Getting into gear for the fall

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I'm taking a brief break in my series about how my clients are stepping up in their lives in big ways. Stay tuned for the second great story, that will arrive soon.

Right now I am thinking about this being the last week of August, and that we'll be celebrating Labor Day weekend in a few days. I'm tickled to see photos of cute kids with their backpacks leaving for the first day of school. And, I'm hearing stories from excited parents who just moved their teens into college dorms. A number of colleagues are savoring this last week when many of their clients are on vacation, as they get ready for a busier fall pace.

Even in the sweltering heat, we all feel change of one kind or another is coming. I, for one, am always excited about the new beginnings that fall brings.

How will you navigate this seasonal transition? Are you excited like I am? Does this time of year bring up anxiety (which is very common)? Do you feel overwhelmed at the number of to-do's filling your list, or are you ready to jump into the the new month and new season with enthusiasm?

As we move into this season of new beginnings, you can choose the mindset you want to bring to your life and work. 

Here are 3 ideas ideas that you may want to embrace. 

1. Welcome the opportunity for new starts

Whether your schedule opens up with your kids back in school or your calendar gets more crowded, think about the ways you can start anew. This is a great time to look at your opportunities and obligations with fresh eyes.

What do you really want to say "yes" to, and what do you want to decline? What priorities can you choose and what can you defer — or delegate to others? Give yourself permission to create new ways of operating as you step into the new season.

2. Savor the new

We often overlook all that we can appreciate and savor. Start with tuning in through your senses.

This is a time to enjoy the feel of crisp weather and brisk walks. As you pull out a favorite sweater and put on soft socks and a pair of boots, savor the coziness. 

New produce will soon show up in the markets that will bring great possibilities for what to cook, and new flavors to enjoy.

Color will abound as the tress put on their annual show. 

What are your favorite sounds of the season? Kids giggling at your door on Halloween?

What are the smells that excite you in the fall? For me it's logs burning in my fireplace and vegetables roasting in the oven.  

3. Explore new opportunities 

The new season can be a time for new learning and experiences. You have opportunities to try new things, to explore, and to expand in many ways that will excite and inspire you.

Will you take a class? Join a book club? Attend a workshop? Reach out to connect with people who share common interests? Take a day trip to a place you’ve been wanting to visit? Go to a museum or the theater to see something provocative?

Let me know the ways you plan to create a mindset for expansion and growth as the summer winds down. I'd love to hear your favorite ways to approach the fall season, so post them in the comments below, or email me to share them. And, if you have questions about shifting into a positive mindset, I welcome you to get in touch.

And, if you're in the Boston area, check out the workshop offerings I have on tap for this fall. They may be just what you’re looking for!

What we can learn from the stubborn change of seasons

The calendar tells us it’s spring. But here in Boston, we still have snow on the ground and are bundled up against cold and wind that swept back in and made it feel like early January again. Brrrr.

I can safely say that by late March, we rugged New Englanders all yearn for warm air, bulbs pushing up through the soil, and being able to go outdoors in a light sweater. But, as I consider the stubbornness of winter yielding to spring, I know there are interesting things to reflect on and lessons we can learn.

1. Where do you stubbornly hold on in your life? This weather moment can prompt honest introspection about what you may be holding onto rather than letting go of and moving forward in your life. Are you sticking with a job or career out of fear of moving forward and making change? Are you tolerating a bad relationship because it feels too hard to make a change? Or the alternatives feel frightening? Or you think you can change the person if you keep trying? Or you can’t face the conversation where you’ll set clearer boundaries with that person? When we know that change is calling us, and we stubbornly resist making that change, we get pulled into damaging resentment, bitterness, and sometimes numbness. Take a look and see if you are stubbornly hanging on to anything that is not right in your life.

2. How do you respond when reality differs from your expectations? Having expectations and finding that reality is not what you expected can knock many of us off balance. The expectations may have been based on sound evidence. Or, they may have come from wishful thinking. Whatever the basis for the expectation, we’re often faced with a reality that surprises or disappoints us. The question is: How do you respond? Some of us feel flummoxed, get bitter, feel deep disappointment, and even get mired in resentment. But there are always ways you can respond that do not pull you down like that. Take a look at the reality from many angles — there’s often an opportunity or an upside you did not see at first. Get input and ask for advice, rather than feeling alone with the challenge. Keep an open mind and look for a way to respond that will serve you.

3. Do you find yourself yielding to frustration — or bitterness — when you can creatively respond to what’s in front of you? When reality throws you a curve ball you have an opportunity to create a response that serves you. Carefully consider the options at hand, then decide on your response. What can you create now, to make this situation the starting point for something positive? What best decision can you make to move ahead now, rather than feeling stymied? And then, what's the next good choice you can make that will move you into a positive frame of mind and moving forward on a positive path? You always have power to create what is best in your life.

4. Can you find gratitude for all that’s good even when facing a disappointment or challenge? The science is clear — when we focus on all there is in our lives for which to feel grateful, we are more resilient and happier. So, take a few minutes every day to consider all you have to be grateful for, even when things are not all you wish they were. Test it for a week or two and see if you can make this a habit. See if it keeps everything in better perspective. See if it opens your mind to discover creative ways to look at your life and the world.

5. Can you find patience? Sometimes we simply need to be patient — with ourselves and the world around us. We think we have control over so much, and we tend to yearn for control. But just like the weather brings us cold when we yearn for warmth and spring flowers, we can allow ourselves to be patient when we know that what we want will, indeed, show up — even if not on our perfect timetable.

Appreciating the wonder of winter

Here in Boston we are knee-deep in snow. I'm getting emails from friends who are in beuatiful warm locations, and happy for them to be enjoying sun and sand. I had a week away not long ago, too, and was glad to be in a beautiful desert environment with milder weather (even if it was not warm enough to swim).

So many of us gripe about the cold, the need to dig out cars, and walkways that we have to shovel. But we also have an amazing opportunity to see the beauty and wonder of nature in winter.

Last weekend we decided to go out and enjoy the beauty around us. Dressed snugly, we experienced the magnificence of the woods and the remarkable silence, as we snow-shoed through scenic trails. Being alone in the magical natural environment filled us with pleasure. We loved being active and in the fresh air. We were in awe of snow-covered tree limbs, the small animal tracks we saw, the sounds of a brook running under the snow alongside our trail, the pieces of curled birch bark that we picked up to keep as souveniers of the outing. And, of course, it was lovely to return to a warm and cozy spot at the end of the adventure.

Being in nature heals us, no matter the season. Breathing fresh air and taking in natural beauty clears our minds and inspires us. Creating oportunities to appreciate the wonders of nature keeps us balanced and helps us to be resillient. Even if you are unable to spend much time oudoors, take some time to look at the sky through a window. And, take photos of what you can see from your front door. It all works to fill your heart with the wonder of nature.

 Some scenes from our walk in the Vermont woods.

Some scenes from our walk in the Vermont woods.

New experiences open your heart

I was fortunate to spend a week in Scottsdale Arizona last week, and had the chance to rest and enjoy a new environment. Especially in times that are fast-changing and challenging, my time away was restorative.

What was so meaningful for me? Having time to share with my husband without the usually busy-ness of our daily life at home. Deep conversations over meals and while walking were easy when we had mental space and fewer distractions. Being in a warmer climate was a treat. Having time to read and see some excellent films (Lion and Hidden Figures were both outstanding) was special, as was a stimulating museum visit. And, we went to the Women's March in Phoenix, where we were inspired and happy to be with tens of thousands of like-minded people who were passionate about maintaining American values, tolerance and justice.

And, we explored the natural environment that is so different from our New England landscape. Being out in the fresh air, to take in the natural beauty and wide vistas, was spectacular.

We returned from our week away feeling restored and inspired. Travel is magical that way. But even when travel is not an option, there are always opportunities to get out into nature, visit galleries, take in a film or concert, and get creative in any number of ways. All of these open us up to new ways of seeing, new ways of thinking, new perspectives and new ideas.

Because we all need to look for ways to bring fresh thinking into our lives — not just when we travel, but every day. When we look for ways to play, when we seek out experiences that will introduce surprise, and when we intentionally aim to shake up our usual thinking, we see new possibilities. We get inspired. We feel less stuck. We find ourselves amazed at what we can create in our lives — and at how we can impact the world.

What fresh experiences can you seek out to open your heart and expand your thinking?

 White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a fabulous place to hike. These are all images I shot on the Waterfall trail.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a fabulous place to hike. These are all images I shot on the Waterfall trail.

The magic of making precious time for yourself

Life certainly gets busy! There are many days when it feels challenging just to make a little time for a calm short lunch break (one where you actually taste and digest healthy food!). On days like that, the idea of taking a short walk to enjoy the glories of spring feels impossible.

 Pink blossoms started popping on the tree outside my window today!

Pink blossoms started popping on the tree outside my window today!

What I have learned is that those beautiful days, when the pink blossoms are first popping out, are too good to miss. Even when my to-do list is crammed, I know I will be happier — and will do my work with more attention and enjoyment — if I take that break and get outside to breath fresh air, move my limbs, and appreciaote the magic of nature.

How can you feed your heart today with beauty, movement, and a break from the hurry in your life?

Enhance self-love but treating yourself to small ”goodness“ breaks. You‘ll naturally bring more creativity into your life. Your health will benefit. And, everyone around you (family members and co-workers) will love the energy you share.

Try it. I‘d love to hear how it works for you.

Wonder at the Renwick Gallery

One of the great joys of being in Washington DC for my sabbatical has been the opportunity to visit the fantastic museums of the Smithsonian. These treasures are free for all of us to enjoy, and it is a thrill to be able to visit these museums whenever time allows.

The Renwick Gallery is one of the Smithsonian museums, and is located across from the White House. It is a beautiful building that’s been closed for renovations for the last 3 years. I’d not known of it, but I have walked past the gallery each day on my way to the Corcoran and have been intrigued by the imposing facade. It was exciting to find out that the museum was to reopen on November 13. There was a lot of buzz about it, so I checked out its fascinating history and the opening exhibition, Wonder. While I was eager to see the exhibition, I waited until after the opening weekend to avoid the crowds.

My patience was rewarded! The magnificent sculptural installations that were commissioned for nine grand galleries were thrilling to move around and marvel at with just a few other visitors on a Tuesday afternoon. The name of the exhibition, Wonder, could not be more apt. The works are superb, and they make each of the gallery spaces a star attraction.

While photos cannot convey the impact of seeing these monumental works in person, I hope you will get a sense of the nine works — and perhaps be able to make a trip to Washington see them yourself. I hope you can make it before July 10, 2016, when the exhibition will close.

Tara Donovan’s intriguing landscape, ”Untitled”, is made of index cards!

”Plexus, A1“ by Gabriel Dawe is made of thread and is completely spellbinding.

Patrick Dougherty’s ”Shindig” is PHENOMENAL, and especially delightful because you can move into the forms he created with willow saplings.

Janet Echelman’s Suspended Woven sculpture, ”1.8” is in a gallery 100 feet long. It was inspired by the Tsunami in Japan in 2011. changing lights, and the shadows cast on the gallery walls, make it completely mesmerizing.

”Middle Fork”, by John Grade, was made by first creating a plaster cast of a tree, found IN THE CASCADE MOUNTAINS, that is the same age as the Renwick building. Then, a half-million segments of reclaimed cedar were carved and connected to make the new ”tree” from the cast. Amazing!

”Folding the Chesapeake” was created by Maya Lin, using marbles to shape rivers, fields, canyons and mountains in this gallery. IT is exquisite.

Leo Villareal’s ”Volume” sculpture is suspended above the great staircase and is ever-changing. It is coded so that the lighting sequences never repeat exactly as before.

"Anonymous donor" by Chakaia Booker is made with reworked RUBBER TIRES. She created fantastic textures and forms.

”In the midnight garden”, by Jennifer Angus, transports us into a magical and completely surprising space. Not only are the patterns on the walls made with actual insects (that are abundant in nature), the stunning pink wall color was derived from crushed insects.


Time for renewal in the desert

How wonderful it was to be able to spend a few glorious days in the mountains outside of Tucson. Having visited Miraval 11 years ago, I was inspired to be there again. In our few days we spent time in quiet contemplation, we walked and we wrote. We learned from great teachers, did yoga, meditated and treated our bodies to massage. We met lovely people and ate food that was healthy, fresh and delectable. We found a haven from the usual pace of our busy life at home, and appreciated the wonderful respite. 

I am still reflecting on much that I learned and I’ve shared new insights and knowledge with people at my Creative Drop-in this week and with my coaching clients. I’m happy to post some photos I shot as I walked. I hope you find them to be a visual "holiday" and an inspiration to savor precious moments that you experience in your day.

Desert inspiration

It was a great treat to be able to escape Boston’s brutal winter weather and explore the desert of Arizona for a week. Nature provided an amazing array of inspiring visual treats that captured my eye and will surely be fuel for upcoming creative adventures. 

In spite of the cold air back home, looking at these photos brings to mind both the warmth of the desert and the pleasure of coming upon each of these spectacular moments of delight.

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