Don’t silence that thought….please!

About You And Me

I was paging through books I love recently, open to inspiration but not really paying attention when I  read the quote below.  It snapped me into mindful presence like a cold wind to the face.

“… in this participative universe, nothing living lives alone. Everything comes into form because of relationship. We are constantly called to be in relationship — to information, people, events, ideas, life. Even reality is created through our participation in relationships. We choose what to notice; we relate to certain things and ignore others. Through these chosen relationships, we co-create our world.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

This isn’t the first time I’ve read these words, but they made a deeper sense today. Think about them for a moment… “Through these chosen relationships, we co-create our world.”

If we keep our thoughtful, compassionate, mindfully conceived words and actions to ourselves – if we don’t reach out and offer ourselves in relationship – people don’t have the chance to choose to see us or themselves differently through the lens of that new relationship.

Think about how much is lost when we don’t offer or accept that invitation to deepen our perspectives. We have no idea how deeply we might effect someone’s life. But we will certainly not fulfill that promise if we are silent; if we don’t reach out and offer or accept new relationships.

What relationship might you build today? What new idea or person might you invite into your life?

Starting Over … Again?

Starting Over ... Again? | TracieNichols.com

Almost one year ago I chose to step back and reevaluate who I wanted to be professionally. I dove into this process because – despite successfully supporting my clients through empowering changes in self-perception, and in how they lived their lives – the purpose of my business felt murky, and my identity as a practitioner felt increasingly fragmented. To make things even worse, my inner critic kept flinging epithets like “flake”, “dabbler”, and “unprofessional.” 

What made me really uneasy, though, was the lack of a clear reason for my confusion. The usual culprits – burnout, overwhelm, family crisis and the like – were not an issue. I loved my work and my clients, there were no crises, I consciously practiced good self-care, my resilience was not being unusually tested by any life events. So, what was up?

I finished with my existing clients, closed my practice, sent a “Thank you and farewell” email to my newsletter list, took a part time job with my local library to stopgap our finances, and spent a lot of time staring at birds in our backyard feeders.

I needed time and space to figure out why work that had inspired me nourished me no longer. And, since it wasn’t the first time this had happened, I needed to figure out what caused this cycle of passionate engagement/disengagement.

I’d been in business for eight years becoming a serial discoverer of a string of strangely different “one true purposes.”

I also needed to find a new way to work – something that met our financial needs as well as my spiritual, psychological and intellectual needs – for my own sanity and for my family’s financial stability.

After some fruitless weeks of spinning around in my own head, I reached out to a career counselor. I’m so glad I did.

She listened to me tell my story. She heard me talk about my fears of being rejected by potential employers because my job history leapfrogs among very different industries and occupations – including a long gap for parenting. She heard me worry about how the typical corporate work environment left me exhausted with no time or energy for the ecosystem that keeps me centered and sane. She listened to my worries about how draining the marketing parts of building a private practice can be, if I decided to be self-employed again.

Then, she quietly asked what felt like simple questions and held space as I went off and sorted through what was real, and what was me getting in my own way.

She helped me understand who I was: a highly sensitive (HSP) multipotentialite (also known as a Renaissance Soul, scanner, multipassionate) introvert and intuitive with a set of core values that mean I will always be drawn toward supporting people who are outliers – especially those who want to make a difference.

She helped me clearly see that I had a unique collection of tools, skills and experiences exquisitely made for helping people like me who were facing the disorienting dilemma of defining – or redefining – their professional identities.

After getting clearer about my foundational values, I decided to add a career development facilitator (CDF) certification to my masters in Human and Organizational Transformation. My education plus my years of mentoring sensitive, intuitive women gave me the final set of practical tools and resources to feel confident as a career coach for this very special group of people. 

I was so relieved! 

So, my starting over … again has birthed a new career coaching practice — as the kind of career coach I am uniquely made to be. Offering a coaching approach I am uniquely qualified to offer especially created to support highly sensitive (HSP), multipassionate, multipotentialites (Renaissance Souls), who, like me, are probably also quite intuitive and possibly introverts. Oh…and…yes…connection with nature will play a big part in the coaching process. (Anyone surprised?)

I’m also restarting my newsletter, seeding it with a mix of practical and spiritual support for self-discovery, resilience, self-care, career/work path strategy, job seeking strategies and more. It will be published (approximately) every two weeks. Real help. No overwhelm. Click here if you’d like to subscribe. 

Yes. You belong.

So many people I talk to feel as if they have a hole in their heart where a sense of belonging is meant to be. I get how they feel. I know that hole-in-heart sensation. So many of us – high sensitives (HSP’s), multipotentialites (Renaissance Souls), sensory outliers, evolutionary forerunners – know this feeling.

When we land in that hole-in-heart experience it’s because we’re forgetting an essential truth.

We already belong. We are inextricable members of the living system – the ecosystem – where we reside. We can never not belong. 

It’s the action of believing in our belonging that trips us up, because as children – and sometimes as adults – we internalized the “you’re different, weird, too much” messages people overtly or covertly handed to us.

The solution is knowing ourselves. Deeply. Understanding the unique alchemy only we can offer. Taking our own voice seriously. Refining our capacity to discern when outside voices are speaking from ignorance, and when they are speaking from understanding. And then refining our capacity to let the ignorant statements become compost fueling our determination.

We are of the earth. She is of us. Wherever we are, we are still standing on her stone bones and she is still singing in our blood. When we remember this with every sense, when we feel it in our bodies, we experience belonging. We live it as breath. And once we’ve felt that, believing in our belonging becomes a whole lot easier.

May you experience your belonging today.

I must not be normal.

I have a confession.

I’ve felt guilty for years because I haven’t found “THE THING”.

The one thing that was the perfect way to serve and live my purpose and be all I could be. That one true purpose everyone tells you you’re supposed to find.

Between the culture I live in (I’m in the U.S.) and my age (I’m in my 50’s) I’ve been well marinated in the version of “normal” that says we must choose one thing to do with our lives and stick with it, with grim determination if necessary. Hopping from thing to thing to thing is less desirable. Maybe even flighty or unreliable. Certainly not “normal.”

Codswallop.

The only thing of which I’m guilty is trying to be the wrong version of normal.

Years ago (like a decade or so) a friend suggested I read The Renaissance Soul. In true renaissance style, I read the book, found it fascinating, identified myself in its words, tucked that information into my toolkit, and moved on. Of course I did. That’s what we multipotentialed folks do. Inhale knowledge. Integrate it. Move on.

Here’s the problem.

Despite knowing myself to be a multipotentialite, I had internalized the “find your one true purpose, or pick one thing and stick with it” cultural myth. And, the myth was driving the bus. 

The cognitive dissonance drove me into what Transformative Learning calls a disorienting dilemma. What I love about being this disoriented is that it shakes me into stepping away from the insanity of trying to be “normal.” 🙂

I live in a constantly growing, changing network of knowledge, actions, skills and beliefs grounded in appreciative communion with nature with an intention of making life better for people and the planet. That broad sweep of possibilities is as close to a “one true purpose” as I come.

In the past decade in my business I have offered sacred circles, classes, mentoring, poetry, body and energy work, consulting, and writing in support of any aspect of making life better for the planet and people. In my writings, sessions, and classes I’ve tackled self-love, self-care, leadership, intuition, resilience, mindful presence, body image, the power of awe, the importance of paying attention to our senses and dozens more topics.

I crafted this kaleidoscope of services because I’m passionately in love with the earth and life and endlessly fascinated by the potential I perceive in the people I meet.

As a Renaissance Soul, I’m always learning new perspectives and skills.  This means the ways in which I serve my clients and my community are always growing and changing. 

I imagine some of you might be caught in the same “I must not be normal.” dilemma. So, with great respect and appreciation, I invite you to use your innate skills and wisdom to step outside the cultural myth and discover what normal looks like specifically for you. A job with side passions? An eclectic career path moving through a wide variety of positions and industries? Starting your own consulting business? Serial entrepreneur?

(And if you’re having a hard time figuring out what your normal looks like? Coaching can help. )

Making friends with the unknown

So, when ” the unknown” spoke up during my meditation I was confused and a little startled. Really? I was even more surprised to learn that the unknown can be an ally. “Unknown” is a presence. A beingness. Yes!

Not surprisingly, the “Unknown” is a presence of few words, but I’ll describe the images and sensations I was shown and hopefully you’ll discover the same feeling of support I’m feeling right now!

Picture a bud, tightly closed. All you can see is the outer covering of leaves or petals. In that moment what’s inside is unknown. It’s purely potential. It’s possibility. You may think you know what’s inside, but can you predict the exact color and shape? The depth of fragrance? The energy and beauty? No. Because they are nestled in the bud. In the unknown. What you know is that there is infinite potential in that unknown interior. Infinite potential and the joy of beauty and LIFE revealed. And your heart glows with joy, and excitement.

…making an ally of “Unknown” can shift the journey from frightening to flowing.

That is how “Unknown” is our ally. When we allow – no invite – “Unknown” to spark that glow of excitement and joy in our hearts…when we understand “Unknown” to be a source of infinite potential…this is when the unknown is our ally. And a resource for resilience.

Too often we dread the unknown. With all of the changes happening, the twists and turns and upheaval in our lives and all of the deep personal growth we’re being asked create, making an ally of “Unknown” can shift the journey from frightening to flowing.

“Where the fluffnarts are we?”

Is anyone else feeling a little smothered by, or impatient with, bigger than life drama? You can probably tell by my question that I am. Usually, I’m a pretty unflappable person (I’ve even been told that people feel more at peace when they’re around me — very grateful to know this), but like everyone I have my “enough” point, and I’m reaching it.

When I say bigger than life drama I mean our need – at least in the U.S. – to have something be presented as giant and catastrophic for us to pay attention to it.

Political rhetoric, entertainment (which are tragically becoming way too similar), news reporting, religious discussions, non-mainstream spiritual discussions, advertising… If someone isn’t throwing a temper tantrum (brides, celebrities, tattooed men building motorcycles) they’re trying to start or prevent something that will “destroy our way of life forever” (so tired of political ads and sound-bites).

It feels like we’re stuck in a groove of needing to be hyper-stimulated in order to bother showing up for our lives.

And, no, I don’t think getting irritated and ranting is necessarily a solution, especially since it’s, well, dramatic. I know some people stop watching, reading, listening to anything that feels disruptive. I’ve tried to do this, but telescoping my world smaller and smaller to avoid hyperbole doesn’t feel sustainable. I need to be engaged with my community — warts — hiccups — simple beauties and all. So, I obviously need to start with what I can affect. Me. With what I require from the world to be engaged and how I speak and write about the rhythms of our evolution. But, then I run into that pesky question, “How?”

How “fluffnarts” fit in…

A few weeks ago I took a different route when driving my daughter to a friend’s house. She was talking about her day at school as we wound down the tiny, wooded road. When she realized we were somewhere she didn’t recognize she blurted “Where the fluffnarts are we, Mom?”

“Fluffnarts?”

After a whole lot of laughter and some serious appreciation for her ability to pop new words into being in mid-sentence, I realized that the quality of our interaction had changed. We were both more present to each other, and to the Place where we were driving. We were having a more connected conversation, no drama necessary.

For the next few weeks I thought about how a new, deeper engagement with my daughter and with Place had happened simply because we both recognized that we were on a new road. I realized that this was one possible answer to the pesky “How?” question. A simple way into engaging our lives so we are fully present, fully aware, fully participating, without needing to create a big, huge, hairy drama.

The beauty of the road less traveled…

We don’t have to be in a world-ending cataclysm or life-transforming event to appreciate our lives. We’ve gone a little numb to what’s already here. Just life. Which can be BIG and DRAMATIC, but is usually most breathtakingly beautiful in it’s subtlest moments.

Rather than needing to be hyper-stimulated, what we need is to find a different path, or a new perspective on our current path.

My assignment for the coming year is to choose less traveled roads both real and metaphoric. To wander new roads and new ideas, to peer at old ideas with a new perspective.

My intention is to appreciate what’s been quietly there in my life all along by perceiving it in a new way. I might use a different sense to appreciate it. For example, sitting and listening to my garden with my eyes closed. Or drop judgements, assumptions, and “shoulds” so I can listen more deeply to someone and truly hear both what they are saying and how they are saying it without my need to be right obliterating what they are communicating. I will speak in terms of wonder, awe and appreciation without needing drama or chaos to draw me in, or draw others to me.

What am I doing about the bigger than life dramas happening around me? Bringing curiosity to them. Looking at them through the lenses of beginner’s eyes. Encouraging people who are starting drama-less conversations of their own by joining in. Starting a few drama-less conversations myself.

What do you think? Are you willing to take a road less traveled and ask yourself “Where the fluffnarts are we?” I’d love for you to join the conversation 🙂

Updated, rewritten and republished January 1, 2017. Originally published May 31, 2012.

Meeting the New Reality

During a recent trip down a virtual rabbit hole I ended up on Deena Metzger’s blog and read this, “It is required that we fall apart and reconstitute to meet the new reality.” Hmmmm….

Definitely not a new idea, but it planted itself in the path of my annual rumination with the enormous presence of a great tree and wouldn’t let me pass.

With the political, economic and natural events of the past few years we’re already a world in deep transformation in so many ways. Add to that a spiritual or cultural practice of thinking about new beginnings at this time of year. Then add the results of the recent presidential election in the U.S. and falling apart starts to look all too easy. Reconstitution, on the other hand, seems a lot more challenging.

How, then, do we go on?

Is there a way to fall apart and reconstitute with grace and intention?

Absolutely. You’ve probably already done it at least once in your life. And…my intuition tells me that a reminder and maybe a pep talk would be helpful 🙂

Falling apart and reconstitution … destruction and rebirth … out with the old and in with the new … however we talk about it we’re still engaged in the endless natural rhythm of the life cycle. Since natural cycles are our template, reconstitution will always follow falling apart.

So here’s the reminder… Whenever possible, consciously fall apart and reassemble. Sticking your head in the sand until collapse happens means it takes lots longer to reconstitute, and the results are far less predictable. Stay engaged and aware. Pay attention to the gut feeling that says, “There’s something up or off or wrong.”

Preparing to deeply meet the possibilities of the new goes beyond making resolutions or even intentions. It invites you to connect with the building resonance of the new possibility being born. To become a holy part of its rising presence by adding your unique voice and perspective.

And here’s the pep talk … Consciously falling apart and reconstituting takes time, courage, and the willingness to see yourself and the beliefs on which you rest your life with absolute honesty. It also takes staying present with the uncomfortable results of falling apart: confusion, pain, disillusionment, grief, anger, and actively partnering in your own reconstitution so the new reality is truly an evolutionary step, not just a different flavor of what just collapsed. I know you can do that. I believe in you.

 

Rewritten and republished 12-28-16. Originally published 12-28-2011 under the title “What Does The New Year Hold?”

f*ck expectations

sometimes when you do a thing
you become known for that thing
and that thing eclipses the you who does it
then you can be trapped in being a paragon of that thing

and this thing
that you probably loved
that you had a passion for
that maybe even set you free
becomes
a strangler vine
wrapped around
your soul

all its beauty
crushed under the
weight of expectations of
perfection and endless continuation
relentlessly being and doing the thing
with no space to breathe
and no space to
evolve this thing
that must
continue
unaltered
stagnant
dying

because expectations
because rigid expectations
because bloody expectations

fuck expectations

disentangle

make love to the thing
until it flowers into
the next thing
until you’re known for
your unbound passion
and the things
become
paragons
of you

Am I really falling apart?

For six months I’ve felt like I was falling apart. Like pieces of my identity were dropping to the floor and I was simply too spent to pick them up and fit them back into place. It was almost as if I was a medieval knight coming home after a long war dropping armor as she rode, a greave here, a hauberk there, my metaphoric path becoming littered with bits and pieces of who I have been, leaving me standing in a clearing, naked, cold, and bemused.

So why didn’t I use what I know of self-care and resiliency  – and that’s a LOT – to stop this seeming collapse? Why didn’t my practices and strategies snap into place so I could pull out or pull up or pull over or pull it together?

A few hours ago, I couldn’t have answered that question. I was still pondering it, with a smattering of shame and guilt stirred into the mix. “(I’ve been a mentor, dammit. I know this stuff! I’ve taught this!”)

Then….there was a deep, liquid blue. Yes, I do mean the color blue. (Stick with me. It will make sense in a minute or two.)

A little context; I’ve been an aromatherapist for 25+ years. Essential oils are some of my most loved  well being allies. Over the years, I’ve introduced many people to their fragrant support, including my mother. And, yes, they are some of the allies to whom I usually turn, but hadn’t.

My mother asked me to refill the aromatherapy face oil I created for her. To help my mom, I would have my hands and nose full of essential oils for the minutes it took to recreate the blend. As I was adding one of the essential oils – Matricaria chamomilla – also known as German, or Blue Chamomile (Ta-da! Blue…) I started thinking about it’s rich, deep color and how that color comes to be.

Chamomile flowers are white with a yellow center. Their stems are green. There is nothing visibly blue about them. But, when you distill them – subject them to high temperature and pressure via steam – they release their essence. A glorious essential oil that is indigo blue in color.

German Chamomile

Chamomile flowers cut away from their mother plant and subjected to intense circumstances produce something unexpected. Something rich and powerful. A velvet midnight sky color coupled with a warm honey, apple, deep forest, slightly wild-yet-comforting scent and an exceptional capacity for supporting peaceful well being.

Despite having taken a great deal of trouble and energy to sprout, grow, and blossom, the plant is stripped of it’s identity as a chamomile flower, subjected to a process that further distills it and in response becomes unexpectedly magical.

That’s what has been happening to me. And that’s why the usual practices didn’t apply. Yes, I took time and energy and care to grow into the woman I’ve been for nearly a decade. But, like the chamomile flower, I’d reached the peak of my bloom. So, the Universe harvested me and began applying lots of heat and pressure. The usual responses were meant for the context of me being a growing plant, not for the new context of being distilled.

I’m being distilled. Refined into something surprising. Perhaps magical. Certainly something rich with power and exceptional capacities.

The process is difficult. Downright terrifying at times. Stripped from my known context + pressure =  a whole lot of unknown and uncomfortable. But now that I understand what’s happening, surrendering to the rendering is easier.

So to answer the question that is the title of this essay, yes, I am falling apart. And, it’s OK.

 

 

 

Obstacles be damned…

Obstacles be damned | TracieNichols.com

A stream called me this morning. Not on the phone, though it was adamant enough that had it fingers phoning might have been an option. Instead it kept inserting an image of itself between me and whatever I tried to do. I could hear its gurgling rush laughing over rocks and urging me to “come here!” “Come here, now!”

Water is persistent by nature. It is patient. Even relentless. It will find its way through to where it needs to go. Nothing stops water from finally reaching its goal.

With that kind of relentlessness coming at me, of course I went to the stream. Sitting on a stone in soft spring rain, I listened to her rippling, rushing laughter. Caught her invitation to allow her rambunctious flow to break free the words stuck inside. Dragged out my pencil and notebook and wrote between the droplets pinging from the sky.

Water persists. She is part of everything, yet distinctly herself. She endures by giving way without ever giving up. Confronted with an obstacle she course-corrects, carves a new path, and goes on.

Today, water is my muse, my model, my mentor. She moves. I move. She flows. I flow. She understands stagnation is a kind of death. She’s teaching me resurrection.

Today, with my stream friend’s guidance, I’m finding a new path.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com