Mission Critical

    Photo by Christopher Sardegna

 

Photo by Christopher Sardegna

What is life for? It is for you.
— Abraham Maslow

One of the exercises from 5: Where Will You Be Five Years From Today? was to write my mission statement. This felt lofty. I certainly understood the value when one is building a business, but this was personal and I wasn't sure what creating one would offer me. 

A life coach by trade which finds me frequently kicking my own tires and checking under the proverbial hood because I love the act and art of inquiry. This one got me thinking which of course was the point and brought me from the general to the particular. It flowed easily and still feels resonant. Offering it here to give it air and hold accountability for me and to serve as an invitation for you to explore what yours might be. 

My mission is to co-create a kinder, loving, more compassionately connected world where people are curious about one another and share their stories, celebrate their differences, make eye contact, give longer hugs, laugh often, where intuition is a respected rudder, play is encouraged and authenticity embraced.

What about you? What is your mission statement?  

Just ask yourself, “What is my calling, my life’s aim? What inspires me the most? What activity or service is my core values urging me to pursue?
— Dan Zadra

 

Would love if you cared to share in the comments below.

It’s not you. It’s me.

Saturday night was a full moon of the Blue Moon variety. Full moons are a great time to acknowledge and release what no longer serves us. There are many things I want to release in order to make room for what I want to create both in my life and my work. While it felt cathartic to write them down and burn them in our fireplace, there was an elephant in the room and it wasn’t going to step into the fireplace on it’s own.  As an analogue spirited gal (Luddite-lite) I do okay living in a digital world, but have noticed I've gotten further away from the things I used to love and that connect me to me. Things like writing and being able to read actual books cover to cover.  I parted ways with cable 15 years ago because the commercials and the 24 hour new cycle left me depleted and sad. Yet over the years, like a frog in the proverbial pot, I’ve found those familiar feelings are creeping back when I am on Facebook. So something has to change and it looks it'll have to be me.   Having just finished the Whole30 program, which was a 30 day reset for my body, it occurred to me I can do the same for Social Media*. Facebook is akin to brain sugar to me and can leave me feeling strung out and twitchy. So I am staging an intervention for myself.  I share this not to speak ill of a medium that has offered up connection and access. Rather I feel like declaring it here, while not remarkable, will help hold me accountable. Facebook serves a great many people and can facilitate really lovely things. I meant it when I said it was me.   *Exception is Instagram (@honey.trabitz) as I enjoy the photos and because it is covered in puppies.   

Saturday night was a full moon of the Blue Moon variety. Full moons are a great time to acknowledge and release what no longer serves us. There are many things I want to release in order to make room for what I want to create both in my life and my work. While it felt cathartic to write them down and burn them in our fireplace, there was an elephant in the room and it wasn’t going to step into the fireplace on it’s own.

As an analogue spirited gal (Luddite-lite) I do okay living in a digital world, but have noticed I've gotten further away from the things I used to love and that connect me to me. Things like writing and being able to read actual books cover to cover.

I parted ways with cable 15 years ago because the commercials and the 24 hour new cycle left me depleted and sad. Yet over the years, like a frog in the proverbial pot, I’ve found those familiar feelings are creeping back when I am on Facebook. So something has to change and it looks it'll have to be me. 

Having just finished the Whole30 program, which was a 30 day reset for my body, it occurred to me I can do the same for Social Media*. Facebook is akin to brain sugar to me and can leave me feeling strung out and twitchy. So I am staging an intervention for myself.

I share this not to speak ill of a medium that has offered up connection and access. Rather I feel like declaring it here, while not remarkable, will help hold me accountable. Facebook serves a great many people and can facilitate really lovely things. I meant it when I said it was me. 

*Exception is Instagram (@honey.trabitz) as I enjoy the photos and because it is covered in puppies.

 

Center of the Cinnamon Roll

A friend once told me about a brunch she attended where they had ordered a cinnamon roll to share with the table. One of the gals reached over and took the center piece for herself. I think I audibly gasped when I heard this. Could not imagine what possessed this woman to assume that was okay. I have shared this story with others searching for the wisdom and why of it. Some people said good for her taking what she wants and others felt similarly horrified at her brazenness.  It has taken awhile, but I've since realized it was actually not about the woman or her motivations, but rather what it brought up for me. I’ve read the airplane placard about putting one’s oxygen mask on first countless times and can accept the sound reasoning of such a thing. Have blessedly never been tested and while I would hope that I c/would follow instructions it has generally not been my orientation in life. Neither for the proverbial placing my mask on first or claiming the soft gooey center of the roll. I saw doing for self as selfish. Blessedly I no longer subscribe to this thinking, but how far does the pendulum swing?

I find the heart of my coaching work is helping my clients discover what they value and using those values as a rudder as they set off down their respective rivers or rapids depending on the day. Without fail it is soon illuminated that they also need to find their value separate from “other.” We are a society of hungry ghosts in varying degrees. Gaping maws looking for our next fix. 

While this inquiry is not entirely about the cinnamon roll it is also not not about the cinnamon roll. That I was writing this in a cafe that served cinnamon rolls it seemed fitting, nay required for research, that I order one. One where I can have the center to myself. Thing is it was way too sweet. Made me think I'd rather share it. After much swirling I’ve come back around to the important of sharing our centers. Perhaps it's not about scoring the best part of a thing, but rather the shared experiences. I say this not to mute or condemn individual striving or achievement. Or suggest the exactitude of measuring out portions so everyone has exactly the same as the way, but what about also celebrating the communal. For me it was about not wanting to elbow or knee my way through or to a thing. It was likely more about being considered the "good girl" and demurring so others could have and then privately feeling shocked that they took what I offered up. Notable exceptions are beating a crowd to the bathroom in public spaces, but I come by that honestly as I am my father’s daughter and we do not generally handle lines well. 

Somewhere between taking/going after what we want and knowing that it is not necessarily the thing of a thing that fills us up.

I do not have the answers and am just being with the inquiry today.

The Great Escape

photo by  Paula Borowska

What is your greatest fear?

Mine? Definitely being locked up for mistaken identity. So maybe watching Making a Murderer through my fingers was not the best decision last night? (I mean. I can't even.)

In truth I had a bit of that in my past life. Feeling like an impostor about to be discovered, called out for playing a part. Keeping my head down, ticking boxes, connecting dots, staying inside the lines, not rocking boats…er…I could go on, but you’re sharp and no doubt have long since picked up what I am putting down. That too can be it’s own sort of prison. 

Now as a coach I get to go deep to the heart of the "What if…?" with my clients. We discover what's possible on the other side of that safe, possibly stuck place. 

This article grabbed me today because it asks a big question“…are you ready to step into your future?” 

Well, are you?

Stepping through, over, around, inevitably leads to transformation and sometimes sweet dance moves, but more importantly is a brave and bold act. It says you aren't willing to settle. Sure you can remain in place and still arrive in your tomorrow by lather, rinse and repeating your safe and same, but is it truly a future of your making? Is it what you really want? 

I believe you are here to do big things. The big and unique to only you sort of big things. That gal next to you on the bus or the fella at the other table they each have their own big unique things to do, but what about you? Are you ready? 

Like James Van Praagh (a survival evidence medium – see big and unique to him) points out, “We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else's idea of life.” Word to the third, JVP!

Sidebar: Is it just me or does he look like a happier Stacy Keach? Keach once said, “Where were they when the Russians went down?” In it’s own way profound and super meaningful. 

I so get it! It is tempting to want to fall into lock step with the Jones's or try to Keep up with a Kardashian. You listen to Play it Safe on a loop while following “their” lead right into the safety of little boxes, on the hillsides and then there you are. Carefully curated social media feeds are making everyone cross-eyed so we don’t really see each other or ourselves. 

Coaching is an opportunity to get quiet and clear and do it in a super creative, engaging and safe (though decidedly unsafe to your old habits and limiting beliefs) way. You learn to distinguish your unique voice over the din. Really taking the time to answer the brilliant Mary Oliver's question in The Summer Day, “…what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Who has your answers? Um, that’d be you! Only you know your secret wishes or how you truly want to feel in your life. So why a coach? Why me? Working together you will get a fierce advocate, sounding board, accountability partner and cheerleader all rolled into one. We are partners in this work. And it is work. Your life work. 

I know I want to live in a world where people are living their lives in a way that lights them up. That kind of living is contagious and next thing you know we are Hands Across America (hand sanitizers at the ready because cold/flu season) because I believe that when we show up, get curious, and work together truly amazing things can happen.

It’s January, there’s a new moon, are you’re ready for something more? Let’s set up a :30 complimentary session, get to know each other and ask "What if….?" together. 

Here’s to dwelling in possibility in 2016!

In a Word

As I was asleep a bit (read: well) before midnight reached Pacific Standard Time I missed seeing the wee Baby New Year toddle in, fresh new calendar page clutched in their chubby little fist, but I woke up feeling the effect of this blank page, clean slate. It is the first day of January and we have all been issued a fresh start because that is the way the Gregorian calendar turns. 

2016 what ever will we do together? Assuming we are lucky enough to get to spend all 366 (hello leap year) of your 24 hour days together how will we fill them? My practice the last 3 years was to have a word to serve as my stake for what I wanted to invite in and this year is no different. This year I plan to use VIBRANT as my rudder and will very much welcome a year full of energy and enthusiasm.

So while I muster up the energy and enthusiasm for making tea and doing last night's dishes I will also wonder what word you will choose for your next very special year. The lovely Susannah Conway has a gorgeous and free course for this if you are interested in such things. 

Forest for the Trees

I am living the dream. My dream anyway. Home is a cabin in the woods away from the busy doing of city life. No more diesel buses rumbling or drunken packs of howling young men stumbling in checkered shirts and fleeces outside my window. Yet it is not like I imagined it would be. 

I did not rise early this morning to sip hot water with lemon, there was no bowing to my meditation cushion (there is no meditation cushion), my dog is not curled up by the roaring fire and I am not sitting with a contented, all knowing smile feeling connected to all that is (insert requisite eye roll here).

Instead I can be found wearing a hat and gloves inside because my cabin is cold, like olive oil is a solid in the cupboard cold, twitching because ticks and Googling symptoms of Lyme disease because I pull 100's off Leo whose happiness is dependent on tearing through the woods like a crazed wildebeest on his twice sometimes thrice daily walks. My fireplace is basically decorative even though I fill it with logs and poke at it every 15 min. My DVD fire implied as much heat and needed less tending. My books remain in stacks unread and as I said nothing is as I imagined it would be. 

So what is the lesson in this? Be careful what you wish for? Wherever you go, there you are? (Why do these all end in prepositions? Googled and discovered this is no longer a thing).

While my realized dream may not look like I imagined, truth be told if it had I'd surely be bored out of my decorative gourd. Instead I've learned quite a bit about myself in this A-frame house atop a mountain. Have learned to listen. Learning my body's wisdom is as valuable if not more than my mind's. That the beauty of this adulting human thing is that we all have choices available and can choose again and differently. That as the brilliant Joseph Campbell said, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” That we can learn as much if not more from what doesn't work for us as what does. That there is beauty in the breakdown. That when you "arrive" then that part of the journey is over.

So as I huddle in front of my faux-ish fire and contemplate my word, my rudder, for 2016 I will also think of and thank all that has shown up in 2015 – the love and lessons and then I will let go. I will smile a contented smile and go back to stroking the pages of my Kinfolk Home (read: House Porn) dreaming of warm mountain homes with sweet dogs curled up by a roaring fire.

What will you invite in for 2016?

Own Life

Update: Oliver Sacks passed away on August 30, 2015. He was 82.

This article moved me. When we are faced with the sands almost having run out where does our attention turn. Can't we turn our gazes there now? What would that look and feel like on the daily?

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

My Own Life

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

By OLIVER SACKS

FEBRUARY 19, 2015

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Oliver Sacks, a professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, is the author of many books, including “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.”