Life practices: inner and outer

What is important?

Especially when everything is changing at an encompassing pace that feels out of your control?

When you don’t know what to do, what the future holds, and the practices, beliefs, and routines, and the sacred rituals all somehow are not sustaining?

Things change. What was sustaining and sacred needs to change too, at least the forms, the frequency…something.

Ideally, before things feel like they are crumbling and out of control, there are ways of being that can be more productive, fun, or healthier, and other ways. And of course we all have our ways of coping, letting go of stress, becoming more right with our soul, feeling better when we are off, or maybe, changing a life situation with intention rather than from a reaction. Sometimes reaction happens, and if there is a good practice to hold it then it will be okay.

I have trained myself to focus on the positive, to learn to focus, it is not a natural thing for me, and by focusing on what we do want, in little, itty bitty, consistent ways every day a lot of magic can happen.

Here is where I’ve been focusing in terms of building health:

Organizing my daily life around self care, including my day, home life, relationships, decisions, activities, focusing on getting good sleep, breathing, eating well, and connecting every day. I use my grid for this.

Centering or meditation and inner work. Currently I practice a meditative way of being with myself and experiences that includes some inner practices that I will share more later (but have an inner practice, here is a good one you can stop and say or think. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoʻoponopono ), or just take three easy breaths that bring in fresh energy and let go of old. It may not feel like much sometimes, but the intention is what matters and it does help.

Playing drum set, learning rhythms, technique, songs, singing along, taking baby steps toward doing music with others, showing up at friends’ music, going out to venues not even knowing what was going on, joining the Philadelphia Folk Society after attending the Philly Folk Fest by a divine twist of good fortune, as I tend to have. Promoting local musicians, encouraging them, played my hand drum in a yoga class. While I would love to play daily, I sometimes need support to do so and also focus on quality, not quantity. So if I do or don’t it is an opportunity for the meditative allowing and not over emphasizing or indulging a particular moment. And its just so cathartic. Take it Easy is one I’m working a lot. And Soul to Squeeze. And Wish you were here. All therapeutic. Plus musicians are immediate community.

One of my favorite songs over the past year… about suffering, and not only. For example, “Where I go, I just don’t know. When I find my peace of mind…I’m gonna give you some of my good time.” Plus very fun syncopation on the snare.

Writing, with prompts, to help others, to share my story, to figure out what has happened. To move the energy, to see new things, to build discipline, simply practice. To role model. To encourage others. To reflect what I am learning. To show up. More to share here too. Also for sharing things that have no other way for me to share. For psychological integration. Ultimately for letting love flow.

Get heart rate up, could be during yoga, walking, dog play, jogging, weights, or something else. Ideally I do this in the woods. Some days I need to rest, so again, it isn’t about perfection or forcing, but a consistent building of more and more whole habits, choices, and strength.

And sharing it with others.

Where all this came from…is also helpful; yoga, all 8 limbs, which I have started learning in the last year has been a basis, and a search to create more health, including a morning ritual, exercise, meditation, community, and enough attention on eating, sleeping, and doing things.

So whatever it is, choose it, build it, and keep it simple as you try it for a time. My morning routine / ritual has been holding me together for years. and it takes a lot to rebuild one, especially when every dimension of life is changing.

Music, yoga near Phoenixville, Philly

 

These are some of the best things around here that are coming up. Music. Yoga. There will be more things.

October 7: Outdoor concert in Kimberton to enjoy the people and place, support the arts, $12 for students, $20 for adults. Bring lawn chairs. Last week it was sunny and perfect weather. Get outside and meet people. Kimberton is a magical place.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-lonely-heartstring-band-tickets-50044275776

October 9 or 10 Death Cab for Cutie Indie Pop stars hailing from Washington state. I am going to Oct 10.

 

October 13 – I recently stumbled upon Brick Nova. This is local talent with an affordable show in Philly, intelligent and emotional lyrics and a range of rock sounds that sound both familiar in a good way and original.

https://bricknova.bandcamp.com

Join me:  https://www.songkick.com/venues/3363419-century

October 14: Community and the best yoga teacher around and a magical sounding drum, and good people and a surreal mural you can admire after if beer is not your thing: http://www.conditionthemind.com/events/yoga-lacabra-4/

October 14: Kicking Down Doors Aretha Franklin tribute. Soulful and light..folky funky rock with sweet blends, funky beats, and the best banjo playing you will hear. Highly danceable shows.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pfs-and-brookladelphia-presents-aretha-franklin-tribute-tickets-50535019604

https://kickingdowndoorsband.com

October 20: Herman Bruning at the Pick with Ernie Tokay of Kicking Down Doors on drums! If you haven’t been to the pick, go and if you just need something to do, check their calendar or go by. I happened into poetry the other night and it was amazing.

http://www.thepickeringcreekinn.com/music.html

 

 

 

Buddhism: An internal path to activism

A post on Elephant Journal calls us to action from a Buddhist perspective:

…practice is the greatest protestation of injustice, because it is a refusal to participate in the insanity that creates injustice. I hope more people will realize that the most potent political decision they can make is to invest in their sanity, which consists of nothing more than observing their own confusion. The observation of confusion is the revelation of wisdom, and wisdom is the fuel of a revolution. When we take the time to appreciate the gap between thoughts, we allow thought to touch the present moment.

One main reason I appreciate this post is the tensions that arise for me around the calls for activism and being the change, the seeming largeness of the issues at hand, such as the 99% and humanity’s future, and my own preoccupation at times with where to put my resources and energy on a day to day basis. What is an integral expression of activism? Might it be part of a more holistic way of being and living, and one that includes targeted concrete actions, as well as an internal stance of maturity and intelligence growing from emotional, spiritual, and psychological work on ourselves?

While the author is spot-lighting the transcendent and oneness aspects of practice in my opinion, I don’t want that to be an excuse for non-action. For some of us there is plenty of work to do inside. Through my own inner work, it is my vision that I  will be more resilient in the face of the confusion and insanity, and that I can shine light on the internal blind spots caused by the ignorance I perpetuate by failing to observe myself in this way.

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that these moments of change in ourselves and the world can be an opportunity for growth. Will I and we act in alignment with this growth and future oriented impulse some of us have, and how will that contribute?

Occupy Within

Maureen Metcalf on Innovative Leadership and Experiments

Maureen Metcalf is an organizational consultant who has recently co-authored a book, the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, on a process for leadership development. She reports on a discussion facilitated by Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze. I think Meg Wheatley’s model of leadership is integral, or at least post-conventional since she holds a global perspective, works with chaos and complex adaptive systems, and includes some subjective aspects in her work.

Maureen says:

I attended a discussion this morning led by Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze about their latest book about leaders who walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities. These Walk Outs Who Walk On use their ingenuity and caring to figure out how to work with what they have to create what they need.  They were quite compelling and for those studying Innovative leadership their work appears to point to the same or similar qualities as we do (using different language).

I am intrigued by the description of this group because it sounds like not only are they against or “letting go” of something — their limiting beliefs, but are also for something — “letting come” their visions of healthy and resilient communities.


Maureen poses an important question to help us to stay oriented in our activism and advocacy and that can help us center ourselves in the midst of collective shifting and our own individual restlessness for greater service.

“This is particularly interesting as the Occupy Wall Street movement is showing some signs of walking out.  The next question is what are they walking on to?

What are you walking out of in your life?  What are you walking on to?

What’s Your Marathon, Soldier?

Today’s inspiration is courtesy of a 100 year-old who courageously defied odds to complete the Toronto Marathon this past weekend, as reported here on CBC Sports.

Fauja Singh as he crosses the line at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon
Image courtesy of Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

Sunday’s run was Fauja Singh’s eighth marathon — he ran his first at the tender age of 89 — and wasn’t the first time he set a record. In the 2003 Toronto event, he set the mark in the 90-plus category, finishing the race in five hours 40 minutes and one second. And on Thursday in Toronto, Fauja Singh — whose first name means soldier — broke world records for runners older than 100 in eight different distances ranging from 100 metres to 5,000 metres.

The tender age of 89! Singh used a tragic loss to fuel his motivation to begin running about twenty years ago as an octogenarian. Singh’s goals are lofty for anyone, much less someone who has lived through a time which produced revolutionizing inventions that today we often take for granted such as the micro chip, mobile phones, seat belts, and the ball point pen.

Whether or not Singh knows about Integral Life Practice, I imagine he must have some kind of powerful personal practices to maintain his health and support his vision. Additionally, without his community of supporters, would he have made it across the line? For me, setting my goals and being transparent about them in relationship/community is very important to sustaining practices that I believe may lead to progress.

We don’t all have set world records or run marathons to achieve something remarkable, and those with a more holistic consciousness realize that their remarkable accomplishment may be a marathon that is achieved future generations down the road, well after we are all long gone. Maybe our future achievements will be shaped by the simple decisions we make today, such as when Singh decided to start running.

While You are Spending All This Time Online Anyway

Take responsibility for your online identity. It is common knowledge that online behavior can impact your reputation with anyone from prospective employers and clients to your family and friends. If you are going to post online, then use the same guidelines for real life. If you would not do or say something in front of your spouse or boss or business partner, then don’t do it online either.

Set up a LinkedIn profile and even a personal website. If you have basic writing skills, then post occasional blog entries. If you are in a particular domain, say career services, then post some information about related topics. This shows you are always learning and proactive.

If you play games on Facebook, then at least make sure you have your settings configured so that you are not inundating your friends with continuous announcements about how you got a new farm or mafia member. Your settings should be on encrypted anyway, so most of those applications won’t work, which is just as well.

Don’t use profanity, and don’t ever insult anyone’s character. Think of the internet as a perpetual opportunity to sell yourself and create a new opportunity or to damage your reputation and miss out or even lose your job.

For those of us who wish to remain Facebook friends with someone who seems obsessed with games or uncouth behavior/language, you can hide your friend’s posts or all posts by the particular application

Lastly, don’t ignore this issue. If you have questions, then get some help. Email me or do a Google Search.

This is an editorial article, and meant to be advice for myself first.

A New Year With New Opportunities

Notebook and Compass
Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I feel like making a blog post, but I am afraid I don’t have enough focus. This is a relevant challenge and familiar feeling, though usually I am assessing a client’s resume in light of their goals and career strategy and easily seeing that they could use some more focus and some ways in which they could achieve that.

Many people are making new goals and resolutions for work and other areas of life, and I want to do this as well. However, I want to be reasonable. I want to be aspirational, but commit to something that is within reach. I find that writing is a path or practice to help me be more clear on what I want to reach and what the boundaries are around what expectations would be the right balance of support and challenge for myself.

I hope and even intend to finally be more consistent in writing this year, starting as early as next month, but for now bear with me while I explore.

What is my passion, what is my focus, what do I resonate with? I am continually drawn to the themes of learning, writing, education, and integration. What are my top “learnings” from 2010? I have some confusion around my framework/strategy that supports my  hesitancy around writing this. However, I need to break through the blogging and branding paralysis. I want to deeply own where I am and what is, or what the current reality is, but I know that part of this desire is an impatience and a frustration to “let come” and feel flowing, validated, productive, and meaningful…I feel a need and responsibility to cite sources of psychologists or business leaders or career experts in order to support my writing. In due time, I definitely will share these resources.

This – right now – is my own form of presencing — deeply feeling, sensing, seeing, and owning what is, getting a taste and a picture of the current reality. If we don’t know what here is, then it seems that it would be more difficult to take the next step or become what I imagine or even to imagine at my best.

Back to my spontaneous integration of my top three themes I learned about in 2010:

1) Ownership — I don’t make every deadline, but I set intentions to be present and give my best effort and do many things such as design my work day and space and life so I can focus as much as possible on my work. I am not perfect and strive to have patience with others as I experience what I perceive as imperfections. I am honest in my edges, expectations, and shortcomings, and if I sense I cannot deliver, then I will tell you and help you get some help elsewhere…even this is not perfect, but there is progress.This theme is related to responsibility, commitment, and accountability.

2) Reflection — For me, regular reflection is critical to my well being, growth, and performance in life/work. Whether internal, in writing, in talking…reflect. Am I meeting my goals? Did I take steps on/to my path today? Am I more aligned with my intention? If not, was there a formidable reason for this? IS intention completely overwhelming as a concept? Am I getting some feedback from people in my network? Better yet, perhaps this is action and reflection, but I have been doing a lot of action, and even a lot of reflection, and I believe I could integrate this even more.

3) Appreciate — I appreciate my friends, family, colleagues, and clients. Without Writing Wolf and Joe and the many clients I served last year with freelance writing and contract business services, I just would not be who I am in the same way, and it is important for me to tell them (you) that I appreciate you. This appreciation practice is not only good for the spirit and mood, but also when authentic and specific, can be a key link in maintaining relationships and contributing positive energy.

It is my hope and intention that this post is authentic and useful to someone…it has been useful to me. I suspect that if we all had to say what the top things we learned last year were, they might all be very individual reflections. If anyone reads this and wants to share what you are learning or some other way you are integrating parts of your self and life, I would love to hear.

I have been curious and open, and without that, these words would never have emerged in the way that they did…I still don’t know how consistent I will be on this blog, but I have been writing 750 or more words since September 5th and only missed four days. After losing my 109 day streak, I am now back at 8 days in a row and am going to attempt to use the writing not only for spontaneous reflection but to stimulate some more focused blogging. Click here to check out the site, and let me know if you do this practice!

Fall Reflection

 

Fall Linn Cove Viaduct
Thanks to Grandfather.com for the beautiful image

This image is beautiful and represents this reflective time of year as well as all the pieces and systems and holons, and potential and mystery, and the sense of being on a journey. I often use images and music to create different qualities of states or spaces.

While my attention has been on lots of writing, learning, collaborating, and living, which I am truly grateful for, I have neglected this website as well as another blogging opportunity that I could be playing with. I met a public relations professional yesterday evening, and as we spoke for a few minutes I was painfully aware that even as I spend a good amount of time recommending to clients that they take responsibility for their own online presence, I am seeing some potential incoherence in myself.

For a while – years possibly – I have felt a tension to create engagement and publish regularly online. Several months ago I made my first posts on this website, and in a sense I have been stuck. What might be causing this?

After working with many clients over the past few months, collaborating with them to improve their various writing projects, from website content to newsletters to white papers to essays, and primarily resumes and cover letters, I am learning a lot.

One of the key factors in how easy it is to create coherent, powerful, and inspiring or at least interesting content is: Focus. I need focus. This is not news. It is just finally being embodied as I serve others with my writing, and I can glimpse a little bit more about how useful it would be to apply this concept.

Over the next couple of months I am intending to start putting out posts that transparently continue the exploration of what the focus of my professional brand is. I have done some research, I have real-life laboratories on a day-to-day basis to test out my thoughts and ideas and practices, and I want to start sharing it and modeling my own process of Becoming.

I write a lot of content for different forms of communications, and I believe the words and the design and all of it can convey some more invisible aspects of us, or our essence, as well as contribute to our individual process of becoming.

I am going to explore a focus while realizing that this focus will likely grow and expand and emerge over time. Remembering the developing or emerging nature of our development and growth helps free me up to play within some focus here.

What do I stand for? What do I aspire for? What is my intention? These are a few of the questions that come up when I wrestle with what to put on these pages.

I have a few pieces of the puzzle.

Writing. Learning. Collaboration. Creativity. Offering value in the moment, even if it is simply listening, presence, and a reflection of what is heard or an idea that seems to just come in from nowhere.

I’m not sure if these are intentions, values, or principles. When I look at each word they see to expand.

I write a lot of resumes and yet that is not all I do. What about the collaborative contributions I am making to other writing projects, and how does creative writing or poetry fit into this branding process? How will I continue to hone my skills as an effective resume writer and editor while remaining open to the other kinds of writing, creativity, and forms of professional expression and business/community leadership I will eventually want to enact?

If anyone has read this far, I really appreciate your reading/listening and am quite open to thoughts or questions.

I am committed to taking this website to the next incremental level of clarity and aliveness over the next several weeks and am curious to see what will unfold!

Write Action

Pen and Paper
Image credit to athena. on flickr

After moving into a studio, starting a new professional routine last month, and practicing multiple new behavioral and emotional habits, I don’t seem to be naturally inclined to blogging.

Why can’t I just focus? Well, that’s what this is. I don’t have a blog strategy or focus,  but this post, and potentially subsequent sporadic – I would like to commit to one per week but am too sure that would not happen and am examining if that is perhaps because I don’t want it to happen since two is not that many – posts will be about focusing!

I think part of the resistance is also because I’m spending a large part of  the day time on writing professional marketing documents. Between that and journalling, what is left to blog?!Yes, lots for sure.

Without further ado procrastination, I just read this timely article in Google Reader, a new tool I am *hoping* will help me focus (!), called Cutting the Cord to Materialism. It was a guest post on Zen Habits, which I find refreshing and useful.

With the average American spending 5.4% on Entertainment, no wonder the ties are so strong to conform. Not to shirk my individuality here, and I think I’ve been doing a bit less than that with no TV for about five years (though I spend about 1/3 of my life online possibly) and my main ‘entertainment’ budget being weekly ecstatic dance and future travel, but I find I have resistance to creating the life I love, and I wonder how much of it is cultural constructs and conditioning.

In this guest post from David Damron of the Minimalist Path, he invites us to reflect on what we long for:

Let’s start with an exercise …

1. Grab a small sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.

2. After you read the following question, please take 5 deep breaths before answering.

3. Write your response to the up-coming question on your piece of paper in one sentence.

Here is your question to answer:

If you had the opportunity to do one activity for one week without any worry about finances, cost, or other outside commitments, what would you love to do for this week?

Here is what I wrote: I’d like to travel to a place warm and sunny, with a beach, and trees, and Mexican food – where I could just be, sleeping, exercising, and possibly experience this respite with a loved one, and we would leave behind internet and electronic devices and be together, write together, rest together, and have the option to pick up and fly anywhere we want to visit anyone we feel like being with, or just experience the welcome disorientation of being home, away from home, together.

What about you, dear reader?

I think that answer is authentic and may point to my desires for more connection, rest, warmth, light, well-being, and play/activity. Honestly, I think I am on the path to becoming more aligned with my being and aliveness all the time – as if I could not be, but that is another story.

And, I think I will continue to follow the Minimalist Path, as I am still finding out how to settle in to this small living space, and as I look at a box of papers I have not opened for a good two years, I know it is going to feel really energizing to simplify and create more order in my daily life.

Thanks for joining me as I find my blogging-way.

Aha! And then what?

We have a peak experience which is a state, an insight, or a reignited aliveness to engage in what we are doing, living, and being.  We have a sense of renewed purpose, or possibly more accurately, vision. So much energy is liberated. Then what?

This happens both in our personal lives and in organizations. We go through a branding initiative, we make commitments to be engaged more fully, and what happens? How do we sustain the transformation?

The gap is small, and yet not. It just takes right now making one step into our aspirational visions. Over and over again. Day in and day out. And that is where the gap gets big.

We must become a learning organization. This is popular in business in the domain of capacity building and organizational (people/culture) development. Even thinking about this blog, though: how can I sustain the growth, and what am I growing toward? How can I hold the ambiguity of knowing that I don’t actually know specifically what I am growing into, but am holding a range or spectrum of possibility for what is becoming and emerging? How do I become more comfortable with this, and yet have the steadfastness to show up every day and practice, making little adjustments all along the way.

This is a partial answer: Mindful Contructs. Mental models are a significant part. The story we are telling about what is and what is possible is key.

Here is another partial answer: inquiry!

What comes up for you when I ask these questions?

This blog intends to foster collaboration and sharing of resources to mind these gaps and sustain them in our inner and outer communities. This is a place to start, a stick in the sand — but hopefully not the mud — and one little step on the path where the process and the outcome are both learning.

Welcome.