Tea as my teacher

I’ve been drinking a lot of tea lately. So, my teakettle has been getting a lot of use. Something is happening each time I pour my relaxing cup of tea out of that cheap white plastic kettle – it spills, every time, onto the countertop waiting with open arms. Ugh! I get frustrated every time. So this morning I decided to try something different. I started pouring it and laughed as it spilled on the countertop. Then I kept trying different angles and different speeds of pouring, to no avail. I never did figure out a pattern that really worked, but I at least it was more empowering (and entertaining! ☺), to try something different. My normal urge would be to just throw it out and get a kettle that is more pleasing to the eye and makes pouring tea more relaxing.

Then, I got thinking. Where else in my life do I wait until the brink of frustration to actually try something new – a new perspective, or new way of doing things? Or where else do I “throw things out” because they are frustrating? I’ve always said our trials are our teachers, but where am I not adapting, experimenting, or playing to learn? And where might I actually be “kicking out my teacher?”

In the coming week, take a pause when you start to get frustrated. Try on a new perspective, try a new way, invite in the teacher, and see what you learn.

Reducing Your Impact

Reducing my Impact –
15 ways to feel great while traveling (and they aren’t all what you think!)

Usually I’m inclined to write about self-reflection and increasing your impact on others. Today, I’m inspired to write about reducing your impact…on the environment. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and a bit repulsed by the amount of garbage that is created when traveling. This observation has been amplified by my husband’s dedication and passion to finding ways to befriend, instead of exploit, our planet. Seriously, I don’t even throw a receipt in the garbage…because I know he will pluck it out. It’s recyclable! ☺

On planes, in hotels, at airports, and in training rooms, I have noticed simple ways that I can reduce my impact and I’m excited to share them with you. Please forward this to anyone you know who travels!

  1. Normally pack some snacks? Me too! Use a reusable fabric bag. (You can throw it in the laundry!)
  2. Need to put your carry on liquids in a bag? Use a reusable bag that is stronger than a Ziploc. I love mine and can throw it back and forth and it never rips!
  3. Going to get coffee when you arrive at the airport? Bring a re-usable mug.
  4. Going to need some water at the airport, on the plane, in your meeting? Bring a re-usable water bottle.
  5. But wait, do you sometimes want an orange juice, or a Bloody Mary on the plane? Bring a reusable, collapsible cup! (I have a stainless steel one.)
  6. Going to need a meal at the airport on the go? Bring a reusable bag to put the food in so you don’t have to use their plastic bag.
  7. Oh, and are you going to need utensils for that meal? Bring your own! Bamboo utensils are great to eat from. Bonus, it feels exotic.
  8. Washing your hands a lot? USE THAT hand dryer! Slow down, enjoy the comfort, it’s a mini spa for your hands!
  9. Do you like to drink tea at night or coffee in the morning in your hotel room? We know that many hotels give you paper or Styrofoam cups. At check-in, ask for a ceramic mug from the restaurant. It feels great to drink that morning coffee or evening tea from a real mug. (And if you forgot your water bottle, ask for a glass drinking glass so you don’t have to use those icky plastic ones.)
  10. Want some creamer but don’t need all the extras in the plastic package? Ask for little creamers from the restaurant (still garbage, I know), but at least I’m not wasting a bunch of things I’m not using and I got some better cream. I haven’t quite got brave enough to ask for a glass of half-and-half to put in the room fridge if there is one…but maybe next week.
  11. Stay at B&Bs instead of hotels if you can. They can be cheaper than hotels and create a lot less garbage! (Plus, it’s more fun.)
  12. Still using paper ticket? Ok, it took me a while to trust the flight ticket on the phone, versus paper…but it is one small way to reduce waste! Please sign up, if you haven’t yet.
  13. Feel you deserve those little toiletries in the bathroom you don’t use? I’m still guilty of this one, but what about just leaving those small shampoos, body lotion and conditioners if you aren’t using them?
  14. Do you need that napkin that you get with each item from the flight attendant? Just decline it. If you do take, save the napkins you don’t use and use them later. Please use it before you trash it!
  15. Want to save some water? Choose the “green” option at your hotel and reuse your towels. Save the water and you might get reward points!

Just think if 1% of frequent flyers did this???

Be the change you want to see in the world. – Ghandi

When’s the right time for your dream?

I spent a couple precious days with my 83-year-old mother helping her with a marketing plan for her self-published Catholic children’s book. She published it at 76 years old. She wrote the book in her late 20’s, but put it away until her 70s (when all nine children were gone!) My mother didn’t know how to merge two Word documents together, yet she pitched to publishing companies, worked with a self-publisher, researched and found an illustrator in Canada, and did numerous marketing activities on her own! She went to craft fairs, stopped in at Catholic bookstores, collected testimonials, and sent postcards to relatives. She forged her path, overcoming numerous hurdles…in her 70s! She did all of this almost 50 years after writing the book. She waited…until she had the time and energy to make her book come true. She found her right time.

I also spoke recently to someone who is working on a memoir. She’s been working on it for 10 years and really focused on it for the past year. She was almost to the point of looking for a publisher when events made it necessary to put the book on the back burner. She is grieving the loss of completion and momentum, but knows she is doing what is right for her family and believes the choice will give her more energy and optimism. She will keep taking baby steps instead of the planned leaps and bounds. She is finding her right time.

A client of mine had a dream of making movies. He kept it on the back burner…until he found out he had ALS. He made a short film to capture some of his life and how much he loved his wife and children. He wanted his children to see him playing basketball, joking around and being his full self. I remember sitting in the movie house as we watched his short film. I could have been sad that he wouldn’t be able to make more movies, and I was. But more so, I was rejoicing that he made his dream come true. He could have given up. He didn’t. He made a film, with an amazing purpose. Maybe his dream was planted for exactly that – a memory for his children. He waited until he had real energy and momentum. He found his right time.

zAmya Theater Project, the homeless theater project I founded in 2004, is celebrating 15 years. But it too, didn’t happen until 8 years after another idea I had to support people experiencing homelessness gained no traction. At the right time, the right dream came true.

Why do I share all these stories?

It’s been rumbling around in my head…when is the right time for our dreams to come true? How do we know? Should we push, push and make them happen, or should we follow our energy, our passion, our flow of time and resources?

I got thinking that perhaps our job is to stay present to what is giving us energy (spiritual, financial, emotional, physical) in a phase, a month, a week, a moment. What is really most important in the present time for my life to be full, energetic, and a forward movement? Perhaps we should just sit, quiet for a moment with our dreams, and see what we hear when we are still.

Take a little time with a dream you have. Just sit. Be still. And listen.

What’s the 2% truth?

One of the things that stuck out for me in relationship and systems coaching training I took was the phrase, “What’s the 2% truth?” In other words, when someone is giving you feedback, or sharing something about you that you do not agree with – what happens when you stop and ask yourself that question?

When we don’t get feedback we agree with, our instinct is often to argue back, blame someone or something else, perhaps brush it off, or turn it around and make it about the person we received the feedback from. But when you stop and ask yourself, “What’s the 2% truth in that statement?” you are open to vistas of growth. Yep, there is learning in everything.

Well, yesterday was that day for me. One of the participants in the leadership program I was facilitating made a remark about me having ADHD and being a bit “scattered.” Whoa. Hands down. Stop me in my tracks. Quickly in my mind I started protecting myself with deflective thoughts. “I’m energetic and they see it as scattered.” “I’m working really hard to meet everyone’s learning style needs and that’s hard.” “I didn’t write the material I presented and it feels disjointed.” While my thoughts had some truth in them for me, letting them go and asking myself, “What’s the 2% truth in their perspective?” allowed me to dig deep and grow.  It was true. I had not been very grounded. I’m not sure I thanked the participant, but I am so very grateful for their feedback. I love my energetic, on-the-spot ability to change directions, and my keen attention to multiple needs – AND, this time, it came off as, well, “scattered.” So, humbly, I’ll admit, there was more than 2% truth in it!

Where in your life might you benefit from taking a pause and asking, “What’s the 2% truth in that?” Try it out and let me know what you learn!

Look to the future, but stay in the present…

Today, I was walking my dog Leo on the icy sidewalks. Leo is old, and has hip dysplasia and arthritis, so we were taking it very slowly. I was very, very careful, helping him navigate the really slippery spots. A tumble for Leo could be very serious. He kept tugging to walk further than I was comfortable, but I let him lead.

After a while, I found my mind drifting off into the future, fueled by my morning journaling. I love thinking about future possibilities and goals. Not 90 seconds into that daydream, I felt a tug on the leash. I turned around and Leo was flat on his belly with all four legs splayed out, unable to get up! I snapped back into the present, carefully lifting him and making sure his back legs were still working. He was a trooper and kept walking. Whew!

As I continued to walk home I realized how important it is to stay present in the here and now.

The end of a year, and beginning of a new one, is a great time for reflection. What went well for you? What do you wish would have been different? What does that mean for you in the coming year?

Enjoy the fun of setting your North Star for the year, but don’t forget that it is your hour-by-hour actions and behaviors that set the path of living the life you want.

As you reflect on 2018, may you do so with gratefulness, no matter what happened, and be open to the possibilities of 2019. Be gentle with yourself and act your way into your dreams.

Break out of your own perspective…and get empowered.

  • Break out of your own perspective…and get empowered.

I don’t know about you, but many of my friends, family and clients are dealing with a sense of being stuck…almost victimized. Yes, I’ll admit, I’ve been feeling a bit like this lately too. So, what do we do for ourselves, or with our clients and loved ones, to help us gain a sense of empowerment and possibility? And perhaps even kindness? Adaptive Action and Stance of Inquiry

Adaptive Action – What? So What? Now What? is HSD Institute’s simple iterative process, that when processed deeply, opens up invigorating energy and movement. We all take adaptive actions every day when we see what is happening in situations (What?), analyze it (So What?), and take action (Now What?) You see it all around you – look at the protesters, the migrants looking for a safety, the families with infighting. The key difference in Adaptive Action is that it points to useful action (not your habitual action!) as you analyze your situation to inform your next step. Adaptive Action helps you reflect on where you might only be seeing it through your own lens, the people you know, the experiences you’ve had, your education and preconceived notions. It is not easy to approach situations with an openness that brings about new ideas, perspectives and possible action. We need tools to help us be more mindful and to break open the gates to more ideas and perspectives.

In these times when it feels like we are all firmly grasping at own beliefs and perspectives, we need to help ourselves, and our clients, live our values and stay open to possibilities. So, what can help us do that? Here is one of my favorite HSD tools that I often use with my coaching clients – Stance of Inquiry.

  • Turn judgment into curiosity
  • Turn disagreement into shared exploration
  • Turn defensiveness into self reflection
  • Turn assumptions into questions

WHAT is your current situation?

SO WHAT new thoughts or ideas might you have if you stand in inquiry?

NOW WHAT will you do?

Can you see how this might help you in a jam you are in, or perhaps a decision you have to make? Can you see how this might help your team, your clients, your family? Using inquiry is a way to process the current situation, live your values and stay open to possibilities beyond your immediate response.

If you are a coach or consultant and would like to learn more tools to help you and your clients stay in choice, sign up for the Adaptive Action Coaching Lab that Royce Holladay (HSD Institute) and I are offering in March-April. Learn more HERE.

And post a response about what you learn by standing in inquiry!

Reframing the Negative: A Lesson From My Dog

  • Reframing the Negative: A Lesson From My Dog

I have two dogs, Siena is 14 and Leo is 11. They have always been complete opposites…except they both like treats. Everything else is basically opposite. Now that they are older, those differences seem to grow even wider, especially when it comes to pace and walks. Siena is fired up with lots of energy and a skip in her step, while Leo walks as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders. Walking two dogs at this different of a pace was starting to drive me crazy and stretching my arms out so I was like a Stretch Armstrong doll. (Yes, I know some of you may not be old enough to remember this amazing toy. ☺)

I decided I had to change things up or I would go nuts. I decided to walk them separately so that they could both get a walk that was satisfying to them. I found myself still irritated, “Give, give, give, that’s all I ever do. Now I really won’t have time to meditate in the morning.” Ick, another mindset that wasn’t very satisfying.

This morning I decided to give myself lots of time while walking them separately instead of trying to jam two walks in the same amount of time. What I realized is that walking Leo was meditative. If I wasn’t leaning forward, trying to get somewhere (even though there was no where to “get”), then in fact, he was actually giving me the opportunity to meditate. And meditate where I prefer – outside! So today I did a walking meditation with Leo and I found great delight in my dogs’ differences. Siena gave me the opportunity to get my heart rate up and Leo the opportunity to ground myself.

Where are there things or people in your life that are frustrating or irritating? Where is difference feeling like it is getting in the way versus giving you an opportunity? What might happen if you repurpose or take a new perspective? What beauty might unfold?


What I Learned From My Vitamix

  • What I Learned From My Vitamix

Today after making a nasty tasting pea protein shake (which they usually are because pea protein is gross), it was time to clean my Vitamix. While I do not enjoy cleaning at all, cleaning my Vitamix is a joy. All you have to do is drop some soap and water in the blender and blend-wash it. It’s slick, easy and gratifying. Ok, maybe I’m a little eccentric, but it’s the small things in life for me. Anyway, as I cranked on the blender and watched it spin and clean the blender, I noticed something stuck to the side of the blender. Rats, those little flax seeds really get to me sometimes. I let the blender run and run, waiting for that seed to finally give up its grip on the side and get sucked into the washing funnel…but it didn’t let go.

As I reflected there looking at that flax seed, I realized that washing my Vitamix was a bit like life. We can shake things up to try and “clean” things up in our life and that is good. I love shaking things up! And yet, sometimes there are things that stick to you, like the flax seed — things that need more than a shake up and whirlwind cleaning. There are things that need close examination, scrubbing, reflection and attention. There are many ways to take steps in your life that give you a clean, fresh feeling. And the things you want to freshen up, what do they need? A burst of energy and shake up? Or a slower examination, scrubbing, and nurturing attendance?

Take a little time with your Vitamix life and see how you’d like to refresh it.

Photo via GetInspiredEveryday.com.