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DSC_4341I’m sure you’ve all heard the analogy of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It is a perfect analogy, a very good metaphor for us in our lives. The caterpillar goes about it’s business and then one day, change begins. It begins to build a cocoon, and then inside the cocoon, becomes literally mush, a messy gooey lump of mush. This process continues, until one day a beautiful butterfly bursts forth to fly and frolic in the breezes. The caterpillar does not fight the process, nor does it try to rush it. And if someone, in their misguided compassion, tries to help it, the caterpillar will die. It needs to be left alone to do the process it was meant to do. ...continue reading "5 Steps to Turn into a Butterfly"

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What is your definition of success?

Is it wealth?  Or maybe perfect health?  Or maybe a full and fun family life?  Maybe your definition of success is a great career.

Traditional definitions of success say that it is the completion of a goal.  Well...yes, there's that.

But I invite you to consider that all of those things are simply the result of what true success is.

I invite you to consider that true success is, instead, a much deeper thing.  True success is about a deep appreciation for all of life.  I say that success is about being able to appreciate and have gratitude, no matter what.  It is easy to have gratitude for a beautiful sunset.  But is it easy to appreciate that sunset when you have a life threatening illness?  Or when someone in your family does?  Or when  you've just lost your job?

I'm not advocating going into spiritual bypass and ignoring life stuff.  Things happen, and we have a responsibility to take care of them, and if there is a loss involved, to do a grieving process that will serve us and allow us to move on without anger or remorse.

What I'm saying is that success is more about our attitude than anything else.  Yes, take care of business, but have an attitude of gratitude while you are doing it.  Yes, cry if you need to, but maintain that inner feeling of peace while you are doing it.

The Law of Attraction says that we attract what we most think about.  I don't know about you, but I make it a point to think about things that make me feel peaceful inside.  I take care of business:  I cry when I need to, I get angry when I need to, I process my losses and celebrate my gains, but through it all there is an  underlying peace, a deep well of gratitude for what is.

It wasn't always like that.  Life didn't used to be about gratitude, no matter what.  It was about getting, about guarding, about staying safe, about beating the competition, about looking good according to society's definition of good.  That did not feel very successful.

I'm successful now.  Am I independently wealthy?  No.  Do I have perfect health?  No.  Does shit happen?  Yep, in spades.  But through it all, I am grateful, at peace inside, and I have faith.

How did I get there?  I call it spiritual practices.  A combination of meditation, introspection and regular time in nature.  And regular consultations with coaches and mentors.

If you are successful, great!  Whatever your definition of success is.  But if you don't feel like you are successful, you may want to consider making a change in your life.  I can help.  Contact me to schedule a free consultation to find out how.

KAL_1496Mother Nature can serve as an excellent metaphor for us.  I used to sit on the east shore of Lake Tahoe and watch the coming storms.  They always came from the west, and from my perch, I could literally see those big storm clouds approaching.  I knew that when they arrived, they would bring wind, lots of snow, and sometimes changes in the landscape.  One storm brought winds so high that the boulders along the shoreline were budged, many storms meant fallen trees.  No matter what, the storms always passed, and then I would have to clear the snow, wait for the electricity to come back on, and move on.

Our lives operate much the same way.  Storms come, and we are left to either react or respond after they leave.  I choose response rather than reaction today, how about you?

Reaction is that knee jerk, unthinking thing we do as a result of storms.  Reaction is usually not pretty:  it is full of melodrama and frustration.  I call it "banging my spoon on my high chair."

Response, on the other hand, is usually dignified and carries with it a certain strength and power that is unshakable.

How do we get to response rather than reaction?  There are a couple of spiritual practices that I have found invaluable.  One is introspection.  There is a very good reason that every faith and every mystery school and every wisdom tradition and every spiritual path tells us to know ourselves.  It is powerful stuff.  And yes, I do know how scary that can be, to simply go within and sit with yourself and discover.  While today I don't find that journey scary, it was at first and I didn't do it alone.  I had a guide who was very supportive in holding the light while I dug.

The other spiritual practice I have found very helpful is to pause when agitated.  This means that when something happens, I don't say anything, I don't do anything.  Except retreat.  I retreat to my safe place, which now is within me.  I take a look, I grieve the loss, I use my guide to talk it over, then I respond.  You can bet that after doing my own work, my response serves me much better than a reaction.

If you have some clouds in your life, take a step back.  Do the inner work, and be all means use a guide if you need to.  Coaches and mentors are all good for this.  Allow yourself to grieve, take as long of a pause as you need, then respond.

And if you need a guide, call me!

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Setting and reaching goals is a bit like searching for and seeing a rainbow:  first you have to know the rainbow is there, then you have to do what it necessary to find it.  With goals, first you have to explore:  what do you want the goal to be?  Is is achievable?  Is it true for you?  Does it exist?

And then, once you find the rainbow (achieve your goal), what next?  What's in the pot at the end of the rainbow?

Here's a little primer on setting and achieving goals.

  1. 1.  The first thing to remember is that goals are achieved from the inside out.  A good example of this is that New Year's Resolution you set about three months ago.  How are you doing on that?  If you aren't doing so well, don't worry.  Simply setting a resolution rarely works.  It's a very shallow inside step, but it doesn't go far enough.  Go further by setting your consciousness.  What is your ultimate goal?  If it is losing weight, for example, don't just set a resolution to lose 30 pounds.  First ask why you want to lose 30 pounds.  Is it because someone told you to do so?  If so, that's not a very effective motivator.  Is it because you've been told your entire life that the ideal weight is 100 pounds?  Ask yourself if that is really realistic.  Search within to find the real motivation for wanting to lose 30 pounds.  If you want to lose 30 pounds because that weight is limiting you in some way, or for a legitimate health reason, then go for it.  Then go deeper.   Going deeper means visualizing what it would mean to lose that 30 pounds.  Imagine yourself needing new clothes, because the old ones no longer fit.  Imagine yourself having more energy, and moving with greater ease, perhaps breathing a bit better, maybe having lower blood pressure.  Imagine how good you will feel weighing 30 pounds less.  Imagine enjoying that low fat meal, knowing how much your body loves it.  Notice I didn't say to imagine how bad you feel now, or how tight your clothes are now, or how you can't walk up the hill without stopping to rest.  Keep it positive.  We really are what we think and embody, and we really manifest what we think and embody, so embody positivity, not negativity.  Then align your thoughts with that vision.  If the thoughts don't match the vision, change the thoughts.  If you have a lifetime of thinking a certain way, this won't happen effortlessly, but it can be done.  It may be a matter of changing one thought at a time, over and over again.
  2. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done, or you aren't doing it right, or you've been 30 pounds overweight your entire life, what makes you think you can do it this time?  Or anything else negative.  That may be their perspective, but it says more about them than you.  Remember the sage advice from Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements:  "don't take anything personally."
  3. Do find at least one person to support you in your journey.  This may be a friend, mentor or coach.  Call on them regularly.  Set an appointment to talk at least once per week for the duration of your goal achieving journey.  Follow through, and let them know how you are doing.
  4. When discouragement sets in, repeat steps 1 through 3.

When the goal is reached, when you have the pot at the end of the rainbow, celebrate!  Give yourself a pat on the back, shout out your achievement, and take a moment to rest in that achievement, just as you would take a moment to simply observe the rainbow.

The bigger the goal, the more you will have to use these tools repeatedly, and the longer you will want to take celebrating the achievement before moving on to the next goal.

What have your experiences been with goal setting?  I'd love to hear them!

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Lately I've been hearing SO many people talk about having to reinvent themselves, to think outside the box, to do "whatever it takes to survive."

What if I told you that survival was not only possible, but that life is about much more than survival?  Life is about joy, fun, and what I call THRIVAL!

Ok, so I made the word up, but I like it!  See, for me, it was never an option to simply survive.  It's always been about thriving for me, and when I speak of survival and thriving in the same post, that word THRIVAL comes up.

How do you thrive when you don't know where your next rent or mortgage payment is coming from?  How do you thrive when you have just sustained a loss, like a divorce, death of a loved one, or removal of part of your body due to illness?

I hear stories like these every day, and I have to say that whenever I hear a story like this, I am overjoyed.  Lest you think I'm a compassionate-less ogre, let me explain.  See, I know, both from my education and from personal experience, that when stuff like this happens, it's really a beginning, not an ending.  It's really an opportunity knocking, not a door closing.  It may seem like an ending, and a door closing, and I know that those feelings are very real.  But I also know that if you are anything like me, you won't take a closed door or an ending for an answer.  There has got to be a message there, and that message has got to be a path to something new and greater.

Here are some of the things you can do to move from survival to THRIVAL:

  1. Be gentle with yourself.  Allow yourself to properly grieve the change or the loss.
  2. Spend quiet time with yourself.  Do this daily, without the distraction of tv, radio, busywork or noise.  Just sit quietly, or walk outside alone.  While you are doing this, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that come up.  There is a lot of useful information there.  It might help to write some of those thoughts of feelings down, especially if they come in the form of sudden Aha or lightbulb moments.  Don't try to think of anything specific during your quiet time, just be fully and mindfully present and see what comes.
  3. Make sure you take good physical care of yourself:  eat right, sleep right, get some exercise.
  4. After you've done the first three for a while, you will begin to feel like it is time to take some action.  You might feel as if you have more energy.  You might feel like it is time to do something.  This is the time to begin setting some goals, and then acting on them.
  5. Set the goals, set some timelines for those goals, and begin.
  6. Keep in mind the 1st suggestion and continue to be gentle with yourself as you navigate your way into THRIVAL.
  7. This process is easier when you get help.  Think seriously about using the services of a mentor, coach or counselor to help you through the process.  In fact, I think it is so important to get help during this process that I'm offering a special.  You can check it out here:  http://karenlinsley.com/?page_id=140

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you!

imageLike art, all of life is a collaboration.  It's a collaboration of choices.  This artist chose chairs for the canvas, a restaurant to display the art, and a type of paint that would adhere well to the wood of the chair to produce these lovely works of art.  And there is the bonus of functionality to this art.

All the elements work together, and they came together because of the choices of the artist.  And the artist made these choices, and not some others, because of a combination of the intent to create the beautiful chairs as well as the skill to implement that intent.

Life is like that.  We are continually making choices, and implementing them, sometimes with a lot of skill, and sometimes...not so much skill.   But the choice, the intent, is always there.  We can choose consciously, or by default, but the choice is always there.  If we choose by default, the art of our life may seem a bit unorganized, or non-productive, or scattered, or maybe it just doesn't work.  Like a piece of art that just didn't come together well.

Perhaps it is time to choose with conscious awareness, which is the initial step in the process of collaboration.

Here are a few tips to ensure success in the collaboration process:

  1. Remember that choices are not meant to be a reaction to life, but instead a proactive tool to create.  Do not make choices nor act on those choices when in reactive mode.  Instead, pause for all long as it takes.
  2. Choosing wisely happens when you are aware of what your are thinking and feeling, and what your beliefs are.  This takes instrospection.  Take time every day to check in with yourself and notice what is happening inside of you.
  3. Choosing wisely happens when you are calm and at peace.  If you aren't calm and at peace, I highly recommend the practice of meditation.  If you don't know how to meditate, or don't feel as if you are successful at it, take a class or hire a coach to teach you.
  4. If you don't feel as if you have choices in life, get some help.
  5. Once the choices are made, act on them by using tools and skills to implement those choices.  Just as an artist begins by learning the basics of his craft, then building upon those skills, so do we begin by learning the basics of life and building on them, ever enlarging our skill set.  You can learn new skills by taking a class, reading a book, hiring a coach or joining a support group.

Affirmation:  I choose wisely today, from a place of peace and calm, and implement my choices to create the wonderful work of art that is my life!

 

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