May 2023 Quote: Meraki!

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For May 2023 it was a word, not a quote that caught my attention, meraki.

Meraki means “doing something with soul, creativity, or love – when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing.” Here are quotes, lyics, and phrases that that caught my attention during the month:

  • You are the only one who can assign meaning to your life
  • Happiness is the feeling of contribution
  • Life is a series of moments, each called now
  • Allow the road ahead of you to speak louder than the one behind you
  • It was a real God-wink
  • A storm in a teacup
  • Unpack your backage and hide it in the attic
  • Lets dance in earnest in the moments of the here and now
  • We pray, practice, and invite in all the transformation we’ve been craving
  • Get out of your head
  • What does this situation call for?
  • I believe in kindness; also in mischief; also in singing—especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed
  • Don’t fight back, fight forward
  • We are not living our lives to satisfy others
  • We are all different and all equal
  • They need to get unstuck
  • Be in use to others
  • The courage to be normal
  • Your dreams have plans for you
  • Stand in your light
  • Collude for good
  • A little nonsense now and then is enjoyed by the wisest men
  • Patience is a form of faith
  • The life ahead of you is a blank page – and there are no tracks that have been laid for you to follow—there is no story there
  • As long as you are dancing, you will get somewhere
  • I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me

More and more, I feel so much around me is increasingly serious, to the point of overwhelming paralysis. Friends face severe, complex, life-threatening illnesses. The loss of women’s health rights and targeted aggressions against various minority groups. Gun violence now so normalized that the death of school children is not the lead news story. National elected officials more focused on working against something or someone than working for the country, gone is common sense and collaboration. War around the word.

As more darkness seems to take hold, I feel the call to bring more light into any corner I can. More soul. More creativity. More love. More meraki.

My hope is that with more meraki I can shore up those in need, make dents in large bureaucratic issues, and help improve the community closest to me. Perhaps my meraki will spark meraki in others, creating a wave of connection built through laughter, meals, hugs, cards, art, kindness, conversation, and compassion.

As I snuck in meraki, it’s been fun to see it reverberate. Positive begets positivity. Meraki showed up when a teammate said, “I’m grateful because no one’s invested in my leadership before.” Meraki generated an invitation to join an upcoming Eid celebration. Meraki caused women to share their appreciation for a leader, earning her a significant award. Merekai brought connection during a 10 minute call to a college friend struggling. Meraki resulted in leaders tossing around a fluffy, stuffed acorn in laughter at a planning session. Meraki inspired me to paint my parent’s laundry room after 40 years. Meraki broke down the stigma of a layoff when executive women spoke candidly to a small group of peers. Meraki led to prayers said and cards sent to those I know and don’t suffering from loss and heartbreak. Meraki led me to donate to a black, female candidate. Meraki caused a discussion on shoes at work leading me to bust out my glittery Converse high tops for the offsite. Meraki showed up as enthusiastic emails from my high school English teacher.

More meraki!

Tree bark with green moss

April 2023 Quote: “Tending to the Emerging Story of Your Life”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For April 2023 the quote was, “How are You Tending to the Emerging Story of Your Life.”

I regularly have conversations with folks about careers. From new graduates with informative interviews and coworkers about their next move to Veterans starting over outside of the military. I love these chats because everyone has an interesting story. I feel honored when they share their journey and trust me with their career dream. Here are a few chats I had in the past two weeks:

  • I spoke to a recent college graduate who shared near the end of our all that two men she had informative interviews with told her to “shrink herself” to get into a company. I don’t remember which expletive I shouted before I caught my composure and explained the lasting damage I’d seen from others through that approach. Finally asking, “Do you want to spend your time a tiny version of yourself?”  
  • I listened to a friend talk through the choice of job security with a demotion or opportunity of a 12-week severance package as her division was eliminated as a result of a corporate powerplay. I loved how throughout the call she came back to her value, not letting the situation diminish her expertise, gifts, and track record. Following the call, I sent her a draft vision of what I heard her define as her career future which included, “I offer bold ideas, share my passion, and get results in creative ways that are respected and recognized.”
  • I was part of lively discussion with 5 corporate executives about the concept of “take your whole self to work.” For some a resounding no, and others cautious optimism that the future of work would be more inclusive and welcoming. I shared that I think of it like an internal stereo equalizer – sometimes my total volume is on high across the board and other times I dial a part of me back for a specific situation. Post call, I reflected on what and who helped me gain more security in how much of myself I reveal…and that I stand by my dislike of this phrase, and would prefer “be yourself at work.”

Quotes that Caught My Attention

  • Time is sacred
  • Shadows are mistaken for the truth
  • Happiness, love, and peace are in inside job
  • Conscious creator
  • Be somebody’s peace – mainly yours
  • It started in your head and came of your soul
  • Let go and allow
  • Be at ease
  • Trust love, that’s pretty much it – expect maybe each more chocolate
  • I am
  • Own your greatness
  • There is more to see that what you found
  • Follow your inner wisdom
  • The fertile betwixt and between
  • Our unlimited, all-powerful potential; The inexhaustible battery of joy and bliss each of us can tap through practice
  • Abandon all plans
  • Creativity is intelligence having fun
  • You are a powerful being
  • Move in the midst of fear
  • Run to the unknown
  • My attention is my power
  • Line up together people, all of us, seek knowledge and love others
  • All of us breathe more deeply out in the unknown; maybe because we have no other choice
  • Words are spells go weave magic
  • Faith is between the dots
  • Let go gracefully
  • Go do the damn thing

Your Story Line

But our story is more than work. Often to help groups get to know each other I have them do a timeline activity. On the left side of a horizontal line “start” and on the right, “now.” Above the line folks write meaningful moments in their personal life and below the line ones that are career related. Then we all share. Each person’s story seems to have love, loss, and triumph, plus a side of surprise.

Each time I do this, there are subtle tweaks but always a sense of “yep, that’s me” when I finish. Seeing my story in such a simple way helps me reconnect with the core of who I am – not the veneer easily adjusted for a group or situation. Seeing markers for each chapter of my story – the environment, emotions, people, crisis, impact, and accomplishments – grounds me. It also fills me with gratitude. I see a story bigger than today and that is both humbling and empowering.

What I plan to start adding to this activity is a dotted line from “now” to “next.” It’s important to realize that what is written is part of you, but not all of you. Perhaps the professional story is robust but personal is thin? What if you are missing some of your favorite “characters” in your story? Maybe the memorable moments were good, but you’ve outgrown them and want more or different? What if a moment changed you to the core?

That’s the magic of our story – it’s ours. Ours to enjoy. Ours to dream. Ours to write.

Two rocking chairs on the roof at sunset

March 2023 Quote: “Astonished Tomorrow”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For March 2023 the quote was, “I’m hoping to be astonished tomorrow by I don’t know what.”

For many months now, I’ve felt like I’ve been on a precipice of something big. Like there is a massive shift or unfathomable opportunity just beyond my fingertips. It’s as if my being knows it’s there – senses it – but my body cannot see it. Something is patiently waiting for me. I am oddly calm about it. Steadying myself for its arrival. Here are quotes and phrases that that caught my attention as I pause in this liminal time:

  • In the universe there are things that are known and things that are unknown – and between them, there are doors
  • Your actions are your only true belongings
  • Build bridges
  • Unrelenting kindness
  • Coming into being and passing on
  • Laughter is carbonated holiness
  • The creator and the creation rely on each other to thrive
  • Soul erosion
  • Dying with our music still inside us
  • Sit in the mess
  • What could be
  • She wasn’t created to fit in
  • Doubt can only be removed by action
  • Purpose is a renewable resource
  • “But people are oceans,” she shrugged – “you cannot know them by their surface”
  • Be in a new frequency
  • Honor your feelings
  • Age in harmony
  • How ever you see yourself as an artist, the frame is to small
  • Do no harm, take no shit
  • Keep me where the light is
  • What’s done is done, what’s not is not, and let us be at peace with both
  • Access calm as much as fire

In my intimate conversations over the past few months, I’ve found that many I know are in this liminal time with me. As if we are on a scenic overlook of our life – surveying what has been before we move forward to what is next. For whatever reason, we are not in a hurry to move. The reflective view is satisfying. We can take in life’s pivotal moments with more objectivity, savoring the magic and balancing out the bad.

I think this liminal state gives me the opportunity to settle in… or rather, merge myself. Connect the bold fire of my younger years with the wisdom of a life well lived. It’s a time where I can set down what I’ve carried that I don’t need to anymore, and probably never did to begin with. Simply, time to get intentional on me and how I’ll walk the back half of my life.

I do worry that I’ll wait here to long. The rest is refreshing. The detachment is safe.

I do worry that I’ll remain a cooling ember. That I’ll be lulled by the stillness. That the reignition won’t come.

I do worry that I’ll hesitate. That “fine” will replace “astonishing.” That I’ll miss the jump.

But then I feel the pull. I hear the whisper. I sense the energy.

The next draws near.

I must go and welcome it.  

Emily in headband with stars

February Quote: “Beautiful Little Weirdo”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For February 2023 the quote was, “Don’t make yourself small for anyone. Be the awkward, funny, intelligent, beautiful little weirdo that you are. Don’t hold back. Weird it out.”

Throughout the month of love, I took time to focus on the heart of me—literally and figuratively. I got baseline metrics on my heart with an echocardiogram and stress test. I joined a friend for a meditation with sound bowls. I celebrated loved-one’s birthdays from dad and Godson to more than 6 friends. I texted poetry to a friend on her first day of coaching certification class. I stood in snowflakes. I headed back to Orange Theory Fitness after graduating from 2 months of physical therapy. I fed roasted peanuts to the birds and squirrels from my desk outside. I danced in the kitchen while I grabbed a snack to recharge between meetings. I said prayers and meditated each night. I attended a class on my “money mindset.” I had a co-worker join me in an online class on how to get comfortable with mistakes and failures where we drew someone in the class without looking at our paper or picking the pen off the paper – and then others guessed who we drew. While it all felt like a normal month for me, I’ll admit as I write it down, it looks a bit weird. But then again, I’ve always felt a little weird and am OK with that.

Growing up I could hang with many groups, but I never felt 100% a part of one. I had friends in each type of The Breakfast Club in high school, and still do. The theater performer in a group of academics. The only college student in a group of convenient store co-workers. The only woman in a room of gray-haired executive men. The only civilian in a room of combat veterans. The only professional communicator on a committee of double-board certified physicians. The only Gen X-er on a work team of Gen Z’s. The only contractor who showed up at a government meeting last week wearing a headband that made me look like a unicorn to celebrate someone’s impact on the team. Uh, yeah, that’s weird!

In each space, however, I felt weirdly at home. What I’ve come to realize is that my weirdness was not my weakness but my strength. It’s what helped me contribute to make something different or better come about. It’s helped me put diverse teams together. It’s helped me surround myself with unique perspectives which helped me grow. It’s what puts me in amazing situations. It’s what enabled me to do something bold (and needed) in the moment based on what I felt rather than the norm. It’s helped me forge my own path as a leader. My weirdness makes me, well me… in the business world, it’s my competitive advantage.

So, as I fell in love with my weirdness again in February, here are quotes that caught my attention:

  • No one diary entry is your life’s story
  • Success occurs within the privacy of your soul
  • Grace like a river
  • Look at the different polarities and see how they effect the peace
  • A practice of paying attention … look for what you notice and no one else sees
  • An axe forgets but the tree remembers
  • I am not different from you; I am different like you
  • Exercise child-like habits
  • Take a stand in your life
  • Creativity is free play with no rules
  • Find ones way back into one’s own heart
  • It’s your choice
  • Play, explore, and test without the connection to the results
  • Create an open space to invite it in
  • Train yourself to see the awe behind the obvious
  • Release them with the faith that more will arrive
  • I can’t change back for you—I’m a mountain
  • Limiting yourself is a true disservice
  • Amplify the difference
  • Only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one
  • The immediate influence of the divine
  • Soft is the new hard
  • An ear has no lid
  • Divinely guided
  • Your thought is the start of all creation
  • Talent is letting ideas manifest through you
  • The world is not waiting for more of the same
  • The true instrument is you

This month, I also learned that I am drawn to weird. I am more playful around it, and those who own it in themselves. I enjoy their uniqueness as it brings about a freshness to everything around them… it keeps life interesting. So, to paraphrase the city of Austin, Texas – “keep yourself weird.”

black glittery high-top tennis shoe

February 2023 Quote: “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For January 2023 the quote was, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

It seemed like everyone in my social media feed hit the new year running. They picked their word for the year. Set a goal or two. Began with dry January and hit the gym with veggies. I on the other hand limped into the year new with a jacked up back. The lack of mobility and protected moves gave me a more guarded stance entering into 2023 – literally. I found however, this this served me well and kept me from getting caught up in the frenzy around me. I did what was right for me. Along the way, here are quotes that caught my attention in January:

  • The next horizons live inside ourselves
  • So come to the pond or river of our imagination, or the harbor of your longing, and put your lips to the world and life your life.
  • Everything will kill you, so choose something fun
  • We silence the noise with intuition
  • Faith is relaxing
  • May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness
  • Leadership is the space we hold for others
  • The space between stimulus and response – we can, and must, expand that space
  • Audacity returns
  • That heavily guarded border between the edge of our own safety and the edge of our dream
  • The balance of grace and swagger, of magic and mystery
  • I believe fear and action can co-exist
  • Got sent help – she sent you.
  • Put it together!
  • Drop the fear
  • Their radiance draws others who’ve grown board with conformity and competition              
  • Transient hassles that disturb my core peace
  • What will it take for you to stand up for your vision?
  • Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifter, the game shakers
  • Courage to carve your own path
  • See what you discover
  • Radical collaboration
  • Everywhere I turn, there I am

It was interesting that I picked this quote for January as a way to jump start my new year. Go all in. My reality was different. Rather than my anticipated participation in Orange Theory Fitness two week transformation challenge – I got dry needled and stretched by my physical therapist. Rather than my scheduled take down of Christmas decorations, we left the tree up another week enjoying the soothing warm glow of the lights into middle of the month. Rather than showing up to my first offsite of the year in my usual facilitation heals and pantsuit, I wore new black sequined Converse high-tops to support my back’s recovery in style, and bringing smiles to the participants.

For a while I felt like I was letting 2023 down right out of the gate. Already falling behind. Then I realized I was caught up on expectations rather than appreciate reality.

I paused and reminded myself that a quote I picked doesn’t define me. That I set the quote, and I can change or reframe it. So, I decided to adjust my thinking about “take the ride” to focus on the ride of recovery.  A ride that I needed and enjoyed, rather than a ride of competition with others. My January ride gave me more time to read, more time to rest, more chats with friends, and more time to move at a pace that was right for me. The lack of pressure to do was delightful.

I’m grateful for a very different January. A ride of rejuvenation rather than roller coaster.

sun rise at the beach

November 2022 Quote: “It’s Time to Test Your Limits”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For November 2022 the quote was, “it’s time to test your limits.”

The majority of this month’s quotes came late in November. Interestingly, they really began to sprinkle in when I began setting a daily intention and give gratitude each morning before I got out of bed. Here are quotes that caught my attention in November:

  • What a blessing to outgrow your ceilings
  • Every experience creates an imprint
  • Healed people hear differently
  • Whatever makes you feel the sun from the inside out, chase that
  • Recognize people’s humanity
  • Everything that is good is wild and free
  • Enthusiasm is the force that bends reality
  • What’s your legacy?
  • Work with ease
  • Are you hunting antelope or field mice?
  • Don’t let your ice cream melt while counting somebody else’s sprinkles
  • What you appreciate… appreciates
  • May all that has been reduced to noise in you, become music again
  • If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place
  • When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and other build windmills
  • Choose the door that leads back to you
  • A bold kindness muscle
  • How can I be of service today?
  • Amplify greatness
  • The mouth speaks what the heart if full of
  • You don’t find your ground by looking for stability; You find your ground by relaxing in instability
  • So, pluck up your courage and take that risk
  • Verified magical being

As I read this list having just typed them all, I feel positive. I feel opportunity. I feel the energy of growth.

What immediately popped in my head now was how as kids we constantly grew – both in size and experiences. I was eager to get tall enough ride the big ride at the amusement park. I was eager to be old enough to stay up and watch “The Love Boat” rather than have to go to bed early (ugh, I now have the show’s theme song stuck in my head). I was eager to try out for a new role in the community theater. I was eager to head off to summer camp to cook on a campfire and make new friends. Newness was a sought-after adventure laced with the thrill of joy.

Then somewhere, somehow, safety came into play. Being practical became a thing. Responsibility took hold and my Phoebe-like run toward the next new opportunity stalled and became a cautious stroll.

What I’ve begun to realize… or rather remember, is that growth is where the magic is. The magic of wonder, of anticipation, of play, of adrenaline, of silliness, of healing, of the unknown, of clarity, and of possibility. Growth (aka change), with all it scrapes, scars and successes, is where the indelible memories are. To continue to grow as a person, a coworker, a partner, a family member, a friend, requires that we test our limits.

We all have limits. Some rest on the surface others so buried and baked in we don’t know they are there. Limits on how we see our abilities… our bodies…  our career… our friends… our health… our money… our faith… our partners…our love… our potential.  

Testing our limits is where we are forged. It’s where we continue to take shape.

As I think of my limits – and testing them – I already feel parts of me tightening in anticipation of the failure, the fall. Bracing. My head takes hold of my heart keeping me “safe” from harm, away from adventure, and stagnant.

What I am starting to understand is that testing our limits as adults might not be as dramatic or carefree as when we were kids on a bike cruising the neighborhood, but it’s no less daring, exciting, informing, or fun. Our growth might be more refined – more nuanced – as we age, but it’s no less impactful.

Testing a limit can be as simple as inviting a new coworker to lunch, taking a meal to a neighbor, volunteering for a new cause, inviting someone to join you at church, taking an art class, taking time to really learn how to pronounce someone’s name, doing your first 3 minute meditation, getting fitted for running shoes to walk your first 5K, making a medical appointment for what scares you, reading a book on racism, taking ownership of your financial health, starting meatless Mondays, or saying no.

The jolt of joy that is sparked in that moment of action (which for me is usually proceeded by a slight wave of nausea or quickening of my heartbeat), gives just enough of a sense of accomplishment that we take another step forward. Each action we take to test limits and move forward gives us more understanding, confidence, and line of sight as to where to go next.

To move beyond who we are today.

Tree that has half red leaves and half green leaves

October 2022 Quote: “Change Your Leaves, Keep Intact Your Roots”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For October 2022 the quote was, “Change your leaves, keep intact your roots” by Victor Hugo.

After doing this mindful quote practice for more nearly two years, it still surprises me how much the quote I pick for the following month rings so true and offers the space for the reflection I didn’t know I needed. Here are quotes that caught my attention in October:

  • Permission to adjust
  • Pay attention to the invitation
  • Faith over fear
  • A feast of joy
  • What is really true?
  • Everything is ordinary and extraordinary
  • You were born for a time such as this
  • Amplify belief
  • The ability to manifest choice
  • You will make this change a blessing
  • Seeds of awareness
  • Allow what blooms to bloom
  • What is the expression of what comes through you?
  • Cultural humility
  • Ready, relevant, and reliable
  • You can’t give it if you don’t have it
  • Unlikely collaborators
  • Whatever is, is welcome
  • Walking in an answered prayer

I love that October is my birthday month. The fall aways speaks to me. When I stand outside, breathe in the crisp air, and see the trees’ colorful transformation I feel my most grounded. Like all is right with the world, with me, and I get charged – or rather recharged – for another year of living.

This recharge comes from reflection. The month is a big annual check-in for me based on the simple question: How am I?  This reflective question, conversations with loved ones, meditation, and experiences throughout the month (both professional and personal) brought forward gratitude, restlessness, joy, exhaustion, and possibility.  

In October…

I stepped away from a lot at work… and it was OK. In fact, it was freeing. Stopping the habitual grind and the self-imposed expectations is giving me space to determine what I want to do with my expertise, passion, and gifts. I did (and do) feel a bit untethered but I am getting more comfortable with the open space as I see what it is making room for.

I focused on mindfulness at a two-day conference with a best friend… and found emotional release. As I stepped on to the elevator with my friend following a morning meditation practice, she calmly stated, “I think I had a meditation orgasm” just as a random guy walked on. Awkward silence (with us stifling our laughter) for the ride down 12 floors. As the doors opened, the man calmly turned to us as he walked out and stated with a smile, “I might need to look into meditation” and walked away. I hurt from the delightful laughter that followed. Then later, tears poured down my face as I participated in a meditation with the guide playing his cello as he led us in a body scan. My body shedding its pain, fear, anger, loss, and worry like a tree dropping its fall leaves – making it possible to grow a new.

I shared more candidly and authentically in old and forming relationships… and savored the deeper connectivity real conversations generate. I shared how I was struggling. I shared hard choices. I shared concerns. I shared personal nuggets normally protected till more trust was in place. I asked more personal questions. I listened without multitasking. I re-discovered the core truth that we are all more alike than we ever want to admit. I also savored how comforting it is to connect more personally.

I began each day with a prayer – a whisper to God about those in my world who could use a boost… and loved the feeling of starting a ripple of love in the universe for those I cherish.

The month left me feeling more grounded. My roots intact in solid ground and nourished. It also left me with unanswered questions for discovery in the coming year. And I welcome the journey to come.

Mailbox with Kindred Spirit on it by the ocean

August Quote: “Coming Home to Yourself”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For August 2022 the quote was, “Be easy. Take your time. You are coming home to yourself.”

I headed into the month fully depleted in every way, both personally and professionally. I knew I was in a frantic spiral. I saw it and couldn’t stop. Instead, I clung to the upcoming sanctuary of our annual family beach vacation with my parents, brother, and his family. I would let it remove me from the chaos for a full reset. Life had other plans:  everyone in the cottage got COVID and the company I work for was sold. So much for low stress, time away from work. But, finishing 6 books, daily long walks on the beach, and deep calls with close friends are always rejuvenating regardless of the circumstances.

Here are quotes that caught my attention in August that connected to “…coming home to yourself”:

  • Don’t let the world happen to you, you happen to the world
  • I had to believe I was better than any of the doubts I was feeling. I had to take control of my own narrative and remind myself I’d chosen this path
  • Don’t give into your fears, otherwise you won’t be able to talk to your heart
  • Sometimes there’s no way to hold back the river
  • Failure is the result of a method chosen, and not the person
  • If we could all keep our feelings off the table, we’d all be more open to rethinking
  • It takes one thought to change the whole outcome
  • As long as you are “trying” to do something, you are not “doing” something
  • He who has a why can endure any how
  • I had earned my place; I was ready
  • Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it
  • The most effective way to navigate fear is by facing it; If you use the resistance if will help you rise
  • Blinding shocks of the obvious
  • Qualified enough
  • It’s not part of my job, it’s part of me
  • Assumptions are made by fools
  • Simply let your yes be yes, and your no, no
  • Remember always that you not only have a right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one
  • Stop looking at where you have been and start looking at where you can be
  • It’s powerful and effective for a woman to be herself
  • Every second of the search is an encounter with God

My time away, reading, conversations, and reflection reminded me that I am always home when I am clear on me. Clear on boundaries. Clear on healthy habits. Clear on space as an introvert to rejuvenate. Clear on time with friends to connect. Clear on what I need to be satisfied at work. Clear on what I want out of my life and how I want to show up in it.

When I lose this clarity, a I had on several fronts, I wander into weak spots. I lose my resolve and my good (healthy) habits. I forgot that I am more than my title and feed into other’s career neurosis. I shift from a sense of ownership to survival. I struggle against the undertow rather than float with the natural current.

This month’s quote was influential in giving me a mindset that supported my reintegration post vacation as I seek to reset and fortify the home of me. “Be easy” and “take your time.” Both of which are hard for me as a doer who works in a competitive industry and lives in a fast-paced city. But I cling to elements of this quote as I set up more play dates with friends, block off “purposeful pauses” in my calendar to sit in silence, get back into a steady gym routine, try out grocery delivery, and ignore my personal  to-do list in order to watch the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert for 5.5 hours while texting with a bestie throughout and feeling all the emotions from joy to gut wrenching sorrow. Coming home is a journey after all.

On my last day of vacation, I walked 3 miles to the far end of the undeveloped island, sat on a wooden bench that overlooked the sand dunes and ocean, pulled out a notebook from the “Kindred Spirit” mailbox, set my intention for “home,” and wrote this poem:

Change is coming. The waves drive it in. The sand shifts where I stand.

Change is coming. The seagulls cry about it. The nats are pesky reminders.

Change is coming. Beauty abounds. The clouds lay down cover.

Change is coming. The wind breathes in hope. The sun nourishes.

Change is coming. I am here. I am ready.

Two rocking chairs on the roof at sunset

July Quote: “Sit With It”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For July 2022 the quote was, “sit with it.”

I found this phrase in May as part of my listening for that month’s quote, “when you’re nervous about stepping outside your comfort zone, remind yourself:  It feels scary because it’s unfamiliar, not because I’m incapable.”  As I prepped my calendar for July, the phrase kept coming back top of mind. I wasn’t sure if it was to help me focus on less (to sit still) or to take time to get more intentional. But I did know I couldn’t shake the statement.

Here are quotes that caught my attention in July that connected to “sit with it”:

  • Happiness cannot be found from great effort and will power, but it is already there in relaxation and letting go
  • Choose your own personal legend
  • Dream stealer
  • The still waters of a lake reflect the beauty around it. When the mind is still – the beauty of the self is reflected.
  • Running on automatic
  • But what if you try?
  • Cultivate mental space
  • Reduce the noise and capture the signal
  • Are you projecting shadow or light?
  • Comparison is the enemy of joy
  • The courage to be open to what is here
  • It always seems impossible until it’s done
  • Be present, be your best, be at peace
  • All of us derive security and comfort from the imaginary world of memories and fantasies and plans. We don’t really want to stay in the nakedness of our present experience. It goes against the grain to stay present. These are the times when only gentleness and a sense of humor can give us strength to settle down.
  • Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival

As I started July, there wasn’t anything specific to sit with but having the phrase inspired me to change my pace at work, at home, volunteering. To try to stop the habitual rushing and just “be” a little more. I tried to multi-task less. I tried to be more present. I tried to pause from the routine. For example, I sat with a young professional with the first 10 minutes of the call being about the value of summer camp and how those experiences helped us in our work life. I sat with a co-worker long after our meeting time ended and laughed more than I have in months. I sat alone, offline, and ate lunch quietly. I sat with a former teammate who reached out in need of mentorship about a job offer.  

Later in the month, it was my turn to sit with a big, unexpected work opportunity. I sat with it alone. I sat with it on paper trying to sort it out. I sat with it with a trusted coworker. I sat with it awake in the middle of night (which I don’t recommend). I sat with it with my boss. I sat with it in meditation and sat with it some more. I sat with the excitement, the fear, the confusion, the worry, the challenge.

The “sit” was needed but not easy. Sitting in your body, your head, and your emotions is hard, scary, and exhausting – but also telling. The reflection helped me move past knee jerk reactions, push back on habit mental responses, and dig in on the opportunity.

And then, one day driving home with the sunroof open, a favorite Indigo Girls’ song came on, Watershed. Hadn’t heard it in years, so I cranked it up and sang with all my heart. “Standing at the fork in the road, you can stand there and agonize till your agony’s your heaviest load. You’ll never fly as the crow flies – get use to a country mile. When you’re learning to face the path as your pace, every choice if worth your while.”

This song spoke to my soul. Validate my reflection. And, in a way, cleansed my palate of rumination. I’m not sure if it was the words, the sun on my face, wind in my hair, or belting it out like their long-lost trio member that did it, but the release was physical. The reflection ended and a key realization emerged. Acceptance.

I accepted that regardless of how the opportunity worked out, things would be fine. I accepted what I needed and where I could be flexible. I accepted what concerned me. I accepted what was out of my control. I accepted I had the skills and support to succeed. I accepted I was done sitting, and ready to do.

April 2022 Quote – “In a World that Wants You to Whisper, Yell!”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For April 2022 quote was “In a world that wants you to whisper, yell!”

An odd thing happened this month… no quotes appeared. I was well into the third week of April and nothing. A blank page below my anchor quote. I was concerned. Had I not been fully present in conversations? Had I not really tuned in to my audible books? Had I been so self-absorbed or on auto pilot that I missed out? But then, as if my quote for the month came to life … I heard the universe yell. I guess I had missed the whispers.

A friend posted the following piece by Irish poet and philospher John O’Donohue. It filled not only my page, but me.

“At any time you can ask yourself:

At which threshold am I now standing?

At this time in my life, what am I leaving?

Where am I about to enter?

What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold?

A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres.

Indeed, it is a lonely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a state of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up.

At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive:  confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.

This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always colored in ritual.

It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds:  to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward.

The time has come to cross.”

Thinking about my blank page, quoteless, I now realize I was simply standing at a threshold. Still. Perhaps blocking things out. Perhaps recharging my courage. Perhaps hiding. All was muffled before I took my direction. I was isolated so it took a huge quote to reach me – a universal yell.

Then quickly thereafter, I began to see and hear quotes again, such as:

  • It’s time to get back to you.
  • How can I trust when I have so much doubt?
  • Cook by the spirit.
  • Good friction.
  • The after is the before for the next during
  • Walk into your freedom.
  • Go where the energy is.
  • Let God blow your mind.
  • Don’t be bound by the residue of your past.
  • Run on and see what the ends going to be.
  • Give light and people will find the way.
  • Thank God I don’t look like what I’ve been through.
  • If nothing changes, nothing changes.
  • My soul woke up and I realized I was enough.
  • You give power to what you focus on.
  • Take a soul wander in the sunshine.

As for my standing at a threshold, I’ll share stillness was essential. The quietness helped me process the old and prepare for the new. The silence let the distractions fall away, both well intentioned wishes and naysayers. It also put me in a holding pattern, stagnant. But as if the universe knew I’d been alone with myself long enough, she sent one more message.

On the last day of the month, I spoke with a friend and former coworker. It was a meeting that had been booked over a month earlier. She asked me one simple question. One that caused the fog to lift and the threshold to appear.  What do you love?