Courage

blaze a trail.

I am part of a global women's coaching group and I went to look back today at the intention I set at the beginning of the year: "I will blaze a courageous trail through the forests of my life." I am thrilled and proud to say that I think I did that, in my own style, always learning along the way. AND I invented a hashtag that I need to remember to use Happy #‎growoutloud

My wish for you in the coming year- to continue on this beautiful and crazy journey with me, and live with a heart wide open! Much love, joy, and strength to you in 2016!

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this sucks.

This sucks. This talented young man just graduated from Penn and announced his wedding to his fiancé, who also has Crohn's Disease. http://www.phillymag.com/announce…/jessica-leva-zack-seigel/

They met at Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Camp Oasis, a special place near and dear to my heart, that provides a safe place for kids to be around others suffering from the same illness as them (and have a blast while feeling safe and accepted!).
https://secure3.convio.net/ccfa/site/Donation2;jsessionid=E34293592B1B0E2EB2462DB72F7060BE.app321b?df_id=16402&16402.donation=landing

Zack died from lymphoma, a known side effect of being on medications for Crohn's, including the one I take. My heart is breaking for his family and loved ones. http://www.thedp.com/article/2015/01/former-rower-dies-of-crohns-disease-and-lymphoma

I am often amazed to see how similarly people with my struggles feel, probably because I'm usually in my own bubble for protection... A few quotes shared on Zack's fiancé Jess's page that I too have lived and breathed many times over:

"Everyday I am reminded that our life's journey is really about the people that touch us." - Stuart Scott

C.S. Lewis once said, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one."


Zack and Jessica, a beautiful love story
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new things.

In order to get something different you have to do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I have been in the learning curve space recently, and lots of new and challenging things have come into my path this past year. Getting out of our comfort zones is one of these cliche things we hear platitudes about and don't give a second thought. But actually BEING out of the comfort zone on a regular basis in several different areas of life- whew! The learning curve is something we talk about in my work with people on their leadership journeys, where we see our growth over time, then a plateau... we can either grow again and learn something new, which dips us down into a valley initially, but we end up higher than when we started, or stay where we are, comfortable and content. If we choose continual growth, the cycle repeats and we go through valleys, and then new, higher peaks with each new area we develop.

This is embodying a growth (versus fixed) mindset (Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization). Being in a growth/learning phase can be uncomfortable! Tonight for example, I went to an event alone. I just realized coming home that I went to an event alone and sober on New Year's Eve! And it was no big deal! There were plenty of people there that I knew so I wasn't the least bit worried. I got a migraine today and so drinking was out of the question. My favorite place in this area was having its last show ever tonight, and I knew it was the right place for me to be so I went. Didn't think anything of going alone, until several people mentioned it and questioned me on it (when asked why, they said, because they never go places alone). Sure, there were a few awkward moments and me just standing around, decidedly more sober than everyone else present. But I just did my thing anyway- why would I let a little social awkwardness get to me? Everyone is awkward in some way or another.

Towards the end of the night when I was getting my coat on to leave, I ended up in an unexpected and really nice conversation with someone that would not have happened had I not ridden through those awkward moments. I ended up rambling on to this person about all the growing pains I'm experiencing from the stretches in my life currently, and even talked about the learning curve effect, and how my confidence has been shaken a bit in certain areas. To steal a line from Meredith in a recent Grey's Anatomy episode, "Progress looks like a bunch of failures." Yes!

I talked to my party companion about how happy I am currently with my own company, and how I realized doing my biannual New Year's letter today all the growth that has been transpiring, and how when I let go of something that kept me squarely in the comfort zone (which can be so hard to get out of, because - its comfortable!) it opened up tremendous space for movement in my life that hasn't stopped coming!


I don't really know how to fake things, truthfully, particularly in conversation... but what you will get from me is genuineness. I don't know how to put on an act or play a game. I am just me at face value, and I "put things out there" as the saying goes. While it can feel unnerving sometimes for me, I'm thinking that maybe it is a good quality to have (we really suck at being insightful in any way towards ourselves). I've been saying a lot lately that the coach needs a coach! And tonight I was pleasantly surprised to have one. I brought up the saying that we are most like the 5 people we spend the most time with, so choose wisely... and we discussed trusting our instincts with people. I left with a smile on my face and inspired to write this post. Not bad for an evening out, alone Happy.


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This quote reminds me of something my friend Cat says that works for her- you want to find the sweet spot where you feel both Safe, and Brave. Don't you just love that? My word for 2014 was Change and my 2015 word is Courage. So I hope to introduce them both even more in the New Year!

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the yesterdays.

Today I tell a true story, to a live audience, with no notes, for 12 minutes, around the theme of On The Edge, via the nonprofit storytelling organization The Monti. I have to tell you it has been a surprisingly cathartic experience! I had a good friend help me cut things out of my story, because it's way too hard to do yourself when it's your LIFE! She helped me realize I already knew the story, very well, and just needed to tell it the way I would tell it to anyone in conversation. The actual story and narrative do the work, not the words- pretty cool! It's a shift of mediums for me, as I'm more used to writing, and it's been a good challenge to step out of my comfort zone.

The gist and moral of the story, is that through a process of shedding yesterdays, I am slowly but surely more able to live in today. It is the story of overcoming 25 years of chronic illness that I write about here, and this site has helped prepare me to tell it.

The image below is a slate wallhanging that was in our house growing up in Upstate NY, and I've always loved it. It's now in my living room, and I just noticed it when practicing my story. It reminds me of home, because we had a big beautiful white birch tree in the front yard, and the cool, heavy shale is from that region. It's perfect ... read aloud, meditate on, and enjoy!


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A blurry shot of my sister Katie, cousin Julie, and I horsing around in the birch tree Happy
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limitless potential.

Welp, here are some random scraps that I jotted down here to reflect on later... rather than reflect, I shall let them speak for themselves. Happy

POTENTIAL. The opportunity to explore our limitless potential. Happy Blog! I'm excited!
Haha, classic Val starter excitement and closing problem! I will leave this here as a placeholder for me to come back and explore this idea further, because it sounds really cool to write about. For now what I will say is, I get these little glimpses of what a heart wide open, best and most conscious life lived might be like. They are electric jolts and shivers down my body, the tingles, felt in a location visited, time with an inspiring kindred spirit, in the flow doing something I love. There is some sort of block to accessing this place fully, and certainly not all the time... like if I'm fully realized... then what? Kind of thing. That might be the block.

But why not do a lot more of the things I love to do? On purpose, intentionally? Because they are not happening on autopilot and habit. I need to make it a practice to incorporate more awesome and fun and satisfying things into my schedule on a regular basis. I'm the only one who can do it!

And, from some girl(s) movie: 

“The shitty part for the other people in your life is no matter how painful it is for them, when you’re a writer, you just can’t let shit go, you have to study it, and poke it, turn it over and investigate it incessantly..." Oh so true!!

For me, its about finding relational order with everything in my life, a term shared with me by my previous naturopath doctor, who we affectionately call PhD dude- he suggested that I need to have relational order, and how it is tied to science of who we are as a person, and that I won't stop until I get there, much to the chagrin of the normies in my life...


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