step eighteen

pumpkins are simple. they are easy to grow in warm weather, and all parts can be cooked into deliciousness, flesh, skin, seeds, leaves. flowers can be eaten raw or stuffed. the orange color illuminates even the rainiest, foggiest of days. let a pumpkin make you smile. visit a pumpkin patch. it costs nothing. just go. enjoy. smile.

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step seventeen

we can’t change the past, but we can be aware in the present.

whatever painful experiences shaped our way of thinking, it is never too late to revisit, and re-shape our thoughts today with mindfulness and gratitude.

imagine this scenario:

a person looks at another person.

this sounds simple, but it can be oh so complex if we assume anything other than innocence. person a is taking in their surroundings, scanning their environment and simply taking it all in. person b, however, has a much more layered experience. based on years of bullying and abuse since early childhood, the pure information of “person a is looking at me” is interpreted as “person a is giving me a funny look”, “the evil eye”, and even a potential threat “person a is going to attack me”.

before you dismiss this as an extreme example, check in with yourself – has this never happened to you? that you realized, you are assuming the worst, simply because it was that kind of a day?

a couple of years ago, my boyfriend-at-the-time and i were driving from toronto to niagara falls/on, when suddenly, the car started shaking uncontrollably – we had a flat tire. we were close to an off-ramp and parked on the muddy shoulder somewhere near hamilton. it was dark, a faint rain drizzling, and we had no tools to change the tire. while we were waiting for the canadian version of aaa, a small car pulled up beside us on the off-ramp, and a man got out and asked how he can help. a thought this was such a lovely ray of light, and when the man offered to run to tim hortons and get us some timbits, since he didn’t have a car jack to help us change the tire, i only declined because i had no clue what timbits were. the person i was with had a clearly different experience. he almost told the kind stranger to get lost, and later warned me not to take any of the baked goods since they could be poisoned.

“why would he first be so kind and stop for us, offering help, and then getting us some coffee and timbits, only to poison us!!??”  i was baffled.

“people are crazy here. you don’t know, this is toronto, everything can happen. Don’t ever accept anything from a stranger.”

to this day, i don’t know what caused my friend to react this way in this particular situation, but he clearly had a filter borne of previous, adverse experiences with which he judged everything happening around him today.   i am grateful for this stranger and for the hot coffee and donut holes (yes, he brought them anyway), because it ended up being a long night.

i also noticed that smiling is easier than being afraid, and that it feels absolutely amazing to accept a stranger’s kindness, because it made everyone feel good in the end. assuming innocence and giving the gift of accepting help (and timbits) shifts everyone’s energy upward.

step sixteen

two people can experience and interpret the same event very differently.
we always choose how we respond.
case in point:

 

two women in a room. a flying insect.
one of the women verbally expressed her discomfort. the other woman tries to comfort her by explaining that the insect is a cranefly. she explains that they don’t bite or sting, they don’t even feed as adults, except the occasional nectar snack. this second woman relays a story about gardening and killing cranefly larvae along with cutworms, because they are so hard to distinguish. she tries to find the cranefly. eventually, the first woman spots the cranefly in a floor lamp. the second woman offers to cover the lamp with a baking sheet and chooses a pizza pan that appears to fit perfectly. the first woman inspects the space around the rim of the lamp with the pizza pan over it and chooses to add a baking sheet to cover up any open cracks. The women then continue their conversation.
the first woman later posts a social media status update about “something crawling in the lamp”. she adds that she put a baking tray on top. she does not respond to questions what “it” was. she also does not mention the other person who shared the event with her.
choice, and free will, are wonderful gifts. we always choose how we show up. we always choose how we interpret a situation. we always choose how we relay a message, how we tell a story.
we also choose how we respond to a situation. do we choose to stay calm? do we choose to judge, and if so, how? what do we base our judgment on?
how do you choose to interpret your world today?

step thirteen

stay focused on your goal, and who truly supports your success.

i am always saddened, again, when i notice that those who say they support us often really only want to encourage us to make us feel better for the time being, but actually want to help us be okay with staying small, letting a dream stay a dream, not working towards making it true.

although i see this happen often, i am still surprised to see that so many people that claim solidarity will be the first to tell me “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t” or “don’t expect”, followed by a lot of limiting beliefs sold as common truths.

the incorrigible part of me wants to believe that everyone is like those resting-in-themselves genuinely confident types who are doing well in business and beyond, and who are constantly evolving and growing. as a reminder to myself and you: haters happen. and they happen disguised as friends, relatives, teachers, mentors, supporters, even fans.

stick to the ones who always leave you more sure of your success, more confident in your abilities, and more grateful for how far you’ve come. those who slow you down just don’t want to put in the work, and your success is going to make them look & feel bad.

strangers might surprise you. they often have a lot less of an agenda. and if all fails, work with a life coach. a coach’s interest is you, your goal, how to address those things gently that have held you back but that you didn’t want to address. a coach holds space for you, a coach’s questions allow you to dig deeper and unearth those lies you’ve been telling yourself about why you can’t succeed, all those excuses that are just keeping you tied to the past. a coach can help you package that, put it behind you, and propel you forward.

focus on thoughts, action steps, and people who truly support you and who want you to do well for your sake, no other reason.

step eight

try something new every week.

that’s 52 new things in a year. here are some thoughts:

~ try hotsprings. a two-week east-west road trip left my butt triangular and my back sore.  the picture above is at mystic hotsprings in monroe, utah – a fabulous place for more than bathing. the accupressure chair massage i got from tammy, the therapist on site, immediately took the edge off my pain (but my behind retained the subaru-seat induced pie-shape). although i loved the property at mystic, where the hotsprings have shaped the rock formations in a unique way i have not seen elsewhere, i preferred a little less exposed setting. tammy recommended a few stops on the way to oregon and i tried a total of three different springs. it felt amazing, light, i slept better than ever, and if you’ve never tried hotsprings, go ahead – tell ’em your coach said you had to.

~ try… a new restaurant, a new dish, a new spice, a new drink, a new fruit.

~ look up medicinal plants that grow wild in your area and harvest what you can. in alaska, i loved picking fireweed shoots and young lambs-quarters or dandelions for salad greens. there is a powerful plant that belongs to the ginseng family, devil’s club, whose shoots in early may are the only tender thing about them to harvest and eat (watch out for the spiny stalks and leaf edges, the pulverized root of the plant is the only remedy for the rash they induce), so try something wild like that.

~ try dancing. learn how. if you know how, learn a new step. or dance in reverse. film it.

~ look at the “word of the year” … in different languages. try using them in a sentence.

~ draw, paint, do a paint-awake workshop.

~ absolutely try speed-dating. even if you are in a relationship. bring your partner. set an intention not to fight, regardless how it goes.

~ stretch. hit that spot of discomfort. sit with that for a bit. should i give an example? i don’t like elevators. for many reasons, but let’s just say it is a place that i would not choose to be in. so on some days, i know i have gotten complacent and too comfortable. enter the elevator. if it is time to stretch myself, i will go in. if it is time to face the fear, i just remind myself of how good it feels to know that panic subsides if i just wait a while, because the body simply won’t be able to sustain that state of high fear for longer than 20 minutes. once i come back outside, i have more sense of accomplishment than washing windows or vacuuming a whole day. those of you who are passionate about clean windows and carpets will be able to relate.

~ try a new road to work or to the store.

~ get a library card and check out a book. you’ll be surprised how much has changed in the last seven years.

~ pay for someone else’s cake pop at starbucks.

~ read E2 by Pam Grout.

~ part your hair on the other side, or do a comb-over. if you have children or grandchildren, give them a brush and a comb, and some water in a spray bottle, and let them practice how to be stylist on you. artistic selfies afterwards. which reminds me:

~if you haven’t yet, get an instagram account.

~check out new apps. try some of the virtual reality ones (e.g. Within-VR) and build your own 3-d-viewer, or assemble a google cardboard (good luck with that).  i got my first at TEDxBuffalo, which was a fabulous experience altogether, which reminds me:

~find a TEDx event near you and go. it will change your life.

~ …

keep going. you got this.

step seven

it’s all about choice.

every day, each moment, you choose how you show up.

free will allows you to choose whether to react, or to respond.

are you mindful and reflective? will you decide to stay relaxed as the day unfolds?

would you choose to trust that you are where you are supposed to be in your journey?

i find that the older i get, the less there is a need to prove my point. instead, there is a desire to satisfy my curiosity.

it wasn’t age that brought me there. i tried many things to worry less. chanting nam yo ho renge kyo helped for a while, just like reading “begin with yes”. trying something new every day for a week, and then every week for three months.

the more i focused on learning, being curious, discovering the world and people around me, the more relaxed i became.   this might be a natural occurrence as we mature.  but we all know that energy of people who worry, regardless what age.

we don’t need to change them.

we can choose to accept their energetic choice, and love from a distance. or simply allow them to be who they choose to be.

life isn’t all sunsets and summer breezes, gentle snowflakes and female rain.

life is a shitstorm sometimes. cold, wet blizzards are part of the experience. powerlessness, literal and figurative, happens to maintain balance, and keep life interesting. no need to love it, but you grow stronger when you allow it.

why?

because as an observer, an allower, you realize it can’t touch your essence.

your essence is safe, and it is your essence that propels you to follow your heart forward.

all a matter of free will. such a beautiful thing.

note: the image depicting evangola beach at sunset was used for another article on my coaching website, thekiline.com. all rights reserved.

 

step six

a motto someone shared with me many years ago, “ki-lined”:

prepare for the toughest outcome.

expect little, if you must expect anything at all.

hope for the best. and more: hope for everything.

if you prepare for “the worst that can happen”, and you can see that you will still make it through, you can relax.

if you expect little, if you are not attached to the outcome at all, you can relax a bit more.

if you can hope for everything, you can step into each day with a chance of joy, and contentment.