Seek Solitude

Solitude

“We live, in fact, in an age starved for solitude.” -C.S. Lewis

Today it takes a conscious effort to be in solitude, with noise and interruption swarming around us… emails, text messages, social media posts, meetings and obligations, and all the countless new intrusions from technology.

These intrusions keep us from taking the deep dive to where reserves of inspiration live within us. Ergonomists say information overload distracts and clutters our thinking.  The only way to achieve clarity is to seek out moments of solitude. All the great leaders in history sought clarity, creativity, emotional balance, and courage via solitude.

No matter who you are—a parent, a CEO, a celebrity, a teacher, a neurosurgeon—you must seek regular intervals of solitude. It is essential to self-awareness. In order to lead and inspire others, you have to lead and be inspired yourself.

Constant connection to intrusions, such as phone alerts, deaden the mind and soul. Part of the solution is simply to unplug; to make yourself inaccessible. This is not the norm, and you will feel uncomfortable at first. You might perhaps try for small amounts of time first until you get used to being inaccessible. The other part is just being aware of what is lost inside. What thoughts are swimming around that you never have time to consider, or to even let materialize? What is inside of you that deserves examination?

Solitude is where things in your subconscious take form and become tangible. It allows you to access intuition. I love this quote from Jim Collins: “To engage in disciplined action first requires disciplined thought, and disciplined thought requires people who have the discipline to create quiet time for reflection. The net results is not doing more, but doing less. ‘Stop doing’ lists reflect great discipline more than ever-expanding to-do lists of frenetic activity.”

And here’s one of Warren Buffett’s best phrases: “Inactivity can be very intelligent behavior.”

So take some quiet time. Engage with this suggestion and commit to the hard work of time alone. It might feel like an indulgence, or maybe even a waste of your precious time at first—but through regular periods of solitude for reflection and self-examination, you will be amazed at the benefits you receive.

A great follow up resource: A book by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin: Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude.

 

Get Out of your Mind and Come to Your Senses

In May I attended a Wild Women Retreat Through the Eyes of The Horse, facilitated by Dragonfly Healing and Harmony Hills Natural Horse Facility. Every year I pick a retreat where I can rest, reflect and re-evaluate.

I need to identify where I am going, and if I am asking the right questions. And, most of all, I go to reset my nervous system. Our guides were Corinna Stevenson, Dragon Healing B, Ed. MATP- Ecopsychology, and Kari Bowser, B.A., Licensed Parelli Professional, two-star.

Over two and a half days, we were shown the “fox walk,” experienced clearing-the-mind meditation, and how to choose a sit spot, showing us that when you slow down your mind gets quieter.

Once quiet we were invited to ask and journal about the following questions…

  • What is my joy?
  • What is my love?
  • What is my fear?
  • What is my connection?
  • What do I crave?
  • What do I seek?
  • What does it mean to surrender?
  • How do I stand in my truth?
  • What is my medicine?
  • What does it mean to belong?
  • What is my confusion?
  • What is my next step?

Great questions, right? How often are we reacting to life instead of responding to the insights revealed in asking those questions?

Once we completed this reflection exercise, we came back to the circle for debriefing and sharing. The conversation around grief was very impactful.

“Grief sits on the pedestal of Beauty. You have grief because you care deeply about something. Beauty and grief are sisters,” says Corinna Stevenson. How wonderful to embrace grief—something we generally associate with misery and pain—in such an insightful way.

Next, Kari invited us to walk through the Harmony Hill’s herd without disturbing the herd’s energy… asking permission, stopping to check in with our own energy-reset to match the herd. How often we only have our own agenda. It is a true gift to connect with the big, beautiful creatures by asking, setting boundaries, and being curious.

Corinna shared “The School of Lost Boarders 4 Shield Model,” (http://schooloflostborders.org/content/four-shields-wholeness-excerpts-four-shields-initiatory-seasons-human-nature-lost-borders-pr) and shared the gifts of the Feminine, which are creation, cleansing, change, and unconditional love. The four gifts of the Masculine: student, teacher, provider, and protector.

Our parting gift, made by the facilitators, were bracelets created from hairs gifted from each horse, as reminders of the weekend, which exceeded my expectations. The clean food that was served gave us a mega-dose of vitality and sustenance, and the love and nurturing connections (people /horses) and environment were beautiful and meaningful.

One takeaway that I would like to pass on is The Sensory Nature Experience: it helps you to Get Out of Your Mind and Come to Your Senses. We use our senses to interface with the physical world, and our minds get so entangled that we are often regurgitating the same old thoughts and patterns, which keep us from living a whole life.

To begin find a perfect Sit Spot, find a place that is close, in nature, is safe and is alone. Begin by becoming present, breathe, and think about the exchange of oxygen from the plants and giving back the carbon dioxide.

Next see with the eyes of an owl, softening and expanding to your peripheral vision. What do you notice?

Now close your eyes and switch to hear with the ears of a deer. What do you hear with the right ear? And what do you hear with the left ear? What sounds are they? What direction are they coming from? Are you able to filter out some sounds and focus on others?

Opening your eyes, touch like a raccoon and feel objects around you and the earth. Ask permission for you to share space. Touch your body. What does it feel like? Are there any messages?

Next let your sense of smell and taste come forth. Open your mouth and take in a full breath of air. Smell the air. Does is smell fragrant, earthy, or something else?

After a short pause, shift your awareness to being “observed by nature, observed by the soul of the world,” as Corinna Stevenson says. Is it communicating with you? Does the wildlife nearby sense your presence? What is the history of the landscape? What does opening to this idea do to your awareness?

I chose to leave you with this condensed version of Corinna’s teaching: in no way is it given here with such sacredness and reverence as when she delivered it. This simple exercise truly does get you out of your mind and back to your senses.

 

3 Secrets to Success

Perhaps it is time to rethink New Years’ resolutions. Why? Because it works against our natural rhythm. Winter is the cycle of resting. Spring is the time to dive into action or start something new. You have the natural rhythm supporting you, everything is waking up, the sap is running… you naturally feel more alive and awake.

No matter what you’d like to change or achieve, the secrets to success are the same…

#1. Get clear.  As specifically as possible, decide want you want. The more clear you are on what you want to have in your life, the more likely you are to achieve it.

#2. Get perspective.  Most people don’t tell anyone what they want or what they are struggling with. Because of that, they don’t get an outside perspective.

#3. Get support.  Very few people achieve anything great alone. Sports stars have teammates and coaches, humanitarians have whole organizations, and you have a support system, too. Use them!

Check out my new program, perfect for SPRING— the time of reawakening and life!

*NEW* Renew YOU, Love Your Life!
90 Day Coaching Program

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You Already Know Who You Are

(Guest post submitted by J. Maier)

Many people my age go abroad to get to know themselves and to find out who they are. When my gap-year started, I was pretty sure I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted. Another thing I knew was that I definitely didn’t want to be like that.

I thought I am self-confident but shy, I need a plan for everything, couldn’t let things go their own way and, like my friends always say, I’m a stone without feelings.

Well… after already four months of being away from home, I can be still a stone and I do still love having plans for everything, but I learned two big things.

The first one is that my plans might not work out, but there is a reason why and my situation will be a lot better if I don’t stick to them just because they were my plans. I throw them away and guess what – I got some great opportunities. In my case, I was supposed to be in Canada for almost a whole year with a two month break in Jamaica and Cuba. Now I will be in Canada three times, in Jamaica and Cuba for two months, in South Africa for a couple months, and a few days at home in Germany. I experienced so many different things I wasn’t expecting at all. Stuff like milking cows, flying with a cat, being a bridesmaid, travelling so much, getting to know such great people, having a massage and so on.

The massage brings me to another point. I think travelling helps people to be on their own, but looking for and maybe even after myself means other things for me as well. For example having a massage; 90 minutes time for yourself, not doing or thinking about anything. It gives you a break in your daily routine and makes you enjoying life a bit more and being aware of your own body.

What I’m actually trying to say is, in the beginning I said I am self-confident but shy. Well, now I know I am definitely self-confident but I know as well that I’m definitely not shy. Angela’s coaching gave me another view on myself. I discovered what I thought is shyness is actually just the way I am. I will talk only when I have to say something and this might be pretty rare. So I can sit in a group of people without saying anything for hours but that doesn’t mean I’m not brave enough to say something. I just don’t want to say anything.

If there exist four different types of people, I am Type 4. I’m not talking a lot, my movements are straight and I have strict ways of seeing the world. For people who don’t know me I seem to be arrogant and close-mouthed and not really welcoming, but that’s just how I look like. Not what I am. But accepted this now and guess what… I learned to accept who I am.

So don’t go travelling to find out who you are. You know it already, you just have to accept it and learn more about yourself. Angela gave me great advice how to listen to myself and how to be aware of my personality. And the most important thing is to feel good with it and being proud of it. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should stop working on yourself. For example, as I said, I’m going backpacking in Jamaica and Cuba and I haven’t planned anything but the first hostel and the flights. That a huge step for me because it drives me crazy not to know what’s going on, but I’m sure I will grow with it and maybe I am a bit more relaxed later on. But even if this is not the case, I did something which is not my nature, and that’s already a big step forward. So feel free to go out of your comfort zone and grow. Because you can’t say, “I’m not able to do that,” unless you tried it.

So stop looking somewhere in the big world for something which is already in and around you.

 

Insights on How to Better Communicate with the Men in Your Life

 

Over the past year I had the privilege of discussing Man Information with men. The secret survey of men provided information from 2000 men. And another seminar I was fortunate to attend was called “Men are Like Dogs, and You are a Bad Owner.” Let me tell you—it was interesting! No rocks were left unturned.

Did you know that women make the mistake of communicating with men like they are hairy women? Men and women tend to process things differently, have slightly different communication styles, and men and women were generally raised differently; they received different messages from their parents, from society, and from the media. So, it’s not surprising that communicating with men just as you would your female friends and relatives sometimes doesn’t turn out as well as you want.

Here are two pieces of information from “Men are Like Dogs” that gave me new insights:

The first one is that women are often a bit up and down with their emotions, so for them, getting upset and then getting over it would be like jumping off a dock and climbing back up fairly quickly.

For a man, it’s like being in the middle of an ocean and having to swim for miles to land. In other words, it takes much longer for a man to switch emotional gears.

The second piece that stood out was, as women we are always interrupting one another. We jump in and finish each other’s sentences. Perhaps it’s our collaborative nature.

But, men would like us to know that even though we are usually right, we should wait until they have finished speaking before interrupting. They like feeling that they have been heard.

So ladies, we need to embrace these Dogs and tweak our communications for maximum efficiency. Small changes, such as giving men time to process their feelings and not interrupting, are easy to do, and will significantly improve your communication. Give yourself a challenge and try these two tips this week, and see what happens!

Don’t Neglect Your Feminine Energy

 

We live in a society that thinks work is far better than leisure. You aren’t praised for going on vacation, you’re praised for all the overtime you put in. You get the evil eye if you take a long lunch, and a pat on the back if you work through lunch. You’re not admired for taking time for yourself, you’re admired for juggling a million things going on in your life. “How does she do it all?” “Wow, she really has her stuff together!”

It’s quite sad, if you think about it. And, unfortunately, not only does it make our existence less enjoyable; it actually impacts our health and our relationships.

Dr. Sara Gottfied’s research shows when women stay too much in their masculine, it wreaks havoc with our hormones. Staying in the masculine means more competition, more ambition, more systems and procedures, and more stress. And when we’re stressed, cortisol, a steroid hormone in our bodies, is released. Gottfied believes that the “new crack” is cortisol. If we’re constantly stressed and too much cortisol is being released, it has negative, and often serious, consequences to our health.

Learning how to engage both the masculine and feminine is what ends up making us whole. You need both of these energies as your power sources. They are necessary tools for shaping your life.

balanceWhen women have too much masculine energy, we get overwhelmed and burn out. Feminine energy is needed for balance. Whereas masculine energy is all about competition, ambition, and systems, feminine energy allows us to see the bigger picture, is collaborative, and chooses things based on feelings.

And it goes both ways—too much feminine energy and you might be saying, “I’m confused, and not able to get things done.”

It doesn’t always have to be a 50/50 split, either. When you’re at work or need to get things done, you might be 70 to 80% in your masculinity and 20 to 30% in your femininity. Everyone’s ratio is a bit different, but when you come home, you need to be able to flip it for your wellbeing, for your health, and for your relationships.

Women are becoming more masculine in their energy, and in order for men to connect with women, they are becoming more feminine. We are losing that polarity. We are just existing as friends and wondering where that spark went. You need that polarity to want a roll in the hay!

We are trying to be too much, which is masculine and becoming less juicy. Without time to reflect and self-care, which is feminine energy, leisure researcher Ben Hunnicutt says, “We starve the capacity we have to love.” When we are too much in our masculine, we over-give and we are overwhelmed. Wear and tear happens in our bodies. There is a cost.

You can give up this cloak of struggle by turning up your feminine energy and by giving yourself permission to experience pleasure, comfort, and peace.

Like I said earlier, we live in a world that celebrates you for how hard you work, how busy you are, and how much multi-tasking you are capable of. Not surprisingly, it’s a world that celebrates masculine energy over feminine energy. Pleasure is a lot like Cinderella. She never gets the proper invitation to the party. And just like the stepsisters, everyone feels a little funny hanging out with her.

It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. The women who take my boot camp send a pleasure-a-day to the group every day for two weeks. They look actually radiant when they come back—after even one week! They start looking forward to and anticipating things that will be exciting.

So what would you do for pleasure? Where do you find ease? What gives you comfort? Do not be roped into what our society deems praise-worthy. Take care of yourself, tap into your feminine energy, and start living a healthy and enjoyable life!

What If?

Life CoachElizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, believes that ideas are magical, energetic life forms that float and swirl around in the atmosphere, waiting to be claimed by a human being below.

One of these energetic life forms flits past you as you go about your day, and you get the spark of a creative thought in your mind; an idea. It could be about anything: a phrase for a potential poem, a landscaping plan for your front yard, a solution to a problem at work, or even a more efficient way to load the dishwasher.

You stop and marvel at your idea for half a second, and then resume what you were doing. And most of the time? That idea is gone forever. “And so what?” you might think. “It must not have been that important.”

But what if it could have been?

What if Margaret Atwood had felt the flutter of an idea about a dystopian novel, and just shook it off and focused on folding her laundry instead? Goodbye, A Handmaid’s Tale. What if Valerie Thomas had let her creative thoughts slip away into nothingness? Maybe we wouldn’t know about the dangers to the ozone layer.

No, not every idea has the potential to create a significant impact on the world of literature or science. But there are plenty of ideas that float around you that could significantly impact your life. The problem is that you need to catch them before they blow away and are out of reach.

Whether you believe ideas are independent entities drifting above you, or created internally by your mind and spirit, know that they are fleeting. Try keeping a notebook with you, or use a notes app on your phone, and see what happens when you jot down your random ideas for a few days. You won’t want to see all of your ideas through—and that’s perfectly fine. But take a look at the list you accumulate and take a look at all the potential and creativity you’ve created just by capturing your thoughts and ideas. Then maybe pick one or two to investigate further.

 

Solutions

“Don’t focus on the problem. Focus on the solution.” -Roz Moskovits

How many days months and years go by with you tolerating a problem instead of seeking or hunting down a solution? Like a dripping faucet. The dripping irritates you, but you keep putting off calling a plumber or learning how to fix it yourself. You know logically you’ll be happier when it’s fixed and the dripping is over, but you keep telling yourself you don’t have time, you’re not sure where to start, you don’t know who to call, or whatever the reason is. It’s not so disruptive to your life that it spurs you to make a change immediately, so you keep tolerating it. But the faucet keeps dripping, and it keeps bothering you.

We all do this for many different situations, and that is why having a great coach is one of your best allies.

For example, during my western dressage riding lessons, it was obvious that I was fidgeting with my stirrups. My coach, Roz, asked about it and reminded me a solution was the answer. Western riders greatly benefit from “turning” their stirrups. When a rider turns their stirrups, they train the stirrup fenders and the leathers beneath them to twist outwards, which turns the stirrups outward from the sides of the horse at a right angle. Turned stirrups offer a rider easier and safer mounting and dismounting, less strain in their legs while riding, and far greater ease in regaining a lost stirrup while riding.

The solution was wonderful. Less distraction, more focus and ease during the ride. Why hadn’t I done it sooner?

What is the problem or irritant you’re tolerating right now? What are the possible solutions? What is stopping you from seeking out these solutions? Are you too focused on the issue and not focused enough on finding the answer?

Starting Before You Are Ready!

Anytime we want to shift or do something new it is natural to meet with resistance and perhaps stall. The best thing to do is to start before you are ready.

Feeling resistance and doubt is because of the way we’re hard-wired (Check out this video for more information: https://youtu.be/8cHGnaw-gBE). Anything new causes alarm in our multidimensional system, and a lot of times it shuts down our new course of action.

Today, making this video seemed almost daunting. I had a busy day on the farm, a riding lesson, and meals to prepare for the crew. But you just have to go for it! Look at my video below—my hair is flat from my riding helmet and the lighting is off. Oh, well! I am proud to get it on the FB page because I have something to share that I am very passionate about.

So start before you are ready. It’s all feedback and information. The ones that you are supposed to reach will be reached. And I will high five myself with an “I did it!” This will build confidence and bandwidth for more.

Top 4 Reads for 2016 (So far!)

Allow yourself to benefit from the wisdom and experience of others. Take some time for yourself, have a cup of tea, grab a cozy blanket, open one of these four fantastic books, and learn how to grow, heal, and love yourself. Expand your limitations and possibilities.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
By Elizabeth Gilbert

From Amazon: Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,   embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion,  Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body
By Kate Hudson

From Amazon: In almost every interview she gives, Kate Hudson is asked the same questions: What do you eat? How do you stay so fit? What workout do you do? What’s your secret? Well, the secret is that the sound bites the media loves so much don’t tell the story, and the steps you need to take to have a healthy, vibrant and happy life can’t be captured in a short interview. The key to living well, and healthy, is to plug into what your body needs, understanding that one size does not fit all, all the time, and being truly honest with yourself about your goals and desires.

The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace
By Pedram Shojai

From Amazon: We all struggle to discover satisfaction and contentment in the modern world and yet the more technology we use, the more things seem to get worse. What are we all missing? What will it take for us to find our centers? Pedram Shojai shares how the calmness of Zen masters is attainable in today’s fast-paced world, and with practice, you too can stop time, refuel, and focus on the things that really matter.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
By Bessel van der Kolk, MD

From Amazon: Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In  The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists,  The Body Keeps the Score  exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.