Living Fully

Since starting my own business and taking the long, bumpy, sometimes tumultuous roads toward my dreams, I made a commitment to myself. I will live this life will FULL engagement. There are times, like today, that this is really hard. However, my true hope is that the words below will offer some guidance and support for you, when you’re having a day where it’s next to impossible to see the forest through the trees.

When saying living a life with FULL engagement, well what the heck does that really mean?

It means making decisions you know in your soul to be right, although what we know is right is seldom easy.

It means not ignoring subtle signs and clues and that powerful intuition of ours, and having the courage to listen.

It means needing to believe in something far greater than ourselves, and trusting the process… as hard, hurtful and fuzzy it may be.

It means that we would rather be alone than to settle—ever.

It means not shielding ourselves from the pain of loss. Just because we know something in our soul isn’t right, doesn’t mean that it’s not going to hurt… badly. But we know shielding ourselves and building walls around our hearts only prolongs the grieving process.

It means giving ourselves time to grieve, breath and witness the emotions that are coming from within us. To feel is to be human.

It also means that we don’t hook into these emotions are accept them as a drama in our life. It’s about feeling the emotions fully so they can pass, not so they can take over our life.

It means to take pleasure in the fact that a full range of emotions and to be with each is to be fully alive.

It means that we know we need to be vulnerable to achieve all our heart’s desire. To love fully and openly is vulnerable. We know we must allow ourselves to surrender to the highs and the lows, to just be in the moment.

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On Listening to the Universe

universe quote

There are times in my life when the universe speaks to me and I do not listen. Maybe I second guess myself, maybe I’m not ready to hear what she has to say, and maybe (likely) I’m not even aware she is saying something at all.

Then, there are times where I get overwhelmed by a feeling and she seams to be shouting so loud I have no choice but to sit and listen. This was how it went down these last couple of weeks.

A certain leadership program has been on my radar for the last four years; but at several thousand dollars it just wasn’t in the cards. A few of my colleagues have attended the program and I’ve been so inspired by how they have not really changed, but have become even more amazing versions of themselves. Owning their impact in the world and taking on some unbelievable projects in a way that would not have been possible a year previous.

As my inspiration from these people increased as I saw this new way they were participating in the world, my yearning to take the program grew exponentially (and yes, maybe a touch of jealousy). Then I asked the one question out loud I had been afraid of asking, “how the heck am I going to pay for it?”. Which I now am learning is much different than my usual answer of “I can’t afford it”. One is a question (open energy), the other is a statement with no wiggle room (closed energy).

A funny thing happens when I open finally open up and show the hand I had been holding so tightly (I can think of a million excuses as to why and they all boil down to one thing… fear), a possibility presented itself… they offer scholarship opportunities!

So excited about the potential opportunity I sat down to do my research. So many questions were running through my head. Would I be qualified? What were the requirements? How would I communicate my vision? Who else was applying? How many scholarships were being awarded? Was I good enough?

As I landed on the web page, one BIG thing jumped out at me right away. The deadline. It was 3 days away. And they only open up applications once per year. More questions flooded my brain. OMG should I apply? Could I really get my shit together in 3 days? Could I wait until next year? And if I did.. would it be any good?

If there is one lesson I’ve learned I’ve learned in the last 2 years on the journey toward my dream, is that when the universe speaks, listen. And this seemed pretty loud to me. I concluded that I would apply and give it my best shot. No, it would not be perfect. Would it be any good? Maybe. Maybe not. But there is no learning if I do not take a step. So I did.

You can view my YouTube video application here:

And if you feel inspired to cast your vote, (I am so grateful!) you can do that here:
Voting is open from July 8th-July 23rd 2014 http://woobox.com/iajo63

It’s definitely far from perfect. However, what I did learn in the process is that I can accomplish way more than I think I can. While it may be easier just to say no and “there’s always next year” saying yes and committing is so much more fun and I learn so much more. And as cheesy as it sounds, regardless of the outcome, I’m proud of myself for listening and taking a chance. Now not to let my competitive side take over and check on the vote count every 15 minutes 🙂

In light and love,

Kimberley

Going with the Flow


Surrender (wind)There are times in my life when I feel like everything is falling into place. I make choices that are in alignment with who I want to be, meet amazing people and feel so much connection and power within things happening in my life.

Then there are times that no matter how great my intentions are and how hard I try to make things happen, they just don’t. And since I’m so passionate and hold the belief that I create the things that happen in my life, I end up forcing it. The result is feelings of disconnect, overwhelm, and way too many expectations. This, for me, was last week.

Outside the small town where I grew up there was this amazing river that we spent literally hundreds of hours on in the summer. It was long, shallow and mellow enough that we would grab our inner tubes and floating chairs (and maybe a few beverages) and float for hours.

For the most part the river was pretty calm and the trip down was smooth.  However, depending on how high the water level was there were always a few rough patches. If you surrendered to the situation and let the water take you, you would come out the other side just fine and have some fun with it. However if you resisted, your floatie would capsize sending you into the (glacier fed) river and perhaps even worse, spill your beer.

We had one friend, Jenalee, that seemed to no matter how hard she resisted would always find herself stuck. I really don’t know how she did it. It was like she was a magnet to the edge of the river and fallen trees. If there was an eddy, she would find it. Drink in one hand and desperately trying to get unstuck with the other. Poor girl, but honestly it was hilarious to watch and almost 10 years later it’s still a running joke in our circle of friends.

Then there was Callie. Callie was always in charge of the cooler, which evidently made her very popular. It was a tough job having an extra dingy attached and having to navigate through the rapids with the extra weight, but she did it with ease. She was also always the first one to initiate the topless tubing portion of our river journey. Callie had no trouble navigating around potential hazards (rocks, hitting bottom, eddies, young boys with binoculars). She was always in control, rarely if ever got stuck, and even with the cooler in tow was often the one to rescue Jenalee.

Looking back, Jenalee was re-active. She would let the river take her and only take action when it was too late and was overwhelmed.

Callie on the other hand never resisted. She was constantly aware of what was going on around her, and was proactive to correct her course.

After reflecting on my week, I’ve learned that I’ve been forcing my way through the rapids and getting stuck in the eddies. Instead of going with the natural flow, I’ve been swimming upstream.

I know my situation is common. We see a goal, get so excited and force our way forward. Forgetting there’s a natural flow to help us get there.

That’s the beautiful thing about surrendering. You’re not giving up. You’re just saying, it’s not supposed to be this hard. Instead of forcing things to happen I’m going to let the universe help me a little.

There`s something in coaching we call big ‘A’ Agenda and little ‘a’ agenda. Big A agenda has to do with your soul’s purpose. What you feel called to do not matter how hard, unlikely or illogical it seems. This voice still may be very quiet and hard to hear, but I promise you, it’s there.

Little ‘a’ agenda has to do with the voice in your head. This is the logical one. In fact, it rationalizes everything. It tells you that you can’t do something for a multitude of reasons. The time isn’t right, you don’t have the money, you’re not pretty/smart/educated enough. It’s filled with “should’s” and “have to’s”. This voice is designed to keep you in your comfort zone. It’s very easy to listen to and always present.

I’ve learned that when I feel overwhelmed I’m listening to my little “a” agenda far too much. I commit to things because it’s the “right” thing to do, not necessarily because I want to. Things that other people say I should do to get ahead, not ones I know are right for me.

A common question for a coach to ask is “Where do you feel that in your body?” This is a good way to immediately connect with where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from you’re gut, chances are it’s a Big A.

The other phrase I’ve heard people say is being honest with yourself. Which ironically, is the hardest person to be honest with.

This comes from recognizing what your big A is, and having the courage to admit it. Once you admit to it yourself, it’s not long before you can admit it to those around you. Then something amazing happens, you’re back going with the flow of the river. And after that, grab your floatie (and your beer) and enjoy the ride.

*Note all names have been changed to protect the parties involved

The Power of Letting Go

letting go

Someone once told me that in order to make room for new things in your life you truly have to let go of the old ones. Easier said than done…

For me, the scariest part of letting go is saying goodbye to something that has been a huge part of my life, shaping the person I’ve grown into. This became painfully obvious last week when I was back in my hometown for a little R&R before beginning the next leg of my journey.

I was only out of my last career for two days before I sat down to write my bio for a vision workshop. I tired, but the words wouldn’t come out… none that sounded good anyway. All I could do was stare at the blank computer screen. By the end of the day all I had to show for my efforts were a bunch of scrapped drafts. Why couldn’t I concentrate? Tired and frustrated I decided to sleep on it.

It wasn’t until my coach said, “Kim, of course you’re not going to be able to concentrate! You’ve just finished something that has been a part of your life for a whole decade and instead of allowing yourself time to feel that and grieve, you’re forcing yourself to the next door without closing the first.” I thought about that for a minute. Could that really be the reason I was having such a hard time.

Before I could process any more she asked me a powerful question, “What did that career give you?”

At first I didn’t understand. What do you mean, what did it give me? It gave me a steady pay check, benefits and three weeks of vacation a year. No, she said, it gave you much more than that.

It gave me support and connection. It enabled my growth in so many ways. It provided the perfect arena to realize and practice my passion. It allowed me to be a part of literally hundreds of young peoples lives. It allowed me to teach them something, that hopefully they’ll carry with them for a long time. And most importantly, it allowed and enabled me to arrive where I am now, on the brink of my next big adventure.

The thing with being unaware is there is no knowledge of a problem in the first place, only stuck feelings. Like an intense fog covering up a beautiful day. Once you ask yourself the right questions, the fog clears and all your left with is clear sky. Some questions that helped clear my fog include:

  1. What doors in my life are still left ajar?
  2. In what ways would closing them benefit me?
  3. What would need to happen for me to do this?

Once I was aware I could start the grieving process. This part was (and still is) very hard. I’m a very ambitious and impatient person. On the other side (as my family and friends can attest to) I am also a very emotional person. When my coach asked the question “What did it give you?” it helped transition the feelings of loss into feelings of appreciation. And appreciating the experience for what it was and what it gave you, is the first step towards healing.

Life is funny sometimes. Once I’ve learned something, and have the tools to implement this new learning, it likes to test. And not in the same nice package, because that of course, would be too easy.

I was tested literally two days later but this time in a much different way. Someone from my past whom I cared deeply for was in an accident.

We’ve been very careful to remain a friendship, which is why it shouldn’t surprise me that he contacted me, and really it didn’t. What did surprise me was my reaction to the whole thing. I realized I hadn’t fully let him go either.

Matters of the heart always seem to be much harder to sort through than leaving an old job, and of course they should be. The connection runs so much deeper. But the underlying message remains the same.

Letting go takes time. Appreciate the experience for what it was. Know that you would not have the courage to face today, if it wasn’t for the hardships of yesterday.

A while ago I was challenged to come up with 100 successes. No problem I thought. After struggling to get past 25, I couldn’t believe how hard it was!

If you are anything like me, you are constantly busy trying to figure out what’s next. We accomplish something and instead of taking a minute to truly appreciate the success, we immediately focus on what’s next. Isn’t that the whole point of accomplishing something, to feel the sense of accomplishment? Instead we put our head back down, look at our massive todo list and keep on keeping on.

It took me four weeks to finally record 100 successes. Some of them are obvious, some not so much. Some other people would call a success, while others would call a failure. One of them is finally being able to appreciate honest feedback. Early in my restaurant career, one piece of feedback would put me in tears for three hours (I’m not kidding, it happened). What matters is that you are able to see them and appreciate how far you’ve come.

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone We’ve all been there. Wake up in the morning, commute, work, commute again, dinner, tv, sleep, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with routine, we actually need it. Our brain goes on autopilot so we can accomplish more, using less mental capacity. But what if you want more?

I stumbled upon this picture a few years ago and immediately it resonated with me. It has such a beautiful way of putting things in perspective. Since that time I have referenced it when coaching staff, pushing them a little, and urging them to see the bigger picture. Obviously it had some impact because when a cake was brought out at my going away dinner, this picture was on it. I gulped, got more than a little emotional, and thought, “shit, time to walk the talk”.

Last weekend was the end of my ten year restaurant management career. Why did I stay so long? Honestly, I was afraid to leave my comfort zone. I knew the company, it’s culture, and what they expected from me. I was (sort of) working towards a big promotion. But when I was honest with myself, it wasn’t what I wanted; and my performance showed it.

There are two feelings, or clues, your body gives when it desires something more; longing and discontent.

Discontent comes when things don’t quite fit, when you’re unhappy and not quite sure why. Your body is saying there’s something more out there for you, you just need to figure out what that is. With longing, you daydream how your life could be different, yet haven’t taken any of the necessary steps in that direction. They key to both, is being aware and honest enough with yourself to admit you’re feeling this way. And that, can take some time.

It was almost two years before I could be honest (with myself) enough to admit that I didn’t want that promotion.  Even longer before I had the courage to have the conversation with my boss. With time it gets easier, and start small, baby steps.

When I first started meeting with a coach my first challenge was listening. For a whole week I did nothing but listen and get curious. In that week I learned more about my friends, family and myself than I had in the last year combined. The next week we moved on to truth. I was challenged on telling the truth with everyone in my life, including myself. All of a sudden I had to come clean with my feelings, not an easy thing to do. It also started conversations that had been put off for a long time. On the third week we moved on to openness, which again was an amazing (and scary!) experience. All the things I was afraid of being judged for (like the fact I wanted to leave my very safe salaried job and start my own business) were now out in the open. And guess what, the people I thought would be my biggest critics, actually turned out to be the biggest supporters. Through these three weeks the coolest thing started to happen. My “stuckness”, showed the first few signs of movement.

What are your thoughts around listening, truth, and openness? I challenge you to pick even one and practice it for the week. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but that’s exactly where you should be. Discomfort signals growth.

When you have longing or discontent to get out of your comfort zone, start with your thoughts, as small as they may be. Not only is this less scary, it’s amazing how the rest seems to fall into place. When we change our thoughts, feelings change, and finally, behavior changes. Baby steps. The first thing a turtle does before he moves anywhere is stick his neck out. Be like a turtle; take the (baby) step of sticking your neck out. If it’s scary you can always hide back in your shell. But I promise you, once you’ve seen how magical the world is outside your shell, you won’t want back in.