Building Muscles

 

What if rather than having a goal of being more courageous our goal was to build the body of Courage? of Presence? of Authenticity?

And what if instead of asking our minds to figure out how to do this we asked our bodies as well? What if instead of working out our physical muscles in the gym and our mental muscles in the office we began to think about our muscles as integrated and interdependent? What if we have muscles not only for physical strength but also for mental, emotional, spiritual, relational and moral capacity? What if we can build musculature to have more courage; to be more authentic; and to lead with more presence? What if our intellectual, emotional and spiritual intelligences rely on our body intelligence?

Critical to exploring the challenging questions and topics that are often raised and explored in a coaching relationship is our thinking mind. However, it’s also critical that we invite our bodies along with us on the journeys that we take to change and grow.

Some of us traverse life primarily in our heads with the assumption that our thinking mind will be suffice in solving the issues and challenges that we encounter along the way. Few people are raised to acknowledge, honor and nourish their physical bodies in service of more than just physical strength or endurance. As a result very few of us venture beyond physical exercise for fitness, tone, endurance, and strength. And we assume that our bodies will simply follow us around simply because the body is connected to the head. Thank goodness they are connected otherwise we’d see a lot of heads wandering off without their bodies!

A great number of the leaders that I coach want to be more grounded, more resilient, more present, and more authentic. Often times such leaders have no time for rest, exercise, or spiritual growth. The sad reality is that most of the time these leaders are barely able to take the time to breathe.

Our thinking mind is aware that as a leader of a team we need to become more vocal, powerful and present so that we can have greater impact, gain the trust and commitment of our team, and to have impact. In coaching this would take the form of several coaching conversations centered on how to grow and develop in our voice, in our power, and in our presence. And this could yield some great new awareness’s and tangible results. However, with the body on board the changes can be exponentially more powerful and sustainable.

What would it look like if our body was on board? If our body is accustomed to being silent rather than vocal, passive rather than powerful, and distracted rather than present then our body will have taken on the shape, form and energy of these qualities. Our body may be slumped, lethargic, and quiet. Used to being rather passive our body may not feel its full impact in the world. Used to attending to many things all at once our body might not know how to reconnect with the roots of the ground. Used to being responsible our body may not know how to lean in to support. Our body, often distracted may not know what its like to be fully present in the moment and may appear and feel agitated or restless.

Our bodies do not simply fall in line with a thought out decision to change. Our bodies need cues to know that we want change to happen or that we are embarking on change. If we don’t provide our bodies with such information then often we find ourselves trying to change and yet feeling stuck. Often, if we pay attention we notice that we feel physically stuck but we can’t quite figure out why.

Have you ever stopped to consider what your body might be telling you? That bodily pains, ailments, or discomforts might not only be what is medically apparent? That at a deeper subtler level your body may be providing you with intelligent information that deserves your attention?

The gift of a regular physical practice, in my case yoga, is that I am regularly awakened to how my body, concurrent with my mind, responds and reacts to the challenges I am facing. For instance, my independence means that I don’t easily ask for help and I assume that it will be easier if I do it myself. I’ve had some good experiences to convince me that going it alone usually makes things harder. I’ve also noticed that my body has adopted this approach to life, often choosing the more challenging route. In yoga I have noticed this most – I’d take a narrow stance making it nearly impossible to balance. These days I approach many poses with a wider stance, I make more room for myself, I allow myself the option of a rest pose, I use the wall when I need, and I appreciate props that help me to be in poses with more support. I find that these options open me up to much more possibility in my physical practice and also in my emotional, spiritual, relational, moral and mental capacities. When I allow myself to depend on others and invite others in, things become much easier and more accessible.

In my yoga practice I’m often reminded to back off on intensity; to simply be in the pose rather than push to get through it; to hold a pose longer and to feel the edges of my capacity; and to sink into a restful pose when my body feels depleted. On the flipside, while training for long distance trail running I’ve faced long, steep and muddy trails that have made me accept that sometimes you just need to get through it. Sometimes you need to get through the mud, the rain, the long steep hills, the hard technical downhills and the distance of the path you’re on in order to finish what you set out to do. And so for me there are times to back off and find ease and times to go full on – both are available to me as I develop my musculature to be in both and as I journey with my body in addition to my very busy mind.

All are such powerful reminders of how to be in my life. And in my experience of coaching leaders, all such powerful reminders of what it takes to lead consciously and powerfully.

What would happen if you invited your body along on your personal or professional development? What speaks to you as you consider this?

Have you ever considered that you might build up so much courage that you need a body that can hold it all? Can you imagine building a powerful engine and then placing it in a little car? If you want to live a more courageous life then you need to build a body that can hold courage. The same is true for authenticity, joyfulness, love and so many other ways of being that so many of us aspire to have more of.

What kind of body do you want to build?!

 

If this article speaks to you then let me know and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop about an upcoming series of workshops called Courageous Body. Courageous Life. In this three part series we’ll blend yoga, storytelling and conversation to explore courage and what it means to build a body of courage.

 

 

Posted in Coaching, Yoga & Mindfulness | 3 Comments

Educating for Joy

No matter where I have traveled or whom I’ve met there is something that I have come to find in common with many fellow parents – most of us worry about the quality of education that our children are receiving. We wonder if it might be better somewhere else, if what we’ve chosen is good enough, if our friends who have moved schools, neighborhoods, or countries have moved to something better, if private is better than public or vice versa, Montessori or Waldorf, co-ed or single sex, and so on. We all know far too well the great demands that will be placed on our children as they grow up and so we wonder – should we let them play and truly enjoy their childhood while they can or should we push them to excel so that they can be top of their class, the star athlete or the accomplished musician. I suspect (and hope) that we all wish for our children to simply be loved, nurtured and safe and that deep down in ourselves we know that’s all they need to go out into the world one day and excel. But just as with everything else these days, we are bombarded by information and everyone else’s opinions. And as a parent I know only too well how this overwhelm can so easily disrupt what I most want for myself and my family, often sending me into endless self doubt and worry. This is in direct contrast to the joyfulness that I wish for my family.

I recently read an article written by Ryan Avent for the The Economist 1843 titled High Pressure Parenting that I related to strongly. Avent writes from his personal experience of education and career choices and relates this to his experience of raising a daughter while navigating the educational and extracurricular choices and decisions for our current generation. He writes, “There is no finish line after which results are compared and winners and losers determined. Parents are investing massive amounts of time preparing their children to win a race that cannot be won. Those children learn to run like mad in pursuit of some elusive end result, until they give up or expire from exhaustion.” There are many moments where I feel the nudge of competition and ego urging me to push my daughters to excel and win. But more often I don’t wish this for them because I know this won’t necessarily bring them true happiness. More than wishing for them to excel and achieve I wish for them to have joy in their life. Being the best is most often short-lived and lonely because by its very nature, winning separates you from others. It’s in the connection with others that I have found my greatest joy and my greatest ease.

I grew up in a family where travel and schooling ‘on the road’ for months at a time was a fairly regular occurrence. On all of these trips I can recall my school books and learning – my times tables on a train from Seattle to Los Angeles; the definition of an obtuse angle while driving across Texas; the magnificence of the solar system aboard a sailboat on the Pacific Ocean; and the tradition and ceremony of a Fijian funeral on an island in the South Pacific. These experiences taught and instilled in me self-discipline, independence and offered me early beginnings of a rich view of the world. Our trips were more often rough and rugged rather than polished and luxurious. I remember being about 12 years old, traveling by bus in Mexico with my parents. We arrived in a small town in the middle of the night and slept on the sidewalk until our morning bus connection. I recall hotel rooms so dodgy that I’d tuck my feet into my Dad’s legs to avoid touching any creepy crawlers down at the bottom of the bed. And then there were those glorious times when we’d spend a few nights in one of the nice hotels and enjoy the spoils of swimming pools and fresh linens. To this day I carry with me extraordinary memories of those travels and I know that they deeply inform who I am and how I am as a parent.

For me it’s felt very natural, and almost necessary, to take our young daughters out of mainstream schooling to travel and to spend that time learning both at home and in the environments in which we live. I strongly believe that kids can learn anywhere and everywhere if they are loved, nurtured, and free to be curious and to explore. As a parent I don’t think there is anything more beautiful or joyful than providing this for them.

So while I am guilty of wanting too much for my daughters, of worrying about what they’re not getting, and of passing on my own fears of missing out, I choose to make sure they get something else. While I am serious by nature, I choose to encourage their playfulness so that it will accompany them always. I choose to encourage in them self-love rather than perfection and self-hatred. I choose to always help them to see and understand the privilege of their education and the responsibility they have to make good use of it. I will always model and teach them respect for others no matter how we differ and to always choose kindness. While it is a challenge for me but thankfully less so for their Dad, I wish for them to laugh wholeheartedly even in the worst of times and to search for the joy that is there in every moment. And finally, I will remind them daily that their warm hearts, their care for others and the ability to include others is what they most need in our most uncertain and ever-changing world.

Reference:

Avent, R. ‘High Pressure Parenting’. The Economist 1843. February/March 2017.

Posted in Education, Family | Leave a comment

Cracking Open Our Hearts

Over the past few mornings I have felt such a sadness and I’ve wondered, is it because my kids are back to school and I’m left with that familiar sense of being apart from them as they slowly grow up and find their own way in the world? Is it that I’m homesick for Canada and lingering in that difficult and murky phase of transitioning and readjusting to life in South Africa? Or is it something much bigger than that, something reflective of the troubling place that the world is currently in? Could it be that my heart is connected to many hearts around the world and that as our hearts crack open we grow in our capacity to tune into one another more intimately? Over the past few weeks and days I’ve been highly aware of the marches taking place across the world, particularly those happening in the USA and Canada since they are ‘close to home’ for me. I’ve felt far and separated from the collective and diverse energy that came from all of those individuals who took to the streets in countless cities to fight yet again for the rights of all people. I feel a huge distance from all of that and yet, I sit in the heart of a country where these same rights need to be fought for just as vehemently and with a desperate need for some form of solidarity.

I think my heart has been aching for the painful way in which so many people are suffering and for my lack of ability to do much about it. If I’m honest, the thousands of images and sounds that have been bombarding the news and all forms of social media platforms has also left me with an achy longing to join in the thick of it all. For the past while, maybe my whole life, I’ve wondered how I can make a difference and if what I’m doing is enough. So these kinds of events certainly awaken the voice within me to get out there and make that difference. I do not consider myself an activist but I do consider myself to be someone who is present, compassionate and trustworthy. I also believe that I am doing my part to be awake and conscious, my part in hopefully growing our collective capacities to deal with suffering. What I’ve come to accept is true for me is that my making a difference starts in me, with my own actions and my own commitments, starting at home and extending out. And what I’ve come to appreciate are the ripple effects, most of which I will not see but which I trust in.

As I absorb the events of our world and watch and listen as so many people march, protest, speak, sing and write for human rights, justice, and equality…for our diverse and complicated humanity…I know that we are in a time of massive change but also within change that is continual. With all that is wrong there is an energy emerging that has long been coming, one that contains men’s sensitivities and women’s powerful voices. It will require us to reach deeply into our hearts and find our way towards our more authentic selves. This is real leadership, no matter who we are and no matter where or what we lead. Our most powerful and effective leadership comes from our most healthy and authentic selves and to access this we need to open our hearts. As so many wise people keep saying, we need to open ourselves to others who are different and with an open heart, recognise our commonalities.

As I sit with my sadness and achy-ness I feel resonance and comfort in what Margaret J. Wheatley shares, that to be a Warrior for the Human Spirit means learning how to be “fully engaged with the world with an open, breaking heart.” As so many of us have experienced, painfully but also sometimes magnificently, terrible times crack open our hearts and bring us together.

Morning Cracklings

Cracking open our hearts
raises us up from our apathy
ignites a fire beneath us when we feel unmovable
awakens us from our sleep when we feel too tired to move
invites those of us who think we can’t make a difference to make a difference
encourages us to be a part of a growing collective
invites us to be a part of change when we assume we can’t help or contribute
shows us that our voice matters when we’ve stayed silent for so long
proves that power sits in all of us even when we think we are powerless
confirms that we each matter even we assume or feel that we don’t matter
opens the door to friendships and alignment when we think we are alone
bridges gaps when we assumed they could never be bridged
lets in some light where we thought it would always be dark
can reveal how important and necessary our discomfort is
shows us life when we felt unworthy of it
reveals that change is possible even when we feel hopeless
allows us to feel a strangers hand when we felt unreachable
uncovers love when we thought we were unlovable
brings us in to a community of others when we thought we’d never belong
joins us to share a common purpose when we thought that what mattered to us was insignificant
insists that we fight for something we didn’t know existed or needed fighting for
summons us to fight for something we assumed would never or could never change
asks us to discover words for what feels unspeakable
illuminates our eyes to what was invisible
invites us to walk with others we never thought we’d meet
urges us to be in conversation with people we’d never before acknowledged
encourages us to experience solidarity despite feeling like it might all fall apart
asks us to feel love from strangers when we spent our lives hiding from it
lets you feel the power of individuals joining together who always stood apart
shows us that within each of us lays a huge spirit to fight tirelessly for what matters.

Cracking open our hearts means crossing our edges and diving in. It is sitting with ourselves long enough to know who we are and what we stand for. It is waking up to what matters. It is committing to acting and leading, in whichever capacity that we lead, with sensitivity, compassion and accountability. It is being honest about what it is to be human.

 

 

Posted in Coaching, Poetry | Leave a comment

The ‘In-Between’ Moments

img_8700 img_6572

A very close and wise friend recently wrote a piece on transitions that reminded me of the need for patience during times of change. It highlighted to me how, in the surge of change, I very often ask hugely of myself and, in an unspoken way, set unrealistic expectations. So often we are all facing huge change, huge requests, huge demands, and huge responsibilities. How often are we in turn expecting huge things from ourselves? I know that for myself, in the midst of change, I can leap towards expectations that go much beyond the current moment, that look toward weeks, days and months ahead. This leaves me with a certain sense of overwhelm, failure, worry, and exhaustion. My good friend reminded me of the need for patience, gentleness and grace. During times of change and transition what is most needed is firstly, acknowledgment and then, respect and care for that which we are experiencing. If respect and care are present then we can certainly find ways to be compassionate, gentle and patient with ourselves. With these qualities we are far more likely to meet change with grace, ease, preparedness, resilience and faith. And when we meet it like this then we are more likely to move through the transition rather than getting stuck in it.

I remember a beautiful and powerful poem that I found when I was 16 years old called ‘The Beads of Life’. In it the poet spoke of ‘the spaces between life’ as often forgotten moments. At the time I fell in love with this poem because it resonated strongly with what I was experiencing in my life. It offered me comfort even though I didn’t understand why. Now, all these years later those words are clear to me. Some of life’s most illuminating and significant moments, the ones that really matter and that set the stage for what is to come, happen in these in-between moments. Sadly, many of us fill the in-between moments with busyness. This busyness often denies and disrespects the beauty and importance of our in-between moments.

What are your ‘in-between’ moments? Without trying to change anything, what can you recognise and acknowledge about yourself in these times? Is there anything you’d like to be different about the way in which you are with yourself or with others during these times?

Transitions are often overlooked and ignored. I suspect this is because they feel undefined and because they often have no obvious outcome or serve no clear purpose. They are just kind of ‘grimy’. And so it sort of makes sense that so many of us place all of our emphasis on the past, on the lead up to change, and then on what will happen in the future. But transitions call for presence – a focus on and in the moment. I know for myself, during this current time of transition between Canada and South Africa, that it is tempting to focus either on what was – the extraordinary year we just had – or on the future – how we will return to our lives in South Africa, support the kids back to school, resume our careers, and settle in. And in this there is very little being in this very moment because the moment feels undefined, a space of both nothingness and yet also momentousness. It is a space that feels huge because it is filled with much feeling in my heart and in my body but it is also a space that feels hard because it isn’t defined yet.

So I wonder, if I’m feeling this, are you? Are you curious about your own transitional spaces and the ways in which you are in them? Do you avoid them? Hang out in them? Rush through them? Get stuck in them?

So what does this mean for Coaching?

Aside from personal transitions, I have worked with many people who have been in a time of transition. During all of these times I have felt incredibly honoured to be allowed in to these often private and usually emotionally heightened times in people’s lives. I can’t claim to have particular expertise in each of these areas but I do know that no matter what the change, there is a transition time that concurs.

Transitional spaces during which I’ve coached:

  • Change in career
  • New relationship
  • Move to leadership
  • Becoming a mother
  • Becoming a father
  • Changing role at work
  • The loss of a relationship
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Pregnancy
  • The process of leaving a job
  • Approaching retirement
  • Personal illness or injury
  • Loved one’s illness
  • Personal questions and realizations about purpose and meaning
  • New boss or new ownership of business
  • New colleague or team
  • Moving city, country, or continent
  • Extensive travel for work
  • Older children leaving home

Are you in a time of transition? Do you foresee that you will be in a time of transition soon? The questions that follow are a start to bringing greater consciousness to times of change and enabling more presence for these in-between moments:

What do I want to be more present for?
How do I want to be different in transition?
What do I suspect I need to let go of?
What am I quietly hoping will emerge?
What can I have faith in?
What might be possible if I spend a bit more time in these transitional places?
What do I need in order to bring more patience, presence, grace and care to the in-between times in my life? What can I practically set in place? What can I ask for?
What support do I need?

My wish is that you honour yourself in your spaces and places of transition. If we can all do this then we are far more likely to respect the transitions that those around us are in. We may be merely observers, perhaps we offer our support, and maybe we are deeply intertwined in that transition. Whatever it may be, let it be held with acknowledgement, respect, and deep kindness.

Posted in Coaching | Leave a comment

Reflections on Returning Home

IMG_5830Over the past 15 years I have privately journaled about my experiences of life in South Africa and life in Canada. I have continually returned to my writings with the intention to eventually join several pieces written on different continents over many years. I have consistently felt a strong energy to write about feeling at home in two vastly different countries and cultures separated by 16,400 kilometers of land and ocean.

I am Canadian by birth and being Canadian is what I identify most strongly with. I left Canada in my mid twenties and have spent my ‘growing up’ years living in South Africa. Over the past 14 months my family and I have lived in British Columbia, Canada – the place in which I spent the first 25 years of my life. The ‘longing’ I have felt for a country I’ve been away from has now been replaced by a renewal of the connection to and knowing of where I come from. In essence, the longing has been replaced by more solidity and groundedness in where I can call home.

My reflections are a personal story that I share with my family but the story is one that I share with many others who, for many different reasons, live away from their original country of birth and feel a pull between it and the place they now call home. Let me be super clear – I got to choose this move unlike millions of others who don’t. As I write many families are displaced, many are starting out a new life in foreign countries, and many know they will never return home. I have moved a lot in my life, from a young age, and so I know how the heart tugs, how sights, sounds and smells can take you back to a moment in your home…the way the sun streams in and lands on the stairs in the early hours of the morning…the sound of the kitchen screen door banging closed on a summer day…the taste of strawberries just picked from your garden. We often miss the simplest of things, sometimes the things that make no sense. But then again, it’s those things that shape our days that ground us in the ordinariness of our lives that are quite simply, our humanity.

We left South Africa for a variety of reasons. We longed for a family adventure. I wanted to connect with my Canadian roots and to share this with my family. We wanted to live in one of our favorite places in the world – Whistler, British Columbia. We wanted to experience life, as a family, in a small town. We wanted a change of pace. And largely, we wanted perspective.

I’ve decide to focus this particular piece of writing on the perspective I feel that we have gained over the past 14 months as well as the many, many months leading up to our departure from South Africa.

As so much science about the brain tells us, our brain is capable of forming new and different neural connections throughout our lives. Living in a new and different place has required new ways of thinking, new routines, and new challenges that have required new ways of problem solving, new ways of being, and new responses. All of this has required each of our brains to adapt and change and most likely, to form new neural connections. While we’ve been breathing in fresh mountain air and skiing, biking, running and hiking our brains have also been on a huge workout. For those who know me I’m all in for workouts!

I suspect that there are many gains that we will never see, like these new neural connections, but I’m convinced that they are contributing to how each of us in our family is evolving. I don’t need to see it to believe it. I can feel it in myself and in my family.

Over the past 14 months some things have become very clear to me.

  • It’s important to know when we have enough – enough stuff, enough money, enough experiences….and when it’s time to simply enjoy what we have.
  • Every place offers the opportunity to meet and make new friendships.
  • Change illuminates our strengths and abilities and also our challenges and difficulties – we need both to be fully human.
  • My sense of grounding does not come from routines or items or even physical structures but rather from within myself. Yes, those things do ground me but I can also be grounded by what is within me and that I have with me wherever I go.
  • Time is wasted on gossip, video games, television, and adverts.
  • Raising incredible children can happen anywhere – it’s what happens at home and in your family that matters most.
  • Kids in safe places and spaces flourish with the freedom to explore and experience independence.
  • Joy and creativity is in living where nature is accessible.
  • Time with close female friends is food for my soul and an absolute necessity for my happiness.
  • Each of us adapts to change in a multitude of different ways – there is no guidebook on how it’s done.
  • Home truly is wherever my family and loved ones are.
  • Taking some time out has allowed for some much needed, non-rushed time with my family and friends.
  • My kids have amazed me in how they have adjusted (and not adjusted) to change. Both courage and vulnerability beautifully showed up as they navigated their new surroundings.
  • Sometimes, when I’ve least expected it, I have gotten to know others far better than I ever thought was needed or possible. Change, hardship, vulnerability and honesty allow for this. The challenges of moving asked each of us to share more, to take less in our stride, and to lean in to one another more.
  • Mixing it up has taught us all about resilience, patience, generosity, kindness, appreciation and compassion.
  • Life really does present you with the people you need in your life, the people you can learn from and grow with.
  • Taken from the advice of so many – it really did take at least 6 months to find our feet and it took nearly a year to feel ‘local’ and to start up new patterns, routines, and ways of doing things.
  • It’s been terrific to stop doing the things we routinely did. It has been great to see what I am and who I am without those things. And to then have the choice to return to them or to do things differently.
  • It’s been a journey of letting go of what people think of the choices and changes we’ve made. I don’t need to explain, I only need to know what is true for myself and my family and to stay authentic to that.
  • Longing for home can be replaced by knowing, trusting and feeling solidly grounded in where you come from.
  • Big change isn’t as impossible as many people think.
  • It’s been worth every one of the difficult moments.
  • A big change allows for a fresh start.
  • There is beauty everywhere in ways that are less obvious than what we see in pictures.
  • Never leave before you leave – enjoy every last moment of a place or a person that you love (I’m currently working with this one!)
  • It’s important to go home to feel your roots and from there you can launch and always know where you can return.
  • There really is no place like home but more importantly there is no place like family.

This has been the most extraordinary year for my family and myself. While we all feel much sadness as this ‘Canada Adventure’ comes to an end, we trust that more adventures are to follow. We each take with us the knowing that all that we have experienced, felt and learned is deeply embodied in each of us and that we carry this with us wherever we go.

Posted in Family, Nature and Life | Leave a comment

The Questions We Ask and the Places We Seek

Petals on walkwayIn my work as an Integral Master Coach™ I am often asked what kinds of issues or goals my clients are typically working on. The following is a collaboration of past, present and most likely future areas of focus, for my clients and also for myself. And perhaps they ring true for you too.

 

Is there such a thing as balance? And if there is how do I obtain it? And if there isn’t what is it that is causing me so much suffering to the point that I no longer have time to enjoy myself?

How do I bring back some joy in to my life and in to my work?

What is strategy? How do I think more strategically?

I want or need to do so much but I can’t. How do I do it all and still be present, authentic, decisive and calm under huge pressure?

How can I be engaged in work (either the work I am doing or something different) that has a greater meaning than the day-to-day grind that I find myself in?

When is what I have (money, goods, achievements, etc.) enough?

Why can’t I speak my truth? How do I speak my truth?

What does living bigger mean? How do I live in a way that includes and honors all parts of myself? That allows me to speak my truth? That supports me being authentically me in all situations?

How do I do work that I love? And still be successful?

How can I be more focused on what is good and less focused on what I see as the negative?

How do I slow down and still keep up?

Why and how do so many of us get so far from our values, purpose and most authentic selves? Why do we conform to rules and guidelines that no longer serve us or make any sense? Why do we ask children to be adaptable, honest and continual learners when we as adults often do the opposite?

What is next for me if this isn’t working any longer?

How can I be both a phenomenal mother/father/partner and be phenomenal at the work that I do?

 

I’ve realised that there is much commonality in the topics that my clients choose to explore. There is also much overlap with a few significant themes threading their way through. These themes are around authenticity, purpose and happiness. It is because of our commonality, despite multiple ways that we are different, that I am inspired to build a community that supports and encourages leaders (of all kinds) to come together to converse and to practice new ways of being and doing in response to these significant questions. I propose that this journey is not one of just conversation but that we begin to seek our responses and answers through reflections that arise in our physical body through a physical practice.

Over the past 10 years I have been committed to a regular practice of both deep inner work in Jungian analysis and in the physical and spiritual practice of yoga. Somewhere along the way, as both of these practices deepened, I started to become aware that I was finding my answers and my way forward in both conversation and in my physical practice of yoga. The two practices were working together. I was finding the answers in and through my body. I recognise my powerful, compassionate and competent teachers but I also know that what they taught became embodied in me. It was only at that point that some of the answers and ways forward began to come. It is now absolutely common for me to enter into a yoga practice with an issue or a question, and to leave that 1 or 2-hour practice with all that I need to attend to that issue more fully and authentically.

If some or many of the questions I list above sound familiar to you then you are in an amazing place. Sincere change really does start with the initial question or concern. And from there it is a crooked path filled with an extensive and expansive range of emotions and experiences that is unique to each of us. Almost always this will lead you to somewhere new. You might love the someplace new. If you don’t then you’ll have hopefully learnt and embodied some new competencies for stepping back on the path of exploration until you find that place that fills you with what you seek.

I don’t have the answers for all of these questions but I am experienced at listening deeply and asking further questions that are intended to awake, stimulate deeper thinking and feeling, and to accompany you in discovering your brilliance…the answers that are already in you but are commonly stuck – oftentimes in your body.

Posted in Coaching | 1 Comment

International Women’s Day

22eedb3badcfab2b814b17aace0fd697

For the past 11 years I have been a coach to many phenomenal women in leadership positions in a number of countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Each one of these women has so humbly and passionately shared with me their histories, their current challenges, and their deep desires to have a meaningful impact in the lives of others. Each one of them has a fascinating story to share about their lives and how they have achieved so much, often from very little.

Based in Cape Town, South Africa for the past 15 years, but currently residing in Canada for one year, I have a dream that has been brewing for a long time. I know that it stems from my love of story telling and writing that comes from one’s most humble and honest source. I know it also comes from my deep curiosity of how human beings face unprecedented challenges in their lives and yet, in some way, small or huge, make it through to share or leave behind a legacy of hope, courage and love. Some of these people get to share their stories, through books, movies, articles, TED talks, etc.. but many do not. Many of the women that I coach do not because they are running teams, businesses, and families all the while facing disruptions of all kinds. They are often overworked and overwhelmed. And despite all of this, they are passionate, driven and compassionate.

My dream is to create a platform from which these women can share their untold stories. I know this is needed because I know I needed to hear them. I know these are women who either aspire to be, or already are, great leaders in business, community and family, both locally and globally. I believe in the women that I coach and I know their stories need to be told, in their communities and beyond, in places where the empowerment of young women from an early age is critical. The women that I coach have resilience, spirit, courage and ambition – all vital ingredients for being amazing and doing great things.

I am open to your suggestions, support, and possibly your desire to be involved. I have no perfect plan but I do have a powerful desire and strong instinct which almost always serves me well. In honour of Women’s Day I am honouring this powerful instinct in me and sharing my dream. Next step is making it happen!

My deepest and heartfelt love to all women across our globe on this International Women’s Day and on every day beyond.

 

 

Posted in Coaching | Leave a comment

Announcements

60680e62a7fc77ab4aa1b3ebaf24a9c682ab94f1

I am very proud to make two announcements.

The first is a bit overdue… In November 2014 I was invited to join the Faculty of Integral Coaching Canada (ICC) based in Ottawa, Canada as an ICC Observer for both the Professional and Master Certification Modules.

The second announcement is the exciting news that I received this past week – I have been invited to sit on the ‘Jedi Council’ of Integral Coaching Canada! Sorry, this is how my 8 year old daughter describes it. 😊 The ‘Jedi Council’ is the Certification Committee of Master Integral Coaches™ with Integral Coaching Canada. The first offering of the Master Certification Module (MCM) was launched in October 2015. MCM is the third and final module of the Integral Coaching® Certification Program (for more information see www.integralcoachingcanada.com/programs).

I will be traveling to Ottawa in April 2016 to sit on this Inaugural MCM Committee. I am honoured and excited to be supporting our lineage – to be contributing to the development of students, to Integral Coaching Canada, and to my own ongoing development as an Integral Master Coach™.

The last bit of news is that Integral Coaching Canada will soon be hosting a Global Online Summit called Resilience + Reach. To explore what capabilities we need to resiliently respond to our greatest challenges as leaders, and for interviews and conversations with leaders of incredible heart, depth and humility, on the edge of their own evolution and deepest work in the world, you can register now to join at Integral Coaching Canada Online Global Summit – Resilience + Reach:  http://bit.ly/205L2Vt

And with that….may the force be with you all!

 

 

Posted in Coaching | Leave a comment

The Texture of our Being

images

Why one or the other?

Each day, in both my personal life and in my work, I am frequently reminded of how challenging it is for so many of us to live with life’s natural paradoxes. For evidence of paradoxes just look to nature – with night there is day, with heat there is cold, with flooding there is drought, and with birth there is death, to name just a few. One could not exist without the other. Each is a part of defining the other. In our everyday lives we see this in our own experiences – something is new or old, boring or exciting, easy or challenging, energizing or exhausting, sad or joyful, and/or delicious or disgusting. Think of all the paradoxes that exist! How do the paradoxes that you notice in yourself exist with one another and how might they not exist without the presence of the other?

Some paradoxes that I commonly see out of balance in the clients that I work with include:

  • Giving 100% AND Backing Off
  • Boring/mundane AND Exciting/Challenging
  • Going Fast AND Going Slow
  • Intensity AND Indifference
  • Planned AND Spontaneous
  • Stay AND Go
  • Reckless AND Controlled
  • Holding On AND Letting Go
  • Independence AND Dependence
  • Responsible AND Free from Responsibility
  • Do it all AND Do Nothing

Do any of these sound familiar? Most of us tussle between the paradoxes, often thinking we should be one of them rather than recognizing and accepting that we are both. Perhaps on one day we are more one than the other or we need to be one more than the other. However, our greatest work in becoming full human beings is in seeing and accepting that we are everything and that everything is us.

Can you notice when you feel bored, when you want to walk away or when you want to be reckless? When might it be useful to slow down and consider things more fully? Or maybe to be more spontaneous? To collaborate with others rather than figure it out all on your own? And when is it best to inject that new unexpected energy? Both will have their place. If you can get deeply in touch with these moments – how you feel, what you notice in yourself and others, what your thoughts are – then you have the vital ingredients for living a fuller more balanced life.

Accepting these life paradoxes and allowing them space is necessary for living a fuller more complete life. However this calls for acceptance, endurance, and wisdom. If you want to live a more congruent life that balances work, relationships, and self then it is advantageous to look at where balance is out in you. For each of us it is different.

Good practices to do are ones that let you live both sides of the above paradoxes – i.e. can you stay in something boring a little bit longer than you normally would? Can you go slow once a day and see what that’s like? Or can you assume a faster pace if you normally like to take it slow? Can you make quick decisions some days and on other days see what emerges over time?

Why do we so often feel we must be one or the other – happy or sad, decisive or ambivalent, angry or content, stressed or relaxed? Is it possible that we might just recognise and/or acknowledge that each of us is a complex human being with a multitude of responses, feelings, emotions and behaviors? Being one or the other adds such unnecessary stress in our lives. I’ve seen it in myself and in others. When we allow ourselves to be all of what we are experiencing then we respect the rich texture of our being. And with that we allow in a multitude of ways of analyzing, looking at and assessing our situation, if and when that is needed. And sometimes it’s not needed, sometimes we need to simply BE. Ironically this is not so simple for most human beings.

So the next time you face a difficult situation, or are simply observing the beauty of your life or someone else’s, notice the myriad of feelings and responses you are having. You might even count them as they pass through your awareness, through your body, mind and heart. Notice the joy, notice the anxiety, notice the fear…and instead of worrying why one is present or why one is not, acknowledge its presence and perhaps its absence. And be grateful that you are a human being who has the honour of experiencing so much. It is what makes us uniquely human.

Posted in Coaching, Nature and Life | Leave a comment

Living with Difference

I just finished reading ‘Prisoner of Tehran‘ by Marina Nemat, a powerful story of a young woman imprisoned in her home country of Iran in the 1980’s and who is now living in Canada. And then today, I re-read this poem that felt resonant with the book and all of the horrible atrocities going on in the world. If only we could all be more accepting of one another, treat each other with kindness, and learn to accept that our world is full of differences. And if we could all remember that at the heart of it all we all love, hurt, smile, laugh, cry, live and die…and that our coming together rather than pushing apart would serve the world far more than fighting, killing and hatred. My heart aches for all of the children, women and men who live in places around the globe where they are harmed so unimaginably, still to this day.

Self Portrait by David Whyte, Fire in the Earth

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God

or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel

abandoned.

If you know despair or can see it in others.

I want to know

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back

with firm eyes

saying this is where I stand. I want to know

if you know

how to melt into that fierce heat of living

falling toward

the centre of your longing. I want to know

if you are willing

to live, day by day, with the consequence of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even

the gods speak of God.

 

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment