choice

A Double-Spaced Life

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I’d been doing it unconsciously for the last few weeks. And the other day I noticed.
I looked at my hand-written to-do list for the day, and between every task listed was a blank line. I’d skipped a space between every list item.
Interesting, I thought. And then as the deeper epiphany landed, I realized…
Whoa. This is my life now.
I’m living a double-spaced life.
Let me back up a little. I’ve been a purpose-driven, passion-fueled entrepreneur for more than fifteen years now. I’ve worn many hats, juggled many balls, spun many plates, had many irons in the fire, many pots on the stove, insert your preferred-busy-AF metaphor here. I was no stranger to overwhelm.
In fact, if you’ve been following my work over the years, you know I’ve written a blog or ten about busyness, overwhelm, stress and that constant gnawing feeling I know many of us are familiar with: I’m not doing enough. I should be getting more done. How am I going to get it all done? And if you looked at my to-do lists from the years gone by, not surprisingly, they were single-spaced, one task stacked tightly on top of the other.
I’ve also always found it interesting that I journal on my blank page notebooks from one end of the page to the other, with no margins to speak of. When I create a vision board, there is never any posterboard left peeking behind the images I paste onto it. Filling time, filling space, filling my life to overflowing was how I did life. It’s what I knew.
Until I began to know a different way.
This summer I let go of a huge part of my life and my work, when I decided to close the Burlesque Experience. I also scaled back considerably on the other events, workshops and programs I was offering.
In doing so, I created a spaciousness in my life that at times has been uncomfortable. Who am I now, without this work?
I’ve resisted the urge to create filler, to throw new things together hastily, so that I “still matter” so that I don’t disappear or go broke. Because for so much of my life, I assumed that my greatest contributions to the world required me to be spread too thin. As if this was the only way to be successful. I watered down my potency, my very essence, and it took a major crash and clearing for me to realize this.
Living in a chronic state of overwhelm is not possible without the help of our adrenal system to kick in like a furnace, to support us, give us the energy we need, but guess what? That’s not what adrenaline is for.
Our bodies are marvelously wired with adrenaline for emergency situations. We were never designed to use adrenaline for getting through daily life, for managing our daily to-do list, for the everyday fuel. Yet so many of us are relying on our adrenal systems for just such support.
Until we can’t anymore. Until our adrenal system is fried. Until our bodies say no more.  I was. And mine did.
I spent much of the summer healing my adrenal system through diet, a restorative adaptogen regimen, rest, self-care. And I vowed to do things differently, going forward.
One of the greatest gifts middle age is giving me is the wisdom to slow the heck down. To breathe. To create space, in my home and my work and my life. To leave blank days on the calendar and blank lines on the to-do list. To commit to less. To rest. To seek quality over quantity. To declutter and let go and scale down.
Realistically (though I hate to even type this), I’m in the second half of my life now. I have given myself permission to slow down.
I have given up the hustle to do, do, do, so much of the time, in order to focus instead on being magnetic and being potent—to just be, be, be more of who I am. I still need my business to generate revenue. I still have bills to pay and dreams to fund and a future to plan for. But I refuse to utilize panic and fear as my personal motivator any longer. I refuse to sacrifice my well-being and water myself down, I am done with being stressed out as a normal way of life.
Desperation, overwhelm, over-commitment and stress are no longer invited into my work day. I am far more interested now in being the flower rather than the bee. My bee days are behind me. Letting go in this way can feel scary. Especially for a recovering control freak. Yet what a beautiful way to practice deliberate actions, clear intentions and deep trust. I’ve even noticed the chronic pain I’ve dealt with for years is subsiding, I feel more embodied, of course I do. It’s a friendlier place in there.
New ideas are gestating within me, I am inspired to create more, to express more, to inspire more. There are still big things I have yet to create. In fact, I think my greatest impact and contributions to the world exist in my future, not my past.
But a lot has changed, and I am clearer than I have ever been. I refuse to utilize my adrenal system for day to day living. That means shorter task lists, less events, less overlapping projects, more focus, more self-care and ritual and spiritual care. More white space.
With more space available, I’m finding myself to be a more potent coach, a more present partner, a more available mother. I’m a better friend. My close relationships feel richer.
I am more emotionally (and physically) accessible, more joyful and more me. And it’s easy to understand why…
I am showing up for life, undiluted.
I have gone from a single-spaced life to a double-spaced life, and wow, does it feel great.

 

Stuck? A Super Simple Shift that Can Change Everything

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“Why do I keep attracting unavailable men?”
“Why can’t I maintain healthy boundaries with my mother?”
“Why do I still hurt so much, when we broke up so long ago?”
“Why am I so afraid to ask for what I want?”
“Why do I always feel taken advantage of in my friendships?”
These are some of the questions some of my clients have asked themselves, and me, in our sessions lately.
When it comes to self-inquiry, they’re certainly provocative questions and questions like these do have their place, for understanding patterns, or identifying blind spots.
However, they can also hurt us. Questions like these (especially when we think them repetitively) beat us down with the underlying belief that there is something wrong with us. There is quite often blame in a question that starts with “why.” 
There is a presumption of defect, convinced that things should be different.
Oftentimes, wishing it was we who were different. Here’s what we’re probably really thinking…
“Why do I keep attracting unavailable men?” Because there’s something wrong with me.
“Why can’t I maintain healthy boundaries with my mother?” Because there’s something wrong with me.
“Why do I still hurt so much, when we broke up so long ago?” Because there’s something wrong with me.
“Why” questions want to point fingers and place blame, and frankly, aren’t very productive, and can only take us so far. I’ve got an alternative.
The next time you find yourself pondering your life with “why” questions, stop and convert your inquiry into a “how” question.
Where “why” places blame, “how” opens doors.
Where “why” contains resistance (things/I/he/she/they shouldn’t be this way.), “how” creates possibility.
Where “why” focuses on the problem, “how” focuses on discovery and solutions.
Here are some examples…
Instead of asking “Why do I keep attracting unavailable men?” try asking “How can I become the type of woman that attracts emotionally available men? How can I release my attachment to this old pattern?”
Instead of “Why can’t I maintain healthy boundaries with my mother?” ask “How can I create a healthy boundary with my mother this week when I see her for dinner?”
Instead of asking “Why do I still hurt so much, when we broke up so long ago?” ask “How can I be more gentle and accepting of what I’m feeling, and allow myself all the space I need to grieve?
Can you feel the difference between “how” and “why” questions? Words have energy, and energetically, the difference is palpable, even without definitive answers to the questions, in even just the asking.
The secret is catching yourself in the act and consciously converting your inquiry.
Practice with a supportive friend the next time you are griping about why things are the way they are. Take turns brainstorming “how” questions until you run out, even without answering them.
Feel the spaciousness and possibilities in this new line of questioning. Feels like throwing open the windows of a dusty, cramped room, and letting the fresh air and sunlight rush in.
I love this practice in my own life, and I’ve seen it work wonders in the lives of my clients.
Our minds are busy little bees, so why not direct the flow of the buzzing, in the direction of potential, healing, compassion, acceptance and freedom?
Try it, and let me know how it goes! In fact, why not post a “why” question you’ve been stuck on and see if you can’t convert it, right here, right now. What have you got to lose, except maybe blame, finger pointing and stuckness.
Happy pondering!

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Self-Care and its Slippery Shadow

Art by noell oszvald
Art by noell oszvald

When does the self-nurturing act of nesting and withdrawing from the world turn into debilitating isolation?

How does self-care turn into self-sabotage?

When do our once-effective practices for self-care become self-destructive?

When does the sacred pause become a stuckness, viscous and muddy, and seemingly impossible to break out of?

If only there were a clear line we could see, “Ah there it is! This retreating to my bed as soon as humanly possible is starting to feel unhealthy, I better fix this now, before it gets really hard to.” If only there was a definitive marker, a brightly colored delineation, between there and here, where we can see, and know, those practices, those choices and decisions we made in our best interest are no longer serving us.

Sometimes there is. More often, instead, I think, it’s far more subtle, inch by inch, we sink into the mud that once was fertile soil, until one day we look at the circumstances we have created and realize they’re just not working anymore. And we feel stuck in the mud we have created. We’re in the dark and we can’t find the light switch.

We are so wise, so self-protective sometimes, knowing when we need to stop. Knowing when we need to withdraw, to fold inward from the noise of the world, cancel plans, hole up, Netflix and chill for a few weekends in a row.

I’m learning to spot pending burn-out a mile away, and I get into gear to steer away from it with more ease and grace lately. (Yay, me!) I’m developing a knowing for what I need, I’m attentive to myself. My needs. To the clues and the signs.

I change course. I politely cancel plans. I hole up. I withdraw. I nurture and nest. I put on my invisibility cloak.

Yet, where I still find challenge is the knowing when I don’t need it anymore, before my inner retreat and period of rest and respite goes dark, very dark. I fumble around for the light switch. I want to take off the invisibility cloak but its laces around my neck are knotted.

A few years ago, for example, during a chronic pain meltdown, I was exhausted and frustrated and at the end of my rope. “Rest,” my body kept telling me. “Stop.” And I tuned in. I canceled my life and stayed in bed for a month.

Little did I realize, this sedentary prone position physically worked against me, causing more physical pain, causing the intense cycle of misery to last longer than it needed to. Yes, I was right in that I needed to slow down. I needed rest. But I also needed physical therapy and stretching and less bed.

More recently, I’ve done some withdrawing when I decided I would do my best to try and live a sober life nearly two years ago. My dance card hasn’t been quite as full. Parties, frankly, just weren’t as much fun. I made up the story that certain people preferred me lit up like a Christmas tree, a story that might actually be true, and that’s okay. I found out that I wasn’t as social as I thought I was, in fact, enter social anxiety, something I’d never known before. I hated feeling like I had to “fake” having a better time than I was so that people thought I was still cool… silly, I know. Then the second year, it’s gotten way easier to be in the world as a sober person. It’s not a struggle, it’s just the way it is. I’m not just “okay” with it. I love it.

I’ve been realizing it’s okay to leave the party early. It’s okay to even skip it. And I can have hella fun sober now. About a month ago, on a bar rooftop doing karaoke with a bunch of awesome ladies, I remember thinking “Remember this moment. It’s one of the very best moments of your life.” I was lit up like a Christmas tree, but it was pure joy, endorphins, connection, love.

I still have some social anxiety that usually dissipates, and if it doesn’t, I know how to take care of myself. I leave. And in the right environments, with the right people, I’m even engaging and fun.

Having come pretty close to burning out this summer, I withdrew more. Became a homebody. Spent a lot of weekends on the couch, nestled under blankets with my love, getting my head rubbed, and it felt good. I decided it was what I needed. But when it was no longer what I needed, my downtime, my withdrawal from activities and plans and people didn’t just shift into “okay! I’m back!”

First, it needed to go sour. It turned into isolation, loneliness, restlessness, boredom, depression. I was becoming an unpleasant person to live with. Hostile and judgmental. (Poor Matt.) And lots of feeling sorry for myself and the state of my affairs I’d created. I felt like the ugly troll living under the bridge, threatening billy goats from the shadows.

Somewhere I know, there is a middle ground, a happier balance between doing and being, between weekends on the couch and engagement with the world that feeds me well, and sustains me properly, as an ambivert. For me, it can’t be all or nothing. That’s toxic and draining for me, in either direction.

“Figuring ourselves out” is the most challenging assignment, because the questions keep on changing. And so do the answers.

So what do we do? How do we know? How do we choose? It requires a self-intimacy. A self-closeness. We must stay close to the questions, always, in real-time. Because while I don’t claim to have “figured myself out”, (an arrogant claim, as “myself” is fluid, not static.) I do know that I am a rock solid ambivert. I need people. And I need alone time. I need real connection, with myself, AND with others.

And while couch is a lovely thing, too much couch dulls my spirit and diminishes my inner flame.

Today, this week, in fact, I feel the clouds lifting. Hallelujah, I found the light switch, I’ve taken off my invisibility cloak, I am re-engaging and reconnecting and it feels like I’ve been far away, on a long journey. It feels like coming home.

It is a homecoming, and while I don’t need to figure myself out, I promise to stay closer to the questions, to check in more frequently, to see what’s current, what’s needed, what’s new, what’s now.

Because I deserve that kind of attention.

When It’s Time, You Know.

atlamak

Change is hard.
Especially big change.
Especially when that change will require us to restructure and redesign our entire lives, will demand that we disappoint, inconvenience or confound others.
I’m in the midst of such a redesign myself, as we speak. As you might or might not know, I made the decision earlier this year to wrap up my seven-year project, the Burlesque Experience, and to transition away from facilitating group events and programs altogether. This coming summer semester will be the very last B.E. session, after twenty-two incredible seasons.
This has been no easy decision.
I love the Burlesque Experience. I love teaching, and hosting and facilitating, and holding space. These aspects of my work have given me immeasurable joy, satisfaction, connection, creative expression, pride, glory, humility, and have taught me so much.
I’ve fallen in love, again and again, with hundreds of brave and gorgeous women I’ve shared my work with over the years.
“I am who I am because of the women I’ve surrounded myself with.” – Salma Hayek
For the last eighteen years or so, I’ve been creating and hosting programs and events for women in Dallas.  For the last couple years, I have been doing some major “inner” renovations. I’m not talking new curtains or throw rugs in there- I’m talking about knocking out walls, foundation repair, restructuring the whole place, room by room. As I’ve been changing, so have my drives, so have my desires. (Well, of course they would.)
One desire that has grown stronger than ever, accompanied by a quickening, an urgency of sorts, is the need to buckle down and write. And what I have recently come to understand is that I cannot create what I want to create when my creative energies are dispersed all over the gosh-darned place.
I described to a friend recently, my life was feeling like watery Kool-Aid. When you water down the Kool-Aid, to stretch it out, everyone gets watery Kool-Aid. I want to be potent. I want to be concentrate. I don’t want to live my life diluted.
The truth didn’t hit me in the head like a lightening bolt. It seeped in, little by little, subtly tossing tiny clues here and there, until the tiny clues became wisdom, became truth.
Until I was ready to acknowledge my truth.
One day, my feelings turned to knowing. My curiosity turned to clarity. I just knew, I was ready to close this chapter.
I had to look hard at all of the elements of my business, my brands, to really get clear about what it is I wanted to keep doing and what it was I wanted to stop doing. I realized I still am very passionate and devoted to my private coaching clients. That is very much alive for me. I feel like I could coach privately for the rest of my life, I love it so much.
And I also knew that in order to tap into the creative energy I needed to do my other work, and explore other aspects of myself, my purpose and my soul’s desire, I had to let go of some things.
I am ready to turn my attention to other desires and dreams. I am ready to shift and evolve into the next version of me.
It’s hard to point at any one reason or circumstance and say “that’s why”, though I’d love to be able to.
See, I love a compelling story. And I usually need one to motivate me to make any important change in my life. Yet one of the things I’m learning is that, in actuality, I don’t require a story to make a decision. I don’t need to explain or justify to others, or to myself, why I’m done with something when I’m done with something.
Something doesn’t have to go bad or fall apart or hit bottom or become painful before I am done. I’ve been there, too, many times.
But not this time. This has been so hard, because I hate disappointing people. But I’m also learning that sometimes choosing for me means you might be let down. Can I be okay with that? I’ll never be a person who “has no fucks to give.” That’s not my style. I have a lot of fucks and I give them freely. I care about what others think. I don’t like hurting people. And I also must choose what’s best for me.
Many years ago, a friend shared with me that the word “decide” actually means “to kill.” This has always stuck with me. Especially when I need to make a decision. Think about it. Genicide. Matricide. Suicide. Homicide…
When we decide what it is we want, what direction we want to go in, who we want to be, something else has to die. No wonder we avoid deciding.
As I move into these new directions, wrapping up one cycle, immersing myself in new endeavors and cultivating new desires, it’s bittersweet, indeed. But I know it’s right. I trust myself.
So what is it that you, my friend, are avoiding? What big change needs to be made? What are you pretending to not know?
It’s scary, sometimes, clarity. Because it requires us to do hard things. I think that’s why we’ve gotten so good at pretending not to have it. I have it now. And I will not pretend.
I’m leaping into the unknown in many ways, letting go of what I know, to explore what I don’t know. I’m willing to let go of feeling like an expert to embrace being a beginner. I’m once again in uncharted territory. It’s bittersweet, terrifying, exhilarating, promising.
What about you?

Reality Check

ac11b59841a3ae3e0c1cb460ccc05585“Vacation was wonderful, but now it’s back to reality.”

 “Lately, I just want to escape the real world and curl up with a book, in my jammies with my kitty.”

“I’m having a challenge returning to reality after the glitter and glamour of the Burlesque Experience…”

I’ve heard all three of these statements, in the last few days, in fact, from three different people. One of those people was me.

We all know this feeling, this reluctance or resistance to “return to reality”.

Life gives us those temporary shining, sparkling respites, that take us out of the mundane, out of the routines and duties and obligations, and give us transcendence, ecstasy, bliss, or just simply relaxation.

And then, ho hum, back to reality we go, sheepishly, begrudgingly.

Well, I’d like to turn that thought-process on its head, by offering a new perspective.

You aren’t escaping reality with your relaxing weekends, your transcendent experiences, your vacations and blissful days off.

You’re expanding it.

What if we stopped the polarizing thinking of “reality” as the chores, the mundane, the routine, and those transcendent, fully-engaged, joyful experiences as being outside of reality?

What if instead we chose to embrace it all as one great big, luscious, multi-faceted range of reality?

What would happen?

Something would shift.

And when it does, it’s really beautiful.

Vacation-Return-HomeI had this experience the other day myself, driving home with my fiancé, from our weekend getaway in the country, that feeling of “returning to reality” came over me, and with it, a sadness, a reluctance, and then a quiet voice whispered from my heart, “it’s all reality.” And then, suddenly, my reality expanded.

That, too… that glorious weekend experience of rest and relaxation, connecting with nature, with myself, painting, drawing, reading, doing or not doing whatever I chose, that was reality, too.

Of course it was! I didn’t imagine it.

How insulted and offended these rich, meaningful experience and moments must be, to be left out and excluded from what we consider reality! “Wow, thanks a lot! I gave you so much! Well, it was real for me! Pffft!”

Silly to think about, I know, but do you get what I’m saying here?

What if we chose to widen reality, to include more moments and experiences of ecstasy and bliss, even within the folds and creases of everyday life, rather than escape it?

What if we widened our reality so much that in these moments and experiences, we aren’t escaping anything, but enriching it?

Reality, after all, is what we decide for it to be.

Is your reality a relentless pushing, striving and doing, loaded with obligations and duties and responsibilities and roles to fulfill?

Can what you perceive to be reality include transcendence, connection, relaxation and retreat, instead of excluding it?

Visualize it on paper. On the left is the “real world”. On the right is all that other stuff, the activities and events and moments you lose yourself in, when and where and how you get charged and refueled and realigned. Yours might include vacationing or travel, creative endeavors, relaxing activities, connection, socializing, time off.

Next, take your imagination’s pen and draw a big circle around it all, and call it reality.

What shifts with this simple expansion?

And how can you enlarge and widen and deepen your current experience of reality, every day?

Gasp… dare I say, in every moment?

My reality is wide, and deep, and rich, and includes all of it. The duties and the getaways. The challenges and the ease. The doing and the being. The scheduled routines and the loose, lazy, unstructured respites.

We can’t vacation all the time. Well, most of us can’t. But how can we create the feelings and sensations of vacationing in our day to day lives? The truth of the matter is, it’s those feelings we’re after.

What if we made these respites and retreats and moments outside of the ordinary every day a priority, committing to them with the same fervor we commit to being responsible?

We are responsible for our reality, right?

Our longing for magic and the opportunities to satisfy this longing exist at every turn, in every one of life’s pockets.  Sometimes they’re obvious, a week on a beach, for example. Other times, they’re hidden, quietly present, tucked in, needing only for you to discover them, claim them, and make them a priority of your reality. A big reality, one that includes all of it.reality

A reality as expanded as this needs your conscious design. Your deliberate intention. With it, reality expands, just like that.

And when reality is this wide and expansive, there is no more need to escape it.

Of course, there is the mind-numbing paradox of possibility that none of this at all is reality, that it’s all a dream, but maybe that’s for another blog. For today, let’s just say, if it’s happening, it’s reality.

It’s all reality.

What will you make of yours today?

The Stupid, Terrible Choices of the People We Love

drunk-lady

One late, balmy night this past summer, I’m on the phone with my little brother, my brilliant and very gifted and very drunk brother. He’s a thousand miles away, literally and figuratively. He has struggled with alcoholism for half of his life, he is crying. He is bottoming, though at the time, I’m worried it’s the end. He’s talking like it is. I am terrified.

I plead with him. I know he can’t go on this way, it’s gone too far, it’s gone on too long. His body is tired. His soul is tired.

“This is not your path.” I sob to him. “God wants something better for you.”

“How do you know my path?” He seethes, half slurring, half yelling at me. “You don’t know what God wants! Who do you think you are?”

His words feel like a sock to my stomach, they take the wind out of me. Because they’re true.

I know what I want, of course. I want him to be happy. I want him to conquer this disease and experience a life of healing and wholeness. I want him alive.

But how can I, for one minute, ever pretend to know what someone’s path is?

And can I open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, this actually is his path?

How arrogant of me to think for one second that I know what is “best” for anyone.

To differentiate my opinions from “what is best” is a lesson I have learned, again and again, the hard way.

And sometimes, I learn it in a miraculous way. As of this writing, my brother is several months (sober date 9.2.16!) into his recovery. He is connected to a sober community, creating a new life, with new aspirations, supporting other addicts, after we weren’t sure he would make it out that time. He made it out. He’s fighting the fight, one day at a time.

An addict may need to bottom before they can rise from the ashes. And we need our missteps, bad choices and mistakes to find our way. In fact, our missteps, bad choices and mistakes ARE our way. This goes for others, too.

Even when we think we know what’s best for them.

When we think the ones we love have wandered from their paths, it behooves us to consider that this is exactly their path.

It’s something I have to remind myself of, over and over again, especially in my work as a life coach. And as a human being.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, when ideally, I’d love to see everyone I love and care about happy and “fulfilling their potential”, a phrase I’m growing a little leery of, truthfully. Do we ever fulfill our potential? CAN we ever?

I have big, exciting visions for the people I care about, picturing what I think is their best, what I think they deserve, what I think they can achieve, what I think they should do.

Ah yes, a loving kind of arrogance, but arrogance nonetheless.

A friend writes me, frustrated and broken-hearted that her best friend has again fallen for Mr. Wrong. This time, she’s ended up penniless and homeless after he booted her out unexpectedly. “She is so lost. It’s killing me.”

A client laments over the poor choices of her young adult son, destined, she’s certain, for a life of tragic tales. He just got fired from his job for copping an attitude. He’s smoking too much weed. His girlfriend is under-age. He’s headed down a frightening path, and my client doesn’t know what to do. “He’s my baby.” She cries. Yes, he’s twenty-seven. But he’ll always be her baby.

My response is probably not what they want to hear.

Can you trust that this is their path?

Can you believe that Life is smarter than you?

Are you willing to surrender the idea that you know what is best?

It’s hard to watch people we care about fumble, and ache, and fall, and fail. It’s painful, heartbreaking, even devastating, at times.

We can choose to love them, hold them in prayer. Help, when and how we can. Show up ready to work when they’re ready for change.

But we must be cautious when we find ourselves thinking we know what is best for them. That’s our own agenda. And who are we? And what do we know?

What we think is best may be very, very different of what they came here to experience.

Let’s stop pretending we know, in this great mystery called Life, what is best for anyone.

Our opportunity here is to practice trust. To love without conditions. To take care of ourselves.

Our invitation here is to practice surrender. Again and again.

And yet, isn’t it always?

More, Please.

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Show me a hundred people and I bet I can show you 95 of them or so who will say 2016 has been a rough one. It came with its blessings and gifts, of course, but it also brought a seemingly higher proportion of loss, tragedy, difficulties, and pain than your average year. At times, it’s been brutal. And it’s ending.

I am ready to kiss this year good-bye.

I am ready to make some new commitments and strengthen the ones I have in place.

I am ready to be more, have more and feel more of what I want to feel.

I’ve decided. I want this brand new, shining year ahead to be My Year of More.

What about you?

There is much to kiss goodbye to as we wrap up this year.

And so much to experience more of.

I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions that feel forceful, like what I should be wanting or doing. Research shows us, they don’t work.

I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions that come from anywhere outside of me.

I’m actually done with the term “New Year’s Resolutions” altogether. I’m tapping into something different this year. My own, innate, personalized More-Core.

You have one, too. Deep within you, there lives a blueprint of what you truly desire, a solid and totally-unique, totally-YOURS, set of desires that point you in the direction of More.

You don’t have to search for it. It’s already there. You just have to turn to it.

Here’s how to access your More-Core. Grab a pen and paper. Answer these questions:

  1. What feelings do I want to feel more of?
  2. What experiences would support me in cultivating more of these feelings?
  3. What activities, choices, practices or people would support me in cultivating more of these feelings?
  4. What would I need less of, in order to create space for more?

And then, it begins. Once you get clear about what you want, you can’t unknow it.

Here are two misconceptions about wanting more that I come across often…

  • If I want more, it means I am dissatisfied with what I have, and what I have is enough.
  • It’s greedy, ungrateful or selfish to want more. I should concentrate on being content, instead.

It is possible to be grateful and content while wanting more. In fact, it’s imperative to our well-being to acknowledge and tend to our desires. Desire is fuel. Desire is guidance for your journey. Desire is data. And wanting more does not diminish gratitude! It’s quite possible (and a yummy place to live!) to be in both desire and gratitude. One does not cancel out the other. In fact, it’s our denying our desires that gets us into trouble.

You can love your life and want more. (I blogged about this very thing last year.)

Go on, want MORE. I dare you.

Find a buddy, a coach, a group, for accountability, for support, for love as you manifest MORE this year.

You do not have to be anything you aren’t. This isn’t about becoming someone else.

Let 2017 be the year you become MORE of who you are, the year you grace the world with MORE of what you are here to express, and experience MORE of what it is you want.

What do you say?

Ready for more? I know I am.

 

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Continue scrolling only if you want MORE…
Here’s a video invitation!

I’ve created three offerings to help you amplify your year of More…

Complimentary More Strategy Session

Your Year of More Day Retreat – January 14th, Dallas area.

Private 90-Day More Coaching Program

Re-Routing: Getting Your Life Back on Track

I’m hard at work on some brand-new stuff, so I hope you’ll enjoy one of my favorite blogs, originally posted in February of 2013. Enjoy!

 

woman-looking-at-gps-in-carFeeling lost or stuck? Have you taken a wrong turn and and are now feeling seriously disoriented or misplaced? Have you wandered away from what you want, who you are or what you know to be true? Maybe it’s time to re-route.

Our inner GPS system sure is something else, a genius technological feature… one that’s always been there. Just like our modern, fancy-pantsy, phone-guided systems, or our TomToms or Magellans, we have all the guidance we need within us to find our direction, to keep us on track.

Even when we get off track, we can always get back on. Our GPS system doesn’t lose our way, just because we do. “Re-routing…” she says. And she gets us there.

And you know what our car GPS systems never do when we make a bad turn? They never say…

– There you go, screwing things up again…
– Oh! GREAT job, dumb-ass…
– Figures you’d blow it, again…

What the inner GPS system is good at doing is sending us cryptic, subtle clues when it’s time to re-route.  Some include…

– isolating ourselves from others
– jealousy, irritability, bitchiness
– accidents, mistakes and mishaps
– back, head, stomach aches
– overspending, overeating, overdrinking, overanything-ing
– chaos in your home, life, car, purse…

Can you recognize when you are out of harmony, or heading in the wrong direction? Be a detective in your life and consider the signals your GPS system gives you when you’ve gotten off route.

There is a model for change that is used everywhere by coaches, therapists and other professionals that I find interesting. What I especially find fascinating about it is that  it includes relapse as part of the change cycle.

If you are beating yourself up for changes that haven’t “stuck” or new year’s resolutions that have already fallen by the wayside, if you have slipped, but you haven’t yet regained your footing, if you are being hard on yourself for not having perfected yourself yet, please, ease up.

Think of how your car or phone GPS system works… she gently says “re-routing” and then gets you headed back in the right direction, as quickly, safely and easily as possible. She doesn’t say “Stop trying.” She doesn’t say “Give up.” She doesn’t say “Turn back.” She doesn’t even make you feel stupid or shake her head and told you “I told you so.”

She simply and gently says “re-routing.”

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Ask yourself:

What are my own internal GPS system’s signals that I am out of harmony?

Are any of those signs happening now?

What one action can I take today/this week/this month to help bring me back, to re-ro

ute and re-orient myself, and get my life back on track, and in alignment with my desired destination?

If I can support you, let’s schedule a coaching session! Email me right away at lisa@sacredsexyu.com to see which session type is best for you.

Stop trying to be fearless.

Photo credit: RKO Radio Pictures
Joan Crawford, Sudden Fear; Photo credit: RKO Radio Pictures

 

Fearlessness is total bullshit.

There. I said it.

I have yet to meet someone who is fearless. If they claim to be, well, they’re either hiding it, or sleepwalking through life.

And here’s a confession: I nearly cringe when someone calls me “fearless.”

And another: I’m scared all the time.

But I’ve taken that to mean something awesome is on the horizon. I take it as a signpost: adventure ahead. Fear is inevitable if I am moving forward. Period.

I don’t want to be fearless! I think our constant striving to be fearless is a big ol’ waste of time. Let’s focus our energy on better projects- like being brave!

I’d rather be brave than fearless.

Fear lets me know I’m alive.

Fear informs me.

Fear tells me that I am moving.

If I am never scared, I am probably playing way too safe. I am probably just existing. I am likely not adventuring in any way.

Fear is my teacher. Fear is my friend. It means well. It protects me when it needs to, by sounding alarms and manifesting signals and messages in my body and mind.

Yes, it sometimes gets unruly. Sometimes it’s completely unreasonable. It can keep me up at night, if I let it. But it means me no harm.

Its only intention is to protect me.

Then why does fear get such a bad rap? Why does it have such a lousy reputation?

Because sometimes, unfortunately, we give fear far too much power in our lives.

We let fear make our decisions.

We shut down our gut feelings.

We disconnect from our true desires.

We disengage from life because the vulnerability that fear requires is too intense.

Think of fear as your back-seat driver. It pipes up if your turns are too sharp, if it thinks you’re driving too fast, going the wrong way, or not abiding by the ever-so-boring rules of the road. And sometimes, even the most annoying of back-seat drivers have a point. But we don’t need to let them take the wheel. We don’t need to relinquish the driver’s seat. Because what fear really wants to do is pull over, park and stay put. It’s just safer that way.

But you and I, my friend, we have places to go, people to see, things to do, a world to change.

So, we’ll let fear be the back seat driver, we’ll listen when we need to (okay, maybe I WAS going WAY over the speed limit…) but we gotta keep driving.

So let’s ease up on Fear. Fear is not the bad guy.

The simple truth is, we are our own saboteur when we allow fear to run the show.

When we stay when we need to go. When we say yes when we mean no. When we quit because it gets too scary. When we never start because its already too scary.

This notion of fearlessness to me feels like a sort of zombie-like state to be in… a life with no fear? Sounds like a terribly boring time. I’ll take fear, thank you very much, and I’ll continue to cultivate my courage by taking brave steps, by continuing to risk in life, in love, in my work, in my art, in relationships.

This is my mantra: Fear, I hear you. Thanks for your concern. But I’m doing it anyway.

 

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Originally published April 2014, as “Fearlessness is Bullshit”.

I’ve made a huge decision.

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The word “decide” means, in its barest essence, “to kill.”

Think about it: Matricide. Genocide. Suicide. Homocide.

In order to choose the powerful decisions that will propel our lives, something else has to die.

I’ve made a huge decision, and I want to tell you about it.

But first, a quick back story.

I have spent many years of my career avoiding that thing they call “niche.” Ugh. There was so much that interested and intrigued me! I didn’t want to feel boxed in. I wanted the freedom to create and offer whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And so I did.

I’ve coached and developed programs and facilitated workshops on pretty much all the topics, as they relate to me, to women. If I’m interested or inspired, I create a program. I write a blog. I teach a class.

If it was something I was into, I’d package it and offer it.

This “farm to table” approach to my business has definitely satisfied my craving for variety and freshness, but the plain fact of the matter is this…

I have watered down my own message.

I have watered down my life.

In my efforts to be all things to all women, I have diluted my very essence.

I finally realize, the more I water myself down, the less effective I am, in all areas. It’s time to shift.

What I’m about to share with you is vulnerable, and raw in the way that only deep truth can be. I feel a slight trembling in my stomach while I type. But I want you to know exactly what is going on. I feel like I owe that to you. We owe each other truth.

“The world owes us nothing. We owe each other the world.” – Ani DiFranco

2016 has offered me profound change in my inner world, and in the way I relate to my outer world.

Its also offered me deep, incredible healing opportunities.

And its offered me the chance to actually internalize the offerings I have spent years offering others, specifically around the topic of body image and self-esteem.

Wow, imagine that, huh? Wait, what?

The plain truth was that by diluting myself, I got away from my message, in my own life.

Even though a large part of what I have been doing has been focused on “selling positive body image for a living”, my own body image had become terrible.

See, the path to full-bodied love and acceptance doesn’t end when you get up and strip for a theater full of people. In fact, that’s only the beginning of the work, if you dare continue.

Positive body image was for everybody else, but not for me. Sure, I felt good sometimes, with the right lighting or outfit, but feeling bad about myself and my body was becoming more and more pervasive.

I was withholding from myself the very freedom I celebrated and inspired in others. Yeah, pretty effed up, right? Shameful, even. After all, I wasn’t “supposed” to have these kinds of issues! So I buried them deeply. And they festered.

Over the years, my inner world got dark. My self-esteem continued to sink. The inner chatter became nearly constant and very cruel.

But I discovered a fun and convenient way to shut down those mean voices, right under my nose.

I drank.

Having been a social drinker/weekend party girl all of my adult life, I noticed, without noticing, something cool happened when I was lit.

When under the influence, there were no insecurities, no cruel chatter, for a few hours every couple days, and more hours on the weekends, there was relief. I felt free. But that wasn’t freedom.

I now know, it was the opposite of freedom.

I wasn’t drinking to escape my life. My life was great, after all!

I was drinking to escape myself.

As my drinking began to escalate over the following year or so, so did the repercussions. Lots of hangovers, lots of shame. Lots of pain.

At the end of 2015, I decided to quit alcohol. And can you guess what happened? Yep. Those insecurities I had worked so hard to stifle were right there, waiting for me.

But now, I would finally deal with them, bravely.

Now, I was really ready to tackle this, to heal these patterns and wounds, for me.

This wouldn’t just be something I offered my clients. I would actually turn inward and offer this healing work to my most important client. Me.

And I can say, with humility, pride and deep gratitude, I know what real freedom is now. I’m living it.

It’s a winding path, bumpy at times, but I am 100% committed to staying on it.

Sometimes we have to test ourselves, our commitments. I dabbled this summer with being a “social drinker” again, after several months of abstinence. Yeah, the Great Moderation Experiment.

I decided relatively quickly that I needed to be sober— even better, I would rather be sober. I recommitted to this path. This path is current, it is now. So hot off the press, it’s not even off the press yet.

I am on it, I am in it, working fervently, facing myself in brave ways, examining my beliefs, patterns, triggers and self-talk like never before.

And simultaneously, my work in the world is preparing itself to become the most honest, brilliant and accurate reflection of the work happening within me.

There’s a new incarnation of my business gestating within me.

But first, more healing.

First, more purging, more clearing, more letting go.

First, some deciding. And decide means “to kill.”

As this new chapter of Lisa Carmen, LLC continues to gestate, I prepare, the way a mother does while she waits for the birth of her baby.

Uncertain of exactly what to expect, she is excited, nonetheless. She prepares the nursery. She clears clutter from the home. She nests. She nurtures herself.

And when it’s time to give birth, she knows.

I’m not there yet, but I promise, you will know when I am.

I know this will be the most personal work I have ever offered. I know it will be amazing.

To clear space for this new chapter, I’ve decided to let go of many of the programs and offerings I’ve spent much energy creating and offering.

You’re going to notice some events being canceled. You may notice my offerings lightening on the website and in my weekly Quickies.

I am pulling in my energies. I will no longer water myself down.

Be patient. Be kind. Be excited. Something great is coming.

Here’s what will continue:

  • The Burlesque Experience programs and Unleash Your Inner Bombshell workshops will remain, as is, with more being scheduled. I’m also growing my teaching team this fall, to be equipped to scale and schedule more classes.
  • Monthly Power Circles group coaching will continue through the end of 2016. If you bought a multi-session pass, use it or lose it, baby! (Or receive some credit for future stuff.)
  • My private, one-on-one life coaching programs will continue, exactly as they are, for the time being.
  • I will continue to take on new private clients. Current coaching clients will still have the opportunity to extend/continue after their terms are up.
  • The Embrace film screening is still on.
  • The October Goddess Getaway Retreat is still on! (Can’t wait!)

Pretty much everything else will be cleared away, to create a welcoming space for what’s to come.

This feels terrifying and exciting to share. (Many of you know, I have a word for that- TERRICITED!)

It also feels entirely, completely right.

I trust this stirring. I trust this healing. I trust this journey.

I look forward to our next adventure.

I hope you do, too.

 

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photo by Dee Hill, HAMU by Vivienne Vermuth