lights and buzzers on the dashboard. They are communicating the need to make a change immediately, or you could blow your engine. No matter your workload or schedule, something must change or you’ll be going nowhere soon.

Amid the frustration of overwhelm, it can seem difficult to pull over and check under the hood. Stop and consider what could happen in your life if you don’t.

Calming Overwhelm

For those wanting to calm overwhelm, the questions I would ask are: What is important to you? What do you want to create in the world? How might you organize your day around the triad of what you find important, what makes you happy, and what is effective?

As counterintuitive as it may seem, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed you must stop, re-evaluate, and make a change. Instead of trying to “manage time,” identify your priorities.

First, be upfront with yourself: there is no magic spreadsheet that will instantly change your life. One person’s way of prioritizing may not fit everyone, but ideas on getting started and getting organized can help you find your ideal approach. Here’s a simple method that’s a great way to begin your journey:Calming Overwhelm

Clear your mind!

One of the easiest and most productive ways to “reset” is to make a list of EVERYTHING on your plate. List absolutely everything you have to do personally, professionally, with your family, in your career, your volunteer activities, etc. Get it all out of your head and onto paper.

Imagine walking around with a massive swarm of flies buzzing around your head, flies so thick they form a black cloud. They are buzzing in your ears, your hair, and your eyes. You swat at them, but it makes no difference. This is often what overwhelm feels like. By writing (or typing) everything on a list, you get those flying, buzzing thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Consider keeping this a “living” list: continue adding to it whenever you think of things you need or want to do. Often this one act alone can calm the feeling of overwhelm. Don’t be surprised if your initial list is well over a hundred items. Once you have your list, consider grouping the tasks in categories as well.

Prioritize

What do you deeply care about? What do you want to create in the world? When you hone in on that, life gets a lot easier. With these ideas in mind, choose one thing on your list that, if completed, would make things easier, or -better yet- make other things on the list melt away. Then go do that one thing. Complete the task. Re-evaluate and choose the next thing. If choosing one thing is too daunting, try selecting two or three things at most.

The Master List

Many find it best to put the master list aside. Complete those 1, 2 or 3 important tasks and re-evaluate. Day by day progress will be made. Constantly seeing the master list may not be helpful. Consider glancing at it once a week, max. I make a monthly, weekly, and daily list of what I want to create and it has worked well for me. Start simple and notice what works for you.

A few more things to consider in reference to your master list:

  • What can you delegate?
  • Which of your tasks are out of line with what you want to create in the world?
  • What can you stop doing?
  • Can you hire people to take care of some tasks?
  • Are you allowing for self-care (sleep, exercise, quiet time to recharge, etc)?
  • Consider time-blocking.
  • Consider setting time limits. Ex: I’ll do this for 30 minutes.

The key idea to remember is: Overwhelm is not a state of being, it is a feeling. It is a signal to make a change: List, Prioritize and Re-commit.

 

…until the next revolution

 

Check out Part 2! Here we explore the effect your state of mind has on the feeling of overwhelm and your wellbeing.

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Create Luck!

Why is it that some people seem to be so lucky? Do you believe in luck… is it real?

In the spirit of St. Patrick ’s Day and the luck of the Irish I have been mulling around the idea of “luck.” Some people seem to be so lucky—they have the best experiences and are in the midst of astounding situations entirely too often. Whether or not you believe in luck, blessings, good fortune, coincidences or any other way to describe life’s fluke marvels it certainly is nice to be the recipient from time to time. What if there was a way to up your chances of being the beneficiary of luck? Well, (said in a whisper voice) it’s 100% possible…. It’s your choice to significantly up your odds at being the lucky one.

The Lucky One

While chewing over how to write this article I was lucky enough to have an astounding conversation with a friend who had a stroke a few weeks ago. Let’s call her “Lucie,” for the sake of this article and her privacy. Lucie had a severe stroke, so severe that the survival rate was 20%. Most patients who survive this type of stroke are aware of everything, but are completely paralyzed and have no way of communicating. This was what Lucie was facing. Here’s another kicker- Lucie is in her 30s, has three young children, is very active, and was in perfect health when an incident occurred that very nearly took her life.

At first glance, this appears to be a very unfortunate situation for all involved, right? In my first conversation with her since the stroke, Lucie happily declared that she was “Lucky to have the stroke.” Instantly my ears perked up and my little voice inside said: “WOW!! Buckle up kids and enjoy the ride! This conversation is going to be one for the books!”

Lucie happily shared that prior to the stroke she was stressed, felt pulled in too many directions, overworked, etc. Since the stroke, all that has changed. She is relaxed, has free time, and is enjoying her recovery while connecting with friends and family. Moreover she realized how many people are willing to step up, help out, and genuinely care. My guess is she is also grasping what a difference she makes in the lives of others. She is loving her post-stroke existence.

Two Views on Luck

There are a few ways to look at Lucie’s thought about being lucky to have a stroke. Here are two:

  1. Lucie thinks she is lucky to have the stroke, therefore she is lucky.
  2. After the stroke Lucie changed how she is being in her world, which changed her world.

Option A:

Lucie thinks she is lucky to have the stroke, therefore she is lucky. She could have been absolutely devastated while thinking thoughts like “Why did this happen to me? I don’t deserve this. My poor kids. Life sucks!” The great news is she is choosing to focus her attention on the opportunities she has. Her thoughts are encouraging her to be happy, healthy, relaxed and enjoying her relationships. She is in a wonderful space of gratefulness. This is why she feels lucky. Her life and the lives of everyone around her are fundamentally better because of her state of mind. She truly is “lucky” and that is awe-inspiring.

Option B:

After the stroke Lucie changed how she is being in her world. Faced with the alternative of death or permanent disability, Lucie’s health and wellbeing suddenly became her top priority. She realized she had to take care of herself first. If she didn’t take care of herself, there would be absolutely nothing to give. So she made the change. Lucie feels she is lucky because she thinks the stroke forced her to slow down and encouraged those around her to give her space and care for her. Suddenly her life became more relaxed which is giving her space to heal. Although, was Lucie’s change really due to the stroke?

What was the cause of the lifestyle change? The way I see it, the stroke was a defining moment and surely inspired the change, but the stroke was not the cause of the change. Lucie’s thoughts caused the change. She could have had the stroke, come home from the hospital and continued to stress and not make her health a priority. Some people may have done that, but not Lucie. Her thoughts and priorities shifted and so did the thoughts and priorities of her loved ones and those in her circle. Lucie (and everyone who knows her) wants to heal, so Lucie’s healing took precedence.

Here’s something to ponder: Could all of those changes have taken place in the absence of a defining event like a stroke?

Could Lucie and her loved ones have created that shift in thinking and made Lucie’s health and wellbeing a priority anytime? It might seem improbable, but it is possible. The same is possible for you, your loved ones, and everyone else. What are your priorities? How might we all discover a bit of wisdom in this experience? Lucie was lucky to have the stroke because she was able to change who she was being and realize her priorities. You can too… and you don’t have to wait for a massive life event to decide to change the way you are thinking and feeling.

Upping Your Odds

As luck would have it, there have been studies done on the science of luck. The findings overwhelmingly show that people who think they are lucky, are “luckier.” This scientific study on superstition showed that people who had a lucky charm, crossed their fingers or did other things they considered “lucky” performed better! Why? Because “activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance.” The study is not saying a lucky rabbit’s foot is going to help you win. Instead this study (and many others like it) uses science to show that if you think the rabbit’s foot is helping you, it probably will. It’s your thoughts that matter… not the foot.

Professor and experimental psychologist, Richard Wiseman, has dedicated his studies and written books and articles on the psychology of luck. He has identified “four basic principles that lucky people use to create good fortune in their lives.” Here are his four principles:

#1 Maximize Chance Opportunities (create, notice, and act on good stuff)

#2 Listen to Lucky Hunches (go with your intuition and gut feelings)

#3 Expect Good Fortune (…a self-fulfilling prophecy)

#4 Turn Bad Luck to Good (there’s always a silver lining)

Notice how Richard’s four principles of luck relate: Each principle has to do with your thoughts. Also notice it is not about “positive thinking,” it’s about noticing, believing, and looking forward to great outcomes. Ultimately, we all have the innate ability to think ourselves into good fortune. When we shift our thoughts, our world shifts. In Lucie’s heart of hearts she sees the silver lining, expects things to turn out wonderfully, is going with her gut, and is noticing the opportunities all around. Even more, she is thoroughly grateful to have the chance to live an amazing life. She thinks she is lucky, therefore she is!

We Are All Lucky

We are all lucky to know “Lucie’s” story and being able to witness her strength, humility and resiliency.

Immensely upping your chances at being the lucky one and having a similar impact is well within your reach: Create opportunities; notice and act on the good stuff; go with your intuition; expect great things to happen to you; and always notice the silver lining. Do this and everyone wins.

It is 100% possible to shift your odds. It all starts with your thoughts.

Be the lucky one!

 

…until the next revolution.

 

 

Join in! Live Interactive Session on Creating Luck

Join in Monday April 12, 2017 to dive deeper into greatly increasing your odds at being lucky and creating more success in life, business, and retirement. This is an interactive session and life changing discussion facilitated by Kristy Halvorsen at The Microsoft Store- University Town Center in Sarasota, FL from 8:30-10:00am. For more details and to register for “Feeling Lucky” click here.

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On a whim, Jim and I went on an adventure.  It was unplanned, spur of the moment, and  life changing. Numerous events culminated perfectly to allow this adventure to be a possibility–some were awesome surprises and some initially appeared to be huge letdowns. We lived the definition of “coddiwomple” in our camper for 26 days.  Below is a collection of a few of the experiences, insights and life-changing thoughts that showed up along the journey. For each idea, there is an explanation, an invitation to apply the thought, and inquiries to bring about your own awareness. Enjoy!

Grab the chance!  Go!

Do it! Whatever “it” is, give it a shot.  This amazing adventure was an “it” for me. Sure, there were countless thoughts centered around why we shouldn’t go or why it would be better if we waited. The timing isn’t perfect. We’ve got other things we need to do. It’s going to cost too much. We don’t have a plan, etc. We went, the experience was more amazing than we could have imagined, and it all worked out better than we could have planned. In life, career, business, retirement, or anything else: Grab the chance and go.

Thought: Hopes and dreams are much easier to achieve than most think; it’s all the thinking that gets in the way. Grab the chance and go!

Experience: If you wait, chances are it may not get any easier, something else will get in the way, and you will wonder why you waited. Whatever “it” is, give it a shot. What is an “it” for you? What if you went for “it” by pointing yourself in a direction, taking the first step, and figuring it out from there?

Take in the beauty ALL around!

What would happen if you purposefully took the time to appreciate the beauty all around you? During the big adventure, I settled down, opened my awareness, and was able to take in splendor that I normally would have missed. For example: In the stillness of a canyon, just before sunset, I heard birds fly. It was amazing. Flocks of birds one after the other flew by; I heard the air rhythmically rush around their wings and their tiny bodies. It was so beautiful and piercing;  I wanted to stay and listen for hours in this “special spot,” where flight was music to my ears.  Ever since that experience, I notice that I can hear birds fly everywhere. I didn’t noticed it before but, now I am aware.

Thought: You can experience beauty and brilliance everywhere.

Experience: No matter where you may be, there is magnificence everywhere, all the time. The more you look for it, the more there will be. What are you noticing?

Be present, feel connected, and come alive.

Close up of the rock’s surface

One of my most profound moments came on a guided hike in Seminole Canyon State Park, in South Texas. We hiked up the canyon from the riverbed, into a huge cave in the canyon wall; it had been carved away by the rushing river over thousands of years. This cave had been the home to a tribe of Native Americans. There was ancient wall art, carvings, and artifacts (in addition to stunning views of the river below).

Inside the cave was a massive shiny rock that literally shook me. The rock was waist/chest high and so wide I could only reach halfway across it. The top surface was smooth like glass and had a slick, oily feel. It was smooth and oily because it had been doused with animal fat for hundreds of years. It was used as a cutting board and place of ceremony by Native Americans thousands of years ago. Since then, hikers have continued to touch the silky rock and the oils from our hands keeps it shiny.

I placed my hands on that rock and thought about all the people that stood right where I was. Standing and touching that rock, right where I was touching it; going back thousands of years, before there was electricity, buildings, or recorded history! While feeling the silky solidness of that rock and imagining all the people that had done the same, something inside lit up. It was energy of unity. I felt extraordinarily connected with all the people that were there before me. The feeling was amazing and something I will never forget.

Thought: Being present and connected is a gift you can give yourself anytime.

Seminole Canyon

In Seminole Canyon, the cave where Native Americans lived is just above my left shoulder

Experience: I am realizing more and more, no rock is needed to feel that alive and united… I just smiled typing that 🙂 How might you feel more connected?

No master plan- No problem!Adventure- Hiking to the Rio Grand

Just a month prior to our amazing expedition, the thought of taking the trip had not even surfaced yet. We decided to go the week before we left. When we pulled into a location to set up camp, we never knew where we would go next. Overall, we knew the general direction we wanted to head, but kept our options open. We usually planned our next location during down time of the day before.

Thought: Keeping things relaxed and flexible opens up opportunities.

Experience: Apply this idea to the adventure of life. How about pointing yourself in a direction and going with the flow? What if you grab the chance, make a move, have some fun and then say “What is next?” In what areas of your life might you benefit from applying a similar idea?

Listen to your heart and choose to lead.

We went for a hike at McKinny Falls State Park but couldn’t find the trail. We searched up and down the river before I realized the trail continued ACROSS the river. How the heck do we get over there? The river was wide and deep.  40-50 people were enjoying their day on our side of the river and not a soul could be seen on the other side. We checked the map- no roads drive to the other side and no walking bridge either. Heavy rainfall had engorged the river and covered the trail crossing. So, I decided we should ford the rushing water and regain our hike on the other side! The best place to do it was just upstream of the waterfall which was also where one slip would send us over the 20 foot drop. “Let’s do it!” I said. The water was freezing! We went for it and made it. Crossing the river was fun and allowed us to enjoy an entire network of trails on the other side. After we made it across, many others followed.

Thought: Sometimes hanging with the status quo might have you missing out on the best part of your hike. Take the chance and enjoy the experience!

Experience: When you choose the path less traveled, the possibilities are endless and others may be inspired to do the same! Where do you do this currently? How might you expand that?

You need much less than you think.

Camping on a deserted beach on Padre Island

Camping on a deserted beach on Padre Island

Most North Americans live in a perpetual state of too much stuff. I thought I packed very minimally, but I only wore about a third of the clothes I brought. We didn’t touch many of the tools, toys, and other extras either. Sure, there were times when we wish we would have brought a certain item, but we made do just fine without it.

Thought: Simplicity brings ease and breeds creativity.

Experience: Imagine the difference in your home, office, camper, etc., if you had all you needed and nothing more. Think of a simple way to start. What comes to mind?

 

Consider taking one (or more) of these ideas and putting it into practice this week. Notice your thoughts, how you feel, and any changes that transpire.

  • Grab the chance and go!
  • Take in the beauty ALL around!
  • Be present, feel connected, and come alive.
  • No master plan- No problem!
  • Listen to your heart and choose to lead!
  • You need much less than you think.

What are your thoughts and experiences? What was your last adventure and what made it special? Share in the comments below!

 

Until the next revolution….

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