"Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still."
~ Barbara Kingsolver
Oh, boy. That can still be a hard one for me. How about you?
When I was first confronted with the challenge of “just being” I was very apprehensive. I was going off on a weekend retreat at the beach with two writing buddies. We were going to write and be quiet and “just be.”
“I don’t know if I can do that”, I told my friends. “It feels really hard to not be doing.” A weekend that should have been the ultimate in relaxation was becoming fraught with anxiety.
They indulged me. You see, they were a lot further along in their being-ness. An ad for a local coffee shop lightened things up by inspiring the alternative of just “beaning”. That, in turn, christened us “Beaners.” Aah, okay, much easier. I could work with that.
Years later we continue to riff on "beaning" and have fun with it. I, in turn, am much more in tune with the need to “just be”. I’m not always great at it, but my anxiety has lessened.
My discomfort stemmed from a belief that I needed to be productive. Constantly. I know how unrealistic this is. At least my head does. However, somewhere in my vast unconscious, this idea has taken up residence and thrived.
I came to understand that my idea of productivity might be a little skewed. Multitasking and buzzing around is not always the best use of my time. Ping-ponging between different to-dos in different categories leaves me exhausted and feeling that I’ve haven’t gotten enough done. I gave this mistaken definition of productivity its eviction notice.
That space is now occupied by the gentle understanding that being on a walk or being with a thought or being fully with my husband or family gifts me with spaciousness. Ideas arrive, as if on wings. Thoughts are completed. The creative process flows with ease. That is a style of productivity that, while initially counter-intuitive to me, is much more desirable.
I love this quote by Kafka:
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
What would you have “rolling in ecstasy at your feet?” “Do not even listen”, he advises. He, too, is saying ignore the imperious voice. When we do that we move out of our head and into our wisdom.
How can I do this, you ask, in this fast-paced crazy world we live in? I don’t have time to just sit and wait.
I hear ya!
But, here is what I have discovered:
Claim small moments of just being.
Tell that voice to be quiet.
Be curious about what shows up.
Accept, without judgement, the offerings of the world.
Watch them "roll in ecstasy at your feet".
Can you just be? Or, maybe, just bean.
What's your story? Need help with editing? Contact me to see how we can begin a re-write.
My niece, Olivia, is a brand, spanking new, science teacher. (That is oversimplifying the brilliant young woman she is. She is chronicling her first year as a resident teacher here.) At her graduation party she started telling us about some chemistry thing where stuff adheres to other stuff. The word “chelate” came up. My brain began to get tangled. I said, “Tell me why I should care.”
She proceeded to tell us a story about arsenic and how understanding its chemical properties got a murder charge dismissed for a woman who had spent 17 years in jail.
Now I get it.
It makes sense.
Story brings facts and ideas to life. It organizes thoughts and makes them accessible. It translates theory into reality. It can deliver the satisfaction of understanding, even if the facts are not pleasant. It can connect us to our own truth.
We all live from a story. That story has either been created by us or given to us. Either way, if you fail to connect with and evaluate that story, it can be an uneasy fit. If it's not the right story, your actions will be out of kilter. You'll get lost. You'll end up going through life acting out someone else's story.
What’s your story, morning glory?
Is it the story you want to be telling? Living? Especially as you move into and through your second half of life?
Hey, life is too short to be in the wrong story.
Pull out your editing tools.
When I write, I edit to strengthen the narrative. I want to make it more compelling and genuine. I cut out what’s not working and insert what does work. I try to not write around things or embellish. I want it tight and true.
Does it flow? Does it make sense. Is it grammatically correct. Does it move forward a premise or plot?
Or, does it lose the reader (and the author!) in a disorganized ramble? Where the heck is this thing going? It makes no sense!
It’s the same thing with your story.
"At any point in your story, you are free to reimagine the narrative you are living."
Wouldn’t you rather live the story that actually features you?
You can. It’s not difficult. (It’s also not an overnight re-write.)
What it takes is some imagining, deconstructing, reconstructing, reimagining. This brain play, partnered with small steps, will move you forward and soon you will find yourself in your new story. A story you have created.
We can't go through the entire process in one blog post. However, you can start. If I asked you what you’d be doing if money were no object, what would you say? (Now, now, I heard that snorted “as-if”!)
Let yourself imagine. Nothing is holding you back. Go for it!
Let the ideas come fully into your imagination. Don’t rush. In fact, take a few days and ask yourself frequently: What would I be doing if I could be anyone or do anything I wanted? Get to know these characters up close and personal. Cultivate them. Begin to picture bits of them in your life. Take a peek beneath the dreams and look for the “why”.
Find a way to capture these thoughts – a small notebook, the recording app on your phone, a journal.
This is your first step.
What’s the new story looking like?
Tell me, what’s the dream?
Do you find yourself waiting for the time to be just right before you can get to that project or pursuit that you enjoy? You’re not alone. Oh, sure, you do the urgent things. You put out fires and do the laundry. You tend to work and family.
The question is not whether or not you will do what you have to do and what others expect.
The real question is whether you will listen to what your heart is whispering and do those things that are important but maybe not urgent. Those things that feed your soul. The things that you’ve been saving for a vacation day, a quiet time, retirement, another day, another life. The things that, in the doing, help you grow and learn and create a satisfying life – your best life.
Here’s the reality:
The time will never be perfect.
There will always be one more meeting to attend, carpool to drive, project to complete, errand to run.
Your calendar will rarely show glorious white space.
Your deck will never be totally clear.
Your ducks will probably never be in a row.
What. To. Do!?
Nike says “just do it”. We know that’s not always easy. There are years of habit that have trained us to do everything else first.
In the midst of the chaos and the heartaches of everyday living, where can you begin to live your best life?
Some ideas to consider.
Pause for a moment and imagine how it would feel to drop any hesitation and give yourself permission to listen to your heart’s song.
Listening begins with awareness of the fact that there is a voice inside you that speaks from the most honest part of you.
Listening can be as simple as being aware of what thoughts and ideas are bubbling to the surface and not dismissing them.
Listening can be as easy as being curious about what it would be like to follow that train of thought and see where it takes you.
Listening and acting on what you hear is not frivolous. It is essential to a life worth living.
What song would your heart be singing if you stopped and listened? How will you create the space to get to it?
In any goal – weight loss, business, writing, clutter clearing or even conscious life design – we would sure like to leap over the bumpy beginning parts and move directly into easy flow. Who wouldn't want to quickly integrate those habits that carry us through to completion and beyond; the good habits that become automatic, parts of our normal routine.
Those bumpy beginning parts feel crappy. They are often the obstacles that keeps success at bay. It doesn’t have to be that way.
"Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle." - Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk)
Finding people to share your journey can mean hiring a coach or joining an intimate circle of fellow travelers. At The Purple Ink Cafe, we call them wisdom circles. Either way those bumpy parts will become smoother. You'll find yourself asking and answering small questions that draw out your wisdom and expertise (as well as that of fellow master mind members if you’ve chosen that route), that illuminate your best habits and mindsets and that will propel you toward your goal. Breaking these habits down to manageable small steps make you want to continue. Those steps build and power a rhythm of sustainable momentum. Maybe even that desirable ease and flow!
Whether in a coaching relationship or a wisdom circle, there is always time set aside for celebrations of what you’ve gotten done. We so often forget to give ourselves a pat on the back. And there is always something deserving of that pat.
There’s also time reserved for getting something done. Your coach or circle facilitator creates and holds space for you to get to take action that will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.
And, there’s always an element of accountability – to yourself, your coach, your fellow circle members – that makes it easier to do the things that will lead to the habit that builds the momentum and powers you toward the finish line.
In a Wisdom Circle at The Purple Ink Cafe, we create an environment conducive to progress. It’s a place of readiness and pause in what can often be a hectic life. It's a time and place to get to what is most important rather than just the urgent.
You deserve that.
If you are looking at or in the midst of the second half of life, you might be facing some life questions and bumps yourself. Join Kathy Kane and Eileen Caroscio for 4 Tuesdays of Creative Life Design: a Women's Wisdom Circle. You get to tell us your dreams and we get to support you as it comes true.
When I started my business in 2009 I diligently sought out experts who were going to give me the magic wand to get my coaching and writing practice up and running quickly. I took classes, bought books, attended webinars. I watched closely what others were doing, joined groups, went to networking events, approached other women for collaborations.
Some of that worked for me. A lot of it didn’t. I was always trying to put on someone else’s version of “how-to”. It became a lot of “shoulds” and my inner rebel kicked into high gear.
My comparison gremlin would also chime in and point out how everyone else was light years ahead of me. That would lead into another cycle of classes, books, coaches, etc. (I didn’t realize, and no one pointed out, that in seeing what I perceived as others’ successes I was missing out on their back end work and their learning curve. Why did I think I had to start from 100 mph?)
Learning is good. Experimenting and exploring is good. The missing piece is the pause where we evaluate all the information to sense what feels really right; to check in and see what resonates with our natural skills and personality; to discover where we show up and shine the best.
This is part of the story behind why Your Creative Edge has come into being and is so necessary in the busy, noisy world of business.
Are you a women entrepreneur, a soul-o-preneur, whose offerings come from your heart? Would you like to feel joy in your business? Would you flourish in an environment of learning, reflecting, doing and experimenting, all the while being encouraged and supported to do things your best way? The best way that comes from a place deeper than someone else’s best way.
We know how that feels. That's why we are extending you an invitation to join a small, intimate group of like minded women who will draw out the best in you, listen and reflect back, ask you small questions and encourage you to take small steps. And, you get to do the same for them. As a group you will learn and assimilate information from experts who align with the philosophy of The Purple Ink Cafe. You will experience individual coaching and find dedicated time to hold and share space with the others as you get to your small steps that will lead you into momentum.
Your Creative Edge begins January 31st and runs though November 28th. There is room in the schedule for pause and replenishing. It is spacious and gracious. We invite you to read more about it on our website. And we also invite you to contact us to talk more about it.
Will 2018 be the year you get to offer your gifts from your heart?
Recently, I was reading a fitness blog. It asked the reader to guess the #1 habit needed to lose weight. Well, who wouldn’t be drawn in? Do you know what it was?
Find people to share your journey.
While the gist of the article was permanent lifestyle changes, the method of attainment applies universally.
The writer spoke of recognizing triggers, remembering to acknowledge successes and “creating a community of consistency”.
Let’s look at these ideas through the lens of The Purple Ink Café.
Triggers are things that initiate a process or reaction. At The Purple Ink Cafe, we look at triggers as prompts that activate thinking and move us in positive directions. They may be small questions, small rewards and/or small steps or leaps. The goal is to find the trigger, or the tool, that overcomes the obstacles that hold us back. This, in turn, leads to sustainable momentum and the desired change.
For us it SOP (standard operating procedure) to remind ourselves of what we’ve gotten done. Even those actions that seem so small. If you’re like many of us, you don’t give yourself enough credit for all you do. Taking the time to remember shifts us into success mode. It shines a light on our efforts and our process.
Do I love this world too much?
The rising chatter of the birds when the sun is but a thought on the horizon.
The rush of fresh morning air as I lean over the kitchen sink, open the window and gulp in the world.
The red winged black bird landing delicately on the tip of a cattail.
The butterflies dancing and beckoning on the path ahead of me
The Joe Pye weed, bursting with clusters of purple flowers that wave from the tips of the tall stems.
The mass of wild flowers perfectly arranged and color coordinated by a master designer.
Do I love this world enough?
Have you ever woken from a daytime dream wondering where you were and how you got there? Not from sleep but from the slumber of the daily grind. Someone has called your name. You pick your head up and find surprise in front of you.
My eyes startled open and I was gripped by a sense of loss. Years, opportunity, talent. Joy, freedom, enrichment, bird chatter, wildflowers and invigorating morning air.
I didn’t stay there. Instead, I began a journey back to myself. Like many personal journeys it wasn’t without obstacles and flying monkeys. I doubted myself, regrouped, whined and gradually forged ahead. For me there was no other way.
Many of us have, or will have, this experience as we step into the middle of our life. We never really know when that is. Given longer life expectancies, 50 could very well be the middle. Let’s assume it is. That’s a lot of time to live. It’s also a lot of life to live.
Where do you start once you’ve woken up?
I’m committed. To writing #my500words a day. For 31 days. I started a few days ago but was feeling waffly. Therefore, I’ve re-committed.
Why am I doing it?
Mainly, to develop a habit. I have it on my calendar to remind me in the morning. It’s almost 8 pm but I still had to do this because it was weighing on my mind. I’d prefer to do it early in the morning or earlier in the day. But I’m doing it now because, as I said, it’s on my mind and I’ve committed to developing a writing practice.
What will I write?
I can free write, use prompts, do business writing, blog posts, work on my book. I had to go back and change “a” to “my” in front of the word book. I’ve been thinking about it and writing it and now I’m announcing it out loud. Yes,I'm writing a book. I will refrain from talking about it at the moment. My goal is to solidify a writing habit that will power the completion of my book. What I won’t do as part of this challenge is to use the 500 words in my journal. That is separate and apart from this.
When will I write?
To paraphrase Paul Simon, “Words, words, words, see what’s become of me, while I look around for my possibilities”.
Why play with words? Why write?
Words—thoughts in the head, spoken, written— when strung together become a living entity. They color our world, forge relationships, tear down and mend connections. They help us interpret our world.
Why write? Why engage words in an intentional way?
For clarity: Writing down the words circling around in our head shines a light on them and shows them in a different way. You don’t have to keep an elaborate journal. However, if there is something gnawing at you; if there is something that is not clear; if there is a decision to be made, try writing it down. Sometimes the simple act of assembling the thoughts and transferring them to the page is all we need for things to become clear.
To integrate knowledge: When we want to learn something writing it down or writing about it can make a big impact on our learning process. Once again the process of pulling together the bits and pieces fuses them into an intelligible whole. The words and concepts will begin to make sense.
To impart knowledge: Often we need to explain what we know through the written word. Here the ability to toss the words down first and then go back and organize them goes a long way in helping us put together a cohesive piece. It is in the tossing and organizing—allowing for a crappy first draft—that we see the bigger picture come together and our readers receive the biggest benefit.
For fun, self-discovery, for pure enjoyment of the creative process, because the words are there. To write for fun, without being wedded to a particular outcome, is a joyful, creative act. To allow story to flow from unplumbed sources is magic. Allowing the pen to take us where it will is an excursion into imagination and bliss.
“Everyone is a writer. You are a writer. All over the world, in every culture, human beings have carved into stone, written on parchment, birch bark, or scraps of paper and sealed into letters—their words. Those who do not write stories and poems on solid surfaces tell them, sing them and, in so doing, write them on the air.”
So begins Pat Schneider in her book, Writing Alone and With Others.
How beautiful is this? And we have the capacity to do it! We have the capacity for gorgeous words and sparkling story. They are all already inside of us. They just need to be teased out, to be set free in our particular style and language. It’s freedom on the page or “on the air”.
Come relax into your words at a mini retreat for writers. Yes, that includes you! The Joy of Writing meets from 3-4:30 PM ET 4 Mondays starting March 27th. We gather on Zoom, a free video conference app. See what you can do when you cut loose and approach words with curiosity and wonder. Prepare to be amazed!
For more information and to register click here.
Everyone has tins in their home – some antique, some just old. They lurk in the pantry, garage, workshop, and closet. That round tin that held cookies as they snuggled together among frilly paper cups now houses spools of thread or letters or, well, more cookies. The coffee can full of stalwart stray screws and nails patiently waiting to come to your rescue. Or my tall, colorful Amaretti cookie tins that are the perfect size for a pound of linguine and nest comfortably with the tin of ziti or farfalle. Or the old coffee can my mother had from her father’s grocery store, almost 100 years old, full of years of buttons from old clothes, sewing projects, or spare buttons for dad’s dress shirts.
Mary McDowall and I were playing with ways to describe a KMI Master Mind™ and the role of the facilitator. So we decided to use one of the tools we use in our master mind and that we teach facilitators to use. Muse Popcorn is a brainstorming tool that takes a random object and asks what it has to do with the question or issue at hand. Ideas spontaneously pop out and generate other ideas that bounce off each other. Its fun, can be silly and takes you places that will surprise and delight you.
We asked “what does an antique tin have in common with a KMI Master Mind™?”
Ideas filled the air space like popcorn in a pot. Unique, multi-purposed, appealing, have stories, creative, colorful, a container to hold different things.
It was the container part that stuck with me. Those tins are strong, last a long time and keep things safe, fresh and intact.
Kathy Kane blogs about the creative process in the everyday, in writing and in the magical transition to the second half of life.
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