Friday, October 9, 2009

Practice BEing

Joyful Friday and fantastic weekend to you!

Before I go silent for a few days, I wanted to share some food for thought.
I am setting an intention for my retreat this weekend: Practice BEing. Won't you join me?

"Being is about existing in a non-doing state, listening for guidance from our authentic self, scanning our body's subtle tightenings and expansions for information, and breathing with -- sitting alongside --who we are in that moment without moving to criticize or improve... Being is about accepting whatever there is. In the end, being is almost impossible to describe. It is not a destination; it is never a goal to check off. The edges of being are outlined with self-trust, feeling soft, open, accepting... Being comes in snatches, wavering states of at-one-ment interspersed with white-knuckled fear or control or worry or mindlessness. With practice, being does become easier. There is no perfect state to attain, no one to compare yourself to, no master degree in being that is awarded.... you just do it." -- Jen Louden (Woman's Retreat Book)

How can you play with BEING this weekend? Let me know!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Newsletter

This entry is a copy of the fall newsletter I sent out a couple of days ago to my coaching circle.

Coaching Circle:

Fall is here, and I am actively re-inventing myself and by extension, of course, my practice.I am discovering that I have begun to job-ize my interests, passions and values in creating a unique and truly blessed work life.

In a nutshell, my approach to coaching and life in general is encapsulated in this quote from Suzanne Zoglio: "People with an uncommon zest for life have mastered the art of living from the inside out. Instead of setting their goals and judging their success by what others think, they live according to their own values, their own passions, and their own... inner voice. In other words, they live an authentic life."

I strive to live an authentic life from the inside-out - even if it mean ruffling feathers. My work is such a key means to this process. I have to keep stretching so that I can meet you where you need me to be! Phew!

This month, I am reflecting and acting on one of my favorite intentions: self-care. I realize now that my coaching model rests squarely on establishing effective self-care practices. This means that I need to step up my game. Big time. Walk the talk.This is why I am taking a personal retreat for the first time in I can't say how long. In life before children, I often headed to the nearest Ocean location to get in touch with myself, to rest and regroup with more intention and focus.

So, bear with me and understand that I will be unavailable from October 10th until 13th. I will be reconnecting with myself in Cape May for three whole days with no care in the world but myself. Whatever shall I do? Nothing. I will just be. I assure you that I will return, fired up and ready to go!

I can honestly say that I am long overdue for such a retreat. I am attaching below an excerpt from one of my favorite people, Jen Louden, on what a retreat is and why we should take one. [Nudge. Prod. Hint. Hint.]

I am absolutely delighted to share that in the last couple of weeks, several new people have committed to the coaching adventure with me. Here I was, having taken the website down, sort of considering applying for a regular old job all the while clear that was not an authentic choice supporting my core values. And, bam! A flurry of interest, inquiries and enthusiastic folks ready to figure out their next steps, with me along for the ride. Woo hoo!

I am humbled, and gosh, so grateful for these opportunities. I am super thankful to those of you who have shared your wins with others and ignited in them a spark of interest. The web site is still down. So, word of your mouths is my sole marketing tool for now. Thank you thank you thank for doing such a stupendous job. And, please keep doing more of it. Turns out, coaching amazing people like you is still in the cards as part of my authentic life work.

Fall Special Offerings
Name your price this fall: All new coaching community members will receive super duper flexible and low rates. Name your price, and if I can make it work, I sure will!

Good Karma Credits: To thank you for your generous marketing, if you recommend someone who commits to coaching with me, you will receive a $25 good karma credit towards one month of coaching services.

One-time fix-it: If you have a dilemma, worry or decision for which you need support and longer term coaching is not what you need, I am offering one-time fix-it services. It's an experiment, and so far, people are digging it.

Coaching Circle Call: Keep an eye out for an invitation. This call is for you if you ever wanted to meet some other members of the coaching circle, hear what they're playing with or simply find support with one another. The topic: Playing with Self-Care (of course).

Giving Circle: In September, I offered free Academic-Life-Support and as a result, I began pro bono support for a group of former students who are in graduate school. No charge. I envision doing more and more of this, and to sustain this aspect of my practice, I hope to attract more paying folks.

Self-Care through retreats
What do you actually do at a retreat?I received a wonderful email a few days ago, asking what we would actually do at my upcoming Seattle mini-retreat. As we talked a little via email, it became clear she wanted to be sure the retreat would address her feelings of burn out and her need to reconnect with herself and feelings of self-love. When she asked me, "Does that sound like a good fit?" I shouted across the Internet, YES!I know the way to fulfillment and purpose and feeling really GOOD is through being wholly and fully who you truly are. I also know that you cannot be who you truly are if you aren't listening to yourself. Or if you are exhausted, harried, bitten by self-doubt or just in need of a little focus.I know that most everything in life - even a more contemplative life like mine - pulls you away from trusting and being yourself. It's simply incredibly easy to move farther and farther away from yourself - and to spend years being itchy, dissatisfied, on edge and not know why. Jennifer is a best-selling author, personal coach, former monthly columnist for Martha Stewart's Body+Soul magazine, a frequent guest on radio and TV, and creator of learning events and retreats around the country. She's devoted to nurturing women to evoke their creative power so they can have a blast while changing the world. She's been on Oprah, been interviewed in most major magazines, and her newest book is The Life Organizer: A Woman's Guide to A Mindful Year. Her blog, websites, and ezine (all free) draw thousands of readers each month and there are over 800,000 copies of her six books in print. and

I am deeply honored and enriched each day by being a part of your life journey.
Your Coach, Gayatri

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fear and Faith go hand in hand

As most of you know, I am super psyched to be the blessed winner of Jen Loouden's Life Organizer. It has already brought me insights, peace and direction.

Yesterday, I found myself on the edge of anxiety, worry and even palpable fear. I paged through the Organizer in search of something to grasp on to. These words jumped off the page at me:

"Sew yourself a string of prayer flags to flap invitations to patience, clarity and authentic trust into the heavens."

Wow. So beautiful and elegant is this directive. It sits on a page that asks a provocative question: "What you worried about? What are you afraid of?"

I am going to speak my fears out loud here. I am worried with a sick to the stomach feeling that something awful will happen to my precious child. I have just seen myself and my son through his surgeries. He is doing well. It was a rough few weeks, but following him around with a cup of gatorade and plenty of cuddles worked out just fine. So what on earth am I afraid of now?

The dialog bordering on argument in my head goes something like this: Breathe. Relax. It's a routine set of procedures. Everything is going to be fine. Oh, my poor baby. What if there is some random complication? You've been down this road before. It will be just fine. She has sleep apnea and all these allergies. What if she stops breathing. Relax. It's a routine surgery. She is going to be sleeping better than ever in a week. But, really, what if something happens to my child? I can't contain myself! Ok, stop it. Worry and fear are signs of a lack of trust. Pray. Calm yourself down. Trust God. I know I know. But, what if....?

The truth is that I am really afraid. I am afraid because I love this child more than I can express in any way - words or otherwise. Her vulnerability and the remotely marginal possibility that some harm could come to her frightens me beyond comprehension. I know that my love is what makes me afraid. And yet there is no rationality to justify this fear.

Fear and faith go hand in hand.

My fear is an opportunity for me to practice faith. The trusting part of me know that this is a time for prayer... trust... faith.

So, to sewing flags of prayer we go...

I am choosing to relish every moment of this process. I have converted her room into a salon. She is getting hair washed and braided. We are painting her nails her favorite colors - pink and purple of course. We are picking out a pretty dress to wear to surgery tomorrow. I have purchased her a book about ballerinas as her gift to enjoy tonight. We are singing, dancing and saying prayers. Lots of hugs and cuddles are being showered everywhere.

This is the only way I know to cope with my fear and channel it faithfully. Deep breaths.

"Sew yourself a string of prayer flags to flap invitations to patience, clarity and authentic trust into the heavens." I'm sewing!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A few minutes ago, I posted this status update on Facebook:
Gayatri Sethi wants you to know that it is a crime of the highest order to beat down, discourage, belittle, withhold praise or even in the slightest bit cause self-doubt in a young, hopeful, confident and capable spirit full of promise. If you have even the desire to snuff out the light that shines in others, know that I will personally come and take you OUT!

What on earth prompted that outburst? Really? I threaten to take somebody OUT for taking others out? I know approach never did and never will solve anything. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. I know. I know.

Let me tell you, though that this is passionate anger at its best. How so? I realize that a key part of my life's work has to do with offering support and encouragement to others so that their inner light can shine even brighter in the world. That is what I am here to do.

Today's outrage came from a conversation I had with a new client in which she shared the pain of experiencing belittlement, lack of confidence and inordinate degree of self-doubt at her former job. I must add that she worked for an international social change organization that claims to CARE for the world. You catch my drift? I was overcome with anger at the hypocrisy of caring so little for the young shining stars at your organization and claiming to save the world. Rant over.

Well, not quite. The truth is that I have experienced (over and over) this kind of discouragement in workplace settings and especially in graduate school. I continue to deal with and attempt to heal from the deep wounds that were inflicted. At some point through the pain and struggle of it all, I realized that I was being prepared by these awful experiences to develop the kind of empathy, compassion and understanding required to do my life's work.

True. For many of us, our life's purpose lies in transforming our own pain into a positive force in the world. I know. Airy fairy grandiose speak.

Seriously though, what I'm saying is something you already know. Find what angers and pains you, and know that this same darkness could pontentially light up the world.

And, I mean it. If you have the slightest inclination to dim the light of others, I will not take you OUT. But, I will take you ON!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting Free and Feeling like a Winner!

Here I am again after a long silence. Still stewing, folks.

Today's entry is actually a heartfelt note of gratitude I sent to Jen Louden, The Comfort Queen.

And since today, one of her suggestions for getting FREE is to send an email or two without spell-checking, I sent this note to her typos and all. And I am posting it on the blog unedited. (holding my breath) and affirming that I am perfect in my imperfections! (smile)

Here goes:



I can't tell you how delighted, thrilled, grateful and just plain psyched I am to WIN a truly special life-giving gift from you! The Life Organizer has been sitting in my cart on Amazon for months... maybe years. Wow! I am just to thankful. It's not just a book. It represents a whole lot more to me!

Last week, I had NO cash in any of my accounts. None. Checks outstanding, two kids to feed, bills to pay. Nada. I chose not to be afraid or lose it. But, I was anxious all weekend. I kept affirming that the Universe provides. It is bountiful. I have ALL that I need. I kept in that space. Boom. Monday: freedom from self-improvement. Wow. Just what I needed to organize my thoughts and intentions for this month. I am SO on board. That day, I go to brunch with my beloved, and decide to charge it. Guess what? I win 200 points and win a free lunch worth 25 bucks. Ok. I am grateful. I then walk down the street, sit at a cafe and for the first time in years, count out the change in my wallet to decide if I can afford to buy an iced tea. I notice that this is new and different, and how to so many, I lead a very privileged existence. I am privileged in that moment to appreciate what it feels like to count pennies. I accept that gift.

I open my book and begin to read from Life is a Verb (loving that book): I read the message of how to be better, kinder, generous strangers. I accept that lesson. I walk outside to make a call. I follow my instinct which tells me to walk away from the stores to a quiet path. I am approached by a young man, "can I ask you a really embarassing question? Could you spare me some change?" Wow, I think. This is profound. I am paying attention. I know that truly my heartfelt desire is to give more freely, not just of resources but of myself. So I empty out my change in his palm, but I pause to speak with him. He is taken off-guard. He shares some of his story with me. I listen. I ask him questions. Ten minutes later, he thanks me for taking time to speak with him, and I thank him for the same.

Days like that are quite a gift from the Universe, eh?

Well, today was even better. I joined you in declaring freedom from self-improvement. Instead of spending the day doing online searches to help me figure out my life and the next thing I need to be doing for my kids, I just let go. I chose to be present and just honor my inner desires. I danced with my two year old daughter. I played with her. I ate with her (this is rare - long story here). I walked in the sunshine with her. I showed her how it's breezy in the shade, and we appreciated the shade and the breeze. We enjoyed each other. We reached out to some friends with the swine flu, and went to visit them with chicken soup. Who cares if they might be contagious? I felt the need to connect with them face to face and not just on instant messages. I received bounties today. I started a dreamboard that I have been planning to do for a while. Do you know what was on there? A retreat with you. I claimed it. One day... soon... I will go on retreat and actually be in the presence of Jen Louden. This is a must-have life experience for me. Right alongside a personal intellectual artist retreat in Paris sans enfants, para-sailing, doing yoga on the beach somewhere, learning yet another language, oh... wait a minute. I pause here because I don't want to get caught up in the trap of self-improvement. But I note my desires and I put them out there into the Universe, trusting in the Law of Attraction.

I had no intention of seeking clients. One came to me. Thankful. I love when kids spontaneously say "I love you." I got a couple of those today. One from the playroom while I was in the kitchen. I sure relished that.

And at the end of the day after karate and gym classes as I am hurrying to get them in the bad for qiuck bedtime, I check my messages. I won a book from Jen Louden! Wow. I attracted - visioned - dream boarded my way into a win today. But, mostly I know that the Universe is sending me some significant messages right now. I am paying attention.

Thank you for being such a precious part of my life's journey.

heartfelt thanks and hugs!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Reinventing myself... again

I have been mute. No urge to blog. Not much to verbalize either.

This happens to me when I am stewing. What am I stewing about?

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

This is the question that keeps me up at night. It follows me around. I can not hide from it. It keeps me mute. It makes me mad. Why? I am raw with the knowledge that this life is precious, fleeting, impermanent. Each day is given to us but not a given. So each day that goes by that I am not living purposefully and fully, is a day wasted.

I want to count. I want my actions to matter. I want my days to have meaning and consequence. I fear that time will pass me by, and I will have very little to show for my share of this precious time here on earth.

I want to matter.

How will I do this? Stay tuned... I am reinventing myself.

It is exciting to some. It is frightening, daunting, and nerve-wracking too.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Parenting ... oh so much pathwork

This is not an epiphany. Just saying...

My PathWork is so much about my life as a parent. And parenting offers me rich opportunities to rework my goals, aspirations, and life path.

So often parenting work, and yes, it is a lot of work, makes me question myself. So few tangible rewards. So much required. So many instances when patience was not where it should be. Raised the voice when I should have asked a question. Wondering if I handled the melt-down with compassion? So many times when I could go down the path of beating myself up.

It was one of those weeks. The kids were sick. They stayed home with me. We tested each other. I found myself feeling like a failure as a mother. It lasted a whole day. The feeling comes and goes but rarely does it last a whole day.

But today, there was a gift. A parenting gem:

Azad and Virika are sitting in my lap. We are relaxing on the back porch enjoying the gentle breeze. Virika pounds my chest repeatedly.
Mama: "Virika, be gentle."
Virika continues.
Mama: "Virika, gentle gentle."
Azad: "Do you want mama to die?"
Virika stops. (puzzled): "Die? What die mean?"
Mama is stunned into silence.
Azad: "It's when you leave earth and fly into space forever. And go to a building called the Abha Kingdom."
Virika, "Die? Fly away?"
Mama is still silent. Listening.
Azad, "Do you want mama to go away and never come back?"
Virika, "No."
Azad, "Then don't hit her chest. She may stop breathing and fly away."
Mama sigh. Holds and embraces them both. Kisses on each cheek for Azad.

This is not an epiphany. My PathWork is ALL about growing as a parent. Oh, so much work to do... but oh so many (invisible and intangible) rewards.

How to start living when you feel like you're barely existing?

This is the question of the day. Week. Month. Where did April go? I am glad May is here. Another opportunity to start over perhaps?

When I think back to the past month (and the lack of bloggin' therein), I realize I did more existing and less living. What do I mean by that? I found myself going from day to day with little inspiration, energy or passion. I took care of my responsibilities but I am not sure how much I relished them. I did laundry, prepared meals, nursed sick wee ones, did more laundry, wiped more runny noses, played with the kids, and spent a whole lot of time online. I showed up to work, and for the most part, was present, intuitive, and competent. Sure, we went on some enjoyable outings to the zoo, garden, Earth movie, dinners and parks (for the kids' enjoyment, of course). I turned some to do's into ta da's... Sure. The whole month was not a waste. Certainly not.

At the end of the month, I found myself wondering whether I had done anything to move forward in my life. Did I accomplish anything of value? Did I live my purpose more fully? I ask a lot of questions. I am just asking. Not devaluing what I did. Just asking. And, realizing that there were spurts of living in April. But the overwhelming sense is that I went from day to day without much sense of purpose. I call this barely existing. Not living fully.

So how do I know if I am living? I feel energized. I am optimistic. I feel expanded. I am proactive. I make healthy choices. I value my own talents and strengths. I have an internal sense of validation. I do not need praise or gratitude. I practice self-acceptance. When I am not living fully, I am grumpy, self-doubting, and impatient. I feel stuck and constrained. I fall back into old patterns that do not sustain me. I get little joy from what I would normally love. I begin to be harsh about my limitations and interpret oversights as failures.

I am drawing a useful distinction for myself by asking myself daily, "am I living or merely existing?" I am reminded that a life without passion, joy, and purpose is mere existence. I am definitely not content to settle for day after day of not living fully and truly.

I honestly want to know, if you were to live more fully, what would you be doing more of? What would you do less?

Friday, March 27, 2009

This Week's Life Lesson No. 2: Self-kindness-acceptance-care

It's been a week rich in gifts of all kinds. Some of them have been absolutely yummy, and others are still bitter in my mouth. Let me write my way through the maze of mind-racing thoughts and hope for some clarity. Bear with me.

The gift of grumpiness. The kids have been sick. Again. I have been sick with them. Again. Sleep has not been on my side. The little one has been clingy and needy. I have had spurts of calm and humor peppered in between the prevailing sense of impatience and grumpiness. I have noticed myself ready to snap at the kids and partner. How on earth can grumpiness be a gift? Not sure. I know the kids certainly don't see it that way! So, I ask myself how can I just accept myself in this state, albeit undesireable? I am just asking.

The gift of fatigue. I know I have neglected my basic needs: nutrition, rest, exercise, prayer, and mind-stimulation. Any wonder I am tired and impatient. I could easily have gone through the days repeating a familiar mantra "I am tired. I am tired." Instead, I decided to "play" with a question and shared the process with a supportive friend. We held the intention to ask ourselves throughout the day, "what do I most need to do for me right now?" We listened to ourselves, and answered the call. This has been an experiment in self-kindness-care. And, it reaped benefits. I got a massage this week. I ate salads all week. I abstained from gluten and dairy. I rested to breathe for a few minutes. I found ways to get solitude. I decluttered. I made some long overdue calls. I gave and received support. I noticed the fatigue but I was not debilitated by it. After all, is that not self-care?

The gift of making mistakes. I made a couple of significant errors this week. Call them lapses in judgement or mindlessness or plain ego. I am hard on myself. Often when I mess up, I play the scenario in my mind over and over again, and experience the humiliation or embarassment over and over again. This means that what might be a minor error turns into a huge blunder for me. This week, when I noticed that I was about to enter the "make a blunder out of an error" pit, I asked myself how I could practice self-kindness. I even reached out to someone else to play with this question with me. We just asked.

In the midst of what could be a fog of grumpy fatigued blunder, I was gifted opportunities to practice more self-kindness-acceptance-care. It was quite a week. I know I am harping on this, but sometimes all it takes is asking a question. Ask and ye shall receive (kindness-acceptance-care, that is). Ask with someone and ye might receive even more.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Week's Life Lesson/ Message from the Universe No. 1: Detachment

This week has been rich in numerous life lessons. I tuned in as the Universe sent me some very clear messages about myself and my life. Changes to be made, and others being made.

Lesson/ Message number 1: Detachment. Letting Go so I can Give More.
The Baha'i New Year and first day of Spring. I am ready for a fantastic day with the family. As I rushed to get the children ready and out the door for a long Saturday of fun-filled activities, I lost my engagement ring. We needed to get to swimming class, the library, a Baha'i New Year brunch, Andre 3000's show at the Theatre, and dinner with Friends... I am in auto-pilot mode. I get the kids dressed (up), pack the swim things, get them breakfast and snacks for the car ride, shower, and then strapped into the car. There are three trips back into the house - more diapers. New stockings. Oh, and something else... In the midst of all this, I lose my ring. I back-tracked, spent five minutes in and around the house searching for it. And then, I chose to head out anyway. I decided that the ring would not keep us all from our exciting day. I did my best to be present, and just stay in the moment instead of worrying about a "thing" to which I am deeply attached. This ring has been on me for over ten years. I can honestly say that I am not attached to much "stuff" but this is one of the material things that I would truly hate to lose.

Rewind to the night before. After the kids were in bed, I sat on the couch with my partner, and we tuned into some mindless television while we planned for the weekend festivities. I stumbled upon a not-so-mindless 20/20 show about "families on the edge." Twenty minutes of hearing about homeless families, teens stressed out by their families' financial woes, the economic "crisis" was all I could handle. As I tend to do sometimes, I owned their suffering to the point of physically experiencing pain. My stomach hurt, and my heart ached. I switched off the television, went upstairs to my bed and kneeled down in fervent prayer. "God, help me give more. Help me share myself. Help me feel less burdened by my privilege. Show me ways to give to others in need. Show me how to serve the world better. Show me how to alleviate the pain and suffering of this life for more people."

And, then I wake up the next morning to lose my engagement ring for the first time since I was gifted it. Hmmmm.... message from the Universe? Prayers answered? Despite doing my very best to stay in the moment to enjoy all the "highs" of the day - the swim class, the brunch, the show, friends, children playing - the "low" of losing the ring nagged at me all day. I realized the timing was not coincidental. There was a lesson in this, and I searched for it.

Message I received: Be more detached. Let go of material attachments so that I can do all this more and better. Let go so that I can live with an open mind, hand and heart. Detachment is not about not caring for anything or anyone. It is about letting go so that you can care more. Paradoxical? Maybe. I get it. I am stepping out to let go of what I can so that I can give more freely.

What can you choose to let go of now? How will it serve you (and others) to do this?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Forward

Spring is here. It is also the Iranian and Baha'i New Year. It's a new day... Naw-Ruz in Farsi.

Forget January 1st. Every year, sundown on March 20th marks a new beginning for me.

I really do feel a spring in my step today. I feel my energy shifting, and notice myself flowing... because I am asking myself what new beginnings I want to create now.

Just asking the question, and shifting awareness, is a gift. I am holding on to the idea that new beginnings are possible any time we choose them -- not just on the first day of spring, but any time. Oh, the possibilities. I spring forward just thinking about them!

Without even intending to, I took abundant action on my to do's ... talk about unstuckification...
Sometimes, all it takes is asking myself a question.

I am curious. What new beginnings would you choose today?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Musings on "to do" to "ta da"

I am still playing with this idea. How to get into ta da mode when all I can think is... oh so much to do!

This experiment started not just due to my stuck-ification so to speak but because someone recently pointed out to me how difficult it is for her to complete seemingly simple tasks. For instance, making doctors appointments, paying bills, buying groceries, doing laundry, cleaning out a drawer or returning a call might be "simple" to do's. These do seem like simple and contained tasks. Most people would say, just take care of it. What's the big deal? And yet, for many of us, these are places we get stuck. If these are hard, then can you imagine how more complex tasks like filling out taxes, applying for a job, planning an overseas trip, or marketing a business are super daunting?

I pride myself in being action oriented. I really do think of myself as a take-charge and take care of business kinda person. I am. Most of the time. But, if I were to delve into my list of to do's that have been on my to do's for a good long while, I would be the arch-procrastinator for sure. Here is a small sampling: make dental appointments for the whole family, buy plane tickets to Botswana, revise the monthly budget, clean out the garage, sort through and donate old clothing, re-organize my closet, clear my desk, read a book for a book club, revise my web site... You get the idea.

Here is what shifting perspective from to do to ta da does for this list. I stop beating myself up about why I haven't done these things. Instead, I play with options. I practice patience with myself. Oy! And, I hold the intention to get to all of them -- in time. Does this get things done? Not yet. However, it sure makes me feel less bogged down.

My thought for today on this experiment -- shifting perspective helps shift energy. Instead of being bogged down, I allow myself to flow...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back to the Blog...

Truth is that like many other things in my life in recent weeks, the blog has felt like yet another "to do." So, it has not been done.

I have been wondering why I have not blogged in so long. I have been composing entries in my head, but just have not made it back to the writing board so to speak. Every day finds me wondering why. I think it has to do with the state of mind-being that has me uncertain about life. And, yes, I admit it. Uncertain about me. I am questioning myself. Who am I, really? What am I meant to be doing? What do I truly want? How am I going to get it? Where do I need to focus my time and energy? All this questioning, albeit vital to my journey, gets me in a funk.

I am not really sure how to characterize my current state of mind and being. Am I uncertain? Distracted? Lacking focus? Pondering? Stewing? Frustrated? Ambivalent? Grumpy? Unwell? Busy? Yes, all of that and more. I am going about living my life, mindfully seeking out enjoyment, fulfillment, comfort and purpose. There have been days when I have indeed come out of my uncertain questioning mode to get things done. I have continued to honor my commitments, and even make new ones. So it would not be true to say that I am stuck. But, I have been feeling stuck.

How to get unstuck? Last week, I decided that I was going to play with turning to do's into ta da's. That experiment worked for me. It allowed me to just flow, and get things done in a spirit of fun and play so things that were on my "to do's" did not feel like such a burden. I made some decisions that I had been stuck on. I even made travel plans. I reached out to people who I need to reconnect with. I took care of paper-work. I put an end to a two-year long saga with a non-profit organization. I gave of myself freely and generously. I even did my own (Oprah inspired) Big Give. Decluttered my work and home life. I enjoyed myself in the process.

Not all days or weeks are like that. But, just shifting my perspective to "ta da" was hugely rewarding. I am doing this more and more when I notice that I am feeling weighed down by what is on my plate (and my mind).

I just say it's time to play, and show up. Like I just did on the blog. I think it works. Try it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Blog Do-Over

Some of you might not have realized it, but I actually did take the blog offline yesterday. It was not the only thing I quit. By saying quit, I gave myself permission to let go and walk away from some things getting in my way.

What does it mean to quit? I let go. I let go of the anxiety. I let go of the negative thinking roller-coaster ride. I stopped trying so hard. I realized yesterday (I'm slow sometimes) that trying so hard at so many things is not sustainable. I make so much of an effort and put so much of myself into all that I do. Nobody notices but I have to live with the consequences. And, it is not sustainable. So, I gave myself permission to quit. Quit trying so hard. Quit searching for answers so earnestly. Quit trying to get things right. Quit caring so much.

After I quit, I felt lighter, and liberated.

Among many other things, I let go of the blog. When I began this blog, it was a place to explore the inevitable uncertainties of our lives and future. What I quickly realized, although I might not have said as much explicity, is that making our way has so little to with external factors (like the economy). More on this another time.

What I am learning (stating the obvious) is that regardless of the mess going on around us, making our way is all about what is going on within. I began to ask questions about self-care and authenticity, and living in harmony with values. How would I manifest my gifts in a way that makes a difference in the world. Why? Perhaps, in my non-linear thinking way, I was realizing that making our way through uncertainty is just plain life. There will always be uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and plenty of stuff that life hands us that is beyond our control. Life is uncertain. So, the blog has been about living and learning.

Where are we today? The uncertainty persists. I am still asking questions. Still writing-blogging-journaling-coaching-conversing to work my way through life's maze to carve out a path - an authentic life path.

When I quit yesterday, I realized that I had to let go of certain aspects of the blog without cutting it off completely. Today, I gave it a new name and evolved purpose. You are not going to find fashionable bullet pointed tips. 8 steps to a new me. 14 things to do before you die. 10 ways to making your way in uncertain times. 16 lessons to live by. I just can not bring myself to write the quintessential jazzy image illustrated witty blog. None of that feels authentic to me. During my negative self-questioning period, I told myself that this blog was pointless if it is just a public journal of sorts. Why not just keep a private journal? Nobody is interested in reading my rambling non-linear pontification of various life questions. Nobody comments. No one answers the questions I ask. I do not have the ability to provoke some thought or realization. It feels lonely. So, I quit and took it offline. Briefly.

If the blog is going to cause to ride the self-doubt roller-coaster, it has to go.

Today, I gave myself permission to recuperate it, and continue writing. Four of you follow the blog. That is four people who cared enough about me and what I might have to say to do that. That is not nobody. And, many others read it. You may not tell me that you do. You may not comment. It's not about me. You may simply shrug at my ramblings, but there are people out there who read it. Today, my delightful father who happens to be one of those people who reads it silently sent me note to say that he reads and rereads what I write. I should continue writing because I have things to say that need to be said. How did he know I quit? Did he know? It does not matter. This was a simple message that I needed to hear.

I have made peace with the fact that part of quitting meant that I was feeling lonely in the kitchen. I prepared dishes and placed them on a table. Some were eaten. Some were left untouched. Some disappeared without my knowledge. As the chef experimenting with new dishes and ingredients, I wanted to know: Was something too sour? Was it balanced? Was it just plain awful? Did you savor a morsel? Was something sweet enough for you to share it with someone you care about? Something. Anything. Maybe I even wanted us all to sit down at the table and chow down together. Was I looking for community? I made peace with the idea that on some level, I wanted the blog to feel less lonely and one-sided. I realized that it is not. This was merely my perception resulting from some comparative viewpoint that is not authentic to why I blog. And then, I let it go.

I resurrected the blog today - a new name, new colors and clearer goals. I quit on needing anything back. I quit on feeling lonely in the kitchen. I quit on the anxiety and self-doubt roller-coaster ride. I quit trying so hard. I quit worrying if I got it right.

I will keep writing. I invite you to become a follower, or tune in whenever you are able. I welcome you to comment, write back, share your thoughts, and ask questions. The journey is so much more meaningful when shared. The path clearer when others are working with me. And, I will simply try to keep blogging because it is personally meaningful to me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quit: The Uncertainty Rollercoaster

Yesterday, I showed up to blog my way out of my mental-emotional fog. I failed. I thought I would write my way to clarity, compassion, understanding, patience, and action. I did not.

After posting my blog entry, I seem to have jumped on a rollercoaster ride of negative thinking, self-doubt, hopelessness, and anxiety. Among other things. Of course, it does not help that I am sleep deprived thanks to a child who has not slept in ten consecutive days. Oh wait, that is two years and ten days... and counting. No answers came from the much anticipated sleep study. It says, "normal and consistent with night terrors for this age." That's not a relief. That is deeply frustrating.

So, after a worse than usual night, and the dead-end medical report, this morning I was going to call it quits. Quit my business. Quit trying to find answers to what ails little one. Quit trying to find or give support. Quit this authentic living personal growth journey of life nonsense. Quit making big plans for a big move. QUIT.

The rollercoaster that is uncertainty (and by the way, it is Jen Louden who articulated for me what I was riding, and she is wonderfully articulate and truthful) has me tripping. It has me entertaining thoughts like I suck at everything. I am a poor parent. I lack patience. I can't even seem to keep the kids healthy. What am I good for? I have grand ideas but nothing to show for them. I stink at pretty much everything. I can't write. I can't think straight. I can't coach anyone. Yup, I feel the negativity gripping my insides.

A part of me knows I am just having one of those days, so why not just simply get off? Let it go? Pretend it did not happen? Nobody would be the wiser. But, I can't seem to get off this awful ride. So, I am still on the uncertainty-anxiety-fear-negativity rollercoaster. All my usual strategies -- affirmations, deep breathing, prayer, positive thinking blah blah blah -- out the window. At this moment, I just do not have it in me to dig deep and find my center. Maybe I don't even want to. Maybe quitting is the best option right now.

So, today, I showed up on the blog to do what exactly, I am not sure. As you have figured out, I just write on this blog, with no hope or expectation that anything I say means anything to anyone but me. I suppose it is not a blog at all. Just my personal journal wide open for those who want to read. So then, I should take it offline, I am thinking. It serves no other purpose, so offline it must go.

Sometimes, quitting is the only thing that makes sense. I quit.

And, look, I am off the roller-coaster. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

quest for authenticity

I have been waiting for moments of inspired clarity to compose a fabulous blog entry for the new year. Day after day, I wait. I reflect. I ponder. Nada.

Today, I am writing anyway. I write through the fogginess, doubt, fatigue, hesitation, anticipation, excitement... Write anyway. What the heck. I am just showing up, click create new entry... and see what happens.

As I step into the new year, I am taking stock of what was learned during the holiday season and in the last year. What were lessons learned, places of personal growth that I intend to carry with me into this year?

We mindfully chose to do the holidays differently this year. In years past, we have done what was expected, shown up mostly out of a sense of obligation and habit, but our minds and spirits were not nourished. Mind you, this season, there was plenty of socializing, eating, gift receiving and giving, photo opps, and celebration. Also moments of silence, train playing, conversing, and reflection. I am tired but not depleted. All of it done "our way." It was an experiment to do the holiday season more authentically, and frankly, despite the fallouts, there were some steps taken in the right direction.

What has been on my mind often is this question of authenticity. What does it mean to celebrate holidays and birthdays in a manner true to oneself? How do we honor tradition and convention in ways that allow room for creativity and change? More importantly, how to live life authentically in this way?

I am trying to figure this out. I have been struck lately by how easily we can read someone else's choices as somehow a reflection on ours. Almost a chastisement or commentary on one's inadequacies.

Case in point. Something simple. I absolutely love food, the preparation and sharing of it. It is one of my passions in life. I share it freely. It just happens to be mostly vegan and organic. Now, does this mean that I have implicitly judge others harshly for not sharing that choice? Doubtful. I love entertaining. It is one of my joys in life. I relish planning menus, invitation lists, the details. The working of a meal, an event, an outing are fun for me. I plan ahead. That is my way. I don't expect others to do it that way. Does my open enjoyment of these activities count as boasting on my part? Offense not intended. So why modify myself in any way?

Someone commented to me recently that when she notices a virtue in someone that she lacks, it makes her question and doubt herself. She might distance herself from that person so as to not confront her own inadequacies. I am not sure what she meant exactly. I found myself wondering how this impacts our interactions in countless way that I was not aware of to date.

This interaction made me learn to be empathetic and compassionate in a way that was new for me. My knee-jerk tendency to be self-righteous in defense of my authenticity has been tempered somewhat with a new-found understanding.

When I notice a remarkable quality, I not only commend the person in whom I admire it but also take notes so that I may better myself, learn and grow. Then again, that is my way. Not everyone shares this perspective.

On the flip-side, when what I do implies for others that they are somehow remiss, it feeds back to me in a way that compromises my authenticity. I notice that I feel apologetic when others perceive my choices as a (negative) reflection of theirs. I temper down my efforts. I might even become apologetic or defensive about my tendencies to over-plan or over-schedule. I over-compensate for my need for organization and planning by downplaying my enjoyment.

Is that authentic? Not so much.

So, how do I just live my life, and make simple choices for my everyday living anyway? This is my quest. I am going to make some not-so-simple decisions and choices this year, and I will relish the process, and share it simply with no intention to harm. I will simply make my choices in my quest to get things right in my life ... faltering, learning, and living as fully as I can. And, temper the sharing with compassion and understanding for how they might be perceived in way not intended. I will need help to do this effectively.

All I know is that I just have to live my life my way, and I mean no harm to others as I do this. That is, simply put, my quest for authenticity. What is yours?