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 ...
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Life is Fleeting - 5 Ways to Slow it Down

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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. 

Impermanence  

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. 

Presence

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.

Simplicity

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.

Voice

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.

Curiosity

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.

So...

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.

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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. 

Hummingbird Whispers

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. 

An Inkling

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. 

Pay Attention

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

        
 

Finding Space in All the Noise

LBJ lake

The calm lake beckoned. The house was still sleeping as I fixed my coffee, wrapped in a blanket against the early morning chill, and found a perfect spot in an Adirondack chair on the dock over Lake LBJ. 

Not a ripple. The houses across the lake reflected in perfect mirror images on the water's surface. 

Ah. Exhale. I took a sip of coffee and started the guided meditation in my favorite app. Then...

A leaf blower with the whirr of a foghorn on a freight train blasted onto the scene. 

And. It. Echoed. Tenfold across the lake. 

I tried to stay zen, to focus on the muddled voice of the meditation guide only catching every few words. I turned it up but it was useless, the noise drowned everything out. I plugged my ears with my fingers in hopes it would reduce the noise. I so wanted to enjoy these quiet, stolen moments. I tracked the gardener, willing him to stop, thinking, if only the noise would end, then I will find peace.

If only. 

But, he continued to the next yard. And, then, the next. So, I got pissed at the noise, kept fighting against it, willing it to go away, hoping the damn leaf blower's battery would die.

Right, so that worked. Not. I had to laugh. 

It got me thinking about noise, in all its forms, all the noise around us, all the time. The definition of noise is a sound or thing that is "unpleasant or that causes disturbance." So, when you think about it, noise is not just physical noise. It's digital noise, mental noise, and emotional noise. It's excess clutter that starts to feel loud when it's too much. 

It's incessant if we let it be.

And, an interesting thing happened. As soon as I focused, not on the annoying noise but, on following this thought - the noise in essence disappeared. Of course, it didn't actually disappear, but it was no longer present in my space, in my sphere of attention. I stopped noticing it.   

As soon as I leaned away from it and surrendered to the resistance instead of fighting against it, a space opened, room for consideration, for wonderment, for creativity. 

Hmm. Something to think about next time there's too much noise. 

        
 

Today is a Clean Slate

My sunrise
The sunrise is a clean slate.

That was the thought, the inkling, that popped into my head while meditating in front of the morning's sunrise (the photo is the sunrise off my patio).

It got me thinking how, even as daily tasks and to-do's can at times feel like Groundhog's Day, the fresh perspective of a clean slate at the dawn of each day provides an opportunity to create a more satisfying and expansive experience. 

Each day. A clean slate.

It rejuvenates the status quo. It changes the more-of-the-same game. It's a shift in energy.

It can give our big continuing projects, our most important WIP's, new life. 

Just the notion of a clean slate feels like a cool breath. In fact, just uttering the phrase feels fresh. Give it a shot.

Today is a clean slate.

Each day is its own opportunity, its own time capsule. 

So, then the sunset provides the space for the final strokes of the day, the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, just for this day. 

What will you create today?

Something to think about...

        
 

An Anthem for a Certain Age

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When is it you become a person of a certain age?

As I was drifting off to sleep on the eve of my recent birthday, I recalled a comment I’ve heard so often in conversation with friends in Hollywood. “If you’re a woman of a certain age you can’t get arrested in this town.” Everyone nodded, like it was a given, a looming sentence we all should prepare for, a label slapped on our foreheads without our say.

The history of the label, which could be put on a man or a woman (most often placed on women), doesn’t have a flattering origin either. It dates back to the 1700’s when Lord Byron coined the phrase to refer to “spinsters” and “unfortunate women” without many prospects.

Today it calls to reference an age range or place in life that’s unspeakable, as in too old to mention the number as it would be embarrassing if it's said out loud. A certain age is also defined as “intentional vagueness.”

It got me thinking, it’s time to reclaim and reframe this label. To own it in a new way.

This trip around the sun I find myself contemplating confirmations, things I’m sure of. In fact, certainties. Things that are not vague. The assurances. Internal nods. The knowing that comes after years of trying, and doing, and being. Self-trust that is sharpened with age.

With this idea, a certain age becomes the age of certainty. Yes! I am a person at the age of certainty.

Even more to the delicious point:

I am a woman of certainty.

The beauty of this is it honors the aging and saging process because it's always evolving. It takes time and seasoning for true certainty, can’t-rock-my-axis kind of certainty, deep knowing but-of-course certainty, quiet wisdom certainty. God, that’s a good feeling.

It’s knowing and living your core truths from which you don’t waver. A sense of certainty is being clear on the yeses and the noes.

I am a woman of certainty.

It’s a sense of home, where, in a world of uncertainties it’s grounding to know this in your core.

So, as I reflect at birthday time, as I do every year, here are a few things of which I’m certain.

For me, certainty is not about being set in my ways but it’s having the discernment and self-awareness to know what’s right for me.

I own my story, not anyone else’s.

Most of the time people don’t notice your shortcomings. They’re busy dealing with their own.

Being well-informed means looking at and trying to understand all sides of the issue. Not easy at times, but important.

Curiosity is way more productive than judgment. Be curious, not judgmental.

Kindness matters. It opens doors, seals connections, and makes people feel safe.

Pauses are vital. They hold promise and provide the breath for solutions and answers and calm and rest and integration and genius, and time to catch up.

Smile, it releases tension.

Underindulging is satisfying.

Spending time with great books and great writers makes me a better writer. And person.

Saying “I love you” breeds vitality. My friends and I tell each other we love each other all the time. 

Life is creativity in motion. We are always creating, whether it’s drama or opportunity or connections or works of art on the page, spreadsheet, or canvas – creating with intention builds a life with meaning.

Resistance is a constant force to reckon with. I find leaning into it helps find the path through it, in other words, just take the next step, write the next word, get out the door, pick up the phone.

Our greatest teachers often show up unexpectedly. And they keep showing up until we’re ready to learn what they’re there to teach us.

Balance is the place between effort and ease.

Joy is always bubbling beneath the surface.

Animals are the highest form of angels.

Our quietest fears are where we feel uncertain. A good question to ask is, what am I uncertain about right now?

And, as a woman of certainty, I’m certain there are still many things I’m uncertain about. I welcome them with curiosity.

Care to join me?  

 

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash