Generosity

I’ve loved exploring Generosity for the month of September (My 12 Words for the Year).

An early discovery and distinction arose in my practice of Generosity this month, and that is the difference between Giving and Generosity.

Like many of us, I was brought up with strong insistence of the virtues of Giving, and that approach gradually morphed into over-giving, and then danced on the border of resentment.

As I meditated on Generosity, it was clear to me that it had something to do with a Generosity of Spirit.

I feel like that is definitely different than Giving. Giving feels like a doing thing, and Generosity feels like a being thing. And, from being Generous of Spirit, the right doing naturally arises from within.

So, it clearly isn’t giving up on Giving. The Giving is just coming from a different place.

Living with a Generosity of Spirit feels wonderful: it feels spacious, and loving, and kind, and devoted to seeing the humanity in myself and in others.

It is living with heart.

What does that mean every day?

It means when I feel any hesitancy to say Yes, or any feeling of constriction, to go inside and explore what feels right in the moment.

It means when a request comes from a dear one, I stop what I’m doing (and the Doing Track that I am on), and ask myself: What would the choice be for Generosity of Spirit? What is Generosity of Spirit in this moment?

It means sensing what Being Generous in Spirit means in my decisions and choices.

Intention has really helped me with Generosity. When I intend to live Generously in Spirit, and I keep that intention alive and in my focus, I am inspired to action that is right for me and everybody.

I discover in each moment what it is like to live with a Generosity of Spirit. No rules.

What is Generosity for you?

 

Let’s Live by Intention

I love Intention.

Why? Because it is a promise to myself, and it is all about how I choose to show up, to anything in my life.

I can’t always control circumstances, outcomes, or situations. Have you noticed that for yourself? ๐Ÿ™‚

But I can always choose how to be, and to me, that is everything. Intention is the difference between frustration and meaning.

Intention is my August word (see 12 Words for 2018).

I’m glad it is, because, as much as I love Intention, I don’t give enough attention to it, so I need to be reminded to be conscious of the Intention I am choosing.

I work with my clients on Intention, and I work with my own coach on my Intentions. And I still forget.

When I set an intention, especially before my day begins, I show up to my life consciously and fully engaged, rather than just going through the motions. I show up with a different quality of energy.

You might call this a form of mindfulness, but I think it’s more than that. There is a spirit to Intention, a spirit of Yes! I’m in!

Examples of some of my Intentions from the last week:

  • I want to be open to hearing all points of view.
  • I want to come to my friend’s struggles with love.
  • I want to be extra-focused in my work today.
  • I want to shed all of my expectations about my art and be willing to play.

Intention is a pledge to be. It’s a commitment to me. I love Intention.

So, if you’re game, let’s do more of it.

No Goodbye to Flow

Flow has been a good word for July (My 12 Words for 2018), because July has been a clunky month with lots of unanticipated interruptions and distractions. What better environment is there for exploring and practicing Flow, right? What is Flow, in all the chunks and clunks?

I have always loved the word Flow. To me, it is very appealing. It feels purposeful and full of momentum.

I’m strongly kinesthetic, and Flow is a sensing, feeling, touching kind of a word.

I like to move. I have a standing desk so I can move. I’m challenged most when I’m physically impaired in some way and my movement is limited.

But what is Flow, and how do we “be” Flow, or in Flow?

Mid-month, I knew that I needed to quit trying to define it and begin to experience it (duh!).

I quickly realized that I may not be able to define Flow, but I knew when I was “in Flow” and when I wasn’t in Flow.

I’m in Flow when I’m “firing on all cylinders,” mind, body, and spirit.

When I am in Flow:

  • My mind is sharp, clear, and focused
  • My body is flowing and flexible
  • I’m in tune with my deepest self and the spirit of inspiration is flowing

When I’m not in Flow, one or more of those three things is not in sync; mind, body and spirit are not in tune or in synergy.

Flow is that simple. Flow happens when I am in tune with mind, body, and spirit, and each of them is supporting the other.

So, how to sustain Flow?

I’ve been paying attention to Self Care, and to balancing the well-being of my mind, body and spirit. I’ve been making good Self Care essential, not optional. If you want to check in on your own Self Care, here’s a checklist to give you some ideas.

Sustaining Flow, for me, is a matter of keeping mind, body and spirit fine-tuned and in sync with each other.

That is easy to say, but actually living it, practicing it,ย  dare I say “rigorously,” is the next frontier.

I guess that Flow isn’t going to be neatly wrapped up in July. Flow is going to spill into the next month, and probably the next, and maybe the one after that, co-existing with the words for those months.

I certainly don’t want Flow to fall off the radar, because there is one thing that I do know about Flow: Living in Flow is essential to my highest well-being.

 

Flow Has Me Flummoxed

Flow is my July word (see the original 12 Words blog post, if you are just tuning in).

Flow has me flummoxed.

What is Flow?

We hear “Go with the Flow,” or “Tune into the Flow,” or “Align with the Flow.” But what is Flow?

When I look back at my whole life (what I can remember, anyway!), there is a discernible order in what, at the time, felt like chaos and uncertainty. There seems to be an organic unfolding. Sometimes I went with it easily, sometimes more reluctantly, and sometimes kicking and screaming.

I guess I have lived enough life at this point to believe that there is a creative flow or force operating in my life, one that underlies all the individual circumstances and situations. All the things that I thought at the time were bumps, roadblocks, stumbles, and wanderings, now make sense in the larger picture of my life.

Maybe that is Flow.

But in the daily moments, my life still often feels anything but Flow-y. It feels twisty and turn-y and at times inscrutable.

Maybe Flow just isn’t always to be known in the moment.

Yet, I still trust that there is an order, and a creative flow, and maybe that is what is important.

Maybe Flow is right here, and I am just not feeling it all the time.

You can see that I still have several crossed wires about Flow.

However, I trust that even as I write this, my understanding of Flow is sorting itself out, and all will be revealed in good time, and in right order.

In the meantime, What is Flow?

 

Expansion Happens

Expansion happens.

Life causes me to expand. Life gives me what I need to expand.

My Expansion (any of ours) is unfolding and emerging organically.

I want to engage with it, and not resist it. It is going to have its way with me anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

But, and it’s a Big But, how do I know it when I see it? How do I know what is authentic Expansion (coming from my inner essence, or True Self), and what are the Shoulds, Coulds, Oughtas, or the Next Shiny Thing?

For me, it is a kinesthetic sense. Expansion that originates from my True Self feels like a deep grounding of This-Feels-Right-ness within me.

I’ve practiced tuning into this inner essence long enough that I know when something feels right/is right.

But it is a continual dance with life, checking in, pausing, and resetting my course to align with what is calling me from my deep sense.

What is “mine to do”? What is it time for now?

These questions are beginning to be a more unconscious feeling and response now, but in the beginning I needed to stop and pause and go within, many times during a day, in order to stay aligned with the true course that I want to be on.

And, this process and practice applies to everything for me, right down to the mundane and minute as well as the “big questions” of life.

It has become a path of sensing the “inner impulse of knowing”.

Many times, I don’t know the answers to all ofย my questions. This way of being in the world doesn’t guarantee that every answer comes to me just because I want it to, and when I want it to.

I’ve had to learn that in order to respect true Expansion, I must respect true Expansion’s timing. So I spend a lot of time in the Land of Not Knowing. But I have found that if I hold my questions gently and curiously, without attachment, the answers come right when I need them.

Expansion has been a wise teacher this month. I’ve re-learned some things that I already knew but had been neglecting, and I learned some new things. This seems to be the way that it has been going with the 12 Wordsย this year.

Now…drum roll please…it is on to July’s word: Flow. Maybe I will just let Expansion flow, and then be done for the month. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am sure Flow has more in store for me than just that. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Expansion Does Not Equal Productivity

As I have been playing with Expansion this month, I’ve realized that periods of rest and restoration are an essential aspect of Expansion.

This is, in a way, counterintuitive to me.

However, if you look at nature, there are cycles of renewal and expansion. Tulips owe their blooms of brilliant color to the restoration process that the bulbs go through during the off season.

I believe that Expansion for us is similar. There are periods of regeneration that support our Expansion. And, those cycles of renewal are a necessary aspect of our Expansion.

So, Expansion does not equal productivity.

This may be obvious, but it wasn’t to me. For some reason, I had been thinking that if I am growing and expanding, it means that I am producing at a steady and energetic pace. And, that the reverse was also true: if I am producing at a steady and energetic pace, I am expanding.

I now believe that we are still expanding during quieter cycles of renewal and reflection, but that it just looks different. These are times of inner expansion, and in these times of quiet and inner connection, we are deepening the foundation that is also part of expansion. We are expanding in an inner sense. This Expansion may not be visible on the outside.

I learned this through my experience in the Direct Watercolor Challenge that I mentioned in this blog post. I’ve been expanding in many ways through producing a painting and sharing it every day. The Challenge has pushed my skills and tested my commitment.

But during the month, I have needed to have several cycles of contemplation and “step-back”, to renew my faith in myself and my courage to keep going, and to understand the nature of my commitment to the process. I needed to keep asking myself what was inspiring my continued engagement and commitment. I needed to refocus my intentions for the project several times during the month. I needed to keep digging deep for the courage to post the “failures” as well as the “successes”. (Turns out they were all successes from the standpoint of the process, as opposed to the outcome, of course.)

In the process of this exploration of Expansion, a question arose in me, which I will share with you, because it is still an open question for me, and I’m very curious about it. If restoration time is an essential part of Expansion, how do you know the difference between a restoration cycle, and inner resistance to Expansion?

What Does Discernment Have to Do With Expansion?

Everything.

I am realizing that we can be open to expansion, receptive to change, ready for a shift, but if we are full-up and full-on, there is no room, and no possibility for expansion.

There’s a common question in life coaching: In order to say “Yes” to this (new opportunity), what do you need to say “No” to?

When I first heard that question, it was revolutionary for me.

But now, I no longer believe that it’s a simple zero sum game. That’s an “outer” way of looking at it.

There’s a difference between expansion and taking more on.

For any true and lasting expansion to occur, an inner shift must happen first.

We will only have the energy, excitement, and vitality necessary for expansion if the expansion is “our’s” to do, and if it is right timing.

I ask:

  • What is mine to do?
  • What is it time for?

These are my doors in to discernment.

I sit with those questions until they inspire and inform me, with a clarity of direction, and an understanding of rhythm and timing.

Maybe this discernment process is what it means to be actively engaged in our own expansion.

How do you actively engage in your expansion?

Expansion

Our June word (see 12 Words) is Expansion.

I have a core belief that as humans we naturally expand through our life experiences.

But what is different as we engage consciously with our own expansion process?

How do we do that?

What is required of us, to do that?

How do we invite expansion and open ourselves to new or greater possibilities?

How much do we choose to engage in experiences that will stretch us?

These are the questions that are currently active in me about expansion, and I don’t have many answers yet.

This month, I’m participating in an art challenge called 30 X 30 Direct Watercolor.ย I’ve committed to create and post a new watercolor painting every day for 30 days, without using any pencil or ink lines.

I’ve participated in a number of art challenges, most of which involve a commitment to do a specific kind of art every day, and then to share it on social media with the other participants in the challenge. I always learn and grow from these challenges. My art, and I, always seem to expand from the experience, often in ways that I cannot anticipate.

This challenge is kicking my butt because it is a much bigger challenge, for me, than its predecessors. It is also giving me seemingly endless opportunities to expand my focus and my skill as an artist, and it seems to be doing the same for the other participating artists. I am having a lot of fun with it, along with some frustrating growing pains.

It has made me think about the nature of expansion, and about our role in it.

Sometimes expansion just happens to us, as a result of our life circumstances, and we react to it.

Sometimes we make something happen, by our sheer will and determination, and we expand.

And then there are those times in life when expansion feels like pure magic: Life unfolds naturally and we respond with joy, and it all feels like a seamless and fluid dance. To me, that’s the best kind of expansion.

Engagement

It’s nearly the end of the month again, and I’ve not written about Engagement, my May word (see 12 Words).

The month has been full-on, a good month for exploring and practicing Engagement. I’ve been too busy living Engagement to write about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I started, as I always do, with the dictionary definition of Engagement. That didn’t inspire me to any particularly useful insights.

Then, I googled it, and most of the hits led me to a 2003 book by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, called The Power of Full Engagement.

That was productive but distracting, because it is a very good book (ground-breaking at the time of its release), full of strategies and rituals about how managing energy, rather than time, is the key to full engagement. There are lots of practical and creative ideas about how to manage energy at all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I did a quick read/scan of the book and picked up all kinds of useful strategies for myself and my clients, as I work with them on a foundation of super self-care.

But I still didn’t have a sense of what Engagement really means to me.

So I did a lot of journaling about it, and I set the intention to live my life engaged.

Then I went into my life with the commitment to live it “fully engaged.”

That’s when I bumped into a couple of significant differences in the way that I think about Engagement, and the way Loehr and Schwartz describe it.

The central premise of the book is its subtitle: “Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.” I fundamentally agree with this premise, except, for me, it is more about “cultivating” energy (on all levels), not so much about managing it.

Another premise of the book is that you either fully engage or strategically disengage.

In practicing Engagement, I came to the understanding that, for me, Engagement is a state of being that transcends what is going on with me. So, I am “being engaged” fully with life, whether I am in action or at rest. There is a way to be in “downtime” fully engaged.

Engagement is a full “Yes!” to life.

It’s easy to say a full “Yes!” to the aspects of life that I love: relationships, nature, my art, learning, my work, and many other aspects of my life. And, that is really useful to realize, because being deliberately intentional about coming to those cherished things fully present and engaged yields even more richness and depth than if I am just going through the motions. There is something about showing up fully engaged that has my intuition and inner connection tuned in, accessible, and flowing.

In being fully engaged, I am open, aware, and receptive to the fullness of the experience. I’m available to the gifts and the learning, and the creativity that is inspired from within.

But what is Engagement with things that we don’t love so much?

I had some health challenges this month, and that turned out to be a blessing. It gave me an opportunity to explore what it is to be fully engaged with that reality and those challenges, vs being detached or just tolerating the conditions, wishing I could get to the other side of them more quickly.

I discovered that, for me, Engagement in the stuff I don’t love so much is exactly the same as it is with the stuff that I do love.

The first step to being able to be fully engaged is to be present in what is, and I dare say, accepting of what is, rather than fighting it or wishing it were different. When I do the latter, I’m not available to the whole experience. A part of me is walled off when I’m using energy to wish things were different, or fighting reality.

It’s a challenge, and a commitment, to learn how to embrace what is, without judgement. Let’s just say it doesn’t yet come naturally to me!

But that is what allows me to come to life with awareness, openness, and receptivity, which is essential to Engagement.

Then, next, I consciously choose to be all in, fully engaged, with whatever is my life in the moment, and to trust that what is emerging from that is my right path. It’s kind of an “OK, here I am, and I’m going to fully embrace this experience, say ‘Yes!’ to this, and see what is here for me”.

When I practiced that, as best I could, with the health challenges, I discovered all kinds of layers to the experience that I might have missed otherwise: the deepened ability to tune into my body and receive its wisdom, the love of people who cared about me, the sensitivity and caring of my health care professionals. If I had been detached rather than engaged in that experience, I might have skated right over the fullness of those dimensions of the experience.

I decided that I want to say a whole-hearted “Yes!” to all of my life, like I am a willing and eager dance partner with whatever is showing up for me in my life. This is full Engagement, for me.

What is Engagement for you?

Receptivity is Living Surrendered

We’re already at the end of April, and I have not posted much about Receptivity. This month has been very interesting, as have the past 3 months, with the 12 Words.

I’ve thought a lot about Receptivity, and journaled a lot about it. I’ve been committed to embodying Receptivity, as much as I can.

For me, Receptivity has been the most challenging of the words so far to understand, at a deep level, and to embody.

At first I thought that Receptivity is easy, just to receive. What could be easier than receiving?

But the more I learned and experienced Receptivity, the more it became clear that it isn’t a passive state. It’s an active practice, and an active presence.

It is a constant, conscious shedding, or letting go, of my expectations and assumptions of how things should be, or how they should go.

It is continual clearing of my “field”, so that I may be an open, fertile field of openness and awareness.

It is living surrendered.

It’s not a destination, but a practice.

To really receive the fullness of anything, inner wisdom, someone’s love, an opportunity, a possibility, a surprise, a challenge, we need to be open and aware.

And, if we are looking for something in particular, or we are expecting something to come in a particular way, we’re not open.

If we are assuming that something in our lives is broken, and needs fixing, all we tend to see is the “broken,” and we miss the inspiration that is flowing through us continuously, moving us towards an even fuller experience of deep well-being, and a knowing of our true nature.

Once again, it essentially comes down to living our lives actively present in the moment.

As I have said before, for me, that’s a pretty big challenge, but so worth it.

What have you learned about Receptivity this month?

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