Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's Remember 2013's Successes Before We Set 2014's Goals

All around me I'm hearing people talk about moving into 2014, visioning for 2014, preparing for new year's resolutions, setting goals for the new year, and on and on. I'm feeling rushed into the new year! I'm not behind the 8-ball, the 8-ball is fast on my behind, and I don't like the pressure.

Don't get me wrong, I will set intentions for the new year, pick a word for the new year with Abbey of the Arts, and have goals for the coming year, but geewiz, I still have almost 2 weeks left in 2013!! It seems like nobody's talking about taking time to reflect.  I feel the same way when retailers put christmas decorations up right after halloween. "I WANT MY THANKSGIVING!" I scream internally.

Well, "I WANT TO REFLECT ON THIS YEAR!" Sheesh, I've done a lot of good work! I need a little time to relish it, to roll in it, and feel good about it.

Let me be the voice of holiday reason. 'Tis the season to reflect, review, reminisce, congratulate, and take stock of our progress. It's a time to give kudos, and consider what could be done differently.

I'm so busy being pushed to create new goals for next year that I don't even know if I accomplished my goals for this year! Can I get an "amen" please?

I recently spoke on a panel at the Studio City Holistic Chamber of Commerce meeting. We were talking about how to succeed with setting and keeping new year's resolutions. The first thing I addressed was the importance of looking at where we came from in order to look at where we need to go. This harkens to my August post about my annual "birthday success inventory". Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about this year before you move into next year:
  1. What did you accomplish this year?
  2. What did you do well this year? What did you do especially well this year?
  3. Did you meet the goals you set for yourself this year?
  4. Where did you struggle this year? What could you improve on?
  5. Did you learn anything that you can apply for next year that would help you have a more meaningful, successful coming year?
  6. If you could do things differently, what would you do differently and how?
  7. Come up with your own questions too
A friend of mine, Tana Guadi, a marvelous life coach, encouraged me (in a coaching session) to write a letter to myself, thanking myself for all the good things I did this year, and for all the ways I showed up for myself. I wrote the letter. WOW! What amazing insight I gleaned from my gentle, wise, wondrous self.

So the message I want to leave you with is, "if you are going to pile one more thing on your already hectic, holiday schedule let it be to finish out this year and take stock of it, before you move into next year!"

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:
Can you take a half an hour, a day, or a weekend to review 2013? Can you pull out your 2013 wish list, dust it off, and see if any of it came true? What about writing a letter to yourself to tell yourself what a good job you did this year? Have you thought about giving yourself a bonus? Consider what you can do to bring closure to 2013 - to feel good about your successes and reduce your weaknesses. Wishing you all the best at the close of the year!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Supporting the Success of Others

We are happy to have this blog post be part of the
Winter Solstice Blog Hop

Over the past few months, Chantel and I have focused on helping you recognize and achieve success in a variety of forms.  We began with a success inventory and built on that by contemplating a unique aspect of who we are and how that shapes our success.  Then, we looked at time, trust, and identity through the lens of success.  In our last post, Chantel used leaves falling from the trees to talk about letting go of what's preventing us from being successful.

As we enter the holiday season, Chantel and I would like to change our success focus to helping others achieve success.  As you go out to shop for gifts for friends and loved ones, consider how your spending power can help others achieve success.  In short, support a local artist or artisan, a mom and pop store, someone in your community.

We'd like to offer a little incentive by sharing three things with you - some great quotes about helping others, an example of some of the local places Chantel supports, and an opportunity for you to win something from us.

As I contemplated this post, I looked for quotes to inspire me and would like to share three of them with you in addition to the one above.
"The best way not to feel hopeless is to get up and do something.  Don't wait for good things to happen to you.  If you go out and make good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope."  Barack Obama.

"Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water - it will make ripples throughout the entire pond."  -  Jessy and Bryan Matteo

"If you're not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting your time.  Your life will become better by making other lives better."  - Will Smith
Below you will find my (Chantel's) list of the local artists, musicians, retailers and restaurants I support. I live in Los Angeles, so if you live in the area or plan to visit soon, make a point of stopping in to one or all of them. You can also order online from some of these organizations.

Finally, we would like to give something to you.  In the spirit of supporting a local business or artist, I should mention that Chantel and I are both local artists and business professionals.  Therefore, I am offering a copy of my novel, The Son of Nine Sisters.  Chantel is offering three thirty minute coaching sessions  and a copy of an Eddie Edwards and the Psychedelic Spurs CD .  To win one of these gifts, simply email us and let us know which gift you prefer and we will enter you into the drawing for that gift.

Art Supplies

Mind, Body, Spirit Classes, Events, & Workshops
Art and Soul Lab
The Yoga Loft

Shelley Bell - Laughter Yoga

Barbara Schiffman - AKashic Records

Carole Pilkington - Astrology

Stella Davies

Debra DeLahunty

Ter Lieberstein - Loving Stone Productions

Peter Jack Rainbird

Follow Your Heart

Harmony Works

Made in the Valley


Holistic Business
Holistic Chamber of Commerce

Sustainable Works

Southern California Foster Family & Adoption Agency

The Labyrinth Society


Holy Spirit Retreat Center

Prince of Peace Church

West Valley Food Pantry

Shadowland Foundation

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom
Karen and I would love it if you would list, in the comments section below, the local businesses YOU support. Include the city where people can find these businesses and put a website or phone number so that people can reach them.

Remember that by shopping locally, you keep money in the local economy, help a neighbor stay afloat financially, and support passionate entrepreneurs.

We thank YOU for your support of Engaging Inner Wisdom all year! Good luck on winning one of our prizes!

Return to Winter Solstice Blog Hop

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Adopting the Nature of a Tree for Success

"Leaves are falling down like embers

in colors red and gold

they set us on fire..."
~Rowland Salley

Autumn leaves arouse my senses. The vibrant, bold colors catch my eyes, and the rustling, shuffling of leaves swooshing and crackling as I walk over them perks my ears. I take notice – a message is here for me – what does it mean?

I consider the life of a tree and contemplate the metaphor of falling leaves:

-Is there anything I need to let go of?
-Why should I shed?
-What do I need to release?

I know I’m on the right track, because right now I feel overwhelmed – maybe doing too much, having too much, wanting too much, hanging on to out-dated ideas, concepts, desires, and ways of being.

Sometimes I cling, like those last, straggling leaves that refuse to fall, hanging on for dear life, and more willing to bear the brutal winter chill than release and move into a new phase of existence. But is it the tree that hangs on, or the leaves? Maybe they are both clutching, neither recognizing that the leaves, in their new form, still hold value, fertilizing and nourishing the tree in new and different ways.

“When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.” Sufi Teaching

I breathe in the ideas of shedding, releasing, and letting go. I haven’t done anything with them yet, because I too am still clutching, even though I know it goes against the natural order of things. However,  I’m thinking about these ideas and after all, isn't simple awareness often curative? Shedding, releasing, and letting go, are all concrete concepts, and with them, I can begin to do “my work”.

Pondering the nature of the tree and its leaves further, I recognize that letting go, shedding, and releasing, all serve me. Just as the tree benefits from the fallen leaves that turn to mulch, I too am nourished by the experiences I let go of, the material things I release, the stale, habitual thought patterns I shed; they help to fertilize me, becoming the mulch of my life. I have learned from them all, used them all, and now in releasing them, they continue to serve, and as I move forward, I incorporate their wisdom into my being.

Unlike the leaves that hang on, continuing to drain energy from their tree, by letting go, I reclaim my energy. As I release, I open myself to going inward and to bringing clarity that re-organizes, re-prioritizes, and re-negotiates.

The shedding around me signals a shift, a transformation. Sometimes I am forced to let go, as if a gale-force wind blew all my leaves off. Other times, things gently fall away on their own.

This phenomenon is seasonal, cyclical – I just don’t notice it until I see the fallen leaves scattered on the ground. Perhaps I could embrace this experience more often, recognizing the “fall” needed this month, or week, or day; asking, “what needs to drop away?”.

At this point I am still exploring, not sure of what needs to be released, but I am willing to look, write, reflect and assess; to see which doors open easily and which seem to close. Over the last several months Karen and I have been writing about success, and I suspect that embracing the nature of the tree and its leaves will only enhance mine. I intend to take the time necessary to identify what I need let go of, shed and release.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:
What is calling you to be released? Can you be literal in this application and clear out a cabinet, or a closet? Can you go through and shed one thing from each room? Perhaps these actions will loosen up any internal elements like thoughts, ideas, or concepts that you need to release. What about your behaviors, actions and intentions? Are there any that you are clinging to that need to move on, so that you can move forward? Do you have too much on your plate, too much stuff, a bad relationship, an addiction? Take time over the next several weeks to check in with yourself – write, paint, draw, meditate – engage in whatever practice will help you embrace the natural cycle of letting go, thereby making room for and feeding your new potential.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Who do you think you are? Identity and Success

"To remember who you are, you need to forget who they told you to be."
The media is constantly bombarding us with images of how we should look and what we should believe and who we should aspire to emulate.  You know what I say to all of that hype?  I say, "Phooey!"

Look at the women along the left side of this post.  What do you see?  What is most obvious to me is the variety - we are not the same.  Many things influence who we are and who we are changes as we age and learn from new experiences, both ours and by watching those of others.

However, before we can consider any outside opinion, we must come to accept who we are without all of that external pressure.  When we look inside ourselves, there is no denying who we are, yet we seem to be more able to let others decide who or what we should be.  We have some strange desire to please everyone else at our own expense, to forgo those things which make us truly happy so that we can make others happy.  There are many problems with this approach to living our lives.  For one thing, we rarely succeed in making others happy, especially in the long run.  For another, when does it stop?  Who do we have to appease?  How many people do we need to satisfy?  What do we do to ourselves in the process?

The quote at the top of this post struck me, because of its honesty and directness.  Too often, we let others decide who we are or what we should be doing, especially as it pertains to the idea of success.  What we often forget in the process is that we determine who we are and what successes we will have.  It is our choice.  That is not to say that others cannot influence our choices, but those influences should come from inspiring support, not disapproval of who we are at our core or by them trying to force us into the image they have of us.

Who we are affects the successes we have in life.  Therefore, how we define, or allow others to define, who we are affects those potential successes as well.
I speak from experience on this subject.  Once I finished college, I jumped right into "AAHH!  I have to get a job!" mode, even though at my core, I knew I did not want to work that traditional 9-5 cycle.  That is not to say that I did not have successes within that framework; I had several.  The problem is that they rarely mattered to me.  Of course, some mattered.  For instance, I was very happy to know that I was helping to protect the environment in much of the work I did.  I enjoyed helping others and working in teams.  But, there was something deep inside of me, a constant dull tugging or a grip that refused to let go of whatever it was holding onto, that I could never quite bring myself to let go of or ignore.

A few years ago, I paused and reflected on that grip and what it was holding onto and I realized that what it held was me, the me I truly am, the dream the natural instinct I've had since I was a very small child.  "I want to be... no... I am a writer."  I embraced it completely at that point and began to let go of what everyone else thought I should be, of the society-level images of who I should be as a woman, wife and mother.  I began my retransformation back into who I knew I was.  Through that process, I came to understand myself and, perhaps most importantly, to accept who I am and recognize that I do not need to defend that to anyone.  I needed only to build on it.

As I have gone through that process, it has been a struggle; of that there is no doubt.  But, it was totally worth it!  Because, today I am a writer.  I am a published author.  I am an editor.  I am an entrepreneur, in charge of my own company, skills, successes, and myself.  Of course, it doesn't hurt to meet someone for a second time, a few months after your brief first encounter and have them say, "I remember you.  You wrote a book."  With that one sentence, I realized that who I am influences others' impressions of me, instead of allowing others' impressions of me to determine who I am.

The only thing I had to do to achieve this was to be honest with myself... oh, and believe what I saw and then work really hard to be successful with it.  That is a challenge I would take a hundred times.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:  Take some time for yourself, maybe five or ten minutes to begin the process (and remember, this is a process; you may have to do this several times), and ask yourself this question.  Am I being true to myself?

If you are, how can you build on that experience?  How well does your external representation of you reflect your true internal self?  How does knowing and embracing that true self affect what you're doing to be successful?

If you are not being true to yourself, what do you see when you look inside?  How can you get past all the layers of crap that's a result of external influence and just look at who you are?  Spend a few minutes every day working to re-engage with that true inner self.  What can you do to accept your inner identity?  How will that affect what you're doing to be successful?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How does trust affect success?

Nearly three years ago, I took a leap of fate to begin my lifelong dream of having a writing career.  I say fate rather than faith, because I trusted that it was my fate to do it.  I have wanted to be a writer since before I could draw my letters.  I used to draw squiggly lines under pictures to tell the images' stories.  Writing has always been an important aspect of what makes me who I am.  When I took that writing leap, I trusted that, at long last, it was the right time to do it.

More than that, I trusted a lot of other things in that leaping moment.  I trusted that all of the things that come with a successful career - finances, recognition, and achievement - would come in time.  I trusted that this endeavor would make me happy.  I trusted that, overall, I would make good choices (or at least choices that weren't detrimental to anyone) and I trusted that I would figure out the obstacles and challenges I met along the way.  These are all vital aspects of this undertaking that I had to trust.

But, there was still more; I had to trust myself, my skills, and my ability to turn my desires and goals into realities.  All of this translates into self-trust, but I did not take this leap alone.  There is also trusting others and trusting the community.  (This summer, Chantel introduced the concept of trust and pointed out these three aspects of it.)

Besides trusting myself, I had to trust others, even though some of those others didn't necessarily trust me.  Some of the people closest to me thought this leap was a fool's errand and one or two among them seemed to help create obstacles for me to ensure my failure, while at the same time trying to help me.  Needless to say, there were plenty of bumps in the road, but I trusted they would come through and the vast majority of them trusted what I was doing enough to help me.  I'm not sure if it was my abilities, ambition or commitment they trusted or maybe some combination thereof, but I reached out to my friends and family and got the support I needed by trusting them.

The community trust had its own set of hurdles to get over, because, in essence, I had to build a brand new community of clients and a network of colleagues and supporters.  It started off slowly, but it has grown and is building momentum.  Not only do I have a committed group of returning clients, but an even larger community of supporters all of whom continue to give referrals for my work and service.  That is the two-way street of community trust.  I trust that they will request my services and they trust that I will provide quality service.

Trust is not always an easy thing to have, it is important and it begins with self-trust.  Self trust builds confidence which, in turn, creates empowerment.  If you trust in yourself and your abilities, it will show in the successes you achieve.  Are you ready to take a leap?

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:  Option 1 - Make a list of the skills you possess.  This includes everything from solving complex equations and writing poetry to playing music, cooking, driving, even making beds.  Which of those skills do you trust the most (have the most confidence in)?  Which skills give you the most satisfaction when you use them?  Are they the same?  How can or do you use those trusted skills to achieve success?

Option 2 - I've shared a story with you about how I achieved success through trust.  Share your story with me.  Leave a comment on this post or email me and let me know if I can share it with our readers in a future post or if you just want to share with me.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Do We Limit Our Success by Limiting Our Construct of Time

Written the night before the full moon, September 18, 2013, while on Vancouver Island.

On this eve of the full moon, heading into the autumnal equinox I am struck by the passing of time; how we delineate it and its meaning. Specifically, I am curious about time and success. Do we limit our success, by limiting our construct of time?

Moon Rising Cowichan Bay, BC
Earlier this evening, a colleague and I joked about how the organizers of The Labyrinth Society's 15th annual gathering used the tides to arrange the timing of workshops. We mused over this action and how it would never work, or be accepted in the context of "conventional time". Most of us are bound by our wrist watch; roped into our 24 hour cycle bisected by the morning snooze button and the last tv program we can watch before having to hit the hay in time to get up and do it all over again.

On Vancouver Island, where I presently find myself, they talk about "island time" - they say time has an "ish" at the end, so for example 7:30-ish; I like it! I am fortunate enough to be on "ish-time" in Los Angeles (due to my own intention). What I find even more striking than "ish-time" though, is our larger society's lack of connection to the nature around us that defines time in a deeper and more meaningful way than our wrist watches or alarm clocks. We don't consider the impact that the way we think about time has on success, or at least our perception of success.

Twenty-eight days pass and a new moon cycle begins. The equinoxes and solstices come every three months marking the changing of the seasons. The tides rise and fall, ebb and flow, and nature works it's magic. In spring animals are born, in fall food is harvested - nature has her time, and everything moves through its cycle to completion, to success. But somehow, we humans put tremendous pressure on ourselves to do things in a certain way, by a certain time. Get a college degree by this age, get married and have babies by a certain time, buy a house, get in with the right job, have enough saved for your retirement by a fixed age, and so on. If we don't meet the expectation, then we are not successful.

I am especially aware of this as I age - nearing 50, I have not kept up with "the Jones" - I don't own a house or have a million dollar IRA with a retirement date in sight. I remember my grandmother telling me that by 40, if nothing else, I should become a postal worker so that by the time I was 62 I could still get in a good 20 years. On society's terms I might not be considered successful.

But what about my time? This is my life. Why am I living on someone else's agenda? Is there only one way to be considered successful? What I am aware of is that by noticing the passing of time in the context of nature, I see that  everything has its time and is successful; this includes me. My "success" has, like the tides, ebbed and flowed. Like the full moon, my success has waxed and waned, and like the turning of the seasons, my success comes in cycles.

"We do without doing and everything gets done." ~ Richard Blum

What about your success? Do you notice a pattern? If you don't feel successful right now, be patient, keep doing "your" work. Your time will come around again.

Practice engaging inner wisdom.
Begin to notice time in different ways. Get up with the dawn, or go to bed with the sunset. Pay attention to the phases of the moon, or the coming of the solstices and equinoxes. What about 7-year transitions, or time in the context of the seasons of your life? Ponder your successes within the various rhythms of time that surround you.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Contemplate and Celebrate You

Take the time to
peacefully contemplate
Contemplating who you are can be an overwhelming prospect.  Immediately, questions arise about where to begin and what you hope to get out of such an all-encompassing undertaking.  If you read Chantel's last post and attempted the success inventory that she recommended, you have already taken a step on the path of contemplating and celebrating you.

One of the first things we realize when we complete a success inventory is that success is determined by much more than finances and status.  Success occurs in every part of our lives, especially those areas that feel enriched and satisfied.  Therefore, not only does a success inventory allow you to begin to contemplate who you are, but it affords you the opportunity to celebrate you by acknowledging the successes that you've had in your life.

Over the next several weeks, Chantel and I intend to provide you with tools that allow you to understand yourself in new ways, acknowledge aspects of who you are that you may not currently recognize, and build on and support those positive features.  Through this series of posts and exercises,  we hope that you will increase your ability to engage your inner wisdom by gaining a stronger understanding of who you are and what aspects of who you are you would like to accentuate.  We do this, in part, through the idea of success, because success is a measure of accomplishment and, when we see all that we are accomplishing in our lives, we feel enriched and empowered.

There are many ways that you can approach the idea of contemplating you, but the bottom line is that you must choose a method with which you are comfortable or that you are at least willing to try.  The method that I use most regularly is consulting the Runes, but I know not everyone works with the Runes.  Other ways you can consider include writing about it, meditating, going for a walk in nature or listening to music; whatever will help you focus and concentrate.  Still, I will give you an example using the Runes that is easily adaptable to all of these other ways of contemplation.

Mannaz is the Rune of self.  It represents everything that makes us human, the good and the bad.  Within its meaning, for me, is the whole truth of who I am.  I merely need to ask questions of myself about myself and be honest, without judging or being critical.

Holding this Rune in my hand, I sat and contemplated the following questions from a purely human perspective.  So as not to be overwhelmed, I focused on one aspect of me - what makes me unique - and built every other question around that idea.

What makes me unique?  How are you unique among your family or friends?  At work?  Pick one thing.  Are you a good cook?  Are you a terrible cook, but have one thing you make really well?  Do you excel at a sport or an art form?  Do you volunteer?  It doesn't matter if other people do it, because no one does it exactly the way you do.

How do I use this aspect of me in my life?  If you are not using this aspect of yourself, your next question should be why and think about how you could incorporate it into your life; or is it an aspect whose influence you would like to reduce?

Why do I use it this way?  How could  I use it differently or in another part of my life?  Really think about all the ways you can incorporate some unique aspect of you into your life.  It can be in very subtle ways.  Sometimes those are the most powerful.

What successes has this aspect of me brought to my life and/or to others?  This is your success inventory for this unique aspect of you.

How do you feel about this realization?  Now it's time to celebrate this part of you.  Celebrate acknowledging this feature of yours.  Celebrate the role it plays in your life and the fact that you considered other ways to use it.

It is important to realize that you are a unique individual and to celebrate those attributes which make you unique.  This is one step in contemplating the complexity of you and empowering yourself by appreciating your uniqueness and how it helps make you who you are.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:  I've given you a handful of questions that allow you to contemplate one aspect of you that makes you unique.  To contemplate these questions, I sat quietly and held a Rune in my hand, the Rune of self, because that is empowering for me.  You must find your own mode of contemplation, but I've also given some options to get you thinking about how you'd like to focus on one of your unique attributes.  Maybe you need to sit on a rock in the mountains or in a chair at the beach.  Maybe you process things through writing or while you listen to music.  Decide on an approach and spend 10-15 minutes thinking about these questions.

Once you've completed this exercise, I encourage you to share your experience by leaving a comment on this post.  And, remember, you can contact us at any time if you would like additional guidance.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

One Simple Tip to Boost Your Success

“ Success begets success” ~Anonymous

Do you know why “Anonymous” said this? Because any one of us could have said it, we’ve all experienced it. Think about a time when you’ve tried to do something new. If it was hard (success was more difficult), you may have given up, or at least found yourself dreading the idea of doing it again, but if it came easily (success was easier), you may have continued, or at least tried again. Success encourages us. It gives us hope, highlights our accomplishments, and makes us feel capable.

Most definitions of success include the words “prosperity”, “popularity”, “wealth”, and “goals”, however, I think being successful includes far more than having an outcome that involves money or everyone thinking we’re swell. Success moves beyond achieving goals, and into the realm of interaction with others, perception of self, and a life lived with depth and meaning.

Success is so much more than just performance, prosperity, and popularity
I continually assess my success, sometimes haphazardly, and in a few instances, with repeatable certainty. For example, every year, I do a “success inventory”, a process in which I take time to give myself kudos. I do my success inventory on a special day, my birthday. I don’t know about you, but to me, birthdays mean a lot! I love spending time with family and friends and visiting special places. Birthdays also offer a clean slate, a new year, and provide a marvelous opportunity to reflect and grow.

So, as Earth begins its course around the sun again, I take time to reflect on my previous revolution, and set seeds of intention for my annual adventure. Several weeks prior to my birthday I begin asking myself questions to get my brain thinking (check out “One Small Step Can Change YourLife” by Robert Maurer.) I don't’ have to find the answers right away, I just want my brain to chew on the questions for a while, ‘stirring the pot’ so to speak.

I start to think about what I accomplished, where I fell short, the challenges and unexpected opportunities that arose, and whether I reacted or responded to them, and how. I ask myself, “What was the general tone of my year in terms of my emotions”. I consider how my interpersonal relationships played out, where I need to take responsibility, and where I need to let go and not get caught up in drama – even If that drama is only in my head.

On the day of my birthday, I start out by creating sacred space. Whether at home, or a location like the beach or park, I lay out a cloth, using a material I love, select iconic items that have meaning for me, and light a candle. The candle reminds me to bring in the light, positive energy. Often times I will include a natural item such as a flower, leaf, or seashell, something that reminds me of my connection to the world around me.

Rituals support humans in their daily life
Once my sacred space is set, I allow myself to settle, spending time in meditation, either a mindfulness meditation, a guided visualization, or centering prayer. With that done, I begin to free write, allowing myself to remember my year; sometimes I will go month to month from my last birthday, other times I will notice the highlights first. What I’ve found, is that usually, I’ve had an amazingly successful year, not just because I’ve accomplished goals, but because even in my trying, difficult times, I realize that I’ve learned something, or taken away something of value that makes me a better person today. I end my ritual by considering how I would like my next year to flow – I don’t list goals per se, but rather, I set a tone, and come up with words that indicate my intentions.  This year I decided to focus on being joyous, inspired and confident; ultimately with those intentions I will be successful.

By engaging in my annual ritual, I recognize that “success” means so much more than accomplishing a goal, obtaining wealth, or becoming popular – success is a quality, a timber that defines my experiences. To be kind, is to be successful. To be happy, is to be successful. To be connected with others, empathizing, celebrating, contributing, is to be successful. I’ve had a rich and marvelously successful year, and I’ve accomplished quite a bit too!

Practice engaging your inner wisdom:
What does success mean to you? How do you measure your success? Do you engage in a birthday ritual, or other rituals to give yourself credit for your success? Have you ever considered doing a “success inventory” – try them daily, weekly, monthly, or annually – by taking stock of your success, you will bring about more success. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Using Inner Wisdom When Plans Go Awry

This isn't a post about making things 'okay' when trouble strikes.  This isn't a post about powering through like a bull in a china shop when things aren't going the way you planned or about collapsing into a a ball on the floor when something creates self-doubt, sorrow, detachment or struggle.

Things aren't always going to go as you want, plan or intend.  But what can you do when those plan go awry?

That question is why this post is about realization, acceptance, and action in the face of any or all of these situations, when, for any variety of reasons, you feel like you're at the end of your rope.

This post is about empowering yourself and feeling confidence in who you are and what you want, even when certain aspects of your vision change for whatever reason.  Sure, it's okay to feel sadness, anger, frustration; all that is part of the human experience, but moving beyond that is the other part of it, the more powerful part (if you let it be), the part that occurs when you engage your inner wisdom to address it.

You can't just use your inner wisdom when things are going well.  In fact, I'd argue that being connected to its strength is even more important when disruption occurs.  Believe me on this one; I've been dealing with two major issues this summer on top of a mountain of ongoing things.  So, how do we rely on our inner wisdom in times of stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, anger, and/or sadness?  When our plans go awry?  How do we engage our inner wisdom to help us move forward?

Everything in your life has the power you assign to it.  No one else can give power to anything in your life.  It's your life and you control the power.  So, why would you give more power to a bad relationship than to a good one?  Why would you allow yourself to feel unworthy or be manipulated?  Why would you not find the good in or learn the lesson of a bad situation?  This is how your inner wisdom helps when plans go awry.

If you spend time engaging your inner wisdom when things are going well, it will be there when things are not going so well.  It is where you will find the strength to get out of a bad relationship, stop allowing yourself to be treated without respect, stand up for injustice, and even process personal tragedy.

Let me give you a simple example.  Two days ago, I saw a little girl who lives on my street; she was crying.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said her brother called her a mean name.  So, I said, "What if I call you a name that isn't mean?  Will that make you stop crying?"

She looked at me confused.

"Well," I went on, "What if I call you pretty?  Does that make you want to cry?"

"No," she fought a smile.

"You are pretty.  You know that right?"

"Yes, but..."

I covered her lips with my finger.  "What if I called you smart?  Everyone on the street always says how smart you are.  Are you smart?"

"Yes," the smile was a little harder to hold back.

"What about the dance you did at the block party?  It was good.  You're a good dancer."

She smiled as she wiped her eyes.

"Now, if you know that you are smart and pretty and a good dancer, why would you let one little thing that your brother said, that isn't true, make you so sad?"

She smiled at me, stood up and went back to playing.

As I said it was a simple example, but doesn't this exemplify many situations?  Just substitute the name she was called (or her brother) for whatever tries to make your plans go awry; then put yourself in her shoes and think about how she handled the situation.

Acknowledge the problem for what it is, but keep the majority of your power focused on the positive aspects of who you are and what your inner wisdom tells you.  That is where you will find the strength to realize, accept, and take action to address the problem.

Remember, your plans may experience setbacks and obstacles, but these troubles can be overcome by trusting and empowering your inner wisdom.  Your inner wisdom would not let you give power to negativity.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:  There are many ways you can create reminders for yourself of what your inner wisdom is and how it supports you.  Here are two ideas you can try:

1)  While you're making your plans, make a second list of the attributes you possess that will allow you to accomplish them.  This can include not only things directly related to the plans, but also attributes that make you who you are.

2)  Make a collage following the same idea.  Find images related to your plans and that reflect your personal attributes.  Show how those attributes support your plans.

When something causes those plans to go awry, consult your list or collage and let it help you reconnect or stay connected to your inner wisdom so that you can overcome the issue.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Closer Look at "TRUST"

We are so excited to be a part of the “Declaration of You – Blog Lovin’ Tour” book launch!. 

Authors Jessica Swift and Michelle Ward invited hundreds of bloggers (check it out here to share their thoughts on topics that include:

Uniquity (yes it’s a word!)


Karen and I decided to join the tour and talk about TRUST
All of our Engaging Inner Wisdom posts address trust in one form or another, but a few speak more specifically to trust than others - "Honoring Your Process"

Today's post takes a closer look at "trust"
After a lot of reflection, free writing, pondering, and sleeping on the concept, I came to my own personal awareness around trust. First off, there are three distinct life areas where trust spreads its influence:
The personal realm – trusting self
The relational realm – trusting others
The communal realm – trusting large groups, governments, systems etc.

My pondering lead me to trust’s complete opposite, “distrust” – given recent world events – rampant war, neighbors who kidnap and hold people for years, child sex trafficking, Mr. Snowden’s leak about our government spying on us, and many other horrible events, it’s no wonder that distrust abounds.

If within the world around us we feel distrustful, and rightly so, then how in our personal world are we supposed to begin to trust? Can we count on ourselves? Can we count on others? What about counting on our close relationships? More importantly, can we cultivate trust, and if so, how?

In truth, I hadn’t thought about any of this prior to taking on the “Trust” topic, but I’m glad I did. Considering this topic helped me recognize that trust has to start at the personal level, move into relationships and then, once I cultivate trust and demonstrate that cultivation, perhaps it will spread to others and eventually to institutions, large groups, and even governments; after all, each of these groups is made up of individuals who have a choice to be trustworthy, or not.

Let’s begin by Trusting Ourselves
It’s so easy to not trust oneself. If we were to rely solely on the mass media marketing that bombards us on a daily basis, we would “know” that we don’t “know anything” – that is to say, all the advertisers seem to “know” better than we do, and they have a commentary about it al, so do talk show hosts, the evening news, Oprah Winfrey, Deepok Chopra, Luise Hay and all the other self-proclaimed “gurus” out there that tell us how we “should be” leading our lives*. Not to say that there isn’t relevant information, and that some of these individuals have the best of intentions, but when aggregated as a whole, the message is “trust us, because we are the experts, and you are not”.

It’s no wonder that many people experience self-doubt and question if they are on the right path, or are afraid to put their art into the world, or take the first step toward living a fulfilling life. Many people avoid situations in which they could be wrong, get embarrassed, make a mistake, etc.

We’ve got to shake this off and start listening internally to the voice that gently screams, repeatedly urging us to “do this”, or “try this”, or “take a risk”.  We need to know that our inner wisdom is awesome! We can, and should in my opinion, trust our intuition, trust our gut, listen to the messages that come to us throughout the day. We must count on ourselves to be our own advocate. If not you, then who?

Trusting Others 
Trusting others can also be tough. How many times have you trusted someone, and they’ve fallen short, not only of your expectations, but maybe they even intentionally “burned” you. ”Wow, that came out of left field,” you say to yourself. It’s amazing how knowingly, and unknowingly, people can erode our trust in them, and ultimately in others.

When we experience painful situations in which someone breaks our trust, we remember these situations in relation to new experiences, and may therefore act with greater caution, thus limiting ourselves and putting “distrust” onto others who do not warrant it. This is apparent in love-life situations, racial situations, work-related experiences, and opportunities for risk-taking as a means of personal growth and development.

Trusting others requires becoming vulnerable, and suggests that we depend on another to have our best interests at heart. Truthfully, we must continually open ourselves up and trust others, even if untrustworthy people have impacted us in the past. If we are listening to ourselves, and trusting ourselves, then the choices we make around others will most probably reflect our good judgment and our deep knowing.

Communal trust

Here is where I got stuck. What I repeatedly returned to was that only by modeling trust, by being trustworthy ourselves, could our institutions begin to change. Institutions, communities, societies, etc. are all made up of individuals – it is the quality, character and trustworthiness of these individuals that define the entities. Trusting in a better world may be utopian, but it inspires people to become whistle-blowers, to fight for what is right, to be honorable, and to speak their own personal truth – even if in doing so one risks ridicule, their freedom, and maybe even their life.

Trust is deep. Trust is profound. Trust is tantamount to so many other feelings. Without it, we wouldn’t move forward personally, we wouldn’t engage in meaningful relationships, and our world would experience even worse tragedy.

As you cultivate trust it compounds, in other words, trust begets trust. You trust yourself, you are trustworthy, others trust you, you trust them, and so on.

Engaging Your Inner Wisdom: Cultivate trust

Personal Trust –
Begin to listen inwardly, become silent and still, so that you can hear your own truth.
Act on your “gut feelings” – whenever possible and appropriate.
Keep your promises to yourself! Jennifer Louden, author of "The Women’s Retreat Book” says,
"Self-trust grows from a history of promises made and kept."
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Relational Trust –
Be trustworthy – model this so that others will be trustworthy too.
Check out the “Four Agreements” by Don Miquel Ruiz – 1.) “be impeccable with your word”, 2.) “don’t take anything personally”, 3.) “don’t make assumptions”, and 4.) “always do your best”.

Communal Trust –
Get to know your neighbors – create a neighborhood block party.
Walk or bikeride in your community.
Shop locally, and get to know your “mom and pop” vendors.
Volunteer for a local project like a food pantry, community garden, or sitting on the board of a local non-profit doing work that benefits the community.

“The Declaration of You, published by North Light Craft Books and available now, gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! Find more info and order the book at

“We can’t wait to be a part of The Declaration of You’s Facebook party this Friday at 9:30-10a PST/11:30a-12p CST/12:30-1p EST. We’ll be chatting in real time about TRUST over at

Hope you can join us!”
Make a point of liking
and Art and Soul Lab at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Importance of Honoring Your Process

I am grateful to Karen, my blog partner, for writing about the importance of "taking time for our passion". Her writing coupled with my blog post on "creative process need processing?" and coming across something I wrote several months ago, prompted today's topic: honoring your process.

I easily get sucked into the "shoulds" and "have-to's" -  I find that rather than being competitive, I am comparative - which I think might be worse. I expect that I "should be" just like everyone else, moving at their pace, in their time, and in their way. If I am not successful with my objectives, then I have missed the mark, failed somewhere, am not as good as the other person next to me. When learning something new, I berate myself if I don't "get it" immediately. phew...gnarly critic!

Re-reading what I wrote several months ago makes me question the beliefs I mention above. I had been working on a new business prospect (ongoing) and thinking about my creative process; I wrote the following:
"I suppose something I realize about my process, and frankly, I rarely accommodate, is that it takes me a while to decide on a trajectory. For example, when I made the white spiral piece, it took forever to decide and design, so too did the metal, gold piece and the umbrella. I seem to need time to ruminate, to allow. I feel like the world moves way faster than me. With the mundane, I can easily keep up, but when it comes time to listen to my inner voice, that takes time. Things need to simmer and stew. I need time to consider and contemplate. It is critical that I allow myself that time. No need to compare, or compete, or keep up. I must allow myself to move at my pace, and be ok with it."
It is easy to say all this, but it is so much more difficult to embrace and apply.

I recently took an assemblage class, and experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety because we were supposed to finish building a piece within the duration of the class. I was freaked out! I hadn't even decided on which materials I wanted to use, let alone figured out how to put them all together. Moreover, I hadn't really thought about what I was getting myself into when I signed up for the class. It is so much fun to gather materials and imagine the possibility, and usually, I don't take the time to consider the work involved; all the more reason to embrace taking time!

This brings me to Karen's post. Karen, I embrace your challenge of "taking time for your passion", and the way I intend to do it is by taking time throughout my weeks to reflect, let things stew and see what comes up. Perhaps I will do more stream of consciousness writing on specific topics. Maybe I will walk the labyrinth with a question concerning a project I am working on. Perhaps I will just sit and be. Now mind you, I already do morning pages, and meditate; what I am suggesting is different. It's different because it will be topic specific, intentional.

I may or may not choose to share my progress every month. I may just wait until the autumnal equinox to let you know the outcome. I haven't decided yet, I need time to let it swirl around in my brain for a bit before I figure out which way I want to go with, either way though, you will eventually find out.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom: What about you? Do you move more slowly, needing time for things to settle in before making a decision? Do you like to think about the myriad possibilities before jumping in? How do you work? Perhaps you could take time to write about what works, and doesn't work for you. Do you do Morning Pages? Morning pages are Julie Cameron's (author of the Artist's Way) prescription for emptying ourselves, so that we have room to fill ourselves. She encourages that you write 3, one-sided pages a day, upon waking - stream of consciousness, don't lift your hand from the page, keep writing even if you don't know what to say pages - these shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. You might want to ask yourself a question before you start writing. Please let me know what you think, how you process, and what you're up to. It helps me with my experiences!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Taking Time for Your Passion

Say, "Yes!" to your passion!
How often do you engage your passion?

For way too long, I have largely ignored mine - writing - but that all changes now.  In her last post, Chantel talked about the solstice as a time of abundant energy and vibrance when we can make bold moves and take giant leaps.

I, for one, am taking her up on the idea and I hope you will join me.  I plan to channel this high energy time into my writing passion using the simple formula I've been using for my blog, The Wonder of Runes, since last fall.  I have committed three hours one morning a week to writing and sharing my blog with others and, since that time, it has flourished and I am amazed and grateful to see the interest in and response to my efforts.

Yeah, nice idea.  Why is this important?  What if I'm just too busy with other things to do anything about my passion?  I have to work, ya know.

When you focus all your energy on things that simply suck the energy out of you, you are draining yourself.  Engaging in your passion is one way to refuel or replenish that energy.  I write for a living, but much of that entails writing things for other people or editing their work.  While I enjoy it, it is not the same as the three hours I spend writing my blog entries for The Wonder of Runes.

Therefore, between now and the autumnal equinox on September 22nd, I plan to dedicate a similar amount of time, like that which I dedicate to my blog, to different writing projects each weekday and there is no shortage of supply.

I write my blog on Mondays and that will not change.  Making that commitment is one of the best things I've done for myself in recent years.  This a a wonderful example of the benefits of engaging your passion.  Not only has it paid off for me personally, but professionally as well.  And now it serves as the formula to expand that benefit and write more.

Tuesdays will be dedicated to writing the sequel to my novel, The Son of Nine Sisters.  I began writing it last November as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge, but haven't really touched it since.  Sure, I've gone over it a hundred times in my head, thinking through details, making links, and solidifying characters and story lines, but I'm not sure I've written a word in it this year.  Since I want the first draft completed around the autumnal equinox, I had better get a move on.  So, Tuesdays for my sequel.

Once I published my novel, my daughter decided she wanted to write a book too, so we are working on one together, a young readers series about time travel.  The first book draft is literally about 500 words from being finished, but it is a series, so we need to write at least more and the synopsis for a couple beyond that.  That ought to keep me busy on Wednesday mornings.

Of course, there is little point in writing all these books if I don't do any marketing.  Even though it's not my favorite thing to do, I will spend Thursdays marketing both my creative writing and professional writing services.

Friday is for another, much newer passion, gardening.  You may recall my last post was about my new love of growing food.  Yes, this is the first and trial year, but I've already learned a few things and I can't wait to get back and dig in literally and figuratively.  And, I have to say, I am amazed how engaging with Earth helps clear my mind and accelerate my creative and critical thinking, a grea way to come up with or clarify story ideas.

Ah, now that's the way to spend a week.

I don't have time to dedicate three hours each morning to my passion.  Are you crazy?  I have a job and I have to clean the house and shuttle the kids and go grocery shopping, and do the laundry.

I'm not suggesting you follow my model exactly.  I am suggesting that, as one way to engage your inner wisdom and refuel yourself that you take time for your passion once a week.  The only catch is that you have to set a dedicated time to do it and stick to it until the equinox.  You can make excuses or make time.  Which will it be?

I would love to have you join me in this solstice to equinox quest, especially my fellow writers.  We can spend a morning writing together.  To that end, here is your challenge:

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:  Take time or, more specifically, arrange a set time once a week to engage your passion.  Tell me what it is.  Share your experience with me.  Are you an artist?  Show me some of your work?  A fellow writer?  Share an excerpt or poem.  Are you spending time in nature?  Take some pictures to show us.  Email me a sample of whatever you do and I will dedicate a blog post or two (or however many it takes) to sharing your experience with our readers.  I look forward to making this journey with you.

For those of you still questioning whether you have time to spend engaging your passion, how about this?  All you have to do is monitor me.  You can check into this blog over he next three months to see what progress I've made or, you can follow Engaging Inner Wisdom on facebook and see regular updates there.  That way, you can decide whether it was worth it for me to take this time or not.  Maybe that will inspire you to take time for yours.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Mid -Year, Summer Solstice Ritual with SoulCollage® Cards

Inspired by my friend and co-blog creator, Karen Paquin, who recently celebrated the 2nd year anniversary of her blog “The Wonder of Runes” (Yay Karen! Congratulations!), I decided to conduct a ritual for the upcoming summer solstice.

You may remember that Karen and I launched Engaging Inner Wisdom on the winter solstice, and then started the new year by reflecting on the past and envisioning the future. We began planting seeds of intention, and doing the work necessary for the seedlings to grow. We’ve been nurturing our projects since the vernal equinox.

On Friday, June 21, 2013 we will experience the longest day of the year (shortest night), aka the summer solstice, and as a result we will have an abundance of energy, time, and the vibrant enthusiasm associated with the sun at our fingertips.

This bold energy of encouragement brings with it the opportunity to expand, work hard, play hard, and move forward, thrust into our big, bold adventure that began earlier this year. Soon, on the autumnal equinox, we can harvest all that comes from this exuberant, vibrant, energy-filled time. What we harvest doesn’t just come from work, it can come from the time we spend with family and friends, vacationing, enjoying leisure time, and basking in the sun.

Intent on knowing how to put my best foot forward as I move into the second half of the year (we are after all, at the midway point) I enlisted my SoulCollage® cards to use in my ritual. These cards are considered a “personal oracle” because I created the cards and selected the images used on them,  I ask the questions and I answer the questions – in doing this I tap into my subconscious and receive powerful insight. If you create your own deck, you can do the same thing. I will talk more about SoulCollage®  in upcoming blog posts, but for now, I will share my summer solstice ritual with you, and the meaning I derived from my SoulCollage® cards.

When I work with my cards I like to set sacred space, so I set off with my altar to regale the sun in my backyard. I lit a candle, shuffled my cards and decided to ask them this question: “As I step into the second half of the year, with the sun’s energy at its height, which Neters (cards) wish to guide me and move me forward?” After selecting four random cards I engaged in several SoulCollage® writing activities, and here is what the cards had to "say" to me (abbreviated for the post):

Card #1
This card provides me with peace of mind and a sense of clarity. I am reminded that when I listen to my intuition, I can trust in the future. This card tells me to hold on to summer’s light and energy, but don’t cling too tightly. Its green color suggests that my heart chakra plays a role in the upcoming months. I am also reminded to lay out a plan, and gently follow it.

Card #2
This card focuses more on a path, a narrow path. It speaks to the importance of structure and passion. It encourages me to follow my path, and to make sure that I don’t sacrifice structure for passion. I can see clearly, and I am encouraged to engage in joint ventures.

Card #3

This card is all about peace, harmony, loving kindness and compassion. It reminds me to stay heart centered and open my heart to both give and receive. When I do this I will benefit from the marvelous gems that are near and dear to my heart. It suggests that even though things may get strewn about at times, and seem chaotic, as long as I am operating from my heart, I will be ok.

Card #4
This card encourages me to “jump on board” and not get weighed down by my "wet blanket" i.e. my negativity, whining, and comparing myself to others. I need to turn my thinking around and see the marvelous opportunities that are just waiting around the bend for me. It reminds me to be grateful! I need to turn and look at the blessings in my life! There are marvelous, golden opportunities awaiting me on the horizon.

So, what do I get from all this for the next six months? -
Follow my true heart’s path. Fill myself with passion, but remember to create a structure from which to operate. Stay true to my heart, remain loving and kind, and be grateful for all that I have and all that awaits me. Things are fine and moving forward splendidly. I don’t need to doubt or second-guess. I just need to do my work, keep the faith, and remain true to myself.

Engaging Your Inner Wisdom – What rituals do you engage in that support you as you move through your year? Have you ever thought of doing SoulCollage®? Maybe you would be inspired to celebrate the summer solstice by walking a labyrinth. Perhaps you use art making as a ritual. Maybe you rise every morning to pray and meditate? Engaging in rituals helps us to connect more deeply to the activity. I'd love to hear from you about your rituals and encourage you to find meaningful rituals that can enrich and deepen your life!