How Vitality Helps You Thrive and Inspire (Part 4 of 4)

This post is the final in a four-part exploration of how the second of our four inner senses—vitality—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. Here’s a second example of the power of vitality in action specially tailored to perfectionists and overachievers.

For Perfectionists and Overachievers (continued)

Example 2

Given that I had spent so many years confusing productivity with purpose, it’s not surprising that five months later I needed another reminder concerning who I am and Whose I am and the fear-based nature of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is not a lofty goal or enviable trait.

Things had been humming along for me. Coaching six to ten clients a week. Publishing some, although not as much as I would have liked. Meditating, although more would have been beneficial. I had two assistants to help me catch up on office work and new technology to support greater efficiency. I was eating healthy, working out six days a week, and listening to good books on my PDA. I had an amazing online library system (www.librarything.com) to organize all of my favorite inspirational resources for clients. There was less clutter in the office. Making art was becoming a staple of my diet again. Sounds lovely, yes? How could all of that abundance ever result in me weeping with my hands pressed over my heart?

Here’s my handle on the chain of events. I was cranking along, getting more organized and productive. Not realizing I was at risk for becoming seduced again by the gremlin of “productivity equals purpose” thanks to my guardian, Ella, falling out of love and into the grip of fear yet again. So at home was I in the land of overwork that I didn’t even notice anything amiss when she started whispering and hissing in my ear, “See. Now you’re remembering how this works. Work, work, work, and more work. Look at how much more you accomplish when you take yourself more seriously. Using those organizing tools again. Schedules, lists, software, how-to books. You used to raise multitasking to an art form. For heaven’s sake, you taught others how to be more productive. I knew you couldn’t have forgotten everything I taught you. All you needed was a little prodding from me. You know how much better it feels to be you when you’re doing and accomplishing more.”

I had no idea she had been playing that sinister tape in my head again. I knew my work could benefit from a little more intention and organization—setting priorities, making some lists, filing more regularly, scheduling more tightly. There is nothing wrong with being organized or productive. The problem arises when we conclude our value is in any way related to our performance. That is when things get wacky. It is when the other two members of my personal board of directors, my sage (Claire) and my muse (Bee), can be pulled out of alignment too, thanks to Cruel-Ella ruling with her iron fist of fear.Perfectionism is not a lofty goal or enviable trait.

There I sat, sobbing and a bit clueless as to why. I had been up for hours and had consumed nothing but a cup of decaf cappuccino. I knew I needed to back away from the laptop, put some distance between my office and myself, go upstairs, and eat so my head and heart actually had some healthy fuel to function properly. Maybe add some sitting meditation to center myself and attain clarity. Upstairs to break the fast I went, beginning on-the-spot meditation by chanting my personal version of the Shambhala Four Limitless Ones affirmations, which are a way of life for me. At least I thought they were a way of life until I couldn’t for the life of me remember one of the four.

I remembered the “peace” one because peace was so clearly eluding me at that moment. I had the “compassion” one, steeped in a misery of my own making as I was. I remembered the “joy” one, probably because I was experiencing none. What the heck was the fourth? I taxed my brain. I tried writing them down to trigger muscle memory. No dice. They had become the three, not four, limited affirmations. I had lost my way.

I knew in my heart it had to be significant that I couldn’t remember the fourth. Maybe the root of my misery was that I quite literally couldn’t remember and wasn’t living the fourth. Unable to stand it any longer, I aborted breakfast prep and returned to my office to look up the fourth affirmation on my laptop. Here are the four affirmations I found:

  • Love: I enjoy loving-kindness and fostering loving-kindness.
  • Compassion: I am free from misery and fostering misery.
  • Joy: I choose joy.
  • Peace: I dwell in equanimity, free from craving, aversion, and indifference.

Imagine my astonishment; the missing ingredient was love. Love. It’s not the fourth; it’s the first. How could I have forgotten about love? I am the love and curiosity chick. How had I forgotten about love, and how had it led to me weeping at the laptop? Simple. Deceived once again by the fear-based lie that productivity is the same as purpose, in the process of becoming more organized and productive I started to forget that the only reason to do so was to further my ability to always delight in my purpose to enjoy and foster loving-kindness. Not fussing and making myself crazy about having to be perfect at it right now. Not going nuts trying to figure out how I can read eight thousand self-improvement books this week to embody my purpose perfectly because I’m not enough as I am.

Perfectionism is not a lofty goal or enviable trait.

My sage, Claire, intervened: “Oh, Deborah, listen to yourself! Look at Little Bee. You’re scaring her to death by pushing her way too hard again. Look at her. You’ve made her cry and hold her hands over her heart to protect herself from what you’re doing to her. She’s afraid she has no worth to you again because she’s not perfect and can’t do it all, doesn’t want to do it all. She’s worked hard for you all week. She had her heart set on playing some today. For love’s sake, stop this insanity!”

Just like that, when I recalled that love is my purpose, I found the compassion, joy, and peace I had misplaced. I remembered that when I approach myself and every being, encounter, and experience with love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, I always have deep peace, lasting joy, and meaningful relationships.

Dear ones, you are worthy just as you are, with your delightful blend of gifts and annoying little quirks. In all of time, you are the only you in the entire Universe. You are enough—perfect just as you are in this moment.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

August 6, 2019 Update from Deborah

After 44 years of providing individual and organizational empowerment coaching- and consulting-related services, I have retired from professional practice. While, upon request and subject to availability, I still conduct “tune-up” coaching sessions with former individual clients, I no longer accept new individual or organizational clients. Nor do I offer Reiki or EFT/tapping training or treatment sessions.

Here are my recommendations for identifying other qualified providers through the esteemed professional associations of which I remain a member:

  • To identify credentialed professional coaches, CLICK HERE to browse the online directory hosted by the International Coach Federation.
  • To find EFT/tapping practitioners, CLICK HERE to browse the directory hosted by The Tapping Solution.
  • For Reiki training and treatment, CLICK HERE to browse the directory hosted by the Reiki Membership Association of the International Center for Reiki Training.

I’ll continue to publish new empowerment blog posts multiple times each month through December 2019 with occasional new posts thereafter as the spirit moves me. I’ll keep my website active to continue offering tons of timeless tools and resources to help individuals and teams build lives and organizations they love. You may continue to subscribe to my blog and  follow me on a variety of social media channels via the links at the top right of the sidebar.

 

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Vitality Helps You Thrive and Inspire (Part 3 of 4)

This post is the third in a four-part exploration of how the second of our four inner senses—vitality—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. At the close of the previous sensory balance post we were knee-deep into the first of two vitality examples tailored to perfectionists and overachievers. Here’s the insight-filled conclusion of that example.

Spontaneity is key to a life of vitality

For Perfectionists and Overachievers (continued)

So how does all of this fit in with the opening of this story? Given that Monday was a day when life and spontaneity conspired to laugh at my plan behind my back, I did not manage to publish the blog that day. Tuesday morning dawned cold and dreary. It was raining and forty degrees here in Colorado—a state that boasts three hundred sunny days a year and no humidity. I started the day by smacking myself around and insisting that today I would be much more disciplined—a synonym for control. (It’s interesting that I know so many synonyms for control but so few for spontaneous). Clearly, I still didn’t get it. So life and spontaneity had to team up yet again, filling my morning with things that needed to be done other than writing blog posts. I did have a few moments of enjoyment finalizing the materials order for a new art medium I was getting ready to teach, but otherwise I had no fun, I swear (like admitting to having fun would be a capital crime). Life and spontaneity tag-teamed me all morning. Six hours whizzed by. I had a minimal breakfast again, and I headed for lunch more than a little shaky, realizing I hadn’t eaten much or written anything for the blog. I did some meditative breathing, which got rid of the symptoms but didn’t address the root cause. So I said, “Fine. I’ll just be a slacker again today, not write anything for the blog, and focus on my next life coaching paper for the rest of the day. Maybe I can finish the twenty-three-page paper in one day and then …” You get the picture.

Spontaneity is key to vitality

Unfortunately, I still wasn’t getting the picture. There I was, driving to lunch, having given up my old plan, and working hard on my new plan, when in a moment of grace, it hit me: What if my plan was the problem? What if this was how I had given myself ulcers and anorexia by age nineteen? What if this was how I had become obese, burned out, and depressed at age fifty? What if my friend was right and it wouldn’t matter where we worked? If we were stocking shelves in Target, we’d have to be the best darn shelf stockers Target had ever seen. What if, my dear friends, wherever we go, there we are?

Finally, the light dawned. I remembered what I knew in my soul: the world and I will be best served if I publish when I have something meaningful to say, not when I’m supposed to have something to say. That if my goal is to touch your hearts and save you some agony by sharing with you the often painful lessons I’m learning about how to have deeper peace, longer-lasting joy, and more meaningful relationships in my life, maybe the best way to do that is to stick to my end of the bargain. Pay attention to what is happening to me, figure out what it means, and pass on the message. I finally understood the difference between perfectionism and excellence. Perfectionism is not a lofty goal or enviable trait. Perfectionism is a fear-based illusion riddled with lies and characterized by force. Excellence is a love-based reality characterized by flow and grounded in the truth of who I am and Whose I am: a unique and precious cocreative expression of the Divine. The highest good—faith, hope, prosperity, peace, and joy—is not served by using force. The highest good is revealed and advanced through love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude.

Spontaneity is key to vitality

Just like that, I was ready to write my next blog post. There I sat in a restaurant, without a plan, scratching notes on napkins and scraps of paper so I could hold onto all the insights until I could get back to my laptop to publish them.

My fellow travelers, I propose a much-needed holiday from all our planning. A day when we honor the gift of life by breathing with intention and feeling the blood coursing through our veins. A day when we just go with the flow, drink a leisurely cup of tea, read the paper, take a nap, play with the kids, pet the cat, and explore the possibilities. Because anything is possible. If I can baby step my way to deeper peace, lasting joy, and more meaningful relationships, if I can finally get a life and not just make a living, then anyone can.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Vitality Helps You Thrive and Inspire (Part 2 of 4)

In the previous sensory balance post we began a four-part exploration of how the second of our four inner senses—vitality—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. In this installment, we provide vitality insights tailored to perfectionists and overachievers.

Spontaneity is key to a life of vitality

For Perfectionists and Overachievers

In chapter 11 on finding a guide, I talk about the role I play in supporting clients with accountability. Here is an overview for your convenience.

I collaborate with clients to develop and implement a plan of action to move them closer to their hearts’ desires. I support clients in achieving rapid, extraordinary, sustainable results by partnering and holding them accountable for what they commit to doing. In my experience, this takes one of two forms:

  1. Helping those who have difficulty holding themselves accountable to learn to do so with love and respect by creating a reasonable plan based on a series of achievable baby steps that will allow them to flow into completion.
  2. Helping those who’ve been accountable for everyone and everything since birth learn to eliminate much of what is on their list and, with love and respect, replace it with a reasonable plan based on a series of achievable baby steps that includes rest, reflection, and play at the top of the list. We can give nothing of lasting value from an empty well.

If you are in the latter group, then—having encouraged you to come up with a SMART plan for reaching your goals—I remind you that spontaneity is essential to a life of vitality. To illustrate the point, I will share two relevant examples from my own experience.

Spontaneity is key to a life of vitality

Example 1

The life cycle of my blog site is a great illustration of how overplanning and ridiculously high standards can drain the vitality out of an otherwise joyful experience. Still high on the thrill of having launched my first blog site on the spur of the moment with no exhaustive plan (not my norm), on Saturday morning three days later, I decided my plan going forward would be to write a new installment every day. Now that was more like the overachieving, pain-in-the-tukus Deborah my friends and family know and wish to strangle.

Let’s take a wonderful, spontaneous event and turn it into an obligation. Let’s suck every ounce of fun out of that puppy and make it a burden. Because heaven knows Deborah doesn’t deserve to have fun. I mean, what would happen to the Universe if Deborah didn’t have both hands on the steering wheel of life, keeping everything orderly and everyone safe? I kid you not when I admit that I had to use a thesaurus to find a word that means “unplanned” or “unrehearsed” (duh, spontaneous) for the first sentence of this paragraph. I knew there must be a word like that, and it kept flitting hither and yon in my head, but for the life of me, I couldn’t grab onto it.

Why is it that spontaneity and I are such distant cousins? Because everyone knows that perfection is the only worthy goal in life and that perfection comes from planning, copious planning, nauseatingly exhaustive planning. Because planning controls destiny and keeps everyone safe, right? Not! Control is an illusion at best, and no amount of planning really controls anything. It organizes things and sometimes reduces the number of surprises, or the “surprisiness” of the surprises, but I firmly believe we do not make anything happen. If something is meant to be and you try to block it, it may take longer to manifest, but manifest it will. If it’s not meant to be, no amount of planning or remaking yourself into what you think the situation requires will make it happen. It will just tie you up in knots and make you and everyone you know cuh-ray-zee! Witness the final eight years of my consulting career.

Lest you accuse me of advocating irresponsibility and sloth, I do think it’s useful to plan. It’s just important for us to realize that the Universe may not be in alignment with our plans. If that turns out to be the case, the sooner we recognize it and get ourselves in alignment with life’s quirky, capricious, unpredictable plan, the happier we’ll all be. If the events of the past five plus decades have taught me anything it’s that despite my intelligence, intuition, and demonstrated anal retentive control freak planning skills, I sometimes don’t have any idea what’s best for me or anyone else. Thanks be to the Universe, which intervenes despite my best efforts to the contrary and forces Its plan on me whether I like it or not.

Spontaneity is key to vitality

So back to my plan for my blog. Saturday I published two installments. Sunday I got busy with other things and missed a day. No problem. With two on Saturday, I was still on plan, I told myself, “averaging” one a day. Then Monday dawned bright and cheery. My plan for my day went like this: I’ll have breakfast, do my written meditation, write blog posts for the rest of the morning, have lunch, go to the gym, study in the afternoon, have dinner, and create art in the evening. Tired yet?

In reality, it went nothing like that. I got up and made the mistake of looking at my email, and then I answered emails, paid bills, filed papers, ate a miniscule breakfast on the run, went to the gym, was exhausted when I finished because I had consumed insufficient calories to fuel my workout, went home, made a huge healthy raw veggie salad for lunch with two ounces of protein and an apple, and then proceeded not to eat most of it, opting instead to catch up on my sewing work because I’m a tester for an independent machine embroidery designer and I’d fallen behind in my sewing the week before while working on that thirty-three-page life review for my life coaching certification. Yes, I realize that was a long sentence. It was a long day.

Two new sewing clients showed up at 1:00 p.m. (I had neglected to account for their planned visit in my plan for the day) and stayed for an hour looking at designs, chatting, and playing with my youngest cat, Maisy Jane, putting me even further behind (how dare they have fun on my watch). I then sewed until 9:30 p.m., managing to multitask by planning a seven-part series for the blog on how I lost all the weight and refining my notes for my next twenty-three-page life coaching certification paper. At this time I realized I had consumed a total of 480 calories to fuel me during the first fifteen and a half hours of my day (not how I lost the eighty pounds last year and not my recommended diet). Then, because I had promised myself and everyone who cares about me that I wouldn’t become anorexic as I did at age nineteen, I had to try to consume 1,500 more calories before bed. It’s not an ideal way to balance daily caloric intake, but if some days I have to pack most of them into the final waking hour of the day, then by Jove, I do it. Anorexia is no joke.

Whenever people imply I have issues with control, I object. I have no issues with control. I love it! Unfortunately, it doesn’t love me back. It’s not even my friend. Most of the time it laughs behind my back, and sometimes it has the audacity to laugh right in my face.

To be continued...

The next post will conclude this first vitality example tailored to perfectionists and overachievers.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Vitality Helps You Thrive and Inspire (Part 1 of 4)

In the previous sensory balance post we completed a two-part exploration of how the first of our four inner senses—creativity—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. We now turn our attention to the second of our inner senses with the first of four posts on our sense of vitality.

Vitality: I thrive and inspire. I radiate stamina, strength, flexibility, stability, and dexterity. I am healthy, happy, and whole.

You may be expecting a section on exercise and fitness. When people ask what diet and exercise regimen I followed to lose eighty pounds, I tell them it’s simple. Rebalance your calories in and calories out. Any questions?

The tricky part is how to do it so that it becomes a way of life, not a short-lived effort that lasts until your prom or fifty-year high school reunion. That’s simple too. It starts by working on all the other aspects of the Discovery Framework because, as you know from reading my story, turning this way of living into a way of life was much more dependent on the mental, emotional, and spiritual changes, not just the physical ones. Here are some additional ideas to get the physical side moving in the right direction:

I thrive and inspire.

  • Research and experiment until you identify nutritious, satisfying food you enjoy. I finally accepted that my relationship with refined sugar was an addiction. It may not be true for everyone, but it was definitely true for me. I went cold turkey on sugar and substituted fresh fruit and other complex carbohydrates.
  • Research and experiment until you discover a form of exercise you actually enjoy. I got hooked on the mood-elevating effects of regular cardio at a brisk pace. I added in minimal strength training much later because I knew myself. In the past, weight work had fueled my appetite, and in the absence of a sustainable commitment to healthy nutrition, I had responded by consuming junk food with a vengeance. Cardio didn’t have that side effect. This time, once my relationship with food had stabilized and I’d eliminated the foods I had an addictive relationship with, I could trust myself to add in strength training and increase my calories with healthy foods to support the additional workout. Maybe you enjoy the companionship and guidance of a personal trainer—one who will support you in your commitment to fun, no-excuses, baby-step goals so you don’t end up an injured, burned-out exercise flash in the pan.
  • Set initial improvement goals for nutrition and exercise that are so miniscule even you couldn’t come up with a legitimate excuse for not achieving them. Maybe it is a reduction of one hundred daily calories and an addition of ten minutes of walking three times a week. Something so easy you are guaranteed to be celebrating success a week later.
  • Continue small incremental increases to your goals whenever you feel inspired to do so. Don’t ever push either goal to the point where you now have excuses for not meeting it. If you find you’ve pushed it too high, scale it back to the previous no-excuses level. Don’t worry; slow and steady does work. Just ask the tortoise.
  • Experiment with the optimal balance for quantity and type of calories and exercise until you have a sense of what works best to achieve your objectives.
  • Make sure you are paying attention to rest and play, not just exercise and burning calories. It is all about balance, harmony, and understanding. Find ways to delight and feed your other senses while exercising: enjoy scenic vistas while walking, listen to audiobooks, or watch a favorite video. Then when you exercise, you won’t think of it as work; you will think of it as stealing time to read a novel or watch the latest thriller.

In terms of setting your goals, an acronym from performance management consulting will serve you well. Learn to set SMART goals:

Set S-M-A-R-T goals.

  • Specific: What’s the first baby step to move you in the direction of your goal? What will you do, how much of it, and how often? Which foods, what types of exercise, how many ounces, calories, and minutes?
  • Measurable: For your initial baby step, how will you know you have succeeded? What will the quality or quantity of success look like? Inches or pounds lost, quality of calories consumed, minutes walking a certain distance. For what you have listed in the “specific” category, how have you qualified and quantified the measures of success?
  • Aligned: Are your initial baby step and overall goal aligned with your core values? I find this one to be the hidden saboteur. Not just the values you admit to. For example, if you come from a family of chronically obese or out-of-shape people and one of your family values is that you always stick together, you might mistakenly conclude that getting fit would run contrary to that value. If you swear you want to accomplish something but you keep missing the mark, get curious. Ask yourself, “How might achieving this objective be out of alignment with a hidden value?” Then focus on the fear-based lies and illusions concealed in that value and set about transforming them and boosting your motivation by fueling it with new, love-based truth and reality.
  • Realistic: Is this initial step really a no-excuses baby step? If you are a member of the club that always sets the bar inhumanely high, you may have a habit of sabotaging yourself right out of the gate. Make sure your goal is indeed a no-excuses baby step that is completely doable at this time in your life.
  • Time-Frame Anchored: Make sure your specifics include exactly when you will complete your initial no-excuses baby step. For example, upon arising and before walking, you will consume a 250 calorie breakfast consisting of a sixteen-ounce glass of water with lemon, one hardboiled egg, one ounce of string cheese, a slice of dry whole wheat toast, and a cup of black decaf coffee sweetened with stevia. Five minutes of walking every morning after breakfast and before you shower. Once this healthier way of living becomes a habit, you may find you can trust yourself to be more flexible about the timing. In the beginning, giving yourself structure helps support your success.

Be kind to yourself no matter what

What to Do When You Fall Off the Wagon

Absolutely no beatings or self-berating. It will not help you do better in the future. It will demoralize you into giving up for all time. Remember the attributes of constructive core energy: love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude. Reread chapter 4. You will know what to do.

Why Such Minimal Goals Work

Read chapter 7 on tools for fostering flow, especially the “baby steps” and “celebrate” entries. Substantial, sustainable improvement of any sort is usually grounded in incremental improvement, not rapid leaps and bounds. Celebrate every step forward, no matter how small. If you exceed your no-excuses goal, that will result in even greater celebration. Force and extreme deprivation are not necessary. Excessive goals result in disenchantment, illness, injury, and burnout. Easy goals lead to easy success that fuels lasting motivation for a lifetime of even greater success.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Creativity Helps You Imagine and Manifest New Possibilities (Part 2 of 2)

In the previous sensory balance post we started exploring how our inner senses imbue our experiences with meaning. This post concludes our two-part exploration of the nature and role of the first of the four inner senses: our sense of creativity. So, how did execution of my plan to overcome my blogging blocks go?

Though my plan seemed brilliant, it neglected to consider one essential fact: it was my ego that was getting in the way of publishing with the regularity my heart desired. While this new plan was clever and mechanically sound—it could have produced the desired result—the reality is, it didn’t. That is because it didn’t do anything to deal with the very real issue of my fragile ego. Though the writing “assignments” were briefer, they were no easier.

Here are some of the many ways my ego showed up. First, my virtual best friend Cameron, the perpetually creative partner I was depending on for this escapade, totally let me down. I have read everything she has ever written. She has never failed to inspire me through any of her works. And yet she chose the day after I announced my new daily blog to become a lackluster writer. I would read her daily entry and say, “That’s it? You expect me to inspire them with that? You had to pick now to become a lousy writer?” (Somewhere, I hope Cameron is laughing along with you and me.) Realizing that it was risky to depend so completely on such an obviously capricious genius, I decided I needed to include other inspiring teachers and writers if I was going to publish daily with ease. Thanks to input from that expanded team, I made it through a couple more posts.

Why isn't this easier?

Over the course of the six entries I published on the new site, I found that while all of my teachers inspired me on a daily basis, I still couldn’t get that feeling out of my head onto the page. That, my friends, is because feelings don’t come from our heads; they come from our hearts. I was reminded of this truth at the time by a session with my own life coach during which we were discussing my theoretical resistance to publishing, which I kept insisting was not a problem (ha). My coach observed that, in the first forty-five minutes of our sixty-minute session, each time she asked how I felt, I replied, “Intellectually, I think …” Gotcha!

Like Jacob wrestling with the Old Testament angel, I wrestled with my ego every night. We managed to publish for five nights in a row with some difficulty but no big drama. It wasn’t proving as easy as I’d expected, but I thought maybe I just needed time to get into a rhythm. Are you counting the number of times I’ve used think, thought, or a synonym? Big clue that I still didn’t have a clue.

Which brings us to day six, Thursday, February 10, 2011. I awoke with many reasons to feel grateful for how my life was unfolding. Blessings continued to abound. Synchronicity without measure. Yet it was a harbinger of the day’s events that I began with a “pep talk” from the fear-driven gremlin aspect of Ella, the guardian on my personal board of directors (more on guardians and gremlins in chapter 6). “Well, darling, ‘love and curiosity’ is a cute little writing effort. But it is clearly blog lite compared to your other site. Less taste and less filling. Less effort, less prose, less inspiring, just … well … less. I’ll grant you that in some cases maybe less can be more (although I personally find that a lot more is always so much more). We both know if you would just buckle down and be a serious businesswoman again, you could do so much more with your life. Clients used to pay your consulting firms $750 for an hour of your insights. I find it so sad that this pitiful effort is what you’ve come to.”

Self-sabotaging voices in my head

I recognized my fear-gripped arch nemesis, Cruel Ella (aka Cruella) the moment she opened her mouth in my head. I told her to shut up, which she did. But remembering that she is really just part of me, I know that even when she doesn’t make a sound, if she’s afraid, that fear will be my undoing. It is no wonder I spent much of my day listening to Pema Chödrön lectures to counteract my gremlin’s subliminal nagging.

The time of my blog writing got later every day of the first five days. Day six continued the pattern; I didn’t sit down to write until 10:30 p.m. I was fresh off the exhilaration trail of listening to eight hours of Chödrön lecturing on meditation. She is brilliant, touching, and so very real. Her way of teaching meditative practice has helped me broaden and deepen my already eclectic and substantial spiritual practice. I even made notes during the day to make writing that night a breeze. I had ninety minutes in which to channel eight hours of Chödrön into three hundred to five hundred words that would transmit to all of humanity the essence of meditation and how meditative practice had transformed my life. A breeze? Not!

When the frustration level became unbearable, I considered ever more horrifying options such as just copying and pasting a few cool quotes from another site, declaring it a blog, checking off the daily box, and calling it a day. I began rendering that pitiful little solution right up to the step before pushing the “publish” button, when I pulled myself back from the brink in horror. Next I sat weighing the ethical ramifications of plagiarizing my own writing from my other blog site by pulling a clever paragraph from one of my previous posts there, pasting it onto the new site, signing it, calling it a blog, checking the daily box, and going to bed. No dice on that one either. At one point, I was so enraged with myself and the process that I considered obliterating the five existing entries and launching the site into blog oblivion (no issues with suppressed anger here). I stopped short of executing that one as well.

AARGH!

I know that whenever I create this much drama in my life, big lessons are in the wings. Stuff I need to pay attention to. The clock was running down. I had a little over sixty minutes before not publishing my daily blog that day would reveal me for the sham and lightweight writer I really was (so much for confidence in my writing abilities). All I had to do was convey the poignancy of Chödrön and the essence of meditation in three hundred words. How hard could that be? As it turned out, it was quite hard if I wanted to use only my head and not my heart to do it.

Because the resulting blog post is one of the most real and moving pieces I’ve ever written, I share it in its entirety in the “Tonglen” section in the appendix of my book. Here is the essence of the lesson I relearned on that particular leg of my journey:

  • I publish to touch others’ lives. Sharing my vulnerability and growth inspires hope and courage within my readers and listeners.
  • I don’t have to publish lengthy pieces to touch lives. I write from my heart, not from a production schedule based on elapsed time and expected volume.
  • I am the distribution channel, not the manufacturer, of my art. My role is to stay tuned to the Universal frequency of my endlessly creative Source and distribute what I am sent.

I close this exploration of your sense of creativity with an interesting client experience. Over the course of six months, my client had become committed to healthier eating and more-regular exercise with a personal trainer. While she had lost considerable pounds and inches at first, she quickly hit a plateau. Increased muscle mass wasn’t the culprit. She tried being even more ambitious about calorie counting and exercise. No luck. During a coaching session, we did a quick scan to identify any sensory imbalances that might be at work. She realized she had been starving her sense of creativity for years. When she started feeding her creativity again, guess what happened? She started losing more pounds and inches. Without changing anything else about her calories or workout, she started losing more weight. Other clients have experienced similar successes once they started feeding their sense of creativity or other starved inner senses. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Feeding my sense of creativity

One of my theories about why this works is that, because we are complex, interconnected systems, our bodies register deprivation of any sense as starvation. They then shift into survival mode by slowing down the rate at which we burn the resources we still have at our disposal. As a result, our metabolism and rate of calorie burn slows to compensate. Conversely, when we stop starving any one of our senses, our bodies register satiation and our metabolism returns to normal. I can’t prove this is why and how it works. I just know that it works. And that’s good enough for me.

It has been said that God delights in expressing all aspects of Itself through us in cocreative partnership with us. In each moment, the question concerning creativity is, “Are you showing God a good time?” When was the last time you fed your creative inner spirit with no expected commercial outcome? Try something fun; borrow your kids’ crayons, scribble a poem, organize your closet, paint a mural on your wall, sing a song, dance a jig, hit a bucket of golf balls, stick glitter stars on your ceiling, clean out your junk drawer, paint your toenails purple, just lie in the grass and dream as you watch the clouds go by. Your life is your greatest work of art. Expressing your unique self is why you are here.

In the next sensory balance post, we’ll launch a four-part dive into the nature and role of the second inner sense: vitality.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Creativity Helps You Imagine and Manifest New Possibilities (Part 1 of 2)

In previous sensory balance posts we explored celebrating our experience through our outer senses: see, touch, hear, smell and taste. With this installment, we turn our attention to how our inner senses help us imbue our experiences with meaning. Here is part one of two on the first of our four inner senses—creativity.

Inner Senses—I Imbue My Experience with Meaning

Having made real progress by feeding my five outer senses, sixty pounds into my eighty-pound weight loss, I realized something was still missing. Reflecting more deeply on my own experience, I discovered, once again, greater insight and opportunity.

As magical as our five outer senses are in celebrating our world, to achieve genuine comprehensive sensory balance, we expand our perspective to include the four inner senses, with which we imbue our experience with meaning.

INNER SENSES: Imbuing Your Experience with Meaning

Using the terms of the Discovery Framework, as the roof and outer walls of our energetic home, the outer senses are essential but will collapse if not supported by more than just our foundation of core energy. For long-term stability, they require the infrastructure and support of the four inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality, and belonging depicted in figure 8 above.

Creativity: I imagine and manifest. I am passionate about new possibilities. I reveal and advance the highest good.

Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way saved my life. My body, mind, and spirit began the journey to wholeness when I began living her teachings. I learned from Cameron that all of us are creative—not just those who call themselves Artists with a capital A. That our creativity is Divinely Sourced—as essential to sustaining life as oxygen, water, and food. Next time you are cranky or restless for no apparent reason, ask yourself the last time you did something that felt creative. If it has been more than twenty-four hours, there is a good chance that is the root of your discomfort.

We don’t need to learn how to be more creative. We are born creative; it is our nature. We need to learn how to recognize and transform the layers of fear and limiting beliefs that block us from freely accessing and expressing all the creativity we already carry within us. We are creating in every moment in every area of our lives. It is a matter of what we choose to create. When I cling to fear and limiting beliefs, I create misery and lack for myself and everyone I encounter with everything I think, say, and do. When I choose to embrace love, with its attributes of respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, everything I say and do creates a sense of generous, effortless, gracious flow filled with faith, hope, prosperity, peace, and joy for every being, encounter, and experience.

I am passionate about new possibilities

As Cameron shares in the February 17 entry of her daily readings book, The Artist’s Way Every Day—A Year of Creative Living,

“People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined. As we lose our vagueness about our self, our values, our life situation, we become available to the moment. It is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically. We may be enmeshed, but we are not encountered. Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows (2009).”

To begin the search for my long-lost authentic self, I primed the pump with immersion in a plethora of creative endeavors. I had no master plan. Only a vague recollection of feeling happy just to be alive when I was making art as a child. Art is the language our souls still speak when our brains and mouths can no longer form words to tell our stories. Through our art, we self-disclose without ever planning to, even when we try not to. We can’t stop our hearts and souls from speaking through our creations—whether we sing, garden, write, paint, cook, sew, repair cars, or fix computers. Always, and in all ways, we tell what longs to be told.

I found my authentic self three years into that search, living for the first time without other human beings in my home, and guided by love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude. Only then could I begin my first real connections with others. As Cameron observes, before that solitude, before that encounter with myself and my values, I was often, maybe always, enmeshed with others, but I never truly encountered them or they me.

Early in my experience as the Universal conduit for my blog posts, I learned the hard way never to force the writing on some arbitrary look-aren’t-I-prolific timetable originated by my ego. Cameron advises repeatedly in her many books on the creative life that our egos should never be allowed to vote on anything we do—not if, what, how, when, how much, and most especially not on how effective we are at doing it.

Tuned to the Universal frequency

One of the best ways to get our egos out of the way and relieve the pressure is to stop thinking of ourselves as the authors or originators of anything. We are the broadcast mechanisms for messages and inspiration from the Universe. Whatever our venue—writing, marketing, painting, architecture, quilting, legislature, musical composition, teaching, acting, child rearing, carpentry, singing—we don’t create anything in isolation. We are cocreators with the Divine. Our primary responsibility is to stay tuned to the Universal frequency; be conscious of the inspiration and life lessons we are sent; remain courageous about sharing them; and do it with humility, compassion, a sense of humor, and a dash of rigor. Your life well lived is your greatest work of art. It will feed your soul and the souls of everyone you meet.

I’ve also learned that when the Universe shows up with something important to say, do not ignore it. Do not tell Her you just published yesterday and hadn’t planned to write again today. Do not tell Her you have other priorities on your to-do list for today that you put off yesterday in response to Her call. Instead, respect Her wisdom on timing and topic, thank Her for continuing to consider you a worthy broadcast mechanism, and just do it. Don’t be especially wedded to what you thought She wanted you to communicate. Stay in receptive mode as you go, because She may take you down a bend in the road to a totally different destination than you intended. Trust Her; She knows what She’s doing.

My blog posting experience is a case in point. When I began, I published daily and then drifted to every few days, every few weeks, and finally months went by with no new posts. When I got curious about the decline in my rate of publishing, I realized it had little to do with busyness. Neither was it about having nothing to say or caring less about my readers. If anything, the reminders life had sent me concerning the fragility of our connection to people and things we hold precious had only deepened my compassion for all beings and taught me more that I wanted to share. What I discovered when I took a hard look at my relationship to publishing was that my ego was getting in the way. To address the situation, I decided I would find a way to make writing feel less monumental so that I would write more frequently, because connecting with humanity through my writing is an important way in which I realize my purpose on this earth.

One day, I got the bright idea to launch an additional blog (Love and Curiosity: Gems for the Journey) with the intention of publishing daily on that new site. My initial plan was to use the daily meditations from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way Every Day to create a very brief Deborah-and-Julia experience. I would expound briefly on one of Cameron’s many inspiring thoughts, thereby passing the inspiration on to my readers with the possibility that they might choose to purchase Cameron’s book and read it along with me. My plan was a lovely possibility for deeper connection with all humanity that warmed my soul. Cameron is an amazing writer. With Cameron providing guaranteed structure and inspiration, I would have tons of material to work with. Combined with the intentional brevity of my entries, I would leap gracefully over my writing resistance hurdle, publishing Gems for the Journey every day—no pain, no sweat. After all, I love writing and know I am an excellent writer. The day I found my voice again and began publishing the earliest content for this book online via my blog was a day of great gratitude and rejoicing for me. Now I had another cool idea for an easier and briefer blog. This should only multiply my publishing bliss, right?

In the next sensory balance post, find out how things unfolded as we conclude our exploration of the first inner sense—creativity.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How the Sense of Taste Adds Zing to Our Days

We pick up where we left off in the previous sensory balance post by exploring the opportunities to be found in our fifth and final outer sense—taste.

Taste: A diverse mix of flavors—salty, sour, sweet, bitter, creamy, crunchy, juicy—adds zing to my days.

I left the sense of taste until last in this exploration of the outer senses for a reason. It’s because so many of us gorge this sense with too much poor-quality food, hoping to distract ourselves or fill fear-shaped voids that overeating or consuming junk is never going to fill. By walking through the other four outer senses first, you are beginning to understand where and how you could better feed your senses of sight, touch, hearing, and smell instead of gorging your sense of taste.

If NASA employed superior design in building a state-of-the-art space vehicle and then cut corners by putting junk in the fuel tank, it wouldn’t matter how sophisticated the engineering of the rocket: it would never reach its destination. So it is with human beings. You are a unique and precious cocreative expression of the Divine here to do a big job: tuning in to the Universal frequency so you may channel love and light to reveal and advance the highest good for all, in all, through all. When it comes to food, it’s not about deprivation and starvation. It’s about creating the optimal rocket fuel for the rock star you are!

Our sense of taste adds zing to our days!

The key to achieving and maintaining balance in feeding my sense of taste, as with all of the outer and inner senses, is mindfulness in each moment. What’s my objective? What’s the optimal path? How am I doing? The five attributes of constructive core energy and all of the other inner and outer senses converge in the evaluation of each sense. Do my objective, path, and progress embody love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude? Am I employing all of the sensory tools at my disposal: a variety of nutrients, textures, colors, and scents? Is my presentation creative? Is my timing optimal? Am I demonstrating consistent commitment to my welfare by investing my energy in advanced planning, shopping, and preparation? Do I remain mindful and committed to fueling my sense of taste nutritiously at both ends of the emotional spectrum: celebration and disappointment?

There are scores of programs on nutrition and healthy eating. I was introduced to Weight Watchers in the 1980s when I wanted to lose ten pounds and they were using their original “exchange” structure. I had experienced anorexia in the 1970s and never wanted to go there again. Weight Watchers is not a fad diet for dropping pounds fast; it’s a way of life, one based in mindful self-care, not deprivation. Its focus is to understand the principles of balanced nutrition, figure out where and why your relationship with food has gotten off track, and determine how to restructure your partnership to support you in being healthy and fit for life.

It’s not about following the eating plan that worked for me. It’s about mindfulness and self-love. Invest the energy to figure out what works best for you. I was a sugar addict, so I now avoid refined sugar wherever possible. While not hypoglycemic, based on my chemistry and makeup, I find my optimal approach is eating small meals every two to four hours that combine lean protein, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, and fresh fruit and vegetables. When we go too long without food, our bodies’ primitive starvation monitors kick in and send the message to slow down metabolism for survival. It can take a while to get your rate of calorie burning back on track.

I discovered two additional reasons to drink lots of water, especially before and after meals. Sometimes when we think we’re hungry, even though we ate a short while ago, we’re actually dehydrated. This makes sense because our bodies use water to process our food. Try drinking a glass of water and see if the feeling you were tagging as hunger disappears. I also begin each day and each meal with a big glass of water with fresh lemon. It kick-starts the hydration, digestion, and fullness registration processes. One of the reasons we tend to overeat is because our bodies generally don’t register “enough food” and turn off the appetite switch until about twenty minutes after we’ve eaten. Starting with water, eating at a reasonable pace, and paying more attention to nutritional quality and portion size than how full you feel are great habits to help you avoid overeating.

Water fosters flow

A couple of years after I gave up refined sugar in my food, I also gave up alcohol. It was the right decision for me. It is essentially concentrated sugar, so it sent me up and down the glycemic roller coaster and continued to feed the sugar addiction I was trying to be free of. For me, alcohol had insufficient nutritional value; it fueled mindless eating, slowed my metabolism, and had always been a depressant. Even one drink could produce depression that would still be evident the day after. Add to that a family history of alcoholism and, as a therapist once warned, for me, taking a drink was like putting a loaded gun in my mouth. Unsafe, unwise, and unnecessary.

I am not against alcohol or sugar or any particular food or drink. I am for mindfulness and self-love. I trust and respect you enough to know that, when fueled by love, you’ll figure out what works best for you. Clear yourself of fear and trust your intuition. Once you are fueling yourself with constructive core energy based in love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude and you are feeding all of your senses in balance, you will find that what, when, and how much you eat falls into place just like everything else in your life.

As we bring this exploration of your sense of taste to a close, I’ll share an interesting aside. I have found that in terms of the members on my personal board of directors, it’s my muse, Bee, who has the greatest interest in food as a source of entertainment. When you learn more about the roles of the sage, guardian, and muse in chapter 6 of my book Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!, the muse’s perspective on, and potential obsession with, food will make greater sense. For now, just note that it is the muse who, if you are not feeding all of your senses in balanced ways, will sabotage the healthy eating process with junk food for the brief high it offers. Yet another reason to focus on feeding all of your senses if you wish to align your eating habits with optimal nutrition.

You matter. You are the only you we’ve got. Invest your energy in feeding your sense of taste optimally. You are worth the effort. There aren’t enough cookies or french fries on the planet to smother anger, blame, shame, and self-loathing. Nothing you can eat or drink will fill a fear-shaped void. The good news is that nothing tastes as good as being healthy and fit feels.

Trust your gut

In the next sensory balance post we’ll turn our attention from the outer to the INNER SENSES with a two-part consideration of the sensory balance opportunities of the first of our four inner senses—creativity.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

EXPANDED EDITION
in print, ebook and
audiobook

Explore Deborah's Book

FREE Coaching Opportunity
($250 VALUE)

FREE Coaching Session

Click here to sign up for a 60-minute
complimentary coaching session with Deborah.

Posted in All My Blog Posts, Creativity & Self-Expression, Joy & Vitality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment