everydaybalance

inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

keeping perspective – may 2009

May3

Driving through St. Helena today, I was struck by the open red roses that sat at the end of each row in the vineyard. The roses had full plump petals that reminded me of rain and gardens and Spring. Recently I learned that roses are planted in vineyards because they are susceptible to the same diseases that vines are yet they show their symptoms earlier. When the wine maker sees that the roses are infected, they know that the vines may be also and they can begin treatment before the vines are lost. Knowing this shifts my perspective on the presence of the roses. They seem somehow more beautiful, their strength in their selflessness, these beautiful red flags looking out over the vines.

This past week, the newspapers across the world have warned us of an illness in our communities and introduced us to the word pandemic for the first time in years. As the word spreads here in America, so does the level of fear that as a collective we tap into both consciously and unconsciously. Driving along, I notice that the dramatic words of a clerk in the pharmacy have triggered my mind into a number of ill fated scenarios. As a writer, I tend to get a little bit lost in these stories, especially when I’m driving. There is a lot of detail and drama. As my imagination runs wild I notice my pulse starting to rise and also that I’ve lost my footing in the present moment.

The types of thoughts that come up for me are not based on facts but are giant leaps into future scenarios that will never unfold. I only catch the absurdity of the stories when I move into planning mode. How many times a day do we travel down these twisty roads in our imagination entertaining scenarios that will never unfold? Wouldn’t our time be better spent with what is actually happening in this present moment?

Over the years as I work more with a daily meditation and mindfulness practice, I find that I catch myself earlier on in these musings. When I do, I reach for perspective. In the car today, it came in the form of my iPhone where I download talks by authors and speakers that inspire me. I plugged it in to the car stereo and chose a talk by Jack Kornfield, a western Buddhist teacher from the meditation center not far from our home. In a matter of minutes, I was grounded again. Looking back, I vow to take smaller doses of the news and read websites that provide education rather than fear.

Recently, perspective is something that I’ve been working with. I’ve been curious about how we keep it amongst the ever changing backdrop to our lives. The last few months for me have been made up of a combination of rough waves and smooth sailing days. And so is life. We go up and we come down. What I find interesting is how disappointed we still get when things go pear shaped, almost as if there is a part of ourselves that is convinced that if we finally get it right, it will only be smooth sailing.

So how do we keep perspective when times get tough? The other day my husband was having a difficult day. The things that were going well for him were well out stacked by the things that weren’t. I felt for him. His efforts to move forward kept taking him back. In an effort to start his working afternoon off right, he was listening to the audio book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson. Suddenly, out of silence he said with wonder in his voice “In a hundred years, there will be all new people…” He grinned and shook his head in amazement, “All new people.” His smile told me that the words he had listened to had led him back into the present moment and out from under the weight on his shoulders.

We smiled at each other and the mood in our home lightened. I asked what he was listening to and he told me. I suddenly I too, felt grateful for such an ordinary moment in my life. Simply preparing cheese and tomato sandwiches at home for lunch seemed precious. Richard Carlson, the author of this book Pete was listening to, had died tragically and without warning at age 45. I remember when I first heard about his death and was shocked and saddened. This was someone that knew intimately how precious each moment was. He wrote, “None of us knows, of course, how long we have to live. Even fewer of us realize what a blessing in disguise the ‘curse’ of knowing we will one day die really is. It encourages us to live on the edge, not take life for granted, and to be grateful for what we have, treating life as the miracle it truly is.” Richard’s phrase “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, is now universally known and used around the world. His life is a reminder to many of how essential it is to keep in perspective what is worth worrying about and what simply is not.

This month, I invite you to explore what it is that truly gives you perspective in your daily life. When the waves come crashing down and the wind is stirred up, what is it that you can hold in your hand to keep you steady? There are a myriad of possibilities. Perhaps it is a quote by someone that inspires you, a photograph of a time in your life where you felt whole, a DVD that elicits wonder or insight, a letter from a friend, a website, a piece of music, or an activity that brings you back into your heart space. This month, consider taking the time to create yourself a box of perspective. Even the steadiest of us, loses perspective. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next time you lost it, you knew where to find it again?

Start by finding a box. This might be a shoe box or gift box or wooden box. When you find your box, clear your dining table or art table and open it up. Give yourself the month of May to fill your box with perspective, but start today by creating it’s foundation. Take a few small pieces of paper and write down a few quotes that inspire you. If you keep letters or birthday cards, have a read through these. Write down the sentences that remind you of what is important. Include these in your box.

If there are websites, CD’s, DVD’s or images that belong here, either include reminders in the form of notes or actually include these objects in your box. Allow this to be a work in progress. Pay attention over the next month to the moments when you feel a shift in your perspective. This might be something your child says to you that wakes you up in the moment, a place that you visit or how you feel in the presence of a friend. Start to write down what triggers these shifts. Include images or reminders in your box. If there is a person that supports you well, keep their phone number inside your box. Keep your “Box of Perspective” in a special place. If you meditate or have a sacred place in your home, keep it there. If you find that work is where you lose perspective most, keep it on your desk. If you want this to be a family activity, get a bigger box and invite everyone to share in it.

Sometimes it is also physical activity that helps us shift perspective. A long walk, a yoga class, or an afternoon at the gym might do the trick. When I’m teaching yoga, I try to remind my students of the poses where we are able to look at the world from a different perspective. Folding forward in a standing forward bend, we literally see the world from a different perspective. The same is true of rock climbing or hiking to a beautiful vista. See if you can integrate these kinds of activities into your routine.

Begin to brainstorm with others about what helps them regain perspective. You may be surprised by what your learn. For some reason a good vacuum around my house shifts something for me, for you it might be going for a swim. Get curious enough to find out. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your perspective changes.

Perspective also encourages mindfulness of the aspects of our lives that we may have taken for granted. Having recently moved countries from Australia to America, I’m noticing giant leaps in perspective. Just this morning I noticed a shift as I placed a letter in our mailbox. I smiled as I lifted the bright red flag to let the mail person know that I had placed a letter inside and it was ready to be posted. For the past thirteen years in Australia, we didn’t have this service. My perspective has changed and something that once seemed so ordinary now feels like a gift.

If you would like to share stories about what gives you perspective, please feel free to send them to me by email. When I send out the email reminder for June, I will include your words.  Perhaps they belong in someone else’s box as well as your own. Enjoy the month ahead and may your box of perspective be a red flag to the richness in each present moment.

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This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools, please feel free to email me by visiting the contacts section on the home page. To subscribe for a monthly reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in  California.

posted under 2009 life balance

rediscovering joy – april 2009

April1

Underneath my computer is the wooden bin table lent to us by our dear friend, Sally. Before they lent it to us, Sally’s husband Bill sanded it back until the wood glowed the color of honey. I’m told that this table has traveled its way around the San Francisco Bay Area since the sixties amongst their friends and extended family. The shared energy feels good in the corner of our bedroom, as if the wood has soaked in the energy from each unique home. As the sunlight streams in our windows today and the temperatures rise to meet the new season that will arrive on Saturday, something shifts. Perhaps it is the hint of a smile that twitches at the corner of my mouth or the lightness of the windows being open or the soft leaves arriving like cherished letters upon the dry branches of the trees, but something is changing.

This morning a passage from the book “High Tide in Tucson” by Barbara Kingsolver was shared with me by someone dear in my life. Her words arrived wise and relevent from the pages of the book to my heart. Kingsolver writes, “Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job or a limb or a loved one, a graduation, bringing a new baby home: it’s impossible to think at first how this all will be possible. Eventually, what moves it all forward is the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living.” She goes on to describe how “in my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress…until I learned to be in love with my life again.” Reading this passage, I feel the same way that I feel when I look into the colors of this table, a connection with shared experience.

One of the most difficult tasks in life, is not to lose ourselves to the times in our lives that feel beyond our own strength. Over the past month, I was presented with a situation in my life where due to my recent experiences, I was not strong enough to be there for someone close to me. The emotions that came up for me were like the king tides we used to watch in Sydney when we lived off-shore. The tide of emotion rose slowly and they all of a sudden, it began pouring over the sides. It is a very difficult thing, to admit to ourselves and those that depend on us, that we are not whole enough or strong enough to be in a situation with them. The only way that I felt I could look after myself and the other person was to step away. The weeks that followed were hard and I felt thankful for the existing practices of yoga and meditation and the daily walks that were already set up in my life to support me.

In order to greet ourselves again after the emotional landscapes of our lives change, we most go gently. Mindfulness of what is here and now, rather than what was or could be, is a gentle way back to stability. After a time of uncertainty or an identity shift, we must learn to meet joy again as if we are being introduced to her for the first time. Taking walks and witnessing the enormity of the dark clouds moving through the sky to reveal that beautiful blue reminds us of impermanence. Witnessing the fragility of the petals on a flower as it is pulled hard against the wind and yet still remains in tact reminds us of our own inner strength.

This morning, the dedication that my students showed towards their yoga practice, urged me back into the present moment. On my drive home, the new white blossoming trees from a distance appeared cold and laden with snow. As I drove closer I could see that these new white blossoms draped lightly like pale french ribbons over their long slender branches. They reminded me that from a distance things can appear insurmountable, however when we view them up close there is often unexpected light and beauty. It is so tempting for all of us to stay closed when we are hurting, yet when we allow the possibility of joy back into our lives, our pain or our fear or our shock becomes diluted ever so surely by what we find in this present moment.

In difficult times, I worry about the amount of time that we now spend with our fingers against the keyboard communicating between computers or texting between phones, instead of connecting over a cup of tea or walking side by side along a warm dusty trail. In the times that we are emerging from something new or difficult, it is so important to seek depth and beauty from our outer worlds. The richness we receive from being in nature, healing through music, contact with authentic friends and healthy delicious food, coax our inner dialogues back into a place of balance for the heart. Walking barefoot in the sand, feeling the power of the wind on the top of the mountain, tasting the basil against the tomato, peeling back the glue on the seal of a letter, smelling the depth of chimney smoke or the soft scent of budding blossoms, it is these doses of living that I believe feed us back into our joy.

And in conjunction with our mindfulness of these rich details, we also need to embrace patience. The steps that we take into the future are never as fast as the steps we take into the past. Feelings sometimes move slowly. They need time to be felt and understood before they transform into something else. In times of new identity or difficulty, give yourself time and honor where you have arrived to even if you don’t understand it yet. Understanding may come later, what is important is to care for yourself in the moment. Life is always changing and so are we. The difficult and life changing situations need not be sought out. They arrive without invitation and with them new strength will inevitably bloom.

We can only trust in our hearts that we will make it through what at first may seem like a darkness. And the way that we do this, as Barbara Kingsolver so eloquently reminds us, is by being more mindful of what is concrete and real around us. This may be the smile of a friend or the laughter of a child or the sanctuary you find in your art. These things are real. Embrace them before you rush into the judgments you may have about yourself or others. They will teach you about the love that is waiting in pockets of your heart. With mindfulness of the mundane and extraordinary actions that make up your everyday life, you can climb your way out of anything. Today as I watched my husband peg the laundry on the clothesline I saw how this everyday chore for him is simply a joy. It is in the details of our own unique experience that we rediscover our true nature.

This month, regardless of what season opens in your life and whether the circumstances you find yourself in are welcome or not, I invite you to be an archaeologist for joy in your everyday life. Start by setting aside an hour of your time to create a manifest for your joy. Clear a space in the sun and turn on the music that makes you feel whole. Turn it up loud and surround yourself with art supplies and light. If you need to, dig into your child’s art box or buy a dollar pack of crayons and some stickers from a nearby store. Take a large piece of white paper and draw a symbol in the center of the page that reminds you of joy. Above this write “Rediscovering Joy in 2009”. From the center of this page in colors and symbols and sentences, draw and write yourself back into joy. When writing, try to use the present tense. On my manifest, I have written, “I am shopping at the farmer’s market filling the wooden basket on my bike with joy” and “I am having dinner parties under the stars” and also “I am sewing new colorful squares into my quilt.” Give your creativity permission to explore the activities you have only dreamed of and as a result you will be giving yourself the permission to have this experience now rather than later. In each moment, if we take the time to look, we will find that joy is waiting for us in the corners.

By keeping your list in a place where you can see it, you will begin to weave your intentions for joy into your everyday life. Make a commitment for a week to write down one instance where you rediscover joy each day on your manifest or in your journal. Continue this practice if you find it is helpful in rediscovering activities that support you. Start speaking your joy of things in everyday conversation. Let it spill over like a king tide into your life and before you know it, in times of uncertainty, it will become easier and easier to reteach yourself back into the light, even if only one blossom at a time.

This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools, please feel free to email me by visiting the contacts section on the home page. To subscribe for a monthly reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in Windsor, California.

posted under 2009 life balance

embracing new roles: march 2009

March1

Stepping outside today, it is a symphony of rain outside our front door. The drip drop on the roof, the rush of the water onto the smooth rocks beneath the drain pipe, even the whoosh of a little blue bird adds to the melody. Everything is soaked to the bone and feels full and ready for life. This week, I’ve spent days nesting in our new home near the fire, drinking cups of tea and allowing our impression to begin soaking into these new white walls.

These indoor days have given me no excuse not to continue unpacking all of our boxes. It is a slow process, but as I unpack our physical objects onto shelves and into cupboards, I’ve noticed myself also unpacking the roles that I’ve played over the years. The role of writer comes out as my books show their spines again, swimmer comes out as I set up a space for my goggles and kick board and fins, yoga teacher comes out as I set up my meditation space and find a corner to lean my mat, wife comes out as I unpack Peter’s shoes and then friend, daughter and sister are held cherished in our photos.

And as I unpack these items from their tissue paper and bubble wrap and the new white rooms begin to reflect our colors, I wonder what else will bloom from this time. I wonder towards the future and hope that these new blank spaces might hold the helmet of a cyclist or the fabric of a quilter or the maternity clothes of mother or the seeds of a gardener. Some days more than others, dreams feel close. And then those days sneak in where it is difficult to trust in the positive unfolding of our lives. The antidote that I’ve found for this doubt, is simply to begin from where we find ourselves today with much compassion for where we have been.

It is like the pages in the coloring books that I was given as a child. They seemed so thick at first and I would wonder where to start. All of those blank sections, waiting for color, intimidated even an avid colorer like myself. A perfectionist, for most of my life, I would line up all my crayons and choose carefully at first, making certain to keep in the lines and encouraging my little sister to do the same. But as time went by, my body would relax towards the soft pages, and I wasn’t so much choosing the colors as the colors were choosing me. The strokes of the crayon would become wider and I wouldn’t press as hard. There was flow as I relaxed against the space that I was becoming familiar with. And at the end I would find the tips of the crayons bleeding into one another, creating sunsets of color and little stray lines that had danced off the edges. When the page was all colored in and there was nothing left to do, I would look down and see a picture that was never what I had imagined at the start. Yet through the experience it had become mine, imperfect and beautiful.

When we’re embarking on taking on new roles in our lives, we often hesitate. We begin with our heads, reading manuals and studying what previous souls have found. Then when we gain some momentum and we find we’re ready to let go, our hearts seem to find their way into the picture. What is most important is that we start. And one of the first steps to beginning something new, is shaking off the labels of who we are and who we aren’t, both in our own eyes and others. These ideas of who we are, can be so sticky that they prevent us from trying anything new. And although the journey can be frightening, it is far outweighed by the beauty that can bloom from simply beginning.

Recently, our friend Kristy was visiting from Australia. We went out for a day of exploring in the rugged coastline outside of San Francisco and deep into the lofty trails of Muir Woods. At the end of the day, we were feeling full of new images and the camaraderie of being with old friends. We were driving down a country road when just ahead of us an animal was trotting its way down the road. Peter yelled from the backseat of our car, “It’s a coyote!” I hit the brakes and we watched as the coyote trotted towards the car. Peter launched himself from the backseat up through the moon roof, camera in hand. By the time he made it out, he was only able to catch the tail of our new friend as he wandered away.

Intrigued by this unexpected gift in our day, we turned the car around and followed this mysterious animal towards a large field. Peter grabbed the zoom lens and headed out. Kristy and I followed at a distance as the coyote traveled to the middle of the green field and Peter trailed behind. The coyote eyed him with intent and Peter dropped down into the grass onto his belly drawing himself into a perfect version of cobra pose. It never hurts to be married to a yoga teacher! In response, the coyote dropped down as well. Each time that Peter lifted is head so did his new friend.

Kristy and I watched, as they both got comfortable in their new roles. Peter would inch forward a foot or two, snap away and drop down eye level with the coyote. This dance lasted for nearly forty-five minutes until Peter, and his version of the wolf, were only ten feet away from each other. It was in this moment, that it occurred to me on a heart level how hard my husband had worked to become an accomplished photographer.

Two years ago, he had saved his pennies for a good digital SRL camera and then enrolled himself in a beginners photography course at The Australian Centre for Photography. It was there that he brushed shoulders with novice to advanced photographers and stretched new muscles on a number of projects. He was exposed to a whole new world with terms and rules that were foreign to him. And from an interest that began as a tiny flame, his passion was able to grow. Yet, it was only in this moment, some years later that the role bloomed for me. I suddenly saw my husband as an advanced photographer, comfortable with his art form and passionate enough to inch one moment at a time towards a new opportunity in this role.

When we got back into the car, not only had we experienced an amazing moment in nature, but I had realized that everyday there are opportunities for the many roles that we’ll meet in our lifetime to unfold. It is by being open to these new roles, and not clinging to the old, that we enrich our own lives as well as those around us.

This month I encourage you to try on your new hat. Whether that is literally wearing a new style of clothes or more figuratively taking steps towards a new role for yourself, just start. Take the time to look back on your journals and circle any interests or passions that continually are mentioned. If you don’t write, ask your friends and loved ones if they have heard a passion of yours that you may not be aware you are mentioning. Recently, a new friend from Hawaii, reminded me in an email of my desire to start making quilts. Already this had fallen behind the bookcase of my life, and here a friend was able to scoop it to the forefront again. These dreams are so fragile, they need all the support they can get.

When you are ready, take a walk and listen in that solitude to an interest of yours that you would like to see bloom. Start by coloring in one square at a time and watch as the rest of the picture emerges in colors that are new and vibrant and surprising. Go out and find your version of Peter and the coyote, one that you will feel alive in. I promise, the journey you will uncover, simply by beginning will be made up of experiences you could have never have planned.

This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools or subscribe to this inspiration piece each month, please send your name and email address to chrisadler@everydaybalance.net or by clicking on the orange subscription icon at the bottom of the page. For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, send an email to the above address with your name and phone number or visit the contacts section of this website. Photo taken by Peter Moore in Muir Beach, California.

posted under 2009 life balance

setting intentions: feburary 2009

February1

This morning I write a belated everyday balance from our new home amidst the vineyards and the pastures of Windsor, California. We moved in this week after leaving our final housesit in Petaluma. This last housesit was one in a long string of beautifully orchestrated homes that were opened to us over the past seven months in the United States. The image above was taken on a rainy winter day in the garden of our last housesit. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of this beautiful heart feeling as though this was the perfect picture on the last page of our storybook of housesits.

The generosity of friends and strangers that provided us these homes, gave us the gift of being able to travel and enjoy the beautiful shores of Hawaii, the bustle of San Francisco, the creative suburbs of Marin, the quiet trails of Mount Tamalpais and the languid green hills of Petaluma. In each of the seven homes that we looked after, we were greeted by the warmth and openness of those who had entrusted their most precious pets and spaces to us. This generosity reinforced my belief in the interconnectedness of our lives and of the great importance in being clear in what you would like your life to look like.  My husband, Peter, had whispered all along the way that “If you leap, the net will appear.” In our case, that net was one woven by many generous hands for which we are so grateful.

When we decided it was time to choose where we wanted to live permanently, we applied the belief that in being clear in what we needed, it would appear. We researched the areas that lay within an hour of my family and found ourselves wooed by Sonoma County where the bright green rolling hills and the mooing cows drew us in. In those pastures and quiet hills, we found a stillness in the air and the people that matched the calm and balance that we hoped to mirror in our life.

The journey to this decision was a patchwork quilt of many different emotions and choices and voices. We reached out to strangers as well as loved ones on both sides of the world and allowed their words to help guide us. We had days where we literally drove along foreign lanes banked in fog, unable to see where we were going. Having traveled through this, I now believe that in the most difficult times in our lives, we are only able to see a few feet in front of us so that we don’t become overwhelmed by the many forks in the road.

When the fog slowly began to clear and we decided to live in Sonoma County, I sat at a desk in our lovely housesit on the top of Mount Tamalpais and shook off the obstacles and fears that were presenting themselves. I focused on what I wanted in a home and wrote down specifically the kind of place that I felt we were ready for. I posted an ad on a Craig’s list, an online community forum, and later that week received an email from a couple in Windsor who had recently built a cottage on their property. They weren’t thinking of renting it this soon, but by accident stumbled upon my ad by clicking on “wanted housing” rather than “housing for rent” when curious about the prices for rentals in the area.

It turned out that this couple lived only a ten minute drive from Healdsburg, where we wanted to base ourselves, and the cottage they described sat comfortably surrounded by vineyards, Eucalyptus groves and pastures of cows, horses and goats. At the bottom of one of the many emails we exchanged there was a quote by Kierkegaard that said, “To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self.” Reading that line, I felt a piece of our puzzle softly falling into place.

On our first visit, we fell in love with the location and the cottage, but it was truly the sincerity and integrity of the couple that had built it, that made our experience feel so grounded. Their genuine nature reminded us immediately of the many people who had opened their homes to us as housesitters. There was a intuitive trust that made this leap into a new part of our life feel easy.

A few days ago, we unpacked the boxes we had sent across the seas from Australia. It was beautiful to unwrap our treasures from another time and find the hand written notes of our friend Kristy, who not only helped us move from Sydney, but who then serendipitously arrived in California last week to complete the circle and help us move in.

On Thursday night, in our first evening alone in our new home, I came across an A4 yellow notebook buried at the bottom of one of our boxes. As I turned the pages, I found a passage dated October 2007. It was a description we had written about the home that we hoped to move to in America. I called Pete in from the other room and began reading each detailed sentence of what we had written together in that quiet week so long ago in The Blue Mountains of New South Wales. We looked at each other in bewilderment as I read a clear description of the house we were now unpacking our hopes and treasures into.  In moments like these I can’t help but feel that what separates us in the world is much less powerful than what brings us together.

This February I invite you to experiment with being crystal clear with your intentions. Take time out when you are in a space that allows you to be alone with your journal. Allow you eyes to close and clear your mind. Ask yourself the questions, “Where do I need movement and energy in my life?” Sit quietly until an image or an area of your life comes to mind. When you feel clear, take pen to paper and allow the most positive image of that area of your life to appear. Write down specifics. If you are trying to move closer to having a new job, write down exactly what that looks like. What suburb are you working in? What are your work hours? What are you being paid? What does your desk face? No detail is too small.

The power of this exercise comes from getting a clear picture of what you are looking for. From that space of clarity, you are able to recognize the signposts to where you would like to go when they appear. You will also be more attuned to the conversations around you that help to support this movement to the change you are hoping for. At any point in time there are handfuls of individuals with the same goals, separated only by silence. By coming in contact with your most authentic goals, you are more likely to overlap with the people that are also moving in that direction.

What is equally as wonderful about this exercise is that there is a kind of mystery in it that I cannot explain. It draws on the energy in your life and the lives around you in the most beautiful way. I cannot explain it in words as it is a feeling I can only describe as deeply intuitive, married to the times in our lives when serendipity plays out strongly. I encourage you to simply trust in the process and watch as the opportunities you have dreamed of open up for you. I would genuinely love to hear about your experiences with this exercise and welcome your emails. Enjoy the remainder of February and the dreams that you uncover.

This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools or subscribe to this inspiration piece each month, please send your name and email address to chrisadler@everydaybalance.net or visit this website in the first week of each month. For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, send an email to the above address with your name and phone number or visit the contacts section of this website. Photo by Chris Adler of  the beautiful garden in our last housesit at Petaluma.

posted under 2009 life balance

working with uncertainty – january 2009

January1

This morning, walking up the hill behind my sister’s home, I stood amongst the large trunks of the Eucalyptus trees. Great long ribbons of bark had broken off and lay heavy like discarded Christmas ribbons against the earth. I marveled at their raw smooth trunks. The scent of Eucalyptus triggered memories both of Sydney and of the San Francisco Zoo which I explored as a child. Standing on the edge of the hill that leans gently above San Rafael, I saw beyond my memories and the tall thick trees out to the new morning dawning in the San Francisco bay. I stood, feet planted in much the same way as these trees, my pockets full of decisions to make. Amongst the openness of nature, the decisions seemed to lightened.

Recently, I have been feeling full from possibility. My life is busy with emotion and choice. I am buying a car, looking for a home that will nurture our family and looking for workplaces based on integrity and balance. In this new chapter, I feel just like these trees standing bravely on the edge of the mountain. I am exposed and at the same time stripping off old layers to make room for the new. Looking back on the past year, I see both baby steps and giant leaps that have lead me to this place. What I find in this space of choice is a new kind of freedom. This freedom leads both to days of unbridled joy and to days of uncertainty.

Speaking to friends and colleagues, I have found that I am not alone in the feelings of uncertainty. As we open into this new year, there is an unsteadiness to the daily tides. Environmental and economic concerns paint the front pages of our papers all around the world. It is as if the curtains have been drawn back on the stage before the actors have had a chance to take their places. I sense that part of this uncertainty is due to the leaps and bounds that many of us made in 2008. It was a year of courage and movement. Many individuals that I’ve seen as clients or have friendships with have made decisions that have shifted the direction of their lives.

Perhaps after a year of so much movement, we need to take the time for a long exhale after taking such a deep inhale. I know that for myself, the first week of January is normally a time when I sit down and write out what I would like from the new year. I post a list of goals up and much like watching the new day dawn, I am aware of the dawn of the new year. But this year it is different. This year I sat down with a large piece of paper and drew images of what I am hoping for from this year. I let the creativity come from my heart rather than my head.

I’ve come into 2009 with an appreciation for simplicity. I’m choosing mindfulness of the present moment rather than looking to the future for fulfillment. I feel that in this year, it is integral for us all to take a comb over 2008. We need to take the time to feel the sorrows and joys that we have experienced. In times of uncertainty, it is so important to honor the events that we are experiencing and the impact that they have on our life. By being grounded in the present we are less likely to be swept by the tide of the media and plug into an energy of fear.

This week I invite you to take some time with your journal or your colored pens or to arrange to have a conversation with a dear friend over a nice hot cup of tea. Think back over 2008 and honor the difficulties and the celebrations that the year held. Take time to acknowledge the risks that you took, the patterns that you changed or simply the rest that you allowed yourself. Even if you tried just one new thing, honor the courage in that movement. When we move through each year as if it is something to be ticked off on our to do list, we lose the opportunity to celebrate our experience. Taking the time to acknowledge a new beginning allows us to not only to be aware of where we are going, but to understand the richness of where we have been.

As you move into 2009, instead of creating a list of specific goals, I invite you to experiment with choosing an area of your life that you would like to focus on for this new year. If this sounds too big, trial it month by month, to make sure it is relevant to where you are going. In my own experience, I’ve found that to make real changes, you need time to allow new habit energies to be created and to let go of the old. When looking at the areas of your life that you can focus on try dividing them into seven categories: spiritual, play, physical health, vocation, travel, relationships (friends, family, romantic) and financial.

When choosing an area of your life that you would like to focus on, consider each one of these categories. You may even like to write a short paragraph with a few sentences that describe this area of your life as it is now and a few sentences of how you dream it to become. Notice as you experiment with this writing exercise if there is an area of your life that you gravitate to first.

Does physical health grab your attention? Do you feel like you want to explore deepening your relationships? Have you been attracted to new spiritual activities? If you are more visual than verbal, draw each area of your life. Literally, ask yourself, what are you drawn to first? Follow your heart on this one. Often when there is an area of our life that is undernourished, we unconsciously begin to notice headlines in the paper or conversations that people are having or choose films that revolve around this area of interest. Observe your recent choices. Are there clues here that inform you about what area of your life you would most like to focus on?

It may help to begin by practicing a visualization. Allow yourself to sit with your eyes closed for a moment. Imagine that you are sitting in the garden of your life and that you are facing a single plant in the corner. Your focus is solely on this plant. The plant has dry roots, discolored leaves and weeds in its soil.  For some time you have watched these weeds growing tall and now they are beginning to shadow it from sun. All your energy has been focused on this plant. Suddenly you hear a beautiful sound behind you and you turn around. As you turn your focus, you notice that thriving all around you are voluptuous plants, singing birds, and streaming sunlight. These plants whose seeds you may have planted years and years ago are stretching their limbs to the sun showing off their zeal for life. Take a moment to feel the strength in this part of your garden. Ask yourself “How can these stronger parts of my life support me while I nurture this part of my garden that I have been focused on?” Gently ask yourself “What problem or area of your life does the plant in the corner represent?”

Go gently with the feelings that come up as you look at a problem that you may have been thinking about for some time. Sometimes we are unaware that our energy is so entirely focused on a particular area of our life. By bringing this into our consciousness, we have the opportunity to observe how much energy this preoccupation is borrowing from our body, mind and soul.

When you have taken sufficient time to explore what area of your life you have chosen to work on, write it down and post this intention around your world. Phrase it in the positive and give yourself permission to allow this journey to evolve over time. Let the beginning of this year reflect the essence of this intention. Write the words “Abundance” on the front page of your journal if your working on the financial aspect of your life. Use the phrase “Connection” if you are strengthening relationships. Repeat the word that represents your intention silently to yourself as you take your morning walk.

Explore what you know and what you don’t know about your area of intention by asking your friends about their experiences. Listen and learn from your community. Imagine that you have enrolled in a course for the length of this new year in which you will learn more about this subject as it manifests in your life. Believe in your ability to strengthen and change. Watch with wonder as the results of your intention bloom so magnificently that you can’t help but be supported by the beauty of the garden that you live amongst.

This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools or subscribe to this inspiration piece each month, please send your name and email address to chrisadler@everydaybalance.net or by clicking on the orange subscription icon at the bottom of the page. For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, send an email to the above address with your name and phone number or visit the contacts section of this website.

posted under 2009 life balance
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