The Miracle of the Seed

Every year my garden gets bigger. This does not happen miraculously or because I am a winter worker with a high level of planning and motivation (though my husband would argue this point!); it grows because I am a commitment to beauty and food. I am grounded in this commitment to provide colors, textures, and food for myself, my family and my friends. And, every year I open the seed catalogues and get overwhelmed with the amount of diversity and beauty one can get in a seed packet and I purchase too many seeds. This year I was introduced and introduced myself to a few new seed purveyors: Baker Creek Seeds, Abundant Life Seeds and Mapple Farms. I did my research, reviewed last year’s notes and ordered my seeds. When they arrived I marveled at my desired diversity and beauty and also wondered where I was going to put them and how I was going to plant all these seeds.

There is a funny thing about seeds, I plant them, give them some water and they grow into food or flowers or both. I love gardening for the sheer amazement that I feel every year, when I plant a seemingly lifeless, teeny tiny object and it grows from the dirt into a life sustaining and enriching plant. Truly inspiring!

This year I decided it was time to start some seeds indoors. I have never done this before but figured it couldn’t be much harder than putting them in the ground. I was right, it was not hard. I went to Swanson’s, my favorite garden store, and bought some supplies. When the kids got home from school we planted 10 different varieties of things like watermelon (I know, ambitious, but I just have to eat my own!), cucumber, winter squash and tomatoes (which I should have started about two months ago but what the heck)!  We planted the seeds on Wednesday, by Thursday there were roots and by Friday the green leaves were unfurling! We are all so excited!

As for the space to put all of these delicious plants, Neil, my ever impressive husband, brought home a digger and a dump truck (which the kids LOVED) to take all the sod off the front yard and replace it with dirt and mulch. We now have an additional 650 sq ft of planting space! I had the idea of the front yard being a garden six years ago, and now my idea is a reality!

What do seeds have to do with coaching you may wonder? Well, throughout my life I have planted seeds both literally and figuratively. We have all planted seeds and reaped the rewards. Seeds are ideas, little bits of inspiration that we find in our lives that eventually, if we feed them, lead us to see the idea fruit.

Most of us have had the experience of feeling frazzled with too many ideas to choose from, making our energy feel diffuse and unproductive, even stagnate. The opposite scenario has probably also occurred with a barren field before us with not an idea in sight, which can feel really lonely. Then there are the times when ideas flow, each gets what it needs to survive and thrive. When we recall those times it is likely we feel a sense of satisfaction for having brought the ideas to life and completion. During those periods of time, we were centered, “grounded” in our self and through this stable and fertile foundation we were able to fruit our ideas.

Since grounding or centering is something we can do daily, imagine what it would be like to commit to the practice of centering every day . When we are centered we are able to know the perfect ideas to water, which ones to save for another time and which ones to compost. I may not have been centered when I ordered those semi-tropical watermelon seeds, but I am practicing growing them by giving them good soil, warmth, water, attention and sunshine. The watermelon seeds are responding by growing perfect green leaves and strong roots. And you know I may just eat a tender, juicy watermelon sometime in the late summer, only time will tell.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring your ideas into fruition, how to grow your garden of bounty, invite perspective, let’s see what kind of fruit you produce!

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Dandelions: Average is extraordinary

Read slowly; be aware of the spaces between the letters, pause at punctuation:

Dandelions were what she chiefly saw. Yellow jewels for everyday, studding the patch green dress of her backyard. She liked their demure prettiness second to their everydayness; for in the latter quality she thought she saw a picture of herself, and it was comforting to find that what was common could also be a flower.

Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha

I have loved this poem from the moment I read it back in the early 90’s in a book on Feminist theory called Tapestries of Life, by Bettina Apthecker. I resonated with the idea that common could also be something richly colored, life generating, determined, and prolific!

Since I was very young I have aspired to be something great: a super hero, a movie star, the CEO of a company, someone generally important.  I thought that if I could achieve this external status I would really begin to have form, to live, to finally be the Tracy I was meant to be.

Internally, I have always felt like I was important, that I was a hero. I felt as if there was something great inside me that was waiting to come out, though I did not know what it was. This internal voice kept me moving forward toward something. Though mostly, I relied on and was swayed by the external voices to affirm me on my journey. The external voices were from people I respected who also had a quality I was looking to assimilate. I valued their opinion because I thought they might know better than me, I wanted someone else to validate my path. As it turns out, I could never get the deep, resonating validation I desired as these people were on their path and I was on mine. After much searching, therapy and meditating, I now understand that the only voice of affirmation that matters on MY journey is MY voice.

About a week ago, my parents were visiting from out of town. They just moved to Florida from Massachusetts and brought with them a folder from my childhood. Contained in the folder were many report cards from when I was in grade school and high school. I was struck by what an average picture the report cards painted of me back then, which gave me a visceral memory of the feeling of averageness that I felt most of my life. I have tried to escape from and be better than average for as long as I can remember, which is why the Gwendolyn Brooks poem was so important to me. I now realize that average is human and I can see the extraordinary in the common.

Quite recently, I recognized the missing link to having this confidence sooner was commitment and practice from grounded place. I have been practicing being Tracy for a long time. I have also been making commitments on how I want to live my life, what I want to be, where I want to go. I have been satisfied with the results. Yet, since practicing being grounded in my commitments, my life has taken on a new sense of meaning and depth. I am more present in the ordinary averageness of life. In this place, I am able to access the extraordinary. No, I am not a super hero (dang!), nor am I a movie star, nor have I been something really publically great, nor do I care anymore. I am confident in living consciously and this commitment will bring more greatness to my life than any title or power would bring.

Does this resonate? Want to learn more, explore your deep confidence, invite perspective, your life is waiting for you.

Resistance

This morning I got up and meditated for an hour. I sat there and focused on my breath and body sensations. Thoughts would come, like sparkly jewels, and I would follow, but only for a moment.

I have been meditating for 25 years, the thoughts still come but now I am confident they will come back, and I can let them go.

Today I concentrated on sitting through the good and the bad because they are both the same, something to be observed. The feelings they elicit may be different but those are to be observed as well.

After my hour sit, I got dressed and went downstairs to make muffins, today is muffin day and the kids love muffin day. I dressed in my workout clothes because I wanted to run today.

After dropping the kids off at school, I went home presumably to do my run, but I had work to do as well. I thought I might work first and then run, never a good idea. I even went to my computer and sat down, but no, I need exercise, this is a fact that all members of my family agree on because if I do not exercise I get a little cranky, so off I went. I got up from the computer and went running in the sun and wind.

You may wonder what these stories have to do with resistance, but if you have ever tried to exercise or meditate or do anything else that you want to do that requires effort to accomplish, you have encountered resistance.

Resistance is the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to executing on a plan. It is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of following your dreams.

As I stated above I have been meditating for 25 years, I have also been trying to be a runner for 30 plus years. You would think by now I would have left resistance in the dust.

This is not the case. Every day I wake up and most days I think, “Wow, I could really use more sleep.” Resistance wakes up early! And some days I stay in bed, but at this point in my battle with resistance, I get up, push the beast aside and head for my cushion. The same thing happens with running, though resistance tends to win more frequently. And I and people around me suffer through my grumpiness.

Resistance is pretty and safe. Resistance will also try to win at all costs. It is hard to be bamboozled by it and it is even harder to watch other people be caught in the trap.

I am a coach. I hear people every day talk about their dreams, their goals, what is important to them. I also hear them struggle every day to execute on what would fulfill them. I go through the week offering practices and theories, tools to overcome the monster of resistance, and every week I am sad. Sad for myself and sad for my clients, sad for my friends, sad that resistance is like weather, it comes and goes with no care of who it envelopes.

We often do not even know resistance is there. We justify it, we make a half assed attempt at our goals, knowing somewhere inside that we are holding back. We make excuses like I do not know how to do it differently or I don’t have the time. As the days pass, so do the opportunities to fulfill on our dreams and eventually we stop trying. Resistance wins.

Let’s be clear, resistance wins because it renews itself every day, it is new and freshly born, ready to head you off the path.

We can beat it by understanding that it will never go away and it will always be strong.

It asks us to be strong, to be brand new and freshly born in our commitments every day.

Resistance is fear.

If we want to change, shift, grow, love we have to begin by overcoming the fear of not having a plan, of being embarrassed, of looking like a beginner, of getting shut down, of being laughed at, of failing.

We have to be brave and open.

We have to practice and be committed to our practices.

Sometimes the practice may not seem to go anywhere; I can meditate every day and feel OK. Each day is different and I am not exactly achieving enlightenment each morning, but I can tell my practice helps me live into my dreams, other people can tell as well, and if you saw a video of me when I was 25 and now you could tell too.

It is not just growing wiser with age, it is my practice.

You can have this confidence too. Invite perspective. Enlist support of friends, family, coaches, colleagues and employers. Take a class.

Let people know you want more of X but are not sure how to get it. You do not have a plan and you are going to try. They will think you are brave underneath the appearance that they think you are crazy.

You will inspire them. Trust me.

Resistance must be overcome. The world needs your unique gift!

The Power of Commitment

 

 

Commitment is something we do every day, whether it is our commitment to work, play, family, spiritual growth, our pets, and many other things. We all have commitments.

What I  question is how much of ourselves do we bring to each of those commitments?

Modern life has done wonders for organizing our brains ability to perform highly complex tasks with ease. The bi-product of our conditioning is the compartmentalization of our lives. We are one way at work, then we shift to being another way at home, then we go out with our spouse or friends and shift yet again.

This shifting makes it hard to know how much we truly have to offer as there are very few places that encourage us to bring our full selves.

And even if they did want all of us, would we know what that meant? Would we be able to do it as it feels so foreign and downright scary? If I bring my whole self then my whole self can get hurt, and if I get hurt with my whole self what would be the outcome?

How do we learn about our whole self?

The simple answer is committed practice. If you think of an athlete, they practice every day to bring all of their systems together to achieve a goal. It takes 300 repetitions to create muscle memory and it take 3,000 repetitions to create an embodied practice, one we do without thinking. To master something takes over 10,000 repetitions.

I have done over 10,000 reps in the behavior of being me. This behavior served me. It kept me safe and moving forward.

And yet all along I wanted something more. I wanted a change. In order to create a change that sustains over time, I have to commit to 300, 3,000 and more reps of the new behavior.

 

I wanted to bring my whole self to live a life with more ease, less angst and a deeper understanding of how to be a person that benefits the world. Over time, in ways that were often a surprise, I moved toward my goal. Though it was not always easy.

When we commit to something, we start to shift. This shift can be exhilarating at first. We don’t know how we lived without this practice, insight, information, relationship, you name it.

Then, after time, this new thing becomes uncomfortable. We may begin to feel lost, we forget the insight, wonder why we are doing the practice, and as our experience gets greater we expand into new territory, new conversations and we may even feel a little incompetent. We begin to realize what we don’t know.

Since we felt so competent in our old self we inadvertently, when we are not conscious, revert to those behaviors. They are so comfortable. We leave the relationship or stop having the uncomfortable conversations. We stop doing the practice. We may feel safe to be back to what we know, and linger in those old behaviors a while. Until we again start to feel uncomfortable in our own skin and want a change. We recommit and again the change makes us feel uncomfortable and incompetent. We stay there for a while and then revert back again. Sound familiar?

Here is where committed practice comes into play. Committed practice and the support of community. Committed practice, community and the realization that every day that passes is lost and we can NEVER get it back.

The time is now.

Only through stating a commitment and having someone support us through holding our feet to the fire, so to speak, will we shift.

The shift will feel like turning around a speeding train; very hard and physically uncomfortable. Yet in the end, totally worth it.

Let me share a little perspective in how to think about our whole self. We will use a model called the Johari window.

johari-window

In this model there are four quadrants. All four taken together represent the whole person and their subsequent potential. Each individual quadrant represents an area of ourselves that I will describe.

The top left quadrant encompasses things we can see and others see them too, like the color of our hair or whether we drink tea or coffee. The words we say and the actions we take.

The bottom left quadrant, are areas that only we see, such as the thoughts in our mind. What we do when we are alone. Our historical stories that make up who we are.

The top right quadrant is where other people see things that we don’t see, like the reoccurring patterns in our life that someone tells us about and suddenly we begin to see them everywhere! Such as the way we swallow, or breathe. The way we keep saying a certain word over and over again. Or a certain type of reaction we have that we are blind to.

The bottom right is an area that no one can see alone, it takes commitment of two people coming together to see what could be possible in this section.

We can learn about the two areas to the right through feedback from and conversation with others.

People can only learn about the areas to the left through what we share by being in relationship.

We can learn what is possible in that fourth box through bringing the whole self that only we know to a commitment and then sharing that commitment with another in order to get feedback on our progress.

The other person is called a committed listener. This person will honestly, firmly and lovingly offer feedback on our progress toward or away from our commitment. The process of stating a commitment and engaging committed listeners will help us discover our blind spots, and then it takes a committed practice to shift our behavior from what is to what is possible.

Sound hard? Yes. Rewarding? More than you have ever known or could possibly hope for.

When to begin? Begin when the pain of staying where you are is greater than the pain of change. Or when you realize you don’t get more time.

How to begin? Read, question, get feedback, find someone who can help you and support you in this process, join a class. For some people, it is good to get clear where you want to go and then engage supporters. For others, it is good to have people listen while you talk.

There are as many ways as there are different people in the world. If you would like to learn more about this process feel free to invite perspective. You never know where you can go until you bring your full self to trying.