A Year of Balanced Action
It’s been a whirl of a year so far. Already, and it’s only mid-January.
And I asked for it! Here's how.
Prior to the end of last year, as I do every year, I took a few days to reflect and renew. Reflect on the year that was and what I wished to leave behind. Then, renew by focusing on the year to come and where I want to expand and grow.
It was with curiosity and not judgment that I ventured into this inquiry. This was in important part of the process. A conscious choice.
Judgment mires you down to where you were stuck. It keeps you focusing on the negative, judgy self-talk.
Curiosity sheds light on things. It creates wonderment and a growth mindset.
So, with curiosity, I pondered it further with an exercise of 'more-of-this, less-of-that.' Such as:
- Less stagnation, more action
- Less hesitation, more just the next step
- Less perfectionism, more acceptance
- Less scatter, more balance
- Less hiding, more brave expression
The weight that felt heaviest – the load I wanted to heave furthest into the past – was stagnation. Also, hesitation and perfectionism - all stoppers of creativity, and progress.
As I visualized this year ahead, I saw more completion, more income from doing what I love, more soul-aligned people in my community and inner circle, more love, more play, and more abundant creativity.
I asked my future self, a year from now, “How did you do it? How were things different this year?”
She said, “You were brave. You were bold. You took action. You were in flow.
“Ah, action. Yes,” I responded.
Seems simple, right? It is because it’s intentional.
So, back to my observation at the top: the year started in a whirl, and I asked for it.
It’s because my word for the year is Action.
However, that was just the first layer. I like creating a theme for the year. The theme is the throughline, the blueprint that takes my intention to a DNA level. It seeps into everything, all areas of life: business, friend and family relationships, creative work, health, finances, community, joy and adventure.
My theme is Balanced Action.
The action is the drive, the push, the accelerant, the momentum, and the high energy. The masculine.
Balance is the flow, the pause to catch up, the self-care, the zen, and the dance. It's the softening of the edges. The feminine.
What does balanced action feel like?
- It’s steady, aware, and present.
- Alive energy.
- Take a step, pause, and catch up. Leap, pause, catch up.
- Dance and dip, lead and follow.
- It’s masculine and feminine energies working in tandem.
It’s alive energy and excitement. I can feel my body circulating. That’s how balanced action feels.
Are stagnation, hesitation, and perfectionism still going to show themselves?
Yeah, sure. I’m human. Stuff happens. Obstacles are real. Fear creeps in.
But I now have a mantra that activates my inner GPS: I am in balanced action.
I’ve been starting each morning with that. I am in balanced action. I say it to myself throughout the day.
I am in balanced action. One step or leap or pause at a time.
Photo by Ashley Bean on Unsplash
Reflection on the Year of Light
The sun was a glowing orb framed by dark-rimmed clouds.
Ever present the sun. The light. I was reminded again about how the light of the sun is always there. It doesn’t have to try, it’s ready to show up, to shine through as the beacon for all that is and will be. It's comforting.
Light was my word for 2022.
As I was filling the dishwasher about a year ago, the phrase flowed into my mind: 2022, the year of light.
My intention for the year was to seek the lightness of being, to follow the light of my spirit in all areas of life.
Today, there is much to ponder and reflect on. To share.
So, what has come to light?
In random order, here are a few things that have bubbled up and stayed with me. Perhaps it will spark in you things that have come to light for you in the past year.
Our eyes are our spotlights. I try to refocus my attention on what matters.
Faith illuminates from within. It’s the light of spirit that’s always on. It’s lovely to know and trust that. The inner knowing. The intuitive gut that’s in constant communication with the heart. When I listen to her, she always knows.
Decisions and choices come quickly and solidly when made from that place.
One month into the new year – and two months after closing on my new house – I was laid off from my corporate gig where I’d been for over a decade. You might think my year of light was being tested, that it would have been a dark moment. But what was so surprising was how light I felt, how free. In truth, I felt lighter than I’d felt in a very long time. Hmm.
Certainly, I was catapulted out of my comfort zone, and many unknowns were in front of me. But that was when I leaned into my year's theme. I followed the light of my creative intuition, embracing sparks instead of falling into the next job in a field that no longer fed my spirit. Sparks that led to the kind of expansion I’d been giving lip service to for years.
Stanley Kubrick said, “however vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” There are still many unknowns. But my lights are on. I’m building and creating this next act on my terms. It feels damn good.
I am here (really we all are) to create, collaborate and cultivate my legacy and purpose. The truth came to light as an aha. I always knew I was here to create, but the light switch was this added realization. All my greatest joys and successes have been creative collaborations: with characters in the stories I write, with partners and producers, with co-workers, with clients, with friends and family, with editors and teachers, with love partners, with my higher power, with God and the universe. Seems simple, but it was an explosive self-recognition. This knowing shines a beacon on my path now.
To create and collaborate is the holy grail, inner and outer light.
The future self sheds a wise light. A practice I often use with creative clients, I sometimes utilize myself. When faced with a decision or choice, I ask what my future self would say. The advice is usually simple and knowing. Brave and wise. Give it a try!
So, back to the sun. This morning as I peeked at the sliver of sunrise on a frosty morning (in Texas!), it was a clean slate. I felt light, airy, free, and grounded. Excited to play.
The word that came to me was delight. I thought, what a lovely word to cap the year.
May you find delight in the light of your being.
What came to light for you this year?
Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash
Your Must Question
Sometimes a happy accident appears in your day that sets thoughts and motions in different directions. If you're paying attention.
I was scrolling through my email when the subject line, "Your must question," caught my attention. "Your must question."
At least, that's what I thought it said. Looking closer, it was actually, "You must question." Ah, that made sense. It was a directive by Ryan Holiday in a discussion about how, based on Stoic philosophy, it's important to continually question ourselves and the world. It's the way we grow, learn, pivot, and change. Couldn't agree more.
But, I kept thinking about the other, what I thought it was. Your must question. That little happy accident lit me up! It got me thinking about passion and purpose and soul work, and dedication, devotion, and commitment.
Must. What must I do? It feels driven. A definition for the word that resonates in this context is "an imperative need or duty." A "requirement."
What must I do? It's a what-drives-you-what-pulls-you question. Deep. A heart-pull. A gut-push.
What must you do? What drives you?
This is a deep must. Not a guilt-ridden, fear-based "have to" or "should." This deep Must is a calling. It's intentional. And it's unavoidable.
If you're listening. Paying attention.
Your Must question seeks a pause and an immediate response.
Ask it. Pause and breathe into it. Trust the response.
If your deep Must is your calling, purpose, or big why, it becomes a daily directive. The questions lead to powerful statements and affirmations.
Questions: What must I do or receive today that --
- --Accelerates me on my path?
- -- Serves my family or community?
- -- Serves my health?
- -- Nurtures my relationships?
Leading to powerfully intentional directives:
- I must create.
- I must have balance.
- I must connect and share with others. With myself.
- I must refuel by quieting. Time for thought.
Must elevates "can" or "want" or "will." The intentional Must has fuel. It's a great inquiry at a crossroads in midlife. At any crossroads.
Your must questions, asked and pondered often, can be transformative.
Something to think about.
Photo by Laura Lefurgey-Smith on Unsplash
Life is Fleeting - 5 Ways to Slow it Down
My life looks completely different than it did a year ago, two years ago. Five years ago.
This thought came to mind early one recent morning on the pickleball court. It was just after my birthday, the time of year when I love to pause and reflect on things, what I’ve learned that I might share, nuggets of wisdom, or introspective questions I’m leaning into.
Life does look so different now – new home, a new state, new gig, more creative freedom, exciting clients and partnerships, new stories, new friendships, deepened old friendships, a lot more family time, pickleball! – that my annual birthday post kept getting pushed. There was just too much to talk about. My mind whirled, unable to settle.
Life is fleeting. Things are temporary. You don’t realize it at the time because you’re in it, dealing with daily decisions, tasks, and plots toward goals. But, looking back, it’s all fleeting, a blip, on the big timeline scheme of things. Of life.
Like 62 trips around the sun. How did that happen? A rhetorical question, yes. I remember as a young girl thinking that 62 was old. Like, old. Ancient, one foot in the grave kind of old. And, now it’s here, like overnight, and it turns out it’s not so old. Ha. Instead, it’s now, it’s time, it’s present. It’s rich. It’s simple. It’s complex.
So, recognizing how fleeting life is got me thinking about five things to help slow things down.
As in embracing the temporary state of, well, everything. To flow with the ebbs and surrender to change. To marvel at it, actually. If you sat still on the edge of life and watched it unfold like a movie in fast-forward, everything changes. Accept impermanence.
As in being fully present. While in a yoga pose recently, my instructor said, “pause, let yourself have the experience.”
It got me thinking about how effective that directive is in everything we do. Pause, and allow yourself the experience. I’d already been thinking a lot about presence and how fleeting being present is too. How triggers, judgments, discomfort, and worry about the future can put us into old stories and patterns that snap us out of being present.
But, a pause. And a breath. It takes presence to a whole other level. It's simple. Once you think about it, you’ll find yourself doing it several times a day. You’re in a moment, doing something, having a thought or feeling, having an experience. Pause. Breathe. Allow yourself the fullness of it. Allow the experience to be in you. Be present.
As in keep things simple. Do you ever notice how there’s not enough time to get any of it done when things feel too busy or complicated? If you slow things down, simplify, take one step, one piece, one chunk, one bite at a time, it helps. So, then even as time flies the way it does, simplicity brings some ease. Things feel and are more doable. Keep it simple.
As in listening to your own wisdom and expressing it. Using your voice. People talk a lot about wanting to find their voice. Sometimes it takes a big life shakeup for your voice to finally be so loud and pure you can’t hear anything else. That’s when you know.
You never had to find your voice, you just had to listen to what was there all along. There, drowned out by expectations from others, society, history, and a concocted version of a voice you thought was yours, or you wanted to be yours, based on someone else’s voice you admired.
Until the thing happens, the big thing, and suddenly you surprise yourself with your own voice. That voice, your voice, is crystal clear. And loud. So, you declare. You express in a way you perhaps haven't before.
Sometimes it starts with a whisper. For me, that’s how the latest leap started. She whispered: “move.” You know when the whispers feel in alignment. When they are soul whispers. Even though it’s scary, it feels easy because it’s right. So, I leaped. I moved from LA to Austin during the pandemic. I bought property and built a house while working in a decade-long corporate job that I knew would likely be ending due soon. It still felt right: the whispers led to the loud voice, the solid yes to what came next. I was ready because I listened to her.
Recently, I witnessed one of my creative clients rediscover her voice while undergoing a major life change that turned her world sideways. And it was loud and true as she expressed herself more authentically and powerfully than ever before. She returned to the purpose work she had drifted away from while listening to other voices besides her own. It brought tears to my eyes, seeing, hearing, and feeling her true voice. Her life is forever changed.
Your voice isn’t there to satisfy someone else’s notions on what you “should” be doing. Nope. It’s here for you. It is you. Subtle, not-so-subtle. At times, whispers. Other times, it’s amplified with a megaphone and broadcast to the mountains. Listen to her. Pay attention. Take heed. Consider. Say yes when it feels right, and say no when it’s an emphatic no.
You know the difference. She’s saying, wake up! You know this.
As in stay curious. Question. Play. Wonder. Curiosity expands a creative life.
Dan Rather said this week, “Life is full of context and complexity.”
Yes, life is complex. Fleeting. Flashes quickly by as you live your life story.
Embrace impermanence, be present, keep it simple, listen to your own wisdom, express your voice, and stay curious.
It already feels slower.
Photo by Léa Dubedout on Unsplash
Meaning Begins With An Inkling
Here's how to notice them.
A faint tap on my window roused my attention. In truth, it made me jump, mostly because the window would not be a window a person on the outside could reach without a ladder.
There, hovering outside the glass like a fairy, was a hummingbird. Its wings were copper-lined from the midafternoon sun. It seemed to want my attention, enough so that I laughed at myself as I sucked in my gut, because of course I was sitting in that person-living-alone slouched-on-the-couch position that no one ever sees.
It appeared she was window shopping. Or perhaps she was seeking knowledge that she would carry along on her way. Or maybe, just maybe she dropped by to deliver a message of some sort. Hummingbirds are, after all, nature’s gossipmongers.
She didn’t stay long, a few, maybe ten, seconds, but long enough that I felt a connection with the little messenger.
There was a researcher at UCLA, Melanie Barboni, who was known as the “hummingbird whisperer.” She developed a kinship with the colorful array of birds that she fed and nurtured every day. Her experience was that they do communicate with us and develop a sense of trust when attention is kind and consistent. They even perched on her hand and ate out of her palm, and when she was late with their feeding they let her know it, chirping and flitting about, even dive-bombing her office until she took heed. It was clear that the exchange of information had taken place and a bond was formed.
It got me thinking about how we pick up our information, what sticks and what doesn't. Some science shows humans have over 6,000 thoughts in a day and in the same timespan our brain receives 34 GBs of information, which is why we must be cognizant of where we focus our attention to capture what's important.
As a writer and an observer of life, I pay attention to the details of a passing moment. Something jumps out at me, separates from the pack of other thoughts, tickling my imagination for a bit until it becomes something more, a little reminder, a higher concept idea, or a nugget that creates meaning that feels like a life throughline.
They sometimes seem obvious, as so often life's little reminders are, but only if we're paying attention.
It was an inkling I received from the hummingbird.
Inklings can also come from a word or phrase, read or spoken, or words overheard in a conversation. The word pops out and starts to percolate in my mind as a possible metaphor for deeper meanings. It could be something I witness that’s out of the ordinary. And, often, it’s in nature.
Or a mishap or disruption occurs, once explored reveals a larger theme that can often lead to a transforming message.
It’s an inkling. An inkling sparks a larger thought. An inkling gives a clue or hints to something bigger. A glimmer. Every grand idea or innovation begins with an inkling.
Inking is defined as “a slight knowledge or vague notion.” Furthering the breakdown of the word, inkling originates from the 16th century, from the Middle English word yngkiling which means “whisper.” And, the word inclen, “to hint at.” And, the word inca means “suspicion.”
The British word inkle, as a verb, means to utter in a hushed undertone.
So, when we get an inkling, it’s the whisper, the hushed undertone of an idea. Isn't that delicious?
It wasn't lost on me that the inkling for this post came from a hummingbird. This blog, Thought Changer, is all about inklings that spark new thoughts or ways of looking at life, that lead to positive change. The artwork in Thought Changer's banner, created by my talented dear friend, Ferrell Marshall, stemmed from the idea that a changing thought begins as an inkling light as a feather and becomes a thought to pass along, to share, to pollinate for change and inspiration.
The idea is to pay attention to the inklings, to nurture them, at home, at play and at work.
Brainstorming is all about inklings. They are a part of the magic that takes place in my work with creative clients. We listen deeply for the whispers inside of the idea, of the work in progress, to discover hidden gems. We follow the inklings. Then, the magic is in the details as the project comes together.
Inklings allow us to expand, grow, create, love, raise our consciousness and share amazing ideas with our world.
My greatest wish for you, dear reader, is that you feel inspired to start noticing your own inklings, listening to their whispers, as you, each day, create your work and a life of meaning.
Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash