Archive for January 2015

GROWING PAINS: Now What? – Lydia Taft

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My boss told me she is getting ready to retire.  It is right around the corner.  I initially took this in with some feigned excitement.  Feigned because, well I felt anything but excited.  Stunned, or perhaps shocked might be more precise of a feeling, and disappointment might even lurk somewhere in the shadows of my mind.  But in the instant that it took me to run through the list of emotions, excited was identified as the most appropriate emotion to express in the moment.  Yes, excited is perfect in this situation.  This after all is good news given by someone I care about!

I certainly could have stayed with feigned excitement for the entire conversation.  That would have been completely fine.  But no not me… I tend to drop into authenticity fairly quickly these days.  And since I respect my boss, I allowed myself the opportunity to tap into the truer part of myself, and tears sprang from my eyes as I felt something very deeply.  Loss.  Loss of what is familiar and what is simply beautiful and admired.  She is a beautiful person and I will miss her in my every day work life.

I quickly realized that I couldn’t just keep crying in front of her!  Shedding tears at work actually felt kind of horrifying.  Not that I haven’t done that before in front of her, but I didn’t want her to feel bad, and I didn’t want to feel sad, and I don’t like to brim with emotion as often as I do.  So I gave myself something to focus on; I made myself present to watch and to hear her.  I allowed myself to stand as a witness to the emotion traveling through me.

As the conversation continued, I eventually did find the excitement.  I am thrilled at her courage to move along in life and take that next step.  She shared that she has always known who she is throughout the stages of her life.  She has been student, mother, wife, manager, and on and on. She has very clearly known and embraced all of her identities and now she is stepping into a future of “retiree.”  This future is not very clear and certain.  She can imagine leisure, but how much time is she interested in pursuing that?! She finds herself a bit unsure, because she doesn’t have anything planned.  There is no “to do” list.  There is no need for a calendar at all!

I realize she is asking: “Now who am I?  Now who will I be?”  I found myself thinking, yes, we always go back to identity.

Who am I truly?

And so we talked just a bit about this “Now what?” experience.  She has so much opportunity ahead of her.  Now is her time to take a taste of the many things she had put on hold.  Now is the time to try different ways of being.  Now is the time to experience life in a completely new way.  She can learn a bit about stillness, presence, and trust.  She can also learn to re-experience her home, family, and friends from her new perspective.

As always, I see myself being reflected back to me.  I am on my own quest to experience freedom, stillness, presence, and trust in myself and in my life.  I am also on a quest to identify who I truly am.  I realize that her journey touches my own heart’s longing.  As I contemplate my experience of our conversation, and our intertwined lives, I am left with this very simple idea: At any point in time, I am anyone I choose to be.  It’s not necessary to wait for retirement, or any special day or occasion.

Now is the perfect time to be any being I desire. 

Finding Your Own Rhythm – Monica Myers

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Dancing has saved me many times. I have danced through pain, confusion, insecurity and the blues. I have danced through lost friendships, unemployment, miscarriages, and a broken heart. I have danced alone, and I have danced in community. And of course, I have also danced in celebration, as an expression of joy.

 

I have not always danced. It took my ego a while—probably until my mid-twenties– to get over itself. I was self-conscious about the way I looked. I told myself that I didn’t know how to dance, or that I wasn’t a “good” dancer.  I imagined that everyone was watching and judging me. I sabotaged my body’s natural ability to move by convincing myself that I was awkward. The result was, not surprisingly, self-constraint and awkwardness. But I know now, that the presence or absence of awkwardness is beside the point. Movement invites the expression of the full range of human emotions and experience, and in this way, taps into our aliveness. When we feel our bodies, we are feeling life.

 

We live in a culture that suggests that the arts, including dance, are reserved for a small group of innately talented individuals.  I had to unlearn this cultural myth, in order to remember how to dance. If you have ever watched a small child dance, you can’t help but smile. And you can see very plainly that the impulse to dance is innate within us all. There is a simple joy and a freedom in the physical act of movement. It becomes clear that physical movement is key to unlocking the spirit.

 

Our individual rhythm connects us to the flow of all of life, so that there are no separations or distinctions and we experience a deep sense of belonging and communion.

 

Humans, both children and adults alike, have been dancing for as long as they have been in existence. When I was an undergraduate student, I studied anthropology. Among my discoveries was the prevalence of ritualistic and community dance across all historical tribal cultures. “In many shamanic societies,” Gabrielle Roth stated, “if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed,” they would often ask: “When did you stop dancing?”

 

This begs the question today: Have we stopped dancing? In our modern times we lead a dangerously disembodied life.  From our sedentary lifestyles and our addiction to the passive entertainment of TV and the Internet, to chronic health issues like alcoholism, obesity, and eating disorders, there are many manifestations of this. Our achievement-oriented culture encourages us to be more often in our heads than in our bodies; we want to put mind and spirit above body, not fully aware that the two are intimately related.  When we are overly identified with our thoughts and our minds–with rational, scientific and dualistic thought, we neglect our bodies, including the heart. In his article, “Disillusionment and Hope,” Stephen Bennett states, “We might say that as we have become evermore indoctrinated by centuries of rational, scientific binary thought, we have lost our awareness of the heart as an organ of perception” (Bennett, Human Development, 2010).  And when we lose our connection with our hearts and our bodies, we lose our connection with our basic humanness.

 

The wisdom of our ancestors reminds us that the way to wholeness is to fully embrace our incarnated lives, not to attempt to overcome them.

 

“Dance is the fastest, most direct route to the truth,” Gabrielle Roth wrote. Its not just entertainment, it’s a path in itself, leading beyond our habitual ways of thinking and being. It’s a creative process that reveals a map to the soul. Ultimately, what we experience somatically is the mirror image of what we experience psychologically. By engaging in movement, we come to understand what areas of our bodies and psyches need attention and healing. As James Hillman suggests in his book, The Soul’s Code, listening to the body represents “a call from the soul already in full comprehension of our path, beckoning us to some understanding still secret to the ego.”

 

Now, if you are wondering, I am definitely not a professional dancer, and I have never even taken a formal dance class. But in my lived experience, music and dance are tremendously healing and transformative forces—dancing in my living room, dancing at concerts, and more recently, dancing in intentional movement groups.

 

Dancing is a way to get in touch with your deeper self. On the simplest and most basic level, I’ve come to appreciate dance as a form of play. Play is not just for kids, but as adults, many of us are seriously lacking in play time. To tap into that childlike spirit of play is essential to the renewal of spirit. When is the last time you danced? If you need a little inspiration, check out the father and daughter in this YouTube video:

 

Monica uses body awareness with her clients and is currently facilitating a therapeutic movement group for young women. She welcomes your comments, questions, and requests for more information. Please email monimyers69@gmail.com.

Warriors Way LLC: Feeling Anxious – Glenn Bott

Take the time to check in with yourself throughout the day and see how you’re doing.  How would you sum up your status?  Doing great?  Feeling happy healthy, wise and wealthy?  Is your life flowing along in a gentle unfolding or are you getting caught up in some strife?

I suggest developing the habit to check in with yourself periodically to get an assessment on your current state of affairs.  Some people get wound too tight and caught up in the “doing” mode that they forget to slow down and enjoy the process.  In today’s “busy” culture where your busy activities are worn like a badge, it’s easy to fall into that trap.  You can’t win at that game, so I suggest  not even playing it.

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I found myself feeling a little anxious the other day.  I didn’t even realize it at the time.  Later, while walking the dogs I realized I had a low-level feeling of anxiousness going on.  This is unusual because I don’t have anything to be feeling anxious about.  I’m having a good time, my health is awesome, my life is good.  So what’s up?

It took me a while to sort this out but I finally realized it was a low-level thought running in the background of my mind.  Nothing really specific, just a deep thought that things should be going better with my coaching business.

I’m not a big fan of shoulds.  Should is a word that always leaves you in trouble.  Whenever you find yourself or someone else using the word should it’s a clear indication that their energy and intentions are split.  There isn’t a clear and unwavering focus or commitment to the task at hand.

The word should often leaves you open to guilt, the worst of all self-imposed punishments.  Shoulds almost always involve choosing between what you want to do, and what you or someone else expects you to do.  Another nasty should is behaving as you believe you should in order to live up to some external standard that you’ve internalized.

Stop!

Forget all about should.  I suggest removing it from your vocabulary.  Do it or don’t do it.  Keep your energy clean and focused.  Take a moment and check within yourself and see what your heart is telling you.  If you’re feeling great, have a sense of enthusiasm, and can’t wait to get started, then by all means move forward.  On the other hand, if you’re feeling dread, or have doubts, then wait.  I encourage people I coach to do everything in their life with full and complete commitment.  Keep your energy clean and focused.

Honor yourself first and foremost.  Have the courage to be yourself and stand in your truth.  Develop the awareness to check in periodically to make sure your heart/mind/spirit are all aligned.

Remember – if you aren’t going to honor and take care of yourself, who is?

 

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Toilet Training for My Inner Child: Spirituality? – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

As a People House Minister, I felt moved to create a blog that had a spiritual nature. That sounded reasonable until I began to more closely examine the assumptions and possible expectations involved around the use and meaning of the word spiritual or spirituality.

Although I consider myself a spiritual person, I cannot demonstrate that by many commonly held beliefs and actions.

Do I adhere to a specific religion or faith? No, but I do find particular aspects and beliefs of some major religions to be attractive.

Do I believe in God? No. Certainly not the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent father-figure, creator, judge and, hoary thunderer I grew up with.

Do I worship or pray? No.

Do I believe in original sin or my intrinsic unworthiness and need to be redeemed? No.

Do I need an exterior authority to provide me with morality, ethics, values, guidance, approval, rewards or punishments? No (but I used to).

Do I need all my questions answered or have all my doubts and confusions resolved? No, although that seems very appealing at times…

Do I believe I have a soul? No. At least not the accepted definition of a soul, anyway.

Do I believe there is an afterlife in which my consciousness continues? No. Until someone comes back and reports their experience in a verifiable way, all bets are off.

Do I ascribe to or embrace any religious or spiritual dogma? No – and yes. More on this later.

So how do I justify my ministry, my ordination as a minister? How can I affirm my spirituality in the face of all these seeming contradictions?

That’s complicated. It calls for some examples of what spirituality is in my life, and what I believe are important components of spirituality or being spiritual.

One challenging spiritual thing I do is practice awareness. I try to expand the depth and duration of my awareness at all times. (Or at least whenever I am awake enough to realize I have the opportunity…) Whether I am at work, communicating, creating or just relaxing, I make an effort to be present with and listen to what is going on around and in me.

I am also drawn to situations, experiences and relationships where I am forced to admit I am ignorant, uncertain and may never know the right answer or path to follow. Embracing this constant uncertainty keeps me in a state of enhanced awareness and consciousness.

I also practice to the best of my ability the principles of compassion, non-judgment, personal growth, authenticity, accountability, integrity, ownership, listening and facilitating. Sprinkled with a (sometimes too) liberal dose of humor and spontaneity, these principles guide my spirituality and growth.

But there’s more to my notion of spirituality than these few hints – lots more.

Undoubtedly you have a few thoughts as well.  And so a blog is born. Hopefully I can stimulate you to question your own beliefs and values as I explore my own and we take this path together.

Until next time,

Clyde

Growing Pains or Growing Panes – Lydia Taft

As I sit here and consider the first thing I might write in this column, it occurs to me that a brief introduction about the person doing the writing might be necessary.  Of course I can give you the basics… the credentials behind my name, the hours worked doing one thing or another, maybe even a bit about the years I’ve been on this healing path.  But as I consider that, and write and cross things off my list of who I think I am in this world, I realize I wish to express a deeper part of myself.  I’d like an outlet to share how I go about seeking and finding the truth of me.  I’d like to express the knowing and uncertain aspects of myself… all that inspires my exploration, has me bumping into stagnation, and, at times, achieving expansion.

This blog will explore Growing Pains: my life’s growing pains.  While considering what I would write about, I had asked the universe what the theme of this blog should be and I awoke one morning and heard “Growing Pains.”  It was a very clear statement and so, of course, I argued with it.  I tend to do that a lot, fighting against intuition, and I find myself smiling as I write this because that’s a perfect example of my struggle:  I ask for a clear message, I get one, and then I argue with myself about why it’s wrong.

So that morning, after receiving such a clear message, I circled around in my mind about what the significance of growing pains could be and what about it had me bothered.  I realized I didn’t like the word pain.  It has a negative connotation after all and I have promised myself I will exist on a path of positivity.  So I knew I didn’t want to emphasize the word pain.  But I still wasn’t convinced and since this little argument with myself was going on a bit, I gave myself permission to just let it be and wait to see what the universe had to show me.

I went to work and ran it by my girlfriend.  When I told her the theme that I had in mind, she immediately heard the word pane, instead of pain.  And then she shared this: “Sometimes in life we are simply looking out of the wrong window.”  When she said that, what I heard is that there are times in life when I need to turn my attention to a different view, so I might see something more beautiful.  She sold me.  So whether one hears Growing Pain, or Growing Pane, it is all the same thing.  It’s only a matter of what I am choosing to focus on.

So here’s what I expect we might share in this series of blogs…  I am on this life journey and I am guaranteed to run into my own barriers and judgments and opinions.  It’s a daily occurrence that I have surrendered to.  I have learned that the more entrenched I am in my own beliefs, the more difficult it is to get up and look at things from a different perspective.  This is the painful part.  This is the part I will explore in my writing.

I expect that I’ll share the walls I run into and the stumbling blocks I trip over.  But I’ll also share my journey to the other side, past those obstacles. And if I am in a place of awareness, I’ll share how I actually get there.  Always, I will seek to view things from a different perspective.  And if you have your own insight, as I stumble along this path, I am happy to take a look out of your window.

The Sweet Sanctuary of Silence – Monica Myers

I am comforted by the sweet sanctuary of silence. And most especially this time of the year. There is something about the frozen earth, diminished sunlight, and greater darkness – when all of nature is hushed and sleeping, awaiting cyclic renewal – that prompts me to seek out silent moments. It is an instinct, really.

All of our technological inventions, our conveniences and gear, our artificially warmed homes, have made winter conditions less harsh and more comfortable, but they have not – and for this I am grateful – made us immune to the organic rhythms of the earth. Our personal and collective human biological states are connected to the natural world in ways both subtle and obvious.  I take great comfort in knowing that nature holds profound wisdom and is perpetually reflecting life’s lessons back to me.

Now, I confess that I do enjoy winter and secretly take both pleasure and pride in the special quality of magical Colorado snow that blankets our beloved state. But those first winter days of biting cold and suddenly diminished sunlight can be shockingly rude (how dare Mother Nature!), as if one breezy door has careened shut and another, heavier door to a more subdued reality is beckoning. We humans are often unsettled by change and with the change of seasons I at first find myself uncomfortable, unsettled, and restless.

And then I remember.

It’s often a bodily remembrance first. I begin to move more slowly, crave richer foods, desire less socialization and more stillness. Then that bodily remembrance reaches inward, washing over my whole being. Just as the life force of the natural world folds in on itself in hibernation, I feel an inner call to withdraw energy from the external world and shift attention more directly to my inner world. It starts as a sort of gentle, friendly curiosity, this inner call. And then, something deep within my soul stirs. Listening to this voice, I move closer to silence and closer to greater connection with my soul.

When I allow this silence to settle, something amazing inevitably happens. The silence actually fills with a presence—not an emptiness. I know this presence to be a part of myself; it has been patiently yearning for utterance and in the silence it naturally and effortlessly comes alive.

Mahatma Gandhi said:

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.”

The expanded sense of self that often arises in an attitude of silence can also be referred to as “felt sense.” Elfie Hinterkopf, PhD., described:

“The felt sense is a wonderful phenomenon. It contains all of your inner knowing about a given situation and that which you do not yet know about yourself. Your felt sense can lead you to the next growth step. It can even sense an answer that has not yet been experienced. The felt sense is something before mind, body, and spirit are split apart.”

A felt sense can be about anything – difficult feelings and experiences or uplifting, positive ones. Either way we tap into the river of experience that is flowing through us and deepen our connection to the here and now. We instinctively attend to that which facilitates our transformation and growth.

Like other mindfulness practices, cultivating felt sense takes time.

All you need to start is a willingness to see what wants to appear. Then direct your attention to the body. You might begin by noticing your breath first and then other sensations, content, images, and intricacies. See what arises and welcome it. If something specific comes up, stay with it for a while, keep it company. The amount of time you may need varies. Don’t worry about doing it “right.” Explore, play, and listen to your innate intelligence. And let me know how it goes. You may find, as I did, that the silence is not so silent after all.

Feel free to contact Monica Myers at monimyers69@gmail.com with comments, curiosities, and questions.

 

Warriors Way LLC: Surfing the Waves of Opportunity – Glenn Bott

Are you living your life to its full potential?

Are YOU at your full potential?

NOW is the time to begin empowering yourself and start creating the life of your dreams.  Since you’re the only one in charge of your thoughts, how about doing a little reframing to give yourself a new outlook on life?  What a great way to start the New Year!

By viewing your life as an ongoing adventure instead of the more traditional work/personal/weekend compartmentalization, you empower yourself.  Do you know of anyone who’s failed at an adventure?  Me neither.  The old compartmentalization structure doesn’t fit in today’s world.  We live in a world of incredible opportunity.  Let me help you to begin growing and taking advantage of all the opportunity that surrounds you.

I offer the analogy of our life as a surfer riding the waves.  By using this analogy as the framework for your life, it broadens your concept of life, can reduce your stress and anxiety, and is a lot more fun.

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Image from http://fishnosara.com/

 

Surfing is analogous to life:

  • There’s an infinite number of waves (opportunities)
  • There are no bad choices
  • The fun is in choosing the wave and taking the ride
  • Every wave you ride helps you improve your surfing skills

 

This is an excellent model to use for this New Year.  It’s a great analogy because surfing is an individual event, begins with a personal choice, is all about the ride, and is done for the fun/exhilaration.  If you adopt these attitudes, it will transform you and your life.

When moving forward in your life, you may encounter a time where your current path seems stagnant.  The excitement just isn’t there.  You’re going through your day on auto-pilot, not fully engaged in what you’re doing.  These are the sure signs that it’s time for a change.

Remembering that you’re in charge of your life, begin to explore new possibilities.  Say YES to whatever comes along – much like a surfer paddling out to ride the next wave.  Explore new avenues and careers – step out of your comfort zone.  Fully embrace your new mindset that this is all a grand adventure, and begin moving in new directions.  The Universe will support you by arranging new coincidences, emails, phone calls, invitations, etc.  Do your part by acknowledging your support, giving thanks, and taking the next step.

Have the courage to investigate new opportunities and try them on for size.  With the surfer’s attitude, this new opportunity is just a wave that looks fun to ride.  It’s inviting and seems to be setting up perfectly for you.  Remember – this isn’t a forever ride, just another wave.  There are many more that will follow.

Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfing

Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfing

 

In today’s world you don’t have to choose a new career or path that will last forever.  Those days are long gone.  We live in an age of incredible opportunity.  Try it on for size and see how it feels.  If you’re energized, excited, and engaged – these are good signs that you’re on your Path with Heart.  As long as you’re moving and interacting with others, new opportunities will arise.  This is the way the Universe works – it supports you in what you’re doing.

If this new path once again begins to feel dull, ask for some guidance and begin exploring again.  Open your mind up to the endless opportunities that are coming your way.  Expect to be supported in your choice and be on the watch for how this support manifests.

Check out this short clip by Kaylin Richardson.  She’s got a Warrior’s attitude.  I like her quote – “Try it all” – great words to live by.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3021944/bottom-line/embracing-a-dynamic-life-in-times-of-constant-change?partner=rss

Toilet Training for My Inner Child: Introduction (And True Facts) – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

Nothing has been more on my mind in the last six months than exactly how I was going to begin this – my first blog. And nothing has demonstrated more clearly so many of my weaknesses.

I have struggled with doubt: Do I have anything of value to say? Can I adequately express whatever I feel strongly about? Are my beliefs and perspectives of any interest to anyone but me?

I have struggled with fear: Will I represent People House poorly? Will I show myself to be as boring, ill-informed and/or pedantic as many of my “inner committee” voices avow? Can I really pull this off?

I have struggled with inadequacy: I don’t have the credentials needed to speak with any authority. How can a life-long blue-collar worker with “some college” have anything interesting to say? Who do I think I am?

I have struggled with procrastination: Naaah – I’ve got lots of time before I have to produce anything concrete… I do my best work at the last minute… Just how long can I put off actually writing anything?

Interestingly, I noticed that my thoughts mostly ran to reasons for my potential failure in trying something new. I rarely found myself coming up with support for this experience being successful and rewarding. In fact, only when talking with friends and relatives did I hear positive comments about this opportunity. Hmmm. This “gave me furiously to think.”

I recognized I had been struggling with staying present.

All the above represent what happens inside me when I look to the future instead of staying present. In this moment, I have no fear, no misgivings, no doubt. And so this blog will be a continual exercise in being present, being open and honest about what is happening for me and what my experience of living is like.

As one way of beginning, let me give you a brief glimpse of some of the ways in which I show up in the world:

I was born in 1952. I have one younger brother. I have been successfully married for 38 years and am the father of two sons – one married with a daughter and a son. My father died several years ago and my mother is 89 and resides in an assisted living facility in upstate New York. This may all sound perfectly normal until I tell you that my father’s sister married my mother’s brother and both my grandmothers lived for many years after their husbands’ deaths with two unmarried daughters, two of whom had psychotic episodes… But I digress.

I also identify myself (less factually) as a personable/isolated, insightful/insipid, intellectual/playful, gracious/grating, quiet/clamorous, wise/glib, listening/storytelling perpetrator/victim. I also have years of experience in psychotherapy as both facilitator and patient. In short, I easily relate to paradox and understand impasse. There are good reasons I call myself a Minister of Uncertainty – I refuse to fit in any predetermined category.

I am truly looking forward to this adventure.

And along the way, just call me,

Clyde

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth